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11/30/2003

Does it Get Any More Transparent Than This? 


Sometimes you read a news story, and you just know it's a load of crap. Like this one. Why would the White House make up a story like this? Well, they're selling buttons with a really lame slogan - maybe they think this could be Dubya's "Ask not what your country can do for you..." moment. Stupid tourists.

This story set off Atrios's bullshit detector, too.

UPDATE: This story was, indeed, bullshit. You know it's gotten pretty bad when they're making up Tom Clancy suspense devices for use in real life. Lying liars.

11/21/2003

Bush off the CA, WV and IL ballots? 


Wouldn't it be great if - because of the cynical decision by Rove & Co. to hold the Republican Convention extremely late in the game in order to take advantage of temporal proximity to 9/11 (in NYC, no less) - George W. Bush was unable to get his name on the ballot in several states, and instead had to run as a write-in candidate?

Well here you go. Dreams can come true.

Quote of the Day. 


"...an Attorney General who thinks that calico cats are a sign of the devil doesn’t inspire me with greater confidence than I have in my own judgment.”

From "Blacklist" by Sara Paretsky. Story at The Center for American Progress.

CA Will Require Voting Machine Receipts. 


Not soon enough for 2004, but still a good start.

Fire and Ice. 


Gen. Tommy Franks says that if the United States is hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government.
(story here)

God Save The Queen. 


Donnie Radcliffe, Washington Post
Column: WASHINGTON WAYS
May 21, 1991


The Queen of England got two George Bushes for the price of one when she arrived at the White House last Tuesday. What she didn't know was that the president's eldest son, George Walker Bush, so unpredictable that the family never knows what he'll say in polite society, was under strict orders from his parents not to address the queen. Somehow, though, he and the queen got to talking anyway. About boots, the new pair he was wearing, made especially for the occasion. Usually he has them printed with something like "Texas Rangers." Was that on these boots, the queen wanted to know.

"No, ma'am," George replied. "God Save the Queen."

The queen thought that so jolly good that she further fueled their exchange with another question. Was he the black sheep in the family? she inquired.

"I guess so," he admitted.

"All families have them," observed the queen.

"Who's yours?" asked George.

"Don't answer that!" cut in Barbara Bush, appearing from out of nowhere.

And in her queenly manner as she walked away, Elizabeth II did not.

(Thanks to Holden Caulfield for first pointing this out in comments over at Atrios.)

11/19/2003

"...most critical problem is intelligence..." 


Things aren't looking so good these days in Iraq. Key passages from a report based on briefings by Paul Bremer, David Kay, and unnamed military commanders and intelligence officers:

An unprecedented and bleak assessment of the deteriorating military situation in Iraq was circulating among policymakers in Washington.... It says attacks on Americans by Sunni Iraqis will continue "until the day the U.S. leaves...."

...

US military officials said the leadership of the resistance is coming from former generals and colonels from the old Iraqi army, now disbanded, who see no future for themselves. This means that US successes in picking up the remaining 15 senior Baath party officials and military leaders pictured on the 55 playing cards will have no effect on the strength of the resistance.

...

Mr Bremer told the CSIS that "the most critical problem is intelligence" on local guerrillas and possible foreign supporters. He said: "We do not have a reliable picture of who is organising attacks, and the size and structure of various elements."

...

The report concludes that there is an overall problem with the US administration's advocacy of "democracy" in the Middle East. "It is largely advocating undefined slogans, not practical and balanced specifics.'' It was often seen as showing contempt for Arab societies, or as a prelude to new US efforts at regime change.
Scary, damning stuff.

Watch Wes Clark Kick Faux News' Collective Ass. 


Score one for the General. It's good to see Clark stand up to these bullies.

Schrodinger's War. 


From the comments attached to a post on Calpundit:

...in the American system, our fighting men and women double as political hostages. Anyone who questions their deployment must just want them to die or, alternately, think that their sacrifice is worthless.

I think this is related to the right's notion that counting the bodies coming back from Iraq retroactively kills them, but I'll leave that question for an anthropologist.

Bobby Kennedy Jr. - "I believe that George W. Bush is stealing my country." 


In this must-read interview with Salon, Kennedy outlines what I think is a winning strategy for progressives on environmentalism in the upcoming election season. Kennedy casts environmentalism as free-market economics, which seeks to force large businesses that pollute to internalize their costs (namely, the cost of cleaning up the mess they make when making their products) in the same way that they internalize their profits. The argument is that when someone cheats the free market by using political clout to "escape the discipline of the free market and force the public to pay the costs of its production," the entire marketplace is distorted.

Kennedy also casts the Bush administration's policy toward polluters as "capitalism for the poor and socialism for the rich," and makes a succinct argument that what we have in Washington today (in the Bush administration) is a fascist regime. Here is a choice segment from the interview (emphasis added):

Under Bush we're seeing the complete corporate domination of the various departments of government. The Agriculture Department, which was created to benefit small farmers, is now a wholly owned subsidiary of big agribusiness and the principal instrument of their destruction. The Forest Service is being run by a timber industry lobbyist, Public Lands by a mining industry lobbyist. Virtually all Bush's Cabinet secretaries, department deputies and agency heads come from the very industries that those agencies are supposed to be regulating.

The same thing happened in Germany, Italy and Spain during the fascist takeover in the 1920s and '30s -- you had industrialists flooding the ministries and running the ministries, and running them in many ways for their own profit. If you read the American Heritage Dictionary definition of fascism, it says "the domination of a government by corporations of the political right, combined with bellicose nationalism." Well, we're seeing that today.
Let's just hope the Dem candidates are listening. This is a great way to frame the environmental issue for progressives.

11/18/2003

Rush: Still a Big Fat Liar! 


THE LIE:

"I avoided the subject of drugs on this program."

- Rush Limbaugh, 11/17/03

THE TRUTH:

"Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. If people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up [to jail]."

- Rush Limbaugh, 10/5/95

(From The Center For American Progress.)


Latest Gallup Poll Numbers (National) 


Clark is tied with Dean for the lead, and is trending upward, while Dean's numbers are steady.

(Via Daily Kos.)

11/14/2003

Racism: Alive and Well. 


Not that I ever really believed it was dead, but I haven't seen anything like this in a long time. Below is the horrifying text of an email to ArchPundit from white supremacist Earl P. Holt III, former member of the St. Louis School Board and current talk-show host at WGNU in St. Louis.

Warning: the text of this email from Mr. Holt is extremely vicious, and is definitely not for the faint of heart. Luckily for us, though, this guy included his home address and phone number in his email! Somebody (I don't remember who) said 'ol Earl was feeling mighty lonely now that his ideas for segregated drinking fountains have fallen out of favor. If you're a friend of his - and only if you're a friend of his, I want to emphasize, in the strongest possible way - you should give him a call to try to cheer him up. I called him to wish him a happy late Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but you may want to call to chat about Condoleeza Rice, discuss Rush Limbaugh's comments about Michael Vick, debate the merits of Eminem, or even just to ask him for his mother's famous recipe for misanthropy. (I hear it's really delicious!)

Hey Commie:

Being the shallow, nigger-loving dilettante that you are, you probably DO consider niggers to be your equal (who am I to question this?): Yet, unlike you and your allies, I have an I.Q. in excess of 130, which grants me the ability to objectively evaluate the Great American Nigro (Africanus Criminalis.)

The nigro is 11.5 % of the U.S. population, yet he commits in excess of 55% of all felonies (although felonies are UNDER-represented in the nigro community, where observing the law is considered "acting White!") Moreover, he (or should I say she?)accounts for 48% of all ADC recipients in the U.S. We have spent over $7 TRILLION on "Urban Welfare Spending" since the mid-1960s, (black economists Thomas Sowell & Walter Williams) and the nigro is still as criminal, surly, lazy , violent and stupid as he/she ever was, while his illegitimacy rate is 80% nationwide, and over 90% in the "large urban areas."

By the way, those of us who tried to end forced busing in St. Louis did so because it is a colossal waste and nothing more than a symbolic gesture that has seriously deprived every school district in Missouri that doesn't benefit from a deseg program : It has cost the state of Missouri $3.5 BILLION since 1983, (another $3.5 Billion in Kansas City,) yet, the nigro "scholars" bussed to county schools under deseg "improve less academically than every other category of student in the St. Louis Public Schools," according to the Federal Court- ordered Lissitz Study.

Also, you lying asshole, in the 2003-2004 school year, St. Louis spent $11,711 per nigger-idiot in the public schools, yet, half of all students test at the 20th percentile (or lower) on nationally-standardized tests. (If I were Emperor, I would forcibly hand over you and all your commie apologists for nigro under-achievement to White, working-class parents of public school students, and let them have their way with you...)

Some day, You sanctimonious nigger-lovers will either have to live amongst them ("nothing cures an enthusiasm for integration like a good dose of niggers") or else defend yourselves against them. My guess is that you are such a cowardly and pusillanimous lot of girly-boys, they will kill fuck, kill and eat you just as they do young White males in every prison system in the U.S. That's right: When defending this savage and brutish lot, you must also consider their natural ( or should I say UN-natural) enthusiasm for buggery!

I honestly pray to God that some nigger fucks, kills and eats you and everyone you claim to love!

Earl P. Holt III
4029 Shaw Blvd.
St. Louis, MO
63110-3621

314-772-0745 (home)

P.S. I dare you to print this e-mail verbatim: You know as well as I do that most people know I speak the truth, and you are a liar and whore who takes to heart Lenin's dictum that "The first duty of the propagandist is to subvert the meaning of words."
END EXTREMELY STUPID RACIST TRANSMISSION

That really defies description, doesn't it?

Earl also serves on the national board of advisors of the Council of Conservative Citizens.

You can contact his colleagues at WGNU (perhaps to share some of his more enlightened comments) at these email addresses:

comments@wgnu.net
gm@wgnu.net
hosts@wgnu.net
BAUM@bbs.galilei.com
BBPROF@aol.com
LizzBrown@wgnu.net
StanfordCarp@aol.com
civil@anet-stl.com
debradonze@yahoo.com
stevefranklin@juno.com
cgeer@wgnu.net
TallmanUniversity@yahoo.com
DrStandley@aol.com
lastearlofshaw@sbcglobal.net
jgender@aol.com
klvinsr@megsinet.net
lloyd_sloan@yahoo.com
mlp@fclass.net
hussonwgnu@msn.com
nick@drivetimelive.com
susan@drivetimelive.com
zev1@swbell.net

Share the love! And if anybody knows Ice Cube or the guys from Brand Nubian, could you forward them Earl's little missive? I'm sure they'd be thrilled to hear from Mr. Holt!

The Neocon Manifesto 


Here is a succinct summary of the principles and precepts of neoconservatism by Irving Kristol (the godfather of neocons).

Know thine enemy.

11/13/2003

Do The Math Yourself 


Here's a GOP senator's take on the Democrats' refusal to allow a vote on four of Bush's judicial nominations:

"There has been a concerted effort by the Democratic leadership to block judicial nominees in an unprecedented way, and that's why we're all here tonight," South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said from the floor of the Senate. "Not only is it unprecedented, it's very dangerous".
And here's President Bush, from the same story:

...President Bush called for a stop to the "ugly politics."

"It's wrong and it's shameful, and it's hurting the system," he told reporters.
However, thus far, 98% (168) of Bush's nominations have been confirmed, while just 4 have been held up.

So, for a little bit of context, LET'S DO THE TIMEWARP AGAIN...

In late September 1997, President Clinton accused Republicans of blocking the appointment of dozens of federal judges for political purposes. At the time, 100 federal judgeships were vacant. The President had sent 70 nominations to the Senate that year, but lawmakers had acted on only 18. The year before, the Senate confirmed just 17 judges, which Clinton said was "the lowest election-year total in over 40 years."

In fact, Republicans used Senate rules to torpedo 63 of President Clinton's judicial nominations.

So why the hue and cry over 4 nominees? The Republicans want 100% agreement with Bush's nominations, though they didn't give Clinton anything close to that sort of bipartisan support. And what's "unprecendented" about the way in which the Democrats are blocking a small percentage of Bush's nominations? As we've just seen, the Republicans did the exact same thing - only worse - to Clinton and his nominations.

Prediction - when the Democratic nominee becomes president, and starts nominating judges to fill vacancies, the Republicans will magically forget their "where's the justice?/unprecedented/it's hurting the system" arguments for immediate up-or-down votes for nominees, and they'll filibuster a large percentage of the president's nominees. Dishonest bastards.

11/12/2003

Recommended Reading: "Turn On, Tune In" by Thomas de Zengotita 


In the November 2003 issue of Harper's Magazine, Thomas de Zengotita outlines a liberal talk radio/TV show to rival the right's multiple offerings in that arena (Rush, Mike Savage, Sean Hannity, Joe Scarborough, etc.) in an article titled "Turn On, Tune In: Toward a Progressive Talk Show."

It's worth a read for anyone who is serious about the future of progressive politics in this country. Get ahold of a copy of this issue of Harper's at the library or through a friend who subscribes. (C'mon, you've got a friend who subscribes. You know you do.)

I'm working on a short critical summary of the article, which should be available on this site in a few days.

A History of the Iraq War, Told Entirely In Lies 


This collection of the Bush administration's greatest hits is not available in stores, so click on the link to get yours today! Available only at Harper's.

Trent Lott's Language Betrays His Big Fat Racist Feelings... Again! 


Here was Lott earlier today, on the Democrats' opposition to three of President Bush's most extreme court nominees (at 1:55 on the audio feed; emphasis added):

"...there is a very unfair process being utilized here to block very qualified men, women, and minorities...."

Parse that yourselves.

It just goes to show what a good time it was to remove Lott from his leadership position.


UPDATE: Atrios and Anderson both noticed this little gem, too.


UPDATE #2: Okay. This particular formulation ("Men, women, and minorities") is apparently a pattern for Lott (emphasis added).

November 11, 2002, from the St. Petersburg Times:

The GOP wouldn't waste any time in 2003, Lott said. "I'll tell you one other thing we would do immediately, we would confirm a lot of qualified men, women and minorities for the federal judiciary that are languishing now," he said.
November 7, 2002, from FoxNews:

"Getting good men, women, and minorities in the federal judiciary, on the bench, that are strong in their interpretation of the Constitution ... was a factor that played into the results of the election," Lott said Wednesday.
Yikes.


UPDATE #3:Faithful reader Darwin suggests in the comments section that it's clear that the good Senator "says that a Lott."

11/11/2003

Turn Out The Lights, The Party's Over 


Kerry's campaign is in complete and total disarray. There really is no way to spin this development positively.

I second The Clark Sphere's call for Kerry to do the right thing and back out of the race, for the good of the eventual Democratic candidate - not to mention the rest of the party. The odds are pretty low that Kerry can pull out of this tailspin to get the nomination. The party definitely needs Kerry - and right now, we really need him in the Senate.

(Via Talking Points Memo.)

"Fox News: Wholly Without Merit" 


Here is the transcript from the Fox/Franken court case. This is definitely worth a read. (If your time is limited, just scroll down and read the last 12 or 13 graphs, right after the five-minute recess.

(Via Atrios.)

11/07/2003

...Faux News goes "Scorched Earth" on Islam. 


Seriously, is Fox News run by retards? This little nugget of religious wisdom is from the same Fox News article as the story just previous (after you click on the link, scroll down almost to the bottom).

In Baghdad, about 500 Sunni Muslims marched Friday to coalition headquarters to demand the release of 36 clerics arrested in recent months. Protesters chanted Islamic slogans including "America's army will be wiped out," and "America is the enemy of God."
Yes, "America's army will be wiped out" is indeed an "Islamic slogan." As is "America is the enemy of God." In fact, the Islamic faith could not survive without these two crucial bits of scripture. According to the Quran, the prophet Muhammad first uttered these two slogans in 622 A.D., shortly after he fled from Mecca to Medina.

These Islamic phrases are only trumped in their virulent Anti-Americanism by the Christian slogan "America is going to hell in a handbasket."

<\SARCASM>

U.S. Goes "Scorched Earth" in Tikrit... 


Here's Fox News' take:

The U.S. military swept through Iraqi neighborhoods early Saturday, firing at houses suspected to be harboring hostile forces in the wake of an apparent attack on a Black Hawk helicopter that killed six U.S. soldiers. Backed by Bradley fighting vehicles, American troops bombarded buildings with machine guns and heavy weapons fire.

"This is to remind the town that we have teeth and claws and we will use them," said Lt. Col. Steven Russell, commander of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment....

Late Friday, U.S. troops fired mortars and a U.S. jets dropped at least three 500-pound bombs around the crash site, rattling windows over a wide area in an apparent show of force.
"Apparent show of force," huh? How about an "apparent show of crazy?" Or how about this one: "We don't know who the fuck shot down our helicopter, so we're just gonna drive around the neighborhood shooting at random houses! Then we're going to call in air support to drop 500-pound bombs all around the crash site to make windows rattle. We don't need a target! That'll show 'em!"

Maybe Faux has got it all wrong - and personally, I hope so - but those don't sound like the actions of a military that is really in control of the situation. There's something sickeningly desperate about driving around in Bradley fighting vehicles, shooting at random houses. And there's something kind of crazy about bombing nothing just to make a big loud noise and rattle some windows. It's the same sort of desperate, crazy feeling I got watching "Apocalypse Now Redux." (shiver)

It will be interesting to see how - or even if - other news organizations cover this.

UPDATE to "What About 'Saving Jessica Lynch?'" 


Original story here.

An AP story reveals Jessica Lynch's position on an item I mentioned in my post yesterday.

On the myth that U.S. forces had to fight their way into the hospital where Private Lynch was being treated:
Former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch said the U.S. military was wrong to manipulate the story of her dramatic rescue and should not have filmed it in the first place.

The 20-year-old private told ABC's Diane Sawyer in a "Primetime" interview to air Tuesday that she was bothered by the military's portrayal of her ordeal.

"They used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff.... It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about," she said.

She also said there was no reason for her rescue from an Iraqi hospital to be filmed. "It's wrong," she said.

...

Footage of the rescue was aired repeatedly on television networks reporting how a special forces team bravely fought into and out of the hospital.

"I don't think it happened quite like that," Lynch said.
Okay, here's the deal: Jessica Lynch is an extremely brave soldier and human being. I know for a fact that I could never have survived what she lived through. And if I were her today, having been through what she's been through, I would be simply livid that the Bush administration was trying to exploit my suffering by stage-managing my "rescue" in order to provide the viewers at home with "the feel-good hit of the summer." The administration should never have tried to manipulate Lynch's pain in this way.

I have the utmost respect and honor for Lynch, and I pray that she continues to heal, both physically and emotionally. And I have nothing but contempt for the administration that is still attempting to use her story as a way to draw attention away from its own failures in the ongoing Iraq conflict. I'm just thankful that she is so strong and independent that she is willing to speak out and tell the truth about her ordeal, and that she refuses to be used as a patriotic pawn by an administration that is scrambling and scratching for any political advantage it can find.

As far as I'm concerned, when you add up her bravery, honesty, and service to her country, Lynch is the hero of this war. Not to get all tin-foil-hatty, but you just know she came under immense pressure to tell her story the way the White House wanted it told....

11/06/2003

Clark can connect, yo. 


Many feel that the 2000 election was so close because Al Gore didn't cut a sufficiently likable character to pull away from Shrub. We've all heard the Monday-morning quarterbacking hundreds of times by now: Gore often appeared wooden and uncomfortable, and seemed completely out of touch with everyday citizens' concerns. Gore did not particularly connect with the 18-25 set, who - had they come out and voted in any significant numbers - could have really turned the tides. Though Gore actually won the election, the argument goes, had he been just a little more human, he could have won by a landslide, or at least with a comfortable margin of 25 or so electoral votes, nullifying all the subsequent Florida hanky-panky and preventing the SCOTUS from ultimately handing Shrub the presidency.

Fast-forward four years. Enter Wesley Clark. If he gets the Democratic nomination in 2004, you can bet that the 18-25 demographic will be more active in the electoral process. Here is proof-positive that in addition to being whip-smart about both foreign and domestic policy, Clark knows how to climb down out of the wonk's ivory tower and connect with the people. And maybe - just maybe - this is a sign that he's got a relatively sophisticated sense of humor in addition to that "first in his class at West Point" genius mind of his. Wouldn't that be refreshing.

Go here to see all the other candidate's short videos, produced at the behest of the folks at Rock the Vote and played during the Rock the Vote forum that aired on CNN on November 4th. Then try to tell me Clark's video doesn't just blow all the others straight out of the water.

11/05/2003

What about "Saving Jessica Lynch"? 


Keeping in mind the recent hullabaloo over (and subsequent cancellation of) the TV miniseries "The Reagans," will the "liberal media" (or the RNC, for that matter) be working overtime to make absolutely certain that the NBC made-for-TV movie "Saving Jessica Lynch" is an accurate portrayal of what happened to the 507th Maintenance Company? I have a feeling that they won't. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm taking my cues from the RNC, so I'm protesting the fact that I think "Saving Jessica Lynch" will mislead viewers, making them think that U.S. forces had to fight their way into the hospital where Private Lynch was being treated, when in fact there are still questions as to whether there were any Iraqi forces in or around the hospital Jessica Lynch says "I don't think it happened quite like that."

I think the movie will also mislead viewers into believing that she "emptied her rifle" at the company's Iraqi attackers, when there are serious questions as to whether this ever happened Jessica Lynch herself explicitly denies that this occurred, indicating that her M-16 jammed up, so she "did not shoot, not a round, nothing." Where is the moral outrage? Where is the RNC's fearless commitment to "accuracy?"

It seems "accuracy" is only important when we're talking about the god-like 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan, who walks on water and can do no wrong. When we're talking about an event used to spin popular sentiment toward an "us vs. them" mentality in a time of war, the importance of accuracy apparently becomes negligible.

I prayed quite a bit last night after I wrote about CBS caving to the mighty Wurlitzer, and I asked God: "God, am I just crazy, or has the Bush administration stage-managed every single national event that's happened since the 2000 election? Have they even seen 'Wag the Dog'?"

The answer I got was more than a little disturbing. Apparently, they have not only seen "Wag the Dog" numerous times, but they stage-managed the 2000 election, too.

Why do they hate America so much? 


The Bush administration (and its cadre of boot-licking psuedo-journalist sycophants) has shown nothing but contempt for the intelligence of the American public. Take, for example, the faux-argument that conservative cheerleaders are now trotting out: The Bush administration never said that Iraq posed an imminent threat.

Josh Marshall's new column in The Hill takes aim at this particularly disingenuous position, and - in a rational world - would serve as the final word on the issue. But Andrew Sullivan, one of the most vocal proponents of this new "up-is-down" argument, is unlikely to be daunted - he's a pro at windmill tilting. And the rest of the usual suspects will just continue to crank up the Wurlitzer in order to get this particular lie effectively embedded in the American psyche through sheer force of repetition: "Nobody in the administration said Iraq was an 'imminent threat!' Nobody in the administration said Iraq was an 'imminent threat!'"

For my money, though, the most damning quote comes right from the mouth of the President himself, speaking in Cincinnati on October 7, 2002:

Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists.... Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof - the smoking gun - that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.
On any given day. Not "maybe a few months from now," or "perhaps a couple of years from now" - he said on any given day. I'm sorry, but that suggests the concept of imminence to me. Even to the small, non-partisan part of my being, which would love to give Bush and his administration the benefit of the doubt. Trouble is, Bush has blatantly (and, I think, cynically) lied to the American people so many times (even his defenders aren't denying that anymore) that even that small, non-partisan part of me just doesn't have any benefit of the doubt left to give him. In fact, as I write this, I find myself wondering if I could actually take the benefit of the doubt from Bush. Is that possible? If so, I'd like to try. I think he deserves to have the benefit of the doubt taken away from him, for keeps. I - along with many of my fellow Americans - have formed a deep and irrecovable distrust the Bush administration. That fact makes it extremely difficult to take seriously any claim that Bush & Co. didn't actually lie about Iraq being an imminent threat, because, well, they never actually said the words "imminent threat."

I especially like the way Josh Marshall deals with this latest unapologetic sophistry from the right and its sympathizers:

It's true that administration officials avoided the phrase "imminent threat." But in making their argument, Sullivan and others are relying on a crafty verbal dodge - sort of like "I didn't accuse you of eating the cake. All I said was that you sliced it up and put it in your mouth."
And I really like the way he wraps up this devestating piece: "There's no use denying it. It was only a year ago. We were there. We remember."

Indeed.

Thank god I have Showtime 


Apparently, I didn't cross my fingers hard enough. As you may already know, CBS has caved to the wingers on the Reagan miniseries. Completely. They didn't just agree to let the RNC vet the miniseries before showing it, and they didn't just agree to run a note across the bottom of the screen every 10 minutes during the program which would inform viewers that the miniseries was not accurate - they canned it. They just decided not to show it at all, mostly because Republicans were whining. Dear god.

Fortunately, Viacom, which owns both CBS and Showtime, has decided to show the miniseries on Showtime instead. If you don't have Showtime, find a relative or friend who does, and who also has a VCR, then beg and plead them to record it for you. I'm planning on recording it, then I'll be having a "Reagan-watch" party. To entice people to come, the wine will be free. I will also provide excerpts of the dialogue on this website after the show airs, along with critical analysis, and perhaps even some guest perspectives.

The point of all this is to make the right's tantrum (and the resulting cancellation) work against the RNC and all those crybaby conservatives who just couldn't stand to see Reagan portrayed as indifferent to the suffering of AIDS victims. We'll do this by capitalizing on the instant interest that's injected into any work when it's boycotted or banned. As well-organized and media-savvy as the GOP seems to be, they still haven't learned one of the most important rules of mass media: if you want to supress someone's message, the worst thing in the world you can do is to overtly try to shut them up. Doing so just draws people's attention to whatever it is you don't want them to see or hear, and people have access to so many channels and back-channels that it becomes virtually impossible to prevent people from seeing or hearing whatever it is you don't like. Book burnings and bannings, forced cancellations, "R" ratings, Parental Advisory warning labels, Surgeon General warning labels - all give the product that they target a certain perma-sheen. The simple truth is that overt supression equals good, old-fashioned free press. The old saw that "all publicity is good publicity" is true in this case, especially in the sense that a fair-to-middling quality docudrama has now attained international notoriety without a single person having seen it.

I'll admit it - I probably wouldn't have watched this miniseries if conservatives could have just kept their collective trap shut. There's no way to prove it, but I'd be willing to bet that just as many (if not more) people will now make a point of watching it on Showtime as would have seen it on CBS had conservatives not raised such a sanctimonious stink about it. I guarantee that more people will record it. So the shelf-life of this miniseries has just been at least tripled or quadrupled. GOP reactivists have shot themselves in the foot once again.

11/04/2003

But I wanted to see fireworks! 


Apparently Atrios and Donald Luskin have resolved their differences - at least to the point that nobody is going to get beat up or sued. They have issued a joint statement on the matter.

Damn. I was hoping for a celebrity boxing match or something along those lines. It's good to know, though, that people can still find it within themselves to be civil.

Move along, folks, nothing to see here.

You can either read the joint statement at Atrios, or you can read it at Donald Luskin's site. It's the same statement wherever you read it, so go read it at Atrios. Don't give Luskin the satisfaction of another hit.

11/03/2003

People get ready... 


(NOTE: The link below is to an article on www.salon.com, which requires you to either have a subscription or to watch a brief commercial to view the article. If you do not have a subscription or wish to view the commercial, a small portion of the article has been excerpted below.)

Is the Pentagon really looking into reinstituting the draft?

The community draft boards that became notorious for sending reluctant young men off to Vietnam have languished since the early 1970s, their membership ebbing and their purpose all but lost when the draft was ended. But a few weeks ago, on an obscure federal Web site devoted to the war on terrorism, the Bush administration quietly began a public campaign to bring the draft boards back to life.

"Serve Your Community and the Nation," the announcement urges. "If a military draft becomes necessary, approximately 2,000 Local and Appeal Boards throughout America would decide which young men ... receive deferments, postponements or exemptions from military service."

Local draft board volunteers, meanwhile, report that at training sessions last summer, they were unexpectedly asked to recommend people to fill some of the estimated 16 percent of board seats that are vacant nationwide.
I'm with Charlie Rangel (D - New York) on this one - we've started a war that's universally unpopular, so we can't get our allies to commit troops. Bush says we can't just "cut and run," and the troops that we do have are stretched way too thin. There is really no other choice but to reinstitute the draft.

But I have the sneaking suspicion that once we start talking seriously about draft lotteries and all that jazz, the political winds will shift dramatically away from Bush's plan to "remake" the Middle East by steamrolling it militarily. It's a sad political truth, but it's much tougher to justify unnecessary wars when well-to-do kids from the suburbs have their butts on the line too.

I think Americans are a lot more ambivalent about the war in Iraq than this administration knows. If the draft is reinstituted, I think the remaining support for Bush's series of wars in the Middle East will just evaporate. Little Johnny was planning on going to b-school, not flying a B-2.

11/02/2003

Poll imposition 


Hey, who are those intimidating-looking people being bused in to polling places in black neighborhoods throughout Kentucky? Are they Brownshirts? Will somebody please explain to these fascists that this is just not okay?

I'm thoroughly amazed at how blatant the GOP has been about showing its true colors recently. What's next, live Klan meetings broadcast on Faux News? If I were a Republican, I think I would be too embarassed to admit it.

Are inconvenient facts getting in the way of our preferred version of reality? 


USAID has apparently removed the transcript (see excerpt below) of a very interesting Nightline inverview from its website.

Fortunately, another site (www.aircommando.net) had already posted the transcript, and Google had already cached the original USAID page, so you can still read USAID administrator Andrew Natsios's not-quite-accurate "projections" about the cost of rebuilding Iraq in something approximating their original form and context. You should probably get a screen shot before these disappear too.

copy of the transcript on www.aircommando.net

Google-cached copy of the transcript as it appeared on the USAID site

TED KOPPEL
(Off Camera) Well, it's a, I think you'll agree, this is a much bigger project than any that's been talked about. Indeed, I understand that more money is expected to be spent on this than was spent on the entire Marshall Plan for the rebuilding of Europe after World War II.

ANDREW NATSIOS
No, no. This doesn't even compare remotely with the size of the Marshall Plan.

TED KOPPEL
(Off Camera) The Marshall Plan was $97 billion.

ANDREW NATSIOS
This is 1.7 billion.

TED KOPPEL
(Off Camera) All right, this is the first. I mean, when you talk about 1.7, you're not suggesting that the rebuilding of Iraq is gonna be done for $1.7 billion?

ANDREW NATSIOS
Well, in terms of the American taxpayers contribution, I do, this is it for the US. The rest of the rebuilding of Iraq will be done by other countries who have already made pledges, Britain, Germany, Norway, Japan, Canada, and Iraqi oil revenues, eventually in several years, when it's up and running and there's a new government that's been democratically elected, will finish the job with their own revenues. They're going to get in $20 billion a year in oil revenues. But the American part of this will be 1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this.
. . . . . .
Via Atrios.

Sunday reading list - Understanding Senate Stalling 


"Filibuster" is a loaded word. If the American public feels that a particular Congress is being obstructionist simply for the sake of partisan politics, then that Congress is suffered neither gladly nor long. Recently, the media has focused actions taken in the Senate that are designed to block some of President Bush's judicial nominees. Why are these nominees being blocked? Is the left just engaged in cynical partisan politics? That's the primary argument many on the right are advancing. Some on the conservative fringes, though, move the discussion straight into the realm of nonsense. Ann Coulter, for example, argues that liberals are blocking Bush's nomination of California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown to the D.C. Circuit Appeals Court "...principally because she is black... Nothing enrages them so much as a minority who does not spend her days saying hosannas to liberals." Going even further, Coulter compares the left (and specifically the stiffs at the New York Times editorial page) to "...a bunch of racist Southern election supervisors."

Now that we've heard Anne's calm and rational perspective, let's take a look at what the "hysterical liberal media" has to say about the issue. In an opinion piece written on October 31st for the Center for American Progress, Melody Barnes argues that in fact, more Bush judges have been confirmed thus far by the Senate than were confirmed in the first three years of the Reagan presidency. Furthermore, there is evidence suggesting that the judges whose nominations have been delayed have in the past been willing "...to bypass the law to achieve an ideologically driven result," and Barnes extends her argument to conclude that each deserves careful scrutiny.

The Barnes piece is worth a read because it provides a useful summary of the real sticking points for the Dems on three of Bush's nomineees: Janice Rogers Brown (nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals); Claude Allen (nominated to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals); and Charles Pickering (nominated to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals). Barnes' article also helps to illustrate the real scope of the ongoing battle over these judicial nominees.

The Coulter article is at least worth skimming (if you can stomach it), because it points up the political gamesmanship (deeply flawed, both strategically and morally) behind Bush's nominations for these key bench seats: nominate a few token Latinos and blacks with significant lack of experience, ultra-conservative worldviews, and crystal-clear partisan agendas, present their nominations as a form of affirmative action, and cast the completely normal opposition to such divisive characters as a peculiarly Democratic brand of discrimination. Voila! The GOP is suddenly the party of "inclusion," and you can now argue that the Democrats embrace "...off-the-charts unpopular positions favored by NAMBLA [and the] ACLU..." as "mainstream legal values" and brand them racists because they won't confirm inexperienced or incompetent partisan judges to extremely important appeals court seats. Coulter sums up her warped worldview by quipping that the left "...thinks Justice Brown should be the maid and Miguel Estrada the pool boy."

That has to be - it just has to be - the most clear-cut case of Freudian Projection I've ever come across.

11/01/2003

The center does not hold. 


Earlier today in Mississippi, a car flew around a corner, jumped a curb, drove through a gate, and slammed into the loading dock of an arena where Dubya had just given a speech. Authorities immediately swarmed the car with weapons drawn and took away the driver and at least two children who were with her.

Bush was speaking at a rally for Republican gubernatorial candidate Haley Barbour. It's been a contentious election - maybe the anger that is so apparent in this act was directed at Barbour. Emotions are running extremely high all around, though, so it's hard to say.

For some reason - and I really have no earthly idea why - this news report made me think of the guy in the blue snowsuit and motorcycle helmet who took the Washington Monument hostage with "a thousand pounds" of imaginary dynamite in 1982. All he wanted was for the media to devote "90% of its time" to coverage of the nuclear proliferation issue. I wonder what the woman in this runaway car was after?

Not to be flip, but in all honesty, the answer is probably "a job."

Dingell stands up for Reagan's real record. 


Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) has forged an unlikely alliance with Jerry Falwell, RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie, and several Republican members of Congress. This makeshift coalition is calling with one voice for a "fair and balanced" depiction of former President Ronald Reagan in the upcoming CBS miniseries based loosely on his two terms as president.

Rep. Dingell was especially outspoken on the matter.

"As someone who served with President Reagan, and in the interest of historical accuracy, please allow me to share with you some of my recollections of the Reagan years that I hope will make it into the final cut of the mini-series: $640 Pentagon toilets seats; ketchup as a vegetable; union busting; firing striking air traffic controllers; Iran-Contra; selling arms to terrorist nations; trading arms for hostages; retreating from terrorists in Beirut; lying to Congress; financing an illegal war in Nicaragua; visiting Bitburg cemetery; a cozy relationship with Saddam Hussein; shredding documents; Ed Meese; Fawn Hall; Oliver North; James Watt; apartheid apologia; the savings and loan scandal; voodoo economics; record budget deficits; double digit unemployment; farm bankruptcies; trade deficits; astrologers in the White House; Star Wars; and influence peddling."

Rep. Dingell concluded, "I hope you find these facts useful in accurately depicting President Reagan’s time in office."
Dingell certainly highlights the type of leadership that Reagan will always be remembered for. And his deadpan delivery just brings down the house. In all seriousness, though, I find it astonishing that the RNC is just sort of brazenly demanding that CBS allow them to screen the mini-series before it airs, ostensibly so they can vet it for "accuracy" and Faux News-style "fairness." Any depiction that doesn't cater to the right's bizarre fantasy of Reagan as a god among mortals is sure to send conservatives into extended tantrums of unheralded proportions. And if CBS denies their request to vet the miniseries, the RNC is actually going to request that the network run a note across the bottom of the screen every 10 minutes during the program's presentation which will inform viewers that the miniseries is not accurate. Wow.

Note to the RNC - CBS is not Fox News. Not yet, at least. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one, just in case.