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March 09, 2005

I still love Jon Stewart

At least he makes sure I can still laugh despite everything going on these days. Like by pointing out that Porter Goss, our new CIA head, didn't appear to have been briefed on any plans to try to go after Osama bin Laden.

On the other hand, (and this is tangentially related because Stewart did such a great job of interviewing Ari Fleischer the other night on the Daily Show), there was a great moment where the former press secretary pulled a good one on Steve Inskeep, which just proves that Steve-O is no Bob Edwards.

Steve mentioned that he'd once been told that there was a difference between answering a question from a reporter and responding to a question from a reporter. Ari's response? "Well, I guess I'm not sure what the distinction is."

A beautiful illustration of exactly that point which Steve seemed not to have noticed.

March 01, 2005

"The Drugs I Need"

The good--though usually boring--folks at Consumers Union have produced an absolutely hilarious animated short satirizing drug companies, their advertising campaigns, and those crazy lists of side effects they hope we won't notice. Watch it and then sign the petition in support of the FACT Act, which would require big pharma to publish their clinical trial data in their entirety.

February 17, 2005

Rich on "Gannon," MoDo on press passes

Frank Rich has a great column today about how Gannongate has collapsed any boundary between "real" news and "fake" news as practiced by John Stewart--with a sensible thesis that fake news is the perfect medium for the times:

The "Jeff Gannon" story got less attention than another media frenzy - that set off by the veteran news executive Eason Jordan, who resigned from CNN after speaking recklessly at a panel discussion at Davos, where he apparently implied, at least in passing, that American troops deliberately targeted reporters. Is the banishment of a real newsman for behaving foolishly at a bloviation conference in Switzerland a more pressing story than that of a fake newsman gaining years of access to the White House (and network TV cameras) under mysterious circumstances? With real news this timid, the appointment of Jon Stewart to take over Dan Rather's chair at CBS News could be just the jolt television journalism needs. As Mr. Olbermann demonstrated when he borrowed a sharp "Daily Show" tool to puncture the "Jeff Gannon" case, the only road back to reality may be to fight fake with fake.

In more revealing news, Maureen Dowd tells us today about her inability to get a White House press pass. (A propos of my post yesterday, perhaps turning tricks might actually increase her chances!) She starts off in rare form, asking "Who knew that a hotmilitarystud wanting to meetlocalmen could so easily get to be face2face with the commander in chief?" But her experience confirms the obvious--that the White House was actively preferential in getting Gannon/Guckert in. She uses this story to its best end--tying together all that we know about the White House's Orwellian and un-democratic manipulation of the media. That's the tragedy. What makes it fun is the opportunity to laugh at the farce of the Gaybasher-in-Chief consorting with a gay hustler.

I'm still mystified by this story. I was rejected for a White House press pass at the start of the Bush administration, but someone with an alias, a tax evasion problem and Internet pictures where he posed like the "Barberini Faun" is credentialed to cover a White House that won a second term by mining homophobia and preaching family values?

At first when I tried to complain about not getting my pass renewed, even though I'd been covering presidents and first ladies since 1986, no one called me back. Finally, when Mr. McClellan replaced Ari Fleischer, he said he'd renew the pass - after a new Secret Service background check that would last several months.

In an era when security concerns are paramount, what kind of Secret Service background check did James Guckert get so he could saunter into the West Wing every day under an assumed name while he was doing full-frontal advertising for stud services for $1,200 a weekend? He used a driver's license that said James Guckert to get into the White House, then, once inside, switched to his alter ego, asking questions as Jeff Gannon.

Mr. McClellan shrugged this off to Editor & Publisher magazine, oddly noting, "People use aliases all the time in life, from journalists to actors."

I know the F.B.I. computers don't work, but this is ridiculous. After getting gobsmacked by the louche sagas of Mr. Guckert and Bernard Kerik, the White House vetters should consider adding someone with some blogging experience.

Does the Bush team love everything military so much that even a military-stud Web site is a recommendation?

Or maybe Gannon/Guckert's willingness to shill free for the White House, even on gay issues, was endearing. One of his stories mocked John Kerry's "pro-homosexual platform" with the headline "Kerry Could Become First Gay President."

With the Bushies, if you're their friend, anything goes. If you're their critic, nothing goes. They're waging a jihad against journalists - buying them off so they'll promote administration programs, trying to put them in jail for doing their jobs and replacing them with ringers.

At last month's press conference, Jeff Gannon asked Mr. Bush how he could work with Democrats "who seem to have divorced themselves from reality." But Bush officials have divorced themselves from reality.

They flipped TV's in the West Wing and Air Force One to Fox News. They paid conservative columnists handsomely to promote administration programs. Federal agencies distributed packaged "news" video releases with faux anchors so local news outlets would run them. As CNN reported, the Pentagon produces Web sites with "news" articles intended to influence opinion abroad and at home, but you have to look hard for the disclaimer: "Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense." The agencies spent a whopping $88 million spinning reality in 2004, splurging on P.R. contracts.

Even the Nixon White House didn't do anything this creepy. It's worse than hating the press. It's an attempt to reinvent it.

January 28, 2005

I can't explain it, Carol

Carol emailed me a few days ago, with a link and a plea for understanding. "You're from Oklahoma," she wrote. "Can you explain this?"

No, Carol, I don't think anyone we know can explain this:

An Oklahoma state senator hopes to revive cockfighting in the state by putting tiny boxing gloves on the roosters instead of razors.

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The Oklahoma Legislature outlawed the blood sport in 2002 because of its cruelty to the roosters, which are slashed and pecked to death while human spectators bet on the outcome.

But Sen. Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta, a long-time defender of cockfighting, said the ban had wiped out a $100 million business.

To revive it, he has proposed that roosters wear little boxing gloves attached to their spurs, as well as lightweight, chicken-size vests configured with electronic sensors to record hits and help keep score.

"It's like the fencing that you see on the Olympics, you know, where they have little balls on the ends of the swords and the fencers wear vests," Shurden said. "That's the same application that would be applied to the roosters."

So no, no explanation possible. I will say that between Shurden's wild desire to cockfight and Bush's dreams about a mandate, I am sensing some seriously repressed homo lovin'. As Freud said, fantasies about roosters wearing gloves can only mean one thing...

January 21, 2005

Did you feel that punditquake?

Freuqent readers will know well my distaste for Peggy Noonan, the washed-up Reagan speechwriter the other Reagan speechwriters love to hate. So it is with shock and no small measure of glee that I read Noonan's rather shrill attack on W's inaugural address. Under the headline (are you ready for this?) "Way too much God," Noonan makes the following sensible observations:

A short and self-conscious preamble led quickly to the meat of the speech: the president's evolving thoughts on freedom in the world. Those thoughts seemed marked by deep moral seriousness and no moral modesty.

No one will remember what the president said about domestic policy, which was the subject of the last third of the text. This may prove to have been a miscalculation.

It was a foreign-policy speech. To the extent our foreign policy is marked by a division that has been (crudely but serviceably) defined as a division between moralists and realists--the moralists taken with a romantic longing to carry democracy and justice to foreign fields, the realists motivated by what might be called cynicism and an acknowledgment of the limits of governmental power--President Bush sided strongly with the moralists, which was not a surprise. But he did it in a way that left this Bush supporter yearning for something she does not normally yearn for, and that is: nuance.

Mon dieu! One assumes she wants the President to serve up said nuance with a drippy tranche of Camembert! Does she think he's French or something? She goes on to bash the music as "modern megachurch hymns, music that sounds like what they'd use for the quiet middle section of a Pixar animated film . . . lame." Uh-oh, this sounds like Peggy (who, as a rags-to-riches graduate of Farleigh Dickinson University, isn't exactly a standard issue blueblood) sounding the strains of WASPy disapproval of Bush's tacky Texas born-againness. If the message-toting mandarins of the right are going to start going after Bush on questions of taste, it's going to be an enjoyable four years after all!

She ends, amazingly, with this:

And yet such promising moments were followed by this, the ending of the speech. "Renewed in our strength--tested, but not weary--we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom."

This is--how else to put it?--over the top. It is the kind of sentence that makes you wonder if this White House did not, in the preparation period, have a case of what I have called in the past "mission inebriation." A sense that there are few legitimate boundaries to the desires born in the goodness of their good hearts.

One wonders if they shouldn't ease up, calm down, breathe deep, get more securely grounded. The most moving speeches summon us to the cause of what is actually possible. Perfection in the life of man on earth is not.

She totally sounds like a member of the reality-based community... which is a bummer, because I'm really not sure we want her in our club. On the other hand, if she keeps throwing phrases like "mission inebration" around the troglodytic halls of the WSJ's editorial page we might have to make room for her.

On the other hand, Tbogg might be right in his "Shorter Peggy Noonan" post this morning: "And I remember thinking: This speech would have been better if I had written it."

January 06, 2005

Read The Poor Man today, please.

This is a great post: I'm Not Sure How Many More Corners We Can Stand To Turn.

But more to the point, Al Franken's blog quotes the well-respected, uber-insider Nelson Report with the day's worst news-- that W has truly become the Boy in the Bubble, to an even greater degree than previously realized:


The Nelson Report is a daily political tip sheet and analysis written for the past 20 years for the (US and Asian) corporate and government clients of Chris Nelson, a former Capitol Hill staffer and UPI reporter. (He was actually the first to break the looted explosives story before the election; Josh Marshall then posted it to his blog.) This Monday, he wrote:

"There is rising concern amongst senior officials that President Bush does not grasp the increasingly grim reality of the security situation in Iraq because he refuses to listen to that type of information. Our sources say that attempts to brief Bush on various grim realities have been personally rebuffed by the President, who actually says that he does not want to hear “bad news.”

Rather, Bush makes clear that all he wants are progress reports, where they exist, and those facts which seem to support his declared mission in Iraq...building democracy. “That's all he wants to hear about,” we have been told. So “in” are the latest totals on school openings, and “out” are reports from senior US military commanders (and those intelligence experts still on the job) that they see an insurgency becoming increasingly effective, and their projection that “it will just get worse.”

Our sources are firm in that they conclude this “good news only” directive comes from Bush himself; that is, it is not a trap or cocoon thrown around the President by National Security Advisor Rice, Vice President Cheney, and DOD Secretary Rumsfeld. In any event, whether self-imposed, or due to manipulation by irresponsible subordinates, the information/intelligence vacuum at the highest levels of the White House increasingly frightens those officials interested in objective assessment, and not just selling a political message."

Remember the good old days when zaftig interns gave the President blow jobs? Now apparently only Pollyanna is allowed that close.

December 17, 2004

Bill O'Reilly: Lying, Splotchy Coward

Wonderful letter from David Brock of Media Matters to Bill O'Reilly, using his own words against him to call him a coward for not letting Brock come on his show. A classic.

December 13, 2004

Kim Jong Il must have W's military records

How else to explain this freakish item posted byAtrios

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A senior U.S. official said on Monday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is a "rational" leader who would be able to transform his impoverished Stalinist state once he resolves the nuclear standoff with the international community.

"Many accusations that he (Kim Jong-il) is some sort of crazy person are not correct," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly said in an exclusive interview with The Korea Times at his office in the State Department. He said Kim's leadership is one that is unique and rational.

On the other hand, maybe it's not news that W must respect Kim, much as he does Putin. "I took the measure of his craziness..." or some such tripe.

December 10, 2004

U.S. Says Terrorists Could Use Lasers

Yahoo! News - U.S. Says Terrorists Could Use Lasers

In related news, can someone throw me a fricking bone here? Oh, no-- a thrown bone might fricking collide with a jetliner. Or cause a release of red-hot magma.

If the terrorists really want to get ahead of the Bush Administration and totally cut out the middle man, maybe they should attack us with bad movie clichés and deprive the Badministration all of its best Orange Alert punchlines.

November 23, 2004

The smoking gun is your finger, dude.

What you see is what you get: a world leader who was too busy making shooting gestures to himself in the bathroom mirror to notice his fly was open. Nice shot George.

your_flys_open.jpg

November 15, 2004

Cheney: horse-hung or just incontinent?

See the photo to back up all the most unsavory rumors on them Internets today. If this is original equipment, it clearly explains the heart trouble. Though one would expect Lynne to look a little happier once in a while.

November 09, 2004

Nothing like letting off a little steam

There's something really satisifying in reading someone else spout off what you've been thinking for the last several days. Lazy, but satisfying.

November 04, 2004

Kerry Won

Greg Palast, the reporter who uncovered many of the details in the 2000 Florida election fiasco, now claims that Kerry won Ohio. The culprit, he claims, is not provisional ballots, but undervotes and hanging chads: just like last time. Unlike last time, though, we didn't even get to a recount after the Republican Secretary of State for Ohio loudly claimed it was a "statistical impossibility" for Kerry to win.

In a nutshell

This, at least, made me smile:

too_close_to_call.gif

And you thought you were bitter!

Adam Felber's Fanatical Apathy blog posts his own concession speech, worth reading in toto. The best bits:

There are some who would say that I sound bitter, that now is the time for healing, to bring the nation together. Let me tell you a little story. Last night, I watched the returns come in with some friends here in Los Angeles. As the night progressed, people began to talk half-seriously about secession, a red state / blue state split. The reasoning was this: We in blue states produce the vast majority of the wealth in this country and pay the most taxes, and you in the red states receive the majority of the money from those taxes while complaining about 'em. We in the blue states are the only ones who've been attacked by foreign terrorists, yet you in the red states are gung ho to fight a war in our name. We in the blue states produce the entertainment that you consume so greedily each day, while you in the red states show open disdain for us and our values. Blue state civilians are the actual victims and targets of the war on terror, while red state civilians are the ones standing behind us and yelling "Oh, yeah!? Bring it on!"

More than 40% of you Bush voters still believe that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11. I'm impressed by that, truly I am. Your sons and daughters who might die in this war know it's not true, the people in the urban centers where al Qaeda wants to attack know it's not true, but those of you who are at practically no risk believe this easy lie because you can. As part of my concession speech, let me say that I really envy that luxury. I concede that.

Healing? We, the people at risk from terrorists, the people who subsidize you, the people who speak in glowing and respectful terms about the heartland of America while that heartland insults and excoriates us... we wanted some healing. We spoke loud and clear. And you refused to give it to us, largely because of your high moral values. You knew better: America doesn't need its allies, doesn't need to share the burden, doesn't need to unite the world, doesn't need to provide for its future. Hell no. Not when it's got a human shield of pointy-headed, atheistic, unconfrontational breadwinners who are willing to pay the bills and play nice in the vain hope of winning a vote that we can never have. Because we're "morally inferior," I suppose, we are supposed to respect your values while you insult ours. And the big joke here is that for 20 years, we've done just that.

(Via ThePoorMan.net)

October 31, 2004

There goes MY Nader vote!

"I'll show you! You won't let me in the debates? I'll have my own!" There's a clip from Ralph's action figure debate here.

Hey Ralph, last time around I actually defended your voters, I really did. We badly need governmental reform to support third party politics, I still believe that. And when I'm checking out my post-Kerry election optioins for how to continue the momentum for change, it's one of the issues I'll explore. But not until after. You can't win, Ralph, why are you being such a spoiler? Could we put the fire out before we talk about how we're going to remodel?

Related aside: I was in the library last week where I saw a woman wearing a Nader button. It took every ounce of self-restraint I had not to walk over to her and punch her. I totally could have taken her, she was pretty skinny.

October 30, 2004

More on "A Soldier's Story"

Steve Clemons has more on the story I wrote about a few days ago. Apparently a lot of people (an anonymous commenter here included) didn't want to believe some of what the soldier told him. Steve has confirmed some of the details and is continuing to investigate others. But I point out again that Steve is a professional journalist and not likely to be taken in by someone who is either a pathological liar or a deliberate agent of disinformation. It's worth a read.

October 28, 2004

Damn! That was fast.

But not fast enough. Apparently Bill O'Reilly has decided to settle with the woman who dared reveal what a perv he is. I doubt he was fast enough to save his marriage though. Let me see... what would I do if it was published on the web that my husband was bragging to a stranger about going to Italy for sex romps while I was pregnant...and that same stranger said that he was sexually harrassing her...I think I might consider kicking his ass to the curb.

Nice that he dared to write a children's book. God! I hate these people.

Here's the Washington Post link to the story.

"A Soldier's Story"

From the wise and moderate Steve Clemons, confirmation of much of what I've heard about the military and Bush:

I JUST SAT NEXT TO A VERY TOUGH SOLDIER FROM THE 82ND AIRBORNE on a flight back from Europe. I have been thinking for two days about how to share some of the things he told me without compromising him.

This guy I met is not one prone to talk; he was very serious, very mellow -- and comes from a family of enlisted military men. His dad was in Vietnam.

He has had one rotation in Afghanistan, one in Iraq. He is now in Germany but will soon be transferred back to Iraq. He was at Tora Bora and has seen a lot of Iraqi, Afghan, and American dead.

According to him, 75% of all soldiers want Bush defeated in the election and don't care who defeats him; anger and resentment are high. He says that 90% of the officers remain far out of harm's way. From lietenants all the way up, there is general understanding that the officers are hiding in holes, or holding back in well-defended buildings and quite cavalier about sending troops out for assignments and errands that are frequently stupid, poorly planned, and dangerous.

From there, it gets more graphic, more depressing, and even weirder:


He shared quite a bit more, including that his military commanders are planning for at minimum an eight year deployment in Iraq, maybe longer. He also shared an interesting anecdote that about a year ago, certain commanders in the 82nd Airborne had been told to prepare for a quick incursion into Cuba. I was stunned.

He said, "Yep, we couldn't believe that on top of everything else, Bush thought he could go take out Castro." The Navy Seals were going to go in and do the dirty work, he said, and the "82nd was going to go in for clean-up." He said that he never heard more about it but that the orders clearly didn't go forward -- but they were prepared for that possibility and told that "Bush just wanted to take out Castro."


In full

A great post from Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money:

John Kerry says George W. Bush made a mistake by failing to secure 380 tons of high explosives in Iraq.

George W. Bush does not make mistakes. The US Army was responsible for guarding the explosives. The US Army failed. Therefore, John Kerry is attacking the US Army.

John Kerry hates America.

Is that about right?


October 27, 2004

"One-fingered victory salute"

Bush gives the camera the finger. Apparently, he cares less what Jesus would do and more about "What Would Dick Cheney Do?".

"It's amazing what you can capture when your camera is turned on. This video shows what George Bush thinks of democracy. He was caught on video while governor of Texas.

On November 2nd please join the army of volunteers who will keep an eye on our democracy. Volunteer here to submit video of disturbances outside polling locations. Enter your contact info and we will send you an email with more information."

John Ashcroft. Soft on Terrorists. The Wrong Choice for America.

Brilliant article in Slate today: "The Case Against John Ashcroft". Despite granting himself sweeping powers of detention and the virtual dismantling of due process, there have been zero -- ZERO! -- terrorist-related convictions since 9/11. A failure by any standards, as the article does well to explain.

October 26, 2004

Get your war on, p. 42

The always astounding get your war on comic is blindlingly sharp this week. Check out barbs like this:

"You know what I don't like about Kerry? He doesn't have a real strategy for winning the War on Terrorism."

"I know! I heard he'd only allow, like, one-hundred-and-ninety tons of explosive to fall into the hands of the terrorists! What kind of half-assed plan is that?"

"Speaking of half-assed, did you hear the one about the soldier whose Humvee rolled over and IED made of looted explosives from Saddam Hussein's ammunition stockpiles?"

Ouch. The rest of it is that good.

Bush Campaign Dead Letter Office

For an amazing insight into the internals of Bush/Cheney reelection campaign check out this Dead Letter Office at georgewbush.org. Note -- that's the parody site at .ORG, not the official campaign site at .COM. But the dead letter office is no parody -- these are apparently real emails intended for campaign staffers, that were sent to email addresses at the .org domain (instead of [email protected]) by mistake.

There could be some real gems in here. In browsing through, I've already spotten a memo intended for Karl Rove, and a weekly report from "Pennsylvania Evangelical Outreach". Kos is already tracking what could be a big story about evidence of voter suppression found here.

Eminem wants you to vote

And assemble our own army "to disarm this weapon of mass destruction that we call our president."

Really. His new video is very explicit on this matter. Not that Eminem can be accused of ever not being explicit.

October 25, 2004

"Because blood is thinner than oil!"

That's the motto of the amazing site Bush Relatives for Kerry. It's a beautiful, non-shrill bitchslap. Thanks for sending it Carol!!!

Don't vote for those Democratic FAGGOTS!!!

That's what this sick and ridiculous ad is clearly saying. Clearly, these are the same kind of people who still get jollies from fag jokes. And, funny thing is, they are voting for a cheerleader.

October Surprise, Bush-style

This administration is so incompetent that it can't even get a traditional GOP "October Surprise" going. Instead, we get this mindbending bulletin about their raging incompetence. Making the world safer-- for terrorists wielding high explosives.

Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished From Site in Iraq

Baghdad, Iraq - The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations.

The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no man's land, still picked over by looters as recently as Sunday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year.

The White House said President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was informed within the past month that the explosives were missing. It is unclear whether President Bush was informed. American officials have never publicly announced the disappearance, but beginning last week they answered questions about it posed by The New York Times and the CBS News program "60 Minutes."

Administration officials said Sunday that the Iraq Survey Group, the C.I.A. task force that searched for unconventional weapons, has been ordered to investigate the disappearance of the explosives.

American weapons experts say their immediate concern is that the explosives could be used in major bombing attacks against American or Iraqi forces: the explosives, mainly HMX and RDX, could produce bombs strong enough to shatter airplanes or tear apart buildings.

The bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 used less than a pound of the same type of material, and larger amounts were apparently used in the bombing of a housing complex in November 2003 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the blasts in a Moscow apartment complex in September 1999 that killed nearly 300 people.

The explosives could also be used to trigger a nuclear weapon, which was why international nuclear inspectors had kept a watch on the material, and even sealed and locked some of it. The other components of an atom bomb - the design and the radioactive fuel - are more difficult to obtain.

I would call this unbelievable-- if it weren't possible to believe any amount of stupidity and incompetence about this administration.

October 24, 2004

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

If you've seen the GOP's new ad "Wolves," you really need to see this.

October 22, 2004

Strong leader, bad comedian

Watch this ad from Win Back Respect, which features the sister of a dead soldier who wasn't laughing when Bush joked about not finding any WMDs. Stunning. In testing, it produced an 8 point swing away from Bush-- which it pretty huge for one viewing of one ad.

Who's the hunter, who's the hunted

First Draft sets the record straight amidst Badministration mocking of Kerry's hunting trip.

[W]hile campaigning against incumbent Gov. Ann Richards, Bush thought it would be a great photo opportunity to show the people of Texas that he was the bold epitome of Lone Star Macho, a fearless take-charge kind of guy who could sight-in on any kind of problem. So, he and his gaggle of aides staged a dove hunt to attract the reporters and photographers. He flushed that bird. He looked. He aimed. He shot. Blasted that dove right out of the sky. At least he thought it was a dove. Turns out the bird was really a killdeer, protected by federal law. An embarrassed Bush, who obviously couldn't distinguish a 10-inch long brown-and-white bird with two black bands and a loud and constant whistle from a long greyish/white bird that coos, paid a fine for his stupidity.

Wow, that would have been a great example any of those times W couldn't remember ever making a mistake?

October 21, 2004

Bush-backers--not part of the reality-based community

I've said for months that, considering what's been going on since the current administration took control, you have to be either stupid or a Jesus-freak (I realize those are not mutually exclusive) to continue to support Bush. A report today by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland at least proves true the first of my conditions. "How can people continue to support Bush?" they ask. And the answer they find: by being really, really ignorant.

No, seriously. That's what they found.

For example:

72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program.

And most Bush supporters don't even get that because of Bush, the rest of the world hates us. Less than a third of Bush supporters have figured out that we went into Iraq without anyone's blessing, and more than half of them think the rest of the world wants Bush to be re-elected.

Do they pass out LSD at republican conventions or something? I think Timothy Leary had a better grasp on reality than the average republican these days.

EnjoyTheDraft.com

armyx10.jpg

EnjoyTheDraft.com is like The Onion, on a really bitter day, with a well-justified sense of paranoia. Perfect for jaded college students. You gotta love the "Tell us why the draft is AWESOME" soundbites:

"Michael Moore might feature my grieving mother in his next movie!" - Joe in Flint

"I thought I'd miss my boyfriend when he went to Iraq. How ironic that I got drafted and killed!" - Missie in Miami

"Foshrapnel woundizzle" - Mark in Albuquerque

"The army vaccinated me against Anthrax, Botulism, Smallpox, and Sarin. Once I get the Ricin vaccine I get a happy meal." -Stanley in Denver

"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder excuses a lot of crazy-ass batshit behavior." - Matt in Columbus

"I look hot in a black body bag, and I don't even work out." - John in Madison

There's nothing like great satire. Except maybe great satire and a really nice single-malt Scotch to go with it.

October 18, 2004

Proud member of the Reality-Based Community

If you missed the Ron Suskind article in the Sunday NYT Magazine (and were consequently able to sleep):

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

History's actors, indeed. The article should be required reading. Coming on the heels of a surprising trip to Oklahoma-- where even my grandparents admitted that W was giving them pause with his disconnect from reality-- we now see that the Administration thinks that the American Empire creates its own reality. Would that it were so... but if we do not defeat these people who believe their lies create a new truth, this Republic is toast. If Bush wins, we will all undoubtedly talk more about leaving the country... but the reality will be that our country will have left us.

Oh, after you read the article, buy one of these.

October 15, 2004

Distort the vote

This piece by Paul Krugman in the NYT is a must-read. It describes a series of coordinated Republican operations to deny the vote to primarily Democratic (big-D) voters through abuses (and sometimes, outright felonies) of the democratic (small-d) system of voting. Here is the damning conclusion:

The important point to realize is that these abuses aren't aberrations. They're the inevitable result of a Republican Party culture in which dirty tricks that distort the vote are rewarded, not punished. It's a culture that will persist until voters - whose will still does count, if expressed strongly enough - hold that party accountable.

Krugman also mentions a forthcoming article in Harpers detailing how errors in the "felony rolls" in Florida which denied thousands of legitimate (and mostly black) voters in Florida the opportunity to vote in 2000 were largely deliberate. These errors have not been corrected. In fact "those attempting to get their votes back have been required to seek clemency for crimes committed by others, or to go through quasi-judicial proceedings to prove that they are not felons with similar names". I look forward to the article, but despair that it's not likely to make the front-page news it ought to.

October 14, 2004

Do the debates really matter?

I hope so. In the 1st debate, the voices in Bush's ear were telling him to scowl. In the 2nd debate, his overcompensation for the previous piss-poor performance came off as desperate and manic, tempered only by his winking at nobody in particular. In the 3rd debate, he was somewhere in between the two, but still lying at will. (See the transcript from the press conference where he brags about not being concerned with Bin Laden.)

But isn't it disappointing that immediately afterwards the right-wing pundits laud Bush as the "clear winner"? Why can't people have a serious debate about the debates –– is it because we're merely mimicking them?

October 13, 2004

O'Reilly sick-out factor

Leave it to The Smoking Gun to post facsimiles of the recent sexual harrassment filing against Bill O'Reilly. The only thing worse than actually watching him scream at people on his show? Reading about how he masturbated while talking dirty to one of his female employees while talking to her on the phone. Apparently, his big turn-ons are vibrators and sex with "little brown women" in third world countries. He also gets off on telling his victim how Bush and Cheney are going to get revenge on Al Franken:

If you cross FOX NEWS Channel, it's not just me, it's Roger Alies who will go after you. I'm the street guy make loud noises about the issues, but Alies operates behind the scenes, strategies and makes things happen so one day BAM! That person gets what's coming to them but never sees it coming. Look at Al Franken, one day he is going to get a knock on his door and life as he's known it will change forever. That day will happen trust me.

So one more reason to vote them out of office: otherwise we can look forward to the FBI morphing into O'Reilly's own private Stasi operation.

October 12, 2004

If you can't beat 'em

Just tell them the game is off. And not to bother showing up.

In West Virginia, the Republicans are apparently trying to win the election by calling registered Democrats to tell them they are not registered to vote or that they are but won't be allowed to vote if they go to the polls.

These guys really know how to play dirty.

October 11, 2004

Rampant, I tell you!

Kos has the story that has creamy thighs aquiver all across Oklahoma!
In the tape released by the campaign of Brad Carson, the Democratic candidate, Coburn says a campaign worker from Coalgate told him that "lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they'll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that's happened to us?"

October 09, 2004

Butterfly ballots be gone

Software saves the world--and democracy.

(Am I paranoid for having the thought that I hope this is a joke?)

Grazie to Erik for the link.

October 08, 2004

The latest in neocon fashion!

If you want to know who is the real flip-flopper, shop at G.W. & Crew. I only wish I had come up with this.

A Milli Vanilli President?

Get a Day Pass to Salon and read this. Now.

Was President Bush literally channeling Karl Rove in his first debate with John Kerry? That's the latest rumor flooding the Internet, unleashed last week in the wake of an image caught by a television camera during the Miami debate. The image shows a large solid object between Bush's shoulder blades as he leans over the lectern and faces moderator Jim Lehrer.

Wow... and I always thought Cheney was the robot on the ticket.

October 07, 2004

Dowd in good form today

I'm not a big fan of Maureen Dowd, but she's sharp today:

Senator Kerry evoked the voice of Bush 41 to get under 43's thin skin. The more Mr. Kerry played the square, proper, moderate, internationalist war hero, the more the president was reduced to childish scowling and fidgeting, acting like a naughty little boy who refuses to sit in his seat and eat his spinach and do all the hard things a parent wants you to do.

"You know, the president's father did not go into Iraq, into Baghdad beyond Basra," Mr. Kerry said, as W. blinked and burned. "And the reason he didn't is, he said, he wrote in his book, because there was no viable exit strategy. And he said our troops would be occupiers in a bitterly hostile land. That's exactly where we find ourselves today. There's a sense of American occupation."

Mr. Kerry told the now-and-then Guardsman about the "extraordinarily difficult missions" of our troops in Iraq: "I know what it's like to go out on one of those missions where you don't know what's around the corner. And I believe our troops need other allies helping."

Playing the Daddy card was part of the Kerry makeover by the Clintonistas - Bubba eye for the Brahmin guy.

In their '92 debate, Bill Clinton used the same psychological trick to rattle Bush 41. Objecting to the Republican pinko innuendo about a trip he had taken as a young man to Moscow, Mr. Clinton reminded the first President Bush that his father, Senator Prescott Bush of Connecticut, had stood up to Joe McCarthy: "Your father was right to stand up to Joe McCarthy. You were wrong to attack my patriotism."

The Bushes get very agitated when confronted with the specters of fathers who made them feel that they never measured up.

Didion has a riff about "Appointment in Samarra" in my favorite of her inimitable essays, so Dowd's larger point has been on my mind of late. It is unfortunate that part of the fall of WASP society into cultural irrelevance is our amnesia about their inbred flaws. Were we all as obsessed by their manners as we were in the 1950s and 60s, we would have recognized W on his face for the sad loss that he is.

Can you revoke an MBA?

I'm sure the exhaustive list of business and economic professors who signed the Open Letter to Bush about how dangerous his economic policies have been would like to do just that.

The closing paragraph says it all, really:

Sensible and farsighted economic management requires true discipline, compassion, and courage – not just slogans. Given the tenuous state of the American economy, we believe that the time for an honest assessment of the problem and for genuine corrective action is now. Ignoring the fiscal crisis that has taken hold during your presidency may seem politically appealing in the short run, but we fear it could ultimately prove disastrous. From a policy standpoint, the clear message is that more of the same won’t work. The warning signs are already visible, and it is incumbent upon all of us to pay attention.

Le Darwiniste malgré lui

Click here to see Bush prove the theory of evolution. For a creationist, he does an amazing job of demonstrating that we humans share 99.4% of our genome with chimps. It's hard work. Hard. Work. Proving your opponents right, that is. He sees it on the TV every day.

The image is big, so I'm sure we'll be paying extra for bandwidth, but it's too good not to share with you.

October 05, 2004

NASCAR DADS, SECURITY MOMS, AND NOW, UNEMPLOYED GYNAECOLOGISTS?

In the 1st presidential debate, Bush pined for Missy – an anonymous widow recently made so by the Iraq war – and expressed his burning "love" for her. Then here, he complains that OBGYNs can't "love" their patients because of some unnamed setback.

Is Rove up to something with this language, peppering Bush's speeches with code words meant to seep into the psyche of a voting contingent, or is Bush just saying weird shit?

The Rude Pundit: even angrier than I am

Do not read this if you a) like Dick Cheney or b) dislike vulgarity. (It suggests a debate stance for John Edwards that is just a bit more aggressive than I expect him to be. I do take some relish in this guy's tagline, "Proudly lowering the level of political discourse." It does take quite a lot to get lower than Faux News.

October 04, 2004

Staying on message

Watch this. Sad, really. Sadder still that America is falling for it.

One angry + eloquent Brit

This should be required viewing. Of all the agit prop animations and samizdat ads we've seen this election cycle, this takes the cake. The visuals are beautiful, but the message is devastatingly grave. It makes an incredibly valuable point: the neoconservatives are not engaged in a conspiracy, but rather have undertaken their palace coup in broad daylight. Shame on us, and farewell the Republic, should we fail to turn them and their pawns out of office. Really, watch this. And pass it on. Huge thanks to Jason for sending the link.

Miserable Failure

This video from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is great. It juxtaposes some of Bush's statements from the debate with -- who'da thunk it? -- facts. Go watch it.

October 01, 2004

Bush's tar baby

[This is my latest Backyard Blog post, but who knows if they will run it!]

I received this mail from a reader this morning after last night's debate.

"Having watched the debate two times, I concluded that Kerry did not make much sense about his stand on the Iraq war. At least he agreed that Sadam [sic] was a dangerous leader in the Middle East and replacing him was ok. I don't understand his argument of not the right time and right place for the war even though he voted to go for the war. What make any one think that Kerry knows what would be the right time and right place for the war? That means he would have waited until Sadam [sic] does some thing horrible to this nation?"

My first impulse in responding to this is to say that Kerry wouldn't have whipped a grieving nation into a frenzy with fake intelligence about the "imminent threat" of Iraq. Without Bush & Co.'s amazing sales pitch about why we shoud worry about Saddam instead of Osama (whom they couldn't find, so-- oh look-- shiny object! Over here!) I would imagine we would have had a proper national discussion about Saddam, worked with our allies, and eventually done whatever it would have taken to fully disarm him. Oh yeah, except he had nothing to
disarm!

But at the risk of being rude (and then meeting my correspondent, a la Libby) I don't really think I can have an intelligent discussion with someone who is, at this late date, a believer in the discredited theory that Saddam had it in his capacity to do more than play boogeyman to the U.S. So instead, I'll offer a children's tale. What we've done in Iraq resembles nothing so much as the old story of Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby, wherein crafty Br'er Fox creates an effigy out of sticky tar and connives Br'er Rabbit into attacking it. Complications ensue. There's nothing worse than attacking a big ball of tar, thinking it's a monster... except maybe attacking Iraq when you should be catching Osama and finding yourself locked in a guerrilla war with nothing resembling an exit strategy. What's worse, our presence in Iraq has turned it into a big Tar Baby factory.

Kerry proved last night that Bush is more Br'er Rabbit than he is presidential. Bush hammered away at one point: that no amount of tar would ever convince him that he has made a mistake. Nope, give him four more years and he'll find more messes to get us intractably stuck in. And you can bet he'll look at us with that smug smirk and tell us how "resolute" he is in fighting tar wherever it exists. Wow... "terror" even sounds like "tar" in his fake-Texas accent.

In closing, I'd like to hear from one of our republican friends... how do you think Bush did? Sure you still want four more years of that?

September 28, 2004

My family's favorite wingnut strikes again

Watergate felon and prison convert Chuck Colson is treated like one step down from the Second Coming by many people in my family. So Why Does He Hate America???

We must be careful not to blame innocent Americans for murderous attacks against them. At the same time, let's acknowledge that America's increasing decadence is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. When we tolerate trash on television, permit pornography to invade our homes via the internet, and allow babies to be killed at the point of birth, we are inflaming radical Islam.

Radical Islamists were surely watching in July when the Senate voted on procedural grounds to do away with the Federal Marriage Amendment. This is like handing moral weapons of mass destruction to those who use America's decadence to recruit more snipers and hijackers and suicide bombers.

One vital goal of the war in Iraq, and the war against terrorism, is to bring democracy to the heart of the Islamic world. Our hope is to make freedom so attractive that other Muslim countries will follow suit. But when radical Islamists see American women abusing Muslim men, as they did in the Abu Ghraib prison, and when they see news coverage of same-sex couples being "married" in U.S. towns, we make our kind of freedom abhorrent--the kind they see as a blot on Allah's creation.

Um, isn't this traditionally known as appeasement? If Kerry suggested we should avoid irritating Muslim extremists, what would happen?

The scarier thing is how Colson is finding common ground with Jihadi murderers in order to foist his morality here at home. To simplify and personalize this; "Because Osama bin Laden exists, Jay and David can't get married."

But wait-- I thought when Bush says "They hate us for our freedom," we are supposed to like freedom. I guess not. Real Americans hate gay freedom. And so does Osama. Which brings me to an epiphany: after all these years of being a wedge issue, it feels kind of good to be a uniter, not a divider.

But wait, here's how he closes his article: "This makes reversing U.S. decadence an urgent priority, not just for Christians, but for all Americans. If our cultural rot continues unabated, a Talibanized West may no longer be a joke, but grim reality."

If by "cultural rot" he means "self-righteous convicted felons hijacking our religious and political systems," I totally agree. Because from where I sit, Chuck Colson is the Mullah-fucking-Omar of our own Christo-Taliban. Frankly, he and his ilk have done a lot more to hurt me over the course of my life than the Taliban, Osama, and Saddam Hussein combined. The hate Colson, Dobson, and Falwell preach is just as dangerous as the filth that flows from any madrassa in Peshawar or Jeddah. It motivates people to hatred in the name of religion and leads to policies that have killed tens of thousands of gays in this country in the past 20 years: AIDS, gay bashing, and the shameful statistic that gay kids are three times more likely to kill themselves. And not a day goes by that I don't thank God that none of those fates befell me.

So go Taliban yourself, you lousy criminal. And may you-- despite your pretense of following Christ-- join Osama and Saddam in their "special place in Hell."

Rove is scum

Talking Points Memo has a post that Rove look like the most evilly effective propagandist since Goebbels.

"So now we get some details about how the Rove treatment works -- and not just speculation, but with descriptions from former Rove staffers who helped organize some of his trademark whispering campaigns."

"An article out this week in The Atlantic Monthly focuses specifically on a series of races Rove ran in Texas and Alabama in the 1990s."

"The Alabama races in particular haven't gotten that much national press attention in the past. And one of the most lizardly passages in the article describes how Rove launched a whispering campaign against one Democratic opponent suggesting that the candidate -- a sitting Alabama state Supreme Court Justice, who had long worked on child welfare issues -- was in fact a pedophile ..."

When his term on the court ended, he chose not to run for re-election. I later learned another reason why. Kennedy had spent years on the bench as a juvenile and family-court judge, during which time he had developed a strong interest in aiding abused children. In the early 1980s he had helped to start the Children's Trust Fund of Alabama, and he later established the Corporate Foundation for Children, a private, nonprofit organization. At the time of the race he had just served a term as president of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect. One of Rove's signature tactics is to attack an opponent on the very front that seems unassailable. Kennedy was no exception.

Some of Kennedy's campaign commercials touted his volunteer work, including one that showed him holding hands with children. "We were trying to counter the positives from that ad," a former Rove staffer told me, explaining that some within the See camp initiated a whisper campaign that Kennedy was a pedophile. "It was our standard practice to use the University of Alabama Law School to disseminate whisper-campaign information," the staffer went on. "That was a major device we used for the transmission of this stuff. The students at the law school are from all over the state, and that's one of the ways that Karl got the information out—he knew the law students would take it back to their home towns and it would get out." This would create the impression that the lie was in fact common knowledge across the state. "What Rove does," says Joe Perkins, "is try to make something so bad for a family that the candidate will not subject the family to the hardship. Mark is not your typical Alabama macho, beer-drinkin', tobacco-chewin', pickup-drivin' kind of guy. He is a small, well-groomed, well-educated family man, and what they tried to do was make him look like a homosexual pedophile. That was really, really hard to take."

So really, my friends, Kerry is getting off easy with the Swift Boat thing. It could be a lot worse.

September 22, 2004

Pentagon blocking overseas voting website

The International Herald Tribune has this infuriating yet unsurprising item:

"In a decision that could affect Americans abroad who are not yet registered to vote in the Nov. 2 presidential election, the Pentagon has begun restricting international access to the official Web site intended to help overseas absentee voters cast ballots."

Apparently, the site "keeps getting hacked." I can't decide under which case we are the more fucked: if the Pentagon can't build a reasonably secure and available website, or if they think we're all so stupid that they can get by with an abuse like that.

Because really, the soldiers who are fighting and dying don't deserve the right to vote. If they want to vote against Bush, clearly they hate America. Why do our soldiers hate America?

More to the point, why does the Pentagon administer this program at all?

September 17, 2004

Breslin calls BS on polls

God bless Jimmy Breslin for the best news of my day:

Anybody who believes these national political polls are giving you facts is a gullible fool.

Any editors of newspapers or television news shows who use poll results as a story are beyond gullible. On behalf of the public they profess to serve, they are indolent salesmen of falsehoods.

This is because these political polls are done by telephone. Land-line telephones, as your house phone is called.

The telephone polls do not include cellular phones. There are almost 169 million cell phones being used in America today - 168,900,019 as of Sept. 15, according to the cell phone institute in Washington.

So not only are these polls not touching the several hundred thousand new votes recruited by the 527s and other groups, they are structured to miss the large, growing, and overwhelmingly young group that has only a cell phone.

This is great news. But it's also another example of lazy political and media institutions skewing our perception of events. Do NOT despair about the polls... Kerry may be doing far better than any of the numbers show.

September 15, 2004

Don't support the president? No hot meal for you, soldier!

From Daily Kos:

What did you think about President Bush's Thanksgiving visit to Iraq?

I was there when President Bush came to the [Baghdad] airport. The day before, you had to fill out a questionnaire and answer questions, that would determine whether they would allow you in the room with the President.

What was on the questionnaire?

"Do you support the president?"

Really!

Yes.

Members of the military were asked whether they support the president politically?

Yes. And if the answer was not a gung-ho, A-1, 100 percent yes, then you were not allowed into the cafeteria. You were not allowed to eat the Thanksgiving meal that day. You had an MRE.

What's an MRE?

Meals ready to eat. We also call them "meals refused by Ethiopians."

Bush AWOL

No discussions of typography in this Flash animation, but it's fun, it makes its point, and it has a kick-ass A-team soundrack. Go check it out.

September 13, 2004

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

The ghost of Orwell lingers heavy on this anniversary of 9/11. While Cheney continues to insist that the war in Iraq is the leading front on the War on Terror, it is becoming increasingly clear that not only are we losing Iraq to the insurgents, but that this unneccessary war has stripped us of perhaps the only chance we had to control terrorism, as this excellent essay explains. Choice quotes:


The US cleverly outfoxed al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, using air power and local Afghan allies (the Northern Alliance) to destroy the Taliban without many American boots on the ground.

Ironically, however, the Bush administration then went on to invade Iraq for no good reason, where Americans faced the kind of wearing guerrilla war they had avoided in Afghanistan...

After the Iraq War, Bin Laden is more popular than George W. Bush even in a significantly secular Muslim country such as Turkey. This is a bizarre finding, a weird turn of events. Turks didn't start out with such an attitude. It grew up in reaction against US policies.


Meanwhile, the Bush administration remains happy to admit known terrorists into US borders when it suits their political purposes.

September 11, 2004

Too good not to post

David gave you the link, but we need the actual image... priceless.

jesusbush.jpg

September 09, 2004

Bad day for good targets

Which is, of course a good day for the Republic. The American Prospect catches Cheney in his lies about Kerry being soft on defense:

In March of this year, Cheney attacked Kerry for having “repeatedly voted against weapons systems for the military,” hammering the senator for voting “against the Apache helicopter, against the Tomahawk cruise missile, against even the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.” He said this record has “given us ample doubts about [Kerry’s] judgment and the attitude he brings to bear on vital issues of national security.”

What Cheney leaves out of his stump speeches is the ironic fact that almost all of the cuts Kerry voted for were endorsed or originally proposed by Cheney himself. At issue is not the cuts themselves, but the hypocrisy of Cheney attacking an opponent who merely followed his lead.

Cheney accuses Kerry of calling for “major reductions or outright cancellations of many of our most important weapons systems”; Bush ads attack the senator for voting “against 13 weapons systems for our troops” over 20 years. But it was Defense Secretary Cheney who gloated that he had “put an end to more than 100 systems” in less than three years. In December 1991, he bragged to the Washington Post that he was setting “an all-time record as Defense Secretary for canceling or stopping production” of weapons and equipment.

And Cheney has gotten specific. He regularly attacks Kerry’s vote against the B-2 stealth bomber in October 1990. But seven months earlier, Cheney had put forth the proposal to cut the B-2 bomber program. Cheney cites Kerry’s vote against the AH-64 Apache helicopter. But it was Cheney who told Congress in 1989, “I forced the Army to make choices . . . I recommended that we cancel the AH-64 program two years out.”

Cheney slams Kerry’s vote against the F-14 aircraft in October 1990; according to the Post, Cheney “asked Congress to kill” the F-14 in 1991 and had been “skeptical" of a proposal to continue production of the planes as early as 1990. Cheney hammers Kerry for voting against the F-16 aircraft and the Trident submarine, yet Kerry was merely endorsing cancellations proposed by Cheney -- who, according to The Boston Globe, had “decided the military already [had] enough” of those weapons. Cheney accuses Kerry of voting against “even the Bradley Fighting Vehicle." But in 1991 it was Cheney’s Pentagon that said it wanted “to terminate such Gulf War veterans as the . . . Bradley Fighting Vehicle.”

At one point, Cheney told the Post he had terminated “the F-14, F-15 and F-16 fighters, the A-6, A-12, AV-8B and P-3 Navy and Marine planes, and the Army's Apache helicopter and M-1A1 tank.” Five of these weapons systems are listed by the Bush campaign in its attempts to chastise Kerry for his anti-defense votes. Cheney was so successful at cutting weapons that The Boston Globe worried “The Army's cupboard is left particularly bare . . . [it] will soon have virtually no major weapons in production.”

Cheney has even gotten specific about dates, condemning Kerry for supposedly calling for defense cuts “in 1984, in the middle of the Cold War.” But it was near the end of 1984, at the height of Cold War tensions, that Cheney told the Washington Post that President Reagan needed to “take a whack” at defense if he wanted to be a credible commander-in-chief. If Reagan “doesn't really cut defense,” Cheney told the Post, “he becomes the No. 1 special pleader in town.”

Huhn. This, coupled with the embarrassing explosion of evidence the White House tried to hide about Bush's disobeying a direct order while slithering out of his National Guard service, makes me downright gleeful.

The only thing that could be better? Hearing that Chimpy snorted coke at Camp David while Poppy was president. Oh, wait--that's exactly what Kitty Kelley says Bush's former sister-in-law told her. Sharon Bush is now backing off, but Kelley is a celebrity dirt muckraker-- but there is no way her publishers would have printed such a charge without backup. Clearly, Bush would sue them... if it were false.

September 08, 2004

Excellent Targets, Really

But are the good enough? Is there a target good enough to convince the majority of people in this country that W is a lying sack of shit? We have, today, stories about all of the folks saying that W not only got his ass out of going to Vietnam by joining the National Guard, but plenty of credible witnesses saying he didn't even bother showing up for duty. And yet those Swiftboat Veterans for Bush can hurt Kerry.

And we've got Bob Graham publishing a book about how as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee was blocked by the Bush administration from investigating Saudi government ties to 9/11.

I see that little election ticker on this site and I'm amazed that the race is so close even though it's been shown that Bush lied about the two main reasons for going into Iraq--weapons of mass destruction and ties to the 9/11 attacks. That should have made it clear to any person with half a brain that Bush was a liar and a war criminal.

So why should it make a difference to anyone that Bush didn't go after those he knew to be involved but were close personal allies? It seems clearer and clearer that the Saudis were very willingly and actively providing support to al Qaeda, and yet we accept that bin Laden asking for money from Iraq, a request which was ignored, constitutes enough collusion to justify invading and occupying a country.

Graham was interviewed by Salon about his upcoming book on this very topic today. In discussing Omar al-Bayoumi, who provided assistance to the 9/11 hijackers, Graham says:

Let me say that what we know about this comes primarily from FBI and CIA reports that were in the file in San Diego. And in those files, FBI agents referred to Bayoumi as being a Saudi Arabian agent or Saudi Arabian spy. In the summer of 2002, a CIA agent filed a report that said it was "incontrovertible" that terrorists were receiving assistance, financial and otherwise, from Saudis in San Diego. No. 2: Bayoumi was supposed to be working for a firm that was a subcontractor for the Saudi civil aviation authority. Yet he never showed up for work. His boss tried to fire him, and he received a letter from the Saudi civil aviation authority demanding that he be retained on their payroll despite the fact he wasn't performing any services. And the subcontracting company that employed Bayoumi was owned by a Saudi national who, according to documents seized in Bosnia, was an early financial backer of al-Qaida. Now, that's rather suspicious.

Also suspicious is the number of telephone conversations between Bayoumi and Saudi government representatives. It was a very substantial number that remains classified. Then, the event that really raised our suspicions was that shortly after Alhazmi and Almihdhar flew from Bangkok [Thailand] to Los Angeles [after attending an al-Qaida conference in Malaysia that resulted in their being added to a CIA watch list], Bayoumi tells various persons that he was going to Los Angeles to "pick up some visitors." He drives from San Diego to Los Angeles with a friend. His first stop in Los Angeles was at the consulate of the Saudi government, where he stays for an hour and meets with a diplomat named Fahad al-Thumairy, who subsequently was deported for terrorist-related activities.

He goes on to talk about how after that meeting Bayoumi and friend went to a Middle Eastern restaurant and met with two of the 9/11 hijackers. How convenient.

If there ever was a smoking gun in this whole thing, it should be this story. Again, Graham, "there has been a long-term special relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and that relationship has probably reached a new high under the George W. Bush administration, in part because of the long and close family relationship that the Bushes have had with the Saudi royal family."

It is absolutely unbelievable to me that our Congress spent so much time, energy, and money investigating whether or not Bill Clinton got a blow job in the Oval Office and that we're not actively pursuing charges against the current president for what can, at best, be described as serious war crimes.

This is too serious not to read, so I encourage you all to go read the whole article, but if you don't have a membership and can't wait through the 30 second Verizon ad to get to whole story, continue on for some more of the interview.

Along those lines, you said that in a meeting at the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., in February 2002, Gen. Tommy Franks, who was then conducting the war in Afghanistan, told you that resources were already being shifted quietly to Iraq. Additionally, you write that Franks told you that Somalia and Yemen, not Iraq, were the next logical targets in any action to combat terrorism.
Yes. I had just received a briefing on Afghanistan when Gen. Franks invited me to come into his office, just the two of us. He told me that military and intelligence resources were being redeployed from Afghanistan to Iraq. What that suggested to me was [first] that the decision to go to war in Iraq had been made at least 14 months before we actually went to Iraq, and long before there was authorization from Congress and long before the United Nations was sought out for a resolution of support. Secondly, it suggested we couldn't fight the two wars concurrently to victory, but that it would take redeployment of personnel from Afghanistan to Iraq to make that a successful invasion. Third, it suggested that somebody -- I assume the president -- had decided that Iraq was a higher priority for the United States than was completing the war in Afghanistan.

Why do you think Franks told you this?
I don't know what his motivation was, but we had just heard a report on the status of the war in Afghanistan, which was very upbeat, [saying] we were making a lot of progress. So one motivation may have been to caution me that things in reality weren't necessarily what they appeared to be.

Do you believe the White House manipulated the intelligence to persuade the public to back the invasion? "Manipulate" may be too strong a word for you. But it took a request from you and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to get the intelligence community to produce a National Intelligence Estimate on the danger posed by Iraq, a step that would seem an obvious one to take, considering the stakes to the nation.
I am comfortable with the word "manipulate." There was a chapter that did not become known until three or four months ago that occurred in May 2002. Various leaders of the CIA were called down to the White House and told that the White House wanted to have a public document that could be released under the CIA's label but which would make the case for going to war with Iraq. I think one of the reasons they didn't want to do a formal National Intelligence Estimate was because it would be done not by the CIA alone but by all of the members of the intelligence community, and it was likely to reach a different conclusion. At least it would contain dissenting opinions and caveats that wouldn't be in a CIA public document.

This description of the CIA is one that is under the complete control of the White House, an agency that is not independent but highly politicized.
That's right. It is the expression of the leadership of the intelligence agencies, trying to placate their masters in the administration.

A later inquiry conducted by the Senate intelligence committee under your successor as chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., looked at the quality of intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and concluded that it was execrable. Yet the Republicans on the panel blocked any probe of whether the administration pressured the intelligence agencies to manufacture the conclusions it sought to justify a war that it had already decided to wage. If you had still been the top Democrat on the committee, would you have insisted that the White House and the agencies be included in that probe?
I think Sen. Jay Rockefeller [D-W.Va.], who is the vice chairman of the committee, did insist, and the effect of that was to make clear to him that there would be no investigation of anything if he persisted. I think he decided the better course was to agree to just do the first component if there was a commitment to do the rest at a reasonably close later date.

September 02, 2004

Rabid-eyed whack-jobs ... and stalkers too!

I know how this guy feels. Getting unsolicited letters from an undesired suitor is one thing, but when it turns into outright stalking, that's just creepy. Jay and I have also been receiving autographed copies of George and Laura, and I wish it would stop. I don't want anyone to think I'm associated with a party which offers rabid-eyed whack jobs as the keynote speaker of their convention, while simultaneously claiming that the DNC offered "little but bitterness and anger" at theirs.

August 30, 2004

Cheap secrets

How do you spot an air marshal, those super-secret officers protecting our skies from terrorists? Just look for the guy asking for the Air Marshal's Discount at the check-in desk.

I don't know what's more disturbing: that we're willing to risk exposing the marshals to save a few bucks, or that we've downgraded a frontline in the War on Terror (TM) from Sheraton to Super 8. Ugh.


August 27, 2004

What goes around, comes around

Al French, a prosecutor in the Portland area, recently joined in the "Swift Boaters are Liars" mess when he swore that John Kerry was lying about his Vietnam record. French was there, but had no part in the specific events, nor did he have personal knowledge about the events. After this attorney was challenged about the veracity of his affidavit, he admitted that his testimony was based on his very good friends' knowledge. Oh, OK, then.

Well, turns out that Mr. French has had a problem with telling the truth on more than this occasion. He is being placed on leave because it turns out that he lied about having an affair with a secretary (this would have been grounds for dismissal as it violated the office rules). He lied to keep his job and has now been busted. Also seems that he was fired before (and later reinstated by a new boss) for taking an unauthorized four-week leave.

Let me just state for the record: "Other attorneys hate guys like this. He is not representative of those of us with integrity."

Read the whole Oregonian article here.

August 25, 2004

"He kept rolling away from me. He's quite mobile."

Talking Points Memo has a priceless entry about Bush, his pals, and their sense of humor.

As we wrote earlier, Max Cleland and Jim Rassman went to the president's "ranch" today to present him with a letter Cleland got stopped a the first roadblock.

He tried to give the letter to secret service officials guarding (giving the word rather a new meaning) the president. But the president got a political ally from Texas, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson -- who is also a vet -- to show up and offer to take the letter, if Cleland would take a letter from him in exchange.

(The press accounts I've seen thus far don't mention what the Bush campaign letter said.)

Cleland told him never mind; he'd rather stick it in the mail.

That prompted Patterson to utter this pricelessly unlovely retort ...

"I tried to accept that letter and he would not give it to me," said Patterson. "He would not face me. He kept rolling away from me. He's quite mobile."

Yes, quite mobile. Classic.

Did I mention that President Bush is addicted to having others do his dirty work for him?

Am I honor-bound to thank him for giving me this priceless example?

I don't want to be accused of not doing my duty.

So a former Senator who lost three limbs in Vietnam is just a funny joke to Bush and his friends. Makes my blood boil.

August 23, 2004

Erm, thanks ever so, old chap, but I couldn't possibly!

TBogg picks up the news about the latest wrinkle in the "special relationship."

BRITISH Prime Minister Tony Blair is refusing to fly to the US to receive a medal bestowed on him by the nation for his support over last year's Iraq war, a London newspaper reported today.

US President George W. Bush has put huge pressure on his closest ally to pick up the Congressional Medal of Honour in person, the Sunday Mirror said, quoting a senior British government source.

Mr Blair is immensely popular with large sections of the American public for his staunch support of the Iraq war and the White House believes a visit by the prime minister now would provide a much-needed boost to Mr Bush's re-election campaign, the weekly said.

"There has been a lot of telephone traffic between the White House and Downing Street over the medal in recent week," the Sunday Mirror quoted a senior government source as saying.

"George Bush wants the prime minister to come to Washington and pick up the medal, which is the highest honour America can bestow on a foreigner.

"But he has refused for more than a year now and for good reason. He cannot possibly accept an award for the Iraq war when British and American troops continue to risk their lives there."


August 18, 2004

Yo! GOP Raps!

This short imagines W & Co as another variety of thugs. Just be glad they didn't include the hos. Safe for my work, but probably not yours. (Thanks for the link, Jason!)

August 12, 2004

No president left behind

This would be funny, if it wasn't so incredibly sad.

August 11, 2004

Rugby W style: lies and penalties

The New York Daily News Daily Dish & Gossip column today has a bit on Bush lying about playing "varsity rugby" at Yale. Ha.

Varsity mendacity?: With all the controversy about John Kerry's Vietnam medals and ribbons, who'd have thought that loyal George W. Bush aide Karen Hughes would be the one to catch the President fibbing about a supposed varsity letter? In her new book, "Ten Minutes From Normal," Hughes recounts a conversation with Bush after Russian President Vladimir Putin grilled him on his Yale days.

"President Putin knew you had played rugby, but he didn't have the context. I mean, you just played for one semester in college, right?" Hughes said.

Bush corrected: "I played for a year, and it was the varsity."

Yesterday, a Yale spokeswoman confirmed that there's no such thing as varsity rugby at Yale - not when Bush was an undergrad in the 1960s and not today.

There is, however, this record of W suckerpunching a fellow rugger. (I bet he was a back, too.) Here's Kos's quote from the yearbook caption about that photo:

Incidentally, while rugby is a contact sport, every player knows that tackling above the shoulders is a foul. So is leaving your feet during a tackle. Either of these is serious enough that the other team is immediately awarded a penalty kick, often directly resulting in points for the other team.

So even without throwing a punch, Bush is already well outside fair play.

Grasping an opponent by the back of the head and punching him in the face is beyond the pale -- I've watched rugby avidly for years, and I've never seen it during an open-field tackle like this, honest -- and will typically result in a player being immediately sent off.

That's it--let's red-card the bastard for suckerpunching our democracy, sending soldiers to needless death, and of course, for that chimpy little smirk we all see in our nightmares now.

August 09, 2004

Safety Second

This chart from the NYT (also cached for posterity here) sums up better than I ever could the utter falsity of the justification of the War on Iraq as a broadside in the War on Terror. Just look at what real safety $140 billion could have got us. And this doesn't even count the cost of inflaming Arab hostility to the US that the war actually caused.

Politics first, intelligence... never

So The Poor Man tells us all about the Bush administration's other Pakistani "Stop the Presses!"--and how it also may have compromised the goals of good intelligence. The al Qaeda bad guy they announced having nabbed at the end of the Democratic convention last month had actually been nabbed four days earlier (inconveniently, at a time with less news value for the Badministration). The only problem is, the expedient time to released that information came before intelligence officials had fully interrogated him. Even those crazy Pakistanits knew what a bad idea this was:

Though there is no policy governing how long to keep such arrests secret, standard intelligence practices dictate that the capture should not have been made public until investigators had finished with Ghailani (and the laptop and computer disks he had been captured with). Indeed, Ghailani may still talk, but some current and former American officials fear that, by broadcasting his name around the world, the Pakistanis have reduced the value of the intelligence that interrogators can extract from him. "Now, anything that he was involved in is being shredded, burned, and thrown in a river," a senior counterterrorism official told the Los Angeles Times. "We have to assume anyone affiliated with this guy is on the run ... when, usually, we can get great stuff as long as we can keep it quiet." Adds former CIA operative Robert Baer: "It makes no sense to make the announcement then. Presumably, everything [Al Qaeda] does is compartmented. By announcing to everybody in the world that we have this guy, and he is talking, you have to assume that you shoot tactics. To keep these guys off-balance, a lot of this stuff should be kept in secret. You get no benefit from announcing an arrest like this. You always want to get these guys when they are on vacation, when they are not expecting you."

Strong leader. Safer America. Turning a corner. Full of shit.

August 07, 2004

More Fox News randomness

I love this blog: Boing Boing: Fox News attacks Disney for insufficient homophobia

Fox News's review of the Disney PC contained a totally random hysterical condemnation of the company for permitting the annual Gay Day events at its parks.

VARNEY: Well, you know, I -- exactly. I mean, in June you have "Gay Days" at your theme parks. You got any 'Gay Days' on the Mickey computer?

IGER: Well, this has built into it all kinds of protective devices that protects the kid, or the child from internet sites that a parent wouldn't deem appropriate. Also, the fact --

VARNEY: Well, you don't protect the kids from "Gay Days" at the theme parks, do you? Why do you have to protect them in the computer?

August 06, 2004

Crazy Christians: Obama is the antichrist

You have the read the Google cache because the owners of christian-forums.com clearly realize how nuts it sounds, but thankfully Pandagon got to it first. In case you're wondering just how nutty a wingnut can be, read this (I can't be bothered to put in all his scare links):

Barack Obama The Antichrist

Did anyone catch this guys speech at the Democratic Convention? This guy bothers me, and here is why. First of all, Barack means blessed. This is from his bio:The lanky candidate speaks with grace, often without notes; strangers greet him enthusiastically on the street.

Even Republicans are complimentary. He exudes confidence and finesse Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois told USA Today.

And yet, in the middle of reporters' scrums and enthusiastic greetings from strangers, Obama has remained preternaturally calm (exceeding what is natural or regular).

"The rich guy flamed out, and Obama was right there," said Mendell. "He ran a really smart primary campaign. He waited until the ninth inning to score all his runs. ... It was masterfully done. (His running mate Jack Ryan withdrew from the race because of sexual activity claimed by his wife.) He was introduced by longtime Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who referred to Obama as a man who can help heal the division in our nation.

This guy just sounds to perfect to me. He came on the scene vertually unheard of except in Illinois. I looked at the polls this morning, and Burack Obama had more of a percentage rate then anyone giving speeches at the Democratic Convention...INCLUDING KERRY!!!

He continues in another post:

Yes, it is uncanny the way that people are flocking to him. He has an eerie magnetism. I watched his speech, and I was almost spellbound. He said ALL of the right things. Even the tv commentators said that they had never heard such a good speech at a convention before. I'm going with my gut on this one. My sister and I both feel something "spooky" about this guy, but can't quite figure out what it is. It is odd that strangers come up to him on the street. Why would they do that, unless they were drawn to him.
You are right GodSaves, we are supposed to watch, and those that do not, aren't very bright to say the least. Jesus didn't give us His word with all of the information in it for no apparent reason.

The good news is that there were quite a few posters like this:

It's a shame when a Christian becomes "bothered" just because a man's name means "blessed", speaks well, and is popular within the political community. Come on, Grace; can't a guy give a good speech without somebody in the Christian world becoming "bothered" due to some dubious eschatological fear?

This thread is really ridiculous.

I grew up with people who were obsessed by "dubious escahtological fears" and any view into their brains is like jumping through Alice's looking glass. The bad news here is that these are precisely the people Karl Rove believes Bush has to cater to. And boy do they love Dick Cheney. Hmmm... Keeps coming back to life after heart attacks, has a mechanical device in his chest that is definitely NOT mentioned in the Bible, and his offspring is an evil lesbian. If American politics has really devolved into a game of "spot the Antichrist," Cheney gets my vote. Any other nominations?

August 05, 2004

OK, she's a wing nut and a liar

Annie Jacobson, that is. Planes are fine, I'm told. Sorry y'all.

AP, not Onion: "Bush Insists His Administration Seeking 'new Ways to Harm Our Country'

Furreal y'all:

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush offered up a new entry for his catalog of "Bushisms" on Thursday, declaring that his administration will "never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people."

Bush misspoke as he delivered a speech at the signing ceremony for a $417 billion defense spending bill.

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Bush said. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

No one in Bush's audience of military brass or Pentagon chiefs reacted.

Why do I love the Boss?

Because he rocks in so many ways.

A few years ago, when Christine Todd Whitman was appointed head of the EPA and New Jersey was holding elections for the governor's post, there was a movement to nominate Bruce Springsteen. He said he wouldn't run, but if he had, I would have given some thought to moving back there to vote for our state hero.

Yesterday, MoveOn.org announced a series of concerts including Bruce, the Dixie Chicks, Dave Matthews, our own Death Cab for Cutie, and several other big name musical acts who are trying to bring about a regime change in November.

Today, Bruce has a piece in The New York Times op-ed page, an eloquent and passionate article, explaining the Vote for Change coalition.

Explaining his decision to come out as a political activist after so many years of not directly endorsing any one party or candidate:

Like many others, in the aftermath of 9/11, I felt the country's unity. I don't remember anything quite like it. I supported the decision to enter Afghanistan and I hoped that the seriousness of the times would bring forth strength, humility and wisdom in our leaders. Instead, we dived headlong into an unnecessary war in Iraq, offering up the lives of our young men and women under circumstances that are now discredited. We ran record deficits, while simultaneously cutting and squeezing services like afterschool programs. We granted tax cuts to the richest 1 percent (corporate bigwigs, well-to-do guitar players), increasing the division of wealth that threatens to destroy our social contract with one another and render mute the promise of "one nation indivisible."

I'm also going to add his closing line to my catalog of favorite quotes from this election season. "The country we carry in our hearts is waiting."

AHHH! SCARY!!

This is the face of a Bush supporter (courtesy of the Washington Post):
View image

August 04, 2004

winning friends and influencing people

I know this will come as no surprise to you that the Coalition Provisional Authority was spending Iraqi money in violation of its own rules. We've heard the allegations of political favoritism, overcharging and waste. Now it seems that the CPA was using Iraqi money to pay for things that the US Congress would balk at.

This is one of the reasons that Bush could say unequivocally that he would invade again. Because knowing what he knows now he would still want all of his cronies and people in a position to do his administration a favor to get richer at the expense of Iraqi and US citizens. This was never about "freedom and democracy." This was about getting Halliburton's hands on the oil money that was previously going to French and Russian companies under the UN oil for food program.

Now that they have pillaged the Iraqis for more than a billion dollars do you think they will be satisfied? I'm betting no.

August 02, 2004

John Edwards, Trial Lawyers, and McDonald's Coffee

With Edwards on the ticket serving as an easy shorthand for the Repub obsession with tort reform, this post on Daily Kos is a great rebuttal of the repeated attempts to make the "coffee in the lap" lawsuit look frivolous. Especially after seeing evidence of the company's perfidy in Super-size Me it's pretty easily to see how McDonald's got hit with the kind judgment it did. So next time somebody uses the example to butress their case, ask them if they think $800 is a decent offer of compensation for $200,000 worth of medical costs. Four words, friends: Skin grafts on groin.

"Straight Talk from the White House West"

We love Will Ferrell, and love ACT for their GOTV creativity.

July 30, 2004

Cold war: Reloaded

With all the news about the hot war in Iraq and the warm war in Afghanistan (not to mention the political battle at home), few have noticed that a new cold war has begin. Slate's Fred Kaplan has, and North Korea is the new Soviet Union.

In 1972, Richard Nixon signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The treaty prevents each side from deploying defense systems which could shoot down nuclear missiles as they approach the home country. It may seem surprising that Nixon would agree to leave the US open to nuclear attack, but in actuality this treaty is a logical agreement to prevent each side engaging in an arms race neither can win.

The fundamental problem, without this treaty in place, is that it's far cheaper to build missiles than it is to build missile defenses. If one side builds, say, four anti-missile silos, then the other just needs to build five missiles and launch them simultaneously. In fact, to guarantee a hit, the offensive side must launch multiple missiles for a strike for a strike to be effective. Anti-missile systems are not 100% effective, so many of these will get through.

Basically, this means that the Hiroshima solution for ending a war is no longer an option. It's all-out annihilation, or it's nothing.

Despite this scenario of mutually-assured destruction, the Bush administration has abandoned the sound principles of the ABM treaty and has quietly deployed one anti-missile interceptor in Alaska (which is on the flight path from Korea). To counter this, North Korea needs to simply build two missiles. We can build more interceptors, of course, but it's easier and much cheaper to build missiles than the network of ground-based and space-based systems necessary to thwart an attack.

And so, it begins. With the third front now open, we now have wars hot, warm, and cold.

Get your (botched) war on

If you don't know about Get Your War On, you should.

war272.gif

Go to the site... it just gets better.

Take your meds, whiners

From the Dep't of Shit you couldn't make up

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A campaign worker for President Bush said on Thursday American workers unhappy with low-quality jobs should find new ones -- or pop a Prozac to make themselves feel better.

"Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?" said Susan Sheybani, an assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt.

The comment was apparently directed to a colleague who was transferring a phone call from a reporter asking about job quality, and who overheard the remark.

When told the Prozac comment had been overheard, Sheybani said: "Oh, I was just kidding."

While recent employment growth has buoyed Bush's economic record, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has argued the new jobs are not as good as those lost due to outsourcing in recent years.

Nearly 1.1 million jobs have been lost since Bush took office in January 2001.

Make that 1,100,001, don't you think? Oh, wait, Bush never fires anyone for incompetence--too frightening a concept for Chimpy McCokespoon.

July 29, 2004

It's been a busy week

So I guess I missed this amusing story about USA Today's decision not to run a particularly stupid piece by Ann Coulter on the Democratic Convention. Human Events Online published the squashed piece, along with the editorial comments from USA Today, which tend to be along the lines of "I don't get it," and "Is that last sentence supposed to be sarcastic? If so, you sure lost me." The comments definitely make the piece more readable. In addition to the usual Ann Coulter tirade of unreasoned conservatism, the article is really just weird and sort of gives one the impression that Coulter isn't actually at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, but maybe traveling in time back to the 1968 one. For example, following up on her assertion that all of the "pretty girls" at the convention are actually conservative infiltrators, she asserts:

As for the pretty girls, I can only guess that it’s because liberal boys never try to make a move on you without the UN Security Council's approval. Plus, it’s no fun riding around in those dinky little hybrid cars. My pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie chick pie wagons they call "women" at the Democratic National Convention.

I'm not actually sure what to make of this paragraph. Is this to say that all of the democratic women are midwestern granola types? Isn't that what corn-fed implies--from the cornbelt? So then what happened to all the East Coast liberal elitists her ilk is always accusing the left of using to fill it ranks? And "hippie chick pie wagon"? I'm not sure I can even begin to parse that one. Pie wagon? So we've got a whole bunch of tye-dye wearing, unwashed, midwesterners who showed up driving antique Fords? Because I'm not seeing much of that in the images from the current party in Boston.

In response to USA Today's decision not to run the piece, Coulter said, Apparently USA Today doesn’t like my ‘tone,’ humor, sarcasm, etc. etc., which raises the intriguing question of why they hired me to write for them in the first place. Perhaps they thought they were getting Catherine Coulter.”

Or perhaps they thought they were getting a columnist who could write a somewhat controversial, snappy, and amusing opinion piece. I would argue that they were somewhat misguided in believing Ann could deliver on that promise, but I'm sure they were not expecting a piece that sounds like it was generated by one of those automated applications that piece together strings of keywords and phrases to assemble an opinion piece: it uses plenty of the right words, but still doesn't make any sense.


July 28, 2004

What he said

The great Seattle-based "Lawyers, Guns and Money" blog is a joy. We need to meet these guys. The following comment, from the post Refighting the Civil War: the correct rhetorical response is one of the best few sentences I've ever read in a blog.

"States' rights" is, of course, a constitutionally meaningless term. In the context of American constitutionalism, to talk about governments having rights is a giant non-sequitur. States have powers; rights belong to individuals. What "states' rights" means is "rhetorical cover for policies that are completely indefensible on their merits," and when one understands this it makes perfect sense to say that southern secession was about "states' rights."

But more importantly, it's baffling that it's apologists for apartheid police sta...er, "federalism" that bring this up. The obvious response to this line of reasoning is "sure, the Civil War was fought for states' rights. And states' rights lost. Better luck at the track, assholes!" The Civil War seems to be the only conflict in which history was largely written by the losers...

Hats off, gentlemen. We'll footnote you next time we get the chance to use this amazing slapdown. (And imagine our joy that it's an Ann Coulter slapdown!)

July 23, 2004

what a bunch of weidos

OK, here is a fresh perspective on the whole "Annie Jacobsen freaking-out incident". What are the odds of this many weirdos being on the same flight? Sounds like all parties should have handled themselves a tad better.

AIR MARSHALS SAY PASSENGER OVERREACTED
By ERIC LEONARD
KFI NEWS

LOS ANGELES | July 22, 2004 – Undercover federal air marshals on board a June 29 Northwest airlines flight from Detroit to LAX identified themselves after a passenger, “overreacted,” to a group of middle-eastern men on board, federal officials and sources have told KFI NEWS.

The passenger, later identified as Annie Jacobsen, was in danger of panicking other passengers and creating a larger problem on the plane, according to a source close to the secretive federal protective service.

Jacobsen, a self-described freelance writer, has published two stories about her experience at womenswallstreet.com, a business advice web site designed for women.

“The lady was overreacting,” said the source. “A flight attendant was told to tell the passenger to calm down; that there were air marshals on the plane.”

The middle eastern men were identified by federal agents as a group of touring musicians travelling to a concert date at a casino, said Air Marshals spokesman Dave Adams.

Jacobsen wrote she became alarmed when the men made frequent trips to the lavatory, repeatedly opened and closed the overhead luggage compartments, and appeared to be signaling each other.

“Initially it was brought to [the air marshals] attention by a passenger,” Adams said, adding the agents had been watching the men and chose to stay undercover.

Jacobsen and her husband had a number of conversations with the flight attendants and gestured towards the men several times, the source said.

“In concert with the flight crew, the decision was made to keep [the men] under surveillance since no terrorist or criminal acts were being perpetrated aboard the aircraft; they didn’t interfere with the flight crew,” Adams said.

The air marshals did, however, check the bathrooms after the middle-eastern men had spent time inside, Adams said.

FBI agents met the plane when it landed in Los Angeles and the men were questioned, and Los Angeles field office spokeswoman Cathy Viray said it’s significant the alarm on the flight came from a passenger.

“We have to take all calls seriously, but the passenger was worried, not the flight crew or the federal air marshals,” she said. “The complaint did not stem from the flight crew.”

Several people were questioned, she said, but no one was detained.

Jacobsen’s husband Kevin told KFI NEWS he approached a man he thought was an air marshal after the flight had landed.

“You made me nervous,” Kevin said the air marshal told him.

“I was freaking out,” Kevin replied.

“We don’t freak out in situations like this,” the air marshal responded.

Federal agents later verified the musicians’ story.

“We followed up with the casino,” Adams said. A supervisor verified they were playing a concert. A second federal law enforcement source said the concert itself was monitored by an agent.

“We also went to the hotel, determined they had checked into the hotel,” Adams said. Each of the men were checked through a series of databases and watch-lists with negative results, he said.

The source said the air marshals on the flight were partially concerned Jacobsen’s actions could have been an effort by terrorists or attackers to create a disturbance on the plane to force the agents to identify themselves.

Air marshals’ only tactical advantage on a flight is their anonymity, the source said, and Jacobsen could have put the entire flight in danger.

“They have to be very cognizant of their surroundings,” spokesman Adams confirmed, “to make sure it isn’t a ruse to try and pull them out of their cover.”

KFI reporter Jessica Rosenthal contributed to this report.

July 20, 2004

All your urinal are belong to us

This brings new meaning to the category "Good Targets."

Anyone want to help me get these stuck up all over Bellevue?

Krugman: The Arabian Candidate

Go. Read. This. Now. Before they throw Krugman into Abu Ghraib.

Actually, you can just read it below.

July 20, 2004
OP-ED COLUMNIST
The Arabian Candidate
By PAUL KRUGMAN

In the original version of "The Manchurian Candidate," Senator John Iselin, whom Chinese agents are plotting to put in the White House, is a right-wing demagogue modeled on Senator Joseph McCarthy. As Roger Ebert wrote, the plan is to "use anticommunist hysteria as a cover for a communist takeover."

The movie doesn't say what Iselin would have done if the plot had succeeded. Presumably, however, he wouldn't have openly turned traitor. Instead, he would have used his position to undermine national security, while posing as America's staunchest defender against communist evil.

So let's imagine an update - not the remake with Denzel Washington, which I haven't seen, but my own version. This time the enemies would be Islamic fanatics, who install as their puppet president a demagogue who poses as the nation's defender against terrorist evildoers.

The Arabian candidate wouldn't openly help terrorists. Instead, he would serve their cause while pretending to be their enemy.

After an attack, he would strike back at the terrorist base, a necessary action to preserve his image of toughness, but botch the follow-up, allowing the terrorist leaders to escape. Once the public's attention shifted, he would systematically squander the military victory: committing too few soldiers, reneging on promises of economic aid. Soon, warlords would once again rule most of the country, the heroin trade would be booming, and terrorist allies would make a comeback.

Meanwhile, he would lead America into a war against a country that posed no imminent threat. He would insinuate, without saying anything literally false, that it was somehow responsible for the terrorist attack. This unnecessary war would alienate our allies and tie down a large part of our military. At the same time, the Arabian candidate would neglect the pursuit of those who attacked us, and do nothing about regimes that really shelter anti-American terrorists and really are building nuclear weapons.

Again, he would take care to squander a military victory. The Arabian candidate and his co-conspirators would block all planning for the war's aftermath; they would arrange for our army to allow looters to destroy much of the country's infrastructure. Then they would disband the defeated regime's army, turning hundreds of thousands of trained soldiers into disgruntled potential insurgents.

After this it would be easy to sabotage the occupied country's reconstruction, simply by failing to spend aid funds or rein in cronyism and corruption. Power outages, overflowing sewage and unemployment would swell the ranks of our enemies.

Who knows? The Arabian candidate might even be able to deprive America of the moral high ground, no mean trick when our enemies are mass murderers, by creating a climate in which U.S. guards torture, humiliate and starve prisoners, most of them innocent or guilty of only petty crimes.

At home, the Arabian candidate would leave the nation vulnerable, doing almost nothing to secure ports, chemical plants and other potential targets. He would stonewall investigations into why the initial terrorist attack succeeded. And by repeatedly issuing vague terror warnings obviously timed to drown out unfavorable political news, his officials would ensure public indifference if and when a real threat is announced.

Last but not least, by blatantly exploiting the terrorist threat for personal political gain, he would undermine the nation's unity in the face of its enemies, sowing suspicion about the government's motives.

O.K., end of conceit. President Bush isn't actually an Al Qaeda mole, with Dick Cheney his controller. Mr. Bush's "war on terror" has, however, played with eerie perfection into Osama bin Laden's hands - while Mr. Bush's supporters, impressed by his tough talk, see him as America's champion against the evildoers.

Last week, Republican officials in Kentucky applauded bumper stickers distributed at G.O.P. offices that read, "Kerry is bin Laden's man/Bush is mine." Administration officials haven't gone that far, but when Tom Ridge offered a specifics-free warning about a terrorist attack timed to "disrupt our democratic process," many people thought he was implying that Al Qaeda wants George Bush to lose. In reality, all infidels probably look alike to the terrorists, but if they do have a preference, nothing in Mr. Bush's record would make them unhappy at the prospect of four more years.

July 19, 2004

NYer has the whole scoop

On what Cheney and Leahy REALLY said:

Mr. Leahy then suggested that the president of the Senate take his gavel and use it to perform an act that, while not technically impossible in anatomical terms, would certainly be considered both unseemly and unhygienic, and which would require an unusual combination of single-minded ambition and physical relaxation.

July 16, 2004

Undemocratic Bush

The fundamental requirements for true democracy include an informed populace, separation of government and the ruling party, and checks on the leaders power. America under the Bush Administration fails on all three counts, as explained in this excellent article by Jonathan Chait. Read it.

Here's just one example of many of undemocratic behaviour from the Republicans:

Last year, the administration proposed a rule change allowing companies to deny more of their workers overtime pay. Under public pressure, the Senate and the House both voted to bar the change. But then a conference committee--which, by rule, may only iron out differences between the House and Senate, not rewrite provisions on which the two chambers agree--inserted it into a bill anyway. ... The beauty of this end-run tactic, for the GOP leadership, is that they get the unpopular policies they desire, but politically vulnerable Republicans can tell their constituents they voted against them. Democracy only works if voters know who to blame if they don't get their way. Today, however, Congress is run specifically to prevent that from happening.

July 14, 2004

Barbie Bush on a bender

W's daughter apparently really loves to party... just like good old Dad did before he had to swear the stuff off. Of course we've known this for a long time but the press corps were afraid of getting frozen out for merely mentioning the first daughters. Atrios has a good bit from the interesting NYT article from Sunday that I should have finished reading.

I smile and Barbara Bush smiles wider. "Hi! How are you?" she says in a very loud voice. She immediately wraps her arms around me. "Oh my God," she says enthusiastically, "I love your shirt. Guys, look at her shirt." I am wearing a black turtleneck. Her friends look and nod approvingly. She surveys the room and steps very close to my face. For a minute I think she is going to kiss me. "Oh my God, this place is cool!" she shouts. "How long has it been here?" Even though the music is loud, her voice is much more forceful than needed to be heard.

"Since August," I say.

"It's so nice!" she says, adding, "You have pretty eyes."

[snip]

From behind me I hear a loud voice. "Thank you, this is great, really." I turn around and there is Barbara, drink in hand, so close that if I just thrust my lips out a little we would touch. She is smiling widely, and I smile, too. Her friendliness and lack of pretense make it impossible not to like her.

"I love this song!" Barbara exclaims, grabbing my wrists and starting to wave my arms around. She throws her shoulders back and grinds her hips. It is the part of the evening when the D.J. goes old school with Guns N' Roses. For people who work here every night, this is the saddest point.

Fifteen minutes later, I step outside to make sure the entrance is swept, and there I see Barbara bent over, hands on her knees, out on the sidewalk. "Are you all right?" I ask. Please, I think, don't let me see her throw up.

She spits on the pavement. "Yeah, I just needed some fresh air," she says. She stands and I see her forehead is damp with sweat. It must be 20 degrees out, and windy. I want to go back into the warm restaurant, but I stay with her.

I massage her back for a moment. Finally she lets out a loud burp, mumbles, "Excuse me" and returns inside.


I bet W and Laura are SO proud! I would argue that now that she's campaigning with her Dad, she's fair game.

July 12, 2004

So there was a master plan all along

First of all, I'm going to agree, wholeheartedly, with Timothy Noah who said last week in Slate that the New York Times should keep Barbara Ehrenreich as a permanent replacement for the currently on-leave Thomas Friedman. Every piece she's turned out in that role has been notches above the other NYT columnists.

Yesterday's contribution on the subject of marriage (encouraging it for poor women, banning it for gay people) was no different. Ms. Ehrenreich is smart, funny, and very effective at making her point. But then again, maybe she's right that the larger plan at work here is to encourage gay men to marry poor women and raise them out of poverty AND bad taste.

A particular favorite bit:

Left to themselves, most women end up marrying men of the same social class as their own, meaning — in the case of poverty-stricken women — blue-collar men. But that demographic group has seen a tragic decline in earnings in the last couple of decades. So I have been endeavoring to calculate just how many blue-collar men a T.A.N.F. recipient needs to marry to lift her family out of poverty.

The answer turns out to be approximately 2.3, which is, strangely enough, illegal. Seeking clarity, I called the administration's top marriage maven, Wade Horn at Health and Human Services. H.H.S. is not "promoting" marriage, he told me, just providing "marriage education" for interested couples of limited means. The poor aren't being singled out for any insidious reason, he insisted; this is just a service they might otherwise lack. It could have been Pilates training or courses in orchid cultivation, was the implication, but for now it's marriage education.


July 09, 2004

Trump to Bush: "You're Fired!"

First, the amusing fantasy. Then, in the new Esquire (reported in the NY Daily News, something close to reality:

"What was the purpose of the whole thing?" Donald Trump asks in an Esquire interview. "Hundreds of young people killed. And what about the people coming back with no arms and no legs?"

"The Apprentice" star said it's folly to think Iraq can be turned into a "wonderful democracy."

The real estate baron said if he were President, Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden "would have been caught long ago."

"Tell me, how is it possible that we can't find a guy who's 6-foot-6 and supposedly needs a dialysis machine?" Trump said. "Can you explain that one to me? We have all our energies focused on one place - where they shouldn't be focused."

Hmmm.... The Donald, Iacocca, and Warren Buffett all want Shrub uprooted. When will the other fat cats start listening?

The triumph of ideology over reason

In his response to the first report of the Union of Concerned Scientists (see Feb 19 entry), President Bush claimed that he "believes policies should be made with the best and most complete information possible, and expects his Administration to conduct its business with integrity and in a way that fulfills that belief.” The belief appears to be a hollow one. In their update to the February report, the Union of Concerned Scientists details egregious examples of political litmus tests being applied to scientific appointments to advisory panels. Examples:


  • Several appointees to National Institute of Health advisory councils were contacted by Secretary Tommy Thompson’s office at the Department of Health and Human Services, and asked pointedly political questions, including their opinions of President Bush, their opinions of stem-cell research, whether they supported "faith-based" programs, and who they voted for in the last election. Those who did not answer in alignment with Bush doctrine did not have their nominations approved.

  • 19 of 26 scientific nominations to the board of the Fogarty Center (an NIH branch), including a Nobel laureate, were rejected. The reasons for rejection included signing too many letters in the New York Times critical of Bush, being on the board of a nonprofit reproductive health organization, and publicly supporting abortion rights.

  • Scientific nominations to the President's Council on Bioethics were rejected on the basis of supporting stem cell research, leaving the ideologue-stacked Council with little scientific input.

These actions amount to nothing less than a Lysenkoist coup over the scientific advisory mechanism within the executive branch. Having political appointees ignore scientific evidence is one thing -- as illustrated by the example of the deputy secretary of the Department of the Interior (and former lobbyist for the National Mining Association) rejecting a mountain (pun intended) of data around the devastating environmental impact of mountaintop strip mining. But this scientific McCarthyism means that those scientific opinions will never even be heard, much less considered. The triumph of ideology over reason is complete.

July 08, 2004

Why does the US fear international media?

What kind of country would you have to be, to restrict the entry of foreign journalists? In the company of countries like Cuba, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe, the US does.

Most US citizens aren't aware of this, but foreigners entering the country on a visa or as part of the visa waiver program have to sign a declaration before entry that they are not "bad people". The definition of "bad people" has changed over time: at one point you had to declare that you'd never been a member of a communist party (I remember answering this question myself when I first came to the US as a tourist). In more recent versions, the I-94W visa waiver form asks whether you are a "drug abuser or addict", if you have "ever been arrested or convicted for an offense or crime involving moral turpitude" or if you have been involved "in persecutions associated with Nazi Germany or its allies". As you might guess, you want to be answering "no" to these questions.

But it seems at some point, the small print also mentions that "you may not ... represent the foreign information media during your visit under this program". I never noticed that myself, and I can't find out when this caveat was added to the form. But the fact remains it was only enforced since 9/11. Since then, journalists from the UK, Australia, and many other countries have been denied entry to the US on this basis. Click the links for their horrifying stories, and Slate has a good discussion of these and other instances. Their reports of their treatment at the hands of immigration officials universally describe a horrendous experience. Reporters sans frontières describes the stories of 20 foreign journalists who have been deported on arrival and "treated like criminals, interrogated, searched, detained, photographed, fingerprinted and taken to planes in handcuffs". Some foreign journalists already in the US have even been ordered to leave.

Now, the US is tightening restrictions on journalists once again. As reported in the Guardian, journalists who once were able to renew visas within the US are now compelled to leave the country before they are able to do so. Processing of such visas at consular offices can take between four weeks and six months. The result: significantly fewer foreign journalists reporting on the November election.

Propaganda remix

Pam's right. We need a little Propaganda Remix right about now.

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Check it out.

July 07, 2004

Hey, W, what's the whooshing sound?

Oh, it's the Kerry/Edwards ticket taking the lead in the polls.

Sure, it's a short-term boost, as they'll keep reminding us, but at least it's some momentum to build from, which is what I've been hoping for all along.

July 06, 2004

"One-term Senator"

Thank heavens that Kerry has the good sense to name John Edwards as his running mate. And if this is the worst the Rethuglicans have to say about him, things are looking good. And just let me say this: anyone who wants to attack the VP candidate as underqualified because he's only served 4 years in the Senate might recall that before being appointed President, Bush's sole government experience was as Governor of Texas, a state where the governorship is among the weakest in the nation. And as for foreign-policy experience, another area where Edwards is supposedly "weak," let us remember that Bush has never even travelled abroad before his election, erm, appointment to the Presidency.

PS Now seriously, folks, I want to hear about your Kerry-Edwards donations! The clock is ticking!!!

July 02, 2004

Give to Kerry today!

Listen folks, however you feel about the man and his campaign style to date, today is the day to go to his website and donate. Even if it's only $25 or $50, it makes a difference. This post on Daily Kos explains just how much. Small donors giving over the Internet may well give Kerry the money he needs to beat Bush; he's already the best-funded challenger in history, and much of that is because of small donations. What's more, many small donations help water down the importance of the fewer large ones, meaning that Kerry owes giant corporations and special interests fewer favors once he's elected. But it takes a lot of us to equal one Enron, Halliburton, or Chevron.

Most people don't know that once the Convention is over and he accepts the final Federal matching money payment for the general election, he cannot raise any more funds. We can still give to groups like MoveOn for get out the vote and other activities, but whatever Kerry has at the end of July is what he has through to November 2.

So go, now. Donate! Whatever you can (up to $2,000, of course). Once you have, please post a comment.

That's right, I'm taking roll on this one. I gave $50 on Wednesday but chipped in enough more today to at least buy some peripatetic Kerry staffer lunch. Some of you might have forgotten that I used to make my living as a fundraiser... but for the rest of the month, my harangues will be unmistakable. Every Friday in July is John Kerry Day. Give early, give often, and give as much as you can--even it's only $10. Give until it hurts, my friends--because losing the election in November would be infinitely more painful.

July 01, 2004

Oooh, also!

From the road to surfdom... Anonymous (of "Imperial Hubris") didn't want to be anonymous. Happily, he no longer is.

"Nearly a dozen intelligence-community sources, however, say Anonymous is Michael Scheuer — and that his forced anonymity is both unprecedented and telling in the context of CIA history and modern politics."

And the CIA is pissed. And we know what they do with inconvenient people, don't we!

A great list for anti-Bushers

The great road to surfdom blog just posted "The don't worry, be happy list":

I thought it might be useful for other left-leaning and/or anti-invasion bloggers, commentators, and readers of same to have a central repository of the things that don't matter so that you don't accidentally mention them when you are discussing politics. It might help save a lot of confusion and grief if you realise in advance that some of the things that you think matter don't really matter.
It's an amazing compendium of the incredibly lame responses even reasoned arguments against Bush, the Iraq War, and the GOP in general invariably provoke.

June 30, 2004

Or, show up wearing a Signal Orange tshirt

That'll teach 'em. The Republicans are having trouble finding the 8,000 volunteers they need to watch their Triumph of the Will re-enactment (er, I mean, convention), so the new scheme is to get would-be protesters to sign up, take the training, and then not show up.

June 29, 2004

Clarke reviews "Imperial Hubris"

Wow... if you want to be really upset, read what Dick Clarke has to say about the new anti-Bush screed by an "Anonymous" CIA agent: Finally, the CIA Gets It Right. (Copied below.)

Or just buy the book and read it yourself.

The Washington Post
Sunday, June 27, 2004; Page BW03

IMPERIAL HUBRIS

Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror

By Anonymous. Brassey's.320 pp. $27.50

For those Americans who had begun to doubt whether the Central Intelligence Agency could produce good analysis, Imperial Hubris clearly demonstrates otherwise. It is a powerful, persuasive analysis of the terrorist threat and the Bush administration's failed efforts to fight it. The CIA carefully vetted the book to ensure that no "sources and methods" were exposed, but the anonymous author -- a current CIA official -- draws effectively on the years he's spent carefully studying detailed intelligence reports from several U.S. and many foreign spy agencies. His criticism is damning.

The writer, author of the 2002 book Through Our Enemies' Eyes, declares that the U.S. war on terrorism is a failure. While admitting that President George W. Bush is technically correct when he says that "two-thirds of the known al Qaeda managers have been caught or killed," the author points out that other leaders have emerged to take their place. The president's often-repeated "two thirds" claim is based on an assessment of al Qaeda Shura Council members in September 2001. Some of them, like Muhammad Atef, are dead; he was killed by a CIA-controlled Predator flying over Kabul. Others, like Khalid Sheik Muhammad, are in U.S. custody; he was arrested in Pakistan. Many are under "house arrest" in Iran, in large part because the United States refused to bargain for their handover. Others, notably bin Laden and his deputy, are alive and apparently well, issuing audio tapes to the faithful.

The original al Qaeda, as the author points out, has been overtaken by a series of regionally based, autonomous jihadist terrorist groups, which carried out post-Sept. 11 attacks in Bali, Riyadh, Madrid, Istanbul, Casablanca, Chechnya, the Philippines, Thailand and Iraq. Despite the initial claim of State Department analysts -- in the annual report on terrorism -- that attacks have gone down, this new network of al Qaeda spinoffs has actually staged twice as many attacks since Sept. 11 as al Qaeda had prior to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. (The State Department has now withdrawn its report and corrected its error, admitting that 2003 marked an all-time high for the terrorist incidents.)

Anonymous writes that the conduct of U.S. military operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan has left both countries "seething with anti-U.S. sentiment, fertile grounds for the expansion of al Qaeda and kindred groups." This CIA officer believes the U.S. invasion of Iraq was exactly what bin Laden and his associates had hoped would happen -- a belief that many counterterroism experts privately share. The Iraq invasion gave a new cause to the jihadists and new evidence to Arab militants that Americans are the "new crusaders" -- i.e., foreign infidels bent on conquest. The result has been more recruits, more suicide bombers and more money to the jihadists.

Anonymous underlines a central point: The United States must realize who the enemy is. "The one thing accomplished by refusing to admit a war exists with an enemy of immense durability, manpower, and resources is to delay design of a strategy for victory."

Anonymous has painted a detailed picture of that enemy -- and, despite the administration's ubiquitous phrase, it is not "terrorism," faceless and abstract. Terrorism is a tactic. The enemy is "an Islamic insurgency," a multinational movement to replace governments in the Islamic world with fundamentalist theocracies. Jihadist leaders believe they must eliminate the American presence in the region and U.S. support for existing governments there so that they can seize power. Later, some of them may fight to establish Islamist governments in Europe and America. For now, their combat against the "far enemy" (i.e., us) is designed merely to kick out the struts supporting the "near enemy" (governments in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and elsewhere). Like President Bush, Anonymous argues that we have made the mistake in the past of thinking about these enemies as criminals. But unlike Bush, Anonymous argues that having thus isolated the threat as an Islamic insurgency, the appropriate response is to fight not just with bullets and warrants, but also with ideas -- politically and socially.

To be sure, this will be difficult, given America's loss of credibility around the globe. In order to succeed in this battle, the United States must work with friends in the Islamic world to counter what Anonymous calls the "power of focused, principled hatred." And we must cease acts that fuel the hatred; such conduct is entirely self-defeating and counterproductive. As the U.S. Marines were pulverizing the city of Fallujah in April, members of the U.S.- appointed Iraqi ruling council made just this point. Fortunately, their words of horror made it through to the National Security Council principals meeting at Camp David. But thanks to short-sighted policy decisions, the United States has armed and is now paying the very militia members it was fighting in Fallujah, which only deepens the prospect that the future Iraq will not be a Jeffersonian democracy, but a breeding ground for anti-American jihadists.

Regrettably, Anonymous does not write much on working with Islamic friends. He tends to lump all Muslims into a single group, bound by their dogmatic hatred of America. In that, he is surely wrong -- although less wrong every day. For as he notes, Osama bin Laden is a hero to an ever-increasing percentage of the Muslim world. Should the CIA or the U.S. military ever manage to kill bin Laden, he will be at least as powerful as a martyr as he is now as a fugitive producer of audio tapes.

One would hope that Anonymous is also wrong in predicting that another attack, more powerful than Sept. 11 and perhaps involving weapons of mass destruction, is all but inevitable. Few things are predestined to happen, and hewing to that belief may only create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Anonymous is bitterly critical of the leadership of the CIA, but the most remarkable thing about this book is that the director of Central Intelligence allowed it to be published. Since Imperial Hubris is an important contribution to a necessary debate, we should be grateful to the agency for that clearance -- and for its anonymous author's considerable courage and insight. •

Richard A. Clarke is the author of "Against All Enemies

Regime Change Guide

To quote one of our recent American heroes, "Let's roll." We all need to read this site and pick some activities we can get behind. (I'm up for a voter-registration road trip to a swing state!) Anyway, check out Regime Change Guide :: What You Can Actually Do to Defeat Bush.

June 28, 2004

Yoda Nader Becomes... emmhuh? Strange it is!

Nader calls Moore a 'giant beach ball'

Quoting the WaPo quoting Nader:

Nader, whose 6-foot-4 frame is a lean 190 pounds, said Moore's former Naderite friends are "trim and take care of themselves. Girth they avoid. The more you let them see you, the less they will see of you."

Mmmm... Girth. Sign of the Dark Side. Make fun of Nader they do, know not he is the lone Jedi, defending the Republic!

More SCOTUS analysis

SCOTUSBlog has an excellent analysis of the decisions (link courtesy of Atrios). The headline: "Hamdi and Padilla Appear to be a Huge Loss for the Government."

They start with the big line from Stevens' dissent in Padilla (essentially an argument for deciding against the case on its merits, instead of sending it back to the lower courts on technical grounds):

"At stake in this case is nothing less than the essence of a free society. Even more important than the method of selecting the people's rulers and their successors is the character of the constraints imposed on the Executive by the rule of law. Unconstrained Executive detention for the purpose of investigating and preventing subversive activity is the hallmark of the Star Chamber. Access to counsel for the purpose of protecting the citizen from official mistakes and mistreatment is the hallmark of due process. Executive detention of subversive citizens, like detention of enemy soldiers to keep them off the battlefield, may sometimes be justified to prevent persons from launching or becoming missiles of destruction. It may not, however, be justified by the naked interest in using unlawful procedures to extract information. Incommunicado detention for months on end is such a procedure. Whether the information so procured is more or less reliable than that acquired by more extreme forms of torture is of no consequence. For if this Nation is to remain true to the ideals symbolized by its flag, it must not wield the tools of tyrants even to resist an assault by the forces of tyranny."
To which we can only say, Yeah! (And, perhaps, note a subtle slam at the Court's own hand in deciding the last election for the people. Sort of a "well, we really Cheneyed that one up, so we better get it right here" moment, italics mine.) It's also a good idea to brush up on the history of the "Star Chamber," to see where we would have ended up if Bush et al. had gotten their way here.

SCOTUSblog continues:

In Hamdi, four Justices, including Justice Scalia, conclude that Hamdi's detention itself is unlawful -- a result that Hamdi himself barely argued for (his briefs being more focused on the opportunity to challenge his enemy-combatant status). Four other Justices -- Justice O'Connor, joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Kennedy and Breyer -- conclude that Congress's 9/18/01 authorization of military force (AUMF) authorizes detention of a "narrow" category of persons: those who are "part of or supporting forces hostile to the United States or coalition partners" in Afghanistan and who "engaged in an armed conflict against the United States there." They read the AUMF to authorize detention of such persons "for the duration of the particular conflict in which they were captured" (because, says the plurality, such detention "is so fundamental and accepted an incident to war as to be an exercise of the 'necessary and appropriate force' Congress has authorized the President to use").

The plurality goes on to emphasize, however, that the detention must be "to prevent a combatant's return to the battlefield," which the plurality views as "a fundamental incident of waging war." This means that Hamdi can be held, the plurality concludes, not until the end of the "war on terror," which the plurality acknowledges may not come in Hamdi's lifetime, but only until the end of the "active combat operations in Afghanistan." And here's the key sentence: "Certainly, we agree that indefinite detention for the purpose of interrogation is not authorized."

This should mean that Padilla's detention -- which the Government acknowledges is principally for the purpose of interrogation -- likewise is not authorized. Even if Justice O'Connor's opinion might not conclusively dictate that result, there are (at least) five votes for it: the four dissenters in Hamdi, as well as Justice Breyer, who joins the Stevens dissent in Padilla.


In other words, taking the three cases as a whole, not even the Republican-appointed majority is prepared to back the Bush junta on this one.

A good day for the Republic

In a stunning slapdown for the Bush junta, the Supreme Court came through on the side of liberty in three separate post-9/11 cases. As the NYT The New York Times > Washington >reports,"The Supreme Court ruled today that people being held by the United States as enemy combatants can challenge their detention in American courts -- the court's most important statement in decades on the balance between personal liberties and national security."

For those of you who have been following the cases, Hamdi came down 8-1 (with Clarence Thomas, somehow, dissenting), Guantánamo 6-3, and Padilla 5-4. (The Padilla decision was a more limited ruling apparently based on several technicalities, including where he initially filed for habeas corpus and the questionably naming of Rumsfeld as defendant.)

While the court does appear to sanction the term "illegal combatants," which appears nowhere in international law, it tells the executive branch in no uncertain terms that these individuals do have access to US courts. Quoting O'Connor's opinion in Hamdi: "[the court] made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."

Once these people have a legal voice, you can be sure we're going to hear some nasty things. So while the decisions are not a complete rebuke, it's clear that the administration will not be happy with the results, either now or as these cases cause continuing abuses of power to come to light.

Marti, care to weigh in on this with your probing legal analysis???

June 25, 2004

No Dick, FUCK YOU!!! Wow--I feel better!

Cheney Says He 'Felt Better' After Bitter Exchange (washingtonpost.com)

Vice President Cheney today acknowledged that he had a bitter exchange on the Senate floor with a senior Democratic senator, in which Cheney uttered a big-time obscenity, but said he had no regrets and that he "felt better after I had done it." . . . Later in the interview, Cheney added, laughing, that "a lot of my colleagues felt that what I had said badly needed to be said, that it was long overdue." . . . As it happens, the exchange occurred on the same day the Senate passed legislation described as the "Defense of Decency Act" by 99 to 1.
The more I think about this, the angrier I get. A childhood full of mouth-washing from a society (and religion) that nearly fainted over a few vigorous Anglo-saxon syllables--but had no problem with words like "faggot," "dyke," and "nigger"--has made me sick of the hypocrisy. Our VP's "vocabulary malfunction" changes things for me--like lancing a boil.

From now on, regardless of context, I'm going to use whatever words I like to describe the despots and their neocon toadies. However inappropriate it may be, it probably won't be on the Senate floor--and I won't be running for re-election as Christ's Vicar on Pennsylvania Avenue and Defender of the Faith.

To wit:

That lying sack of shit Cheney may be one heartbeat away from the Presidency, but his name is only two letters away from his (and my) favorite curseword. Henceforth, let all the nonfamously uninhibited join me in referring to him as "Fuck" Cheney. Or, better yet, Dick "Fuck" Cheney... kind of like my elementary school principal was E.O. "Buster" Meeks. Come to think of it, I got sent to his office for cussing not long before he got "reassigned" for... far greater indiscretions.

Iacocca endorses Kerry, Cheney cusses, and Fox lies

For people like my Dad, Lee Iacocca embodies the idea of "CEO as Patriotic Hero." So the news that Iacocca is endorsing Kerry is pretty huge. He stumped for Bush in 2000, but now says "the country needs a change," in large part due to job losses sustained under W. This will be big news in swing states like Michigan and Ohio.

The news might even provoke Cheney to cuss him out, just like he did Sen. Patrick Leahy yesterday on the floor of the Senate. (If only it had been televised so the FCC could sue him!) "Cheney, the aide said, abruptly ended the conversation with a vulgar directive to Leahy. The exact phrasing used is unclear," says the Boston Globe, which in my mind is a pretty clear fig leaf for "go fuck yourself." I could observe on the complete hypocrisy of GOP calls for civility and righteousness, but that's exactly what I'd like to say to Cheney myself if I ran into him on the floor of the Senate so I won't fight for the high ground too hard. (I actually spent some time on the floor of the Senate during my internship for Sen. Boren--the chamber is much smaller than it looks on camera).

Speaking of swing states and news that makes Republicans utter profanities, check out electoral-vote.com, which has Kerry leading 300-238 taking the latest polls into account. They also report that Fox News' latest Florida poll diverges wildly from that of Repub-leaning independent pollster Scott Rasmussen, wondering aloud "if Fox polls are reliable."

Democratic CEOs, cussing Repubs, and questions about Fox's trustworthiness. Yes, today looks like a day when all the things we count on have been called into question!

And if the Irish decided the Geneva convention didn't apply to them either...

Now, I kind of like this idea. Even though it's all symbolic, the Green Party in Ireland has decide to put out an arrest warrent for our president as he prepares to visit there. (I'm so proud of my people right now.) More countries should draw up arrest warrants for Bush. That might eventually send a message. But they would all have to ask themselves if they felt bound by the Geneva convention to offer him a lawyer, or clothes during his detention, or if, in the pursuit of information vital to their safety, they weren't bound by their national or international laws during interrogation sessions.

June 24, 2004

Biden to Bush: Fire Cheney and Rummy

You just thought he was pissed off at Ashcroft about the torture memos. The WaPo is reporting today that Senator Joe Biden told W in the Oval office in front of Cheney that he should "get rid of" both the VP and the Secretary of Defense. Apparently Biden revealed this in a Rolling Stone article (they still get some political scoops!), telling the story thusly:

"I turned to Vice President Cheney, who was there, and I said, 'Mr. Vice President, I wouldn't keep you if it weren't constitutionally required.' I turned back to the president and said, 'Mr. President, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are bright guys, really patriotic, but they've been dead wrong on every major piece of advice they've given you. That's why I'd get rid of them, Mr. President . . .' They said nothing. Just sat like big old bullfrogs on a log and looked at me."


June 23, 2004

While gays were busy destroying marriage...

...Illinois republican Senate candidate Jack Ryan was busy trying to salvage his own rocky union. What was this upstanding Repub's recipe for marital bliss? Trying to force his then-wife Jeri Ryan to have sex with him in sex clubs while others watched. (I bet you he even said "Resistance is futile.") And yes, he's still in the race.

To recap: I'm gay. But let me tell you something: if I were married to this woman, I would be content to have sex with her in the private confines of our home. Poor Jeri. Not only did she have to deal with this creep, she now has to suffer the embarrasment of having their divorce papers unsealed by a Federal judge who ruled that Ryan's candidacy created a legitimate "public interest" in the details. (Thanks Ken Starr--now we get to know the details of every politician's sex life!)

For this offense against the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, does Ryan get dumped by the holier-than-thou GOP? Of course not. In fact, just this week he got campaign help from one of the High Priests of God's Own Party. Sen. Rick "Man-on-dog" Santorum. Saint Rick threw several fundraisers for Ryan in his home state of Pennsylvania just this week. It is not reported how much these events actually took in, or whether anyone would actually shake Ryan's hand.

For today's completely rhetorical question... Is this just an egregious example, or is hypocracy the official Repub mode of existence now?

June 22, 2004

Hating Peggy Noonan

For many years I have been unable to tolerate Peggy Noonan. (And there are plenty of other bloggers who seem to share my feelings.) Her fatuous and nauseatingly ill-conceived books epitomize the Washington insider tradition of retelling history with one's own minor-functionary self as the Center of the Known Universe and the Hinge of History. She has turned her minor brush with power into a cottage industry, offering so much "wisdom" about American politics and American culture that she has apparently retained none for herself. Seeing her on television is almost painful for me; as much as I despite Ann Coulter, at least she has the courage of her our essential nastiness. Noonan is the saccharine fake who likes to talk about how nice and sweet she is to dogs and children. But she is known in Beltway circles as a notoriously bitchy and driven climber.

Apparently, her efforts to bask in the reflected glory of Dead Reagan and claim for herself all of his Great Communicator qualities were finally too much for the (ahem) Real Insiders (you know, the people who really made it happen). While I realize there is a little irony in the climbers climbing over each other to dance on top of the casket, and of course hate linking to NewsMax, I do love the scent of venom that drips from this little attack piece on Noonan. The most damning bit: "For all her self-promotion, the facts are that she never wrote many major presidential speeches and had quite limited access to the president." And apparently the other speechwriters wouldn't even let her sit with them at the funeral. (Link via Atrios.)

June 21, 2004

CorporateMofo's Reagan eulogy

A lovely reimagining W's eulogy to Reagan, seemingly rewritten in the style of his Correspondent's Dinner speech.

A sample:


Of course, his leadership was back in the 1980s and I was too drunk and fried to remember much. But I understand that while I was face down in my own vomit he saved the world from evildoers. This is a subject close to my own heart. And also to my Vice President's heart (which isn't worth a damn these days, but hey, he doesn't use it anyway. . . heh-heh).

June 20, 2004

Um, but I have a note from my mom!

Marti sends this along, with her deepest professional censure. This is apparently the kind of quality the Bush administration offers up for the Federal appeals court in Washington. "I just forgot" is as good as his excuses get for why he served for years as Brigham Young University's general counsel for three years without being admitted to the bar in Utah. Oh, and he had previously let his D.C. license lapse as well. If you can forget professional necessities like that, it would probably be easy to forget, oh, the First Amendment. Or the Fifth. Or the Fourteenth. Hmmm... perhaps this is what they administration has in mind!

June 18, 2004

Bush's crib notes

Gotta love Atrios... a reader sent him a photo that allows us to see Bush's notes from his post-Cabinet Meeting press op yesterday, much like those "OJ's Legal Pad" books of some years ago. In addition to his "key themes" (uh... terrorists evil, we strong, don't say "torture," etc.) it clearly shows that even after three years Bush doesn't know the names of even the top WH press corps. So much for the comparisons to Reagan, who knew the names of their kids and dogs. Since the "major league asshole" episode during the 2000 campaign I had at least thought W recognized them. I guess it's just the loyal stenographers he cares about.

June 17, 2004

Rummy must go

Or this administration shields war criminals. (Which we know they do, but Rummy needs to go first. Actually, they should be hauling his ass to The Hague.)

Spokesman: Rumsfeld ordered secret detention

Spokesman: Rumsfeld ordered secret detention
By Associated Press
Thursday, June 17, 2004

A Pentagon spokesman says Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered the military to secretly hold a suspected terrorist in Iraq.

The spokesman says the Iraqi has been held since October without an ID number and without the knowledge of the Red Cross. Both of those conditions violate the Geneva Accords on prisoners of war.

The spokesman says CIA Director George Tenet asked Rumsfeld to make the secret detention while the intelligence agency tried to determine the suspect's ``precise disposition.''

The Pentagon spokesman says the prisoner will be given a number and the Red Cross will be formally notified soon.

June 10, 2004

It's the end of the world as we know, and W feels fine

Now, I know it would be disingenuous for me to claim that I don't have a streak of conspiracy theorist in me, or that I'm not prone to at least a little bit of paranoia about the underground dealings of the people that run this country, even in the best of times. But I'm generally also a bit blase about the whole thing. I mean, I kind of believe some of the conspiracy theory stuff I'll spout every so often (like who I think was really behind Sept 11), but I'm not really sure I actually believe it. Essentially, how most of us probably feel about the more believable alien plot lines on the X-Files.

But I am really trying hard not to believe any of the stuff in Neal Pollack's Stranger piece today. I really want to believe that Neal has developed an unnatural fascination with Agent Scully and it's addling his brain. But I can't, because as unbelievable and terrifying a lot of what he covers in the article is, knowing good ol' W, it's probably true.

And I had read the bit about Bush consulting with the freakshows of the Pentecostal church to change US policy toward Isreal in attempt to bring about the apocalypse in the Village Voice a few weeks ago. So, I can't really accuse him of making that one up.

And, a fair amount of the scary shit he covers he got from Frontline's "The Jesus Factor," which I missed (for better or for worse) but which also provides some ample evidence that Bush is pretty much on his way to turning the whole of America into New Jonestown.

And I guess I missed where Rumsfeld decided to rename Abu Ghraib prison, Camp Repemption. But the Guardian covered it, too, so Neal didn't pull that one out of his paranoid fantasy either.

I'll tell you, I nearly shorted out my computer keyboard this afternoon by spitting out the swig of soda I'd just taken upon reading that undersecretary of defense Jerry Boykin, after September 11 went around on a preaching tour of Christian churches claiming that "George Bush was not elected by a majority of voters in the U.S. He was appointed by God."

If that's not enough to scare the pants off everyone of you, then you need to start watching more X-Files reruns, people. The man is nuts, and what's worse, he's surrounded by Jesus freaks foaming at the mouth imagining themselves as heros of the next Left Behind installment. He's crazy as a loon.

Of course, if he was appointed by God, then I guess it's reasonable for him to claim that he's not bound by the laws of men, either.

But in the end what really scares me is how many people in this country will gladly take that cup of Kool-Aid when he hands it to them.

June 09, 2004

Learn "Rum Fu"

With everyone beating up on Rummy these days, it's hardly surprising he has developed his very own martial art. (On the excellent POE News, link courtesy of the inimitable The Black Table.)

Practice your skills, old man, we are coming after you!

Signal Orange: amazing idea, amazing execution

My good friend and colleague Kevin has launched SIGNAL ORANGE ahead of the GOP convention in New York. Check out the site... it's just amazing. Priority for participation is New York, but if you really want to get involved, I could probably talk him into agreeing to a Seattle chapter.

Working with people this smart and committed is probably the best part of my job. Kevin is also the guy who got the Virginia site its kick-ass blog postings.

June 04, 2004

Cheney's smoking Halliburton gun

Time has apparently proved me wrong, and officially removed any benefit of the doubt I might, foolishly, still be tempted to give the Bush Administration. Like an idiot (and John Kerry), I thought I could believe the President about WMD, and for that reason actually supported the war (if not the unilateral rush to war).

But even after all that has happened, of all the charges about Iraq war profiteering, I was perhaps most skeptical of the idea tha Dick Cheney actually influenced the awarding of no-bid contracts to Halliburton (of which we was, disastrously, CEO before becoming VP). After all, Halliburton is one of a very few companies equipped for the huge and specialized task of restoring Iraq's oil production. And I know first-hand that Halliburton has highly skilled and ethical managers, particularly in its core oil-services operations. (My uncle is a high-ranking Halliburton executive overseeing operations in the former Soviet Union.) But most of all, I assumed that Cheney was too smart to do something so stupid, knowing that every administration skeptic was on the lookout for oily hands in the post-war cookie jar.

Apparently, though, he was both that stupid and that arrogant. The email discussed in the Time story is as good a smoking gun as you get. Feith and Wolfowitz have been doing Cheney's bidding on everything else, and it's now clear that Halliburton's no-bid contract was just another drop in the bucket.

So after the yellowcake distortion, the "45 minutes" lie, the Plame affair, the illegal diversion of $700 million from Afghanistan to Iraq, the Chalabi clusterfuck, Rumsfeld's madness in denying the Joint Chiefs the number of soldiers they requested, the complete and total mismanagement of the post-"Mission Accomplished" mission in Iraq, the Abu Ghraib abuse and coverup, and now this... how could anyone trust this administration to do anything right, doubt any accustation of corruption, ineptness, madness or malice? It boggles the mind. But Bush is still polling at a dead heat with Kerry.

If this administration wins re-election (or, uh, election), we will know, officially, that the nation has ceased to function as a democratic republic. While no doubt some fault for the current dire state lies our institutions and the media, we really have no one to blame but ourselves. We are a population no longer competent (or perhaps no longer interested enough) to safeguard government by the people and for the people.

Thinking about Bush, Cheney, and their disgusting junta makes me think invariably about the Ben Franklin quote Gore Vidal cited when David and I heard him speak in January, saying that our form of government, however successful for a time, "can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”

June 03, 2004

Subtlety gets you nowhere

While it does little to elevate the discourse this election year, this anti-W Flash movie is quite satisfying. (Thanks Tom!)

May 20, 2004

It gets scarier day by day

Oh my God! And true to form I don’t recall any of the mainstream media picking this up. This is the kind of shit that scares me tremendously. The kind of shit that makes me worry that even moving to another country might not be sufficient to escape this.

Why is it Slate, Salon, BBC, the Voice, can uncover really, truly scary stuff like this, or damning evidence like the stuff about Bush lying about his service in the Guard, and the mainstream media never covers it for the rest of the country to see. Yet they do think Clinton’s personal indiscretions are scandal-worthy? Evidence that the president is a nutcase (and taking policy advice from even bigger whack-jobs! What’s next, a memo on Fred Phelps meeting with W to give advice on same-sex marriage policies?) and a liar are apparently less disconcerting than stains on a dress.

Look, I realize that lots of people in politics feel a need to believe in some religion (though why people need the threat of hell to make them act as good people is beyond me), but I like to think that for most of them it's a tradition and something that has a personal place in their lives, not the basis for policy making. It scares me when reason in law is replaced by superstition and FREAKING DOOMSDAY CULTISTS!

I want to hear just one more pundit bring up the “liberal” media. Liberal, yeah, if by liberal you mean that they’re in the pocket of the right-wing administration.

May 11, 2004

Those damned humanitarian do-gooders

This is the kind of guy who probably actually likes George Bush.

Unfortunately, I guess there are enough people in Oklahoma who share James Inhofe's points of view that the man is in office.

A day for outrage, it seems to be. And a day for being that much more ashamed of being an American. I think that will be the strongest legacy the Bush administration leaves this country--that of making us the worst of the bad guys in the world.

May 03, 2004

God save the Guardian... from the fundagelicals

Not only for their amazing coverage of everythin the US is doing to royally fuck up the world, but for coining the term fundagelicals.

The word "fundagelism" has never appeared in the columns of this newspaper. The term is, however, current in the blogosphere - that cyberforum which nowadays carries the most interestingly paranoid political debate. "Fundagelism" is not a word that trips easily off the tongue. It's a crunching together of the even more mouth-boggling compound "fundamentalist evangelism".

You know, back when I worked for Planned Parenthood, the national organization used the incomparable Celinda Lake as their pollster, and I got to meet her several times. She coined for us the term "religious political extremist" after her polling showed some horribly huge swath of American considered itself "religious," "right," or both. The phrase provoked the negatives it deserved, but in practice is was really hard to say in an interview (almost as hard as "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities"). "Fundagelical" is just a brilliant alternative. Do read the article, though it might well make you cry.

April 30, 2004

Jesus is my gardner

This is a weird article in Salon. Well, not so much the first two-thirds about a high-level EPA official deciding she just couldn't take being a party to Bush's rape and pillage approach to the environment, but the last page about organized Christianity's disgust at just that.

Specifically, I was intrigued by the description of an Earth Day letter from a group of ministers claiming to represent 2 million Christians:

Citing the Bible's directive to "defend the poor and the orphan; do justice to the afflicted and the needy (Psalms 82:3)," the letter sings the gospel of environmental justice, noting that clean-air policy changes have the greatest impact on "those least able to defend themselves" -- namely, "[p]oor people, who have limited access to health care; senior citizens, who may have compromised immune systems; and children, who pound for pound breathe 50 percent more air pollution than adults."

What's notable about the effort is not just its attention to policy detail, but its direct assault on what Bush's supporters (and Bush himself) frequently cite as his core strength: an unswerving moral rectitude derived from Christian faith.

NCC General Secretary Bob Edgar put it this way: "President Bush has said that moral values are the cornerstone of his administration. But as a person of faith, I question whether the president fully understands his moral commitment. I'm concerned that he is failing to protect God's children."

I was afraid maybe it was going to wind up being middle of the country Christians against pretty much everyone else, but maybe that's still an audience that could be won. I'm hoping Kerry works this one well. It seems like it might be a good wedge.

Jesus is my political advisor

This article on Bush's religious beliefs is so full of good targets, I'm not going to comment further. Just let it speak for itself.

April 27, 2004

uhm, liberal media my ass

So tell me why an article like "Bush's flight from the guard," published in Salon today doesn't get the same kind of front-page hullabaloo that Kerry's supposed protest tossing of his service ribbons (and not his medals) from Vietnam made yesterday.

Please, someone tell me why, with the mounting evidence that Bush lied about about his Guard service, and had people toss the evidence of it, the Washington Post can't even get up the backbone to call a spade a spade and instead takes the wishy washy approach of asking if the story has legs?

Can people tell me why the people of this country were clamoring for every detail about Bill Clinton's personal indiscretions and yet no one seems overly angered that we can't even find out whether the president served out his term in the military or why he was grounded as a pilot?

Or why it was more important to know who helped set up rendezvous between Bill and Monica than it is for any of us to know anything about the development of the president's energy policy and expert advice?

In today's Post, :
"The White House is framing the case as a major test of executive power, arguing that the forced disclosure of confidential records intrudes on a president's power to get truthful advice."

Ok, fine. My points are kind of all over the place today. But that's because there are so many good targets, and the stupid mainstream media doesn't care. They seem to think there is something inconsistent in John Kerry symbolically protesting a war by throwing away an award from it, while keeping a personal memento he earned and had every right to keep, but that the president lied (I'll say it in bigger letters) THE PRESIDENT LIED about his own military service record, is not such a big deal.

From Salon again today:

According to Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, who was a strategic planning officer for the Texas National Guard during Bush's gubernatorial administration, James ordered a cleanup of the Bush Guard files in 1997. Burkett said he was waiting outside James' office when he heard a speakerphone conversation between the commander of the Texas Guard and Joe Allbaugh, Bush's chief of staff in Texas. Recounting the conversation, Burkett said he heard Allbaugh tell James to "clean up the governor's files and remove any embarrassments in case he wants to run for reelection or something higher."

Sigh. I want ABC, CBS and NBC news to devote the entirety of their broadcast to this tonight. But I don't see anything on their front pages indicating that they have any intention of discussing this.

Just for the record, I'll be working on John Kerry's campaign at some point this year. Hell, I'm even considering taking a leave from work in the fall to do something full time for a month or two. I'm not sure in what capacity, but if there's one thing I do believe at this point, it's the responsibility of any citizen who values what this country stands for to do everything they can to get that putz out of the oval office.


April 23, 2004

MoveOn PAC: "50 for the Future"

MoveOn PAC, which has been running amazing ads and pulled together the bake sale Pam told us about last weekend, is really a thorn in the administration's side. David can't, as a damn furner, contribute to PACs or candidates, but we both agree this is a great organization to support.

To that end, I ponied up for their "50 for the Future" drive which aims to raise $50 million from 500,000 Americans (translating to $100 each). According to their site, these funds would be spent as follows:


  • $10 million to support the biggest get-out-the-vote drive in American history;

  • $20 million for independent advertisements to reach millions of voters in swing states – ads that will cut through the spin and set the record straight on the issues facing ordinary Americans;

  • $20 million in contributions collected by MoveOn PAC directly to candidates from state senators to John Kerry, giving them the resources they need to compete.

Good causes all. Incidentally, Bush campaign director Ken Mehlman was quoted Monday as saying "MoveOn.org is a huge threat and has hurt the President." Awwww. Of course don't feel too bad for W--unless Dick or Carl told him how badly it was hurting him, we know he hasn't read about it in the paper. If ignorance is indeed bliss, Bush must be a very, very happy man.

If you decide to take part, please let me know... I'd like to get a sense of how effectively we can use the site to raise awareness about different efforts. Also, look out soon for an invitation to a very special Swallow Don't Spit evening. In honor of supposedly "French-looking" John Kerry, we'll be sampling French wines and gathering donations for his campaign. We will win this election one sip at a time, my friends!

April 16, 2004

Presidential Daily PPT

I love Slate. They can take the most boring government report, filled with all kinds of opaque facts and figures, and turn into something snappy and easy to follow. While we're at, let's all bless my own company's PowerPoint for sparing us from those distracting details.

April 15, 2004

"Mr. Nobody"

Mr. Nobody is a very interesting site... a tad oblique, but obviously a well done "viral game" intended to teach us a few things about Bush. Even more interesting is the content of the links section, espcially this site--a devastating 3-minute road movie (complete with a little Bing Crosby) of America's creation of Saddam Hussein, almost from whole cloth.

I think there will be more to come from this site. I'll keep you posted.

April 14, 2004

Driving Votes, and driving 'em hard

Driving Votes is a great idea... little Oregon (or Nevada or Arizona) road trip, anyone?

Now we just need to worry about getting out the vote on Election Day. I've joked with friends about starting a movement to make sure that everyone with a "I voted!" sticker gets a little sumpin-sumpin the evening of 11/2. They almost got Clinton out of office for a blowjob... using them to make sure Bush gets defeated (well, defeated again) seems like a pretty good idea.

Some folks are already thinking along these lines, but I don't think it's fair just to tittilate would-be Democratic voters. We really should just make Election Day a legal holiday... but short of that, I think the average voter deserves a little love. And it's the perfect promotional idea for us libertines--I mean liberals--because we all know that the religious right is far too saintly to be swayed by something so obscene.

April 12, 2004

Faith-based security

I'm hearted to see more articles pointing out the Emporer's new clothes in relation to Bush's campaign strategies, and I'm hoping that more mainstream press than even salon will make a point of reminding us that Bush has been most successful at making us all fear the consequences of not going along with his plans, as opposed to actually doing anything positive in reducing the threat of terrorism, but I particularly enjoyed this little bit today:

Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA analyst and deputy director of the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism, is more blunt: "I call the color-coded system the 'terrorism mood ring,'" he says. "Security isn't green, yellow and purple. This is a public relations ploy, run by people who are making decisions on security who don't really know what they're doing. They make statements that aren't backed up by any real data or empirical evidence. It's faith-based security."

I think he's right on the mark. And it comes a little close to bringing up the questions that have been dogging me for the last few years about how much of Bush's answer to fanatical Islamic jihad is a good old-fashioned Christian crusade.

April 06, 2004

Secret slam in laptop bag

Skeptomai has fun news today... inspecting a laptop bag he bought from a Seattle-based laptop-bag boutique (yeah, I know, only in Seattle) to find out if it was washable, he found out something else. The French translation had an "Easter egg" hidden after the actual care instructions... translated, it reveals "We are sorry that our President is an idiot. We didn't vote for him."

This is a smart and funny stealth version of the sentiment on the American Apology tee we profiled earlier and noted in use here.

Oh, and the bags are really cool too... I think my birthday money might be burning a hole in my pocket!

April 05, 2004

Economist cover

20040403issuecovUS400.jpg

It's my birthday, so I'm going to make as much fun of W today as I feel like with no apologies. Remember, The Economist is center-right... so this is hardly some left-wing British rag savaging Bush. The article is just as scathing but not quite so much fun.

"War President"

W wants the reflected glory of being a "war president" with none of the reflected gore. He seldom mentions the war dead, let alone attend a funeral or the homecoming of a casket. (He's probably too busy not reading the papers.) But with the miracle of Photoshop, and with apologies to Chuck Close, you can see the real picture of W as a war president. (Thanks Ray!)

April 01, 2004

"Double Iraq Latte with a shot of Al Qaeda"

Holy marionberry crumb cake. Rumsfeld! If your top deputies leave sensitive anti-Clarke talking points behind after a visit to Starbucks, how can we trust the secrecy of your crack military plans?! Boing Boing: Memos in Starbucks detail Bushies' Richard Clarke strategy

March 29, 2004

Airplanes as weapons

Blogger "retrogrouch" of the interesting Texas-based blog Barefoot and Naked has dug up a lot of good info (mostly from international papers) in the wake of Richard Clarke's testimony. Amond the most interesting is clear proof that Condoleezza Rice and Ari Fleischer clearly lied about the administration's lack of intelligence about commercial planes being used as weapons. Just a few months before 9/11, Bush slept on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Genoa during a trade summit there, because of a specific and apparently credible threat about commercial plans being crashed into buildings there. If the adminsitration couldn't imagine the same tactic being used on US targets, their lack of imagination is terrifying indeed. Retrogrouch also makes good points about Bush's "swatting at flies" comment (that's what the war on terror will feel like as we strike at distributed, independent targets) and the anger of US troops tracking Bin Laden when they were pulled off a hot trail to chase Saddam.

Basically, retrogrouch pulled together several strands that had become apparent to me in the Administration's meltdown over Clarke's testimony. For me, the net is that the Bush team just doesn't understand the painful realities of the rise of non-state actors. Of course it would be easier if terrorists were propped up by states, because those states have "good targets" that can be attacked. Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and others talked of attacking Iraq as "draining the swamp," i.e., shutting down a terrorist breeding ground. But not only was Iraq not a breeding ground before the war, it is now because of there actions--actions that have mucked up the entire Middle East to the extent that it's a far swampier swamp than it was 18 months ago. Now with the escalation of the Israel-Palestine conflict, the entire Muslim world believes the US is out to get them--and from their standpoint, that is probably a reasonable belief.

I have to end this with a crass bit of wisdom that would not have been news to my Grandaddy on his farm: if you don't want flies, stop spreading bullshit around. Given the daily load this administration is dishing out all over the world, we'll all be swatting at flies for a long time.

Daily Show must-see

If you did not see John Stewart talking about the 9/11 commission last week, these clips are an absolute must.

March 26, 2004

Tufte's PPTs, maybe not so evil

Or at least, a not-so bad tool for hitting some good targets.

March 25, 2004

More smoking guns than the OK corral

Sibel Edmonds was a contract translator for the FBI, translating previously untranslated intelligence that suddenly seemed important after 9/11. She made the mistake of pointing out that a coworker might well have been associated with one of the very groups under investigation. Instead of getting a medal, she got in a whole heap of trouble, ranging from losing her job to getting death threats against her family. The Memory Hole has, as usual, all the relevant documents. It's a disgusting and disturbing read. 60 Minutes aired a damning interview with her last summer, but it failed to become a major news story. That's right, that damn liberal media always out to get the Bush administration--neglecting a story orders of magnitude more important than Filegate.

Good targets

Now for something really shocking-- an optimistic post about politics! Even better, a whole category for posts suggesting that W might just be following in his daddy's single-term footsteps.

Whence the name? Rummy, of course. One of Richard Clarke's great revelations was that Rumsfeld, in the days after 9/11, argued for attacking Iraq instead of Afghanistan, saying "there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq." The foreign press have had a lot of fun with that one. (France, presumably, has a lot of good target, too--luckily, this was before they were pissed off at the French.)

Anyway, Clarke's testimony felt like a real "have you no sense of decency?" moment, when the immediacy of televised hearings actually broke through the clutter and made certain things clear. I do not believe the administration can survive by spinning this away, or by asassinating Clarke's character. His apology to the American people felt like a dam breaking with the force needed to wash away all the blame-gaming and cover-ups we're endured since Bush won, er, was inaugurated.

So I hereby declare open season on the Good Targets in the Bush Administration. If you notice sleazy spin, disinformation, or Big Lies, put 'em here. We'll all feel better, and raising everyone's awareness about just how dishonest they are will only help us convince people how important it is to get W & Co. out of office in November.