Saturday, January 17, 2004

"A sign of derangement" 

From FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting):
When Are Nazi Comparisons Deplorable?
For Fox News, only when Republicans are the target

Sean Hannity accused a guest: "You guys on the left are going so far over the cliff. You're making comparisons to the president and Adolf Hitler." Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway said on Hannity's show, "This is the hateful, vitriolic rhetoric that has become the Howard Dean Democratic Party." Bill O'Reilly cited the ads as evidence that "right now in America the Democratic party is being held captive by the far, far left."

It should be noted that however hyperbolic, comparisons to Hitler and fascism are not unknown in the American political debate. Rush Limbaugh has routinely called women's rights advocates "femi-Nazis," and references to "Hitlery Clinton" are a staple of right-wing talk radio. Republican power-broker Grover Norquist on NPR (10/2/03) compared inheritance taxes to the Holocaust.

Closer to home for Fox News, on the very same day that Gibson, Hannity and O'Reilly were talking about the Hitler/Bush comparison as evidence of the left's extremism, a column ran in the New York Post that described Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean as a follower of Josef Goebbels, referred to him as "Herr Howie," accused him of "looking for his Leni Riefenstahl," called his supporters "the Internet Gestapo" and compared them to "Hitler's brownshirts."

The New York Post, like Fox News Channel, is part of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch's conservative media empire. And this piece wasn't just put up on the Post's website as part of a contest--it was written by a right-wing commentator who frequently appears in the Post's pages, Ralph Peters, and selected for the op-ed page by the Post 's own editors. So it's more than a little embarrassing that these blatant Nazi comparisons were being made in the Post while the paper's corporate sibling was denouncing such comparisons as a sign of derangement.
Full story and Action Alert.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Hate Speech 

Bypassing Congress, Bush Installs Judge on Federal Appeals Court

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush bypassed Congress and installed Charles Pickering on the federal appeals court Friday in an election-year slap at Democrats who had blocked the nomination for more than two years.

Bush installed Pickering by a recess appointment, which avoids the confirmation process. Such appointments are valid until the next Congress takes office, in this case in January 2005.

...Another Democrat, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, said, ``It is quite unfortunate that the president has chosen to seat Judge Pickering only days before the nation celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.''

Thompson said that while on the federal bench in Mississippi, Pickering had sought to ``limit minority voting strength and to stifle the rights of women -- counter to everything Dr. King and the civil rights movement were all about.''

...During Pickering's nomination hearing, Republicans accused Democrats of being religiously biased against Bush's anti-abortion nominees, a theme they continued with Estrada and other Bush anti-abortion nominees.
Full story.

Kruginator Fires Shoulder-Mounted Missile from NYT; Direct Hit on Rats' Nest of Zombified, Brain-Eating Media Whores and Evildoing Bush Regime 

Who Gets It?

In other words, the general gets it: he understands that America is facing what Kevin Phillips, in his remarkable new book, "American Dynasty," calls a "Machiavellian moment." Among other things, this tells us that General Clark and Howard Dean, whatever they may say in the heat of the nomination fight, are on the same side of the great Democratic divide.

...But even those who refrain from turning political reporting into gossip have used the wrong categories. Again and again, one reads that it's about the left wing of the Democratic party versus the centrists; but Mr. Dean was a very centrist governor, and his policy proposals are not obviously more liberal than those of his rivals.

The real division in the race for the Democratic nomination is between those who are willing to question not just the policies but also the honesty and the motives of the people running our country, and those who aren't.
Just too good.

I can't wait for David Brooks' response: I'm sure he'll have something "positive" and "upbeat" to say in response to this hate-speech!

speakingcorpse adds:

This whole column by Krugman is very good, but for those of us following the Democratic primaries, the end of it is what really matters. More specifically, what really matters is that the nominee have an army of small donors who have already given once, and who will do so, again and again and again. An individual who has made a $2000 contribution cannnot give any more. But 20 people who have made $100 contributions can make 20 more such contributions. This is what is required for the long campaign struggle. I'm not sure that anyone but Dean has access to this sort of fundraising base.

Sid Blumenthal on the [late] Paul O'Neill 

The attack on [O'Neill], consistent with Bush administration efforts to intimidate anyone who challenges the official version, underscores the inherent fragility of Bush's public persona, upon which rests his popularity. Bush's greatest political asset is his image as a strong, decisive and masterful commander in chief who also happens to be a nice man. Alongside him, Vice President Dick Cheney is viewed as the sagacious Nestor. Unlike other critics and the Democratic candidates, O'Neill's persuasiveness -- and the long-term damage he is likely to do to these icons -- comes from having served for years in the Nixon and Ford administrations, and in his firsthand critique of a government radically unlike any before it, especially Republican ones. O'Neill's threat is to a president unusually dependent in an election campaign on fear and credibility to sustain the sense of power and inevitability.

O'Neill's firsthand account, however, Bush appears as a bully, using nicknames to demean people. He appears querulous (When Bush orders a cheeseburger and it doesn't arrive quickly, he summons his chief of staff. "'You're the chief of staff. You think you're up to getting us some cheeseburgers?' Card nodded. No one laughed. He all but raced out of the room"). He appears manipulated ("'Stick to principle' is another phrase that has a tonic effect on Bush" -- it was used by his senior political advisor Karl Rove to push for additional tax cuts). He appears incurious and, above all, intently political. When Bush holds forth it is often to demonstrate that he's not Clinton. He informs his NSC that on Middle East peace "Clinton overreached," but that he will take Ariel Sharon "at face value," and will not commit himself to the peace process: "I don't see much we can do over there at this point. I think it's time to pull out of that situation." Powell is "startled," but Bush reverts in the meeting to "the same flat, unquestioning demeanor that O'Neill was familiar with."

The "inscrutable" Cheney emerges as the power behind the throne, orchestrating the government by stealth and leaks to undermine opposing views. He uses tariffs as "political bait" for the midterm elections. When O'Neill argues that out-of-control deficits will cause a "fiscal crisis," Cheney "cut him off. 'Reagan proved deficits don't matter,' he said. 'We won the midterms. This is our due.'"

In the end, Cheney fires O'Neill, the first time a vice president has ever dismissed a Cabinet member.

O'Neill's revelations have not been met by any factual rebuttal. Instead, they have been greeted with anonymous character assassination from a "senior official": "Nobody listened to him when he was in office. Why should anybody now?" Then the White House announced that O'Neill was under investigation for abusing classified documents, though he claimed they were not and the White House had eagerly shoveled carefully edited NSC documents to Woodward.

Quietly, O'Neill and his publisher have prepared an irrefutable response. Soon they will post every one of the 19,000 documents underlying the book on the Internet. The story will not be calmed.
Full story.

Thursday, January 15, 2004



From the Bush campaign website's "Compassion Album."

ATLANTA, Jan. 15 — When President Bill Clinton came to town on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, crowds poured into the streets to watch him lay a wreath at the foot of Dr. King's grave.

On Thursday, President Bush is coming to town. And the streets may be full again.

Many of Atlanta's civil rights leaders are outraged about Mr. Bush's planned visit to commemorate Dr. King's 75th birthday and are using the occasion for protests. Already, they have marched with bullhorns, signs and thumping drums, shouting for the president to stay away.

"His administration has never supported anything to help the poor, education, or children," said the Rev. Raphael Allen, vice president of programs at Concerned Black Clergy. "It's all about isolationism and greed for the upper class. That's not promoting the legacy of Dr. King."

'Unparalleled in Political History' 

This item from the Bush campaign email "News Alert: Bush-Cheney Grassroots 'Unparalleled in Political History'":
In case you missed it, NBC Nightly News had a great story last night on the President's [sic] grassroots [sic] campaign. The story featured hard-working Students for Bush signing up new volunteers at the Sugar Bowl and offered a glimpse inside Bush-Cheney HQ here in Arlington. Here's some of David Gregory's report:
...According to Ralph Reed of the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign, I mean [sic], we have six-million [sic] emails. We will have a million team leaders by the time we get to Election Day that's [sic] one for every 50 Bush voters. [sic]
These people view "grassroots" as just another kind of corporate accounting--how many emails you "have." And if they had any kind of real grassroots movement, why would they STILL be talking about the fucking students leafletting at the Sugar Bowl? Wasn't that like two weeks ago? They've been touting that event for over two weeks!

Jesus: Gate to Destruction Kind of Like the Gate to Disney World 

"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

-- Jesus
(Matthew 7:13)
My interpretation: it's harder not to wage war, because pretty much everyone thinks waging wars is a fuck of a lot of fun (except of course those who fight in them or who live in proximity to those who are fighting in them). Life is a big fat pain in the ass. Also: it's fun as hell to be a Republican.

Flashback: November 2, 2002 

Jon Stewart interviewed by Howard "Mistah" Kurtz:
KURTZ: So you don't, you're not confusing yourself with a quote, "real journalist"?

STEWART: No. You guys are...

KURTZ: You're just making fun...

STEWART: You guys are confusing yourselves with real journalists.

KURTZ: Oh boy, you're loaded (UNINTELLIGIBLE) today.

STEWART: Instead of putting on shows like "CROSSFIRE" and "Gotcha" and "I'm Going To Kick Your Ass With Tucker Carlson" and "Let's Beat Up The Short Guy." That was just one that I...

KURTZ: I'm glad you're at least watching so much CNN, Jon.

STEWART: I am watching it constantly. It's driving me insane. Make the ticker stop. You're in the middle of a damn sniper story, and all of a sudden underneath it, you know, "Liza Minnelli's first VH1 show to air."

KURTZ: There's a new thing out called...


KURTZ: There's a new thing out called remote control. We'll have to get you one.

STEWART: But you're the news. That works for entertainment. People need you. Help us. Help us.

KURTZ: Thank you for making us feel needed, Jon Stewart. Thanks for sharing.



"Well, you can keep asking the question. And my answer's gonna be the same. " 

That's consistency! Moral clarity! Soundness of vision!

Josh Marshall calls our attention back (just for the fun of it!) to this choice excerpt:

(Off Camera) When you take a look back, Vice President Cheney said, "there is no doubt Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction." Not programs, not intent. There is no doubt he has weapons of mass destruction. Secretary Powell said "100 to 500 tons of chemical weapons." And now the inspectors say that there's no evidence of these weapons existing right now. The yellow cake in Niger. George Tenet has said that shouldn't have been in your speech. Secretary Powell talked about mobile labs. Again, the intelligence, the inspectors have said they can't confirm this, they can't corroborate. Nuclear, suggestions that he was on the way on an active nuclear program. David Kay, "we have not discovered significant evidence of ... "




(Off Camera) Is it "yet"?


But what David Kay did discover was they had a weapons program. And had that -that -let me finish for a second. Now it's more extensive than, than missiles. Had that knowledge been examined by the United Nations or had David Kay's report been placed in front of the United Nations, he, Saddam Hussein, would have been in material breach of 1441, which meant it was a causis belli. And, look, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein was a dangerous person. And there's no doubt we had a body of evidence proving that. And there is no doubt that the President must act, after 9/11, to make America a more secure country.


(Off Camera) Again, I'm just trying to ask, these are supporters, people who believed in the war who have asked the question.


Well, you can keep asking the question. And my answer's gonna be the same. Saddam was a danger. And the world is better off because we got rid of him.


(Off Camera) But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still.


So what's the difference?


(Off Camera) Well ...


The possibility that he could acquire weapons. If he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger. That's, that's what I'm trying to explain to you. A gathering threat, after 9/11, is a threat that needed to be dealt with. And it was done after 12 long years of the world saying the man's a danger. And so, we got rid of him. And there's no doubt the world is a safer, freer place as a result of Saddam being gone.


(Off Camera) But, but, again, some, some of the critics have said this, combined with the failure to establish proof of elaborate terrorism contacts, has indicated that there's just not precision, at best, and misleading, at worst.


Yeah. Look, what, what we based our evidence on was a very sound national intelligence estimate.


(Off Camera) Nothing should have been more precise?


I, I made my decision based upon enough intelligence to tell me that this country was threatened with Saddam Hussein in power.


(Off Camera) What would it take to convince you he didn't have weapons of mass destruction?


Saddam Hussein was a threat. And the fact that he is gone means America is a safer country.

Telling Ourselves the Old Story 

Ted Kennedy gave a great speech yesterday ("America, Iraq and Presidential Leadership") for the Center for American Progress. It goes through the whole narrative with wonderful concision and emphasis. Nothing new here--but public figures need constantly to be working out new and better ways to tell this story to the public.
In public, the Administration continued to deny that the President had made the decision to actually go to war. But the election timetable was clearly driving the marketing of the product. The Administration insisted that Congress vote to authorize the war before it adjourned for the November elections. Why? Because the debate in Congress would distract attention from the troubled economy and the troubled effort to capture bin Laden. The strategy was to focus on Iraq, and do so in a way that would divide the Congress. And it worked.

To keep the pressure on, President Bush spoke in Cincinnati on Iraq's nuclear weapons program, just three days before the Congressional vote. He emphasized the ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda. He emphasized Saddam's access to weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons. He said, "If the Iraqi regime is able to produce or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. And if we allow that to happen, a terrible line would be crossed... Saddam Hussein would be in a position to pass nuclear technology to terrorists."

The scare tactics worked. Congress voted to authorize the use of force in October 2002. Republicans voted almost unanimously for war, and kept control of the House in the election in November. Democrats were deeply divided and lost their majority in the Senate. The Iraq card had been played successfully. The White House now had control of both houses of Congress as well.
Full text.

"Small, grey..." 

wevegotcompany writes:
This is an e-mail I received early today:
"14/1/04, 9:44 AM
Sent to: ALL DESKS

Has anyone seen my address book? It contains my whole life -- small, grey, no distinguishing features. thanks."

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Right-Wing Humor 

speakingcorpse writes:

This is so nauseating I don't know what to do. Perhaps I'll make myself vomit. Via Kos, we learn that at the bottom of the WSJ's daily "Best of the Web" feature is some fulsome praise of the fascist blog "Little Green Footballs" for its decision to award Rachel Corrie the "Idiotarian of the Year Award."

Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer-driver while defending the rights of Palestinians to live in their houses rather than stand by while they are destroyed. Not only is Corrie the idiotarian of the year, she is, or was, as the WSJ says, a "terror-advocate."

What does this kind of writing say about the WSJ? It may seem too obvious and too disgusting to dwell upon, but it's worth considering. We can make two different conclusions about the WSJ:

1) the WSJ may know nothing at all about Corrie, and may be happily and ignorantly desecrating her memory, while making several related assumptions: that she is a stupid left-wing student and that all Palestinians are terrorists and that their left-wing student supporters are "terror-advocates." This would be a particularly cruel and heartless and deadly variation of the criticism directed against Dean and Bush-hating Democrats--they are Ipod-using, sushi-eating children of privilege whose opinions can be dismissed without consideration. (Like the opinions of the terroristic Palestinians.)

2) a more unsettling conclusion: the WSJ is perfectly aware of Corrie's bravery, her intelligence as expressed in searching and eloquent letters, her empathy--everything that makes her memory so obviously beloved to those that knew her. And the WSJ could be saying, anyway, that she deserved to die. NOT because she was an innocent fool who was mixed up with violent Arabs, but because killing is good and the death of enemies is good, no matter how admirable they may seem to be.

I'm inclined to think that the second conclusion about the WSJ is accurate. In the end, this slur is not about criticizing Corrie at all--it's about enjoying being on the side of the killers. The whole "debate" on the legitimacy of Corrie's cause is merely a pretext to revel in bloody murder. It's just more fun to celebrate death than lament it.

Media misperceives Dean as willing coprophagiac 

speakingcorpse writes:

This is an excellent article about the shit being sprayed at Howard Dean. He's been doing the right thing by "going on the offensive" in the last two days, attacking rivals and the establishment. He has to walk a tightrope. He can't actually lose his cool, or make mistakes. But he MUST make his adversarial relationship with the media and the Washington establishment EXPLICIT. Because no matter what he does, the relation WILL be adversarial. Only if he embraces this conflict can he give voters an option clearly defined with his own terms--vote for me BECAUSE these media bastards don't like me, because I'm doing something genuinely new that might make politics slightly less repulsive.
The media vs. Howard Dean
By Eric Boehlert

Democrats haven't voted yet, but reporters have got the story: The former Vermont governor is angry, gaffe-prone and unelectable. How do they know? Republicans, and anonymous Democrats, told them so.

An inspiring article on Dean, which I'd like to believe is true. In fact, it IS true, regardless of who or what Dean is. He has allowed himself to stand for practical hope, for an alternative to the closed and deadly "coprophagic" system. I am quite inclined to agree with a post I read on a Daily Kos message board last night, which said something like the following: with Dean, we stand a good chance of losing; with Clark we stand probably the same chance of losing; but only with Dean are we truly laying the groundwork for a different and better future.
What Dean Means

by Bill C. Davis

Howard Dean is a target not because he's the frontrunner but because he is a successful advocate for democracy. The question becomes, is democracy what the American people want? It's said often enough that we are, and proud to be, a democracy. But the fact it needs to be said so often betrays a different reality.

Redwood = O'Saddama/Hitler 

Dawkins writes:

Did you hear the news?

Trees that are not cut down immediately are terrorists. (And presumably also Anti-Semites.)
"We can preserve our trees while reducing or eliminating the conditions that too-often result in those beautiful trees becoming time bombs ticking toward devastation."

Investigatin' the Player-Hatin' 

A very shrewd point made today by Josh Marshall:
Number of days between Novak column outing Valerie Plame and announcement of investigation: 74 days.

Number of days between O'Neill 60 Minutes interview and announcement of investigation: 1 day.

Having the administration reveal itself as a gaggle of hypocritical goons ... priceless.

-- Josh Marshall

Child's Pay 

The winner of MoveOn's "Bush in 30 Seconds" ad contest was announced at an event in New York last night (which I attended along with Dawkins). Here's an interesting tidbit:
The winning ad, "Child’s Pay," by Charlie Fisher, 38, of Denver features young children working in difficult service and manufacturing jobs -- washing dishes, hauling trash, repairing tires, cleaning offices, assembly-line processing and grocery checking -- followed by the line: "Guess who’s going to pay off President Bush’s $1 trillion deficit?"

Charlie Fisher is an advertising executive who was a registered Republican until the end of the first Bush administration, in 1992. He is currently on assignment in Denmark and flew in to attend the awards ceremony with his cameraman, P. Dreyer.

"I was thrilled just to participate in this contest," Fisher said. "When we finished editing ‘Child's Pay,’ I felt it was nice -- maybe a little too nice. Perhaps I learned that you don't have to paint a bulls-eye on someone’s forehead to be effective. Most importantly, my Republican father said this when I told him I was making an ad for this contest, not knowing what his reaction would be: ‘I am proud of you for taking part and acting in the world around you.’"
It's true, the ad feels like a softie compared to some of the others (I was rooting for "What Are We Teaching Our Children?", which features the cutest little kid saying "Bring 'em on!")--but Dawkins made the point that this ad is well suited to its national prime-time TV audience: it's well-produced, eye-catching, immediately readable theme-wise, and has a single and straightforward textual punchline at the end. You can watch it here.

Also, if you'd like to help MoveOn air this ad during the Superbowl, click here and contribute a little.

(Remember, George "Almost as Evil as Howard Dean" Soros can't do everything himself!)

At Last, Some Balance 

Look what we found in our Inbox!
This is a SPECIAL MESSAGE from Alan Keyes' "Keyes Media Central":

Dear Friend of Liberty:

As the national election cycle begins to heat up, some fine organizations like RightMarch.com have been informing you about the radical liberal organization, MoveOn.org. Its support for the hard-left, especially Howard Dean, is assuming dimensions that are very dangerous to decent politics.
Too many jokes to laugh at in that last sentence--except we might indulge in a gasp of awe at the notion of "decent politics." What's next? Dry water? Righteous Bushes?
Funded by deep-pocketed leftists like George Soros,
When did Soros become the new Demon? (Oh, right--when he said he was going to give money to the other team.) Funny--it's precisely the threatening "dimensions" of MoveOn (i.e., its individual human membership in the multi-millions, most of whom make small contributions) that makes reliance on people like Soros unnecessary (not unwelcome--lust unnecessary).
MoveOn.org has been steadily advancing their hate-filled agenda against the political and moral conservative Right, buying national TV ads and full-page ads in nationally-distributed newspapers.
That goddamn George Soros and his moneybags.
The feisty conservative activist site RightMarch.com has steadily countered their moves, supported by thousands of grassroots Americans nationwide like you.
"Feisty," yes, but certainly not "hate-filled." I wonder (and fear) what he means by "countered their moves." It sounds so full of intrigue.
But now MoveOn.org has exceeded even the left's usual record of indecency, by repeatedly equating President Bush with Adolph Hitler.
Once just wasn't enough, folks--they had to do their nefarious equating repeatedly!
By "countered" does he really mean "exterminated"?
The political fray is rough, but those in it MUST be held accountable! Lying, bigoted, hate-mongering groups like MoveOn.org MUST feel the heat.
The fires of hell, one presumes. Well, I look forward to watching the truthful, tolerant, and love-mongering "RightMarch.com" as it "counters" the lying, bigoted, hate-mongering MoveOn.org!

I also wonder what else Alan Keyes has been up to these days (other than, we pray, receiving the appropriate medical treatment)...still "equating" the income tax with slavery?

A final note: "RightMarch.com"?! What's next--"GooseStep.com"? "HolySwordOfFire.net"? "PurityParade.us"?

Oop--there I go again with my Hitler-themed hate-mongering. I need to check myself and pop over to RightMarch.com for a dose of reason, compassion and good-will.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Apt Remark 

Although an Eschaton reader posted the following comment in reference to another comment left by Eschaton's local wingnut troll, it (the comment) strikes me as having very, very wide application:
this comment vividly recalls the movie "return of the living dead." it featured decomposing zombies writhing around on the ground in immense pain because they could not get to any brains.
Could speakingcorpse have described the current milieu any better himself?

Remember: "Nonpartisan" means "criticism of Republicans forbidden" 

This from Dawkins:
John Sherffius, The Post-Dispatch's editorial cartoonist since 1998, resigned last month, the culmination of disagreements with Ellen Soeteber, the editor of the newspaper, over what she viewed as excessive criticism of President Bush and Republicans, according to senior staff members.

The catalyst for his resignation: a cartoon about the appropriations bill passed last month by the House. Mr. Sherffius's original drawing, which he delivered on Dec. 9, featured Republican elephants partying. One elephant rode a pig representing pork-barrel projects. The caption read, "The party of fiscal discipline.''

William Freivogel, deputy editor of the editorial page, asked Mr. Sherffius why there were no donkeys. Mr. Sherffius said he did not include donkeys in the cartoon because Republican projects received most of the funds, citing an article in The Los Angeles Times. That explanation satisfied Mr. Freivogel.

At the request of Christine A. Bertelson, the editor of the editorial page, Mr. Sherffius redrew the pig, transforming it into a donkey, but Ms. Bertelson said the donkey looked too forlorn for the celebration. The discussion ended up in Ms. Soeteber's office. That was when she said the cartoon was "too one-sided,'' according to people with knowledge of the conversation.
And, here, the offending cartoon, in its revised and much less "one-sided" form. (Note the much less "forlorn" donkey. In fact, he's a wearing a little grin, smoking a cigar, and seems to be quite enjoying himself at this party, in such an agreeable "nonpartisan" way!)

Monday, January 12, 2004


But what I want to know is: what will be the public's reaction to Mr. O'Neill's shocking display of Anti-Semitism?
Bush Sought to Oust Hussein From Start, Ex-Official Says

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 - President Bush was focused on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq from the start of his administration, more than seven months before the terrorist attacks that he later cited as the trigger for a more aggressive foreign policy, Paul H. O'Neill, Mr. Bush's first Treasury secretary, said in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

"From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," Mr. O'Neill said in an interview with the CBS program "60 Minutes."

Mr. O'Neill, who was dismissed by Mr. Bush more than a year ago over differences on economic policy, said Iraq was discussed at the first National Security Council meeting after Mr. Bush's inauguration. The tone at that meeting and others, Mr. O'Neill said, was "all about finding a way to do it," with no real questioning of why Mr. Hussein had to go or why it had to be done then.

Rock the Vote 

This NYTimes story, "39% See Bias In Reporting On Campaign," claims the following:
The greatest defections [from "traditional media outlets"] were among those younger than 30, nearly two-thirds of whom say they are not even somewhat interested in the Democratic presidential campaign. Only 15 percent could say which candidate served as an Army general (Wesley K. Clark) or which one was House majority leader (Richard A. Gephardt).
I would like to note this: yesterday I found myself discussing politics (in a very limited fashion) with one of my students, an 18-year-old who attends an affluent private high school in New York. The tenor/gist of his opinion seems to tilt anti-Bush/pro-Democrat, though in an exceedingly vague, uninformed way (he would admit as much, I think).

He asked me what I thought of Howard Dean's remark, the one from the interview, about how the Iowa caucuses were bad.

I told him what I thought, and asked him if he knew anything else about Dean. He freely admitted he didn't. My student absorbs the very small amount of political information he does from television--flipping through the channels, a little news. And this impressionable kid, this potential voter--the ONLY THING he knew about Howard Dean was that he was in trouble for making a comment about the Iowa caucuses.

What, I ask, is going on?

Paul 'The Genius of Capitalism' O'Neill in Process of Blowing Shit Wide Open 

Paul O'Neill, who was pushed out of the administration as treasury secretary because it was felt he was not a team player, says President Bush was so disengaged during Cabinet meetings that he was like a "blind man in a roomful of deaf people."
I don't get it--wasn't O'Neill being a good "team player" when he said that the rise and fall of Enron simply demonstrated the "genius of capitalism"?

The Times should do a whole separate story about how O'Neill was "pushed out" on Election Night 2002--that was when he was "pushed out," in case you happened to miss the news coverage of that story that night.

I can't wait for the "mentally unbalanced" reports to come trickling forth...

Dawkins adds: Evidently, the source of this allegation, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, is an Anti-Semite.

Does anyone remember what this news story is referring to? 

Powell Admits No Hard Proof in Linking Iraq to Al Qaeda

The administration has quietly withdrawn a 400-member team of American weapons inspectors who were charged with finding chemical or biological weapons stockpiles or laboratories, officials said this week. The team was part of the 1,400-member Iraq Survey Group, which has not turned up such weapons or active programs, the officials said.
Dawkins writes:

If find this particularly distressing. Since those chemical and biological weapons are still hidden somewhere in Iraq, pulling out the inspectors only enhances the dangerous possibility that those WMDs will fall into the hands of Iraq’s terrorist allies, such as Al Qaeda, working in the country.

"Self-righteous delusion"  

An AmCop reader writes:

Well, The New Republic has spoken and there's no stopping the Lieberman juggernaut now.

Reading this, you definitely get the sense that Jon Stewart of the Daily Show had it right: "Lieberman is the candidate for people who want to vote for Bush but don't think he's Jewish enough."

Blicero adds: I agree with the first part of Stewart's claim: Lieberman is the candidate for people who want to vote for Bush. That's it.

Too silly/depressing to discuss 

Presumably, these new initiatives are part of the ongoing search for O'Saddama...

The Answer to Whistle-Ass's Codpiece? 

Butching up for Victory
by Richard Goldstein

When the ballot hits the box in New Hampshire, Howard Dean will be the one to beat. How did the former governor of a sparsely populated state become the Democratic front-runner? The usual explanation is that he sprang from the Internet and took to the skies with a series of propitious political alliances. That may account for Dean's current standing, but it's not why he stuck out from the pack almost from the moment he announced. Dean did it, as conservative columnist George Will notes, by "discern[ing] what liberals want: attitude."

It's also what attracted the media to Dean. A database search reveals that in December 836 newspaper pieces about him mentioned the a-word. Look beneath the surface of Dean's plucky, peppery attitude and you'll find the underlying reason for his success. He's butch--and many Democrats are convinced that's what it takes to beat George Bush.
Full story.

Still give a shit? 

Check out this detailed new study from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Message to Dean HQ 

speakingcorpse writes:
I'm a big supporter of Gov. Dean. I know that this whole "gaffe" issue is utterly and totally baseless. (Bush said the same thing about Saddam that Dean said about Osama!) The media are a bunch of mindless fools that only say something if they hear it said elsewhere first--thus, demented groupthink about said "gaffes." Still, the dementia of the media is a serious problem, and has to be dealt with. It's good that the Gov. is being more careful about what he says, and it's probably good that he's restricting access to reporters. But--recognizing the potential problem does not require any apologies. You shouldn't even be obliquely acknowledging the reality of these "gaffe" accusations. Don't be afraid to defend yourself, ever! NOTE: look at the transcript of Bush's Dec. 15 press conference. He REALLY DOES SAY that Saddam's guilt shouldn't be prejudged. Point this out! Point out that the whole "gaffe" issue is so much mindless bullshit--EVEN AS you be more careful about what these bastards can do to your words taken out of context. Also: don't back down from the Saddam's-capture-hasn't-made-us-safer-argument! Hammer it home! You can make the point more effectively if you say, as you did in your Dec. 15 speech, that while the capture is a GOOD thing, IT DOESN'T REDEEM THE WHOLE IRAQ ADVENTURE. We would be SAFER if we hadn't gone to war in Iraq and instead had focused our resources on Al-Qaeda.

So: please don't even think about backing down. Being wary of your enemies has nothing to do with backing down.

In hope,


Dean to Receive 'Ultimate Punishment' 

speakingcorpse writes:

This is unbearable. I'm dying. These are my last words.

Dean's biggest gaffe--the only one that Democrats (Kerry) themselves have attacked him over--runs as follows:
"I've resisted pronouncing a sentence before guilt is found. I still have this old-fashioned notion that even with people like Osama, who is very likely to be found guilty, we should do our best not to, in positions of executive power, not to prejudge jury trials."
Now, Atrios points out Bush's "words" at his "press conference" of Dec. 15.

Here is Bush's relevant "statement," and a response to a follow-up question:
"We will work with the Iraqis to develop a way to try him that will stand international scrutiny, I guess is the best way to put it.

I shared my sentiments today with Prime Minister Martin of Canada. He asked me about Saddam Hussein and his trial. I said, "Look, the Iraqis need to be very much involved. They were the people that was brutalized by this man. He murdered them. He gassed them. He tortured them. He had rape rooms.
[Editorial note: Rape room. Dirty bomb. Mass grave. Rape room. Dirty bomb. Mass grave. Rape room...]
And they need to be very much involved in the process." And we'll work with the Iraqis to develop a process.

And, of course, we want it to be fair. And, of course, we want the world to say, "Well, listen, he got a fair trial." Because whatever justice is meted out needs to stand international scrutiny.

I've got my own personal views of how he ought to be treated, but I'm not an Iraqi citizen. It's going to be up to the Iraqis to make those decisions.


Yes, I said I had my own personal views.

And this is a brutal dictator. He's a person who killed a lot of people.

But my personal views aren't important in this matter. What matters is the views of the Iraqi citizens.

And we need to work, of course, with them to develop a system that is fair, where he will be put on trial and will be brought to justice; the justice he didn't, by the way, afford any of his own fellow citizens."

A "moderate", "reasoned" and "thoughtful" email letter sent to Gail Collins, editorial page editor at the NY Times 

Dawkins writes:
Dear Ms. Collins,

Please, no more David Brooks!

Enough disingenuous rubbish.

Rather than supply "balance" to the Times' Op-Ed page, he's merely imported the Weekly Standard's editorial agenda wholesale, polluting what was once the print media's best forum for intellectual exchange.

Put it this way: I'm no fan of William Safire, but at least he honestly foregrounds his point of view. He may be a bit off-kilter, but his zealous sincerity lends his work a certain degree of integrity.

Not only are Brooks' rhetorical tactics execrable (did you happen to read today's "The Era of Distortion"?; I learned from reading it that I'm an Anti-Semite for believing that Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle hold some influence over U.S. foreign policy), but he seeks so cynically to conceal his soulless agenda behind a specious mask of "moderation", "reason" and "thoughtfulness."

Brooks possesses none of these qualities.

I admit that I depend on the Times for its exemplary news reporting and comment. But as long as Brooks remains a fixture on the Op-Ed page, I owe it to my conscience to stop purchasing and reading the paper altogether.

Thanks for your concern and indulgence.


M. G. Dawkins
Brooklyn, New York

Dawkins follows this up with a letter to 'Babbling' Brooks himself:
Subj: right on today! (and a quick query)
Date: 1/6/04

Dear Mr. Brooks,

I love your work! You -- for me, and so many others -- are a voice of reason in a world of hype, cynicism and disingenuousness.

Your column today, "The Era of Distortion," was right on, but a few passages left me a little confused.

In discussing the word "neocon," you say that "con is short for 'conservative' and neo is short for 'Jewish.'" It seems to me that the point of your column is to decry Anti-Semitism, but in this passage, you appear to be appealing to that same ugly impulse when you label the neoconservatives Jews. Sadly, even in this day and age, using that label to describe someone is effectively a slander.

Why call the neoconservatives Jews? Are the neoconservatives themselves actually Jews? If so, how do you know this? Even if they are, I suppose that would clarify matters, but it still seems untoward to so publicly and bluntly tar them as such.

I'm sure you meant well, and I look forward to your continued trenchant commentary. In the meantime, as a loyal reader, I would greatly appreciate your care and attention in helping me to understand your point.

Sincerely, and best regards,

[A reader]
Staten Island, New York
[Editorial note: Dawkins doesn't really live in Staten Island. I think that is an example of his sarcasm.]

Brooks thoughtfully responds:
Subj: Note
Date: 1/6/04 10:45:05 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: dabrooks@nytimes.com

Dear friend,

Thanks very much for sending a response to my column, positive or negative. I'm afraid I can't respond to each message. My editors would wonder why I have no time to write for the paper.

But I do read every e-mail, and I frequently learn from them.

So, again, thanks,

David Brooks
Hopefully Brooks continues to 'learn' from his readers!

Vote Label/Cliche in ’04  

From Matt Taibbi in the New York Press:
There was a remarkable sea change in the presidential election campaign last week. The biggest news, little noted in the newspapers, was the unofficial coronation of Howard Dean as the Democratic nominee by none other than George Bush himself.

In a fundraising e-mail sent out to would-be supporters, Bush for the first time made what appeared to be a specific characterization of his eventual opponent.

"Whoever wins the nomination will have done so by energizing their party’s left wing with angry attacks," Bush "expressed" in the e-mail.

It was clear that Bush was referring to Dean in this statement, because for quite some time now, "angry" has been the unofficial code word for Dean in the mass media. The evolution of the use of this word has been, to me, the biggest story of the election so far. It was a kind of shadow nomination process, in which the winning caricature was elected in convention.
Full story.


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