Friday, February 06, 2004

Too Much to Hope For? 

Tuning Out the G.O.P.'s Siren Song

Maybe it's too much to hope for. But I wonder if we aren't watching the beginning of a decline in the effectiveness of the Republican Party's divide-and-conquer strategy.

For nearly half a century the G.O.P. has displayed an unparalleled mastery of the ugly art of devising campaigns that appeal to the very worst in us. It's always the whites against the blacks, the middle class against the poor, the conservatives against the hated liberals, with the word "liberal" spat out with the kind of disgust that's usually reserved for child molesters.

The party's at it again this year with talk of defacing the Constitution with its first discriminatory amendment, a ban on gay marriage.

But there are other currents moving through this election season that may tend to pull some diverse segments of the population closer together politically.
Full story.

"Your memories are no longer operative."  

Latest Krugman:
Right now America is going through an Orwellian moment. On both the foreign policy and the fiscal fronts, the Bush administration is trying to rewrite history, to explain away its current embarrassments.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Speak of the Devil 

Republicans are calling Senator John Kerry a Massachusetts liberal, a charge that proved devastating to Michael S. Dukakis in 1988.
Where are the "quotations marks," one might ask, around "Massachusetts liberal"? Well, according to the author of this New York Times news article, Robin Toner, there don't need to be any! I guess that's because the real news here isn't that Ed Gillespie, like an angry baby, is calling Kerry names--the news is there is some actual thing called "a Massachusetts liberal"--some thing that everyone knows about--and Republicans are calling Kerry that thing--nay, charging him with being that thing!

How will Kerry respond to this devastating charge?

Get it?

Story A: A large portion of Bush's Air National Guard Service is not accounted for.

How does one verify this? By research and reporting.

Story B: John Kerry is a Massachusetts liberal.

How does one verify this? By repetition and tautology.

It's fair and balanced coverage of the two parties' respective "attacks" on the opposing party's candidate! Get it? The two parties attack one another! Thanks for this news, Robin Toner! Welcome to 2004, everyone!

[Vomit. Self-soiling. Mercy-coma.]

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Dionne Fires Hypocrisy-Seeking Cruise Missile into Festering Heart of GOP Spider-Hole of Lies 

The Truth About Massachusetts

By E. J. Dionne Jr.

This is about more than John Kerry, who can defend himself. It's about how certain forms of cheap bigotry don't even get challenged. The right wing's attack on Massachusetts is a sign of intellectual laziness. It's easier to parody a people and a place than to defend a set of ideas.

Why not trash Ted Kennedy and Michael Dukakis when the alternative is to explain why, un-conservatively, a Republican administration has run up such a huge deficit? It's sure easier to natter on about the "Harvard boutique" than to defend that budget President Bush released yesterday. And why would they want to deal with the fact that Dukakis was a fiscal conservative who, back in the 1970s, bailed the state out of a budget mess left by a Republican governor? Dukakis took a lot of grief from liberals when he did that -- a bit of history that gets in the way of the election-year propaganda now being peddled.

Parodying Massachusetts is a way to keep old resentments alive without getting into any of the inconvenient details. It also allows a pro-business, Yale-educated president with an MBA from Harvard to cast himself as anti-elitist by implying (as his Yale-educated father did in 1988 with that line about the "Harvard boutique") that Massachusetts people are a bunch of snobs. The people selling this stuff should know that in my hometown, folks get punched out for being snobs.
Full story.

My prediction: the North will Rise this year.

Heart of Gold 

Bush Agrees to New 9/11 Commission Deadline
Support for 2 Month Extension is a Reversal of Earlier Position

President Bush reversed himself Wednesday and said he now supports giving a commission investigating the 9/11 attacks more time to produce a final report.
How noble of him! What a sacrifice on the part of the president, to bestow on this commission the privilege of being able to complete their work!
Bush had resisted that request for months, saying through his spokesmen that the administration wanted the panel to complete its work as soon as possible. Privately, White House aides feared that delaying the commission's final report would result in a potentially damaging assessment of the administration's handling of pre-attack intelligence in the heat of a presidential campaign.
And remember: damage to the Administration's credibility is of greater concern than damage to the country!
At the same time, [McClellan] urged the panel to act quickly. "If the commission has information that can help prevent another catastrophic terrorist attack on America soil, we need to have that information as soon as possible," McClellan said.
Right-o! Hurry up, commission! As of now, it's only been two and a half years since 9-11. But if we have to wait two more months for the commission's report, we could be putting ourselves in danger of another catastrophic terrorist attack on America soil! (Wait: does the Democratic National Convention count as a catastrophic terrorist attack on America soil?)
McClellan was noncommittal Wednesday about whether Bush would submit to an interview by the commission.
After all, why should Bush have to endure the indignity of submitting to an interview? All that's at stake is preventing another catastrophic terrorist attack on America soil.
Relatives of Sept. 11 victims proposed last week extending the mandate until January. That would give commissioners the time they need, while keeping the review outside of presidential politics, they said. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said they planned to introduce legislation next week that will set a Jan. 10, 2005, deadline for the report.
Thanks, Joe! Let's keep that Joe-mentum going, and help guarantee that voters be deprived of information regarding how Bush did or did not defend the country against the catastrophic terrorist attack on America soil, when making their decision on who to vote for for president! Once again, Holy Joe putting the national interest above partisan politics! Thanks, Joe!

Full story.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Physician, heal thyself 



Bush's "specific memories" 

White House communications director Dan Bartlett said yesterday that...Bush "specifically remembers" performing some of his duties in Alabama.
Good enough for me! What more can I ask of a president than that he perform "some of his duties"?
Bartlett also provided a news clipping from 2000 quoting friends of Bush's from the Alabama Senate campaign saying they recalled Bush leaving for Guard duty on occasion.
I'll take their word for it!

Petition: Ask Congress to Censure Bush 

From MoveOn:
In an attempt to evade responsibility for the misleading statements that pushed the nation into war, Bush has announced plans to form an independent inquiry to look into what went wrong. An inquiry would serve the Bush administration well: it would envelop the issue in a fog of uncertainty, deflect blame onto the intelligence services, and delay any political damage until 2005, after the upcoming election.

But the facts need no clarification. Despite repeated warnings from the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, President Bush and his administration hyped and distorted the threat that Iraq posed. And now that reality is setting in, the President wants to pin the blame on someone else. We can't let him.

Congress has the power to censure the President -- to formally reprimand him for betraying the nation's trust. If ever there was a time for this, it's now. Join our call on Congress to censure President Bush at:


Perley-Girl v. Chomsky 

This from Scat-Man:

Check out this 1988 debate at Ohio State University between Chomsky and Richard Perle of all people. Chomsky drops mushroom clouds on him. It's so wonderful.

In December I saw a panel discussion between Perle and Joshua Micah Marshall on Iraq, and he was making equally specious arguments. (At one point he claimed that France and Germany's unwillingness to contribute to postwar Iraq was proof positive that they never cared about the Iraqis, apparently ignoring the fact that they didn't contribute because the US conducted the war in spite of them and pissed them off. Amazing that someone could say this in public and not be laughed out of the room.) Unfortunately JMM went on the defensive and couldn't quite call him on it although he did an admirable job nonetheless.

It is nice to see Perle get his. Unfortunately, it was 15 years ago and he remains in power anyway. But you can't have everything.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Spitzer Endorses Kerry 

Senator John Kerry, left, received the endorsement of the New York State attorney general, Eliot Spitzer.
This just won Kerry a bunch of points with me. Spitzer is key. He's a tough, articulate, corporate-crime-fighting hero. Whoever the Dem nominee is should campaign with Spitzer as a presumptive nominee for Attorney General, hammering home the issue of corporate crime and financial protection for ordinary American investors.

Poll: Bush Loses 

In a nationwide survey, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry now leads President George W. Bush 51 – 43 percent according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Looking at the Democratic primary, the Kerry juggernaut has rolled up 42 percent, 30 points higher than any other Presidential primary contender.

American voters give President Bush a 48 – 45 percent approval, the first time he has dropped below 50 percent. While Kerry is the only Democrat ahead of Bush, all Democratic contenders have gained ground on the President.

In possible 2004 presidential matchups, Kerry beats Bush 51 – 43 percent, compared to a 49 – 45 percent Bush lead January 26. Bush beats all other Democrats:

49 - 44 percent over Dean, down from 54 – 38 percent January 26;
47 – 45 percent over Edwards, down from 50 – 42 percent;
48 – 45 percent over Clark, down from 51 – 41 percent;
49 – 44 percent over Lieberman, down from 53 – 39 percent.
Now, you may be inclined to feel hopeful about the results of this poll. However, I should remind you:

Rape room.
Code red.
Dirty bomb.

Remember? No matter--we'll all be reminded soon enough.

Here's a Big-Ass Surprise 

"Nucular" Weapons Specialist David Kay is a Republican.

Remember how important news stories "spring to life amid the heat of a presidential campaign"? 

The Chung affair, as well as questions about Bush's National Guard service, illustrate vividly how long-ago and previously disclosed episodes can spring to life amid the heat of a presidential campaign,
report John F. Harris and Jonathan Finer, Washington Post Staff Writers, with Staff writers David S. Broder, Paul Schwartzman, Ceci Connolly and Dan Balz contributing;
The Boston Globe reported in 2000 that "there is strong evidence that Bush performed no military service as required when he moved from Houston to Alabama to work on a U.S. Senate campaign from May to November 1972,"
report John F. Harris and Jonathan Finer, Washington Post Staff Writers, with Staff writers David S. Broder, Paul Schwartzman, Ceci Connolly and Dan Balz contributing;
Much to the frustration of Democrats, that story never gained much traction in the 2000 campaign,
report John F. Harris and Jonathan Finer, Washington Post Staff Writers, with Staff writers David S. Broder, Paul Schwartzman, Ceci Connolly and Dan Balz contributing.

A Mist of 'Controversy' 

For Bush, a Tactical Retreat on Iraq

Bush will announce this week that he is creating, by executive order, a bipartisan independent panel of at least nine members that will make a report in 2005, the White House confirmed yesterday. But those close to the president say he is doing so while continuing to avoid any explicit public acknowledgment that the intelligence was wrong. Why the reluctance to state what appears increasingly obvious as Kay spent the past 10 days dashing prospects that significant weapons stockpiles would be found in Iraq? Although the tactic may appear to be obtuse, there is a real strategy behind the Bush response -- and one that has been used before, to great effect.

Bush aides have learned through hard experience that admitting error only projects weakness and invites more abuse.
[Editorial note: this doctrine has from time to time been known as "infallibility." It has been successfully used to help solidify the authority of the Pope, God, and many others...]
Conversely, by postponing an acknowledgment -- possibly beyond Election Day --
[E.n.: We have so much truth to look forward to, once the second Bush administration can stop fiddling around with "partisan politics" and get back to the business of governing!]
the White House is generating a fog of uncertainty around Kay's stark findings, and potentially softening a harsh public judgment.
[E.n.: Whence comes this dark cynicism from Dana Milbank? He must know that the American people are a far too positive and forgiving people to judge Bush "harshly."]
"They aren't giving up," Hans Blix, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, said recently. Blix's failure to find weapons of mass destruction before the war was ridiculed by the administration. "They all prefer to retreat under a mist of controversy rather than say, 'I'm sorry, this was wrong,' " he said.
Full story.

Perle: Vampire or Common Corpse? 

Yet many administration defenders, including some of the staunchest supporters of the war, say Dr. Kay got it right. "The president is a consumer of intelligence, not a producer of it," said Richard Perle, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and an ardent proponent of the war. "I have long thought our intelligence in the gulf has been woefully inadequate."

Perle: "I am (un)dead."

Regarding Perle's utterances, Josh Marshall observes:
As Churchill might have said, hypocrisy wrapped in mendacity, bundled up in ridiculousness. A true gem.

...Perle has long been a staunch critic of the CIA. His argument was that they understated the scope of Saddam’s WMD programs, naively discounted his ties to terrorist organizations and had an overly pessimistic vision of post-war Iraq.
&c. &c. &c.

Sunday, February 01, 2004


Bush's service record criticized

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Presidential candidate John F. Kerry yesterday took aim at Republicans for questioning Democrats' patriotism, and several fellow military veterans blasted President Bush as a failed commander in chief who once dodged military service and suffers from never having learned the lessons of war.

Speaking to about 250 veterans and South Carolina voters at a town-hall-style forum, four days before the state's primary, former US senator Max Cleland of Georgia introduced Kerry as a combat leader with the caring touch of Shakespeare's Henry V, while accusing Bush of shirking his military duty during the Vietnam era.

"We need somebody who has felt the sting of battle, not someone who didn't even complete his tour stateside in the Guard," said Cleland, who lost three limbs in Vietnam, in a reference to allegations that Bush, who stopped flying with the Texas Air National Guard in 1972, did not fulfill the last two years of his military obligation.
Full story.

For how long can something be "alleged" before it's understood to be either true or not true? Hey, media whores: which is it?

O'Saddama "Found" 

In a hypothetical vote, Kerry and Bush are locked in a dead heat, with Kerry pulling 48 percent or registered voters vs. Bush’s 46 percent.

While Kerry is enjoying his bounce in the polls, Bush’s approval rating is at an all-time low in the NEWSWEEK poll, slipping to 49 percent (with 43 percent approving). Almost half (49 percent) do not want to see the president reelected in the fall (compared to 45 percent who do), which represents a slight improvement in his favor over last week, when 52 percent didn’t want to see him re-elected (44 percent did).


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