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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

It's Irresponsible Not To

WOODRUFF: As we reported a little while ago in our blog segment, the Internet is abuzz with reaction to comments by New York Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey. The congressman over the weekend shared his views about the now disputed CBS News report about President Bush's Air National Guard service. Representative Maurice Hinchey is with me now, he joins us from Albany, New York.

Congressman Hinchey, what exactly did you say on Saturday at this town meeting in Ithaca?

REP. MAURICE HINCHEY (D), NEW YORK: Well, Judy, what I said came in response to a question from one of my constituents. There were about 100 people there. And they asked some questions about media manipulation. They were concerned about the issue of Armstrong Williams, for example, people being hired by this administration to pretend that they were giving objective news and information but were really putting forth the point of view of the administration rather than doing it objectively. And also the issue with Mr. Gannon, who was admitted to the White House press corps but who was not a legitimate press person, and was there just to throw softballs to the president.

And then the issue of the CBS Dan Rather event came up, and I said that there were false documents or documents which were falsified and presented as being accurate and there was a question as to where those documents came from. And in the context of the discussion I suggested that -- my theory was that I wouldn't be surprised if it came from the White House political operation, headed up by Karl Rove.

WOODRUFF: Well, I'm reading here a transcript of what you said, you said: "I have my own beliefs about how that happened. It originated with Karl Rove in my belief in the White House." What do you know that you base that on?

HINCHEY: Well, I think there's a great deal of circumstantial information and factual information. Mr. Rove, for example, has been involved in a host of political dirty tricks that are traceable back -- all the way back to the 1970s, '80s, '90s, right on up to the present. The way in which he treated Senator McCain, for example, in the context of the 2000 election.

So it doesn't take an awful lot of imagination if you're thinking about who it is that might have produced these false documents to try to mislead people in this very cynical way. It would take someone very brilliant, very cynical, very Machiavellian, and it doesn't take a lot of imagination to come up with the name of Karl Rove as a possibility of having done that.

WOODRUFF: But, at this point, it is just imagination, is that correct?

HINCHEY: It's a possibility, yes. It's a possibility based upon circumstantial evidence and the history of his behavior over the course of several decades. WOODRUFF: Well, you know, there was an independent panel that CBS asked to look into this -- you know, to look into how CBS got these documents, what went wrong with the story that appears on "60 MINUTES." They were not able to conclude where these documents came from. They said, finally, they weren't even able to determine whether these documents were authentic or whether they were forged. So my question is, how are you in a position to know more than they or others who have investigated this now?

HINCHEY: Well, Judy, no one has come to any conclusions and that's the unfortunate thing. We need to get to the bottom of this. We need to get to the bottom of the whole business of manipulating the media that has gone on in the context of this administration.

I think that that's critically important. The essence of this democracy is really at stake. If people sitting back in their living rooms can't rely upon the information they're getting over the news channel or over the radio, then very important aspects of this Democratic system become eroded.

So, we need to get to the bottom of it, that's the point here. I'm quite surprised, frankly, that this has gotten all the attention that it has, but in a way I'm grateful that it has because it's important for us to be concerned about these things. Manipulating the media in this kind of a cynical way is antithetical to what we stand for as a nation, we need to find out who did it.

WOODRUFF: But some would say, listening to what you said and hearing your acknowledgment that you don't have any proof, that it's irresponsible or -- let me ask you, do you think it's responsible for you to say this without evidence?

HINCHEY: I think it's very responsible of me to speculate about where this manipulation is coming from. Yes. I think it's important to speculate about it, I think it's important to discuss it and I think it's important to try to stimulate the investigative agencies to look into this.

Unfortunately, the Congress is not doing its job. There are -- this is something that ought to be investigated by the Congress of the United States. But this Congress is not doing its job. It's not standing up for the American people the way it should. And, as a consequence, there is a certain amount of frustration out there and that frustration was voiced by the people who attended the meeting that I held last Saturday.

WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there, Congressman Maurice Hinchey. And again, we did try to reach the White House to get their comment on all of this, we were not able to get a comment from them.

As Peggy Noonan so memorably wrote about the "little Elian" drama:

Was Mr. Clinton being blackmailed? The Starr report tells us of what the president said to Monica Lewinsky about their telephone sex: that there was reason to believe that they were monitored by a foreign intelligence service. Naturally the service would have taped the calls, to use in the blackmail of the president. Maybe it was Mr. Castro’s intelligence service, or that of a Castro friend.

Is it irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to.

We're playing by Clinton rules now. Sit back and enjoy it, fellas.


Monday, February 21, 2005

Swiftboat Liars Part II

I've been awfully impressed today with how the cosmopolitan MSM believes that the Preznit has been shown in these tapes to be such a truly decent guy on the gay rights issue.(Oooh. And he smoked pot, too!)

William Kristol on Fox news posited that he thought it must have been a Rove operation because it is so favorable to the president. The roundtable giggled and smirked delightedly.

One wonders what our tolerant moderate president will have to say about what his Swift Boat Scumbag friends are doing:

Look for the administration to launch into its Butterfly McQueen routine any day now, bemoaning these independent groups over which they have no control.

But, elderly people aren't stupid. What in the world does the AARP have to do with Iraq and gay marriage? It seems to me that they've got all the Dear Leader cultists on board already. Is there an additional group of elderly people out there who can be convinced that social security should be privatized or gay's will be allowed to marry? This seems like a reach.

One thing is crystal clear. If any of the fainthearted faction think that they will be able to buy a permanent get out of jail free card from the Republicans they are idiots. The AARP sold their members down the river with that ridiculous drug company giveaway last year and look what it bought them. Gay bashing and treason. There is ZERO margin in cooperation.

Our old friend hesiod reminded me by e-mail today that the man spearheading this son of swiftboat smear, Charles Jarvis, quit Gary Bauer's campaign because Bauer was allegedly behaving in a way that gave the appearance of impropriety. Gary Bauer.

The core idea of this rumor campaign is that I have violated the vows I made to my wife 27 years ago," Bauer said. "These rumors and character assassination are disgusting, outrageous, evil and sick. They are trash-can politics at its worst. . . . I have not violated my vows."

Bill Dal Col, Forbes's manager, denied the suggestion that the Forbes campaign was spreading rumors and said he would fire anyone who promoted allegations of sexual impropriety.

Instead of putting the issue to rest, Bauer's news conference prompted Jarvis and McDonald to go public with their concerns. In addition, sources said the boards of two organizations with strong ties to Bauer, the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, both warned the candidate that he should stop having extended closed-door meetings with his staff member and should not travel alone with her.


"As a pro-family and pro-life leader, Gary is held to a higher standard. Meeting hour after hour alone [with the deputy manager], as a married man, candidate and as a pro-family pro-life leader, he has no business creating that kind of appearance of impropriety," Jarvis said in a telephone interview.

Jarvis doesn't seem to have a problem with gay hookers plastering their naked erections all over the internet and hanging out in the white house with god knows who, though, does he? Apparently, that doesn't create the appearance of impropriety at all.

It is long past time that somebody got Bauer and Dobson on the record about this.

Poisonous Fruit

It is no wonder that the media thinks bloggers are a threat. When you hear TIME magazine's "Blogger of the year" Hinderocket say things like this you can't blame them:

By "the left" I'm including almost the entire Democratic Party, you can count the exceptions on your fingers, you can name them, Zell Miller, Joe Lieberman...The whole mainstream of the party is engaged in an effort that is a betrayal of America, what they care about is not winning the war on terror...I don't think they care about the danger to us as Americans or the danger to people in other countries. They care about power.

Via Kos, here's the video of the very calm and reasonable sounding Hinderocket speaking the words of a paranoid totalitarian. It's quite chilling.

I do not think that the majority of Republicans have partaken of this poisonous fruit. They do not believe that the Democratic Party is "engaged in an effort that is a betrayal of America." Clearly, they do not think this in the US Congress, even though the comity that once reigned has been snuffed. They know that the people they see every day are not traitors even if they hate their politics. They understand that the Democratic party disagrees with the Republicans as a matter of policy and philosophy but that we are all Americans and under the constitution dissent is protected in order to have a thriving, open democracy.

But the right wing echo chamber is increasingly made up of voices that sound both this "reasonable" and this crazy. The more people listen to talk radio and watch FoxNews and read wingnut blogs exclusively the more they are going to see the world this way. It's extremely dangerous.

What continues to fascinate me is that this sense of frustration seems to be growing despite the fact that the Democrats have less power than they've ever had before. TBOGG links to Hinderocket responding to a home state blogger's rather benign questioning on the Gannon matter with this:

You dumb shit, he didn't get access using a fake name, he used his real name. You lefties' concern for White House security is really touching, but you know what, you stupid asshole, I think the Secret Service has it covered. Go crawl back into your hole, you stupid left-wing shithead. And don't bother us anymore. You have to have an IQ over 50 to correspond with us. You don't qualify, you stupid shit.

Like I said before, there is something very strange going on in rightwingland. The more power they have the madder they get. Any psychologists out there care to weigh in on this strange psychosis?

Update: Orcinus has the definitive response to Powerline's silly notion that Jimmy Carter is "on the other side."

I don't mean to harp on this stuff, but I think that blogs need to publicize the fact that some of these alleged "mainstream" bloggers on the right are quite far out on the fringe. They will respond furiously that Atrios and Kos and others are America haters or "barking moonbats" but their own words speak for themselves. It's important that people see them, especially the mainstream media who are just beginnning to pay attention. They need to understand that Powerline is not just some nice lawyers and bankers who write about politics. They represent what Richard Hofsteder calls the paranoid strain in American politics. It's important that people begin to make distinctions.

Homewreckers Need Not Apply

If this is true, the White House has gone completely nuts:

GEORGE Bush has banned Camilla Parker Bowles from the White House - because she is a divorcee.

The unprecedented snub has effectively sabotaged Charles's plan to take his bride on a Royal tour of America later this year.

The trip would have been the pair's first official tour as a married couple.

But the US President - a notoriously right-wing Christian and reformed alcoholic - told aides it was "inappropriate" for him to be playing host to the newly-weds, who are both divorcees.

The decision was made even though the late President Ronald Reagan was divorced.

The trip would have been the pair's first official tour as a married couple.

But the US President - a notoriously right-wing Christian and reformed alcoholic - told aides it was "inappropriate" for him to be playing host to the newly-weds, who are both divorcees.

The decision was made even though the late President Ronald Reagan was divorced.

A Government insider said: "It was relayed to us from Washington that Mrs Parker Bowles would not be welcome at the White House.

"The Americans are aware that the visit will be subject to a lot of media attent ion and did not want the President drawn into what they view to be a public relations exercise.

"It's now uncertain if the visit will even go ahead."

Insiders point out that hosting a lavish Royal dinner for Charles and Camilla would be bad PR for President Bush because while Princess Diana is still much loved by many Americans, her ex-husband is seen and dull and aloof - and bothhe and Camilla are widely blamed for the break-up of his marriage.

The trip, which has been planned for three years, was being portrayed as a "trade mission" and Charles and Camilla were expected to dine with Mr Bush and his wife Laura at the White House.

I wonder if Charles would have been allowed if he came with a Talon News correspondent.

This has to be bunk. I suspect that they cancelled it because of the media circus, but it would be interesting to know if some dope actually did use the divorce angle as one of the reasons.

Are there no divorcees in the Bush White House? I can't believe there aren't.


Sunday, February 20, 2005

Rest In Peace You Brilliant Goddamned Beast

For some of us of a certain age, Hunter S. Thompson was our muse, our godfather, our Shakespeare. He spoke for us in a wierd sort of exaggerated drug addled way that defined the world. For some of us of a certain age who follow politics, his view of the game informs us in ways that we will never wholly shake off. "Fear and Loathing on The Campaign Trail" remains the seminal work of baby boomer campaign journalism. He took the genre, shot it up with mescaline and invited us all along for the ride.

I was just re-reading his collection of essays "Generation of Swine" about the political scene in the 1980's a couple of months ago. He saw it all then--- the bizarre up-is-downism, the hallucinatory nature of the modern media, the craziness of America in its days of dominance. I was struck, however, at how deeply uncynical he really was, how strangely hopeful and secure that the American people were simply too solid to be completely taken in by these people. The state of politics today must have made him feel like he was on a bad trip that would never end.

Skinner called from Washington last week and warned me that I was dangerously wrong and ignorant about George Bush. “I know you won’t want to hear this,” he said ‘but George is an utterly different person from the one he appears to be --- from the one you’ve been whipping on, for that matter. I thought you should know…”

I put him on hold and said I would call him back after the Kentucky Maryland game. I had given 5 points and Kentucky was ahead by 7 with 18 seconds to go…George Bush meant nothing to me at that moment. The whole campaign was like the sound of some radio far up the street.

But Skinner persisted, for some reason….He was trying to tell me something. He was saying that Bush was not what he seemed to be --- that somewhere inside him were the seeds of a genuine philosopher king.

“He is smarter that Thomas Jefferson., “Skinner said. “he has the potential to stand taller in history than both of the Roosevelts put together.”

I was shocked. “You lying swine,” I said. “Who paid you to say these things? Why are you calling me?”

“It’s for your own good,” he said. “I’m just trying to help you.” …. He took a call on one of his other lines, then came back to me in a blaze of disconnected gibberish.

“Listen to me,” he was saying. “I was with him last night, all alone. We sat in front of his fireplace and burned big logs and listened to music and drank whiskey and he got a little weepy, but I told him not to worry about it, and he said he was the only living voice of Bobby Kennedy in American politics today.”

“No,” I said. “Don’t tell me that swill, it’s too horrible. I depend on you for more than that.”

I laughed. It was crazy. Here was Gene Skinner --- one of the meanest and most cynical hit men in politics --- telling me that he’d spent the last two night arguing with George Bush about the true meaning of Plato’s Republic and the Parable of the Caves, smoking Dharum cigarettes and weeping distractedly while they kept playing and replaying old Leonard Cohen tunes on his old Nakamichi tape machine.

“Yeah,” Skinner said, “”he still carries that 250 with the Hallibuton case, the one he’s carried for years … he loves music, really high rock’n roll. He has tapes of Alice Stuart that he made himself on the Nak.”

Ye Gods, I thought. They’ve finally turned him; he’s gone belly up. How did he get my phone number?

“You hideous punk! Don’t call me anymore!” I yelled at him. “I’m moving to Hawaii next week. I know where you’ve been for the last two years. Stay away from me!”

“You fool!” he shouted. “Where were you when we were looking for you in New Orleans last week? We hung around for three days. George wanted to hook up with the Neville brothers. We were traveling incognito”…and now he was telling me that Bush --- half mad on cheap gin and hubris, with 16 states already locked up on Super Tuesday --- showed up at the New Orleans airport on Sunday night with only one bodyguard and a black 928 Porsche with smoked windows and Argentine license plates…

I felt sick and said nothing. Skinner rambled on; drifted from one demented story to another like he was talking to the Maharishi. It made no sense at all.

None of it did, for that matter. George Bush was a mean crook from Texas. He had no friends and nobody in Washington wanted to be seen with him on the streets at night. There was something queasy about him, they said --- a sense of something grown back unto itself, like a dead animal … it was impossible that he could be roaming about Washington or New Orleans at night jabbering about Dylan Thomas and picking up dead cats.

Yes there was something wrong about it, deeply wrong, even queer … yet Skinner seemed to believe these things and he wanted me to believe them.

Why? It was like hearing that Ivan Boesky had written “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” or that Ed Meese wakes up every morning and hurls a $100 bill across the Potomac.

I hung up the phone and felt crazy. Then I walked back to the hotel in the rain.

March 21, 1988

He had it nailed. This world is a lonelier place without him in it.

TBOGG Understands How This game Is Played

While all of the other bloggers are relishing the idea of the Eight Inch Bulldog being deposed on his connections to the White House, I'm much more interested in hearing about his full-time job as an Escort with Benefits in the DC area. In particular, a "client" list or little black book.

Do click the link for the most disturbing metaphor I think I've ever read.

But while we're on on the rare and untrod subject of JimJeff "GG" Gannon, the loose cannon, I'm curious if anyone has talked to this guy about the GG matter? He is described by the Washington Post as "deputy director of the Office of Public Liaison, one of four White House political departments run by uberstrategist Karl Rove." He was also appeared in his official capacity at both the 2003 and 2004 GOPUSA conferences in DC.

John F. Kennedy created the concept of a public liaison, Nixon institutionalized the office and Republicans say Bush has perfected it. Few, if any, have been as effective at using the taxpayer-funded staff to keep the base of the party happy and involved in the policymaking process. Rove's intimate involvement in the office enhances its influence not only inside the White House but also outside with the scores of activist groups Bush relies on to help sell his agenda.

Most mornings at 8:30, Rove huddles with about eight White House aides from the four political offices to plot strategy. These offices are public liaison, intergovernmental affairs, political affairs and strategic initiatives.

This is where Rove, Goeglein and others share thoughts on synthesizing the president's ideas, enlisting outside assistance to sell them and heading off potential fights with or among supporters on the outside. When the meeting lets out, Goeglein operates as an ambassador of sorts for Bush and Rove.

In Republican politics, a person's conservative fervor is often judged by the people he worked for or with. In the eyes of many conservatives, Goeglein's credentials are unassailable.

A product of Indiana from the era of Democratic Sen. Birch Bayh's reign, Goeglein learned politics from the two conservative Dans of the Hoosier State -- Coats in the Senate and later Quayle, when he was vice president.

After spending his first year out of college in broadcast media, Goeglein, a native of Fort Wayne, often found himself handling communications strategy for the two Indiana Republicans during the 1990s. In the 2000 campaign, he signed on as spokesman not for Bush, but for Gary Bauer, who ran as the most conservative conservative in the Republican primary.

Shortly after Bauer dropped out, Karen Hughes, one of Bush's closest advisers, recruited Goeglein to help shop Bush's message to voters and activists. Goeglein packed up his wife and two young sons and headed to a cramped apartment in Austin.

He assumed he was headed to the White House press shop after the election. But, he said, Rove phoned with an unexpected message: "I am calling to change your life." A few minutes later, Goeglein was Rove's right-hand man dealing with the political right. Goeglein plans to assume the same role in the second term. "I love people. I love policy, and I love politics."

This fellow is both intimately familiar with GOPUSA and walks in the highest corridors of power in the White House. It would be quite interesting to know if he had any comment on how a GOPUSA "correspondent" got into the White House press room. He certainly seems like a guy with enough juice to make it happen.

Check out the links to the GOPUSA conferences. G. Gordon Liddy is referred to as a "former presidential advisor." LOL.

Mega props to CSI dKos for gathering an amazing amount of information.

Going Too Far

Americans Want an Opposition Party

"Americans want Democrats to stand up to Bush," the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports. "Fully 60%, including one-fourth of Republicans, say Democrats in Congress should make sure Bush and his party 'don't go too far.' Just 34% want Democrats to 'work in a bipartisan way' to help pass the president's priorities."

We all know that the Republicans have spent may years damning our party for being weak, traitorous and cowardly. This seems like a very good opportunity to begin to turn that around. People want the Democrats to obstruct the excesses of the GOP --- even a quarter of the GOP itself.

Perhaps the best way to put this is simply to say it exactly as the question is worded. "We are keeping the Republicans from going too far." There's a certain common sense ring to that that I think a lot of people understand instinctively. This may be the key to why the public hasn't rallied around the social security privatization phase out plan. They can feel that the Republicans are just going too far.

Update: Let me clarify that I am not advocating this as a campaign slogan or a Democratic rallying cry. I'm talking about a public legislative strategy, which is what I think was being addressed in this poll. We are in the minority and the American people have assigned us a role to play. We should play it, take the credit and position outselves as the voices of sanity against a radical right wing bunch of nuts --- which happens to be true. One of the ways that we convey this is by standing together, not cutting deals and consistently portraying the other side as out of control --- which also happens to be true.

This isn't a capitulation. It's framing us as the regular people and them as the crazies for a change --- something that 60% of the American people seem to agree is at least a possibility. This is a good things folks. We can work with it.

Another Cagey Interview

Thanks to Liberal Avenger we can hear another interview with JimJeff Gannon on WBUR from last week. Here's what he said about Plame:

Q: We began by asking about the highly classified Plame documents which in the past Gannon boasted about having access to.

G: That's not something I'm able to discuss.

Q: You discussed it on your web site

G: Let me just say this about this memo that's being discussed. When I say accessible I am talking about information contained therein.

Q: As you well know, two New York Times reporters are facing jail sentences for not revealing their sources regarding the name Valerie Plame and they didn't even comment or print anything about this

G: Yes that's terrible. That's unfortunate.

Q: Well has anyone from the Plame investigation contacted you?

G: Uh, yes

Q: And?

G: I really can't speak to that. As a journalist it would be wrong to do that.


Q: Can you understand why some would say you've only written for two years, for a Republican backed blog, you've had no previous reporting experiences, why were you shown sensitive material regarding CIA material?

G: I can understand how somebody would ask that question but one had nothing to do with the other. I did good work. I pursued a story. I got a great interview with Ambassador Wilson. I should get an award for that.

Listen to the whole interview here.

I continue to be confused as to why Gannon didn't just say, "I read about it in the Wall Street Journal like everybody else," if that's what happened. The question would just go away.


People continue to miss the point so I will spell it out. Yes, it is likely that GG just lifted the WSJ article. That's what he calls journalism. However, he told people that he got the info from somewhere else and he has continued to be less than forthcoming about it. It is always possible that somebody told him about it AND he lifted the story from the WSJ.

My personal opionion is that he may have lied to the FBI and is afraid to admit that he had no "confidential source." If that's the case, Fitzgerald has a reason to squeeze this guy and who knows where that could lead? They are about to send two reporters to jail over this stuff.

But it could just as easily be that he still doesn't realize what deep shit he's in and thinks that he may someday work as a "journalist" again so he is afraid to admit that he was full of shit when he was bragging all over Free Republic. He doesn't seem very bright.

But guys, it doesn't matter. It's this kind of thing that keeps this story alive. Connection to the Plame controversy is one of the hooks that the major media have to hang on to. As long as GG behaves in this way, it gives reporters another reason to keep digging. Capiche?



Saturday, February 19, 2005

Pass The Parsing

Could the next reporter who gets JimJeff in his crosshairs please pin him down on this Plame memo issue? This is ridiculous. He has never really answered the question properly.

Here's the passage from the February 11th interview with E&P

Although he hinted that he had not seen a classified CIA document after all, he added, "I am not going to speak to that. It goes to something of a nature I do not want to discuss."

He said nothing about the Wall Street Journal.

Here's from his interview with Wolf Blitzer on February 14

GANNON: And the FBI did come to interview me. They were interested in where -- how I knew or received a copy of a confidential CIA memo that said that Valerie Plame suggested that Joe Wilson be sent on this mission, something that everybody -- they have all vigorously denied but is, in effect, true.

BLITZER: So they didn't make you go testify before the grand jury?


BLITZER: Do you have to reveal how you got that memo?


BLITZER: They didn't ask you?

GANNON: Well, the FBI kept asking. I said, well, look, I'm a journalist, I can't --

BLITZER: You didn't tell them?

GANNON: Yes. Can't divulge that. And they accepted that, and I've never been asked again.

Again he didn't mention the WSJ article.

Here's an excerpt from Anderson Cooper's interview on Friday

GANNON: I didn't do that at all. I didn't do that at all. If you read the question, and I provided -- my article was actually a transcript of my conversation with Ambassador Wilson -- I made reference to a memo. And this...

COOPER: How did you know about that memo?

GANNON: Well, this memo was referred to in a "Wall Street Journal" article a week earlier.

COOPER: So that wasn't based on any information that you had been given by the White House?

GANNON: I was given no special information by the White House or by anybody else, for that matter.

Suddenly he's pointing out that the memo was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal but he doesn't say explicitly that he read it there.

Here's what the NY Times reported today:

"What I said was no more than what was reported in The Wall Street Journal a week before," he said.

In none of those statements does he simply say, "I got the information from the WSJ story." Look how he dances around it. No "special" information. "What I said was no more that what was reported." He has been coached to answer this way.

There is enough evidence now to indicate that he is not being straightforward on this question. Did he get the information from the WSJ article or not and if not, where else did he hear about it?

The question was who was spreading this bogus state department memo. From the Washington Post at the time:

"Sources said the CIA is angry about the circulation of a still-classified document to conservative news outlets suggesting Plame had a role in arranging her husband's trip to Africa for the CIA. The document, written by a State Department official who works for its Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), describes a meeting at the CIA where the Niger trip by Wilson was discussed, said a senior administration official who has seen it.

"CIA officials have challenged the accuracy of the INR document, the official said, because the agency officer identified as talking about Plame's alleged role in arranging Wilson's trip could not have attended the meeting."

Now maybe Gannon did just read about this in the Wall Street Journal. But if he did he sure has acted strangely about it, even as recently as yesterday when talking to the NY Times. It's possible that he played games with the FBI when they came knocking and pretended that he had a confidential source when he didn't. That, of course, would be against the law. A law that when broken can cost you a lot of money and possible jail time. You cannot lie to the FBI. That is why Martha Stewart is in jail and it's why Henry Cisneros spent almost a decade in the dock of a special prosecutor ---- he didn't tell them the exact amount of money he paid his ex-lover.

I don't know if that's what happened, but something did. I do know that Gannon could end all the speculation by simply saying "I never saw the memo, I read about it in the paper and pretended that I did." The question is why doesn't he?

Update: Justin Raimindo has been on this angle for some time.

Charlie Brown's Slumber Party

Did anyone happen to catch the happy little hen party on Chris Matthews week-end show tonight in which Chris, Clarence Page, Kathleen Parker, Andrew Sullivan and Gloria Borger ripped Hillary for being a "castrating Bitch" and "Nurse Ratchet" replete with a full-on harpy imitation by Borger? I've never seen anything like this (at least where Ann Coulter and Nancy Grace weren't involved.) Then they sharpened their claws on Martha Stewart, Gloria saying that people will find her interesting because the less they see of her the more they like her. Everyone cackled wickedly as she went on to mock her potential good works on behalf of women prisoners. Andy snorted delicately.

Then they all pitched in on the Stalinists at PCU who are allegedly persecuting Larry Summers. Clarence tried valiently to make an argument but both Andy and Gloria were eyerolling and smirking to such a degree that Chris couldn't really keep a straight face. He told Gloria he liked the fact that she turned up her nose at this "PC nonsense." She lowered her eyes flirtatiosly, batted her lashes and veritably glowed with his praise.

I'm not exaggerating about the castrating bitch line either. Borger said that as the jews gave Joe Lieberman a lot of trouble so will the women give Hillary problems. (I don't remember the jewish community's Lieberman rebellion, do you?) And Chris agreed that the men sitting in their chairs watching television are all thinking "I'll never vote for this woman." He does admit, though, that women become less threatening when they get old.

What in the hell is wrong with these people? Are they regularly appearing on television drunk now? It was like watching a sketch on The Daily Show. Can we get Soros or somebody to pitch in and just pay them to stop? I'll donate.

Update: It appears they aren't alone in meanspirited douchbaggery this week-end. Kevin Drum excerpts Susan Estrich's latest little bit of nasty in her ongoing pursuit of being the most unlikeable person in the world as she battles wits with Michael Kinsley, editorial editor of the LA Times and Parkinson's sufferer:

Far from being "pissed off," I believe I have conducted myself with admirable restraint because of our past relationship and my honest concerns for your health.

....My suggestion that your publishing [my letter] would be better (for you too) than my having to go outside somehow constitutes me blackmailing you is so outlandish that it underscores the question I've been asked repeatedly in recent days, and that does worry me, and should worry you: people are beginning to think that your illness may have affected your brain, your judgment, and your ability to do this job.

For those who aren't following this story (scroll down), Estrich is pissed off that Kinsley hasn't been featuring more women, specifically her, on the op-ed pages of the LA Times. I cannot speculate about why there aren't more women on the op-ed pages of the LA Times, but it's my observation that Susan is no longer very coherent most of the time. She has become Fox's Pat Cadell. I seem to recall that she was reportedly a bit tipsy in New Hampshire during the primary last year telling anyone who would listen, "they jussht pay us so mush moooney!!!"

Now we find out that she is simply a douchebag. Buh bye.

Get Well Soon

Best wishes to Mrs Instapundit for a speedy recovery.

I'm very glad that she is fortunate enough to have access to good health care. Think how awful it is to be in that position without it.

Dr Dobson's Dark Suspicions

Before Junior ran for president he had some conversations with evangelical friend Doug Wead. He wasn't quite sure how to handle the religious right. Wead taped the conversations.

Mr. Bush, who has acknowledged a drinking problem years ago, told Mr. Wead on the tapes that he could withstand scrutiny of his past. He said it involved nothing more than "just, you know, wild behavior." He worried, though, that allegations of cocaine use would surface in the campaign, and he blamed his opponents for stirring rumors. "If nobody shows up, there's no story," he told Mr. Wead, "and if somebody shows up, it is going to be made up." But when Mr. Wead said that Mr. Bush had in the past publicly denied using cocaine, Mr. Bush replied, "I haven't denied anything."

That "if nobody shows up" line sounds like something out of the Sopranos. He later says that his whole "young and immature" thing was "his schtick." This comment makes me really believe, for the first time, that JH Hatfield was set up.

What is really revealing about these conversations is Bush's attitude toward gays and the extent to which he kissed James Dobson's ass.

In September 1998, Mr. Bush told Mr. Wead that he was getting ready for his first meeting with James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, an evangelical self-help group. Dr. Dobson, probably the most influential evangelical conservative, wanted to examine the candidate's Christian credentials.

"He said he would like to meet me, you know, he had heard some nice things, you know, well, 'I don't know if he is a true believer' kind of attitude," Mr. Bush said.


By the end of the primary, Mr. Bush alluded to Dr. Dobson's strong views on abortion again, apparently ruling out potential vice presidents including Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania and Gen. Colin L. Powell, who favored abortion rights. Picking any of them could turn conservative Christians away from the ticket, Mr. Bush said.

"They are not going to like it anyway, boy," Mr. Bush said. "Dobson made it clear."

Early on, though, Mr. Bush appeared most worried that Christian conservatives would object to his determination not to criticize gay people. "I think he wants me to attack homosexuals," Mr. Bush said after meeting James Robison, a prominent evangelical minister in Texas.

But Mr. Bush said he did not intend to change his position. He said he told Mr. Robison: "Look, James, I got to tell you two things right off the bat. One, I'm not going to kick gays, because I'm a sinner. How can I differentiate sin?"

Later, he read aloud an aide's report from a convention of the Christian Coalition, a conservative political group: "This crowd uses gays as the enemy. It's hard to distinguish between fear of the homosexual political agenda and fear of homosexuality, however."

"This is an issue I have been trying to downplay," Mr. Bush said. "I think it is bad for Republicans to be kicking gays."

Told that one conservative supporter was saying Mr. Bush had pledged not to hire gay people, Mr. Bush said sharply: "No, what I said was, I wouldn't fire gays."

I don't pretend to know what animates Junior so much on the issue of gays, but something does. Clearly he's very uncomfortable with the intolerance so many in his party show on the issue. Indeed, these conversations show him to be more liberal on this issue than any other I can think of. And it's quite out of character.

But what does it matter when the asshole turned around and just ran a stealth campaign based entirely on homophobia? I doubt very seriously that he privately shared his tolerance for gays with that sadistic dog abuser James Dobson. (I would suspect that Dobson and his followers are going to be more than a bit miffed by these revelations.) In fact, Bush and his party had no problem gay baiting the entire Democratic party, particularly John Kerry, with their nasty frat boy innuendoes --- as they have for the last thirty years. It isn't, after all, just the Christian conservatives who so enjoy that towel slapping hyper-masculine swagger that Junior affects with such panache. There are plenty of good ole boys who trade in this form of macho posing as well. All this Bushian tolerance toward gays would have sorely tested that heroic manly red state image, wouldn't it?

So he did what the Bushes always do. He played dirty. Speaking of Gore, not Kerry (but it makes no difference) he said "I may have to get a little rough for a while," he told Mr. Wead, "but that is what the old man had to do with Dukakis, remember?"

This man who pretends to feel such empathy for gays is the same man who ran on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, told James Byrd's family to take a hike, signed off on 150 plus executions without looking up from his gameboy and now claims that the constitution gives him the total power to order torture and execution in the name of the War On Terror.

This goes beyond hypocrisy. It's downright pathological. The Republican coalition consists of a racists, homophobes, dupes and the rich selfish bastards who tell them whatever they want to hear in order to get elected. I hope their religion is real because if it is they are all going to spend eternity in the ninth circle of hell.

Are You Proud Of Yourself Condi?

Many have written about this moving and sad post at Riverbend and I hope that many people will read it and pass it on.

This Iraqi woman has not been liberated. She is being slowly imprisoned, probably for the rest of her life, by a male dominated fundamentalist (that's a redundancy) religious political system that is going to ruin her life. You can feel it in her words. It's one of the saddest things I've read in the long trail of horrors that this Iraq misadventure has wrought.

I nodded and handed over the bags to be weighed. “Well… they’re going to turn us into another Iran. You know list 169 means we might turn into Iran.” Abu Ammar pondered this a moment as he put the bags on the old brass scale and adjusted the weights.

“And is Iran so bad?” He finally asked. Well no, Abu Ammar, I wanted to answer, it’s not bad for *you* - you’re a man… if anything your right to several temporary marriages, a few permanent ones and the right to subdue females will increase. Why should it be so bad? Instead I was silent. It’s not a good thing to criticize Iran these days. I numbly reached for the bags he handed me, trying to rise out of that sinking feeling that overwhelmed me when the results were first made public.

It’s not about a Sunni government or a Shia government- it’s about the possibility of an Iranian-modeled Iraq. Many Shia are also appalled with the results of the elections. There’s talk of Sunnis being marginalized by the elections but that isn’t the situation. It’s not just Sunnis- it’s moderate Shia and secular people in general who have been marginalized.

The list is frightening- Da’awa, SCIRI, Chalabi, Hussein Shahristani and a whole collection of pro-Iran political figures and clerics. They are going to have a primary role in writing the new constitution. There’s talk of Shari’a, or Islamic law, having a very primary role in the new constitution. The problem is, whose Shari’a? Shari’a for many Shia differs from that of Sunni Shari’a. And what about all the other religions? What about Christians and Mendiyeen?

Is anyone surprised that the same people who came along with the Americans – the same puppets who all had a go at the presidency last year – are the ones who came out on top in the elections? Jaffari, Talbani, Barazani, Hakim, Allawi, Chalabi… exiles, convicted criminals and war lords. Welcome to the new Iraq.


It’s also not about covering the hair. I have many relatives and friends who wore a hijab before the war. It’s the principle. It’s having so little freedom that even your wardrobe is dictated. And wardrobe is just the tip of the iceberg. There are clerics and men who believe women shouldn’t be able to work or that they shouldn’t be allowed to do certain jobs or study in specific fields. Something that disturbed me about the election forms was that it indicated whether the voter was ‘male’ or ‘female’- why should that matter? Could it be because in Shari’a, a women’s vote or voice counts for half of that of a man? Will they implement that in the future?

Baghdad is once more shrouded in black. The buildings and even some of the houses have large black pieces of cloth hanging upon them, as if the whole city is mourning the election results. It’s because of “Ashoura” or the ten days marking the beginning of the Islamic New Year but also marking the death of the Prophet’s family 1400+ years ago in what is now known as Karbala. That means there are droves of religious Shia dressed in black from head to foot (sometimes with a touch of green or red) walking in the streets and beating themselves with special devices designed for this occasion.

We’ve been staying at home most of the time because it’s not a good idea to leave the house during these ten days. It took us an hour and 20 minutes to get to my aunt’s house yesterday because so many streets were closed with masses of men chanting and beating themselves. To say it is frightening is an understatement. Some of the men are even bleeding and they wear white to emphasize all the blood flowing down backs and foreheads. It’s painful to see small children wearing black clothes and carrying miniature chains that really don’t hurt, but look so bizarre.

I urge you to read the whole thing.

Despite what the right wing would have everyone believe, one of the primary reasons liberals supported the invasion of Afghanistan was to end the documented horrors that women suffered under the Taliban. Long before the Bush admnistration was negotiating with the Taliban or Republican congressmen were holding privatre meetings with Mullah Omar's lieutenants trying to make deals for pipelines, Hollywood liberals like Mavis Leno were spearheading the despised Feminist Majority Foundation's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan. Everything about the Taliban was anathema to people like us who value freedom and equality. When that religious fundamentalist government enabled the direct attack on the United States there was every reason on both moral and national security grounds to support the invasion of that country. Life could not be much worse than it was under the Taliban.

Iraq was always much more complicated. Many of us were extremely suspicious of the evidence that Saddam posed a threat to the United States and as horrible as his regime was, there was always the liklihood that the country would eventually fall into civil war and itself become a fundamentalist theocracy --- thus making daily life for a full fifty percent of the population many degrees worse than it was under Saddam. It was never a pretty calculation but it was realistic. We knew all this going in and it is one of the reasons why it was never easy to simply wave the flag and proclaim ourselves liberators. Unless everything went exactly as envisioned by the starry eyed neocons, there was every chance that we would actually make many people less free by our actions.

It appears that this is happening. Not that anyone cares, mind you. If half of the Iraqi population sees a substantial loss of personal freedom from our liberation, it isn't really a problem. They are, after all, only women.

We on the left are being chastized daily for being terrorist sympathizers. Former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are said to be on the other side. Any criticism of the government is Unamerican. And all of this is based upon the idea that liberals are rejecting Western values and putting ourselves in league with Islamic fundamentalists. This is literally nonsensical.

In point of fact, the argument could much more easily be made that it is the other way around. It grows more and more likely that the right, who wholeheartedly supported the war and are currently supporting the political handling of the occupation, deposed a totalitarian dictator to install a repressive fundamentalist theocracy in its place. I fail to see how that advances the cause of our country or western civilization. Indeed, it is a betrayal of everything we stand for.

Who are the real traitors to western enlightenment values --- those of us who find both totalitarianism and religious fundamentalism abominations or those who topple dictators to install theocracy? I'd ask the women of Iraq in about five years what they think. Of course, they won't be allowed to speak freely, so we'll probably never know.

Rushing To Retch

The lewd side to the Manchurian Beefcake scandal hasn't really fazed me. The world is full of porn. But this woke me up last night, churning and screaming from nightmares of a sick and revolting nature. Is there no decency left in this world?

Agency for International Development Administrator Andrew S. Natsios may be heading to Dubai and Afghanistan next week, taking along a small press contingent: Rush Limbaugh and, briefly, CNN anchor Daryn Kagan -- they are a famous item these days -- along with Mary Matalin, who is going as an ex officio White House adviser.

Of course, I'm not surprised that Rush is anxious to see Afghanistan. It is, after all, the opium capital of the world. (Maybe he and Kagan have a Sid and Nancy thing going on.) But dear merciful God, the mere idea of the three of them....((((shudder))))


Friday, February 18, 2005

The Other Reality

It's a good thing I went to the Conservative Political Action Conference this year. Otherwise I never would have known that, despite the findings of the authoritative David Kay report and every reputable media outlet on earth, the United States actually discovered weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, vindicating all of George W. Bush's pre-war predictions. The revelation came not from some crank at Free Republic or hustler from Talon News, but from a congressman surrounded by men from the highest echelons of American government. No wonder the attendees all seemed to believe him.

The crowd at CPAC's Thursday night banquet, held at D.C.'s Ronald Reagan Building, was full of right-wing stars. Among those seated at the long presidential table at the head of the room were Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, Dore Gold, foreign policy advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and NRA president Kayne Robinson. Vice President Dick Cheney, a regular CPAC speaker, gave the keynote address. California Rep. Chris Cox had the honor of introducing him, and he took the opportunity to mock the Democrats whose hatred of America led them to get Iraq so horribly wrong.

"America's Operation Iraqi Freedom is still producing shock and awe, this time among the blame-America-first crowd," he crowed. Then he said, "We continue to discover biological and chemical weapons and facilities to make them inside Iraq." Apparently, most of the hundreds of people in attendance already knew about these remarkable, hitherto-unreported discoveries, because no one gasped at this startling revelation.

This is not surprising, really. These people have grown quite accustomed to the "you can believe me or you can believe your lying eyes" political leadership and actually seem to prefer it. It makes everything so nice and simple.

That article reminds me of this this op-ed by Tony Blankley in which he fantasized that Larry David, the biggest liberal in Hollywood was actually a conservative if only he realized it:

But if he is anything like his character, he is, at heart, a conservative: He refuses to put up with nonsense; he's remorselessly politically incorrect, and he is fundamentally sensible. If he'll just listen, I'll expose his mind to the sensible conservative explanations for the great issues of the day. He'll be my first convert deep in the belly of the liberal Hollywood beast.

My father used to think that Archie Bunker was funny. He laughed and laughed at his jokes. He had no clue that the rest of us in the family were laughing because he was Archie Bunker. Just that way, Blankley has no idea that Larry David's character is a disgusting person. Indeed, he's verging on the insane. Yes, he is funny. But he's funny because Larry David knows very well that his character is, like Blankley, a total jerk.

I guess this just proves once again that the conservative movement is "completely divorced from reality."

Starting Over

The Poorman invites everyone to enroll in The Jeff Gannon New Beginnings Career School.

The testimonials will make you cry.

Who Are They Kidding?

Raw Story asked people on the hill why the Democrats and the press seems so reluctant to cover the Manchurian Beefcake scandal and got some interesting rationales, none of which are the least bit believable.


“The reason that people don’t want to talk about the sex angle in the story is that we all know that the mainstream media will not pick up the story,” the aide said.

The aide said reporters from varying print and television outlets expressed to him that they had felt duped after the sex scandals hyped around former President Bill Clinton.

“I think that you have a different culture with the mainstream media than you did than you did during the Clinton scandal,” he remarked. “I think in some ways that they’ve learned their lesson from that incident and many reporters feel that they were duped during that scandal into the kind of coverage that they were by the salacious nature, and I think there’s a resistance by the mainstream media to go down that road again.”

That would be the liberal media who were duped by Republicans into cruelly exposing to the entire world the sex life of a White House intern whose only crime was talking to that shrieking harpy Linda Tripp. They have learned their lesson and now feel squeamish about exposing the sex life of a gay Republican prostitute who widely advertised his services on the internet and somehow gained unprecedented access to the family values White House in spite of having no credentials whatsoever.

It's good to know that they've finally got their priorities straight. Monica Lewinsky must feel awfully relieved about that.

And as far as the Democrats are concerned, I'm wondering how they can pass a drivers test if this is how fucking dumb they are:

A Democratic Senate aide noted that Republicans had lost their bid to impeach Clinton, and said that Democrats were just being careful.

“The one piece of the Clinton sex scandal that everyone always forgets is that they lost,” the aide said. “Clinton was never impeached.”

Yeah. That whole thing really worked out badly for them didn't it? I'd sure hate to be in their shoes today!

And what I love about this is that it is utter rubbish. I don't know how many hits Americablog got to "that post" but I would bet that it was huge and that a very significant number came from DC insiders and journalists. Please don't tell me that they aren't interested. Not only is it about militarystuds.com it's about them, the press corps.

So far, they haven't had to investigate anything. The blogs are doing that for them. This guy is an internet creation and the internet leaves trails all over the place. But every day new questions are being raised and old mysteries are being solved. Who knows where it will lead? One thing I can guarantee is that if somebody finds it they will eventually find a way to report it. That is how the Lewinsky scandal broke through, after all. They fed the news to Drudge who then broke the story so the mainstream press had a hook. Don't kid yourselves. The rules haven't changed. "It's Out There" hasn't been retired.

I've got a couple of questions that I haven't seen addressed but would seem to be relevant. How was Gannon being paid? Eberle of GOPUSA stipulated that Gannon was paid a stipend equal to half of his income, according to the congressional press office. Was that true or was he actually a "volunteer" as some have stated? If so, where was he getting the other half?

And isn't it interesting that the other main character in the White House payola scandal, Armstrong Williams, was sued by his male assistant for sexual harrassment and settled it for an undisclosed sum. (One of the sweeter aspects of that settlement was that the plaintiff was given a nice sinecure at Oliver Stone's media outfit. Semper Fi, baby.)

It certainly does seem as if the Bush White House is pretty darned tolerant for an administration that mined millions of votes in the evangelical community by being against gay rights. And the Dems and the mainstream press know very well that this is a problem for the Republicans.

George W. Bush's carefully crafted mystique is built entirely on his manufactured masculinity. In fact, the Republican Party has based its whole image upon the idea that they are the party of macho straight men and the fawning traditonal women who love them. They have spent the last 35 years impugning the manhood of every male Democrat and portraying every Democratic feminist as a manhating bitch --- and winning the national security issue pretty much on the basis of what that implied to their bigoted neanderthal base. It never ends. Back in the day it was "I can't tell if you're a boy or a girl with all that hair." Just last year they spent hundreds of millions of dollars convincing a large number of people that a documented war hero (and killer) was a mincing, vacillating "Frenchman." What do you think that that was all about?

I've always believed that one of the main reasons Clinton frustrated them so much was that his womanizing protected him from the ongoing gay-baiting subtext of the Republican appeal. It took one of their most potent arrows out of the quiver. The best they could do was call Hillary a dyke.

Every time the Republicans are called upon to squeal "don't ask don't tell" when asked about JimJeff Gannon, it puts another hairline crack in their coalition. Don't ever think that this does not affect them. It goes to the very essence of who they portray themselves to be.

Update: The above many be the subtext, but here's the hook.


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Modo Rides The Zeitgeist

There once was a time when our manly preznit was the favorite sex object of bored Manhattanite housewives who love a man in an ill fitting costume. Remember this?

I had the most astonishing thought last Thursday. After a long day of hauling the kids to playdates and ballet, I turned on the news. And there was the president, landing on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, stepping out of a fighter jet in that amazing uniform, looking--how to put it?--really hot. Also presidential, of course. Not to mention credible as commander in chief. But mostly "hot," as in virile, sexy and powerful.


I know that I am not the only one who entertained these untoward thoughts. The American media were fully aware of how stunning the president looked last week. And they chose to defuse it by referring endlessly to the "photo-oppiness" of the event. The man uses overwhelming military force to vanquish a truly evil foe, facing down balking former "allies," and he is not taken seriously as a foreign-policy president. He out top-guns the Hollywood version, and all the media can talk about is the impending campaign commercial...Newsweek called it a photo-op but gave the president what can only be called a centerfold.

Sadly, as the JimJeff scandal unfolds, it's looking like this might be one more Ricky Martin heartbreak for these ladies. Today as they ponder their favorite sex and the single gal's probing questions, their hearts are sinking:

How often does an enterprising young man, heralded in press reports as both a reporter and a contributor to such sites as Hotmilitarystud.com, Workingboys.net, Militaryescorts.com, MilitaryescortsM4M.com and Meetlocalmen.com, get to question the president of the United States?

Who knew that a hotmilitarystud wanting to meetlocalmen could so easily get to be face2face with the commander in chief?

Who indeed?


Two links to Kevin in one day, but he's on a roll and has some very good advice here, riffing on Noam Schieber's post today on the abortion/birth control wedge issue:

We need more issues like this. Republicans have used the culture wars to divide liberals and moderates for decades, and we need issues of our own that divide conservatives and moderates. In the end, the best way to win the culture wars is probably to switch gears and force conservatives to fight on an entirely different set of subjects. After all, time is on our side on most culture war issues anyway, and putting conservatives on the defensive in other areas may be a better way to win than a headlong assault.

I actually think this is part of the culture war, but that is neither here nor there. His point is still correct. Republicans have been masters of wedge politics for years, but this tactic goes both ways and there are many openings in a party that has been holding its coalition together with a strange amalgam of nationalism, tax cuts/big spending, rapacious capitalism and religious traditionalism. There are dozens of conflicts within those factions that have been successfully covered over up to now. With power comes the constituencies who expect to be satisfied and they cannot satisfy all of them.

The birth control issue is an excellent example. I would imagine that most of those pro-life married women who voted for Bush are in favor of women having easy access to birth control. Indeed, I would expect that they have no idea that the pro-life movement us run on the institutional level by people who think that birth control is a form of infanticide in some cases and an invitation to female promiscuity in others. They would be very surprised to learn that under all the high flown pro-life rhetoric about abortion there lies a movement that is based upon a belief that it is wrong for women to control their reproductive capabilities. Back in the day, people understood this but it's been lost in all the pearl clutching about partial birth abortion and the like. It's never really been about reducing the number of abortions. It's always been about feminism.

This country is not as conservative as the base of the Republican party. That's why both of Junior's cowboy hat 'n boot campaigns have been as phony as JimJeff Gannon. It's time to pull down the flap on their big tent and introduce the Republicans to each other up close and personal.

I Warned Him

I tried to spare him the mind-numbing, soul destroying seige that is Hugh Hewitt's "Blog", but Ezra insisted on reading it anyway. He'll recover eventually. Drinking heavily is probably required.

Dumb Things People Said After 9/11

Statement One:

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America... I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.I do believe, as a theologian, based upon many Scriptures and particularly Proverbs 14:23, which says "living by God's principles promotes a nation to greatness, violating those principles brings a nation to shame"... I therefore believe that that created an environment which possibly has caused God to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no one to attack America on our soil since 1812."

Statement 2:

Well, really. Let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break...More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.

Guess which one is hosting Crossfire today?

Doggone that liberal media.

Freeper Spat

Atrios points to a funny Freeper thread that is up in arms because Sean Hannity apparently dissed them today on his radio show. Hannity said that he hadn't signed on in two years and that it's been taken over by the fringe.

That's interesting. He may not have signed on, but he was the recipient of scoops from a well loved freeper named "Jeff Gannon." Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Update: Hannity was apparently very enthusiastic about Gannon's talents. Media Matters has the tape.

The Company You Keep

Neither Kevin Drum or Matt Yglesias can be considered among the bombthrowing partisans on our side and yet they are both obviously getting a bit alarmed at the increasing frequency of these traitor-talk temper tantrums coming from the right.

I wrote about this last week, wondering "why all the anger?" If it is as Lincoln said, that they cannot feel they have won unless we are "avowedly with them" then we truly are dealing with people who are undemocratic. Evidently, they believe that if they control the institutions of power in Washington that the other side is required to say "Uncle" and disappear, which strikes me as a case of believing your own hype. Just because Rush finds it useful to play to the rubes with the "Democrats are wimps" theme it doesn't mean we would never wake up and realize that we were being played. In our system of government there is no provision for surrender. You can pass legislation by strict party line majority or you can compromise and try to find common ground with the other side. When you use scorched earth tactics such as comparing your opponents to terrorists don't be surprised when they get fed up and decide that there's no margin in cooperation. You'd better be prepared to do what you want to do with no cover from the other side and plenty of criticism.

For those who think that this intemperate liberal baiting is confined to the internets or talk radio, however, it might be worthwhile to pay attention to the CPAC conference that begins today. This is the real Republican convention where the good folks on the right really let their hair down. If past conferences are any guide, this one shouldn't disappoint even the staunchest eliminationist.

Here's a report from 2003:

Before Vice President Dick Cheney gave the opening address at the Conservative Political Action Conference, a three-day gathering of the right-wing faithful outside of Washington, D.C., organizers asked vendor Gene McDonald to put away his "No Muslims = No Terrorists" bumper stickers.

McDonald complied, and for the rest of the conference the jolly white-haired Floridian peddled his popular anti-Islam wares from under a table. As the leading lights of conservatism, including some of the most powerful figures in the Republican Party, gave speeches to a packed house, McDonald did a brisk trade, despite official condemnation by CPAC staff. He offered T-shirts with the words "Islam: Religion of Peace" surrounding a photo of a bomb with the word "Allah" on its timer. A towering linebacker of a man attending the conference with his elderly parents bought a mug saying "Islam" in red Nazi-style block lettering, with the "S" replaced by a black swastika. "They're going to love me at work," he chortled.


The conference was packed with events devoted to denouncing the perfidious left. There were panels titled "Modern Feminism: The Bilking of the Taxpayer," "Real Stories of Real Liberal Bias on Real College Campuses," "NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus and other Professional Victims" and "Myths, Lies & Terror: The Growing Threat Of Radical Environmentalism." Dan Flynn, author of "Why the Left Hates America," was on hand to sign his book. Ann Coulter, there to push her own book, was greeted with a thunderous standing ovation, after which she ripped into the "treason lobby" -- the Democratic Party -- whose platform "consists in breaking every one of the 10 commandments."


Of course, CPACers are ebullient about the Bush presidency, and they have no doubt that Bush will do their bidding. Their understanding of Bush is very similar to the conventional wisdom on the left: He's seen as a man whose language and image pander to moderates while his actions serve the far right. Tim Weigel, who was manning the Free Republic booth, described compassionate conservative initiatives like Bush's plan to address AIDS in Africa as, "throwaways, put out there to keep the left quiet while he takes care of Iraq." Behind him hung a picture of Hillary Clinton's head Photoshopped onto the body of a pig.


...Sheldon, a plump, pink man with pale blue eyes, wasn't out celebrating the Bush presidency. Instead, the man who has pledged "open warfare" against all things gay, stood in the exhibitors hall before a makeshift carnival game called "Tip a Troll," in which players were invited to throw gray beanbags at toy trolls with the heads of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Hillary Clinton and Tom Daschle, or trolls holding signs saying, "The Homosexual Agenda," "Roe V. Wade" and "The Liberal Media."

Sheldon, like the rest of the right, isn't letting success distract from a monomaniacal focus on its foes. Indeed, the overwhelming message at CPAC was that it's time to toughen up.

At a Thursday seminar titled "2002 and Beyond: Are Liberals an Endangered Species?" Paul Rodriguez, managing editor of the conservative magazine Insight, warned that the liberal beast wouldn't be vanquished until conservatives learn to be merciless. "One thing Democrats have long known how to do is play hardball," he intoned, urging Republicans to adopt more "bare-knuckle" tactics. The next day, Frank Gaffney, assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan, told a rapt crowd about the "well-financed media campaign against the Bush White House."

The rise of Fox News and talk radio has done little to assuage right-wing resentment toward the supposedly liberal media. "It's amazing conservatives ever win any victories at all with the left's hegemonic domination of the media," Coulter told her listeners. She spent most of her talk mocking antiwar arguments ("Why not go to war just for oil? We need oil") and antiwar protesters. "Scott Ritter, that's a liberal for you," began one bit. "Cleans up, cuts his hair and it turns out that it's to get underage girls." Bada-BOOM.

For speakers like Coulter, who performs her act as a kind of stand-up routine, much of this stuff just seems like cynical hyperbole, but among the rank and file, liberal-phobia is real and deep. Virgil Beato, a 25-year-old graduate student at American University, spoke of the "mean-spiritedness" of the left, much of which he'd learned about from David Horowitz (the former Salon columnist). "David Horowitz knows how the left thinks," Beato proclaimed. "He's trying to send out the message that sometimes we need to play hardball. That's the message we're getting from here."

Here's the program for this year and it looks to be just as exciting. They will be giving a special award to honor the non-partisan Swift Boat Veterans for Truth on Friday night. The Vice President will once again be speaking along with such luminaries as Ken Mehlman, Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, Senators Rick Santorum, Jeff Sessions, John Sununu, Tom Coburn, Sam Brownback and John Cornyn among many other members of the Republican establishment. Well, except for a few notable exceptions. Schwarzennegger, Pataki, Giuliani, Whitman. But that's not surprising is it? This event isn't televised.

I wonder if Instapundit and others would find it the least bit necessary for these elected leaders to disavow the outrageous "fun" described in the article above as they thundered that the left should do with regard to Ward Churchill and Michael Moore. If I were Dick Cheney I might actually be concerned that some of my own followers were handing out bumper stickers that say "No Muslims = No Terrorists" because, you know, that kind of thing isn't exactly Bush boilerplate and people might just get confused about what our foreign policy is. The Iraqis we just "liberated" are Muslims last I heard. And I surely would worry that someone might take it the wrong way when the most powerful members of the Republican party appear on the same bill as a woman who says liberals should be beaten over the head with a baseball bat.

In our party we have top opinion leaders actively repudiating the flamethrowers of our party because they fear being tainted by their alleged intemperate partisanship. The Republicans, on the other hand, hold a convention where the highest most exalted members of the party mingle shoulder to shoulder with those who think that liberals should be killed. It's an interesting juxtaposition isn't it?


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Help Our Friends

Julia of Sisyphus Shrugged tells us that Wampum, the wonderful hosts of our Koufax awards have not received enough contributions to pay for the extra bandwidth they've needed these last few weeks and so their ISP pulled the plug.

Julia has their paypal code on her site so everybody head over there immediately and cough up a few bucks. It wouldn't take long to get them what they need.

These are truly good people, whose least laudable good deed is hosting the Koufaxes. If we don't take care of our own we really aren't worth a damn.

Go now.

Moral Hazards

As I sit here listening to two congressmen on Inside Politics drone on about how we must restore civility to politics (now that the GOP controls all branches of government) I'm experiencing one of those rare times when I truly understand why people become Republicans. It's because they have political instincts and we don't. If you are a political animal that is a very compelling trait.

Here is a pretty good example of how the right blogosphere is treating the Manchurian Beefcake story --- from Jonah Goldberg :

Until Jordan quit on Friday, the lefty bloggers were dancing around the victory fire chanting in triumph over bagging this Jeff Gannon guy from Talon News. I'm extending this metaphor too far, I'm sure, but their celebration makes me wonder how so many brave warriors can eat their fill off the carcass of a chipmunk. I confess that at first I thought this sounded like a real story. But it's turned out to be more than a little sad.

Paraphrasing a comment I read somewhere yesterday (apologies to the author) "pay no attention to the naked gay conservative male prostitute sitting in the middle of the family values white house living room." Goldberg affects a jocular dismissiveness for a reason. He knows what a real story is and he knows how they work. And he is trivializing this one because it is actually quite dangerous.

Meanwhile, on the left we have much handwringing by commenters over this not being a "gay" story and how we should concentrate on the national security angle and how it's really about access etc, etc. We too are ignoring the naked, gay conservative prostitute in the midde of the family values white house living room. And this is where they get us.

Perhaps it would be instructive to take another little trip down memory lane. Jonah knows very well what a real story is because he was up to his ears in one of the biggest political sex scandals in history. From Michael Isifkoff's award winning MSM articles on the Lewinsky affair:

There was another guest at Jonah Goldberg's house in the Adams Morgan section of Washington that day. For some months, Newsweek's Isikoff had been in touch with Tripp – "hounding" her, Goldberg claims. Aware that Isikoff knew of rumors that Clinton was having an affair with a former White House staffer, Goldberg suggested to Tripp that she play the tapes for Isikoff. Uncomfortable with the whole taping process, Isikoff declined to listen and left Goldberg's house.

In their many phone conversations that fall, Lewinsky complained to Tripp that she was being neglected by the president... By the fall of 1997, Lewinsky was complaining that Clinton's ardor for her seemed to be cooling. He wasn't calling her much, and he rarely returned her increasingly frantic calls. Lewinsky was restless and bored at the Defense Department.

Isikoff listened later, needless to say. So did the entire country. That little meeting at Jonah's house led to the impeachment of the President of the United States. They came this close to forcing him from office. Goldberg and the entire GOP establishment knew without doubt that they had a story and they were not afraid to lead the media to it by the nose. And just look at what an oozing chunk of soap opera tabloid offal it was.

Fast forward seven short years. We have a man whose biggest cheers on the campaign trail in 2000 were when he would solemnly swear that he would "bring honor and integrity back to the White House" --- and everybody knew very well that he was talking about fellatio in the oval office. After his recent reelection in 2004, stories abounded about how the issues of moral values, the impact of evangelical Christians and, most importantly, the movement to allow gays to marry had tipped the balance in what was a very close election. Now we find out that a conservative gay male prostitute was given highly unusual access to that same family values white house. There isn't a story there?

I hear endless braying about how the Democrats have to "fight back." And yet... we just don't seem to to have the heart to play the raw political game they play.

A Republican's political instincts would tell them instantly that this Manchurian Beefcake story presents an amazingly fertile opportunity to take the Bush White House off message in a way that they clearly despise, sow dissension within the GOP coalition, mitigate a growing moral hazard and most of all, make Republicans around the country examine once again whether their attitudes about gays are really what they think they are.

Number one, it is always a good thing to knock a white house off its message. To do it when the press secretary himself is involved, or seems to be, is even better. In shark infested political waters life doesn't get any better than making phony family values hucksters endlessly repeat phrases like "we didn't know he was a prostitute." First rule --- make them talk about stuff they don't want to talk about. It's very difficult to get them started, but if you get the media lemmings running in the right direction they'll do it.

Second, didn't the religious right just threaten Bush with witholding its support if he backed down on gay marriage? And didn't the president then dutifully put it in the SOTU? Clearly, after Bush declared his support for civil unions and backed off the FMA after the election, the Christian Right is a little bit nervous about his bona fides on the issue. When Kerry and Edwards mentioned that Mary Cheney was a lesbian, a widely known fact, they were attacked in the most bizarre campaign kabuki in memory because the Republicans know that there is a huge chasm in their party developing on this issue. Lynn and Dick are like a lot of Republicans out there --- they have gay family members. And only the most hard core authoritarians like Alan Keyes are willing to disown them for it. (Listen to Lynn Cheney twist herself into a pretzel and then get angry when she's pressed on it here.)

This is an issue that threatens the GOP.The cosmopolitan conservatives and libertarians don't have a problem with gays and yet The Christian Right is building a homophobic crusade. A lot of people in the middle don't know what to think. A party with political instincts would exploit that. It's not a new concept I'm advocating here. It's called "divide and conquor." The Right blogosphere sounds like a bunch of San Francisco ACLU liberals when the issue of Gannon comes up and the smart thing for the left to do is ask the Christian right if they agree with their fellow "conservatives." (I believe that Aravosis has already discussed this.)

It wouldn't be nice and wingnuts will call us hypocrites. (It's a good thing hypocrisy was retired from the political dialog somewhere around the time Virtues "Czar" Big Bill Bennett was laying it all on red, Dave Drier was "dating" Doro Bush and Limbaugh was popping a fistfull of hillbilly heroin or we might have something to worry about.) When the wingnuts complain about how we hate gays, just say "No I don't. And clearly, neither do you. But James Dobson does. Let's go have a chat with him, ok?"

It might just force some of these chickenshit libertarians and GOP urbanites to show their true colors and get some GOP parents and siblings of gay people to face up to what they are doing. Can anyone believe that there is no value in showing the country that many of the highest level Republicans in the Bush Administration are actually quite tolerant of gays? Doesn't that move our agenda forward?

I don't believe that we advance the cause of gay rights by allowing the right to have it both ways, which they clearly do. We have a tittilating tabloid story, replete with nude pictures and prostitution, that illustrates the fact that they are merely pandering to the religious right on this issue. It would be too bad if we are too squeamish to pursue it because that is exactly what the other side is counting on.

Finally, the biggest reason to pursue this story is because we are creating a terrible moral hazard if we don't. The Republicans have no incentive to stop the politics of personal destruction if we don't hold them to their own standards and they continue to be rewarded. Pitchers, batters and Republicans understand this instinctively. So should we.

When I read things like this, I just despair. Folks we can put on a better show than this, we really can.

Update: And if anybody wants to know why this really, really matters beyond partisan politics and jockeying for power, I think Rude Pundit gets it right.

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

Kevin Drum and Eugene Volokh wonder why actors can't play smarter political activists. Kevin thinks they are lazy and cites the fact that they can't be bothered to memorize and believably deliver the five or six lines they are given in an Academy Award nomination speech. I've often wonder why in the hell they can't have somebody write them a decent acceptance speech and deliver it like an adult instead of a gushing 12 year old. I understand that it's an emotional moment, but these people are supposed to professional performers. And they are being rewarded for being the best professional performers of the year for crying out loud. Halle Berry had me blindly reaching for the Pepto.

As to why they don't seem to be able to play themselves as intelligent, thoughtful political pundits, that's simple. They need writers and directors. Democrats, are you listening?


To all the wingnuts who've been bombarding me with puerile insults because I allegedly have my head up my keister for saying the JimJeff Gannon Guckert may have been a recipient of pillow talk on the Plame matter, here is why I said it:

GANNON: And the FBI did come to interview me. They were interested in where -- how I knew or received a copy of a confidential CIA memo that said that Valerie Plame suggested that Joe Wilson be sent on this mission, something that everybody -- they have all vigorously denied but is, in effect, true.

BLITZER: So they didn't make you go testify before the grand jury?


BLITZER: Do you have to reveal how you got that memo?


BLITZER: They didn't ask you?

GANNON: Well, the FBI kept asking. I said, well, look, I'm a journalist, I can't --

BLITZER: You didn't tell them?

GANNON: Yes. Can't divulge that. And they accepted that, and I've never been asked again.

He's acting mighty cagey for a guy who just reads the papers, don't you think? My thought was that his "source" might just be across the pillow. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The pillow part anyway.

Now, the blabbing of confidential CIA memos to destroy a political enemy is just sleazy.


Monday, February 14, 2005

Fine Whine

Sam Rosenfeld at TAPPED makes a good argument that phony sanctimony is part of the modern political playbook and it's important that we play along or they'll get their destructive talking points out there unrebutted. I agree. It's distasteful but it must be done.

WHINING IS EVERYTHING. This is a minor point, but I take exception to one particular item in the two-party compare-and-contrast list compiled by The Note that Garance linked to on Friday:

One party never apologizes and never shows weakness; one party is on its fourth day of cry-babyish "defense" of its Senate Leader, after a run- of-the-mill GOP "attack."

...In the modern rules of partisan warfare -- which the Republicans largely wrote -- complaining incessently about the illegitimacy of the other side's attacks is as crucial a component as the actual attacks one's own side lobs. When the Democrats close ranks behind Reid and condemn Republican efforts to smear him, they don't really expect George W. Bush to heed their complaints and tell his party to call the dogs off. What they're doing, instead, is making sure that the Republicans' vilification campaign is recognized for what it is and discussed explicitly at the very outset. The mistake the party made with the Republicans' campaign against Tom Daschle -- which, let's recall, really began in earnest in the winter of 2001 -- was ignoring it for too long rather than making it an issue worthy of discussion (and press coverage) in and of itself. Thus the Republicans' attacks had a cumulative effect, over the course of three years, of transforming popular perceptions of the Democratic leader without there being any popular awareness that a concerted campaign even existed.

It becomes more and more obvious that the "analysts" in the press are just clueless about the game they analyze. The Republican weeping and whining about "political hate speech" alone is enough to cause informed people to stick ice picks in their ears just to shut out the pain. You don't have to be a highly paid insider to understand what game they are playing.

One of the main differences between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans simply don't pay any attention to what the press says about them. They don't care to be "understood" or "rational" by an institution that they consider tools. We are fools if we do not adopt that attitude. The media is not part of our coalition, it is not a bastion of rationality or objective truth. We have to tough out the kind of catty insults that The Note spits out as small arms fire in a much bigger battle. Caring whether the media respects us is part of why the other side is able to muster a majority in a country that doesn't want its policies. We have to play them not pander to them.