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Friday, April 30, 2004

Nightline 

There's a big brouhaha going on over the fact that Nightline tonight is going to read off the names of all the soldiers killed so far in Iraq. Ted Koppel talks about his decision to do so here. Sinclair, a corporation that owns several ABC affiliates, has instructed their stations not to air the program. This was their statement:
STATEMENT OF THE SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP

The ABC Television network announced on Tuesday that the Friday, April 30th edition of "Nightline" will consist entirely of Ted Koppel reading aloud the names of U.S. servicemen and women killed in action in Iraq. Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq.

While the Sinclair Broadcast Group honors the memory of the brave members of the military who have sacrificed their lives in the service of our country, we do not believe such political statements should be disguised as news content. As a result, we have decided to preempt the broadcast of "Nightline" this Friday on each of our stations which air ABC programming.

We understand that our decision in this matter may be questioned by some. Before you judge our decision, however, we would ask that you first question Mr. Koppel as to why he chose to read the names of the 523 troops killed in combat in Iraq, rather than the names of the thousands of private citizens killed in terrorists attacks since and including the events of September 11, 2001. In his answer, you will find the real motivation behind his action scheduled for this Friday.
John McCain replied, here.

The Center for American Progress did some top-notch research on Sinclair:
Tonight, ABC's "Nightline" will pay tribute to U.S. troops killed in Iraq by airing a 40 minute special – the names of the fallen will be read by anchor Ted Koppel as their photographs appear on screen. But Sinclair Broadcast Group--the country's largest owner of TV stations--will not allow its ABC affiliates to air the show. In a statement, Sinclair claims the special "appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq." While Sinclair claims it is pre-empting Nightline because it is an attempt to "influence public opinion," the record shows that Sinclair media has repeatedly leveraged its control over the airwaves to manipulate public opinion in favor of President Bush's right-wing agenda.

SINCLAIR REQUIRES JOURNALISTS TO READ PRO-BUSH STATEMENTS: In September 2001, Sinclair Broadcasting required its affiliates to air messages "conveying full support" for the Bush administration. At a Baltimore affiliate, WBFF "officials required news and sports anchors, even a weather forecaster, to read the messages, "which included statements such as "[the station] wants you to know that we stand 100% behind our President." Several WBFF staffers objected on the grounds that reading the statements would "erode their reputations as objective journalists" because it made them appear to be "endorsing specific government actions."

SINCLAIR REFUSES TO AIR AD HIGHLIGHTING 2003 BUSH ERROR: In July 2003, Sinclair Broadcasting refused to allow WMSN TV--its FOX affiliate in Madison, WI--to air a DNC advertisement that featured a clip of President Bush making the false claim "Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" in his 2003 State of the Union Address. Three other Madison stations, including ABC, NBC and CBS, readily agreed to air the ad. The Madison CBS affiliate, WISC, said the advertisement was "no worse than any other political ad."

SINCLAIR PRODUCES CENTRALIZED RIGHT-WING CONTENT FOR 'LOCAL STATIONS': In a controversial business practice, Sinclair Broadcasting has fired much of the staff for the local affiliates it owns, instead producing content for its local stations from a central facility outside Baltimore which it then airs on "local" news broadcasts. The centralized content features nightly commentary by Sinclair corporate communications chief Mark Hyman. Hyman regularly refers to the French as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys," the so-called liberal media as the "hate-America crowd," and progressives as "the lonely left" On one recent commentary, Hyman called members of Congress who voted against a recent resolution affirming the righteousness of the Iraq war "unpatriotic politicians who hate our military." You can see all of Hyman's commentaries this month HERE. (Read more from American Progress about the problems of media consolidation.)

SINCLAIR AIRS FAKE NEWS BROADCASTS PRODUCED BY BUSH ADMINISTRATION: In March, it was discovered that the Bush Administration was producing "television news stories, written and paid for by the government, which have the appearance of legitimate news segments delivered by independent reporters," and distributing them to local newscasts as a way of promoting administration policies--including its ill-conceived Medicare prescription drug law. On the broadcasts, a public relations professional named Karen Ryan pretended to be a reporter. Among the stations which aired the administration propaganda as news: WPGH in Pittsburgh "the Sinclair Broadcasting station that fired much of its news staff in favor of feeds from a centralized newsroom in Baltimore."

SINCLAIR EXECUTIVES MAJOR BUSH CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTORS: Sinclair executives have contributed more than $16,500 to President Bush since 2000. This year, Sinclair CEO David Smith gave President Bush the maximum $2000 contribution. Before soft money contributions became illegal, Sinclair Broadcasting gave more than $130,000 to the president's political allies but no money to his opponents.

WOLFOWITZ NEEDS TO WATCH NIGHTLINE TONIGHT: One person who should be sure to tune into Nightline: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. Appearing yesterday before a congressional committee, Wolfowitz was asked how many soldiers had died in Iraq. Revealing a shocking insensitivity about the extent of the casualties in Iraq in the highest reaches of the Pentagon, Wolfowitz replied "It's approximately 500, of which - I can get the exact numbers - approximately 350 are combat deaths." In fact, 722 American troops have died during operations in Iraq – 521 from combat.
The Washington Post also attacked Koppel by calling this a ratings stunt. My own view is that this is anything but a ratings stunt--because, well, listening to 45 minutes of Ted Koppel speak is always boring rattle off names just won't be very interesting after the first minute or two to everybody but those who are waiting to hear the name of a friend or a love one. Also, it strikes me as telling that many war supporters have so little faitendeavorir endevour that this type of broadcast is viewed as such a threat. Anyway, I want to thank the good people at ABC News and Nightline who refuse to cow to such pressure (I'm looking at you, CBS, with your "Reagans" and your hagiographic "DC 9/11")

UPDATE: Steve Gilliard:
If reading all the names is an anti-war statement, then it's an anti-war statement. If it isn't, it isn't. What it is to me is an acknowledgement of their sacrifice.

But the naked fear of Sinclair's bosses and their conservative allies is quite telling. They were just saying a month ago that casualities didn't matter. That it was less than those that died on Omaha Beach, or living in California. That Americans would take casualities to support the war on terror.

But when called on their bullshit, and faced with the real names of real people, most of who weren't even old enough to drink, they turn tail and cry politics. When their families were crying for their loss, they minimized it and used macho talk to excuse their callousness. Now, when faced with reality, all 724 people are really dead, they ran like the cowards they are.

If reading the names of the war dead is bad for Bush, so be it. It shouldn't be an excuse for the cowardice of Sinclair Broadcasting Group's naked and disrepectful politics.
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Create Your Own Tom Friedman Column 

Funny.
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Our Skin Color 

Josh Marshall makes an astoundingly good point.

I have listened to the President make similar comments before - and had never stopped to think about the implicit assumptions behind his use of the term "our skin color."

EDIT: The President doesn't actually use the term "our skin color", but refers to people whose skin color is different than ours. Same point applies.
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Dr. Phil, meet Dr. Howard 

LINK:
Dean preps for talkshow 04/29/2004
Wed Apr 28, 8:00 PM ET

Josef Adalian, STAFF

Dr. Phil could soon be sharing the Paramount lot with another doc: Howard Dean (news - web sites).

While everything's still in the early talking stages, the former Democratic presidential candidate is mulling the idea of hosting his own syndicated gabfest. He's hooked up with ex-Big Ticket TV topper Larry Lyttle ("Judge Judy") and longtime political consultant Gerald Rafshoon, who would likely serve as exec producers of a pilot for any such project.

Dean is in Hollywood this week, and he's taking meetings with execs at Viacom-owned Paramount Domestic Television. Lyttle is still based on the Par lot, and he's helping Dean make the connection with the studio.

Lyttle spent much of last year working as a consultant for another former presidential candidate, Joe Lieberman (news - web sites). He and Rafshoon are also in talks with several other Washington insiders about opening a bicoastal political consulting group; company will likely have a media unit that would produce a few projects per year.

Dean has flirted with TV before, and insiders said the ex-Vermont governor received at least one substantial offer to host his own talkshow for a cable news net.

But Dean seems interested in going in a completely different direction.

"The last thing we're going to talk about is politics," Lyttle said. "We'd talk about a myriad of other things instead of politics."

Dean's skein would likely have more in common with the talkshow Bill Clinton (news - web sites) had been considering a few years back.

"He'd look at things like, What happens if you lose a sibling? What about when you're victimized by not having health care?" Lyttle said, arguing that Dean has the perfect persona for the small screen.

"He's a little bit of Howard Beale, a little Dr. Phil and a little Donahue all rolled into one," he said. "What was so appealing to me is the fact that he's not afraid to express an opinion."

Lyttle certainly has a track record for spotting talent and launching syndie successes.

His decision to gamble on "Judge Judy" resulted in one of the few game-changing syndie skeins of the 1990s. Lyttle also put together "Judge Joe Brown (news)" and was instrumental in casting Mo'Nique in "The Parkers."



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Thursday, April 29, 2004

Racism 

If you would like to see some racism, go and read Ann Coulter's new column. And remember, millions of Americans like her.
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Blame Canada! 

Bill O'Reilly last week:
A Canadian cable company, citing a growing demand for the FOX News Channel, had petitioned an application with their government to carry us. Now columnists on the far left "Toronto Globe & Mail" wrote: "Bring it on, we're all in a good need of a laugh. We'll find out if this Bill O'Reilly fellow is as stupendously pompous and preening as he appears to be in the rare clips we see of FOX News."

So they see rare clips, but think we're laughable. "The Globe & Mail" (search) sounds like a real responsible enterprise, doesn't it? Hey, you pinheads up there, I may be pompous but at least I'm honest.
And then, a few days later, a much wiser Canadian speaks...
Writing in The Toronto Sun, Peter Worthington said this today: "Whenever I return from an extended visit in the U.S., I feel withdrawal pangs because FOX News is denied access to Canada. With access to CNN but not FOX News, Canadians are being deprived. One needs both for better understanding, Bill O'Reilly's view of politics versus James Carville's"
However, in the last two days, O'Reilly has finally found the perfect solution when one citizen of a country insults you...
Last night, we told you about two American Army privates who deserted, fled to Canada, and are being hailed by heroes by some Canadian media. The two have filed for asylum even though they are not entitled to it under Canadian law. We said that if granted asylum, "Talking Points" would call for a boycott of Canadian goods and services by all Americans.
That's right! In an amazing coincidence, just a few days after O'Reilly discovered that large numbers of Canadians don't like him, he called for a boycott of that country. I wonder how many hard working Canadian citizens will lose their jobs because of the idiots who listen to O'Reilly and do what he says. And of course, this is the same Bill O'Reilly who once said:
The main point here is that trying to hurt a business or a person because you disagree with what they say is simply unacceptable in America. And that message has been sent by FOX. There's a principle in play. Vigorous debate is embraced by us, but smear campaigns will be confronted.

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Bobtail Soda Fountain 

Just a shameless plug for Bobtail Soda Fountain, a new ice cream store at the corner of Broadway and Wellington in Lakeview. It opened on Monday, and it's owned by two of my good friends. Great ice cream, coffee and waffles! If you live around there, go!
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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

What? 

OK, apparently the National Review wants Bush's slogan to be:

Don't Vote for Kerry: He Did Not Serve Honorably in Vietnam and Has Close Ties to Enron.

In fairness, unlike the Vietnam attacks, I'm not sure if this line of attack is actually coming from the Bush campaign. (Some of the Vietnam comments came from Karen Hughes herself.) And the point isn't that Kerry can do whatever he wants because Bush's ties to Enron were worse. But it just goes to show the trust that the Bush campaign has in the press and the American people to NOT think about what he's saying. Sadly, he may be right.

(In fairness again, there were those who attacked Bush in 2000 for his lack of service and his wayward youth - an odd thing to do when the Vice President of a known draft dodging, blow job in the oval office loving President like Bill Clinton was running against him. But I can't recall the Clinton people - much less the Gore campaign - ever attacking Bush on sexual or draft issues - because this would have made little sense in context. So why is the Bush campaign getting away with doing this?)
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I Don't Think This Would Work 

Jonah Goldberg, today, approvingly posts the following comment from a reader:
The problem with Kerry is that he doesn’t want to admit he was wrong. I agree with the guy in the New York Observer today. If he said I was 25 and stupid that would be the end of the story. Aren’t we all stupid at 25? And this is why he isn’t connecting with people. Elites feel like they are perfect and have the answer for all of the world’s problems and therefore cannot have any themselves. The people I hang with laugh about the stupid things they did when they were young. Come on admit it! You were an idiot too. It’s okay. It’s normal.
John Kerry, on Meet the Press two weeks ago, talking about a comment he made in the early 1970s in which he said the United Nations should have control of U.S. foreign policy:
KERRY: That’s one of those stupid things that a 27-year-old kid says when you’re fresh back from Vietnam and angry about it. I have never, ever, ever, in any vote, in any policy, in any speech, in any public statement advocated any such thing in all of the years I’ve been in elected office.
David Broder, analyzing this response by Kerry:
Over the course of the hour, Kerry struggled to explain why he had once—decades ago—advocated placing U.S. forces under the direction of the United Nations…
That's right, smart Corner reader, the reason this is a story is because Kerry won't admit he's wrong. He never admits he's wrong - like all elites. (I won't even bother to note that George Bush has NEVER admitted he was wrong, and in fact couldn't answer a question about mistakes that he's made during a press conference.)

ADDED LATER: I should note that I got the Kerry and Broder quotes from this Daily Howler. And I changed the title from I Don't Think That Would Work to I Don't Think This Would Work.
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President George W. Bush--Out of Touch 

Here's what he said today on Fallujah: "Most of Fallujah is returning to normal ..."

Here's Juan Cole on what's really going on in Fallujah:
It appears that the Marines took fire from there and called in AC-130 strikes against the points from which the fire originated.
You can read about the AC-130 here. Basically, if it's being used, then we're back into Major Combat Operations. It's a nasty piece of machinery. You don't use it in a city that's remotely close to "normal."

ADDENDUM: President Bush quote via the greatest political website throughout the universe in perpetuity, ABC News's Noted Now.
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What, exactly, is the tragedy? 

Apparently it's shit on Jonah Goldberg day here at G&G. I'm fine with that. At the Corner, J.G. writes:
THE TRAGEDY OF THE ATLANTIC [Jonah Goldberg ]

It really isn't Michael Kelly's Atlantic anymore, is it? Still a good magazine, but a decidedly and increasingly predictably liberal one. Here's the preview: of the next issue's cover story which sounds particularly contrary to Kelly's views on the Brits and the war (though I haven't read the piece yet):
The Tragedy of Tony Blair by Geoffrey Wheatcroft
Tony Blair was the one man on earth, writes the veteran British correspondent Geoffrey Wheatcroft, who could possibly have stopped the war in Iraq. But Blair led his people into war against their will, for reasons that were not true—and now his mystique and his promise, almost JFK-like when he came into office, are shattered. "The man who not so long ago seemed a new ideal in himself," Wheatcroft concludes, "now stands alone, truly a great tragic figure."
Posted at 02:05 PM
So, what's the tragedy? That Michael Kelly died covering a mistake of a war in Iraq? Or that The Atlantic is now "liberal"? JG sure makes it sound like it's the latter.
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Say What? 

According to Jonah Goldberg's new column, Kerry's conduct during Vietnam deserves scrutiny because (1) he thought the war was a mistake and yet (2) he volunteered to fight in the war. That's right. Apparently, Bush and Cheney deserve more credit because they (1) did not think the war was a mistake and (2) decided to let poorer people fight it for them. And on this, Bush and Cheney cannot be accused of flip-flopping - even today, they continue to allow poor people to die in wars that John Kerry thinks are mistakes.

Also, note the absence of one word from this column: Clinton. That's because under this new standard, Clinton's actions during Vietnam were the bravest and most consistent of any of our Presidential candidates. He was consistently and openly opposed to the war in Vietnam, and took steps to avoid serving there.

I would argue that a person opposed to the war had two honorable choices: (1) submit to the draft or volunteer to serve because, even if a war is wrong, it is still one's duty to the USA to fight when called upon OR (2) refuse to serve because there is a higher moral calling than patriotism which sometimes requires one to ignore the demands of one's country. I think that a person who supported the war (which by all accounts George Bush now says he did) had many honorable choices. One of them was not, however, to use one's father's political connections to land a coveted spot in the National Guard and then fill out the application to the Guard by checking "does not volunteer to serve overseas."

I can't even believe Republicans are actually pushing the issue of Kerry's conduct during Vietnam. I admit, when Kerry first started talking about this, I thought he was sort of making up the attacks just so he had an excuse to talk about his service. I was wrong. George Bush, who at best avoided service by slithering his way into the National Guard, is actually attacking John Kerry's war record. Simply unbelievable.
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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

War and Presidents 

I just want to state the obvious here:

If you're President, and you start a war of choice with absolutely no plan on how to get out of the country you invaded, you don't deserve to be re-elected.

Is that so radical a statement?
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This is terrible 

LINK:
The young Japanese civilians taken hostage in Iraq returned home this week, not to the warmth of a yellow-ribbon embrace but to a disapproving nation's cold stare.

Three of them, including a woman who helped street children on the streets of Baghdad, appeared on television two weeks ago as their knife-brandishing kidnappers threatened to slit their throats. A few days after their release, they landed here on Sunday, in the eye of a peculiarly Japanese storm.

"You got what you deserve!" read one hand-written sign at the airport where they landed. "You are Japan's shame," another wrote on the Web site of one of the former hostages. They had "caused trouble" for everybody. The government, not to be outdone, announced it would bill the former hostages $6,000 for air fare.

Beneath the surface of Japan's ultra-sophisticated cities lie the hierarchical ties that have governed this island nation for centuries and that, at moments of crises, invariably reassert themselves. The former hostages' transgression was to ignore a government advisory against traveling to Iraq. But their sin, in a vertical society that likes to think of itself as classless, was to defy what people call here "okami," or, literally, "what is higher."
The rest of the article is no better.
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Monday, April 26, 2004

The Future is....not quite now 

Busy, but want to post about the pro-choice rally that occured yesterday (and mention Steve Gilliard's comments on it) and post about Eric Schlosser's op-ed in today's times. Check back...maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow.
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Sunday, April 25, 2004

After September 11... 

... everything changed. As some readers of this blog may know, this was something of an obsession of Goldberg and I for a time. Basically, September 11 was given as the reason for so many absurd things. For example, "After the tragedy of September 11, Americans longed for something comfortable and familiar, and hence the ratings of Friends improved."

Well, from Karen Hughes (via Daily Kos, via Atrios)... after September 11, Americans began to learn the value of life... specifically, unborn life.

The full, awesome quote...
I think that after September 11, the American people are valuing life more and we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life," she said. "President Bush has worked to say, let's be reasonable, let's work to value life, let's reduce the number of abortions, let's increase adoptions. And I think those are the kinds of policies the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy and, really, the fundamental issue between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life.

Kos does a good job destroying this - and pointing out that she is essentially putting on equal footing the majority of Americans who support a woman's right to have an abortion and Al Qaeda a terrorist network that ordered some of its members to hijack a plane and fly it into a building, killing thousands of American citizens. I repeat, to Karen Hughes, one of our President's most important advisors, terrorists and my mom are equally immoral. (My mom, I assume, is pro choice.) In fact, the terrorists and Rudy Giuliani are equally immoral, as are the terrorists and Colon Powell. I, for one, cannot imagine why we would let Powell run the State Department, given that him and our terrorist enemies do not value every life.

I know after September 11, when I learned that the terrorists were Muslim extremists, the first thing I thought was "by God, we've got to start forcing women to agree with our moral and religious views."

Of course, I suppose, if you honestly and truly believe that an abortion is a murder, then I suppose pro-choice people are as bad as terrorists - which is why I don't think most people believe this. But why isn't an abortion murder? Is it because an unborn life, while important, is not as important as a living, breathing person? Or is it because most people who are against abortion aren't sure what an unborn life is? And if we aren't sure, then who should be making the decision? George Bush and Dick Cheney, or the women actually facing this choice?
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The Cubs traffic in gender stereotypes... 

I guess. This is just bizzare, and was brought to my attention by Chip Carrey. The Cubs Mother's Day promotion:
5/9 Colorado 1:20 Precious Moments® Figurine by Enesco - Chicago Cubs Exclusive Mother's Day Figurine (1st 10,000 females, age 14 & over) Exclusive Limited Edition [emphasis added]
whaa?

On a different note, I highly recommend School of Rock. Very good movie.
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Friday, April 23, 2004

That Should Shut Us UP 

Over at The Corner, they're apparently hoping that the tragic death of Pat Tillman will shut liberals up about only poor people dying in the war. A very good point - if it wasn't a terrible point.
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Conspiracy Theory 

Via Digby, I see that Wolfie and Friends over at the Pentagon are still trying to connect Saddam and Al-Qaeda. This is unbelievable:
In the run-up to the war on Iraq, a top Pentagon official pushed a highly unorthodox plan to deploy one of the U.S. government's most controversial legal tactics--the designation of suspected terrorists as "enemy combatants"--in hopes of finding new evidence of alleged connections between Saddam Hussein's regime and Al Qaeda, NEWSWEEK has learned.

The proposal, pressed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, called for President George W. Bush to declare Ramzi Yousef, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, as an enemy combatant in the war on terror. This would have allowed Yousef to be transferred from his cell at the U.S. Bureau of Prison's "supermax" penitentiary in Florence, Colo., to a U.S. military installation.

Wolfowitz contended that U.S. military interrogators--unencumbered by the presence of Yousef's defense lawyer--might be able to get the inmate to confess what he and the lawyer have steadfastly denied: that he was actually an Iraqi intelligence agent dispatched by Saddam to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993 as revenge for the first Persian Gulf War.
It's like a "This is your brain on Laurie Mylroie" commercial. Paul Wolfowitz really, really, really needs to be fired, and neither Feithr Doug Fieth nor (currently private citizen) James Woolsey ever should be listened to again. Send them to fucking Gitmo.

I also want to point out something that I've come back to on occasion in the past. I remember, on September 12 or 13 (definitely not after the 14th), 2001, I was watching Charlie Rose and James Woolsey was a guest. He kept yammering on and on about this--how Saddam was probably involved in 9/11, how it goes back to the 1993 WTC bombing, and all that. He may have even mentioned Oklahoma City (I should find a transcript, because this is kind of a baseless charge I'm making here without one). I also remembering, wow, maybe there are all these connections. I mean, why wouldn't I think that? Here is the former Director of Central Intelligence telling me stuff about a subject I knew very little. How was I supposed to know at the time that Woolsey is, shall we say, certifiably insane?

And it was episodes like this that made me never understand why right wingers would get upset when someone accused them of wanting to go after Iraq right after 9/11. Wesley Clark got in trouble for saying that, as did Richard Clarke. It seems like a legitimate criticism, and one backed up by many facts, one of which is James Woolsey on Charlie Rose. So spare me the "The Focus was on Afghanistan, not Iraq" propaganda. It should have been, but it wasn't, all because of foaming-at-the-mouth conspiracy theorists like Woolsey and Wolfowitz. And it makes me sick.

CORRECTION: Avid reader Marcia (better known as my mom) points out in the comments that, according to Charlie Rose's website, Woolsey was not a guest on his show during the time period in question. I really, really remember this, but I guess I'm wrong. I'm trying to figure out what show I did see him on that week, but I don't really have the time right now.

UPDATE II: My mom, who clearly needs a hobby, found this Frontline interview from October 2001 that has a lot of the Woolsey stuff. I don't think that this is what I was thinking about, but nonetheless, it's worth looking over.
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Thursday, April 22, 2004

MusicPlasma 

Not that I ever spend time listening to, talking about, or deconstructing music, this is a pretty neat site. I typed in (who else?) Townes Van Zandt and, somewhat surprisingly, the website seemed to know the score.

Thanks to JM for the link.
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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Brent Musberger was Kerry's CO, Apparently 

So, Kerry released all his military records, and so far, they are all exemplary. However, it was odd to find out that, apparently, Brent Musberger wrote at least one of the evaluations:
Throughout his four years of active duty, Kerry's superiors gave him glowing evaluations, citing his maturity, intelligence and immaculate appearance. He was recommended for early promotion, and when he left the Navy in 1970 to run for Congress, his commanding officer said it was the Navy's loss. [emphasis added by G&G]
So, to paraphrase Mr. Musberger, this was "one good-lookin' young officer!" Huh?

PS. If you don't get this post, I don't really care.
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Legitimate News organizations 

Below, I mentioned that it seems that at least legitimate news organizations don't give Bush questions in advance. That begs the question as to what is a legitimate news org. Clearly, not Fox or the Washington Times. But, after this, maybe we should take CNN of that list, too.
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Dept. of Even the Good Guys Aren't Perfect 

Barack Obama is running for the seat once held by self-described "Ethanol Queen" Carol Mosely-Braun. It seems like he is keeping with that bipartisan tradition of pandering to farmers. From an email sent to campaign supporters:
DURBIN, OBAMA TOUR SOUTHERN ILLINOIS TO PROMOTE JOB CREATION

Senator Obama and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin visited Southern Illinois
and Metro East on a three-day swing April 14-16 to promote job creation
in the coal, ethanol and transportation industries. At stops in
Edwardsville and Effingham, Obama said he will fight the Bush administration to
make sure the government increases production of ethanol – not just oil
– in the federal energy bill. In Mount Vernon, Obama said he will work
to increase support for Southern Illinois road projects, such as the
important interchange at Interstate 57 and Illinois Route 15. The entire
trip was marked by large, supportive crowds and much positive media
coverage.
I guess all politicians do this, but I'd be shocked if Jack! beats Obama because of the ethanol vote. There just aren't that many farmers compared to Cook County and surrounding areas. This is the first time Obama has disappointed me. What are you going to do, you know?
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Email to Ron Suskind 

I just sent the letter below to Ron Suskind, cc'ing Kevin Drum (who replied, telling me he called Ron and left a message, but hadn't heard back yet). We'll see if he gets back to me.

Dear Mr. Suskind,

Well, there's been a bit of a brouhaha lately on the web concerning a Daily Trojan article about your visit to USC. Here's the quote from the article:
One of Suskind's most severe critiques of Bush was not only Bush's lack of press conferences but also his management of those conferences.
For each press conference, the White House press secretary asks the reporters for their questions, selects six or seven of the questions to answer and those reporters are the only ones called upon to ask their questions during the press conference, Suskind said.
In response to this, the office of the Public Editor at the New York Times seemed to acknowledge that several questions do get submitted beforehand. However, other media outlets and WH press reporters are adamantly denying this practice.

Is the Daily Trojan's representation of your critique accurate? If so, do you stand by this accusation? If not, could you help clear this up for me (and many others)? Thank you in advance for your time.

Sincerely,
Goldberg

ps. My favorite quote of the year was when you were on Bill Maher and said that you weren't pro-Bush or anti-Bush, you were just pro-fact. Besides being true, I thought it was hysterical on several other levels.

UPDATE: Looking here, here, and here, it seems that the consensus is that at least the legitimate news organizations don't do this, and as far as they know, no one submits questions beforehand. Sounds right, but leaves two questions:

1) Why would Suskind say this? He's a pretty respected journalist, and would have a lot to lose, I would think, if he just started making shit up. Maybe he was misquoted, maybe not. I'd like him to get back to me or at least get back to Kevin Drum.

2) Didn't Bush strongly imply that he gets some questions beforehand when he answered the question about mistakes by saying how he wished that he had gotten that question beforehand?
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The White House view on Whistleblowers 

From Dick Clarke to Paul O'Neill to Jack Spadero, the Bush administration has had a decent amount of insiders turn against them. The New Republic's Jonathan Chait nicely sums up the BushCo response to these types of individuals:
But this seems to be the circular logic by which the administration discredits its internal critics. Loyal bureaucrats become disgusted with Bush due to his negligence or irresponsibility, and they feel compelled to speak out against him. The fact that they speak out against him turns them ipso facto into anti-Bush partisans, who therefore lack credibility. And, needless to say, those who haven't been in the administration don't know anything about its internal deliberations, so they lack credibility as well. Therefore, the only people who do have credibility to discuss Bush's internal policymaking are those who are in the administration and still support Bush.
It truly is a shame that Bush keeps finding partisan Democrats to put in positions of power. I mean, Dick Clarke even voted for Al Gore--how could such a person be trusted?
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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Time to Reminisce 

We shouldn't forget that our President once said this:

"By far the majority of my tax cuts go to those at the bottom."
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Monday, April 19, 2004

Scotty McClellan on the Saudi Oil Deal 

Josh Marshall has the press gaggle. Read it (too long to post here, I think)
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Is this Bush's Cambodia? 

Reader jk wrote that to me with this article:
BAGHDAD – The United States has been fighting what officials term a silent war with Syria which killed at least five soldiers over the weekend.

U.S. officials said U.S. Marines have deployed along the Syrian border to stop the flow of insurgents and equipment to Iraq. They said marines have engaged with both Sunni insurgents as well as some Syrian security personnel along the border in clashes that have intensified over the last few weeks.

The U.S. military presence – increased by more than a third over the last two months – was said to be focused on the western Iraqi towns of Al Qaim and Qusaybah, regarded as key points in the smuggling of insurgents and weapons from Syria to Iraq.
To answer his question, I have no idea. It is important that we do our best to secure the border, so in that sense, no, this is not like Cambodia. Also, we're not bombing them, yet. Then again, it is important that we don't start a war with Syria. So, I just don't know.
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The upcoming NFL season 

As a man whose main political, philosophical and religious tenet is "Every day that isn't NFL season is a day I'm waiting for NFL season," it's important to keep track of the off-season developments of our favorite teams (if we don't, I believe the terrorists will have won). That said, a friend emails me the following from ESPN.com:
Cleveland coach Butch Davis is insistent that he seeks out all viewpoints on personnel decisions, but people who have been in the Browns draft room indicate that in two of the past two lotteries, the voice that he heeded most was the one whispering inside his own cranium. The choice of Notre Dame center Jeff Faine in the first round last year, they say, was especially surprising, given some internal concerns about past injuries. But whatever really transpired in the past is incidental now that Davis has annexed considerable control of the franchise. Team president Carmen Policy is gone, off to grow grapes and make wine in Napa, and wait for 49ers ownership to decide if it wants to sell the franchise. The team's director of business operations, Kofi Bonner, is also exiting. Personnel "consultant" Ron Wolf, angered by Davis' flippant remarks at the recent NFL meetings, followed Policy out the door. In the past two offseasons, Davis jettisoned his defensive coordinator first, then his offensive coordinator. There is a new quarterback. And there is, in essence, a new owner, with Randy Lerner having supplanted his late father. Despite a 22-27 record in three seasons, including a 6-10 mark in 2003, Davis got a phat, two-year contract extension. But in becoming the fulcrum of the organization, Davis also becomes the focus for the Browns, the man most responsible now for every move that is made. On paper, Cleveland is a bad situation, a modest roster and cap-limited team, one that didn't gain much wiggle room even by restructuring the deals of several veteran players. As pointed out last Sunday by ESPN.com, the reworking of defensive end Courtney Brown's deal saved the team less than $1 million on the cap. The bottom line: Davis might face an even more daunting challenge now with the Browns than when he took over a University of Miami program ravaged by scandal in 1995. This is a franchise in transition, some would suggest in a mess, and it is on Davis to get things righted.
This is right except where it is wrong--it doesn't really mention how Butch Davis sucks, which he does. I was going to write a long and brilliant piece comparing Davis to Czar Nicholas right around 1914, but then realized that that wouldn't be brilliant, it'd be stupid. So I spare you the pain of reading that. One also could compare him to Stalin in the 1930s, consolidated power and killing getting rid of his rivals, but that also would be stupid.

I guess the Browns could end up 10-6 next year and in the playoffs, but I think another 6-10 year is more likely.
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Thursday, April 15, 2004

My Representatives Make Good! 

It looks like my current Senator and former Congressperson are getting some nice national roles in the Democratic Party:
Sen. John Kerry "is expected to name two Midwestern Members of Congress to senior level posts at the Democratic National Committee in the coming days to help him raise money and amplify his message on the campaign trail," Roll Call's Mark Preston reports.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) "are negotiating specific roles and titles with Kerry’s presidential campaign staff."
Via Political Wire. I'm a big fan of both of them, so congrats!
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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Ashcroft again proves his incompetence 

John Ashcroft, whom a friend told me had "unquestioned integrity" even after he lied to Congress during his confirmation hearings, simply didn't care about terrorism:
A second staff report issued before the afternoon session said Ashcroft was briefed on terrorist threats by then-FBI Director Pickard in late June and July 2001.

"After two such briefings, the attorney general told him he did not want to hear this information anymore," the report quoted Pickard as saying.

It added that Ashcroft and two top aides denied the attorney general made any such statement to Packard.
Now, I think the Pickard quote came from a session with commission, in which case the DOJ is accusing him of perjury (sound familiar? I'm looking at you, Bill Frist). In any event, how long until the DOJ decides that this particular denial is "inoperative." I'm guessing by week's end.

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Questions for Bush 

Digby has two short posts on questions to ask Bush. First, he gives us two questions:
1) Three months ago you proposed an ambitious multi-billion plan to send a mission to Mars and establish a permanent base on the moon in the next few years to harvest materials to process into rocket fuel and breathable air. How much of a priority will you place on this initiative in a second Bush administration?

2) There is no mention in your speeches of your immigration proposal announced this January, allowing large numbers of foreign guest workers to temporarily work legally in the United States. Do you plan to put the muscle of the White House behind the legislation proposals sponsored by Senators McCain and Hagel this session?
Worthwhile, if only to see how off-balance they'd push the Prez. Second, Digby cites E. J. Dionne and writes:
E.J Dionne quotes Bush at a fund raiser last week saying: "We stand for a culture of responsibility in America. We're changing the culture of this country from one that has said, if it feels good, do it, and if you got a problem, blame somebody else, to a culture in which each of us are responsible for the decisions we make in life."

I heard that fundraising speech (dutifully shown in its entirely live on CNN) and I too was struck by the unbelievable irony of his statement. It's actually beyond ironic. It's deluded.

In my fantasy America a reporter would repeat those lines to Bush tonight and then ask him if he thinks there are any problems --- from 9/11 failures to the economy to Iraq --- for which he bears any responsibility.

But, I'm sure that is impossible. Instead, we will hear the "journalists" ask him something like "how soon will you be able to bring democracy and freedom to Iraq?" at which point he'll filibuster incoherently for half an hour blathering on about good 'n evul 'n thugs 'n caves 'n smoken 'em out. Then he'll tell a reporter how ugly he is and everyone will laugh uproariously at his comedic genius and go home.
I'd add this question: If, as you seem to indicate, that the Intelligence Community failed you concerning WMDs, why has no one been fired over this colossal blunder?

Please add your suggestions in the comments.
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Monday, April 12, 2004

The millennium Comparison 

Many, including Goldberg and myself - have compared Bush's pre-9/11 actions with Clinton's actions pre-1/1/00. Specifically, it is beyond dispute that the Clinton administration prevented a terrorist attack that was to take place on New Year's Eve, 1999. The argument goes, had Bush taken similar steps perhaps 9/11 could have been prevented.

But is this fair? The millennium presented a natural opportunity for terrorists to attack, and it appears that law enforcement knew in advance that this was the target date. There is, obviously, no evidence that 9/11 was ever suggested as a potential attack date. How could all law enforcement agencies be put on high alert for an unknown period of time?

In fact, see this from Clarke's Meet the Press appearance:
MR. CLARKE: Now, in retrospect, we now know that there was information in the FBI that hadn't bubbled to the top, that two of the hijackers were in the United States. If we had had that kind of process in the summer of 2001 that we had in December '99, where the national security adviser was every day in the White House asking the FBI director and the attorney general and the secretary of defense, "Go back to your building, find out all that you can"--if we had done that in the summer of 2001, maybe the information that was in the FBI would have shaken loose.

MR. RUSSERT: But you kept your guard up for six weeks, through the end of August. Why didn't you stay on high alert through September 11th? And you regret this day that you didn't because you may have stopped that attack.

MR. CLARKE: We kept up the high alert for some facilities that could keep up the high alert. The Defense Department, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and others, said that they were physically not capable of keeping the troops overseas, for example, on high alert any further, that they were exhausting the troops. And, therefore, they unilaterally came down off of alert. We kept all of our counterterrorism forces in the United States on alert. We continued to send out threat advisories to the airports and the airlines. We continued to send out information to 18,000 state and local police departments and to Immigration and Customs and Secret Service and Coast Guard.

This cuts both ways - on one hand, we weren't doing all we could have done. On the other, you can't keep forces on high alert at all times - it's just not possible. My point is - is this a fair comparison - Clinton preventing an attack known to be planned for a specific date and Bush, possibly, failing to prevent attack at an unknown future time? I don't really think that it is.

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9/11 Q&A 

A tour de force, from the Poor Man.

I realize several of you really don't like posts where I just link to other sites. Sorry.
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Funny 

Via Nathan Newman, this cartoon::



Now, I don't want to get into the real nitty-gritty of the pre-9/11 debate, for various reasons, but this is funny. Less funny is that the President likes to lie about it:
DISHONESTY – STILL SAYING HE REQUESTED THE BRIEFING: The President yesterday insisted that he personally requested the August 6 intelligence briefing because he was so concerned about terrorism, saying "I asked the intelligence agency to analyze the data to tell me whether or not we faced a threat internally...That's what the PDB request was." But according to the CIA, the briefing "was not requested by President Bush." As commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste disclosed, "the CIA informed the panel that the author of the briefing does not recall such a request from Bush and that the idea to compile the briefing came from within the CIA."
I don't understand why the Prez just doesn't say that, well, we should have done more, but now I'm focused on making us safe in the future so that this will never happen again. I think that would be both the substantive truth (leaving aside current problems in homeland security) and a decent political move. I do have some ideas as to why he won't just admit that they weren't as focused on OBL and Al-Q before 9/11 as, in retrospect, they should have been. I'll post about that in the future (maybe).
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Sunday, April 11, 2004

Tucker Carlson Sighting and other randomness 

Well, I am working pretty much around the clock these days - likely through next week and perhaps beyond. I am working on a pro bono asylum case which is teaching me a lot which I will - lucky for all of you - post about later (i.e., post about what I've learned, not the specific case).

This weekend I did go to Washington D.C. to visit my girlfriend's dad and step mom - and we went to a rather nice restaurant for Easter brunch. As I walked into the restaurant, who was walking out but Tucker Carlson. The only thing I want to say is that he was acting exactly as I would have pictured Tucker Carlson acting if he walked out of a restaurant. He was wearing a bow tie and he was yelling. I don't know what he was talking about, and it seemed he was with his family or friends. I just heard him say, "Look, I'm not criticizing, I'm just making an observation..." For all I know, he was talking about the omelets.

Also, I finally went to the FDR Memorial, which I'd never seen. Good God, it sucks. It's about as awe inspiring as the exhibit on prohibition that was in the Westerville, Ohio library. (And that wasn't very awe inspiring.) Couldn't they just build a really big thing in honor of the third greatest President? Why can't we do that anymore? And why is every new monument a fountain? (The new WWII Memorial - which isn't quite complete - is also a fountain and it did look very cool.) (Of course, after Saving Private Ryan, is it really necessary to build a monument to WWII veterans? Wasn't Tom Hanks dying on the battlefield and whispering "earn this" to Matt Damon enough?)

That reminds me - Saving Private Ryan was a very, very bad movie. For a good year or so this was an obsession of mine - trying to prove to people that this movie was bad. It never worked. This article from a 1999 Esquire captures perfectly, I think, the movie's glaring and obvious flaws. (Goldberg - I put this column up there with a certain Michael Kinsley article as far as brilliance.)

My favorite quotes:

"In a fallacy that, since Schindler's List, Spielberg has all but patented, to dislike his movie was to proclaim your snickering contempt for the hell that Dad (or Granddad) went through."

"... the celebrated opening is actually superfluous to the story. But it's a brilliant piece of showmanship, since the big number Spielberg pulls off up front half cows and half wows the audience into accepting that the whole movie has been made in the same somber, gritty spirit. It hasn't, of course; commercially speaking, he's not that big a fool."

"One enthusiastic write-up deemed Ryan's big finish 'almost unbearably thrilling,' which it is. But given the movie's pretensions, didn't it cross anyone's mind that maybe it shouldn't be?"

And my favorite...

"One reason the onscreen debates about the mission's value go in such circles is that the down-to-earth answer to the movie's big question - is one man's life worth risking eight - is so screamingly obvious: No."

Oh, one more...

"To call this an antiwar movie is lunacy; if I were seventeen, I'd have left the theater with a woody to enlist. Ryan's ending elevates a gallant death into the noblest of romantic destinies while transforming the grim necessity of defeating the Axis from a past test of national resolv - which indeed we did mee - into a mystical summons to future greatness: 'Earn it.'"
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Fareed Zakaria is Making Sense 

Not to be confused with the title of the Alan Keyes show, the title of this post actually makes sense. Zakaria reviews Hans Blix's book in the New York Times. Very good review, and he wonders why this administration (esp. Cheney) seems to have such a visceral loathing for diplomacy. I don't understand it--if diplomacy is a means, not an end, then it's neither a good nor a bad thing. Why does Cheney hate it so? And why didn't he learn any lessons when he was the head of DoD under Bush I?

Anyway, Zakaria writes:
But if getting Iraq right was tough, getting the diplomacy right was much easier. Reading this book one is struck by how, at the end, the United States had become uninterested in diplomacy, viewing it as an obstacle. It seems clear that with a little effort Washington could have worked through international structures and institutions to achieve its goals in Iraq. Blix and ElBaradei were proving to be tough, honest taskmasters. Every country -- yes, even France -- was coming around to the view that the inspections needed to go on for only another month or two, that benchmarks could have been established, and if the Iraqis failed these tests the Security Council would authorize war. But in a fashion that is almost reminiscent of World War I, the Pentagon's military timetables drove American diplomacy. The weather had become more important than international legitimacy.

Had Washington made more of a commitment to diplomacy, Saddam Hussein would probably still have been deposed. Blix's book provides ample evidence that the Iraqis would most likely not have met the tests required of them. But the war would have been authorized by the Security Council, had greater international support and involved much more burden sharing. Countries like India and Pakistan, with tens of thousands of troops to provide, made it clear that they needed a United Nations mandate to go into Iraq. The Europeans and Japanese (who now pay for at least as much of the reconstruction of Afghanistan as the United States does) would similarly have been more generous in Iraq than they are today.

Most important, the rebuilding of Iraq would be seen not as an American imperial effort but as an international project, much like those in Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor and even Afghanistan. America is paying a price in credibility for its mishandling of Iraq. But the real price is being paid by the Iraqi people, whose occupation has been far more lonely and troubled than it needed to be.
As Brad DeLong says, why can't we replace Condi Rice with Fareed Zakaria?
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Friday, April 09, 2004

IL Polls already? 

Now, this clearly is as meaningless a poll as can be, but still, it's fun, ain't it?
Campaigning around Chicago Friday with Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, candidate for U.S. Senate Barack Obama is currently leading Jack Ryan by 19%, National Review's Hotline reported this week.

Hotline reports that 52% of 806 likely voters picked Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Obama over 33% for Republican candidate Ryan in a poll taken the last week of March.
The poll shows that Obama has higher favorables but lower name recognition than Jack!. But that might be due to the fact Jack! shares his last name with several other failed Illinois GOPers. Fun stuff, regardless.
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Condi Rice and MORE! 

So, Jesse seems to have a good take on yesterday's testimony:
Condi Rice gave us one of two portraits of herself yesterday. Either she knew exactly what was wrong and sat passively by while the system failed, noting in detail its failure while forgetting that she had the power and the responsibility to affect it...or she didn't realize any of this, and is just saying she did to provide an excuse for Bush's pre-9/11 policy.
She kept repeating that doing x wasn't her job, or knowing about y wasn't her job, etc., to the point where she was basically saying, "Well, frankly coordinated national security really isn't the responsibility of the National Security Advisor." Yeah, sure, lady. Whatever.

I had another (unrelated) point to make, but I seem to have forgotten it. Whatever it was, you may assume it was brilliant.

UPDATE: I still think there's something else I wanted to post on, but I now remember that I wanted to point your attention to this op-ed in today's Times by Robert Wright, a scholar at Penn, who for years has been warning about asymmetric threats. The column is great, and here's an excerpt:
Throughout the public phase of these hearings, attention has centered on a pseudo-scandal: could 9/11 have been prevented? Probably not. Even a quite vigilant administration would have needed some luck to catch wind of Al Qaeda's plans. Moreover, President Bush was hardly alone in the central confusion that kept him from being quite vigilant: the idea that "rogue states" are a bigger threat than terrorism per se, and indeed that terrorists can't do much damage without a state's help.

More scandalous, as some have noted, is that the administration didn't change this view after 9/11, when terrorists based in places like Germany killed 3,000 people using weapons (in this case airliners) acquired in America. Hence the war in Iraq.

The polar opposite of a preoccupation with state support of terrorism is the view that, in the modern world, intense hatred is self-organizing and self-empowering. Information technologies make it easy for hateful people to coalesce and execute attacks--and those same technologies can also help spread the hatred. That's why opponents of the Iraq war so feared its effect on Muslim sentiment.
These BushCo guys just can't wrap their heads around this.

Oh, and things are really turning a corner in Iraq. Or not.

UPDATE II: Spencer Ackerman has a spledid article in TNR today about the very thing I mention above--the inability of BushCo to understand that state sponsership is not the end-all and be-all of an anti-terror policy.
But reconfiguring the terrorist threat to focus mainly on state sponsorship is problematic: It treats the terrorists themselves as a subsidiary concern. And, as the Bush administration has demonstrated in Afghanistan, this strategy can lull the U.S. government into ignoring the ongoing presence of terrorists in a country even after their state sponsors have been defeated.
Of course, read the whole thing.
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Pandering 

Yes, blogging has been light. Mainly because the main thing on my mind is Iraq, and I don't really know what to say about it (except to reiterate my belief that going in there with this bunch of morons in charge was a bad idea).

Anyway, to get back to the title of this post, I think the single lamest thing politicians can do is pander to that dinosaur Don Imus. Via the Note, it seems that John F. Kerry was doing just that today. Good god! I mean, do people even listen to Imus anymore? Who cares? All pandering is bad, but if you're going to do it, at least do it to a group that matters! Ugh. Kerry, you have not impressed me since you've come back "on the trail" after your vacation/surgery.
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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

What Law School Classmates We Had! 

LINK.
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Viewer's Guide for Condi Rice Testimony 

The good folks at the Center for American Progress have kindly put out this viewer's guide for Dr. Rice's testimony tomorrow. Pretty cool.
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Monday, April 05, 2004

Can a Catholic be a Democrat? 

Katherine Lopez of the Corner writes:

Does Sullivan believe that a politician (or anyone, for that matter) can call himself "Catholic" while supporting abortion--and to the extent that he votes against a ban on infanticide (partial-birth abortion)? It seems to me that not only is it not possible to claim to be a faithful Catholic while rejecting what the Catholic Church teaches to be true about abortion, but it compounds the offense to pretend, and thus lead impressionable people inside and outside the church to believe, that it is possible.
By this same logic, I suppose that any politician who would vote against a ban on all pork products cannot call himself "Jewish."

Furthermore, any politician who would vote for the death penalty cannot call himself "Catholic." (Unless, of course, you are Justice Scalia and are permitted to question those pronouncements of the Church that you disagree with.)

On the other hand, it could be that some people have deeply held religious and moral beliefs, but don't agree with forcing them on other people - especially when those beliefs dictate how a person should be allowed to treat their own body.

(FYI - Lopez is referring to this post on Sullivan's site.)

UPDATE: Per Goldberg's advice, I changed "against the penalty" to "for the death penalty", which is what I what I meant.
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Sunday, April 04, 2004

The Politicization of...Everything 

60 Minutes tonight had a great story on, well, the corruption inside the Department of Labor's National Mine Health and Safety Academy. Fascinating stuff, and really a microcosm of the problems of the Bush Administration. Here's the lede of the story:
Who is Jack Spadaro? He's a man who's devoted his life to the safety of miners and the safety of people who live near mines. He's an engineer, who until recently was head of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy (MSHA), a branch of the Department of Labor, which trains mining inspectors.

But he lost that job last year, after he blew the whistle on what he called a whitewash by the Bush administration of an investigation into a major environmental disaster.
That little excerpt doesn't really give it justice. If you didn't see the show, read the print version--it seems pretty thorough. Anyway, this story seems to have all of the Bush Administration Greatest Hits:

1) Slime and Defend
2) Politicization of science and investigations
3) Regulatory Capture
4) No-bid contracts to contributors/cronies
5) Lies, lies, lies

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Saturday, April 03, 2004

Insert Title Here 

I don't think this post will have a identifiable theme, so I don't really have a title. btw, last night I was told I represent the "far left" and the fringe. We'll see. Anyway, fascinating interview of John Dean here.

Also, Billmon, who runs just a factastic blog called Whiskey Bar has had some dynamite posts over the last few days. Check them out. He has this tour de force about how our government is employing mercenaries who were formerly part of the Apartheid regime in South Africa. He ends it with this:
I cannot emphasize enough how nasty these folks are. They are former operatives at the sharp end of apartheid South Africa's Bureau Of State Security ("BOSS", seriously) which translates into the worst scum of the earth; one notch below knuckle-dragging thugs, capable of making the most irredeemable KKK tards look like Nobel contenders. Truly ambassadors of the evil memory of apartheid.
That seems pretty much right, given my tiny bit of knowledge of SA history. Dispicable. Anyway, read the posts, check out his blog.
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Friday, April 02, 2004

What Happened to Conservatism? 

Today, the National Review Online has an editorial. It begins:
Representative Zach Wamp apparently has a short memory. He was elected to Congress in 1994, and has already forgotten why he came to Washington.He was elected to Congress in 1994, and has already forgotten why he came to Washington.

Back then Wamp ran as a conservative, with some silly populist ideas like paying members of Congress the same as a lieutenant colonel and making them live in officer housing, according to The Almanac of American Politics. Now, Wamp has grown in office and instead advocates silly establishment ideas, like instituting new "paygo" rules that would make it almost impossible to extend the Bush tax cuts.
Perhaps it is the NRO that has lost its ideological way since 1994 and the Contract With America which, among other things, promised (a vote on) a balanced budge amendment: in other words, a Constitutional Amendment preventing Congress from running a deficit. With certain exceptions, Congress would have been Constitutionally prevented from ever passing a tax cut or spending increase that would leave the budget out of balance.

The outrageous PayGo rule is a far less radical step - one that would require a Congress already running a budget deficit to simply avoid adding to it with any spending increases or tax cuts. (See the definition in C-Span's helpful glossary: "The PAYGO or pay-as-you-go rule compels new spending or tax changes to not add to the federal deficit. New proposals must either be "budget neutral" or offset with savings derived from existing funds.")

Again I ask: who has betrayed everything the Contract With America stood for?
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More Evidence of Otterbein 

It is true, Goldberg, that anyone could make a mug. But could anyone make this? Behold.
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Constitutionality, anyone? 

I was listening to Air America this morning (for about 3 minutes) and they were talking about how Bush signed that fetal crime bill. Now, I'm not positive that this is a terrible blow for abortion rights--if the Supreme Court wants to strike down Roe, they could use this as part of their reasoning, but if they wanted to strike down Roe, they could do it without this law. It just depends on the justices.

Anyway, my question is this: How is this bill constitutional if the Violence Against Women Act isn't? Now, I haven't really thought about this, so maybe there's an obvious answer I just haven't seen. Can anyone help me here? I'd like an answer from one of our conservative judicial clerk readers, whether based in Chicago or Charlottesville. I'd also like an answer from a non-Federalist Society member. I know that's asking a lot, as I want two different answers and it's not clear to me that we even have two unique readers. Answers in comments, please.
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Unaccountability Defined 

From an email from a friend (not jk):
These are from section A of today's NY Times:

1. Bush aides kept Clinton's papers from 9/11 panel

2. Bush's Iraq Panel Starts to Stir

3. Bush judicial nominee (who regularly denounced efforts to enforce (enforce, mind you, not promulgate) environmental regs) gains

4. 45 senators (including many Repubs) fault EPA's mercury pollution proposal

5. Prosecutors said to have expanded inquiry into leak of CIA officer's name

6. Fed judge orders release of docs of White House task force on energy

Now, if only the American people can recognize the pattern.
Agreed. Of course, this is the librul New York Times, so I don't believe it. Fox News says Commander Codpiece has done nothing wrong.
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Paul Krugman channels Atrios 

Krugman clearly read his Atrios this week. He talks about the Letterman flap and Wolf Blitzer's lies, both of which Atrios has been harping on this week. After explaining the two incidents, Krugman writes the following:
Look, I understand why major news organizations must act respectfully toward government officials. But officials shouldn't be sure — as Mr. Wilkinson obviously was — that they can make wild accusations without any fear that they will be challenged on the spot or held accountable later.

And administration officials shouldn't be able to spread stories without making themselves accountable. If an administration official is willing to say something on the record, that's a story, because he pays a price if his claims are false. But if unnamed "administration officials" spread rumors about administration critics, reporters have an obligation to check the facts before giving those rumors national exposure. And there's no excuse for disseminating unchecked rumors because they come from "the White House," then denying the White House connection when the rumors prove false. That's simply giving the administration a license to smear with impunity.
This seems like a basic enough rule. I don't know why can't all agree it should govern in newsrooms across the land. Otherwise, you get Judith Miller, who is nothing more than a glorified Jayson Blair/Stephen Glass/Jack Kelley, and who should have been fired long ago.
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Thursday, April 01, 2004

The Pixies 

Guth warns me about posting about music, but I saw in Slate that the Pixies are reuniting. It's unclear where exactly they are touring, and when.
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Actual College 

For those of you who claim Otterbein College does not exist, behold.
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Big-Time College Football 

For all of you who claim that Yale does not have Big-Time College Football, behold.
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