esmaspäev, mai 31, 2004


Alex Polier traces a lie that ripped her life apart. Fascinating stuff about everything that's wrong with the modern media. And with Liz Bumiller picking up an unconfirmed, off-the-record Kerry quote from Drudge in her column today, I don't expect things to change much. The scenes where Polier confronts the lying scum that fed this story are fantastic. As is this:

More alarmingly, my Hotmail account had been broken into, and I couldn’t access my e-mail. Random people in my in-box whom I hadn’t spoken to in months suddenly started getting calls from reporters. My father called to tell me someone had tried the same thing with his account, but that his security software had intercepted them and tracked them back to a rogue computer address in Washington, D.C. When I finally got back into my account, assuming the hacker was a Republican, I changed my password to “Bushsucksdick.”

At least she had a sense of humor about it.

God, Drudge is truly slime. He may be the single worst thing that ever happened to political journalism. And yet, people take this dick seriously. This is his "defense":

“In retrospect, I should have had a sentence saying, ‘There is no evidence to tie Alex to John Kerry.’ I should have put that,” he told me. Then he added, “If Clark had not gone out there and said, ‘Kerry is going to bomb,’ I never, ever, would have gone anywhere near this.” Once he’d posted his initial story, he was then encouraged and gratified by the prompt coverage in the UK press. “When the London Times made it a banner headline, like we’re going to war, I realized this must be true. Murdoch is going all the way with this! For me to do media coverage was one thing, for them to jump from media coverage to say this is actually an affair between her and him and all the rest was something else!”


And he blames it on Clark for allegedly saying something he might have said that vaguely hinted at something that might possibly be an affair with an intern for somebody. Yeah, that's a real credible source. And his confidence in the British press is just bizarre. Well, unless you realize he's lying. "I realized this must be true." Because Rupert Murdoch's a real bastion of credibility. For the last time, Matt, a newspaper running a story that cites you as its only source does not validate your story. Your allegation cannot be used to prove itself. Just like the Washington Times running a story citing you as the only source for an off-the-record comment by Kerry does not lend any credibility to your original baseless allegation. It just makes both of you bad journalists at best and liars at worst.

I despise this creep so deeply.

(link via Atrios)

UPDATE: In response to the actual substance of the Eschaton post, I'd normally say that a staffer or even a candidate's sexual orientation is none of my business and should be kept out of the race. But in Bush's case, I say live by the bigot, die by the bigot. If he's going to run on an anti gay rights platform, then he has an obligation to inform right wing gay bashers if he's comfortable working with one of them homos. That's going to be relevant to their vote in their ignorant, hateful little minds, and if he wants them on his side, it's fair game in my book.

I'd also like to see him explain exactly what it is about his gay staffer that he feels makes him unfit for marriage and/or fatherhood. But that's probably asking too much. It would probably involve a lot of big words.

Cheap shot, I know, but it's late, I'm tired, and I really don't like the guy.
Lousy Mormons

Is anyone else getting harassed by Mormons and environmentalists today?

Does this happen every day or are they just coming after me because it's a holiday and I'm home?
We Get It, They're Flip-Flops

In an otherwise pointless treatise on the popularity of the flip-flop, the Washington Post throws in this amusing litte bit:

Republican kids took to showing up at Sen. John Kerry's campaign rallies this spring and waving flip-flops in the air, because they say John Kerry "flip-flops" on the issues. Get it? Get it?

(And people wonder why the young don't vote. Because getting involved in politics is all so dorky, that's why, hammering a lame joke over and over, until, predictably, there's a Web site selling flip-flops with all the evolving positions of the presumed Democratic nominee spelled out on the top side of the sole. They weren't even the first to think of this: The National Organization for Women left buckets of flip-flops on the doorstep of the New Jersey statehouse in 1999 when they believed that then-Gov. Christine Todd Whitman had altered her position on requiring parental notification for underage girls seeking abortions.)

This is accompanied in the article by a bunch of Junior Bush Rangers holding flip-flops in the air at a Kerry rally. They've all got this smug look on their faces like they know they're really getting to Kerry. Because Kerry's biggest concern in the world is a couple of college kids waving around their footwear. And you know they think they're so clever.

It's just nice to see someone point out that they're really not. At all.
Elizabeth Bumiller Strikes Again

America's worst political reporter provides tons of crap.

Is there any journalistic value to this whatsoever? Any? Kerry's bike is more expensive than Bush's? What the hell? You're covering the most powerful man in the world and this is all you can write about in the middle of a war and a reelection campaign? Bike riding? Sweet Zeus, this woman's just like Amar, except a supposedly liberal newspaper pays her to be an idiot.
Dana Milbank Strikes Again

America's greatest political reporter cuts through the crap.

Every Bush lie. Every Kerry lie. Laid out right in front of you for easy comparison. And possibly one of the best openings of a newspaper article I've ever seen.

My only quibble: Kerry has learned from the troubles caused by Al Gore's misstatements in 2000. Many of Gore's "misstatements" were actually lies and distortions by the RNC and the Bush campaign or misrepresentations by the press. It's unfortunate Milbank didn't note that.

A few highlights, though:

Earlier this month, Bush-Cheney Chairman Marc Racicot told reporters in a conference call that Kerry suggested in a speech that 150,000 U.S. troops are "universally responsible" for the misdeeds of a few soldiers at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison -- a statement the candidate never made. In that one call, Racicot made at least three variations of this claim and the campaign cut off a reporter who challenged him on it...

Kerry did propose such a cut in 1995, but it amounted to about 1 percent of the overall intelligence budget and was smaller than the $3.8 billion cut the Republican-led Congress approved for the same program Kerry was targeting...

On March 11, the Bush team released a spot saying that in his first 100 days in office Kerry would "raise taxes by at least $900 billion." Kerry has said no such thing;...

On March 30, the Bush team released an ad noting that Kerry "supported a 50-cent-a-gallon gas tax" and saying, "If Kerry's tax increase were law, the average family would pay $657 more a year." But Kerry opposes an increase in the gasoline tax...

"Senator Kerry," Cheney said, "has questioned whether the war on terror is really a war at all. He said, quote, 'I don't want to use that terminology.' In his view, opposing terrorism is far less of a military operation and more of a law enforcement operation." But Kerry did not say what Cheney attributes to him. The quote Cheney used came from a March interview with the New York Times, in which Kerry used the phrase "war on terror." When he said "I don't want to use that terminology," he was discussing the "economic transformation" of the Middle East...

In the conference call, Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman was prodded to offer evidence that Kerry was pressured by liberals or that Kerry opposed wiretaps. He offered no direct evidence...

It is true Kerry has voted numerous times to eliminate weapons systems and opposed the 1991 Iraq war. But Cheney voted against many of those same weapons systems, and Kerry has voted for several defense increases, especially in recent years.

And topping it all off:

On Wednesday, a Bush memo charged that Kerry "led the fight against creating the Department of Homeland Security." While Kerry did vote against the Bush version multiple times, it is not true that he led the fight, but rather was one of several Democrats who held out for different labor agreements as part of its creation. Left unsaid is that, in the final vote, Kerry supported the department -- which Bush initially opposed.

Seriously, folks. This is a phenomenal, well-balanced piece of reporting. Read it. Memorize it. Vote against this lying jackass.

laupäev, mai 29, 2004

Vote For This Man

Can you imagine Bush talking about these issues with this much intelligence and comprehension?

This isn't rhetoric. This isn't "freedom for everyone" idealism. This is reality. This is the world we live in. Thank god there's an adult in the room who understands that.

Seriously, picture Bush in this interview. Every question, you'd get the exact same completely empty prepared answer about the power of democracy and enemies of freedom. Bush isn't doing anything to make the Pakistani, Saudi Arabian, Egyptian, and North Korean people more free. And that's fine, but at least Kerry's willing to admit it.

reede, mai 28, 2004

Rush Limbaugh's Off His Meds

Rush Limbaugh on Al Gore's speech:

It says he's perverse, that he would be argue to go confer greater rights on those who seek to murder millions of Americans and calling for even tougher actions to seek them out and destroy them before they destroy us.

Read the second half of that sentence again and please tell me what Limbaugh means. And given that we're talking about conferring on them the right to not have a chemical light shoved up their ass, I think it's Limbaugh's side that's perverse, not Gore's.

What really troubles me about these photos, above and beyond what's in them, is how they're being used to undermine our war effort.

What troubles me about these photos is how they undermine the war effort.

They're not "being used". They are what they are and they mean what they mean. Stop trying to kill the messenger and place the blame where it belongs, dipshit.
Watch Out! I'm Channeling David Limbaugh!

You know, a lot of people on the right wing tend to complain that Christians are unfairly persecuted in this country. Generally, I think these people are full of shit. But then I see a movie like "Saved!" come around and I have to wonder how the public would react to a high-profile comedy making fun of devout Jews or Muslims. Maybe they have a point. Then again, Christian fundamentalism has a much larger voice of its own in our society than they do, so a movie combating it does seem fair. Especially since it seems to be more about tolerance and what Christianity really should be. That's not a message I would think should be objectionable.

Looks pretty damn funny, too.
One Unfair Generalization and One Very Good Point

Not that I particularly care what Gene Simmons thinks about much of anything, this story caught my attention.

Now, there are two elements to Simmons' criticism. First, that Muslim culture is vile and that they won't stop killing us until they take over the world. This is certainly an unfair generalization. Even if he meant to refer only to extremists, that's not clear and he should probably at the very least apologize for the misunderstanding.

Second, though, is this:

"You can send your dog to school to learn tricks, sit, beg, do all that stuff — none of the women have that advantage," the 54-year-old said.

Frankly, this is true. Muslim societies in the Middle East are unbelievably sexist. If you don't like someone pointing that out, join a religion that doesn't make laws against women driving cars. Simmons was right to say it and it should be said more often. I can't speak to Muslim cultures' acceptance of obedience schools for dogs, but their attitude toward educating women is shameful. What gets lost in all our with us or against us bullshit is that none of these Arab countries are really the good guys. They help us and we look away while they treat their women like crap. We shouldn't stand for it and we shouldn't sugar-coat it. These people need to change and we have the leverage to change them. And if it takes a washed up former rock star's ill-considered comments to get us talking about it, so be it.

We've accepted a truce with al-Sadr and we're letting his militia back down. Shouldn't we have learned our lesson when we let Saddam's troops retreat and a whole bunch of them popped up a few months later and started killing us again?
Media Conspiracy

So some idiot wrote this letter to the LA Times today:

Re "Iraq Could Force Blair Into Twilight," Commentary, May 25: So "each incident — each bombing, each U.S. attack on a town and each new photographic revelation of abuse — prompts Britons to reassess the original decision to go to war"?

And what do they think when they read about the Iraqi schools being rebuilt, school supplies donated by the American people and flown free of charge by FedEx directly into Iraq, the hospitals being reopened and the oil being pumped into the economy? Oh, that's right … they don't! Seems the British and American press are the ones that formed "an alliance of convenience" to abandon journalistic ethics in favor of promoting their own agendas.

Having lived among the British people for five years, I know they would at least find this deception distasteful. As an American, I find it downright intolerable. Those in the press should "reassess" their decision to make certain that Bush and Blair lose this war.

Okay, is there really anyone out there anywhere who doesn't know we've reopened schools and hospitals? For all the right wing whining about it, what good news there is certainly has been reported. Pretending there is some media conspiracy to hide the facts is beyond stupid and quite obviously false.

neljapäev, mai 27, 2004


I've talked about Bush's Compassion=Black People page before, but this is funny enough that it makes worth coming back to.

John Kerry is giving a big speech in Seattle today on how he would fight the war on terror. It includes a lot of substantive, honest criticism of Bush's handling of national security. It deserves a similarly substantive response from Bush. Instead, we get this:

"In the course of his presidential campaign, John Kerry voted for the Iraq War, and then declared himself an anti-war candidate, said it would be irresponsible to vote against funds for our troops in combat, and then voted against funds for our troops in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. The only explanation he offered for this contradiction is that he actually voted for the 87 billion before he voted against it."

Well, if that was the only explanation he provided, that certainly would be awful. Of course, it isn't. He has repeatedly explained that he voted for the version that actually paid for the money and voted against the recklessly fiscally irresponsible version that passed. But why let facts get in the way of a good ad hominem attack?

Nothing about policy. No defense of Bush. No criticism of Kerry's actual ideas. No alternatives. No response. Just raw partisan bile filled with lies.

Sadly, that's exactly what I've come to expect from the Bush campaign.
If He's Suspected of Terrorism, Of Course You Can Sodomize Him

Poll just came across my desk. 51% of Americans believe we're using torture as a matter of policy in the war on terror. 45% think physical abuse of suspected terrorists is okay. (Note: suspected, not proven). I'm not exactly certain what the difference between the two is, but either way, those numbers are a lot higher than they should be.
Sweet Christmas

Do these people not know how to use a damn telephone?

So Bush announced he planned to demolish Abu Ghraib without telling DOD. That only makes it even more obvious just how shamelessly political that empty gesture was.

kolmapäev, mai 26, 2004

After Tomorrow

I deal with environmental issues and climate change in my job and I am so sick of writing pieces on The Day After Tomorrow. Every few days there's a new article to write about. It's a movie, people. Come on. I don't remember extensive media debates about nuclear weapons testing when Godzilla came out.

I'm all for debating climate change. We badly need to because it is a real problem. But to sit here and discuss a disaster movie from the makers of Independence Day like it matters is just stupid. The movie heightens awareness of the issue, so now's a good time to talk about it. But why are we wasting our time clarifying exactly how inaccurate the film is? I think we can all agree that the situation the movie portrays is ridiculous and impossible. Can we move on to talking about the real issue now?
Wasted Minutes

This story suggests something that has always bothered me about 9/11. We talk a lot about Bush sitting in that classroom for several minutes reading a book after the first attack. Now, mostly, this is centered on mocking him or noting with suspicion that he didn't seem concerned. But what stands out to me is that, for those few minutes, hijacked jets were up in the air and the only man with the authority to have them shot down was reading a children's book.

The exact time Bush ultimately gave the order is unclear, as are the circumstances surrounding it. But NORAD says they could have stopped the Pentagon attack if the order had been given sooner. I can't help but wonder, if Bush had started dealing with the situation five minutes sooner, what would have happened?
God, I Hate These People

The New York Times on Bush's latest deeply dishonest campaign ad. Fairly good analysis of it, but this is just disturbing:

Mr. Bush's aides say that for all of the objections Democrats and journalists can raise about the commercial's claims, voters will be left with the clear impression that Mr. Kerry has yet again switched positions on an important issue.

The Bush campaign does not care that it is lying. The "objections" of Democrats and journalists are, you know, that Bush is completely making this up and claiming Kerry holds positions he does not hold. And the Bush campaign has no problem doing this. As long as voters are left with a completely inaccurate impression of Kerry's position, then it's okay.

These people really are tremendous dirtbags.
Down the Sewer to the Heritage Foundation

Abu Ghraib isn't about torture. It's about school prayer.

Right. That makes perfect sense.

I don't know about you, but ever since I saw that new Britney Spears video, I've had this uncontrollable urge to sodomize an Iraqi.

Americans once shared a collective understanding that ours is a society based on faith in God and his immutable laws of unconditional love, decency and the simple but powerful concept of treating others as we would be treated.

Well, that's one way to describe the society that sanctioned slavery and fought vigorously against every effort to allow blacks, women, and Irishmen equality with the rest of us. Hagelin tries to dismiss this contradiction by pretending it's okay because we eventually took corrective action. Yes, we did, but the fact that we accepted injustice for so long completely invalidates her entire argument.

MTV didn't cause slavery. Playboy didn't keep women from voting. American society has never been pure. Would we really be better off if our children were watching minstrel shows right now instead of Justin Timberlake? Would a society that wouldn't let blacks use the same water fountains as whites really be able to claim moral superiority? Hagelin seems to think the 1960s were when everything changed for the worse. This was a time when freedom for all Americans finally became a reality.

And I'm sure nobody ever mistreated a Nazi in WWII or a Vietcong soldier in Vietnam. They couldn't have. They didn't have as much pornography.
Ed Gillespie's Got a Point

From today's "In the Loop" column in the Washington Post:

"The following is a statement by Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, on Sen. Tim Johnson's comments comparing Republicans to the Taliban:

" 'Unfortunately for angry Democrats like Tim Johnson, Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy, terrorists aren't responsible for the deaths of U.S. soldiers, their commander-in-chief is.' "


A lot of right wingers are complaining that the media is focusing too much on the prisoner abuse story. They insist that the story's over becasue 7 people are being punished for it.

Well, this is why it's still a story. We don't have all the facts yet, but it certainly seems reasonable to suspect that this is about more than 7 soldiers. And until we know the truth, I don't see why the media should drop it.
Crossing the Line

I understand campaign ads can be misleading. It pisses me off, but I can't work up outrage every time. Watching both campaigns, though, I'm consistently amazed at how far Bush is willing to go to distort Kerry's record. Most of his negative ads have been built on nearly complete falsehoods (the $900 billion tax increase, the 50 cent gas tax, the 350 votes for higher taxes, etc.), but this is really a new low. He's accusing Kerry of opposing specific provisions of the Patriot Act that Kerry explicitly supports. And Kerry's playing politics with national security.

It's disgusting that this slimeball has been allowed to run a baseball team, let alone a country. What the hell is wrong with slightly less than a plurality of American voters that they actually voted for this jackass?

teisipäev, mai 25, 2004

Calm Down

With regard to John Kerry and the possibility he'll delay accepting the nomination until after the convention--stop talking about it. Seriously, people, he isn't doing it. Or at least, he isn't doing it yet. He's considering it. His campaign floated the idea to see how people would react. They've reacted. Now, he'll make a decision on whether or not to do it. So stop talking about it like he's going to do it. It doesn't reveal anything about his character. It's not symbolic of anything. It's a very simple solution to an understandable problem. And it is one idea among many he is considering to resolve that problem. There is no more story to tell right now. There's no deep analysis to do because it hasn't happened. It was a test balloon. It means nothing. So just shut up about it until he actually announces he's going to do it.

esmaspäev, mai 24, 2004

Hassle the Hoff

And the Apocalypse grows a day closer.
Ideological Diversity

In his online chat today, Howard Kurtz got a few questions like this:

Columbia, Md.: The Pew Center just released a report yesterday that showed that when it comes to journalists, liberals outnumber conservatives by an almost 5 to 1 margin. I am sure there is an effort by the editors of major news organizations to have racial diversity and gender diversity to reflect to public at large to the greatest extent possible and that is surely a worthwhile goal. But are these editors making the same concerted effort to get some sort of ideological diversity that reflects the public at large as well? We always hear that this nation is divided 50-50, shouldn't the newsrooms also be divided 50-50?

Shut up. Just shut up.

Seriously, is there some vast pool of talented, objective conservative-leaning reporters out there who can't find a job? I don't know of anyone who was ever asked their political views before being hired by the New York Times. Or by Fox News for that matter. Have these morons ever considered that there aren't that many conservative reporters because not many conservatives want to be reporters? Is that hard to believe? We're talking about a low-paying profession that conservatives piss on daily because they hate the press so much. How many of them do you expect to want to get into it? You want to make newsrooms 50-50? Well, first of all, most reporters are moderates, so that ratio doesn't work. But you've got 30% liberals. Find me enough conservative journalist to fill up 30% of the newsroom, then we'll talk.

I've always felt this way about complaints of liberal bias at colleges, too. Everytime you read one of those stories, you've got numerous university officials explaining that ideology doesn't even come up in the applications process. They don't know if applicants are conservative or liberal. It's a self-selecting group. Are there so many good, intelligent conservative teachers out there looking for work? Are they having doors slammed in their faces because they dare to mention their support for Bush during an interview? Or do they just not want to sign up for a low-paying public service job?

laupäev, mai 22, 2004

We Got Served

If this turns out to be true, sweet Jesus, we got played. We got played by a country that's about 200 years behind us in the development of civilization. Through Chalabi, Iran used the world's most powerful military force to destroy their greatest enemy and WE PAID THEM $350,000 a month for the privilege of being their fuck-puppet. This is the kind of thing people were worried about when we elected an incurious president surrounded by a bunch of rabid ideologues with little regard for the truth. You laughed at us then. We should all be ashamed now.

This, of course, is if it's true. Given Chalabi's history, it wouldn't be surprising. And the story's been reported in actual reputable newspapers too, so there is probably something to it. If it ultimately turns out there's nothing there, I will apologize. For now, though, sweet Jesus.

(link via Atrios)

reede, mai 21, 2004

Addicted to Amar 6

Amar, this is why we're turning on Chalabi now. Read a newspaper once in a while, huh?
Short-term Memories

You ever think politicians and pundits are kind of like those fish with the really short memories? Like the Ellen Degeneres fish in Finding Nemo? By this I mean, it seems like none of them ever remember the last time the other party was in power.

Yes. Fish. I'm so very clever.

Moving on from my terrible, terrible analogy, this is the kind of thing that pisses me off:

"I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area."

Is this a Democrat criticizing Bush on Iraq or a Republican criticizing Clinton on Kosovo? Guess.

Who claimed the president "has no plan for the end" of the war, Tom Delay or Nancy Pelosi?

The president ought to open up negotiations and come to some sort of diplomatic end."

Delay or Daschle? (Answers here)

My point is, there's a whole lot of ridiculous manufactured outrage going around on the right today because Nancy Pelosi dared to state the obvious yesterday: Bush is incompetent. Republicans are going nuts. They're calling for John Kerry to reprimand her. They want an apology. They're accusing her of treason. They say she's demoralizing the troops.

Fuck. Them.

Now, this is important. As Saletan's piece points out at the end, Democrats said many of these same things about Republicans back then. It's unpatriotic, it endangers the mission, etc. These are politicians. They play politics. It's what they do. But they also state their opinions, as is their right. I don't doubt for a second that Nancy Pelosi truly believes Bush is incompetent. Disagree with her all you want, but don't run around pretending you're offended because we all know you're not. Tell her why he's competent. Don't tell her to shut up. Because we all know the exact same drama is going to play out the first time President Kerry sends troops into action and Tom Delay says something about it.

So let's all just stop please. Let them play their silly little power games. But don't go wasting my time and yours pretending you're really upset about it because we both know you're not. Those of us watching the government should instead be standing up and telling our leaders to grow the fuck up because we have some real problems that need fixing and some real people that shouldn't be dying.
Can We Stop Pretending It Was Just a Few Guards Yet?

Man, those six or seven bad apples sure did get around.

neljapäev, mai 20, 2004

Who's Self-Righteous?

Atrios points us to this at Mediamatters.org. Now, setting aside the obvious bigotry, vague references to David Brock's homosexuality, and strange inferences of Judaism, my favorite part is this:

Oh I started a website two weeks ago -- you're so self-righteous. It's all about your website isn't it -- but you don't have a radio show, do you?

Jeez, Michael, it's all about your radio show, isn't it -- but you don't have a TV show, do you?

I had no idea one needed to have a radio show in order to have a valid opinion in this country. I suppose I might as well pack up my blog and go home then. Savage has shown me the error of my ways.

Speaking of Savage, this puppy turned up on Salon this morning. You may need to watch an ad to get to it, but it's a very funny play-by-play of an atrocious Michael Savage public appearance.

From the wings, Savage, obviously thinking he was off-mic, barked, "Play the Arab music!" A Middle Eastern tune blared as his red Cadillac lurched onto the stage. Savage was perched on the back seat, dressed in white robes and sunglasses, looking like a costume-party sheik. As the car disappeared off stage, he waved to the crowd, "Goodbye, infidels! I'll see you in hell!"

People paid to see this.
One More Time

I'm sorry, I just love this quote and I'm afraid it got lost in yesterday's entry. Also, I had very few hits yesterday. So:

An administration official, speaking for the White House and insisting that his name and position not be used, said he couldn't comment on intelligence matters and referred all questions to the CIA.
Don't Want No Babies Catching Gayness

Wow, this ain't right.

Placing gay sex on the same level as using illegal drugs strikes me as a highly questionable bit of homophobia. If you had to choose between a guy who had safe sex with a healthy guy three years and someone who had unprotected sex with a chick with herpes last month, which of those would you rather get your sperm from? Understand, I'm saying if you were a woman and you wanted to have a baby. Like the gay group says, you can donate blood if you're gay. So what's up with this? I mean, other than pure homophobic hysteria.
A Better President

"Bush Seeks to Rally GOP Around Iraq War Plan"

Wouldn't it be wonderful if Bush was trying to rally the country or all of Congress around his war plan, rather than just Republican lawmakers? Imagine an alternate reality in which a Republican president who actually does have any interest in uniting the country met with Democratic lawmakers to discuss Iraq. A president who is actually capable of setting aside his political needs for a minute and show some concern over the discord that is dividing his country. A president who is actually committed to bringing us all together. A president who is willing to come out and level with the public about what he is doing and has done, admitting his mistakes and vowing to correct them. A president who treats all of us like we matter, rather than just the half of us he needs to vote for him.

It's crazy, I know. But would that be wonderful?
Listen to Me, Podhoretz

After reading this Josh Marshall post, I feel the need to make one very simple observation that the Jon Podhoretzes of the world seem incapable of grasping:

Generally speaking, war critics don't want the US to lose. They think the US is going to lose and that terrifies and angers them so much that they're trying to change the strategy and make it more likely that the US will win.

Let me know if I need to say it again slower and with less polysyllabic words.
Drawing the Line

Max Boot makes a hell of a lot of sense on gay marriage. And he points out something I've been trying to explain to my conservative friends for months now:

They argue, first, that we shouldn't tamper with thousands of years of tradition that holds that marriage is between a man and a woman. But 141 years ago we tampered with an equally old tradition: slavery. Their second argument is the slippery slope — first gay marriage gets legalized, then polygamy, pederasty, incest and who knows what. But this kind of reductio ad absurdum can be applied to just about anything. If liquor is legal for adults, why not for children? Society always draws the line somewhere.

Laws exist to draw lines. We can move the line without erasing it completely.

But the anti-gay marriage crowd knows that. They just need to contort themselves into a logical pretzel to avoid admitting that their real problem is that they simply don't like gay people.

It's over. You lost this round. Live in the now, people. Somewhere, somebody's buying pornography. Go try to stop them.

Now Bush is making stuff up about energy.

And John Kerry's the one who's "playing politics" with gas prices.

Sodding wanker.

Headlines on pages A22 and A23 of today's Washington Post:

"Intelligence Officers Directed Abuse At Prison, Sergeant Says"

"No Pattern of Prisoner Abuse, General Says"

Doesn't it kind of seem like only one of them can be right?

kolmapäev, mai 19, 2004

Fuck House Republicans

Tell Me Again How They Didn't Lie

Knight Ridder is on fire. This has to be like the 18th time they've picked up a story about the Bush administration's dishonesty regarding Iraq that no other mainstream media source seems to care about.

Today's example: Adnan Ihsan Saeed al Haideri. His lies were promoted by Bush administration officials despite his having "showed signs of deception" in a lie detector test and having been rejected as a liar by US intelligence services.

While no evidence has surfaced to indicate that administration officials knowingly fed dubious information to Congress, the public and the media, Saeed's case suggests that officials either were unaware that he'd done poorly on the polygraph exam or overlooked that fact when they publicized his claims.

The administration also publicized claims about Iraqi mobile biological weapons labs from a defector whom the Defense Intelligence Agency had labeled a fabricator and charges that Saddam had tried to buy uranium for nuclear weapons in Africa even though the CIA had said it couldn't verify the charge.

The White House used Saeed's claims in a background paper nine months after CIA and DIA officers had dismissed him as unreliable.

How many examples of this do you need before people accept that they were just being dishonest and deceptive?

My favorite part of the article, though: An administration official, speaking for the White House and insisting that his name and position not be used, said he couldn't comment on intelligence matters and referred all questions to the CIA.

Um...right. And this needed to be anonymous why?

I tell you, this Kerry guy, he just says one thing and does another. He tries to cut programs, then he goes around praising them. What an unprincipled hypocrite, huh?
Light Posting Today

If any at all. Got to get me up to Capitol Hill.

teisipäev, mai 18, 2004

Conservatives in Denial

Today's front-page headline in the Washington Times: "Homosexuals 'marry' in Massachusetts"

No, they didn't "marry." They married. Legally, state-sanctioned, no question about it. Your side lost this round. Accept defeat. These gay people are married. Period.

I suppose its better than if they had titled the story "Sanctity of marriage destroyed," but not much better.
$1,000 Omlette

Maybe Bush should order one to eat while he works on his $1,800 puzzle.
"Hey, Ma! The President Gots Himself a Flying Car!"

So Desperate:

"During an interlude in the warm-up speeches as the flag-waving crowd awaited Bush's arrival, Air Force One flew directly over the school as a youth choir sang 'Let There Be Peace on Earth.' The flyover, a reminder of the huge benefits of incumbency, was carried live on local television."

Is it me or is it taking increasingly elaborate public stunts designed to awe Southern rubes what ain't never seen an aeroplane before just to keep Bush's head above water these days?

And I'm just going to let the irony pairing Bush with "Peace on Earth" stand on its own.
Does the Line Even Exist Anymore?

From Dana Milbank's Washington Post column:

The line between politics and official White House business continues to blur.

On May 3, Vice President Cheney delivered a speech to the employees of the Wal-Mart distribution center in Bentonville, Ark. According to local newspapers, both Wal-Mart and the Bush-Cheney campaign described the speech as official -- taxpayer-funded -- White House business.

For all anyone around here knew, it was an official visit," columnist Brenda Blagg wrote in the Morning News of northwest Arkansas. "The Arkansas office for Bush-Cheney '04 certainly thought so and was appropriately 'hands off,' as a spokesperson put it. . . . The visit came about, according to a Wal-Mart spokesman, because the White House called the company's Washington office and said the vice president wanted to come tour the distribution center, meet the company's associates and 'say good things about Wal-Mart.' "

But at the speech, Cheney did more than say good things about the retailer. He said a lot of bad things about John F. Kerry.

"This November, the American people will have a clear choice on the economy," he said. "President Bush has stood firmly by his conviction that lower taxes are critical to growth and jobs. The president's opponent takes a somewhat different view." After more than 600 words picking apart Kerry's record, Cheney said: "I am confident that six months from now, with a clear choice before them, the American people will choose the confident, steady, principled leadership of President George W. Bush."

Democrats say the trip, if official, would have violated campaign finance rules. Rep. John W. Olver (Mass.), the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations subcommittee governing White House expenses, wrote to the White House seeking an explanation. But Cheney spokesman Kevin Kellems said that the trip was, from the start, a campaign event, and that those who said otherwise were misinformed.

Among the misinformed was Wal-Mart's chief spokesman, Jay Allen. "I was under the impression it was initially a White House event," Allen said. "I was told in the last few days it was a campaign event."

So either it was an official event and Cheney violated the law by campaigning or it was a campaign event and Cheney violated the law by charging it to taxpayers. I'm not sure which is worse, really.
Vaseline Man

There is nothing I could say that would make this any funnier.
It's About a Pope Who Solves Crimes

This headline sounds a lot more promising than it actually is. I was really hoping the pope was going to continue his long-running series of Polish-language detective thrillers. Instead, it's just another memoir with the contraction-phobic title "Get Up, Let Us Go."
That's Just Rodney

In anticipation of ABC's fall schedule announcement this morning, I am pre-emptively declaring "That's just Rodney!" as my new catch phrase.

esmaspäev, mai 17, 2004

Does He Just Not Like Gay People?

Somebody really needs to show Bush pictures of couples getting married in Massachusetts and ask him what exactly is so wrong with them that their happiness is detrimental to marriage.
Bizarro Bush

From US News and World Report, White House science adviser John Marburger on Bush:

"He gets angry when people hide things or try to distort information that could be relevant to a decision."

Another successful strike in the Republican war against irony.
A Respectable Human Being No More

I didn't think it was possible, but Zell Miller has managed to cobble together a position on Abu Ghraib that is even worse than James Inhofe and Rush Limbaugh combined.

Is it really this hard for conservatives to just acknowledge that what happened was wrong? Is it possible their schools were so screwed up that this actually is what their showers and frat hazings were like? Does everything need to be cloaked in this bizarre it-could-have-been-worse relativism? And why the hell does anyone still let Zell Miller claim to be a Democrat? Last weekend, he campaigned for Bush, slandering Kerry with RNC lies. Now, he shrugs off the abuse of prisoners as nothing worse than a high school gym shower.

You know, on some level, I'm disappointed he's not running for re-election. Because it would be pretty sweet to see him get his ass kicked by a real Republican.
What Really Matters

John Kerry's daughter wore a sexy dress at Cannes. I can't possibly imagine voting for him now.
Good Howie

Howard Kurtz sets a Goldberg-ite conservative idiot straight in his online chat:

New York City, N.Y.: Mr Kurtz,

Thanks for taking our questions.

Are you going to continue to ignore the amazing double standard highlighted by the media's prominent placement of the most horrific pictures of torture at Abu Ghraib, while refusing to show the horrific pictures of Nicholas Berg's beheading? (And please don't tell me that the media "showed" the beheading by showing a picture of him sitting in front of the killers -- the media obviously didn't just show an Iraqi prisoner sitting in front of a US MP.)

Your ombudsman, Michael Getler, who said it was SO important to show the torture pictures, made a pathetic attempt to reconcile the two treatments yesterday.

The disparity in the treatment of the two apisodes just confirms for me how bad the anti-war bias in the media really is: it is the worst I've ever seen.

Howard Kurtz: This is a totally false comparison. News organizations, which have to worry about such things as children seeing their product, are simply not going to show someone's head being cut off. That's very different from running a picture of a guy in a dog collar. If some crazed U.S. soldier had cut off the head of an Iraqi prisoner, you would not be seeing that either.
I agree that the Berg execution should be covered as fully as the prisoner scandal (though in both cases I object when the networks turn the pictures into video wallpaper and run them every 12 minutes). But questions of taste are also involved, and that has nothing to do with any political agenda. (The Post, for example, supported the Iraq war editorially and yet has been very tough on the administration for what it sees as fostering a climate in which the prisoner abuse could flourish.)

That's what I'm talking about.
Dirty Dancing

Again from Froomkin, this amusing New Yorker quiz:

2. What did Karl Rove say he wished had been done differently?

(a) He wished that Condoleezza Rice had fired Dick Clarke on January 21, 2001.

(b) He wished that Paul Wolfowitz had known exactly how many U.S. troops had died in Iraq, instead of underestimating the number by more than two hundred.

(c) He wished that the “Mission Accomplished” banner had not been raised on that aircraft carrier.

(d) He wished that Fabian Basabe, the Ecuadoran socialite wanted in California on three warrants for speeding, driving under the influence, and trespassing, had not been pictured on the front page of the Daily News“dirty dancing” with the President’s daughter Barbara.

I had never heard of this Fabian Basabe thing and I follow the news pretty closely. Imagine for a second if it was 1995 and Chelsea Clinton had been dancing with him.
A Man's Man

Via Dan Froomkin, Reuters brings us a look at average down-to-earth American George W. Bush's financial records. Highlights:

Bush's annual financial disclosure form shows he received a $1,000 pair of gold cuff links from Van Cliburn.

Other gifts included an $1,800 puzzle, $3,625 worth of golfing equipment, and a pair of fishing poles with a combined value of over $1,000. Vice President Dick Cheney gave Bush a personalised jacket and bag valued at $360 and Bush's Secret Service bodyguards gave him a $2,054 flagpole with plaque.

Bush's single largest asset was his ranch, valued at somewhere between $1 million and $5 million.

The form shows Bush also has millions of dollars in Treasury notes, certificate of deposits and cash.

For all of the idiotic right-wing mockery of elitist John Kerry's $5,000 bike, I'd really like to see more discussion of ordinary guy Bush's $1,800 puzzle.

pühapäev, mai 16, 2004

Outrage and Condemnation

Setting aside the funny bit where Colin Powell's aide tried to cut his Meet the Press interview off, Powell's message today is that the Arab world isn't outraged enough by Nick Berg's beheading. As this storynotes:

The Islamic militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas issued strongly worded condemnations of the killing. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the first Arab governments to criticize the murder after an initial silence throughout the region about the videotape.

Even the other terrorists are strongly condemning it. What more is he looking for? Powell's again making the right wing mistake of pretending the beheading is the same as the prison abuse. It's not. As I've said many times here, what terrorists do on their own and what US soldiers do in the name of their country are two different things. Iran isn't responsible for Nick Berg's killing. Their own military didn't kill him. How outraged do they need to be? What is a sufficient level of outrage exactly? Does Powell need to condemn every violent murder of an innocent person that occurs in the western world? Terrorists are committing terrorist acts again. Why is this a surprise to anyone? It was a horrible thing, but on par with everything else they do. They're bad people. We know that. We've known that for a long time.

"Notwithstanding what people think about what we did at the prison, there can be no comparison to the actions of a few who are going to be punished and brought to justice as a result of what happened at Abu Ghraib," Powell told NBC's "Meet the Press."

"There is anger in the Arab world about some of our actions, but that is no excuse for any silence on the part of any Arab leader for this kind of murder," Powell said. "This kind of murder is unacceptable in anyone's religion, in anybody's political system that is a political system based on any kind of understanding and respect for human rights."

Well, the murder of Nick Berg was the action of a few, also. And that murder wasn't accepted by any Arab political system. Could Arab leaders have said more about it? Sure. But what the hell good would it really have done?

Jonah Goldberg's on Kurtz's show right now warning that the conservative blowback on Abu Ghraib is coming in the next couple of weeks. They're going to be spreading photos of Saddam's abuse of prisoners. Because, you know, nobody had any idea Saddam was capable of torturing people. I imagine this will be accompanied by all kinds of "Where's the outrage?" idiocy.

My response to that is, "Where's the point?"

I mean, really, what the hell is the point they're trying to make? Saddam was worse than us? Really? WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BE BETTER THAN SADDAM, JACKASS! The story is about American soldiers abusing and torturing prisoners. What is done elsewhere by others isn't relevant. All that matters is what US soldiers did and whether that's acceptable. Why can't the conservative mind stay focused on that issue? Where did all of this desire for nuance come from? Is it just because it reflects badly on Bush and Rumsfeld? Does the fact that Saddam had prisoners eyes gouged in any way change the fact that an American soldier raped an Iraqi with a chemical light? The behavior is the behavior. The sudden conservative adherence to moral relativism is rather bizarre and offensive.

But then, Goldberg continues to insist the media underplayed the Berg story in relation to Abu Ghraib, while also acknowledging that what happened to Berg is far worse than anything in the pictures released in the press so far. Has he considered the reason nobody's showing the beheading is because it is far worse? I maintain that the worst images from Abu Ghraib have not been shown in the mainstream media. The media has been entirely consistent in what it's willing to show. Goldberg undermined his own argument that there's a double standard by admitting the actions depicted aren't equal.

reede, mai 14, 2004

Crazy Troll Logic

Mickey Kaus (you may need to scroll down a bit) is upset with Andrew Sullivan because he didn't give enough credence to the theory that porn is responsible for the torture at Abu Ghraib. All of this apparently starts with a crazy man on WorldNetDaily arguing that the abuse is the result of women being in the military, porn, and, don't ask how, gay marriage.

Kaus thinks this Robert Knight has a point:

Doesn't Mr. Knight have a point? I was thinking some of the same things myself--in particular that the public tolerance for porn contributed to the Abu Ghraib scandal (certainly to the willingness of soldiers to preserve the images on CDs).

Um...not sure how that connects. What with these images not being porn and not being tolerated by the public and all. Of course, Mickey thinks his point is proven by the fact that the soldiers also filmed themselves having sex. This is another one of those consensual vs. nonconsensual deals that keep tripping up the right wingers. The scandal isn't about pictures of sex. It's about pictures of torture and abuse that sometimes, but not always, became sexual. They kept pictures because they thought torturing Iraqis was cool, and a lot of conservatives appear to agree. How you leap from that to porn, I have no idea.

And the story of Private Lynndie England is not exactly a triumph for the new sex-integrated military (or for the broader argument that you can introduce new sexual dynamics into a long-standing institutional environment without any ill effects).

Well, no. But the story of Mickey Kaus isn't exactly a ringing endorsement for the idea that people have brains either. Should all misceginated couples break up because OJ Simpson killed his wife? Are the stories of the male soldiers involved in the abuse a sign that men shouldn't be allowed in the military?

I haven't quoted Knight's criticism of gay marriage, which is probably a big part of what got Andrew's goat.

I haven't quoted it because it might make Knight look crazy and that would invalidate my criticism of Andy Sullivan. Can't have that.

Still, he ridicules the whole thing, the way people do when they subconsciously realize their opponents have a powerful new argument and want them to just go away

Hey Mickey! You know what other kinds of arguments people ridicule?

The kind they find ridiculous.
Seriously Dude, I'm Gay

Oh yeah. This is going to be television magic.

Also note the second story. To convince the audience at WB's Superstar to cheer for the bad performers, they had to pretend they were working with the Make-a-Wish Foundation. That's class, right there.
More of That Damn Liberal Media

One of those raging liberals over at the New York Post is calling on Rumsfeld to resign. Can you believe these guys? They're just trying to take Bush down. Bunch of partisan Democratic hacks they are over there. Always looking to politicize situations and hurt Bush. Now they're going after Rumsfeld. This is disgusting.

Seriously, many of my 15 or so readers probably haven't lived in New York, but the New York Post turning on a Republican administration is about on par with Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh calling for Bush's impeachment. That sound you hear is hell freezing over.

In other words, have a nice apocalypse.

This editorial, by the way, makes the point I've been trying to make since this started, which is that there are many very good reasons to call for Rumsfeld's resignation independent of prisoners being abused and wanting him to step down isn't necessarily a political ploy. The man has lost credibility, whether he deserved to or not. I imagine many people in both parties have serious doubts about his ability to do his job effectively now. Getting rid of him may be what's best for the country and, more importantly for the Post I imagine, for Bush. If anything, it would give the "personal responsibility" president a chance to hold somebody personally responsible for something.

It won't happen, though. Because Democrats have called for it and Bush won't want to look like he caved to their demands. Unless Rummy suddenly decides to "spend more time with his family," I don't think he's going anywhere, regardless of what's best for the country and the military. Not that Bush would ever place politics ahead of the national interest, but you know...well, yes, he would.

By the way, isn't Ralph Peters the same right-winger who compared Howard Dean to Hitler a few months back? And now he's turning on Rumsfeld? Yep. Apocalypse. Any minute now.

(link via Atrios)

neljapäev, mai 13, 2004

Sailor Mongering

This is why so many liberals think John Ashcroft is out to stifle dissent. Take a 130 year old law against prostitution that hasn't been used since 1890 and use it to try to shut down a major liberal activist group. It's just a disgraceful and indefensible abuse of power devised solely to eradicate critics of the president.

This is the kind of thing that shouldn't happen in a free country.
Objectivity, Bush-Style

Josh Marshall, from the Washington Times:

The president prides himself on his ability to detect bias in ostensibly objective news stories.

"My antennae are finely attuned," he said. "I can figure out what so-called 'news' pieces are going to be full of opinion, as opposed to news. So I'm keenly aware of what's in the papers, kind of the issue du jour. But I'm also aware of the facts."

Those facts are extracted from news stories each day and presented to the president by a half-dozen aides, Mr. Card among them.

"Since I'm the first one to see him in the morning, I usually give him a quick overview and get a little reaction from him," Mr. Card explained. "Frequently, I find that his reaction kind of reflects [first lady] Laura Bush's take."

Indeed, the president often cites articles that Mrs. Bush flags for greater scrutiny, even when he has not personally slogged through those stories. Mrs. Bush routinely delves more deeply into the news pages than her husband, who prefers other sections.

Bush has a finely attuned sense of bias in news stories, but not in information provided by his aides. This is frightening on many levels. Among them, Bush appears to be terrified to encounter an opinion that differs from his own. And he seems to have bought into the right wing myth of the liberal media far more than an intelligent observer should. What he considers to be clouding his optimism is what the rest of us might call, you know, getting all of the facts. More importantly, his wife reads the news more carefully than he does. The first lady follows the news more carefully than the president. And he adopts her opinions. He cites articles he hasn't even read. This is how ill-informed the man is.

Is it really any wonder he gets his facts wrong so much?

Also, I would really like to know why Bush lied to Brit Hume and said he doesn't read the newspaper at all. What purpose did that serve? Who is impressed by that? Who is so ass-backwards stupid that they want their president to avoid all news and opinion that disagrees with him? In what way is that remotely admirable?
A Vague and Imperfect Analogy

A black gang member murders a white cop in Harlem. Many black residents of the neighborhood are happy, having perceived mistreatment by white policemen throughout their lives. Similar incidents occur. A number of white cops have been murdered violently now.

If someone were to respond to such a situation by calling for the eradication of all of Harlem or, more analogously, all of Manhattan because blacks are subhuman scum, would that be considered an acceptable reaction? Would the LA Times print such an opinion on its op-ed page? Would the National Review?

(Updated to provide a clearer parallel to the Middle East. My bad.)
Pious Simplicities

An interesting column in the Financial Times:

Crafting a foreign policy for a new era is hard. The last time this had to be done was in the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman more than half a century ago. The institutions they established and the values they upheld were the foundation of the successful US foreign policy of the postwar era. Now, a task even more complex has fallen on this president. He is not up to the job. This is not a moral judgment, but a practical one. The world is too complex and dangerous for the pious simplicities and arrogant unilateralism of George W. Bush.

Basically, the column just traces Martin Wolf's slow realization that George W. Bush is incompetent. A nice companion piece to Tom Friedman's own epiphany in today's New York Times:

I thought the administration would have to do the right things in Iraq — from prewar planning and putting in enough troops to dismissing the secretary of defense for incompetence — because surely this was the most important thing for the president and the country. But I was wrong. There is something even more important to the Bush crowd than getting Iraq right, and that's getting re-elected and staying loyal to the conservative base to do so. It has always been more important for the Bush folks to defeat liberals at home than Baathists abroad. That's why they spent more time studying U.S. polls than Iraqi history.
Stupid Right Wing Excuses for Torture

Right here, all compiled in one place by Tim Noah of Slate.

Not that any of them make any sense whatsoever, but by far the most bizarre and nonsensical is this gem by Jeremy Reynalds of Men's News Daily.

See, us liberals, we like gays, right? So what if all of the soldiers who tortured people were gay, not that there's any evidence of that, but what if? Would we still be outraged? Or would we be all like, oh, they're gay, never mind? Because, you know, gay people just naturaly torture arabs. It's in their blood. Can't let a gay man within 5 feet of an arab or that guy is just guaranteed to end up with a chemical light up his ass. It's just the way gays are. What can you do, really?

No, seriously. This is Reynalds' argument, if you can even call it that.

Rush Limbaugh, meanwhile, has decided that raping an Iraqi prisoner is just like Bill Clinton sticking a cigar up Monica Lewinsky's cootchie. For the last time, people:


Can you fit that in your miniscule right-wing brains?

And if that's not enough, Jesse over at Pandagon points us to John Derbyshire, who has managed to contort himself into some state of irrational zen wherein it's okay, and in fact encouraged, to sodomize Iraqis with whatever phallic instrument you happen to have available but it's outrageous and unforgivable to have consensual sex with your fellow soliders.

One of these days, John Derbyshire is really going to have to hunt down the bastards who stole his logic.
Marc Racicot is a Horrible, Dishonest Little Man: Update

The CJR Campaign Desk has my back on this one.

So here's a suggestion to the media for how to respond when the campaigns start throwing around accusations that, in your judgment, don't deserve to be taken seriously: Instead of pretending to seriously consider the charges, then having an expert tell us those charges don't merit serious consideration, just ignore them. And use the time to run stories about issues that matter.

Amen, my brother. Amen.
As Long As We're Talking About the Bush Campaign Lying...

And again I ask, why does anyone believe anything in campaign ads?

One more:

The ad said the vehicle was “made in Michigan,” and campaign spokespeople stood in front of the General Dynamics headquarters there asking if Kerry cared about the site’s 1,200 jobs.

Wrong state.

Wrong company.

While General Dynamics makes some fine weapons systems, it doesn’t manufacture the Bradley.

The editorial also notes the extreme dishonesty of Bush's claims regarding Kerry's defense spending votes, although it doesn't acknowledge that Cheney supported many of the cuts Kerry did. There's a nice little plug for Factcheck.org in there too, which really is a great little nonpartisan resource.

And the editorial ends with this little bit of wishful thinking:

Give us a spirited, honest campaign that focuses on issues without distortion or character assassination.

I want to second that notion, but this all reminds me the press conference in The American President where Michael Douglas says "We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious men to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, friend, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: Making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it." Only, you know, with George W. Bush instead of Bob Rumson.

My point is, with what's at stake in this election, don't the American people deserve better than this from their president?

(link via Atrios)
George W. Bush, ¿No podemos confiar en tu palabra?

Remember Bush's big new positive ads about his education policy? The first positive ads to come out of Bush's campaign since his first ad buy? Yeah, so, um, about that positivity...

And it turns out Bush is entirely capable of lying in two languages:

While the ad says that "Kerry cambia de opinión" -- changed his mind -- Bush aides provided no evidence for the charge that he bowed to "pressure from education unions," other than an editorial in New Hampshire's conservative Manchester Union Leader.
Marc Racicot is a Horrible, Dishonest Little Man

"How can the Republicans charge that Democrats are playing politics with this issue when they are the one holding the press conferences?"

Apparently, calling Bush arrogant is now unacceptable. See here and here. It's also on the front page of today's Washington Times, but it's honestly not worth subjecting myself to that filth to link to it.

Some highlights. From the NYT story:

Pressed repeatedly during his conference call to explain why discussion of the prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq was inappropriate - particularly when Republicans have made the war in Iraq a central campaign issue - Mr. Racicot said linking the prison scandal to fund-raising crossed a line. He took issue with Mr. Kerry's suggestion on Tuesday that the abuse reflects "America's overall arrogance in its policy," as well a statement by Mr. Kerry's friend and adviser Senator Edward M. Kennedy. "Shamefully,'' Mr. Kennedy said, "we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management - U.S. management."

But Mr. Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee, had already disavowed Mr. Kennedy's comments in a nationally broadcast interview with Don Imus, and Mr. Kerry's press secretary, David Wade, said the "Keep the ball rolling - Donate Now!" button at the bottom of the Rumsfeld message was a routine signature for all such missives....

Noting that Mr. Bush used images from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in his own campaign advertisements, Mr. Wade denounced Mr. Racicot's heated comments as "hyperbolic, baseless, false" and "dangerous to our democracy." Ms. Cutter, asked, "How can the Republicans charge that Democrats are playing politics with this issue when they are the one holding the press conferences?"

From the Washington Post:

The Bush campaign has repeatedly accused the senator of "politicizing" Iraq. Bush-Cheney chairman Marc Racicot told reporters Wednesday that Kerry is relentlessly "playing politics" and exploiting tragedy for political gain.

Racicot, for instance, told reporters that Kerry suggested that 150,000 or so U.S. troops are "somehow universally responsible" for the misdeeds of a small number of American soldiers and contractors. Racicot made several variations of this charge. But Kerry never said this, or anything like it.

As evidence, Racicot pointed to the following quote Kerry made at a fundraiser on Tuesday: "What has happened is not just something that a few a privates or corporals or sergeants engaged in. This is something that comes out of an attitude about the rights of prisoners of war, it's an attitude that comes out of America's overall arrogance in its policy that is alienating countries all around the world."

What Racicot did not mention was that Kerry preceded this remark by saying, "I know that what happened over there is not the behavior of 99.9 percent of our troops."

This is one of those times where I really have to wonder why the headline is "Kerry Assails Bush on Iraq" and not "Bush Campaign Manager Lies to Press." But then, reporting the truth in Bush's America is just another sign of liberal bias, isn't it?
"Hey, Karl! Come Take A Picture of Me With This Here Negro!"

Bush's "compassion" pictures (read: with black people) are relatively old news, but this is the first criticism of them I've seen in the mainstream media.

It's amazing — photo after photo, 19 in all, and almost every single one of them giving further testimony to the astonishing capaciousness of the guy's Compassion, by which we are given to understand: He just has no trouble at all touching black people!

Weschler also fits in a nice jab about Bush's ridiculous inability to hold anyone accountable for anything.

(Updated to add more clever title)
Breaking News

Fast food breakfast may pose heart risk.

kolmapäev, mai 12, 2004


I ventured into the swamps of Townhall.com for this, so you people better appreciate it.

Here, Jonah Goldberg makes several points, most of which I think are pretty stupid.

First, like many conservative pundits, he seems to think that the media should show Nick Berg's beheading just like they showed the Iraqi abuse photos. This is an extremely simplistic and, well, wrong comparison. There's a very big difference between a picture of a naked guy on a leash and a video of a man being beheaded. The media has only shown the tamest of the abuse photos (which has led some very stupid commenters, Rush Limbaughs, and letter writers to claim the prisoners were only humiliated, not beaten or tortured). I haven't seen anyone showing the pictures of the sodomy, the alleged video of Iraqi guards raping young boys. I haven't even seen the photo of the Iraqi with the dog bite. The media has treated the Nick Berg footage exactly like they did the Iraqi photos. They have treated both cases exactly like they treated the Daniel Pearl video. They showed the tamest material and described the rest. There's no inconsistency. How you equate a photo of some chick pointing at Iraqis' penises with a video of a dude's head getting chopped off, I have no idea. But then, I'm not an idiot.

Goldberg also alleges that the murder of Nick Berg was a response to the photos being released. Well, even the White House and every Republican I've seen talk about it has rejected that theory. Does Goldberg really think they didn't plan on killing this guy anyway? More importantly, though, Goldberg attempts to shift the blame from the soldiers who did the torturing to the media that reported it. The media did its job. It reported the facts. The soldiers, on the other hand, tortured people, possibly committing war crimes. And it's the reporters' fault? That actually is "no different than a Holocaust-denier who'd ban photos from Auschwitz." I'm starting to doubt that conservative pundits are human. It's very possible that they're sophisticated illogic machines designed by reclusive but evil millionaires to mess with our heads.

The Abu Ghraib images are so shocking, so offensive and so sensational they will in all likelihood make America's job in Iraq and the Middle East immeasurably harder for a long time to come.

The actions of these soldiers are so shocking, so offensive and so sensational they will in all likelihood make America's job in Iraq and the Middle East immeasurably harder for a long time to come. The pictures these soldiers took are so shocking, so offensive and so sensational they will in all likelihood make America's job in Iraq and the Middle East immeasurably harder for a long time to come. Jonah's right that the images are horrible, but he's blaming the wrong guys. It's the soldiers who are responsible. No one else. If the media reports on a murder in DC, are they responsible for it? Are they responsible for actions taken victims' friends and family in response to it? No, the murderer is. How is this concept so difficult to grasp?

In Jonah's defense, I agree that the Post running the second batch of photos without confirming their authenticity was careless. It's just bad journalism. Also, he does raise a fair point about what purpose disclosing additional photos would serve. At the same time, there is a large portion of the population that isn't bothered by what happened at all. That group got even bigger after the Berg murder. And there's still the misconception among many on the right that no physical torture took place. A reminder of how horrible the actions of these soldiers were may not be a bad thing. Because we shouldn't forget the outrage and we shouldn't forget how wrong this was. I am afraid that will happen if the focus shifts away before the worst acts are revealed. Also, word is that the 60 Minutes II story is about another prison, suggesting that this problem is more widespread than we want to think. Personally, I'm pretty indifferent to more photos being released. I think the PR damage is already done and descriptions of what might be in the photos have softened the blow. But then, the point has been made and the story has been told. The story was told without pictures in January, though, and it was ignored by the public. It may take more pictures to keep the heat on until the full truth comes out.

Not surprisingly, professional Kerry-hater and RNC-stooge Mickey Kaus agrees with Jonah.

Okay, I've been swimming around various blogs and comment threads throughout the day and I've repeatedly come across the same ridiculous conspiracy theory. So to that, let me just say:

The CIA did not kill Nicholas Berg to distract the public from the Abu Ghraib abuse.

Seriously, people, that's just crazy talk. At this point, at least. If any actual evidence comes to light, then we can start hurling these accusations, but really, just stop. It's embarrassing to the entire liberal cause in the same way the James Inhofes of the world should be an embarrassment to the right.
Yet Another Bush Flip-Flop

From today's White House Bulletin:

Insiders said that Bush also wishes to send a signal that while he wants to promote values, he doesn't want local, state, or federal lawmakers, or courts to legislate values, like bans on gay marriage.

You know, kind of like the federal ban on gay marriage that Bush has proposed.
More Rumsfeld

One more thing with regard to Rumsfeld resigning. This is what I'm talking about when I say this isn't about politics. I don't believe that all of these editorial boards, including the Army Times and, I think, the Financial Times, are staffed by America-hating liberals. They're people who are genuinely displeased with Rumsfeld's performance or who feel he no longer has credibility because of what happened. All I'm saying is, not everything is a partisan game.
Best Congressional Hearing Question Ever

"Let me ask you a question, Dr. Zerhouni. What do you think Michael Brownstein is thinking about in the shower?"

A female representative, not sure which, during the House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee hearing on NIH ethics.

It makes more sense in context, but explaining that would make it much less funny.
The Rumfeld Wire

I've added the DCCC's Rumsfeld Wire to my sidebar. Not because I necessarily agree with it, but because I can do it and I think it looks cool.

My feeling on Rumsfeld is that he shouldn't be held personally responsible for the Iraqi prisoner abuse. Unless somebody finds some evidence that he ordered it, which is unlikely. That said, I also think it's unfair to dismiss calls for his resignation as partisan sniping. I have no doubt that Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, the NYT ed board, and Thomas Friedman truly believe Rumsfeld should resign. If you look at the situation from the perspective of those who opposed the war or were displeased with the direction the reconstruction has taken, this is just the latest in a long line of percieved failures on Rumsfeld's part. There's matters of war planning, making some very inaccurate statements before the war ("We know where the WMD are..." etc.), dismissing State Department advice on reconstruction, not protecting the infrastructure well enough, refusing to send in more troops, and other decisions Rumsfeld has made that many Democrats and some conservatives have disagreed with.

These are all complaints based in facts and they are opinions that are held genuinely. I agree with most of them. And personally, I think the poor planning for the reconstruction alone is a reason Rumsfeld should consider resigning or at least not returning for a second term. Taken together with his apparent dismissal of Amnesty International and Red Cross warnings about prisoner mistreatment and his general botching of the public response to the story breaking, it's not unreasonable to think he's a failure. It's not overly partisan to recognize that he has lost whatever credibility he had with the Arab world. Fair or unfair, he's the public face of the military. Removing him would go a long way toward cooling the anger over both the abuse and the war itself in the Middle East and Europe.

The fact that Democrats have made an issue of this, though, practically guarantees Bush will keep Rumsfeld. If he fires him or lets him resign now, he's bowing to political pressure and that's bad for his completely undeserved reputation as a steady leader. However, that the main reason he wouldn't have him resign might be because of political considerations. Bush can't go through a confirmation fight for a replacement right now. Over the last three years, Rumsfeld has made enough mistakes to justify replacing him, but that would require a national debate over those mistakes that would reflect badly on Bush. Also, I don't think anyone on either side is comfortable with the prospect of fighting these wars with no Secretary of Defense while the confirmation is debated. So overall, I don't think Rumsfeld will resign, nor do I think he should solely on the basis of the prison scandal. But those who do have an entirely reasonable case and it's sad that Republicans immediately resort to questioning their motives.

That said, I still think the Rumsfeld Wire is pretty cool.

Corporate Response

The Bush as bad CEO theory spreads into the Washington Post:

When something goes wrong, the all-too-typical corporate response is to downplay its importance or bury it in bureaucratic processes. And if that doesn't work, the next line of defense is to pin it all on a few "bad apples" and move aggressively to "put the issue behind us," without ever really admitting serious error.

That should sound familiar to anyone who has watched Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and John Snow on C-SPAN, or read Paul O'Neill's account of his ill-fated attempts to warn of the budgetary fallout from a second tax cut, or heard what Richard Clarke told the 9/11 commission about warnings of terrorist attacks that fell on deaf ears. It also describes to a T the process by which the administration has dealt with Iraq, from the original decision to go to war to the handling of the prison scandal.

Here's a little test: You are president of the United States and revelations about abuse of Iraqi prisoners has created the biggest crisis since Sept. 11, inflaming the Arab world, undercutting support at home and undermining our moral authority in the world. How do you spend the weekend?

If you answered "spend it at Camp David as planned, then drop in at the Pentagon on Monday to praise the defense secretary for doing a superb job," you just flunked, along with George W. Bush.


teisipäev, mai 11, 2004

More Outrage

I thought this was obvious, but apparently not to the Vodkapundits of the right, but I'm going to add that yes, I was outraged by the beheading of American. I figured that's just assumed from the fact that, you know, it was an innocent man and he was murdered.

Then again, I didn't consider the supreme idiocy of some right wing crackpots.

And somehow this guy has over one million hits? Hardly seems fair.
Outrage at the Outrage at the Outrage

James Inhofe is an idiot.

Now, I've known this for quite some time because of my dealings with his positions on climate change and environmental issues, but this is a whole new level of stupid.

"I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment," he said.

You know, Rush Limbaugh said pretty much the same thing on his show recently, that people aren't as upset as they're pretending to be and most of us aren't outraged at all. We're just pretending because we think it's socially acceptable or because we want to hurt Bush. I'd agree that some people aren't bothered by this, and I know some of them. Well, they're not bothered by the torture in and of itself. They're well aware, though, that the situation has serious consequences and is very damaging to our nation's moral credibility. For those reasons, which are obvious to anyone with a remotely functioning brain, they are outraged by it. I think it takes a special kind of insensitive, inhuman cretin to not be angered by the situation at all. This is the category James Inhofe appears to fall in.

Look, I know some people feel the reflexive need to defend Bush and blast liberals in every situation. I understand some people get paid for it. But the defense of torture coming from some conservatives is astonishing. How are we not all on the same page on this being horrible and something needing to be done? I mean, I can see where we'll haggle over who to hold responsible and why, but can you really tell me with a straight face that you don't see the problem here? Like Atrios says, this is the attitude that will lose us this war.

More Idiot-hofe:

"I am also outraged that we have so many humanitarian do-gooders right now crawling all over these prisons looking for human-rights violations while our troops, our heroes, are fighting and dying."

No offense to the people of Oklahoma, but how stupid are you that you elected this jackass? Were the Democrats running an ear of corn against him or something?

Those damn humanitarian do-gooders, always trying to do humanitarian good. Can anyone really take seriously a man who is outraged by people looking for human rights violations but has no problem with the human rights violations they find?

As the article points out, Inhofe doesn't even have his facts right:

Ignoring a Red Cross report that said that up to 90 per cent of the prisoners held at Abu Ghraib prison had been rounded up by mistake, Mr. Inhofe suggested that no one should feel sorry for detainees who had been photographed in humiliating and degrading positions.

Tom Tomorrow has another Inhofe mistake/lie/stupid-ass idiotic statement.

On the plus side, John McCain again proves he's America's finest Republican statesman:

Senator John McCain got up and left the room while his fellow Republican was speaking. Mr. McCain, who was captured and tortured during the Vietnam War, told reporters that he rejected Mr. Inhofe's position.
Miller's Crossing

The DLC daily newsletter smacks down Zell Miller:

One of the stranger pheonomena in contemporary U.S. politics has been the decisive lurch of Sen. Zell Miller -- once the most jaundiced of yellow-dog Democrats, and an outstanding progressive governor of Georgia -- into the orbit, if not yet formally the ranks, of the GOP. We've already published in Blueprint magazine an informed opinion of Miller's recent book and the psychological factors contributing to his recent apostasy from his own party. He's free, of course, to cross the line and leave the Democratic Party whenever he wants. But instead, he's crossed a more fundamental line by pretending that his party has left him, and that he represents other Democrats who feel the same.

In a comment on Sen. John Kerry's appearance at the DLC's National Conversation last week -- posted on the Bush-Cheney '04 website, no less -- Miller claimed that "from statehouses to Congress ... Democrats are running away" from Kerry, and that the Democratic nominee is "at odds with the DLC when he condemns the president for liberating Iraq" (which, of course, Kerry has never done). In a conference call with reporters arranged by the Bush campaign, Miller reiterated his argument that Kerry is "at odds with the DLC in so many ways."

That must be why Kerry drew a series of standing ovations, complete with whistling, stomping and cheering, from the DLC audience in Phoenix -- the kind of ovation Miller himself can only get these days when he's speaking to Republicans. And the 250 Democratic state and local elected officials from 39 states attending the National Conversation sure weren't "running away" from Kerry. The only complaints we heard in Phoenix were from elected officials anxious to see Kerry's campaign up and running in their communities so they can get immediately involved.

The truth is that the Democratic Party is about as united as we've ever seen it, in no small part because of the destructive policies of Zell Miller's candidate, George W. Bush. Having thoroughly and ruthlessly abandoned anything like genuine bipartisanship, Bush and his party are now reduced to pure deception in pretending they have any support, or any reason for support, from Democrats. Miller alone is cooperating in that deception.

It's truly sad to watch this famously independent man become just another transmission belt for RNC talking points and attack lines, and to hear his once-distinctive voice become just another echo of the conservative media machine. His only value to his new Republican friends is that increasingly irrational "D" next to his name on Senate roll calls. But among Democrats, Zell Miller speaks only for himself.

American Beheaded in Iraq

Bad. Very, very bad.

Now, I'd be willing to bet large sums of money that this doesn't really have anything to do with the prisoner abuse. These guys hated us already. This just gave them a reason to say they did what they were going to do anyway. But man, can we try to stop handing them propaganda?
I Know You Are But What Am I?

Aw, isn't that cute? The New York Post is accusing other media outlets of having a political agenda.

"How many photos of naked Iraqis does one want to see?" said Col Allan, its editor in chief. "I think that the relentless stream of images, the vast number of these things, will wear out public patience. Clearly, the images are serving the political agenda of many newspapers."

Don't pyschologists call this projection or something?
It's a Family Thing

When I first saw this, I thought, wow, that's pretty selfless of Bush.

Mr. Bush and his wife, Laura, said they did not want to subject other families to the disruptions of a presidential visit when Barbara Bush graduates from Yale University on May 24 in New Haven and Jenna Bush graduates from the University of Texas on May 22 in Austin.

He's willing to sacrifice seeing his daughters graduate to avoid inconveniencing others. That's very sweet. So I would assume he wouldn't be going to any graduations this year. I mean, if he isn't willing to disrupt a graduation to see his own daughters, he certainly wouldn't do it for strangers.



Mr. Bush turned down an invitation to speak at the Texas ceremony. But he will give a commencement address at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and at Concordia University in Mequon, Wis.

Wrong. I'll give him the Air Force Academy. He's the Commander in Chief and it's the military, so that seems fair. But what do Wisconsin and Louisiana have in common?

They're battleground states.

Is it a coincidence Bush is appearing at ceremonies in two highly contested states at schools that he has no connection to? Doubtful. So what we're really seeing here is a president who is willing to speak at graduations for political purposes, but won't even attend them for his own family.

Nice. Very nice.

esmaspäev, mai 10, 2004

I Feel So Safe

From Atrios:

It was the lead item on the government's daily threat matrix one day last April. Don Emilio Fulci described by an FBI tipster as a reclusive but evil millionaire, had formed a terrorist group that was planning chemical attacks against London and Washington, D.C. That day even FBI director Robert Mueller was briefed on the Fulci matter. But as the day went on without incident, a White House staffer had a brainstorm: He Googled Fulci. His findings: Fulci is the crime boss in the popular video game Headhunter. "Stand down," came the order from embarrassed national security types.

Man, where to begin? Well, first of all, it took that long for someone to think about maybe googling this mysterious evil millionaire? That's the first thing I do when a name I've never heard before comes across my desk and I'm not trying to save millions of lives. It's the most basic research you can do. The FBI doesn't even think of it? It took a White House staffer to conduct this brilliant masterpiece of moden intelligence work? And we spend billions of dollars on this intelligence stuff, right? Jesus, somebody get these guys a couple of high school interns or something. At least someone who's vaguely computer literate. And somebody tells you a "reclusive but evil millionaire" with an Italian name who nobody has ever heard of has formed a terrorist group and this doesn't raise any red flags in your head as a little unlikely?

I think the most frightening thing is, all of this background work gets done. It's the lead item in the threat matrix. It goes to Robert Mueller. What exactly were the FBI agents doing in terms of hunting this guy down and trying to stop him that they never came across the fact that a) he doesn't exist and b) he's a character in a popular video game? They have to have explored the possibility that this was a hoax. How did they not find this? What kind of research were they putting together on the guy? What were they doing?

And what happens the next time a real reclusive but evil Italian millionaire tries to launch a terrorist attack?

Wow. That's really clever.

I'm a little disappointed I didn't think of it first.

Yesterday, Howie Kurtz ran this story in the Washington Post on Bush and Kerry's ads. He rightly addresses the issue of whether Bush is being too negative. But then there's this bit that just pisses me off:

Against this backdrop, the debate over whether the Bush ads are distorting or exaggerating the senator's record assumes greater importance, especially given the unusual negativity this early in the campaign season.

Kurtz then goes on to list several cases where Bush is blatantly making shit up to criticize Kerry. What I don't understand is how you can say, for example, that there's a "debate" over whether Bush's claim that Kerry will raise taxes by $900 billion is an exaggerration or a distortion. It's a lie. Plain and simple. It's a lie. The Bush campaign is lying. Why can't he just come out and say it? Well, because then you look like you have a liberal bias and journalists are too scared of the right wing to let that happen. So even the most outlandish and obviously false statements coming out of the Bush campaign have to be treated like they might be accurate.

On a side note, at the end, Kurtz addresses some exaggerations in Kerry's ads. Other than the bit about the number of Supreme Court justices opposed to abortion, they're not so bad. And that one sounds more like a mistake than an intentional misstatement.

The whole article begs a question I've asked before, though: Why the hell does anyone trust political ads?

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