Wednesday, January 31, 2007

R.I.P., Molly Ivins.

Gone too damn soon.

Despite the fact that the author had the opportunity to promote it in virtually every major media outlet in America with the possible exception of Highlights for Children, Dinesh D'Souza's The Enemy at Home failed to make the main New York Times bestseller list in its first week in the bookstores, struggling onto the "expanded" ("also selling") list at #19.

Oh -- by contrast, What a Party! by Terry (don't let him become a Knight of Malta!) McAuliffe came onto the list at #5.


(This list was circulated via e-mail today and will be posted at the Times site over the weekend.)
I've just been exploring the subconscious mind of Chris Matthews, and I think I need to take a shower:

MATTHEWS: How can [Rudy Giuliani] go into a debate with Hillary Clinton and land a punch against a woman? Isn't that going to be tricky for somebody like Rudy, who knows how to land a punch, to go up a woman --


MATTHEWS: -- up against a woman?

CELLUCCI: I ran against Marjorie Clapprood for lieutenant governor back in 1990. I had several debates with her. I didn't approach her any differently....

Getting a little excited thinking about that punch, Chris? Should we run a cold shower for you?

Go read the whole linked item (from Media Matters) -- Matthews has a big man-crush on Giuliani ("You know what I like about Rudy Giuliani? He's tough. He's a bit of an SOB"), which doesn't surprise me a bit and is one big reason I think Rudy can win (Matthews influences Beltway groupthink far more than he should, given his TV ratings).


Oh and don't be fooled by this:

MATTHEWS: What would he have done if Hurricane Katrina had hit Louisiana, New Orleans especially, on his watch? What would he have done afterwards?

CELLUCCI: Well, I think he would have been there within hours. And I think he would have made sure that all the federal people who had responsibility to deal with that were there as well. I think we can pretty much be assured of that.

Yeah, Rudy would have dealt with the crisis somewhat better than Bush. (It's hard to think of any human being on the planet who wouldn't have.) But Rudy -- as every New Yorker knows -- would have spent quite a bit of time wagging his finger and declaring that those who didn't get themselves out of harm's way were shiftless and feckless. How could he have resisted, given the fact that so many of them were poor black people, his favorite targets when he was mayor?

It would have been their fault that they didn't have an escape plan, their fault that they needed government assistance, their fault if they were desperately hungry and resorted to looting abandoned stores. He would have especially savored the prospect of criticizing those who didn't want to be rescued if it meant abandoning their pets -- remember his off-his-meds outburst at a radio talk-show caller who was an advocate for ferret owners? And he'd still be lecturing the victims, still blaming them for not turning their lives around instantly.

And while he would have moved faster to get the situation under control, I can't guarantee that he wouldn't have ordered heavy-handed police tactics. Looters shot on sight? Maybe.

Don't extrapolate from 9/11 to any other crisis in Rudy's case. Rudy identified with the cops and firefighters and white-collar financial-services workers who died in the Towers. Katrina might have been a very different story.
Hmmm ... maybe Joe Biden was reading Peter Beinart recently -- and not reading him very carefully.

Biden on Barack Obama:

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," he said. "I mean, that’s a storybook, man."

Beinart in The New Republic (via the CBS News site):

In 1994, two sociologists went to Red Hook, Brooklyn, to solve a mystery.... locals -- primarily African Americans -- didn't get hired. Instead, ... jobs went to workers from outside the neighborhood, often Caribbean immigrants. Employers, wrote The New Yorker's Malcolm Gladwell in summarizing the sociologists' findings, "had developed an elaborate mechanism for distinguishing between those who they felt were 'good' blacks and those they felt were 'bad' blacks." Were the employers racist? Yes and no. They clearly held anti-black stereotypes. And they discriminated against those who conformed to them, even by association. But they discriminated in favor of blacks who defied those stereotypes....

Barack Obama ... surely understands the uncomfortable subtext behind the adoration being showered upon him by white America. Obama ... succeeded at a prestigious white institution: Harvard Law School. He ... is a child of immigration... And he ... doesn't sound or look too black....

In U.S. politics, as in Red Hook, there are no "good" blacks without "bad" blacks.... For many white Americans, it's a twofer. Elect Obama, and you not only dethrone George W. Bush, you dethrone Sharpton, too.

We all love to rag on Beinart, but I don't think he's completely off base here -- I'm afraid that some of the recent Obamamania is delight in the fact that Obama differs from white people's stereopypical image of blacks. Beinart's describing that, as a phenomenon that contains at least an element of racism. Biden, on the other hand, is embodying it, and it's painful to witness. It's almost as if Biden read Beinart's article and missed the point.
Just to follow up on TBogg's post from yesterday: Apparently it's not just Hugh Hewitt who thinks it's a bad idea for former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe (who's Catholic and pro-choice) to join the Knights of Malta (Hewitt: "Oh, we'd better put out a word.... I've got friends in the Knights of Malta, yeah. You might not come back from your first trip to Rome"). Now "The Washington Prowler" at the blog of The American Spectator, under a big red "BREAKING NEWS" headline, is issuing a call to action:

Any Knights of Malta out there want to take a shot at blocking this heathen from membership? Any buffoon who would brag about receiving blessings from the Holy Father while in the state of grave sin due to his support of the murder deserves to be taken down a notch or two.

Oooh, tough talk -- talk that's likely to be backed up with, er, a really, really bold headline at the Drudge Report, a handful of Freepers picketing McAuliffe's book signings while wearing cheap Halloween masks, and maybe a tough, hard-hitting story on Sean Hannity's new TV show (if it doesn't get bumped for another story about hookers).

I'm hoping this is one more sign that wingnuts are heading in a promising new direction -- toward an obsession with trivia, and thus a slide into complete irrelevance. Recently, for instance, we've had the right obsessing over the number of vowels in the name of a source for an AP story about an atrocity in Iraq (as Iraq suffers dozens of such atrocities a day), and we've watched as the right dispatched a crack team of forensic botanists to do a Zapruder-like frame-by-frame flower analysis of Hillary Clinton's initial campaign Webcast.

But McAuliffe's Knights of Malta candidacy is even more peripheral than those wingnut obsessions. And I say: Please, righties -- make a crusade of this! Be my guest! Fixate on the trivial!

And leave the rest of us to run the country.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Holly Bailey of Newsweek, reporting on a Bush photo op today:

... "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. The episode lasted about a minute, and Bush was still laughing when he pulled to a stop. He gave reporters a thumbs-up. "If you've never driven a D-10, it's the coolest experience," Bush said afterward....

Here's Bush in the cab. Here's what he was driving.

Our president is a sixty-year-old child.


UPDATE: As longtime readers of this blog know, back in '76 Bush did something somewhat similar (but even more reckless) with a plane.
Probably in response to this or this, Spencer Ackerman asks:

Can someone explain to me why the term "Democrat Party" is a slur? I recognize that it sounds grating, and agree that it's probably intended to be demeaning. But... why should it be? Help.

I think part of our hard-wiring for language has to do with understanding the concept of names, feeling ownership of our names, and feeling unsettled if our names are mangled in a way that seems thoughtless or intentional. Someone -- David Halberstam? Robert Caro? -- has written that LBJ, a master political game-player, regularly mangled people's names; surely that threw those people off stride in a way that worked to LBJ's advantage.

I think "Democrat Party" taps into the hard-wired response to one's own name. It's our group name, and we know it's being mangled deliberately. It's unsettling on a basic level of language.


Well, here's NBC's John Chancellor on LBJ:

One thing Lyndon Johnson did that I always thought was marvelously colorful was that he would mispronounce people's names deliberately. I've seen him do that, and I've seen him do it to people, to put them off their guard. I've seen him do it to government people.

That's the trick. "Democrat Party" is a variation.
I had a post yesterday about the unexpected laughs at Hillary Clinton's Iowa appearance when she paraphrased an audience member's question about "what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men." I thought her ability to roll with the surprise laughter came off well (to the surprise, and probably the dismay, of at least one right-wing blogger), and I said something in comments that I should have added to the post:

...eventually right-wingers are going to say Evil Clever Hillary said this deliberately, as a sneaky way to try to put the adultery question behind her.

Well, here's Jon Keller, blogging about New Hampshire primary polls for the CBS affiliate in Boston:

You don't often find yourself talking about Sen. Clinton and humor in the same sentence.

But when you see Hillary bonding with her audience by poking fun at her wayward husband, you know the heavy image-making machinery is already in high gear.

"We face a lot of evil men, people like Osama Bin Laden comes to mind. And what in my backgroun equips me to deal with evil and bad men?" joked Clinton.

You go, girl!

Oh, good grief.

Look, I believe that the line reminded the audience members of Bill, and that's why they laughed. And I believe Hillary grasped the unintended meaning of the words. But give me a break -- she clearly didn't invoke Bill deliberately.

Oh, what am I talking about? She's the Psycho Lesbian Witch from Hell! Of course she invoked him deliberately! What a sinister, evil genius she is!

In an interview with NPR's Juan Williams, President Bush was cautious in his reaction to the recent fighting in Najaf -- and then he wasn't so cautious:

PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, Juan, I haven't been briefed by the Pentagon yet. One of the things I've learned is not to react to first reports off the battlefield. I will tell you, though, that this fight is an indication of what is taking place, and that is the Iraqis are beginning to take the lead, whether it be this fight that you've just reported on where the Iraqis went in with American help to do in some extremists that were trying to stop the advance of their democracy, or the report that there's militant Shia had been captured or killed. In other words, one of the things that I expect to see is the Iraqis take the lead and show the American people that they're willing to the hard work necessary to secure their democracy, and our job is to help them.

So my first reaction on this report from the battlefield is that the Iraqis are beginning to show me something.

"The Iraqis are beginning to show me something"? Oops:

Iraqi forces were surprised and nearly overwhelmed by the ferocity of an obscure renegade militia in a weekend battle near the holy city of Najaf and needed far more help from American forces than previously disclosed, American and Iraqi officials said Monday.

They said American ground troops -- and not just air support as reported Sunday -- were mobilized to help the Iraqi soldiers, who appeared to have dangerously underestimated the strength of the militia, which calls itself the Soldiers of Heaven and had amassed hundreds of heavily armed fighters....

The Iraqis and Americans eventually prevailed in the battle. But the Iraqi security forces' miscalculations about the group's strength and intentions raised troubling questions about their ability to recognize and deal with a threat.

Here's my favorite d'oh! moment:

...Among the troubling questions raised is how hundreds of armed men were able to set up such an elaborate encampment, which Iraqi officials said included tunnels, trenches and a series of blockades, only 10 miles northeast of Najaf. After the fight was over, Iraqi officials said they discovered at least two antiaircraft weapons as well as 40 heavy machine guns.

The government knew that the Soldiers of Heaven had set up camp in the area, but officials said they thought they were there to worship together.

Yeah -- doesn't every mosque have tunnels, trenches, and antiaircraft weapons?

Ah, but there are living things that fear the Iraqi troops in Najaf. Remember this from last month?

Iraqi soldiers bit the heads off frogs and ate the heart of a rabbit as signs of courage on Wednesday at a ceremony to transfer Najaf province, home to one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest shrines, from U.S. to Iraqi control....

Politicians, tribal and religious leaders and soldiers watched displays of military prowess and one demonstration, hailed as a display of courage, in which five soldiers stopped before the grandstand to bite the heads off frogs.

A sixth holding a live rabbit slit open its stomach and ate its heart before tossing the carcass to his comrades to chew on....

Maybe these guys shouldn't quit their day jobs as carnival geeks.

154 votes cast (as I type this). Votes won by John McCain: zero.

I don't believe Free Republic is representative of the GOP as a whole, but I do think it's representative of one big bloc of Republican voters. So, yeah, I think McCain's in trouble.

(Though the big winners so far are Newt Gingrich and Duncan Hunter. I think one of those guys could be the "purist" choice in '08 -- analogous to Jerry Brown in '92 or Jesse Jackson in '88 or Ronald Reagan in '76.)


UPDATE: 525 votes now. McCain has a whopping 4. Well, at least he's on the board.


UPDATE: And as Tom notes in comments, McCain also did abysmally in a poll of right-wing bloggers conducted by Right Wing News. His support among red-meat Bush Republicans is nonexistent.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Shorter Hindrocket at Power Line:

If you factor out all the people who don't like him, Bush remains an incredibly popular president.

And if you factor out all the polls that show his popularity declining and concentrate on the one poll that doesn't show that, it turns out he's as popular as ever.

I wish I were exaggerating.


Incidentally, here's my favorite statistic from the new Newsweek poll:

more than half the country (58 percent) say they wish the Bush presidency were simply over


The president's approval ratings are at their lowest point in the poll's history -- 30 percent

But you shouldn't pay attention to that, because a poll that shows Bush's popularity declining is, by definition, unreliable.


(It should also be noted that Newsweek's poll shows Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both beating McCain and Giuliani, while John Edwards beats McCain and is statistically even with Rudy.)


UPDATE: Hindrocket's statistical analysis is demolished here and here.

Who says the Bush administration favors "junk science"? This is from Saturday's Guardian:

The US government wants the world's scientists to develop technology to block sunlight as a last-ditch way to halt global warming, the Guardian has learned. It says research into techniques such as giant mirrors in space or reflective dust pumped into the atmosphere would be "important insurance" against rising emissions, and has lobbied for such a strategy to be recommended by a major UN report on climate change, the first part of which will be published on Friday....

... Possible techniques include putting a giant screen into orbit, thousands of tiny, shiny balloons, or microscopic sulphate droplets pumped into the high atmosphere to mimic the cooling effects of a volcanic eruption. The IPCC draft said such ideas were "speculative, uncosted and with potential unknown side-effects"....


Hey, I've got it -- how about a rotating crew of astronauts holding up those reflective screens you put in the windshield of your car on a hot day? I bet that would work.

(Via DU.)
Some people on our side are getting self-righteous about this, but I don't need to believe that Hillary Clinton and her audience were utterly oblivious to the unintended meaning of that moment of laughter yesterday. Here's the New York Post's interpretation:

... The one-liner came in response to a question shouted at the former first lady from the audience asking whether she had the mettle and experience to deal with evil and rotten men -- like terrorist Osama bin Laden and the tyrants of North Korea and Iran.

Clinton grabbed the mike and told the audience that the questioner wanted to know "what in my background equips me to deal with evil and bad men." She then smiled, raised her eyebrows and nodded knowingly at the questioner.

Her nod and the ensuing eruption of laughter had rally-goers convinced she was talking about her husband, whose Oval Office affair with intern Monica Lewinsky exploded into the Sexgate scandal and led to impeachment proceedings.

"She was talking about Bill being a bad man. There was no doubt whatsoever," said Tyrone Williams, 55, an engineer from nearby Bettendorf, Iowa.

His sentiment was the interpretation echoed by many other attendees interviewed by The Post.

"That was good," Williams added with a chuckle....

(The Moderate Voice has the video.)

You know what? I want to believe that her audience thought she was referring to Bill -- and that she grasped that and got the joke. Why? Because it gives the lie to the right's intrerpretation of our behavior (and Hillary's) in response to Bill's cheating.

The right says that we don't think he did anything wrong, because we essentially have no sense of morals when it comes to sex. Oh, we say it has to be limited to consenting adults, but other than that, anything goes, no matter who gets hurt.

Well, this was a crowd of Iowa Democrats. These are people who are open to the idea of voting for a Democrat --possibly Hillary. And yet they laughed at this.

This makes no sense to a right-wing ideologue. It makes perfect sense to a normal human being. Bill cheated. He did, a bad, bad thing. It's not Hitler bad or bin Laden bad, but it's bad. (It's a shift in the meaning of the word "bad," but that's how jokes work.) We can acknowledge Bill's behavior as bad while remaining open to the idea of voting for his wife, as he urges us to do.

And as for Hillary, what's the right-wing rap on her with regard to Bill as a cheater? That she's a cold-blooded Manchurian Candidate who has calculatingly agreed to tolerate Bill's horndoggery because maintaining her (emotionless) bond with him is necessary to advance her Evil Plan To Take Over The Universe. This is part of a larger critique: that she has no human feelings, therefore she has no sense of humor.

Wrong. And wrong.

They laughed. She laughed. It became an inadvertent joke. She got it. (Despite her later denial.) She can chuckle now, but yeah, she thought he was bad.

By the way, here's Billy Hollis at the righty blog QandO:

As a professional speaker, I'm impressed. It's very easy to let yourself get flustered when something like that happens. A key ability for avoiding that problem is to let people laugh a bit at your expense. I didn't think Hillary had it in her, but it seems she does.

That's the biggest victory in all this for Hillary -- that she let her guard down in a human way. That's no surprise to me, but it blows the right-wing stereotype of her right out of the water.

So everybody's shocked that Lieberman said on Fox News Sunday that he might support a Republican in '08? I told you he was saying things like that two weeks ago.

The appropriate follow-up question is "Given the fact that your litmus test seems to be how close a candidate comes to your position on Iraq, is there any Democrat you could imagine supporting in '08? And if so, who?"

I want to hear him answer that. I want names -- or one name, or an admission that he can't provide a name. I want him to either (a) burn his bridges with his GOP fan base by actually singling out a Democrat he could support (highly unlikely) or (b) shock all the stupid, deluded Democrats who supported him in '06 by failing to invoke a single Democrat who isn't already in his Black Book of Pure Islamofascistsymp Evil (infinitely more likely). Alas, his most likely response is, of course, (c): Mumble mumble mumble, I think it's premature to talk about this or that individual, we'll just have to wait and see, hey, that's a great tie.

But somebody should try to pin him down on this. The press has never challenged the narrative that he's the victim in this breakup, that we angry hippies threw his belongings out on the front lawn for no good reason and he just wants everything to be the way it was on the honeymoon, the poor guy. The rest of the Democratic Party and the country have come to terms with reality, and he hasn't -- that's the irreconcilable difference.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Bad news about Molly Ivins:

Nationally syndicated columnist Molly Ivins has been hospitalized in her recurring battle with breast cancer.

"I think she's tough as a metal boot," her brother, Andy Ivins, said Friday after a visit with her at Seton Medical Center in Austin.

Andy Ivins said his sister was admitted to Seton on Thursday. She spent Friday morning with longtime colleagues and friends, and was "sleeping peacefully" when he arrived later in the day.

A self-described leftist agitator, Ivins, 62, completed a round of radiation treatment in August, but the cancer "came back with a vengeance," and has spread through her body, Andy Ivins said....

Keep her in your thoughts. Pray for her if you pray.


They found out about this at Free Republic on Friday, from an AP story. They responded as they often do when someone on the left is seriously ill: they proclaimed that they wished her well, but only so they could congratulate themselves on their moral superiority to their enemies, and also as cover for nasty remarks:

In respect for the old adage that if you can't say something nice about someone it's better to say nothing, I will say nothing.


Remember, you never know what loving prayer and concern for one's enemies will result in. She might have a change of heart, even now.


Prayers for her recovery from cancer and from the liberalism.


I do hope Ms. Ivin's takes a long break from her writing to focus on recovery. Say 10 to 12 years.


from cancer and from the liberalism.

But then sir, you repeat yourself.


Yes, but we still need to pray for liberals. They truly are an unhappy bunch. They may not admit it, but their constant anger, depression and lack of hope are eating them as surely as any cancer. Most of them don't even like themselves.


I hope she recovers OK and the Doctors inadvertently sew her mouth shut before they send her home.


It's sad that I have to suppress the thoughts I have...


Her hatred of George Bush and Republicans these past six years probably took a toll on her health. Hating that much can never be good...


My wife has had a couple of bouts with breast cancer. I've always believed stress was a factor, as she tends to internalize things. I suppose in keeping with that theory, excess vitriolic hatred could probably cause some health issues, too...

All of which led to this:

Threads like these make me really proud to be a FReeper. We don't wish ill upon our opponents during times of misfortune, unlike the other side. Wishing her a speedy recovery.

Yeah, you guys are all heart.

(In a later thread, things get really ugly. I'll spare you.)
As we learn from Richard Wolffe's Newsweek interview of Dick Cheney, being questioned sure is a lot easier when your interviewer saves you the trouble of reciting your own talking points.

Three of Wolffe's questions (emphasis mine):

There has been little open support from the Republican Party for the president's plan for extra troops in Iraq. Do you worry that the party has lost the stomach for the fight?


So you don't think Senator Hagel -- I know you dodged completely responding to his comments, but they're not helpful to the cause and to the mission?


Public opinion has this caricature of you as Darth Vader and various things. Do you think you get a fair crack from the media?

Thanks, Richard! Check's in the mail!

(Maybe that's harsh -- it's not a bad interview. But the talking points did seep into those questions.)
I'm back -- thanks for the posts, Tom and Senator B.
I Feel Good About This, Don't You?

As the president and his aides calibrate how directly to confront Iran...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Not a Dime's Worth of Difference

[Tom Hilton from If I Ran the Zoo, guest-blogging for Steve.]

The other day, during debate on the minimum wage increase, some Senate Republicans introduced an amendment that would eliminate the Federal minimum wage. 28 Republican Senators, including John McCain, voted in favor of the amendment.

Over the coming years the Democrats in Congress will doubtless make mistakes. They will disappoint and frustrate and anger some of us to the point of wanting to tell them all to go to hell.

And the thing we need to keep in mind through it all is this: 100% of the Senate Democrats voted to increase the minimum wage; 57% of the Senate Republicans voted to eliminate it altogether.

"Not a dime's worth of difference", my ass.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I'll be away this weekend (no, not in D.C., alas). There'll be guest bloggers. I'll see you Monday (or maybe late Sunday).
Nibras Kazimi of the New York Sun sees a turnaround in Iraq.

Then again, Nibras Kazimi of the New York Sun always sees a turnaround in Iraq.
Yeah, this makes perfect sense, right?

Ford May Resume Its Bonuses to Boost Executive Morale

Ford Motor Co. may resume paying executive bonuses to boost the morale of managers battered by three rounds of job cuts and plant closings in the past five years, people familiar with the matter said.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker is considering the renewal of bonuses as a way of supporting managers coping with reduced benefits, the elimination of merit raises and the threat of job losses....

The size of the bonuses varies. They can comprise the highest percentage of total income for Ford's most senior executives. For Chief Executive Alan Mulally, who signed his own compensation agreement with Ford when he was hired in September, the targeted bonus opportunity for 2007 equals 175 percent of his base salary of $2 million, according to a regulatory filing....

I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that this is only happening at the top of the pyramid:

The current contract with the UAW and Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford expires Sept. 14. In a Jan. 3 meeting with reporters, Mulally said he plans to ask the union's help in strengthening Ford. He said wages, benefits and flexibility in deploying workers would be issues....

Givebacks, in other words. And obviously that's not surprising. But isn't it odd how the best way to motivate rich people is always to pay them more, and the best way to motivate non-rich people is always to pay them less.

(Via Doug Krile and, oddly, PoliPundit.)
Atrios is (moderately) impressed with what Joe Klein writes here about the Libby trial:

I'm beginning to love this trial.
I love it because it is firmly establishing this fact:

She testified that both Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby were intensely interested in Ms. Wilson and her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who had been sent to Africa to investigate reports that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium from Niger for his nuclear weapons program.

Why is that important? Because June 2003, when this obsession took hold, was also the month that the CIA first briefed Bush, Cheney, Rumsfled et al. that they were facing a full-blown guerrilla insurgency in Iraq. Were they obsessed by the fact that there war was changing, that it might be more difficult to prosecute than they're bargained for? No. They were obsessed with sliming Joe Wilson....

Nice of him to make that connection -- but, er, is he just now noticing that bringing the war in Iraq to a successful conclusion was not the top priority of the Bushies?

Rove's top priority has always been destroying the Democratic Party. Cheney is obsessed with avenging Nixon by restoring the imperial presidency. Rumsfeld was fixated on Pentagon transformation. All of these things were more important than the Iraq War. And doing the best we could possibly do in Iraq was always subject to restrictions: can't raise taxes (Bush), can't acknowledge that there might be some validity to the Powell Doctrine (Rumsfeld), couldn't hire people who knew what they were doing to help rebuild Iraq after the fall of Saddam -- only loyalists and ideologues need apply.

And, of course, actually getting the people responsible for 9/11 was an even lower priority than trying to accomplish the Iraq mission.

If I correctly understand this little piece of wingnut animation (found here), the thesis is that Webb Hubbell was Chelsea Clinton's father.

... And yeah, I guess this notion has been kicking around since the '90s. (Warning: cheesy music starts up automatically at link.)

Pundits talk a lot about voters rejecting Hillary Clinton in '08 because voters won't want unsavory stories "dredged up." The truth is, we're big boys and girls -- we know all the stories and we've moved on. What we might not want "dredged up" is toxic waste like this. This time, though, our side is capable of shining a spotlight on the vermin who spread it; also, the mainstream press knows it can't pretend anymore that political messages spread in a "nontraditional" way are beneath them and thus not worthy of being acknowledged.

Still, it's going to be ugly -- and one of the reasons I half-want Hillary to win (despite deep fears that as president she'd regularly capitulate to the right) is that I don't want these people to succeed with a strategy of spreading poison about her and then saying we have to reject her at the polls because she's responsible for the poisonousness of the political atmosphere.
Canada's National Post tells us about Francois Verschelden, a preacher who's trying to spread the Baptist message in the traditionally Catholic community of Joliette, Quebec. He's detected some wariness on the part of the locals:

"In Quebec, if you change religions, they have the impression that you are rejecting the culture, the two are so intertwined," he says.

...So alien is the U.S. version of evangelism to people in this area that the kindly- looking father of two, who became a born-again Christian when he was 19, has been ridiculed, threatened and even had parents warn their children to stay away from him for his proselytizing since returning to his home province.

Gosh, why should people be so wary of a guy like this?

I'm baffled -- but hey, maybe it's because he represents a church whose online news service links his story with this headline (check the scroll in the upper right corner):

Countering Canada's Catholic culture key to capturing Quebec for the King

Whew! I guess some Baptists never got that "Catholics are getting more conservative so we like them now" memo.

(Oh, and maybe the people of Joliette are wary because, as the National Post story explains, Pastor Verschelden is going to be followed by "six successive waves of Baptist mission teams ... from Texas, Kentucky, the Carolinas and British Columbia," bankrolled by a U.S. megachurch based in a shopping mall, as part of "a worldwide church planting effort" to set up evangelical congregations in "the most un-reached places on Earth." The new Heart of Darkness -- Quebec! Yeah, I might be a bit testy if people were talking about where I live that way.)
From the Savannah Morning News:

ATLANTA - With little fanfare or controversy, the [Georgia] House proclaimed 2007 as the "Year of Lee" in honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee....

Resolutions saluting people pass the General Assembly almost daily without discussion or much notice, but those recognizing controversial figures usually trigger a debate. For example, last year, a measure commending Oscar-winning actress and Georgia resident Jane Fonda for her contributions to curbing teen pregnancy resulted in national headlines when lawmakers voted it down because of her protests during the Vietnam War.

So House Resolution 28 is noteworthy because of how little stir it caused when it passed unanimously Jan. 11....

Hey, how can you compare Jane Fonda and Robert E. Lee? Jane Fonda was a traitor! She was actively at war with this country! Not like Robert E. L... oh, wait, never mind.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Sure seems that way to me -- I smelled it on the streets of Midtown as I left work this evening; now I'm uptown and I'm smelling it even indoors. This happened a couple of times back in '05. No one ever knows why it happens, just as no one knew what caused the sulfur smell a couple of weeks ago. But this is pleasant -- I'm not complaining.
Clinton has a strong edge when the question is which presidential candidate people would most like to have over to their homes for dinner. The former First Lady led the dinner-invitation field with 26%, while Obama and McCain tied for second place at 15%.


Hunh? I thought everyone in America regarded Hillary as a vicious, power-mad psycho automaton with no human feelings. That's what the press has told me for fifteen years -- it can't possibly be untrue, can it?

In a Time magazine blog post last night, Joe Klein praised James Webb -- or perhaps it would more accurate to say that he used his praise of Webb as a stick to beat John Kerry with ("Jim Webb and John Kerry, two Vietnam war heroes, passed each other on the up and down escalators in the past 24 hours--and there is a link between Webb's rise and Kerry's fall.... here, for once was a Democrat who palpably didn't drink chablis.... I can see Jim Webb sitting down the end of the bar, with a shot and a beer....").

Over at Whiskey Fire, Thers is livid ("Is Klein in junior high school? ... Webb's speech was a good speech because he was right: it is immoral to get people killed for nothing... People are dying, and Klein is measuring penises and wondering who he wants to have a beer with"). Webb did have biography and attitude on his side Tuesday night, but Thers has a point -- Webb's speech was impressive because he said the right things, without apology or equivocation.

Thers looks at Klein's post and sees phony populism and an effete reporter's idealization of a tough guy. But there's something more going on. Notice what else Klein says:

Kerry, whom I've known for many years, was always a different, more awkward guy in public than he was with his Vietnam pals--and, according to one of his closest Vietnam pals, he'd even stopped being loose with them in private in recent years: "We lost him when he married Teresa." ... It showed...all the time. It always looked like he was saying what he'd been told to say.

Ah, there it is -- We lost him when he married Teresa. It's the ball and chain's fault! Isn't that always the way?

I bet I'm not wrong to think of Klein as just another boomer who grew up on the sexual attitudes of Mailer and Kerouac, and who still thinks of women as imprisoners of men's wild, free souls at best, and as succubi and castrators at worst.

If we really want to see what Klein thinks of women and the working class, we need only look at his novel Primary Colors. Here's part of what Don Foster -- the guy who first figured out that Klein was Anonymous -- wrote about Primary Colors in his book Author Unknown:

As depicted in Primary Colors, the Clinton/Stanton figure makes you mad. In fact, someone should punch him. Actually, someone does punch him: the Hillary/Susan figure smacks him right in the kisser on page 122. This from a woman who could "come after your scrawny little ding-a-ling with a pair of garden shears." ...

The two kinds of females in
Primary Colors are bitches and bimbos. Jack Stanton is married to one kind while chasing the other. But here, too, Henry [the novel's narrator] is ambivalent. Apart from his one-night stand with Susan, Henry has only a brief fling with the vaguely asexual Daisy. She pulls off her shirt and asks for sex: "'I'm practically a guy ... up top,' she said. She did have a nice -- pert, sexy in a businesslike way -- bottom. 'Okay,'" says Henry -- though he finds most women unappetizing, or frightening. For example, there's Libby, a 250-pound women's libber, who points guns at men's crotches and threatens to blast away their genitals, just like Hillary/Susan with her garden shears.

Though Henry and his creator, Anonymous, both love to use the F-word whenever possible, they both have trouble imagining anyone actually performing it. The sexual liaisons between Henry and Susan and Henry and Daisy are so totally unconvincing that Henry himself can hardly believe they happened. Together with campaign director Richard Jemmons/James Carville (who "looks like he was sired during the love scene from
Deliverance"), Henry finds candidate Stanton's weakness for a "hairslut" utterly perplexing. The two men lie on Henry's hotel bed, chuckling over Stanton's weakness for Cashmere McLeod, who looks "hilarious: truck-stop pinups." Stanton's bimbo "had breasts, that was clear enough. But the rest of her body remained a mystery, as did the quality of her mind."

While you're shaking your head over the tangled, tortured sex thoughts of this great admirer of manliness, savor those last few details -- thus Joe Klein, champion of the working class.


One more quote from Klein's post:

For years, Democrats have been having difficulty selling their economic message, in part because the salesmen were so...unlikely. They could promise universal health care, free college, whatever--but it didn't make a difference if they O-Ra-Ted the way John Kerry did.

Er, Joe? Ever hear FDR speak? Go here and listen to a few of the Fireside Chats. Then talk to me about working people's disgust at wealthy Democrats with upper-class enunciation.


(Whiskey Fire link via Atrios.)

Today's New York Sun looks at Hillary Clinton's webcasts and explains to us all what's really important:

...While Mrs. Clinton is well dressed in the video, she needs to work on her posture, according to Ms. von Sperling. By crossing an arm over her body on the sofa, Mrs. Clinton appears defensive, or like she is hiding something. "Its very irresponsible of her publicist or the camera man not to point it out," Ms. von Sperling said....

The red suit jacket sends a confident and fitting message to voters, according to Ms. von Sperling. "Presidents frequently wear dark suits and a red tie for important speeches," she said. She also called slimming the black shirt Mrs. Clinton chose to wear....

Her choice of necklace was a "cunning" and "clever" decision, according to Ms. von Sperling. The ambiguous pendant is difficult to see clearly in the video. It sits on her neck in the style of a Christian cross and is of a similar shape, but upon close examination appears not be a cross at all....

Mercifully, this ends after twelve paragraphs. At least for now. You know there's much more to come, because, as everyone knows, to be a Democrat with a serious shot at the presidency is to be a creature of artifice, while Republicans, needlessly to say, are simple and plain and genuine.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Posted at MoJo Blog last night:

MSNBC is running (and rerunning and rerunning) a comment on the ticker on the bottom of its screen that says something to the effect of: the working class will be disappointed to learn that Nancy Pelosi's outfit cost more than an average American family's first home.

I'd like to see some proof of that. The comment is attributed to Andrew Noyes writing on Chris Matthew's group blog, Hardblogger. Yet, a search of all the posts on Hardblogger tonight turn up nothing.

Update: Just saw it again. It's probably run a dozen times by now....

Actually, it's from Mike Barnicle at Hardblogger, and if you're wondering where he got his numbers, the answer, by his own admission, is that he pulled them out of his ass.

Math has never been my strong suit. And I have difficulty balancing my check book. But you don't have to be Stephen Hawking to figure out that A. Nancy Pelosi's outfit cost more than the average American paid for their first home and B. there is a pretty high degree of difficulty involved in balancing the federal budget yet the leader of the free world just told us, "We can do so without raising taxes." And half the people in the hall - Bush's half -stood and cheered.

I'm sure the quite wealthy phony-populist Barnicle is pleased with himself for that equal-opportunity outrage on behalf of the little guy.

But why was MSNBC running the Pelosi -- and only the Pelosi part -- on the ticker? It was just a quip -- why run it when many idiots might think it's a fact?

In The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler leads his fact-check of the State of the Union address with an examination of President Bush's use of the expression "the enemy" -- which is a particular pet peeve of mine.

Bush referred to "the enemy" and "the terrorists" repeatedly throughout the speech; sometimes the expressions were interchangeable for him. This is the most Orwellian verbal trope in his repertoire -- the way he uses the tiny word "the." It's meant to work subconsciously, using the listener's innate understanding of how the English language works -- "the" means there's no other.

Kessler gets into specifics about "the enemy" -- some of the people Bush describes this way are Sunnis, some are Shiites; some are terrorist groups, some are sitting governments; some have a planet-wide focus, others a much narrower one; some utterly reject the West, others trade with Western nations.

But the real point, for Bush, is to persuade you that there's only one war -- which means that opposition to any act of warfare by his administration can be defined as opposition to the entire fight against jihadists.

Bush used to strongly suggest that Saddam was interchangeable with bin Laden; now, instead of curtailing that tendency, he's expanded it, implying that every olive-skinned person who's ever tried to kill or injure any American anywhere for any reason is part of one big Enemy.

The press mostly ignores it, probably assuming it's just more of his macho Texas talk. It isn't. It's a carefully crafted technique of deceptive subliminal persuasion.
By the way, anyone who tells you that the State of the Union speech had a "conciliatory" tone is obviously working from the prepared text.

It's not just that -- as The Wall Street Journal's blog notes -- the prepared text had Bush congratulating "the Democratic majority" but Bush actually congratulated "the Democrat majority." (Referring to the opposition party as "the Democrat Party" has been a wingnut tic for a generation.) It's the fact that he delivered the vast majority of the speech in his now-familiar hectoring, berating tone, implying that we'd damn well better see the world his way and do as he says. He has some nerve doing this, given the fact that he's had way for six years and has run the country into a ditch.

Bill Clinton delivered six of these speeches to opposition Congresses, one just after being impeached, and he managed to maintain a "happy warrior" tone throughout, an enthusiasm for the idea of getting things done. Bush -- childish enough to like the idea of undermining the graciousness of what his speech shop wrote for him about Nancy Pelosi with a code-word cheap shot at her party -- rarely if ever seems like a guy who simply wants to succeed (or wants America to succeed); it's always vitally important to him that Democrats either bend to his will or fail.

That's why Jim Webb's hard-hitting Democratic response hit the right note. Webb was responding to the actual president we've had for six years: the sullen, stubborn Bush. Democrats now know that there's never any possibility of compromising with Bush, never a chance at dialogue, and Webb is just the guy to deliver that message:

Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way.

This is called "fighting fire with fire."


...And no, I'm not saying Webb and Bush are exactly analogous. Webb's has been an honorable life; Bush hasn't done anything right in his life, ever, except win status for himself. And Webb's challenge to Bush genuinely seemed to be uttered in sorrow -- he doesn't seem to savor the prospect of vanquishing his opponent, unlike Bush.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


1) A couple of minutes of being nice to Nancy Pelosi.
2) A couple of minutes of generally telling everybody what idiots they are if they don't do what I say.
3) A really boring laundry list of domestic issues.
4) The same Iraq speech I always give -- but I like it because it really pumps me up to think about how evil The Enemy is and what jerks the Democrats are for not hating The Enemy as much as I do.
5) Introductions of a bunch of people I'd never heard of until a couple of days ago -- I don't know what any of them have to do with the state of the union, but talking about that guy who got run over by a train sure got a lot of people to applaud me.
6) I get the hell out and go to sleep.
Good thing this didn't happen at any school Barack Obama attended:

FORT WORTH, Texas -- A woman who had held a tenure-track position was denied tenure at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2004, according to a Jan. 19 Dallas Morning News story.

The professor, Sheri Klouda, was given a tenure-track position to teach Hebrew in Southwestern's school of theology when she received her Ph.D. at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus in 2002, according to the newspaper report....

Van McClain, chairman of Southwestern's board of trustees, told the Dallas Morning News that the seminary has returned to its "traditional, confessional and biblical position" that a woman should not instruct men in theology courses or in biblical languages.

...McClain also told the newspaper, "I do not know of any women teaching in any of the SBC seminaries presently in the area of theology or biblical languages. In my estimation all of the seminaries have sought to be more consistent with most Southern Baptists' understanding of Scripture on the matter."

...The newspaper noted that [President Paige] Patterson's wife Dorothy continues to teach in Southwestern’s school of theology, with McClain explaining that she teaches courses in women's studies that are attended only by women....

An AP story offers a clarification for us heathens:

Southwestern is taking the "traditional, confessional and biblical position" that women should not teach men in theology or biblical languages, McClain said. That position is based on a Biblical verse in which the Apostle Paul says, "I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man."

That's 1 Timothy 2:12. In the New International Version it's "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."

Now, given the number of times we've been told recently that Islam is utterly irreconcilable with Western values because of this or that intemperate passage in the Koran -- which we're supposed to assume every Muslim on the planet takes literally -- what are we to conclude from this story? Aren't we forced to conclude that Christianity is hopelessly incompatible with the Western belief in gender equality?

Rudy, John, Newt, you can just dissolve your exploratory committees -- you're toast. The race for 2008 GOP presidential nomination is over.

Mitt Romney has secured the critically important Dennis Hastert endorsement.

The New York Times has a story about the Hillary Clinton webcast; here's the gloss on that Times story at

Hillary and her fake movie memory busted right out of the box.


I go to the revelant Lucianne thread and learn that the alleged debunking is at Hugh Hewitt's blog. Here it is:

Asked about her favorite movie, she replied in part: "Probably when I was in college and law school, Casablanca.  You know, I watched it,  I don't know how many times, and you know it was always so just much fun, and by the time we watched it over and over again we were actually reciting the dialogue" ...

Mrs. Clinton graduated from Wellesley in 1969 and Yale Law School in 1973.  Perhaps  Betamax machines and VCRs made an early appearance at those campuses, or there was a  film theater nearby that showed nothing but Casablanca, but the idea that she watched it "over and over again," is one of those "hmmm" moments that catch your attention, like Al Gore's dog's Shiloh's medicine or John Kerry's magic hat.

Oh, Jesus. What is wrong with these people?

OK, kids, here's a little history lesson from a middle-aged guy. Back in the Jurassic Era, before Netflix and DVDs and VHS and Betamax, there were revival houses -- theaters that screened nothing but old (or relatively old) movies. They tended to thrive in -- duh! -- big cities and college towns. (I believe New Haven would qualify as both. Please fact-check me on this.)

Campus organizations also screened classics -- every weekend, as a rule. Usually these were film societies, but sometimes they were just non-film organizations looking to raise money.

Oh, and there was a telecommunications medium known as "late night TV," where genuinely old movies showed up on a regular basis. (Back then, virtually every TV channel was Turner Classic Movies after midnight.)

When I was a teenager in Boston, shortly after Hillary got her law degree, you really could see classic films like Casablanca every few months. If Hewitt claims not to know this, he's either lying or oblivious -- he's Harvard class of '78; what does he think was going on in the '70s and '60s at theaters like the Orson Welles Cinema and the Brattle? By the way, about the Brattle....

In the 1950s the Brattle Theater was bought by two gentlemen who started programming older films for the Harvard students. They chose 'Casablanca'...which wasn't an obscure had won an Academy Award for Best Picture...but it was about ten years old and they screened it during final exams. Students started coming and then it became a mission among older Harvard students to bring freshmen, dates, and others to the film. Eventually, people started showing up in costumes and began speaking the dialogue and standing up to sing. It was the original "Rocky Horror Picture Show" -- the original audience experience in a movie theater in a way that had never happened before in movie theaters.

So -- at least in Cambridge, starting in the 1950s -- people did see Casablanca so often that they could recite the dialogue. Maybe Hugh even knew some of them. So why not Wellesley in the '60s or New Haven in the early '70s?

So there's one more phony scandal. I wonder how far up the media food chain this one will go. (Though you have to feel sorry for the wingnuts --they need something now that the Obama's-a-secret-Muslim lie has been thoroughly debunked by CNN.)


One more thing: In Hillary's webcast, she says her favorite recent movie is Out of Africa. Hewitt's gloss:

Finally, the "Out of Africa" reference may lose her the election.  Really.  That's frightening. 

Is this supposed to be a joke? And if not, does anybody have the slightest idea what he's talking about?

Bush's health care plan:

The big change in the tax code would encourage an additional 5 million people to buy health insurance, the Treasury Department concluded. But critics say the plan wouldn't help the remaining 42 million Americans who have no health insurance.

That's the big Bush breakthrough -- getting a whopping 11% of the uninsured on the insurance rolls, while leaving 89% still uninsured -- according to his administration's own rosy projections. (If this is the administration's boast, imagine what the reality must look like.)

And in this AP story, Kate Baicker, a member of the Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, is even less optimistic, talking about "upwards of 3 million or more newly insured people" -- which would leave approximately 94% of the uninsured uninsured.

And who pays to insure this tiny fraction of the uninsured? As the AP story notes,

About 30 million Americans could face a tax hike under President George W. Bush's plan to expand health insurance coverage and address rising health care costs, the White House said on Monday.

Ah, but:

Baicker said about 30 million Americans could face higher taxes under the president's plan "if they didn't change their behavior" -- meaning giving up an employer's more generous health plan in favor of a less-costly one.

Yeah, blame the ordinary citizens -- white-collar people, union members -- who can manage to get a good health plan. Talk about them the way you talk about drug addicts -- wag your finger and say they need to "change their behavior." That's the way to win the public over.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bush falls to 28% approval in the CBS poll.


Bush is going to end up the most unpopular president in history. Remember, I said that here first.

--Gore Vidal in the April 18, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle, when Bush was at 76% in the CBS poll


"The loss of 25 troops in Iraq in one day is bad for America -- but not as bad as the fact that well-crafted documentary films about sexual perverts are allowed to see the light of day."

That's the actual New York Post headline for an Associated Press story originally titled (by AP) ""N.M. Governor Enters White House Race."

I wonder how long it will be before the headline of a Post story on Obama includes the words "spear" and "chuck."

(Via Media Matters.)

GOP pollster/strategist Frank Luntz at the Huffington Post:

Senator Barbara Boxer can't really believe that a single woman without children is totally incapable of feeling emotional loss just because she hasn't had any children in combat, can she? Yet that's exactly what she said to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Oh, very sly, Frank. You know perfectly well that's not "exactly what she said" -- or meant. Here is "exactly what she said":

Now, the issue is who pays the price, who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, within immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families, and I just want to bring us back to that fact.

There's nothing in there -- nothing -- about the ability or inability to feel emotional loss. All Boxer said was that Rice isn't among the people who are going to lose close relatives in combat in Iraq -- and neither is Boxer.

But you're a Republican, Frank, so of course you're not going to pass up one last opportunity to twist Boxer's words. Adding "exactly" is just a brazen way of trying to conceal your deliberate distortion of the truth.


(The rest of Luntz's piece is just more in that vein -- feigned shock at the supposed harshness of a few mild utterances by Democrats. In every case, he's reprising a phony squeal of outrage that's already made the rounds of the right-wing media and the Internet right and should have been laid to rest by now.)
Dinesh D'Souza in a Salon interview to plug his new book:

...take somebody like Ted Kennedy. Go through his speeches over the last three years. Find every speech in which he refers to Saddam Hussein and bin Laden and take all the worst things that he says about them and line them all up, and then take all the things he says about Bush and the right wing, and you line them all up, and you compare them, you'd make an amazing observation, and that is that the condemnations of Saddam Hussein and bin Laden are quite sparse. They do exist, but they are not profuse.

I want to flag this, in particular, because I know (from watching the mainstream media's reaction to Ann Coulter's verbal roadside bombs) what's going to be said about D'Souza -- yeah, maybe he goes too far, but isn't he basically right about some of these things? The media accepted Coulter's premise that only on the left did 9/11 survivors take political stands -- ignoring the simple fact that a number of family members of 9/11 survivors lined up in '04 for Bush. What's going to happen with D'Souza is that the Ted Kennedy line is going to be accepted as fact -- because, hey, it's Ted Kennedy, the big fat irresponsible liberal.

What Ted Kennedy has actually said, in speech after speech after speech, is: Saddam was a bad guy, but he wasn't affiliated with Al Qaeda and he wasn't on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons or other WMDs -- whereas Al Qaeda is still really, really dangerous. Getting bogged down in Iraq was bad because it made fighting Al Qaeda and other jihadists harder.

So when you're watching some cable chat show or the Today show and no one is willing to challenge the premise that Ted Kennedy criticizes Bush more than he criticizes bin Laden, remember, for instance, this Ted Kennedy speech from September 27, 2004:

... Our preoccupation with Iraq has given Al Qaeda more than two full years to regroup and plan murderous new assaults on us. We know that Al Qaeda will try to attack America again and again here at home, if it possibly can. Yet instead of staying focused on the real war on terror, President Bush rushed headlong into an unnecessary war in Iraq....

The Bush administration's focus on Iraq has left us needlessly more vulnerable to an Al Qaeda attack with a nuclear weapon. The greatest threat of all to our homeland is a nuclear attack. A mushroom cloud over any American city is the ultimate nightmare, and the risk is all too real. Usama bin Laden calls the acquisition of a nuclear device a "religious duty." Documents captured from a key Al Qaeda aide three years ago revealed plans even then to smuggle high-grade radioactive materials into the United States in shipping containers.

If Al Qaeda can obtain a nuclear weapon, they will certainly use it -- on New York, or Washington, or any of America's other major cities. The greatest danger we face in the days and weeks and months ahead is a nuclear 9/11, and we hope and pray that it is not already too late to prevent. The war in Iraq has made the mushroom cloud more likely, not less likely....

Yeah, Ted Kennedy pounds away at Bush, but he says bin Laden is hell-bent on trying to kill all of us with nuclear weapons. I think that's kinda harsh, even if D'Souza doesn't. And if no at network or cable news can bear to do the extraordinarily difficult work of fact-checking D'Souza on this, my advice is: It's called "Google." Use it.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Least believable AP lede ever:

Iraq's prime minister has dropped his protection of an anti-American cleric's Shiite militia after U.S. intelligence convinced him the group was infiltrated by death squads, two officials said Sunday.

"No! You're shittin' me! Really? Show me the video.... Holy crap, you're right -- they cut all those guys' heads off! Jeez, I am speechless. And they seemed like such swell guys, too! What can I say? This was happening right under my nose and I completely missed it. Thank God you guys had the eagle eye!"

Ex-Dan Quayle speechwriter Lisa Schiffren, writing at Commentary's new blog about Barack Obama:

He's black, but not militant, not Al Sharpton. White mom, absent African dad: almost like Tiger Woods.

I love those last six words -- absent African dad: almost like Tiger Woods. Yeah, if by "almost like" you mean "just about exactly the opposite of":

Earl [Woods] guided and motivated Tiger in his rise to the top of the golf world....

In an excerpt published in USA WEEKEND, Earl said he had Tiger hearing jazz music when he was 5 days old. As Tiger lay in the crib, Earl would say, "Daddy loves you. I am here for you."

By the time Tiger was 2, Earl was drilling him on mental toughness, "an outgrowth of my upbringing and my years as a Green Beret."

"I pulled every nasty, dirty, obnoxious trick on him," Earl wrote. He tossed balls in front of Tiger while he putted. He dropped bags of clubs behind Tiger when he hit tee shots. He'd cough during the backswing.

"I played with his mind," Earl wrote.

Earl cautioned that his approach wasn't for every father and every son but it worked because he and Tiger had a special bond, built from the beginning.

"The best thing about those practices was that my father always kept it fun," Tiger wrote. "It's amazing how much you learn when you truly enjoy doing something." ...

As Earl's heart disease and other ailments progressed, he attended fewer events, and none since the end of 2004. When Tiger won The Masters in 2005 for the fourth time, he said the victory was "for Pops," his favorite name for his father....

Yeah, that seems "almost like" having an "absent African dad," right?

Of course, Earl Woods wasn't African -- he was an American of (mostly) African ancestry. And Tiger's mother isn't white -- she was born in Thailand of (mostly) Asian ancestry. (If you really care, you can get fuller, if contradictory, accounts of the ethnic makeup of Tiger's parents here and here.) But to Schiffren, I guess it's way too much trouble trying to tell all those octoroons and quadroons and macacas and what-have-yous apart.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


In case it wasn't obvious when Fox News gleefully spread Insight magazine's smear of Barack Obama (secret Muslim!) and Hillary Clinton (gutter-level opposition researcher looking for dirt on Obama!), the Murdoch media crime family is working hand in glove with the Moonie media crime family to damage the two Democratic front-runners simultaneously. Latest evidence: The formerly respectable Times of London, now a Murdoch paper, dresses up this turd for a posh audience:

Obama 'was educated in madrassa'

* Senator hid time there, says article
*Clinton distances herself from claims

You know the story by now, so I won't bore you with the main points, but I will note that near the end we get this:

Mr Obama, who has spent his adult life in Chicago, calls himself a Christian and says that he believes in God.

Yeah -- he says that, but everybody knows you can't trust those Moo-slimes.

Oh, and this:

A source close to the Clinton campaign told The Times, a day before the Insight article was published, that they do not want to be seen as attacking Mr Obama or digging for dirt, but that they would be happy for another Democrat contender to criticise him.

Yeah, that Hitlery -- so sleazy she wants to frame somebody else for the crime. (A bit of projection on your part, Rupe and Reverend Moon?) And I like that "Democrat contender," as in "Democrat Party" -- just in case we weren't sure this was a right-wing hit job.

Good Lord -- right-wingers will try to turn anything into a scandal. This is from NewsBusters:

If the timing came as a bit of surprise, nothing could have been less unexpected than Hillary's "I'm In" announcement of today.

But have a look at the video of her announcement. Rather than her "let's chat" rap, please focus on the background. Look out the door. Presumably the announcement was shot in one of Hillary's homes: Chappaqua or Georgetown. Now I know it's been a mild winter, but even so, surely the leaves are gone from the trees and bushes in either spot. And check out the yellow spot in the bushes. At first I thought it was just a warm dapple of sunshine. But freeze the frame when, about 1/4 of the way through, Hillary says "how to end the deficits that threaten Social Security." That's not sunshine -- those are flowers in bloom.

...what's the story? Did Hillary have this video in the can during all those months while she was claiming to be making up her mind? Was it a carefully staged artificial background? ....

Yes, wouldn't it be just appalling and sinister and devious if she taped this a while ago? Or taped it recently at the house of a friend or supporter who lives in a warm climate? THAT WOULD BE THE HEIGHT OF DISHONESTY!! SHE MUST BE STOPPED!!!!!!

Wait -- I know! She taped it on her secret fact-finding mission to Indonesia to learn about Barack Obama's concealed Muslim past! Yeah, that's it! Indonesia's tropical!

There's simply no limit to the depths of her depravity....

Friday, January 19, 2007


This is the flag of Kurdistan in my lapel but my Kurdish comrades say that the--their main responsibility is for the new Iraq now. And they who would have every right to say we want to get out of this prison house of the state are willing to still cooperate to help to emancipate the rest of it. I think that's an extraordinary sacrifice on their part. Deserves more recognition than it's had.

--Christopher Hitchens, March 25, 2005


...Kurdish soldiers from northern Iraq, who are mostly Sunnis but not Arabs, are deserting the army to avoid the civil war in Baghdad....

...[Ameen] Kareem said he knew that deserting was risky, but he said he'd rather be behind bars in Kurdistan than a "soldier in Baghdad's fire." Without the language and with his Kurdish features, he was sure he would stand out, he said. He's a Kurd, he said, and he has no reason to become a target in an Arab war.

...Farman Mohammed, 42, celebrated the Muslim Eid holiday with his family last month and didn't go back when he heard that he might be deployed to Baghdad. Afraid for his life, he found a new job and settled in with his family.

"The fanatic Sunnis in Baghdad kill the Shiites, and vice versa. Both of them are outraged against the Kurds. They will not hesitate to kill us and accuse us of being collaborators with the occupiers," he said. "How can we face them alone?"

Those who are planning to go to Baghdad said they didn't want to be considered cowards....

--Leila Fadel and Yaseen Taha for McClatchy Newspapers, story published today


(McClatchy article also available here.)
Wesley Pruden in today's Washington Times:

Mzz Pelosi and her "new Democrats" have just about completed their legislative agenda of "the first 100 hours." By the arithmetic the rest of us learned in grade school, hundreds of hours have elapsed since the clock started ticking with the convening of the 110th Congress on Jan. 4, but Democrats new and old march to a distant drummer, a confusing cadence and a stopped clock.
"We're just counting the legislative hours," the speaker's spokesman explains. (Only in Congress is someone employed to speak for a speaker.) By just counting actual working hours and minutes a clever Congress, excuse the oxymoron, might stretch out a hundred hours to cover an entire congressional session.... Congress didn't invent euphemy, the hiding of the evidence of a misdeed behind a perfumed word, but it has perfected the art. Euphemisms can camouflage manifold sins and disguise a mountain as a molehill.

Coming up in Mr. Pruden's next column: NBA basketball games -- somebody needs to investigate the fact that they don't take exactly 48 minutes to play!
Another "Maybe this is the day Daddy will stop drinking" pundit moment, this one courtesy of Peggy Noonan, who's writing today about the upcoming State of the Union address and the Bush years in genedral:

It's been an era of soft thinking and hard words.... it's not getting us anywhere. And it's limiting debate. It's making people fearful.

It is time for a kind of verbal amnesty in which thoughts are considered before motives are judged. An admission that the White House is as responsible for this situation as everyone else would help clear the air--and just might prompt some soul-searching in members of the audience. An honest plea here could break through the cement that has hardened over the debate. Who could answer harshly when a president who loves his country admitted the problem and pleaded for change? That's what might really hit reset.

Why on earth do pundits persist in saying things like this? When will they wake up and realize it's never going to happen? Is it really not going to be until he gets on the helicopter on 1/20/09? Or maybe even later, down the line, when he dies? Can we at least hope that then they'll finally smack their foreheads and say, "Gosh, he was always like that, wasn't he?"


More from Peggy:

Part of the reason the air is so charged now, so highly emotional, is that many of the leaders in the drama seem, lately, to be re-enacting. One senses a number of antiwar politicians are thinking: This is my Bobby Kennedy moment. We are re-enacting 1968. See how I jab the air as I speak against war. On the other side it is 1939, and they are Churchill.

The Bushies have been reenacting, all right, but they're just using 1939 and Churchill for sets and art decoration, like a Shakespeare director who retains the original dialogue but sets As You Like It on Muscle Beach in 1964 and decks out the cast in full Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.

Rove has been reenacting 1988; the war was supposed to be his Willie Horton ad, the one-shot Democrat-killer. Cheney has been reenacting the Watergate years, in the hope that the believers in unchallenged Executive Branch power get to win this time.

Bush? He's reenacting some night he came home drunk and was told, "You're never going to amount to anything! Why can't you be like your brother Jeb?" At that moment, I'm not even sure he knew who Churchill was.

This is very sleazy: the Moonie periodical Insight has posted an article questioning whether Barack Obama is really a secret Muslim -- and is claiming that speculation about Obama's true faith is coming from Hillary Clinton's camp.

Are the American people ready for an elected president who was educated in a Madrassa as a young boy and has not been forthcoming about his Muslim heritage?

This is the question Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's camp is asking about Sen. Barack Obama.

An investigation of Mr. Obama by political opponents within the Democratic Party has discovered that Mr. Obama was raised as a Muslim by his stepfather in Indonesia. Sources close to the background check, which has not yet been released, said Mr. Obama, 45, spent at least four years in a so-called Madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia.

"He was a Muslim, but he concealed it," the source said. "His opponents within the Democrats hope this will become a major issue in the campaign." ...

Sources said the background check, conducted by researchers connected to Senator Clinton, disclosed details of Mr. Obama's Muslim past. The sources said the Clinton camp concluded the Illinois Democrat concealed his prior Muslim faith and education....

The article goes on to detail the alleged Obama deception. It's barely distinguishable from the crude e-mail I quoted on Wednesday, which is making the rounds.

But ascribing the search for Obama's past to Hillary -- that's clever. Insight gets to palm it off while pretending to be merely an innocent conduit of information; meanwhile, Hillary is portrayed as a sneaky, conniving, vengeful schemer -- just like a woman, just like a Clinton.

Maybe this won't go mainstream -- but it's already more than just a cheesy e-mail smear campaign, and we have nearly two years to go before Election Day '08.

My guess is that there's going to be a "lite" version of this attack that does reach the mainstream -- namely, that Obama's really an atheist or a believer in religion-as-buffet, and he's lying about his Christianity. Read the Snopes debunking of the Obama's-a-Muslim e-mail; note that Obama talks in his books about his father's atheism, his stepfather's status as a non-practicing Muslim, and his mother's religious eclecticism ("On Easter or Christmas Day my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites"). The e-mail claims he joined the United Church of Christ because it's "politically expedient"; I can easily imagine cable talk-show hosts, goaded by new-style GOP Swift-boaters, asking whether he might have done this not because he's a Muslim and is lying about it, but because he has no faith, or is (gasp!) open to non-Judeo-Christian religious ideas, and is lying about it.

And getting that into the mainstream could drag the whole sleazy slander into the public consciousness.


And then there's another angle: Thomas Lipson, writing at the American Thinker -- a marginal right-wing site that tries to maintain a phony air of respectability -- describes Obama as a "Muslim forever," according to Islamic law, because he had a Muslim father, then argues that Obama's current Christianity "would seem to make him a potential target for death, according to at least the more militant adherents of Sharia law." Lipson expresses the hope

that an enterprising journalist will question Obama about whether or not he feels threatened by his apostasy, and ask him for an outright denunciation of the practice of enforcing the death penalty, and a call for religious freedom in Islamic countries.

These people are going to try every way they can to portray Islam as sinister and then hang Islam around Obama's neck. The only question is whether the mainstream press will give them an opening to do so.


UPDATE: Wow, this made it up the media food chain in a hurry:

This morning, Fox News featured a segment highlighting a right-wing report that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) attended an Islamic "madrassa" school as a 6-year-old child.

Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy pointed out that madrassas are "financed by Saudis" and "teach this Wahhabism which pretty much hates us," then declared, "The big question is: was that on the curriculum back then?" Later, a caller to the show questioned whether Obama's schooling means that "maybe he doesn't consider terrorists the enemy." Fox anchor Brian Kilmeade responded, "Well, we'll see about that."

The Fox hosts failed to correct the false claim that Obama is Muslim. One caller, referring to Obama, said, "I think a Muslim would be fine in the presidency, better than Hillary. At least you know what the Muslims are up to." Anchor Gretchen Carlson responded, "We want to be clear, too, that this isn't all Muslims, of course, we would only be concerned about the kind that want to blow us up." ...

Twenty-one months before the election and we're already in the sewer. Rot in hell, Rupert.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Everybody thinks I'm crazy when I say Giuliani can win the GOP nomination, but here he is leading McCain 28%-20% among likely Republican primary voters, according to Rasmussen.

This comes at the same time that an American Research Group poll shows McCain's support among New Hampshire independents plummeting, from 49% to 29%.

McCain still leads Rudy 29%-25% among likely New Hampshire GOP primary voters, according to ARG, but Giuliani's beating McCain in Iowa and Nevada, while running a strong second in supposedly too-conservative-for-a-guy-who-dressed-in-drag South Carolina (results: McCain 35%, Rudy 28%, Gingrich third with 15%).

Oh, and please note that Gingrich is running a strong third in all the ARG state polls I've mentioned, as well as in the Rasmussen poll. Romney and the rest are way back.

As things get worse in Iraq, I think GOP voters are going to get more and more desperate for a guy they think is a testosterone-heavy hero on a white horse. I think, as a result, Rudy's numbers among Republicans are going to go up. I think he's their Obama -- not someone they don't know much about, but someone they don't want to know much about. They've heard things they don't like, and they've heard things they love; they're trying to pretend they haven't heard the former, and are hoping that the latter means he'll save the world.

Texas governor Rick Perry attended a church service just before Election Day presided over by a minister who believes war with Iran is a fulfillment of biblical prophesy, and who said at the service that non-Christians are "going straight to hell with a non-stop ticket"; asked about the sermon afterward, Perry expressed agreement with it.

Now we get more mainstream values from Perry: the featured entertainer at his inaugural ball last night was Ted Nugent, a good friend of the governor's, who wore a Confederate T-shirt and said insulting things about non-English speakers, using machine guns as props.

Hmmmm ... what is it that Dinesh D'Souza says about our global struggles? Oh, yes:

...traditional Muslims ... would feel a lot better about America if they could see the "other" America, which is say, Red America, the America they don't see on television, where people go to work and look after their families and subscribe to traditional values and go to church. Bush should project more of this America to the rest of the world, especially to the traditional cultures of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Yeah, maybe he can ask Rick Perry to help him out.


UPDATE: Nugent has responded at his Web site:

for the record, all on tape & film, there was no AK47 or anything resembling 1 & my only immigration statement was that WANGO TANGO was the official immigration themesong. These lefties are terminally inebriated on dishonesty. so be it.

The story that said "Machine guns, including an AK-47, were his props" appeared in the San Antonio Express-News, not some paper for latte-swilling coast-dwellers, so I trust the reporter -- and I'm guessing that if something shows up on the inevitable leaked video that looks to the average person like an AK, Nuge, as a gun connoisseur, will say whatever is being brandished doesn't meet his exacting "resemblance" standard. ("Look at that gun sight! It's a 32-P-08! Everyone knows the AK's gunsight is a 32-P-09!")*

The "lefties" who are "terminally inebriated on dishonesty" include, according to the Express-News story, Royal Masset, former political director of the Republican Party of Texas, who says of the decision to feature Nugent, "I think it was a horrible choice. I hope nobody approved it."

And as for "Wango Tango" being "the official immigration themesong" ... hunh? Why -- because it sounds like some furriner's name? Or because it's about hot sex? (You know that's all those furriners ever think about, apart from sneakin' across the border so they can apply for welfare....) Whatever -- here are the lyrics; here's a video of the Nuge performing the song. Maybe you can figure it out.

*This is probably not realistic gun talk at all, but I don't give a rat's ass, Ted. --SM.