Saturday, September 25, 2004

Evening Thread

Say goodbye to George edition...

RNC Wingnuts


Chris Bowers is right. All the debate rules shenanigans are just a set up for the Bush sycophants to whine about how unfair people are to their man.

However, what I really think is going on here is an attempt by the Bush campaign to shift the post-debate focus away from the content of debate itself and toward a "Biased Debate Commission" storyline. This would especially be the case if things do not go well in the debate for Bush, and would be very similar to what happened with the CBS memo story. The Republican post-debate spin could center on how the commission and the moderators, who refused to sign the agreement, did not abide to the agreement and were unfair to Bush during the debate (a couple of lame examples will be offered up and hammered over and over again by the VRWC). It is an attempt to make the medium the story, and once again produce the culture war narrative of a small conspiracy of liberal elites working against the President and the majority he represents.

Not Gonna Do It

Pissed off Republicans aren't going to save us before the election, but even more importantly they won't save us after the election if Bush is re-elected. There will be no coalition of moderate congressional Republicans who final try to make their voices heard. There will be no responsible grownups being rotated into Cabinet positions (and, no, Margaret Carlson, Rudy Giuliani doesn't count as one). There will be no responsible people guiding our fiscal policies. There will be no placing of our foreign policy in the hands of responsible and competent Republicans.

According to Bush, things are going wonderfully. Why would anything change?

"The Iraqi People"

I'm a bit puzzled by the recent rhetoric regarding Iraq. Too often we hear things like, "well, it'll be up to the Iraqi people then..." "The Iraqi People" are not capable of any kind of collective action, and there is not as of yet any way to implement some kind of aggregation of their preferences. That requires institutions and government.

It's simple to sigh and say "uh, hey, Iraqis! can't we all just stop killing each other and get along! life will be better then!" If everyone could agree to do that, life would likely get a lot better for the vast majority of the population, excluding the x% of people there (Iraqi or non-Iraqi) who may be truly twisted folks who do wish to continue to destabilize things through violence, and who would therefore be unhappy with a more stable Iraq. Let's label those people "the terrorists."

But, there are lots of reasons an Iraqi may feel it is in his/her interest to take up arms against US troops and Allawi's guard which have nothing to do with the fact that they're Islamic militants dedicated to establishing some sort of pan-Arab theocracy. You may be a bit pissed off because a few too many of your friends and family have been hit by US bombs. You may do it because you figure your odds of survival are better if you do, because your neighbors are putting a wee bit of pressure on you or your family.

The Brooksian pundits imagine that collectively the people of Iraq could sit down with Kyra Phillips and Tom Friedman and have the purpose of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" explained to them, and everything would be okay (and then Brooks could kill anyone who didn't get on board). But, it doesn't really work that way. These people need to consider what it's like to live in a war zone, with people you know getting killed, and understand that the incentive structure might lead to some unpleasant behavior. And you have to throw in the fact that while most Americans think American lives are more important, and in fact imagine that all good people should agree with that, we shouldn't expect that they will...

The Case for "Privatizing" Part of Social Security

Actually, I don't think there is one. What would be the point? If you think reducing payroll taxes and/or guaranteed benefits in a way which adds up is a good idea then go ahead and advocate that policy. But, what possible good argument is there for a policy roughly like the ones which are floated by the Bushies (without details of course), which would cut payroll taxes by 2 percentage points, cut guaranteed future benefits, and then mandate that you save/invest that 2 percentage points of income. What's with the mandatory savings? If you want to cut benefits, fine. If you want to having all kinds of tax free savings instruments, which we already do, fine. But why force people to save? The only point of doing so is to ensure that people have a reasonable income base when they're of retirement age, but once you take the "insurance" part out of retirement insurance, then a mandatory saving/investment program doesn't achieve that.

Bush Rapes Child on White House Lawn, News on Nov. 3

One wonders if CBS will realize that two wrongs do not actually make a right. I guess they've bought into the New Journalism, in which the facts themselves are partisan, and thus shouldn't be reported.

Who's Doing the Reporting?

A WaPo reporter wrote this in a livechat:

Rajiv Chandrasekaran: We at The Post, like most other foreign journalists here, have had to restrict our movements around Baghdad and the rest of the country because of the seucrity situation. I used to jump in a car and drive out to places like Fallujah and Baqubah to write about attacks, to get a sense of what was really happening on the ground. No longer. The roads are too dangerous, the threat of kidnapping too great. We spend a lot of time sitting in our hotels and relying on the reporting of our very brave Iraqi local staff. It's not great for us and it's not great for our readers, but it's the best we can do under the circumstances.

Fair enough. But, a couple of days ago on (I believe) CNN (can't find transcript), there was a fairly long report on Iraq, filled with lots of happy talk and smiling optimistic soldiers. There was voiceover by a CNN reporter, but I never noticed any non-military Americans in the footage. There will apparently be reports on the Today Show all next week about Iraq. If print journalists can't step outside their hotels, how are the very visible people with cameras able to get their footage?

Why Does the Media Hate Social Security?

Talking about the overall bias of the media is a difficult thing -- it depends on what weight you're giving which part of the overall collective thing which is "the media" (my quick version is that the media is extraordinarily pro-Republican, while being more mixed when it comes to actual policies). But, on some specific policy issues I think there are some clear biases that shine through. I'd concede that there's a slight pro-gun control law bias which comes through (and, years ago, I would have conceded a strong bias.) But, why does the media hate Social Security so much? Literally every piece that's run on the issue, such as this one, buys into the premise that there's little chance that today's 20somethings will ever receive retirement benefits, unless some sort of radical and "painful" policy changes are made. This is just bollocks.

I've been hearing these Social Security scare stories for as long as I can remember. Look, it's predicted that Social Security's dedicated revenue stream will pay for expected promised benefits under current law for the next 42 years. Can we say the same the thing about any other government program? No, I thought not.

But, anyway, I don't want to rehash all the Social Security arguments, though I would like to point out that what is scary is that one of the Public Trustees of the Social Security program recently wrote an op-ed in the WSJ asserting that T-Bills weren't "real" assets (he meant real as opposed to fake, not real as opposed nominal). That'll be news to bond traders around the world. But, in any case, I just wonder at the uniform hostility to the program expressed in the media.

Gloves Off

Usually surrogates pull this kind of crap:

The Republican Party acknowledged Thursday that it has been sending mass mailings to residents of Arkansas and West Virginia warning that ''liberals'' seek to ban the Bible while promoting same-sex marriage, according to a report in The New York Times. As part of the GOP's efforts to mobilize religious voters for President Bush, the mailings include an image of the Bible under the word "banned" and an image of a man proposing to another man under the word "allowed." The Arkansas mailing warns: "This will be Arkansas if you don't vote." The West Virginia mailing is similar in content.

Guest Post From the Meyer Campaign

The campaign of Morris Meyer sends this information about the shenanigans in Texas:

The timeline of Westar votes for legislation clearly shows that Representatives Joe Barton and Tom DeLay were instrumental in legislative bribery.   As Thomas Frank succinctly puts in "What's the matter with Kansas?", Joe Barton was the legislative lackey who was responsible for socializing the risk and privatizing the profits.

May 2002 - Westar's chief corporate evildoer David Wittig and Douglas Lawrence wrote that Westar was "working on getting our grandfather provision on PUHCA [Public Utility Holding Company Act] repeal into the energy bill".  This would allow Westar to pass on billions of dollars in failed investments onto the electric utility ratepayers.

May 2002 - Westar donates $25,000 to Texans for a Republican Majority.

July 10, 20002 - Barton holds Westar fundraiser for 8 Republican candidates.

September 19, 2002 - Barton cast his own vote and proxies of Tauzin and DeLay in support of the Westar exception.

October 2002 - The Republicans' support for the exemption was withdrawn after Westar annouced it was under investigation for fraud by the DOJ and SEC.

Barton's involvement in the Westar's fundraising through TRMPAC is giving our campaign the momentum that will allow us to take down a toxic 20-year incumbent.  We've gotten an early initial endorsement from the Dallas Morning News and are running a great campaign.  Your contributions are critical in removing "Smokey Joe" from office.

The New Journalism

CBS says no negative stories about Bush until after the election.

The Iraq segment had been ready for broadcast on Sept. 8, CBS said, but was bumped at the last minute for the segment on Mr. Bush's National Guard service. The Guard segment was considered a highly competitive report, one that other journalists were pursuing.

CBS said last night that the report on the war would not run before Nov. 2.

"We now believe it would be inappropriate to air the report so close to the presidential election," the spokeswoman, Kelli Edwards, said in a statement.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Mrs. Alan Greenspan

Digby tells us that Mrs. Maestro just informed the world that Bush is a very popular president.

Very popular presidents don't consistently have favorability ratings below 50.

Right Track

Balta finds out where that hilarious poll came from.


Taking a break from attacking Dan Rather, Instapundit finds time to fall for a sock puppet.

Rumsfeld: Iraq Just Like US

Maybe some places in the US are too violent to allow voting too?

"We had something like 200 or 300 or 400 people killed in many of the major cities of America last year. Is it perfectly peaceful? No. What's the difference? We just didn't see each homicide in every major city in the United States on television every night. It happens here in this city, in every major city in the world. Across Europe, across the Middle East, people are being killed. People do bad things to each other.

Kos gives us a typical day in Iraq. Just like America! IED's going off on every block...

Friday Cat Blogging

Wiley, with his new sign.

Stay the Course

Get the hell out. What's the difference. After all, we know that the weapons of mass destruction are "in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

Rumsfeld says Iraq will "never be peaceful." But I though we were bringing peance and freeance. Err, I mean, peace and freedom.


The United States does not have to wait until Iraq (news - web sites) "is peaceful and perfect" before it begins to withdraw military troops from that troubled country, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Friday.

But "any implication that that place has to be peaceful and perfect before we can reduce coalition and U.S. forces, I think, would obviously be unwise," he told a press conference after meeting Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

"Because it's never been peaceful and perfect and it isn't likely to be. It's a tough part of the world. Our goal is to invest the time and the money and the effort to help them train up Iraqis to take over those (security) responsibilities."

Shorter Rumsfeld: We're going to fail, but who cares?

Big John in Philly

Following up his speech at Temple, Kerry (along with Biden and others) spoke at a rally at Penn. Was quite well attended, with a lot of enthusiasm. Biden was in "boisterous Biden" mode, blasting away, which is always nice to see. Kerry's speech was good and well-received. I did not have to sign a loyalty oath to attend.


Apparently Brinkley isn't happy with how Wilgoren quoted him...

Developing, as they say...


It was nice to hear Kerry mention his role in bringing down BCCI just now.

For more info, this Washington Monthly article is good.

Two Kinds of Iraqis.

According to Brooks, there are those we can win over and those we must kill.

Pay Attention to What He Does, Not What He Says

Kevin Drum has the Iraq timeline pretty much covered. Despite the rhetoric, the reality is Bush hasn't "stayed the course." Bush hasn't been too concerned with democracy. He hasn't even been too concerned with fighting terrorism.

He has been concerned with winning re-election. If nothing else, the fact that military decisions have been made based on political considerations should demonstrate that this man is unfit to be CiC.

Joe Hoeffel Friday!

Big John's in town, and Hoeffel will be there with him.


Yep. This is the modern Republican party.

Morning Thread


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Wingnuttery Transcribed

Sinfonian does the Lord's work and transcribes the words of the fascinating Cspan caller I mentioned earlier.

Evening Thread

Chat Away.

Schneider al Qaeda Controversy

Over at Media Matters.

Strangely, now Schneider's claiming that what he meant was in 1980 terrorists won by helping to get Ronald Reagan elected. It's a shame Carter wasn't sick and twisted enough to pull the "Vote for me or the terrorists have won!" stuff.

More Guns, Less Voting

Ok, great, so today we also had Bush rambling on about the coming elections.

The fifth and most important step in our plan is to help Iraq conduct free, national elections no later than next January. An Iraqi electoral commission is now up and running and has already hired personnel and is making key decisions about election procedures.


And do you believe, given the situation on the ground and Fallujah and other northern cities in the Sunni triangle, that elections are possible in four months?

BUSH: I do, because the prime minister told me they are. He's interested in moving this country forward. And you heard his statement. And I believe him.

And, almost immediately after Big Don Rumsfeld starts backtracking:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Thursday raised the possibility that Iraq (news - web sites) could conduct only limited elections in January, excluding places where violence was considered too severe for people to go to polls.

"Let's say you tried to have an election and you could have it in three-quarters or four-fifths of the country. But in some places you couldn't because the violence was too great," Rumsfeld said at a Senate Armed Services Committee (news - web sites) hearing.

"Well, so be it. Nothing's perfect in life, so you have an election that's not quite perfect. Is it better than not having an election? You bet," he said.

So, we're going to make a big show about having elections, but, hey, we're going to let the insurgents win and prevent some people from voting. No big deal. That sure is resolute.

Voting for the War

Let's consider Bush's recent rhetoric. His latest ad says "Kerry voted for the Iraq war."

When he asked Congress for the resolution, when Andy Card rolled it out after Labor Day, Bush claimed it was a vote for peace:

you want to keep the peace, you've got to have the authorization to use force. But it's -- this will be -- this is a chance for Congress to indicate support. It's a chance for Congress to say, we support the administration's ability to keep the peace.

At the time he signed the resolution, he claimed it was a vote for peace.

Our goal is not merely to limit Iraq's violations of Security Council resolutions, or to slow down its weapons program. Our goal is to fully and finally remove a real threat to world peace and to America. Hopefully this can be done peacefully.

And, even today, as the ad is running he says:

Of course, I was hoping it could be done diplomatically. But diplomacy failed. And so the last resort of a president is to use force. And we did.

He claimed then it was a vote for peace. He told Congress it was a vote for peace. He then says that the vote for peace that he asked John Kerry to make was actually a vote for war. The previous March he'd said, "Fuck Saddam, we're taking him out." So, he told people it was a vote for peace even though he'd decided it was a vote for war. Maybe war is peace. Who the hell knows anymore.

Sure, we all knew in October what this vote was really for, and Kerry should have too. But, it wasn't what Bush said.

Words Don't Speak Louder Than Actions

Ever since flightsuitboy landed on the carrier, we've heard three things. First, that "we're making progress." Second, "the increased attacks prove they're getting desperate." And, third, "we shouldn't be surprised if the violence increases because of [insert reason here]."

It's understandable that Bush wants to put a pretty face on the reality of Iraq. His re-election depends on it. The truth is, throughout his entire time in office (and before), the image he's tried to present has been at odds with reality. "Clear Skies." "Healthy Forests." "Compassionate Conservatism." All attempts to mask reality by this two-faced president. Says one thing, does another. Every time.

Big John Coming to Town

So, come on out Philly folk.

Big John Swings

This is exactly right:

Kerry's remarks come one day after he told The Associated Press that President Bush's statement that a "handful" of people were willing to kill to stop progress in Iraq was a blunder that showed he was avoiding reality.

"George Bush let Osama bin Laden escape at Tora Bora," Kerry said in the brief interview Wednesday. "George Bush retreated from Fallujah and other communities in Iraq which are now overrun with terrorists and threaten our troops. And George Bush said on the record we can't win the war on terror.

"And even today, he blundered again saying there are only a handful of terrorists in Iraq," Kerry said. "I think he's living in a make believe world."

Media Priorities

CBS mea culpa versus NYT mea culpa.

Best of Bush


The first part of the question was how come we haven't found Zarqawi? We're looking for him. He hides.

I saw a poll that said the right track/wrong track in Iraq was better than here in America. It was pretty darn strong. I mean, the people see a better future.

Talk to the leader. I agree, I'm not the expert on how the Iraqi people think, because I live in America where it's nice and safe and secure.

The Afghan national army is a part of the army.

By the way, it's the Afghan national army that went into Najaf and did the work there.

I've seen firsthand the tactics of these killers.


Wow. Historians will truly look back with wonder and horror at today's press conference.

I'm not sure what to think about the fact that "right track/wrong track" polls are better in Iraq than in this country.

Prime Wingnuttery

Watch a bit from today's Washington Journal. Fast forward to 1:56:43.

Going Upriver

Last night I watched Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry, by filmmaker George Butler. It really is quite an astounding movie for a lot of reasons, and if it hits a city near you (beginning October 1), I'd say drag your friends to it.

The sheer amount of film footage they have of Kerry, from his childhood, in Vietnam, and in his days in the anti-war movement, is one thing which makes the film well worth seeing. Nothing in the film is a recreation (though, of course, not all of the footage of Vietnam was taken during the actual events being described). It also includes interviews with his fellow soldiers, and people like Max Cleland and E.J. Dionne.

It's a fascinating portrait of a young man, and provides important historical context of the times which is missing from all of the discussion.

Anyway, make sure to go see it when it comes to town.

You can read more here. And here. And here.

....oh, and here's the official site. And here's the theater list. Make sure to go when it opens to encourage further distribution.

Morning Thread

Chat Away.

US President George W. Bush, right, plants a kiss on the cheek of Finnish President Tarja Halonen at a luncheon of world leaders on the sidelines of the 59th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.


As I said on the radio tonight, what really is there to say about the situation in Iraq other than "it's horrible." It is horrible. It's hell.

The war, illegal and founded on a vast lie, has produced two tragedies of equal magnitude: an embryonic civil war in the world's oldest country, and a triumph for those in the Bush administration who, without a trace of shame, act as if the truth does not matter. Lying until the lie became true, the administration pursued a course of action that guaranteed large sections of Iraq would become havens for jihadis and radical Islamists. That is the logic promoted by people who take for themselves divine infallibility -- a righteousness that blinds and destroys. Like credulous Weimar Germans who were so delighted by rigged wrestling matches, millions of Americans have accepted Bush's assertions that the war in Iraq has made the United States and the rest of the world a safer place to live. Of course, this is false.

But it is a useful fiction because it is a happy one. All we need to know, according to the administration, is that America is a good country, full of good people and therefore cannot make bloody mistakes when it comes to its own security. The bitter consequence of succumbing to such happy talk is that the government of the most powerful nation in the world now operates unchecked and unmoored from reality; leaving us teetering on the brink of another presidential term where abuse of authority has been recast as virtue.

The logic the administration uses to promote its actions -- preemptive war, indefinite detention, torture of prisoners, the abandonment of the Geneva Convention abroad and the Bill of Rights at home -- is simple, faith-based and therefore empty of reason. The worsening war is the creation of the Bush administration, which is simultaneously holding Americans and Iraqis hostage to a bloody conflict that cannot be won, only stalemated.

Over the last three years, practicing a philosophy of deliberate deception, fear-mongering and abuse of authority, the Bush administration has done more to undermine the republic of Lincoln and Jefferson than the cells of al-Qaida. It has willfully ignored our fundamental laws and squandered the nation's wealth in bloody, open-ended pursuits. Corporations like Halliburton, with close ties to government officials, are profiting greatly from the war while thousands of American soldiers undertake the dangerous work of patrolling the streets of Iraqi cities. We have arrived at a moment of national crisis.

At home, the United States, under the Bush administration, is rapidly drifting toward a security state whose principal currency is fear. Abroad, it has used fear to justify the invasion of Iraq -- fear of weapons of mass destruction, of terrorist attacks, of Iraq itself. The administration, under false premises, invaded a country that it barely understood. We entered a country in shambles, a population divided against itself. The U.S. invasion was a catalyst of violence and religious hatred, and the continuing presence of American troops has only made matters worse. Iraq today bears no resemblance to the president's vision of a fledgling democracy. On its way to national elections in January, Iraq has already slipped into chaos.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

"The world would be better off if we did leave"

Thus Spake Zaratwoface

Radio Fun

I'll be on the Majority Report in a few minutes. Go here to listen.

Just for Fun



Kerry takes on the "I didn't do it" kid.

Go Vote!

Democracy for America wants you to vote for your favorite candidates.

Lisa Myers Still Has a Job

Another thing people could have written to Romenesko about. Here's a Lisa Myers flashback from the Howler.

At issue is the phone call where the Hubbells are discussing whether Mrs. Clinton would be “vulnerable” to a probe of over-billing. Here is the transcript of one part of the call, with one statement set out in bold:

MRS. HUBBELL: You didn’t actually do that, did you, mark up time for the client?

HUBBELL: Yes, I did. So does every lawyer in the country.

MRS. HUBBELL: That would be one thing that you would look into the firm for [in a countersuit].

HUBBELL: Suzy, you are getting ahead.

MRS. HUBBELL: No, I am just thinking out loud. That’s an area where Hillary would be vulnerable. Not unless she overbilled by time, right?

HUBBELL: No, you are talking and not listening. We are on a recorded phone. So I am trying to explain...

It’s not clear what Hubbell objects to in his wife’s characterization, or why she still doesn’t know even basic facts about why her husband is sitting in prison. But it is quite clear, in the segment printed in bold, that Mrs. Hubbell is not accusing Mrs. Clinton of over-billing. She states first that she is “just thinking out loud;” and it is clear to any listener, when she closes out with her question, that she doesn’t know whether or not Hillary has engaged in this conduct. (Hubbell tells her at length, later in the call, that Hillary has not over-billed.)

But that’s not the way NBC viewers heard the response on The Today Show on Friday, May 1, by the time Spin Doctor Lisa Myers got out her scissors and did a little surgical work on the tapes. Incredibly, this is the conversation that Myers’ viewers heard--a conversation in which Mrs. Hubbell makes a very different presentation altogether:

MYERS: At another point, Mrs. Hubbell talks about over-billing clients.

MRS. HUBBELL (on tape): That’s an area where Hillary would be vulnerable.

HUBBELL (on tape): No, you are talking and not listening. We are on a recorded phone.

And that is precisely the way the transcript was presented on the screen to NBC viewers as the tape rolls--with no ellipsis whatever to let viewers know that material has been left out. Not that this would have been an appropriate deletion even if an ellipsis had been used. Myers’ cut in the tape completely changes the meaning of the presentation by Mrs. Hubbell--changing it from a question about whether Mrs. Clinton would be vulnerable, to an assertion that she would be. The charade was even worse by that evening; in a tape played on MSNBC’s May 1 InterNight program (apparently taken from that evening’s NBC News), Myers doctors the conversation in a more egregious fashion:

MYERS: The Hubbells seem worried that Mrs. Clinton could be vulnerable on an issue that sent Hubbell to prison in the first place--overbilling clients.

MRS. HUBBELL: You didn’t actually do that, did you? Mark up time for the client? Did you?

HUBBELL: Yes, I did. So does every lawyer in the country.

MRS. HUBBELL: That’s an area that Hillary would be vulnerable.

HUBBELL: Suzy, you’re talking and you’re not listening. We are on a recorded phone, OK?

Again, there was absolutely no indication of any kind that the viewer was hearing an edited phone call. Viewer had every reason to think they were hearing the phone call just as it happened. And by the way, Myers’ opening statement is completely inaccurate, if you listen through to the end of this phone call. Hubbell makes it very clear, later on in this call, that Mrs. Clinton would not be vulnerable to charges of over-billing clients.

And, let's not forget what she did to Howard Dean.

Bernard Shaw Debate Question

Bush, various times:
"I hug the mothers and the widows of those who may have lost their life in the name of peace and freedom." - February 10, 2003

"I'm the person in this country that hugs the mothers and the widows if their son or husband dies." - February 10, 2003

"I understand what it means to put somebody into combat. I know what it means to hug mothers and wives." - January 29, 2003

"There's only one person who hugs the mothers and the widows, the wives and the kids on the death of their loved ones...Having committed the troops, I've got an additional responsibility to hug." - December 2002

Danny Boy, this morning:

He's the one who hugs the widows and consoles the families of those who have sacrificed for this very great cause.

Debate question:

Mr. Bush, just how many widows have you hugged?

They Get Letters

To Romenesko:

From JOHN ROYAL: I find the hand wringing over the Dan Rather-George W. Bush interesting. I recall that sometime in the mid-90s, at the heart of Whitewater, that "Nightline" ran a story, with commentary by Jeff Greenfield, that used video of Hillary Clinton supposedly admitting to something that she'd been saying she hadn't done. Of course, it wasn't until much later that it was learned that ABC had doctored the video and that Ms. Clinton was actually saying something quite different.

So, I wonder. I notice that Ted Koppel and Jeff Greenfield still have jobs, but was anybody from ABC dismissed over that matter? And if not, then why should Rather or Mapes or anybody at CBS be out of work for what appears to be an honest mistake and not a deliberate act like ABC's video editing?

He's sure the truth will come out
9/22/2004 2:04:29 PM

From TOM NAWROCKI: Last night on "Hardball," Chris Matthews said, "You believe particularly that the role of the former lieutenant governor, Ben Barnes, who says now that he helped put together that sweet billet for the president back in the Guard back all those years ago, having said the opposite before." This is of course, untrue, since Barnes testified in 1999 that he had indeed pulled strings for Bush to get him into the Guard. Barnes didn't say "the opposite" before; he said the same things he subsequently told Dan Rather.

But I am not worried that the truth will come out in this case. I'm sure by the end of the day, there will be calls for Matthews to resign, stories about depression overtaking MSNBC's news operations, and Howard Kurtz wondering why "Hardball" is taking so long to correct such an obvious error.


The Kerry campaign needs to stop with the whiny "this is outrageous!" or "you must repudiate it!"

Punch back.

Home Stretch

Kos is kicking ass on the fundraising front and making me look bad.

Show a little love to Stan and Patsy!

Or, here's what Trippi suggests:

Last week we had a conference call with a group of bloggers and I talked about how, I feel, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee gets a bad rap. Of all the DC committees, it covers the most ground and moves the fastest. When a congressional campaign hits the panic button, the DCCC swings in to action, swoops down and spends a lot of money in a district - and we get closer to a Democratic Congress.

I remember working on Tim Holden's race last cycle in Pennsylvania. It was a tight, tough race - and when the going got rough, when it was really down to the wire, the DCCC managed to find some more money to help us pull through. We ended up winning - but it had everything to do with the DCCC's willingness to pull out all the stops at the last minute.

Politics is a fickle business, and it's nearly impossible right now to say where the trouble is going to be a week or two out from November 2. Some seats that seem completely safe right now are going to be in jeopardy, while other seats that seemed a real long shot will become slam dunks. The DCCC has to be quick enough to see the tide turning, jump on opportunities, and re-distribute resources. It's function is pretty unique compared to other political committees.

I think he's right. I'm always supportive of people donating to their favorite candidates directly, but it's also true that the DCCC does have a unique position at this point in the election season. House races can change very fast, in a way that other races generally don't (barring a candidate meltdown of some sort).

The role of the DCCC (and its Republican counterpart) is to be the bonus cards in this election. Your opponent knows you have them, but they don't know when and where you're going to play them. The DCCC can suddenly throw money into a race that the Republicans thought was safe, and they have to have some money in the pot to react if the Republicans try to throw a nuke onto another race.

They provide the election surprises, and the more money they have the more they can do. And, given campaign finance laws, they're really the only organization that can play this role.

You can donate to them here. People regularly ask where the "best" place to send money is right now. I don't think there's one answer to that -- but a case can definitely be made for the DCCC. I set up a pretty big fundraising goal. I don't know if we'll hit it, but I think it's important.

Whoring for Fox, Whoring for Bush

Blitzer and Greenfield:

BLITZER: I think you're right.

By the way, one footnote before I let you go, we're going to continue our coverage on this. Jeff, do you remember the name of the news organization that, before the last election in 2000, reported that George W. Bush was arrested for -- supposedly for drunk driving?

GREENFIELD: Well, one of them was FOX News.

BLITZER: That's correct, FOX News. Because you had suggested earlier, if you could imagine FOX News Channel reporting this -- well, they did, to their credit, report that before the last election.

So much is wrong here. First, here's the supposed drunk driving arrest.

Secondly, it wasn't reported by Fox News, it was reported by Fox News Affiliate, which is Not The Same Thing.

The truth is that it was a resourceful 27-year-old reporter at a local Fox affiliate, WPXT-TV in Portland, Maine, who uncovered the DUI story, not the Fox News Channel in New York or Washington, the partisan national network that's the focus of Robert Greenwald's new documentary, "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism." Nobody associated with "Outfoxed" or elsewhere participating in the media debate has suggested that local Fox news teams in places like Bakersfield, Calif.; Birmingham, Ala.; or Boise, Idaho operate under Republican marching orders as they cover arsons, car crashes and zoo openings. So it's not that unusual that an enterprising reporter, operating off the FNC reservation as it were, could play a starring role in the DUI story. Not surprisingly, Ailes and Cameron are now conveniently trying to pretend that it was Sean Hannity's "Fair and Balanced" Fox News, those bold seekers of the truth, who unearthed the damaging dirt on Bush that almost cost him the election.

And CNN wonders why its ratings are in the toilet...

(thanks to reader j)

Block Party on Sunday

From a reader:

A few of us center city residents are having a block party event for Hoeffel on Sunday, Sept. 26th 3-6 PM. Its a fund raiser, effort to attract volunteers & get the word out on Joe. Hoeffel will speak around 4 PM. We're inviting anyone around the Philly area to come. Its being held at Kahn Park, 11th & Pine.

Know the Players

Holden tells us about our newly indicted friends in Texas, and tells us about Westar.

...Kuffner has more.

Tabloid Fun

Don't forget to buy the Enquirer on Friday...

...oops, don't forget to buy it now! Already on newstands...

Caving Update

Now they're saying they're not caving.



I saw pundit Andrew Sullivan on CNN clucking over CBS’ mistakes. In 1994, when Sullivan edited The New Republic, it ran a cover story accusing Bill Clinton of corruptly enriching his wife’s law firm by changing Arkansas usury laws as governor. In fact, the deed was done by public referendum under Clinton’s Republican predecessor.

On Dec. 19, 1995, ABC News’ "Nightline" aired a deceptively edited video clip of a Hillary Clinton press conference about Whitewater. It accused her of lying about the very information electronically deleted from her remarks. No consequences followed.

On May 4, 1996, The New York Times published an article with a deceptive Associated Press byline stating that an FBI agent’s trial testimony described a $50,000 windfall to Whitewater from an illegal loan. As the actual AP article stipulated, the agent gave no such testimony. Many accusatory editorials and columns followed, helping Kenneth Starr to prolong his fruitless investigation of Bill Clinton’s finances for years. The Times has never acknowledged its blunder.

The Nightline story has always been one of my favorites. Your SCLM at work...

Even more damning was a "Nightline" report broadcast that same evening. The segment came very close to branding Hillary Clinton a perjurer. In his introduction, host Ted Koppel spoke pointedly about "the reluctance of the Clinton White House to be as forthcoming with documents as it promised to be." He then turned to correspondent Jeff Greenfield, who posed a rhetorical question: "Hillary Clinton did some legal work for Madison Guaranty at the Rose Law Firm, at a time when her husband was governor of Arkansas. How much work? Not much at all, she has said."

Up came a video clip from Hillary's April 22, 1994, Whitewater press conference. "The young attorney, the young bank officer, did all the work," she said. "It was not an area that I practiced in. It was not an area that I know anything, to speak of, about." Next the screen filled with handwritten notes taken by White House aide Susan Thomases during the 1992 campaign. "She [Hillary] did all the billing," the notes said. Greenfield quipped that it was no wonder "the White House was so worried about what was in Vince Foster's office when he killed himself."

What the audience didn't know was that the ABC videotape had been edited so as to create an inaccurate impression. At that press conference, Mrs. Clinton had been asked not how much work she had done for Madison Guaranty, but how her signature came to be on a letter dealing with Madison Guaranty's 1985 proposal to issue preferred stock. ABC News had seamlessly omitted thirty-nine words from her actual answer, as well as the cut, by interposing a cutaway shot of reporters taking notes. The press conference transcript shows that she actually answered as follows: "The young attorney [and] the young bank officer did all the work and the letter was sent. But because I was what we called the billing attorney -- in other words, I had to send the bill to get the payment sent -- my name was put on the bottom of the letter. It was not an area that I practiced in. It was not an area that I know anything, to speak of, about."

ABC News had taken a video clip out of context, and then accused the first lady of prevaricating about the very material it had removed. Within days, the doctored quotation popped up elsewhere. ABC used the identical clip on its evening news broadcast; so did CNN. The New York Times editorial page used it to scold Mrs. Clinton, as did columnist Maureen Dowd. Her colleague William Safire weighed in with an accusatory column of his own: "When you're a lawyer who needs a cover story to conceal close connections to a crooked client," he began, "you find some kid in your office willing to say he brought in the business and handled the client all by himself." Safire predicted the first lady's imminent indictment.


I don't know much about these things, but I did think that giving into terrorist demands was generally considered to be a "wrong" thing to do, especially when it's the resolute steadfast steely-eyed rocketman who's giving in.


How many post-9/11 terrorist convictions can Ashcroft claim?

He locked up 5000 "suspected terrorists," but no actual ones apparently.

Morning Thread


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Much Drinking

Thanks for all who attended -- I believe it was a success. Feedback welcome, as are volunteers for leadership (minimal duties) positions...

Advantage: Idiots


Open thread.

The Stones

Full image here.



McAuliffe: Will GOP Answer If They Know Whether Stone, Others Had Involvement With CBS Documents?
Washington, D.C. - In response to false Republican accusations regarding the CBS documents, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe issued this statement:

“In today’s New York Post, Roger Stone, who became associated with political ‘dirty tricks’ while working for Nixon, refused to deny that he was the source the CBS documents.

“Will Ed Gillespie or the White House admit today what they know about Mr. Stone’s relationship with these forged documents? Will they unequivocally rule out Mr. Stone’s involvement? Or for that matter, others with a known history of dirty tricks, such as Karl Rove or Ralph Reed?”

...running scared? Why is Our Dear Danny hiding?

Washington, DC— Facing questions about President Bush’s Guard Service and its own possible involvement with the disputed National Guard documents, the Republican National Committee has postponed a call scheduled to discuss the issue this afternoon.

And, in the last several hours, the Bush campaign has also cancelled scheduled appearances by Dan Bartlett on cable networks this evening. These cancellations came as the Bush operatives refused to appear live alongside Kerry campaign official Joe Lockhart.

“It’s clear that even the Bush campaign is having a problem defending the President’s National Guard service,” said Democratic National Committee Spokesman Howard Wolfson. “The Bush campaign has decided to once again duck the tough questions and avoid real debate. Given the President’s National Guard service, I don’t blame them for being camera shy.”

...This Roger Stone?

Big time political strategist Roger Stone and his wife Nikki: The former Bob Dole adviser and his wife were swingers and The Vault was a favorite haunt.
"Roger and Nikki were our customers for a long time," Marini says. "They were heavy duty swingers and ran ads on the Internet and in many sex publications. They were heavy players."
Roger was one of the top advisers who urged Dole and other Republican politicians to emphasize family values and integrity.
"Regardless of his status in politics, Roger never came to the club in disguise," Marini recalls. "He looked like a Ken doll. He was tall, blond, handsome and muscular and his wife was curvaceous and very sexy. She would wear leather bras and tantalizing outfits and he would wear collars, chaps and a leather vest with no shirt underneath."
Then in 1996, an ENQUIRER investigation revealed that Roger and his wife frequented group sex clubs and engaged in group sex orgies. In two blockbuster articles, we published evidence, including a shocking ad the couple had placed in a swingers' magazine soliciting lovers for group sex, a handwritten note arranging a sexual encounter, and revealing photos from sex magazines of Roger and Nikki barechested.
Hours after The ENQUIRER story hit the stands, it was picked up by dailies around the country — and Dole's campaign ended its association with Roger Stone.

Here's Roger and Nydia.

The Modified Tinkerbell Strategy

It seems I have been unfair to the Bush administration. I have been saying that their entire plan for Iraq is for all of us to "Clap Louder." Apparently, I was wrong. There's actually a second part to the plan - keep killing Iraqis until they get tired.


Pretty please?

...Texas Nate says DeLay off hook for now. Indictments issued to others.

Drinking Liberally

Don't forget, Ten Stone, 21st & South, 6pm-? today.

This is a test run for a weekly event. We'll see how many people come and whether the bar is appropriate, etc. I'm hoping a couple of people step up to the plate and agree to take over organizing it, which would mostly involve making sure someone with an "organizer" hat on shows up on time every week.

And, this is "Drinking Liberally" not "Drinking with Atrios." It's not about me holding court, and I'm not that interesting or exciting anyway. If I'm the most entertaining person there it'll be a boring evening.

50 Vets

This is a rather slim showing:

RICHMOND, Sept. 20 -- Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) and about 50 veterans rallied at the Virginia War Memorial here Monday to highlight the support for President Bush among the state's current and former members of the military.

Warner, a veteran and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, praised Bush's leadership on behalf of the military and said, "The president has done his job since the first day he took office on behalf of veterans."

(Thanks to reader j)

The Unbearable Prospect of Winning

John Quiggin says:

In my view, any rational supporter of the Republican party should hope for Bush’s defeat, since a victory will be disastrous for all concerned. A Kerry victory would be better for the United States and the world, but not necessarily for the long-term interests of the Democratic party.

This is sadly correct, especially if we have a Kerry White House with a Republican House and Senate. I would imagine that two more years of Republican rule would pave the way nicely for the Dems in Congress in '06 and then the White House in '08 (though, if they manage to amend the constitution the prospect of President Schwarzenegger is something we're all going to have to accept).

But, there's too much damage being done and right now we need Kerry go upriver for us.

How It's Done

Lockhart with Hemmer.

HEMMER: It's my understanding you talked to Bill Burkett just days before the CBS story aired. What was the content of your discussion, Joe?

LOCKHART: Well, the content of the discussion was he had some strong feelings about the way the Kerry campaign had responded to the Swift Boat attack, the -- Senator Kerry's record in Vietnam and, you know, the smear campaign that was going on against him. He believed that we should have responded more forcefully. You know, I listened respectfully, I told him I thought it was good advice, and that was the end of the conversation.

HEMMER: How long did that last, Joe?

LOCKHART: Probably three or four minutes.

HEMMER: And what details of the National Guard story came out during that three to four-minute discussion?

LOCKHART: Not a single detail. There was never any discussion. He didn't tell me anything. I didn't ask him anything.

He wanted to give us some advice. We get advice from a lot of quarters.

You know, the interesting thing is, you know, you can always tell when people are worried by how whipped up they get. And the White House is real whipped up on this, and they're making -- throwing a bunch of charges up there that are, you know, pretty meaningless and without foundation.

HEMMER: Let me get to the whole White House claim for a second here.


HEMMER: Did CBS work together with the Kerry campaign on this story?

LOCKHART: No. Listen, CBS did their story. I think they've been very open about answering the questions.

They called me and said this guy wants to talk to you. I was happy to talk to him. It's sort of the beginning and end of the story.

HEMMER: Hey, Joe, how common is that?

LOCKHART: Listen, Bill, you're a journalist. I think you probably know the answer to that. I'll let journalists talk about how common it is.

HEMMER: But when the suggestion for a source comes your way, I mean, here we are 42 days away from a presidential campaign, many would think that's probably not that usual after all. How would you phrase it?

LOCKHART: I wouldn't. I think that's a question for journalists.

You're one. You can answer it. You know more -- more about how common that is than I do.

HEMMER: What did Mary Mapes tell you, the producer for Dan Rather, when she called you?

LOCKHART: She told me that there was a gentleman who had been helpful on a story that she was working on about the National Guard who wanted to talk to the campaign. He specifically asked to talk to me. And she gave me his phone number.

HEMMER: And what did you hope to learn from him then, Joe?

LOCKHART: I didn't have an expectation. You know, I talked to a lot of people. I got some advice. We get a lot of advice.

Listen, you know, this isn't about this phone call. This is about a White House that's desperately spinning.

You know, I looked this morning at the White House Web page and found out that Scott McClellan, the man who says we ought to have answers to these questions, has held two White House briefings in the last two months. Now, that is a White House that doesn't want to answer questions.

I used to -- you know, listen, I went through some pretty tough times as the White House press secretary, and I got myself during impeachment, during scandal, and I stood up there every day and answered the questions because I think the public has a right to know what's going on with the president, what's going on around the world. This White House has had two White House briefings in the last two months.

You know, it's a government job, but it pays pretty well. You know, that's a lot of money for one briefing a month.

HEMMER: I know at the outset of your answer there you said this discussion has nothing to do with -- does it really rely so much on a conversation you had on Saturday night? It was the 8th of September, was it, if memory serves?

LOCKHART: It was the Saturday -- that sounds right.

HEMMER: So it was the Saturday before, and the story aired on the following Wednesday, which is four days later. But the issue is, regarding this phone call, whether or not there was collaboration ultimately between the campaign and the network. What can you say about those who raised that possibility today?

LOCKHART: I can say two things. One, is the campaign had nothing to do with these documents, nothing to do with this story. And two, you have to question the motives of those people who are raising these questions.

The White House is raising questions about this because they don't want to answer questions. I mean, the guy has held two briefings in two months. These guys don't want to answer questions about the National Guard story.

They even don't want to answer questions about what's going on in Iraq, what's going on in the economy. And I think it's time for them to step up and stop posing questions and start answering them, because that's what -- that's what the public wants.

HEMMER: I apologize for interjecting again. But you knew Bill Burkett has a long history of a fight with the National Guard. And also for several years he's had his own fight with George Bush.

LOCKHART: Bill, what do you base that on?

HEMMER: The reports that we're getting. It's just that I interviewed him -- I interviewed him six months ago and he told...

LOCKHART: Bill, you just said what I knew. How do you know that?

HEMMER: I know it because I talked to him six months ago, in fact, on this program. And he raised the issue...

LOCKHART: No, no, no, Bill.

HEMMER: He raised the issue. Let's be clear.

LOCKHART: Let's be clear.

HEMMER: Some very important stuff here. He raised the issue that some files were seen by him and others in a garbage can 30 years ago about George Bush's National Guard service.


HEMMER: And now -- and to you, you say what?

LOCKHART: I say, Bill, how do you know what I knew? You're basing this on what maybe some other people were telling you. I didn't know who the guy was. I talked to him on the phone for three or four minutes. That's the beginning and the end of the story.

HEMMER: So let's be clear. You did not know about the history about Bill Burkett before you talked to him Saturday night?

LOCKHART: I did not. I did not.

HEMMER: What has Senator Kerry said about all this, Joe?

LOCKHART: He hasn't said -- he hasn't said anything. He's focused on the issues that, you know, Americans are worried about. Not what the news media in Washington is worried about.

HEMMER: So you have not talked to him about this matter?

LOCKHART: I have not. I have not.

HEMMER: Do you plan on it?

LOCKHART: No, I don't -- you know, I talk to him all the time. But I don't have any intention of using a lot of the valuable time we have left in this campaign to talk about this.

HEMMER: Valuable time, indeed. In fact, six weeks from today, 42 days and counting. Is this the distraction again for the Kerry campaign?

LOCKHART: No, I don't think so. Listen, you all will have to decide what's news here.

The quagmire that this president has created in Iraq, a miserable economy, the worst in 72 years, and a White House that won't answer questions. I mean, the fact that we've gone two months with two White House briefings should say everything to the American public.

And if you think this is the news, that's fine. Well, you know, you go ahead and cover that. But I've been open. You know, I talked to reporters yesterday. I talked to them, you know, well into the night about the details of this phone call. And, you know, I'll be happy to talk.

You know, I'll be glad to give up this chair to Mr. Bartlett or Mr. McClellan to start answering some questions for a change.

HEMMER: Joe Lockhart, Kerry adviser down in D.C. Thanks for coming on and talking with us today, Joe.

LOCKHART: Thanks, Bill.


Where was all the outrage about ABC's Chris Vlasto? From Smythesworld:

The ABC news producer who broke the story, Chris Vlasto, is well-known for his far-right connections. In 1994, he acted as an emissary from Ken Starr to lobby both James and Susan McDougal to cooperate with his inquisition. In 1995, he produced a report on ABC that accused Hillary Clinton of perjury, based largely on a doctored video clip of the First Lady. In 1998, he threw a celebratory party for Paula Jones and her attorneys after Bill Clinton was forced to testify before the Lewinsky Grand Jury. In October, 2001, he produced a report that claimed a connection between Saddam and the anthrax attacks on Senator Daschle, et al., as well as being one of the first journalists to detail a link between Muhammed Atta and the government of Iraq; both allegations were subsequently discredited. More recently, Vlasto ran a misleading report suggesting that Howard Dean had covered-up incidents of alleged domestic abuse by one of the state troopers protecting him; it was repudiated as "slime" and denounced by those denizens of the far left, Andrew Sullivan and John Ellis.

It's always a wee bit weird when you find yourself defending someone you've never been a fan of (Rather), over something which was obviously a screwup. But, I find the selective memory and moral outrage of those in the media to be rather distressing.

And, yes, Vlasto still has his job.

During the Clinton era, when the Clinton Rules of Journalism were in operation, this kind of shit happened daily, and No One, except Lyons/Conason/Waas/Nelson, gave a shit. Simply pointing this stuff out was a way to marginalize yourself as a journalist and have Howie label you a "knee jerk Clinton apologist.'

Kicker Update

Kickee considering pressing legal action, and Will Bunch discusses the alleged kicker's relationship with the Protest Warriors.

Monday, September 20, 2004

The Greatest Generation is Anti-American

Over at Kos, ManfromMiddletown gives a translation of a recent interview with the always cuddly Grover Norquist in El Mundo, which I've confirmed with another Spanish speaker:

When asked about if he thought Democratic Party was coming to an end Norquist told Pablo Pardo of El Mundo that:

"Yes, because in addition their demographic base is shrinking. Each year, 2 million people who fought in the Second World War and lived through the Great Depression die. This generation has been an exeception in American history, because it has defended anti-American policies. They voted for the creation of the welfare state and obligatory military service. They are the base of the Democratic Party. And they are dying. And, at the same time, all the time more Americans have stocks. That makes them defend the interests of business, because it is their own interest. Because of that, it's impossible to bring to the fore policies of social hate, of class warfare."

Abu Who

Bush can't keep his terrorists straight, and of course it's deliberate.


Nick's right that Dan Rather's "crime" eerily parallels certain mistakes made by a certain commander in chief. CBS screwed up by not making more of an effort to verify the documents, but let's remember that part of the reason they screwed up was because the White House gave their implied seal of approval when they were contacted. Doesn't take away from the screwup, but it does make it more interesting.

I'm not yet ready to accuse Rove of a masterful 5 cushion bank shot, but if I were, say, writing a political thriller about one President Smush who had an advisor name Snarl Stove who had a history of doing exactly that kind of thing, I would pat myself on the head for thinking of such a brilliant plot device.

Though as far as this non-lawyer can tell there's no definite slam dunk forgery law which would make this an easy case, there would appear to be enough on the books to warrant either a state or federal investigation. So, if Ashcroft's JD or the state of Texas wish to use the power of the state to make an effort to figure out who Burkett's source was, they probably can... And, my guess is we'll be able to tell a lot by how loud the leading conservative lights scream for such a thing...

Flippity Floppity

Wow. The Bush campaign says Kerry's plan is the same as his. AND, they say Kerry's plan is to retreat. Weird, that. Just what is Bush's plan?

"Forty-three days before the election," Bush said, "my opponent has now suddenly settled on a proposal for what to do next, and it's exactly what we're currently doing."

Not so, said Kerry.

He noted that just last week the administration acknowledged that it has spent less than $1 billion of the $18 billion committed a year ago for reconstruction. The week before, he said, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld conceded that the number of newly trained Iraqi security forces was less than half the 210,000 he claimed last February. And with just three months to go before the scheduled elections, he added, the United Nations has less than 25 percent of the personnel it will need to play the central role in supervising the vote that Bush had agreed to earlier this year.

"President Bush owes it to the American people to tell the truth and put Iraq on the right track," Kerry said. "Even more, he owes it to our troops and their families ... ."

In his speech to supporters in Derry, N.H., Bush seized on Kerry's apparently contrary statements about Saddam during the Democratic primary campaign last year - that "those who believe we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be president."

Although Bush said Kerry's Iraq proposals mirrored his own, his campaign put out a strongly worded - and contradictory - statement. "John Kerry's latest position on Iraq is to advocate retreat and defeat in the face of terror," said spokesman Steve Schmidt.

(sorry for the post order switching. Blogger keeps doing weird things to the time stamps for some reason)

Town Hall Nightmare

Yglesias is absolutely right. I was puzzled when I read that Bush was possibly backing out of the Town Hall format debate. Bush will obviously go over great with the ridiculous creatures undecided voters that Gallup is currently harvesting from Frank Luntz's basement.


Wolcott gets shrill:

Ben Ferguson can snicker that if John Kerry had incurred real injuries he'd be in a nice wheelchair today and the middleaged white fools sitting in the bookstore don't even raise a peep, which makes you wonder if ten years from now it'll be open season on any American vet from the Iraq campaign who's missing limbs or carrying shrapnel and gets out of political line. There is a myth that the Left spat on returning Vietnam vets in the Seventies. Well, the Right spits on Vietnam vets every day with impunity, and will spit on future vets. Conservatives support the military only in the vague abstract; beneath their patriotic bluster and sentimentality, they basically think soldiers are chumps, risking their lives when they could be staying home, making money, and carving out a neat career, as Ben has done.

Do you really think that Rush and Newt and Dick Cheney and the rest of them regret that they didn't serve in Vietnam, that they didn't do their part for a war they supported and whose cause they still think was just? Do you really think Ben Ferguson wishes he was in uniform fighting for democracy in Iraq instead of plastering his Lumpy Rutherford face on TV?

They have no conscience, they have no decency, so let's stop fake-pretending that they do.



Whatever the differences over the Iraq conflict, there is a clear right and wrong on these issues, and that is to be with the democrats and against the terrorists.



Columnist John Leo thinks it is "It's also reasonable and important to open an honest discussion of internment, past and present."

Past and present.

Black Eye for Time, Newsweek, NYT, Dowd, Globe...or Atrios?

All have reported in various ways that Kerry supposedly said "Who among us does not love Nascar?" (Example: Newsweek). Except, it never happened. ...or, maybe, big black eye for me! This quote's first appearance anywhere was in Dowd's March 18 column:
Even when he puts on that barn jacket over his expensive suit to look less lockjaw -- and says things like, "Who among us doesn't like NASCAR?" -- he can come across like Collins, Elizabeth Bennet's pretentious cousin in "Pride and Prejudice." Collins always prattles on about how lucky people would be to be rewarded by his patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, with "some portion of her notice" and to receive dollops of her "condescension."
It was subsquently picked up by a variety of print outlets (though, strangely, not TV), all of which either didn't source the quote or referenced Dowd. No one has reported exactly where and when Kerry supposedly said this. AmCop put in a request to Bovino for information, and he responded here. So, Bovino's saying someone at a rally told Dowd about it and a female Times reporter, who was present and later reported on it herself, confirmed it. Bovino must be referring to a July 30 column by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and John Tierney (it's the only "Political Points" column that references it) which came out over 4 months after Dowd's original column. They wrote:
To anyone who has listened to Mr. Kerry extemporize at length -- who among us can forget his ''Who among us doesn't like Nascar?'' remark? -- the thought of the Brahmin from Boston disdaining speechwriters and trying humor seemed odd, shall we say, for the most important address of his career. And the notion of Mr. Shrum, known as much for his rhetorical brilliance as for his managerial firmness, ceding control seemed just as odd.
Rather strange, since the quote hadn't richocheted around cable TV and nor had it been reported in a straight news piece (A few print columns, one analysis piece which sourced it to Dowd, and a couple jokey references at The Note). Anyway, I probably jumped the gun. But, I would like to know at which rally Kerry supposedly said this. And, whether he said it straight or if it was a bit of self-mockery. And, no, in the scheme of things this isn't all that important. But, it's curious...

Big Mo in SC

Feel free to join the coalition of decadent liberal coastal enclaves.

Speech Thread

I'm not home, but I hear it's a good one. Discuss.

...remarks as prepared.

RNC Kicker Update

In Penn's paper.

Future History

Go back to bed. You alredy know what happens today. Kerry gives a speech this morning.

Sen. John Kerry is challenging President Bush to immediately begin taking steps to stop increasing violence in Iraq as he tries to offer a persuasive alternative to Bush's management of Iraq's reconstruction and the overall war on terror.

Kerry was laying out a four-part plan to bring peace to Iraq during a speech Monday at New York University, while arguing that Bush has not been honest about the rationale for war or its costs, according to Kerry campaign officials.

(a pickler special)

And, Bush counters it this afternoon:

President Bush is striking back at John Kerry's increasingly aggressive criticism on Iraq, asking Americans to stick with him on the war in the face of surging violence there.

But Bush is facing a fresh wave of attacks from members of his own party, including an influential senator who said Sunday the administration's "incompetence" was to blame for the country's slow recovery from war.

Kerry has been lambasting Bush in recent days on the cost of the Iraq war in lives and dollars, and the Democratic senator planned a new assault Monday. The Democrat "will lay out his plan for cleaning up the mess George Bush has made in Iraq," said campaign spokesman Phil Singer.

In a speech in New Hampshire on Monday afternoon, Bush was countering by saying the nation needs "consistency" in its leadership - not a change in the middle of the war, and not a series of contradictions, said campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel.

"Our troops deserve better than to hear Kerry's campaign pushing pessimism and lack of faith in the mission," Stanzel said.

(thanks to samela)

Overheard at Dinner

Last night I learned to fascinating things from the person sitting at the next table. First, that John Edwards made all his money from frivolous lawsuits. Second, that due to such frivolous lawsuits there are only 9 gynecologists currently licensed in the state of Florida.

fascinating stuff.

Drinking Liberally

The beta-test of the Philadelphia chapter of Drinking Liberally seems all set for Tuesday at 6pm at Ten Stone (corner of South and 21st).

If people who think they might come could indicate that in the comments it'd be great. I don't need names or an exact number, just want to be sure that the numbers aren't an order of magnitude greater than I expect...

Bush in the Guard

Eric Boehlert explains what is known so clearly that even Wolf Blitzer should be able to understand it.


David Corn has a post up which discusses a variety of Iraq-related things. The first part involves people explaining that things are pretty much screwed. And, the second involves Kerry campaign issues.

On a Washington street corner, he now asked me how he had done. You have a tough job, I responded. The Bush campaign has succeeded in convincing the mainstream media that the key question is, what is Kerry's plan for Iraq? Not, say, what is Bush's plan for Iraq? If Kerry is so fortunate to win on November 2, he won't take office until January 20, and the situation in Iraq could be dramatically different. Any specific plan he tossed out now could be--and probably would be--totally irrelevant at that point. Yet Republicans and echo-chamber reporters keep asking Kerry to state precisely how he would undo Bush's mess.

"I have two young daughters at home," I said to this Kerry aide. "If one takes a glass jar and throws it on the ground of their bedroom and smashes it into thousands of pieces, I don't point my finger at the other one and say, 'Okay, what's your plan for cleaning this up.'"

One has to ask why the hell the mainstream media could be convinced of something so utterly asinine. But, this is the mainstream media which, as far as I know, has yet to ask the simple question, "Mr. President - you say we need to 'stay the course.' Can you tell us what this course is?"* Media Matters has covered part of this story.

But, so far the media has been unable to hold the "I didn't do it" administration accountable for anything. There were some rumblings in the last couple of days.

As Bill Kristol said, Bush has driven us into a ditch. Subsequently, he closed his eyes put his hands over his ears and started yelling "mommymommymommy ICANTHEARYOU" over and over again.

Kerry's plan for Iraq is simple - put competent people in charge. I'm not optimistic about that, either, but it's better than having incompetent ones in charge.

*I believe someone said something similar in the comments section, but I'm not sure who or where...

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Baghdad Bush

From E&P.


Well I can guarantee that they don't like George Bush. Do they think there's a difference? I think Osama bin laden - the al qaeda network - who I'm certain follow american politics. Look at the messages coming out on their tapes, they seem to follow politics very closely. They would very much like to defeat President Bush. But the question is could they pull of the same trick they could pull off in Spain? What Dennis Hastert says is they'd better not try that, it won't work here. My guess is he's right about that."

CNN, just now.

Maybe He Can Fly

It's nice to see that Mark Steyn is still on board with the Bush administration's Tinkerbell Policy on Iraq.

It was cute in 2003, but now it's just ridiculous.

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This I'd like to see on TV
(thanks to reader j)

Oh My

What fucking morons.

Insurgent vs. Insurgent

Even Joseph Heller couldn't have written this paragraph that's in the Times:

Under the proposal to be discussed, Dr. Hardan said, the guerrillas would turn over their heavy weapons and allow a military force gathered from around Al Anbar Province to enter the city. That unit would replace the Falluja Brigade, the local militia set up after the fighting in April and which was composed almost entirely of insurgents and former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. It was routed by the insurgents, and the Iraqi government disbanded it this month.

(thanks to reader c)

Iraq Week

Well, for some reason the media has collectively decided it's a little tired of the "I didn't do it" administration's Tinkerbell Iraq policy. Here's an example from those commie america-haters at the Cleveland PD:

What is inexcusable is the administration's continuing failure to confront the grim reality and remold policies to make the best of this sow's ear. The delay in gearing up to get the trainers, uniforms, weapons and money that Iraqi security forces need has meant that not a single Iraqi police officer is fully trained and street-ready. The Iraqi army was disbanded with nary a thought to the security vacuum this would create. Our NATO "allies" still are haggling over a skeleton force of 300 military trainers that have yet to arrive in Iraq. Scores of willing police recruits continue to die unnecessarily because of the failure to build secure barriers around recruitment centers.

Howie Kurtz Flashback


KURTZ: Well, joining us now, Joshua Marshall, Washington Editor of The American Prospect and a write for, and Chris Caldwell, senior writer for The Weekly Standard.

Josh Marshall, you don't know the extent of damage or vandalism by departing Clinton White House aides, and neither do I. So, in writing in Slate Magazine that the press wildly overplayed this story, it kind of sounds like you're acting as a knee-jerk Clinton defender.

JOSHUA MARSHALL, WASHINGTON EDITOR, "THE AMERICAN PROSPECT": Not at all. I think when I looked at that, when I looked at that story for the first few days, the charges escalated and escalated, more and more things, destruction of property, trash everywhere. And at a certain point, journalists started asking for some actual proof, some pictures, someone to go on the record and actually say this happened. And over and over again Ari Fleischer said, "Well, it's, yes it's true, but we're going to rise above it" and so forth. And at some point, you say, when are we going to get some proof that this happened.

Morning Thread

Bobblehead edition.

Another Open Thread

Insomniac version.