Sunday, August 31, 2003

Lies and Lying Liars who tell them: Part II?*

My recent email to George Will:

Mr. Will:

You imply that Wesley Clark plays fast and loose with the truth, and yet you have to engage in deception to make your case. You state:

As Clark crisscrosses the country listening for a clamor for him ("I expect to have my decision made by Sept. 19," when he visits Iowa -- feel the suspense), he compounds the confusion that began when he said on June 15 that on 9/11 "I got a call at my home" saying that when he was to appear on CNN, "You've got to say this is connected" to Iraq. "It came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over." But who exactly called Clark?

What was actually said, (and read closely since you apparently missed it the first time):

GEN. CLARK: Well, several things. First of all, all of us in the community who read intelligence believe that Saddam wanted these capabilities and he had some. We struck very hard in December of ’98, did everything we knew, all of his facilities. I think it was an effective set of strikes. Tony Zinni commanded that, called Operation Desert Fox, and I think that set them back a long ways. But we never believed that that was the end of the problem. I think there was a certain amount of hype in the intelligence, and I think the information that’s come out thus far does indicate that there was a sort of selective reading of the intelligence.
MR. RUSSERT: Hyped by whom?
       GEN. CLARK: Well, I...
       MR. RUSSERT: The CIA, or the president or vice president? Secretary of Defense, who?
       GEN. CLARK: I think it was an effort to convince the American people to do something, and I think there was an immediate determination right after 9/11 that Saddam Hussein was one of the keys to winning the war on terror. Whether it was the need just to strike out or whether he was a linchpin in this, there was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001 starting immediately after 9/11 to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein.
       MR. RUSSERT: By who? Who did that?
       GEN. CLARK: Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, “You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.” I said, “But—I’m willing to say it but what’s your evidence?” And I never got any evidence. And these were people who had—Middle East think tanks and people like this and it was a lot of pressure to connect this and there were a lot of assumptions made. But I never personally saw the evidence and didn’t talk to anybody who had the evidence to make that connection.

Your distortion of his statements suit your purpose of leading your readers to think that he initially claimed the call came from White House. Read it again, if you ever read it the first time. The question was "who hyped the intelligence linking Saddam to 9/11?" The answer to that question was the White House, people around the White House and people affiliated with Middle East think tanks, the latter of which the most logical reading of the transcript would suggest the call may have come, if he was claiming it came from any of the three mentioned. He never said the call itself came from the White House. You reversed the order of his statements and left out key phrases to create your own deception.

Do you deny that this administration and people associated with it "hyped" the intelligence regarding a link between Al-Qaeda and Saddam? Do you really deny that the American people somehow became convinced that Saddam was linked to 9/11 and that this adiministration helped create that perception? And yet, even though we have gone to war based on deceptions, the person whose integrity you choose to smear in relation to those mendacities never claimed what you take him to task for doing.

You smugly like to present yourself as having more integrity than most. For that to be true in this case, your only possible excuse was that your research was just plain sloppy. Either that, or you are flat-out lying. Either way, you owe your readers, the papers you write for and Wesley Clark an apology.

I won't hold my breath.


*I'm trusting Al Franken to forgive any trademark infringement that lesser men might assert.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Ann Coulter: Minister of Death and Proselytizing

A reminder of what kind of folks write for the National Review:

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.

Sure, crusades are always a good idea. Accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior or we’ll f*%#ing kill you, just as we were taught in Sunday School. Not a recent quote, but I don’t think her views have changed.

All the talented bloggers out there working for free, and she makes a very good living spouting this bile.

Love is a Battlefield

Iraqi girlfriends capture GI hearts

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- In the 20 weeks since the fall of Baghdad, two U.S. soldiers and two Iraqi women won each other's hearts.

The American men and Iraqi women courted, fell in love and decided to marry, but they had to battle disapproving senior American officers and fears of retribution by militant Iraqis.

When they finally held their double wedding ceremony Aug. 17, the nuptials were carried out with the secrecy and synchronization of a commando operation.

The two brides -- one in a print dress, the other in slacks -- and a few family members came to a city street corner at mid-morning. From there, an Iraqi intermediary led them to the route of their fianc├ęs' foot patrol.

The grooms, carrying M-16 rifles, marched up in their Army uniforms, complete with bulletproof vests. A nervous Iraqi judge arrived, and the group ducked into the grassy courtyard of a dilapidated restaurant, where the vows were exchanged.

In spite of the prohibition, the soldiers -- National Guardsmen from the Florida Panhandle -- converted to Islam in an Iraqi court a couple of weeks before the ceremony. The double wedding, including the exchange of rings and recitation of vows, was carried out with an American reporter watching.

What would Ann Coulter think? May cause her to be in favor of troop withdrawal.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Mission Accomplished?

Tom Bevan at has apparently been taking whining-about-the-media lessons at the foot of the master: George W. Bush. This one still stuns me:

“Remember on our TV screens — I’m not suggesting which network did this — but it said, ‘March to War,’ every day from last summer until the spring — ‘March to War, March to War.’ That’s not a very conducive environment for people to take risk when they hear ‘March to War’ all the time,” he said.

Bevan's recent effort:

Bush & Co. really need to regain the momentum of the debate on Iraq, something they've lost over the first few weeks of August. The blaring headlines in this morning's Washington Post (picked up by scored of other papers around the country, by the way) continues the theme: "U.S. Postwar Deaths Now Equal Iraq War Fatalities." This is one of those media-fabricated milestones that's blown up to signal something that's supposedly important, even though it really doesn't mean anything other than we're still at war.

Okay, the media was complicit in repeating ad nauseum Shrubya's disgusting little stunt in his cod-piece enhanced flight suit, but the "Mission Accomplished" banner was created and hung by this President's administration-- although it was paid for by you the taxpayer.

The president’s image makers, Mr. Bartlett said, work within a budget for White House travel and events allotted by Congress, which for fiscal 2003 was $3.7 million. He said he did not know the specific cost of staging Mr. Bush’s Sept. 11 anniversary speech, or what the White House was charged for the lights. A spokeswoman at the headquarters of Musco Lighting in Oskaloosa, Iowa, said the company did not disclose the prices it charged clients.
The most elaborate, and criticized, White House event so far was Mr. Bush’s speech aboard the Abraham Lincoln announcing the end of major combat in Iraq. White House officials say that a variety of people, including the president, came up with the idea, and that Mr. Sforza embedded himself on the carrier to make preparations days before Mr. Bush’s landing in a flight suit and his early evening speech.

Media strategists noted afterward that Mr. Sforza and his aides had choreographed every aspect of the event, even down to the members of the Lincoln crew arrayed in coordinated shirt colors over Mr. Bush’s right shoulder and the “Mission Accomplished” banner placed to perfectly capture the president and the celebratory two words in a single shot. The speech was specifically timed for what image makers call “magic hour light,” which cast a golden glow on Mr. Bush.

“If you looked at the TV picture, you saw there was flattering light on his left cheek and slight shadowing on his right,” Mr. King said. “It looked great.”

How about this only slightly modified paraphrase, Tom, regarding the "Mission Accomplished" photo op:

"This is one of those White House-fabricated milestones that's blown up to signal something that's supposedly important, even though it really doesn't mean anything other than we're still at war."

We're incompetent-- And that's a good thing!

First the lies, now the spin:

Officials say the prewar miscalculation is providing a new opportunity for the Bush administration. Iraq, like Afghanistan, has become a battlefield for fighting violent Muslim fundamentalists. A second U.S. victory in Iraq, after toppling Saddam, would deliver a significant defeat to Islamist terrorists and perhaps lessen their appeal in the Arab world, officials believe.

Got'em right where we want 'em. Nothing is working to plan, but that's even better. We get to beat 'em twice. If we're lucky, maybe three or four times. Hope our boys over there know how damn lucky they are. It's not every war you get the opportunity to "win" multiple times. Next banner: "Mission Accomplished, yet again!"

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Caught in a Spin Zone Warp

Bile O’Reilly is either drunk or deranged. We report, you decide:

Not surprisingly, Franken has some fierce critics, among them the host of "The O'Reilly Factor," whose face adorns the book's cover. "You have a movement among the ultraleft to discredit me and Fox News Channel any way they can," O'Reilly said yesterday. "They can't win the debate. They can't win the ratings war. So let's turn to defamation and we'll hide behind the satirist's label to defame. We don't have to be honest and accurate. It's a charade -- people see it for what it is. It had to be exposed, and that's what that lawsuit did."

Huh? Franken was “exposed?” Now that’s spin! Read the news, Bile:

"This case is wholly without merit both factually and legally."

Even O'Reilly conceded that "we never thought we were going to win the lawsuit. We wanted to expose the vicious tactics being used by the far left."

Admission of filing a frivolous lawsuit? Rule 11!

O'Reilly said this was a minor error that he was happy to correct. Franken, he said, "is not a satirist. He's an activist" and part of an effort to "destroy" Fox News.

Vast Left-Wing conspiracy, Bile? “C’mon, you’re nuts!” (My Bile O’Reilly impression)

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Bush for Baseball Commissioner-- Clark for Commander-in-Chief

As the economy recovers, President Bush has made it a priority to help Americans still looking for work by pushing for a sound energy bill, personal reemployment accounts, and an end to frivolous lawsuits that hamper job creation. "America's economy has challenges, and I will not be satisfied until every American looking for work can find a job," said the President.

Well, thanks Dubya! I see a little problem, though. Howard Dean’s out of work, but he wants your job. Gonna help him out? Of course he has pretty good job training and could always go back to practicing medicine. General Wesley Clark has a job currently, but many of us believe he is underemployed. I hope you will agree that underemployment is the most undermeasured and thus underreported economic statistic.

On the other hand, there is the phenomena known as the Peter Principle. In theory, one rises to the level of his incompetence and advances no further. As you’re fond of saying, people do tend to misunderestimate you. Of course, that is largely because it is damn near impossible to misoverestimate you. Still, it is truly amazing how you have turned the Peter Principle on its ear by advancing despite being incompetent at everything you have done since succeeding wildly at being DKE social chair at Yale. (Although your admission to Yale itself was a remarkable accomplishment beyond raw ability-- wonder how that happened?)

Perhaps your greatest accomplishment beyond your competence was becoming commander-in-chief. Yes, back while Clinton was grappling with his anti-Vietnam War stance and maintaining “political viability,” I bet sending troops into battle was the furthest thing from your cocaine-addled mind while your absence-without-leave turned into full-fledged desertion. For a deserter to rise to the leader of the world’s greatest fighting force stretches Peter’s ol’ principle past the breaking point. No wonder we misunderestimated you! Who wouldn’t?

But you’ve reached the pinnacle now, at least in many people’s minds. Actually, not your’s, though. You know what I’m talking about. That childhood dream of free box seats and hot dogs and pretzels. (Okay, maybe skip the pretzels.) That’s right, Major League Baseball Commissioner! It’s the perfect marriage! You’re a lazy bastard who cleans up well and they need a figurehead who won’t tell the owners what to do. It will be just like cabinet meetings that you attend when Cheney is at an undisclosed location or breaking a tie in the Senate for the benefit of your rich friends.

So you’ve done it. Showed up all those teachers who said you wouldn’t amount to anything, or as you recall it, “wouldn’t amount to nuthin’.” You’ve shown Mom and Dad that they were wrong to think Jebby was most likely to be President. You even toppled Saddam’s regime before Father’s Day and killed his sons to boot! Take a break. You deserve it. God knows, we need it. Do it for America! More importantly, do it for baseball!

General Clark is underemployed. He has thirty-four years of training to be commander-in-chief. You’ve played soldier long enough. There are baseball games that need watchin’ and hot dogs that need eatin.’ Get to work!

Monday, August 25, 2003

Big Oil: "We get by with a little help from our friends"*

Cheney Stifled Energy Probe, GAO Investigators Say

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congressional investigators said on Monday that Vice President Dick Cheney had stymied their investigation into his energy task force by refusing to turn over key documents.

The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said it was impossible to tell how much energy companies or industry groups may have influenced the task force's 2001 report because the administration withheld important records.

"The extent to which submissions from any of these stakeholders were solicited, influenced policy deliberations or were incorporated into the final report is not something that we can determine based on the limited information at our disposal," the GAO said.

To quote Bob Dole from another time in another millenium, "Where's the outrage?!"

*(Ed. note: With apologies to The Beatles.)

Digby on Wesley Clark

The incomparable Digby has a great piece on Wesley Clark that, among other things, demonstrates his ability to assess the likely aftermath of the Iraq war before it started. It is a must read. A couple of highlights-- From Clark's testimony before Congress:

I think that there is a substantial risk in the aftermath of the operation that we could end up with a problem which is more intractable than we have today. One thing we're pretty clear on is that Saddam has a very effective police state apparatus. He doesn't allow challenges to his authority inside that state. When we go in there with a transitional government and a military occupation of some indefinite duration, it's also very likely that if there is an effective al Qaeda left -- and there certainly will be an effective organization of extremists -- they will pour into that country because they must compete for the Iraqi people; the Wahabes with the Sunnis, the Shi'as from Iran working with the Shi'a population. So it's not beyond consideration that we would have a radicalized state, even under a U.S. occupation in the aftermath.
If we go in unilaterally, or without the full weight of international organizations behind us, if we go in with a very sparse number of allies, if we go in without an effective information operation that takes us through the -- and explains the motives and purposes and very clear aims and the ability to deal with the humanitarian and post-conflict situation, we're liable to super-charge recruiting for al Qaeda.

Excerpts from a recent Esquire article:

Clark and Holbrooke went in the Humvee, the rest in the APC. In his book, the general describes what happened this way: "At the end of the first week we had a tragic accident on Mount Igman, near Sarajevo. [Three members of the team] were killed when the French armored personnel carrier in which they were riding broke through the shoulder of the road and tumbled several hundred meters down a steep hillside."

It is not until one reads Holbrooke's book, To End a War, that one finds out that after the APC went off the road, Clark grabbed a rope, anchored it to a tree stump, and rappelled down the mountainside after it, despite the gunfire that the explosion of the APC set off, despite the warnings that the mountainside was heavily mined, despite the rain and the mud, and despite Holbrooke yelling that he couldn't go.

It is not until one brings the incident up to the general that one finds out that the burning APC had turned into a kiln, and that Clark stayed with it and aided in the extraction of the bodies; it is not until one meets Wesley Clark that one understands the degree to which he held Milosevic accountable.

Digby's surmise: In other words, he is the man who George W. Bush is pretending to be. A genuine, traditional, all-American, patriotic winner.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

What Moon are You On?

Paid by the Moonies and drinking deep of the Bush kool-aid, Paul Greenberg has been watching a different war in an alternate universe. He writes for the Moonie Times and critiques Wesley Clark

The general still speaks of the war in Iraq and the war on terror as if they were separate endeavors, rather than different fronts in the same war against a common ideological foe.

Clue in, Moonbeam, Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein have never considered themselves to have a “common ideology.” They are both bad characters and evil men, but one is a secular tyrant who desired regional domination and the other is committed to bringing down the West for supposed religious reasons. Osama hates Saddam and is glad to see him go. Bush is doing his bidding.

Speaking of the war in Iraq, Gen. Clark argues: "We haven't made America safer by this. We've made America more engaged, more vulnerable, more committed, less able to respond. We've lost a tremendous amount of good will around the world by our actions and our continuing refusal to bring in international institutions."

Yeah, right, uh huh, correct, well of course, definitely!

Greenberg falls back on the party line of equating any criticism of this war as an embrace of Hussein:

Ah, for the good old days when Saddam Hussein was still in power, the not-so-United Nations still dithered, and America was less engaged and committed.

I suppose some family members of the still growing number of casualties may, in fact, see the time before this war as better days, especially as it becomes increasingly clear that their loved ones were taken to war based on lies and half-truths. Still, I haven’t heard a single opponent of this war, including Wesley Clark, say anything positive about Saddam Hussein. Bush and his minions have no strategy in Iraq, but the strategy at home is clear: Change the subject! WMDs don’t matter! Saddam bad! Liberals love Saddam!

Give it rest.

It’s a whole ‘nother country

New Texas Pledge Law To Cost School Districts

SAN ANTONIO -- Students in Texas public schools will be required to recite a pledge of allegiance to the Texas flag beginning in the 2003-2004 school year.

A new Texas law mandates that students recite the Texas pledge after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag. …

The real question is how did this student get so smart…

"It's one nation, so why should we pledge allegiance to the state? I don't know? I think it's dumb," said Sarah Ford, a Warren High School student.

with teachers like this:

"I think that we should respect our country and our state and we need to support our state by having the children say the pledge every morning," said Grady Evans, a teacher.

Forget the children, no Lone Star flag left behind:

The new law will also cut into school district budgets. Every classroom will be required to display the Texas flag.

For Northside ISD, which has 5,000 classrooms, the cost of purchasing flags at $10 a piece comes to $50,000.

District officials said teachers will be asked to display temporary Texas flags that were printed in the Sunday edition of the San Antonio Express-News until the district provides them with a real flag.

Paper cut-out flags. Since Texas hasn't had this pledge from the Alamo up until now, can't they wait just a bit longer? Maybe one of them oil millionaires who gave us Dubya can help out.

Everything going to plan

Shrubya is found of decrying those who engage in “revisionist history.” Of course, that is only because he views that task as being in his administration’s exclusive domain. Straining their credulity to a point that would be comical if the stakes weren’t so high, the Shrubites now claim to espouse a “flypaper” approach to terrorism. Violence and instability in Iraq? All part of the master plan. We’re drawing the bastards in where we can focus our military might on them. Most importantly, we’re keeping it ALL “over there.” Ingenius!

From Newsweek:

PAUL BREMER, THE U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, adopted a tone of “we’ve got ‘em right where we want ‘em.” Bremer said: “Better to fight it here than to fight it somewhere else, like the United States.” At a White House briefing, a senior administration official echoed, “I would rather fight them in Baghdad than in New York.” If Al Qaeda has popped up in Baghdad, the Bushies defiantly proclaimed, it only goes to show that the administration was right all along to label Iraq as a terrorist haven. “Those who said there was no link between Iraq and the war on terror were dead wrong,” said the White House official. (Writing in The New York Times, Harvard lecturer and former Clinton national-security official Jessica Stern caustically observed, “America has taken a country that was not a terrorist threat and turned it into one.”)

My favorite passage from the story:

There is no clear Plan B, and there was barely a Plan A.

Remember the Republican complaints about “no exit strategy” during any conflict during the Clinton years? Just imagine their response if Clinton, or any Democrat, were pursuing this war.

Friday, August 22, 2003

The World's Only Superpower Can't Afford Clean Air?

Hey Soccer Moms, or Security Moms, or whatever the current label is, what do you think about Shrubya polluting the air your kids breathe? How about the by-products that end up in the water they drink? How much damage can one man do in one term? All these years, and he finally decides to be an overachiever? Without a doubt, the worst President ever.

Hey Naderites! Still think there's "no difference" between Bush and Gore?

Clean Air Rules to Be Relaxed

The Bush administration has decided to allow thousands of the nation's dirtiest coal-fired power plants and refineries to upgrade their facilities without installing costly anti-pollution equipment, as they now must do.

Acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Marianne L. Horinko said yesterday that she will sign the new regulation next week, and that the measure will take effect this fall. The decision marks an important, cost-saving victory for the utility industry, which has vigorously lobbied the administration for the past 21/2 years to relax the Clean Air Act enforcement program.

O'Reilly Stumbles into a True "No Spin Zone"...

and gets lost. Judge Denny Chin don't play that. "This case is wholly without merit both factually and legally." Wholly without merit. Kinda like Fox News.

Fox Loses Bid to Stop Sale of Franken Book
Fri August 22, 2003 05:43 PM ET
By Gail Appleson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Friday slammed Fox News' trademark infringement lawsuit against humorist Al Franken and his publisher Penguin Group and refused to stop the sale of the satirist's new book that pokes fun at the network and host Bill O'Reilly.

Fox charged Franken violated its trademarked phrase "fair and balanced" by including it on the cover of his book entitled "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them." Fox is owned by News Corp. and Penguin is a unit of Pearson . The book went on sale on Thursday.

"There are hard cases and there are easy cases. This is an easy case," said U.S. District Judge Denny Chin. "This case is wholly without merit both factually and legally."

"Parody is a form of artistic expression protected by the First Amendment. The keystone to parody is imitation. Mr. Franken is clearly mocking Fox."

Lou Dobbs of "liberal" CNN takes a "principled" stand against those who dare to differ

Washington Whispers needs to do their homework. From today:

Straight talk or nothing for CNN's Dobbs

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark was a long-time CNN military analyst but there's one cable network host he didn't impress: Lou Dobbs. Clark was a guest on Dobb's business show during the Iraq war and the host felt the former NATO boss seemed to push his own political agenda rather than provide the straight military skinny on the Pentagon plan, reports our Mark Mazzetti. The result: Dobbs, who hosts "Lou Dobbs Tonight," told a conference of reporters and military brass last week that he barred Clark from his show for the remainder of the war.

Funny. A few months ago, Lou was bragging about his own biases on the same issue:

And Willy Clarkson of Colorado writes, "Your obvious bias for Republicans in this war are very disgusting. You're not acting as an unbiased journalist. Your lack of listening to the United Nations and its role was proof of that."

You're right, Willy. I'm not unbiased. I've supported the president, the Congress, the troops in this war. As for the U.N., I think they do very good work when it comes to humanitarian aid. It's when they try to do other than that I have a problem.

Just another example of the smug self-righteous hypocrisy of the Right-Wing, even on "liberal" CNN.

Tell CNN how impressed you are with Lou's objectivity and fairness.

Tell Washington Whispers Lou doesn't talk so straight.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Three Countries Sharing a Common Language

Sure, the accents are different, but the lies are pretty much the same.

Australia 'twisted Iraq intelligence'

A former senior Australian intelligence analyst has accused Canberra of exaggerating the case for going to war in Iraq.

The claim came on the first day of an Australian parliamentary inquiry into the intelligence used by Prime Minister John Howard to justify sending more than 2,000 Australian troops to Iraq.

As in Britain and the United States, there has been public concern in Australia over whether intelligence information, especially that relating to weapons of mass destruction, was manipulated.

Hope he runs the state better than he runs his campaign

Schwarzenegger Campaign Backs Off on Taxes
Fri August 22, 2003 12:19 AM ET
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - An aide to California gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Thursday the movie star would consider boosting taxes to mend the state's battered finances, but later said he had misspoken.

The Republican actor, who is running to replace Gov. Gray Davis in an Oct. 7 recall vote, said on Wednesday he opposed tax hikes except to possibly deal with something like a natural disaster.

But his spokesman Sean Walsh told Fox News that huge budget shortfalls and protecting the state's credit could warrant such increases.

By nighttime, Walsh said he had misspoken and said Schwarzenegger's position was clearly to cut spending rather than raise any taxes. "I was not clear about it in the television interview I did today," he said.

Actually, I hope he never runs the state, but if he does....Sean, how can you be "clear" about something so uncertain? Strangely enough, Ahnold's first instinct was to give the honest answer-- can't rule out taxes at this point. Then he decided he had to espouse at least one Republican "principle," even if it wasn't true. He's already lost the social conservatives, and can't afford to lose the economic ones. Next question, what do you plan to cut to balance the budget? We're waiting...

Come help us do things our way

U.S. Drive for More Troops Meets Opposition at UN
Thu August 21, 2003 09:13 PM ET
By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Secretary of State Colin Powell launched a fresh drive on Thursday to get more nations to send troops to Iraq but made clear the United States would not cede any control of the country.

However, the push for a new Security Council resolution that would draw more troops, police or financial assistance met with opposition from France, Russia and Germany, who said the United Nations should be given a larger role in Iraq's future and asked for a timetable to end the occupation.

"To share the burden and the responsibilities in a world of equal and sovereign nations, also means sharing information and authority," Michel Duclos, France's charge d'affairs, told the Security Council after Powell met privately Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"This political transition will have a greater chance of success if it is guided by the Iraqis themselves with the assistance not of the occupation forces but of the international community as a whole," he said.

All three nations opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and none are expected to volunteer troops for Iraq, regardless of the resolution's wording.

What possible incentive would these countries have for sending their troops into a mess created by Shrubya which they strongly opposed? Wouldn't you hate to be Colin Powell right now?

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Maybe they should recall the legislature, too.

Californian’s aren’t happy and somebody is gonna pay!

The widespread funk has helped pound Davis' approval ratings to new lows: 72% disapprove of his job performance. State lawmakers fared even worse, with 78% of those surveyed annoyed at the lawmakers' budget and tax decisions.

I think they need to recall their recall provision.

Let's make a deal

Hard line Islamic clerics aren't the only folks who support theocracy. The Chief Justice of the great state of Alabama rode the Ten Commandments into office and ain't lettin' go.

Court Rejects Ten Commandments Appeal

Supporters of Moore gathered on the judicial building steps and stopped to pray at times, while opponents of the monument, anti-tax protesters and onlookers mingled near the front entrance to the building, which was ringed by television news satellite trucks.

It was unclear if any charges were planned against the 20 people who were handcuffed after refusing to leave the judicial building.

Christian groups planned a rally and prayer service Wednesday night, and one of the organizers, Rev Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, said protesters would remain at the building 24-hours a day.

I wonder how many of those folks have read those 10 edicts lately? And do they really believe in them? If so, they, and the good judge, should have no problem applying those rules to the state in whose high court they sit. Maybe opponents of the almost three ton block of granite could agree to let it stay if the state drops its hypocrisy and does away with the death penalty. ("Thou shall not kill." -- You will note that there was no exception made for the supposed moral authority in charge.) And while they're at it, keep the actual Sabbath holy. That's Saturday. No worshipping the football Gods on the Sabbath. And put that beer down. It's the Sabbath, you heathen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

The leader in New Hampshire is…

Undecided. Yes, Dean folks will tell you he is in the lead and his momentum is, in fact, impressive compared to other declared candidates. But the big story is actually that about one-third of the electorate in the Granite State either have not focused on the candidates or are not sufficiently impressed by them. What does this mean? Well, for one thing it lends itself to the conclusion that is not too late for Clark to get in the race as some would have you believe. A plurality of voters in this presidential-politics-obsessed state are not even stating a preference. Of those who are, that preference could change if the choices changed. Five months is an eternity in politics. Much can happen, much can change. The larger electorate is even less focused on the race at this point. Contrary to “conventional wisdom,” a Clark announcement in the next few weeks may be timed almost perfectly.

But another key point is clear in polls—Americans are not sold on another Bush term at this point. He has had an incredible opportunity to seal the deal and has not done it. His treatment by the press cannot get better. Hell, it has even seemed like they were on his payroll until recently. That should continue to change. “He’s decisive” will start to give way to “he’s impatient and pigheaded,” although perhaps few will be that blunt. The press likes to be charmed. He did that in 2000, but he hasn’t done it lately. More in the press are sensing they’ve been lied to and disrespected. Their patience with his inaccessibility will continue to grow thin.

Fatigue with war and terror alerts will be attached to Shrubya. An articulate, classy alternative will be very appealing, especially one that hits Bush directly on his perceived strengths. Clark seems to fit this bill very well. Karl Rove should be afraid—very afraid.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Paul Newman is still the coolest guy around

I probably liked him best in Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Absence of Malice, but he was very convincing in Hud. Whoever your favorite Paul Newman character may be, rest assured he is still kicking ass.

Paul Newman Is Still HUD

The Fox News Network is suing Al Franken, the political satirist, for using the phrase "fair and balanced" in the title of his new book. In claiming trademark violation, Fox sets a noble example for standing firm against whatever.

Unreliable sources report that the Fox suit has inspired Paul Newman, the actor, to file a similar suit in federal court against the Department of Housing and Urban Development, commonly called HUD. Mr. Newman claims piracy of personality and copycat infringement.

In the 1963 film "HUD," for which Mr. Newman was nominated for an Academy Award, the ad campaign was based on the slogan, "Paul Newman is HUD." Mr. Newman claims that the Department of Housing and Urban Development, called HUD, is a fair and balanced institution and that some of its decency and respectability has unfairly rubbed off on his movie character, diluting the rotten, self-important, free-trade, corrupt conservative image that Mr. Newman worked so hard to project in the film. His suit claims that this "innocence by association" has hurt his feelings plus residuals.

“The worst fear of millions of Americans: Hillary plans a grand political coup”

From those crazy kids at Newsmax, and I do mean crazy, you can order Hillary’s Scheme and be the first wacko on your block to be able to wow your friends with inside knowledge on Hillary’s plan to overthrow the United States government. That’s right, the title of this piece is taken directly from Newsmax’s ad for this fine example of investigative journalism. The target audience? People who love to hate:

If you love to hate Hillary, or are just curious about one of America’s most powerful woman, there’s plenty in this book to make your blood boil.

Amend that—people who love to hate and make their blood boil.

Promised tidbits include:

* Why Hillary is running in 2004, and not 2008
* Hillary’s behind-the-scenes effort to torpedo Al Gore that forced him to withdraw from the 2004 race
* Hillary’s use of secret investigators to dig up dirt and smear her opponents (eds. Note: This book digs up the dirt on Hillary’s digging up dirt—how tricky!)
* The critical mistake the Bush White House made, paving the way for Hillary’s presidential quest
* A top Hillary aide reveals her private side and her frequent violent rages
* the late Barbara Olson’s discovery that Hillary, and not Bill, took care of "the dirty stuff."
* Dick Morris’ shocking revelation of an anti-Semitic slur Hillary made to him
* Hillary’s never-before-revealed explanation she made directly to Limbacher about her husband’s failure to extradite bin Laden.
* New details about her husband’s sex scandals – scandals that gave her tremendous power and made her a de facto president

What? Hillary has already been President? And she wants more? No other book will tell you that Hillary, not Dubya, was actually the 43rd President (Unless you count Mrs. Wilson, in which case Hillary was #44, Dubya is #45 and Hillary wants to be #46).

So who wrote it? Carl Limbacher. Carl who?

Limbacher is a top editor at and has broken story after story on the Clintons. You’ve seen him on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.

That’s where I’ve seen him! Of course, that’s where I have also seen Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and B1 Bob Dornan, and he’s certifiable. Don’t believe Newsmax? How about the man whose talent is on loan from God? (Although, isn't that all of us, really?)

Rush Limbaugh has praised this new book, saying Hillary’s Scheme reveals “There’s no question Hillary Clinton wants to be president. . . . Hillary’s Scheme makes that prospect amply clear.”

Damn, he’s smart. Hillary wants to be President! Here’s the proof! And all for only $22.50! (Lists for $27.50)

Well, I know this makes my blood boil, and I don’t even like feeling that way. This is what the Conservative movement has become. And this sales pitch actually works on other humans. This is the challenge of our American democracy. Motivated yet?

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Gray Davis Finally Gets Good Reviews

Actress Thought Gray Davis a Good Kisser

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - He has been accused of being bland, stiff and unemotional, but according to actress Cybill Shepherd, California Gov. Gray Davis does know how to kiss.

Shepherd was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday as saying she had obtained first-hand experience on a Hawaiian beach 36 years ago that Davis was "a good kisser."

She was 16 years old and he was 24, and although they did get covered in sand, "we were never lovers," she said.

Thanks for the insights, Cybill. I figured somehow this California recall story had an aging starlet angle. So now we know that in his mid-20’s Gray trolled the barely legal to drive set.

Each week between now and the election, Ms. Shepherd plans to release information about past relationships with a different candidate in the race. Next week Cybill plans to share details of her romantic dalliance with Arnold. Wait—that was his character’s name. Make that gubernatorial candidate Gary Coleman who played Arnold Drummond on Diff’rent Strokes.

The "Hammer" takes a Hammering

Clark was excellent on Late Edition. The man has the fire in his belly and can attack Bush&Co. with a likeable, engaging smile that doesn't turn people off to the message. He seemed extremely confident, while not being smug or cocky. Ripped Delay a new one, and clearly wants some more. Ripped Bush without that being his primary purpose or message.

The GOP has to be shaking in their collective boots about a potential Clark candidacy. Other Democrats can possibly win a close election, but Clark has the potential for an electoral blowout (I'm guessing 350+).

An excerpt below covering Iraq, the economy and one of the most disgusting people on the planet, Tom Delay.
Late Edition, August 17, 2003

BLITZER: What about George W. Bush? How vulnerable is he to defeat next year?

CLARK: Well, I guess the conventional answer is, people would look at polls. But what I look at are the realities. And I think the American people will begin to see the reality.

Number one, Iraq is not -- if it is the centerpiece of the war on terror, it shouldn't be. We went into Iraq under false pretenses. There was, you call it deceptive advertising, you'd be taking him to the Better Business Bureau if you bought a washing machine the way we went into the war in Iraq.

We're there now. We're totally committed to this. We have got more than half the deployable strength of the U.S. Army there. We're taking casualties.

We haven't made America safer by this. We've made America more engaged, more vulnerable, more committed, less able to respond. We've loss a tremendous amount of goodwill around the world by our actions and our continuing refusal to bring in international institutions.

At home, we've got a jobless recovery. We've lost 2.6 million jobs since this administration took office. Just to maintain the same level of employment in America, we have to create about 1.3 million jobs a year, and instead we've lost 2.3 million.

So, the statistical unemployment rate, it doesn't really address what the problem is that Americans are feeling out there. There are millions of people who aren't in the labor force. There are other people who are employed, but they're underemployed in terms of their skills. We've got problems.

BLITZER: General, I want you to listen, during the war, when you were still working for CNN -- and just want to alert our viewers, you're no longer working for CNN as our military analyst.

CLARK: Right.

BLITZER: But during the war, early in April, Tom DeLay, the majority leader in the House, really hammered you directly. I want you to listen to what he told our Judy Woodruff then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: Frankly, what irritates me the most are these blow-dried Napoleons that come on television and, in some cases, have their own agendas.

General Clark is one of them that is running for president, yet he's paid to be an expert on your network. And he's questioning the plan and raising doubts as he becomes this expert.

I think they would serve the nation better if they would just comment on what they see and what they know, rather than putting their own agenda forward as an expert.


BLITZER: Well, pretty strong words from Tom DeLay going after you. What do you say to that criticism?

CLARK: Well, first of all, I'd be happy to compare my hair with Tom DeLay's. We'll see who's got the blow-dried hair.

But beyond that, Wolf, he's got it exactly backward. It's upside down. I am saying what I believe. And I'm being drawn into the political process because of what I believe and what I've said about it.

So it's precisely the opposite of a man like Tom DeLay, who is only motivated by politics and says whatever he needs to say to get the political purpose. And so, you know, it couldn't be more diametrically opposed, and I couldn't be more opposed than I am to Tom DeLay.

You know, Wolf, when our airmen were flying over Kosovo, Tom DeLay led the House Republicans to vote not to support their activities, when American troops were in combat. To me, that's a real indicator of a man who is motivated not by patriotism or support for the troops, but for partisan political purposes.

BLITZER: Well, he was hammering you, and you're hammering right back.

I smell hypocrisy and a Profile in Courage Award

There is an amazing political story going on in the Heart of Dixie. No, I'm not talking about the grandstanding chief justice who rode the Ten Commandments to state's high court. The recently elected Republican Governor, a former Gingrich revolution congressman who ran on a no-tax pledge, is pushing a plan for a record $1.2 dollar tax increase which would be far more progressive than the current system. Democrats support him. Republicans are fighting him tooth and nail. There is a $675 million dollar shortfall. So why a $1.2 billion increase?

Riley said his alternatives were to cut $675 million in spending, triggering a "catastrophic failure of government," or to raise taxes by that amount -- four times the largest previous increase. "The largest tax increase in state history just to maintain the status quo?" he asked. "I don't believe so. I believe you have to offer the people of Alabama a chance for a better future." The extra $600 million will go into an Alabama Excellence Initiative fund for statewide math, reading and science initiatives and merit college scholarships.

So is Riley simply not willing to make the tough decisions on cuts? No, he has already cut $230 million in spending.

What do the Republicans in the state think about their choice for governor?

"Alabama needs to raise some revenue; there's no question about that," said the GOP's Connors. "But this is not a tax increase any longer. This is a massive redistribution of wealth. We are the Republican Party -- of Alabama! If a Democrat had proposed this, we would be burning down cities."

And what about the GOP that selectively believes in "States Rights," after riding that concept into power in the South?

Now, the battle is taking on national dimensions, with conservative Republican groups in Washington mobilizing to defeat Riley's plan. "If this can pass in Alabama, it could be a precedent to attempt it elsewhere, and muddy the anti-tax message," Connors said. Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, who gave Riley as congressman his group's Friend of the Taxpayer Award every year from 1997 through 2002, vowed to make Riley "the poster child for Republicans who go bad. I want every conservative Republican elected official in the United States to watch Bob Riley lose and learn from it."

What does Riley say of his former supporters who are fighting him?

"We have a philosophical difference of opinion," Riley said of these one-time supporters. "I believe in a fair tax code. They don't. I believe we have to make investments in education that keep us from being tied for dead last. They don't. They have had special treatment at least for all of my adult life. And even after this modest increase, they'll still be paying less than in any of our surrounding sister states."

The toughest sale? Those who will benefit the most. They just can't believe anything coming out of Montgomery can truly have their best interest at heart.

Somewhat paradoxically, polls show the strongest opposition is among black voters, who make up about a fourth of the electorate, and people with incomes under $30,000 -- the very Alabamians who would receive the largest tax cuts. Riley and his emissaries are campaigning hard among black voters, who opposed him overwhelmingly in November. He is encountering distrust embedded in Alabama history.

Finally, though, the GOP focuses on Black voters-- by lying to them.

Riley's opponents also have targeted black voters, airing a radio ad on stations with mostly black audiences featuring a man with poor diction warning, "Our property taxes could go up as much as fo' hundred percent," and blaming "Montgomery insiders who have been ignorin' us for years." The ad was paid for by a political action committee whose top contributors are the state's largest bank, a leading insurance company, two timber and paper companies and county farmers federations -- all of which supported Riley last November.

In another interesting twist, a Republican is finally using religion as a rationale to actually help people.

Riley's appeal to Christian morality -- a standard theme in Alabama campaigns -- has taken some unusual bounces. "What would God have Alabama Baptists do as individuals and what would He have us do with the influence entrusted to us in this state?" wrote Bob Terry, editor of the Alabama Baptist, the newspaper of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Terry called for a yes vote: "The Bible is clear that 'to whom much is given, much is required.' "

But the view we are more familiar with has not gone away.

But the Christian Coalition of Alabama, which opposes all tax increases, staked out the other side. "We applaud tax relief for the poor. You'll find most Alabamians have got a charitable heart; they want to do that," said the group's president, John Giles. "They just don't want it coming out of their pocket."

A charitable heart doesn't give anything without a charitable wallet to go with it, my friend! Remember the parable about the poor lady who still gave? Remember the analogy of the camel trying to get through the eye of the needle? The Christian Coalition embraces the, "What would Jesus not do?" framework. To paraphrase Giles: "I don't mind someone helping them poor sons-a-bitches out, but it damn sure ain't gonna be me! That ain't the kind of Christianity we believe in."

As Andy Griffith used to say while shaking his head disapprovingly, "Piteeful, Piteeful."

Friday, August 15, 2003

Candidate Clark?

Clark seems to be taking aim at the presidency. BTW, compare this transcript to any Bush transcript that is not derived from a script. ANY transcript.

Excerpted from the recent Newseek interview:

Let’s go back to Iraq. You’ve also been openly critical about the Bush administration’s handling of operations there. How would you have done things differently?

In the first place, I think you have to go back to the logic of why we went. The administration’s case was, to put it mildly, weak. A.) The Iraqi threat to the U.S. wasn’t significant; B.) there were other ways to work the issue, and C.) the threat wasn’t imminent—at least, in so far as any evidence anyone has been able to present has established.

I thought it was a problem to be dealt with in parallel with the war on terror, with its own pace and timing and to be worked on through the United Nations and other nations, rather than as the centerpiece in the war on terror. We’re there now and the principal connection with terrorism we’ve found is that terrorists are coming in to attack us.

Would you have given the United Nations more of a role in the rebuilding efforts as well?

I would have gone to the U.N. long ago. I would never have undertaken this operation without a full postconflict plan in place that was approved, resourced, agreed to and signed up and committed to by all members of the U.N. Security Council. We did this in Kosovo. We know how to do this.

Many see you as a strong candidate in part because of your military record. But you don’t have a lot of political experience. How would you overcome that if you were to run?

It would depend on how you define political experience. My political experience is in dealing with governments. I dealt with 19 governments in NATO and 20-odd governments that were part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace. I worked with ambassadors and ministers of foreign affairs and ministers of defense and, in some cases, heads of state, in Latin America and Europe and parts of Africa. I dealt extensively with the U.S. Congress, as well as, in some cases, local authorities here and in Europe. You could say that it is a true fact that I have not stood for elective office, but I have held high positions of authority and dealt extensively at the political and diplomatic levels with major issues.

West Wing alum hedges bets on new series

Actor Rob Lowe Joins Schwarzenegger Campaign

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Rob Lowe, who played a top White House aide on television, has joined the real-life gubernatorial campaign of fellow star Arnold Schwarzenegger, a campaign spokeswoman said on Friday.

Lowe, a longtime Democratic activist whose attendance at the party's 1988 national convention led to a sex scandal, has accepted a volunteer post to organize celebrity supporters for Schwarzenegger, a Republican seeking to unseat Democratic California Gov. Gray Davis in a recall election this fall.

Off the record, Lowe said, “Why am I doing it? You should see some of the tapes Arnold has of me. Makes that Atlanta video seem like child’s play-- um, so to speak.”

There are rumors that Lowe was actually Arnold’s second choice from the cast of The West Wing . John Spencer, who plays Leo McGarry, reportedly refused to serve in the campaign because the script has still not been written. “I put up with that for too long from Sorkin,” Spencer said, according to an inside source. “But at least with Aaron, you knew the wait was probably worth it.”

Fair and Balanced Blog Trip

The consistently funny Tom Burka at Opinions You Should Have did not let a little blackout stop him from blogging in NYC. He plugged his laptop into a phone jack and charged ahead. If you missed him on Crossfire, you can watch Aaron Benson's 15 seconds of fame at Gecko Blue. has F&B Day Highlights for your perusal. Kevin Thurman at Raise Your Hands favorably reviews Dennis Kucinich's weblog. Skippy reminds us that Afghanistan is far from being a successful long-term operation. Stirling Newberry at the Clark Sphere demonstrates the rapid rise in internet traffic on key websites supporting Wes Clark. Allen Brill at the Right Christians writes about the Connection Between the Heart and Brain. Lunaville updates the death toll of troops fighting in Iraq. The Poorman bemoans being out-of-the loop on Flashmobs.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Must be nice…

To lose that much money and still live so well.

…[Arianna Huffington] hammered President Bush for providing "tax breaks for the wealthy" and said the recall effort in California was led by "an embittered cult of right-wing radicals who have overdosed on tax-cut Kool-Aid."…

But Huffington, 53, a self-described independent and populist who has promised to close loopholes that allow corporations to dodge their "fair share of taxes" conceded that over the past two years she has paid no income tax to the state and less than $800 to the federal government.

She said, however, that she had not used any loopholes herself and had avoided paying taxes through legal means.

"I'm sure you know there is a difference between loopholes and tax deductions -- they are part of our system, they are perfectly legal and perfectly normal," Huffington said…

One person’s “loophole,” is apparently another person’s “deduction.” If loopholes weren’t legal, we wouldn’t need to “close” them.

Huffington said she obtained her multimillion-dollar, 8,000 square-foot home in the upscale Brentwood section of Los Angeles in a divorce settlement with former congressman Michael Huffington. She added that her ex-husband also pays "generous" child support for their two daughters.

She said, however, that she did not use the child support funds to pay for her business, which was run out of the home and posted $2.5 million in losses in the past two years.

"During these two years as a writer I had writing and research expenses that were greater than my income," she said.

I have first-hand experience not making money as a writer, but how does one lose $2.5 million doing research? This may give Bill Bennett new book ideas.

The rave ‘n ranter from Texarkana

On the eve of the 2000 election, Ross Perot bit his lip and endorsed a National Guard deserter over a Viet Nam veteran, perhaps as payback for being decimated in a NAFTA debate a few years earlier by Al Gore.

Perot endorses Bush for president

The Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Reform Party founder Ross Perot is backing George W. Bush for president, saying he would perform as well for the country as he has as governor of Texas.

"We don't want to have to house break another president," Perot, who also lives in Texas, said Thursday night on CNN's "Larry King Live."

Instead we got a President who broke the house. I've wondered from time-to-time what arch deficit hawk Perot was thinking about the stinking mess Shrubya has sunk our country's economy into. Although I think many people don't give Clinton enough credit for balancing the budget, if Perot had not focused the nation's attention on the issue in 1992, it is doubtful that it would have ever happened. So while Perot may have been so gosh darned happy when Bush beat Gore 5-4 that he lifted a frosty mug of root beer to celebrate, I figured he couldn't be too thrilled now. Looks like I was right (Salon, via Digby):

"The United States loses 100,000 jobs a month. The recession won't go away. The stock market tanks. Great companies cook their books. Airlines fail. Foreign investors pull out. Healthcare doesn't work. Social Security is a mess. The space program is grounded. Homeland security is a jumble. Congress can't agree on a budget. And just as federal tax revenues plunge, leaving states in the lurch, the United States takes on huge new military costs across the planet, swelling an already soaring federal deficit and creating the biggest national debt in world history."

Perot is apparently shopping around a 95 page book with more of this stuff. How significant? In a close race a fired up Perot could make a difference whether he runs or not. I’d love to see him challenge Bush in the Republican primaries and make him spend some cash while taking body blows. That’s my dream. Back to reality.

A small percentage of folks would be influenced directly by Perot. That’s all the Dem needs to beat Bush. A larger percentage would be potentially influenced by Perot attacks on Bush (especially if he breaks out the graphs, pie charts and homespun metaphors). Right now attacks on Bush are largely viewed as political by the electorate, even though I think they slowly chip away at how he is viewed. Perot doesn’t carry the same baggage as a Democrat running against Bush, especially if he doesn’t run. Just ol’concerned Ross saying it was a mistake to endorse the Moron. That can’t hurt. Larry King would have him every other week. If we’re lucky, Ross will buy air time.

Now I don’t know if there is any connection between them, but if Ross took a liking to General Wesley Clark, which seems like a real possibility given his support for the military (as opposed to support for this war, perhaps) that could really be a plus. Come on back Ross! You owe us this one!

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Arnold's Other Option

As a former body builder, failed restauranteur and aging action star, Arnold probably envisioned a future that looked a whole lot less glamourous. After you've bankrupted Planet Hollywood and recycled Terminator for the third time where does one go? Phone call for Mr. Schwarzenegger...

Hollywood's Version Of Caller Waiting
Faded Celebrities Get a Gig Greeting Fans on the Phone

If you ever find yourself wondering, perhaps while watching late-night television reruns or idly clipping your toenails, whatever happened to former Hulk Lou Ferrigno or former child actor Todd Bridges, puzzle no longer. It turns out they're waiting to hear from you.

That's right! At, a scrappy-looking two-month-old Web site, all that's required is your credit card number or electronic check in the amount of $19.95, and within seven days you can expect to hear from one bona fide, if slightly faded, celebrity wishing you Happy Halloween, get well soon, or congratulations on your retirement. The 15-second phone call works out to over a dollar a second, which is, if you think about it, a small price to pay for the privilege of knowing that, for example, hunky Lorenzo Lamas is incredibly excited that you're turning 40.

"I say happy birthday a lot," says Lamas, formerly of the television shows "Renegade" and "Falcon Crest." "I congratulate people at work for achieving employee of the month."

Gary Coleman has the stature of someone who is running for office. (Of course, so does Larry Flynt and Mary the porn "star".) Big brother Todd Bridges is just happy to have phone privileges. "Whatcha talking about, Willis?" Yeah, if I was Ahnold, I'd probably join the circus and run for governor, too.

Keeping the "Talent" Happy

It is not everyday that you see such gratuitously vile personal descriptions as this in a trademark lawsuit:

"Franken is neither a journalist nor a television news personality," according to the complaint. "He is not a well-respected voice in American politics; rather, he appears to be shrill and unstable. His views lack any serious depth or insight."...
The court papers refer to Mr. Franken, who is a former "Saturday Night Live" writer and performer, as a "parasite" [and accuses him] of verbally attacking Mr. O'Reilly and other Fox personalities on at least two occasions, and of being "either intoxicated or deranged" as he flew into a rage at a press correspondents' dinner in April 2003.

Sure, you might find it in a divorce case in which one party is so interested in trashing the other that he or she is willing to pay big bucks to do it, but not so much intellectual property. Yes, I know, the phrase "intellectual property" seems strangely out of place when discussing Fox "News," but then again, so does the word "news."

This tirade dressed up as a legal document sounded just a little bit too much like it sprang from the poisonous mouth of that vindictive bastard Bile O'Reilly. Now, according to Drudge (which admittedly is only slightly better than relying on O'Reilly), Bile O'Reilly "lobbied" for the lawsuit.

"For Bill, above all other things, this was a matter of honor and support," a top source explained from New York. ...

"He is not going to sit by and let Franken smear the hell out of him," a top FOX source said.

Leave it to Bile O'Reilly to tie up the court system and waste your tax dollars with a frivolous lawsuit. I guess he finds "honor" in that.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Gag order issued in Fox v. Franken

Lawyers for Fox News Network, part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire, News Corporation, contend that Mr. Franken should not be allowed to use those words in the title of his new book due in stores next month, "Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" (Penguin).

They argue that Fox has trademarked "Fair and Balanced" to describe its news coverage and that Mr. Franken's use of the phrase would "blur and tarnish" it.

Apparently explaining why they think Franken might be mistakenly seen as affiliated with Fox "News," the complaint goes on to say:

"Franken is neither a journalist nor a television news personality,"... . "He is not a well-respected voice in American politics; rather, he appears to be shrill and unstable. His views lack any serious depth or insight."

In late breaking news, the judge in the case has issued a gag order forbidding Fox News from broadcasting any “news” stories or commentary critical of frivolous lawsuits. In response to questions regarding his order, Judge Stone O. Riley simply said, "Ever heard of glass houses?”

Fox "news" boss Roger Ailes protested saying, “This order will prevent us from promoting, I mean, covering President Bush’s brilliant plan to grow the economy and provide deserving Americans with much needed jobs by limiting lawsuits major corporations like ours find, uh, costly. Whatever happened to freedom of expression in this country? This is an outrage!”

In a related story, Fox attorneys filed papers attempting to register as trademarks the following phrases: *"In late breaking news;" "And now the news;" "In other news;" "Stay tuned;" “We’ll be back after this word from our sponsors;” *“In a related story;” “This just in;” “We have breaking news;” “Live, on location;” “Live, via satellite;” “Good morning;” “Good afternoon;” “Good evening;” “Good night.”

Eds. note: *This piece was filed pending the trademark being issued on these phrases.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Plugged, Rested and Ready: But sitting it out, apparently

As all America waited breathlessly, Biden let his decision be known:

[A]t this time I am not entering the race for the Democratic nomination for President.”

Back in January, Biden said he may feel compelled to run if President Bush cannot deal effectively with the crises in Iraq and North Korea and if no Democratic candidate offers a viable foreign-policy alternative.

Well, unless he is ready to endorse Bush, can we conclude he believes a Democratic candidate is offering a viable foreign-policy alternative? And what the heck did he say, “at this time” for, anyway?

Why’d he back out? You know he wants it. He wanted it back in 1988. Perhaps the bigger question is, “Who else cares if he runs?”—outside of his immediate family, that is.

Gen. Wesley Clark has an expanding list of websites in anticipation of him declaring his candidacy. Haven’t seen much of that Biden buzz burning up the blogosphere. Why not? He’s articulate. He has nice teeth, which is almost a prerequisite for my mother when picking a candidate. He probably has the most expensive head of hair in Senate history. Maybe he’s just in been in Washington too long. Maybe it’s the hair plugs. Maybe he just runs his mouth too damn much.

Electronic Media, in its “first-ever survey of Washington's media inner circle naming the best and worst talk show guests” (March 11, 2002), named Biden as "most in love with the sound of their [sic] own voice."

But what if he had decided run? I think it might have played out something like this:

Biden announces in September that Bush has failed us internationally and domestically and that the ship of state must be righted. He raises money from a few Delaware-based corporations, but has little grass roots support. His arrogance gets on other candidates’ nerves and a few barbs are exchanged. He joins a debate or two and puts the moderator to sleep, which results in him receiving extra time. Howard Dean objects and things get testy. Legions of angry Deaniacs, sworn to protecting Howard, bombard Biden's website with angry emails causing it to crash. Every time he gets it fixed, they bring it down again. Long before New Hampshire, Biden is caught plagiarizing speeches from the head of the British Labour party (which may or may not be Tony Blair by then). This raises old issues and he’s on Larry King rationalizing why he plagiarized way back in law school. Someone tips off Matt Drudge that Biden had plagiarized a sixth grade assignment on what he did the previous summer. He drops out of the race and resigns the Senate in disgrace. Wes Clark is elected President and puts Biden in charge of Amtrak on which he had continued to aimlessly ride daily after leaving the Senate.

Maybe he had the same dream.

It’s not Halliburton-like money, but it’s a living

Sometimes I have to take a look at what the enemy is up to, even when I know it will probably piss me off. So I clicked on a pop-up for a Desert Camouflage Hat on sale from those freedom-hating bastards over at Newsmax who belief they are the only freedom-loving patriots. Incredible.

Exclusive: is proud to offer the U.S. military’s Desert Camouflage Hat – the same hat worn during Operation Iraqi Freedom by our combat troops and embedded journalists.

Now you can get these rugged military-grade hats for your own pleasure.

These hats were designed for military specifications, to provide excellent sun protection and comfort under extreme heat and sun conditions….

Now you can get your Desert Camouflage Hat (also called the Desert Boonie Hat) for your own pleasure – wear it for gardening or hiking, at the beach or swimming pool – just about anywhere in the great outdoors. It's fashionable for men and women!…

The Desert Camouflage Hat is one of the coolest items you can wear – while reminding America of our victory in Iraq.

For you own pleasure! How about that? Today it will get to 118 degrees in Baghdad, but will get downright chilly at night (89 degrees). I suppose that counts "as anywhere in the great outdoors," but I'm not sure how much pleasure our troops are having with their nifty hats. Regardless of the temperature where you are, however, you too, can be as fashionable as a United States soldier stuck in Iraq. (For the full effect, you may want to strap on a bullet proof vest and several pounds of gear.) The picture at Newsmax almost made be hurl. There is a montage with a group of soldiers, none smiling, and then four fun-loving kids without a care in the world laying on a sand dune with their Desert Camouflage Hats from Newsmax! Now that’s styling!

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Bush Administration Loves the Smell of Napalm in Morning…

But not nearly as much as they like lying about it.

US admits it used napalm bombs in Iraq

10 August 2003

American pilots dropped the controversial incendiary agent napalm on Iraqi troops during the advance on Baghdad. The attacks caused massive fireballs that obliterated several Iraqi positions.

The Pentagon denied using napalm at the time, but Marine pilots and their commanders have confirmed that they used an upgraded version of the weapon against dug-in positions. They said napalm, which has a distinctive smell, was used because of its psychological effect on an enemy.

A 1980 UN convention banned the use against civilian targets of napalm, a terrifying mixture of jet fuel and polystyrene that sticks to skin as it burns. The US, which did not sign the treaty, is one of the few countries that makes use of the weapon….

At the time, the Pentagon insisted the report was untrue. "We completed destruction of our last batch of napalm on 4 April, 2001," it said.

So Saddam apparently lied about having weapons he didn’t, and we lied about not having weapons that we did. And then we used them. Nothing like having credibility and moral authority.

Friday, August 08, 2003

California prepares to be terminated

Most Republicans are fawning over the Terminator like muscle-obsessed schoolgirls. Dubya thinks he’ll be a good governor. The reason for Bush’s expertise on such matters?-- "You know, I'm a follower of American politics.” (I know I kid from time-to-time, but this is a real quote.)

But what if he announced as a Democrat? Can you imagine the critique from the Right?

“Another Hollywood type who is out-of-touch with mainstream American values thinks making sadistic movies has somehow prepared him to oversee the world’s fifth largest economy? He’s not ready to be dog catcher in Mayberry.”

“He’s a horrible role model for children. The violence, the steroids, the womanizing. The Democrats should be ashamed to have him. Hell, he even talks funny. Uh, don't tell him I said that, okay?”

No, all the print is not good.

But a rather less flattering portrait emerges in "Arnold," a decidedly unauthorized 1990 biography. Among other unsavory details, the book recounts that Schwarzenegger's late father, Gustav, was a member of the Nazi Party. The work, by journalist Wendy Leigh, also includes detailed allegations of womanizing, cruel practical jokes, extensive use of steroids in his bodybuilding days and suggestions that the actor made racist and anti-Semitic remarks as a young man. Schwarzenegger denounced the book as trash. But James Willwerth, a Time correspondent who profiled Schwarzenegger for the magazine, told the Columbia Journalism Review that he checked Leigh's research, using her 34 pages of source notes as a guide, and considered her work "well reported. My nose told me that the book was on target."

Although not self evident by his tendency to speak in sound bites, Arnold is a deep and thoughtful man who arrived at his political philosophy after much thought and soul-searching:

[T]he year he arrived in America. He had a friend translate the speeches of Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey and Republican Richard Nixon.

Humphrey talked about protectionism and more government planning, the actor said, which "sounded a lot like socialism in Austria." Nixon talked about "less government, lower taxes, the free market, international trade and a strong military."

"After the translator finished, I realized: Yes! I am a Republican," Schwarzenegger said. "I pretty much thought it was as simple as the movies: The Republicans were the good guys, and the Democrats were the bad guys."

Okay, maybe he is the next Ronald Reagan.

How about this one:

The actor said he wanted more books in schools and "affordable day care. We want to make sure the older folks have their care that they need. That everything has to be provided for the people."

He’s a damn Socialist parading as a Republican!

On the environment, Schwarzenegger already is getting criticized for driving enormous gas-guzzling SUVs such as the Hummer. He believes in "reasonable" environmental regulations, according to some records, but he declined to answer a question Thursday about his environmental positions, waving it off with: "I will fight for the environment. Nothing to worry about."

Smog? Fuggetaboutit! Arnold’s gonna fight for clean air! He'll kick smog's smug ass in no time!

What about gays, Arnold?

"When it comes to sex, I don't give a s-- what anyone's trip is."

Somebody keep a defibrillator near Pat Robertson. (Although, if he is in proximity of certain Supreme Court justices, he'd rather take his chances than risk having it "misused."

On gay rights, Schwarzenegger supposedly is supportive of adoptions by same- sex couples, another issue conservatives may find distasteful. He's been particularly outspoken about homosexuality, telling Cosmopolitan magazine: "I have no sexual standards in my head that say this is good or this is bad. 'Homosexual' -- that only means to me that he enjoys sex with a man and I enjoy sex with a woman. It's all legitimate to me."

All legitimate? Rick Santorum has some questions about man on dog for you, Mr. Candidate.


"At the moment, they're dealing with it by putting the religious spin on it. I understand that; there are some people who are religiously fanatic, that feel uncomfortable with it. But I think that's also a mistake.

Secular Humanist!

That Arnold is out-of-step with today’s Republican party is not lost on everyone:

Louis Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, said the actor "would be a darker villain than any he has faced in his movies. . . . It's hard to imagine a worse governor than Gray Davis, but Mr. Schwarzenegger would be it."

Next project already in "pre-production":

Terminator IV: California bites it-- Revenge of the Recall

Republican Prescription Drug Plan Piloted in India

Merchants of Death Prey on India's Sick
Fri August 8, 2003 12:45 PM ET
By Terry Friel
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Walk into a drug store anywhere in India and chances are that one out of every five medicines on sale will be fake and even a potential killer.

It is a massive racket that kills an unknown number of people each year and robs legitimate drug companies of almost $1 billion annually -- 15-20 percent of the industry's total turnover.

The problem has become so widespread that a frustrated Health Minister Sushma Swaraj recently suggested the death penalty for the "merchants of death" who make vast profits peddling fake drugs....

Typically, the "spurious drugs" are made with cheap, otherwise harmless powders or liquids or are real drugs past their use-by date or stolen from government supplies.

When questioned about the plan Tom Delay said,"I know some liberals are gonna whine about it, but you can't deny that placebos are just plain cheaper."

Prior to driving out to cut some brush while on vacation in Crawford, Texas, President Bush was asked how such a plan squared with his "compassionate conservatism."

"Ah, hell. Most people don't die, and those that do get their co-pay refunded," Bush replied.

Other voices, other blogs

The Poorman Speaks:

Predictions: Clark wrecks the other nominees upon announcing, because there's too many of them, nobody likes most of them very much, and nobody can think of any bad things to say about him, other than that he won't give anyone their presents early. Patience, my children, there will be ample time to write bad things about Clark after he's been running for a while, and the whole Democratic messiah thing has faded, and people start coming out of the woodwork with stories about how he's hard to get along with, and his support drops, and we have a real campaign. I expect him to win the real primary campaign, and I expect him to win while maintaining good relations with the other Democratic candidates, which are two of my very favorite things for primary candidates to do. And I expect him to win a tough national race in 2004. And if you'll excuse me, I have to pre-program my VCR to record the first Clark-Bush debate, which promises to be 18-karat comedy gold.

Aaron Benson at GeckoBlue, via Matthew Yglesias's comment section:

I agree that Clark has some campaign hoops to jump through, just to convince skeptics he's the real thing.

But there is already a litany of information out there about Clark, his positions and his ideas. He's been out there talking up his views for several months now, and I like what I see.

There are three main reasons why I'm supporting Clark.

1) Like Bill Clinton, Clark is capable of winning largely on his own, without Iraq blowing up or the economy going further south. Anyone who's seen him talk can see he's the safest bet -- a brilliant, inspiring candidate who will run circles around Bush in the general election.

2) Clark's coattails give the Democrats a chance in the South. Much as Dean's supporters think their candidates guns and New York brusqueness will carry the day, sorry, Southerners aren't going to go for him. And it's important that the next Democratic president have a chance of working with a Democratic congress.

3) Clark will unify the Democratic Party, not divide it. There are a few Goldwater-like candidates currently running against the very people they'll have to govern with, and that doesn't bode well for after the election. That matters, too.

I would say "ditto" to what both gentelmen have said here, but that word has been tainted forever.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

The Good George Puts his Money where the Contested States Are

By Thomas B. Edsall
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 8, 2003

Labor, environmental and women's organizations, with strong backing from international financier George Soros, have joined forces behind a new political group that plans to spend an unprecedented $75 million to mobilize voters to defeat President Bush in 2004.

The organization, Americans Coming Together (ACT), will conduct "a massive get-out-the-vote operation that we think will defeat George W. Bush in 2004," said Ellen Malcolm, the president of EMILY's List, who will become ACT's president.

It’s not $200 million, but it ain’t bad. I hope a chunk of it goes into oppo ads.

Bush does Jack: “You can’t handle the truth!”

Bush ran on a few simple principles: restoring honesty and integrity to the White House, a more humble foreign policy and “changing the tone” in Washington. STRIKE THREE! Today we’ll focus on “honesty and integrity.” First, Al Gore sizes up the Dubya administration:

"The very idea of self-government depends upon honest and open debate as the preferred method for pursuing the truth," Gore said, "and a shared respect for the rule of reason is the best way to establish the truth. The Bush administration routinely shows disrespect for that whole process, and I think it's partly because they feel as if they already know the truth and aren't very curious to learn about any facts that might contradict it. They and the members of groups that belong to their ideological coalition are true believers in each other's agenda."

As if acting on cue, the President’s spokesperson confirmed Gore’s thesis:

Bush's aides shrugged off the criticism. "I just dismiss it," White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said.

Next, Henry Waxman asserts that the Bush administration plays fast and loose with scientific principles:

The Bush administration has repeatedly mischaracterized scientific facts to bolster its political agenda in areas ranging from abstinence education and condom use to missile defense, according to a detailed report released yesterday by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.).

The predictable response:

The White House quickly dismissed the report as partisan sniping.

Finally,Walter Pincus, who is like a blood hound on the trail of truth, isn’t quite ready to let the Bushies get away with the “it is just sixteen little words” meme:

Since last month, presidential aides have said a questionable allegation, that Iraq had tried to buy African uranium for nuclear weapons, made it into President Bush's State of the Union address because of miscommunication between the CIA and Bush's staff.

But by the time the president gave the speech, on Jan. 28, that same allegation was already part of a public administration campaign to win domestic and international support for invading Iraq. In January alone, it was included in two official documents sent out by the White House and in speeches and writings by the president's four most senior national security officials.

The White House has acknowledged that it was a mistake to have included the uranium allegation in the State of the Union address. But an examination of how it originated, how it was repeated in January and by whom suggests that the administration was determined to keep the idea before the public as it built its case for war, even though the claim had been excised from a presidential speech the previous October through the direct intervention of CIA Director George J. Tenet.

Dan Bartlett, White House director of communications, said yesterday that the inclusion of the allegation in the president's State of the Union address "made people below feel comfortable using it as well." He said that there was "strategic coordination" and that "we talk broadly about what points to make," but added: "I don't know of any specific talking points to say that this is supposed to be used."

Translation: “Gee, since the boss lied, we thought it was okay.”

Age-old parental wisdom: “If Johnny jumped off the cliff, would you jump off a cliff, too?”

Okay, the advent of bungi cords and extreme sports may have lessened the saliency of this once reliable retort, but you get the idea.

Still, that lame-ass explanation stinks to high heaven for other reasons. Namely, administration members were using it before the President’s SOTU speech:

The first of those documents was a legislatively required report to Congress on Jan. 20 on matters "relevant to the authorization for use of military force against Iraq." It referred to Iraq as having failed to report to the U.N. "attempts to acquire uranium and the means to enrich it." The second document, a report distributed to the public Jan. 23 covering Iraq's weapons concealment activities, highlighted Baghdad's failure to explain "efforts to procure uranium from abroad for its nuclear weapons program."

The same day, the op-ed page of the New York Times included a piece by Rice that said Iraq's Dec. 7 declaration of its weapons of mass destruction to the U.N. Security Council "fails to account for or explain Iraq's efforts to get uranium from abroad." In a speech that same day before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Wolfowitz said, "There is no mention [in the declaration] of Iraqi efforts to procure uranium from abroad."

Three days later, Powell, in a speech before the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, asked: "Why is Iraq still trying to procure uranium and the special equipment needed to transform it into material for nuclear weapons?"

Translation: “Gee, since the boss lied, we thought it was okay.”

Response: “Try again, Pinocchio, the boss hadn’t told that lie, yet.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Mario: showing signs of dementia?

ALBANY, New York (AP) -- Labeling the Democratic voices from the presidential field "babble," prominent Democrat Mario Cuomo is calling on former Vice President Al Gore to enter the race for the party's nomination.

The people are just clamoring for some Al Gore!

And at a June 14 Draft Gore rally in Nashville, Tenn., just over 100 supporters showed up, leaving the local amphitheater virtually empty.

Relax, Mario, and put down the pipe. That "babble" is called a campaign. It's early. At this point in 1992, I believe you were still mulling it over. You didn't run. That was a good thing. Now, refraining from bad advice about what others should do would be good thing.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Notoriously cagey straight talk-- huh?

Josh Marshall is one of the brightest, most influential bloggers out there. But this one perplexes me a bit. From Marshall:

'One of the big attractions of ex-military candidates is straight talk. Always has been. It signals a no-nonsensism that's one of the big attractions. Yet a while back I remember Clark not only being cagey about whether he was going to be a candidate (that's certainly understandable) but even which party's nomination he'd run for. And that falls a bit short on the no nonsense test.'

A number of readers have written in to say that this same caginess about party affiliation was practiced by Eisenhower and Powell. (For that matter the same applies to Grant.)

That's true. But it misses the point. For various reasons there was a real question about which party the others would choose, what their real politics were. But the same is hardly true for Clark. He's not running for [the] Republican nomination. He's considering whether to run as a Democrat, period. No question about it.

Because of that, the equivocation sounds odd. Believe me, I have no interest in criticizing Clark. I'm quite intrigued by his potential candidacy. And one stray comment is hardly a big deal. But the comparison to Eisenhower's notorious caginess strikes me as quite inapt.

First, I have heard Clark say he has not declared a party affiliation, which I think would not be unusual for a military man who was in his position, but that he would not run as a Republican. While that makes the calculus fairly simple, his decision to run would come after a career of not be overtly partisan, like the other generals Marshall references. If being politically shrewd on Clark's part negates him being a "straight talker" in general, how did "notorious caginess" on Eisenhower's part translate into him being "straight talker?"

The Dems are Testing the Wrong Ad

The DNC has an ad playing in selective markets (e.g. Madison, Wisconsin) which actually has the negative effect of feeding the notion that all the Bush administration did was make a mistake regarding “sixteen little words.” The Republicans have successfully convinced the media to use this reference and the now the DNC seems convinced, as well. Well, that’s the wrong message. The problem isn’t “sixteen words.” The problem is a pattern of deceit that has not made us safer. Repeat: The problem is a pattern of deceit that has not made us safer.

The better ad:

It’s not just Sixteen Words…

Narrator: “In September of 2002, George Bush said Iraq ‘could launch a biological or chemical attack 45 minutes after the order is given.’ The White House also posted this statement in on it’s website. As it turns out, there is no evidence supporting this claim and Bush didn’t even ask the CIA to confirm this claim before making it. Why did he say it?”

While showing this quote highlighted from the White House website:

“The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons. The Iraqi regime is building the facilities necessary to make more biological and chemical weapons. And according to the British government, the Iraqi regime could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order were given”.


In making the case for attacking Iraq, on October 7, 2003, George Bush indicated that Iraq was on the verge of assisting groups like Al Qaeda in staging an attack

While showing this quote:

"Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists."
George W. Bush, October 7, 2002
Source Washington Post, July 21, 2003


In fact, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) circulated five days before that statement indicated just the opposite—that Iraq was not likely to align with Al Qaeda or other terrorists groups unless made desperate by a U.S. attack. But George Bush told us just the opposite. Why did he do that?

While showing this quote:

… Hussein "appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or [chemical or biological weapons] against the United States fearing that exposure of Iraqi involvement would provide Washington a stronger case for making war."

…Iraq would "probably" attempt a clandestine attack against the United States, as mentioned by Bush -- not on "any given day" as the president said Oct. 7, but only "if Baghdad feared an attack that threatened the survival of the regime were imminent or unavoidable."
Washington Post, July 21, 2003


The White House says it’s just sixteen words in one speech. The truth is, it’s a pattern of deception. And George Bush still hasn’t taken responsibility for so many false and misleading statements. Don’t we deserve to know the truth? And more importantly, do you really feel safer?

While showing a series of headlines questioning the accuracy/credibility of administration claims.


This ad does several things. It shows a pattern of deceit, not just a "slip up " with "sixteen words". It shows a reckless disregard of the available intelligence. It references Bush’s passing the buck, e.g. “still hasn’t taken responsibility…”

Any one with the means to produce and distribute this ad or an improved variation of it has my permission to do so.