Want to feel a little better? Read “Take it to Karl”

Liberal troops and vets now have a place to talk about Karl Rove and they’re pissed. If W and his attack dog Rove manage to lose the allegiance of the armed forces, which Repubs have enjoyed since Korea, it will be the greatest favor they could ever do the Democrats. It was not only a terrible tactical miscalculation to call liberals traitors–it was a strategic “tell” that telegraphs the incredible weakness of Bush’s position. It is bad enough that his approval ratings are steadily below 50%–among independents, only 17% approve of his performance, one point lower than Democrats! It’s only the Ostrich-like Repubs, with their 84% rubber-stamp-fetish approval rating, who are propping Bush up. When the saner conservatives start snapping out of their trances and speaking up, like Sen. Chuck Hagel did this week (speaking, btw, to the VFW!), it’s going to get hilariously ugly for Bush.

One wonders what his approval ratings are among active-duty military folks and their families. Every soldier in Iraq must know by now, even those who refuse to admit it, that they are sweating and bleeding and dying in the desert for a Big Lie. Neither they nor their parents nor their spouses nor their children are likely to forget a lesson learned so poignantly any time soon.

My advice– hammer every last Republican you know with these numbers, the Rove slur, and anything else you’ve got. With their triumphalism in tatters, they are closer to seeing reason than at any time since 9/11 shoved them to the reactionary right. That sound you hear when the Repubs scream from the rafters about the “Liberals”? That’s just the sound of the might pendulum of public opinion Dopplering fiercely leftward! Payback is a bitch, Karl.

His Noodly Appendage

BoingBoing brought me the first big smile of the day: someone’s open letter begging the Kansas State School Board to be open to multiple “intelligent design” theories:

I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design.

Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

It is for this reason that I’m writing you today, to formally request that this alternative theory be taught in your schools, along with the other two theories. In fact, I will go so far as to say, if you do not agree to do this, we will be forced to proceed with legal action. I’m sure you see where we are coming from. If the Intelligent Design theory is not based on faith, but instead another scientific theory, as is claimed, then you must also allow our theory to be taught, as it is also based on science, not on faith.

Some find that hard to believe, so it may be helpful to tell you a little more about our beliefs. We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. None of us, of course, were around to see it, but we have written accounts of it. We have several lengthy volumes explaining all details of His power. Also, you may be surprised to hear that there are over 10 million of us, and growing. We tend to be very secretive, as many people claim our beliefs are not substantiated by observable evidence. What these people don’t understand is that He built the world to make us think the earth is older than it really is. For example, a scientist may perform a carbon-dating process on an artifact. He finds that approximately 75% of the Carbon-14 has decayed by electron emission to Nitrogen-14, and infers that this artifact is approximately 10,000 years old, as the half-life of Carbon-14 appears to be 5,730 years. But what our scientist does not realize is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage. We have numerous texts that describe in detail how this can be possible and the reasons why He does this. He is of course invisible and can pass through normal matter with ease.

I’m sure you now realize how important it is that your students are taught this alternate theory. It is absolutely imperative that they realize that observable evidence is at the discretion of a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Furthermore, it is disrespectful to teach our beliefs without wearing His chosen outfit, which of course is full pirate regalia. I cannot stress the importance of this, and unfortunately cannot describe in detail why this must be done as I fear this letter is already becoming to long. The concise explanation is that He becomes angry if we don’t.

This is the best part: Great Spaghetti

Read the whole thing. There’s even a chart that plots Global Average Temperature vs. Number of Pirates. Which is an issue I’m sure the Kansas officials will ponder thoughtfully.

The Rude Pundit on Dean

Oh how I love The Rude Pundit. His take on the brouhaha about Dean’s honesty about the rethuglicans being the White Christian Party are amazing and amazingly rude. The only part I can quote is this:

Besides, ain’t it fun to watch Hannity and Coulter and Gingrich and Hume and all the other hate-filled sociopaths flail about and try to take Dean down? You’ve seen Dean’s arms? Big, thick sons of bitches. He can bear it. And he can throw it back at them. As long as those behind him don’t put him in handcuffs.

OK, I’m sure he didn’t mean to but that kind of turned me on. I always did have a thing for Dean.

Don’t have any liquid in your mouth, or any coworkers nearby, when you read the post.

Driving By Women Leads to Evil

A story from Associated Press, “Saudis Outraged Over Women-Drive Proposal“, besides having a grammatically annoying title has this lovely quote:

“Driving by women leads to evil,” Munir al-Shahrani wrote in a letter to the editor of the Al-Watan daily. “Can you imagine what it will be like if her car broke down? She would have to seek help from men.”

Perhaps that reads better in the original Arabic, but still, I think there must be a solution. How about a road-side-assistance company owned and operated by women. (I know, I know, that means women having some schooling and operating businesses.)

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.

“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.

Rich on “Gannon,” MoDo on press passes

Frank Rich has a great 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.

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.

Click Here!
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…

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.

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.