Saturday, May 06, 2006

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Oh My


Prosecutors have e-mails showing Rep. Tom DeLay's office knew lobbyist Jack Abramoff had arranged the financing for the GOP leader's controversial European golfing trip in 2000 and was concerned ''if someone starts asking questions.''

House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting free trips from lobbyists. DeLay, R-Texas, reported to Congress that a Republican advocacy group had paid for the spring 2000 trip that DeLay, his wife and top aides took to Scotland and England.

The e-mails obtained by The Associated Press show DeLay's staff asked Abramoff -- not the advocacy group -- to account for the costs that had to be legally disclosed on congressional travel forms. DeLay's office was worried the group being cited as paying the costs might not even know about them, the e-mails state.


Abramoff's team sought to low-ball the cost estimates and DeLay's office ultimately reported to Congress a total that was a few thousand dollars lower than the one the lobbyist provided, the documents show.

''We should give them the most minimal numbers for cost of the hotel (do not include golf), food and plays,'' Abramoff wrote two assistants at his Preston Gates lobbying firm in an e-mail from June 29, 2000. One of those assistants, Susan Ralston, now works for top White House adviser Karl Rove.

Think he'll be asked abbout this on This Week tomorrow?



Turf War

The weirdest thing isn't how quickly the reporters dutifully recycle the revisionis spin points, it's that they jump to pretend they've known it all along even though, you know, they didn't bother to tell the rest of us about it.


Hayden to Head CIA

Who thought there could be a worse man for the job than Goss.


Wanker of the Day

Ana Marie Cox.

Her novel was truly awful, by the way. Really really bad. Truly horrible. Reading it I was reminded of her claws-extended green-eyed-monster Heatheresque review of Kristin Gore's book (which I didn't read but am now inspired to order).

According to an account in The New York Times, the film producer/force of nature Harvey Weinstein and Jonathan Burnham, the editor in chief of Miramax Books, decided to publish a chick-lit novel set in Washington. Three weeks later, they found their author: Kristin Gore, then 26, whose prior professional writing experience included stints at ''Saturday Night Live'' and the Fox animated show ''Futurama.'' At a reception for the nonprofit where Gore's sister works, the wealthy culture baron and the well-connected offspring of a political dynasty had a conversation that seems more the stuff of fiction than its source: ''What I really, really want to do is write a novel,'' said Ms. Gore. ''What a coincidence,'' replied Mr. Weinstein. What a country.

The book produced by ''this great serendipitous moment'' (as Gore described it) is a little better than its command-economy lineage might suggest, though such circumstances do set the bar awfully low. The basic story is reliably familiar: girl falls for Mr. Apparently Right, who turns out to be Mr. Completely Wrong; meanwhile, Mr. Apparently Annoying becomes Mr. Right All Along. The cast in this case is Washington-specific: the protagonist, Samantha (Sammy, natch) Joyce, is a senate staffer, Mr. Wrong is an up-and-coming speechwriter (Aaron Driver) and the Spencer Tracy role is filled by Charlie Lawton, a junior reporter at The Washington Post. This plot is chick lit's little black dress -- an empty form made appealing by how it's filled out.


The sloppy prose that pervades the book is an unfortunate reminder of its genesis. Its off-the-rack plot, running together B-grade chick-lit with campaign-trail policy talk, is the predictable outcome of a publishing focus group. It's not bad, it's just not any good. God knows, an astringent romantic satire is long overdue in a town where work is foreplay and the vibrating object in a couple's bed could easily be a two-way pager. ''Sammy's Hill,'' however, lacks buzz.

I never read Gore's book so I have no opinion, but when I read Cox's I was struck by how much it sounded like she was reviewing her own book.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Friday Cat Blogging

Yeah, a bit late. Sometimes they don't perform on command.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Late Night

Please don't shoot anybody in the face, out any CIA agents, take bribes from military contractors, steal money from tribes, or play poker with hookers...


Schuster had a bit of a Plame update on Countdown. Quick version:

  • Inbetween chatting with Miller and chatting with Cooper about Plame the CIA warned Libby about the implications of discussing Plame (opens up the possibility of actually charging him for the leak itself).
  • "Tea leaves" say Rove's going to be indicted.

The Worst Woman in America

Caitlin Flanagan.

More here.

...and here.

(via tapped)

Wank Wank Wank

And the right wing wankfest goes on.


I bet Tony Snow's really looking forward to Monday.

Something Popped

Is Kristol just speculating or does he know something?

Hopefully we'll find out soon...

More Thread

Booze, poker, and hookers.

Tomorrow's Paper

I know I'll be obsessively reloading the Washington Post site this evening.

Nothing to See Here

According to Tim Russert this is all perfectly normal, a CIA director suddenly resigning with no advance warning to anyone and without a replacement chosen.

I'm so glad Tim's there to accurately write down whatever the White House tells him.

The Weisberg Standard

Ah, journamalism.

I'm glad Weisberg has just released the entire universe from any ethical obligation to keep the private correspondence of Slate staffers private.

If anyone has any juicy private correspondence from people who work for Slate I'll happily publish it.

(tip from Arthur)

Nothing to See Here

CNN is treating this as a perfectly normal event despite the fact that it's clearly not and is seemingly unaware of HOOKERS. Josh writes:

Here at TPM HQ we were listening to the president's announcement. And the talking heads on CNN were speculating whether Goss's departure might be part of Josh Bolten's 'new blood' shake up in the Bush administration. I don't suppose it anything to do with the fact that Goss is neck deep in the Wilkes-Corruption-and-Hookers story that's been burbling in the background all week. We don't know definitely why Goss pulled the plug yet. But the CIA Director doesn't march over to the White House and resign, effective immediately, unless something very big is up. CNN is getting something might be up, Bob Barr mentioning the Dukestir.

Bush Personnel Announcement at 1:45

Sez CNN. Jeebus hates me too much for it to be "Karl Rove has resigned, effective immediately..." Probably will be more along the lines of "John Snow will be replaced by some other guy just like John Snow."

...Holy Crap. Porter Goss quits.

Oh my. I may just get my wish about hookers.

Pundits of the Floating World

Lance Mannion writes:

The idea that once they clock out, unzip the coveralls, and gather together at the old brass rail, Senators, Congressmen, Presidential aides, the boys and girls of the Press, and the lobbyists buying the round are, Republicans and Democrats, Liberal and Conservative, really just a bunch of bosom pals forced by circumstances to work in different, rival departments of the same firm and what happens during the day is just the dirty job of earning a paycheck and their real lives begin after the cocktail hour is, I suppose, necessary to their sanity and useful for getting laid.

Whenever I hear a Washington insider bemoan the polarization of politics I know that person is either a Republican about to launch a vicious attack on a Democrat, a Democrat terrified of being viciously attacked, or a journalist who just hates all the muss and fuss because it makes picking which parties to attend a trickier business---choose wrong and some miffed hostess will cross your name off the guest list for a whole month's worth of A-list fiestas.

Insider Journalists seem to have found the path to their self-congratulatory "objectivity" by way of the sports pages. At least when they appear on TV, they adopt the detachment of New York baseball writers forced to cover a crucial series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Diego Padres---it's interesting because it's baseball, but it's not the Yankees, so let's not lose our heads here.

This is one of Shakespeare's Sister's themes. They cover politics as if it is a game, as if the people involved, the "players," are players, colorful characters whose quirks and foibles make their stories funnier or more dramatic, but whose political views are no more important than a ballplayer's pet superstitions or diligent pursuit of an arcane record. It's not just Joe Klein. He's the model. That Tom DeLay is a thief and a thug and he posed a real threat to the useful functioning of the government never seems to figure in the coverage of him, even as he disappears back down the sewer from which he crawled. The Bug Man, the Hammer, he's just contemporary Washington's Ty Cobb, isn't he?

(As if Cobb's racism and sociopathy were of no real consequence.)

The assumption underlying and propping up all this chummy let me buy you a drink and we'll call it even bonhomie is that "We're all in this together." Everybody in Washington is there for the same reason. To do a job. And that job is to keep the country moving. We may have different ideas about how to get there, but finally we all want to end up in the same place, don't we?

One thing I've observed is that what really drives the elite chatterers crazy is the notion that people actually give a damn about anything. Sure, some of that giving a damn gets channeled into anger, but I often find simply "giving a damn" recast as "anger" when it isn't deserved.

It's weird.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Meet the Press hosts House Min. Leader Nancy Pelosi, Washington Post's Dan Balz, Vanity Fair's Todd Purdum, and comedian Steve Bridges.
Face the Nation hosts Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Washington Post's Colbert King and New York Times' David Brooks.
This Week hosts DNC Chair Howard Dean, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), Scott McClellan is their voices segment and the roundtable includes The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel and ex-Rep. John Kasich (R-OH).
Fox News Sunday hosts Sens. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Arlen Specter (R-PA), Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist, and Washington Nationals Owner Mark Lerner.
Late Edition hosts Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), HHS Sec. Mike Leavitt, and Iraqi NSA Mowaffak al-Rubaie.

I'm kicking myself for not predicting that last Meet the Press guest. Hilarious.


I want to hear more about hookers.

Six Year High

The fact that the stock market is just as high now as it was six years ago proves the Bush economy is great. [/wingnut]

The Collapse of Glibertarianism

Jim Henley has an interesting post.

...more here.

Wanker of the Day

Paula Zahn.


Lamontblog has Lieberman's new ad.


Really, this is getting stupid.


Not enough attention is paid to what's in the pages of USA Today.

Three years ago on May Day, President Bush put on his now-infamous "Mission Accomplished" show about Iraq. This week on May 1, he confidently declared another turning point on our way to victory in Iraq. Facts:

Then, 139 U.S. troops had died in the "pre-emptive" Iraq war. Now, the number is 2,411.

Then, Bush got $79 billion from Congress for the war. Now, the total cost approved by Congress is more than $250 billion.

Then, the president's overall approval rating was 71%. Now, in the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll it is 34%.

How low can Bush's approval rating go? My hunch is it's at or near the bottom. That 34% represents mostly unshakeable far-right wingers. Like Bush, Vice President Cheney and company, they are in denial. As were the 24% in the polls who still approved of President Richard Nixon before he resigned in disgrace.

What happened to the 37% who have switched from pro-Bush to anti-Bush? They finally realized they were suckered by Bush and his buddies back then about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction, his tie to terrorists and his threat to the USA.

He's Stupid and He's Ugly

And David Sirota doesn't like him:

For instance, he was dispatched by GOP leaders in Washington to kill a minimum-wage increase in 2005. After voting repeatedly throughout his career against raising the minimum from its now 50-year low, Santorum offered an amendment to a minimum-wage bill that seemed likely to pass. The legislation purported to raise the minimum, and gave GOP senators a way to seem like they supported the increase.

But experts quickly noted that behind Santorum's charade purporting to support a wage hike, his bill's fine print would have eliminated all existing minimum-wage protections for almost 7 million workers, opening the door to massive pay cuts, and the effective legalization of sweatshops.

The bill also would have nullified various state minimum-wage laws, eliminated overtime pay protections for millions of workers and exempted businesses from fines for violating workplace safety, health and pension laws.

Though Santorum's proposal didn't pass, it stripped enough votes from the real bill to send it to defeat. As a thank you, Santorum got a nice wet kiss from Corporate America: Wal-Mart, one of the country's largest low-wage employers, lent him its corporate jet a few weeks later for a victory lap at a slew of fat-cat fund-raisers in Florida, where his campaign pocketed $250,000.

And The Unders Win

+138K new jobs, below the expected 200,000 that CNN told me would be "good news for the Bush administration.

...and 271K of those jobs are the phantom jobs from the birth/death model. The model may or may not be good, I really have no opinion, but it's a statistical fudging which doesn't count actual jobs but imagined ones.

...and the dollar falls a bit more.

Another New Low

But people really WANT to like this president!!:

Just 33 percent of the public approves of Bush's job performance, the lowest of his presidency. That compares with 36 percent approval in early April. Forty-five percent of self-described conservatives now disapprove of the president.


A majority of Americans say they want Democrats rather than Republicans to control Congress (51 percent to 34 percent). That's the largest gap recorded by AP-Ipsos since Bush took office. Even 31 percent of conservatives want Republicans out of power.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.


I am so signing up with this.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Apparently Frist fristed himself with his grand plan to give out ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS.

Anyone spot what's missing from this article?


Froomkin writes:

The way I see it, the Washington press corps is still appropriately embarrassed that they screwed up in the run-up to war. Now, as Bush's approval ratings fester, they are getting bolder in challenging the official White House line on any number of issues. They're justifiably proud of a handful of great investigative pieces.

But they still haven't addressed the central issue Colbert was raising: Bush's credibility. As it happens, the public is way ahead of them on this one: For more than a year, the polls have consistently been showing that a majority of Americans don't find Bush honest and trustworthy.

And yet, as I've chronicled time and again in this column, (see, for instance, my Feb. 3 column, It's the Credibility, Stupid ) the mainstream press -- the very folks in that ballroom on Saturday night, the ones who actually have access to the president and his aides -- have allowed that fundamental issue to go unexplored.

What Colbert was saying about the guy sitting a few feet away from him -- and I think this is what made so many people in that room uncomfortable -- was: Don't believe a word he says.

It took a long time - until Katrina - for the press to really catch up to the idea that maybe, just maybe, these guys are completely incompetent. In a rare moment in 2004 Jonathan Alter said on the Franken show:

The level of incompetence here is so staggering here, and yet there's this gap between how astonishingly incompetent...and we can go over particulars in the last year if you want to... how astonishingly incompetent they've been and the perception is still of them as solid citizens...


"The only way you can sort of start to let the public know is to say no. They don't know what they're doing. They're clowns.

But that was an isolated sentiment, and not one which was really repeated until Katrina hit. Since then we've gotten a bit more on the incompetence thing. Still, as Froomkin notes, they really haven't gotten hip to the fact that they're total liars about everything despite all the evidence to the contrary. It took Ray McGovern to point out the obvious today to Rumsfeld. Of course, any sentient human being knew that Rumsfeld was lying the instant these words popped out of his mouth:

We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

We didn't need to fail to find WMDs to know that was a lie. It wasn't just a lie, it was as bad lie. A pathetic lie. A transparently obivously lie. Only drooling morons could imagine that the phrase "in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat" could be anything other than a lie even before we knew that no such weapons existed.

Forget national security and WMDs, which are oddly taboo subjects for serious scrutiny. Just look at Medicare D, Social Security, Katrina, etc... etc... They. Lie. About. Everything. Not spin, not hyperbole, not exaggeration, which are all things which I think have some appropriate place in political discourse, but lies. Awful, dangerous, deadly lies.

In his book, Spikey Mikey Isikoff wrote about Clinton:

I was now convinced Clinton was far more psychologically disturbed than the public ever imagined.

Whatever the merits of that statement it's time to acknowledge that Bush and his administration are far more incompetent, dishonest, and dangerously radical than the press is willing to imagine.


I thought I was going to take the over bet on the new jobs report which comes out tomorrow but I think I'll go with the under. The birth/death model which adds in a bunch of phantom jobs into the report seems to like add jobs in April, but I think I'll still go with the under bet. Consensus forecast is +200K, I say under.


Josh writes:

This really is the issue. Brazen it out, burn off men and money, not admit there's any real problem and then pass it off on the next guy who will take the blame.

The president lacks the courage to change course. The whole country is paralyzed by his cowardice.

This is true, but many other people are paralyzed by their own cowardice. It's apparently okay in official Washington for there to be a nation whose leader thinks words speak louder than actions, that an impudent comedian is more offensive than the ongoing slaughter in Iraq, and that 2-3 dead American troops per day is barely worthy of notice.

One keeps imagining that the grownups will finally wake up and try to change things, but if the last decade has taught us anything it's that if there are any grownups in Washington no one bothers to listen to them anymore.

Maps for Rape Victims

Connecticut Bob helps Lieberman out with some constituent services.

(tip from reader df)


More from Weldon Berger.

Speaking of Tone

It isn't liberal bloggers who regularly compare their political opponents to traitors and terrorists.

If Only He Could Serve

Fortunately he can.

Patrick Kennedy

Well, if he drove drunk he's an irresponsible idiot and if he got special treatment from the cops shame on them.

If not, shame on the people making the accusation.

I'll never understand why people who live in an area with good taxi service drive drunk (not excusing those who do it absent good taxi service).

...Kennedy statement sez he consumed no alcohol.

Blog Rage

Greg Sargent writes about the hositility to blogs and the constant dismissing of them based on their tone. It's true as he writes that it's really elite opinionshapers - pundits and those who aspire to be them - feel a degradation of their status (you mean anyone can have an opinion on important events of the day? and write about it? and people will read it? even if you're not as important as ME?). Greg's a bit less critical than I am, actually. I think we need to define the word meritocracy a bit more generously than we should in order to imagine that only the best rises to the stuff. Without significant barries to entry in the blog world (yes there's a first-mover advantage in terms of obtaining an audience but that tends to be greatly exaggerated) it's true that to be read you have to be popular, but we should remember that being popular doesn't necessarily require much merit. See Industry, Music and Pundit, Insta.

But the complaining about the "tone" of the blogosphere in broadbrush ways is silly. Except for four-letter words not allowed by the FCC, which I know most of these journalists have heard once or twice in their lives, most of the popular blogs are often tamer than what you'll find on popular political talk radio, which the mainstream press has studiously ignored for years. But, more importantly, who cares about tone?

When people in the media wish to criticize bloggers they should start naming names and start being specific. If we aren't important enough to be engaged specifically than ignore us. It's fair to talk about the blogosphere as a collective at times as it's fair to talk about the mainstream media as a collective at times, but complaining about the nasty tone of the whole party is just cheap and sloppy journalism.

The greater sin of Cohen today was implying that blog readers are balkanized into political camps and are therefore uninformed and stupid. That's one of the worst misconceptions of people who read blogs who are, after all, the people who are most interested in news and political debate - interested enough spend a more than healthy amount of time online keeping up to speed. Cohen shows contempt for the people most likely to know who he is and care about what he writes. Odd.


Called out in Atlanta. People are saying Ray McGovern was the one doing it.

QUESTION: So I would like to ask you to be up front with the American people, why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary, that has caused these kinds of casualties? why?

RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, I haven’t lied. I did not lie then. Colin Powell didn’t lie. He spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence Agency people and prepared a presentation that I know he believed was accurate, and he presented that to the United Nations. the president spent weeks and weeks with the central intelligence people and he went to the american people and made a presentation. i’m not in the intelligence business. they gave the world their honest opinion. it appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there.

QUESTION: You said you knew where they were.

RUMSFELD: I did not. I said I knew where suspect sites were and –

QUESTION: You said you knew where they were Tikrit, Baghdad, northeast, south, west of there. Those are your words.

RUMSFELD: My words — my words were that — no, no, wait a minute, wait a minute. Let him stay one second. Just a second.

QUESTION: This is America.

RUMSFELD: You’re getting plenty of play, sir.

QUESTION: I’d just like an honest answer.

RUMSFELD: I’m giving it to you.

QUESTION: Well we’re talking about lies and your allegation there was bulletproof evidence of ties between al Qaeda and Iraq.

RUMSFELD: Zarqawi was in Baghdad during the prewar period. That is a fact.

QUESTION: Zarqawi? He was in the north of Iraq in a place where Saddam Hussein had no rule. That’s also…

RUMSFELD: He was also in Baghdad.

QUESTION: Yes, when he needed to go to the hospital.

Come on, these people aren’t idiots. They know the story.

Rumsfeld then tries to shift emphasis from him to the troops, deflecting responsibility as always.

The Big Money

Billmon writes about the international financial system and how the increase in the price of gold is most likely due to central bankers switching from holding dollars to holding gold.

The dollar's down to $1.27/Euro. It's been above that before (becasue Jeebus hates me, when I was last in Europe) but it was hovering around $1.20 for quite some time before this recent rather fast slide.

There's nothing wrong with a falling dollar. It's generally believed to be inevitable and necessary and there's no reason it has to be harmful for the economy, though it'll sure make those trips to London more expensive than they already are. The danger, if there is one, is that central banks not wishing to see the value of their reserve holdings diminish by a substantial amount will start unloading them and we have a minor or major financial panic on our hands.

The Wanker Kings of Comedy

From the Editors.

Warning: obscene ASCII art which may alarm your coworkers.

I Am Small And Not So Honest

Joe Klein.

The Press and Iraq

Tristero questions whether a better press could've stopped the Iraq war. My take is that there was probably only one man who could've stopped this war (aside from George Bush of course) and that man was Colin Powell.


The Note, where the depravity of the Beltway Press is on display daily for all to see, has put out a jokey fake memo from Tony Snow. It of course provides a window not into the mind of Tony Snow but into the minds of the writers of the Note, whose daily scribblings will horrify future historians for generations.

All right, enough throat-clearing. The number one thing we need to do is RE-HUMANIZE THE PRESIDENT. All my other suggestions are just variations on that theme. People WANT to like this President, and we need to give them more chances. They love the regular guy thing that worked so well for you in the first campaign, and we need to tap back into that on a regular basis as a fundamental part of our communications strategy, not a when-can add-on.

There's nothing the Press shop can do about facts on the ground, but we can HELP people remember why they originally liked the President so much. In December and January, Dan and Nicolle did a great job of getting the President out more, talking to the pool nearly every day and answering all those questions from the good red-blooded, red-stated Americans who come to our events. There have been lulls in this strategy as plans got overtaken by the news and the schedule, but we need to make it a priority instead of an if-can. I know the President was reluctant to do the questions from the general public, concerned that he would say some tiny thing that the press would blow it up into some huge deal. But he has nailed nearly every one of these outings, and I know he now enjoys them and has gotten more confident.

I know you realize the dirty little secret: Truly nasty questions, ones the President can't defuse with his quick wit, are rare. And when we DO get asked them, we get brownie points for openness. So these free-for-alls are almost can't-lose propositions.

Yes, people want to like the president, despite his 60+ dispproval rating and his 45+ strong disapproval rating.

Mission Accomplished

Three years later, the logical follow-up question to any claim that the "Mission Accomplished" was just "Mission Accomplished" for those on that aircraft carrier is:

Why hasn't Bush made any Mission Accomplished appearances on any returning aircraft carriers since that day?

"the Spanish have decided to take over our national anthem"

Sadly, No doesn't just need to fix the internet they need to fix the WORLD, as apparently people from Haiti (Wycleff Jean), Cuba (Pitbull),* and Puerto Rico (Carlos Ponce and Olga Tanon) are "the Spanish."

*Not actually sure if Pitbull is Cuban-born or just Cuban-American.

Permanent Bases

The Senate can pass as many amendments as they want but if Bush decides that we need permanent bases in Iraq he'll build them. He's claimed that authority. Congress can continue to participate in the sham that Bush thinks he needs to abide by their laws or they can do something about it.

Kudos to Carlson

Actually makes correction.

And Hilarity Ensues

AP, 1998:

Helping matters, Bush also speaks fluent Spanish. So does his brother, Jeb Bush, who is married to a Mexican-American and was elected governor of Florida, thanks in part to a strong Hispanic vote.

Portsmouth Herald, 1999:

Bush also took a question from a Spanish reporter and answered in fluent Spanish.

Pat Robertson on CNN, 2/24/2000:

ROBERTSON: Well, I think he could say that, but I think he's made it clear. He said it in Michigan. He said, "Look, I'm not anti-Catholic, and I don't support racism." I mean, this guy has put together a coalition in Texas of Hispanics -- he speaks fluent Spanish -- of -- of African- Americans, of Democrats. I mean, he is a very, very tolerant, broad-based guy. And I think that the media's spinning this thing way out of proportion to what really happened. That's my feeling.

New York Times, 2/28/00 (Nicholas Kristof reporting):

He also showed off his Spanish, which is fluent, by firing off a sentence in Spanish.

McLaughlin Group, 6/2000:

MR. O'DONNELL: Absolutely, and they both -- they both do it well. I mean, George W. Bush is fluent in Spanish.

National Review, 4/2000:

Yes, indeed. He was fluent in Spanish, which appeals to that minority, and he was fluent in gibberish-the touchy-feely Clintonian hogwash that the elusive "soccer mom" is said to go bananas over.

PBS, 5/9/2000:

RICHARD RODRIGUEZ: I was listening the other day to Governor Bush speak fluent Spanish to Hispanic voters when it struck me that Spanish is becoming unofficially, but truly, the second language of the United States.

(this presumably could be referring to Jeb Bush, but there's no distinction made and since this was in the middle of the 2000 election I assume he meant George)

CNN 8/2000:

PRESS: Well, I wonder how good George Bush's Spanish is. Did he know what the lyrics were before he said they ought to play the song at the convention? I don't know.

O'BRIEN: Yes, he says he's fluent.

Morning call, 4/22/06:

It's also good to see President Bush, (a fluent Spanish-speaker, by the way), leading the vision for comprehensive immigration reform based on three elements: border security, effective immigration law enforcement, and very importantly, a temporary worker program.

Scott McClellan today:

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the assertion did not ring true to him because, "The president speaks Spanish, but not that well."

"I'm saying that not only was that suggestion absurd, but that he couldn't possibly sing the national anthem in Spanish. He's not that good with his Spanish," McClellan said.


It's a real problem when people assume they're smarter than their audience (and in McCurry's case older and wiser too), especially when on the internet the audience is inevitably going to include a reasonable chunk of tech folk who are going to be, at least on tech issues, smarter than Mike McCurry.

In his latest piece McCurry veers from "trust me!" to "you're all young and stupid!" to lying, again, about the net neutrality issue, and then, laughably, to saying "please don't hate me for this usually I do good things!"

It's rather weird. McCurry's doing no service to his cause, and ensuring that his name is perpetually encased in shit.

Surging Santorum

This will be an interesting race.


Lambert (site down) and the Spin Dentist tell you what happened.

I saw someone on the street who really looked like Gannon but (what I thought was) shorter. Apparently he is short so it was probably him.

Oh My

Katherine Harris:

Former senior members of U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris' congressional staff say they initially rejected a defense contractor's $10 million appropriation request last year but reversed course after being instructed by Harris to approve it.

Harris insisted that Mitchell Wade's request for funding be given to a defense appropriations subcommittee, despite the request's being late and difficult to understand, according to two former staff members and Harris' former chief political strategist.

"She said, 'It's important to me, so submit it,' " said an ex-staffer who was involved in the process. "She wanted it in."

Wade is the contractor at the center of a congressional bribery scandal that has landed a California lawmaker in prison.

In the weeks before Harris submitted Wade's appropriations request, Wade spent up to $2,800 entertaining Harris at one of Washington's most expensive restaurants.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.


I always find it a bit weird when public affairs channels claim copyright, but since youtube had to pull down the Colbert video here it is on aol/ABC.

It lacks the taped Colbert/Thomas taped video but in its place has the full Bush reaction shot to that video.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

And the Nobel Peace Prize in Wankery Goes to...

Richard Cohen.

A stunning new achievement which puts to shame all former recipients of the prize.

Richard Cohen, we salute you.

...we must remember that Richard Cohen was a former winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in Wankery for this from 09/06/00:

My own continuing crisis of faith is beside the point. But the marriage of religion to politics is another matter. I thought it was in bad taste for Lieberman to go on and on about religion. But I thought it downright smug of him to suggest that God somehow favors America above all nations. The United States is a fortunate and exceptional nation, which I love dearly, but it is no more divine than any other.

"Our nation is chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model to the world," Lieberman told the annual convention of B'nai B'rith late last month.

Is that so? Did God choose slavery, which persisted in this country long after it was outlawed elsewhere? Did God choose to nearly eradicate the American Indian? Did God choose to incarcerate the Japanese during World War II? Where was God when blacks were being lynched and bigots planted bombs in southern churches, killing innocent little girls? Are these the models God wanted for the rest of the world?

Lieberman's statement is preposterously false and lacks humility. In these and other statements, he and like-minded politicians not only have had God virtually raising a hand at a naturalization ceremony, but they have imbued religion with a power it does not have. They suggest that if only more people were religious and allowed to pray before football games or whatever, we would be a far better nation--and, surely, all games would end in a tie.

Perhaps completely reasonable, except for one thing. The person who made the statement was presidential candidate George W. Bush, and not VP candidate Joe Lieberman.


Salon has an excerpt of Boehlert's book (just click through the damn ad).

Both the press and the White House were guilty of hyping the WMDs' existence, and both often avoided taking a serious look back. Unless, of course, it was to look back and have a good laugh together about the administration's fruitless hunt. The backslapping occurred on March 24, 2004, at the annual black-tie dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents Association, held at the Washington Hilton. The eagerly anticipated social event attracted a media-saturated crowd of approximately 1,500 people who were treated to a tongue-in-cheek address from Bush. Tradition held that sitting presidents took the opportunity at the Correspondents dinner to poke fun at the press as well as themselves. Bush did just that during his ten-minute, professionally written monologue, delivering some topical zingers: "'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.' My Cabinet could take some pointers from watching that show. In fact, I'm going to have the Fab Five do a makeover on [Attorney General John] Ashcroft."

Then Bush turned to the "White House Election-Year Album," as photos flashed on the screen behind his podium. One showed Bush gazing out an oval office window as he provided the narration: "Those weapons of mass destruction must be somewhere!" The audience laughed. Then came a picture of Bush on his hands and knees peering under White House furniture. "Nope, no weapons over there!" The MSM audience laughed harder. And then came a snapshot of Bush searching behind the drapes. "Maybe under here?" The audience roared in approval -- Bush couldn't find the WMDs!

The next morning, newspaper reporters who laughed out loud themselves at the Correspondents dinner dutifully typed up the jokes. It wasn't until some Democratic members of Congress, along with parents whose children had been killed in Iraq, expressed their disgust that it dawned on some members of the MSM that Bush's jokes might be considered offensive. Even after objections were raised the MSM rallied around Bush arguing the jokes were no big deal. In fact, it was telling how the MSM were reading off the exact same talking points as the Bush supporters in the right-wing press. Their mutual message was simple -- lighten up! On National Review Online, conservative talk show host Michael Graham, who attended the Correspondents dinner, mocked the critics: "Somehow, over the past 30 years, liberalism has mutated into something akin to an anti-comedy vaccine. The more you're Left, the less you laugh."

The supposedly liberal Los Angeles Times completely agreed. In an unsigned editorial, the paper belittled Democrats and anyone else who had the nerve to question Bush's sense of wartime humor, or daring to question Beltway tradition: "The truly serious thing about what's known as Washington's 'Silly Season' is whether presidents rise to the challenge." On Fox News, there was heated agreement between Sunday News anchor Chris Wallace and the network's Washington bureau managing editor, Brit Hume, that Bush's WMD jokes were perfectly acceptable.

Wallace: "I still think it's funny."

Hume: "I thought it was a good-natured performance."

But what about Fox liberal Juan Williams? He also had no patience for the Bush critics upset about the jokes: "I think people are petty in the situation."

Washington Post news reporter and Fox panelist Ceci Connelly concurred: "The pictures were funny. I laughed at the photos."


I understand that the ACLU is all about consistently applying their principles, but they should learn that even when they defend people like Big Pharma Limbaugh idiots like Tucker Carlson won't bother to notice.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Snow Job


Blog Rage

Another day, another column that makes me want to shoot somebody in the face.

It's like our words come out of the screen and sap their precious bodily fluids.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Still Lying After All These Years

Big Pharma:

WEST PALM BEACH — Conservative king Rush Limbaugh opened his talk show Monday with an account of the agreement he struck with prosecutors and his quick trip to the Palm Beach County Jail Friday.

"There was no arrest. There were no handcuffs. There was no perp walk. There is no charge," said Limbaugh, trumpeting the message his public relations pros have telegraphed since Friday, that he was not arrested.

But according to the agreement, signed and finalized Monday, there is, of course, a charge: withholding information from a practitioner, doctor-shopping, a felony, hanging over his head.

And according to a jail official, Limbaugh's surrender on a warrant and his booking at the jail certainly is an arrest.

"It's all semantics," says Capt. Mark Chamberlain, a jail supervisor, about whether a person who surrenders can be called "arrested." "But it's definitely going to count in our booking statistics as an arrest."

Oh My

I can't make it, but I guarantee the Equality Forum organizers have no idea what they've got on their hands...

The New Era

BooMan expresses something I've been trying to find a way to say:

The Washington Establishment still wants to reside in a town that in dominated by Rockefeller conservatism and Global War on Terror liberalism. But, they do not. They live in a town dominated by neo-conservatives.

I see a lot of examples of this, from the pages of the Post to the activities of certain think tanks who were once relevant to the debate. They flail around, hoping some center-right white knight will somehow save the country by convincing the Powers That Be to change course or something.

This is Bush's America. Deal with the new reality.

Net Neutrality

Tim Berners-Lee explains very clearly.


Roger Ailes notes that Scheiber supports his claim that he "thought the Iraq war was a bad idea from the get-go" by linking to a piece from July of 2005.

I thought that was pretty interesting, so I decided to check. I did a Nexis search of TNR from June of 2002 to June of 2003 of Scheiber-authored articles with the word "Iraq" in them. If Scheiber thought the "Iraq war was a bad idea from the get-go" he didn't bother to express that sentiment in the pages of Joe Lieberman Weekly.


The Stupids

Really, there is just so much profound stupidity in the world. Some days it's too much for a blogger to deal with.

Brain Surgery

From Tristero.

I'll give Ed Hamell's version:

Let me see if I'm clear
People are voting him in
'Cause they want to socialize with him
And a beer

That ain't no qualification
For a man to be leading a nation
What if you saw a guy from the bar emergin'?
Would you say he'd make a fuck of a surgeon?

He's a nice guy, although no education
I'm gonna let him do my wife's brain operation
Dad, I'm going to hold off on class
You can stick the alphabet up your ass

Wanker of the Day


Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Haven't We Been Here Before


I just got a copy of Ken Pollack's latest book on Iran, The Persian Puzzle, and was shocked on flipping to page 429, the Author's Note at the end of the book, to read that Pollack has never been to Iran and doesn't speak Persian, has only dribs and drabs of Arabic.

You'd think a book that purports to explain the "Persian Puzzle" might have offered that disclaimer at the front.

The real issue is that Ken Pollack helped lead us into war in Iraq. If I'd been that person I'd have crawled under my bed and not come out for a few years. If I'd been in charge of a media outlet I wouldn't have let him near a press/camera.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


This is really stupid.

NA Daily Report for Executives: I've seen a lot of coverage about Stephen Colbert's remarks at the WHCA dinner, but how about the story reported by Maria Bartiromo on CNBC about Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments to her at the dinner.

She said, on the air, that she asked him if the markets reacted appropriately to his testimony before Congress on April 27 and said he told her "no." She and CNBC played the story up to show that Bernanke feels the market got his testimony wrong, resulting in a sell-off in the bond market.

I don't know if he meant for his remarks to have that impact on the markets, but I somehow doubt he intended to use comments made at a Saturday night dinner party to communicate his views on policy.

My understanding of those events from the times I've been there is that all conversations are assumed to be off the record (unless you're covering the event as a pool reporter or society reporter). I guess that's a bad assumption and I wonder if Bernanke will ever attend the dinner again.

While I understand the need for off the record conversations, a Fed Chairman can never assume that such things apply. Whatever the propriety or impropriety of reporting his remarks, a Fed Chairman just cannot dish on these subjects at parties. It is in fact news if he doesn't understand that.

...adding, a subtle arch of the eyebrow by a Fed Chair can swing markets by hundreds of billions. People are paid to observe every such movement whenever possible. A Fed Chair who blabs at parties needs to stop going to parties.


steny hOYer.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Wanker of the Day

Mike Huckabee.

More on the Press

Digby writes regarding good press:

I've got to say, though, that in the Clinton years I could count the reporters on one hand who actually did that. Waas, Lyons, Conason and maybe a few more. The rest were like a pack of 12 year old girls at an N Sync concert.

I remember at the time about the only place one could find semi-sane commentary was on Geraldo's show.


Strange days...

Kill Them All

We're back there again. It always happens when the 101st get a bit disappointed by the less than satisfying progress of their pet country.

National Anthem Sung in Spanish At First Bush Inaugural

I say that basically nullifies the whole thing, and means we can put Gore in his rightful place.

Mmmm... Doughnuts....

It is going to be interesting when seniors start hitting the Medicare D doughnut hole.

Beat the Press

What Digby says. And, adding, we'll also have the backs of those journalists who don't cave in to the right wing maumauing.

Free The Internets

More on McCurry and net neutrality.

LA in the Day

I've mentioned this before, but too often people imagine that Los Angeles was the prototype of the modern American city, that it grew up around the automobile in the way that large sunbelt cities did. The truth is it was the first major city to grow up not around walking/horses but around streetcars. Yes, the automobile came soon afterwards, but it was really the streetcars that defined the basic city layout.

Here's a map from 1910 of the streetcar system.

Click through here
and you can get one from 1949 before Judge Doom showed up.

...since the hamsters that power geocities are unhappy, click here for a small version of the 1949 map.

What Can Be Done

Below I said that perhaps nothing could be done about the gas issue long term. I was specifically referring to gasoline prices and I meant that there's a good chance there's nothing to be done to prevent gas prices from staying at this level and going higher long term. Get used to $3 gas, in other words. There is of course a lot which can and should be done to slow the speed at which gas prices rise as well as reducing dependence on the automobile. One doesn't have to believe in a peak oil economic apocalypse to understand that when we hit the limit on either oil extraction capacity or refining capacity gas prices are going to spike a lot. Improving CAFE standards and other such things can slow the outward shift of the demand curve, reducing the degree to which prices increase, especially once we hit supply capacity.

In addition, the reason gas prices cause so much pain for many people is that for too many people in this country there just is no substitute for personal automobile travel for even the most basic of travel needs - not walking, not bicycling, not taxis, not carpooling, not mass transit. In so many areas any relatively affluent household has one car per driving-age household member because there's no other way to get around. The living options just don't exist. I'm relatively agnostic on the question of whether people really want their suburbs built that way or whether they just don't have any experience with anything else to understand that there can be a better way, but nonetheless that's how so much development is done in this country.

I'm not saying destroy the suburbs and steal everyone's SUV, but I would suggest that it would go a long way to improve things if mass transit options were improved and high density development was allowed/encouraged around transit corridors. This would leave most of the suburban landscape as it is, if that's what people really want, while providing an improved transit situation for the rest of us.

"Do Nothing."

Actually, I think Rove was right here. There may not have been any good strategy, but once Republicans started mouthing off about plans to help with gas prices they put into place the expectation that they can and will do something. Short term there isn't anything they can do (perhaps not long term, either) that isn't anathema to Republicans and just waiting for the media to chase a new soccer ball might have been the best plan, under the assumption that prices would drop by October.

The only real thing which can be done to ease the real economic pain of gas prices would be something like:

In order to help those who are most impacted by high gas prices, we propose a $1000 tax credit for 90% of Americans, to be paid for by increasing taxes on the top 10%.

Or something similar. Frist's $100 was a joke.

Killing Themselves

As a good economist I'm supposed to believe in the profit maximizing behavior of corporations but I have to admit that I'm a bit puzzled by the desire of the telcos to kill net neutrality. It makes sense that any individual (large) company would like to be free from the regulations that all others face, but I have a hard time understanding how killing net neutrality wouldn't screw things up so badly that they'd really come to regret the whole idea.

Go Markey

Ed Markey just introduced the Net Neutrality Act.


A commenter at Think Progress caught this. Bush a couple of days ago:

After saying he did not consider the anthem sung in Spanish to have the same value as the anthem sung in English, Mr. Bush said: "I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English. And they ought to learn to sing the anthem in English."

From Kevin Phillips' American Dynasty:

When visiting cities like Chicago, Milwaukee or Philadelphia, in pivotal states, he would drop in at Hispanic festivals and parites, sometimes joining in singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Spanish, sometimes partying with a "Viva Bush" mariachi band flown in from Texas.

Times Gets it Right

Net neutrality:

"Net neutrality" is a concept that is still unfamiliar to most Americans, but it keeps the Internet democratic. Cable and telephone companies that provide Internet service are talking about creating a two-tiered Internet, in which Web sites that pay them large fees would get priority over everything else. Opponents of these plans are supporting Net-neutrality legislation, which would require all Web sites to be treated equally. Net neutrality recently suffered a setback in the House, but there is growing hope that the Senate will take up the cause.

One of the Internet's great strengths is that a single blogger or a small political group can inexpensively create a Web page that is just as accessible to the world as Microsoft's home page. But this democratic Internet would be in danger if the companies that deliver Internet service changed the rules so that Web sites that pay them money would be easily accessible, while little-guy sites would be harder to access, and slower to navigate. Providers could also block access to sites they do not like.

More info here.

La bandera de las estrellas

Of all of the recent fake controversies the Spanish Star-Spangled Banner one was actually the one which put my jaw on the floor and left it there. We are really living in stupid times.

In 1919 the US Bureau of Education commissioned a Spanish version of the song. I don't know why they did so, though an obvious explanation would be because of the substantial numbers of native Spanish speaking citizens living in US states and territories - then and now.

Washington Comedy


That night, in the middle of his stand-up routine before the (perhaps tipsy) journos, Bush showed on a screen behind him some candid on-the-job photos of himself. One featured him gazing out a window, as Bush narrated, smiling: “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere.”

According to the transcript this was greeted with “laughter and applause” from the audience.


The Associated Press review was equally jovial: "President Bush poked fun at his staff, his Democratic challenger and himself Wednesday night at a black-tie dinner where he hobnobbed with the news media.” In fact, it is hard to find any immediate account of the affair that raised questions over the president's slide show. Many noted that the WMD jokes were met with general and loud laughter.

The reporters covering the gala were apparently as swept away with laughter as the guests. One of the few attendees to criticize the president's gag, David Corn of The Nation, said he heard not a single complaint from his colleagues at the after-party. Corn wondered if they would have laughed if President Reagan, following the truck bombing of our Marines barracks in Beirut, which killed 241, had said at a similar dinner: “Guess we forgot to put in a stop light.”


At that same Downing Street memo forum at the Capitol last year that Milbank mocked, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, after cataloguing the bogus Bush case for WMDs and the Iraqi threat, looked out at the cameras and notepads, mentioned the March 24, 2004 dinner, and acted out the president looking under papers and table for those missing WMDs. “And the media was all yucking it up ... hahaha,” McGovern said. “You all laughed with him, folks.” Then he mentioned soldiers who had died “after that big joke.”

Dana Milbank, who seems to like a good laugh, did not mention this in his hit piece the following day.

Lieberman sure thought it was funny:

Ignore Crappy Criticism

Josh Marshall has a good post about the state of the media industrial complex. One thing that's long puzzled me is the inability of editors/journalists to just ignore stupid criticism. I don't mean ignore all criticism; I mean ignore dumb criticism. I've heard of editors getting in crouch position over the possibility of getting a volume of criticism over something even though they knew fully well that the substance of that criticism was entirely lacking. That's ridiculous.

Listen to good criticism. Ignore the stupid criticism, even if it's coming at you loudly. Tune out the critics who are perpetually stupid completely.

You run a newspaper. You have the power, after all. Have some confidence. Run it any goddamn way you want.

Outsourcing Research

I haven't been able to find anything especially exciting in the Trustees report, so I'll outsource the conclusions to Kevin Drum.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

More Stupids

For those who wish to make transparently stupid arguments against net neutrality, and for those newspapers who for some bizarre reason wish to publish them, I say this:

We are not that fucking stupid.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Still Clueless After All These Years

TNR troll Scheiber writes:

As if to prove my point, Atrios chides me for misunderstanding the Helen Thomas video. I'm guessing he thought the video was funny because Thomas has been one of the White House press corps' most outspoken war skeptics (and therefore a hero to antiwar bloggers). Watching the White House press secretary (played by Colbert) run away from her must have had him in stitches. But to the extent that the routine works as comedy rather than agitprop--and for the sake of argument let's say it works as comedy--it's because Thomas is, indeed, old and batty. Try imagining the same sketch with, say, Katrina Vanden Heuvel in the stalker role and you see what I mean.

I'll type this really really slowly so maybe Scheiber can understand. The joke was a) the White House Press Secretary running in panic from the simple question of why did we invade Iraq and b) that the person asking the question and causing hysterical panic was this obviously unthreatening "little old lady" and c) that any of us who pay attention know that this "little old lady" was long given deference by presidents and the rest of the press corps alike, but no longer is because she dares to ask impertinent questions like "why did we invade Iraq."

Another New Low


WASHINGTON — Six months before Republicans try to preserve control of Congress in the fall elections, a new poll shows President Bush has slid to the lowest approval rating of his presidency and a majority of voters say they'll vote for Democrats this fall.
A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday found Bush's approval rating at 34%, two points below his previous low. The president also received the lowest ratings of his presidency for his handling of the economy, energy and foreign affairs. He tied his previous low for Iraq: 32% said they approve of the job he's doing there.

(to be clear each new low is within a given poll, not a new low across all polls)

When Former Press Secretaries Go Bad

Wow, Mike McCurry is becoming quite the wanker.

Treating your audience as idiots while making dishonest arguments may have worked in the good old days, but we're not that stupid.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Arrested Development

Newsweek believes that it is incorrect to say that someone has been arrested, when they've been booked and had their mug shot/fingerprints taken following the issuance of an arrest warrant.

All-Time Low


(CBS) With gas prices sky-high and no end of the Iraq war in sight, President George W. Bush's approval rating hits an all-time low in a new CBS News poll.

Only 33 percent approve of his job performance, Mr. Bush's lowest approval rating yet in CBS News polls. A majority – 58 percent of those polled – say they disapprove of the president. Mr. Bush appears to be losing support from his own party. His approval rating among Republicans has dropped to 68 percent.

Speaking of Scheiber

So we know what goes on in Scheiber's world, here's what he wrote last year:

Moderates must insist, à la Galston and Kamarck, that Democrats won't win back the White House unless they convince voters to trust them on national security, which means making the war on terrorism not just the party's top priority but its central preoccupation in 2008. We're not just talking about calling for a larger military, but something dramatic to signify the shift--like a plan to strike an Iranian or North Korean nuclear facility if need be.

"Stalinist Aesthetic"

Hilarious nonsense from Joe Lieberman Weekly. And, no, Noam, while the Colbert/Thomas routine went on a bit long the joke was certainly not "Helen Thomas is old and batty."

Must be something in the water cooler at that place. Joe Lieberman Weekly - the world's most highly funded liberal trolling outfit.

...adding, Noam did take time to comment on the really important issue of the evening - the quality of the cocktail weenies:

This was probably the least impressive of the handful of Bloomberg affairs I've been to. The hors d'oeuvres were more anemic-looking, and the venue was kind of Spartan. Alongside the posh Adams Morgan manses of previous years, the cavernous Macedonian embassy had all the charm of airplane hanger, except with worse acoustics. Maybe it's the best sign yet that Michael Bloomberg is bagging on that presidential run.

Party Over Country


On Chris Matthews' Hardball Monday evening, just moments ago, MSNBC correspondent David Shuster confirmed what RAW STORY first reported in February: that outed CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson was working on Iran at the time she was outed.

RAW STORY's Larisa Alexandrovna broke the story earlier this year, which went unnoticed by the mainstream media ( Read our full story).

According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran.


Sounds like a twofer from their perspective.

On Teh Funny

Jane writes:

I fear no one on the right. Ever. All they are capable of is wavering between ham-fisted brutality and self-righteous pecksniffery. They are outrageously pretentious and their bubbles so easily burst. I think it emboldens the entire left side of the blogosphere, knowing that those on the right are completely incapable of coming back at them with anything other than unimpressive, humorless thuggery.

They think Jeff Goldstein's funny. That's all you need to know.

Jeff Goldstein, Artist's Conception

Colbert on You Tube

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

More Colbert

From Salon:

Then he turned to the president of the United States, who sat tight-lipped just a few feet away. "I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound -- with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world."

It was Colbert's crowning moment. His imitation of the quintessential GOP talking head -- Bill O'Reilly meets Scott McClellan -- uncovered the inner workings of the ever-cheapening discourse that passes for political debate. He reversed and flattened the meaning of the words he spoke. It's a tactic that the cultural critic Greil Marcus once called the "critical negation that would make it self-evident to everyone that the world is not as it seems." Colbert's jokes attacked not just Bush's policies, but the whole drama and language of American politics, the phony demonstration of strength, unity and vision. "The greatest thing about this man is he's steady," Colbert continued, in a nod to George W. Bush. "You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday."

It's not just that Colbert's jokes were hitting their mark. We already know that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that the generals hate Rumsfeld, or that Fox News lists to the right. Those cracks are old and boring. What Colbert did was expose the whole official, patriotic, right-wing, press-bashing discourse as a sham, as more "truthiness" than truth.


Political Washington is accustomed to more direct attacks that follow the rules. We tend to like the bland buffoonery of Jay Leno or insider jokes that drop lots of names and enforce everyone's clubby self-satisfaction. (Did you hear the one about John Boehner at the tanning salon or Duke Cunningham playing poker at the Watergate?) Similarly, White House spinmeisters are used to frontal assaults on their policies, which can be rebutted with a similar set of talking points. But there is no easy answer for the ironist. "Irony, entertaining as it is, serves an almost exclusively negative function," wrote David Foster Wallace, in his seminal 1993 essay "E Unibus Pluram." "It's critical and destructive, a ground clearing."

So it's no wonder that those journalists at the dinner seemed so uneasy in their seats. They had put on their tuxes to rub shoulders with the president. They were looking forward to spotting Valerie Plame and "American Idol's" Ace Young at the Bloomberg party. They invited Colbert to speak for levity, not because they wanted to be criticized. As a tribe, we journalists are all, at heart, creatures of this silly conversation. We trade in talking points and consultant speak. We too often depend on empty language for our daily bread, and -- worse -- we sometimes mistake it for reality. Colbert was attacking us as well.

Trustees Report

It's out. Haven't had a chance to look at the details yet.

NEW YORK ( - The trustees of Social Security and Medicare now estimate that the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2040 while the Medicare trust fund will be depleted in 2018, slightly sooner than previously forecast.

Those projections are part of the trustees' 2006 annual report, which was released Monday afternoon, roughly a month after its original due date.

In their annual report last year, the trustees estimated the trust fund for Social Security would run out by 2041 and the one for Medicare in 2020.

Later I'll see what assumptions have been tweaked.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.


I tend to assume too often that these things are obvious and don't need to be explained, as Yglesias does here. But, I suppose they do. Very simply, if you attempt to engage in a "serious debate" on American Iran policy you are doing nothing but providing an opportunity for the warmongers, unless your fundamental point is "war with Iran is crazy." I'll re-run what I wrote a little while back. How It Goes:

Winter/Spring - The clone army of foreign policy "experts" from conservative foreign policy outfits nobody ever heard of before suddenly appear on all the cable news programs all the time, frowning furiously and expressing concerns about the "grave threat" that Iran poses. Never before heard of Iranian exile group members start appearing regularly, talking about their role in the nuclear program and talking up Iran's human rights violations.

Spring/Summer - "Liberal hawks" point out that all serious people understand the serious threat posed by serious Iran, and while they acknowledge grudgingly that the Bush administration has fucked up everything it touches, they stress, and I mean stress, that we really must support the Bush administration's serious efforts to deal with the serious problem and that criticisms of such serious approaches to a serious problem are highly irresponsible and come only from irrational very unserious Bush haters who would rather live in Iran than the U.S.

Late Summer - Rumsfeld denies having an Iran war plan "on his desk." He refuses to answer if he has one "in his file cabinet." Andy Card explains that you don't roll out new product until after labor day.

Early Fall - Bush suddenly demands Congress give him the authority to attack Iran to ensure they "disarm." Some Democrats have the temerity to ask "with what army?" Marshall Wittman and Peter Beinart explain that courageous Democrats will have the courageous courage to be serious and to confront the "grave threat" with seriousness and vote to send other peoples' kids off to war, otherwise they'll be seen as highly unserious on national security. Neither enlists.

Late October - Despite the fact that all but 30 Democrats vote for the resolution, Republicans run a national ad campaign telling voters that Democrats are objectively pro-Ahmadinejad. Glenn Reynolds muses, sadly, that Democrats aren't just anti-war, but "on the other side." Nick Kristof writes that liberals must support the war due to Ahmadinejad's opposition to gay rights in Iran.

Election Day - Democrats lose 5 seats in the Senate, 30 in the House. Marshall Wittman blames it on the "pro-Iranian caucus."

The Day After Election Day - Miraculously we never hear another word about the grave Iranian threat. Peter Beinart writes a book about how serious Democrats must support the liberation of Venezuela and Bolivia.

Depending on whether or not the Bush administration crazies are in ascendance, that last part could be wishful thinking.

History, tragedy, farce, armageddon...

The Rule of Law


Bush has already adopted President Nixon's view that if the President authorizes something, it isn't illegal, despite what the text of the law says. Now Bush has taken the converse position that if the President doesn't agree with legislation, even legislation that he signs, it isn't law. Together, these two attitudes are deeply corrosive of the Rule of Law and move us down the path to a dictatorial conception of Presidential power-- that is, the conception that the President on his own may dictate what is and what is not law, rather than the President merely being the person in constitutional system entrusted with faithful implementation and enforcement of the law.


Took a little while but finally the Inky noticed:

Following the lead of the blogger Atrios, the Murphy people recently released their own research on Gerlach's record and found at least eight instances in which he claimed others' words and writings as his own on issues such as frivolous lawsuits, homeland security, protecting gun makers from lawsuits, and reauthorization of the Patriot Act.

Gerlach spokesman Mark Campbell said Gerlach's press releases were frequently the product of the Republican Conference, which has a staff whose full-time job is writing materials for members. The Democrats do the same, he said.

Murphy campaign spokesman Mark Nevins said Gerlach failed to meet his own standards of integrity, which call for full attribution of ideas and words. "There's no exception for it being written by the House Republican Conference," he said. "That's not the standard they set."


I've finished Boehlert's book and I highly recommend it. Like Tom Tomorrow says, for those of us who have been obsessively following this stuff for a few years the book won't be a big surprise, but it does an excellent job bringing it all together. One thing Boehlert doesn't manage to do, however, is explain why things are the way they are. Some of the explanation is 9/11, but that doesn't explain why the press pretty much slept through the Bush presidency until that day. The traditional-for-Republicans 100 day "honeymoon" lasted right until September 11.

Colbert's best line might have been:

I was vying for the job. I think I would have made a fabulous press secretary. I have nothing but contempt for these people.

Why does the press continue to internalize every right wing critique of them, all of which come from people who "have nothing but contempt for these people." Why did Bernie Goldberg get such a wide airing for his idiotic book? Why does CNN hire Bill Bennett who thinks journalists who report on the illegal activities of the federal government should be put in jail? Why are people like Hugh Hewitt and Assrocket, who simply believe that the news media should be entirely in service of a radical conservative agenda, regularly given a platform? Why is it in the "liberal media" there are so few liberal voices ever given an opportunity to speak? How was it that the New York Times, which spent years covering a land deal in which the Clintons lost money, decided to "discourage pieces that were at odds with the administration's position on Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction and the alleged links of Al Qaeda"?

I don't have the answer to this basic question. I wish I did.

Mission Accomplished

By the numbers.

Ignoring Colbert

Chris Durang writes:

Stephen Colbert was the star attraction at the White House Correspondents Dinner Saturday night, and his performance was thrilling or insulting or uncomfortable, depending on your point of view. Apparently, according to Editors and, President and Mrs. Bush looked very uncomfortable, and quickly left right afterward.

But the mainstream media is apparently ignoring this part of the evening, and instead is covering the early entertainment where Bush and a look-alike imitator do a "he says this, he's really thinking this" routine. Moderately amusing, but very mild.

This, by the way, is the same Washington event where Bush previously charmed many (and horrified others) by pretending to have trouble finding Weapons of Mass Destruction (after we'd started to realize they weren't in Iraq), and wandered the room looking under tables. Really cute, huh? They should send videos of that to the families of soldiers killed.

The media's ignoring Colbert's effect at the White House Correspondents Dinner is a very clear example of what others have called the media's penchant for buying into the conservative/rightwing "narrative."

In this instance, the "narrative" is that President Bush, for all his missteps, has a darling sense of humor and is a real regular guy, able to poke delightful fun at himself and his penchant for mis-using and mispronouncing words.

The Good Fight Against Straw

Where we first came in, Peter Beinart was fretting that if Democrats opposed the Iraq war "the Democratic Party becomes the anti-war-with-Iraq party...we really will no longer have a 50-50 nation, we'll have a 60-40 Republican nation," concerned that what he considered to be a kind of naive isolationism would turn off voters. Next Beinart began fretting that the fact that since the Iraq war, which he supported, was going badly Democrats would... turn to a kind of naive isolationism which would turn off voters. 3 years later Beinart's... calling on Democrats to reject this naive isolationism and embrace what is pretty much their current position on foreign policy. As Yglesias writes:
As best as I can tell, it's just not the case that any substantial bloc of liberals has "grown suspicious of intervening in other countries' affairs" if this is done through the mechanism of "powerful international institutions" and with the "legitimacy" that entails. There haven't been many instances in the Bush years of the US government acting constructively with international institutions to address issues of common concern, but in the handful of instances when it has happened (Ukraine and Lebanon come to mind) what you mostly heard from liberals was "now that's how it should be done." I haven't seen influential Democrats agitating to cut off the various NATO deployments in the Balkans or Afghanistan.

I know when one doesn't have many ideas it's tempting to cling to the few you do have, but at some point you just gotta let it go Petey.

Social Security Day

The Social Security Trustees are belatedly releasing their annual report today. Bad press coverage presumably to follow.


I'll assume this is a technical glitch and not snark, but in this Bloomberg article about the sad state of Iraq reconstruction, after listing all of the various problems the article concludes with:

Signs of Progress

The advancements listed include:

Happy Mission Accomplished Day

I'll let G. Gordon Liddy say all that needs to be said:

LIDDY: Well, I -- in the first place, I think it's envy. I mean, after all, Al Gore had to go get some woman to tell him how to be a man. And here comes George Bush. You know, he's in his flight suit, he's striding across the deck, and he's wearing his parachute harness, you know -- and I've worn those because I parachute -- and it makes the best of his manly characteristic. You go run those -- run that stuff again of him walking across there with the parachute. He has just won every woman's vote in the United States of America. You know, all those women who say size doesn't count -- they're all liars. Check that out.

Wanker of the Day

Joe Klein.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Open Thread

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Open Thread

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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Open Thread

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The Next War

What Josh says.

...Yglesias adds:

Politically, defining the terms of the debate is important. A certain number of people are going to want to hold a nuanced, sophisticated middle-ground position on the Iran question. That's fine, that's the way the world works. The important question becomes what counts as nuanced and sophisticated. I took it as a good sign that in the latest New Republic Peter Beinart's column on Iran refers to my own column as "Not exactly subtle" and the main liberal take on the issue "too glib" while ultimately having much harsher words for Iran hawks. If that's the way things are going to play out, then I say so much the better for unsubtly and glibness on the part of those of us who'd prefer not to see another disastrous war.

Politicians in the mix, meanwhile, need to disabuse themselves of any illusions about the administration acting in good faith. It's clear that a certain faction on the right is determined to have a war. It's not clear whether that faction will ultimately drive policy, but it is clear that if there is a war the war will be a result of the hawks' ascendancy. At the same time, there's a school of thought in the GOP that thinks a war will be politically beneficial. Put it together and what you most certainly don't have are a group of people who are merely keeping all options "on the table" as they try to play a game of patient diplomacy.

The Best of Colbert

My choices:

Mrs. Smith, ladies and gentlemen of the press corps, Mr. President and first lady, my name is Stephen Colbert and it's my privilege tonight to celebrate our president. He's not so different, he and I. We get it. We're not brainiacs on the nerd patrol. We're not members of the factinista. We go straight from the gut, right sir? That's where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say I did look it up, and that's not true. That's [right?], but you looked it up in a book.

Next time, look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that's how our nervous system works. Every night on my show, the Colbert Report, I speak straight from the gut, OK? I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument. I call it the "No Fact Zone." Fox News, I own the copyright on that term.


I believe in pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. I believe it is possible -- I saw this guy do it once in Cirque du Soleil. It was magical. And though I am a committed Christian, I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be it Hindu, Jewish or Muslim. I believe [there are] infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.


I mean, it's like the movie "Rocky." The president is Rocky and Apollo Creed is everything else in the world. It's the tenth round. He's bloodied, his corner man, Mick, who in this case would be the vice president, and he's yelling cut me, Dick, cut me, and every time he falls [Dick says?] stay down! Does he stay down? No. Like Rocky he gets back up and in the end he -- actually, he loses in the first movie.

OK. It doesn't matter. The point is the heart warming story of a man who was repeatedly bunched in the face -- punched in the face. So don't pay attention to the approval ratings that say 68% of Americans disapprove of the job this man is doing. I ask you this, does that not also logically mean that 68% approve of the job he's not doing? Think about it.

I haven't. I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he has stood on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.


But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on NSA wiretapping or secret prisons in eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason: they're super depressing. And if that's your goal, well, misery accomplished. Over the last five years you people were so good over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.

But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction.

Because really, what incentive do these people have to answer your questions, after all? I mean, nothing satisfies you. Everybody asks for personnel changes. So the White House has personnel changes. Then you write, "They're just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This ship's not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.


Justice Scalia's here. May I be the first to say, "Welcome, sir. You look fantastic. How are you?" [After each sentence, Colbert makes a hand gesture, an allusion to Scalia's recent use of an obscene Sicilian hand gesture in speaking to a reporter about Scalia's critics. Scalia is seen laughing hysterically.] Just using my Sicilian.

John McCain is here. John McCain, John McCain, what a maverick. Somebody find out what fork he used on his salad, because I guarantee you it wasn't a salad fork. He could have used a spoon! There's no predicting him. So wonderful to see you coming back into the Republican fold. I have a summer house in South Carolina; look me up when you go to speak at Bob Jones University. So glad you've seen the light.

Mayor Nagin is here from New Orleans, the chocolate city. Yeah, give it up. Mayor Nagin, I would like to welcome you to Washington, D.C., The chocolate city with a marshmallow center. And a graham cracker crust of corruption. It's a Mallomar is what I'm describing, a seasonal cookie.


And we can't forget the new man of the hour, new press secretary, Tony Snow. Secret Service name "Snow Job." What a hero, took the second toughest job in government, next to, of course, the ambassador to Iraq.

Got some big shoes to fill, Tony. Scott McClellan could say nothing like nobody else. McClellan, eager to retire. Really felt like he needed to spend more time with Andrew Card's children. Mr. President, I wish you hadn't made the decision so quickly, sir.

I was vying for the job. I think I would have made a fabulous press secretary. I have nothing but contempt for these people. I know how to handle these clowns. In fact, sir, I brought along an audition tape and with your indulgence, I'd like to at least give it a shot. So, ladies and gentlemen, my press conference.

Unsurprisingly the media is doing it's best to ignore the unpleasantness.

Open Thread

Yeah, yeah, another stupid open thread.

Your Liberal Media

From Boehlert's Lapdogs:

Executive editor Howell Raines wanted to show his right-wing critics wrong. "According to half a dozen sources within the Times, Raines wanted to prove once and for all that he wasn't editing the paper in a way that betrayed his liberal beliefs," wrote Seth Mnookin in his 2004 Times expose, Hard News. Mnookin quoted Doug Frantz, the former investigative editor of the Times, who recalled how "Howell Raines was eager to have articles that supported the war-mongering out of Washington. He discouraged pieces that were at odds with the administration's position on Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction and the alleged links of Al Qaeda."

Thank you Howell Raines for thinking that appeasing your conservative critics who, of course, led the mob which forced you to step down from the Times anyway, was more important than holding the administration accountable and bringing truth to your readers.


The Bush administration has declared clearly and openly that it is, in fact, a dictatorship, and no one seems to care. Those cocktail weenies sure must be tasty.

Why Did We Go to War With Iraq?

The taped bit with Colbert and Helen Thomas went on a bit long, but it served to highlight the fundamental question for which we still have no answer - why did we go to war with Iraq?

The other day when when Kristol was on Colbert, he muttered something about not tolerating dictators who kill their own people. I certainly don't like such people, and there are plenty of them in the world, but notice that human rights concerns weren't actually a part of Bill Kristol's desire to go war in Iraq back in the PNAC day. Not a single mention.


You can watch the humorless administration and press corpse here.

(...transcript here, link thanks to QuentinCompson)

Sunday Morning Bobbleheads

Document the Atrocities.

Open Thread

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Best. Who. Ever.

Last night's BBC episode of Doctor Who might take the prize.