Saturday, July 31, 2004

White tiger attacks W. Va delegates. Two dead, one eaten.

For his assignment covering the convention in Boston, the Daily Show's Stephen Colbert -- not wanting to actually sit through the thing -- pre-recorded his reports ahead of the time and spent the convention partying back at his hotel room. However, he made sure he covered every contingency, taping reports on quicksand on the convention floor and an incident in which a polar bear kills scores of delegates.

He may need to do something similar in New York, and this time he may turn out to be prescient.

President: "Hold on, it's just around the corner!"

President Bush told audiences on Friday in stops in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio, "We are turning the corner, and we're not turning back."

Sound familiar?

October 22, 1928

“Prosperity is no idle expression. It is a job for every worker; it is the safety and safeguard of very business and every home. A continuation of the policies of the Republican party is fundamentally necessary to the future advancement of this progress and to the further building up of this prosperity.”

—Herbert Hoover, Campaign Address, Madison Square Garden

October 6, 1928

“As never before does the keeping of our economic machine in tune depend upon wise policies in the administrative side of the government.”

—Herbert Hoover, Campaign Address, Elizabethtown, Tennessee

November, 1929

“Any lack of confidence in the economic future or the basic strength of business in the United States is foolish.”

—Herbert Hoover

January 21, 1930

“Definite signs that business and industry have turned the corner from the he temporary period of emergency that followed deflation of the speculative market were seen today by President Hoover. The President said the reports to the Cabinet showed that the tide of employment had changed in the right direction.”

—News dispatch from Washington

March 8, 1930

“President Hoover predicted today that the worst effect of the crash upon unemployment will have been passed during the next sixty days.”

—Washington dispatch

Meanwhile, back to the present corner we're turning.

The White House forecast yesterday that the U.S. budget deficit for this year will be a highest-ever $445 billion, lower than the administration previously predicted but nearly 20 percent larger than last year's record shortfall.


Further clouding the economic picture, the Commerce Department announced that economic growth slowed sharply in the second quarter, to an annual rate of 3 percent, from a revised rate of 4.5 percent in the first quarter. Dragged down by the lowest consumer spending in three years, the quarterly growth rate was the lowest since the first quarter of 2003.

In addition, the Labor Department announced yesterday that from the start of 2001 to the end of 2003, 11.4 million workers were displaced from jobs -- 5.3 million of them from jobs they had held for three or more years. Though two-thirds of the 5.3 million found new jobs, 57 percent of those who did find work earned less than they had previously.

Still, the White House declared a qualified victory. "The deficit remains at a level that we think is unwelcome," said Joshua B. Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget. "The good news is that it is much lower than we projected, and we or any of the other forecasters projected just six months ago, and we believe that that is a product of the strong economic policies that the president has put in place, and that the trend will continue."


Despite yesterday's report on slower economic growth, the administration also raised its overall growth forecast for the year to 4.7 percent from an earlier forecast of 4.4 percent. Growth in 2005 was put at 3.7 percent.

To paraphrase the President who rescued the nation from the wise policies of the Hoover administration, "We have nothing to fear...but four more years of this!"

Friday, July 30, 2004

A Triumphant moment for Alan Colmes

Alan Colmes feels the sting of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

"Get in there and get your butt kicked by Sean Hannity!"

Via, yes, Mickey Maus, who's beginning to feel the love himself. He may actually be a Democrat, after all, and not simply a Republican plant.

Wesley Clark

I missed Wes Clark's speech last night, mesmerized as I was, by another Jose Contreras meltdown, this time against the lowly Os.

Now I'm sorry I missed it.

"War. I've been there. Heard the thump of enemy mortars. Seen the tracers fly. Bled on the battlefield. Recovered in hospitals. Received and obeyed orders. Sent men and women into battle. Awarded medals, comforted families, attended funerals. And this soldier has news for you: Anyone who tells you that one political party has a monopoly on the best defense of our nation is committing a fraud on the American people. Franklin Roosevelt said it best: "Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.

"This hall and this party are filled with veterans who have served under this flag - our flag. We rose and stood reveille to this flag. We saluted this flag. We fought for this flag. And we've seen brave men and women buried under this flag. This flag is ours! And nobody will take it away from us."

al Coincidence

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani's capture marks the most significant success for Pakistani security forces since nabbing Al Qaeda's No. 3, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in 2003.

The news came just hours before US presidential candidate John Kerry delivered his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. The timing of the disclosure may rekindle controversy surrounding an earlier media report alleging US pressure on Pakistan to produce a "high value target" in July when the Democratic convention was to kick off.

Pakistani officials say Mr. Ghailani was captured last Sunday, during an operation that lasted for hours in the town of Gujrat in central Punjab Province. The US had placed a bounty of up to US$25 million on Ghailani, who has been indicted in the US over the bombings of the American embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Emphasis all mine.

"Help is on the way"

Vanessa (who left not a dry eye in the place -- including my living room) and Alex Kerry. Max Cleland. And, then, Kerry, who didn't deliver a stemwinder, but that's not who he is. A great speech that touched on what we needed to hear from Kerry. A great night.

I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war. I will have a vice president who will not conduct secret meetings with polluters to rewrite our environmental laws. I will have a secretary of defense who will listen to the advice of the military leaders. And I will appoint an attorney general who will uphold the Constitution of the United States.

My fellow Americans, this is the most important election of our lifetime. The stakes are high. We are a nation at war - a global war on terror against an enemy unlike we've ever known before. And here at home, wages are falling, health care costs are rising and our great middle class is shrinking. People are working weekends, two jobs, three jobs - and they're still not getting ahead.


Now I know that there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities, and I do, because some issues just aren't all that simple. Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so. Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn't make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn't make it so.


I know what kids go through when they are carrying an M-16 in a dangerous place and they can't tell friend from foe. I know what they go through when they're out on patrol at night and they don't know what's coming around the next bend. I know what it's like to write letters home telling your family that everything's all right when you're just not sure that that's true.

As president, I will wage this war with the lessons I learned in war. Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say: "I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm's way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people, fundamental American values against a threat that was real and imminent." So lesson number one, this is the only justification for going to war.

And on my first day in office, I will send a message to every man and woman in our armed forces: You will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace.


And tonight, we have an important message for those who question the patriotism of Americans who offer a better direction for our country. Before wrapping themselves in the flag and shutting their eyes and ears to the truth, they should remember what America is really all about. They should remember the great idea of freedom for which so many have given their lives. Our purpose now is to reclaim democracy itself. We are here to affirm that when Americans stand up and speak their minds and say America can do better, that is not a challenge to patriotism; it is the heart and soul of patriotism.

Kerry delivered two great themes last night: "Help is on the way," and "What if."

I just hope more than a handful actually saw the speech. It really does feel like the history of this nation and of Democracy itself are truly hanging in the balance. Sounds ridiculous, and I'm embarrassed to make such a grand, overarching, and frankly self-generational-absorbed statement. To fall into the trap that the events we're facing are like no others, but I think it is true that this is the most important election of our lifetime. We're all challenged to make things right again, or at least take a strong step in that direction. Because the alternative is terrifying.

But I'm very encouraged after this week.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Are Republicans marinating George W. Bush?

Via Pandagon, this is the kind of victory party I'm looking forward to this November:

One of the secrets of conservative America is how often it has welcomed Republican defeats. In 1976, many conservatives saw the trouncing of the moderate Gerald Ford as a way of clearing the path for the ideologically pure Ronald Reagan in 1980. In November 1992, George H.W. Bush's defeat provoked celebrations not just in Little Rock, where the Clintonites danced around to Fleetwood Mac, but also in some corners of conservative America.

"Oh yeah, man, it was fabulous," recalled Tom DeLay, the hard-line congressman from Sugar Land, Texas, who had feared another "four years of misery" fighting the urge to cross his party's too-liberal leader. At the Heritage Foundation, a group of right-wingers called the Third Generation conducted a bizarre rite involving a plastic head of the deposed president on a platter decorated with blood-red crepe paper.

Yes, they are a bunch of sick *^%#s.

I wish I had a tape of DeLuded saying "yeah, man" and "fabulous."

Speaking of Pandagon, he has an essential post on the "two conventions."

After two nights of PBS coverage, with coddly David Brooks and smug Jim Lehrer, I watched last night on C-Span. What a relief.

"Anticipation" -- The Ketchup Wars

I hope to sort through this in my mind and return with a well thought-out post on why this is so, but for some reason, this just so sums up why I believe the right is completely tapped out at this moment in history, and ready for defeat. It's almost as if they want to be beaten (or have their bottoms pounded upon, to get the damn sauce to emerge from the bottle) [ed., I didn't know Dick Cheney was into that sort of thing, but kinda makes sense]. It's their natural state in contemporary American political history. It's where they are most comfortable -- not in a position of power (particularly not the awesome responsibility of holding all three branches of government), but in a position to attack and ridicule Democrats who, for the most part, take holding the levers of power seriously.

I know that, to some degree, that overstates the case wildly (yes, I realize Jerry Springer is a democratic delegate from Ohio), but doesn't it seem like the Rightwing nuttery is careering almost uncontrollably towards a state of self-Parody? And their furious surprise at the discipline and control the Kerry/Edwards campaign and the convention itself is showing. They whine about Bush-bashing, but are at a loss to find much of it at the convention.

So, like frat boys recently disciplined by the dean, they come up with sophomoric ideas like "freedom fries" and "W ketchup." Silly.

I especially appreciate the George Washington imagery on the label. A man who, famously if perhaps apocryphally, could not tell a lie, shilling for a group of men and women who don't seem equipped to tell the truth.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Ann Richards describes life with George W. Bush

"You know," she began, in that famous Texas twang, "for American women in a Republican majority, their president has been like a marriage that's gone from bad to worse. You know the story. The guy has a great line, he's sort of cute, he tells you that life together will be bliss, and then in a few years he's snoring on the couch while the TV blares on the fifth football game of the day and the neighbors are screaming about the yard that never gets mowed, and there's a car up on blocks in the driveway, and your household budget is just stretched to the limit, and he's spending all the money on hunting trips, a new shotgun and a camo jumpsuit, and you're standing there at the sink thinking, 'I must have been out of my mind!' So here we are, almost four years past our shotgun wedding with this White House, and like we say in Texas: Honey, it's time to split the sheets and sign the legal papers."

Apparently, Ann knows him pretty well.

Bob Edwards' revenge

He's told NPR to "shove off." He'll host a morning program on PRI. Damn. Another reason to get satellite radio.

The Reagans' revenge

Nancy Reagan has declined an invitation to attend the Republican convention, the NY Daily News is reporting today.

And the GOPers are reacting petulantly; I would even go so far as to say that this "senior GOP official" sounds like a snivelling brat.

Republican officials refrained from publicly criticizing Nancy Reagan for the no-show. Privately, however, some were upset as well as disappointed by the decision, which has been known to the White House for some time.

"I don't think she could have missed the symbolic significance of her son going to their convention and her not going to ours," a senior GOP official told the Daily News.


A downcast senior GOP official confirmed Nancy Reagan had never committed to appearing at the convention, but was nevertheless dubious of the official explanation.

"The 'not feeling up to it' line is bull----," the official said. "Something happened in the last month, and whatever it was was real."

Meanwhile, Ron Reagan said he had no plans to make a "political speech."

In a few months, we will face a choice. Yes, between two candidates and two parties, but more than that. We have a chance to take a giant stride forward for the good of all humanity. We can choose between the future and the past, between reason and ignorance, between true compassion and mere ideology.

I couldn't have been less political myself.

Rev. Alston's speech

Thanks to Roger Ailes for the link.

The 27th Psalm tells us, "Though an army besiege me, my heart will not
fear. Though war break out against me, even then I will be confident" I stand
before you tonight alive, while many of our brothers never made it home. I am
grateful to have lived to enjoy my children, to see them grow up. But I stand
here before you only because almighty God saw our boat safely through those
rivers of death and destruction, by giving us a brave, wise, and decisive
leader named John Kerry.

Today, 30 years after Vietnam, American soldiers are once again fighting
and dying on distant battlefields, at war with an elusive enemy. We pray for
these brave men and women. They are our friends, our neighbors, our loved
ones. Their loss brings all of us sadness beyond measure.

In a few short months, we will choose our next President. I believe we
need to elect a man of faith, experience, and wisdom. A man who knows that
defending America means defending our most fundamental rights. A man who knows
that leadership is not just about telling others what to do, but inspiring
them to do it. A man who knows the true meaning of freedom, equality, and
democracy. And that man is my former skipper, my friend, and our next
commander-in-chief, John Kerry.

Another Florida, or, "The Computer Ate My Vote"

Almost all the electronic records from the first widespread use of touch-screen voting in Miami-Dade County have been lost, stoking concerns that the machines are unreliable as the presidential election draws near.

The records disappeared after two computer system crashes last year, county elections officials said, leaving no audit trail for the 2002 gubernatorial primary. A citizens group uncovered the loss this month after requesting all audit data from that election.

I awoke this morning after a pleasant night's sleep in the warm afterglow of Obama and Teresa (and of the latter, isn't it curious that after yesterday's press was practically engorged with stories of the "loose cannon," this morning I can find nary a mention of her wonderful address last night?). Then I read this and the dream turns into a nightmare.

Add to the mix a state elections commissioner whose only qualification for the job seems to have been her ties to the Bush dynasty, a list of felons disqualified from voting that seems to have ommitted any Hispanics, and a refusal by the governor (did I mention his name is Bush?) to permit a paper record of the votes, and well, hilarity is sure to ensue.

Many critics of touch-screen voting, including U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., have urged installation of a paper backup system to allow manual recounts of individual ballots in close elections.

Previously, opponents of a paper backup system -- including Gov. Jeb Bush and Hood --have argued that a paper trail is unnecessary because of the presence of the audit logs.

That is, if you find watching our Democracy slip on a banana peel, breaking its hip, hilarious.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

"Send me" -- GOP desperately wishing it were 1988

If this is the best these guys can do, it's going to be a great week!

"You can say these things with a smile on your face, sound like you have a positive message," said Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, adding that statements distorting Bush's record are "still a falsehood."

I know I was waiting nervously to see where the Texas Railroad Commissioner stood.

Republicans say Clinton's successful Monday night speech will make things harder for Kerry on Thursday when he accepts the nomination.

"It's going to be difficult for Kerry to wrest control of these folks from the thrall of Bill Clinton," said veteran GOP strategist Rich Galen.

The white slaves that are the Democratic Party go forth, zombie-like, repeating Bill Clinton's name.

But it is wonderful that even the Republicans were wowed by Clinton's speech. And wouldn't you know it that Bill Clinton would come up with the phrase we've been looking for in quickly explaining why John Kerry is simply the better man in this race.

Now, let me tell you what I know about John Kerry. I've been seeing all the Republican ads about him. Let me tell you what I know about him. During the Vietnam War, many young men - including the current president, the vice president and me - could have gone to Vietnam and didn't. John Kerry came from a privileged background. He could have avoided it too. But instead he said, send me.

When they sent those Swift boats up the river in Vietnam, and they told them their job was to draw hostile fire - to wave the American flag and bait the enemy to come out and fight - John Kerry said, send me.

And then, on my watch, when it was time to heal the wounds of war and normalize relations with Vietnam - and to demand an accounting of the POW's and MIA's we lost there - John Kerry said, send me.

Then when we needed someone to push the cause of inner-city children struggling to avoid a life of crime, or to bring the benefits of high technology to ordinary Americans, or to clean the environment in a way that created new jobs, or to give small businesses a better chance to make it, John Kerry said, send me.

So tonight my friends, I ask you to join me for the next 100 days in telling John Kerry's story and promoting his ideas: let every person in this hall and like-minded people all across America say to him what he has always said to America: send me.

Yeah, we're in thrall to Bill Clinton, all right. And to Al Gore too ("I know from my own experience that America’s a land of opportunity, where every little boy and girl has a chance to grow up and win the popular vote.").

We're in thrall all the way to the polls on November 2.

All in all, last night was great. Played well on TV. Although what few television media outlets covered it at all and did all they could to not show what was going down on the floor, when you did catch a glimpse of the delegates it was so obviously clear that the Democratic party represents the true diversity of this nation, not the stage-managed diversity of the 2000 (and surely 2004) GOP convention.

The speeches put the knife in to Bush, but did so with a smile and with a sense of inclusiveness -- if you voted for Bush, or even Nader, last time, that's all right. But take a look at what the last four years have gotten you. Do you really want another four of the same?

And tonight should be exciting as well, with Barak Obama getting the national spotlight for the first time.

Shove it, yourself

The Teresa story has, predictably, taken off and reached new heights of journalistic excellence: Distorted? Check. Inaccurate? Check. Irrelevant? Check. Cheap? Check. Fits with the script? Check.

CJR dissects, as did Kevin Drum the other day with more on why the jerk on the receiving end of Kerry-Heinz's shot was so deserving.

Coulter kampf

Brian Gallagher, editor of USA TODAY's editorial page, said of Coulter: "We had a disagreement over editing. We worked diligently to resolve the differences and couldn't, so we decided to part ways." He said the column had "basic weaknesses in clarity and readability that we found unacceptable."

I'm afraid it's official, the peroxide priestess of pulchritude simply can't convey a coherent idea. And humor? Forget about it.

Via World 'o Crap (who joins me in wondering when our invitations to the convention are going to arrive), Coulter publishes the piece elsewhere, together with an introduction in which the skinny Stepford siren takes speaking about herself in the third person and practicing self-love to a realm known previously only by the most self-absorbed of pro athletes.

The best part is she includes the USA Today editor's comments, which, the ghoulish queen of the Right admits, "Most of it was nonspecific B.S. about not liking my 'tone' and my column not being 'humorous' or 'coherent'"

As for the pretty girls, I can only guess that it’s because liberal boys never try to make a move on you without the UN Security Council's approval. Plus, it’s no fun riding around in those dinky little hybrid cars. My pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie chick pie wagons they call "women" at the Democratic National Convention.


One of World 'o Crap's readers wonders who she means by "the pretty girls." And I was of course surprised that in her incoherent ranting the deranged denizen of Darien has given the secret away: That the Rightwing does consist almost entirely of secret, signal-deploying, self-hating gay people. All except Ricky Santorum, he's more into what the animal kingdom has to offer.

Best of all, she's replaced by Jonah Goldberg, one of the "girly-boys" who fired the bombastic bimbo of bullshit from her last gig at NRO Online after she turned in a hate-filled screed not even that classy website could publish.

The Times' designated idiot

David Brooks performs his role...

It was a winter's night in Iowa, round about midnight. John Kerry should have been wrapping up a town meeting, but he'd decided to go into his "I'll answer every question'' mode. Most everybody desperately wanted to go home, and insects and other small life forms were perishing from boredom. Every time he'd launch into another Castroite soliloquy - on the history of the Middle East or the pay structure of the civil service - the audience would groan. I sat there listening to this drone, thinking, "If this man becomes president, I have to stop being a pundit because I know nothing about politics."

Yes, that's right, David, you should stop being a pundit. Now. Go. Away.

Of course, "everyone wanted to go home." Except all those people who still had questions for Kerry.

And I remember those winter's nights in the Midwest. Full of insects. Buzzing around. Tropical, in fact. Much like Cuba, apparently.

Has Brooks even been to Iowa?

Not to be facile, but David Brooks seems to be leading the charge in a new conservative argument that Kerry's success represents no more or less than a desire by some of the electorate to take a breather from the exciting, bold, man-of-action that is George W. Bush.

I didn't realize how much this campaign would feel like George Bush's run for a third term. So much stuff has happened over the past four years, he's already built up two terms' worth of animosity among his foes and two terms' worth of exhaustion in his friends.

It's not that voters will ever love Kerry, but it could be that if you presented them with some variety of an interesting candidate, they would recoil and like that candidate even less.

Oh, yeah. That's why, after leading the nation through the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, and World War II, FDR only served one term. Americans can only take such vitality in small doses.

What Brooksie doesn't say is, why "exhaustion in his friends?" Why, would it be exhaustion with the almost stunning failure of this administration? Would it be exhaustion with the administration's unique ability to leave no principle -- even conservative ones -- untrampled upon? Just a thought.

Monday, July 26, 2004

CNN -- a little to the right, please.

From the freepers:

On the Aaron Brown Tonight program on CNN, Brown started off by disavowing any suggestion that the terror warning today was politically motivated. He then turned to his reporters who backed up the seriousness of the threat.

When he asked Kelli Arena, she repeated the same aspects of the terror warning and then in a bizarre moment, apparently still in a reporting mode went on to say, "There has been some speculation that Bin Laden wants Kerry to win".

I just caught this exchange and wanted to report it. If you missed it, watch it again at 10 pm Pacific tonight.

It's instructive to read the comments. The wingnuts sure have interesting logic:

1. CNN is a left-wing cesspool,
2. But when one of their "correspondents" says something this stupid, that's really cool,
3. And, of course bin Laden wants Kerry to win; Bush has done such a great job in "smoking him out,"
4. Furthermore, Kerry looks really funny and is popular among ferners.

But wait, there's more from the remarkable Kelli Arena.

I came upon both posts while googling the infamous CNN "investigator" and her record of being in the middle of right-wing smear jobs.

The pot calling the kettle...a Berger?

As we all know, our great defenders of freedom and all that is right -- Republicans in the House and Senate -- are outraged and in a blood lust over Sandy Berger's snatching of papers from the National Archive.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, told reporters that the case was about theft and questioned a statement Berger issued Monday attributing the removal of the documents and notes to sloppiness.

“I think it’s gravely, gravely serious what he did, if he did it. It could be a national security crisis,” DeLay said.

Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Pa., said, “We should question Senator Kerry’s judgment for placing him in a serious position in his campaign.”

I know there are Those Who Hate American (TWHA) who questioned the timing of the leak that initially indicated Berger was under investigation. After all, the shrill said, the investigation's over a year old and this leak didn't, er, leak out until the week the 9-11 Commission was to release their report.

Be shrill all you want, TWHA, I thought, a national security crisis as grave as this one sometimes requires some nasty, politically-inspired, back-stabbing. And John Kerry's defense, that Berger never bothered to tell the Kerry campaign that he was under investigation, doesn't mean that you shouldn't question Kerry's judgment for making him an advisor. I mean, if competence was the only character of value to a potential president, than where would our Miserable Failure be?

But then I read about Richard Shelby, and I began to think that all of this vitriol over Berger was merely a front for partisan attacks on Kerry and an attempt to change the subject over the 9-11 Commission Report.

Gosh, do you think I've been naive?

Shelby has in the past denied that he ever "knowingly compromised classified information" and his staff told reporters on Saturday that they should refer to the previous statement on the issue he made earlier this year.

The investigation centers on the leak of highly classified intelligence related to al-Qaida communications in June 2002, primarily to CNN.

CNN reported on June 20 that in one communication intercepted by the National Security Agency on Sept. 10, 2001, an individual was overheard saying, "The match begins tomorrow" while in another that same day, a second person said, "Tomorrow is zero hour." In both, the speakers were in Afghanistan and were speaking to individuals in Saudi Arabia. The intercept was not found until Sept. 12, 2001.

The intercept was from a communications channel the United States had identified as a key communications link for al-Qaida operatives.

“Leaking the exact language would presumably tell the two ends of the conversation not to use that channel again since it had been compromised,” one senior U.S. intelligence official told NBC News.

The White House and CIA were incensed by the leak and demanded an investigation. Vice President Dick Cheney was so angered by the leak that he personally called the chairs of both the House and Senate Intelligence committees, believing the leak came from inside the committees.

The committees were viewed immediately as the source of the leak because the information appeared in the media within 24 hours of a CIA briefing on the subject to the committees.

In response, the then-chairs of the committees, Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.), chair of the House intelligence committee, and Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), called on the Justice Department to investigate whatever role the committee may have had in the leak.

Shelby, at the time the ranking member of the Senate committee, also signed the letter, but also stated, "I do believe that the American people need to know a lot about the shortcomings of our intelligence community, but they also need to know the good things that are going on, and what we are going to do in this investigation, I believe, is bring out the best of both."

When asked about Shelby, Rep. Tom Davis, who has been so eager to investigate Berger, and yet so unwilling to investigate the Plame-identity leak, said...well, he doesn't seem to have said much. Rep. Joseph Pitts hasn't had much to say either. Nor has Tom DeLay.

After all, one shouldn't rush to judgment on a thing like this.

What to do in Boston if you don't have convention credentials

No, the Vegacura will not be attending the festivities in Boston this week. It is strange, though, it seems like everyone in the blogosphere is attending, even though only a few dozen blog credentials were issued for Boston (and fewer for New York in August).

Nevertheless, if you are attending, but are bored by tomorrow night's addresses, or you live in Boston and weren't one of the lucky ones to have escaped this week to the Cape and you're looking for something to help you maintain the giddy high left over from the games on Saturday and Sunday, then by all means get yourself to the Zeitgest Gallery in Boston for this.

Early: The Apotheosis of George W. Bush
$10 donation

Ian Maxwell MacKinnon and Eric Zinman present

Vice President Dick Cheney invites you to attend a ceremony marking the
appointment of President Bush as God’s representative on earth. The
President has humbly agreed to accept the awesome responsibility so that his
party may be led to victory in November, after which the war against evil
will be won, along with the passage of a final round of tax cuts. Details
of the selection process remain a matter of national security. The
administration stresses that this is only an preliminary deification; the
official apotheosis and announcement of new executive powers will take place
early next year.

Vice President Cheney will serve as Master of Ceremonies, leading the
faithful on piano in hymns specially commissioned for the occasion. The
event will include anointing with oil provided by Attorney General Ashcroft,
the introduction of a presidential “holy robe”, and the unveiling of a
special mark on the President’s body that was determined to be a sign of
his new exalted status. Non-alcoholic wine will be served along with “Glory
Bread” provided by top-level donors to the re-election effort. The
president will address these topics:

-How the loss of faith in government leads us to have faith in religion as
the best vehicle for delivering crucial social services
-Jesus-as-political philosopher and why Jews can’t get into heaven
-Creating a draft for the “Armies of Compassion” and how God came to choose
the president to lead the world at this urgent time.
-Why it’s called “God Bless AMERICA” and not some other country
-Jesus: Supporter of the Death Penalty?
-How School Prayer brings up test scores
-Declaring “Jesus Day” in your own state or municipality
-How The Ten Commandments brighten public buildings
-Iraq and its special, predestined place in universal and Biblical history

>From the people who brought you “A Bush-Cheney Christmas,” which was called
“hilarious” by Rupert Murdoch’s Boston Herald.

The Zeitgeist is at 1353 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Cambridge.

The show will be reenacted for all of us lucky enough to live within shouting distance of the Republican Convention/Greed fest, in New York in August.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Bush at the tipping point?

Is there anyway we can give him a little push.

"At some point, politicians can step over an amorphous line that separates good or questionable judgment from inexcusably arrogant, outrageous or incompetent behavior," said Professor Jeffery A. Smith, an historian at the University of Wisconsin and the author of "American Presidential Elections: Trust and the Rational Voter." "That shatters trust. Democracy is built on perceptions of trustworthiness. We bond with politicians who tell us they like us and are like us, but their images and stories can be built up and torn down by what they actually do. If they disappoint, they may be discarded if the alternatives don't look worse."

Is it possible that the Bush's character traits that about half the country has long recognized -- laziness, a sloppy attention to details and, more importantly, the truth, and arrogant disregard for the views of others -- are beginning to be recognized by the other half?

Poor, poor Curt Schilling

Not since the days of my abysmal -- and brief -- Little League career, have I seen a ballplayer sob following a regular season loss. Curt is kinda pathetic.

Perhaps no one understood that more than Schilling. His big-game reputation took a huge hit on this night, to the point where a distraught Schilling had to be consoled on the bench by pitching coach Dave Wallace at the end of the game, as he couldn't bring himself to leave the dugout.

By the time Schilling met the media afterward, he had pulled himself together, and he was only too willing to take the blame, saying, "This game falls right on top of me." But maybe he carried the big-shoulders bravado a bit too far, saying this was a game that could turn the Sox's season around.


"It's frustrating," Schilling said, "because we played a game tonight that we should have been playing all year and we haven't been. We were tenacious, we played with intensity, we did all the things we should have been doing. If we play like this every night for the rest of the season, we're going to go to the World Series.

Yes, really, the grown man was sobbing uncontrollably last night.

Now, I'm not gonna gloat and I ain't gonna write the Sox off for October -- if they make the post-season, a staff of Schilling, Pedro, and Wakefield will be instant favorites in a short series.

But, really, the more things change in Boston, the more they stay the same.

Whaddya know? A conspiracy to thwart the Plame conspiracy

Josh Marshal wonders.

There does seem to be a rush of articles aimed not simply at discrediting Wilson but specifically at arguing that there is no legal basis for a prosecution of the folks who leaked Plame's name. Who's so concerned? It makes me wonder.

Friday, July 23, 2004

It's Friday -- That means Document Dump Day

Seems like those pesky records turned up after all. You can just see the guys at the Pentagon, on the phone with Karl, sitting on their watches to make sure they Release. The Records. At Exactly. 5:30. On a Friday Night.

Oh yeah, and the weekend before a certain event in Boston. No, not that event.

More to come, I feel certain.

Un-terror in the skies

Our long national nightmare is finally over.

I have long resisted bringing, Dear Reader, your attention to this story, which deserves all of the gut-wrenching, emotional, and touching ridicule that only World 'O Crap can bring to a xenophobic right wingnut so-called freelance reporter's story of her terrified day in the air. Seems a bunch of swarthy men in track suits (with arabic script on the back -- if we've learned anything from the 9-11 Commission Report, it is that the bastards work in teams, suited up in warm-ups with the team color), dared to bring suspicious McDonalds bags on the flight (probably containing plastic knives or worse, McDonalds Scalding Coffee of Doom), and then proceeded to pee a lot. Oh year, and scowl at the writer and her adorable little child.

The story set off a firestorm of fear and hatred around the warblog world.

Turns out they really were the back-up band for the Syrian Wayne Newton, but of course, as Freeper says, just because they're musicians doesn't meant they couldn't be something more!

Thursday, July 22, 2004

George Bush -- The tax and spend candidate

I had to rub my eyes a few times after reading this one. Bush & Co. is truly shameless and the GOP in Congress gutless.

The White House helped to block a Republican-brokered deal on Wednesday to extend several middle-class tax cuts, fearful of a bill that could draw Democratic votes and dilute a Republican campaign theme, Republican negotiators said.

The impasse was the latest sign of deep rifts among Republicans about budget issues. House and Senate Republicans had badly wanted to pass a popular tax-cutting bill before the Democratic convention next week.

But in an improbable series of machinations, White House officials opposed the tentative deal worked out between House and Senate Republican leaders that would have extended the tax cuts for two years at a cost of about $80 billion.

Heaven forbid that they do something -- bipartisanly -- to extend the middle-class's buying power if it's going to "dilute" the preznit's campaign theme.

Nick Confessore wonders just how nimble the Kerry campaign will be in telegraphing this killing of a middle-class tax cut extension.

Abu Ghraib -- "A few bad apples"

If that's the case, then how many apples constitutes a bushel-full?

John Kerry's qualifications

Via Matthew Yglesias, Tom Oliphant, a columnist for the Boston Globe (a newspaper that has long had issues with John Kerry), has penned an article for The American Prospect which explains why Democrats should be enthusiastic about our presidential candidate.

It's a valuable memoir by a writer who has known Kerry throughout his political life because we are going to have to support Kerry for reasons other than "Anybody But Bush" if we are going to be successful in evicting the boy king from the White House.

Oliphant suggests that we're pretty fortunate to have such a strong candidate. No, he hasn't got charisma, but he has worked extremely hard to get where he is today, having taken the long, arduous road since losing his first race for Congress.

And he has thought long and hard about the three most important non-terrorism issues facing us: the cost of healthcare, energy independence and the environment, and repairing the hole in the budget created during the insane period in our nation's history, known in years to come as (optimistically) "The Last Four Years of the Eight-Year Bush Dynasty." And he's not only thought about them, he's actually developed unique ideas to deal with the issues.

A thoughtful, hard-working president. What a concept.

Yes, Oliphant writes, Kerry is a sober thinker, but these are sobering times and we desperately need someone with the ability to consider new ideas and work them through the "sausage making" of the U.S. government.

One can criticize the piece for not touching much on the threats of Islamo-terrorism other than to suggest he'll negotiate more with regional leaders to put pressure on the Palestinian Authority, stop tacitly supporting Sharon's destructive practices, and ending dependence on Saudi oil. But for those who criticize Kerry's lack of a detailed plan on fighting al Qaeda, I'm still waiting for Bush's plans. Invading Iraq doesn't seem to have worked too well. So I'd call that one even -- at worst; perhaps give the edge to Kerry since a change in leadership will at least allow us to rebuild alliances. But Kerry does have to do a better job of communicating how he'll improve U.S. security to attract those who are still undecided and who may favor Kerry on domestic issues, but for whom fear of terrorism still has them leaning towards Bush's robust black & white views.

It's worth a read, and Kerry's worth our, yes, enthusiastic support.

Juan Williams bats his eyelashes at Karl Rove

At the end of Juan's interview with Bush's brain on NPR this morning:

ROVE: Thank you, Juan. I appreciate it. Good to be with you.

Of course, it's good to be with Juan, if you're Karl Rove. Softball question after softball question is answered with disinformation and nonsense.

Was the leak that Berger is being investigated politically timed? Of course not, Juan. These are very serious charges relating to our national security and they must be investigated thoroughly.

One waits for the follow-up:

But the White House has known about these charges for some time. Doesn't it strike someone as politically astute as you, Karl, that the timing -- right before the release of the 9-11 Commission Report -- sure is a wild coincidence.

But that follow-up never comes.

Or how about: Mr. Rove, really, how serious is what Mr. Berger did? After all, USA Today is reporting this morning that,

...the FBI did not consider the incident to be a major threat to national security, a government official said.


a government official who asked not to be identified because of the political sensitivity of the matter said that FBI agents did not regard the Berger inquiry as ''a front-burner-type of investigation.''

That, too, goes unasked.

Hearing these two speak together gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling for how close they are as you make your morning commute.

The Joe Wilson lied contest

Michael Turner is offering $200 to anyone with proof that Wilson lied. He's still waiting.

Meanwhile, Kevin Drum points out that the central them of Wilson's criticism has yet to be anyone.

Wilson may be guilty of overembellishing his case on several minor points, but on the central question he brought up — should the president have made those claims about African uranium in his State of the Union address? — he was right. The CIA admits it, the White House admits it, and the Senate Intelligence committee admits it. Republicans ought to keep this in mind.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Getting railroaded by the GOP

Vowing to answer "every misstatement" Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) and his allies make at next week's Democratic National Convention in Boston, Republicans will set up a "war room" nearby and launch a new Web site devoted to debunking Democrats.


It will include a daily 10 a.m. conference call with reporters hosted by RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie and GOP notables. They include: Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Rep. Henry Bonilla of Texas, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, Mayor Pat McCrory of Charlotte, N.C., and Michael Williams, head of the Texas Railroad Commission [emphasis added].

Right, because those dangerous Dems will attack Bush's ability to keep Texas stockcars safe...from...something. Or, perhaps, to counter Kerry's attack of safer grilling.

Nader tells Detroit: "I take it all back. You're good guys, after all."

Or something like that, now that he's accepted the Michigan GOP's help in getting on the state ballot. The good bartender at The Whiskey Bar has an extensive look at Nader's sickness.

My guess is that in the end Nader's reasons for treachery aren't all that much different from Benedict Arnold's - it's the vanity and resentment of a hero who's seen the laurels of respect and influence he thinks are his due go to lesser mortals instead. Combine that with the towering rage of a prophet ignored, and it's the perfect combination for betrayal.

I'd mix in a dollop of delusions of grandeur along with a quart of urgings-on by starry-eyed yes-men, all the while greasing the cookie tray with a generous smearing of "he always was an asshole posing as a consumer advocate," and you've got a smelly, putrid concoction that tastes like four more years of Bush.

Do not, repeat, do not play poker with Dick Cheney

Via Wonkette, the editors of The Poor Man play poker with Dick Cheney.

They wished they hadn't.

Brit Hume: It seems like some people are still playing poker like it's September 10th. Back then, you needed to have all your cards in order to claim a straight. But, as we learned on that day, sometimes you won't have perfect knowledge. Sometimes you have to learn to connect the dots, and see the patterns which are not visible to superficial analysis of the type favored by the CIA and the State Department. Dick Cheney's skip straight is a winning poker hand for the post-9/11 world.

Rush Limbaugh: Do The Editors have two pairs, or a pair of twos? First they say one thing, then another. What are they hiding?

Andrew Sullivan: Dick Cheney never said he had a straight. He was very careful about this. His cards can form many different hands. None of these hands alone can beat a pair of twos; but, taken together, the combination of all possible hands presents a more compelling case for taking the pot than simply screaming "Pair of twos! Pair of twos!" as unprincipled liberal critics of the Vice President so often do.

After the cards were confiscated, Bush, in an interview, declared that, "Heh, heh, Dick may have misspoke a bit about the straight-thing. But everyone, even Clinton, thought he had a straight. And I'm a staight president. Look into my heart."

Later, Cheney, despite the President's renunciation of the claim, reiterated that he had a straight and added, "Go fbleep yourself."

But my favorite bit, from what has to be one of the funniest postings I've ever read, is this comment, apparently sincere:

Too much hatred emanating from liberals. None of them want to merely find a solution to the worlds' problems. They spend all their time and energy on hatred and futile attempts at being witty. -- Voop

I'm glad we "straightened" that out.

Jenna lashes out at the press

Is this the one who wants to work with AIDs patients or the one who wants to teach in Harlem (both career moves planned for after the November election)? I get them confused all the time.
A Bush press conference
Originally uploaded by vegacura.

Iran -- Axis of Halliburton

It will be interesting to watch, in the months ahead, the juxtaposition in the press of our "peace president's" banging on the war drum to go after Iran (see, he does have an agenda for the second term), and the ongoing investigation of Halliburton's ties, while run by one Dick Cheney, with Iran.

Especially, since that investigation seems to be reaching the boiling point.

A Halliburton controversy erupted Tuesday, fueled by a grand jury investigation into whether the oil services giant violated federal sanctions by operating in Iran while Vice President Dick Cheney was running the company.

The investigation centers on Halliburton Products and Services Ltd., a subsidiary registered in the Cayman Islands and headquartered in Dubai that provided oil field services in Iran. The unit's operations in Iran included Cheney's stint as chief executive from 1995 to 2000, when he frequently urged the lifting of such sanctions.


The Treasury Department has been investigating the matter since 2001. But Halliburton disclosed in public financial filings this week that the department had forwarded the case to the U.S. attorney in Houston for further investigation. The company said a federal grand jury had subpoenaed documents on its Iranian operations.

The Treasury Department refers such complaints only after finding evidence of "serious and willful violations" of the sanctions law, a government official said.

Delgado takes a stand by sitting

It is an extraordinarily rare MLB player to stick his neck out and make a political statement. Quietly, Carlos Delgado has been doing that all year.

BEGINNING tonight, the Yankees will see a lot of the Toronto Blue Jays. The two teams will play 19 times in the final three months of the season. The Yankees will also see a lot of the Blue Jays slugger Carlos Delgado; they just won't see him in the middle of the seventh inning.

Though Delgado is having an off year, he remains one of the most respected players in Major League Baseball. Last March when the United States invaded Iraq, Delgado, in his own quiet way, said that for him, enough was enough. He had stood for "God Bless America" through the 2003 season but vowed not to do so this season. In an act of a simple, mostly unnoticed, protest against the war, Delgado, a 32-year-old first baseman, has chosen to remain in the dugout while "God Bless America" is played.

Delgado also actively protested the U.S. Navy's use of the Peurto Rican island of Vieques as target practice, and continues to demand that the government help with the cleanup of the place.

Interesting guy. As Bill Rhodes asks, wonder what the reaction in hyper-patriotic-ritual Yankee Stadium will be?

But be sure to check out the typical bull#$%@ from Bud the used car salesman in reaction to learning of Delgado's protest. If there's anyone with less concern for player's rights, I haven't heard of him.

UPDATE -- 7/22/04 -- A smattering of boos for Delgado when he came to the plate in the 8th on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon. Pretty mild given that there were over 50,000 in the stands for both games.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

"Them that's got"

Them that's got
Is them that gets
And I ain't got nothing yet.

Well, what do you know, two Americas seem to faring far differently in the current economy. The working poor and even middle class are not keeping pace.

Joshua Berry and Ricky Williams, both Houstonians, have seen two very different economic recoveries.

Mr. Berry, an entrepreneur, has profited handsomely from the stock market, in the real-estate boom and by selling a business. Mr. Williams, an airline baggage handler, has been waiting since 2001 for a pay raise.

With the U.S. economy expanding and the labor market improving, it isn't clear how well the Democrats' message of a divided America will resonate with voters this fall. But many economists believe the economic recovery has indeed taken two tracks, exemplified by the experiences of these two Texas residents.

Upper-income families, who pay the most in taxes and reaped the largest gains from the tax cuts President Bush championed, drove a surge of consumer spending a year ago that helped to rev up the recovery. Wealthier households also have been big beneficiaries of the stronger stock market, higher corporate profits, bigger dividend payments and the boom in housing.

Lower- and middle-income households have benefited from some of these trends, but not nearly as much. For them, paychecks and day-to-day living expenses have a much bigger effect. Many have been squeezed, with wages under pressure and with gasoline and food prices higher. The resulting two-tier recovery is showing up in vivid detail in the way Americans are spending money.

As was heard recently, outside a Bush rally: "Four more months! Four more months!"

Sand and Fog

Josh Marshall quotes extensively from the Nelson Report take on the Sandy Berger "scandal," weirdly taking classified documents and notes (also classified) from the National Archive while preparing for his 9-11 Commission testimony.

Curious timing, this leak that he was being investigated, since it's been on-going since October, apparently.

Definitely worth reading.

As in any leak, one must always ask who did it, and why. In leaks, the motives can be played either way...sometimes opponents of something think a leak will stop it; other times, proponents leak to discredit opponents, etc., etc. Since the circumstances of Berger's potential discomfiture have apparently been known to a variety of players for several months, we may never know why this story just surfaced now.

-- for what it's worth, the Justice Department denied any involvement in, or political motivation for leaking word of the probe, implying a pure coincidence that it comes days before the Democratic National Convention opens in Boston, and the further coincidence that the 9/11 Commission report is coming this week. (Democrats, of course, darkly hinted that Berger was being thrown out as a diversionary tactic from what is presumed to be an embarrassing report for the Republicans.)

It's going to be a heavy dose of this kind of stuff between now and November.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Scientists suggest new paradigm needed for regional threats

Scientists are deeply divided over how to fight one of the great threats to our homeland security. Some favor the pragmatic realpolitic of flicking the menace away, while idealists push for wholesale change, crushing the threat and ending its evil-doing for all eternity.

It seems that a 57-year old woman recently died of a fungal infection in her muscles called Brachiola algerae. Brachiola is typically not found in mosquito saliva, so it couldn't have come simply from the bite. The authors of the New England Journal of Medicine report concluded that the infection was caused by squashing the mosquito into the woman's skin in the midst of being bitten.

"I think if a mosquito was in mid-bite, it would be wiser to flick the mosquito off rather than squashing it," said one of the authors, Christina Coyle of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

The idealists scoff at such a namby-pamby reaction, and suggest an UN multilaterist approach only pushes the problem down the road, and a mushroom cloud of DTT as our smoking gun. Or something like that.

Despite the Pennsylvania woman's case, Roger Nasci, a mosquito expert at a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites) facility in Fort Collins, Colo., said there is no scientific basis for switching to flicking.

He also pointed out that flicking the bugs off is not a permanent solution.

"Unfortunately, then the mosquito often goes on to bite another person, or bites you again," Nasci said.

Thank God we have leaders for our times who know that simply flicking off a problem will not do. Sure, old women with immune deficiencies might get hurt, but we can risk mixing up some of the old dictators bacteria and DNA with our own in the fight to rid ourselves of meddlesome regional troublemakers.

Or something like that.

terrorist threat
Originally uploaded by vegacura.

Convential talking points wisdom

CJR confirms that the Daily Show is the only fake news program on television that provides real news value.

Max Cleland's pain, John Kerry's gain

Max Cleland lives life with great gusto. "When you come back from war," he says, "every day is an extra-credit day." He laughs from the belly up, sweats when he campaigns hard and brings a voracious appetite to the table. At a coffee shop in Seattle, breakfast consists of oatmeal with bananas and raisins, eggs, bacon and a hubcap-size pancake slathered with berries, extra butter and syrup. He says grace before the meal, something he does even when he isn't feeling particularly blessed. "I've prayed for the ability to experience the joy that life has every day, even when I'm not feeling it," he says.

His purpose, he states repeatedly, is to help other Democrats, to "turn my pain into someone else's gain." It is one of the many aphorisms and little self-help squibs that Cleland collects, the way another person might seek exotic stamps or gather rare coins. They sound hokey, except that Cleland seems to cling to their inspiration so utterly.

The LA Times magazine on what drives Max Cleland and, by extension, much of the anger and fight of the Democratic party these days.

Safire's ashes

Bill Safire recalls his days sitting at RMN's knee, learning the gift of misleading the American public, and pens this little melody about those infamous 16 words.

Josh Marshall has been dismantling the argument that the (Republican) Senate Intelligency committee's report has "proven" that Bush did not mislead us into war. Meanwhile, Eschaton's Holden reminds us that it was the White House who backed away so quickly from the claim made in those 16 words, and is in fact, still backed away from it.

And the Wall Street Journal weighs in as well.

Mr. Wilson says the question of whether his wife suggested him for the trip "is absolutely irrelevant" to the decision on bringing charges against whoever leaked her name. In his letter to the committee last week, he argued that his wife simply recited his credentials to CIA officials making the choice.

Yet Republican Party officials have seized on the Senate Intelligence Committee's findings in an effort to counteract the damage done to President Bush from the leak affair and, more broadly, from Mr. Wilson's criticism in dozens of speeches and television appearances over the past year of Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie in a statement calls Mr. Wilson "a liar" who has made "allegations against the president that have now been proven false." On CBS's "Face the Nation" yesterday, Mr. Gillespie said that Mr. Wilson "is an adviser to the Kerry campaign" who has been "entirely discredited."

That overstates the report's findings about Mr. Wilson. But whether it damages him or not, the report, in strictly legal terms, shouldn't have any effect on Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into whether the White House violated a law that makes it a crime to disclose the name of a clandestine intelligence officer. At the same time, Mr. Fitzgerald must weigh whether to push his case all the way to its potentially messy end -- namely, indicting administration officials before the election.

Whatever action Mr. Fitzgerald takes will have political implications. "I think this [Senate report] was an effort on behalf of the Republicans to discredit Mr. Wilson by showing why the White House outed his wife and maybe head off an indictment. Nice try, but the law says you don't out a clandestine operative no matter what the reason," says Larry Johnson, one of a group of former CIA officers that has pushed for indictments in the case.

Mr. Bush started the whole affair in his 2003 State of the Union speech before invading Iraq. "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," he said. His statement was based in part on documents purportedly from Niger recounting Iraqi attempts to purchase uranium; the documents are now considered to be forgeries and the White House later acknowledged the sentence shouldn't have been included in the speech.

The Senate report and a similar one by British authorities released this month make clear that the question of whether Iraq sought uranium in Africa is a murky one that may never be fully resolved. The reports show that intelligence agencies from both countries have multiple unconfirmed reports that Iraq made such an attempt in Niger and elsewhere. French and British intelligence separately told the U.S. about possible Iraqi attempts to buy uranium in Niger, the U.S. report said. There were other unverified reports as well. As a result, the 511-page British report backed the U.K. government's claim that it had intelligence that Iraq had sought uranium in Africa, and said Mr. Bush's claim on the subject and a similar one by British Prime Minister Tony Blair were "well-founded."

Um, Bill, "well-founded" does not equal "true," and "murky" does not equal "the plain truth."

But hidden at the bottom of the story are these interesting words:

Under Justice Department guidelines, prosecutors must show they have pursued nearly all other means of obtaining information before calling a reporter before a grand jury, a Justice Department official says. Because it is considered a last resort, sending subpoenas to journalists may indicate the investigation is winding down, Justice Department and FBI lawyers say.

I wonder what Ashcroft, Cheney, Rove, and Bush will do to try to run out the clock before they have to give the ball back.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Dick Cheney. Rock Star.

Mr. Cheney and organizers of the rally worked hard to project an almost youthful spirit.

Signs held aloft by children and inscribed "Cheney rocks" and "Too Coo" were part of an MTV-style photomontage projected on screens beside the stage inside the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Taking to the stage, Mr. Cheney whipped off his blue blazer before starting to speak, prompting a raucous cheer frm the crowd.

Who are these people?

I can't wait for thekool kidz to come to New York.

Agenda? We don't need no stinkin' agenda! Or...Rebut This!


\Re*but"\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Rebutted; p. pr. & vb. n. Rebutting.] [OF. reb??ter to repulse, drive back; pref. re- + bouter to push, thrust. See 1st Butt, Boutade.] 1. To drive or beat back; to repulse.

Who him, recount'ring fierce, as hawk in flight, Perforce rebutted back. --Spenser.

2. (Law) To contradict, meet, or oppose by argument, plea, or countervailing proof. --Abbott.

Throughout the year, Bush has focused on Iraq and terrorism and on drawing attention to improved economic statistics, but has barely begun to make the case about second-term priorities. Whether there is room for a bold domestic agenda, given the fiscal strains his first term has created, and whether Bush has fresh ideas on issues such as health care, education and the economy are questions yet to be answered.

Bush's advisers, in a series of interviews in recent days, were quick to rebut those questions [emphasis added]. They asserted that there will be a vigorous new agenda and challenged those who have suggested that a second-term blueprint could be little more than a warmed-over version of what Bush ran on in 2000 but has failed to enact.

"Rebut those questions?" Since when are questions rebutted?

Dan Balz's analysis notes that Bush has so far not bothered to mention what he plans to do, should Glorious and Dear Leader actually manage to reelection. But what it does not say is that, in reality, Bush really had no plans in 2000-- at least none he was prepared to fight for -- other than a series of tax cuts.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Ah, yes. That old buck stopping here we've read so much about.

From Dear Leader's most extraordinary weekly radio address:

As yesterday's report shows, we are making progress in changing the culture of America from one that said, "if it feels good, do it; and if you've got a problem, blame somebody else," to a culture in which each of us understands we are responsible for the decisions we make in life.

Surely, and no one sets a better example than you, Mr. President.

Q Mr. President, I'd like to follow up on a couple of these questions that have been asked. One of the biggest criticisms of you is that whether it's WMD in Iraq, postwar planning in Iraq, or even the question of whether this administration did enough to ward off 9/11, you never admit a mistake. Is that a fair criticism? And do you believe there were any errors in judgment that you made related to any of those topics I brought up?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think, as I mentioned, it's -- the country wasn't on war footing, and yet we're at war. And that's just a reality, Dave. I mean, that's -- that was the situation that existed prior to 9/11, because the truth of the matter is, most in the country never felt that we'd be vulnerable to an attack such as the one that Osama bin Laden unleashed on us. We knew he had designs on us, we knew he hated us. But there was a -- nobody in our government, at least, and I don't think the prior government, could envision flying airplanes into buildings on such a massive scale.

The people know where I stand. I mean, in terms of Iraq, I was very clear about what I believed. And, of course, I want to know why we haven't found a weapon yet. But I still know Saddam Hussein was a threat, and the world is better off without Saddam Hussein. I don't think anybody can -- maybe people can argue that. I know the Iraqi people don't believe that, that they're better off with Saddam Hussein -- would be better off with Saddam Hussein in power. I also know that there's an historic opportunity here to change the world. And it's very important for the loved ones of our troops to understand that the mission is an important, vital mission for the security of America and for the ability to change the world for the better.

Our glorious preznit knows that it takes a real man to admit mistakes...if he only knew where to find one he's made.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. In the last campaign, you were asked a question about the biggest mistake you'd made in your life, and you used to like to joke that it was trading Sammy Sosa. You've looked back before 9/11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9/11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have you learned from it?

THE PRESIDENT: I wish you would have given me this written question ahead of time, so I could plan for it. (Laughter.) John, I'm sure historians will look back and say, gosh, he could have done it better this way, or that way. You know, I just -- I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't yet.

I would have gone into Afghanistan the way we went into Afghanistan. Even knowing what I know today about the stockpiles of weapons, I still would have called upon the world to deal with Saddam Hussein. See, I happen to believe that we'll find out the truth on the weapons. That's why we've sent up the independent commission. I look forward to hearing the truth, exactly where they are. They could still be there. They could be hidden, like the 50 tons of mustard gas in a turkey farm.

One of the things that Charlie Duelfer talked about was that he was surprised at the level of intimidation he found amongst people who should know about weapons, and their fear of talking about them because they don't want to be killed. There's a terror still in the soul of some of the people in Iraq; they're worried about getting killed, and, therefore, they're not going to talk.

But it will all settle out, John. We'll find out the truth about the weapons at some point in time. However, the fact that he had the capacity to make them bothers me today, just like it would have bothered me then. He's a dangerous man. He's a man who actually -- not only had weapons of mass destruction -- the reason I can say that with certainty is because he used them. And I have no doubt in my mind that he would like to have inflicted harm, or paid people to inflict harm, or trained people to inflict harm on America, because he hated us.

I hope I -- I don't want to sound like I've made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't -- you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.

Right, you lefties out there have forgotten (so soon, alas, so soon) about those "turkey farms of death."

Friday, July 16, 2004

Sneering at family institutions or just a little of that 'ol time impassioned gibberish

"I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to your wife. Well, if that's the idea you can count me out....[sic] Nowadays people begin by sneering at family life and family institutions, and next they'll throw everything overboard and have intermarriage between black and white."

Flushed with his impassioned gibberish, he saw himself standing alone on the last barrier of civilization.

-- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Chap. 7

Meanwhile, 80 years and a hundred or so miles south of East Egg...

WASHINGTON, July 15 - Minutes after the Senate rejected the Constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage on Wednesday, Republican sponsors of the proposal deftly maneuvered Representative Jim DeMint before the television cameras.

"All of us as Americans believe that people have a right to live the way they want, but no person, no judge has a right to redefine our basic institutions," asserted Mr. DeMint, a Republican who, not coincidentally, is running for the Senate back home in South Carolina.

So, it's impassioned gibberish you'll be wanting? I'll give you impassioned gibberish.

"Conservative members of both political parties will be risking liberalizing the definition of traditional marriage and eroding thousands of years of Judeo-Christian values, unless they vote for the Republican nominee," said Kirk Humphreys, a Republican Senate hopeful in Oklahoma.

We wrote the book on Iraq

It's a shame the "planners" who led us over this cliff didn't bother to read it (beware, it's a pdf).

As USA Today reports, well, today,

Since invading Iraq, Americans have discovered that the country is a military, political and cultural minefield. But it's a lesson they could have learned from a pocket-sized booklet published six decades ago by the U.S. government.

A Short Guide to Iraq was written to educate World War II servicemen about a place most of them had never heard of. It describes an Iraq familiar to soldiers there today: the heat, the oil, the religious and political factions, the talent for guerrilla war, the taboos against everything from making a pass at a woman to eating with your left hand.

The guide anticipates virtually every problem encountered by U.S. forces in the past 15 months, from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal to the increase in casualties since the fall of Baghdad.

But, of course, we have much more so-called bandwidth for planning these types of missions these days, don't we?

[Retired General] Keane, who served briefly as acting Army chief of staff after the invasion, agreed. Spreading his hands wide, he told the committee, "This represents the space for the intellectual capital that we expended to take the regime down."

And then drawing two fingers nearly together to reveal just a small gap, Keane added, "This represents the space for the intellectual capital to deal with it after. I mean, that was the reality of it."

In related news, who will be next, to join the "Coalition of the Let's Get the Hell Out of This Hole We're Digging," Moldavia?

McClellan outlines the Bush peace plan

From today's "Washington Wire (subscription required):"

MINOR MEMOS: Spokesman McClellan previews a Bush speech: "And he'll go over the outline for our strategy for peace, which has three basic commitments: One, taking the fight to the enemy..." [sic]

Declaring victory but not going home

Just what many of us feared most: that the U.S. would quickly turn over power -- and responsibility -- to an interim government, declare "mission accomplished," and repeat the mantra that everything's going swimmingly in Iraq as they continue progress towards democracy.  And that although "facts on the ground" demonstrate something quite different, we'll hear nothing but happy talk out of Washington, and compliant editors around the country will push Iraq further and further from the front pages, much to the relief of a war-weary nation.
That is the argument, more or less, of Jim Hoagland's op-ed piece, "Perception Gap in Iraq."

Last Friday, Jim Krane of the Associated Press quoted unnamed U.S. military officers saying that Iraq's insurgency is led by well-armed Sunnis angry about losing power, not by foreign fighters. They number up to 20,000, not 5,000 as Washington briefers maintain, Krane added in his well-reported but generally overlooked dispatch.

The point is not 5,000 vs. 20,000. The insurgency's exact size is unknowable. The point is that enough officers in the field sense that what they see happening to their troops in Iraq is so out of sync with Washington's version that they must rely on the press to get out a realistic message. That is usually how defeat begins for expeditionary forces fighting distant insurgencies.

This could prove disastrous on at least two major fronts: 1. Iraq will continue to degenerate (and U.S. troops and Iraqis will continue to die), further inflaming the middle east and swelling al Qaeda's recruitment rolls; and, 2. with Iraq off the front page, it becomes one less thing for the Bush campaign to worry about.

Meanwhile, back in the new boss, same as the old boss.

Kerry's spidey sense

Ruben Bolling gets it exactly right in "Spider Man 9-11."

Thursday, July 15, 2004

News Zealand declares war on Israel?

What a strange story.
NEW Zealand has cut diplomatic ties with Israel after two alleged Israeli spies - including one who had lived in Sydney for several years - were jailed last night for trying to obtain a false Kiwi passport.
A furious Prime Minister Helen Clark banned Israeli President Moshe Katsov from entering New Zealand, accusing Israel of an "utterly unacceptable breach of New Zealand sovereignty and international law".
In the High Court in Auckland yesterday, former Sydney-based travel agent Eli Cara, 51, and Uriel Zoshe Kelman, 31, were each sentenced to six months jail and ordered to pay NZ$50,000 ($44,885) compensation each to the New Zealand Cerebral Palsy Society.

They pleaded guilty earlier this month to using the name of a cerebral palsy sufferer in Auckland to obtain a passport for another Israeli, Zev Barkan, who fled to Sydney before he could be caught.

New Zealand police say they have no idea where he is now.

Miss Clark said she had "no doubt" the men were Israeli secret agents, but would not comment on whether they worked for the domestic spy agency Mossad, counter-intelligence group Shin Bet or military intelligence agency Aman.

You can't make this stuff up.

Is New Zealand a new hot bed for Arab extremists? Are they shipping nuclear weapons capabilities to Syria? And what's with the C.P. connection?

You would think the blogosphere would be reeling from this news, but all I hear is silence out there. I mean, wondering why George Bush made the decision to go to war in Iraq based on one page of information is yesterday's leftovers. This is news.

Just deserts

The United States will ask the Japanese government for custody of Charles Robert Jenkins if the former U.S. soldier charged with deserting to North Korea goes to Japan for medical care, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

"Our view is that Sgt. Jenkins ... is a deserter from the U.S. Army. He has been charged with extremely serious offenses," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

Jenkins deserted in 1965. Hasn't the statute of limitations run out, or is there no statute for desertion?

But, hey, why not. Let's extradite him and have a big media circus about this old traitor. Then we can have further discussions about about avoiding service during the Vietnam War.

Those mischievous Republicans backing Nader

Salon's editor David Talbot gets Ralph on the phone. Nader exhibits all the characteristics of delusions of grandeur that have endeared him to millions of Americans.

Talbot: Why are these groups giving you money and trying to get you on the ballot? They have no interest in your political agenda. They're working to get Bush elected so he can keep the war going and keep supporting his rich friends.

Nader: Wait, wait, wait. Working to get someone on the ballot is working to give someone their free speech. I have no problem with that.

Talbot: I have no problem with that either. But I think you need to question who some of your political bedfellows are, and ask why they're helping you. The press should do that with any candidate.

Nader: No, no. The criteria [for making a campaign contribution] is that you're an American citizen and it's within the limits of the law. Period. We are not going to let Salon...

Talbot: Hold on, let me finish. We have a right to point out that if you are in bed with people and groups who are anti-gay, antiabortion, anti-immigration...

Nader: Oh Jesus, you're really degrading yourself.

Talbot: Well, that's the truth.

Nader: These are press releases by these idiot groups. Look at our gay rights position -- it's much better than Kerry's.

Talbot: Why are these conservative groups helping you then?

Nader: Because they're mischievous, that's why! They want to get their name in the paper and trick people like Salon.

Christ, he's a whack job.

Either Nader is simply unable to accept that he's a tool for these "mischievous" GOP dirty tricksters, which is sad, or he does understand, which makes him as cynical and dangerous as the Bushies themselves.

Watching his bizarre performance on the Daily Show last week, I'm not sure which is the case. He makes Ross Perot look like an elder statesman; at least we could understand Perot's motivation.

If you'd prefer not to sit through the daily Salon ad, you can get another excerpt from the interview here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

What if Saddam ate the yellow cake?

Fafblog is pretty ticked off at big fat Joe Wilson for deceivin' him about Valerie and leading him to believe that Saddam never had a nuclear program. And then he learns about nuculo-Saddam!

The War Room -- be afraid, John Kerry, be afraid

The two Times were invited to see the Busheney "rapid response team" in action.

The stories are, gasp, almost identical.

I'm not sure what the campaign's point was and what they intended to prove. That they were listening to Kerry's every word? Big deal. That they could control the spin of the day? Well, we already knew that, although on the day the paper's were there, only Faux News seemed to be biting.

Rebutting Bush

It isn't hard, and it isn't new, but Juan Cole takes apart Bush's latest stump speech, piece by piece. Very much worth a read.

Adam Felber takes a different, but also effective approach to the same speech.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Beastie Boys

What is it with the GOP and bestiality?

First there was little Rickie and his fear that, if not stopped, and soon, he will be allowed to satisfy his deep yearning for Rex.

Now, as Andy Sullivan -- ever-vigilant about keeping is plastron closed up tightly -- notes, everybody's favorite wingnut, John Cornyn (R-Tex.) has been expressing fantasies about box turtles in meetings with Washington sex tanks.

"It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle. But that does not mean it is right. . . . Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife."

-- Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), advocating a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in a speech Thursday to the Heritage Foundation.

Keep these guys away from the pet store. I'm not entirely sure that even the goldfish are safe from their lustful depredations.

Dying for democracy, but not getting a vote

Phil Carter discusses a story in USA Today about problems with getting the votes counted of soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. And why the administration's DoJ does not seem to feel that fixing a truly broken system should be a priority.

Typically, the military is thought to lean heavily Republican. But after long deployments, growing disillusionment with the war, declining morale, and the declining popularity of George W. Bush that assumption may be turned on its head.

Add to that the fact that a lot of military bases and military families are in swing states, and it gets a lot more interesting...and urgent.

The world really is turning upside down, or, "much in the heavens and Earth go askew"

I thought it was just me. I thought that the preznit's constant state of denial, of saying one thing while his henchman do another, and of calling black white was making me just a little light headed. There was, I comforted myself, no physical reason for this feeling of topsy-turvy-ness.



The collapse of the Earth's magnetic field, which both guards the planet and guides many of its creatures, appears to have started in earnest about 150 years ago. The field's strength has waned 10 to 15 percent, and the deterioration has accelerated of late, increasing debate over whether it portends a reversal of the lines of magnetic force that normally envelop the Earth.

During a reversal, the main field weakens, almost vanishes, then reappears with opposite polarity. Afterward, compass needles that normally point north would point south, and during the thousands of years of transition, much in the heavens and Earth would go askew.

A reversal could knock out power grids, hurt astronauts and satellites, widen atmospheric ozone holes, send polar auroras flashing to the equator and confuse birds, fish and migratory animals that rely on the steadiness of the magnetic field as a navigation aid. But experts said the repercussions would fall short of catastrophic, despite a few proclamations of doom and sketchy evidence of past links between field reversals and species extinctions.

Scientists "say" that we shouldn't be alarmed. That even the worst-case scenario has this 2,000 years off.

But I say, had they figured on a Bush administration in their calculations and computer models?

"Today, because America has acted and because America has led, the forces of terror and tyranny have suffered defeat after defeat, and America and the world are safer," Mr. Bush said.

I'm getting dizzy.

"Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq," Mr. Bush said. "We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them. In the world after September the 11th, that was a risk we could not afford to take."

In his half-hour speech at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a nuclear weapons research site, Mr. Bush ranged widely over the actions his administration had taken over the past three years. He said that through diplomacy and military action, alone and through international coalitions, the United States had put terrorists on the run, confronted nations pursuing illicit weapons programs, liberated millions of people from tyranny and sown the seeds of democracy in regions that have been breeding grounds for fanaticism.

I believe I've fallen and I can't get up.

The world groans under the weight of Bush logic.
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