The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Monday, February 28, 2005

Rock on Bush

Not as in "Rock on, Bush!" Because he sucks. This is the transcript of Chris Rock's monologue from last night's Oscars. And he makes his share of cutting remarks. Check it out. Have a laugh.

I'd excerpt it, but it's pretty short to begin with, and I don't want to spoil the fun...

Welcome to Scared Old Lady Airlines. Enjoy your free ride.

NOT coming soon to a new outlet near you.... and, naturally a must-read.

USA Next reports that Tom DeLay-- already up to his neck in ethics charges and tantalizingly close to being indicted in Texas-- has been using money solicited from senior citizens to fund trips around the world for himself and his staff.

The cash (about $130,000) came from a group that raised money from old timers by sending them donation letters like this:

"Inside your sealed envelope is information regarding the potential collapse of the Social Security system – and how it can endanger you and the entire United States senior citizen population,” NCPPR president Amy Ridenour writes in one such letter obtained by RAW STORY (Read the letter here). “It is also critical that you share this pertinent information ONLY [sic] with other trustworthy individuals.”

Sounds suspiciously like these seventeen guys in Nigeria who each need me to front them a couple grand before they can make me a billionaire....

The Pushover Principle (or, Dopey Joe Rides Again!)

Somebody needs to tell Joe Lieberman that privatization is a bad idea. So bad that it'll cost the taxpayers trillions of dollars before it makes anyone a dime. The public doesn't like it. Democrats don't like it. Even Republicans are afraid to back the president's latest sop to Corporate America.
So what in the world is he thinking by playing the mediator? Cutting deals with this administration doesn't make you a smart politician-- it makes you a sucker.

Judging from last week's New Republic, they're still convinced that the DLC has all the answers. Here's some proof that they're wrong.

What's really the matter with Kansas.

A serial murder case that has baffled Kansas police for more than two decades appears to have been solved. The alleged killer was, perhaps unsurprisingly, a veritable right-wing posterboy of wholesome American values. From the LA Times:

"WICHITA, Kan. — He called himself a monster, but in 31 years of hunting the serial killer known as BTK, Wichita police made it clear they were searching for a man who appeared in every way ordinary. On Saturday, they announced they finally had caught him.

Dennis Rader, 59, a church-going family man, a Cub Scout leader, a dog-catcher for the trim suburb of Park City, is in custody on suspicion of torturing and killing seven women, one man and two children from 1974 to 1991 — including two victims linked only this week to BTK. . .

Although some of his neighbors said he was friendly — and he was well-respected enough to serve as president of his church council — others called him mean and arrogant. "He wore a badge and would swagger around the street like he was above the law. I always considered him a bully," said James Reno, 42, who has lived across the street from Rader for more than a decade."

Gee... a sanctimonious church councilman who's actually a twisted psycho? That has to be a first.

On your mark... get set... PANDER!

This administration always continues to astound me with the embarrassingly silly depths to which they'll go to get what they want. The sad part is that tens of millions of people still think he's a brilliant leader. From the NYT:

"WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 - The battle over Social Security has been joined by an unusual lobbyist, a 9-year-old from Texas who has agreed to travel supporting President Bush's proposal. . . .

"He's very patriotic and very Republican," said Noah's mother, Donna McCullough, a former teacher and self-described Democrat. "It's the way he was born."

In a sign of how far groups go to carry their message on Social Security, Progress for America has signed up Noah, a fourth grader, as a volunteer spokesman. He starts on spring break from James Williams Elementary School in Katy, Tex.

Progress for America, which spent almost $45 million backing Mr. Bush last year, plans to lay out $20 million on Social Security this year."

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Canada/Star Wars update

I was thrilled to report that Canada had decided to abandon missile defense this week. After all, we've spent more than $100 billion on it, and have nothing to show for it. But the right have their noses so far up Reagan's ass that they refuse to cut bait. But the US didn't take Canada's (perfectly rational) decision lying down.

"The formal announcement Thursday that Canada will refuse any further participation in the controversial U.S. missile-defence shield was met with an immediate warning that Canada had given up its sovereignty.

Although Prime Minister Paul Martin said Canada would “insist” on maintaining control of its airspace, U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci warned that Washington would not be constrained.

“We will deploy. We will defend North America,” he said.

“We simply cannot understand why Canada would in effect give up its sovereignty – its seat at the table – to decide what to do about a missile that might be coming towards Canada.”"

How do you like that? I especially love the comment that we're the only ones willing to defend North America-- especially with our non-functioning missiles that, in their latest test, were unable to actually launch. This is awfully extreme rhetoric for a program that's a worthless money pit. Brace yourself for the next four years. It's going to be ugly.

Why those pain killers are back on the market

Hoo boy. Business as usual for the admin. But why isn't this bigger news? From the NYT story:

"Ten of the 32 government drug advisers who last week endorsed continued marketing of the huge-selling pain pills Celebrex, Bextra and Vioxx have consulted in recent years for the drugs' makers, according to disclosures in medical journals and other public records.

If the 10 advisers had not cast their votes, the committee would have voted 12 to 8 that Bextra should be withdrawn and 14 to 8 that Vioxx should not return to the market. The 10 advisers with company ties voted 9 to 1 to keep Bextra on the market and 9 to 1 for Vioxx's return."

Yes, it's all thanks to the pharmaceutical companies. Have a nice stroke.

NBC's New Anchor: Rush Limbaugh

Not really, but I just caught a disturbing interview with Brian Williams on Marty Kaplan's Air America show. It's from last weekend-- the Feb. 19 show. The link will take you to the download page.

Here's the thing with Brokaw's replacement: he was tripping all over himself trying to show what a downhome kinda guy he is. He listens to Rush, he loves NASCAR, he wasn't born rich, he doesn't even shave sometimes (gasp!). The worst was his commitment to the red state/blue state dichotomy. You'd think a seasoned newsman would have the brains to accept the county voting map-- which shows a purple nation. The red/blue argument is the turf of con men like Hannity and O'Reilly.

Look for the mainstream media to make yet another lurch to the right. Switch it off, and keep watching the blogs.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Canada passes on Star Wars

Once again I'm turning to physicist Robert Park and the ongoing travesty that is missile defense:


With US interceptor missiles refusing to come out of their silos, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin did the same, declaring that Canada would concentrate its defense efforts elsewhere. President Bush had personally lobbied the PM since August to join the US in ballistic missile defense. Martin appeared to be leaning toward joining, agreeing in August to share information on incoming missiles, but the plan had virtually no public support.

Condoleezza Rice or Catwoman?

Not since Cheney's inexplicable choice of attire for a concentration camp visit has White House fashion made the news. While ol' Dick went with Packers game duds-- tan parka and toque-- Condi has decided to make like an extra in the Matrix. Genuinely strange.

College Republicans spill the beans

This story has been getting attention on the blogosphere for a couple of days. I didn't comment because I figured it was funny, but would probably disappear quickly. Now MyDD suggests that the footage of these clean-cut kiddos shouting "Hey hey, ho ho, Social Security has got to go" (see the video here: might be going places.

And I have to admit that I didn't see the potential in this footage of righties accidentally saying exactly what they mean. See the video, and stay tuned. I'll be on the lookout for new developments.

Slate: Still attacking bloggers

Why is this site so angry at the blogosphere that they pay writers to produce dreck like this?

"P. Diddy gargles Cristal as his yacht sails from San Tropez to Ibiza. Atrios stares at his computer screen and ponders the effect of "increased central bank diversification out of dollar holdings.". . . What, do I need to draw you a Venn diagram? Rappers and bloggers—they're the same!"

Wow, that's some side-splitting comedy. This is at least Slate's third anti-blog piece. Odd, since outlets like CNN are freely acknowledging that they've elevated blog stories to investigations of their own. And on the right, there are instances like "Rathergate." So why pretend that it's just a bunch of angry radicals in their PJ's?

Gannon/Guckert: He's here, he's queer-- hire him for a naughty weekend.

The laughs keep coming this week. Gannon/Guckert makes like Nietzsche and launches his new site. What does he have to say about being exposed as a gay prostitute? Nothing. But he does provoke unintended laughs with this proclamation: "My faith and my ideology are rock solid."

He's also still threatenting to sue some unnamed party-- ostensibly for pointing out that he placed public advertisements offering his service as a reasonably priced, "rock solid" companion for closeted Republicans. Hey, dumbass-- it isn't an invasion of privacy for someone to call attention to pictures you posted in public of yourself with an "8+ inch uncut" erection.

Tom Ridge: "tort reform" advocate

Astounding. The latest outrage you won't hear about on the nightly news? Tom Ridge has a new job. With a company that's fighting tooth and nailgun to reduce damage settlements. Home Depot gave $673,000 to Republicans last year, and with their unfortunate history of customers being crippled or killed just by walking through their stores and having heavy equipment fall on them from shelves, the bigwigs are first in line to ask that people not be allowed to sue for damages...

Salon has the story:

Negotiating the transition between government and the private sector can be tricky; luckily for Tom Ridge, he won't have to do it alone. Home Depot announced yesterday that it has hired the former Homeland Security chief to sit on its board of directors. Considering how much Ridge has already done to promote novel uses for duct tape and plastic sheeting, his $110,000 yearly base salary must seem like a bargain.

Lefties love gays. No... they HATE gays. I mean, uhhh....

Everyone knows the name of the GOPs madwoman in the attic, Ann Coulter. But if you haven't had the pleasure of reading any of her mystifying, semi-coherent work, this is a good place to start.

She chimes in on the Gannon/Guckert story (showing that the right is definitely getting worried), and proclaims that Democrats are raving homophobes. Probably because of our intense opposition to gay civil rights and conviction that these folks are going to burn in hell for eternity. Funny stuff, people. It also features more lies per paragraph than perhaps anything else she's written.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The troops are mobilizing-- join their ranks!

AmericaBlog is reiterating the importance of Dick Durbin's letter asking for an investigation into the gay pimp in the White House affair (see my previous post "Keep the story alive"). If there's a Democratic senator in your state, please write and ask him/her to sign on with Durbin. I'll make it easy for you: Find your Senators' contact info here

AmericaBlog is the place to go for updates, but I'll be updating as I come across more news.

Oh, and I haven't said anything about the "Bush Wead" tapes. That's because I think it's hooey. The tapes don't tell us anything we don't know-- but they did appear just when the gay pimp story was on the verge of making headlines. Screw the tapes. Go with the pimp.

And if you have any doubts that the right is nervous, check this out:

A far right website is raking Gannon and Talon over the coals-- even admitting that this is an issue of national security. And as we've seen from the admin, when you get nervous about an issue the first course of action is to sacrifice a friend.

FLASH: Fox News eager to lie if it furthers GOP aims!

Sometimes these posts seem a little redundant, but forewarned is forearmed-- and now you have some specifics. As little as it surprises me when I see stories like this, I'm still stunned by the mainstream media's unwillingness to drum these guys out of journalistic circles. Even worse, they're trying to emulate Fox to boost their own bottom lines. Hey guys-- imitating Soviet propagandists might be successful in the short term, but it'll cost you down the line when this nightmare is over. From the fine folks at Media Matters:

Since April 2002, FOX News has consistently doctored Associated Press articles featured on the FOX News website concerning terrorist attacks in the Middle East to conform to Bush administration terminology. Without any editorial notation disclosing that words in the AP articles have been changed, FOX News replaces the terms "suicide bomber" and "suicide bombing" with "homicide bomber" and "homicide bombing" to describe attackers who kill themselves and others with explosives. In at least one case, FOX News actually altered an AP quote from Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) to fit this naming convention, and then revised it to restore the quote without noting either the original alteration or its correction.

The Associated Press noted in April 2002 that FOX News first began using the term "homicide bombing" in its own reports immediately after Bush administration officials -- such as then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer -- adopted the term. While other news organizations continued to use the term "suicide bomber," the AP reported, "Dennis Murray, executive producer of [FOX News'] daytime programming, said executives there had heard the phrase ["homicide bombing"] being used by administration officials in recent days and thought it was a good idea."

But Media Matters for America has found that FOX has applied the "homicide" terminology not only in its own original reports, but also in the AP reports that it publishes on its website. Readers are led to believe that the AP itself uses the "homicide" terminology, when in fact it does not. According to a Media Matters search, the AP has used the terms "homicide bomber" or "homicide bombing" when referring to terrorist attacks in only one article, published on May 7, 2004. These terms have otherwise appeared in AP articles only in quotations.

Aside from the fact that 'suicide bomber' is a much more accurate term, I'm not sure what the point of this framing device is. Homicide probably made people angrier in focus groups. But doesn't everyone already know what a suicide bomber is? And wouldn't the fanaticism that term connotes already freak people out? I'm sure they payed some reactionary pr firm big bucks to find that 'homicide bomber' really presses people's buttons, but to me the term suicide bomber seems worse. Maybe Fox viewers feel better when the term doesn't connote religious fanaticism...

Bush: Have no stacked deck, won't travel

As if we didn't know this already. From today's Der Spiegel:

The much-touted American-style "town hall" meeting the White House has been planning with "normal Germans" of everyday walks of life will be missing during his visit to the Rhine River hamlet of Mainz this afternoon. A few weeks ago, the Bush administration had declared that the chat -- which could have brought together tradesmen, butchers, bank employees, students and all other types to discuss trans-Atlantic relations -- would be the cornerstone of President George W. Bush's brief trip to Germany.

State Department diplomats said the meeting would help the president get in touch with the people who he most needs to convince of his policies. Bush's invasion of Iraq and his diplomatic handling of the nuclear dispute with Iran has drawn widespread concern and criticism among the German public. And during a press conference two weeks ago, Bush said Washington is still terribly misunderstood in Europe. All the more reason, it would seem, for him to be pleased about talking to people here.

But on Wednesday, that town hall meeting will be nowhere on the agenda -- it's been cancelled. Neither the White House nor the German Foreign Ministry has offered any official explanation, but Foreign Ministry sources say the town hall meeting has been nixed for scheduling reasons -- a typical development for a visit like this with many ideas but very little time. That, at least, is the diplomats' line. Behind the scenes, there appears to be another explanation: the White House got cold feet. Bush's strategists felt an uncontrolled encounter with the German public would be too unpredictable.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Keep the Gannon/Guckert story alive!

Most of the blogs have been silent on the White House's favorite gay pimp the last two days, but AmericaBlog is keeping up the good fight. More power to them. I'd advise anyone out there to contact your elected officials in pushing for an investigation into this incredible breach of security.

The story above: Someone, presumably Guckert himself, has put several of the gay escort services taht featured him up for sale on eBay. And he wants a hell of a lot more money than he'd get for giving a GOP congressman a Dirty Sanchez (if you didn't get that joke, just forget that you read it and put it out of your mind).

The latest update suggests that (courtesy of Dick Durbin) Dems might be mobilizing for an offensive (link below). Now that they're showing signs of life, let's give them all the support we can, folks.

Here's the body of my letter to the offices of my senators:

With great dismay, I've watched the rise and seeming fall of the story on Jeff Gannon/James Guckert on the blogs, without much attention from the mainstream press.

This issue, however, is more than just a lascivious scandal. It calls into question the current administration's commitment to the democratic process in their communications with the American public. An individual hired by Republican operatives managed-- under an assumed name, with no credentials and an ostensibly criminal past-- to gain access to the highest levels of government in the guise of a non-partisan journalist. His propagandistic questions were given time on several news outlets. And worst of all, evidence points to the strong possibility that Gannon/Guckert was privy to confidential information during the period in which he was admitted to White House press briefings.

The national security implications of this story are sufficient to warrant an investigation-- more salacious details aside. As one of your constituents, I implore you to support the pursuit of an investigation into this matter. Letting it disappear without an investigation would be a disgrace, and a mockery of the idea of American democracy.

Talking Point: cross fingers while condemning torture

It's no secret that the US government is using the military to fly prisoners to countries that will torture them for us. But that's really handy, because it allows members of the administration to state unequivocally that "we do not condone, nor will we tolerate, the use of torture by US forces." Makes those congressional conference hearing soooo much easier, you see.

Case in p0int: this transcript from a White House briefing. Note the "skill" with which McClellan sticks to the party line....

Q And then on a different subject, does this administration transfer detainees or prisoners in the war on terror to third countries in order to have them interrogated with means that would be against this country's law -- in order to have them tortured?

MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, I think the President has made our view very clear when it comes to torture. The President does not condone torture, and he would never authorize the use of torture. So I think it --

Q That's not what I asked, though.

MR. McCLELLAN: Understood. So I think I want to make that very clear right off the top. Our policy is to adhere to our laws and our treaty obligations. There are very clear laws in the United States regarding torture, and there are clear laws at the international level regarding torture. And our policy is to adhere to that. So I make that very clear.

In terms of intelligence or national security matters, I'm not in a position to get into commenting -- to get into discussing those. Those are questions you might want to direct to the appropriate agencies. But our policy is very clear, and that's what the President expects to be followed.

Q Right, but you can't tell me whether or not there are detainees that have been transferred to third countries and then tortured, with the acquiescence of the United States?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I made our view very clear. And in terms of torture, we do not condone torture and the President has never authorized torture -- nor would he.

Nicely done. Just stick to answering questions from Internet prostitutes using fake names.

Help stop USA Next

Through Howard Dean's site, you can sign a petition to protest the airing of ads by USA Next that attack the AARP through totally dishonest means. Some actual headway was made with the Swift Boat ads, but too late. The word was out. The groups tactics will be the same-- airing genuine issues is irrelevant. The point is to command media attention by making outrageous claims. Only the savvy will know that they are lies. Sadly, most will only hear that there are two sides: the 'nice' conservatives vs. the 'mean' liberals.

Even red state Repubs are afraid of Bush's plans on Social Security. This move is to whip up the populace into another anti-gay frenzy in hopes that they can make an end run around wimpy Democrats. The method is to imply that AARP is a communist front (that isn't an exaggeration) trying to subvert morality.

Another blog that I check in with has written a lengthier argument on why we need to stop these propagandists in their tracks. Highly recommended-- especially since they always do a better job with pertinent links than I do.

Sign up, stay tuned, and keep looking for ways to take action. We can't keep standing by as reactionaries destroy the nation.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Bill O'Reilly: "SpongeBob's my best friend now."

Amazingly, that title isn't a joke. It's an actual quote from the Lord of the Loofahs himself.

Funny thing about O'Reilly. He once claimed that between 2001 and 2003 his boycott of French goods had "lost [France]billions of dollars according to 'The Paris Business Review.'" Except that there's no such magazine, and after he announced his boycott, America was importing more from France. And he actually announced it in 2003. Details, details.

Now he claims to have "saved SpongeBob single-handedly." If it hadn't been for the efforts of the ersatz newsman, the enormously popular kids' show would have been history. And why? Because O'Reilly "mocked [the speculation that SpongeBob was gay], and, as soon as we did that, it went away."

Wow. Who knew he was such a huge influence on the nation? Only the staff of the Paris Business Review...

Social Security: Gay Conspiracy

In case you hadn't heard, the latest target of the administration's buddies in PR is that shadowy, dangerous organization known as... AARP.

They might have supported a prescription drug plan written by the pharmaceutical companies, and earned the plaudits of Bush, but now they've made a fatal error-- disagreed with him on Social Security. Cue the 70's blaxploitation music, because it's time for: PAYBACK!

From the NYT:

"Taking its cues from the success of last year's Swift boat veterans' campaign in the presidential race, a conservative lobbying organization has hired some of the same consultants to orchestrate attacks on one of President Bush's toughest opponents in the battle to overhaul Social Security.

The lobbying group, USA Next, which has poured millions of dollars into Republican policy battles, now says it plans to spend as much as $10 million on commercials and other tactics assailing AARP, the powerhouse lobby opposing the private investment accounts at the center of Mr. Bush's plan."

The AARP should have taken a lesson from the pasting that "nice" Democrats took over the last four years-- they're out to take you down no matter how much you kiss up.

And what's the first ad to appear from USA Next? Here goes:

The AARP hates soldiers! The AARP loves queers! This is ridiculous even by the right's current standards of propaganda. Hopefully the day is coming when more people look at images like this and just laugh. The ad appeared on the front page of the American Spectator's website. And linked straight to USA Next's website, where they're collecting tales of people tired of the rooking they've been getting at the hands of those radical, sodomy-loving... uh, retirees.

Also on the site is their "poll." The lone question: Did you know that the AARP has received over $1 billion of taxpayers money over the last 20 years? My question is this: how can such a powerful lobby get so little? Halliburton alone has received ten times that over the last two years!

To sum up, the administration can't get even red staters to back Bush's multi-trillion dollar plan. So they're going to call out the hitmen to make it about gay marriage and commies. Kinda reminds me of last year's elections. What's it going to take for people to realize that the Bushies' only chance to keep screwing them over is to scare them silly?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

GOP adopts Iraq strategy on port security

By which I mean hand over hundreds of millions of dollars to cronies with no oversite. They won't be able to match the unaccounted-for billions in Iraq (including a case of $9 billion literally vanishing), but they're earning an A for effort. From the NYT:

". . .less than a quarter of the $517 million that the department distributed in grants between June 2002 and December 2003 had been spent as of September 2004, the inspector general found. The report also questioned whether grants allocated for small projects in resort areas and some remote locations should have been considered as critical to national security needs as larger projects at ports that are more vital to the national economy.

The findings, released earlier this week, were the latest to criticize the Homeland Security Department's antiterrorism grant program, which has come under attack by people who say it has set poor priorities. For example, Wyoming received four times as much antiterrorism money per capita as New York did last year, according to a Congressional report."

Mainstream Press to Pursue Gannon?

An interesting note on the issue: Matt Drudge hasn't even mentioned Gannon on his site. That can't signal confidence on the part of the GOP.

The above clip is from Bill Maher's new show. Lesley Stahl seems to take the story seriously. And stick with it for Senator Joe Biden's remarks-- he's right on the money.

It looks like it might be happening, after more than two weeks of left-leaning blogs being on the story. And it's about time. Hopefully, many will pursue the security issue of a right-wing hack getting the same admittance to the prez as actual journalists, who undergo an FBI background check. Not to mention his knowledge of the Valerie Plame leak and perhaps knew in advance of the invasion of Iraq. From Raw Story:

"Washington sources tell RAW STORY that calls are flying around the District as much of the mainstream press seeks to catch up with online reporting–including some from such prestigious magazines as The New Yorker.

The wire services have also begun digging, sources say, which could place the Gannon scandal in hundreds of smaller newspapers across America.

Some suggest that the mainstream media–which initially left blogs and online outlets like this site to flesh out the story–are now seeking to reestablish their grasp and perhaps break new elements of it themselves."

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Live from behind the oil curtain

I can't believe I just gave that name to a post. Anyway, the Conservative Political Action Conference took place in Washington this week. Al Franken broadcast his show from the proceedings on Thursday and Friday (where we were treated to such gems as the head of the right-wing group "Accuracy in Media" defending Gannon/Guckert because he was unfairly targeted for his sexuality-- by a gay man!)

Salon has a nice roundup of the proceedings, where the Maoistically inclined were informed by a US Congressman that... well, just read on:

Vice President Dick Cheney, a regular CPAC speaker, gave the keynote address. California Rep. Chris Cox had the honor of introducing him, and he took the opportunity to mock the Democrats whose hatred of America led them to get Iraq so horribly wrong.

"America's Operation Iraqi Freedom is still producing shock and awe, this time among the blame-America-first crowd," he crowed. Then he said, "We continue to discover biological and chemical weapons and facilities to make them inside Iraq." Apparently, most of the hundreds of people in attendance already knew about these remarkable, hitherto-unreported discoveries, because no one gasped at this startling revelation.

But it isn't all beer and skittles:

In January, Paul Craig Roberts, assistant secretary of the treasury during the Reagan administration and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal's far-right editorial page, published a damning column in the progressive Z Magazine about fascist tendencies in the conservative movement. "In the ranks of the new conservatives, however, I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives who literally worship George Bush," he wrote. "Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush … Like Brownshirts, the new conservatives take personally any criticism of their leader and his policies. To be a critic is to be an enemy."

An absolute must-read.

Wal-Mart is Watching.... out for you.

This is rich. I recently heard that Wal-Mart opted to close a Canadian store rather than let its butchers(!) unionize. Sure, they're anti-union. And they've been busted for hiring illegal immigrants at their stores-- and locking them in during their shifts. And they've abandoned Sam Walton's one-time mission of supporting the American economy by outsourcing manufacturing jobs to third-world nations. And violated labor laws by issuing chainsaws to adolescents.

But they're actually really nice guys. See, you can tell because they've set up this neat website explaining just how nice they are. Especially to dark-skinned types. Well, I assume that because of the prominence of ethnic minorities on the pages. Oh, and they like old people, too.

Here's how the president and CEO introduces the site:

"We appreciate the people who work with us and shop with us. Use this site to get the Wal-Mart facts you need. It's designed especially for you...and, it is straight from us [sic]. We appreciate your business and thank you for being part of our success."

Funny how Newspeak always sounds like just what it is. And it's really easy to parody, too. Here, I'll just ad lib:

"We appreciate the people who work with us and shop with us (you can't really parody that-- you just need a visual of a fat, oily, white man clutching round bags with dollar signs on them). Use this site to get the Wal-Mart facts that aren't like those lies you hear from consumer advocates,human rights advocates, or dress-wearing liberals. It's designed especially for those of you who might take it seriously... and, it is straight from us (another self-parody there). We appreicate your business. OH, do we appreciate your business! And thank you for our second and third homes."

And wha'dya know?!? Wal-Mart contributed $1,604,000 to the GOP last year. Huh.

The last nail in Lieberman's coffin (or, Promotion Time!)

While the apologists for the Washington establishment still laud Lieberman as a sterling example of what a Democrat should be today, he's apparently still open to Bush's plan to "fix" Social Security by incurring several trillion dollars in national debt-- and cutting benefits. Now, in 2002, he was quoted as saying: "Simply put, Social Security privatization would take away the safety from the safety net, and turn the idea of a rainy day fund into a sink or swim proposition." The Democratic party isn't the place for moralists who are still willing to screw the working poor. That'd be sort of like, say, an Orthodox Jew with a taste for yummy bacon double cheeseburgers.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has been working overtime on the SocSec issue, and is doing a masterful job. It's a sad thing to see just how many on Capitol Hill are willing to base their "principled stances" on the latest poll numbers.

Strange Fruit III

This story just keeps getting more entertaining. Guckert went on Anderson Cooper's show to talk about the fracas. Only, he wasn't about to actually talk about it. The highlight is listening to a gay, right-wing pimp explain why people's private lives shouldn't be a matter of public record.

Guckert: ". . .[my past] isn't relevant to the job I was asked to do, which was to be a reporter."

Paging Bill Clinton....

You can see the video here: Video

If you've got a fast connection, it's really worth watching. You can almost feel sorry for the guy-- although he's certainly being hoist by his own petard. Watching him insist that he's a journalist even though he was working for a company run by one of W's Texas cronies will give you that strange feeling of wanting to laugh and cry at the same time.

And how is the right reacting? Apparently by making threatening calls to friends of the AmericaBlog host (that's the site that started it all). Why do they hate freedom so much?

There's more-- the story begins to appear in the mass media, amazingly enough. Here's a story from CBS News. Although it couldn't possibly be anything more than sour-grapes payback over that dreadful Rather business....

Iraq Security: Two Purple Thumbs Up!

Not really. In fact, the situation continues to worsen. If we could lock the country down for a day of elections, why can't we prevent these disasters? Oh yeah, because the neo-cons insisted on a reduced and underequipped ground force. From the NYT:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Eight suicide bombings and other insurgent attacks across Iraq on Saturday killed at least 50 people, including a U.S. soldier, a Ministry of Defense official said, as Shiite Muslim worshippers celebrated their holiest day of the year.

The steady stream of attacks using suicide bombings, mortars and gunmen, defense ministry official Capt. Sabah Yasin said.

The death toll includes at least eight suicide bombers, who staged attacks in and around Baghdad, targeting religious gatherings and Iraqi checkpoints. Many more explosions were heard in the capital throughout the day.

In one of the deadliest attacks, a suicide bomber blew up his car at an Iraqi army checkpoint in Latifiya, 20 miles south of the capital, killing nine Iraqi soldiers, he said.

The attacks came one day after at least 36 people, mostly Shiites, were killed in a string of attacks.

Saturday's bombings, during the religious festival of Ashoura, occurred despite stepped-up security around the country. Authorities had hoped to prevent a repeat of last year's attacks during Ashoura in which insurgent blasts killed at least 181 people in Karbala and Baghdad.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Who's funding the Republicans?

Fascinating stuff from The Left Coaster. I'd call this a must-read. Bush raised three times as much money in 2004 as he raised in 2000. But it turns out that 70% of the 2000 donors didn't contribute in 2004. So where did that $275 million come from?

This article takes a look and suggests that we take Deep Throat's advice and "follow the money."

Richard Perle gets some sole

Richard Perle (the "architect" of the Iraq war) debated Howard Dean in Portland yesterday. Apparently he wasn't ready for a crowd that demanded something more than snappy one-liners. One member of the audience-- a 52 year old man-- decided to protest. Yes, he went too far by throwing shoes at Perle, but it's about time we start hearing from people who are fed up with being lied to by this administration.

Strange Fruit II

This Guckert/Gannon story keeps getting more interesting. Americablog has been leading the charge, and other people continue to unearth bizarre info. The latest: Guckert knew about the invasion of Iraq before it was made public. Take a look.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

New Republic gives liberalism the kiss-off

I've been a reader of TNR for the last six years. I appreciated the fact that they would present conservative viewpoints in their pages-- and not from kooks, but smart people who genuinely believed in what they preached. But over the last six months or so, I've become increasingly unsettled by what appear to be nothing more than calls for liberals to give up our struggle-- just give in, it would be so easy... They've long since aligned themselves with the DLC, and printed a truly embarrassing endorsement of Joe Lieberman during last years primaries.

I find their insistence that Democrats are shooting themselves in their collective feet by fighting against this administration. First, they continue to contest that Dean is some sort of anarchic madman, which simply isn't the case. He's quite moderate, but the right wing (and naturally the mainstream media) have given the public a different portrait. Second, the party isn't on its last legs. Kerry came mighty close to winning-- remarkable given that he ran an honest (if uninspired) campaign against the most ruthless and amoral political machine of many of our lifetimes. Third, liberalism isn't an outmoded concept. If this administration teaches us anything, it's the fragility of the "Open Society." Liberalism isn't about flashy ideas or sound bytes-- it's an endless struggle against the temptations of totalitarianism. Consider the example of Austria's universities prior to the Second World War (I won't go into that here-- look it up). If there's one thing that history teaches us, it's that we are always a hair's breadth away from savagery in the name of righteousness.

There's no excuse for TNR to be publishing articles of this sort. It parrots the speech of reactionaries, which includes attacks on the left founded on ad hominem attacks and appeals to emotion that aren't backed by facts. The contributors to the magazine are just as aware as we are that this administration lied their way into a war, that they employ populist rhetoric to disguise merciless policies that benefit the wealthy at the expense of the many, and that they will employ any tactic, no matter how dishonest, to maintain their grip on power. The New Republic of late has been heading down the road of pre-war Austria. It's this sort of appeasement that results in disaster. There's no point to coddling dictators or terrorists, as they state. That's exactly why we have to fight harder than ever-- imitating the foe is a disgraceful act of cowardice.

Among the articles other sins, it repeats the line that "liberals want to see disaster in Iraq." I've never seen any supporting evidence, although I don't doubt that some extremists feel that way. Potshots are taken at the blogs, without any reference point-- they're just bad, man. In fact, the blogs represent a massive mobilization of angry progressives determined to fight for their country. Did the New Republic report on electoral fraud? Did the New Republic expose the White House's paid propagandists? If liberalism is on the ropes, it's the work of people like Martin Peretz, whose response to the most corrupt administration of the last century is to make like Neville Chamberlain, and start kissing the enemy's ass. He can espuse his positive attitude about Iraq's future all he likes, but it doesn't change the fact that we lied our way into it, earned the enmity of the globe, created a new generation of terrorists.... and continue to watch the GOP try to cut veterans' benefits.

I'm awfully close to cancelling my subscription, in spite of the respect that I've had for New Republic's work over the years.

Strange Fruit

The hilarity surrounding the "Jeff Gannon" story continues to spread. Like in the witty title of my post. The link should take you to a story that'll let you watch the Daily Show take on the story.

Just a friendly reminder: James Guckert is a gay prostitute from a reactionary propaganda site selected by the White House to ask the president softball questions under a fake name.

The Daily Show story is also a nice response to the attacks on the blogosphere by the mainstream media. Funny how the media keeps swiping stories from the bloggers, then attacking them as phonies...

There's more to Guckert, courtesy of Atrios. Required reading. Here's the link:

So... he was admitted to press conferences before he was even working for a phony news organization. Can't wait to find out who's responsible for letting him in the *ahem* backdoor.

And as NYT columnist Frank Rich points out, this makes SIX phony reporters nabbed under this administration (The actual number is seven-- accoring to MyDD, he forgot Frank Morris' ersatz "news report"):

By my count, "Jeff Gannon" is now at least the sixth "journalist" (four of whom have been unmasked so far this year) to have been a propagandist on the payroll of either the Bush administration or a barely arms-length ally like Talon News while simultaneously appearing in print or broadcast forums that purport to be real news. Of these six, two have been syndicated newspaper columnists paid by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the administration's "marriage" initiatives. The other four have played real newsmen on TV. Before Mr. Guckert and Armstrong Williams, the talking head paid $240,000 by the Department of Education, there were Karen Ryan and Alberto Garcia. Let us not forget these pioneers - the Woodward and Bernstein of fake news. They starred in bogus reports ("In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting," went the script) pretending to "sort through the details" of the administration's Medicare prescription-drug plan in 2004. Such "reports," some of which found their way into news packages distributed to local stations by CNN, appeared in more than 50 news broadcasts around the country and have now been deemed illegal "covert propaganda" by the Government Accountability Office.

Moving the Goalposts

I admit it. I watched the Iraqi election with dread. Not because I want to see us fail there. Just because it would become the latest political football for Bush's rentboys on the right. The issues of WMDs and Saddam's threat to the US were our reasons for going to war. And they were lies. But we all know that all the right has to do is switch the party line to "we went to war to establish a democracy," and the press will dutifully nod their heads and take it down.

This link from DailyKos (I even stole the title, pretty much) highlights their line of reasoni.... errrr, propaganda. And shows how the right will continue to frame the issue in terms of the left "hating freedom." You know, just like Al Qaeda. The right stirs up the Kool-Aid, and the press drinks it down.

He slipped in the shower. Honest.

Ah, yes. Looks like Gonzales and Rumsfeld lied, too. Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that Gonzales insisted at his confirmation hearings that the US wouldn't brook torture? Funny how the right blasted Clinton for his "depends what the definition of 'is' is" when questioned about his humjob-- yet have no problem with a government that regularly tells us it all depends on what the definition of 'torture' is... And don't these morons know that creating martyrs for your enemy isn't really the key to winning their trust?

SAN DIEGO (AP) An Iraqi whose corpse was photographed with grinning U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib died under CIA interrogation while suspended by his wrists, which had been handcuffed behind his back, according to investigative reports reviewed by The Associated Press.

The death of the prisoner, Manadel al-Jamadi, became known last year when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. The U.S. military said back then that it had been ruled a homicide. But the exact circumstances of the death were not disclosed at the time.

The prisoner died in a position known as "Palestinian hanging," the documents reviewed by the AP show. It is unclear whether that position -- which human rights groups condemn as torture -- was approved by the Bush administration for use in CIA interrogations.

Tom Ridge is a liar

These revelations are no surprise, of course, nor is the fact that nothing will be done about this latest entry in the Ethics Grand Prix. Their timing, as always, is impeccable.

WASHINGTON (AP) Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge met privately with Republican pollsters twice in a 10-day span last spring as he embarked on more than a dozen trips to presidential battleground states, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

Ridge's get-togethers with Republican strategists Frank Luntz and Bill McInturff during a period the secretary was saying his agency was playing no role in Bush's re-election campaign were revealed in daily appointment calendars obtained by the AP under the Freedom of Information Act.

"We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security," Ridge told reporters during the election season.

His aides resisted releasing the calendars for over a year, finally providing them to the AP three days after Ridge left office this month.

Donald Rumsfeld is cranky

Thanks to Salon for these handy notes in his spectacular appearance before a Congressional committee on Wednesday.

When Robert Byrd asked Rumsfeld why the White House has put certain long-term military budget items into an emergency budget request rather than in the president's new budget proposal, the Secretary of Defense said that the issue was "really beyond my pay grade." When Patrick Leahy pointed out that there aren't many folks who outrank the Secretary of Defense -- militarily speaking, there's exactly one -- Rumsfeld snapped back: "Senator, I thought Congress was Article I of the Constitution."

And it didn't stop there. The Post's Dana Milbank lays it out in rapid-fire style:

"Asked about the number of insurgents in Iraq, Rumsfeld replied: 'I am not going to give you a number.'

"Did he care to voice an opinion on efforts by U.S. pilots to seek damages from their imprisonment in Iraq? 'I don't.'

"Could he comment on what basing agreements he might seek in Iraq? 'I can't.'

"How about the widely publicized cuts to programs for veterans? 'I'm not familiar with the cuts you're referring to.'

"How long will the war last? 'There's never been a war that was predictable as to length, casualty or cost in the history of mankind.'"

Members of the House Armed Services Committee had more questions for the Secretary of Defense but didn't get to ask them. Midway through Wednesday's hearing, Rumsfeld announced abruptly that he needed to go to lunch.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Right reacts to Gannon/Guckert

So a gay-bashing phony journalist who also happens to be selling his body to gay men is given access to the president, and uses it to ask softball questions. Under a pseudonym.

If you're a rabid conservative, what do you do? Here's one example:

A) Deny that a propogandist given significant access to the Prez is a story.

B) Create "jeuvinile" posts on gay websites targeting progressive bloggers.

The page is an interesting read. Atrios, the mark, doesn't seem to care. He links to it on his own page. The author of the site, however, seems to think that a negative response by some on the left shows that they're crazy Jesus-haters. There's even a touch of martyrdom (a la Guckert himself) as the author decries one comment by a reader of Atrios's blog that mentions the possibility of a lawsuit. The victim mentality of reactionaries is beyond me-- how can you feel persecuted when you control the entire government?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Paul Krugman's latest column, "The Fighting Moderates" does a great job of spelling out the case for Dean. Over at MyDD, they refer to Krugman as echoing "much of the consensus on the lefty blogosphere." I think that Krugman's piece is spot-on. Except that he keeps referring to the doctor as "Mr. Dean." How did the editors miss that? Recommended reading.

Here's one of my favorite lines, which will continue to be a talking point of the right in spite of its falsity:

"It was always absurd to call Mr. Dean a left-winger. Just ask the real left-wingers. During his presidential campaign, an article in the muckraking newsletter CounterPunch denounced him as a "Clintonesque Republicrat," someone who, as governor, tried "to balance the budget, even though Vermont is a state in which a balanced budget is not required."

CounterPunch, by the way, is so far left that it's almost the far right-- they were on the Swift Boat bandwagon against Kerry from day one.

Bibartisanship, Salem Style

Judicial nominees blocked by Republicans under Clinton: 60. If you consider that
Judicial nominees blocked by Democrats under Bush: 22.

I'm sure you can already imagine how the admin works out that math:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, has threatened to change the Senate's rules to prevent any more procedural hurdles known as filibusters against judicial nominees.

If you consider that convroversial folks like Roberto "Torture Memo" Gonzales, Condoleeza "Historical Document" Rice, and John "Patriot Act" Ashcroft made it through the Dems with only nominal opposition, how moderate do you suppose the blocked nominees were?

Ballistic Pork Defense

While Bush is proudly claiming that his budget will slash ineffective government programs and reduce the deficit (both of which are lies), it also slates that close to $9 billion will be spent on missile defense this year alone. Why? Because of its successful track record....

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush's planned ballistic missile shield suffered another setback on Monday when an interceptor missile again failed to launch during a test of the U.S. missile defense system.

The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency said it could not complete the planned $85 million repeat of a failed December test after the interceptor missile failed to launch from its base in the Pacific Ocean.

The interceptor missile, built by Orbital Sciences Corp., had also failed to launch during a Dec. 15 test, which officials later blamed on a "very minor software glitch."

Monday, February 14, 2005

CNN bungles report of nukes in Iran/North Korea

This is pathetic. I'd expect it from the administration, but.... no, I take that back. It doesn't even surprise me coming from today's news media:

Two stories posted in the last week on the CNN website, one on nukes in Iran last Wednesday, and another on nukes in North Korea on Saturday, both use the same aerial photograph of the same purported nuclear power plant!

But one is supposed to be in Iran and the other is supposed to be in North Korea!

A story posted Saturday to CNN's website suggesting that North Korea is rallying behind their leader Kim Jong Il in his latest nuclear saber-rattling makes use of a satellite photo described in the caption as "An aerial photo of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear plant outside of Pyongyang".

The photo is the third in a "slide show" at this CNN page. Hit 'Next' two times in the "slide show" and the following photo with caption will appear:

[Visit Brad Blog for the photo]

Oddly enough, last Wednesday the CNN website ran a story on nuclear weapons in Iran with an image captioned "Satellite image of a suspected Iranian nuclear-related facility".

That CNN page is here. The photo from that story is below:

[Visit Brad Blog for the photo]

Look familiar? Look very closely at both pictures if it doesn't.

In truth, if this wasn't so sad (and actually somewhat frightening) the irony of the sub-title for CNN's Iran story -- "Former weapons inspector: 'It's déjà vu all over again'" -- might be somewhat amusing. In the piece, U.S. chief weapons inspector David Kay is quoted urging the U.S. "not to make the same mistakes with Iran that he said it made with Iraq".

FCC seeks to limit political speech online

Courtesy of MyDD, this report:

The Federal Election Commission "next month will begin looking at tightening restrictions on political activities in cyberspace, a controversial move that makes some FEC officials uneasy," Roll Call reports.

"Specifically, the FEC is planning to examine the question of how Internet activities, when coordinated with candidates' campaigns, fit into the definition of 'public communications.'"

I wish revelations like this still shocked me.

Iraqis imitate Americans. Americans not happy.

Now that the results from the Iraqi election are filtering in, it looks like the neocons were wrong and everyone else was right. Again. Their freedom might have been "on the march," but they marched to the same drummer as many red staters-- namely, the election of a fundamentalist government. Only Republicans won't be happy with these fundamentalists. 'Cuz they're.. you know, different.

We probably won't be hearing Bush take credit for "planting the flag of freedom" in the Middle East anymore. It looks more and more like he's cementing the populace behind radical Islam-- and against democracy. Congratulations, you horse's ass.

Friday, February 11, 2005

An e-mail forward that's true!?!?

Remarkable. The story is about a baby hippo swept out to sea by the tsunami that's been "adopted" by a giant tortoise. It's making the rounds as an e-mail forward, and for once, it isn't a hoax. Will wonders never cease?

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

See? I might have a tough-as-nails exterior, but I'm just a big softie.

GOP: Ga-ga Over Pornography

This is a must-read, folks. Jeff Gannon may be in porn, GOP funders Columbia House may be diversifying into porn, but Sinclair Broadcasting's bigwigs were apparently ahead of the curve (illegally bootlegging pornos at Dad's office, specifically). While Hooters isn't in pornography per se, they're also major Republican donors.

As for digraced columnist Armstrong Williams, he's confident that being a paid flak for the White House won't mean that Sinclair doesn't keep turning to him for "news":

The Federal Communications Commission is investigating the cash-for-coverage deal, and other media outlets have severed their ties to Williams. But not Sinclair. Smith leaves open the possibility of putting the commentator back on the air, dismissing the entire controversy as "foolish." Williams, for his part, is confident that Sinclair will have him back. "David Smith has stood beside me as a friend," he says. "I'm not too concerned about my relationship with Sinclair, if you know what I mean."

I'm still waiting for the day when a must-read piece of actual investigative journalism comes from a major news outlet...

More Poop on Gannon

It's interesting to note that most of the heavy-hitting blogs are steering clear of Gannon's connections to gay porn (vey genteel of them). But apparently there are plenty of other unsavory aspects of his life to report on.

Courtesy of Eschaton:
  • Gannon/Guckert (name is apparently confirmed by the Washington Post), 5721 Kennett Pike, Greenville DE 19807, had a tax judgment filed against him in October of 1996, available for viewing here. Don't know if this effects the story, but some bloggers have claimed that another Gannon/Guckert related website,, is not on file with the IRS or as a non-profit, so this may have some bearing.
  • Gannon/Guckert claimed to know nothing about GOPUSA, however he can be heard here working directly for GOPUSA, and I also found an article for Talon News co-authored by Gannon and Bobby Eberle, owner and CEO of GOPUSA (and Talon News, for that matter). The article, entitled "Whistleblower in Judicial Memo Scandal Resigns, Files Ethics Complaint," was written by the two men and posted on February 11, 2004, to the GOPUSA website, with a Talon News insignia beside the title/by-line.

ABC News: Your home for investigative journalism

More from Robert Park:

"In an hour long report last night, Primetime Live co-anchor John Quinones traveled to a remote area of Brazil to find out if "John of God" is really a miracle healer as his followers claim. Wake
up ABC! It's the 21st Century. In a position to help millions of viewers understand that they live in a rational universe, ABC has chosen instead to tell them that their sad superstitions are
open scientific questions. To give the program credibility they turned to "one of the world's most respected surgeons, Dr. Mehmet Oz." Oz is no doubt a fine surgeon, but he has touch therapists
in his operating room helping patients "connect to the healing energy everywhere."

Meanwhile, we have to get news about our new Secretary of State committing perjury from Australia. Thanks, ABC.

A brief look at the Iraq and Korea strategies

Physicist Robert Park has this to say about the wisdom of this administration:

"Let's see if we've got this right: based on unfounded rumors of nuclear weapons in Iraq, the U.S. committed itself to a war that has so far cost the lives of more than 2,000 American troops and
another 10,000 wounded. Perhaps 18,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, and more than 6,000 military. This carnage has cost us $153 billion, and there's no end in sight. Although he had no
weapons of mass destruction, we're told the Iraq war is justified because [Saddam] is a really bad guy. Kim Jong Il is no sweetheart either, and N. Korea is dancing in the end zone with its nukes. "

Naturally, we hear the latter "justification" these days-- Saddam was mean. The hardcore wingnuts claim that all the WMDs really did exist, and were just hidden in Syria. No matter that there's no evidence of that. Kim Jong Il has been putting an unknown number of citizens in gulags, where they try to fight off starvation as they toil on farms. The people who aren't imprisoned are starving anyway. And the admin has just decided to pass on talks with North Korea. Not that we expect any sense of logic or reason from the White House these days....

Scandal Seven (or so, but who's counting?)

Once again, it took another country's press to bring to light an issue that makes Bush look incompetent.

"EIGHT months before the September 11 attacks the White House's then counterterrorism adviser urged then national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to hold a high-level meeting on the al-Qaeda network, according to a memo made public today.

"We urgently need such a principals-level review on the al-Qaeda network," ... Richard Clarke wrote in the January 25, 2001 memo.

Mr Clarke, who left the White House in 2003, made headlines in the heat of the US presidential campaign ... when he accused the Bush White House of having ignored al-Qaeda's threats before September 11.

Mr Clarke testified before inquiry panels and in a book that Rice ... had been warned of the threat."

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Welfare of Me

Couldn't resist adding this link, mainly because it makes for such a funny title. Read it while it's hot. And by hot, I mean not coming up as a 404 error. Please take note of his eagerness to play martyr.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The scandal that may never be

I've missed a HUGE amount of news over the last two days, and I apologize to all five of you.

You'll want to check in with DailyKos over the next few days. They're pursuing a story that involves the leak of Valerie Plame's status as a covert CIA op by Robert Novak in his NYT column. The eerie part is that it also involves ersatz journalist Jeff Gannon (not his real name, as it turns out), recently outed as the G. Gordon Liddy look-alike who's been given White House press credentials in exchange for lobbing rhetorical softballs at political T-ball player Geroge W. Bush. Required reading.

I'm linking to a January 30 story here, but I thought I'd hold off until the news grew, as opposed to being discredited and vanishing...

More links for the hungry: (Today it was pretty much non-stop Gannon action)
(This mentions something tha's news to me-- his connections to gay porn sites(!?!))

To summarize: it looks like a fake newsman was given special access to Bush, when it was known that he would toe the party line. But as it turns out, he might have been the fake journalist of choice for strategic "leaks" to "confidential sources" that could, of course, be entirely trusted by the powers that be. And it's even worse than that, since a chosen emissary of the moral right is apparently what might have been called a "tabard hoister" a few centuries ago.

Exactly what does it take to bring these Keystone Kriminals down?

Harry Reid Channels Harry Truman

The blogs have been giving Senate Minority leader Harry Reid some semi-reluctant props over the last few weeks (I tipped my hat to his "birth tax" remark after the SOTU address). Many who've kept waiting for the Dems to start fighting back for a change have taken note of his jabs at the White House. I came across this tidbit at DailyKos, but I'll link to the CNN article. Reid is not only sounding pretty good, but he's looking pretty good:

Angered by Republican criticism, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday suggested President Bush's calls for unity are proving "absolutely false."

"We know when he came here, he said he wanted to be a uniter, not a divider," Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill, referring to comments Bush made in the 2000 presidential campaign.

"I'm beginning to think that those statements are just absolutely false."

Reid, a Nevada Democrat, made his comments in response to a document -- billed as a "research briefing" -- the Republican National Committee began distributing this week.

The document paints Reid as an "obstructionist" bent on blocking judicial nominees and raising taxes.

Republicans used a similar campaign against Reid's predecessor, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who was voted out of office last November. Recommended reading-- especially for being a rare instance of press honesty.

Now, this is a fine example of how the press should operate. That last sentence is a statement of fact, and it clearly states that the GOP is 100% committed "Gingrichpolitik"-- taking down your opponent using any means, true or false.

And Reid is giving 'em both barrels. I love it. It was the picture of Reid in the article that put Truman in my mind. And hey, maybe he even looks a little..... presidential. That isn't a statement of my stance on Reid. Just something that crossed my mind.

In other news, it's looking like Dean is the man for the chairmanship of the DNC. Personally, I think that the fears of right-leaning Dems are unfounded-- and that it's time for the public at large to have a say in policy-making. Mr. Nice Donkey will continue to lose for the next four years (think Gingrichpolitik).

John Kerry is still putting some serious effort into keeping the public mobilized in his favor. He's released several e-mail missives lately casting himself as a committed populist and fighter. After the campaign, I'm thinking that he has a long way to go in demonstrating that he's worthy of a second nomination. He's doing his best to stay in the good graces of the much-hyped "grassroots" Democrats, but without some making some serious waves in the Senate, he'll face an uphill battle for the nomination he obviously covets.

And for those six or seven of you who actually follow the blog, sorry I've been lax lately. But mid-weeks are going to be busy for the next few months. I'm already behind, and I'll try to catch up over the next day or two. Stay tuned, true believers.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Bush talks to Potemkin Villagers

While reading the following, please keep in mind that all of it comes from the official website of the White House. Bush appeared in Tampa plugging his privatization plan in front of a crowd of pre-screened zealots, and had a thing or two to say about how (here come the ironic quotation marks) his plan for "personal accounts" (formerly "privatization") would "solve" the "problems" (formerly "crisis") facing Social Security.

To start things off, how about a warm-up? This is what your typical scripted bit of propaganda looks like in print: If you're on script so far, we've got some chummy first name-basis camaraderie here. Then they toss in the whole love-of-the-swarthy ploy (aka Routine 16)-- kiss some minority butt so that you'll be able to screw them later... Then some daring multi-cultural chumminess-- strictly for the professionals, folks. Like Bush calls this guy up to play cards on weekends. "How's the family?" What a bastard.

So thanks for coming, Dwight.

MR. DILLARD: Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: You did a heck of a job. (Applause.)

Carlos -- Carlos Huertas. Bienvenidos.

MR. HUERTAS: Gracias.

THE PRESIDENT: Why were you interested in joining us? First of all, let's talk about your family.

Anyway, let's move on to the relevant piece. You know, where Bush lays out some specifics on his plan...

Q -- really understand how is it the new plan is going to fix that problem?

THE PRESIDENT: Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised.

Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

Okay, better? I'll keep working on it. (Laughter.)

Yes, sir.

Q How do you like these hard questions?

THE PRESIDENT: You know. You watch my press conferences? (Laughter.) Please don't encourage him. (Laughter.)

Errr, wha..? Uhmmm.... He's obviously got the faux-chummy patter down flat (or maybe that's just the scripted laughs), but when it comes to... All right, when asked a scripted question about the policy that he has made the centerpiece of his next administration, he can't give an answer that makes any sense at all. Scripted. Pre-planned. And this is what the public gets.

I'm guessing the key phrase is "solve the red." Maybe it's code that equates Social Security with communism. You know, because helping the elderly stay above the poverty line is something only Stalin would dream up.

The Pictorial Guide to the American Presidency

America has a long and proud history of electing truly great men to the office of President of the United States. Wait, scratch that. There are some pretty good ones-- even in the 20th century (I'm talking to you, FDR), but things have been looking a little off this century.

But we can't all be presidential historians with nice smiles like Peter Beschloss. So here's a handy pocket guide that will allow you to track the history of the presidency, from the nation in its infancy to the beloved, solvent, rational nation we have become. All credit for this goes to the funnymen at

Term of Office 1789-1797 2000-200?
Religious Beliefs Deist. Felt that God created the universe and then abandoned it. Consults with Jesus when making important presidential decisions.
Political Party None. Community Bible Study
Business Ventures Made a decent living growing and selling tobacco. Squandered millions on failed oil companies.
Slave ownership Owned several slave families but felt that slavery was inherently wrong and should be abolished over a gradual period of time. Owns several slaves and makes them play Mouse Trap with him.
Greatest Political Achievement Voluntarily relinquished power even though some people wanted him to retain that power for life. Declared June 10th as "Jesus Day" in Texas.
Achievements as President Signed the Judiciary Act of 1789. Set a precedent that Presidents could only serve two terms in office. Successfully made number 2 in the toilet. Choked on a peanut.
Military Rank On October 11th, 1976 Washington was posthumously appointed the grade of General of the Armies of the United States. No other officer of the United States Military outranks him. Served in the Air National Guard decided not to show up after a while.
International Policy Felt that the United States should focus solely on American interests and not get involved in foreign wars. Believes in the lofty goal of instilling democracy into the middle east but fucking it all up in the process.

The privatization debate should now be over

The veep has now acknowledged (on Fox News, the only place where he could let his guard down) the cost of the administration's plan-- in the trillions. Nevertheless, I'm guessing this won't be a major news story:

"We're going to borrow $758 [b]illion over the next 10 years to set up the personal retirement accounts. We think that's a manageable amount ... Trillions more after that," Cheney said, acknowledging that the personal accounts will help younger workers but will not solve all the problems of solvency.

Yessir, some smart cookie at somethingawful (a non-partisan site for funny things) has a way with Photoshop.

Oh, and for those of you keeping score at home, that amounts to almost three trillion dollars. If you need help visualising that sum, this handy visual aid might serve:


Become one with the zeroes.

Desperately Seeking Frames

It's odd that the GOP wears the "we support the troops" crown, since they've spent the last few years trying to cut benefits, salary and health care for veterans. Including those returning from Iraq. From the NYT:

President Bush's budget would more than double the co-payment charged to many veterans for prescription drugs and would require some to pay a new fee of $250 a year for the privilege of using government health care, administration officials said Sunday.

The proposals, they said, are in the $2.5 trillion budget that Mr. Bush plans to unveil on Monday. White House officials said the budget advanced his goal of cutting the deficit, which hit a record last year.

"We are being tight," Vice President Dick Cheney said on "Fox News Sunday." "This is the tightest budget that has been submitted since we got here."

The Culture Wars Heat Up

Another great post from Salon's War Room. Has it never occurred to the right that while they're trumpeting the importance of moral values on TV and using Fox News as their bully pulpit-- Fox is also the station responsible for tripe like "Who's Your Daddy"?

This afternoon on Fox News, Neil Cavuto spent a good chunk of time interviewing Focus on the Family's James Dobson. They talked about Dobson's efforts to fight abortion, they talked about the great SpongeBob controversy -- when you hear the words "tolerance and diversity," Dobson said, you've got to ask "what's behind it?" -- and then they talked about the awful influence that TV is having on our kids. Dobson said that popular culture is "at war" with moms and dads all over the country. Cavuto clucked clucked right along with him, saying he was worried about what his kids see on TV and didn't know what he could do about.

Minutes later, Cavuto was on to another story: A fawning live interview with two large-breasted women, dressed only in their underwear, who will be appearing in Sunday's pay-per-view "Lingerie Bowl."

Sunday, February 06, 2005

How the Free Market Can Fail

More tapes from Enron have surfaced, this time proving that "the Enron Corporation arranged to take a plant off-line on the same day that California was hit by rolling blackouts."

Awww, that's our "Kenny Boy" Lay. What a scamp.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

No.... really?

Never mind the Deion Sanders Hot Dog Express-- here's the talking Ann Coulter doll! Seriously. They even have a "Turkey Dinner George W. Bush Action Figure." Be sure to buy two of each-- one to play with, and one to keep in the package for resale on eBay. You know, when the collectibles market recognizes their value.

I've made cracks about the dearth of humor in Republican circles. It's not that they don't have a sense of humor. It just stopped developing around the collective age of nine. Is "freedom fries" a total burn that I just don't appreciate? Or am I the weird one for not finding the idea of "W Ketchup" hilarious? And did you know that the word ketchup (I prefer 'catsup' for reasons that I won't get into here) comes from Chinese? It's true, friends and neighbors. Is W in bed with red China?

Now, since I'm talking about professsional goofball Ann Coulter, let me share this exchange from an appearance of hers on Canadian television (I'll give you the punchline in advance: Canada didn't send troops to Vietnam):

Coulter: "Canada used to be one of our most loyal friends and vice-versa. I mean Canada sent troops to Vietnam - was Vietnam less containable and more of a threat than Saddam Hussein?"

McKeown interrupts: "Canada didn't send troops to Vietnam."

Coulter: "I don't think that's right."

McKeown: "Canada did not send troops to Vietnam."

Coulter: "Indochina?"

McKeown: "Uh, no. Canada ...second World War of course. Korea. Yes. Vietnam No."

Coulter: "I think you're wrong."

McKeown: "No, took a pass on Vietnam."

Coulter: "I think you're wrong."

McKeown: "No, Australia was there, not Canada."

Coulter: "I think Canada sent troops."

McKeown: "No."

Coulter: "Well. I'll get back to you on that."

Courting the Red State Vote, Take Two

The conventional wisdom is that Dems need to start getting in the good graces of gun owners. I say, let the RNC mock Dean for his scream-- we have talking points of our own. Why didn't we hear about this a year ago, when it was news?

Exhibit A:

Smith & Wesson chief quits over crime

Chairman of the nation's No. 2 gun maker resigns over past armed robbery; company names new chief.

[James Joseph] Minder, 74, had spent time in prison in the 1950s and 1960s for a string of armed robberies and an attempted prison escape, according to the Republic. During that time, the Detroit News said he was known for carrying a 16-gauge, sawed-off shotgun.

Minder was sentenced to 3-1/2 to 10 years in state prison for robbing a store while attending University of Michigan as a journalism student, he told the Republic.

Courting the Red State Vote

A lot of virtual ink has been spilled over how the Democratic party can court the votes of socially conservative red state citizens. This link answers the question: don't bother.

Really, you need to see this. No, really.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Hubble death watch

Another update from physicist Robert Park's newsletter. Things aren't looking good for Hubble, which is tragic. It looks like a wonder of science is going to fall prey to the Congressional budgetary axe. At least students will be learning the scientific wonders of creationism. This really is a disgrace, even if it doesn't prompt the same level of outrage as other follies of the new Republican regime. Read it and weep:

In his opening statement at a hearing on Hubble options, Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Chair of the House Science Committee, observed: "One can't help but root for it"; surely he can do more than that. It's widely expected that on Monday the President's asking budget will only include funds to dump Hubble in the Ocean. What madness compels this act? Hubble, Joe Taylor testified, "is still in the prime of its scientific life." Steven Beckwith, director of the Space Telescope Institute, said it's the nation's "most productive science facility." It was designed to be serviced by the shuttle. The James Webb Space Telescope won't go on line before 2011. Even more powerful, we will no doubt come to view JWST with the kind of affection we now feel for Hubble. But long before that happens Hubble is posed to explore dark energy and extrasolar planetary systems. The official explanation for cutting the service mission to Hubble is that, at more than $1B, it's too expensive. Whoa! Lou Lanzerotti testified that it would cost no more than a flight to the ISS, and the nation is committed to 25-30 shuttle flights to the ISS. Would someone tell us what the ISS is doing? And how is NASA paying for 25-30 flights at $1-2B each? Is Ken Lay doing NASA's books?
To sum up:

$25 billion for pointless trips to the International Space Junkheap? You bet!
$ 1 billion to maintain the nation's "most productive science facility"? Nonsense!

Super Bowl 2005: An All-Star Salute to the Burka

The word is out that several commercials are being denied airtime during the big game.

The first is a Ford ad featuring a priest "tempted" by a new truck.
USA Today has more

The second is an ad for Budweiser that makes sport of Janet Jackson's mishap last year.
"Wardrobe malfunction"

They seem pretty harmless to me, although I'm no connoisseur of beer or truck ads. Undoubtedly the liberal elitist in me. Now, could somebody pass me the canapes?

(Thanks to for the second link.)

Another visit to the Potemkin Village

I've been on this issue like cellulite on a mother-in-law. All through the campaign, W's handlers denied entrance to anyone who looked like they might not be there to laud the prez's accomplishments. Well, he's kept it up to this day.

When Bush visited Fargo to plug his privatization plan, 42 people (including a city official) were listed as persona non grata, ostensibly banned from the proceedings.

Quote: "Among the 42 area people on the do-not-admit list: two high school students, a librarian, a Democratic campaign manager and several university professors. "

If you're interested in the reactionary take on Bush's wholesome committment to democracy, see this article about a 4 year-old who still takes pride in the photo of herself at nine months of age being hugged by W. (

Her father is quoted as saying: "It proved that he was just a real guy. He's down to earth. Here's the most powerful man in the world holding your daughter. . ."

Yessir, a down to earth guy. As long as you don't say anything... 'inappropriate,' comrade.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Whither Republican Unity?

Sure, it's too soon to be making optimistic proclamations about this issue, but from Noam Scheiber's blog at The New Republic comes this statement from the Times:

One veteran lobbyist, who did not want to be identified because he did not want to antagonize Republicans, said: "What held the Republicans together in the Senate last time was the desire to see Bush through to re-election and a sense that their fates were tied to his. That's no longer true."

In fact, there is widespread anxiety in Republican circles these days, and no real consensus on how to achieve the president's domestic goals or even, perhaps, whether doing so is worth the price. The Republican caucus ranges from the moderate "blue state" senators--Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania--to the firebrand freshmen who are eager to lead the charge for the conservative social agenda and against government spending.

I mentioned a few posts ago that no Republican I know gloated about W's re-election. I wondered if it might be a matter of buyer's remorse. If we're lucky, that's exactly the case. And hopefully the backlash by actual conservatives against fascistic ideologues that I was hoping for before the election will come to pass. I'd love to see a return of the days when both parties were fighting for what they thought was the best way to help the nation, instead of one party trying to rape the nation and the other trying to help-- but without suggesting that they were out to make waves or anything troublesome like that. You know, if that's okay....

Cry Baby Cry

Word is that the right-wing blogs are going ballistic over the fact that those shameless Democrats had the nerve-- the NERVE!-- to actually boo the president last night.

They're morons.

1999: Republicans Booed Clinton's Entrance
Many Republican lawmakers gave him a cool, though not impolite, reception. There were a smattering of boos when Clinton first entered the House chamber, but they were quickly drowned out by applause. Some Republicans barely applauded, or refused at all to clap. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) and U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) were conspicuously silent.
[Boston Herald, 1/20/99]

1998: Republicans Booed Clinton's Medicare Proposal
Clinton's health-care initiatives, chiefly in the form of a medical bill of rights, found support on both sides, especially his attack on managed-care health-care plans. ... Clinton's proposal to expand Medicare to allow Americans as young as 55 to buy into the system drew shouts of "no" and some boos from Republicans during his speech. [Chicago Tribune, 1/28/98]

1997: Republican's Booed Clinton's Opposition to the Balanced Budget Amendment
The Republican response was far warmer than perhaps any of Clinton's previous four State of the Union speeches. Time after time, Republicans jumped to their feet to join Democrats in applauding the president. Only once did they unmistakably and collectively show their disapproval--when Clinton spoke disparagingly of a GOP-sponsored constitutional amendment to balance the budget. Many Republicans hissed and some booed. [LA Times, 2/5/97]

1995: Republicans Booed Clinton and Walked Out During Speech
The upheaval wrought by the Republican election landslide was visible throughout the president's State of the Union address - from the moment Speaker Newt Gingrich took the gavel to the striking silence that often greeted Clinton from the GOP. At one point, Republicans even booed. About 20 of them left as Clinton went on and on for an hour and 20 minutes. [AP,

Thanks to for these citations.

Angels With Purple Fingers

Beautiful. This is why we need the blogs. The press was gushing about the beautiful "spontaneous" moment featuring the ink-stained fingers of an Iraqi woman who was so thrilled with her ability to vote. But who was this long-suffering woman?

She left Iraq in 1968.

She's done work for the non-profit, non-partisan group Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Their non-partisan Board of Directors is Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Jack Kemp, and Steve Forbes. Their non-partisan advisors include Newt Gingrich, Bill Kristol, Gary Bauer, and Richard Perle.

Her father, "killed by Saddam's Intelligence Forces," (according to the prez) hadn't lived in Iraq for perhaps thrity years.

In short, the woman in the balcony was a carefully-groomed shill who's been in cahoots with the most reactionary of the neocons for years. Long-suffering, indeed. Read the entire story at DailyKos.

Dean vs. Fowler for the DNC

I didn't know much about Don Fowler until this week, when he's gone on my two favorite Air America shows to state his case. And I really didn't like what I heard. He talked a good game about the changes the Democratic party have to make, but it came down to the same old story: we need to move to the right so that we can win rural voters. He took a few swipes at "latte-drinking" elitists, etc. Yawn. He also came across as a studied politician-- quickly changing course when someone called him on an issue. The Morning Sedition hosts actually called him "condescending" the day after his appearance. Ouch.

This has gotten the party out of control in all three branches of government. And we came damn close to winning the presidential election-- and everyone knows that incumbernts are always favored. But we came close in spite of Kerry's unwillingness to be a fighter. And got smashed in other federal races. We're not losing because the public demands that we imitate Republicans. We're losing because the Dems are allowing the administration, the press, and right-wing pundits to walk all over them without even trying to stand up for themselves. But look at how much attention Barbara Boxer has gotten in the last few weeks. It doesn't matter that she's being demonized by the right, because that's what they do to anyone they want to take down-- whether it's based in reality or not.

I still think Dean is the fighting man the Democrats need. At worst, the party won't be any worse off than we were under McAuliffe. And at best, it could revitalize the party by shaking out the craven pussycats who've been calling the shots. And win some elections. Give him a chance, I say. We have nowhere to go but up, and no way to move without making changes.

The state of the union is..... delusional.

Some thoughts on last night's speech. The prez surprised me by sticking to his 'end of tyranny' line. This after members of the admin quickly backtracked after criticism of this line during the inaugural. They must be looking at some seriously fluctuating numbers in their focus groups. He stood for the constitutional marriage amendment again, after backing away from it in the last couple of months.

It was great to hear the Democrats actually boo the prez on his Social Security fakery. On the other hand, it was frustrating to hear all the "enforced applause" they had to give lines that contained words like freedom and liberty. Wouldn't want to be accused of being anti-freedom, would they? I would have preferred to see Dems sit stone-faced through the entire spiel, applauding nothing. But the press would be all over them. A lose-lose situation. Other fakery received no notice-- his mention of adding 2.3 million jobs last year, when that isn't enough to cover the number of people newly looking for work. A net job loss. And how about the assertion that home ownership is at an all-time high? As it happens, home ownership has hit a record high every year since they've started counting-- more than forty years. With the skill these guys have of packaging failure as success, I should call them in to retool my resume. Another big switcheroo was his line on Pell grants. The amount has stayed at $4,000 during his presidency, in spite of rising tuition costs. His proposed "increase"? $100. Or the cost of one textbook and a notepad. Meanwhile, the admin has fiddled with the qualifications for receiving a Pell grant-- and about 90,000 families will no longer be eligible. In other words, he's cutting Pell grants.

And speaking of frustration, the carefully stage-managed encounter between the soldier's parents and the Iraqi woman was met with an utter lack of skepticism by the press. Cokie Roberts apparently referred to it as "totally spontaneous." That isn't a phrase that describes anything this admin has done. Has everyone forgotten about the choreographed questions that were the centerpiece of W's campaign appearances? This is the most calculating administration ever. But again, any openly critical Dems would be keelhauled by the media. Another tasteless bit of hackery? The purple finger maneuver. This was predicted by many Dems yesterday, and sure enough...

On to Pelosi and Reid's response. It was dull as dirt, they were stiff and uninspiring. But those of us concerned with substance are in the minority-- it's all about looking "folksy" and sounding positive and chummy. I see ridicule at the hands of the media in their near future. Sigh. One bright spot was Reid's reference to the debt being incurred by the admin-- and the trillions of dollars necessary to privatize Social Security-- as a "birth tax" on all future Americans. Now that's the way to frame the debate.

Yes, W's speech was a crock. It was all sloganeering and jingoism, without a bit of substance. The whole thing sounded like a series of one-liners, with planned pauses for applause. Needless to say, the press will use words like bold, daring, and other barbecue sauce adjectives to describe it. But that's why we're tuning out, right?