Monday, August 30, 2004

Republican house speaker Denny Hastert -- offensive and stupid, a bad combination

Over at TalkingPointsMemo, Josh Marshall has an amusing link to Republican house speaker and breathtaking dimbulb Dennis Hastert, suggesting (in that "I'm not really saying it, I'm just kind of suggesting, implying in an indirect sort of way that lets me disavow it later" kind of way) that anti-Bush billionaire George Soros might be getting his fortune from "drug groups".

Now it's not the snivelling, weaselly way he tries to make this an indirect smear that's so annoying: "I'm saying I don't know where groups - could be people who support this type of thing. I'm saying we don't know." That's right, Dennis, you slimeball, you don't know, but apparently, it doesn't stop you from suggesting it.

However, it's the sheer stupidity of the suggestion that's so galling. As Hastert points out, Soros is a fan of legalizing certain drugs, which is, of course, the worst possible outcome for the drug cartels, who depend on draconian drug laws to sustain their market. To suggest that the cartels would financially subsidize someone supporting drug legalization and working against their own fundamental interests is about as asinine as, well, blacks and women supporting the GOP.

Oh, wait ...

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Republican presidential campaign slogans

I'm in a snarky mood this morning, so how about:

Bush/Cheney '04
Because you still might have some kids left.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Chris Matthews fumbles the ball again

You know, for someone who has the chutzpah to call his show "Hardball", sometimes, Chris Matthews is a real pussy. Take this exchange, provided by Bob Somerby over at the Daily Howler:

MATTHEWS (8/19/04): Tell me about the time you discovered that [Kerry] wasn't honest about his account of events. When did you first discover that habit of his, as you say?

THURLOW: Well, on a firsthand basis, I understood that the Purple Heart that he received at Cam Ranh Bay was fabricated and wasn't based on any factuality at all, but—

MATTHEWS: How did you learn that, sir?

THURLOW: I learned that from the people who had been with him at that time, when he reported that he received an injury from hostile fire, when in fact, there was none.

And what is wrong with this exchange, you ask? Read Thurlow carefully:

"Well, on a firsthand basis ... I learned that from the people who had been with him ..."

Dude, if you learned it from someone else, then by definition it isn't firsthand, is it? Like, duh.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross dies

An obituary someone named John Kroll would like to see:

Really? Darn. What if ... ? Sigh. OK.
Finally, someone calls SBVFT member John O'Neill a flat-out liar

As Josh Marshall points out here, finally, someone has the cojones to just call Swift Boat Liars for Bush mouthpiece John O'Neill what everyone has known for months -- that he's a liar. (Granted, it's just in the headline, but I'll take what I can get.) However, if you read the article carefully, it's actually even worse as you see how O'Neill tries to dig himself out.

From an old taped conversation, we have O'Neill saying to Richard Nixon,
"I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border ...". It's not at all clear how those two statements can be consistent. It's akin to saying, "I was in Cambodia, sir. And, in addition, I was not in Cambodia, sir." O'Neill is now trying to save his sorry ass by claiming that you can't just read the first sentence, you have to put it in the context of the following sentence as well. I was there. Well, no I wasn't. Flip. Flop.

But wait. It gets better. If you continue, you read:

In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, O'Neill did not dispute what he said to Nixon, but insisted he was never actually in Cambodia.

"I think I made it very clear that I was on the border, which is exactly where I was for three months. I was about 100 yards from Cambodia," O'Neill said in clarifying the June 16, 1971, conversation with Nixon.

OK, fair enough, he wasn't actually in Cambodia, just right there on the border, only 100 yards away. And yet, a few paragraphs later, we read:

In an interview Sunday on ABC's "This Week" O'Neill said: "Our boats didn't go north of, only slightly north of Sedek," which he said was about 50 miles from the Cambodian border.

Well, what the &#^%$# is it? Inside Cambodia? Right on the border of Cambodia? 100 yards away from the border? No closer than 50 miles to the border?

You see, kids, what happens when you can't keep your lies straight?

The "Little Scottie" McClellan 'unprecedented' drinking game

White House spokesweasel Scott McClellan's press gaggles. One shot every time Scottie uses the word "unprecedented". A double shot every time he uses it incorrectly, or when it's clear he doesn't understand what the word means. And when he avoids answering a question, just hit yourself in the head with the bottle until you pass out.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Wingnut Alan Keyes, the right to bear arms and Republican hypocrisy

As Josh Marshall points out, Illinois Republican U.S. Senate candidate and sacrificial fruitcake Alan Keyes thinks it's just peachy to bear some really wicked-ass firearms; Second Amendment and all that.

Funny, but have you ever noticed how Republicans are always keen on this whole firearms thing, unless it's in their general vicinity?
Totally irrelevant, aviation-related humour

(And, on occasion, when I'm pressed for time, I'll toss out some inconsequential humour.)

Apparently, the German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport are a short-tempered lot. They not only expect one to know one's gate parking location but how to get there without any assistance from them.

So it was with some amusement that we (PanAm 747) listened to the following exchange between Frankfurt ground control and a British Airways 747 (radio call name "Speedbird 206") after landing:

Speedbird 206: "Good morning Frankfurt, Speedbird 206 clear of the active runway."

Ground: "Guten morgen! You vill taxi to your gate!"

The British Airways 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and stopped.

Ground: "Speedbird 206, do you not know vare you are going?"

Speedbird 206: "Stand by, ground, I'm looking up the gate location now."

Ground (with impatience): "Speedbird 206, haff you never flown to Frankfurt before?"

Speedbird 206 (coolly): "Yes, in 1944. But I didn't stop."

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Bush administration pressures U.S. TV stations not to air Kerry ads

Unbelievable. Absolutely f$*%king unbelievable. An article in today's (Aug. 24) National Post newspaper (no obvious online link, sad to say) first shows a large color photo out of Crawford, Texas of Condolleeza Rice, Dick Cheney, George Dubya and Donald Rumsfeld (the four assholes of the apocalypse as I like to think of them), followed by a lengthy article which concludes as follows (typed in manually, so I'm hoping I get it right):

A CBS News poll last week showed the anti-Kerry ads were hurting the Democratic nominee. Since the ad began airing, Mr. Bush, Mr. Bush had opened a 55% to 37% lead over Mr. Kerry among veterans.

In an effort to offset the damage, Mr. Kerry aired three new ads in the past week defending his record and accusing Mr. Bush of being behind the attacks.

The Bush campaign has written to U.S. television stations asking them not to air the Kerry ad. "It is completely false and without any evidence that the Bush campaign supports a front group attacking John Kerry's military record,', as the Kerry campaign states," the letter said.

Now, read the highlighted part slowly -- the current president is using his presidential power to strong-arm TV stations into not running his opponent's ads. If that doesn't constitute a rampant abuse of presidential power, I have no idea what does.

It's even funnier, of course, that the Swift Boat Veterans for (so-called) Truth have been shamefully exposed as having numerous links to Bush and his braintrust, Karl Rove, and that their ad and their claims have been thoroughly eviscerated by numerous bloggers. In other words, when exactly did truth in advertising become such a big issue for George Dubya?

UPDATE: Josh Marshall puts another nail in the Bush administration's "Hey, we have nothing to do with those Swift Boat guys" BS story, pointing out that the Bush campaign and the Swift Boat liars share an election lawyer.

I'm sure it's just a remarkable coincidence.

John Kerry on The Daily Show tonight, Tue, Aug 24.

At least, according to the reports.
Josh Marshall absolutely nails it

George Bush: total moral coward.

... The same sort of moral cowardice that led him to support the Vietnam war but decide it wasn't for him, run companies into the ground and let others pay the bill, play gutter politics but run for the hills when someone asks him to say it to their face, those are the same qualities that led the president to lie the country into war, fail to prepare for the aftermath and then refuse to take responsibility for any of it when the bill started to come due.

Just read it. And tell your friends to read it, too.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Tucker Carlson, chicks in bars, and the dreaded "L" word

OK, guys, we've all been there. You're out with your lady, maybe a few other close friends as well, down at the local pub. Yukking it up, everyone having a good time when, suddenly, she walks by. A total goddess. Painted-on jeans. Skin-tight halter top. Not a tan line in sight. And you know, yes you do, you know you shouldn't, but you stare. You can't help yourself -- it's a chromosomal thing. And you let that stare linger for just that millisecond too long. And you're busted.

"Well," your lady says, "seems like someone sure knows how to get your attention."

"No, I ... I mean ... I wasn't ... it's just that ... um ... I thought she looked familiar. Maybe someone I met once," you babble, totally unconvincingly.

"Oh, honey," she says, playfully punching you in the arm, "that's OK, don't worry if you were staring. I know guys do it all the time, it's fine, honest. I mean, she sure is stacked, isn't she?"

"Well," you say, thinking that somehow you escaped that one but now about to commit suicide, "since you mention it, yeah, she's pretty built."

"Why, you creep!" your lady yells at you. "So you were staring at her! I don't believe this, you're out with me, and you spend your time checking out the other women in the bar!"

"But ... ," you splutter, "you just said it was no big deal, that it didn't matter, that ..."

"You are such a jerk," she says coldly. "Take me home. I'm really pissed."

OK, now what just happened here?

I'll tell you what just happened. You were suckered. You were persuaded that something you did was no big deal, and because you bought that, you 'fessed up to it. And got clobbered for it. Which brings us to right-wing hatchet man and all-around sleazeball Tucker Carlson.

For years now, if someone on the political right wanted to discredit a Democrat or a progressive, it wasn't necessary to criticize their policies or their legislative proposals. Heck, no, why go to all that trouble when all you had to do was accuse them of just being "liberal". That's it. No analysis, no rationale -- just launch the dreaded "L" word and it was pretty much over. Apparently, just being branded a liberal was enough to wipe out someone's political career, and conservatives practised saying the word with the same sneering contempt they might use for "welfare cheat" or "child pornographer".

A perfect recent example of this, documented by Bob Somerby over at The Daily Howler, is the current Republican spin point of how John Kerry is the most liberal member of the Senate, and his running mate John Edwards is the fourth most liberal member. Be sure to read Somerby's evisceration of all of this here, but keep in mind the critical point -- Kerry is currently being slammed, not because of any specific agenda or proposal, but just for being that dreaded "L" word -- liberal, nothing more.

Now, Somerby explains in detail how this charge is completely bogus, since it depends on a contrived analysis of both Kerry's and Edwards' voting records. But as much as I worship at the feet of Somerby, in this case, I think he and everyone else has missed the boat completely. In defending Kerry, and trying to show that he's not the epitome of liberal thought in the Senate, Somerby and friends are playing right into the Republicans' hands -- by making it seem that Kerry has to somehow apologize for his liberalism, or distance himself from it. "No, no," the Dems say, "Kerry's not really that liberal," making it clear that his very liberalism is something he should be ashamed of and should downplay.

(As a side note, even the so-called liberal media -- the SCLM -- buys into this idiocy about tarring someone just for their liberalism. Exhibit A would be this debate excerpt from March of 2004, when the NY Times' reprehensible Elisabeth Bumiller kept hounding Kerry with the question, "Are you a liberal?", as if this was somehow a meaningful question. Sadly, Kerry wasn't prepared for a snappy comback along the lines of, "Are you an irresponsible hack?" And let's not even get into the absolute firestorm that would erupt if the Dems were to try the same tactic -- to dismiss someone's fitness to hold public office just because they were conservative. The same right-wing hacks who denigrate liberalism would be absolutely beside themselves with sputtering fury if they were on the receiving end. But I digress. Onward.)

So, in the midst of all this liberal-bashing, it's surprising to see Bob Somerby himself quote an astonishing admission by Tucker Carlson, and not even realize the gem he's stumbled across. From this column by Somerby, we have an excerpt from an episode of Crossfire, where Carlson is hosting Steve McMahon and Donna Brazile:

CARLSON (8/4/04): Why is it that the left see them ashamed of what they essentially fundamentally are? They're liberal. They have a different world view. There's nothing wrong with that objectively. Why do they run away from a description, a fair description, of who they really are?

MCMAHON: Who's afraid of it?

CARLSON: John Kerry is. He gets up there,
the most liberal member of the Senate by any measure of his votes, and he calls himself anything but a liberal. Why doesn't he just say it?

Take a minute and read that highlighted part again by Carlson regarding liberalism: "There's nothing wrong with that objectively."

Say WHAT?? After having savaged the very ideals of liberalism for years, when exactly did Carlson suddenly realize that there's nothing actually wrong with it? Oh, wait ... is this starting to sound familiar? "Don't worry, sweetie, it's all right, I know all guys do it, so if you were staring, that's OK, you can admit it to me. I won't hold it against you."

And that's the story here. With all due respect to Bob Somerby, the headline shouldn't be "Republicans distort Kerry's voting record to brand him as a liberal." Rather, the headline should be, "Right wing hack and attack poodle Tucker Carlson admits there's nothing actually wrong with liberalism."

But I'm not going to bother holding my breath to read that one.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

WaPo executive editor Len Downie bullshits NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Highlights at 11.

Given the ever-increasing self-flagellation of the mainstream media these days over their (how shall we put this delicately?) total abdication of basic journalistic principles and sucking up to the Bush administration 24/7, it's amusing to read this transcript of NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, where host Terence Smith lets media critic Micheal Massing (a.k.a. "The Skeptic") and WaPo executive editor Leonard Downie (a.k.a. "The Spineless Weasel") go at it.

You can, of course, read the whole transcript for yourself to see how gutless and evasive Downie really is, but there were two points that jumped off the page for me.

First, we have Downie:

"I don't think it was because we were overly trusting of the administration. I think it was because we were focused on the question of is there going to be a war? How is it going to be fought; is there a plan for the occupation afterwards? If you look at our stories, a lot of our coverage was focused on that."

Hmmm ... so Downie's position is that things were pretty busy, you know, with all that head-scratching of important issues including, specifically, an exit plan. Good excuse, I guess, except for one small problem: there was no exit plan. The Bush administration did not, at any time, have anything resembling an exit plan. Not then, and not now. As anyone with a functioning brain stem has already realized, right now, the Bushistas are flailing around, pretty much shooting and bombing things at random in Iraq, trying to figure out how the hell to get out of this mess. And that's because (have I mentioned this already?) they had no exit plan. So it's pretty hard to buy into Downie's fiction that "a lot of our coverage was focused on that" when the "that" part of it didn't even exist. Ergo, it shouldn't have taken a lot of time to write about it.

But it gets better when Downie gets just a wee bit defensive, after Massing suggests that the Bush cabal got a free ride because the media were just plain scared to take them on. For Downie, them's fighting words:

Downie: The part of his critique I disagree with is that we were somehow kowtowing or fearful of criticism of the right or fearful of a popular president.

An amusing position, since other journalists made no bones about the fact that that was exactly the problem, such as the NY Times' utterly worthless Elisabeth Bumiller, who probably really regrets having said this earlier this year:

New York Times White House reporter Elisabeth Bumiller recently admitted how intimidated the media became after September 11, explaining they became “very deferential” and reporters were loathe to challenge the President to his face because “it’s live, it’s very intense, it’s frightening to stand up there.”

Oopsie. That's got to be embarrassing, Len, don't you think:

Downie: We weren't scared.

Bumiller: Oh, yes, we were. You damn betcha.

Is the Internet and Google search great or what?

Coming soon: Right-wing hack Tucker Carlson, and ogling hot chicks in bars. Promise.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Sometimes, the funnies can be devastatingly on-target

Like here.

Monday, August 16, 2004

The wrath of God


The Rev. Pat Robertson, "who claims his prayers worked another miracle in 1985 by diverting a hurricane that was headed straight for the Christian Broadcasting Network headquarters in Chesapeake, Va."


"Nearly 900,000 homes and businesses in central Florida were still without power Monday, and most were likely to remain so for days, making it that much harder for search teams to look for unaccounted victims of Hurricane Charley."

God telling us he doesn't much like sleazy, corrupt, hypocritical Republican administrations? Sadly, it appears He prefers to take it out on the most vulnerable, innocent citizens. Oh,well, I'm sure Pat sees a message in all of this somewhere.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Note to New York Times: Thanks, but no thanks. No, really, go away.

Cold call (reproduced from memory as accurately as possible, from just this morning):

Him: "Good morning, sir, how are you doing? Can I ask you if you subscribe to the New York Times?"

Me: "No."

Him: "And would you be interested in subscribing?"

Me: "No, thank you."

Him: "And why not?"

Me: "Because you've become annoyingly right wing lately, that's why."

Him: "Right wing? What does that mean, right wing? Have you read our paper at all?"

Me: "Yes, I have. I've followed your news coverage over the last couple of years regarding Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, and all the Judith Miller nonsense you've been printing. And that's why I'm not interested."

Him: "Well, what about our other sections? Health. Sports..."

Me; "Thanks, but no thanks. Bye bye."

The other sections? I should, what, overlook the wretched, biased, right-wing cheerleading of the Times because they have better coverage of the Yankees? Sheesh.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Journalists or stenographers? We report. And, heck, we'll decide, too.

Over at The Washington Monthly, Kevin Drum links to a (registration-required) piece from the LA Times, from which he quotes:

Almost half of Medicare recipients dislike the new prescription drug law, and nearly 3 in 10 seniors and disabled persons say the issue will influence their vote for president, according to a national survey released Tuesday.

The survey suggests that there are "maybe a half-million seniors" who might swing their votes to Democratic candidate John F. Kerry and another "1 million to 2 million whose votes might be up for grabs on this issue," said Drew E. Altman, president and chief executive of the private, nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.

....Only 3 in 10 of those on Medicare believe that the law's benefits — partial coverage of prescription drug costs for those who choose to participate in that program, a voluntary prescription discount card available until the drug benefit takes effect in 2006, and new coverage for some preventive health services — will help them personally.

It's that last paragraph that really, really grates on me: "Only 3 in 10 of those on Medicare believe that the law's benefits ... will help them personally." To which the only meaningful response is, "Who gives a rat's behind what the recipients think?" What's the truth behind the bill, and who does it really help?

It's no secret that the Bush administration has been incredibly dishonest in explaining the benefits of the recent Medicare "reforms". And what that means is that it's almost worthless to ask the recipients themselves what they think of it, when those recipients have been given only the most biased and distorted picture of what's in it for them. (It's like those annoying man-on-the-street interviews that news programs use to pad their time. Sorry, but I don't really care what the man on the street thinks. I want to know what the experts think -- you know, the folks who have actually taken the time to do some research.)

So, when it comes to reporting on things like Medicare reform, you find the vast majority of the media simply reporting what's handed to them, and then doing these worthless public opinion surveys. And what should they be doing? Well, gosh, wouldn't it be nice if someone actually sat down, went through the legislation carefully, crunched the numbers, analyzed the membership and the demographics, and finally wrote something like, "According to our analysis, 18% of Medicare recipients, would see a benefit, 12% would see little or no change, while the remaining 70% would notice moderate to serious cuts in their benefits." See how that works? Now that's news, and it actually means something. It's mathematical, it's objective, and it doesn't depend on a five-second sound bite from Joe Six Pack, who most likely doesn't have clue one about how his Medicare works.

But, sadly, the mainstream media, in their overwhelming obsession to be fair and balanced and unbiased, have turned into nothing more than stenographers. "The Bush administration claims this about Medicare, while Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry claims exactly the opposite. Next, a cigar-smoking dog. Don't miss that one!" And the competing claims? Who's closer to the truth? Unfortunately, this is apparently not the media's job any more since that would require, like, work.

Just this indefensible laziness was on display front and center during the 2000 presidential debates, when Al Gore made (as I recall) some budgetary claims, and then-Governor Chimpy McFlightSuit dismissed it as being just "fuzzy math". Naturally, the media had a field day repeating Bush's "fuzzy math" sound bite. And, just as naturally, few of them took the time to actually examine the competing claims to see who was more accurate. Wouldn't that have been useful information to have?

Your media. Stenography in action.

Dated, but still funny, presidential campaign humour

And while I'm working on my next "Tucker Carlson is a total slimeball" piece, something to tide you over -- a bit dated, but still good for a chuckle or two. It should bring back memories of when George W. was just a bumbling, semi-literate, inarticulate buffoon, and not the biggest menace to the free world in the history of man.

2000 Presidential Debate Transcript

Jim Lehrer: Welcome to the second presidential debate between Vice President Al Gore and Gov. George W. Bush. The candidates have agreed on these rules:

I will ask a question. The candidate will ignore the question and deliver rehearsed remarks designed to appeal to undecided women voters.

The opponent will then have one minute to respond by trying to frighten senior citizens into voting for him.

When a speaker's time has expired, I will whimper softly while he continues to spew incomprehensible statistics for three more minutes.

Let's start with the vice president. Mr. Gore, can you give us the name of a downtrodden citizen and then tell us his or her story in a way that strains the bounds of common sense?

Gore: As I was saying to Tipper last night after we tenderly made love the way we have so often during the 30 years of our rock-solid marriage, the downtrodden have a clear choice in this election. My opponent wants to cut taxes for the richest 1 percent of Americans. I, on the other hand, want to put the richest 1 percent in an iron clad lockbox so they can't hurt old people like Roberta Frampinhamper, who is here tonight.

Mrs. Frampinhamper has been selling her internal organs, one by one, to pay for gas so that she can travel to these debates and personify problems for me. Also, her poodle has arthritis.

Lehrer: Gov. Bush, your rebuttal.

Bush: Governors are on the front lines every day, hugging people, crying with them, relieving suffering anywhere a photo opportunity exists. I want to empower those crying people to make their own decisions, unlike my opponent, whose mother is not Barbara Bush.

Lehrer: Let's turn to foreign affairs. Gov. Bush, if Slobodan Milosevic were to launch a bid to return to power in Yugoslavia, would you be able to pronounce his name?

Bush: The current administration had eight years to deal with that guy and didn't get it done. If I'm elected, the first thing I would do about that guy is have Dick Cheney confer with our allies. And then Dick would present me several options for dealing with that guy. And then Dick would tell me which one to choose. You know, as governor of Texas, I have to make tough foreign policy decisions every day about how we're going to deal with New Mexico.

Lehrer: Mr. Gore, your rebuttal.

Gore: Foreign policy is something I've always been keenly interested
in. I served my country in Vietnam. I had an uncle who was a victim of poison gas in World War I. I myself lost a leg in the Franco-Prussian War.

And when that war was over, I came home and tenderly made love to Tipper in a way that any undecided woman voter would find romantic. If I'm entrusted with the office of president, I pledge to deal knowledgeably with any threat, foreign or domestic, by putting it in an iron clad lockbox. Because the American people deserve a president who can comfort them with simple metaphors.

Lehrer: Vice President Gore, how would you reform the Social Security system?

Gore: It's a vital issue, Jim. That's why Joe Lieberman and I have proposed changing the laws of mathematics to allow us to give $50,000 to every senior citizen without having it cost the federal treasury a single penny until the year 2250. In addition, my budget commits $60 trillion over the next 10 years to guarantee that all senior citizens can have drugs delivered free to their homes every Monday by a federal employee who will also help them with the child-proof cap.

Lehrer: Gov. Bush?

Bush: That's fuzzy math. I know, because as governor of Texas, I have to do math every day. I have to add up the numbers and decide whether I'm going to fill potholes out on Rt. 36 east of Abilene or commit funds to reroof the sheep barn at the Texas state fairgrounds.

Lehrer: It's time for closing statements.

Gore: I'm my own man. I may not be the most exciting politician, but I will fight for the working families of America, in addition to turning the White House into a lusty pit of marital love for Tipper and me.

Bush: It's time to put aside the partisanship of the past by electing no one but Republicans.

Lehrer: Good night.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Um ... how's that again?

Following a link from atrios over to americablog, we find Republican US Senate candidate, wingnut, homophobe and unabashed fruitcake Tom Coburn:

"The gay community has infiltrated the very centers of power in every area across this country, and they wield extreme power. ... That agenda is the greatest threat to our freedom that we face today. Why do you think we see the rationalization for abortion and multiple sexual partners? That's a gay agenda."

So ... one of the driving motivations behind that militant gay and lesbian community is ... rationalization for abortion? How exactly does that work?

We're all over this, yes, we are.

In a Chicago Tribune article linked at, we have Chimpanzee-in-Chief George Dubya, defending the wonderfully convenient terror alerts every time there's some inconvenient news out there that he'd rather no one was paying attention to:

"We have the solemn duty to follow every lead we find and share information we have with people that could be harmed," Bush said at a conference of minority journalists in Washington. "That's exactly what we've done."

Added Bush, in response to a followup question, "Um ... what August 2001 PDB?"

Friday, August 06, 2004

These days, you just do NOT mess with the blogosphere

(An amusing story of right-wing, back-stabbing duplicity with some interesting repercussions on how news is going to be delivered in the near future.)

Right now, the hot blogosphere story is about a team of right-wing hatchet men, "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth", who are making the talk show circuit, slagging John Kerry's war record in Vietnam. The impression you get from the introduction of any of these individuals is that these are men who "served" with Kerry in Vietnam, on Kerry's own Swift boat. What's generally not mentioned is that none of them were actually on Kerry's own boat -- when they say they "served with Kerry," all they're apparently referring to is that they were in Vietnam at the same time, perhaps on another Swift boat, or perhaps on the same boat as Kerry was on, but before or after he was actually there. All very clever, all well done and deliberately misleading to leave just the right mistaken impression.

But here's the kicker, as described by both atrios and DCBlues over at dailykos: one of those Swift Boat lying sacks of ... uh, one of those alleged Kerry compatriots, Larry Thurlow, was a guest on Inside Politics, being interviewed by yet another worthless CNN talking head, Judy Woodruff. Thurlow was criticizing Kerry's Bronze Star, claiming that, on the day Kerry earned it for alleged bravery in action, they were never in any danger and were never under fire.

According to the interview transcript,

THURLOW: ... My thought is that since no mine was detected on the other side of the river, no blast was seen, no noise heard, there's two things that are inconsistent with my memory ... Our boats immediately put automatic weapons fire on to the left bank just in case there was an ambush in conjunction with the mine. It soon became apparent there was no ambush ... I distinctly remember we were under no fire from either bank.

Seems pretty clear -- Thurlow is downplaying the danger of the whole thing to cast suspicion on Kerry's medal. But (and here's the good part), Thurlow himself was awarded the same Bronze Star for bravery for exactly the same mission. Fascinating. So if Kerry never deserved his medal, well, clearly neither did Thurlow. But that little tidbit never came up in conversation. How convenient. And there's no record of Thurlow being in any hurry to give back his medal as a sign of protest. Isn't that special? But that's not where this is going.

All of the above has already been done by the other, big-time bloggers, so it's not like I'm adding anything to the story. But if you read the followup over at dailykos in the comments, there's a sudden rush of comments along the lines of:

For what it's worth, I just sent the link to Inside Politics, along with the quote about Thurlow's bronze star. We'll see if they bother to do anything with it...

I sent the link to Judy Woodruff and Wolf Blitzer's email accounts, too...

Wolf Blitzer, Aaron Brown, Paul Krugman, Jodi Wilgoren, Adam Nagourney, news-tips at the New York Times, Chris Matthews and a few others...

And you can see how this changes the entire dynamics of news, particularly the absolute crap that passes for the political pundit talk shows. Now, as one of these right-wing hacks is telling a totally bogus story, they should be thinking in the back of their minds that there are some deadly serious observers, listening, recording what they're saying, downloading the online transcripts, and heading out into cyberspace to find the actual facts.

And, within minutes, the truth (you know, the real truth, not what you get from Fox or CNN) is hitting the big blogs, and the readers are making their annoyance known via direct email to the show's hosts, producers and directors. Sometimes, perhaps, before the show is even off the air.

This really does change everything, and it's going to be interesting to see if any of Big Media, having given Thurlow and his reprehensible colleagues all of this face time, will follow up with how they've been thoroughly suckered. It's not like they haven't been handed the story on a silver platter, is it?

And now, for something a little different

As a bit of a digression from beating up on Republicans, we turn our attention to the animal kingdom, to another similarly ugly, bottom-dwelling, parasitic species with no discernible social value: the northern snakehead fish.

It's just another depressing story of how an imported species is now threatening North American waterways. From this article in the Globe and Mail:

Since the first northern snakehead fish turned up in a pond in Maryland two years ago, fisheries officials across the United States have been attempting to stop the spread of a fish that is a favourite in some Asian restaurants and popular among some tropical fish owners...

... The worry is that if snakeheads get a firm foothold in U.S. waterways, they will upset the ecological balance. "They would eat bass. They would compete for habitat and they would eat the same food that bass would eat and they could bring in ailments and parasites," ...

Ouch. When it comes to protecting and preserving the environment, it seems it's just one damned thing after another.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The Barack Obama smackdown sweepstakes. And our next contestant is ...

Desperately looking for a candidate to be pounded into a grease stain by Barack Obama in Illinois, the Repubs have dredged up Alan Keyes and Andrea Grubb Barthwell.

Good choices, both. I mean, it's not like there are any skeletons in Barthwell's closet.

: And the apparent winner is ... right-wing dingbat Alan Keyes. Kevin Drum has his typically amusing perspective on it here. Note well, though, that Keyes has only been offered the Republican candidacy -- he hasn't officially accepted it yet, and I think he's going to find it difficult to defend his running for U.S. Senate in what is not his home state, after he publicly criticized Hillary Clinton for doing exactly that. If the media do their job (hahahahahaha! oh, man, sometimes I crack me up), he should have to explain this ... what's the word I'm looking for ... um ... saying one thing, then saying exactly the opposite ... flippity ... something or other. (Apologies to Jon Stewart for the shameless plagiarism.)

Anyway, if I was a betting man, I'd bet that Keyes will have an attack of common sense and back away from this. I mean, this candidacy has already chewed up and spit out a number of pretenders. Who in their right mind wants to go down in history as losing a U.S. Senate race by the largest margin ever?

Well, OK, that would be Keyes.
Is it safe? No, really, is it safe?


"... America is safer because of your service at Oak Ridge ... Today, because we acted to liberate Afghanistan, a threat has been removed, and the American people are safer. (Applause.) ... Today, because we're working with the Pakistani leaders, Pakistan is an ally in the war on terror, and the American people are safer. (Applause.) ... Today, because Saudi Arabia has seen the danger and has joined the war on terror, the American people are safer. (Applause.) ... Today, because America and our coalition helped to end the violent regime of Saddam Hussein, and because we're helping to raise a peaceful democracy in its place, the American people are safer. (Applause.) ... Today, because the Libyan government saw the seriousness of the civilized world, and correctly judged its own interests, the American people are safer. (Applause.) ... We have ended one of the most dangerous sources of proliferation in the world, and the American people are safer. (Applause.) ... Today, because America has acted, and because America has led, the forces of terror and tyranny have suffered defeat after defeat, and America and the world are safer. (Applause.) ..."

Maybe not:

"We are a nation in danger," said President George Bush, after the nation's state of alert was raised to "orange" (high) on Sunday evening. "We are doing everything in our power to confront the danger. [This alert is ] a solemn reminder of the threat we continue to face".

Flip. Flop.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Warning: Bush twins sighting alert raised to orange level.

And if you can't get enough of the 12-step sisters, Jenna and Barbara, well, they now have their very own political blog. You too can savor the in-depth campaign wisdom of:

We met many great people as we stopped in local campaign offices and W Stands for Women events.
It was incredible to see so many people excited about reelecting our Dad.

Note to (aptly-named) J&B -- technically, you can't really help "re-elect" your Dad, as he was never elected the first time. Just being pedantic.

UPDATE: Whoops, apparently I'm being unfair. Seems like the Dewar's duo have graduated from the bottled stuff, and have moved on. What would we do without conservative, family-values role models?

It's official: new CNN quick vote proves 49% of random Americans are idiots.

From the latest CNN quick vote here: "Do you agree with Howard Dean's suggestion that the latest terror alert may be politically motivated?"

Now, read that question carefully: it's asking whether the alerts may be politically motivated, nothing more. And given that this is asking only whether it's possible, the answer would seem to be a no-brainer: of course it's possible. It might not be true, the evidence might not be overwhelming or, for some, even persuasive. But there's no possible way to deny that it may be related to nothing but politics.

Which is, of course, why 49% of those responding said no. Lord, I wish I had a snappy punchline for this, but it's just too depressing.
Oh, man, this is priceless. The bogosity of the recent terror alerts.

From this New York Times article, the salient excerpt:

Much of the information that led the authorities to raise the terror alert at several large financial institutions in the New York City and Washington areas was three or four years old, intelligence and law enforcement officials said on Monday. They reported that they had not yet found concrete evidence that a terrorist plot or preparatory surveillance operations were still under way.

Three. Or. Four. Years. Old.

But at least everyone reacted with the appropriate alarm and caution:

Despite the new terror warnings, the stock market gained ground, denting expectations that it would drop with the heightened security alert. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 39 points.

Apparently, someone at the markets has this all figured out. Good for them.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Another week, another terror alert.

Here we go again.

Oh, yawn.