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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Clean And Bright

by digby

The other day I wrote about Marty Peretz's not so unconscious racism toward African Americans. And lo and behold along comes Joe Biden and he sticks his big white foot in the same stupid mouth. Apparently, a lot of privileged white people really believe they aren't racist when they separate "the blacks" between the "articulate, bright, clean" kind and "the others." (Peretz calls the others four-flushers and race hustlers. A member of my family used to call them "The Ubangis." You get the drift.)

The funny thing is that in a private conversation with Glenn Greenwald on the subject I said I thought it would take Obama or Deval Patrick to step in and show some solidarity with his fellow African American politicians for it to sink in.

Obama did just that, today:

I didn't take Senator Biden's comments personally, but obviously they are historically inaccurate. After all, we've had presidential candidates like Jesse jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Mosely Braun and Al Sharpton. They gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns and no one would call them inarticulate.

Thank you. Maybe at least the people who are as clueless as Biden about their reflexive assumptions will think about it when they hold Obama up as a "different kind of negro."

Hearing From Our Betters

by digby

Money in politics better than some people in it

From Darren McKinney

The Jan. 24 letter to the editor from Nick Nyhart and Chellie Pingree (“Full public funding of elections proven to work in states, cities,”), respective presidents of Public Campaign and Common Cause, lament the lack of public financing for all American political campaigns: “A democracy should be about all of us and not just about those who can write huge checks.”

But if Nyhart and Pingree had their way, black helicopter conspiracy theorists off their meds, the dysfunctionally unemployed, irresponsible young men and women who have multiple babies out-of-wedlock, repeat felons and various other burdens to society without means might have as much to say about our nation’s political leadership and direction as folks who soberly get up every morning, lovingly raise their children, productively hold jobs, responsibly pay taxes, and occasionally write checks, huge or otherwise, to the political campaigns of their choosing.

Though poll taxes have rightly been abolished, and every qualified registered voter willing to wait on line should certainly be free to exercise the franchise, there’s a lot to be said — though Hillary “I Won’t Take Matching Funds” Clinton is never likely to say it — for having most of our big political decisions influenced in greater measure by those who have succeeded in life and thus have a better sense of what it’ll take for our nation to succeed in the future.

Washington, D.C.

McKinney is the former spokesman of the National Association of Manufacturers and currently represents the American Tort Reform Association.

This must be that liberal elite they keep telling us about?.

*I especially like the "willing to wait on line" to vote bit. Sweet.

Snake Bit

by digby

We always figured that "media strategist" and WHIG member Mary Matalin was one of the authors of the Plame smear. She's one of Cheney's intimates, she was hired to do damage control and is a mean and nasty person. Exposing "the wife" has her style all over it.

Today, it's revealed that it was her idea to have Libby call Russert to complain about Tweety:

Mr Libby called Matalin for advice. On July 8 he wrote down notes in which Rove said, "people are taking Wilson as a credible expert." 2 days go by, he calls Matalin for advice. She tells him, she gives him strategy. "We need someone who can sum it up. This is fitting into Democratic story. It has legs. The story's not going away. We need to address Wilson motivation. The President should wave his wand."

"Call Tim," [says]Mary Matalin, "he hates Chris, he needs to know it all." Underneath, Mr Libby's notes, "Wilson's a snake."

My, my, my all the dirty laundry is coming out. Here's looking forward to seeing Lil Russ on the stand.

And buy Marcy Wheeler's book "Anatomy of Deceit." It's really gooood.

Believe Your Eyes

by digby

I think the thing I hate the most about Republicans is how they insult your intelligence and then dare you to challenge them on it. They installed that silly, little boy in the white house and forced us all to pretend that he was a competent leader for years or risk being called a traitor or worse even as we watched him drive the country into the ditch. They lied right in our faces about the "gathering threat" of Iraq and now they are trying to shove this bucket of swill down out throats:

The Air Force is preparing for an expanded role in Iraq that could include aggressive new tactics designed to deter Iranian assistance to Iraqi militants, senior Pentagon officials said.

The efforts could include more forceful patrols by Air Force and Navy fighter planes along the Iran-Iraq border to counter the smuggling of bomb supplies from Iran, a senior Pentagon official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing future military plans.

Such missions also could position the Air Force to strike suspected bomb suppliers inside Iraq to deter Iranian agents that U.S. officials say are assisting Iraqi militias, outside military experts said

Yeah, right.

One of the problems with being exposed as a liar over and over again is that you have no credibility. We've been here before and we know that they used no-fly-zone flights to try to provoke Saddam. They even discussed the idea of disguising a U2 plane with UN insignia to provoke him. It didn't work with Iraq, but we'd be fools to think they aren't trying this again. This whole Iran-supplying-the-insurgents gambit stinks to high heaven.

I realize that it's hard for people to believe they would actually start another war as this one is going so very badly. Believe it. They really do this crazy stuff as they've demonstrated over and over again.

It's obvious that everyone should be mobilizing against this next war, but once again their sheer, nutty audacity seems to have paralyzed everyone. They have a real gift for making you mistrust what you are seeing with your own eyes.

Fighting Words

by digby

Free Republic posted a YouTube video of their counter-protest on Saturday. Judge for yourself. It runs about 9 minutes, but it's worth looking at. Clearly there was some point when people were able to walk closely by the counter-protesters on the sidewalk and it's possible that somebody spit on Sparling during that period. It's not captured on this film. Police are casually walking through and people are lolling about with baby strollers, so it doesn't appear to be a very dangerous scene. (You can see a woman dressed in black who appears to be interviewing Sparling at one point. Perhaps she is the NY Times reporter who observed that he was spit on?)

The video shows the Freepers with a megaphone shouting things to the protesters and protesters shouting back. The guy with the megaphone calls them things like "nutcases" and and some protesters shout back things like "asshole." (The tough guy freeper filmakers get very delicate when one of the protesters "drops the M---F-- bomb. Mercy me!) I observe no violence, however, and no shouts of "baby-killer", "you have blood on your hands," "you're just upset because you can't run." In fact, the worst thing most of the protesters say repeatedly is "enlist," which I'm sure Sparling and other veterans there found particularly insulting, but which actually isn't. The filmmakers put up some title cards that have protesters saying "go back there" but I didn't actually hear it.

There is nothing in this footage that shows Sparling speaking at the Code Pink rally to mostly polite response earlier or standing up close to the stage and loudly booing the speakers, as has been reported. Perhaps someone else has that footage.

In this film, mostly what you see is just some people shouting back and forth across two chain link fences separated by about 30 yards and a couple of people having a heated face to face interaction. (There is a lot of focus on black faces in the crowd for some reason.)

The Freepers set up shop with their megaphone clearly seeking a response from the protesters. Nobody who watches the footage can believe that they weren't asking for a response. They were "march trolls" being deliberately provocative, looking for trouble. All they got was some people shouting back at them, as far as I could tell. That they are now complaining about how terrible they were treated shows them to be whining little children. Please.

They are perfectly within their rights to do what they did. But the protesters were also perfectly within their rights to shout back. This is still America, the last I heard, and nobody is required to be polite to Freepers with a megaphone.

Someone's Completely Lost His Marbles.

by tristero

And he happens to be the president of the United States:
"I would suggest moving back," Bush said as he climbed into the cab of a massive D-10 tractor. "I'm about to crank this sucker up." As the engine roared to life, White House staffers tried to steer the press corps to safety, but when the tractor lurched forward, they too were forced to scramble for safety."Get out of the way!" a news photographer yelled. "I think he might run us over!" said another. White House aides tried to herd the reporters the right way without getting run over themselves. Even the Secret Service got involved, as one agent began yelling at reporters to get clear of the tractor. Watching the chaos below, Bush looked out the tractor's window and laughed, steering the massive machine into the spot where most of the press corps had been positioned.
And of course, immediately afterwards, Dick Cheney shot 'em all in the face.

Special note to those amongst us who think I don't understand towel-slapping rough play fratboy-style pranks. You're absolutely right, when the president does them. In Fort Worth Texas, on the morning of his death, John F. Kennedy was filmed accepting the gift of a cowboy hat while appearing at the Chamber of Commerce. He was urged to put it on so the press could take pictures. He looked at it, clearly decided it would be undignified for the president of the United States to do so. So he smiled broadly and said he'd be glad to pose in it, back in Washingon, the following Monday.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Kewl Kid High

by digby

John Kerry is a decent man and he doesn't deserve this kind of treatment by the low-life little creeps who make up the DC press corps. This snotty derision from a bunch of overpaid, useless, psychologically stunted twits is a new low.

The kewl kidz are back on top and they are sharpening their claws on Democrats again. From their nasty little Clenis fantasies to talking about Hillary's "girl humor" to making shit up about John Kerry crying when he bowed out of '08, it's obvious that they are gonna party like it's 1999. I can't believe it.

Update: The Queen Bee weighs in on Senator Clinton. It's not too nasty.

This is interesting, though:

She uttered the most irritating and disingenuous nine words in politics: “If we had known then what we know now. ...”

Jim Webb knew. Barack Obama knew. Even I knew, for Pete’s sake. The administration’s trickery was clear in real time.

She's right, of course. But, Maureen Dowd has a twice weekly column in the NY Times, the most valuable journalistic real estate in the world. Does anyone remember her saying anything about that?

Update II: Actually, I stand corrected. I just went and looked and she did. The problem is that nobody took her seriously because she explained it like this:

''My head hurts. Pillow, puh-leeze! I can't find a way out of the Middle East, and if it blows sky high, I can't invade Iraq in time for the 2004 election and I'll lose the war on terror. I could end up a one-termer, just like Poppy. How did a creep like Clinton manage two?

To her credit she did write this in August of 2002, which was very early:

Like a buoyant Dr. Evil holding a napping Bush Mini-Me in a Snugli, Mr. Cheney seems to relish running the world alone. Consider how primary the secondary man is. Without Mr. Cheney, America would not be planning to invade Iraq. Who else understands why the U.S. is starting a war without provocation for the first time in its history?

Perhaps everyone should have been reading Modo for foreign policy punditry instead of Tom Friedman.

Half Wrong?

by digby

Just in case anyone is in contact with the NY Times on the Sparling incident, here's his YouTube appearance with Alan Colmes and it challeges the reporter's version of events. According to him he didn't spit back.

Curiouser and curiouser. Will the NY Times stick with its story?

Yes, Yes, Yes

by digby

Obama makes the bold move and it's very smart. Not only is it the right thing to do (yes, that should enter the equation) I think it's the savvy political move.

When the AUMF was being debated and all the presidential club members voted for it, I wrote that it would do them no good. If the war went well, they didn't have a chance. If it didn't their vote would hang around their neck.

The same dynamic is at play today except the stakes are much higher. This time it's McCain or Rudy who will gain if the war is going well next year. (Fat chance.) And if it isn't, people will be looking to Democrats who took a bold stand to end it, not those who played around the edges.

No Democrat will get any points for being wishy washy on the war at this point. They will get lots of points for being up front and offering a reasonable alternative.

In for a penny in for pound guys. If the presidential club is smart at all they'll sign on or up the ante. There's no margin in non-binding resolutions or adding more Friedman Units at this point. Good for Obama.

More Than One Way

by digby

..to get our message across. And Joshua Sparling won't have to endure any more vicious peace marchers:

From MoveOn:

On Thursday, February 1st, 2007, we're aiming to send 1 million messages to Congress. We'll deliver petition signatures from hundreds of thousands of Americans all over the nation who are opposed to escalation in Iraq. Then, we'll call our senators all day to let them know that the Senate has to oppose the president's plan to escalate the war and that we're counting on them to block it.

Go sign up. It is a great way to keep the pressure on.

Girl Humor

by digby

Chris Matthews has come up with his working thesis to explain the Hillary campaign. Apparently, this stupid "joke" about "evil men" reveals her entire strategy: she's going to win by appealing to "the girls."

From yesterday's Hardball:

Is there a strategy, Lynn Sweet, for her to simply say, OK, let‘s do it, play it my way, that she knows what she‘s doing, OK, because she can play it the other way, that she doesn‘t know what she‘s doing. And I don‘t want to do that because that‘s unfair. Suppose she says, I‘m going to be in a crowded field with seven or eight men. I‘m going into a Democratic caucus. Half the people, at least, are women. Why not play the gender card right up front and say, I‘m taking my 50 percent away from this table. Let the other guys divvy up their 50 percent.

Cuz them bitches all stick together.

Today he was banging on it again because he is sure that her joke was aimed straight at her evil husband and the people who laughed were a bunch of nasty "girls" who all enjoyed her hitting him below the belt.

Matthews: ...it's an in joke among some women. Now look at that with all that teeth and all those giggles among the girls...you don't compare a guy who killed three thousand people to somebody who had a little trouble with an intern...

Buchanan: Why is the press all over her?

Matthews: Because she won't honestly admit what she does

Buchanan: Why don't they let it go?

Matthews: Because, Mr defender-of-all-women, the problem is she won't admit a candid joke. Ok, the only reason this is an issue is, after she went back into her football formation, to her huddle backstage with the people around her, Howard Wolfson etc., says "Oh that wasn't about Bill, that was about Osama bin laden."

Buchanan: That's because guys were asking her "what's that about, who's that about" and got their pens out.

Matthews: Who's the butt of the joke?

Buchanan: She should have said, "It was a joke and moved out"

Matthews: But she didn't. You can defend her all you want but if she doesn't come clean...

Here's the problem reverend Sharpton. Everybody knows that Hillary Clinton is a calculating politician, she doesn't have the street instincts of Bill, she can't move spontaneously, she has to come with a caravan of onsultants but that's one thing. If she has to now talk to a caravan of consultants after she cracks a joke, there have been three different interpretations she came out with the other day --- is that a problem on the stumpt?

Sharpton: ... It's not like you're going to have a battle of spontanaity

Matthews: Hah! Yeah that is a problem. But I'll tell you one thing. I thought the joke was wrong because as much as I have been tough on Bill Clinton over the years I don't think it's fair to compare him to Osama bin Laden. it falls flat. It's a clinker. It's like never compare anyone to Hitler, don't compare somebody to osama bin Laden.

Buchanan: A clinker! When everybody in the room was laughting their head off?

Matthews: Because it was girl humor.About girls abnd the trouble they have with men.

And that could be her strategy. "We girls have had a lot of trouble with men. Let's face it, I've had to deal with Bill. Let's face it. Let's all giggle together."

But then if you're asked, "What did you mean by that?" It's like "Oh, I didn't mean that!"

I have never seen any man so afraid of a woman as Chris Matthews is of Hillary Clinton. I don't know if he thinks she's going to sign an executive order to castrate all the men in DC or what, but he does seem to be convinced that she's going to win by garnering the man-hating harpy vote.

After spending the last year telling everyone who would listen that red blooded men all over America might say they would vote for her, but they wouldn't "pull the lever" once they were inside the voting booth, the codpiece ogling Matthews clearly believes that "mommy party" Dems are fools to elect a person without one, especially when those bulging dreamboats Giuliani and McCain are on the other side.

I don't know who this guy hangs around with or why he's got such a problem with women, but his "giggling--girl humor" crap is insulting to decent human beings everywhere.

(And by the way, I would bet some serious money that the butt of the joke was actually evil sexist fucks like Chris Matthews. Perhaps somewhere in his lizard brain Matthews knows that which is why he's suddenly bravely defending the Clenis against his own wife.)

You won't believe how he ended the segment. He asked Sharpton whether Bill would go along with this and Sharpton said he would "play whatever position he needs to play."

Matthews replied:

In other words, if she has to paddle him at every stop of this campaign with a big wooden paddle, he'll lean over and take it.


* Not that it has anything to do with anything, but on yesterday's show Matthews literally drooled down his chin until a big drop of saliva clung to the bottom threatening to drop off. Perhaps he had some dental work or is on drugs or something, but it was a damned disgusting thing to see. Too much spit for me this week.

Update: Bob Sommerby covers the same ground today and makes another observation that I think is spot on:

What did Clinton have in mind? Empty pundits—people like Matthews—were instantly sure that they knew. The war in Iraq continues to rage—but this was Matthews’ first topic last night. Who was Clinton joking about? He asked Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times—and Sweet embarrassed herself:

SWEET (1/29/07): Well, what I think they were laughing at is the thought that cropped into my mind, Chris, and that is Bill Clinton`s name did come into my mind. There are some people who I interviewed, and that`s what they said. It’s a Rorschach. And what is interesting here—I don’t think it matters so much what she was thinking. I think what was instructive for all of us is what people who were out there were thinking. That’s what’s the key here.

What a perfect press corps moment! Bill Clinton’s name “came into Sweet’s mind!” And not only that—she also interviewed “some people” who had the same reaction. (Were these “people” other journalists? Sweet didn’t specifically say.) To Sweet, this pretty much settled the matter. Good God! It doesn’t matter what Clinton was thinking, Sweet told her host; what really matters is what occurred to Lynn Sweet! Let us translate: Sweet wants to talk about Bill Clinton’s d*ck, and because that d*ck came into her head, she assumed that it came into everyone else’s—and she says, therefore, that this is what“matters.” Obviously, Sweet doesn’t know what the other thousand people in that crowd were actually thinking. But it’s perfect! Because Bill Clinton popped into her head, she says that is “what is interesting.”

I just heard Howard Fineman say "The joke was about her husband, OBVIOUSLY."

Was it?

Truly, I assumed she was talking about the famous "vast rightwing conspiracy" and only realized that it could be taken to mean her husband as she said it. And I also thought she wisely didn't elaborate later because she had sort of compared them to Osama bin Laden and knew that would really set off a firestorm. But then so has wingnut extraordinaire Dinesh D'Souza, so I actually don't see why that should be controversial.
The Queen Of All Iraq Takes The Stand

by digby

I just had a chance to catch up on today's Libby blogging and it's priceless. Judy's doing her full-on diva routine, slouching, gesticulating, sniffling and eye-rolling.

M says she doesn't remember affadvit

J is it true that you were planning to write an article

M Sir I wasn't planning to write an article [ohh, angry Judy]

J Didn't you talk to the bureau chief

M I was not going to write the story. It was not my assignment.

J puts up affadvit from Miller

M Yes I signed it.

J You did contemplate writing one or more articles in July 2003, about issues related to Wilson.

M Yes, but not about Wilson and Plame, there were other things I wanted to pursue

J You said you met with several potential sources.

J Who were the others. Can you remember just one of them?

Judy wipes nose.

She's got her chin in her hand.

Now reading through something–looks like Kristof's article.

Judy back to looking straight ahead, now lookingfown, back to not breathing, bends forward t oget something. Arms folded. Eyes roll up into head. Looking down. Back to reading whatever is in front of her. Wipes nose.


"They Tried To Kill Me"

by digby

So apparently the NY Times journalist who reported the spitting incident apparently personally saw Cpl. Joshua Sparling getting spit upon.

Hughes for America has the story:

The latest in a long line of controversies surrounding veteran Joshua Sparling, who lost part of a leg in Iraq, started with this New York Times article penned by Ian Urbina, with help from Sarah Abruzzese and Suevon Lee. "There were a few tense moments, however," the story read, "including an encounter involving Joshua Sparling, 25, who was on crutches and who said he was a corporal with the 82nd Airborne Division and lost his right leg below the knee in Ramadi, Iraq. Mr. Sparling spoke at a smaller rally held earlier in the day at the United States Navy Memorial, and voiced his support for the administration's policies in Iraq. Later, as antiwar protesters passed where he and his group were standing, words were exchanged and one of the antiwar protestors spit at the ground near Mr. Sparling; he spit back."


Adding to these important questions is the account of an interesting encounter Saturday between one protester and a woman claiming to be a reporter for the New York Times. The protester, in a letter to Urbina, wrote, "[Abruzzese] turned to me and told me she had seen a protester spit on a soldier and asked for my comment. I told her I didn't believe that, and she repeated that she had seen this happen. I told her the peace movement is more supportive of the troops than anyone who supports this war, because we want our troops to come home, while those who support the war are advocating sending them into harm's way. So I really could not believe that anyone who opposed the war had spit on a soldier. My comments were not included in your story." She continues, "I was upset when I read your story the next day to see this was an 'alleged' incident and the protester had supposedly spit on the ground in front of the soldier (which is quite different from spitting ON this soldier). In other words, what was related in your story was not at all what that reporter had told me. So she either lied to me or your story is false."

In follow-up call with Urbina, the protester reports that he[Urbina] claims to have received 150-plus e-mails about the story. He also maintained that Abruzzese actually saw the incident and that the protester cited in the story spat on Sparling, not "at the ground near" him, which the Times originally reported.

So there you have it. The NY Times reporter claims that Sparling was spat upon. Why she reported it as she did remains a mystery. But, I'll take her word for it that it happened. It would now be helpful if the paper of record could clear up some of the Rashoman aspects of this incident since the reporter was in the thick of it and could set the record straight.

Sparling was everywhere relating his tale yesterday. Michele Malkin wrote about it on her blog and went on O'Reilly and talked about it.

Here is the tale Sparling told on Hannity's radio show:

Hannity: I read the reports that you got spit at.

Sparling: Yeah. That was the worst afternoon of being an American that I've ever had in my life. They actually made me ashamed to be a soldier. They kept calling me a baby killer and a murderer and said I was a disgrace, they wish I would have stayed in Iraq, that I have blood all over my hands.

One guy, before the police blocked it off and it was just them on one side and us on the other about 10 yards apart, they were allowed to walk right on the sidewalk where we were and one of the fellas just spit right on me.

The other people were too far away to hit me with theirs. But this guy did --- and the worst thing is that he had a little 82nd patch on his little backpack and I'm in the 82nd and that really got to me there.

Hannity: Did anyone see this or did you have any witnesses? Do you know who this guy is? Could you get him arrested?

Sparling: Uh, I don't know who the fella is. I just know him by his description. But I had my girlfriend there, my father was there and some of the other members of our group, the Freedom group and uh...

Hannity: Here you gave your life for your country, you go off and pur your life at risk for your country for the right of these morons to say whatever they like at their little peace rally there and the thanks you get for this is just like a lot of vets after Vietnam. You get spit at.

Sparling: You know, that's exactly ... I thought back ... and sure it wasn't as bad as it was back then, but it was like, wow, this is what what they felt like.

And speaking to them over the megaphone I had, I was... I believe that if you speak calmly and rationally to people that they'll listen, that if you scream they're only gonna scream back and you're not going to get anything accomplished whatsoever.

And so I was talking and there was people screamin "Oh you're just upset because you can't run!" Stuff like that.

People were furious just so much, by me talking and saying that I was a vet and that I believe in my cause, that they were actually rushing the police to get to me and they were threatening that they were gonna kill me and all this. Three of these individuals were actually waiting for me to try to get me when the rally was over. Thety were gonna wait for me and then take me out after it was over.

Hannity: Well look, it's an incredible story, it's sad, but it's revealing.

No kidding.

Sparling appeared this morning on Fox and Friends, where he embellished his story further:

Obviously, I'm not going to judge all of them because there were a couple of peaceful people who just walked by.

But for the most part, there was people just lining the fences, jumping over it, screaming and trying to get at us and there were a couple of people waiting with clubs to meet me with after it was over with and the police had to stop them from bull rushing us on the sidewalk.

It's a wonder that they didn't call out the riot squad.

Watch the interview. You will see Sparling's father appear and complain about being broke, which he has been doing on Hannity's show since at least January 2005. (Maybe Sean could fork over something more than an Ipod, the cheap bastard --- or help the old man get a job.)

Weirdly, while Sparling was telling his tale of slavering beasts jumping fences and threatening to kill him, there was a split screen showing the actual march. (And stick it out to the end, because you just won't believe it):

That's sweet, isn't it? (And I mean that.) I've come to believe this kid is just basking in the warmth of his FreeRepublic family and these stories are getting him lots of attention and love. (His father, however, claims he was fired because his son was sick and he's been in DC for over a year while the kid is in the hospital. I can't help but wonder if he might have spotted an opportunity.)

But be that as it may, Sparling really is hurling some awful accusations and Fox News, the wingnutosphere and talk radio are airing it.

I would be very interested to know if the NY Times reporter who witnessed Sparling being spit upon saw any of this other violent activity. I wonder if the police remember any of it. Did anyone see this man with the 82nd Airborn patch on his backpack? Is that who the reporter saw, and if so, is it absolutely certain that it was a protestor and not someone who was affiliated with the Free Republic group? Were other protesters spitting from farther away at the time and couldn't hit him, as Sparling alleges?

Lots of questions, few answers. But the NY Times put its imprimatur on this young man's story, gave it credibility and now it has legs. They should take a look at Sparling's frequent run-ins throughout the country with rude and violent anti-Iraq war Americans --- people who are such cretins that they scream, "You're just upset because you can't run," to a man who lost his leg. They deserve to be exposed if they exist.

I know that people out there must have video footage of the march and it would be probably be a good idea to start putting it up on YouTube.

Update: Media Matters has more.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Why Don't We Just Crown Him King

by digby

...and get it over with:

President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.

The 58% of the country who just want the Bush presidency to be over with are in for a rude awakening. Bush and Cheney are racing to rape and pillage the country as much as they can until they are term limited out. They just don't give a damn what the people want, never have, and they know full well that nothing will happen to them. In fact, performance in office is now completely irrelevant.

For the full up-is-down Monty, check this out:

In an interview on Monday, Jeffrey A. Rosen, general counsel at the White House Office of Management and Budget, said, “This is a classic good-government measure that will make federal agencies more open and accountable.”

Will there ever be a straw that breaks the camels back? I'm beginning to doubt it. They are just plowing through everything, domestic and foreign, getting their spoils before they are cashiered in 2009. It's the most amazing chutzpah I've ever seen.

Civil Freeper Counter-protesters

Photo by Casey Y. Myers
America In The Balance

by digby

The right has a new obsession with "balance" just like the news media. This even translates into teaching schoolchildren crackpot science so that their cretinous parents aren't offended by the truth:

Frosty Hardison is neither impressed nor surprised that An Inconvenient Truth, the global-warming movie narrated by former vice president Al Gore, received an Oscar nomination last week for best documentary.

"Liberal left is all over Hollywood," he grumbled a few hours after the nomination was announced.

Hardison, a parent of seven in Federal Way, Wash., a southern suburb of Seattle, has himself roiled the global-warming waters. It happened early this month when he learned that one of his daughters would be watching An Inconvenient Truth in her seventh-grade science class.

"No you will not teach or show that propagandist Al Gore video to my child, blaming our nation - the greatest nation ever to exist on this planet - for global warming," Hardison wrote in an e-mail to the Federal Way School Board. The computer consultant is an evangelical Christian who says he believes that a warming planet is "one of the signs" of Jesus Christ's imminent return for Judgment Day.

His angry e-mail, along with complaints from a few other parents, stopped the film from being shown to Hardison's daughter.

The teacher in that science class, Kay Walls, says that after Hardison's e-mail she was told by her principal that she would receive a disciplinary letter for not following school board rules that require her to seek written permission to present "controversial" materials in class.

The e-mail also pressured the school board to impose a ban on screenings of the film for the district's 22,500 students.

The ban, which the school board says was merely a "moratorium," was lifted last week, subject to rigorous conditions. Still, the action has appalled the film's producers and triggered a ferocious national backlash.

Apparently, if certain parents "believe" that 4+4 equals 278 or that the moon is made of cream cheese, the schools are now obliged to teach it in order to create some phony sense of balance.

Is it really out of line for the school district to politely say no to these people? Do they have no professional integrity? But perhaps they actually agree with this claptrap, in which case they have just made a very good argument for standards --- not of teachers, but of administrators and school boards.

This is getting out of hand. These fundamentalists are using their religion as a political bludgeon that's making this nation even less informed than it already is. And it's very badly informed:

Thirteen percent of Americans have never heard of global warming even though their country is the world's top source of greenhouse gases, a 46-country survey showed on Monday.

The report, by ACNielsen of more than 25,000 Internet users, showed that 57 percent of people around the world considered global warming a "very serious problem" and a further 34 percent rated it a "serious problem."

"It has taken extreme and life-threatening weather patterns to finally drive the message home that global warming is happening and is here to stay unless a concerted, global effort is made to reverse it," said Patrick Dodd, the President of ACNielsen Europe.

People in Latin America were most worried while U.S. citizens were least concerned with just 42 percent rating global warming "very serious."

The United States emits about a quarter of all greenhouse gases, the biggest emitter ahead of China, Russia and India.

Thirteen percent of U.S. citizens said they had never heard or read anything about global warming, the survey said.

Almost all climate scientists say that temperatures are creeping higher because of heat-trapping greenhouse gases released by burning fossil fuels.

The study also found that 91 percent of people had heard about global warming and 50 percent reckoned it was caused by human activities.

A U.N. report due on Friday is set to say it is at least 90 percent probable that human activities are the main cause of warming in the past 50 years.

People in China and Brazil were most convinced of the link to human activities and Americans least convinced.

The survey said that people living in regions vulnerable to natural disasters seemed most concerned -- ranging from Latin Americans worried by damage to coffee or banana crops to people in the Czech Republic whose country was hit by 2002 floods.

In Latin America, 96 percent of respondents said they had heard of global warming and 75 percent rated it "very serious."

So you can see why it's such a good thing that there are people out there who are ensuring that American children are taught "alternative theories" to what causes global warming which presumably include the idea that it's a sign that Judgement Day is coming.

I hope Americans have enjoyed being the richest, most powerful nation on earth because it's going to be over very soon if this keeps up. A country this willfully dumb cannot stay on top.

Heads Up

by digby

It looks like the media are going to be dogging Democratic presidential contenders for "botched jokes" this cycle. They managed to run Kerry out of the race with his, so why not try it on Clinton?

Word to the wise, Dems. Remember that you are auditioning before those important arbiters of comedy, the famously witty members of the DC press corps. Recall how sharp they were at the funniest Washington event in recent memory and behave accordingly. (Hint: they don't get jokes. Too complicated.)

Cheney's Strategery

by digby

I continue to be astounded by Dick Cheney's bizarre public behavior. He did an interview with Richard Wolffe at Newsweek last week and it was just as weird as the one he did with Wolf Blitzer.

The whole thing is delusional, but there are a couple of points that really must be highlighted for their sheer incoherence and wrongheadedness. (Questions are in bold):

The president—and I think you also—have spoken about the possibility of regional war in case of American withdrawal, a chaos in Iraq, and I think the president referred to it as an epic battle between extremists. What's the basis for thinking that it would be a broader war? What lies behind that kind of analysis in your mind?

Well, I think it's a concern that the current level of sectarian violence—Shia on Sunni and Sunni on Shia violence would increase, and perhaps break out in other parts of the country. It's pretty well concentrated right now in the Baghdad area.

There are a lot of other concerns, as well, with what would happen if we were to withdraw from Iraq and do what many in the Democratic Party want us to do. It clearly would have, I think, consequences on a regional basis in terms of the efforts that we've mounted not only in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. This is a conflict that we're involved in on a wide variety of fronts in that part of the world. And hundreds of thousands of people literally have signed on in that battle to take on the Al Qaeda or the Al Qaeda types, in part because the United States is there, because we're committed, because we provide the leadership, and because we're working closely with people like President [Pervez] Musharraf in Pakistan, and [Hamid] Karzai in Afghanistan and so forth.

And a decision by the United States to withdraw from Iraq I think would have a direct negative impact on the efforts of all of those other folks who would say wait a minute, if the United States isn't willing to complete the task in Iraq that they may have to reconsider whether or not they're willing to put their lives on the line serving in the security forces in Afghanistan, for example, or taking important political positions in Afghanistan, or the work that the Saudis have done against the Al Qaeda inside the kingdom.

All of a sudden, the United States which is the bulwark of security in that part of world would I think no longer—could no longer be counted on by our friends and allies that have put so much into this struggle.

But would that encourage them to take a role in an Iraqi civil war? There's this idea that regional powers would step in.

No, I think—I think when you look at Iraq, you have to look at Iraq in the broader context. And you cannot evaluate the consequences of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq only in terms of Iraq. You've got to look at it in terms of what it means in other parts of the globe, really.

Remember what the strategy is here for Al Qaeda. Their strategy is that they can break our will. They can't beat us in a stand-up fight. They never have—but they believe firmly because they talk about it all the time—that they can, in fact, break the will of the American people and change our policies if they just kill enough Americans, or kill enough innocent civilians. And they cite Beirut in 1983, and Mogadishu in 1993 as evidence of that, and then they see the debate here in the United States over whether or not we've got the right policy in Iraq, whether or not we ought to stay committed there as evidence reinforcing their view that, in fact, the United States can be forced to withdraw if they simply stay the course that they're on, that is to say the Al Qaeda and the terrorist extremists stay the course that they're on.

So Iraq to some extent is a test of that basic fundamental proposition. Is their strategic view that we won't complete the job correct? Or is our strategic view correct, that we can, in fact, organize people in that part of the world, as well as use our forces in order to achieve a significant victory and defeat those elements that, among other things launched an attack on the United States on 9/11 and killed 3,000 Americans.

You've made the case that a collapsed Iraq would become a terrorist haven. The president has also said that. Al Qaeda is essentially … Look at what happened to Afghanistan.

But Al Qaeda is essentially a new organization in Iraq, a Sunni organization and it has this element of foreign fighters. Isn't there a reason to think that if there was full-blown civil war, the Shia would essentially beat them and neutralize that as being a hostile force as they take control of the country?

What's the basis for that?

There are more Shia.

Well, let's look at Afghanistan. In 1996, there were no Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. That's when [Osama] bin Laden moved in and found refuge there. A handful of Arabs, foreign fighters, if you will, subsequently opened up training camps, trained somewhere—estimates range from 10,000 to 20,000 terrorists in the late '90s, developed a safe haven and a base of operations from which they blew up American embassies in East Africa, attacked the USS Cole, launched the planning and training for 9/11. That all took place in Afghanistan under circumstances that are similar to what you've just hypothesized about for Iraq.

That's just a small sample of the non sequitors and muddled thinking throughout this interview. When asked about Iraq's civil war he talks about al Qaeda. When the sectarian devision in Iraq are the subject he switches to Afghanistan in the 1980's It's all over the place, bizarre and disjointed.

Wolff asks why Cheney thinks there would be a broader war if the US withdrew. Cheney says that the civil war will expand to the rest of the country. That is a false issue, since it already exists in other parts of the country. This myth that everything is peaceful except for Baghdad is one of their favorite lies. (Doh.)His strange response to Wolff's observation that the Shi'a would likely prevail over the Sunni due to the fact that they greatly outnumber them was frightening.

But it's the next part, the childlike psycho-babble blather about how we will have let down all our friends and allies and shown Al Qaeda that we can be intimidated if we withdraw, that's noteworthy. He has never wavered from day one from that idea and it's clear that it is the sum total of his strategic view of dealing with Islamic extremism: prove that we aren't cowards.

The only thing he seems to know about strategy is that if you "back down" your enemy will think you are soft and if you don't "back down," no matter what the circumstances, you will convince the enemy that they can't defeat you. Basically, he really believes the trash talk that bin Laden's been spewing all these years, --- trash talk that would not sound odd coming from the mouth of a world wide wrestling star or a seventh grade bully.

He says, "Is their strategic view that we won't complete the job correct?" Except it's not a strategic view. He doesn't seem to realize that bin Laden (and others) are practicing PR, not strategy. It's sophomoric taunting that's beneath any powerful nation to consider when making decisions about how to proceed. Militant Islamic extremism will not disappear because they finally have to admit that we are too tough to tangle with because we have not retreated from Iraq. They love having us in Iraq. They couldn't be happier.

Indeed, if one were to actually look at what bin Laden and other Islamic militants' real strategy is, I would have to think that bogging the US down in Iraq, empowering Iran and destabilizing the entire mid-east might have been a long term objective --- only they likely never dreamed we would actually fulfill it in such short shrift and with so much enthusiasm.

Cheney goes on to say that our strategic view is that we can build a western democracy and that once it flourishes we will achieve our strategic pobjective as everyone holds hands and sings "This Land is Your land." He is either lying about that or he has comoletely lost touch with what is actually happening. I suspect the former. The fact that they never listened to even one person with nation building expertise tells the tale. Indeed, until this war, they disdained the very concept.

No, I do not believe it. Their "strategy" is just what Bush and Cheney have always said it was --- prove to the world that nobody can push the US of A around. Invade Iraq and show that we're mad as hell and we won't take it anymore. Then the terrorists will run for cover. That's it. Strategery 101, just like on Saturday night Live and Junior's college "Risk" days.

It's stupid, it's puerile it's completely absurd. But that is all there is to the Bush administration's War On Terror strategy. Nothing that happens on the ground matters. All that matters is that we are there and we aren't leaving until Al Qaeda cries "Uncle."

For those who are interested in knowing what Wolff was talking about when he said, "There's this idea that regional powers would step in," read this very interesting transcript of General William Odom's prepared testimony last week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Here's the conclusion:

Several critics of the administration show an appreciation of the requirement to regain our allies and others' support, but they do not recognize that withdrawal of US forces from Iraq is the sine qua non for achieving their cooperation. It will be forthcoming once that withdrawal begins and looks irreversible. They will then realize that they can no longer sit on the sidelines. The aftermath will be worse for them than for the United States, and they know that without US participation and leadership, they alone cannot restore regional stability. Until we understand this critical point, we cannot design a strategy that can achieve what we can legitimately call a victory.

Any new strategy that does realistically promise to achieve regional stability at a cost we can prudently bear, and does not regain the confidence and support of our allies, is doomed to failure. To date, I have seen no awareness that any political leader in this country has gone beyond tactical proposals to offer a different strategic approach to limiting the damage in a war that is turning out to be the greatest strategic disaster in our history

I would suggest that it is the greatest strategic disaster in our history because it wasn't really a strategy at all. It was a simple-minded reading of a complicated problem based upon some psychological need among a handful of powerful men. And vice president Cheney is clearly still very powerful. He is out there making a spectacle of himself with this talk and nobody can stop him even though it's terribly counter-productive to the current legislative and foreign policy challenges and the president's standing with the nation at large. He is a dangerous and somewhat deranged man. But the problem is that the man at whose pleasure he serves is just as deluded as he is.

It is this kind of thing that makes me believe that they will provoke a war with Iran. It is their strategy to prove that the US is the biggest toughest bastard on the planet. Iraq isn't getting that job done. Maybe doubling down will.

Fixed gibberish. Apologies.

More Spittle

by digby

The Cincinnatti Beacon found that people are picking up the Joshua "Zelig" Sparling spitting story as proof of the terrible treatment of veterans. One is a Vietnam Vet who recovered memories of his own spitting incident back in the 70's. (The Beacon also found that his story doesn't exactly add up --- as usual.)

Even more interesting is that the Beacon coincidentally shot some footage of Sparling standing with the Freepers. If there was spit lobbed across the wide chasm between the two opposing groups, it was an award winning projectile gob, which makes this passage by the New York Times reporter especially suspicious:

Later, as antiwar protesters passed where he and his group were standing, words were exchanged and one of the antiwar protestors spit at the ground near Mr. Sparling; he spit back.

As I posted earlier, the Washington Post had what appears to be a slightly more accurate report of the incident (no spitting observed) and for some reason they scrubbed the passage from later versions of the story.

Joseph Hughes of the blog Hughes for America was at the march and came up close and personal with Sparling. He reported in my comments:

As someone who was at the CODEPINK event - here's my take on that and the march in general - and who saw Sparling up close and personal, I thought I'd weigh in. We were close to the front of the event because we were there early and my girlfriend wanted a good spot to take photos. Shortly after the event began, I noticed Sparling and his small group - himself, a woman wearing the same 82nd Airborne sweatshirt and another young man - push their way to the front. By the time they made their move, the crowd was packed pretty tight, so I don't see how they
could have made it so close (just to the left of the front) without some pushing.

When everyone would cheer a particular speaker, he first stood out by loudly booing. He would also give a thumbs down gesture to accompany those boos. One of the official speakers, a woman who formerly served in the armed forces, went over to him, and the two appeared to have a civil conversation. When a man who was taking pictures went over, Sparling appeared to be shouting in his face to move the camera. Later, when the female veteran spoke, she mentioned his service and our appreciation for it and there was a good round of applause. Nothing that would lead someone to characterize anyone as un-American.

I missed his impromptu speech because myself and my girlfriend were helping keep the CODEPINK protesters on the sidewalk as we marched to the full protest. That said, I sincerely doubt Sparling was treated with disrespect on our side of the street. (I didn't notice anyone on his side of the street barring a few curious folks who appeared to be taking pictures of the counter-protesters.) The worst I saw anyone from our side do in response to a counter-protester was throw up a fist or peace sign. When someone shouted, it wasn't profane. Now, on the other hand, Sparling's Freeper friends across the street had spent the better part of an hour holding up ridiculous signs like "Anti-American peaceniks think sedition is patriotic" and "We gave peace a chance. We got 9/11". Also, they hung an effigy of Jane Fonda.

These weren't friendly people. They were people looking to provoke a response. That they got it in the form of spitting, based on everything I saw Saturday, seems laughable on its face.

Before I even noticed Sparling's leg, I thought the kid was a right-wing plant in our group. I thought we were going to be marching, peacefully, and this kid would break a window or otherwise do something to make for an ugly scene, making what was actually a peaceful protest look anything but. It looked to me like he was taking great pains to stand out in what he was doing. For anyone to portray Sparling as an innocent actor in Saturday's events while making the CODEPINK attendees out to be a rabid mob boggles the mind. Our group was 90 percent women, including children and grandmothers. Half of the guys there didn't look like they could hurt a fly. I can safely say Sparling and his group showed up looking to start something, something
that, from the looks of your citations, appears to be a pattern.

I will repeat myself here, but it's important. I suspect that what's at work here is reflexive, lazy MSM he said/she said reporting where it was important to show "the other side" of the story of a peaceful protest. As usual, this lazy and inaccurate form of reporting worked to the benefit of the right, who in this case used a young man who is a celebrity rightwing victim of numerous alleged lefty slurs to tell a mythic story. I expect this from Fox News. It's a big problem when it's the paper of record.

But there's an even bigger problem. Dave Niewert and others have done a lot of writing over the past few years about rightwing eliminationist rhetoric and subterranean groups like militias and how their poison seeps into the mainstream. The mainstream media have failed to pick up on this pernicious social and political trend. Instead they are still mired in the stereotypes of 35 years ago, which we saw this week-end are pretty stooped and grey these days. They need to turn their attention to their right.

In this instance you had a budding rightwing operative who sat with the Vice President's wife at the State of the Union address appearing with a group that hanged Jane Fonda in effigy in the middle of a peaceful protest march. The signs they held were violent, crude and purposefully provocative. Yet the mainstream media, in looking for some frisson of 60's street violence, reports it as if the protesters are the provacateurs. They had the story and they completely missed it.

The fact is that the people who are challenging social norms and mainstream behavior are not coming from the left today --- they are coming from the right. They are clever and well financed and they are being helped not just by their own rightwing media infrastructure --- the allegedly liberal NY Times and Washington Post are also helping them with their knee-jerk assumptions and phony narratives.

Update: How surprising. The AP is quoting Sparling too. No mention of hanging Jane Fonda in effigy.

Update II: Pictures of Sparling (identified as a colonel) at the protest were also picked up by World Picture News. Who's this guy's press agent? John McCain should hire him.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

No Spit Zone

by digby

A bit more on the alleged spitting incident.

First of all, let me make it clear why this is a big deal. Most of you know that "spitting on veterans" is a big time hot button. We have been lucky to see very little hostility toward the troops during this war and I have seen no evidence that it is happening now. I think I speak for the vast majority of Americans when I say that we do not blame the soldiers and marines for what is happening and harbor no ill will toward them. We hold the political leaders who sent them over to that meat grinder responsible as is our right and responsibility as citizens.

But even the real hostility that we saw back in the 60's and 70's didn't actually feature people spitting on soldiers. It's an urban legend that was debunked long ago.

But it's a potent charge to this day and one that it's hard to believe Joshua Sparling (and the NY Times) didn't know would push buttons.

Here are a couple of interesting little factoids that readers have brought to my attention.

The Washington Post mentioned Sparling too in an earlier version of today's story about the march. It's been edited out of the current piece, but this intrepid blogger captured it:

Earlier in the day, a smaller rally was held at the Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue. About 3,000 people, many wearing pink or carrying pink signs, showed up for an antiwar protest sponsored by a women-run peace organization called CodePink.

Oriana Futrell, a Spokane, Wash., resident who said she has grown weary of going to the funerals of her friends' husbands, carried a sign also urging the return of her husband, an Army lieutenant in Iraq.

Across the street, however, was a counter-protest, staged by the Washington chapter of the conservative organization FreeRepublic.com. Those protesters, who organizers said feared that the antiwar march would hurt the U.S. anti-terror efforts, yelled and sported signs, such as one that read, "Go to hell traitors. You dishonor our dead on hallowed ground."

At least one veteran from the Iraq war tried to bridge the divide between the groups. Cpl. Joshua Sparling, 25, from Port Huron, Mich., who lost his right leg below the knee in an 2005 explosion in Ramadi, spoke to both groups.

Near the end of the CodePink rally, Sparling, a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital who used crutches to walk, went to the microphone and told the protesters that they are entitled to the right to demonstrate and must fight for what they believe in. But he reminded them that the situation is dire for many Iraqis and U.S. troops there believe that they are fighting to help provide a better option for the people of Iraq. He was rewarded with general applause, although a few feint boos could be heard.

When he finished, he walked across the street and spoke with the FreeRepublic group also.

Actually, according to witnesses in the comment section of the post below, it appears that Sparling was with the Freepers from the beginning.

I wonder why the Wapo eliminated this piece of the story? (I don't have any dark suspicions. It was probably space or relevance or something. Still, it's curious.)

Here, again, is how the NY Times reported the same incident. it's been changed slightly from the earlier version I quoted below, but I can't see how that changed the (misleading nature of) the story:

There were a few tense moments, however, including an encounter involving Joshua Sparling, 25, who was on crutches and who said he was a corporal with the 82nd Airborne Division and lost his right leg below the knee in Ramadi, Iraq. Mr. Sparling spoke at a smaller rally held earlier in the day at the United States Navy Memorial, and voiced his support for the administration’s policies in Iraq.

Later, as antiwar protesters passed where he and his group were standing, words were exchanged and one of the antiwar protestors spit at the ground near Mr. Sparling; he spit back.

Capitol police made the antiwar protestors walk farther away from the counterprotesters.

“These are not Americans as far as I’m concerned,” Mr. Sparling said.

Unfortunately, this is the version that will be googled whenever anyone looks up "antiwar+protestors+spitting."

I have no idea what is behind all the problems with the public that Joshua Sparling seems to confront all the time. Certainly, you would think that if there's a lot of this going on that it would be documented by someone other than this one young man. And I find it very suspicious that it wouldn't be covered constantly in the right wing press, at least.

The salient fact here is that Sparling was allowed to address the anti-war protestors at the Code Pink rally and was treated respectfully and then went on to say that the very people who had allowed him to speak weren't "Americans." I do not know if the spitting incident is a lie, but I believe I am justifiably suspicious of his story under the circumstances.

What I do know is that the NY Times article was so badly reported and so misleading as to be a lie. By leaving out the fact that he spoke at an anti-war rally, it appeared as if he spoke at his own rally. And it made it sound as if the protestors walking by were provoking him, when, in fact, he'd been allowed to speak to them and was treated respectfully. It was the counter-protestors across the street --- his friends the Freepers --- who were the disruptive ones. The NY Times got it exactly backwards.

That they didn't bother to even google Sparling's name, where they would have found that he's something of a rightwing celebrity for his tales of victimization at the hands of terrible lefties, is journalistic malpractice.

They need to correct this story. And they need to look into Sparling. I suspect he's being used by a bunch of creepy Freepers and swiftboat professionals. The man gave his leg. He shouldn't be exploited by these jerks on top of it.

And if he's just making stuff up, the fact that he's a wounded veteran does not excuse it.

Update: From one of the appearances Sparling's dad made on Hannity and Colmes last year, this stands out:

COLMES: How did he get chosen? How did it come about
that last night he was in the gallery? Were you with
him last night at the State of the Union address?

SPARLING: Yes. As a matter of fact, I was sitting
beside Vice President Cheney's wife.

COLMES: Did you talk to her?

SPARLING: Yes, I did.

COLMES: What did you talk about?

SPARLING: She's a very nice lady. And I can see, you
know -- very, very kind-hearted family.

HANNITY: Mike, you sent Joshua our best. Tell him
he's in our prayers. And we look forward to seeing
you guys soon. Thank you very much. And we're going
to help you with that other problem, too, as you
know, when the time comes, about the job.

SPARLING: Sean, Joshua says you still owe him that
trip to New York. And he's sorry he couldn't be here
tonight, and he loves you to death.

HANNITY: When he's ready, he comes back up and we're
going to have a great time. I'm looking forward to
having him up here, sir. Thank you.

Seems they have friends in very high places.

Update II: Apparently Sparling has also made appearances at Ollie North's "Freedom Alliance" concerts. He's a certified minor wingnut celebrity.

Thanks to reader SJS

Spitting Image

by digby

So the dirty, long haired hippies spit on wounded veterans yesterday. Isn't it just like them...

There were a few tense moments, however, including an encounter involving Joshua Sparling, 25, who was on crutches and who said he was a corporal with the 82nd Airborne Division and lost his right leg below the knee in Ramadi, Iraq. Mr. Sparling, who was not scheduled to speak, addressed the counterprotesters to voice his support for the administration's policies in Iraq.

Later, as antiwar protesters passed where he and his group were standing, words were exchanged and one of the antiwar protestors spit at the ground near Mr. Sparling; he spit back.

How awful. And it turns out that poor PFC Sparling has been treated terribly by these DFH's time and time again. Michele Malkin reported on another awful incident back in December:

Lots of readers watched Fox & Friends this morning and e-mailed about the disgusting greeting card a wounded soldier received while hospitalized at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Thanks to reader Shari for taking these cell phone camera shots of the card displayed by co-host Brian Kilmeade:

The card front, decorated with patriotic and holiday stamps, was deceptively innocuous. But take a look at what was inside:

Yes, that's right. It says "P.S. DIE" in the lower right-hand corner.

According to Kilmeade, who visited Walter Reed on Friday, a US Army soldier named Joshua Sparling received the death wish while recovering from a gunshot wound he received in Ramadi, Iraq. It's the only Christmas card he received. Fox & Friends is urging you to counter the hate by sending your thanks and good wishes to Sparling:

Joshua Sparling
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20307-5001


Sean Hannity took up his case too and gave Sparling an iPod. (I wonder what neat loot he'll get for being spit upon!)

He has become such a famous victim that he and his parents even went to the State of the Union address at the invitation of Dennis Hastert.

Some might find it odd that such terrible treatment would befall the same man --- first he gets a terrible Christmas card (Christmas!) that tells him to "go die." Then, he was spat upon by protestors --- a myth of the 1960's come to life right before our very eyes. What are the odds?

Luckily the New York Times, which obviously reported his spitting incident without even the most cursory google search on his name, is helping to perpetuate this story for a new generation. From now on, any search of "spitting on Iraq veterans" will turn up this incident to back up the inevitable future claims by wingnuts that they were mistreated by the dirty hippies of 2007. Good job NY Times. That's why they call it the paper of record.

I wonder if they would consider doing a profile of poor put-upon Sparling. Surely, all these awful incidents should be compiled and also put in the paper of record. One poor 24 year old soldier appears to be bearing the brunt of the entire vicious hippie movement. Seems like there's a story there.

Update: Sparling had trouble at an airport too:

We arrived at the airport at 4:30 pm for a 5:10 flight. When we arrived there was no wheel chair, no one at the SPIRIT counter and no security. I looked for a SPIRIT employee for ten minutes. Joshua said, “Dad I’m going to miss my flight, just get me to the gate and they can help us there.” Northwest gave us a wheel chair, but we still had no security. Security would not let us through because we had no boarding pass. We informed them that SPIRIT had our boarding pass and asked that he please let us go to the gate with him and he could verify it, or get someone from SPIRIT and they could give it to him. The security guard said, “You are no different than any other passenger with no boarding pass - no go.”

My son started to cry uncontrollably and told the guard to go to hell. Another lady spoke up and said, “That’s what you get for fighting in a war we have no business in.” Madder and very emotional I asked, “Can’t you remember 9-11?” She responded that was just our excuse to be in Iraq when we should not be there and we deserved whatever we got. That is when my son really lost it. Three WWII vets were coming off flights into DC, gave my son a hug, and stood up to the lady and security guard. They stayed with my son until he flew out.

Thank goodness. It's hell out there for this veteran everywhere he goes.

Update II: Thanks to Julia for alerting me to this. Sparling has been in the news since 2005 when the army used him for PR purposes. Interesting.

It also seems that Sparling's horrible Christmas card was actually sent by a white supremecist nutcase named Michael Crook. (Or at least he took credit for it.) (This was noted by Malkin at the time.)

Sparling appears to be some sort of US Army Zelig with ties to white supremecists who is becoming the poster boy for veterans who feel beseiged by dirty hippies.

One wonders if John O'Neill has taken this young fellow under his wing.


H/T to reader JS


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Saturday Night At The Movies

Two Bongs Up! Or, Six Degrees of Woody Harrelson

by Dennis Hartley

Richard Linklater entered the sci-fi arena in 2006 with his adaptation of the late Phillip K. Dick’s semi-autobiographical novel A Scanner Darkly(now on DVD). Set in a not-so-distant future L.A., the story injects themes of existential dilemma, drug-fueled paranoia and Orwellian government surveillance (hmm, that’s timely) into what is otherwise a fairly standard undercover-cop-who’s-gone-too-deep yarn. Keanu Reeves stars as a dazed and confused narc who has become helplessly addicted to the mind-altering drug that he has been assigned to help eradicate (“substance D”). Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder and Linklater alumni Rory Cochrane are his fellow D-heads who may not exactly be whom they appear to be on the surface. Adding to the mood of hallucinatory psychosis is Linklater’s controversial use of roto-scoping (as per his underrated Waking Life). The rotoscoping technique does present challenges to the actors; Downey, with his Chaplinesque knack for physical expression, pulls it off best, while the more inert performers like Reeves and Ryder are akin to oil paintings. Linklater’s script keeps fairly close to its source material-particularly in relation to the more cerebral elements (Linklater’s propensity for lots of talk and little action may be a turn-off for those expecting another Minority Report). Depending on what you bring with you, the film is a) a cautionary tale about addiction, b) a warning about encroaching technocracy, c) an indictment on the government’s “war” on drugs, d) a really cool flick to watch while stoned, e) the longest 99 minutes of your life or f) all of the above.

More Dick Flicks-Blade Runner, Total Recall, Screamers, Abre Los Ojos (or the U.S. remake Vanilla Sky if you’re just in a popcorn mood), Paycheck (Special Collector's Edition) and Barjo (VHS only).

Speaking of the “war” on drugs-here’s a sleeper you may have missed. Grass is a unique, well-produced documentary dealing (er, pun intended) with the history of marijuana criminalization in the United States. Far from a dry history lesson, the film builds its own “counter-myth” of sorts, by exposing the hypocrisy of the government’s anti-marijuana propaganda machine over the years. It’s all there-from the laughable histrionics of the 1930’s Reefer Madness movie to the Reagan administrations sophomoric “Just Say No” campaign in the 1980’s. There is also a fascinating ongoing tally of all the tax money the various law-enforcement agencies have spent (wasted) attempting to eradicate marijuana usage from the days of Elliot Ness to the present. The filmmakers ladle some well-chosen period music over a wealth of ironic archive footage. Woody Harrelson (who has infamously lived through a series of herb-related legal problems, off-screen) narrates with winking bemusement. Whether you are for or against legalization, you should find this one quite informative and highly (er, sorry!) entertaining.

OK class, here’s some, er, further study: American Beauty, Weeds - Season One, Traffic, The Big Lebowski, Homegrown, Reefer Madness - The Movie Musical, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, Up In Smoke (well, any Cheech & Chong movie), Half Baked, Bongwater, Rockers, Countryman, The Harder They Come , Word, Sound And Power. (I know, I left out your fave. I see your finger on the mouse!)

Digby here: In case you haven't been following the latest DEA "asset seizure" for no good reason saga, here's the skinny. I feel much safer now.

Some Of His Best Friends

by digby

Glenn Greenwald writes one of his throughly satisfying lawyerly exposés of one of the most loathesome DC creatures of recent years, the hysterical anti-muslim, anti-arab racist, Martin Peretz. It's long overdue.

But Glenn's focus on Peretz's anti-arab diatribes unfortunately gives short shrift to his more homegrown bigotry. He has a little problem with yer african americans too. He's quite clever about it, but it's very similar to the proudly colorblind wingnuts who extoll the virtues of "good" blacks like Condi and Colin while unleashing standard racist vitriol toward "bad" negroes:

... as Michael Kazin also rightly points out, Obama is an idiosyncratic African American, although Mike doesn't use the word "idiosyncratic."

In any case, he is not a four-flusher and hustler like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who also ran for president. But he is more than just not like these men. He is a formidable candidate because he is a formidable person. More than Mark Warner or Tom Vilsack. And why shouldn't we at last have a black president? Given America's history, that's an honorable ambition for a party and for a country.

Why shouldn't we have a black president, indeed? What a bold and broadminded epiphany. Why, they're just like everybody else!

Or are they? He uses the word "idiosyncratic" to describe someone who isn't, you know, unpleasantly "Afro-American" a term he uses unself-consciously in this post:

Does Ned Lamont really want Al Sharpton's support? The reverend has lost just about all his fans in the Afro-American population, as anyone could tell by how he fared in the 2004 Democratic primary. I think he got fewer votes and fewer delegates than Kucinich, which is a great achievement. In any case, black Americans--having produced solid and achieving and aspiring politicians like Harold Ford Jr., Barack Obama and Deval Patrick (for all my carping at him)--have no reason to stick with Sharpton on anything. He has been a racist hooligan from the beginning of his career to, well, yesterday. What did he do yesterday? He accused Joe Lieberman of "race-baiting."


Peretz does this over and over again when the issue is race. He cannot discuss the issue without contrasting what he considers to be good african-americans with "four-flushing hustlers" like Jackson and Sharpton. (He missed an opportunity to use the word "pimp". Somebody send him a wingnut style-guide.)

It's standard modern racism. They don't just come out and say it. They don't even know they are doing it. They really, truly do like some black people. The good ones. You know, the ones who don't act .... black. And they have convinced themselves that today there is also a large silent majority of these "good" "afro-Americans" who also hate Jesse Jackson and who, in fact, believe exactly as Marty Peretz does. Which is why he isn't a racist. He and teh African-Americans are brothers under their creamy, not too black, skins.

Here's an example:

I'm a fan of young man Ford. He's religious, he is not embarrassed that he's for a strong defense, and he's a friend of Al Gore--which means a lot to me. He is also more in touch with the sentiments of black constituents than either Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, in the new tradition of Barack Obama and Corey Booker, who also are very appealing to whites. This is the fresh black leadership in the Democratic Party, and a blessing they are.

Again with the good negroes and the bad negroes. This time, he also asserts that these "idiosyncratic" african americans are more appealing to whites than the bad negroes. No word on why. And how he knows that they are more appealing to the black constituency than jackson or Sharpton is also a mystery. I guess he found that out by hanging out in black churches and hip-hop clubs with Condi and Mike Bloomberg.

Of course, this "idiosyncracy" of Obama and these others has a down side. The rightwing talk sludge slingers are now saying he isn't entitled to be considered "black" because he isn't descended from African slaves. They are calling him a "halfrican" when they aren't also tagging him as a muslim terrorist. (Don't tell Peretz, his head will explode.)

I'm reminded of many recent conversations in which I'm lectured about how the Republicans are now the party of equality because Bush put Condi and Colin in the cabinet. (Of course, there have been blacks in the cabinet before, but no matter.) What always comes out is how these fine Republican African Americans don't look and sound so much like those really black ones.

They all feel very proud of themselves and constantly pat themselves on the back for their new-found color-blindness. The mexicans and the arabs, on the other hand, are just a bunch of animals, but then everybody knows that.

Of course, there are exceptions...

And The Big Tumescent Winner Is

by digby

In a bold new advance in technical awardology the annual Kippies were hosted this year on IM, by none other than the "godfather" of instant messages himself: Congressman Mark Foley. If you want to see history as it was made, read the transcript. Foley is very, shall we say....excited to be there.

*And I'm personally thrilled that my favorite columnist of all time, Richard Cohen, won this year's Purple Teardrop With Clutched Pearls Cluster. Made me all verklempt.


Collective Effort

by poputonian

Today's anti-war rally in Washington brings to mind Ché Pasa's comment from last week:

The idea that physical protest doesn't matter or is ineffective is absurd on its face, and yet this idea is nearly endemic to much of high profile lefty blogistan, a matter of faith more than evidence. I've been in several set-to's with blogish proprietors over the issue, most recently over the question of whether Cindy Sheehan's protests are of any relevance or consequence, and shouldn't she and her tactics be shunned by the "serious" left? What complete garbage, but she does have a tendency to embarrass the Democratic Powers That Be, and that's her chief offense these days. But Cindy was down the street protesting last night with hundreds of others who marched and chanted and carried signs and --horrors -- disrupted traffic at rush hour, making the tired old point that this war must be brought to an END, yawn. See, nobody likes her, so why doesn't she just stay home? And all this marching and chanting and carrying signs has no appeal or effect any more, so we should all just stop it, hook in to the New Wired World, and zone out.

Perhaps that's part of the problem. Back in the Old Days, it wasn't really possible to hook in to the protest movement unless you were physically there in person. Now you can get a dose of protest vigor just by turning on your computer and visiting a site or two, where you'll find excellent rants and virtual marches out the wahzoo.

There. Done. Protest complete. Off to work, school or whatever.

Last year I posted an excerpt about Paul Revere's role in the revolutionary movement, a different 'old days' than what Ché Pasa was speaking of. In that piece, I suggested today's community of blogs are similar to the local associations that comprised part of the revolutionary movement infrastructure. Note the blend of meetings and action in historian Fischer's words:

The structure of Boston's revolutionary movement, and Paul Revere's place within it, were very different from recent secondary accounts. Many historians have suggested that this movement was a tightly organized, hierarchical organization, controlled by Samuel Adams and a few other dominant figures. These same interpretations commonly represent Revere as a minor figure who served his social superiors mainly as a messenger.

A very different pattern emerges from the following comparison of seven groups: the Masonic lodge that met at the Green Dragon Tavern; the Loyal Nine, which was the nucleus of the Sons of Liberty; the North Caucus that met at the Salutation Tavern; the Long Room Club in Dassett Alley; the Boston Committee of Correspondence; the men who are known to have participated in the Boston Tea Party; and Whig leaders on a Tory Enemies List.

A total of 255 men were in one or more of these seven groups. Nobody appeared on all seven lists, or even as many as six. Two men, and only two, were in five groups; they were Joseph Warren and Paul Revere, who were unique in the breadth of their associations.

Other multiple memberships were as follows. Five men (2.0%) appeared in four groups each ... Seven men (2.7%) turned up on three lists ... Twenty-seven individuals (10.6%) were on two lists ... The great majority, 211 of 255 (82.7%), appeared only on a single list. Altogether, 94.1% were in only one or two groups.

This evidence strongly indicates that the revolutionary movement in Boston was more open and pluralist than scholars have believed. It was not a unitary organization, but a loose alliance of many overlapping groups. That structure gave Paul Revere and Joseph Warren a special importance, which came from the multiplicity and range of their alliances.

None of this is meant to deny the preeminence of other men in different roles. Samuel Adams was especially important in managing the Town Meeting, and the machinery of local government, and was much in the public eye. Otis was among its most impassioned orators. John Adams was the penman of the Revolution. John Hancock was its "milch cow," as a Tory described him. But Revere and Warren moved in more circles than any others. This gave them their special roles as the linchpins of the revolutionary movement -- its communicators, coordinators, and organizers of collective effort in the cause of freedom.
In sum, the more we learn about the range and variety of political associations in Boston, the more open, complex and pluralist the revolutionary movement appears, and the more important (and significant) Paul Revere's role becomes. He was not the dominant or controlling figure. Nobody was in that position. The openness and diversity of the movement were the source of his importance.

So where the Boston radicals were meeting in taverns to plan their Tea Party, today we have virtual tools to enhance our associations. All told, I see more similarities than differences in the social and political structures of past and present. On this latter point, note how Fischer (writing in 1994) describes the opposing systems of intelligence for the British and the Americans, and see how it parallels today's wingnut organization, where information flows down from the omniscient White House inner circle, and also how it parallels today's liberal sphere that lives up (unwittingly, no doubt) to its legacy of disorder in the interest of intellectual strength.

Each side recognized the critical importance of intelligence, and both went busily about that vital task. But they did so in different ways. The British system was created and controlled from the top down. It centered very much on General Gage himself. The gathering of information commonly began with questions from the commander in chief. The lines of inquiry reached outward like tentacles from his headquarters in Province House. This structure proved a source of strength in some respects, and weakness in others. The considerable resources of the Royal government could be concentrated on a single problem. But when the commander in chief asked all the questions, he was often told answers that he wished to hear. Worse, the questions that he did not think to ask were never answered at all.

The American system of intelligence was organized in the opposite way, from the bottom up. Self-appointed groups such as Paul Revere’s voluntary association of Boston mechanics gathered information on their own initiative. Other individuals in many towns did the same. These efforts were coordinated through an open, disorderly network of congresses and committees, but no central authority controlled this activity in Massachusetts – not the Provincial Congress or Committee of Safety, not the Boston Committee of Correspondence or any small junto of powerful leaders; not Sam Adams or John Hancock, not even the indefatigable Doctor Warren, and certainly not Paul Revere. The revolutionary movement in New England had many leaders, but no commander. Nobody was truly in charge. This was a source of weakness in some ways. They wrangled incessantly in congresses, conventions, committees and town meetings. But by those clumsy processes, many autonomous New England minds were enlisted in a common effort – a source of energy, initiative, and intellectual strength for this popular movement.

The blogs and the rest of the virtual community are vital, but I agree with Ché Pasa that from time to time we need a tea party of some form to bring it all together, to physically demonstrate the movement and spread awareness of America's dissent from within. In keeping with that notion, I think the lefty blogistan should up its emphasis on the importance of rallies and protests.

In the meanwhile, here's to hoping today's march on Washington makes the news.