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Monday, October 18, 2004

Will The Media Be Rove's Patsy Again?

Atrios has a list of potential October Surprises that we might look for and I'm wondering if he may actually try the hail mary of a trip to Iraq. I had heard some rumblings elsewhere that he might try to put on some kind of a uniform again (hopefully sparing us the codpiece this time) and drop in on the troops.

I wrote sometime back about the possibility of Bush parachuting into Baghdad on the eve of the election, but it was, you know, a joke. If he tries a stunt like that this time, I have a feeling that it will be remembered as the most desperate act an incumbent president has ever taken. The press corpse, unfortunately, would probably enjoy the theatre of the thing. They like nothing more than pretending that the lil' preznit is some kind of action hero.

They cannot be allowed at this point to go along with such a thing. If they have even the tiniest shred of self-respect left, they would have to reject such a blatant ploy. To that end, I might think of sending this hilarious link to various members of the press corpse to remind them of what dewy eyed little debutantes they were at the sight of Commander Codpiece in that oh-so-snug jumpsuit:

MATTHEWS: Let's go to this sub--what happened to this week, which was to me was astounding as a student of politics, like all of us. Lights, camera, action. This week the president landed the best photo of in a very long time. Other great visuals: Ronald Reagan at the D-Day cemetery in Normandy, Bill Clinton on horseback in Wyoming. Nothing compared to this, I've got to say.

Katty, for visual, the president of the United States arriving in an F-18, looking like he flew it in himself. The GIs, the women on--onboard that ship loved this guy.

Ms. KAY: He looked great. Look, I'm not a Bush man. I mean, he doesn't do it for me personally, especially not when he's in a suit, but he arrived there...

MATTHEWS: No one would call you a Bush man, by the way.

Ms. KAY: ...he arrived there in his flight suit, in a jumpsuit. He should wear that all the time. Why doesn't he do all his campaign speeches in that jumpsuit? He just looks so great.

MATTHEWS: I want him to wa--I want to see him debate somebody like John Kerry or Lieberman or somebody wearing that jumpsuit.

Mr. DOBBS: Well, it was just--I can't think of any, any stunt by the White House--and I'll call it a stunt--that has come close. I mean, this is not only a home run; the ball is still flying out beyond the park.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know what, it was like throwing that strike in Yankee Stadium a while back after 9/11. It's not a stunt if it works and it's real. And I felt the faces of those guys--I thought most of our guys were looking up like they were looking at Bob Hope and John Wayne combined on that ship.

Mr. GIGOT: The reason it works is because of--the reason it works is because Bush looks authentic and he felt that he--you could feel the connection with the troops. He looked like he was sincere. People trust him. That's what he has going for him.

MATTHEWS: Fareed, you're watching that from--say you were over in the Middle East watching the president of the United States on this humongous aircraft carrier. It looks like it could take down Syria just one boat, right, and the president of the United States is pointing a finger and saying, `You people with the weapons of mass destruction, you people backing terrorism, look out. We're coming.' Do you think that picture mattered over there?

Mr. ZAKARIA: Oh yeah. Look, this is a part of the war where we have not--we've allowed a lot of states to do some very nasty stuff, traffic with nasty people and nasty material, and I think it's time to tell them, you know what, `You're going to be help accountable for this.'

MATTHEWS: Well, it was a powerful statement and picture as well.

Here's how CNN reported it "straight" at the time (when they weren't featuring Kyra Phillips pretending to be TopGun herself.)They spent theentire afternoon breathlessly "reporting" the harroiwing landing and lovingly featuring the pictures of the phony flyboy on a loop:

Moments after the landing, the president, wearing a green flight suit and holding a white helmet, got off the plane, saluted those on the flight deck and shook hands with them. Above him, the tower was adorned with a big sign that read, "Mission Accomplished."

Bush said he did take a turn at piloting the craft.

"Yes, I flew it. Yeah, of course, I liked it," said Bush, who was an F-102 fighter pilot in the Texas Air National Guard after graduating from Yale University in 1968.

"Great job," said Bush, a wide smile stretched across his face as he posed for photographs with crew members who gathered to get their pictures with the president. He draped his arms around some, slapped the backs of others and shook hands with many.

"Yes I flew it!" Liar. And the media ate up this ridiculous cartoon version of reality with a spoon. Slowly but surely,however, the absurdity of the pageant became obvious. Even Matthews later called it a stunt.

And then, as if they hadn't already been played like a violin, they fell for it yet again with the ridiculous Thanksgiving stunt. Check out Fox's bizarre interpretation of events. First he played a fighter pilot president. Then, a few months later, he pretended to be a super duper secret agent:

CRAWFORD, Texas — Under cover of night as well as baseball caps, President Bush pulled off a Thanksgiving Day bait-and-switch that James Bond would have been proud of.

The president even stunned himself with the success of his trip to Iraq Thursday to visit troops for the holiday, saying if word of the dangerous mission had leaked out, he would have turned Air Force One (search) around and headed back to Crawford to spend the day with his family.

"I was fully prepared to turn this baby around, come home," Bush said late Thursday as he returned from his two hour visit to Baghdad airport, where he served dinner to the troops and personally delivered his Thanksgiving message of appreciation to the nation's servicemen and women.

But even Bush's twin daughters and parents, who all headed to the president's ranch for the holiday, were not informed in advance of the plan, and the overwhelming secrecy helped make the plan a success.

Feigning to be an "ordinary couple," Bush and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice snuck away from the ranch and endured the street traffic to get to the airport where Air Force One was parked. In a departure from the usual perks of being president, the unmarked motorcade had to obey all the traffic rules, stopping at lights and following the speed limit. During those pauses, Bush said he and Rice pulled their baseball caps down low so people could not see their faces.

Please. "I was fully prepared to turn this baby around." I guess we are supposed to believe he flies Air Force One in his spare time, too. (And, I don't even want to know why he kept saying "couple" about himself and Condi.)

I sincerely cannot believe that the media will let Rove and company get away with another of their cheap little cons, but it's hard to have any faith in their ability to know when they are being played. They have, after all, been duped by this phony showboat team over and over and over again.

Update: I see that DU is on to this too.

Inoculation Priorities

This shortage of flu vaccine is ironic in light of the fact that the vice president himself spearheaded a (luckily) failed effort to force every American to get vaccinated against smallpox which would have cost billions upon billions and killed at least a thousand people. He was said to have been messianic in his zeal to make vaccinations mandatory because of Saddam's alleged stockpile of smallpox that, needless to say, never turned up.

And, he didn't care any more about the potential deaths from the vaccine that he cares about all the deaths that have taken place in Iraq.

MR. RUSSERT: One of your many tasks in the administration, the point person on bioterrorism; you’ve been spending some time at the Center for Disease Control. Do you believe that all Americans should eventually be vaccinated against smallpox?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: We’re in the middle of improving our capability to do that. A year ago, we had enough vaccine for maybe 15 million people. We’re now well on the way to producing enough vaccine for 350 million people. There is serious consideration now being given to what kind of vaccination program we want. You go to first responders, people who have to deal with this when it first arises. Do you do a broader group than that? Do you do it on a voluntary basis for anybody who would like to have it? These are issues under active discussion, deliberation. Tommy Thompson over at HHS has been actively involved in it as well, too. It’s not a zero sum kind of proposition; that is, it’s not a cost-free operation. There are side effects and consequences for most vaccines. And you have to weigh those against the benefits that would be derived by protecting the population.

MR. RUSSERT: If you vaccinated 300 million Americans, a thousand would die from side effects.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I don’t remember the exact numbers, but clearly there would be some people who would be harmed as a result of the vaccination.

MR. RUSSERT: But the risk may be such we may come to that.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: That’s entirely possible.

It was only because the medical community put it's collective foot down that Cheney was stopped from forcing everybody to get innoculated against a disease that's been wiped out and to which Saddam had absolutely no access.

More than 80 hospitals from every region in the USA, including leading teaching hospitals and large, urban public hospitals, are forgoing the vaccinations. The dissenters are a tiny fraction of the 3,000 hospitals recruited by state health officials to vaccinate doctors, nurses and other hospital staff members who are most likely to care for smallpox patients.

But their numbers are growing as doctors and administrators at hospitals around the USA are concluding that the known health risks from the vaccine, which can cause illness and even death, outweigh the unquantifiable risks of smallpox being used as a terrorist weapon.

The refusal to vaccinate raises new questions about the president's plan just as the first phase is expected to begin this week. And some health care experts and government officials fear that any reluctance to participate in the first phase could lessen the willingness of others to participate in the second phase -- and undermine the administration's goal of eliminating smallpox as a viable option for terrorists.

Richard Wenzel, chairman of internal medicine at Medical College of Virginia Hospitals of Virginia Commonwealth University, finds the resistance neither surprising nor unwarranted.

"This is not an issue that should be framed in terms of patriotism," he says. "This is an issue that's medical risk-benefit. We haven't seen this disease for more than 25 years. We are reacting to a perceived threat that's not well defined."

The hospitals are reaching their decisions individually after their own in-house infectious diseasesspecialists study the Bush plan.

Almost as a rule, hospital administrators say they are reluctant to make some of their employees sick to protect them from a disease that no longer exists and would reappear only in the chance of a terrorist act.

The administration did all of this at the very same time that the public health officials were warning of a shortage of the flu vaccine.

"The thing that stops you from doing this is the complexity of the smallpox vaccine, which is not a safe vaccine," says William Schaffner, head of the preventive medicine department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, one of the hospitals that is opting out. "There's a real disease that kills people unnecessarily: the flu. Mr. President, I would love to see you endorse a national flu vaccine campaign with the same vigor."

Cheney never did learn his lesson from that. They spent millions and millions to get a stockpile of vaccine for which there is absolutely no use and ignored the professionals who warned that the flu vaccine was in short supply. And, a pouting Dick Cheney obviously still harbors resentment about that:

Q: Are there any lessons for you in the way the smallpox vaccine program sort of ran into public opposition? Is that an example of where the public is less aware of the dangers than they ought to be?

CHENEY: Well, we — I'm trying to be careful here so I don't start another wave of concern out there about smallpox. People clearly were concerned about the side effects of the vaccine. I think there was a certain amount of complacency in terms of people not being willing to take it as seriously as we thought it should be taken. And so far we've been fortunate. Hopefully we will continue to be fortunate. It's to some extent the responsibility, though, of those of us in government to think about the what-ifs, to worry about the worst case, to look at the evidence that's out there and connect the dots.

And we were criticized, the government was criticized generally prior to 9/11 for, "you didn't connect the dots." I think we did, but that charge is made. Here you're in a situation where you clearly want to make certain that you take all the intelligence available, you look at the capabilities of your adversaries, you draw reasonable conclusions, and you act on those conclusions. And that's what we did with respect to smallpox.

And the main effort there, the focus was to try to get enough people in the medical community, first responders, inoculated, so that if we did get hit, we could move aggressively to implement a national immunization program. We're better off now than we were before we started, but clearly we fell short of what we had originally anticipated, in terms of the numbers of people we would like to have seen inoculated.

Yes. And luckily they fell short of killing about a thousand people that wouldn't have had to die because of a threat that didn't exist. Smallpox is a disease that has been eradicated. There is a very remote possibility that a small amount could escape from the controlled storage facility, but we have absolutely no evidence that it has happened. Dick Cheney tried to strongarm the CDC into demanding that every person in American be vaccinated because he was trying to scare the country into supporting a war with Iraq and as with everything else in that run-up he was willing to say anything to make that happen. It is unconscionable that he actively fought against the prevailing medical opinions that this country could deal with a real smallpox outbreak without a full scale innoculation scheme in order to advance his paranoid vision. (That it might have benefitted a certain vaccine manufacturer is something we might also ponder...)

After 9/11, the administration, Dick Cheney among the most hysterical, with their friends the lapdog media were in the throes of a delusional fit busily chasing phantom threats and science fiction scenarios instead of showing adult leadership. The disaster in Iraq and the shortage of flu vaccine of a piece. They are the result of the leadership of this country falling to pieces after 9/11 and losing sight of the nation's priorities. They have proved that they cannot be depended upon to keep their heads when all around them are losing theirs.

Family Tradition

Check out this little trip down memory lane on Consortiumnews. We know that the Bush family has a penchant for dirty tricks in the last month or so of a campaign, particularly when they are fighting for their lives. In 1992, they got so desperate that they tried to paint Bill Clinton as a communist agent and they used the executive branch to do it.

We laugh at Ann Coulter and think of her as a clown. But, the truth is that there are a rather large number of Americans who agree with her that Democrats/liberals are routinely traitorous. And, the Bush family is always ready to exploit that paranoid style whenever they need to.


I can hardly wait to see Kerry's stump speech in its entirely today on CNN, MSBNC and FOX. Certainly, since they've all been willingly bamboozled into giving Bush another free hour of television to give a "major policy speech" on terrorism that is actually his standard character attack stump speech punctuated by wild cheering and booing from his brainwashed rubes, they will feel bound by journalistic ethics to give Kerry equal time. Right?

Perhaps a little phone call might help to remind them.



1 CNN Center
POB 105366
Atlanta, GA 30348
Phone: (404) 827-1500
Fax: (404) 827-1593, (404) 827-1784

Fox News


1211 Avenue of the Americas
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Phone: (212) 301-3000
Fax: (212) 301-4224



One MSNBC Plaza
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Phone: (201) 583-5000
Fax: (201) 583-5453

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Fox Paradox

Brit Hume and the Gang pretty much agreed this morning that "Stolen Honor" is news and that Sinclair has a right to broadcast it as long as they have at least one ineffectual Democrat on afterwards to rebut the charges (if they can find one.)

The question I have, is this. If it is news, then why isn't the news media as a whole, and FoxNews network in particular, broadcasting it?

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Simple Strategy

NewDonkey.com says:

It's bizarre, to say the least: at precisely the moment when the Bush-Cheney campaign has fully committed itself to an 18-day drive to demonize John Kerry as a Massachusetts Liberal, BC04 and its conservative media echo chamber are suddenly focused on a different L-word: Lesbian, as in the sexual orientation of Mary Cheney.

Kerry's reference to the veep's daughter, in response to a debate question about each candidate's views on the nature or nurture origins of homosexuality, is now the obsessive preoccupation of the entire pro-Bush talking points network.

Their motivation is not 100% clear. In part, Bush partisans are simply trying to find something in the last debate that will change the public perception that Kerry won that one, and the whole three-game series. In part, Bushies want to dent the more positive impressions of Kerry's character by suggesting he's playing dirty politics. And finally, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that BC04 is simply freaking out at Kerry's exposure, deliberate or inadvertant, of a vulnerability in their base-first strategy, which depends heavily on piggy-backing battleground state referenda on gay marriage. Mary Cheney's father, after all, has conspicuously declined to support his boss in demanding a constitutional amendment to defend the "sanctity of marriage" against the alleged assault from those demanding gay marriage rights. This is not something conservatives want to be reminded of.

The morning news on Fox just spent half an hour talking about it and came to the conclusion that this was a bigger issue than taxes and the war in Iraq. Then one of the hideous dough boys wondered if the question had been on obesity, if it would have been appropriate for President Bush to bring up Elizabeth Edwards's "problems." I sure wish that all those moms and kids had heard that one.

I think this is simply the opportunistic opening salvo in a full-on character attack on John Kerry as a "hit below the belt" dirty campaigner. Typical GOP projection. In between will be more of the Rove patented ratfucking that they will pin on the Democrats.

At this point I don't think that Rove has anything too sophisticated up his sleeve. We are going to see simple, crude attacks on Kerry's character in the hopes that it will stimulate the neanderthals to vote and to swing a few simple minded undecideds.

And, of course, this is an innoculation against a Kerry win. They are setting it up to say he stole it.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Hell Froze Over


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. This week there was an issue that hit home with voters and forced the candidates to rethink their scripts. It even walked off with the political play of the week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER (voice-over): They're standing in line in Florida and Michigan, in New Jersey. The line goes around the block. Eager swing state residents lining up to vote? Not exactly. They're lining up for flu shots.

DR. CHARLES GONZALEZ, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: It's incredibly serious. We have half as much vaccine as we should have.

SCHNEIDER: How did that happen?

BUSH: We relied upon a company out of England to provide about half of the flu vaccines for the United States citizens.

SCHNEIDER: Uh-oh. Sounds like outsourcing. The president had a solution.

BUSH: We're working with Canada, hopefully they will produce a -- help us realize the vaccine necessary.

SCHNEIDER: But hasn't Bush expressed problems with drug imports from Canada?

BUSH: My worry is, it looks like it's from Canada, it might be from a third world. We have to make sure before somebody thinks they're buying a product, that it works.

SCHNEIDER: President Bush made a plea to the public.

BUSH: If you're healthy, if you're younger, don't get a flu shot this year.

SCHNEIDER: Sounds like rationing, something the president said would result from Kerry's health care plan.

BUSH: Government sponsored health care would lead to rationing.

SCHNEIDER: The government has the situation under control the president says.

BUSH: The CDC responsible for health in the United States is setting those priorities and allocating the flu vaccine accordingly.

SCHNEIDER: Isn't that government control?

BUSH: My opponent wants the government to run the health care.

SCHNEIDER: Maybe the answer is legal reform.

BUSH: Vaccine manufacturers are worried about getting sued, and so therefore they have backed off from providing this kind of vaccine.

SCHNEIDER: Kerry says the issue is the whole health care system.

KERRY: There still aren't enough flu vaccinations. What's the president's solution? He says, don't get one if you're healthy. That sounds just like his health care plan to me, hope and pray you don't get sick.

SCHNEIDER: The flu bug has infected the campaign. The side effect was the political play of the week.


SCHNEIDER: What President Bush warns could happen under the Kerry health care plan, shortages, rationing, that's exactly what is happening now. So the issue is whether the Kerry health care plan would solve the problem, or as Republicans charge, make it worse.

WOODRUFF: Is there any evidence yet how this issue is playing out politically? Do we see polls? Do we pick up what people are saying?

SCHNEIDER: We don't have any direct evidence that it's having a political impact yet. We know it is a very big issue on voters' minds. They're very dissatisfied with the fact that there is a shortage and frankly many are looking for somebody to blame. When the administration is the incumbent administration, they're likely to take some hits.

WOODRUFF: You know it's serious when you read that some states will fine or jail doctors and nurses who give flu shots to people who are not at high risk.

SCHNEIDER: Right, and that sounds a lot like rationing.

He's Naked And We're Sick Of Looking At It

Richard Cohen does it again:

For months now I've dropped bets on the presidential election like Hansel (of "Hansel and Gretel") dropped pebbles. For honor and money, I've wagered on George Bush, not because I wanted him to win but rather because I thought he would. Now I'm changing my mind. It's not the tightening polls that have done it -- I knew that would happen -- but rather something I could not have predicted. The president is missing.

The president I have in mind is the funny, good-natured regular guy I once saw on the campaign trail -- a man of surprisingly quick wit and just plain likeability. I contrasted this man to John Kerry, who is as light and as funny as a mud wall, and I thought, "There goes the election."

Where it has mattered most -- the three debates -- Bush has been wooden, ill at ease and downright spooky. He makes bad jokes, cackles at them in the manner of a cinematic serial killer and has lacked the warmth that he not only once had but that I thought would compensate for a disastrous presidency and give him a second -- God help us -- term. In short, he could take over the Bates Motel in an instant.

The missing president must be Richard Cohen's imaginary friend because the man I saw in the debates was absolutely no different than he has ever been.

He has always been an arrogant, cold, testy little asshole. It's just that people like Cohen built some image in their minds --- probably based upon some frat house fantasy that we don't even want to think about --- and they have foisted their little wetdream on us for the last four years.

Here is one of my favorite examples of Bush's warmth and likeability that Cohen believed in so fervently. Here you see the guy who really believes that the country would be a lot better off with a dictator --- as long as he's the dictator:

The American people must understand when I said that we need to be patient, that I meant it. And we're going to be there for a while. I don't know the exact moment when we leave, David, but it's not until the mission is complete. The world must know that this administration will not blink in the face of danger and will not tire when it comes to completing the missions that we said we would do. The world will learn that when the United States is harmed, we will follow through. The world will see that when we put a coalition together that says "Join us," I mean it. And when I ask others to participate, I mean it.

And when the world told him to stick it where the sun don't shine, they meant it too. Strangely, they didn't seem too impressed with his macho threats.

Go to the link and listen to the audio to get the full effect of this phony jerk lecturing the entire world about what they had to do. You'll see that the entire diatribe was spoken as if he were an angry father punishing his children. It was disgusting. And it was way back in 2001. It's not like this creepy, aggressive personality is anything new.

I don't consider myself to be any more persipicacious than others. I generally don't have superior insight into the hidden psychology of people I see on television. But, it has been clear to me and to millions of others that George W. Bush is a prick from the moment we laid eyes on him back in 2000 and nothing he has done since ever made me change my mind.

Richard Cohen, the emperor has no clothes you silly twit, and most of us have known it for a long, long time. In typical Democratic pundit fashion you waited until the very last minute to admit it. Very impressive performance as always.

Fighting The Narrative

Jonathan Chait has an interesting article in TNR in which he makes a good case that it's Kerry's to lose. He chalks it up to a better Democratic ground game and obvious Bush weakness.

But he says something at the end which I find kind of amusing:

The biggest mystery may be why most pundits haven't noted how bad things look for Bush right now. Maybe the reason is that he's built an aura of inevitability, starting with his 2000 victory and continuing through his legislative triumphs. The man just doesn't seem to lose very often. And his campaign firmly believes in projecting an air of confidence in the belief that it's self-fulfilling. (Remember Bush in late fall 2000, in an effort to show he was so confident that he could play for a landslide victory, devoting time and money to California?) The day before the 2000 election, a front-page headline in The Washington Times read, "Bush campaign says it's in the bag; Top strategist sees 320 votes." In retrospect, we now know that Bush's victory was not exactly inevitable. So maybe it's just hard to believe that Bush will lose, even if the data suggest he will.

Could Bush still win? Of course. I can think of three things that could intervene. First, Kerry is highly gaffe-prone. Roughly once a week he utters a statement--global test, terrorism as a nuisance--that plays right into his opponent's hands and forces him to explain himself. Any day, he could utter a gaffe big enough to change the dynamics of the campaign. Second, whenever the terrorism threat level rises, Bush's ratings go up. What are the odds we don't have an elevated threat between now and election day? Right--pretty slim. And third, a terrorist attack within the United States would probably cause a major rallying effect for Bush. On top of all that, there are limits to our predictive ability. Elections can't be forecast with perfect accuracy. It's possible that there are other important variables that we don't or can't know right now that could swing the race toward Bush. But what we do know says a lot, and what it says is that Kerry looks like a good bet to win.

With the exception of a terrorist attack, every single point that Chait makes is a result of a flaccid, ineffectual and in-the-tank news media.

Why does Bush have an "air of inevitability?" Why, it's because they have pretended in plain sight and the news media have either been too lazy or stupid to challenge it, despite the fact that in the paragraphs preceding this one, Chait just laid out a devastating case against Bush's electability. The fact that an incumbent wartime president is in this much trouble two weeks before the election is a powerful story that the media just can't be bothered to report. They are going to wake up on November 3rd scratching their heads and saying wtf because they aren't paying attention to what is really going on. And then they'll do it all again.

Furthermore, the idea that Kerry is "gaffe prone," at least in comparison to the most inarticulate president in the history of the United States, is ridiculous. It's not that Kerry is gaffe prone, it's that the media are addicted to snotty GOP talking points and the GOP is quite adept in knowing how to frame these little gaffes and scandals in ways that appeal to their puerile worldview. They play willingly into the GOP's hands by pimping stories they know very well are full of shit but thrill them in some way.

The terrorist alerts are a national joke and the mainstream media have done virtually no reporting on how this came to be. They behave as if these stupid color coded charts are some sort of third rail and as a result they have allowed the administration to manipulate the electorate over and over again. If they allow the administration to cry wolf again, they have no one to blame but themselves if it nobody pays attention and something horrible actually happens.

So, maybe it's true that it's Kerry's to lose. But he is forced to anticipate the moves of a very powerful and dishonest GOP machine (and likely controversial election result) and at the same time he has to battle the silliest and most ineffectual political media in the world in order to win. Talk about a challenge.

I think we'll do it anyway. But it's a testament to Kerry's skill as a politician, a great organization and more than half the country just getting sick and tired of this bullshit and coming out to vote. It really shouldn't be this hard.

The Falafel Factor

Just in case you'd like to send Bill O'Reilly a sandwich or a nice little gift.


I don't know how many of you are watching Crossfire, but Jon Stewart is on and he's making both Tuckie and Paul a tad uncomfortable.

They seem to be unaware that The Daily Show is a parody of the news and that its mission is to make fun of them. And that's because they are so insular and self-referential that they have no idea how the country really sees them.

They don't like it. Especially the Tuckster who is plainly wants to scratch his eyes out.

Stewart is trying to make the point that they are contributing to the dumbing down of the discourse by presenting this fake news, or political theatre, that they pretend is news. He isn't being funny and he isn't doing the usual celebrity circle jerk and they are finding it very discomfiting.


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Anybody Got A Problem With This?

Via Josh Marshall:

As we told you a few days ago, six Republican party staffers and campaign workers in South Dakota resigned over a burgeoning voter fraud scandal. Chief among them was Larry Russell, head of the South Dakota GOP's get-out-the-vote operation, the Republican Victory Program.

To date, no criminal charges have been filed. But the state Attorney General says the investigation is "continuing."

Today comes news, however, that Russell -- still under investigation in South Dakota -- has been reassigned to run President Bush's get-out-the-vote operation in Ohio. Russell will now "lead the ground operations" for Bush in Ohio, according to an internal Republican party memo obtained by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

And Russell's bringing along with him to Ohio three of the five other GOP staffers who had to resign in South Dakota and are similarly under investigation in that state.

I can see that they are going to try to overwhelm us with dirty tricks all over the country and make it difficult to concentrate on any single thing. It's clear that they are embarking on a concentrated battleground ratfucking effort on top of full-on voter intimidation combined with misdirection about vote fraud.

Is there anything to be done about this? Perhaps e-mailing the local media with the story and asking them to keep an eye on it? Maybe it's time for some push polling on our side. "Would you be more or less inclined to vote for president Bush if you knew that his campaign brought in suspected criminals from South Dakota to run his get out the vote effort in Ohio?"

Semen Found On Karl Rove's Tie!

Not really, but I thought it might get the mediawhores' attention. There is some news but it doesn't have anything to do with semen so it likely won't require the Republicans to answer unwanted questions during the waning days of the presidential campaign about the president's chief political strategist being called before a grand jury to testify in the matter of exposing an undercover CIA agent.

Still, you'd think Judy Blitzer and the gang might at least mention it...

Rove Testifies in CIA Leak Investigations

WASHINGTON - President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, testified Friday before a federal grand jury trying to determine who leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer.

Rove spent more than two hours testifying before the panel, according to an administration official who spoke only on condition of anonymity because such proceedings are secret.

Before testifying, Rove was interviewed at least once by investigators probing the leak. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell also have been interviewed, though none has appeared before the grand jury.

Try to imagine this circumstance happening in the Clinton, Gore or Kerry campaigns. Close your eyes and visualize the spitting, drooling GOP talking heads like Bay "of Pigs" Buchanan and Sean "pom pom boy" Hannity. Just think of what a thrilling final two weeks we'd have...

This seems like it might just be worth the Democrats making a bit of a fuss over. Bush's brain just spent two hours in front of the grand jury in a criminal matter. Today.

Family Values

Apparently, the kewl kidz in the press tent all "gasped" when Kerry used the word "lesbian" the other night. And like their emotional role models, Beavis and Butthead, the mere mention of any word they associate with sex excited them a little bit. Because it did, and the Bush campaign sensed it, it's become one of those faux outrage dances that the media and the Republicans perform so well together.

I just had the misfortune to see Mickey Kaus on Fox (playing the conservative, for once) discussing the Mary Cheney incident. He claims that Kerry and Edwards were making an "ugly" cynical outreach to homophobes. (The fact that gay people don't see it that way should be telling, but no matter.) According to Kaus it's clear that Kerry and Edwards are trying to pry the homophobes away from the Bush campaign.

This is such patent nonsense. If he outed Mary Cheney perhaps it would be worth a fuss, but the woman (who is 35 years old) has been out for years working explicitly on gay and lesbian issues. She's the third most famous lesbian in America, fergawdsake. If Kaus thinks that Kerry is hoping to pry the homophobes away from the Republican party by outing an already famous lesbian he needs to think a little bit about how that might work.

On the other hand, it is perfectly fair to out the personal hypocrisy within an admininstration that, at the behest of its bigoted base, wants to enshrine discrimination against gay people into the constitution yet are quite tolerant of homosexuality in their personal lives.

This isn't just a little game. It is a serious matter of equal rights under the constitution. And, the Cheneys' behavior can be directly compared to the type of behavior that used to be tolerated from white men like Strom Thurmond who agitated for decades for Jim Crow and discrimination against african americans while privately being quite fond of his african american daughter. That goes beyond hypocrisy. For any enlightened person, it is intellectually and emotionally incoherent.

We, as citizens, are not in a position to pass judgment on how people deal with such issues in their personal lives. But those like Thurmond and Cheney publicly promote laws that discriminate against selected people in our society and in their own families. That is such a counterintuitive concept to most Americans that it deserves to be exposed and openly discussed.

I can certainly understand that the Cheneys are uncomfortable with this situation and are trying mightily to distract public attention from the fact that they are behaving in an incomprehensible manner. In their case, it is very confusing because they not only seem to tolerate their daughter's orientation, they have welcomed her partner into the family on equal terms with other spouses and employ her in a public role in the campaign. It is not unreasonable to wonder how they square this with the Republican party's open hostility to gay people, even to the extent that the Log Cabin Republicans made a very public break with the party in this campaign. What led them, and her, to accept the ignominy of not appearing on the stage with the entire family at the GOP convention?

It's not surprising that Republicans would try to portray this as a Kerry campaign dirty trick, because it feels like that to them. The hypocrisy of the Cheneys is something they'd very much like to keep under wraps. And when they heard the gasp of arousal from the press corpse when Kerry said a "sex-word" they knew just what to do --- launch one of their faux outrage campaigns that would allow the media to talk about "dirty" things all day while expressing their shock and awe at how terrible the Democrats are for bringing it up. Republicans never lose by tickling the pre-adolescent libidos of the political media.

Cheney and his erotically imaginative better half are really the ones on the hot seat with this but have successfully spun the press these last couple of days. However, as a very stupid man once said, they can run but they can't hide. At some point, maybe not until they are on their deathbeds, they will have to face the fact that they betrayed their beloved daughter countless times by refusing to use their power for good and stand up for what they knew in their hearts to be right. It may not be on their gravestone, but that will be their true epitaph.

Guerilla Blogging

Check out all the Freeway Blogger pictures.

Good Work!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Inner Lives

Riffle found some rather surprising similarities between O'Reilly's alleged phone porn and a hot and steamy shower scene in his hot and steamy novel:

Here are some snippets of O'Reilly's [alleged] phone sex technique from the (real) lawsuit

O'Reilly: Well, if I took you down there I'd want to take a shower with you right away, that would be the first thing Id do... yeah, we'd check into the room, and we would order some room service and uh [....]

You would basically be in the shower and then I would come in and I'd join you and you would have your back to me and I would take that little loofa thing and kinda' soap up your back.. rub it all over you, get you to relax, hot water [....]

[....] and then with my other hand I would start to massage your boobs, get your nipples really hard ... 'cuz I like that and you have really spectacular boobs....

So anyway I'd be rubbing your big boobs and getting your nipples really hard, kinda kissing your neck from behind ....

And here's a bit from O'Reilly's novel, Those Who Trespass:

The spray felt great against her skin as she ducked her head underneath the nozzle. Closing her eyes she concentrated on the tingling sensation of water flowing against her body. Suddenly another sensation entered, Ashley felt two large hands wrap themselves around her breasts and hot breathe on the back of her neck. She opened her eyes wide and giggled, "I thought you drowned out there snorkel man."

Tommy O'Malley was naked and at attention. "Drowning is not an option", he said, "unless of course you beg me to perform unnatural acts – right here in this shower."

Who knew that Big Bill was so obsessed with erotic fantasy? (And, furthermore, who ever wanted to?)

Speaking of bodice ripping soft core fiction, considering the events of today, perhaps it's time to revisit Lynne Cheney's 1981 paeon to the love that dare not speak its name:

The women who embraced in the wagon were Adam and Eve crossing a dark cathedral stage -- no, Eve and Eve, loving one another as they would not be able to once they ate of the fruit and knew themselves as they truly were. She felt curiously moved, curiously envious of them. She had never to this moment thought Eden a particularly attractive paradise, based as it was on naiveté, but she saw that the women in the cart had a passionate, loving intimacy forever closed to her. How strong it made them. What comfort it gave.

The young woman was heavily powdered, but quite attractive, a curvesome creature, rounded at bosom and cheek. When she smiled, even her teeth seemed puffed and rounded, like tiny ivory pillows.

Let us go away together, away from the anger and imperatives of men. We shall find ourselves a secluded bower where they dare not venture. There will be only the two of us, and we shall linger through long afternoons of sweet retirement. In the evenings I shall read to you while you work your cross-stitch in the firelight. And then we shall go to bed, our bed, my dearest girl.

You can understand why a younger, lubricious Lynne would have fantasized about getting away from the "anger and imperatives of men" and write adolescent novels about lovely young women. She was, after all, married to Dick Cheney. Sadly, she seems to have lost that adventurous turn of mind and decided to become an angry hypocrite instead. Too bad. She might have been worth knowing once.

Mud Wrestler

Well now. Just as I was basking in the glow of three successful debates and a nice sense of momentum, I finally got to read this seminal article about Karl Rove in The Atlantic, by Joshua Green and I realized that I was being far too complacent. I urge you to read the whole piece. Rove is not a magician and he is not omnipotent. But he is ruthless, particularly when he's in a corner.

First of all, Rove's history in tight races is very instructive. He will play very, very dirty, particularly in the last couple of weeks, and he will use some tactics that are extremely difficult to counter in a short period of time.

One of his favorites seems to be to smear his own candidate in order to make his opponent look like a dirty trickster. This is, of course, where the Rove/CBS memo theory comes from. But, Rove usually does this sort of thing very late in the game, so I would suspect that we will see something new in the next week or so if it's going to happen.

The most instructive anecdote in the article is the one in which the race was so close that Rove insisted on a recount. It would sound very familiar except that in this case, his client was the challenger. This is likely to be a primer for what will happen if Kerry wins narrowly. Hooper was Rove's Republican client. Hornsby was the Democrat:

Judicial races that no one had expected to be competitive suddenly narrowed, and media attention—especially to Hooper's race after the "dialing for dollars" ad—became widespread. Then Rove turned up the heat. "There was a whole barrage of negative attacks that came in the last two weeks of our campaign," says Joe Perkins, who managed Hornsby's campaign along with those of the other Democrats Rove was working against. "In our polling I sensed a movement and warned our clients."

Newspaper coverage on November 9, the morning after the election, focused on the Republican Fob James's upset of the Democratic Governor Jim Folsom. But another drama was rapidly unfolding. In the race for chief justice, which had been neck and neck the evening before, Hooper awoke to discover himself trailing by 698 votes. Throughout the day ballots trickled in from remote corners of the state, until at last an unofficial tally showed that Rove's client had lost—by 304 votes. Hornsby's campaign declared victory.

Rove had other plans, and immediately moved for a recount. "Karl called the next morning," says a former Rove staffer. "He said, 'We came real close. You guys did a great job. But now we really need to rally around Perry Hooper. We've got a real good shot at this, but we need to win over the people of Alabama.'" Rove explained how this was to be done. "Our role was to try to keep people motivated about Perry Hooper's election," the staffer continued, "and then to undermine the other side's support by casting them as liars, cheaters, stealers, immoral—all of that." (Rove did not respond to requests for an interview for this article.)

The campaign quickly obtained a restraining order to preserve the ballots. Then the tactical battle began. Rather than focus on a handful of Republican counties that might yield extra votes, Rove dispatched campaign staffers and hired investigators to every county to observe the counting and turn up evidence of fraud. In one county a probate judge was discovered to have erroneously excluded 100 votes for Hooper. Voting machines in two others had failed to count all the returns. Mindful of public opinion, according to staffers, the campaign spread tales of poll watchers threatened with arrest; probate judges locking themselves in their offices and refusing to admit campaign workers; votes being cast in absentia for comatose nursing-home patients; and Democrats caught in a cemetery writing down the names of the dead in order to put them on absentee ballots.

As the recount progressed, the margin continued to narrow. Three days after the election Hooper held a press conference to drive home the idea that the election was being stolen. He declared, "We have endured lies in this campaign, but I'll be damned if I will accept outright thievery." The recount stretched on, and Hooper's campaign continued to chip away at Hornsby's lead. By November 21 one tally had it at nine votes.

The race came down to a dispute over absentee ballots. Hornsby's campaign fought to include approximately 2,000 late-arriving ballots that had been excluded because they weren't notarized or witnessed, as required by law. Also mindful of public relations, the Hornsby campaign brought forward a man who claimed that the absentee ballot of his son, overseas in the military, was in danger of being disallowed. The matter wound up in court. "The last marching order we had from Karl," says a former employee, "was 'Make sure you continue to talk this up. The only way we're going to be successful is if the Alabama public continues to care about it.'"

Initially, things looked grim for Hooper. A circuit-court judge ruled that the absentee ballots should be counted, reasoning that voters' intent was the issue, and that by merely signing them, those who had cast them had "substantially complied" with the law. Hooper's lawyers appealed to a federal court. By Thanksgiving his campaign believed he was ahead—but also believed that the disputed absentee ballots, from heavily Democratic counties, would cost him the election. The campaign went so far as to sue every probate judge, circuit clerk, and sheriff in the state, alleging discrimination. Hooper continued to hold rallies throughout it all. On his behalf the business community bought ads in newspapers across the state that said, "They steal elections they don't like." Public opinion began tilting toward him.

The recount stretched into the following year. On Inauguration Day both candidates appeared for the ceremonies. By March the all-Democratic Alabama Supreme Court had ordered that the absentee ballots be counted. By April the matter was before the Eleventh Federal Circuit Court. The byzantine legal maneuvering continued for months. In mid-October a federal appeals-court judge finally ruled that the ballots could not be counted, and ordered the secretary of state to certify Hooper as the winner—only to have Hornsby's legal team appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which temporarily stayed the case. By now the recount had dragged on for almost a year.

When I went to visit Hooper, not long ago, we sat in the parlor of his Montgomery home as he described the denouement of Karl Rove's closest race. "On the afternoon of October the nineteenth," Hooper recalled, "I was in the back yard planting five hundred pink sweet Williams in my wife's garden, and she hollered out the back door, 'Your secretary just called—the Supreme Court just made a ruling that you're the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court!'" In the final tally he had prevailed by just 262 votes. Hooper smiled broadly and handed me a large photo of his swearing-in ceremony the next day. "That Karl Rove was a very impressive fellow," he said.

I had read a bit about this race, but until now it really hadn't hit home that Karl Rove had single handedly orchestrated the Bush recount strategy in 2000.

This is going to be a very, very difficult couple of weeks and if we don't win decisively, it's likely to continue for quite a while. We cannot count on Republican shame to keep them from requesting hand counts or trying to block absentee ballots or behaving in any other hypocritical manner based upon their arguments in 2000. They have no shame and hypocrisy means nothing to them. So, we will have to be prepared to slug it out.

In the meantime, the blogosphere is going to have to help the media see what is happening when Rove launches his next slime attack. I suspect that the Mary Cheney brouhaha may be the first shot --- it doesn't make a lot of sense by itself, but perhaps as an introduction to a new character smear it might. Whatever it's going to be it has something to do with Kerry being cruel and unfeeling.

Keep your eyes and ears open for signs in the next few days. When the going gets tough --- and the going is certainly tough --- Rove always resorts to ratfucking. As Josh Marshall says,

It'll be like a 'where's Waldo' thing: Karl Rove Dirty Trick's Watch. (For examples, see the Green piece.) Who will be able to spot Karl's dirty tricks first? Who has the sharpest eye? Sit back in your seat. Get out the popcorn.

Boyz Klub

Blitzer is framing the O'Reilly story as a brave man fighting back against a greedy employee. Guess those guys have to stick together.

Still, I'm looking forward to hearing about the kicking and biting among the networks for first dibs on the tapes. Solidarity amongs millionaire TV stars only goes so far. Nothing personal, Billy boy. It's strictly business.

Live Long And Prosper

When did Mary Matalin decide to reveal herself as a Vulcan?

Slow Learner

James Wolcott gets to the nub of Bush's problem:

Now that the three debates belong to history, furnishing boring anecdotes from Michael Beschloss and Doris Kearns Goodwin for years to come, I'm struck by a single defining element that permeated each encounter: Bush's cavalier lack of preparation. Forget the cosmetics for a moment: the menagerie of mannerisms Bush displayed. He simply didn't come loaded with ammo. I assumed that he'd have some killer line at the ready, some surprise dug up from Kerry's record to spring, a practiced bit of eloquence that would lift the debate at a dramatic moment out of the recitation of facts and figures. He not only didn't have the eloquence, he barely had the facts and figures. For some bizarre reason best left to future psychologists, Bush doesn't seem to have approached these debates seriously. He refused to acknowledge he couldn't get by with simply rehashing his stump speech. When I saw on the news that Bush has prepared for this final debate by rehearsing during his spare moments on the campaign trail in Air Force One and the limo drives, I thought: that's now true preparation, that's lazy last-minute cramming.

Read the rest here.

And what's really galling is that he was not any better prepared in the debates in 2000, it's just that the giggling schoolgirls in the media were so delighted with the political wedgie they were collectively administering to Al Gore that they overwhelmed the coverage and created an alternate reality (that Gore unfortunately acted upon instead of ignored.)

The problem for Bush is that he's never really studied and in order to learn it is said that he prefers that concepts and ideas be presented to him because he doesn't like to read. On top of that he's an egomaniac who doesn't LIKE to be told what to do:

There is to be no scowling this time, George Bush's counselors told him, even if John Kerry attacks your mom. Campaign officials say it took Karen Hughes a good while to convince the Commander in Chief after the first presidential debate that he had looked irritated. "I was not irritated," he told her, irritated. "Sir, you were," she said. Hughes is one of the few who can tell the President what he might not want to hear and show him what he might not be able to see for himself.

If there is any further question as to why we are in a mess in Iraq, I think that should put it to rest. He doesn't study on his own, he learns by listening but refuses to hear bad news.

Memorizing Their Lines

The indispensible Eric Boehlert writes in Salon:

The media reaction: Ho-hum, just a Kerry sweep

For Kerry, it's a rather startling and completely unforeseen achievement, considering Bush entered the final stretch season with an unblemished career debate record and had been given high marks by the press for his debate message discipline and ability to connect with voters. Yet he went O for 3.

Despite the consistent polling results, most of the assembled television pundits Wednesday night considered the debate to be a draw and suggested it would, in the end, have little impact on Election Day. Again, it's hard to imagine that the media response would have been so reserved if it were Bush completing a debate sweep.

Ain't it the truth. When you think about it, it's an amazing achievement that Kerry has been able to sidestep the simpleminded media narrative that had the triumphant King Junior astride his destrier riding to a devastating victory over the weak and silly Democrat. Kerry refused to play along and the American people haven't been foolish enough to swallow it, thank Gawd.

But, the punditocrisy and the press corpse have not been willing to shake their preferred storyline, even in the face of an obvious digression to a totally new plot. Sadly, I don't think that even a Kerry victory is going to change this derisive, condescending attitude toward Democrats until we confront the media with it head on and force them to see us differently.

This campaign, with the emergence of a rugged indefatigable candidate and a large, active grassroots with a mighty fundraising arm may just be the first step in proving to these insular elites that Democrats are fed up with this phony characterization of us and we're going to be fighting it from now on. The media are going to have to face themselves, at least in part, because their audience is no longer a shouting mob on one side and an incredulous group of onlookers on the other. We are now engaged. And while we may believe in the virtues of tolerance and diversity and cooperation, it is a grave mistake to assume that makes us weak or passive.

We're schooling them in this election about that and we'll keep on doing it until they wake up to the fact that they've been duped by the Mighty Wurlitzer into writing a work of fiction that fewer and fewer people are willing to accept as fact.

Losin' It

As I'm watching the mini frenzy over the trumped up "Mary Cheney" controversy, I am struck by how much the GOP is off its game.

Think about it. The morning after the final debate, they trotted out the wife of the vice president to attack John Kerry for being too mean ---- about their gay daughter. What's the plan? Are they trying to make a mad dash to the middle by portraying the "most liberal member of the senate" as being intolerant toward gays? Or is this supposed to enrage and energize the base --- all of whom think that we should actually change the constitution to permanently discriminate against gay people. It's weird and unfocused. It's very hard for me to believe that they want to spend the day with the words "vice president's gay daughter" being repeated over and over again on television.

Meanwhile, while Lynn Cheney is performing the role of rabid attack dog, the only sight we've seen of Commander Codpiece the Warrior King (looking even more dazed and confused than ever) was a brief uncomfortable interview on Air Force One where John McCain gave his best streetwalker impression and some woman (didn't catch who she is) brought up Bush's worst moment in the debate in which he said that the answer to those who had lost their jobs was to improve elementary school standards. "That's just common sense" she said.

These guys are way off message.

Right Wing Victimization Watch

Lynn Cheney is all over the TV saying "as a mom" that Kerry used a "cheap and tawdry political trick" by mentioning her gay daughter. "He's not a good man," she says.

Suburban Guerilla reminds us of another politician using Cheney's daughter as a --- cheap and tawdry political trick:

"Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue that our family is very familiar with. ... With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be able to free -- ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to."

Remember Schieffer's question?

Both of you are opposed to gay marriage. But to understand how you have come to that conclusion, I want to ask you a more basic question. Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?

Shocking for Kerry to bring up Cheney's daughter in that context, eh? As Andrew Sullivan says this morning:

I keep getting emails asserting that Kerry's mentioning of Mary Cheney is somehow offensive or gratuitous or a "low blow". Huh? Mary Cheney is out of the closet and a member, with her partner, of the vice-president's family. That's a public fact. No one's privacy is being invaded by mentioning this. When Kerry cites Bush's wife or daughters, no one says it's a "low blow." The double standards are entirely a function of people's lingering prejudice against gay people. And by mentioning it, Kerry showed something important. This issue is not an abstract one. It's a concrete, human and real one. It affects many families, and Bush has decided to use this cynically as a divisive weapon in an election campaign. He deserves to be held to account for this - and how much more effective than showing a real person whose relationship and dignity he has attacked and minimized? Does this makes Bush's base uncomfortable? Well, good. It's about time they were made uncomfortable in their acquiescence to discrimination. Does it make Bush uncomfortable? Even better. His decision to bar gay couples from having any protections for their relationships in the constitution is not just a direct attack on the family member of the vice-president. It's an attack on all families with gay members - and on the family as an institution. That's a central issue in this campaign, a key indictment of Bush's record and more than relevant to any debate. For four years, this president has tried to make gay people invisible, to avoid any mention of us, to pretend we don't exist. Well, we do. Right in front of him.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The General And The Sissy

I don't know if anyone saw Wes Clark "interviewed" by Sean Hannity just now, but it almost came to blows. Riveting exchange as Clark called Bush a cheerleader and Hannity said Kerry was a war criminal.

Hannity tried to say that Kerry voted against all the weapons systems and that Saddam would still be a threat if he had been president and all the usual blather and Clark was having none of it. Hannity was all red faced and stomping his tiny feet and on the verge of tears.

The control room had to step in and cut it off. Brilliant. I love Wes Clark.

Zen Master

Kos called Kerry that tonight and I think it's true. The guy just has a sense of inner confidence and centeredness that is very reassuring. He is a mature, fully realized human being. I think that peopole had forgotten that this is something we can expect in our leaders. It's with a strong sense of relief that I watch him in action and see him prevail.

I would bet that by Friday the conventional wisdom will be that Kerry won all three debates. And the CW, for once, will be right.

The next two weeks are going to be a wild ride, but the wind is at our backs.

I think it's time for Democrats to start giving our man Kerry a little bit of credit. He's a very impressive politician and a very impressive man. Cool under fire, smart as a whip and hard as nails. Some months back I wrote that Kerry has been fighting the right since he was a very young man and may be the best qualified man in America for these times. I think I was right. He's the right man at the right time to set this country back on course. I'm proud to be voting for him.

For the first time since 9/11, I am feeling a little bit zenlike myself. We're going to win.

Update: The soundbite and clip is Bush saying he doesn't care about catching bin Laden. It couldn't be better for us.

He was, I think, on the side, maybe with his pompoms?

No, he had a great big megaphone:

And cheerleading was serious business for Junior. It's the one thing he is trained for and the only thing he's ever been good at:

Paging William Bennett. Outrage Is Dyin' Over Here

We stand for a culture of responsibility in America. This culture of our country is changing from one that has said, if it feels good do it, and if you've got a problem blame somebody else, to a culture in which each of understands we're responsible for the decisions we make in life. George W. Bush August 10, 2004

A middle aged Democrat had a consensual affair with a young female employee.

A middle aged Republican crudely groped and humiliated numerous women for over twenty years on movie sets.

A middle aged radio superstar Republican bought hard drugs on the black market and threatened his housekeeper if she fails to help him score.

A middle aged TV gasbag Republican grossly sexually harrassed an employee and theatened her with terrible retaliation if she spoke up.

Which of these middle aged men was vilified, derided and degraded as an immoral misogynist who had soiled the very fabric of America?

Man, is this a great country to be a Republican or what? Par-tay down, Dough Boyz! Anything Goes!!! IOKYAR, baby!!!

Accidental Radical

Nicolas Lemann's article about Bush in this week's New Yorker is a must read for any number of reasons. (No More Mister Nice Blog highlights perfect illustrations of his adolescent bloodlust and his perfidious backstabbing, just to name two.)

I thought what was most interesting, however, is that Lemann seems to have concluded that Bush himself was a radical who persuaded Cheney and the other "grown-ups" that he was serious about governing in the most ideological way possible:

Clay Johnson ... [said] Bush had begun the Vice-Presidential selection process by offering the nomination to Cheney. "The now Vice-President declined the option, but did agree to head up the search committee," Johnson said. "And then came back some months later and said that in fact he’d changed his mind and he would be willing to run --- to be the President’s running mate." Johnson said he had a hunch about what had changed: "Lynne Cheney told some mutual friends of ours that she and Dick decided that in fact they did want to join the Bush ticket, because they came to really like George and Laura, and the Vice-President came to realize that the President wanted to come up here to really make a difference. He was not going to try to play it safe. Not try to extend an easy, moderately successful four years into an easy, moderately successful eight years. He was going to try to come up here and make dramatic changes to the issues he thought needed to be addressed. And the Vice-President got very, very energized and excited about doing that. And so now we have Dick Cheney as Vice-President."

In other words, the team that most people thought of as being made up of a moderate, conciliatory, relatively unambitious Presidential candidate and his bland, self-effacing, government technician of a running mate had thrown in together on the basis of a mutual decision to govern in pursuit of radical change. And they have done that.

Lemann goes on to predict that if Bush wins there is absolutely no reason to believe that he will be cowed by his failures or the impending disasters that await at every turn, but rather will use his power to enact the most sweeping revolutionary agenda in modern history --- including the privatization of social security. He shows that in this way, Bush is predictable. When it comes to the most radical elements of the conservative agenda --- creating a permanent GOP powerbase, foreign policy neoconservatism, tax cuts for the wealthy and starving the entitlement programs out of existence, he is perfectly serious. Bush has moved to the middle only as a feint to either buy time, appease certain constituencies or to placate a powerful insider like Powell (or maybe his father's inner circle.) But, at heart, he is as rigidly ideological as a Norquist or Gingrich and even more determined to follow through.

Lemann knows all these people and has met Bush, so it's probably wrong to second guess his interpretation. However, I find it very hard to believe that anecdote Clay Johnson tells about Lynn and Dick joining up to aid the cause, at least with respect to one important detail. I don't doubt that Cheney didn't particularly want to be involved in Bush II. Bush I was an ignominious failure for the true believers and he had no reason to believe that the sequel would be any better. But, I can't help but be a little bit skeptical that the Cheneys were so impressed by Junior's grand strategic vision and ideological committment to the cause that they couldn't help but sign on.

What they realized was that Junior was easily manipulated with flattery and appeals to his manly prowess in contrast to his father and they could successfully push him to enact their grand strategic vision. Seriously, George W. Bush was barely a fully formed adult in 2000 --- it is simply not believable that he was merely pretending to be this amiable doofus while hiding his secret plans to change American politics and the world.

None of that makes any difference in the results, however. They were able to persuade Bush to adopt their radical agenda without missing even a beat. Their most difficult challenge was dealing with institutional resistence from much of the governement (and even the GOP establishment) which was weak and ineffectual but still managed to muddy Bush's image as a CEO manager over time. And, of course, the abject failure of policies that have Bush in a perilous re-election fight that should have been easy after the gift (a trifecta!) of 9/11.

Like Atrios, I believe that there is absolutely no reason to buy the nonsense that the "good" Republicans are going to step up in the next term and make sure that Junior's little cabal is stripped of its power. They couldn't if they wanted to and I'm not sure they do. Junior has never shown even the slightest indication that he's displeased with his radical "achievments." Indeed, if he wins, he will perceive it as a sweeping mandate and validation of all he's done. That's how he thinks.

Let's hope that John Kerry will be able to penetrate Bush's folksy facade one more time tonight and reveal the abstruse radicalism of his powerful advisory cabal's true agenda. On these domestic issues, if people knew what they were truly planning, Bush would drop in the polls like a stone.

Brave Men

I don't know if everybody has seen this ad, but it's devastating. I was with a group of people when it came on a few minutes ago and it silenced the room.

Here's the rundown from Salon:

It's the obvious political ad that has just been waiting to be made -- a young Iraq war veteran, missing a body part, talking simply and directly to the camera about the sacrifice he made in the service of official lies. The idea didn't come from the Democratic Party, or MoveOn.org, or the Kerry campaign.

The new ad is the creation of a group of Iraq war veterans, most in their 20s, operating on a shoestring budget. Their organization, Operation Truth, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group of 150 members, is dedicated to elevating the perspective of soldiers and holding elected officials accountable for their policy decisions.

"I was called to serve in Iraq because the government said there were weapons of mass destruction -- but they weren't there," Spc. Robert Acosta, 21, who was an ammunitions specialist with the 1st Armored Division in Iraq, says in the thought-provoking ad. "They said Iraq had something to do with 9/11 -- but the connection wasn't there ... So when people ask me where my arm went, I try to find the words, but they're not there." The ad ends with a shot of Acosta removing his prosthesis, revealing a stub where his right hand should be.

If you have any left, send these guys some money. They are the bravest group of young people in America --- for what they are facing physically and for having the cojones to speak out politically. It's never easy for soldiers to face the truth when their government lies to them.


Sherwood Like To See Some Results

Kevin at Catch the earliest muckraker on the "Stolen Honor" ratfuck way last summer, notes a delicious little tid-bit on Carlton Sherwood, the king of protester-porno.

Everyone knows by now that he was tapped to run the government web-site firstresponder.com. What's interesting is that it is now seven months behind schedule. Maybe Carlton needs to concentrate on his day job for a while and put a hold on his dirty tricks fantasy life. Millions are being wasted. As Kevin says:

Apologies to the first responders (read: heros) for the delay (homeland security can wait, you whiners)

I know it's not as important as "travelgate," when Brit Hume and his pals fell into the vapors for months proclaiming that cronyism in the white house travel office was just short of satanic, but this still might deserve a tiny bit of attention.

Take a look at the web site. These are your tax dollars at work, folks.

I Won't Be Ignoooored, Charlie

According to Wolf Blitzer, that bastard John Kerry was "really, really nasty" to poor little Junior in last week's debate which is why he was so "anxious to respond."

Media Matters reports that Blitzer asked Schieffer what he planned to do if Kerry pulled such a stunt again.

Here's the really, really nasty debate exchange:

KERRY: Now, I'm going to add 40,000 active-duty forces to the military, and I'm going to make people feel good about being safe in our military, and not overextended, because I'm going to run a foreign policy that actually does what President Reagan did, President Eisenhower did, and others. We're going to build alliances. We're not going to go unilaterally. We're not going to go alone like this president did.

GIBSON: Mr. President, let's extend for a minute --

BUSH: Let me just -- I've got to answer this.

GIBSON: Exactly. And with reservists being held on duty --


BUSH: Let me answer what he just said, about around the world.

GIBSON: Well, I want to get into the issue of the back-door draft --

BUSH: You tell Tony Blair we're going alone. Tell Tony Blair we're going alone. Tell Silvio Berlusconi we're going alone. Tell Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland we're going alone. There are 30 countries there. It denigrates an alliance to say we're going alone, to discount their sacrifices. You cannot lead an alliance if you say, you know, you're going alone. And people listen. They're sacrificing with us.

My goodness, the Cheerleader in Chief is awfully sensitive if he thinks that saying he "went it alone" is "really, really nasty." This, from John Edwards on The Tonight Show last night ought to send him into a complete tizzy:

"I run, I played a little football when I was in school. And the president, I think, was there at those football games too. He was, I think, on the side, maybe with his pompoms? Can you run fast with those cheerleading outfits on?"

Bada Bing.

As this piece in Rolling Stone pointed out, somebody has a very thin skin and somebody else is fully aware of it.

Talking In His Sleep?

Haaretz reports, "high-level terrorism suspects are being held in a top-secret detention facility in Jordan." Bush had been so concerned about keeping their location a secret, he told the CIA not to tell him where they were.

No wonder he doesn't know what's going on. Evidently, he can't trust himself not to blurt out top secret information.

Via The Progress Report

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Question No Reporter Dares Ask

Racicot, Mehlman, Eskew, Dyke, Bartlett:
We've always said it was going to be a close race.

Reporter With Balls:
Why is that, Mark, Tucker, Jim? President Bush had a ninety percent approval rating just a year and a half ago and you say the country still favors his policies. The president can't think of any decisions he might have made differently. Yet, today he is fighting for his political life. What happened? Why did the president fall so far in the polls and why is he having such a hard time putting this one away?

All In The Family

Via Atrios I see that Raw Story found another connection between Sinclair and the Bush administration --- a neat little company named Jadoo, that makes fuel cells and recently got a nice contract in the WOT.

It turns out that Jadoo has a close connection with another of Bush's close coporate friends --- Enron:

It wasn't long ago that Jadoo—which gets its name from the Hindi word for magic—was doing business in a three-car garage next to a chicken coop outside Sacramento. Jadoo's president, Larry Bawden, 45, learned about fuel-cell technology at Aerojet, based in Sacramento, where he worked as director of fuel-cell products. In 1995, Aerojet sold off his unit, and Bawden left with a golden parachute. Embarking on an around-the-world boat trip with his wife, he got as far as Australia before some former colleagues called. They persuaded him to return to become a vice president at a fuel-cell company they were starting called PowerTek. They'd soon lined up a huge customer—the energy giant Enron—but unfortunately it was about to collapse.

Good timing is everything in business. And fortunately for Bawden and two other colleagues at PowerTek, their point person at Enron, Jon [sic] Berger, was ready for a career move. They recruited him to join them in launching Jadoo in November 2001, just as he was starting at Harvard. After helping them write a business plan, Berger asked a classmate to critique it. The student was impressed enough to invest $200,000. The co-founders and four other employees put in more than $100,000. In the meantime Berger began approaching East Coast investors.

It didn't take long for Jadoo to attract interest from some major players. Among them was Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which owns 62 local news stations in the U.S.; it was the lead investor in a $5 million round of financing last year. But Jadoo's biggest coup came after President George W. Bush touted hydrogen as an alternative to foreign oil in his State of the Union speech last January. Jadoo, which had just released its first product—a long-lasting battery for the surveillance industry—was one of 22 fuel-cell companies invited to Washington to make a presentation to the White House. The others included giants like Ford and Motorola. Afterward, Jadoo was one of only seven firms invited to give one-on-one presentations to the President. The startup got some unexpected free publicity when Bush held a TV camera using one of Jadoo's lightweight fuel cells on his shoulder as media photographers captured the moment. Jadoo plans to begin selling such batteries to the broadcast market early next year.

Unexpected free publicity huh? Right.

And that fresh-faced kid Berger, the partner from Enron? Get a load of this:

Mr. Berger has over eight years of experience in the energy industry, during which he managed energy trading books for Enron Corporation and initiated development of the new Enron Premium Power Division. As a Manager, he made the previously unprofitable southeast short term trading operation for the Enron East Power Trading Division profitable by approximately $30 million over a two year period. Under his management, the southeast short term trading operation successfully administered the largest long-term customer deal in the industry, and increased the average daily volume in the southeast trading hub by ten times the former volume. Mr. Berger also managed the Enron Hourly Trading Desk, and operated a utility system in the southeastern United States. At Enron Energy Services he led and developed Enron's corporate strategy for new energy technologies and energy reliability financial products. In addition, Mr. Berger spearheaded development, investment, and partnership opportunities in fuel cell technologies.

During 2002 and 2003, Mr. Berger served as an advisor to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission where he drafted governance guidelines for the Regional Transmission Organizations and served as an advisor to the drafters of the Standard Market Design regulatory document that is currently before the United States Congress. He also advised the Commission on distributed generation, demand response, information gathering and application issues, investigations, and trade clearing/credit issues in the North American energy markets.

He's one of the assholes who worked in the "screwing Aunt Millie" Enron business, albeit in the southeast. And they immediately hired him to work on the FERC. Unbelievable.

He's quite the operator. When he was a Harvard, and also an executive with Jadoo, he organized the first Harvard Business School Energy Symposium. And waddaya know, guess who he invited?

Speaker Name: Larry Bawden
Speaker Title: CEO
Affiliation: Jadoo Power Systems

As the legend grew, Berger's "business plan" for Jadoo so impressed an unnamed classmate that he and some of his friends invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the company. (If the business plan said that one of the principles was an insider Bushie on the FERC and they could guarantee five million coming from a staunch Bush supporter plus a personal audience with the president, I'd take that bet too.) And the next thing you know, Bush is on television personally demonstrating the product and they have a nice fat contract with the DOD. Sweet.

What a cozy little circle jerk.

Update: Sid's Fishbowl has the same story.

Dial It In

Kos has created a great database of Sinclair affiliate information so that you can conveniently call and write your local station and its advertisers. It's best is you are actually a local to make an impact on local businesses. Kos also has a convenient list of natinal advertisers for all of us to contact.

I would suggest calling instead of writing, although a snail mail letter is very powerful too. To that end I've prepared a couple of introductory talking points to get you started if you aren't comfortable with doing stuff like this.

First, don't get mad. These people are very far away from the corporate decision and it serves no purpose to take out our anger on them. Tell them what you think and what you plan to do. Don't get bogged down in talking about your feelings or how upset you are by this. Make sure you mention that you will not buy their product or patronize their business if they support this thing and tell them that you are planning to talk about this with others to spread the word.

Calling the station managers and telling them that you are going to call advertisers is a good first step. I imagine that they are no longer talking calls today, but you can leave a message. Then call your local advertisers and tell them what you think. Use words like "controversy", "cheating", "unfair","unbusinesslike", "scam", "fraud" --- words with which businesses don't like to be associated.

Stay calm and make your case. These businesses don't want to deal with this crap and there's no reason to preemptively punish them for the acts of Sinclair. Speak more in sorrow than in anger "that it's come to this."

Here are a few phrases you might find will help you get started. Write in more in the comments section if you think of them and I'll pick the best ones and put them up too.

Sales managers:

Broadcast television stations have a unique responsibility to be guardians of the democratic process. You will not watch, nor will you patronize businesses that do not respect the rules and the law when it comes to fairness in elections.

You are going to call local advertisers and tell them that as long as they support this station's controversial intention of showing a political advertisement as news, you are not going to buy their product or patronize their business. Sinclair is cheating and you don't think that's fair. This is too important.

Corporate headquarters coming in and telling local news departments what they have to call news is just wrong. You are going to tell the local advertisers how you feel about that too. Local communities should have a say in what is shown on their own television stations. This is a scam on the good people of ____.

Local advertisers:

You don't care who somebody plans to vote for, but you think it's cheating for stations to run controversial political advertisements for one candidate and call it news.

You won't be able to support businesses that fund this kind of fraudulent and unbalanced partisanship.

After 2000, you realize that every vote counts and you think that elections are important enough to get involved with. You have a lot of friends who think the same way. This is something you feel strongly enough about to change your shopping habits over. This is unbusinesslike behavior and you don't think you can trust people who are so partisan.

You think that local communities letting corporations from out of state come in and tell local stations what they have to run us just wrong and you can't support that.

Josh Marshall says that station affiliates are asking callers to call Sinclair headquarters instead of advertisers.

Nice try, but we're not Republicans.

Pouty Press Tarts

Atrios has posted an excerpt from this article in which McCurry discusses Bush's obvious insecurity, an observation with which I concur. Everything about the man oozes insecurity and immaturity, always has.

This same article contains an interesting observation about the press corpse which I also think deserves some analysis:

In late september, i spent a week on the Kerry plane. Unlike the 2000 Bush plane, which became notorious for its party atmosphere -- margaritas flowed at the end of the day and affairs among the press corps were widely rumored -- the feeling on the Kerry plane is professional and businesslike. It soon became apparent that many members of Kerry's traveling press make no attempt to hide their open dislike of the candidate. The morning after Kerry had addressed the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gala on the evening of September 15th, two members of the press corps were talking on a campaign bus. "That event was stupid," one said, referring to the previous night's occasion -- one of the largest Hispanic galas of its type. "A waste of time," the other said.

Other reporters were just as dismissive. Kerry had gotten a series of impassioned standing ovations during his speech. But when Elisabeth Bumiller described the event in the New York Times, she said, referring to a moment when Kerry spoke an entire paragraph in flawless Spanish, "Kerry's audience . . . listened in startled silence, then broke out into cheers and applause when he made his way through [the paragraph]."

But to report on these events accurately would mean you had to say something unqualified and positive about Kerry. This is something his traveling press corps has been -- and still is -- loath to do. On the evening of September 21st, outside an auditorium in Orlando, where inside more than 7,500 people were screaming wildly as Kerry spoke, Candy Crowley stood next to the venue and reported on CNN that Kerry was "trying . . . to rev up the crowd." The implication was unmistakable: Kerry's supporters in Florida were resistant, even standoffish. Just to make sure Crowley was able to get away with downplaying the event as she was, CNN never showed a wide shot of the large, cheering crowd.

As a result of the media bias against Kerry, there is an unmistakable disconnect between what you see on the trail when you travel with him and the way he is depicted in the media. On Mike McCurry's first trips on the plane, the Thursday and Friday after Labor Day, he immediately identified the animosity that existed between Kerry and the press corps. Specifically, the traveling press were mad because Kerry had not given a press conference since August 9th, five days into the SBVT controversy. McCurry realized he needed to fix the problem at once.

But, that can't be it. Bush never gives press conferences and he treats reporters like shit, yet the press has been fawning toward him since 2000. Why is it that the press corpse persists in treating Democratic candidates this way?

I don't think it's political. I think it's an institutional habit of mind that they are too lazy or too self-absorbed to challenge. "The Democrat" is an object of derision and mistrust, no matter who he or she is. Like so many others in this country, the media have absorbed and internalized the right wing propaganda about the Democratic Party and their subconscious attitudes and behaviors are a reflection of that. It's not an ideological or even a political bias. It's a personal bias born of right wing cant. Reporters need to take a good hard look at themselves and recognize that they've been spun in the worst way possible and they need to unwind themselves from the bullshit.

It is quite a testament to Kerry's political acumen and Bush's ineptitude that we have managed to stay so close in the last two elections considering this pervasive media bias against Democratic politicians.

Kos discusses today the necessity of keeping up the fight even after we win this November --- it's a long slog, as Rummy memorably said. Trying to unspin the press from their toxic habits of mind is part of that process.