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Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I Am Ashamed Of My Party And My State

By 56 percent to 42 percent, likely voters support ousting the Democratic incumbent, a sign that Davis has lost ground in the closing phase of his battle for political survival. Support for Davis has slipped among key parts of his political base -- Democrats, women, moderates and liberals among them -- since the last Times Poll in early September found 50 percent for the recall and 47 percent against it.

Summing up the view of many voters was poll respondent Gladys Taub, a Democrat exasperated by the state's giant budget shortfalls

Gov. Davis has been doing a terrible job, and I just want to get rid of him," the 62-year-old paralegal, who plans to vote for Schwarzenegger, said in a follow-up interview. "Look at the state our state is in. If I ran my home that way, spending a whole lot more money than I was taking in, I'd wind up bankrupt. I'd wind up on the streets."


Overall, the poll found the central theme of Schwarzenegger's candidacy has struck a chord with likely voters: Rather than finding the actor frightening, they see him as the candidate most apt to curb the influence of special interests in Sacramento.

"I look at him as maybe like a Kennedy, where he really wants to do something good, because he's not in it for the money," said Jim Rego, 58, a Castro Valley independent who owns a gas station near Oakland.

Rego faults Davis for the state budget mess and sees Schwarzenegger as "a guy who can run a business, balance the books." He typically votes for Democrats; Schwarzenegger will be the first exception since Rego went for Ross Perot in the 1992 presidential race.


Many likely voters do harbor reservations about the former champion bodybuilder. Only 8 percent think Schwarzenegger has the best experience for the job of governor, well behind Davis, McClintock and Bustamante. Also, only 8 percent believe Schwarzenegger seemed more knowledgeable than his opponents in last week's televised debate in Sacramento.

But that appeared to matter less than other qualities. A broad swath of voters see in Schwarzenegger an aptitude they have found lacking in Davis since California was struck by the energy crisis of 2001: leadership skills.


For Davis, a key challenge in the final days of the race is to bolster support among Democrats. Despite his aggressive efforts to woo union members, Hispanics and other traditional blocs of the party, the poll found 27 percent of Democrats support the recall, up from 19 percent in the last poll.

Among liberal Democrats, support for the recall grew from 1-in-10 to 2-in-10. Among moderate Democrats, support for the recall rose from 30 percent to 35 percent. Union members, a key to Davis' success in previous elections, also tilted further in favor the recall, 54 percent-43 percent.


For Bustamante, the poll results are bleak. Only 41 percent have a favorable impression of him, while 58 percent view Schwarzenegger favorably, and 62 percent view McClintock in a positive light.

Bustamante's millions of dollars in campaign donations from casino-owning Indian tribes -- the subject of an unfavorable court ruling and a host of Schwarzenegger ads -- appear to have damaged his public image. More than four in 10 voters say those contributions make them less likely to vote for Bustamante.

Schwarzenegger has relentlessly barraged this state over the last month with ads, the media has been following him around like they're practicing to be Leni Reifenstahl, and he has said nothing substantive ever. His debate performance proves that the patented "stupid is as stupid does" smartass fratboy Bush approach is, once again, a winner with the public.

He is winning because he seems to be filling the role of "leader," a complete misaprehension because movie stars are pampered little princes who are kept away from any of the ugly necessities of leadership on a movie set. They are leaders only to the extent that they usually lead everyone around them to have a nervous breakdown, and Arnold is reputed to be as difficult as any in that respect. I am unaware of any "leadership" he has shown in the various failed investments he tries to pass off as business experience. His restaurant, Schatzi, sucks.

He is a "leader" because he plays a leading man in the movies, period.

Now please give me the lecture again about how off-base I am to argue that the Democrats must find a way to compete in the brand obsessed media environment. And don't forget to harrangue me about the great hoardes of Democrats who have been holding back their votes because the candidates haven't been liberal enough.

Read those numbers above. Democrats in the most Democratic state in the union are saying that they will vote in large numbers for a vapid GOP Hollywood celebrity asshole --- one who will undoubtedly be taking his marching orders from Karl Rove because he is incapable of doing the job on his own --- rather than keep the Democrat they voted for less than a year ago or the perfectly acceptable Democratic Lieutenant Governor they voted in the same election to be the person best to replace him.

We are our own worst enemy. If I could stomach their policies, I'd be tempted to become a Republican myself. At least they vote their own self interest.

Objective Career Prosecutors

Josh Marshall posts the new Gonzales letter telling White House staffers more specifically what they have to stop shredding. He notes that the two Newsday reporters who did the best early work on the story are part of the mix now:

Knut Royce and Timothy Phelps of Newsday have done some of the best reporting of anyone in town on the whole issue of Iraq, politicized intelligence and the Joe Wilson matter. They've clearly got some awfully good and pretty generous sources. What are their names doing in this memo?

If I were a cynical person I might just think that ole Johinnie Ashcroft and the boys are trying to help Uncle Karl find out who's been naughty and nice. But, that would be if I were cynical.

The last time we saw anything like that was when Nixon was in office....

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?

The Note says:

If you care even a whit about America having a civil national public discourse (during this time and forever), read every word of David Brooks' brilliant New York Times column, and thank Arthur for hiring him.

Well, I do care about America having a civil national public discourse, but I'm certainly not frigging dumb enough to believe that this is best done by continuing year after year to kowtow to Republicans and allowing them to constantly change the rules to their own advantage.

This hectoring about the Democrats' "bad manners" is getting ridiculous. They are basically saying:

The Republicans played the lowest form of dirty politics in order to gain complete institutional power in Washington. Democrats are very angry about these tactics and they are fighting back.

This is a terrible way to conduct our politics and the Democrats should stop it right now.

... while the Republicans consolidate the power they attained by continuing to use dirty tactics.

Everything will be allright if the Democrats do the right thing and let the Republicans do whatever they want.

It's too bad nobody said much about this when the Republicans were systematically trying to destroy the Clintons and anybody who ever crossed their path, but that's spilled milk and everybody should get over it.

Surely, if Democrats just set a good example now, they won't ever do it again.

While I am so very impressed with the logic of this argument, I can't endorse it right now because I'm afraid that "setting a good example" isn't really going to get the job done, you know what I mean?

I just have the niggling feeling that certain types of bullying pricks on this earth aren't really open to the finer ideas of "civil discourse." Particularly those who pay and listen to people who spend upwards of, say, 40 hours a week working themselves into a complete frenzy of loathing against the "enemy" (who, by the way, is me.)

Something tells me that it would be a tiny bit naive of me to believe that these modern Republicans, who have shown they will go to any lengths to smear and destroy their political oppposition, are going to be chastened by my fine example of turning the other cheek to their merciless onslaught of invective toward me and everything I believe. In fact, it's been my experince that they find that attitude is an invitation to laugh uproariously while they rhetorically deliver a gratuitous kick in the teeth. Ask Max Cleland about that.

It just seems like common sense that if you've been hit over the head for 15 solid years by the same people that you are fucking fool if you don't put up your dukes and hit back at some point. Contrary to the lies and myths of the GOP, Democrats are not actually pacifists. We may be slow to boil, but we are perfectly capable of fighting when we are pushed too hard. And we have been pushed way beyond any civilized limits.

This isn't really about Bush hatred. The man is just a figurehead, unworthy of much more than amused derision for his obvious lack of command and intellect. Democratic anger is about an arrogant and merciless political movement that simply does not respond to ordinary notions of civility or compromise. They have misrepresented themselves to the American public. Their tactics are ruthless and immoral and they are governing in a radical and undemocratic fashion.

Our passion and our anger is directed at a machine that is not observing traditional standards of decency and through long and difficult experience we have learned that they cannot be stopped simply by "setting a good example." Anybody who hasn't yet grasped that is either willfully blind or intellectually stunted.

Oh yes. And thank you Arthur for giving another column to a Republican shill. How very Fair and Balanced of you. But, take my word for it. You can't buy their love and you can't appease them no matter how whorish you become. Until you completely turn the Gray Lady into the Washington Times you are the enemy. Just a little word to the wise.

Loose Lips

Alterman points to this little gem from last April. It's a real goodie:

Later, after the terrorist attacks, Woodward and another reporter interviewed Mr. Bush in the Oval Office.

The reporters had an hour to ask their questions. But Woodward said the president gave them 90 minutes, often speaking candidly about classified information and explaining the reasons behind some of his actions.

Apparently, even the president spills classified information pretty much willy

He one went on to say:

Certainly Richard Nixon would not have allowed reporters to question him like that. Bush's father [former President George Bush] wouldn't allow it. Clinton wouldn't allow it.

"As a journalist I like somebody who is straight and direct," Woodward said.

Yeah. He likes him. He really likes him.

Perhaps it might be useful to ask the president about this next time the White House press whores get a chance to pull his string and turn on his pre-programmed Chatty-Cathy response of the day. It's always so entertaining to watch him get that far away look in his eye as he answers different questions exactly the same way over and over and over again.

Angry Spooks

Just a couple of observations on the events of the last few days.

----First, when reading the transcript of the gaggle yesterday, I find nobody asking Scott McClellan why he thinks Bob Novak is lying. He says over and over again, after all, that they "have no evidence" that the leaks emanated from the administration. He says they cannot be expected to investigate every leak that is printed in the press, (lamely neglecting the fact that this particular one is clearly a felony and breach of national security in wartime) as if such stories are routinely made up.

But, it wasn't just any journalist who wrote this story. It was staunch conservative Bob Novak. Unless they think he made it all up, they have the evidence they need to investigate this particular leak. Bob Novak's word.

--- One item in the Post story of the 29th caught my eye and I haven't seen much interest in it. It says:

Three weeks ago, intelligence officials said, the CIA returned to the Justice Department a standard 11-question form detailing the potential damage done by the release of the information. Officials said it may have been the first such report ever filed on the unauthorized disclosure of an operative's name.

It would seem that despite claims that CIA referrals to the FBI are as routine as spring rain, this particular type of referral appears to be highly unusual if not unprecedented.

The bigger issue, it seems to me, is the ongoing war between the CIA and the administration. It is clear that the administration "sexed-up" the intelligence and is now trying to shift the blame to the CIA for it. When the administration stupidly attempted to make Tenet take the fall for the Niger flap the battle was drawn. The CIA is fighting back.

They were used and brow beaten into making assessments that fit the agenda of a bunch of neocon radicals. The assessments have been proven spectacularly wrong, and the CIA is left holding the bag. The congress is issuing reports that they provided lousy intelligence which means that they are going to have to defend themselves against charges of incompetence.

This is a very dangerous situation for the administration; the CIA is not the institution you want to make your enemy. The Plame affair is really only the first shot across the bow.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Nonsense Defense

The standard defense today seems to be that no crime was committed because Plame wasn't actually an undercover operative. Novak said:

"....According to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs. Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operator, and not in charge of undercover operatives'...

The strange shill who they had on Crossfire to defend the Bush administration on this (who also claimed that because Plame was still alive, there wasn't any credence to the story!) said something about Plame being a "glorified secretary."

Can someone explain logically why the CIA would refer the matter to the Justice Department if Plame wasn't undercover? Is it up to the Justice Department to determine the definition of "undercover?"

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Cancer Warning

I don't have a lot of time today so I can't get into the Plame story as much as I'd like. As I wrote on the issue back in July:

It would be very wrong of me to speculate wildly that the infamous smear operation of the South Carolina primary that is now working right in the White House "communications shop" could possibly be behind this (or more trivially but just as telling, behind the Drudge Report expose of the "Gay Canadian" reporter.)

But, just for the sake of conversation, it is interesting to remember what has happened in the past when the Bushies found themselves on the defensive. In this Salon article Jake Tapper notes the slimeball activities of certain Bush staffers and quotes a senior McCain advisor as saying about the Florida strategy, "When the going gets tough for Governor Bush, he turns to the darker side of our party. We saw that in South Carolina, and we see that today."

I'm certain that these same people who now work extremely closely with George W. Bush and his advisors would never resort to such dishonorable and undignified behavior in the sacred office of the President of the United States. It's merely a coincidence that the tactics are so very similar.

The people in Dan Bartlett's shop are professional liars and smear artists. Bartlett, Eskew and Wilkinson, particularly, are political operatives who have been elevated to the very top of the administration's foreign policy apparatus and have been deeply involved in the "selling" of the Iraq war. From a Newsweek web exclusive article September 18, 2002:

For starters there’s Deputy Communications Director Jim Wilkinson, 32, a fast-talking Texan who has become an unlikely but keen student of Islam. He recently got back from a trip to Morocco where he continued his study of Arabic (which he can now read and write pretty well).

It was Wilkinson who spearheaded the successful Afghan women’s campaign last year. A Naval Reserve officer, Wilkinson got his start working with Bush ally Texas Rep. Dick Armey. He’s the go-to guy when the White House needs information against its enemies.

In the last few weeks, he and his underlings have weeded through hundreds of pages of news clippings, U.N. resolutions and State Department reports to compile an arsenal of documents against Saddam Hussein. They released the first round last week: "Decade of Defiance and Deception" (a broken-U.N.-resolutions hit parade).

Then there’s Tucker Eskew, 41, a savvy South Carolinian, who will soon be named the director of the new Office of Global Communications, which will be formally launched this fall. Neither a Texan nor a lifelong Bushie, he earned his stripes during the Florida election mess by becoming the campaign’s tropical smooth-talker.

During the Afghan conflict, the White House sent Eskew to London, where he worked with British spin master Alastair Campbell on setting up the first version of an actual war "war room." Campbell was an inspiration for Bill Clinton’s 24/7 rapid-response communications team.


The Band started, not coincidentally, right after the White House had to pull an op-ed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that The Washington Post was planning to publish on Sunday, Sept. 8. The piece was an argument for preemptive strikes—President Bush’s new foreign-policy doctrine.

But that was not the message of the week as Bush planned to look more multilateral days later in front of the U.N.

Some members of the National Security Council staff raised the alarm, and the White House yanked the article. From that point on, the Band would coordinate.

They often include Mary Matalin, Tori Clarke and Richard Boucher (the mouth guards for Cheney, Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, respectively) on the daily conference calls.

This group is a foreign policy spin operation comprised of veterans of the dirtiest elements of the Bush 2000 campaign. It is the nexus of politics and policy on the Iraq war in the Bush administration.

I believe that Bartlett is one of the senior administration officials who dropped the dime on Plame. I don't know who the other was, but it doesn't really matter. They do not operate alone; they are entrenched within the hierarchy. These guys answer the highest reaches of the White House and the White House uses them for what they were hired to do. Lie, spin and intimidate on matters of national security.

There is a fast moving malignancy in the Bush White House. It metastisized from Campaign 2000 to Rove's and Cheney's office to the NSC and the political foreign policy spin operation. It is deadly.

Interestingly, this article also mentions that Bartlett and the band were in daily contact with Campbell as the dodgy dossier was being prepared ... these fellows always seem to be around when clumsy lies are being told.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Simplism is as simplism does

The issue of Clark’s supposed flip-flop on the war is as Josh Marshall says part of the media’s apparent embrace of “simplism as the new integrity.” Clark made the mistake of speaking to political reporters in complex terms instead of bumper sticker slogans, which is akin to accidentally saying the F word in front of a group of 4 year olds --- they don’t understand what you’re saying but you know they’re going to embarrass you by repeating it.

He went some way toward fixing that today in the debate by joking good-naturedly, “in my 9 days in politics I’ve learned never to answer a hypothetical question.”

As Franklin Foer points out in his article on the subject in TNR, Bush made a case that he needed the resolution to convince the UN that America was serious in wanting Saddam to “disarm.” Most people believed that Saddam had at least a usable cache of biological or chemical weapons --- he certainly had acted as if he had something to hide. If you took Bush at his word, it appeared that he wanted to use the threat of military force to make Saddam allow inspectors back in under the imprimatur of the UN because he might let those weapons get into the hands of terrorists.

According to Foer:

[at the time] Tom Daschle argued, "I am not confident that they will not see it as a green light, which is why I admonished the administration to remember this is the first step." Clark may be naïve for sharing this stance, and it may reveal him to be less of a dove than many liberals imagined, but it doesn't make him a flip-flopper.

I’m not surprised that a former military man would fall into the camp of those who voted for the resolution. That camp consisted of 28 of the 50 Democrats in the Senate (including such right wingers as Tom Harkin and Chris Dodd) so it isn’t exactly an exotic position. And in the 50/50 Senate it was going to pass as long as Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman still had a breath in their bodies.

(I thought it was stupid and cynical for any Democrat who wasn’t in a tightly contested race in the south to take that position because I believed it would depress turnout in the mid-terms and we would lose the Senate --- and I was right.)

I don’t trust Bush as far as I can throw him, so I can’t imagine voting to support any war he wants to wage unless it is in direct retaliation for attacking us first --- like Afghanistan. Especially with Don Strangelove and Dick Razputin running the show. And, I think some of the safe seat presidential contenders made a bad political calculation that was obviously wrong. But I grant that it wasn’t an easy call for those who had to actually make it. And it most certainly wasn’t simple.

I wrote at the time that Bush would get credit for running the most courageous bluff in history if he had the guts to take yes for an answer and allow the inspections to run their course and keep Saddam on a leash. Bush had said, "If you want to keep the peace, you've got to have the authorization to use force," and rather than tossing it off as the usual incoherent gibberish, many believed that this statement meant he was trying to force Saddam's hand without actually invading.

But, neither the Senators nor General Clark had any idea how much George W. Bush was dying to shimmy into a skintight jumpsuit and prance around an aircraft carrier like a Chippendales dancer. Now they do.


How much is it worth to Howard Fineman and Chris Matthews to maintain their prize spots as first ladies of the Bush harem?

It must be quite a lot. And, they do so love their jobs.

Fineman pretty much feels the Democrats are hardly worth talking about they're so insignificant. And, Matthews managed to get the words Wesley Clark, stinky, Monica and Marion Barry all in one sentence. Tony Blankley belched something indiscipherable. And Lawrence O'Donnell tried to defend Clark's specificity to derisive laughter and eye rolling all around.

Ralph Reed's up next to provide the view from the left. Feel the magic.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Lord Saleton's Edict

Hear ye, hear ye:

If you want to see the tricks of the right exposed, read Somerby. If you want to hear the tricks of the left exposed, listen to Limbaugh. But if you don't want to get trapped inside either wing's echo chamber, read Slate.

*sniff* Ooooh yes indeed. Listen to the rabble if you must. This Sommerby and this Limbaugh are two sides of the same dirty coin. They soil me with their equally coarse blind partisanship so that I cannot even bear to read or listen to them myself.

Take my advice. For a truly vapid and incomprehensible (yet edifyingly elitist) waste of time, do read His Grace's fine paeons to the terminally passionless and intellectually banal.

Then have a bracing snifter of brandy and treat yourself to a good wank.

(I'll Rip Your) Face-Off!

Lame, theatrical, embarrassing. But, you can't help but love those battling Gabor sisters.

This is what the voters have to choose from in California. An arrogant Austrian prick, a typical GOP Nazi, a testy new age Greenie, a glib professional provacateur and Mr. Spacely.

Does everyone finally understand how Gray Davis won two elections?

Tiresome Hypocritical GOP Meme Of The Day

The press isn't giving the whole story on Iraq. They are being biased as usual. The media only cares about violence. If it bleeds it leads. Shame, shame on them. Little schoolchildren are learning arithmetic. US soldiers are playing soccer with grateful Iraqis. Everything is going really well.

Don't believe anything you see unless you see it on FoxNews.

Worn Out Saws

Michael Tomasky has an interesting read about this ridiculous whisper campaign about the evil Clintons being behind the Clark campaign. He points out the obvious truth that most Americans aren't exactly frothing at the mouth about Clinton anymore, if they ever were. In fact, the entirely predictable knee jerk grab for the Clenis whenever things get dicey is getting almost funny.

However, he doesn't mention the oft repeated observation that blaming the Clintons for everything from global warming to male pattern baldness usually gets some dollars flowing from the rubes. (Not that the greedy bastards need any more cash --- it's getting to the point where it might actually be easier for them to just buy every American a new car if they'll vote for Junior than run a campaign.)

But, there is a small, vocal minority on the left who have always disliked Clinton and what they perceive as his creature, the DLC. Safire and the boys may be helping to stoke that little bonfire. Either that, or Safire is simply consumed with lust for Hillary -- he's completely insane on the subject.

I have had some serious strategic disagreements with the DLC this past year (and they need to enter the new millenium, anyway) but they are members of the team and I'm not pushing anybody off the bus as we're heading into what is very likely to be another close election.

As for what the whole "evil Clinton cabal" thing actually accomplishes, I think Tomasky has it right. It is very, very tired. I can't imagine that anybody but the most obsessed wing-nuts do anything but roll their eyes and yawn.

They need a new schtick. The France bashing really isn't working, Osama and Saddam are probably holed up in Uzbekistan watching re-runs of "Mannix" on TVLand, and "liberals" have been reduced to a bunch of ineffectual, treasonous pussies. They have to find a new object for their loathing or the AM radio ratings are going to tank.

I wonder if those couple of arrests down in Gitmo might just portend the development of a new target.

Democracy DeLayed

For some reason I never hear the real reason the Texas redistricting plan is undemocratic. It’s not because they are redistricting just 2 years after it was done by a court. That’s not customary and if it’s practiced widely it’s going to throw the machinery of democracy for a loop. But, it’s not strictly undemocratic.

The reason this reprehensible ploy is undemocratic is because the reason that Republicans hold fewer congressional seats than their Republican majority would normally call for is because there are some Texas Republicans who split their ticket and vote for a Democratic representative.

I’m sure that DeLay has held guys like Martin Frost’s head in the toilet at the Capitol gym and threatened to cut of his “funding” if he didn’t switch to Republican, but it didn’t work. And, I’m sure they’ve done everything possible to get those rural Republicans to vote for someone else and that didn’t work either. Those Texans like their congressman and they don’t care that he is a Democrat.

These Democrats, as you might expect, are not exactly bleeding heart liberals and vote like republicans more often than not. DeLay wants to get rid of them purely for reasons of Party strength, not ideology.

So, he and Rove are doing an end run by redistributing the constituents who like these Democrats into uncohesive districts, many of which make no sense at all in terms of common concerns and affinity.

Basically, DeLay is using technical rules to deny members of his own party the right to have the congressman of their choice. That sure sounds undemocratic to me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Here I Go Again

Here's some rather obtuse analysis for you from TNR, which should know better:

We don't entirely agree with the reasoning behind Dick Morris's prediction of a Wesley Clark flame-out. But Morris does have a point when he says, "The Dean candidacy is the first creation of the Internet age. By contrast, Clark's is perhaps the last of the media-created candidacies."

A number of conservatives (and non-conservatives) have compared Clark to Ross Perot to foreshadow what they hope are the soon-to-be-exposed flaws in Clark's candidacy--namely, that he's a little short-tempered, nutty, and prone to conspiracy theories. But the real value in the analogy between Clark and Perot has less to do with the characterological flaws the men share than with what Morris rightly identifies as the media-driven nature of their campaigns.

If Dick Morris says it, you can be sure it's utter bullshit and this one is a doozy.

Here are just a few of Dickie's greatest hits:

"Eventually, France will cave to the U.S. position." - On the Iraq/war alliance, New York Post, February 4, 2003

"Republican members of the Senate want their own person controlling the floor so they can have an independent voice ... When they reconvene in January, Trent Lott will still be there for one good reason: The Republican senators don't want him to go." - New York Post, December 16, 2002

"(U)nless (GWB) starts this war on schedule in September ... he's going to lose Congress." - Fox News Channel, Hannity & Colmes, August 5, 2002

"None, none." - The Sean Hannity Show, May 13, 2002, in response to Sean asking if Dick has any doubt that Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2008

Yeah, he's the fucking oracle of Delphi.

But his greater "point" (and that of TNR) is total nonsense as well. All campaigns are media driven campaigns.

The greatest political media creation is history is George W. Bush -- not Ross Perot and not Wesley Clark. Karl Rove managed to get over 50 million people to vote for a brand name in an empty suit for president. He further managed to turn this ventriloquist dummy into someone whom over 60% of the people believe is a "strong leader."

The Republican media operation managed the media so effectively during the last administration, with tabloid style manipulation and constant spoon-feeding of speculation and innuendo, that it created an environment in which the line between fact and fiction has narrowed to the point that our current president can lie blatantly about matters of life and death while the “press” meekly stands by and treats it as a purely partisan matter.

Politics IS the media. Rather than this election featuring “the last media campaign” I'm afraid we are really only seeing the beginning.

As I have said before, I agree that the internet is potentially a powerful organizing and communication tool. Lest people remain confused about the massive influence of the internet on ordinary Americans today, or the huge liberal movement it signifies, it would do well for them to read the PEW center report(pdf) on internet usage and attitudes on the Iraq war.

If you make the logical correlation between liberal politics, an anti-war position and internet usage, we are a long, long way from critical mass.

89% of all Americans reported that they get most their news from television. 87% of internet users report the same thing. In fact, only 17% of internet users reported that they get most of their news from the internet. 64% of those who got any of their news from the internet believed it was about the same as the news they got elsewhere. 76% said they got their news from American network sites, newspaper sites or US government sites. Only 18% reported that they regularly visited foreign and alternative sites.

6% said they got news from sites opposed to the war. 4% visited blogs.

In the days before the Iraq war, internet users supported the war by a 3 – 1 margin. They were more likely than non-internet users to think that the war was going well and that president Bush had made the right decision.

54% of internet users had said they sent or received patriotic e-mails or prayer requests with respect to the war. 10% received information from an organization opposed to the war. 5% communicated with an elected representative about the issue.

By the same token, while it seems terribly impressive that an estimated 70.1 million watched the first night of the Baghdad bombing on the eight major news networks: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, it should be noted that the January 2001 Super Bowl attracted 79.5 million viewers.

Just the top 10 rated TV shows on prime time gain a weekly audience of about 200 million viewers, on average.

The fact is that most Americans are going to vote on the basis of what they see in the mainstream media and a large amount of that through advertising and quick cuts of news images. They are going to make a decision based less on specific issues and more on an emotional reaction to the candidate and the party. They are not going to be largely motivated by the internet, no matter how much we news junkies and bloggers would like to see that happen. That just isn’t the world most Americans live in.

None of this is to denigrate Dean’s accomplishment (or the draftClark people, for that matter.) And I see no reason why Dean cannot win a media campaign if he gets the nomination. His rolled-up-sleeves, straight talking approach and feisty willingness to speak truth to power is a very potent television image, if handled properly.

Because, let’s face it liberals --- it’s not his stand on gun control or balancing the federal budget that gets you all excited about this guy either. It’s his attitude and personality that turns you on.

That’s what I’m talking about and that’s how campaigns are won and lost in this country nowadays. If more people watched the super bowl than the opening night of the war, I think it’s fair to say that we’re going to need to run a “media campaign” if we want to win this one.

Not even “Shock and Awe” could get as many viewers as the thrilling contest between Tampa Bay and New York --- and that super bowl was the lowest rated since 1990.

They Remind Me Of My Maiden Aunt Sally

Thank you TBOGG for the link to the best laugh I've had in weeks:

Needles on the Beach's Prick(s) of the week: Master Ben Shapiro and his cadre of sad little Bushie Jungen:

But the perpetual adolescent in me would say that if you’re a 17-year old (who’s been in the biz for a couple of years) who frequents airports and worries about the miniscule chance that a terrorist will board his plane and kill him – you are a fucking loser. Might as well give up now, punk. It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).

What a fucking pussy. We – that is, those of us who were adolescents from 1953 to 1991 – lived under a modulating, but ever-present threat that our lunatic, lazy or brain-damaged ‘leaders’ were going to end mankind with the touch of a button. Not an airliner. Not a few blocks of a city. The WHOLE FUCKING PLANET. Now that’s fear, baby. Knowing that ‘duck and cover’ would ensure that we were atomically fused to the underside of a desk, or that Reagan simply could have thought he was ringing the butler instead of ending life as we knew it - man, it was a bracing time.

Read it all. You'll thank yourself.

* haha. Fixed freudian slip. Thanks p mac. Although it actually worked the other way too...

Non-stick Pans

Sullivan dutifully repeats the brand new shiny meme that Wesley Clark is a loopy nutcase a la Ross Perot.

I'm sure the kool aid kidz are lapping this stuff up, but it's not going to work for real, actual humans out in Murica.

See, they believed that Ross Perot was a nut because he acted like a nut on national television. He babbled like an idiot about half the time and even gave interviews claiming that George Bush tried to disrupt his daughter's wedding and that secret agents had scaled the walls of his compound. True, by the end of that campaign, Ross still got 20% of the vote, but apparently some people just like a screwball.

Clark may be a lot of things, but a screwball he's not. Nobody is going to believe he's a crazed kook because it's obvious when you see and hear him that he isn't.

The Republicans are trying out a lot of smear campaigns against Clark, Dean and Kerry because they believe that one of them will end up the nominee. (They know that Lieberman is highly unlikely to win, but they hedge their bets by repeatedly calling him the "good Democrat" so the grassroots will be sure to reject him.) As with the justification for the Iraq war, they are throwing everything against the wall and seeing what will stick.

Personally, I haven't seen anything particularly threatening yet.

"Dean is an NPR liberal" doesn't fit because he doesn't come off as a touchy-feely, new-ager, which is the common perception of liberals (except to Ann Coulter who sees us as evil agents of Satan.) Most people have long forgotten what a combative liberal sounds like so they don't really think they exist. Liberals are supposedly lovers, not fighters.

Kerry on the other hand is supposed to be an aloof, patrician blue nose but both his veteran and anti-war experience put him right in the middle of the raucous hedonism of the baby boom cultural revolution. He's actually one of the strongest connections there is to the turbulent 60's version of liberalism but because of his personality and gravitas they can't make that case either.

Clark as a crazed lunatic is belied by his articulate authoritative demeanor as well as his completely straightlaced patriotic biography. Nobody looks at this guy and thinks, "Strangelove." (Not as long as Don Rumsfeld is alive, anyway.)

None of their caricatures bear enough resemblance to the candidates to have any real salience with the public. It worked to some degree with Al Gore, not because he actually was a liar, but because his association with Clinton made it easy for people to make the connection, particularly since the "lies" were silly and personal, like Bill's. More importantly, there seemed to be an (unfair) desire amongst some of the less decent folks in our country to see Gore as a pencil necked geek, probably because of the way he spoke. Certain adolescent assholes enjoyed making fun of him. (Still, he did win the election anyway.)

I do not doubt that the Rove machine is working overtime to find just the right derisive smear against any possible rival. They haven't found them yet.

And, of course, their own boy is so target rich it makes me weep with joy at the prospect of turning their slobbering, lowlife tactics right back at them.

Josh Marshall has more on this topic.

Hack Attack

For any of you devious Rovian trolls out there who think you can use David Hackworth's "Perfumed Prince" accusations against Wesley Clark, think again.

Reporting for Duty: Wesley Clark

By David H. Hackworth, 9/22/03

With Wesley Clark joining the Democratic presidential candidates, there are enough eager bodies pointed toward the White House to make up a rifle squad. This bunch of wannabes could make things increasingly hot for Dubya – as long as they don’t blow each other away with friendly fire.

Since Clark tossed his steel pot into the inferno, I've been constantly asked, “Hack, what do you think of the general?”

For the record, I never served with Clark. But after spending three hours interviewing the man for Maxim’s November issue, I’m impressed. He is insightful, he has his act together, he understands what makes national security tick – and he thinks on his feet somewhere around Mach 3. No big surprise, since he graduated first in his class from West Point, which puts him in the super-smart set with Robert E. Lee, Douglas MacArthur and Maxwell Taylor.

Clark was so brilliant, he was whisked off to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar and didn’t get his boots into the Vietnam mud until well after his 1966 West Point class came close to achieving the academy record for the most Purple Hearts in any one war. When he finally got there, he took over a 1st Infantry Division rifle company and was badly wounded.

Lt. Gen. James Hollingsworth, one of our Army’s most distinguished war heroes, says: “Clark took a burst of AK fire, but didn’t stop fighting. He stayed on the field till his mission was accomplished and his boys were safe. He was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. And he earned ‘em.”

It took months for Clark to get back in shape. He had the perfect excuse, but he didn’t quit the Army to scale the corporate peaks as so many of our best and brightest did back then. Instead, he took a demoralized company of short-timers at Fort Knox who were suffering from a Vietnam hangover and made them the best on post – a major challenge in 1970 when our Army was teetering on the edge of anarchy. Then he stuck around to become one of the young Turks who forged the Green Machine into the magnificent sword that Norman Schwarzkopf swung so skillfully during Round One of the Gulf War.

I asked Clark why he didn’t turn in his bloody soldier suit for Armani and the big civvy dough that was definitely his for the asking.

His response: “I wanted to serve my country.”

He says he now wants to lead America out of the darkness, shorten what promises to be the longest and nastiest war in our history and restore our eroding prestige around the world.

For sure, he’ll be strong on defense. But with his high moral standards and because he knows where and how the game’s played, there will probably be zero tolerance for either Pentagon porking or two-bit shenanigans.

No doubt he’s made his share of enemies. He doesn’t suffer fools easily and wouldn’t have allowed the dilettantes who convinced Dubya to do Iraq to even cut the White House lawn. So he should prepare for a fair amount of dart-throwing from detractors he’s ripped into during the past three decades.

Hey, I am one of those: I took a swing at Clark during the Kosovo campaign when I thought he screwed up the operation, and I called him a “Perfumed Prince.” Only years later did I discover from his book and other research that I was wrong – the blame should have been worn by British timidity and William Cohen, U.S. SecDef at the time.

At the interview, Clark came along without the standard platoon of handlers and treated the little folks who poured the coffee and served the bacon and eggs with exactly the same respect and consideration he gave the biggies in the dining room like my colleague Larry King and Bob Tisch, the Regency Hotel’s owner. An appealing common touch.

But if he wins the election, don’t expect an Andrew Jackson field-soldier type. Clark’s an intellectual, and his military career is more like Ike’s – that of a staff guy and a brilliant high-level commander. Can he make tough decisions? Bet on it. Just like Ike did during his eight hard but prosperous years as president.


I still believe in the dream of a progressive, liberal nation in which everyone has opportunity and security, freedom and equality. And, I would love to see our politics move beyond the canned soundbite and the market tested message so people can debate civilly and sincerely about policies and philosophy, vote their conscience and elevate the discourse, secure in the knowledge that no matter what, America as we know it will continue to thrive.

But, right now I am scared to death that things are changing so fundamentally that not only will I not see any more progress in my lifetime, but that this country is undergoing a radical and perhaps irreversible, right wing revolution that will reverse most of the progress of the last 100 years.

I wish it were 1972 again or even 1992 again and I could feel sanguine that the United States was going to toddle along, for better or worse, under a basic bipartisan consensus that recognized certain constitutional boundaries and limits that could not be breached. I wish that we had an independent media that was less focused on entertainment values and instead recognized that it had an intrinsically important role in democracy. I wish that we were not in the grip of a revolution in technology and communications at the same time as a radical group of idealists have seized power. I wish we had the luxury of choosing candidates purely on the basis of their commitment to a bottom-up revolution of the people and progressive ideas.

Unfortunately, it is not that time. The modern Republican party presents a clear and present danger to everything we hold dear --- the social safety net, the rule of law, civil liberties, consumer protection, a clean environment, international legitimacy --- everything. They envision a one-party state. They mean to completely and thoroughly change the way this country works.

It’s important to recognize that major revolutionary change can happen slowly at first and then all at once in a civilized democratic society through sophisticated propaganda and by undermining the principles of democracy. History provides an instructive example and one that I’m no longer going to shy away from.

One of the least appreciated aspects of the Nazi rise to power is that it is the only fascist government that came to power through legal means. After the Beer Hall putsch, Hitler realized that he would best be served by a combination of some street action for intimidation purposes, but mostly by growing the Nazi party and building legitimate support. He had some success through the 20’s but it wasn’t until the great depression that his support grew significantly and the Nazis won large numbers in the elections of 1930 and 1932.

However, the communists and the social democrats also saw significant gains. The traditional centrist liberal democratic parties had by now been marginalized to such an extent that politics in Germany were now totally polarized. (In the 1928 elections in Germany the social democrats (SPD) had formed a government with broad parliamentary support. It was a broad coalition that included most of the middle parties, and moderate right party the DVP.) By 1930, the country (for many complicated reasons) had become significantly radicalized.

Despite their gains in 1930 and 1932, the Nazis never gained a majority and ended up seizing power through a quasi-legal parliamentary maneuver rather than forming a legitimate coalition. And one of the main strategic reasons they were in a position to effect such a maneuver was that the newly empowered communist KDP had decided that their main enemy was the more moderate social democrat SPD rather than the Nazis. The Communists claimed that the SPD was a more dangerous enemy because it “looked” like a leftist party and therefore undermined the true Marxist vision and enabled capitalism.

They called the social democrats "Social Fascists.” During the period leading up to the fateful deal that made Hitler Chancellor, when the KDP weren’t arguing amongst themselves as to whether they should concentrate on staging a mass revolution or using the democratic system to gain power, they were consumed with subjugating the social democrats who offended their radical sensibilities.

There are many reasons for Hitler's rise, but it is clear that he would never have been in a position to do so if the opposing parties had coalesced to fight him from 1930 on. And again, there are many contributing factors – including, but not limited to, economic crisis, Nazi collusion with big business, a willingness on the part of various Weimar leaders to whittle away at democratic principles and Hitler’s masterful grasp of propaganda that appealed to the German sense of exceptionalism.

However, the radical left could have stopped him by seeing the danger clearly and aiming its fire at their real enemy rather than moderates in their midst in a self-defeating endless debate about strategy and ideological purity. Sadly, they paid a huge price when Hitler did assume dictatorial powers and manufactured a crisis that enabled him to clamp down on communists in his first act of brutal repression.

History never repeats itself exactly the same way and I don't suggest that it is now, but sometimes you have to shake your head and wonder if human motivations are biologically programmed to be dumb in exactly the same ways, over and over again.

Required Reading

The freelancing Dwight Meredith has written some excellent pieces for the fine blogs Lean Left and Body and Soul that everyone should read. (Don't read the second unless you are prepared to bang your head against the wall in total frustration...)

Bush's Little Black Dress and
Justice For All

Hey Dwight, where's mine?

Roll Tape, Please

Pilger uncovered video footage of Powell in Cairo on February 24, 2001 saying, "He (Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours."

Two months later, Rice reportedly said, "We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."


Bring it on.

Barney Fife at the UN

I sure am glad them dumb ferriners cain't read.

In words written as much for a domestic audience as for an international one, Mr. Bush is expected to make limited concessions giving the United Nations more control in Baghdad, as the allies would like. But he will keep real authority in American hands.

"There's a feeling that you have to assert that the United States is still in control, if nothing else for domestic concerns," said a senior administration official, who, like most of those interviewed, requested anonymity.

"We're going into an election year and the president has to project an image of power and authority," the official added. "There will be a lot of language implying that we're not going anywhere. We're asking for help, but not for anyone to take over."

Friday, September 19, 2003

The General Has Been Terminated

Joan Walsh says that Clark's candidacy is being foisted on the Democratic party by Democratic Big Shots. Cool. I should definitely get a slot on the DNC blogroll, now.

The rest of her screed is simple snottiness worthy of Lucianne Goldberg. She's "tempted" to call Clark's candidacy "doomed" after one day because:

...it would just feel good, in a way. A dead-in-the-water Clark candidacy would be a great rebuke to party big shots who are trying to foist him on Democrats because he's more "electable" than Howard Dean or John Kerry. We're going to see about that. It should be interesting."

We're just going to see about that, my pretties ... heeheeheeheehee!

It's funny. Today, I'm hearing very nasty things about Clark --- all of them from Democrats, none of them candidates. Walsh points to a letter in the Note from an "angry democrat" who says:

I am not a Dean supporter -- but I am angry that our party's leaders have anointed an alternative to him who seems even more ignorant and unprepared -- and that this supposed 'anti-war' candidate turns out to have been in favor of both the war resolution and Richard Nixon!! And let's not even talk about the Clintons. Today I am embarrassed to be a Democrat."

Interestingly, I got a handful of similar e-mails today striking a similar theme, one of them from somebody named "Sal" who said:

How can you support Wesley Clark when he's even stupider than Bush? I'm don't support any candidate yet, I'm keeping my options open. Howard Dean never voted for Richard Nixon at least! How much does the DLC pay you, anyway?"

I haven't had this much fun since I argued with Nader voters in 2000. (Oh, and did I mention that I'm a Democrat who, nonetheless, believes that George W. Bush is the messiah?)

Joan figures Clark's toast. One day in and it's over. He's just another Schwarzenegger -- nothing but a lazy, Austrian, weightlifting moron without the women problems (although the day is young....)

But, at least we won't have to endure that nasty campaign we are convinced he must have been planning with those horrible Clinton people.

Maidenly Vapors

Sullywatch catches the Prince of P-Town using a bad, bad phrase to describe a fine fellow traveler, Drudge. Oh my, my. And after calling me a "leftist homophobe" for saying the same thing about Sully himself, along with Lesley Stahl and Howard Fineman, for drooling and simpering over Junior's manly profile (the first time --- when he dressed up in fireman's suit.)

I really wish that Miss Manners would start a blog so we could have someone to consult about the appropriateness of certain political discourse. It gets so confusing.

I had been under the misapprehension that once Republican members of Congress called President Clinton a "scumbag" a "pervert" and a "rapist" among other things, that the GOP had joined the ranks of rappers and cast members of The Sopranos as far as crude, insulting language was concerned. Even the esteemed cheerleader frat-boy himself was seen on television calling a reporter a "major league asshole" and had been quoted saying he and his father talked about "pussy" on the golf course. This newfound willingness to say in public what Richard Nixon had only said in the privacy of the Oval Office, seemed to signal a loosening of the old fashioned edict that elected officials should be civil, at least in public.

Apparently I was wrong about that. Lately, I'm seeing a large number of middle aged Republican men blushing and fidgeting on television over what they say is very inappropriate language on the part of elected Democrats. They are working themselves into a complete tizzy over it.

Ed Gillespie was on CNN the other day practically having to call for the smelling salts he was so upset by the shocking phrase "miserable failure" being applied to the President. He could barely look at the camera he was so embarrassed to have to say such a thing in public. He held back a sob as he whispered, "it's political hate speech."

And just today, the shy and virginal Tom DeLay said "it is disturbing that Democrats have spewed more hateful rhetoric at President Bush then they ever did at Saddam Hussein."

But the brave, young debutante soldiered on. He looked the Democrats right in the eye and said, voice shaking, his little chin trembling, "I call on all the vociferous Democrat critics, from Kerry to Dean and from Daschle to Pelosi, to have the courage to tell their hero Ted Kennedy that he went too far."

I've heard that burning feathers will bring a tightly corseted maid out of a swoon. I would suggest that all the television anchors keep some at the ready, along with a large supply of tissues. The delicate debs of the GOP are likely in for a rough ride over the next few months.

I wonder what the American public is going to make of this newfound delicate sensibility on the right. Certainly, they have forgotten all about that unpleasant impeachment matter and the press are hardly likely to bring up such an unseemly topic. But, you still must wonder how this newfound diffidence and sensitivity will comport with the masculine, fighter jock image that has so captivated Kate O'Beirne and her hot flashing lunch bunch.

Is George W. Bush "Top Gun" or Blanche DuBois?

At the risk of sending Robert Novak to his boudoir with a migraine, I offer a taste of things to come Republicans.

Get out your handkerchiefs.

Jay Leno: "Today, retired General Wesley Clark announced he is running for president of the US. Pretty amazing guy. Four star general, graduated first in his class at West Point, supreme commander of NATO, served combat in Vietnam. What, he won the bronze star, silver star, the purple heart. Wounded in battle. See, I'm no political expert, but that sounds pretty good next to choking on a pretzel, falling off a scooter and dropping the dog."

Why, I never...

Rock the Donkey

Buzzflash and I both have hurt feelings that we weren't included on the "Kicking Ass" DNC blogroll, but I'll give them a plug anyway. (Me, I can understand ... but Buzzflash???)

Join the Carville/Begala $500,000 challenge.

Round Two

As I was pondering this problem with the cheese eaters last night, I remembered that our good friend Michael Ledeen was way out ahead of Tom Friedman in recognizing that the French are now an official enemy of the United States.

Last March, when the vin guzzlers first had the ineffable gall to stand in the way of an immediate invasion --- one which which we insisted was imperative because Saddam was blatantly lying about his massive cache of WMD and was preparing to use them any minute (ahem) --- Ledeen set forth his theory about France’s cunning plan to destroy America:

How could it be done? No military operation could possibly defeat the United States, and no direct economic challenge could hope to succeed. That left politics and culture. And here there was a chance to turn America's vaunted openness at home and toleration abroad against the United States.

So the French and the Germans struck a deal with radical Islam and with radical Arabs: You go after the United States, and we'll do everything we can to protect you, and we will do everything we can to weaken the Americans.

The Franco-German strategy was based on using Arab and Islamic extremism and terrorism as the weapon of choice, and the United Nations as the straitjacket for blocking a decisive response from the United States.


If this is correct, we will have to pursue the war against terror far beyond the boundaries of the Middle East, into the heart of Western Europe. And there, as in the Middle East, our greatest weapons are political: the demonstrated desire for freedom of the peoples of the countries that oppose us.

Radio Free France, anyone?

I'm surprised that Mr. Friedman hasn't yet made the connection that Ledeen made lo those many months ago. France is not just any old enemy of the US. It is protecting its terrorist partners in their mutual plan to destroy the United States.

(Just as obvious are the French people’s desires for freedom. Dr. Rice drew the obvious comparison when she observed that we liberated the German people from Hitler in WWII. It may be time to open a can 'o whoop ass on the dictator Jacques Chirac and give those Frenchies a whiff 'o freedom fries.)

Luckily, according to the NY Times today Colin and Condi also have a cunning plan in place -- the same plan, as it happens, that worked so spectacularly during the last UN negotiations.

Last winter, in the face of a threat by France to wield its veto power, the United States tried to line up 9 of the 15 Security Council votes to pass a resolution authorizing the use of force to overthrow Saddam Hussein. American officials said that if they had won the votes, France might have abandoned its veto threat.

President Bush then maintained that the United States did not need the resolution to go to war.

The big difference this time is that even French officials say France will not veto a new resolution.

"Powell is upset about the French, but the fact is they are not in a combative mood on this," a senior European diplomat said. "Behind closed doors, the French are saying they would never dream of vetoing. There is no fighting spirit here."


American officials discussing the strategy of trying to isolate France said it reflected mounting concern among administration officials that in their view, virtually every policy adopted by France in recent months has seemed to try to thwart American policies in Iraq and elsewhere.

"There are just a lot of bad feelings toward the French," an administration official said. "Every time they talk about multilateralism, we know that it's nothing more than a euphemism for constraining the United States."

Earlier this year, the administration was surprised when Russia sided with France over the war resolution. Germany's opposition had been well known. The other surprise was the American failure to enlist African and Latin American nations.
After that diplomatic setback, the administration adopted a policy of punishing France in symbolic ways.

In effect, administration officials say, the policy now is to enlist the Germans in negotiating a possible compromise resolution and to offer Russia a chance to take part in Iraq's reconstruction — as well as get a share of the lucrative contracts to be offered. Mr. Powell has repeatedly praised Russia and Germany for trying to work out a compromise.

A diplomat familiar with administration thinking summarized the American policy as "talk to the Germans, buy off the Russians and isolate the French."

Another was less polite, saying Condoleezza Rice, the White House national security adviser, had characterized the approach as "ignore, reward and punish."

Now why is the administration leaking such things to the NY Times and gullible useful idiots like Tom Friedman? And why would we adopt the same exact strategy we used last time with such spectacularly bad results?

Well, perhaps it’s because the results we are seeking are not the ones we claim they are. Maybe we don’t really want the UN involved in Iraq (especially now that we’ve found out they aren’t going to pony up much more than Dick Cheney’s annual Hallibuton stipend.) Perhaps we are after the same results as last time for the same reasons: buying time, scapegoating, delegitimizing the UN and domestic politics.

Those damned French are refusing to do what is needed to reconstruct Iraq and that is why it is not succeeding. If Rove plays his cards right, in a matter of months the administration should be able to convince a majority of Americans that the French are paying terrorists rewards for every American they kill in Iraq.

But, Colin and Condi will bear any burden, take any amount of time necessary to ensure that we do everything we can to force France to stop supporting terrorism and live up to its obligations. It could take months, but they will not give up --- at least until things calm down enough for President Flightsuit Arbusto to triumphantly parachute into Baghdad with his harness cinched up so high that G. Gordon Liddy pops a Viagra and propositions Chris Matthews on live television.

They’re looking at around October, 2004 to officially declare victory over the Iraqi terrorists and their French partners.

At which point Wolfie and the Dicks will open up that bottle of Dom Perignon they’ve been hoarding in the basement of the Pentagon and privately declare Operation Elect the Moron a success.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that things will not magically improve in Iraq over the next year, in which case we will have to declare war on the Syrians.

France will not have anyone but itself to blame if that happens.


As I have said many times, the neocons have always been wrong about everything. Until now, they were kept in a little corner where they couldn't do any catastrophic harm:

AMY GOODMAN: And you worked directly under George Bush

RAY MCGOVERN: I did when he was director for CIA and later I saw him every other morning for a couple of years in the 80’s when he was Vice President.

AMY GOODMAN: Doing what?

RAY MCGOVERN: I was one of the briefers who prepared the President’s daily brief and delivered it and briefed people one on one with the senior officials downtown.

AMY GOODMAN:Now one of the things we are talking about a lot and seeing a lot is that the same people that were there during the Reagan-Bush years and even before, the Wolfowitzes the Rumsfelds, Cheneys were there then. What was George Bush’s view of these people then?

RAY MCGOVERN: Well, you know it’s really interesting. When we saw these people coming back in town, all of us said who were around in those days said, oh my god, ‘the crazies’ are back – ‘the crazies’ – that’s how we referred to these people.

AMY GOODMAN: Did George Bush refer to them that way?

RAY MCGOVERN: That’s the way everyone referred to them.

AMY GOODMAN: Including George Bush?

RAY MCGOVERN: Well, when Wolfowitz prepared that defense posture statement in 1991, where he elucidated the strategic vision that has now been implemented, Jim Baker, Secretary of State, Brent Scowcroft, security advisor to George Bush, and George Bush said hey, that thing goes right into the circular file. Suppress that thing, get rid of it. Somebody had the presence of mind to leak it and so that was suppressed. But now to see that arise out of the ashes and be implemented. while we start a war against Iraq, I wonder what Bush the first is really thinking. Because these were the same guys that all of us referred to as ‘the crazies’.

This is what happens when you allow a spoiled, stupid prince with a daddy complex to take control of the most powerful country in the world. It's worth remembering how Lil' Cap'n T-Ball came to bring this entire group of nutballs into the highest reaches of decision making:

From Salon, How the neoconservatives conquored Washington by Michael Lind

They [the neocons] supported the maverick senator John McCain until it became clear that Bush would get the nomination.

Then they had a stroke of luck -- Cheney was put in charge of the presidential transition (the period between the election in November and the accession to office in January). Cheney used this opportunity to stack the administration with his hard-line allies. Instead of becoming the de facto president in foreign policy, as many had expected, Secretary of State Powell found himself boxed in by Cheney's right-wing network, including Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Bolton and Libby.

The neocons took advantage of Bush's ignorance and inexperience. Unlike his father, a Second World War veteran who had been ambassador to China, director of the CIA, and vice president, George W was a thinly educated playboy who had failed repeatedly in business before becoming the governor of Texas, a largely ceremonial position (the state's lieutenant governor has more power). His father is essentially a northeastern moderate Republican; George W, raised in west Texas, absorbed the Texan cultural combination of machismo, anti-intellectualism and overt religiosity. The son of upper-class Episcopalian parents, he converted to Southern fundamentalism in a midlife crisis. Fervent Christian Zionism, along with an admiration for macho Israeli soldiers that sometimes coexists with hostility to liberal Jewish-American intellectuals, is a feature of the Southern culture.

The younger Bush was tilting away from Powell and toward Wolfowitz ("Wolfie," as he calls him) even before 9/11 gave him something he had lacked: a mission in life other than following in his dad's footsteps. There are signs of estrangement between the cautious father and the crusading son: Last year, veterans of the first Bush administration, including Baker, Scowcroft and Lawrence Eagleburger, warned publicly against an invasion of Iraq without authorization from Congress and the U.N.

It's Shakespearean. The question is whether it's tragedy or farce.


Tristero tells Nicholas Lehman that he needs to stop assuming that Bush has ideas that are worth discussing.

Wha?? There's nothing impressive about what Bush said at all, except for the sheer stupidity of framing an argument so badly. The Middle East will never be a place that is either progressive and peaceful or violent and terrifying. The world doesn't work that way. There is never peace or violence; they must inevitably coexist. To frame the Middle East situation as Bush does is, at best, an invitation to an endless, fruitless, insane crusade (yes, that word) to eliminate evil. It can never be accomplished because evil, as Bush uses the term, is a worthless concept. Bush's reasoning is the reasoning of a moral idiot and you are an enabler of his idiocy by declaring it "impressive", despite the fact that you refute his point immediately afterwards.

You do this a lot, Nick. You seem to admire Bush's words and merely regret that his words don't apply very well to the situation. You are making a terrible mistake. Bush's premises are profoundly flawed.

I agree wholeheartedly. This is true of a lot of good writers who are trying to sort out just what in the hell is going on with this administration. They are rational people so they begin with the idea that Junior and the Retreads are pursuing some sort of logical ends. In order to try and organize what they see, I think they end up having to attach meaning to words and actions that simply aren't there in order to keep themselves from going crazy. I know that it is one of the constant pitfalls in my own thinking.

I have have to remind myself that they are like sharks, a predatory eating machine. They have a list of goals, many unassociated and many contradictory, but they just keep moving --- relentlessly biting off one item at a time without regard to the consequences. Logic has nothing to do with it.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Holy Codpiece, Batman!

Mahablog says the Bushies are playing a six degrees of separation game with Saddam and al Qaeda:

What the neocons are trying to do is akin to a "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" game. Much of the world is swarming with Muslim terrorist groups, and sometimes these groups work together, and sometimes they don't, and some individuals move between groups, and if you look hard enough you can always find this guy who knew this other guy who was in an al Qaeda cell, and the first guy met with somebody who knew Saddam Hussein ten years ago, according to another guy.

Hell, using this same technique, we could prove that George W. Bush was in league with al Qaeda. There are fewer degrees of separation between him and Osama than most other people on the planet.

This is correct. In fact, there are only two degrees of separation --

Bush - Arbusto investor Salem bin Laden - Osama bin Laden

Bush - Dana Rohrbacher - Osama bin Laden

Bush - Prince Bandar - Osama bin Laden

Still, as much as I like this theory, reader Dennis S. clued me into another that I find more believable. He believes that Junior himself has been convinced of a far more insidious type of conspiracy, one with which he is intimately familiar and one that he continues to study to this day.

Remember the old Batman TV series? How all the badguys would hang out together? The Riddler and the Penguin et al, plotting against Batman? President Dikhed thinks that since Osama and Saddam are both bad guys they obviously must hang out and plot against Commander Codpeice, superhero of the American Way.

I think this might be the real reason for the persistent yammering about a non-existent connection between al Qaeda and Saddam. To Junior, that is the way the world works.

Pushing Back

After reading today’s puerile little anti-French screed I am forced to conclude that anything insightful Tom Friedman ever wrote was a fluke.

He says the French are our enemy because they have not magnanimously offered to “assemble an army of 25,000 Eurotroops, and a $5 billion reconstruction package, and then saying to the Bush team: Here, we're sincere about helping to rebuild Iraq, but now we want a real seat at the management table. Instead, the French have put out an ill-conceived proposal, just to show that they can be different, without any promise that even if America said yes Paris would make a meaningful contribution.”

Yes. That’s the smart way to deal with the Bush administration. Put your best deal on the table and let them up the ante. They are soooo trustworthy and honest in their dealings that you needn’t fear that they will screw you. Being above board in all things is their watchword.

And the French are little pink bunnies who were born yesterday.

Friedman relays the following as if it were a sacred truth as passed down from Moses himself:

Let me spell it out in simple English: if America is defeated in Iraq by a coalition of Saddamists and Islamists, radical Muslim groups — from Baghdad to the Muslim slums of Paris — will all be energized, and the forces of modernism and tolerance within these Muslim communities will be on the run.

And we know this because we’ve already seen how cowed terrorists are by our magnificent military might and democratic motivations in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The entire Arab world is trembling in fear and yet are simultaneously terribly impressed with our benevolence, kindness and generosity; they are particularly moved by the competence we’ve shown thus far in the post-war aftermath. Needless to say, like everyone else in the world, they are very likely bowled over by the expertise and skill of our intelligence services with their preternatural gifts for knowing if they’ve been bad or good (so be good for goodness sake!)

Just today we hear reports that Saudi Arabia is thinking of putting out feelers to buy a small nuclear bomb or two from our other close ally Pakistan.

Oh yes. The plan is working perfectly.

It doesn’t occur to Friedman that this magical kool-aid formula that he and the neocons are swilling by the gallon just MIGHT BE WRONG. Maybe this administration’s continued insistence on running things in Iraq after our blatant lies and mistakes leading up to the war are the very things that are making this beautiful flowering of democracy IMPOSSIBLE.

Nobody believes a fucking thing we say anymore, whether it’s about WMD or civil liberties or transforming Iraq into a non-drinking version of Tennessee. This is not France’s fault and it isn’t the EU’s fault and it isn’t the UN’s fault. It is the Bush administration’s fault and whether or not the French “want us to fail” is of little consequence. We are the one’s who are failing.

The question is whether France has an obligation to involve itself in a terrible mess, against the will of its own people, that they were on the record opposing in no uncertain terms and which they do not believe is going to be successful under the leadership of a bunch of bungling megalomaniacs.

Even more importantly the question is whether they might think they should try to put the brakes on this neocon fantasy called the Bush Doctrine before something really, really bad happens. Although it's somewhat in doubt that Friedman has bothered to read it, we can be sure that the leaders of France have, as well as the numerous underlying writings that fully explain its goals, something Tom Friedman should also do before he start throwing around stupid accusations about the French launching “Operation America Must Fail.”

Long before any such (non-existent) French perfidy was conceived, fellows like Charles Krauthammer were writing in his article Universal Dominion: Toward a Unipolar World: "America's purpose should be to steer the world away from its coming multipolar future toward a qualitatively new outcome--a unipolar world" shaped and led by American power. Ben Wattenberg wrote: "We are the first universal nation. 'First' as in the first one, 'first' as in 'number one.' And 'universal' within our borders and globally.A unipolar world is a good thing, if America is the uni." link

It may be that the disagreements between Europe and the US aren’t about some unhinged French hatred for America, as Friedman seems to think, nor are they necessarily the natural consequence of European cultural hedonism leading to military weakness, as Robert Kaplan asserts in his unctuously condescending article, Power and Weakness.

It’s just possible that the French and others, based upon their historical experience as well as a clear reading of the intentions of the US government, have decided to push back for bigger reasons than thwarting the onanistic mid-east fantasy of a bunch of delusional neocons.

They may believe that enabling the US to run the world as a “hegemony” is not in their best interest. They may sincerely believe that a real multi-polar world is preferable, not because they are weak and flabby, but because they know that when a nation’s leaders start talking about “global military dominance” it has always translated into bad results for ordinary people, no matter who does it.

Maybe they have learned from their own mistakes.

Friedman would do well do at least consider that France’s intransigence is born of something a bit more nuanced than petulance, greed and bad temper (although they, like everybody else, have ample amounts of them.) The logical reason for their behavior is that they don’t trust this government and its newfound enthusiasm for using its huge military as far as they can throw it.

And in that they are joined by millions and millions of others all around the world, many of them right here in the Homeland itself. A few of us have read the history of Empire, too. We don't have to actually live it to learn its lessons.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Punch Line

Pandagon has a good post up about the ramifications of the delay in the recall.

I believe that allowing the voting public time to know the potential replacement candidates plays to Governor Gray's greatest strength. He is the master of "lesser of two evils" politics and that is the single most important political skill in California today. Even with 135 rivals, he still looks like the best choice.

If the Republicans had ever put up a reasonable candidate to run against him they probably could have won. Yes, Davis did run negative ads against the saintly Dick Riordan in primary season -- just as Jebbie ran negative ads against McBride -- but the California Republicans weren't the victim of chip implants in their brains that forced them to nominate Simon because of it. (And they say Democrats are stupid...)

I have to believe that there simply aren't any good Republican candidates in this state. Desperately embracing a crude, ill informed, overwhelmed cyborg as their savior pretty much confirms it.

One thing is clear. Arnold is not wearing well. In bars and living rooms across the state, the greatest guaranteed laugh of the night, across the board, is the sighting of his advertisement where the earnest young lady asks, "How do you plan to end the budget crises?" Arnold answers," Here's my plan. On day one open the books. Audit everything. TAnd then we'll end this crazy deficit spending."

I don't know if it's the accent or the substance, but whatever it is it brings down the house.

Update: Corrected Arnold's quote.

Lovin' Our Dear Leader

From the "imagine if Bill Clinton had...." files:

Via W. Post

State Department types were taken aback last week to find that a longtime diplomatic photo exhibit along a busy corridor to the cafeteria had been taken down. The two dozen mostly grainy black and white shots were a historic progression of great diplomatic moments, sources recalled.

There was an original political cartoon from the Jefferson era showing Britain and France pick-pocketing the Americans; there were pictures of negotiations with Indian tribes over land; President Woodrow Wilson at Versailles; former secretary of state Elihu Root somewhere; Roosevelt and Churchill signing the Atlantic Charter; former secretary of state James A. Baker III and former Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze in cowboy boots at Jackson Hole; a splendid shot of the old State Department building; and a photo of President Ronald Reagan at a meeting with a very young Colin L. Powell seated behind him.

Then they were gone. And what was put up in their place? What else? A George W. Bush family album montage of 21 large photos of the president as diplomat. He's speaking at the United Nations and meeting with foreign leaders. There are several shots of Bush with first lady Laura Bush -- exiting a plane, touring the Forum in Rome and visiting Japan. (There's one of just Laura Bush and Jordan's Queen Noor at a U.N. conference.) There's one of Bush meeting in happier days with his very good friend Jacques Chirac, president of France, and another with his even better friend, Gerhard Schroeder, chancellor of Germany. There's a fine shot of him yucking it up in Beijing with former Chicom boss Jiang Zemin, aka the Robin Williams of the Middle Kingdom.

There may be a few spare headless statues lying around Baghdad that we would look mighty fine with a smirking simian's image on top. And, I'm thinking maybe the Lincoln memorial could be similarly improved with a "fresh new face."

Anybody who says that Laura meeting with Queen Noor isn't more noteworthy than Roosevelt and Churchill then they are nothing but America hating traitors --- which describes everybody in the State Department except for John Bolton.


TBOGG gives a good run down of the smear machine's opening salvos on Clark.

All I can say is if I'd known he spoke fluent Russian I never would have supported the commie bastard.

As TBOGG says:

So what we have here is a "creepy"- Jewish - Russian - speaking - moved - from - Illinois -l ike - Hillary - fellow - traveling - Rhodes - Scholar - like - the - Clenis - Christian - compound - assaulting - fire - abortionist running for President.

I can see how that would be troubling to the peoplewho have grown quite fond of our alcoholic - coke - snorting - baby - aborting - military - service - deserting - insider - trading - deathrow - prisoner - mocking - State - of - the - Union - address - lying - drunk - driving - bible - thumping - running - away - on - 9/11 - flightsuit - donning Commander in Chief.

I'm also looking forward to hearing more from the Jealous Generals ... anonymously, of course.

HESIOD has more, along with some good advice.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Fight Club

Kos seems to believe that Clark is getting ready to run a top-down dirty campaign against Dean based upon the fact that he's hired a couple of bare knuckle Clinton Gore operatives.

I think it's a bit premature to assume such a thing, but I'm no expert. Perhaps Clark read this and realized that the internet breakthrough that seems to be happening with both the Dean and Clark movements might be a bit overstated and decided he needed to hire some seasoned presidential campaign pros to take the campaign from the early grassroots to a professional media campaign.

We internet junkies, like the direct mail McGovernites discussed in the article, are a very narrow constituency. It's strategic mass marketing and tough counterpunching that will win this election, just as it has been for the last 30 years. A candidate can't do that without some rough and tumble guys with experience in his corner. (Rove certainly isn't going to be playing by the Marquess of Queensbury rules.)

So, let the games begin ... Dean and Clark are both big, tough boys. What doesn't kill them will only make them stronger.

Novakula Strikes

I don't know if he screwed the pooch or not, but Novak just unleashed the first major hit on Wesley Clark. He claims that they were trying to kick Clark out of the Army (for reasons unarticulated) until Clark appealed to Satan er... Clinton to give him his fourth star.

Shocking, shocking accusations. I certainly hope that they get to the bottom of the scandal by investigating which other nefarious people gave the miscreant his first 3 stars, not to mention his silver star and purple hearts.

I hope the U.S. Military is prepared to open up the sick, deplorable institution they've become and shine a little sunshine on the liberal patronage system that is the officer corps of the US Army.

Clarification: I heard Novak say this on Crossfire. I'll link when they publish the transcript.

Honorable Dignified Response

Via Media News: Amanpour says CNN was intimidated by WH, Fox during war.

CNN war correspondent Christiane Amanpour said on Tina Brown's CNBC show last week: "I think the press was muzzled, and I think the press self-muzzled (its Iraq war coverage). I'm sorry to say, but certainly television and, perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News. And it did, in fact, put a climate of fear and self-censorship, in my view, in terms of the kind of broadcast work we did."

FOX NEWS' RESPONSE: "Given the choice, it's better to be viewed as a foot soldier for Bush than a spokeswoman for al-Qaeda."

Evidently, Fox News takes their motto very seriously. Being Fair and Balanced requires them to point out the equivalency of the Bush administration and al Qaeda. Good for them.

Update: Jayzuz, if you don't read Atrios every damned five minutes you miss something like this from yesterday.

He's All That Without the Bag 'O (Poker) Chips

TBOGG points to an important admonishment by one of America's greatest moral leaders, one whom I'm privileged to hear and and read constantly here in Los Angeles, Mr. Dennis Prager:

Nothing is quite as symbolic of the narcissism at the heart of contemporary "progressive" policies than the belief that because there are non-Christian employees at a company, its Christmas party may not be called one. Who do 5 percent of the employees think they are that they feel empowered to demand that the other 95 percent not celebrate their party with the name that they want? And what kind of mindset denies a company the right to celebrate a national holiday?

Prager is Jewish, so he's being especially principled by saying this. That's what makes him so darned spectacularly caring and generous.

TBOGG rightly responds by asking whether any right thinking company should even employ such a hateful 5% and I have to agree.

But what I think is even more significant is Prager's brave willingness to take on the powerful liberal anti-Christmas movement in this country and expose them for the hateful totalitarians they really are. Finally, someone stands up for the 95 percent majority of devout Christians in the workplace who have been tortured by the fact that their annual drunken, gluttonous ass-grabbing and ass-kissing celebration is now called a "holiday" party instead of the precious religious observation it is designed to be.

Thank the dear Lord for someone like Dennis Prager who feels the immense and overwhelming pain of the masses at being marginalized by a bunch of America hating non-Christians. You'd better believe that every water cooler and lunch room in the country will be abuzz today. Forget overtime, this is what America's workers truly care about.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Lord Peerless

Isn’t it refreshing to read the words of a distinguished Independent who can see through the shenanigans of both Parties and expose them for the cynical manipulative jacknapes they are? His Grace, Lord Saleton, the Duke of Slate delivers a thorough dressing down to those nasty odiferous Democrats that would make even a heathen Jacobite realize that it is all so very silly to be a partisan. It’s much better to remove one’s self from the lower orders who muck about in the political mud, splashing it willy nilly on their betters.

I am, therefore, from this day forward, an Independent. I shall spend my days staring in the mirror at my remarkable visage congratulating myself on being a peerless, dispassionate observer of the hideous hoi polloi while remaining above the fray.

My newfound evenhandedness comes as a result of the great Lord Saleton’s brave revelations about the unseemly new proclivity of the Democratic rabble to accuse the Republicans of being dishonest while pretending that they are not even more dishonest themselves. Yes, they are actually doing that. I know it’s difficult to fathom but it will do our class no good to put our heads in our jewelry boxes and pretend otherwise.

The scope of Democratic perfidy was so shocking I had to have my butler administer a large draught of laudanum and Madeira just to keep my poor head from spinning. When I revived, I was eminently grateful that that His Lordship was sufficiently clearheaded that he was able to suppress these absurd ramblings in just a few short paragraphs:

In Florida, Al Gore originally asked for a recount only in counties in which he thought Democrats would gain votes. Moreover, to be precise, he wasn't for "counting" more ballots; he was for reinterpreting already-counted ballots until he came out ahead. Gore's lawyer, David Boies, argued that ballots should be interpreted as votes for Bush or Gore based on "the intent of the voter, not how the voter manifests his or her intent"—in other words, without rules. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a Gore surrogate, actually claimed, "The punch cards were wrong." Gore eventually moderated his position, but not until he had to.

And here I had thought that the knave Albert of Gore had asked for recounts in certain counties because there was no provision for a statewide recount in Florida law and asking for one would have necessitated appealing to each county in the state under an extreme time constraint. Wherever did I get the idea that precedent implied that applying for recounts in particular counties was predicated upon the idea that both parties would choose certain counties to serve as proxies for their support in the state as a whole? Merciful heavens, how misinformed I have been!

And I had also been under the misapprehension that he had asked that all ballots in the requested counties be recounted and now it is revealed that he only wanted already counted ballots to be “reinterpreted” until “he came out ahead.” My dear God, how can the man live with himself?

And then there is the vile Shylock, Mr David Bois, asking that the intent of the voter be the basis of interpretation. The rotten cur. Yes, the state constitution may have explicitly said that the votes must be counted so as to reflect the intent of the voter, and the scurrilous rogue Bois may have been talking about situations in which the ballots clearly showed a preference that the machines were unable to detect, but those of us who reside above the stinking morass of partisan politics know that he was really arguing that the recount should be conducted with no rules at all. That is the way “those people” think.

As for that most famous partisan General Markey, only a fool would believe that his statement didn’t reflect the totality of the legal arguments set forth in the various court cases. There was nothing more that needed to be said. The Democrats are, quite simply, liars and idiots.

But, Lord Saleton doesn’t stop there! He shrewdly points out that the Texas Republicans are only violating custom, not law, in attempting to redistrict to their advantage only two years after a court redrew the lines. Finally, someone points out that custom is no longer a guiding force in our culture. We modern Independents answer to nothing but the law and the rules. It’s true that Archbishop Thomas DeLay said quite plainly that he wanted to redistrict because he “wanted more seats,” but that is his privilege as head of the House of Common Republicans. Unless there is a specific law against it, there can be nothing wrong with it.

(And, Lord Saleton verrry cleverly uses the most devastating tool in his rhetorical arsenal. He says, “I can only imagine the cries of outrage I'd be hearing from my liberal friends if those were Republicans thwarting a Democratic legislature.” Checkmate, my little partisan friends.)

As for His Grace’s revelations about the despicable claims that His Highness is not legitimate, one can only say bravissimo! Just because the electoral college vote in the state governed by the president’s brother was decided by a mere 500 votes and the president didn’t win the popular vote and a divided Supreme Court decided the election in a legally dubious decision and the Republicans impeached a Democratic president on a party line vote just 2 years earlier, doesn’t mean that the Democrats should be unmannerly and accuse the Republicans of undemocratic actions and assuming the presidency through ignoble means. In any event, if the Republicans threw punch card ballots over the white cliffs of Dover would that give the Democrats leave to do the same? I think not.

Similarly, Democrats have absolutely nothing to complain of when the paid citizen gatherers of Viscount Issa managed to persuade the harried vassals of California to sign petitions (whilst carrying bags of nappies and victuals outside the market) to oust the evil Grayman of Davis from his unlawfully obtained governorship. After all, he did deserve it. He violated the rights of Republicans to vote for the governor of their choice by running advertisements in their primary. True, there is no law against it, and the technique was used by many Republicans in other states, but it is unseemly to violate customs merely because they are not technically unlawful.

We Independents do not believe that just because a law does not exist prohibiting certain behavior that we should nonetheless engage in such behavior. There is such a thing as right and wrong. And, while Republicans may have engaged in similar behavior, their states do not have similar recall laws so they logically cannot be held to the same standard.

Lord Fair and Balanced concludes his unbiased observations by revealing what is really important in this debate.

I'm not excusing the games Republicans play. But by projecting all evil onto Republicans, Democrats spread the same political disease: the notion that you don't have to be wary of lying or cheating unless the other side is doing it. Lying and cheating don't belong to Republicans or Democrats. We're all susceptible, and we're all guilty.

Sure, some people are more guilty than others. But if that's your obsession, I commend to you the words of my colleague, Jack Shafer: If you're interested in which wing lies more, you're probably not very interested in the truth.

Indeed. If one is more interested in the lies of one side or another, one is simply inferior to those of us who are taking the High Road. We do not care about the silly prevarications of politicians, whether it be about the democratic system or weapons of mass destruction.

How tedious these little people become with their shrillness. Quiet please. Great minds such as ours must be serene and tranquil in order to remain above the fray. Please, please keep it down, children.

Would you care for a kumquat?