Friday, April 02, 2004

AmCop Back on Monday 

Blicero heads up to Vermont for a scream of a weekend!

Get it? Remember 'the scream'?? Remember when...

[Gag...flip-flop in and out of consciousness...light vomit...blackout.]

Kerry Must Fight Now 

Dear Kerry Campaign,

Your recent responses to Bush administration "jabs" on taxes and gasoline prices sounded weak and ineffective. (For instance, have you publicly cited the 1999 Fortune magazine article in which Gregory Mankiw, Bush's chief economist, calls vehemently for a 50 cent per gallon gasoline tax hike?) The good news for you is that in the big picture, this election will not be won or lost on the issues of taxes or gasoline prices, two issues that are indeed important in most Americans' minds.

The media has recently been chattering about the effectiveness of the Bushies' ad campaign to "define" Kerry as a "flip-flopping, tax-friendly Massachusetts liberal." While the Bushies are agreed to have "done some damage" to Kerry's image with these attacks, the good news for you is that--once again--the election will not be won or lost on the question of the "consistency" of Kerry's Senate record, or even his tax policies.

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS: the central strategy of the Bush campaign is to relentlessly insinuate, through a number of outlets and in varying degrees of explicitness, that A VOTE FOR KERRY IS A VOTE FOR THE TERRORISTS. This is the "issue" on which the campaign will be won or lost.

In a recent comment in the New Yorker magazine, Mark Danner notes that "America has endured fierce electoral struggles over war and peace before, most recently over Vietnam in 1968. This 'war on terror' campaign, however, in its focus on the critical question of 'Who can make us safer?,' may come to more closely resemble the Red-baiting campaigns of the fifties or the elections after the Civil War in which rivals 'waved the bloody shirt.'"

In other words, it's dirty as only it can get when the stakes are as high as they've become.

This is not news to me, to you, or to anyone who has been paying attention to American politics since 2002. You have known all along how desperate the Bush administration is to hold onto the power they have claimed. You are fully aware of the extent of the slander, demagoguery, and outright lies they will promulgate in order to defeat Kerry. It's old news. It's our reality. Will you fight it--or will you sit back and watch the carnage unfold?

Make no mistake about it: Senator Kerry won the Democratic primaries precisely by his tactic of confronting the enemy directly and forcefully; his "Bring It On" battle cry galvanized voters across the country and won our trust that we were electing a clear-eyed fighter with no delusions about the nature of the fight he faced.

Where has that fighter gone? "Bring It On" has had its day--already that electrifying slogan has faded in the ears of Americans. What is the new slogan?


I hope you realize the urgency of this question. The life of Kerry's campaign depends upon it. Because for the last few weeks, even as the Bush administration has faced unprecedented criticism that cuts to the heart of its strategy to define Bush as the strongest, most trustworthy leader in the war against terrorism, the Bushies' attack on Kerry has flowed on beneath the radar of our national discourse, insinuatory and unceasing: A VOTE FOR KERRY IS A VOTE FOR THE TERRORISTS.

The silence from your camp has been deafening. If Kerry cannot "go on the offensive" now and "redefine" Bush, at a time when the credibility of every major figure in the Bush administration has come publicly into question--when can he? Things may yet get worse for Bush in the weeks and months ahead. But surely you can see that they are not going to get any easier for Kerry.

You need a battle-cry, and you need it immediately. I suggest the following:


That's just my take. I'm not a professional strategist; surely someone in your camp can come up with something better. But it must succinctly, directly, and forcefully call out Bush for what he is: A LIAR AND A WEAK LEADER. I firmly believe that if your campaign cannot or will not do this, Kerry will lose the election.

(This is not to say that Kerry does not also need a positive vision as a counterpart to his attack on Bush. The positive vision must also come in the form of a succinct, easily-graspable and disseminable theme. But without the attack line, the positive line is useless. Kerry's attack on Bush's credibility and defense leadership MUST BE the framework upon which his positive vision will be built and shown forth.)

You must act now and with all the resources at your disposal. And your campaign can no longer plead lack of funds. You have raised $43 million in the last quarter, shattering all records for a Democratic candidate. And I have no reason to believe your campaign won't raise even more money in the present quarter.

If $40 million cannot buy you a voice for your message that Bush is a liar--and a weak liar--then nothing will. And nothing else will be worth buying.

I wish you the best in your efforts to reclaim the warrior image that Kerry promised us in January and February. I wish you the best in your efforts to show all Americans what many of us are increasingly willing to
acknowledge Bush is, and to inspire in us the courage to believe it.

Those of us who watched the young Mr. Kerry's impassioned and eloquent testimony before Congress on the question of the government's failed leadership during Vietnam, re-broadcast on C-Span last month, were shown anew that Kerry can have--has had--the heart and mind (and tongue) of a truly great American leader.



What (in the Name of 'Fuck') Are They Thinking? 

I'm afraid I can't subscribe to the benefit of the doubt that Tim Roemer is offering. This is not an "innocent explanation" scenario.
Bush Aides Block Clinton's Papers From 9/11 Panel

WASHINGTON, April 1 — The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks said on Thursday that it was pressing the White House to explain why the Bush administration had blocked thousands of pages of classified foreign policy and counterterrorism documents from former President Bill Clinton's White House files from being turned over to the panel's investigators.
Maybe it's just that they've grown so used to stonewalling the 9/11 commission on every possible thing, that in the midst of all this threatening controversy they've simply decided to stick with the tactics they know best (even though those are precisely the tactics (stonewalling, lying, covering-up) which caused the controversy to begin with)?

Bush: A Regular Laff-Bag 

First we had this:
Beltway Humor: Media React to Bush's Weapons Jokes

Interestingly, Bush's comments were hardly controversial to the Beltway press corps, which seemed to write it off as harmlessly "self-deprecating" humor. Many of the press accounts the next day did not raise questions about Bush's humorous reference to his administration's bogus rationale for a war that has cost thousands of lives-- American and Iraqi. For the media, such humor was expected. "Well, every night we hear people on TV telling jokes about President Bush, but last night it was the president's turn to tell jokes about the president," CBS anchor Julie Chen explained (3/25/04), adding that "at least someone's making jokes about it other than the late-night talk show hosts."
And now we have this:
Grisly Deaths Don't Dent an Upbeat Bush Message Stressing Iraq Successes

WASHINGTON, April 1 — Hours after the gruesome pictures of an Iraqi mob mauling the charred corpses of four American contract workers sped around the world, President Bush swept into a huge ballroom in one of Washington's most affluent neighborhoods.

It was his final big fund-raiser, and hundreds of his supporters were gathered around $2,000-a-seat tables, picking at salads and catching up on Washington gossip.

Mr. Bush seemed all smiles. He did speak about Iraq, but not of the day's events. The White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, had denounced them on Mr. Bush's behalf as "horrific, despicable attacks."

Yet Mr. Bush's first reference to the country was a laugh line about his opponent, Senator John Kerry.
I'm sorry--did anyone miss that headline? Well, it was this:
Grisly Deaths Don't Dent an Upbeat Bush Message Stressing Iraq Successes
You heard it right! This--

--didn't "dent" an "upbeat" Bush. (He "seemed" "all smiles.")

The fucker.

Bush found it difficult to feel empathy with his fellow corpses.

Rice: No Iraq-9/11 connection, yet we've lied about it ever since 

Dawkins writes:

After seeing Dr. Rice sputter defensively on 60 Minutes, and gearing up to see her do more of the same before the 9/11 commission next week, I revisited her Op Ed in the Washington Post of Monday, March 22: "9/11: For the Record."

For the most part, it's a litany of pathetic excuses, lies, and mendacious insinuations, just a few of which are:
[D]uring the… first eight months of the Bush administration prior to Sept. 11 -- the U.S. government worked hard to counter the al Qaeda threat.

No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration.

The president wanted more than a laundry list of ideas simply to contain al Qaeda or "roll back" the threat. Once in office, we quickly began crafting a comprehensive new strategy to "eliminate" the al Qaeda network.

Because of President Bush's vision and leadership, our nation is safer.
But what I found especially remarkable was this admission of the biggest lie, tucked near the end.
Once advised that there was no evidence that Iraq was responsible for Sept. 11, the president told his National Security Council on Sept. 17 that Iraq was not on the agenda and that the initial U.S. response to Sept. 11 would be to target al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
So basically, she's saying that Bush was told on or just before September 17, 2001, definitively, that "there was no evidence that Iraq was responsible for Sept. 11."

My question -- asked innocently, discreetly -- is if Bush was told on September 17, 2001 that there was no link between Saddam and 9/11, why did he and members of his administration say or imply that there was such a connection, repeatedly, adamantly, furiously, for the next two-plus-and-going-on-three years?

Weird: Rice makes the straightforward point that the administration had been lying about the phony Iraq-9/11 connection since the week it happened in 2001.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

April Fool's!! 

Are Kerry's People Pointing This Out 

for Christ's sake? By Bush's chief economist:
Fortune issue: May 24, 1999

Gas Tax Now!

First Principles

By N. Gregory Mankiw

Many members of Congress have been pushing for a cut in income taxes, but they've been unsure how to pay for it. Fortunately, I've figured out an answer: with a tax increase. Let's cut income taxes by 10% and finance it with a 50-cent-per-gallon hike in the gasoline tax.

The Trifecta? 

Three stories from today's WaPo:

Top Focus Before 9/11 Wasn't on Terrorism
Rice Speech Cited Missile Defense

On Sept. 11, 2001, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to outline a Bush administration policy that would address "the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday" -- but the focus was largely on missile defense, not terrorism from Islamic radicals.

The speech provides telling insight into the administration's thinking on the very day that the United States suffered the most devastating attack since the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor. The address was designed to promote missile defense as the cornerstone of a new national security strategy, and contained no mention of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or Islamic extremist groups, according to former U.S. officials who have seen the text.

The speech was postponed in the chaos of the day, part of which Rice spent in a bunker.
The text also implicitly challenged the Clinton administration's policy, saying it did not do enough about the real threat -- long-range missiles.
In the speech prepared for Sept. 11, Rice intended to point out that the United States had spent $11 billion on counterterrorism, about twice as much as it spent on missile defense, during the previous year, although the speech did not point out that that was when President Bill Clinton was still in office.

Rice's text noted that Bush appointed Cheney to oversee a coordinated national effort to protect against a terrorist attack using weapons of mass destruction. At the time, the U.S. concern about terror was heavily focused on Iraq and rogue states, and missile defense was viewed as a weapon against that terrorism -- a different interpretation of the leading threats and responses that would take hold after jetliners hit the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Bush Counsel Called 9/11 Panelist Before Clarke Testified

President Bush's top lawyer placed a telephone call to at least one of the Republican members of the Sept. 11 commission when the panel was gathered in Washington on March 24 to hear the testimony of former White House counterterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke, according to people with direct knowledge of the call.

White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales called commissioner Fred F. Fielding, one of five GOP members of the body, and, according to one observer, also called Republican commission member James R. Thompson. Rep. Henry A. Waxman, the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, wrote to Gonzales yesterday asking him to confirm and describe the conversations.
Thompson declined yesterday to say whether he spoke with Gonzales. "I never talk about conversations with the White House," he said. Asked about the source of his information for his questioning of Clarke, Thompson said: "I ask my own questions."
Thompson, a former Illinois governor, pointed to Clarke's remarks praising Bush in a previously anonymous 2002 news briefing. It was reported on Fox News two hours before the hearing started; the White House that morning had authorized Fox News to identify the anonymous briefer as Clarke.
Most Say They Are Less Safe Since 9/11

Fewer than half of all Americans think the country is safer now than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, and more than three-quarters expect the United States to be the target of a major terrorist attack at home or abroad in the next few months, according to a new poll.
The poll found the most feared types of attacks were bioterrorism, cited by 48 percent of respondents,

and chemical weapons, cited by 37 percent. Suicide bombings, a much more commonly employed tool of terrorists around the world, were mentioned by 21 percent.

Great Fucking News 

Bad Timing as Kerry Slips Out of Picture

WASHINGTON, March 31 — At the very moment that President Bush has begun his general election campaign, Senator John Kerry has largely slipped from sight. And Mr. Bush has made the most of Mr. Kerry's absence.

Mr. Kerry's low profile occurs at what would seem to be a particularly opportune time for the senator. Mr. Bush has been struggling with questions about his record on terrorism, and Mr. Kerry had been riding on a wave of excitement after his capture of the Democratic nomination.
Mr. Kerry's campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill, said on Wednesday said that her operation was far from idle...Mr. Kerry's aides said the senator was about to embark on an aggressive schedule of speeches and a national wave of television advertisements challenging Mr. Bush on the economy, job creation and health care.

"We learned in the primary that we are going to run a race on our own terms and on our own schedule and carry out the plan that we put together," Ms. Cahill said. "You're watching it executed in front of you. The Bush people have been laying back a year and half and amassing money to launch a campaign. O.K., but the country still thinks we're on the wrong track."
Well, I really, really hope Cahill is right.
"Here's what concerns me in the long term: I can tell you what George Bush's definition of John Kerry is: He is a flip-flopping liberal who wants to raise your taxes," said a Democratic strategist who did not want to be quoted by name. "But I'm not sure I can tell you what John Kerry's definition of George Bush is.`
Here's the fucking definition: BUSH IS A LIAR (WHO CAN'T PROTECT US). How complicated is that? I've been saying this for a year and a half, as have thousands of other people. If this "definition" is too troublesome for the Kerry campaign, then I'm afraid they simply don't want to win.

Some Good News 

Court Tells U.S. to Review Death Sentences

THE HAGUE, March 31 — The International Court of Justice on Wednesday ordered American courts to review death sentences imposed on 51 Mexicans in the United States, saying their rights under international law had been violated.

The decision, by the United Nations' highest court, was seen as a moral victory in Mexico and as a stinging rebuke to the United States.

In a firm ruling read out before the judges in the stately hall of the Peace Palace in The Hague, the court said the prisoners' rights to speak with Mexican consular officials after their arrests had been repeatedly violated.
Gov. Rick Perry, who succeeded President Bush in Texas, has said that "the International Court of Justice does not have jurisdiction in Texas."
[Maybe so...but aren't there some "strange" aspects of Rick Perry's "personal life" that still need looking into?]
Mexico does not have a death penalty, except in its military code. Executions of Mexicans in American prisons are widely publicized and almost universally resented in Mexico. Mr. Fox canceled a scheduled visit in August 2002 to Mr. Bush's ranch in Texas to protest the state's execution of a Mexican.

The ruling was applauded across the political spectrum in Mexico, where even opposition politicians praised Mr. Fox for taking a stand against the United States in the international court.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Randi Rhodes 

was great this afternoon (3-6pm) on Air America Radio (AM 1190 in New York).

"James Baker is a beautiful man...a great liar...I slept with him."

She described Lars Larsen (the wingnut radio host in Portland whose show Air America now replaces) as someone who "wears a penis on the back of his pants."

She nearly reduced Ralph Nader to tears. He finally hung up.

Rhodes (originally from Queens) is formerly of the U.S. Air Force. She has been on the radio for 10 years in South Florida and is obviously very experienced, very loud, very tough. I think her audience may now get very large. She's worth a listen.

Don't miss Atrios tonight on Garofalo's show from 8-11pm.

Update: I guess Randi goes till 7 (at least) because it's 6:44 and she just finished having a conversation with Pat Buchanan. Much friendlier than the Nader "interview," to say the least. She's now talking about conservatives who know Bush is a fraud. I like this lady.

Kerry Must Do Better 

To: info@johnkerry.com
From: speakingcorpse

I am very afraid that you think you can win this election by focusing on domestic issues, and by trying to avoid addressing the various disasters now consuming our foreign policy. Please, please, respond to this message and tell me that's not what you think.

The election is never not going to be about national security. Talking about gas prices when the nation is riveted by the revelation of Bush's lies is not going to work. It makes you look ineffectual, out of touch, and afraid.

You've got to come up with a message that includes both domestic and national security, that is positive but that at the same time aggressively reminds the nation of the truly spectacular deceptions and failures that have marked Bush's foreign policy.

How about: "I will restore trust to the Oval Office. I will speak the truth. I won't deceive America about the problems it faces, or the sacrifices that will be required in order to solve the problems. But we can do it, if we know what's at stake..." Then you can mention your ideas (about, say, Pakistani nukes? about North Korea? about larger
troop deployments in Iraq?) and, in the same breath (if you have a skilled speech-writer), you can mention Bush's lies--about WMD's, about Medicare costs, about tax cuts, etc., etc...

Integrate these items into a single, forceful message. And then get people on the talk shows repeating that message. Come on! Take some speed if you're tired! Onward!

Bush Testifies 

From Buzzflash:
Here we have it, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney testifying together before the 9-11 Commission.

Give It a Listen Today! 

A reminder that today is the first day of Air America Radio.

The O'Franken Factor was great--he had Bob Kerrey (from the 9/11 commission), Chuck D (who hosts the morning show), Michael Moore, and a phone call from Al Gore. Guests tomorrow and Friday will include Senator Clinton, Richard Clarke and Paul Krugman, among others. I'm listening to Randi Rhodes (3-6pm) right now; this evening will be the premiere of J. Garafolo's show from 8-11pm.

In New York you can listen on WLIB, AM 1190. In other cities:

Los Angeles - KBLA 1580 AM
Chicago - WNTD 950 AM
Portland, OR- KPOJ 620 AM
Inland Empire, CA- KCAA 1050 AM
Minneapolis MN - WMNN 1330AM
XM Satellite Radio - Channel 167

No matter where you are, you can listen live online at http://www.airamericaradio.com/.

Bush I, Nearing Heart Attack/Death, Pules and Stamps Feet Before Oil Polluters 

This Reuters story also comes along via Marshall. As he notes, it easily outdoes The Onion.
An emotional former President George H.W. Bush on Tuesday defended his son's Iraq war and lashed out at White House critics.

It is "deeply offensive and contemptible" to hear "elites and intellectuals on the campaign trail" dismiss progress in Iraq since last year's overthrow of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, the elder Bush said in a speech to the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association annual convention.

Cheney Will Be Minding Everything Bush Says Before Commission: Think About It 

This is fucking crazy. Josh Marshall speculates on why Bush and Cheney will (although this has gotten little notice) be testifying jointly (i.e., together, in the same room) before the 9/11 commission:
Only three scenarios or explanations make sense to me.

The first -- and most generous -- explanation is that this is simply another way to further dilute the Commission's ability to ask questions.

If, say, the meeting lasts three hours, that's three hours to ask questions of both of them rather than three hours to ask questions of each -- as might be the case in separate meetings.

That wouldn't be any great coup for the White House. But it would be one more impediment to throw in front of the Commission's work, which would probably be a source of some joy for the White House.

From here the possible explanations go down hill -- in every respect -- pretty quickly.

Explanation number two would be that this is a fairly elementary -- and, one imagines, pretty effective -- way to keep the two of them from giving contradictory answers to the Commission's questions. It helps them keep their stories straight.

(It's a basic part of any criminal investigation -- which, of course, this isn't -- to interview everyone separately, precisely so that people can't jigger their stories into consistency on the fly.)

The third explanation is that the White House does not trust the president to be alone with the Commission members for any great length of time without getting himself into trouble, either by contradicting what his staff says, or getting some key point wrong, or letting some key fact slip. And Cheney's there to make sure nothing goes wrong.
Christ. What the hell?

Lopate to Interview 'Bitch' 

Dawkins writes:

Dear Mr. Lopate,

I enjoyed your conversation with Richard Clarke this afternoon.

You mentioned during the program that you'll have Bush adviser Karen Hughes as a guest on tomorrow's show, in part to provide her an opportunity to try to rebut some of the claims made by Mr. Clarke.

As per the pattern followed so far by Bush officials and surrogates, one line of attack that Hughes will probably pursue to try to diminish the seriousness of Clarke's allegations is to suggest greed or opportunism as a motive for his writing his book.

(Scott McClellan has made this charge, and, as portrayed in this New York Times article, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has also accused Clarke of "profiteering" with the release of his book.

I hope that you will give Ms. Hughes a fair opportunity to air such an attack, and in case she does, I hope you might be able to ask her a question as well:

After spending the past many months as an adviser to Bush from her home in Texas, Hughes is now returning to the spotlight with a new book of her own, "Ten Minutes From Normal." She's also currently on a circuit that earns her $50,000 per speech she delivers on her participation in the administration and campaign. In fact, the Bush campaign's communications director told the New York Times this weekend that Hughes is "involved enough in the campaign message to incorporate that into all of her speeches."

Frist's hypocrisy in accusing Clarke of "profiteering" is quite obvious. Frist played on public fears and cashed in on his position in government when he published "When Every Moment Counts: What You Need to Know About Bioterrorism from the Senate's Only Doctor" in 2002.

In case Hughes seeks to discredit Clarke for cashing in on his former position in government, it might be appropriate to ask her to explain the ways in which her book deal and lucrative speaking schedule -- rolled out while she remains in government -- are different.

Thanks so much for your great work.


Blicero adds: for a ha-hoot, check out some of the titles that "customers" would recommend "instead of or in addition to" Bill Frist's book.

Kerry Take Heed! 

speakingcorpse writes:

Revered Sir,

I understand that you need to be very careful right now, that you don't want to step into a firestorm that is already burning up your enemies. And I understand that you are working out a simpler, more disciplined, and more positive message. Great. But you've got to be sharper, more memorable, and more IMPLICITLY--if not explicitly and dangerously--critical of the Bush administration. More specifically, you've got to call attention to the secrecy/credibility/trustworthiness problem of the President. You don't have to make big speeches about it; you don't have to announce that you're attacking the President; but you've got to mention it ALL THE TIME! Integrate references to the president's secrecy into all of your stump speeches; say, constantly, "We need to look at X, Y, or Z truthfully, honestly." Ask reporters why Americans should believe Bush's attacks on you when he has already misled us about WMD's, Medicare, etc. Declare your hope that all the truth comes out in the 9/11 investigation. Be calm, careful, statesmanlike. Don't even make the truth question the main question. But make it stick. It should pervade your discourse--don't let us forget about it. As a start, look at E. J. Dionne's column in today's Post: it is moderate, calm, respectable. But it gets to the heart of the matter. If you can succeed in making Americans take Bush's credibility problem for granted, you will win.


Blicero adds:

For instance, Senator Kerry: Cheney recently "jabbed" at you on the tax issue in a speech he gave to the Chamber of Commerce. Cheney's "jab" was reported widely in the news media, as was your campaign's response: something to the effect of, "The Vice President is in no position to be lecturing anybody about the economy." Now, given that the news media is going to report both the attack and the response, wouldn't it have been just as easy--and vastly more effective--if your campaign's response (distributed free by the media) had said, "The Vice President--who, along with the President, has misled America on every issue from his energy task force to the cost of Medicare to Iraqi WMD intelligence--has no credibility to be lecturing anybody about the economy."

See the difference? Now get with it!

Brooks to Kids: Just Chill Out, Dudes! 

Dawkins writes:

Hey Mom and Dad!

Here's a totally awesome new column by David Brooks that you can share with your kids! Never mind that in the last couple weeks, Brooks has claimed that liberal secularists are racists and terrorist appeasers or that Richard Clarke is a bloodthirsty partisan lacking in any credibility.

In today's column, "Stressed for Success?", Brooks (a concerned parent just like you and me who spends "a lot of time meeting with students on college campuses") talks with our kids -- not down to them -- about the college application process.
Many of you high school seniors are in a panic at this time of year, coping with your college acceptance or rejection letters. Since the admissions process has gone totally insane, it's worth reminding yourself that this is not a particularly important moment in your life.

[I]f at any moment in your later life you so much as mention your SAT scores in conversation, you will be considered a total jerk.

[I]n adulthood, you'll find that a talent for regurgitating what superiors want to hear will take you only halfway up the ladder, and then you'll stop there. The people who succeed most spectacularly, on the other hand, often had low grades. They are not prudential. They venture out and thrive where there is no supervision, where there are no preset requirements.
"People who succeed most spectacularly… had low grades… no supervision… no preset requirements…"

(Now who do we all know who totally made it to the top without good grades, without studying hard, without thinking about anything, and who's thrived in his current office without any way uncool "supervision" or "requirements"?)

I'd definitely recommend that you share this piece of work with your kids. They can read it, take it to school, show it to their friends, enjoy the common cause they've found with Brooks, and then, come his next column on Saturday, when Brooks explains how John Kerry carries water for Ayman Al-Zawahiri or drops insinuations that Richard Clarke is a pedophile, your kids can get in on the ground floor with the best "reasoned," "moderate," and "thoughtful" commentator going today.

And if they apply themselves correctly -- get bad grades, don't try hard, but make the right friends, sell their souls to Satan, and regurgitate the words they're told to by their ideological masters -- maybe someday they'll have a way cool column in the New York Times!

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

This may be something to keep an eye on... 

There's just something really, you know, off about this case. In the bigger picture, all the Bush administration needs right now is yet another reminder of their massive incompetence. In the smaller picture, the government continues to lie about seemingly inconsequential shit--
U.S. Wants Suit on Anthrax Probe Tossed

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Government lawyers on Monday contended that Attorney General John Ashcroft named Dr. Steven J. Hatfill a "person of interest'' in the 2001 anthrax attacks to dampen speculation that the bioterrorism expert was a suspect.
Uh, sorry? To dampen speculation?
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bucholtz said ``it's clear the attorney general was trying to downplay'' federal investigators' suspicions that Hatfill sent anthrax-laced envelopes to government and media offices in October 2001.
Downplay? This is just laughable. What the fuck are these people up to?

Now this just has to be looked into 

Several paragraphs into this deeply compelling WaPo story,
Probe Finds $10 Million In Payments To Lobbyist
Indian Tribes Unaware of Fees

Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff received $10 million in previously undisclosed payments from a public relations executive whom he recommended for work with wealthy Indian tribes that operate casinos, congressional investigators have determined.

Abramoff, one of Washington's best-connected Republican lobbyists, this month was forced out of his firm, Greenberg Traurig, after revelations that he and the executive -- Michael S. Scanlon, a former spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) -- had persuaded four newly wealthy tribes to pay them fees of more than $45 million over the past three years. That amount rivals spending on public policy by some of the nation's biggest corporate interests.
one finds this item:
He also is looking into millions of dollars in campaign contributions that Abramoff advised the tribes to make, as well as payments from the tribes to other organizations with no clear connection to Indian concerns, among them a Scanlon think tank in Rehoboth Beach, Del., run by a former lifeguard and a yoga instructor. That organization, American International Center, also paid Greenberg Traurig $1.5 million.
Death in Rehoboth--indeed?

J. Stewart: Novak is racist "douchebag" 

From the Daily Show...

Video: Novak on Crossfire bringing up the possibility that Clarke is just attacking Rice because she's black...

Stewart: "Wow.. who ever knew this deck HAD a race card.

Don't you get it people? Civil rights activist Robert Novak is implying Richard Clarke was never interested in fighting terrorism. He. Just. Hates. Black. People.

That's the thing about Robert Novak. He's all about fighting injustice. Whether he sees a white man attacking a black woman, that's when he's gotta say something. Or when he hears about a CIA agent still working undercover. He has to reveal that person.

That's Robert Novak. A douchebag... for liberty."

"That's the way it's going to be" 

In 12th Book of Best-Selling Series, Jesus Returns

The succeeding novels tick off the pivotal steps Dr. LaHaye foresees during the ensuing "tribulation," a seven-year period of turmoil and cataclysm when unbelievers have a last chance to see the light. The fictional Antichrist, a Romanian named Nicolae Carpathia, rises to power as head of the United Nations. He signs a peace treaty with Israel, setting off a seven-year countdown to the Second Coming, and he ultimately establishes a worldwide government, a brutal dictatorship and a false religion with himself at its head. Meanwhile, 144,000 Jews convert to evangelical Christianity, including one rabbi whose conversion takes place live on global television, and lead an underground "remnant" of believers who periodically recite passages of Scripture that Dr. LaHaye relies on as a road map to their future.

Dr. LaHaye said he believed that over all the series reflected the biblical truth.

"That's the way it's going to be during the tribulation period, according to Revelation, and if it happens to parallel what the seculars are trying to do today, so be it," he said.

"The Bible clearly teaches there's going to be a one-world government in the last days. And after the Rapture of the church, then that one-world government will coalesce, bringing together all the governments of the world and also bringing together all the religions of the world." He added, "The fact that we're seeing some of those things happen right now must be a wake-up call to some people to say, `Hey, we may be closer than we think.' "

To those unfamiliar with Dr. LaHaye's views of Revelation, the most striking aspect of the novels may be the bloody massacre Jesus wreaks on the Antichrist's unbelieving armies.

"Tens of thousands of foot soldiers dropped their weapons, grabbed their heads or their chests, fell to their knees, and writhed as they were invisibly sliced asunder," the authors write. "Their innards and entrails gushed to the desert floor, and as those around them turned to run, they too were slain, their blood pooling and rising in the unforgiving brightness of God."

That might seem like the end of the end, but Dr. LaHaye and Mr. Jenkins say they are not quite finished. They plan a postscript to the series, describing one last battle between God and Satan at the close of Jesus' 1,000-year rule on Earth, and a prequel, filling in the early history of the Antichrist.

But it may be hard to top "Glorious Appearing."

"For believers, we really are looking forward to the glorious appearing," said Steve Nelson, a Southern Baptist minister in Gallatin, Tenn., and fan of the series. "We know from reading the Word that we win in the end, and this is the winning round coming up."
Still, isn't it weird that the Antichrist is from the New Europe? (Maybe his father was French.)

Monday, March 29, 2004

A moment in the lower fecal stratum 

The website Who Would Osama Vote For? describes itself thus:
If this is your first time here, you're probably thinking, "Oh great, another partisan website." The goal of this website is not to support one party or the other, but rather to promote what is best for the country. Unfortunately, of the two candidates, George W. Bush is the only choice. We don't think he's the best president, but the alternative that the democrats have put forward just doesn't cut it for us.

We consider ourselves part of the growing number of people who label themselves "independents" for a lack of a better term. Fiscally responsible, socially liberal and personally accountable. If we were to take a political exam we would come out in the libertarian spectrum.
So if I've got this right, a website run by "fiscally responsible, socially liberal and personally accountable" "independents" is offering this item:

These folks who "would come out in the libertarian spectrum" would no doubt like to encourage you to

2001 Flashback: What the Hell? 

Buzzflash reminds us of this suspicious item:
Ashcroft Flying High

(CBS) Fishing rod in hand, Attorney General John Ashcroft left on a weekend trip to Missouri Thursday afternoon aboard a chartered government jet, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart.

In response to inquiries from CBS News over why Ashcroft was traveling exclusively by leased jet aircraft instead of commercial airlines, the Justice Department cited what it called a "threat assessment" by the FBI, and said Ashcroft has been advised to travel only by private jet for the remainder of his term.

"There was a threat assessment and there are guidelines. He is acting under the guidelines," an FBI spokesman said. Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department, however, would identify what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it.
Weird, to say the least.

Clarke on Lopate Tomorrow 

Hey New Yorkers: Richard Clarke will be the guest on Leonard Lopate's pubic radio show on WNYC tomorrow. Check it out, from 12 noon till 2, on AM 820 and 93.9 FM.

Lopate is perhaps the most admirable host in public radio--the perfect antidote to the whoreish Brian Lehrer. It is sure to be a delicious two hours.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Democrats Exploit Bible for Political Gain 

ST. LOUIS (AP) - John Kerry cited a Bible verse Sunday to criticize leaders who have "faith but has no deeds," prompting President Bush's spokesman to accuse Kerry of exploiting Scripture for a political attack.

Kerry never mentioned Bush by name during his speech at New North Side Baptist Church, but aimed his criticism at "our present national leadership." Kerry cited Scripture in his appeal for the worshippers, including James 2:14, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?"

"The Scriptures say, what does it profit, my brother, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?" Kerry said. "When we look at what is happening in America today, were are the works of compassion?"

Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said Kerry's comment "was beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse and a sad exploitation of Scripture for a political attack."

Whether the topic is welfare, education, the regulation of biotechnology or even the war on terrorism, biblical wisdom may offer something that secular thinking does not — not pat answers, but a way to think about things.
-- David Brooks
COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATISM never really had much of a life, but its collapse has had a debilitating effect on the Bush presidency.
-- David Brooks

"I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. It's shaping up that way." Robertson told viewers he spent several days in prayer at the end of 2003.

"The Lord has just blessed him," Robertson said of Bush. "I mean, he could make terrible mistakes and comes out of it. It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad, God picks him up because he's a man of prayer and God's blessing him."

Does God Want YOU To Be a Success?  

When God wants something done, He always gives it to ONE PERSON to do—a Moses, a Peter, a Paul, a David, a Gideon, a Mary. Had you noticed?

In Pray and Be Rich, Dr. Richard Gaylord Briley reveals a startling Biblical truth that has great implications for your life:

One person, committed to a goal, is all God needs to change the world.

He’s done it many times. And if history turns many more pages, He’ll surely do it again. At the very least, you and God together can change your world.

The new audio program – Pray and Be Rich – is about one person—YOU—and the success plans that God has for all who believe, pray and act on the message of the Bible.

In Pray and Be Rich, Dr. Briley unlocks the Bible’s secrets about wealth, its use and abuse.

It astonishes many that Jesus spoke more about wise use of our possessions (our wealth) than any other subject. Riches are extensions of whatever we make of ourselves. Wealth is extra power to use for good or evil.

All babies are born poor. But as you’ll find out in Pray and Be Rich, five percent of them, in free societies, grow up to be richer than the rest.

This widely-ignored fact gives extra hope for success to anyone with a clear goal in life.

Pray and Be Rich reveals the Biblical secrets that will enable you to become a member of the five percent of people who rise to the top and succeed.
(Sorry about this. I just couldn't help myself.)

"'The People' Caused 9/11?"?  

speakingcorpse writes:

[Dear [Washington Post columnist Jim] Hoagland,]

I cannot tell you how repulsed and disgusted I am by your column attacking Richard Clarke. You are the cynical operator, trying to fine-tune your "objective non-partisan" credentials by attacking both sides, at the expense of Clark and the truth.

You have to know how simple and obvious Clarke's allegation is. In addition to pursuing policy ventures, Clinton also held desperate interagency meetings in response to clear terrorist threats. This is how he managed to connect the dots and stop the millennium plot and other plots. Bush refused to hold such meetings in the summer of 2001, though the threats were coming thicker and faster than ever. That is his failure, and if he isn't held accountable for it, I won't blame the "people"--I'll blame you and your ilk, whose play-both-sides, above-the-fray posturing is becoming more dangerous than other, more easily recognizable forms of demagoguery.

Karen Hughes: "Profiteering" on book deal and fee-based speaking engagements 

From Dawkins:
But for the next six weeks, she will cross the country on a 16-city book tour that will have the effect of a publisher-subsidized campaign trip. On Monday night, the day before her book is in stores, Barbara Walters will interview her on ABC. The same day, Time magazine will publish excerpts. Viking, Ms. Hughes's publisher, will not say how many copies of "Ten Minutes From Normal" it is printing, but describes its publicity campaign as extensive.

Ms. Hughes, 47, has already spread the message about Mr. Bush in her speeches around the country, for which she receives $50,000 each, according to a person familiar with her contract.

"She's involved enough in the campaign message to incorporate that into all of her speeches," said Nicolle Devenish, the Bush campaign's communications director. Ms. Hughes's speeches have evolved since the early Democratic primaries, Ms. Devenish said, into more pointed comments about Senator John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Now imagine if Richard Clarke were specifically integrating his book tour with his advocacy for a particular candidate in the presidential campaign. Imagine, additionally, if Richard A. Clarke were simultaneously receiving $50,000 per speech in which he denounced the candidacy of George W. Bush and promulgated the candidacy of his preferred candidate. How would Republicans react to that?

Karen Hughes is right now doing both of these things: tying her book tour to the Bush campaign, and profiting to the tune of $50,000 per speech on her position within the administration WHILE she continues to advise Bush and campaign for him.

How the fuck can that be legal/ethical?

Hey, Bill Frist, sanctimonious shit, don't you agree that Karen Hughes is "profiteering" with her book?

Will you denounce her on the floor of the Senate like you denounced Richard Clarke?

Write a review.

Dawkins submits the following review:
On Friday, March 26, Bill Frist took to the Senate floor to denounce Richard A. Clarke, belittling the 30-year public servant's heartfelt apology to the families of 9/11 victims, attempting to impugn his professional reputation, and accusing him of "profiteering" with his book, "Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror."

Meanwhile, Frist has traded shamelessly on his position in the government, cynically fanning the public's fears of terrorism to drum up sales of his own book, "When Every Moment Counts: What You Need to Know About Bioterrorism from the Senate's Only Doctor."

"Profiteering," indeed, Mr. Senator.

Don't encourage this kind of sanctimonious political hypocrisy. Don't buy Frist's book. Buy Clarke's instead and really learn something about the "war on terror."

Brooks: Full of shit 

Dawkins writes:

A very sharp critique and “deconstruction” of the execrable libel/slander/bullshit produced by Coprophagiac of the Century David Brooks.

A shrewd point made here by writer Sasha Issenberg is that, where the best sociological journalists of the past half-century like William Whyte or Tom Wolfe backed up incisive commentary with copious research and actual journalistic rigor, David Brooks just sits around and makes stuff up.
Brooks is operating in a long tradition of public intellectualism. Like William Whyte, another child of Philadelphia's western suburbs fascinated with the interplay of money and manners among his contemporaries, Brooks is a journalist who works on sociological turf. But Whyte, who was an editor for Fortune in the 1950s, observed how people lived, inferred trends, considered what they meant, and then came up with grand conclusions about the direction of the country. When, in 1954, he wanted to find out which consumers were trend-setters, he went into Overbrook Park and surveyed 4,948 homes -- all inhabited by real people. Brooks, by way of contrast, draws caricatures. Whether out of sloppiness or laziness, the examples he conjures to illustrate well-founded premises are often unfounded, undermining the very points he's trying to make.
Writer Issenberg goes of her way to make a phone call and actually do some journalistic work for her piece (something that David Brooks does not do). She speaks with Brooks:
I went through some of the other instances where he made declarations that appeared insupportable. He accused me of being "too pedantic," of "taking all of this too literally," of "taking a joke and distorting it." "That's totally unethical," he said.

Scat-Man writes:

Shorter David Brooks:

I am a more effective partisan when deploring partisanship.


Please (oh God please!) don't read Clarke's book and come to your own conclusions.


All of this criticism, analysis, and discussion of policy is diverting us from thinking critically and analytically about policy.


Not to mention the outright lie about tripling the CIA anti-Qaeda budget.

Christ, even the WSJ did a piece about the Bush team's fuck-ups. Wouldn't that mean Brooks would have a hard time not getting laughed out of the country club locker room? How does he look himself in the mirror? How do I look myself in the mirror for not having slain him already?

By the way, the Ratnesar article that he mentions is total fucking garbage. Instead of Ratnesar "found" he should've said Ratnesar "opined" or maybe "nitpicked" or "hairsplit" or "flatulated".

Dawkins remarked that Brooks' main rhetorical pony trick is to feign Olympian detachment and objectivity while making heavily partisan attacks. Notice the use of "found" as though it were some sort of logically rigorous scientific conclusion. A "finding" no less! A man of quality and judgment has made a decision! Listen up proles!

Or a few weeks ago he began with a pithy observation about how "we" love to nominate bluebloods such as Bush and Kerry for high office, and then proceeded to slam only Kerry's pedigree and tastes for the rest of the piece. The broader pseudo-universal tone of his cultural observation lost in the din of the hatchet job.

Conversely he also makes a weak attempt to appeal to the readers vanity by insinuating that if reader disagrees Brooks will look down on him from the heights of his synoptic cultural critic aerie and find him entirely too pedestrian for words. Or perhaps its an invitation to join him in elegant repose as he takes in the all-too-human scene. To insist on the facts and fight on a side is so...gauche. But true to form the little burgher lurks in even Brooks' aristo-poseur heart and so instead of actually evaluating anything he snipes hypocritically. Is there a technical term for that sort of dissembling? Or is it just called pretentious bullshit?

One more thing: notice the preposterousness of Brooks chiding "us" by which I think he is actually referring to "the media", although he seems to think he's referring to everyone, for not paying attention to the "bi-partisan failures and systematic shortcomings". Does he really want to talk about systematic shortcomings? Like an oil-driven economy that forces us to be militarily involved in a political nightmare of a region? Or a political class that is so besotted with corporate money that it has almost ceased to function entirely toward any genuinely civic end? Or how about the handful of conglomerates that own the media and systematically prevent and undermine useful public discussion because it doesn't sell product? Does Brooks really want to make a "systematic" critique of a system in which it is a good business decision to put a third rate hack critic on the opinion page of the paper of record so that he can pimp himself for plundercrats? If it weren't for bi-partisan failures and systematic shortcomings he wouldn't have a career.

Preznit maek jok 

Dawkins writes:

From the NY Daily news Friday.

As always, we see Bush for the shrewd political thinker that he is.

I wonder how Brian Lehrer will open his show today: "Are Democrats using an innocent gaffe by the President to grandstand for political gain?"
The Prez's Iraq humor bombs

Kin of slain G.I.s aren't laughing

WASHINGTON - President Bush got some laughs at a Washington dinner when he spoofed the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but some family members of dead G.I.s said yesterday there was nothing funny about it.

"Those weapons of mass destruction have to be here somewhere," Bush joshed as he narrated a slide show of him looking behind furniture, as if hunting for them.

"Nope, no weapons over there. Maybe under here," Bush joked Wednesday at the annual dinner of Washington radio and TV correspondents, an event where Presidents typically poke fun at the press and themselves.

George Medina, 43, of Orange County, who lost a son in Iraq, heard about Bush's remarks when his outraged daughter, an Army sergeant, called him yesterday. "She was very upset," Medina said.

"This is disgraceful," Medina continued. "He doesn't think of all the families that are suffering. It's unbelievable, how this guy tries to run the country."

His 22-year-old son, Spec. Irving Medina, died Nov. 14 in Baghdad when an explosive device struck his convoy.

Charles Celestin, 28, of Coral Springs, Fla., and Irving Medina's brother-in-law, blasted the commander-in-chief's remarks.

"To be poking fun; it's just a travesty to the soldiers who lost their lives. I think it's disrespectful," he said.

But the stepdad of a slain Army captain took a different view.

"Maybe that's his way of releasing some of the tension," said Mike Babula, 48, of upstate Marcy, whose stepson, Capt. George A. Wood, 33, died Nov. 20 when his tank ran over a mine. "When you listen to him speak every time a soldier gets killed - it comes from his heart, it really does."

The camp of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry last night fired off a statement from Iraq war veteran Brad Owens.

"No weapons of mass destruction have been found and that is no joke - this is for real. This cheapens the sacrifice that American soldiers and their families are dealing with every single day," said Owens, who served in the Army Reserve.

The dinner performance put the President on the defensive for the second time this week. The Bush campaign was already dealing with fallout from testimony by former presidential aide Richard Clarke, who has claimed in a new book that Bush and his cabinet were looking for reasons to attack Iraq within hours of the 9/11 terror attack despite being told Saddam Hussein was not linked to it.

The President's dinner act also bombed with Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan). "It's disgusting that during his little performance on stage, the President seemed to forget that people are dying in Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction he lied about," Nadler said.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan noted that Bush ended his remarks at the dinner with a serious tribute to U.S. forces in Iraq, but "was poking fun at himself" with the comments about weapons of mass destruction.
Blicero adds:

Other topics Bush likes to make ha-ha-funny about:

1.) Women on death row about to be executed by the State of Texas.

2.) "Hitting the Trifecta"
a.) The recession
b.) The terrorist attacks of 9/11/01
c.) The resultant 'national emergency'

3.) Having lied about weapons of mass destruction, his rationale for the Iraq war which has left thousands of Americans dead and/or wounded.

4.) Not being able to speak English words and sentences despite having completed degrees at Yale University and Harvard University.

5.) People who can
a.) read
b.) speak foreign languages

6.) People who find it necessary to stay informed about events occurring in the U.S. and the world.

Brian Lehrer: Coprophagiac of the Week! 

Dawkins writes:

All it took was one short sentence out of the hole of WNYC radio personality Brian Lehrer to encapsulate a week's worth of hearty coprophagia.

Thursday, March 25, the day after Richard Clarke's testimony before the 9/11 hearing. Here's Lehrer's tease for his 10am show:

"Were the 9/11 hearings really the Richard Clarke book tour hearings?"

Bravo, shit eater.

speakingcorpse writes:

Dear Brian,

I have long listened to your show. I admire the fact that you invite a diverse array of guests on air to speak with you and your audience. I admire your efforts to create an open and mutually respectful atmosphere, in which anyone can feel free to call in and share deeply held views, whatever they may happen to be. I understand that maintaining this sort of open forum requires that the host maintain scrupulous even-handedness. And there was a time that I admired you for that. But now I am having difficulty continuing to do so.

I still won't claim to know what your personal politics are. But it is now clear that, for whatever reason, you are bending over backwards to give legitimacy to "both sides" of any issue--even when one "side" is slanderous and despicable. Maybe you're doing this because you feel you have to maintain your show's openness to all guests and callers. But you've got to recognize: when slander and lies are the basis of one of the "sides" in a debate, it does no one any good to air those slanderous lies as if they are actual, deeply felt political opinions. Some "perspectives" aren't actual perspectives--ways of SEEING an issue; they are BLINDERS, lies concocted out of the basest motives; and if you treat these as legitimate, you are actually STIFLING and even DESTROYING the free and open exchange of REAL opinion that is your show's reason for being.

Today you advertised your show with the question, are the 9-11 hearings really an advertisement for Richard Clarke's book? The question is an outrage. Maybe one of your guests would have asked it. But by making it the on-air teaser for your entire discussion of Clarke's important testimony, you are undercutting in advance the possibility of a free and open exchange of opinions about Clark's testimony. The charge that the testimony is all in service of his book is not a charge made by anyone except the White House, and, disgracefully, two 9-11 commissioners obviously acting at the behest of the White House. The purpose of this charge is to discredit the testimony for political reasons. It is to keep us from even CONSIDERING the testimony. It is MEANT to DESTROY free and open public debate about the testimony. If you want to encourage this sort of debate, then you have GOT to exercise some critical acumen. Make your show about the testimony, its validity and its persuasiveness. Invite callers who disagree with it. Even ask us to consider the absurd charge that this lifelong Republican public servant is now risking his own career and credibility in order to sell books. But Brian, PLEASE do not FRAME your discussion with this charge, as if the question of Clarke's motives somehow trumped the contents of the testimony itself.

You are letting the White House frame the debating terms of your show. And debating terms matter. The openness of a debate depends, always, upon the terms in which it is framed. There is no absolutely open debate. By accepting the White House terms, you are ruining your own show by ensuring the discussion will be limited in scope--limited to trivial and unanswerable questions about Clarke's motives, excluding the serious questions about the substance of his remarks. You have got to understand that the White House, in promulgating this garbage, is TRYING to ruin shows like yours. The White House is actively against public debate and the open circulation of information; so if you want to preserve these things, you can't just say, I'm letting the White House have its say.

And please don't tell me that you are only trying to consider a serious issue raised by the White House--the issue of Clarke's credibility. If you want to consider this issue, please (please!) talk to guests who can help us to determine whether or not what the man said WAS TRUE, regardless of what made him say it.




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