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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Southern Man

Kevin Drum features an interview with political strategist David “Mudcat” Saunders:

SouthNow: Why did the Democrats lose in 2004?

Mudcat: They can’t f***’n count. That’s the Democrats’ problem. You don’t get in the football game and punt on first down. You concede nothing. We condeded 20 states at first and then six more by Labor Day. That’s 227 electoral votes. Bush only needed 18 percent of the remaining electoral votes to win.

SouthNow: What’s the prescription for Democrats?

Mudcat: There’s only one precription and that’s tolerance. I’m a white, southern male who hunts. I’m a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which has two black members, by the way. I don’t know how many northern Democrats who have tolerance for my kind.

SouthNow: What’s your strategy for Southern progress?

Mudcat: We need to quit all this tap dancin’ around the truth....We need to stop tap dancin’ around the issues of guns, gays and God....We’ve lost the white male. We need to get ‘em back. We need to get through the cultural wall. It’s a wall of straw. Inside every rural Republican is a Democrat trying to get out.

Saunders, who has worked on the campaigns of Mark Warner, John Edwards, and Bob Graham, thinks that if Democrats ease up on the culture stuff they can win in the South: "We’ve got an affection for big guns and fast cars. It’s a macho thing. I’ve not seen any attempt by the Democrats to get into that culture."

Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Jimmy Carter were all southern white males, and we blue staters voted for them without a second thought. Before that, Lyndon Johnson won the blue states in a landslide. As I recall, we rather rather liked their southern roots. Let's just get this one thing straight. The theory that non-southerners are intolerant of "his kind" is undisputably wrong. We have happily voted for southern white males many times. It's southerners who refuse to vote for anyone who comes from anywhere else.

But, just being happy to vote for southern white males isn't good enough, is it? We don't properly get into macho, good ole boy culture. Ok. Let's try that. I have absolutely no problem with a born again, cowboy hat wearing president from a southern state who hunts and drives fast cars and even, dare I say it, engages in the most macho sport of all --- clearing brush. He can tie on a six gun and practice quick drawing in the rose garden for all I care. I am not offended by any of those things.

But again, that's the problem, isn't it? It is not enough to be tolerant. We must adopt both their style and their policies before they are happy. Everyone must be a NASCAR fan. If you are not, they will take it to mean that you disrespect their love of NASCAR. Everyone must hunt. If you don't, then you are being intolerant of their love of hunting. If you don't talk about religion the way they talk about it, you are not properly religious. Rappers must wear cowboy boots, hispanics must speak English, we all have to drive American trucks with confederate flags on the back and drink Jack and be exactly like these macho, southern white men before they will feel secure enough to vote with us.

And let's not pretend that we will not also have to tell the various constituencies in the party who find their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to be contingent on being allowed to control their own bodies, marry whom they choose and practice or not practice the religion of their choice that they are shit out of luck. That's part of the deal.

Let's face facts here. The answer to this problem is that in order to get the macho white southern male vote we all must become macho white southern males and that is just not humanly possible. We can certainly try to engage them with an attitude of intense interest in their culture if that's what it takes. But, I doubt it will make much of a difference.

Mudcat may look at a white southern male Republican and see a Democrat trying to get out, but I just see a bunch of insecure white guys who think everybody else ought to be just like them. And if you look at the leadership of the Republican party they've got exactly what they want. Why would they change?


Saturday, February 26, 2005

Kabuki Ethics

Perhaps I'm being obtuse. I had some dental work this week that was quite unpleasant so perhaps I accidentally spit my higher brain function down that cute little sink next to the torture chair. Am I reading correctly that the funniest man in the universe is obliquely scolding himself and the rest of us for flogging the Jeff Gannon story? Why yes, I believe he is and now that I think about it, it's a darned good idea.

He admits how difficult it is to resist the urge to giggle incessantly and point out every word in a Gannon piece that his inner Beavis finds suggestive, but he concludes that pursuing this story is the work of the devil and oh is he ever right. The Poorman isn't the only sharp guy to make the point that the Gannon story is somehow wrong, though. As this article in TAPPED points out, the major lefty magazines, with the exception of Salon (a bunch of "San Francisco liberals" ) have all tip-toed around this story very delicately. David Corn has wrestled with his demons in public however and gives un an insight into the problem:

Should the White House have handed a daily press pass to a reporter who turned tricks on the side? Was it hypocritical of the Bush White House to have done so? Was it a security lapse to let a pseudonymous fellow and possible felon close to the president? Gannon/Guckert and Talon ought to have been vetted more closely regarding their journalistic credentials. But I will not gripe if the White House press office decides it is not its job to investigate the personal lives and websites of those who apply for access to the press room. Some of Gannon/Guckert's critics have suggested that he was allowed into the White House due to some sort of gay connection. One site has used the Gannon/Guckert affair to float unsubstantiated rumors about the sex life of Scott McClellan. This is fair game--but only for journalistic investigation, not for throw-it-and-see-if-it-sticks postings. If there is evidence that McClellan is a gay GOP hypocrite or that Gannon/Guckert had an advantage because he was literally in bed with a White House official, that's a news story. Otherwise, it's smear-by-blogging. Last year, I spent months talking to a professional dominatrix who claimed she had been hired several times by a prominent Republican who does the family-values shtick. I examined her allegations the best I could. But I could not substantiate her claim, which I found credible. I had nothing to publish, nothing specific to blog.

It's certainly embarrassing to the Bush White House that its press operation accepted a reporter who was an actual or wannabe prostitute. But this is not the same as paying columnists to shill for the administration, producing pro-administration propaganda packaged as news reports, mounting fake town meetings, or restricting the number of press conferences. And to date there is no compelling evidence that the White House recruited or deployed Gannon/Guckert as a plant. It really had little cause to do so. Both Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan have demonstrated they can duck questions ably on their own.

This is what responsible journalism and ethical blogging are all about. We wouldn't want people to hear unsubstantiated gossip. That's why he writes that he refused to report or blog about the credible dominatrix who couldn't provide proof of her allegations that "she had been hired several times by a prominent Republican who does the family-values shtick." I would imagine that a certain "Virtues Czar” has been quaking in his leather chaps over this story and is mightily relieved that Corn has decided not to blog about it. I'm sure everyone will take Corn's ethical lead and refuse to give this story another moment's consideration. It wouldn't be right and I simply do not want to participate in such activity. I do plan to write a lot about this kind of good journalism, however, the kind where you don't report on stories about credible dominatrixes and disgraced moralizing gamblers without proof.

I think the press should continue to wring its collective hands about this story in just this way, over and over again. They should discuss its various ins and outs (hello, beavis) in great detail, just as Corn does.

Just how can it be that somebody would hire a male prostitute with no journalism experience to work for a vanity GOP web site who then lobbed softballs in the White House press room and transcribed press releases? Yet it happened. Should we cover that?

I think they should explore in great depth whether this reaches the level of scandal that the Armstrong Williams scandal does. They should compare them, calling attention to the fact that Williams was paid $250k in taxpayer money. Perhaps they should also publicly ponder whether they should cover the fact that Williams was sued for sexual harassment by a male employee and settled for an undisclosed sum.

Is that relevant? I just don't know. Let's discuss.

Is the fact that Gannon appears to have been only paid a "stipend" enough to wonder how he was getting paid all those months and should we follow up on why GOPUSA is taking down its web-site, scrubbing it's articles and appears to be funded with nothing but air?

Is that really a story? Gosh I'm so conflicted.

And I think it would be very therapeutic for the pundit class to publicly ponder whether the fact that the GOP has made a fetish (shut up beavis) out of subtly gay bashing the entire Democratic Party for a generation leaves them open to more questions than usual when it turns out that they are paying conservative gay columnists who also bash gays with taxpayer money and allowing fake marine male hookers into the White House under unusual circumstances.

Is this a legitimate rap on the Republicans or not? I think a nice long New York Times magazine piece is in order don't you? Just to try to sort out the ethics involved.

And as far as Democratic political operatives are concerned, I would think they need to talk to anyone and everyone about their angst over exploiting this issue. Is it right for the Democrats to point out that the family values Republican elite are hob knobbing with gay hookers?

Gosh, I just don't know if it's right to point out that the very religious administration of George W. Bush doesn't practice what it preaches. Is that really ethical?

Yes, I think there is a serious ethical dilemma that must be worked out before we can proceed with this story. It's time for an open, cleansing dialog about whether the story of the male hooker/GOP activist/ White House reporter with the very graphic naked pictures he posted all over the internet should be pursued. I'd hate for the press to do something unethical with this.

Update: There was an excellent article back in January in the NYRB by Mark Danner called "Why Bush Really Won." I wrote a couple of posts about it at the time. Here are some letters to the editor regarding that piece that I think are very relevant to this GannonGuckert issue. I urge you to read the whole thing. One can certainly understand the moral dilemma of the press corps when you consider something like this:

On March 5, for example, The New York Times published a piece headlined "Bush Campaigns Amid a Furor over Ads," about a supposed controversy over the campaign's first television ads, which offered a glimpse of a dead fireman being carried out of the World Trade Center site. In the article the Times reporters revealed that the campaign was "scrambling to counter criticism that his first television commercials crassly politicized the tragedy of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks." Indeed, the controversy was so serious, according to the Times, that it had "complicated efforts by Republicans to seize the initiative after months in which Mr. Bush has often been on the defensive." Newsweek, for its part, in an article headlined "A 'Shocking' Stumble," reported that the ad controversy "threw campaign officials on the defensive—and raised questions about the Bush team's ability to effectively spend its massive $150 million war chest, some GOP insiders say."

Seven months later, and two weeks after the election, Newsweek published another and very different "inside account," this one based on exclusive access to the campaigns which was granted on the understanding that nothing from this reporting would be published until after the election.[*] Here is what Newsweek's writers now told us about what "two Bush strategists" really thought of their campaign's "shocking stumble":

McKinnon and Dowd were ecstatic. At a strategy meeting the next day—the same morning the Times headline appeared—they joked about how they could fan the flames. Controversy sells, they said. It meant lots of "free media"; the ads were shown over and over again on news shows, particularly on cable TV. The "visual" of the rubble at the World Trade Center was a powerful reminder of the nation's darkest hour—and Bush's finest, when he climbed on the rock pile with a bullhorn. What's more, the story eclipsed some grim economic news....

At that Saturday's Breakfast Club, they were still laughing about the ad flap.... Dowd told the group they had received $6 million to $7 million worth of free ad coverage. "Unfortunately, we've been talking about 9/11 and our ads for five days," Dowd deadpanned at a senior staff meeting. "We're going to try to pivot back to the economy as soon as we can."

There were chuckles all around.

So much for the "inside story." As so often in journalism, the source offered the reporter access and the scoop; in exchange, the reporter in effect granted the source— in this case, the Bush strategist—the power to shape the storyline. The reporter thus publishes a supposed "inside story" about "scrambling" within the campaign that is in effect a kind of "false bottom" constructed by the campaign itself and intended to "fan the flames" of what is in fact a largely bogus story. The deeper reality—in this case, the determination to focus relentlessly on September 11 and the President's "leadership" role in it ("the nation's darkest hour and Bush's finest") and thus to emphasize the "masculine" values of steadiness, forthrightness, and strength that this role exemplified—may have been plain to those political professionals who were looking closely but it was much less clear to voters relying on the press for the supposed "inside story" of the campaign. The Bush campaign's "shocking stumble" was, in Daniel Boorstin's term, a "pseudo-event"; indeed, our political campaigns are built largely of such pseudo-events and rely fundamentally on the press and the commentariat to play their necessary part in constructing them and conveying them to the public. Both sides are immersed in this language, of course, and it is hard to see, given the terms of the game, how Democrats could "challenge the Republican story directly"—or even what "directly," in this context, might actually mean.

One can certainly understand, after reading that, why so many in the press are worried about violating journalistic ethics by reporting about Gannon. It's not a real story.


Friday, February 25, 2005

The Resentment Tribe

The other day I rhetorically asked, "Why are they so angry?" and Matt Stoller replies :

As long as individuals can stand up outside of the tribe and claim Americanism as their own, the right is revealed as weak, because it is their own lies about themselves that they cannot stand. Proof in the form of our existence is enough to make them angry. This is why, as Digby wonders, they keep getting madder as they keep gaining power. They are not really after a conservative agenda in terms of policy; they are not even after power, really. They are after a complete and utter subjugation of the American consciousness to their tribal mentality. And they will not stop until they get it. Hence, the culture wars. And now, the real wars. And unfortunately, I don't think they are done.

They are far from done. In fact, it's so old and so familiar that we might as well prop open our eyelids with toothpicks and turn on "I Love Lucy" re-runs.

I wrote about this tribal divide sometime back and I agree with Matt’s analysis. This has its genesis in the original sin of slavery and is best illustrated by the fact that as the country has divides itself distinctly between the parties in a 50/50 fashion, the dividing line continues to fall along the same lines of the old confederacy. Once again, the best way to understand this is to go right to the heart of the beast and quote the first Republican president (who hailed from one of the bluest of blue states) Abraham Lincoln at the Cooper Union in New York in 1860:

And now, if they would listen - as I suppose they will not - I would address a few words to the Southern people.

I would say to them: - You consider yourselves a reasonable and a just people; and I consider that in the general qualities of reason and justice you are not inferior to any other people. Still, when you speak of us Republicans, you do so only to denounce us a reptiles, or, at the best, as no better than outlaws. You will grant a hearing to pirates or murderers, but nothing like it to "Black Republicans." In all your contentions with one another, each of you deems an unconditional condemnation of "Black Republicanism" as the first thing to be attended to. Indeed, such condemnation of us seems to be an indispensable prerequisite - license, so to speak - among you to be admitted or permitted to speak at all. Now, can you, or not, be prevailed upon to pause and to consider whether this is quite just to us, or even to yourselves? Bring forward your charges and specifications, and then be patient long enough to hear us deny or justify.


You charge that we stir up insurrections among your slaves. We deny it; and what is your proof? Harper's Ferry! John Brown!! John Brown was no Republican; and you have failed to implicate a single Republican in his Harper's Ferry enterprise. If any member of our party is guilty in that matter, you know it or you do not know it. If you do know it, you are inexcusable for not designating the man and proving the fact. If you do not know it, you are inexcusable for asserting it, and especially for persisting in the assertion after you have tried and failed to make the proof. You need to be told that persisting in a charge which one does not know to be true, is simply malicious slander.

Some of you admit that no Republican designedly aided or encouraged the Harper's Ferry affair, but still insist that our doctrines and declarations necessarily lead to such results. We do not believe it. We know we hold to no doctrine, and make no declaration, which were not held to and made by "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live." You never dealt fairly by us in relation to this affair. When it occurred, some important State elections were near at hand, and you were in evident glee with the belief that, by charging the blame upon us, you could get an advantage of us in those elections. The elections came, and your expectations were not quite fulfilled. Every Republican man knew that, as to himself at least, your charge was a slander, and he was not much inclined by it to cast his vote in your favor ... In your political contests among yourselves, each faction charges the other with sympathy with Black Republicanism; and then, to give point to the charge, defines Black Republicanism to simply be insurrection, blood and thunder among the slaves.


Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.

This, plainly stated, is your language. Perhaps you will say the Supreme Court has decided the disputed Constitutional question in your favor. Not quite so. But waiving the lawyer's distinction between dictum and decision, the Court have decided the question for you in a sort of way. The Court have substantially said, it is your Constitutional right to take slaves into the federal territories, and to hold them there as property. When I say the decision was made in a sort of way, I mean it was made in a divided Court, by a bare majority of the Judges, and they not quite agreeing with one another in the reasons for making it; that it is so made as that its avowed supporters disagree with one another about its meaning, and that it was mainly based upon a mistaken statement of fact - the statement in the opinion that "the right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution."


Under all these circumstances, do you really feel yourselves justified to break up this Government unless such a court decision as yours is, shall be at once submitted to as a conclusive and final rule of political action?

But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, "Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!"

To be sure, what the robber demanded of me - my money - was my own; and I had a clear right to keep it; but it was no more my own than my vote is my own; and the threat of death to me, to extort my money, and the threat of destruction to the Union, to extort my vote, can scarcely be distinguished in principle.

A few words now to Republicans. It is exceedingly desirable that all parts of this great Confederacy shall be at peace, and in harmony, one with another...Judging by all they say and do, and by the subject and nature of their controversy with us, let us determine, if we can, what will satisfy them.

Will they be satisfied if the Territories be unconditionally surrendered to them? We know they will not. In all their present complaints against us, the Territories are scarcely mentioned. Invasions and insurrections are the rage now. Will it satisfy them, if, in the future, we have nothing to do with invasions and insurrections? We know it will not. We so know, because we know we never had anything to do with invasions and insurrections; and yet this total abstaining does not exempt us from the charge and the denunciation.

The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them, is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.

These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly - done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated - we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Senator Douglas' new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure. We must pull down our Free State constitutions. The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.

Lincoln had a keen understanding of the problem and he logically framed it in moral terms regarding the subject at hand, slavery. As it turns out this was not simply about slavery. It was about a deep and abiding tribal divide in the country that was originally defined by slavery but metatisized into something far beyond it, even then. Southern “exceptionalism” was always justified by its culture, which was assumed to be unique and unprecedented.

You can apply Lincoln’s arguments to any number of current issues and come out the same. There is an incoherence of principle that we see in every section of the republican party, the willingness to call to State’s Rights (their old rallying cry) when it suits them and a complete abdication of the principle once they hold federal power --- while still insisting that they believe in limited government! They blatantly misconstrue the plain meaning of long standing constitutional principles and federal policies (such as Brit Hume’s abject intellectual whorishness in the matter of FDR’s beliefs about social security privatization) and show irrational, rabid anger at any disagreement. They see Democrats as “traitors” fighting for the other side, just as the Southerners of the 1850’s accused the “Black Republicans” of fomenting slave revolts. They brook no compromise and instead repay those who would reach out to them with furious perfidy unless they show absolute fealty to every facet of the program. It is loyalty to “the cause”, however it is defined and however it changes in principle from day to day, that matters.

It’s clear to me that during the first 70 years of the country’s existence, the old South and the slave territories that came later (as defined in that famous map from 1860) created a culture based largely on their sense of the rest of the country’s, and the world’s, disapprobation. Within it grew what Michael Lind describes as its “cavalier” culture, which created an outsized sense of masculine ego and “fighting” mentality (along with an exaggerated caricature of male and female social roles.) Resentment was a foundation of the culture as slavery was hotly debated from the very inception and the division was based on what was always perceived by many as a moral issue. The character and morality of the south had always had to be defended. Hence a defensive culture was born.

The civil war and Jim Crow deepened it and the Lost Cause mythology romanticized it. The civil rights movement crystallized it. A two hundred year old resentment has created a permanent cultural divide.

This explains why the dependence on hyper-religiosity (and the cloak of social protection it provides) along with the fervent embrace of "moral values" is so important despite the obvious fact that Republicans are no more "moral" in any sense of the word than any other group of humans. It explains the utopian martial nationalism. And although that map shows that the regional divide is still quite relevant (and why the slave states fought for the Electoral College at the convention) it explains why this culture has now manifested itself as a matter of political identity throughout much of the country. Wherever resentment resides in the human character it can find a home in the Republican Party. This anger and frustration stems from a long nurtured sense of cultural besiegement, which they are finding can never be dealt with through the attainment of power alone. They seek approval.

Lincoln concluded the speech at the Cooper Union with this and I think it's relevant today to those of us who believe that our side is, as Lincoln thought then, the side of enlightened, moral progress:

Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.

This fight for the soul of America has been going on since the very beginning and it isn’t over yet. We can take heart in the fact that in every great battle thus far, the forces of equality and moral progress have won the day. It's never been easy.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Where's my Swag?

Thanks to all of you who voted for me. It's ridiculous, of course. The people who I allegedly "beat" are blogospheric godhead and I am quite disturbed that your standards have fallen so low. I worry about you people.

The Koufax awards are very dear to my heart. I won one for best commenter back in 2002 and it made me finally decide to go for it and get into this blogging thing on my own. (In those days everybody and his Jack Russell terrier didn't have a blog. It seemed like something serious then.) The Koufaxes were a nice little community affair that represented our commitment to each other and the cause in a sea of libertarian and conservative ranting and chestbeating after 9/11 and the '02 elections. It's true that our community may have grown exponentially, but it still has a nice feel of down home solidarity even though we have become much more than a rag tag bunch of bloggers and blog readers. We are a gen-you-ine political constituency, now. They talk about us on the teevee and everything.

Blogging is becoming its own literary form. People have always written diary entries, pamphlets, letters or simple observations and essays. But never before could you publish and within minutes have direct criticism on what you've just written by dozens of readers and fellow writers. As a writer, it's quite wonderful (and sometimes depressing) to know what your audience thinks right away. You aren't stuck waiting for some literary snob or political critic to make you or break you; your validation or rejection is immediate and obvious. So, it's really not the writer but the readership that makes this new format so innovative. They are as much a part of the piece as you are, critiquing, adding information, fine tuning the argument, helping you all along the way. In that sense, blogging is a collaborative writing medium which is very rare and very sweet. I appreciate "all four of my readers" more than you know.

Congrats to all the winners. If you haven't checked out all the blogs and posts that were nominated, do yourself a favor and read them. It will blow your mind. Send a little more scratch over to Wampum while you are at it. It was a big burden to do this project and they are really good people for doing it.

Check them out here.


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

It's Irresponsible Not To

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, February 21, 2005

Swiftboat Liars Part II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Poisonous Fruit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Homewreckers Need Not Apply

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, February 20, 2005

Rest In Peace You Brilliant Goddamned Beast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 21, 1988

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

TBOGG Understands How This game Is Played

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Going Too Far

Americans Want an Opposition Party

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

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

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

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

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

Another Cagey Interview

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

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

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

Q: You discussed it on your web site

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

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

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

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

G: Uh, yes

Q: And?

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


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

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

Listen to the whole interview here.

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


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

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

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

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



Saturday, February 19, 2005

Pass The Parsing

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

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

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

He said nothing about the Wall Street Journal.

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

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

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


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


BLITZER: They didn't ask you?

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

BLITZER: You didn't tell them?

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

Again he didn't mention the WSJ article.

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

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

COOPER: How did you know about that memo?

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

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

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

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

Here's what the NY Times reported today:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charlie Brown's Slumber Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get Well Soon

Best wishes to Mrs Instapundit for a speedy recovery.

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

Dr Dobson's Dark Suspicions

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Proud Of Yourself Condi?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

I urge you to read the whole thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rushing To Retch

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

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

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


Friday, February 18, 2005

The Other Reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starting Over

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

The testimonials will make you cry.

Who Are They Kidding?

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Modo Rides The Zeitgeist

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

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


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

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

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

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

Who indeed?