Thursday, September 30, 2004

The totally lazy bastard's guide to the debate

In the Guard? Don't want to go to Iraq? Then quit.

Following a link from Americablog, we have this delightful story of the White House releasing yet another of George Dubya's military service records (the last one, really, we promise, Scout's honour -- we're not fooling around this time, we really mean it, really).

According to the document (which is, in all likelihood, legit since it was released by the White House itself), Dubya wrote that
"he had decided not to continue as a member of the military reserve", because of (and here's the best part), "inadequate time to fulfill possible future commitments."

That's right. Dubya solved his obligation to the National Guard by ... resigning. Is that priceless or what? But that's not the best part.

At the moment, the Pentagon is currently involved in re-activating Guard members who thought their commitment was over. And it's hanging onto currently deployed members through its "stop-loss" program, through which the Pentagon can arbitrarily extend the tour of military personnel beyond what they signed up for. Things are getting ugly to the point where, as you can read here,

The 635 soldiers of a battalion of the South Carolina National Guard scheduled to depart Sunday for a year or more in Iraq have spent their off-duty hours under a disciplinary lockdown in their barracks for the past two weeks.

The trouble began Labor Day weekend, when 13 members of the 1st Battalion of the 178th Field Artillery Regiment went AWOL, mainly to see their families again before shipping out. Then there was an ugly confrontation between members of the battalion's Alpha and Charlie batteries -- the term artillery units use instead of "companies" -- that threatened to turn into a brawl involving three dozen soldiers, and required the base police to intervene.

But now, thanks to the genius precedent of their Commander-in-Chief, all of these soldiers have a simple way out -- they can simply resign. Is this just delightful or what? And who could criticize them for doing nothing more than what Dubya did so many years ago?

If you know someone in the Guard who's been told to pack their gear and get ready to go overseas, get on the phone and tell them about this. The irony is just too delicious not to take advantage of.

Definitely a blog to bookmark

And I highly recommend this piece, in which John points at a WaPo story that should really just creep you out, especially where White House spokesreptile Scott McClellan issues a classic non-denial denial when he's asked if any locals helped Iraqi Prime Minister [sic] Ayad Allawi with his speech to Congress. Replied McClellan, in that trademark weaselly way of his that allows him to change his mind later, "None that I know of" and "No one at the White House", rather than just "No".

Shortly after which it's shown that, in fact, Allawi got buckets of help. Can someone in the WH press corps roast McClellan over this and just flat out accuse him of lying? Just this once? Please?
Careful, Dems. Don't want to be TOO successful, you know?

And while the Dems are fighting for the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives, they might pause to consider the wisdom of current House Speaker Republican Dennis Hastert, who moped and wailed about how gosh-darn tough it is to be the party in power.

"It's extremely difficult to govern when you control all three branches of government," says Hastert spokesman John Feehery...

He must be referring to that "catastrophic success" that the Repubs keep blaming for the current mess in Iraq. Yeah, it's really a bitch when you just have too many good things happening at the same time, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Overseas? Want to vote Nov. 2? Good luck.

Tasty excerpts from this New York Times article (free registration might be necessary):

Election officials concede that tens of thousands of Americans overseas might not get ballots in time to cast votes. Late primaries and legal wrangling caused election offices in at least 8 of the 15 swing states to fail to mail absentee ballots by Sept. 19, a cutoff date officials say is necessary to ensure that they can be returned on time...

"I found it so convoluted I gave up," says Alex Campos, a management consultant in London who repeatedly tried to register using the Pentagon program, without success.

And why might the process of registering overseas voters suddenly have become such a cumbersome and obstructive process?

There is also little polling of the 3.9 million civilians abroad. But last month, a Zogby poll of Americans who had passports found that they supported John Kerry over Mr. Bush, 58 percent to 35 percent.

Oh. That's why.

Iguanas and Fox News

Even primitive reptiles can take only so much of Fox News.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

You have to read this.

Just go and read the article. Now. Then share it with everyone you know. (For what it's worth, I can take a certain amount of quiet pride that the article is from a Canadian newspaper that's been a constant source of good reporting.)

And now that you've read it, what are you going to do about it?
Nov. 2 could get very messy, indeed.

One of my new favorite blogs, Digby's Blog, has a killer article on just what kind of nightmare people should be prepping for come the November elections. Referring to a piece by Jeffrey Rosen in The New Republic, Digby quotes Rosen:

"It's November 2, and the presidential election looks close in Ohio. An army of lawyers are dispatched by the Bush and Kerry campaigns to scour all 11,614 precincts in the state for any hint of voting irregularities. Within hours, both sides have filed competing suits in state courts challenging the standards for counting provisional, absentee, and military ballots, as well as for the use of different voting machines. Within days, Laurence Tribe and James Baker are filing petitions to the Supreme Court, arguing that Bush v. Gore--the case that decided the 2000 election--compels the justices to intervene. The justices, who once confidently predicted that Bush v. Gore would have no effect on future elections, are horrified. Even the Bush v. Gore dissenters are shocked at the mess the decision has created. After all, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called Bush v. Gore a "one-of-a-kind case" as recently as February 2003 in a speech to San Diego law students, adding optimistically, "I doubt it will ever be cited as precedent by the court on anything."

It's not clear what kind of cocaine Bader Ginsburg has been snorting lately. Considering that the Supreme Court, in a jaw-dropping, unprecedented way, interfered in the outcome of the 2000 presidential election and essentially handed it to Bush, how on earth can she not now assume that every election lawyer in the country is going to play off of that decision? Not be cited as a precedent? That insane decision will exist forever more as nothing but a precedent every time someone doesn't like the outcome of an election.

Rosen gets it exactly right: "The justices, who once confidently predicted that Bush v. Gore would have no effect on future elections, are horrified." Well, they opened that can of worms. Now they're going to have to live with the consequences.

UPDATE: You can read Rosen's entire piece without registration here.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Do as I say, not as I do. I mean it, dammit!

Pop quiz time. What current right-wing uber-hawk dispensed the following laughably hypocritical advice for his readers?

  1. "Don't divide the world into 'us' and 'them'."
  2. "It is easier to get into something than get out of it."

No googling, and no cheating. Wild guesses welcome.
Get your war on! Next up: Syria. And Iran.

Yeah, just when you thought the U.S. might, just might, have its hands full with trying to keep its soldiers alive, well, what the fuck ... might as well shoot the wad. According to this Newsweek article:

Deep in the Pentagon, admirals and generals are updating plans for possible U.S. military action in Syria and Iran.

In an exclusive interview with Newsweek, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld defended the preparations for expanding American military operations overseas by saying, "What's the problem? We've still got troops, right? They're not all dead, for Chrissake, are they?"

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Open thread

I may be offline for a day or two so ... what's on your mind?
Dubya caught sodomizing family pets and amputee Iraqi orphans!!

Oh, sorry, I guess I "misspoke" there. Bummer. Which just emphasizes how tired I'm getting of this epidemic of "misspeaking" going around. And when exactly does someone misspeak? I'm thinking it's when they get caught flat-out lying, and are forced to 'fess up, like in this article in which Dubya spokesweasel Dan Bartlett has to admit that he dumped a load of swill on the press once upon a time and now has to recant:

On July 30, 1973, shortly before he moved from Houston to Cambridge, Bush signed a document that declared, ''It is my responsibility to locate and be assigned to another Reserve forces unit or mobilization augmentation position. If I fail to do so, I am subject to involuntary order to active duty for up to 24 months. . . " Under Guard regulations, Bush had 60 days to locate a new unit.

But Bush never signed up with a Boston-area unit. In 1999, Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett told the Washington Post that Bush finished his six-year commitment at a Boston area Air Force Reserve unit after he left Houston. Not so, Bartlett now concedes. ''I must have misspoke," Bartlett, who is now the White House communications director, said in a recent interview.

But what exactly does it mean when someone admits that they misspoke? Apparently, from the available evidence, what it means is, "Well, I tried to foist some total nonsense on you earlier, and I got caught, so I'm going to disavow it without explaining why I said it, and refuse to discuss it further. So there. Next question."

And it's not the completely weaselly way these people try to walk away from their previous BS that's so maddening; it's the way the press let's them get away with it. What exactly does it mean to say that someone misspeaks? Well, technically, there seem to be three (and exactly three) possibilities for a "misspeak", so let's take a look at each one of them.

  1. First, there's when you truly believe what you're saying at the time, but it turns out to be wrong. That is, you were absolutely sincere in your statements, but you were mistaken. Happens all the time, you apologize, and move on.
  2. Second, there's what I call the "true misspeak", when your brain and your mouth are not quite running at the same speed, and you unconsciously say the wrong thing without even realizing it. We've all done it; "Sorry, did I say meet at 5 pm? I really meant 6 pm, sorry, just trying to do too many things at once." Again, this is no big deal -- you were sincere in what you were saying, you just garbled it, so a quick apology and you move on.
  3. Finally, there's when you say something you know is untrue. This is what we in the industry refer to as a "lie". Which, as I'm sure you can appreciate, differs from the first two categories in a fairly meaningful way.
Now, as far as I can tell, these are comprehensive and mutually-exclusive categories -- any alleged "misspeak" has to fall into one (and only one) category. Which suggests that, when anyone claims to have "misspoken", it would be nice if the press would at least have the temerity to ask, "Um ... what exactly do you mean, you 'misspoke'? Can you explain what you mean by that?"

Instead, what we get is the worthless exchange of:

Weasel: "I misspoke."
Press: "Gotcha. Movin' on, then ..."

And everyone moves on to discuss, oh, John Kerry's windsurfing. Or his hair. Quite simply, spokesweasels shouldn't be allowed to get away with this. And it's the press' job to see that they don't. Which means, don't expect things to change anytime soon.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Lord, but the media are such freaking weenies

Buried several paragraphs down in an online MSGOP (uh, I mean MSNBC) article about U.S. destroyers deploying off the coast of North Korea as part of an anti-ballistic-missile strategy, we have the following thoroughly unsatisfying and uninformative excerpt:

[Vice Admiral Jonathan] Greenert, who assumed command of the Navy’s largest fleet last month, also refused to name a target for the Sea of Japan patrols.

“I can’t specify adversaries, but you’re looking at rogue nations,” he said in his first interview since taking the fleet command. “Take it from there.”

Take it where, exactly? What is that statement supposed to mean? We have the title of the article, "U.S. destroyers deploying off N. Korea"; we have the opening paragraph describing patrolling "the waters off North Korea"; and yet, when he was obviously asked which country was the subject off all this attention, Greenert apparently couldn't bring himself to cough up the name.

Instead, what the press apparently got was some annoyingly lame and evasive, "Well (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), I can't really say (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), but we're going to be patrolling in the Sea of Japan (nudge, wink), so I'll let y'all figure it out from there (nudge, nudge, winkity, wink)."

Now, no one can miss the obvious implication that we're talking about charter "Axis of Evil" member North Korea, so what's the point behind Greenert's tap dancing? One suspects he really, really, really wants reporters to draw the right conclusion, but also wants an out later in case someone carelessly says, "Now, you're concerned about North Korea ..."

"Whoa!", Greenert would reply, "we never said anything about North Korea! Never mentioned their name. Not once, no sir (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)."

And the press plays right along, and lets Greenert get away with innuendo and plausible deniability. Shocked, shocked I am, that this is happening in the world of journalism these days. Not.

Friday, September 24, 2004

No, no ... tell us how you REALLY feel

Regarding Katherine "Cruella de Vil" Harris, the makeup-slathered, pathetic excuse for a human being who ran George Dubya's Florida campaign while simultaneously holding the office of Florida Secretary of State (can you say "outrageous conflict of interest", boys and girls?), there's an entertaining thread over at dailykos about the fact that Harris is not doing well in the polls at the moment.

But the best part of the comments is this beauty. Sometimes, you just have to sit back and admire a total evisceration.

Wingnuttery on C-SPAN

Yes, Atrios has already linked to this, but it's worth reading this transcript of a complete loon calling into C-SPAN. It's not the inanity of the caller, though; it's the host, having let this rant go on far too long, closing with, "Thanks, caller. I’m afraid – I’m afraid we’re out of time. I wish I could let you go on, but I’m afraid we’re out of time."

"I wish I could let you go on." In God's name, why? Did you not have enough of the tinfoil-hat crowd to fill up the rest of the segment? Which clueless producer let this call slip through, anyway?
John Kerry needs to get just a bit nastier

From a Kerry press conference covered
here, we have Kerry finishing his prepared text and opening up the floor to questions with, "Happy to answer any questions."

And wouldn't it have been more of a smackdown if he had said something like, "And now, unlike my opponent, who cherry picks his audiences and requires loyalty oaths just to listen to him, I'm happy to entertain questions from anyone who has one."

Kerry really does need to learn how to stick in the knife and twist, just a little bit.
Dealing with that annoying Republican next-door neighbour

"Hey, Fred, how's it going? Yeah, I saw that 'Bush/Cheney '04' bumper sticker on your truck. Voting for Bush, are you? Well, to each his own. I am kind of surprised that you'd be such a big fan of bringing back the draft, though. What? You didn't hear about that? That Bush plans on re-instating the draft? Huh. Oh, that's right, you only watch Fox News, you'd never hear about it there. Yeah, they're already gearing up for it, but you probably won't get the official news until after the election. Don't want to scare off the voters, that sort of thing. By the way, how's that son of yours? How old is he? 17, right? Damn shame, that. Ah, but I'm sure he'll be fine over there in Iraq. Just tell him to send regular postcards. Take care, buddy."

Thursday, September 23, 2004

America, according to Jon Stewart and The Daily Show

Go. Read.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Can we imprison David Hasselhoff next?

Ever on the alert for developing terrorist threats, the complete retards in charge of national security are ever vigilant, this time nailing well-known militant and probable baby-killer Yusuf Islam (a.k.a. musician Cat Stevens).

Your Department of Homeland Security -- keeping America safe, one crappy 70s singer at a time.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

One man's wishy-washy is, apparently, another man's decisive leadership

From this article in the Washington Post, which describes an pitifully small turnout of veterans at the Virginia War Memorial in support of President Chimpy, we have a smattering of veterans proving to be an embarrassment to their species:

Jim Richardson, 71, an Army veteran of World War II, said he supports Bush because of his decision to go to war in Iraq and because of his doubts about Kerry's ability to direct the nation's battle with terrorists.

"Kerry is just a wishy-washy guy," Richardson said. "He's not a leader."

That theme was echoed by Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), who spoke to the crowd about a recent trip he took to Normandy on the 60th anniversary of the Allied invasion during World War II. Forbes used the example to mock Kerry as a frequent flip-flopper and an indecisive leader."

Imagine if somebody said, 'Let's go in on Omaha Beach,' " he said. " 'Oh, no. Let's not. Yes. Let's go in. Maybe not.' That's not someone we need as commander in chief."

Yeah, that wishy-washy, waffling thing about invading Omaha Beach is pretty infuriating. I mean, that has to be way worse than, say, that wishy-washy, waffling thing about invading the Iraqi town of Fallujah. Yup, way worse. You bet. No doubt about it.
Sometimes, there's just no pleasing some people

(OK, so having been upbraided by a few friends to quit my whining and get back to blogging, here we go again. And don't forget -- the comments field is there for a reason. :-)

From the "Missing the point entirely" department, this excerpt from an article in the Seattle Times:

RAMADI, Iraq — Marine Cpl. Travis Friedrichsen, a sandy-haired 21-year-old from Denison, Iowa, used to take Tootsie Rolls and lollipops out of care packages from home and give them to Iraqi children. Not anymore.

"My whole opinion of the people here has changed. There aren't any good people," said Friedrichsen, who says his first instinct now is to scan even youngsters' hands for weapons...

"We're out here giving our lives for these people," said Sgt. Jesse Jordan, 25, of Grove Hill, Ala. "You'd think they'd show some gratitude. Instead, they don't seem to care."

Yeah, like, what's with these people? I mean, you illegally invade their country, pulverize most of the basic electrical, water and sewage infrastructure into dust, kill thousands of their civilians with less-than-surgical-precision air strikes, open fire on them indiscriminately when they complain, totally rewrite their country's constitution to sell all of their resources out from under them to enrich your Western capitalist friends, and basically wire up their genitals to car batteries for sport ... and you can't even buy them off with Tootsie Rolls anymore. What is the world coming to?

Ungrateful bastards.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Now, who on earth would have seen this coming?

From an article in the LA Times (courtesy of truthout), we have the shocking revelation that private American contractors are taking forever to get electricity restored and power back on in Iraq. According to the article:

"A review of the restoration effort shows that it was beset by poor planning, inconsistent leadership, sabotage and deteriorating security."

Hard to believe, that poor planning part. But apparently, things are coming around:

Today, the campaign is finally producing results, with power generation increasing rapidly in recent weeks. "We are making progress," said Tim Miller, a manager with San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp. who is helping to rebuild the plant. "It's just not as quickly as everyone would like."

Hmmm ... Bechtel ... Bechtel ... where have I heard that name before? Oh, yeah ... they're the folks who so thoroughly made a complete mess of Boston's Big Dig project. But give the Republicans credit -- at least they know how to forgive and forget. As they say, nothing succeeds like ... moving your incompetence halfway around the world and hoping no one notices.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Can we settle this Bush/National Guard thing once and for all?

It's become so obvious that George Dubya walked away from his TANG commitments that even U.S. News and World Report (that bastion of liberal indecency) has shredded Bush's lame excuses. What's amusing is that, faced with overwhelming documentary evidence that Bush bailed on his Guard contract, we have that 'White House officials did not respond to the analysis last week but emphasized that Bush had "served honorably"'.

May I make a humble suggestion?

It's become thoroughly annoying to hear admin spokesweasel Scott McClellan state, over and over, again and again, repeatedly, that "the President must have fulfilled his commitments, otherwise he would never have received an honorable discharge," constantly hiding behind the meaningless honorable discharge issue to deflect any criticism. But there's a simple way to deal with that -- take the whole honorable discharge thing off the table entirely.

Some enterprising member of the WH press corps can challenge Li'l Scottie to show, using official documentation, that Bush did in fact fulfill his obligations to the TANG according to the terms of his contract when he joined. Now, what would this involve?

First, it would require documenting the obligations of a member of the TANG at that time, which should be fairly easy to do. The rules and regulations are available to anyone, and even the aforementioned USNews article spells out some of it -- that it was a six-year obligation, that a member was required to attend "at least 44 inactive-duty training drills each fiscal year beginning July 1," that there was a fairly restrictive time limit for when you could make up missed drills, and so on. None of this would be open to interpretation and, thus, it wouldn't give McClellan the chance to blow it off with his patented "I don't agree with your characterization." If it's in the regs, it's in the regs. Period.

And, second, once the obligations have been irrevocably established, see if Bush satisfied them. Even the White House is implicitly admitting that he didn't as, in the USNews report, they're asking to change the rules on when the counting should begin, among other things.

So what's so strikingly brilliant about the above strategy? Three things:

1. You can't shuck and jive your way out of the clearly-documented obligations of a member of the TANG back then. It's all spelled out in black and white.

2. Similarly, whether Bush fulfilled those obligations should also be documentable or not. Again, black and white. Either he satisfied those requirements, or he didn't.

3. Finally (and most importantly), it avoids the issue of the honorable discharge entirely so that that can't be used as a weaselly defense yet again. If Scottie tries to hide behind the discharge again, he should be reminded (forcefully if need be) that the question had nothing to do with the discharge and only with whether Smirky McFlightSuit satisfied the requirements of the TANG as clearly documented when he joined.

Thoughts? Have I missed anything?
OK, now here's an interesting juxtapostion of strategies

From the Guardian, back in July:

American officials are discussing the possibility of postponing November's presidential election, for the first time in US history, in the event of a devastating terrorist attack, it emerged yesterday...

From the New York Times (by way of truthout), Sept. 11:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Friday that violence would intensify in Iraq as elections scheduled there for January approach and insurgents try to derail the country's nascent political process. But he and President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said the United States was determined to ensure that voting takes place as planned...

In an interview on Friday, Ms. Rice said the militants had no alternative to offer but violence. "I do not think we are going to see a delay in the election," she said...

So let me make sure I understand this: the Bush cartel is determined to guarantee free and fair elections in a war-torn, insurgent-ridden, Middle East country where they're still losing a couple troops a day (at least) and in which pretty much everyone hates them and wants to kill them. But they were concerned that they couldn't pull off the same thing back home.

Can someone explain this to me? Anyone? Bueller?

Oh ... so THAT'S where all those WMDs went

Dear neo-con, right-wing sympathizer:

Frustrated by the lack of WMDs in Iraq? Taking abuse from your liberal friends about the totally bogus rationale for the invasion, the 1000+ dead American military personnel and the exploding cost of the no-end-in-sight occupation?

No problem. As you can read here, North Korea may very well have just test detonated a nuclear device. And while any sane human being with a functioning brain stem might see this as a somewhat worrying development, you can use it to your advantage, by claiming that this is just proof that Saddam had WMDs all along and snuck them out of the country to North Korea before he got caught.

The neo-con movement. Using bad judgment and utter illogic to turn bad news into a winning argument every time.

Friday, September 10, 2004

War hero George W. Bush. Busted!

If you still think George W. (that's the "W" in "AWOL") Bush fulfilled his National Guard commitments and earned his honorable discharge, you'll definitely want to read this. (It does require registering for a one-day pass, but it's worth it.)
Dear press corps: You made your bed, you can lie in it.

Following a link from Atrios, we come to an amusing little article which describes how the Secret Service selectively restricted the freedom of reporters who sought to interview one specific set of (AIDS) demonstrators at a Bush rally. According to WaPo's Dana Milbank:

"One uniformed Secret Service agent complained to a colleague that 'the press is having a field day' with the disruption -- and the agents quickly clamped down. Journalists were told that if they sought to approach the demonstrators, they would not be allowed to return to the event site -- even though their colleagues were free to come and go."

"An agent, who did not give his name, told one journalist who was blocked from returning to the speech that this was punishment for approaching the demonstrators and that there was a 'different set of rules' for reporters who did not seek out the activists."

Apparently, we're all supposed to be livid at this clear violation of the press corps' First Amendment rights. To which I can only say -- who gives a damn? This is the same press corps that has rolled over and taken every conceivable abuse that this administration has dished out over the last three-plus years -- reliably presenting White House press releases as real news, endlessly covering the nonsense coming out of the Bush-backed Swift Boat Veterans for Truth [sic], savaging John Kerry for everything from his hair to his windsurfing, putting up with Scott McClellan press gaggles at which Scottie flat-out lies in their faces and pretty much giving George W. and his corrupt buddies a free ride on just about everything. And
now, they want the freedom to do their jobs? Oh, puhleeze.

It's a bit late for that, boys and girls. You've been pretty much missing in action since 2000. You've done virtually nothing in the way of defending the allegedly-noble practise of journalism, and you've bent over and taken it from this administration every time. I can just imagine the howling good times they've had in the bowels of the White House over the last couple of years: "Man, I can't believe the kind of crap and abuse we can dump on those reporters. And, can you believe it, they still keep coming back and printing what we say? Is this awesome or what? Hey, Scott, here's a neat idea. Let's just flat out starting altering the official transcripts of the press gaggles and see if anyone even complains. Ha ha."

In an unintentional bit of hilarity, the article asks:

" ... we're outraged. Is anyone else?"

Sure I am. I'm outraged that these "journalists" still have their jobs, and that they think they somehow still have the moral ground to complain about this mistreatment. If you let the Bushies step all over you for three years, what makes you think you have any right to complain about it now?

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The press corps sucks. It really, really, REALLY sucks. Really.

From today's Li'l Scottie McClellan press gaggle (and you have to wonder how much longer he can hold out before he has a meltdown and resigns to, uh ... spend more time with his family, yeah, that's it, more time with his family), we have this jaw-dropping exchange related to a recently-unearthed memo in which 1st Lt. George W. Bunnypants is ordered to take a physical:

Q :This was a direct order he defied, right? I mean, he did have a direct order that he defied?

MR. McCLELLAN: John, these issues have come up every year...

F**k, no, they haven't!! This is about a memo that
no one has ever seen before, so it's clearly impossible for it to have "come up every year". And does anyone in the gaggle bother to point this out? Hint: no.


The New York Times. Our motto: "Still sucking up to authority, and proud of it"

If you want proof of just how wretched and pathetic the NYT has become lately, just compare the ledes from these articles you can find here side by side at I'll just highlight the salient bits, and you can judge for yourself -- this doesn't require any additional commentary from me.

From the Associated Press:

Newly unearthed memos state George W. Bush was suspended from flying for the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam war because he failed to meet Guard standards and failed to take his annual flight physical as required.

From the New York Times:

President Bush's Vietnam-era service in the National Guard came under renewed scrutiny on Wednesday as newfound documents emerged from his squadron commander's file that suggested favorable treatment.

I don't know if it's possible to get any more kiss-ass than the Times these days, but I'll bet they're working on it.

UPDATE: And the Associated Press still shows how to kick butt here.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Why journalists should take a basic course in logic and/or linguistics

A number of blogs today have linked to a pretty uncomplimentary article about George W. McFlightSuit in the Boston Globe, documenting how it's extremely unlikely that he fulfilled his duty in the Texas Air National Guard (as if there's really any doubt about this any more -- like, duh).

You can read the entire article, of course, but I'm particularly interested in how the Bush administration and its spokesweasels get away with making demonstrably false statements and/or just avoiding embarrassing questions, and are allowed to get away with it by those hard-nosed, objective, investigative journalists. (HAHAHAHAHAHA! Sometimes, I crack me up. Sigh.)

Here's the excerpt I want to pick on, with the really irritating parts highlighted (and I apologize for the verbosity, but it's important):

... On July 30, 1973, shortly before he moved from Houston to Cambridge, Bush signed a document that declared, ''It is my responsibility to locate and be assigned to another Reserve forces unit or mobilization augmentation position. If I fail to do so, I am subject to involuntary order to active duty for up to 24 months. . . " Under Guard regulations, Bush had 60 days to locate a new unit.

But Bush never signed up with a Boston-area unit. In 1999, Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett told the
Washington Post that Bush finished his six-year commitment at a Boston area Air Force Reserve unit after he left Houston. Not so, Bartlett now concedes. ''I must have misspoke," Bartlett, who is now the White House communications director, said in a recent interview.

And early in his Guard service, on May 27, 1968, Bush signed a ''statement of understanding" pledging to achieve ''satisfactory participation" that included attendance at 24 days of annual weekend duty -- usually involving two weekend days each month -- and 15 days of annual active duty. ''I understand that I may be ordered to active duty for a period not to exceed 24 months for unsatisfactory participation," the statement reads.

Yet Bush, a fighter-interceptor pilot, performed no service for one six-month period in 1972 and for another period of almost three months in 1973, the records show.

The reexamination of Bush's records by the Globe, along with interviews with military specialists who have reviewed regulations from that era, show that Bush's attendance at required training drills was so irregular that his superiors could have disciplined him or ordered him to active duty in 1972, 1973, or 1974. But they did neither. In fact, Bush's unit certified in late 1973 that his service had been ''satisfactory" -- just four months after Bush's commanding officer wrote that Bush had not been seen at his unit for the previous 12 months.

Bartlett, in a statement to the Globe last night, sidestepped questions about Bush's record. In the statement,
Bartlett asserted again that Bush would not have been honorably discharged if he had not ''met all his requirements." In a follow-up e-mail, Bartlett declared: ''And if he hadn't met his requirements you point to, they would have called him up for active duty for up to two years."

Let's deal first with that last highlighted portion, a claim that the White House has made a number of times: that Bush must have fulfilled his duties and "met his requirements" since he got an honorable discharge. This claim is clearly nonsensical -- it's equivalent to saying that, since someone on trial for murder was found not guilty, he didn't commit the crime. Obviously, that's nonsense, but your vaunted press corps seem utterly unable to take folks like Bartlett or Li'l Scottie McClellan to task for it.

How hard can this be? Logically, Bartlett's position can be summarized as follows: If you received an honorable discharge, you must have fulfilled your duties. All that's required to deflate this claim is a single counter-example -- someone who got an honorable discharge while admitting that they shirked or blew off their responsibilities. That's it -- one contradiction or counter-example and Bartlett's position is toast. And the press corps doesn't even have to get Bartlett to admit that -- all they need to do is find such a counter-example, present him or her to Bartlett and say, politely but absolutely firmly, "You're wrong." No debate, no negotiation -- just make it clear that Bartlett is flat out incorrect and don't let him off the hook. There is no negotiation or waffling here -- the counter-example shows he's wrong, and that's the end of it. Sadly, your press corps seems unable to grok this concept. But, wait. It gets worse.

Consider an additional, easily-falsifiable Bartlett claim:
"... if he hadn't met his requirements you point to, they would have called him up for active duty for up to two years."

This claim is, again, easily falsified by just reading the actual words in the agreement -- "that Bush was "subject to involuntary order to active duty for up to 24 months", and that he understood that he "may be ordered to active duty ..." There's nothing there that suggested that he would be ordered to such duty, only that he was leaving himself open to the possibility, that's all. Ergo (and other cool Latin phrases), Bartlett's claim that "if he hadn't met his requirements you point to, they would have called him up for active duty for up to two years" is again, totally incorrect. Yet you listen in vain for any member of the press corps to point that out to him directly.

My final point has to do with the increasing number of people who "misspeak", but I've rambled enough for now -- I'll save that for the next post.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Republican logic -- or the painful lack thereof

Over at Talking Points Memo at the moment, Josh Marshall has two short pieces referring to two Republican spin points that seem to make little sense when you try to believe both of them at the same time and not have your head explode into flames.

The two claims:

1) Kerry election victory will bring devastating terrorist attack.

2) Terrorists hope to disrupt elections.

Let's deal with number 2 first. So the terrorists want to disrupt the election? In what way? What outcome would they be looking for? The current right-wing spin is that a vote for Kerry is a vote for terrorism -- that the terrorists want Kerry to win because ... I'm not sure, because he'd be softer on the terrorists? That's the only conclusion that even remotely makes sense. So we have to conclude that what the Republicans are proposing is that the terrorists want to disrupt the election to ensure a Kerry victory.

In that case, how can it make any sense that a Kerry election victory would provoke a terrorist attack, if the terrorists want Kerry to win in the first place? What message are the terrorists allegedly trying to send? "As terrorists, we support John Kerry and want you to elect him. Of course, if you do, we will attack you unmercifully."

Talk about a mixed message.

A Democratic campaign ad I'd like to see

Following a link from SmirkingChimp, we come to an article by Michael Paul Williams in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which reminded me of Zell Miller's complete turnaround over the last three years, from praising John Kerry, to savaging him at the recent Republican convention in a breathtaking display of frothing-at-the-mouth hatred that left even some conservatives slack-jawed.

But, as Williams reminds us, it was only three years ago that Miller was lavish in his praise of that same John Kerry. As Williams writes:

'At a Democratic Party function in Georgia three years ago, Miller introduced Kerry as "one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders - and a good friend."'

Good Lord, and doesn't that suggest the perfect TV ad by the Kerry campaign, something along the lines of:

... Even Republican National Convention keynote speaker Senator Zell Miller has described Kerry as "one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of the Democratic Party's best-known and greatest leaders - and a good friend.

And the great thing is, it's perfectly true. The fact that he made that statement three years before the convention doesn't take away from its accuracy one iota. And if the Kerry campaign had any sense whatsoever (not a given by any stretch of the imagination, sadly), they'd collect complimentary quotes from Republican leaders over the last few years and make an entire ad out of these.

This is what you would normally call a no-brainer. Which is why I don't expect to see Kerry or his aides doing anything remotely like it anytime soon. Pity.

A Canadian's view of Cuba

What a Canadian journalist thinks of Cuba. Gosh ... in addition to our most famous exports of hockey players and Arctic air masses, I wonder if we'll ever export a sane foreign policy south of the border. Not holding breath here.

More of that compassionate conservatism. I guess.

From (which, due to a shortage of actual people who are ... uh ... black and Republican, appears to be run by a couple of white guys), we have the following tasty bit of spite:

Clinton Hospitalized

Disgraced former President Clinton has been hospitalized, reportedly with heart trouble. The press reports are sketchy but it seems that he and his doctors have been aware of the problem for some time. It is therefore unlikely that the incident was triggered by John Kerry's recent campaign to malign the reputation of any man who did not serve in Vietnam, and some who did.

Wow. You see? This is what happens when you don't keep up with the news. I had absolutely no idea that John Kerry had been engaged in a sleazy smear campaign against Vietnam vets, among others. I could have sworn that that was ... oh, never mind.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Coming soon -- that inevitable October surprise

As a short followup to my last post, if there was any hope that John Kerry could mount a furious comeback to make this election competitive, you know, of course, that this administration absolutely has to have an "October surprise" waiting in the wings to simply wipe Kerry off the front page. And what would that be?

Amusingly, a number of web sites are actually doing surveys of what seems most likely, and it's not like this administration doesn't have enough choices. Pick a surprise -- any surprise:

- Osama bin Laden captured (if he isn't in custody already)
- gas prices "unexpectedly" drop (thanks to those obliging Saudis)
- WMDs conveniently found in Iraq
- major terrorist attack within the United States
- Bush administration announces another military strike (Iran? North Korea? Syria? those socialist bastards in Canada?)

Take your pick. Any one of these will effectively erase John Kerry from the news. Bets, anyone?

UPDATE: What delicious timing. OPEC Head Sees Oil Price Drop Soon. Does it get any more predictable than this?
Why George Bush is going to win the election

Because, quite simply, John Kerry and his campaign are breathtakingly inept. Consider some excerpts from this article discussing the sudden increase in Medicare premiums -- an outrage that should be an absolute slam dunk for the Kerry campaign:

"With new polls showing Bush opening up a double-digit lead over his Democratic opponent, Kerry has come under pressure from allies to conduct a more aggressive campaign. Kerry aides said they thought the race would again tighten, and that they were confident Bush is especially vulnerable on the domestic front."

Read that last little bit again: " ... they were confident Bush is especially vulnerable on the domestic front." Reality to Kerry: there are less than two months until the election, and only now are you figuring out where Bush might be vulnerable? And this weird attitude of "we've got lots of time to come up with a strategy" continues:

As he took turns shooting clay pigeons with former Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio) in Edinburgh, Ohio, Kerry said he was unconcerned about the polls. "We're doing good," he said. "They're going to get a bounce out of the convention, but we'll be coming back."

"We'll be coming back." Terrific. When? After you finish shooting those pigeons? Time well spent, I guess. And if the Swift Boat Liars for Bush smear campaign hadn't done enough damage to Kerry's reputation, we now have the absolutely mind-numbing "Pentagon to check Kerry war record". That's right:

"In a fresh blow to John Kerry's flagging presidential campaign, the Pentagon has ordered an official investigation into the awards of the Democratic senator's five Vietnam War decorations.

News of the inquiry came as President George W Bush opened an 11-point lead over his rival - the widest margin since serious campaigning began - according to the first poll released since last week's Republican convention."

Think about it -- the Bush administration has just sicced the Pentagon on a decorated Vietnam war veteran, the recipient of not just three Purple Hearts, but the Bronze Star and Silver Star, questioning whether he even deserved these awards. If Kerry thinks he's going to spend the next two months going after George Dubya's "vulnerabilities", he is utterly deluded. He is, instead, going to be desperately defending himself against a Pentagon-driven smear campaign, and his message is not going anywhere.

Simply, Kerry had his shot, and he totally and completely squandered it. He is going to crash and burn on November 2, without ever having had the courage and the spine to stand up and just say, "These people are liars."

You can almost hear Karl Rove chuckling in the background as he whispers in George's ear, "It's over."

Thursday, September 02, 2004

You might want to rethink that position, Orrin

Just ran across a short news blurb as to how Sen. Orrin Hatch (R - Pious Hypocrisy) is adamantly opposed to the concept of gay marriage. And it occurs to me that Mormons should be the last folks to be ranting on about the religious sanctity of the one man-one woman concept of marriage. If you catch my drift.
There's a fine line between hate and evil

Following a link from Atrios, one ends up at a classless example of most likely Republican-inspired "values" -- tossing a chunk of cement through a window of the local Kerry HQ in Grand Rapids, MI. Kim Yob, of the Kent County Republican Party, opined that she was shocked, shocked! that anyone would suggest Republicans might be responsible.

"We're not yelling at Democrats, telling them we hate them," said Yob, who The Grand Rapids Press contacted at the Republican National Convention.

Well, OK, technically, maybe the word "hate" didn't actually come up. But, hey, why even bother with "hate" when you can just describe your political opponents as "evil"?

It's hard to come up with straight lines like this

Listening to NPR on the way back from lunch, caught White House spokesweasel L'il Scottie McClellan saying that Bush's speech tonight will emphasize this administration's "record of results."

Sometimes, punchlines just write themselves, don't they?
When success is really, really bad

Everyone else has been having fun with this, so why not me? According to [p]Resident George W. Chimpster, the biggest problem with the invasion of Iraq was its (wait for it) "catastrophic success".

That's right -- apparently, no one foresaw that the world's largest military superpower could take on a third-world country that had been crippled by 10 years of sanctions, and further crippled by having to publicly destroy even their legal armaments, and kick the living crap out of that poor country in short order. Nope, the speed with which the U.S. overwhelmed the pitifully-equipped Iraqi army came as a complete and total surprise.

Next up: America invades Mozambique. Military leaders gird for long, hard struggle.