Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Oh. My. God.

If pressed for time, skip straight to "Jesus Loves the Little Children."

(And yeah, I know -- they're supposed to be hamsters, not chipmunks, despite the obvious audio resemblance to Alvin, Theodore, and Simon.)

I don't know if Giuliani can be stopped, but if so, this is a hell of a lot more likely to hurt him with GOP primary voters than this is.


UPDATE: This won't help either -- chickenhawks are a dime a dozen in the GOP, but hey generally claim to have supported the war they avoided serving in, unlike Rudy.


AND: I'd be happy if every right-wing Rudy supporter watched this.
So can someone tell me why a Bush ambassadorial nominee who gave $50,000 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (and did so months after they were thoroughly discredited) is even getting a hearing? Can someone tell me why his nomination wasn't blocked outright, the way Bill Clinton's nomination of William Weld to be ambassador to Mexico was blocked by Jesse Helms a decade ago?

I don't care whether the other Democrats in the Senate like or dislike John Kerry. I don't care if they think he ran an inadequate campaign. And I don't care if they think this is an unpleasant moment from the past they'd rather not revisit. They should revisit it. They should revisit it proudly, while reminding the public in detail what disgusting liars these people were.

They should draw this line in the sand and let the Bushies whine all they want. It's called asserting power.

But, of course, they're Democrats, so God forbid they should do anything like that. Instead, John Kerry is left to press the case personally, as if it's nothing more than a personal vendetta by a sore loser. It isn't. It's the last couple of decades of GOP character-assassination politics in a nutshell, and, needless to say, it'll be back with a vengeance -- probably successfully again -- in '08.


By the way, anyone who thinks this is too trivial an issue to focus on at this time doesn't understand why right-wingers have been successful for so long. Yeah, it's a trivial issue compred to, say, the war -- but right-wingers' interest in sustaining the Bush war policies doesn't prevent them from taking time out to, say, attack Al Gore's energy usage. Going after Democrats and liberals on everything imaginable, however trivial, is what works for them; all they care about is whether the attack has the possibility of working to their advantage. We could stand to think that way a little more often.

Oy -- if a Hillary Clinton presidency will mean four more years of that creepy, Orwellian (or, more precisely, Rovian) position-the-photographers-so-they-get the-Leader's-head-framed-by-words-conveying-a-big-bold-abstract-concept nonsense, then you can just forget it.

Go here for a brief history of the Bush/Rove use of this trick.

(Source of the Hillary photo: this post at the New York Times Caucus blog. Compare the previous post -- yeah, John Edwards is trying to position himself as the candidate of working people, but the backdrop is just the logo of the labor union co-sponsoring the forum where he was speaking.)

From Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:*

Update: A new CNN poll finds Clinton leading Obama by 15-20 points among black voters.

Er, no. From that CNN link:

Among blacks, Obama's chief rival for the Democrat's 2008 presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, polls 15 to 20 points better than Obama and benefits from name recognition and deep Clinton roots in the black community.

What new poll? There's no poll cited at all -- this is just an estimate gleaned from other unnamed polls. (And, of course, according to the new Washington Post poll, Obama has wiped out that deficit and now leads Clinton among black Democrats.)

Which brings us to a problem with the (up to now) very popular do-blacks-support-Obama? story hook: The mainstream press doesn't seem to know exactly what it is that blacks are saying about him. From that CNN story:

George Wilson, the host of XM Radio's "GW on the Hill," hears doubts about the Illinois Democrat, the only black currently serving in the Senate, all the time from his black audience.

"There is this doubt 'But is America ready for a black president?' " Wilson told CNN. "And the overall consensus from my callers is that America is not ready for an African-American president."

Even at a rally for Obama in South Carolina you hear it:

"I'm being honest," Akyshia Gantt, an African-American, said. "No, I think -- which is bad -- that America is not ready for that, but I don't think they are."

Are these doubts about Obama? Or are they doubts about the rest of America? The two may be interrelated, but it would be nice if CNN's Candy Crowley and Sasha Johnson could grasp the fact that they're not the same thing.

To be fair, the story does go on to cite Wilson's belief that there may be African-American mistrust of a black candidate praised by whites (although the new Post poll suggests that blacks are rapidly putting aside any such mistrust).

But this comes only after blacks' doubts about the electability of a black candidate are presented as if they're doubts about that candidate himself. Not the same thing, folks.


*UPDATE: The CNN reference has been deleted from Taegan Goddard post. (I'm not sure that was necessary -- the two stories are related, but one uses old poll numbers and one uses the latest numbers.)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I don't usually pay attention to this sort of thing, but this propsed constitutional amendment banning the practice of Islam in America (and requiring that "all Mosques, schools and Muslim places of worship and religious training are to be closed, converted to other uses, or destroyed" without compensation, plus a possible death penalty for advocating sharia) is rather a standout among Z-list right-wing blog posts written by mouthbreathing bigots. Bonus points to the amendment writer for the not knowing the difference between "tenet" and "tenant," or "prescribed" and "proscribed." And I love the last article:

Nothing in this amendment shall be construed as authorizing the discrimination against, of violence upon, nor repudiation of the individual rights of those Americans professing to be Muslim....

Right -- we're banning your religion, but in the nicest possible way.

Oh, and there's a link at the blog to something called the Loyalist Party ("A Third Party Against Islamic Hate"), which has a couple of logos that must have looked better in the original German.

Leonard Pierce has more.

Today, by the way, is the day that Catholics commemorate the feast of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, otherwise known as St. Gabriel Possenti. As described in Lives of the Saints for Every Day of the Year, edited by Reverend Hugo Hoever, S.O. Cist., Ph.D. (Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1951-1955), he sounds like an unremarkable saint -- "a very great and truly contemplative soul, whose only preoccupation was to unite himself to God at all times"; he died of tuberculosis at age 24 in 1862.

However, there's a bit more to the story:

The St. Gabriel Possenti Society promotes the public recognition of St. Gabriel Possenti, including his Vatican designation as Patron Saint of Handgunners....

In 1860, a band of soldiers from the army of Garibaldi entered the mountain village of Isola, Italy. They began to burn and pillage the town, terrorizing its inhabitants.

Possenti, with his seminary rector's permission, walked into the center of town, unarmed, to face the terrorists. One of the soldiers was dragging off a young woman he intended to rape when he saw Possenti and made a snickering remark about such a young monk being all alone.

Possenti quickly grabbed the soldier's revolver from his belt and ordered the marauder to release the woman. The startled soldier complied, as Possenti grabbed the revolver of another soldier who came by. Hearing the commotion, the rest of the soldiers came running in Possenti's direction, determined to overcome the rebellious monk.

At that moment a small lizard ran across the road between Possenti and the soldiers. When the lizard briefly paused, Possenti took careful aim and struck the lizard with one shot. Turning his two handguns on the approaching soldiers, Possenti commanded them to drop their weapons....

For which he was greeted with acclaim by the grateful townspeople.

It's not clear why someone who wasn't actually walking around carrying a handgun should be the Patron Saint of Handgunners, but, er, never mind. It's also not clear that this incident ever happened. But, again, never mind.

The Society wants St. Gabriel recognize as the gunners' saint. To support this fine work, the Society will sell you a medallion that looks like the logo above, a book about St. Gabriel called Gun Saint, and a coupon you can download here, which you are encouraged to drop in the collection basket at church (no, I'm not making that up):

By the way, you might have been confused by the wording above about Vatican recognition of St. Gabriel as the patron of handgunners -- the Church hasn't, in fact, gone along with that demand (St. Gabriel is, however, the patron saint of Abruzzi, the organization Catholic Action, clerics, students, and young people in general). It should be noted, though, that Pope John Paul II did accept one of those nifty medallions.

There's a distinct lack of interest in the "Jesus' tomb" story here in Left Blogistan. Isn't that odd, given the fact that the existence of any remains of Jesus would contradict Christian teachings, and our primary purpose in life here on the left (or so we're told) is to destroy Judeo-Christian civilization?

Bob Woodruff -- the ABC anchorman who suffered a brain injury from an IED in Iraq -- is now back on TV and has a new book out. I expected his reemergence to be just a three-hanky tale of triumph over adversity, and it certainly is that, but he's also talking about soldiers who, unlike him, are struggling to get the care they need:

... Woodruff meets soldiers who, after fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, must fight bureaucratic red tape before receiving the treatment they need, and others who may not even know they're injured, as traumatic brain injury can go unrecognized....

Many of the families Woodruff met with across the country express frustration at the lack of care TBI [traumatic brain injury] patients receive once they leave specialized rehabilitation centers and return home.

... following brain-injured Army Sgt. Michael Boothby from Bethesda back to the soldier's hometown of Comfort, Texas, Woodruff watches Boothby's condition quickly deteriorate as he awaits the arrival of the paperwork that would allow him to continue his treatment....

A Woodruff TV special will air tonight. The New York Times review of the show recounts the disgusting response he gets when he points out that certain numbers don't add up:

The film notes that the Department of Defense puts the number of men and women wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan at about 23,000, while the Department of Veterans Affairs has recorded treating more than 200,000 veterans of those two wars. Paul Sullivan, the director of programs at the advocacy group Veterans for America, says, "What you have are two sets of books."

Mr. Woodruff politely asks the secretary of veterans affairs, R. James Nicholson, to explain the discrepancy. Citing department reports that list 73,000 mental disorders, 61,000 diseases of the nervous system and others, Mr. Woodruff says, "These are huge numbers beyond the 23,000."

Mr. Nicholson, a Vietnam veteran and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, replies, "A lot of them come in for, for dental problems."


This is not what the Bushies need right now -- a very sympathetic TV reporter on a book tour calling them on their failure to do right by wounded servicemembers. I wonder what they'll do -- accuse him of citing accurate but embarrassing stats just to sell his book? Charge him with undermining the troops' morale? Dig up some years-old story he did and mine it for evidence of political bias?

I don't know -- but after this and the Washington Post series, you can expect Bush to be posing with a lot of extremely grateful-seeming wounded troops very, very soon.

Who said Rudy Giuliani and the GOP base don't see eye to eye on religion? This is from Hotline:

Rudy Giuliani delivered the keynote remarks to the Hoover Institution's Overseers' Luncheon at the Willard InterContinental in DC today. Although there were no rah-rah moments for the 9/11 hero, the crowd was instead treated to Giuliani as the champion of free market enterprise -- the tax-cutting, welfare-reducing, budget-balancing descendant of Ronald Reagan.

Giuliani was introduced by his camp's new dir. of policy/'02 CA GOV nominee Bill Simon, who called him "a friend, a mentor, a former boss, and a fellow Ronald Reagan Republican." ... Giuliani strayed from the ever-popular 9/11 storytelling session, and opted to focus his address on how the expansion of "freedom" creates the best policies in taxation, school reform, entitlement reform, and health care reform.

In each area, Giuliani consistently pressed the case that GOP policies will be successful so long as GOPers stick to the core belief that "free market principles are really the salvation." ...

Free-market principles are salvation! Praise Ronnie!

An AP story presents this as a conversion narrative; Giuliani doesn't serve the Devil anymore, like certain other people:

Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani addressed his Democratic past on Tuesday and offered one reason for his political conversion -- the economy and taxes.

"I don't think anything separates us more right now between Republicans and Democrats than how we look at taxes," the former New York mayor said. "What we understand as Republicans is that, sure, the government is an important player in this, but we are essentially a private economy. What Democrats really believe ... is that it is essentially a government economy."

In the days of President Kennedy, Giuliani said, Democrats understood the concept of the private economy and cutting taxes. But, he said, Democrats have "kind of lost that."

"It's one of the reasons that I used to be a Democrat and I'm now a Republican," Giuliani said...

"I would say to myself Democrats care about the poor and Republicans don't, and how can I join the party that doesn't care about the poor," Giuliani said. "I finally came to the conclusion that we care about the poor more." ...

He once was lost, but now he's found!

(And please note that this journey out of the Democratic wilderness, as Giuliani describes it, is very, very similar to Reagan's own conversion. Rudy has taken his Democratic past, a potential liability in his party, and is turning it into a potential advantage -- I saw the light, just like Ronald Reagan.)

It's often been said that George W. Bush consolidated his support on the right by speaking the language of religious conservatives, larding his speeches with phrases and concepts that told the religious right, "I'm one of you." Giuliani is doing the same thing with the GOP's other religion. And he's declaring unswerving loyalty to the GOP's other Jesus.


UPDATE: Headline at a big-cheese right-wing blog: "Rudy Going Reaganesque." Hallelujah -- it's a meme!


UPDATE: Oh, and there's this, from a Politico account of another Giuliani speech:

"Ronald Reagan saw the demise of the Soviet Union when nobody else saw it because he could dream it," Giuliani said. "I can see the demise of terrorism."

Ronald Reagan was Martin Luther King! He had a dream!

Monday, February 26, 2007


From today's Boston Globe:

...when it comes to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the name game can be an asset and a liability at the same time.

Clinton, an early leader in the race for the 2008 Democratic nomination, apparently has dropped -- or at least deemphasized -- "Rodham," her maiden name. Though her family name remains on her official Senate website, it's not on her campaign website and shows up only occasionally in her news releases.

And the T-shirts and buttons promoting Clinton's presidential run boldly declare "Hillary," placing her with Brad and Angelina in the pantheon of first-name-only celebrities....

I got a fund-raising letter from her campaign today. Know what's in the upper left corner of the envelope? "Hillary Rodham Clinton." At the top of the letter itself? "Hillary Rodham Clinton." The script signature is "Hillary," but that's squeezed in between "Sincerely" and -- yes -- "Hillary Rodham Clinton."

Supporting the sinister-evil-name-change theory is the fact that the return envelope is addressed to "Friends of Hillary" and the donation form has the heading, "Hillary, Let's Build a New Future!" (Yeah, I hate the tone of these things, too.) However, the letter is "Paid for by Hillary Clinton for President Exploratory Committee," and the Web site is

What can we conclude from all this class? That she's definitely calling herself "Hillary." And "Hillary Clinton." And "Hillary Rodham Clinton."

Devious witch -- how dare she use different permutations of her name simultaneously!

(Via the Mahablog.)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- A Catholic school principal has organized sensitivity training for students who shouted "We love Jesus" during a basketball game against a school with Jewish students.

The word "Jew" also was painted on a gym wall behind the seats of Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School students attending the Feb. 2 game at Norfolk Academy, said Dennis W. Price, principal of the Virginia Beach school.

Price, who also watched the game, said the rivals exchanged chants, "Then, at some point, our students were chanting, 'We love Jesus.'"

"It was obviously in reference to the Jewish population of Norfolk Academy; that's the only way you can take that," he added.

Price said he sent a letter of apology to Norfolk. Dennis G. Manning, the academy's headmaster, declined to comment....

Bishop Sullivan may be a Catholic school, but note that it's in Virginia Beach -- home of Pat Robertson's empire and the university he founded, and also home of the Christianist National Legal Foundation and a number of Baptist seminaries. I've never been there, but I'm guessing there's a certain my-God-can-beat-up-your-God attitude in the air. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
There's not much point in reading Joe Lieberman's pro-surge op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal -- it's filled with just the kind of insufferable happy talk ("We are now in a stronger position to ensure basic security") you'd expect from Lieberman (or whatever team of Republicans is ghost-writing for him).

The only interesting detail is the attempt to rebrand the surge as "the battle of Baghdad" -- something that is "under way" (and thus mustn't be reversed). Lieberman says "the battle of Baghdad" is "under way" twice, in case you don't get the message.

The problem with Lieberman's use of the definite article -- "the battle of Baghdad" -- is that some of us recall being told that "the battle of Baghdad" took place last summer and fall. At least, that was the message conveyed by America's then-ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, in (by astonishing coincidence) an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. That op-ed bore the title ... gosh, what was the title? Oh, yes: "The Battle of Baghdad."

None of this is to be confused with the 2003 "battle of Baghdad," which ended with the overthrow of Saddam.

And, of course, let's not forget that President Bush referred to the Iraq War as "the battle of Iraq" in his "Mission Accomplished" speech, which would suggest that "the battle of Baghdad" -- whichever one you're referring to -- is actual a sub-battle of "the battle of Iraq."

And then there's "the battle of Baghdad" that took place in 1258, but I probably shouldn't confuse matters even more by bringing that up.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Did Rudy Giuliani hire a pedophile priest -- and an enabler of other pedophile priests -- knowing the man's story but wanting to show loyalty to a friend?

A few days ago, Rants from the Rookery flagged several less-than-laudatory stories about Giuliani, including this one from Newsday:

It had been a few years since Richard Tollner last publicly accused his former teacher Msgr. Alan Placa of groping him in high school, but Tollner recently repeated the charges -- raising an awkward issue for Rudolph Giuliani's run for president.

Tollner, now a mortgage banker, appeared at a Feb. 8 Manhasset meeting of Voice of the Faithful of Long Island, a Catholic group concerned about priest-abuse cases, and told how Placa used to corner him.

After the accusations first surfaced in 2002, the Diocese of Rockville Centre placed Placa on administrative leave, barring him from priestly duties and from wearing the collar. Placa, who insists he is innocent, has not been charged with a crime.

Yet despite the controversy, Giuliani gave his old friend Placa a job at Giuliani Partners, and Michael Hess, a partner at the firm and the ex-mayor's corporation counsel, handled Placa's legal matters....

A 2002 Newsday article went into much more detail about Placa:

...Starting in the mid-1980s, when cases of priest sexual abuse came to national attention, Alan Placa played a central role in how such complaints were handled on Long Island.... Placa, 57, was a chief architect of the diocesan policy and one of its chief executors until he stepped down as vice chancellor in mid-April.

...Investigators are examining complaints that Placa and other top officials placed troubled priests back into jobs where they had contact with children, sometimes against the advice of psychiatrists -- a charge Placa denies. Victims, meanwhile, say that he was evasive and lacked compassion in dealing with their complaints, and that his dual role as priest-confidant and legal counsel to the bishop was not made clear to them, putting them at a disadvantage....

Here, according to Tollner, is Placa as a molester -- with a rather novel way of getting in the mood:

Richard Tollner, 43, a mortgage broker now living in the Albany area, said he told prosecutors he had his first encounter with the priest in January 1975, on a day that classes were out, and the teen had come in to help make banners for a Right to Life march in Washington, D.C.

He said the priest pulled out some posters in the deserted administrative area as if to show him something, and then began fondling him -- all the while making conversation about the posters.

Tollner said the incidents repeated every month or so for the next year and a half. "It was always groping," he said. "He'd draw his hand deliberately to the inside of my thigh, and over my penis. It would go on for four or five minutes, sometimes as long as 10."

A high school friend said Tollner told him about one incident soon after it occurred. "This isn't a figment of his imagination 25 years later," said Kevin Waldron of San Francisco. "He told me about it shortly after it happened. I'm certain of it."...

And here's an example of how Placa worked to enable molesters, in the case of a 14-year-old ex-altar boy who was being pursued by a priest named Reverend Joseph Mundy:

... the boy said Placa took him aside for a private chat and subtly pressured him to back off of his account.

..."He said to me that he knew kids didn't get much sleep when they went on these retreats, and that was a problem because sleep deprivation could play tricks on one's mind, isn't that right? He never asked me about Mundy."...

According to a grand jury report, Father Mundy later

took [the] 14-year-old boy to a gay club in New York City where he and other patrons engaged in sexual activity with the boy.... [The] victim has said that what happened to him left him scarred and suicidal. Mundy has left the priesthood.

Jimmy Breslin has more, including a grand jury report of a charge that Placa "tried to grope a young man in front of the casket at his father's wake."

But hey, Placa and Giuliani go way back, so Giuliani gave him a job.

Will we hear this name very much as we approach November '08? I wonder.
Bloggers across the political spectrum are reacting with disgust to the AP story about polygamy among Mitt Romney's ancestors -- which, by the way (scroll down), is rather old news.

I don't have much to add, but this just seems to be part of the press's ridiculous attempt to treat three candidates -- Romney, Obama, and Clinton -- as "the Mormon guy," "the black guy," and "the woman," as if voters will choose or not choose them based exclusively on those attributes. The religion, race, and gender (respectively) of the three certainly do matter to voters, and prejudices absolutely could kick in when voters vote -- but these are absolutely not the only criteria being used to judge these candidates. Yet you wouldn't know that from stories that ask, "Will voters vote for a Mormon?" (or black person or woman).

Political strategists focus a lot of their attention on demographic categories, of course -- as do the people who track ratings and circulation figures in the media. So it's no wonder that political journalists sometimes seem to have trouble seeing past demographic categories. They need to figure out, though, that most voters are looking at a lot more.

On Friday, The New York Times ran the picture above, of Jose Padilla wearing noise-cancelling headphones and blackout goggles. We first saw this image in December, when it was pulled from a Pentagon video. We were told at the time that this sensory-deprivation regimen was imposed on Padilla for a trip to the dentist.

When I saw this picture again, one thing that occurred to me was that in 2004 everyone from Charles Colson to Susan Sontag was telling us that what we saw in the photos from Abu Ghraib was the work of kids from the sticks who were hopped up on Internet S&M porn. Never mind the fact that the techniques used in Abu Ghraib came from the top and migrated to Abu Ghraib from Guantanamo -- we still encounter the porn-inspired-Appalachian-kids theory, and not always from the far right.

So, er, who were the porn-drunk holler-dwellers who put that gear on Padilla? That's as S&M as anything we saw at Abu Ghraib -- was that also the work of a few bad apples high on dirty pictures?

Saturday, February 24, 2007


I'm pleased to see that the response to the NYU College Republicans' "Catch an Illegal Immigrant" game this week was a massive protest, with demonstrators greatly outnumbering Republicans. (This is the same cheap stunt College Republicans pulled at Penn State last year and the University of North Texas the year before. These people desperately need some new material.)

The demo was great, but next time a CR chapter wants to stage this game, maybe protestors should give them a taste of their own medicine. Maybe they could have a game of their own -- a game called "Catch a College Republican Chickenhawk."

In this game, one player would wear the CR logo and other players would pose as military recruiters. The winner would be the one who succeeds in catching the College Republican and getting his or his ass shipped over to Iraq. (Extra prizes if you drag the Republican to an actual recruiting center and do it for real!) I think I'd really enjoy playing that game....

An article in yesterday's New York Times discussed the fact that Rudy Giuliani has been limiting his campaign appearances to venues -- such as firehouses -- at which he'll be worshiped, not asked tough questions. This reminds the Carpetbagger Report's Steve Benen of a certain president of the United States, as Steve explained in a post titled "A New 'Bubble Boy' Emerges."

I agree that it's bad for democracy when a presidential candidate, or a president, makes public appearances only before people who think he's the bee's knees. The problem is, it works. It certainly worked for Bush in '04. Abu Ghraib? No WMDs? Escalating violence in Iraq? Bin Laden still at large? Bush had all this going against him, but he was Bubble Boy all through the campaign, and he won.

Remember what the point of the Bubble Boy strategy is: not to shield a thin-skinned pol from criticism (or not just that), but rather to convey the impression that the pol is really, really popular, and if you don't like him, maybe you're the oddball. It may not persuade everyone, but I'm sure it kept a lot of swing voters from rejecting Bush outright in '04 -- and it kept the worshipers pumped up, as night after night on the news they saw (apparent) validation of their opinions by big crowds.


When I think about Bush's campaign appearances in '04, I think about this bit of entertainment trivia I ran across years ago:

Jay Leno had what Oprah Winfrey might call "a light bulb moment" ten years ago when he brought his late night NBC talk show to New York for a week and taped it in a studio that seemed cramped when compared to his spacious work environment in Burbank. When Leno returned to Los Angeles he immediately ordered a redesign for his entire studio, with the primary mandate that the front rows of the studio audience be brought closer to his stage, within touching distance. Leno's changes brought renewed energy to "The Tonight Show" that had been missing following the departure of Johnny Carson, and its ratings began to climb.

So there was more energy flowing between Leno and the crowd. Did that make Leno any funnier? No -- but I guess it made him seem funnier, and made it seem, to the home audience, as if the crowd really thought he was hot stuff.

You can't blame Giuliani for doing this. All you can do is what the Times and Steve did -- call him on it and try to force him out of the bubble.


(By the way, I've always thought the Bush people might have known about Leno's getting-close-to-the-crowd trick -- if you look at photos from the '04 campaign, it's clear that his handlers wanted as many pictures as possible showing him almost packed into an admiring crowd. And remember that the Bush people also designed a "theater in the round" stage for the '04 convention.)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Thank you, Shakes, for posting this. I think it's really important for the general public to see Giuliani as he really is (and this really is how he is).

My only concern is that this will probably make Giuliani seem more appealing to Republican primary voters.

This (from the Army Times) is outrageous:

The Army is deliberately shortchanging troops on their disability retirement ratings to hold down costs, according to veterans' advocates, lawyers and service members.

"These people are being systematically underrated," said Ron Smith, deputy general counsel for Disabled American Veterans....

The numbers of people approved for permanent or temporary disability retirement in the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force have stayed relatively stable since 2001.

But in the Army -- in the midst of a war -- the number of soldiers approved for permanent disability retirement has plunged by more than two-thirds, from 642 in 2001 to 209 in 2005, according to a Government Accountability Office report last year. That decline has come even as the war in Iraq has intensified and the total number of soldiers wounded or injured there has soared above 15,000....

I don't even know why the numbers for the other service branches have remained flat. But the Army's numbers have gone down? That's crazy.

Here's an appalling example of what's going on:

In May 2003, Army Cpl. Richard Twohig was thrown from an armored personnel carrier in Iraq. The 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper landed on his head, said his lawyer, Mark Waple, of Fayetteville, N.C.

Twohig suffers headaches at least once a week that last up to 14 hours, as well as short-term memory loss, and is dependent on pain medication.

"This is well substantiated by his doctors -- Army medical doctors," Waple said.

But his physical evaluation board rated him only 10 percent disabled for another injury because he had no substantive proof the headaches were a result of the accident -- even though regulations call for evaluation boards to give troops the benefit of the doubt in such instances....

Twohig can't work because of the disabling headaches, and even if he receives VA benefits, his family has lost its medical insurance. And if a physical evaluation board rules that injuries are not related to service or were preexisting conditions, troops are not eligible for VA benefits, either.

We're told that the number of soldiers placed on permanent disability retirement is down -- but the number on temporary disability retirement is up. And why is that?

In 2005, Ellen Embrey, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force health protection and readiness, told House lawmakers the reason for the comparatively large numbers of troops placed on temporary disability was actually to keep end strength up. A premature medical evaluation board decision, she said, "may negatively impact the individual's ability to continue serving."

These guys are massively disabled, and the Army wants to reserve the right to send them back into combat?

I found the second part of this week's Washington Post series on Walter Reed in some ways more heartbreaking and infuriating than the first part, because it had stories similar to this. I know Building 18 is undergoing repairs now, but fixing crumbling plaster is easy; reversing a deliberate attempt to screw people through bureaucracy is hard.

(Via Democratic Underground.)

America is not "going to spend the weekend discussing this." Only you suffers of Hillary Derangement Syndrome are. Oh, and the weekend talk-show bloviators -- but I repeat myself.

The Onion article on Rudy Giuliani that was linked here yesterday


this article from today's London Telegraph, which apparently is not meant to be a joke at all.
This Newsweek article by Michael Hirsh seems like the biggest news of the past 24 hours:

... what few people seem to have noticed is that Gen. David Petraeus's new "surge" plan is committing U.S. troops, day by day, to a much deeper and longer-term role in policing Iraq than since the earliest days of the U.S. occupation. How long must we stay under the Petraeus plan? Perhaps 10 years. At least five....

But don't take my word for it. I'm merely a messenger for a coterie of counterinsurgency experts who have helped to design the Petraeus plan -- his so-called "dream team" -- and who have discussed it with NEWSWEEK, usually on condition of anonymity....

If this is true, then Bush doesn't need a "Plan C" for what happens after the surge because, as far as he's concerned, there is no "after the surge" -- the surge will still be a work in progress that "still needs a chance to work" until the end of his presidency (and President Giuliani will take over from there).

Maybe it doesn't mean that the war is unstoppable, but if there won't be an endpoint to this phase of the war at any time during Bush's term, then any attempt at curtailing the war will be portrayed as curtailing this surge, for years, if Hirsh is right.

On the other hand, there was this last night on ABC:

... Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane ... is one of the architects of the President Bush's new Iraq policy and an ABC News consultant, and spoke with Charles Gibson ...

...Gibson: And you mention that more Iraqi troops are coming online. Do the American commanders, as you meet with them on this trip, have confidence that these are good troops that can eventually take control themselves?

...Keane: In time, they can do this, but first we have to bring the level of violence down. So we'll need well into the summer to make some genuine progress in Baghdad, where people will feel comfortable. It'll probably take into the fall to secure Baghdad.

So Keane says we can see results by fall. But as spring goes on and summer approaches, the light at the end of the tunnel will recede and recede -- from fall to the end of the year, the to '08, maybe beyond that. (It's not as if we have anywhere near the troop strength we need for proper counterinsurgency, even now.) But we'll be told it's a betrayal of the troops to stop this, because it's still the new surge, it's still Plan B, and it'll work if we have the will.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Paul Weyrich, June 10, 2001:

Let us see how many Vermonters approve of what Jim Jeffords did here. We are being told that support for him is overwhelming, but there is only one way to find that out. If Jeffords resigned and turned around and ran again in a special election as an Independent, then we would know for sure. I wouldn't mind a rule change that would make that a requirement as well. It seems to me that the people ought to have something to say about what these Senators do when their decisions, such as what Jeffords did, will effect all of us for years and years to come. But then, they only speak about doing things in the name of the people. When it comes to actually doing so they are nowhere to be found.

I heard a lot of that from Republicans after the Jeffords switch, so let me say it about Joe Lieberman's threat:

If you switch parties, Joe, you should resign and run in a special election as a Republican.

Did I think Jeffords should resign and run again? No. But the 2000 elections (in which Jeffords won his third term as senator) weren't supposed to lead to partisan warfare. Gore was expected to be a Clinton-style triangulator -- and as for Bush, we were told that he worked well with Democrats in Texas and would be a pleasant fellow and a compromiser as president. It was only after Bush got to D.C. that it became clear that he wasn't even willing to work with moderates in his own party, such as Jeffords. (Hell, he wasn't even willing to work with moderates in his own Cabinet, as Colin Powell, Paul O'Neill, and Christie Whitman learned.) So the Jeffords switch was a reaction to an unexpected set of circumstances -- a surprisingly radical, nakedly ideological presidency.

Lieberman, by contrast, was elected in a climate of total partisan war. Everyone knew that he stood with the GOP on the war, but he balanced that by promising to caucus with Democrats. That was a major promise to the voters of Connecticut, which he may be about to break, whereas Jeffords's affiliation with the GOP was incidental in 2000 to the voters who elected him.

So if Lieberman wants to be a Republican, Lieberman should quit and run as a Republican. It's the only honorable thing to do.


ALSO: David Sirota suggests that we should all hope Lieberman makes the switch, while Political Insider says that a Lieberman switch actually won't give the GOP control of the Senate. (Obsidian Wings seconds this, citing this. If it's accurate, then what the hell are we arguing about? Let him go.)

This is from Taegan Goddard:

Last month, Charlie Cook wrote that "Republican" was a damaged brand. Writing for Congress Daily last week, he supplies the data.

Analyzing Gallup survey results on party identification, Cook notes the percentage of Americans calling themselves Democrats increased by 5.8 points, "from a GOP lead of 1.9 points to a deficit of 3.9 points. It's not that Democrats grew that much; it's that Republicans dropped, with the independent column picking up much of the slack."

"But the real jaw dropper is when independents are asked which party they lean toward. This is important because historically, independents who lean toward a party tend to vote almost as consistently for that party as those who identify themselves with the party. There are just some people who like to call themselves independents but, functionally speaking, are really partisans."

"This category exploded to a 10.2-point advantage for Democrats: 50.4 percent for Democrats, 40.2 percent for Republicans."

So here's my question: Why aren't Democrats who are running for president using the word "Republican" every chance they get in reference to their potential opponents -- particularly the ones (McCain, Giuliani, Romney) who seem to have crossover appeal? Why aren't they saying things like "the GOP policies of Republican Rudy Giuliani," just to hammer home the point that this guy is one of them? Why, in other words, aren't they using the word "Republican" the way Republicans have long used the word "liberal"?

Absolutely brilliant.
Er, Donald Rumsfeld did resign, didn't he?

Dick Cheney doesn't seem sure. He gave an interview to ABC's Jonathan Karl on Wednesday on his way to Japan; here's one exchange, as reproduced by the Politico (emphasis added):

Karl: "So what's your take on where Secretary Rumsfeld fits in?"

Cheney: "I think Don's a great secretary. I know a little bit about the job. I've watched what he's done over there for six years. I think he did a superb job in terms of managing the Pentagon under extraordinarily difficult circumstances...."

So, um, which is it, Dick?

I know it was reported last month that Rummy had set up a well-staffed Pentagon "transition office" and had been declared a "nonpaid consultant." That is the extent of it -- right?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Well, here's a push poll that didn't work.

First someone at Free Republic posted this poll question and got just the result you'd expect:

Let's just say that Hillary (or someone equally as vile) gets the Democrat nomination and a pro-life, anti-gay marriage, pro-gun, pro-defense, pro-borders, pro-small government, pro-low taxes, peace through superior firepower patriot gets the Republican nod. Who would you vote for in the general?

"The Patriot with the big 'R'" won in a landslide.

Then there was a follow-up:

Looks like our true blue conservative did pretty well in our prior poll. Let's now see what happens if we nominate a social liberal who's okay with abortion, gay unions and gay rights is a gun grabber and is weak on illegal immigration. Who do you vote for in the general?

Right now, "The social liberal with the big 'R'" has 32.5%.

Surely that wasn't supposed to happen. Surely he was supposed to be in single digits. That tells you how many red-meat, litmus-test conservatives would still vote for Giuliani after learning his positions on domestic issues. We keep being told that all that prevents him from plummeting in the GOP polls is ignorance of those positions, but apparently that's not the case -- here are those positions, presented in the worst possible light, and he still gets a third of the far-far-far-right vote.

That's his formula for victory: a big chunk of these people plus a much bigger chunk of the less extreme Republicans -- and remember, in a multi-candidate field, he doesn't need a majority in the early primaries. And then in the general election he picks up independents and Democrats -- see the scary results in the new Quinnipiac poll (emphasis added):

Giuliani tops Clinton 55 - 38 percent in Red states, which voted Republican in the 2004 presidential election, and ties her 46 - 46 percent in Blue states, which went Democratic in 2004. He gets 44 percent to Clinton's 45 percent in Purple states, where the margin in 2004 was less than 7 percent....

I'm going to keep saying it: Democrats have to define Giuliani now -- as scary, as Bush Redux, as something. McCain, too, though I see his star fading. Maureen Dowd is defining Barack Obama and (re-)defining Hillary Clinton before they can define themselves; Fox, by sponsoring an early Democratic debate, has the franchise to do the same for the rest of the Democratic field. Who's going to define John and (especially) Rudy? Or are we just going to let them define themselves?


UPDATE: Jesus' General envisions a fully Fox-framed Democrat(ic) debate.

David Geffen, who's supporting Barack Obama, attacked the Clintons in remarks quoted today by Maureen Dowd. (Read her column free here.) Since then, the Clinton and Obama camps have been sniping at each other; go here for the sad details.

Ever wonder why deep-blue Massachusetts has had so many Republican governors, or deep-blue New York City keeps electing Republican mayors? I've lived in both and I'll tell you: To a large extent it's because Democrats in Massachusetts and New York fight the way Clinton and Obama are fighting; the resulting bitterness makes it easy for the outnumbered but more collegial Republicans to win.

But never mind that. I'm also angry at the content of Geffen's attack. Remember, this is the big Hollywood Democrat. Read what he says, if you haven't already (emphasis mine):

... "Not since the Vietnam War has there been this level of disappointment in the behavior of America throughout the world, and I don't think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is -- and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton? -- can bring the country together.

"Obama is inspirational, and he's not from the Bush royal family or the Clinton royal family...."

... Can Obambi stand up to Clinton Inc.? "I hope so," he says, "because that machine is going to be very unpleasant and unattractive and effective."

... “Yet another time when the Clintons were unwilling to stand for the things that they genuinely believe in. Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it's troubling."

This is one of our guys? This is a Democrat? Reciting every last GOP talking point about the Clintons?

I don't care what you think about the Clintons -- this helps to drag down the whole party and the entire opposition to the GOP machine. The GOP doesn't use these talking points to keep the Clintons out of power; the GOP uses these talking points to keep Democrats out of power. And Geffen (with a big assist from Dowd) is helping them do just that.

Geffen's mind is colonized by Limbaugh/Murdoch/Scaife propaganda. Either that or Dennis Miller is writing his material.
I wonder how the guy who put up this site feels today, not to mention these clowns.

Various elements of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy -- old veterans, mostly -- have come together to conduct and promote an Iraq War push poll. I don't think it'll work, but give them credit for persistence.

Here's Rupert Murdoch's contribution, in a cover story in today's New York Post:


In a dramatic finding, a new poll shows a solid majority of Americans still wants to win the war in Iraq -- and keep U.S. troops there until the Baghdad government can take over.

Strong majorities also say victory is vital to the War on Terror and that Americans should support President Bush even if they have concerns about the way the war is being handled, according to the survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies....

OK, stop right there.

Public Opinion Strategies? It's the well-established partisan Republican firm that brought you the "Harry and Louise" ads during the debate over the Clinton health care plan. Charges of push-polling dog Public Opinion Strategies -- in Texas in the mid-'90s, for example, and in Vermont and Pennsylvania and New York State this past year. POS also conducted a push poll on Net neutrality in 2006, for Verizon.

This is a push poll because so much of it is right-wing talking points turned into questions. Example:

And, which one of the following would do most to hurt America's reputation as a world power... To pull our troops out of Iraq immediately ...or... To leave our troops in Iraq for as long as it takes to restore order?

And these "agree or disagree" questions:

Even if they have concerns about his war policies, Americans should stand behind the President in Iraq because we are at war.

The Democrats are going too far, too fast in pressing the President to withdraw the troops from Iraq.

I support finishing the job in Iraq, that is, keeping the troops there until the Iraqi government can maintain control and provide security for its people.

The Iraq War is a key part of the global war on terrorism.

A stable Iraq is the best way to protect America from the nuclear threat of Iran.

...Losing the war in Iraq would mean that the United States is no longer a superpower, but just another power.

Oh, and I left out one that must have been thrown in at the request of the "Victory Caucus":

Republicans in Congress have gone too far in their criticism of the war and the President.

(That got an "agree" number of 42%. Do you believe 42% of Americans think Republicans have been too critical of the war and Bush? That result alone calls the entire poll into question.)

The quoted questions come from a PDF of the poll results conveniently provided by James Joyner at Outside the Beltway -- who notes in the accompanying post (in small print, in a footnote):

*My wife is COO of POS. I got the information as part of a general press announcement of the data. Indeed, I'm told Rush Limbaugh had some of these results earlier today.

Indeed. And, indeed, is promoting the Post article, as are a number of the big kahunas in the right blogosphere.

I understand that this may not fit the strict pollsters' definition of "push poll" -- as Mystery Pollster has said, "A push poll is not a poll at all but rather a form of fraud -- an effort to spread an untrue or salacious rumor under the guise of legitimate research. 'Push pollsters' ... only care about calling as many people as possible to spread a false or malicious rumor without revealing their true intent." But this is a different way of spreading untruths -- a legitimate-seeming poll with skewed results that are spread via the right-wing noise machine. Even if it doesn't work -- as seems likely -- it's clear these guys will never rest.


UPDATE: Steve Benen at the Carpetbagger Report had a very similar reaction to this poll.


UPDATE: I was wondering why Drudge wasn't in on the fun, but I see I missed his "flash," which went up yesterday.

More skepticism from Gawker (here) and the Rockford Rascal (here and here).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


You know, I've been doing this for more than four years, and I've gotten my share of links -- but it doesn't get any better than this.

(Possibly NSFW.)

I'm running into that message a lot on the right these days:

Concerned Women for America:

... Interviewing with a Florida sports radio show, former Miami Heat player Tim Hardaway said that he "hates gay people" and that he distances himself from them because he is "homophobic." ...

"Hardaway's comments are both unfortunate and inappropriate," said Matt Barber, CWA's Policy Director for Cultural Issues. "They provide political fodder for those who wish to paint all opposition to the homosexual lifestyle as being rooted in 'hate.' [....] It's perfectly natural for people to be repelled by disordered sexual behaviors that are both unnatural, and immoral [....] Hardaway's comments only serve to foment misperceptions of widespread homosexual 'victimhood' which the homosexual lobby has craftily manufactured."...

John Podhoretz in today's New York Post:

...[Richard Mellon] Scaife was the key funder of, and [Christopher] Ruddy a dominating figure in, the '90s effort to cast Bill and Hillary Clinton in the worst possible light in every conceivable way. Their efforts went far beyond criticism of Bill's policies and Hillary's questionable business practices to irresponsible and frankly disgusting hints that either or both of them committed unspeakable crimes -- including murder....

These wild, florid and deeply irresponsible allegations weren't just outrageous in themselves. Ruddy and Scaife (who paid for the "investigative research") also undermined those on the Right who were attempting principled critiques.

The scandal-mongering may have stoked vast hatred of the Clintons, but it also gave Bill and Hillary the means to construct a plausible case for their supporters and the media that they were the subjects of crazed and unjust persecution....

The honest ones always ruin it for everyone else, don't they?


UPDATE: Leonard Pitts of The Miami Herald thinks we should be grateful for Tim Hardaway's bigotry. No, really. Let him persuade you.
It's in The Washington Post, so I guess it must be true:

Cheney's Influence Lessens in Second Term

...There is no evidence that Cheney's close relationship with Bush has been lessened. But there is also little doubt that the causes he has championed -- a tough skepticism of negotiations with dictatorships such as North Korea and the forceful exercise of presidential authority -- are being rethought within the Bush administration, according to officials inside the government and experts outside it....

The article, by Michael Abramowitz, says this happened because of the "unraveling of a Cheney network" -- the departures of Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and especially Scooter Libby. Condi Rice, Abramowitz says, has stepped into the void.

Maybe this is true -- although if it is, I think the tipping point came when Rumsfeld left. If it is true, then the monster Cheney created (or at least helped create) punished him by escaping from the lab.

Cheney helped persuade Bush after 9/11 that, in his mid-fifties, his purpose in life had been thrust upon him: war-presidentin'. Alas for Cheney, Bush liked war-presidentin' so much that by sometime last year he began to feel constrained by Rummy's troop limits and Cheney's insistence that everything is Iraq was still hunky-dory. Hence the firing of Rumsfeld and, perhaps, the decreased reliance on Cheney. Bush liked deploying toy soldiers; he wanted to deploy more of them (though not so many that he'd have to call for a draft or repeal of the tax cuts, or admit that he'd conducted the mission for years with a serious troop deficit). He got his way.

And, of course, Cheney and Rummy made Colin Powell unwelcome -- which allowed Condi to increase her influence with Bush.

I'll believe Cheney's truly in the doghouse if we get to 1/20/09 without a military strike on Iran. For now, though, he may have diminished influence because he gave Bush a thirst for bloodshed and didn't realize that thirst would break its creator's bounds.

Does anyone understand what the hell John McCain thinks he's doing these days?

He panders to the right by saying he'll speak to an intelligent-design group, he argues for abstinence and calls for the overturn of Roe v. Wade -- and then alienates just about everybody he's carefully pandered to by denouncing Donald Rumsfeld.

"We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement -- that's the kindest word I can give you -- of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war," the Arizona senator told an overflow crowd of more than 800 at a retirement community near Hilton Head Island, S.C. "The price is very, very heavy and I regret it enormously."

Plus, it's a flip-flop:

The comments were in sharp contrast to McCain's statement when Rumsfeld resigned in November, and failed to address the reality that President Bush is the commander in chief.

"While Secretary Rumsfeld and I have had our differences, he deserves Americans' respect and gratitude for his many years of public service," McCain said last year when Rumfeld stepped down.

Plus, McCain said this about the war:

"I have been saying for 3 1/2 years that we would be in this sad situation and this critical situation we are in today," he said.

The war! The sacred war! He sounds like a Defeatocrat!

It's as if McCain is the Borat of the GOP: He's trying to communicate with Republican voters without speaking the same language or knowing the simplest customs. He doesn't seem to have the slightest idea when he's offending them. He seems to have picked up what he does know about Republicans from unreliable sources -- and then garbled that.

McCain's Kazakhstan, I suppose, is the green room of Hardball. I don't know where else he would have derived the notion that GOP voters want "straight talk" on the war (which for them is a religion) accompanied by obviously opportunistic appeals to their Christian conservatism (which even they can see straight through).

All I know is that it's not going to work -- he's not going to be the GOP nominee.

Monday, February 19, 2007


A few weeks ago, you may have read about the life and death of Helen Hill in The New York Times; she was murdered in early January in New Orleans, a city she'd insisted on returning to after Katrina.

Phil Nugent, who sometimes blogs here, used to live in New Orleans and knew Helen Hill. I urge you to read what he has to say about her and New Orleans in "An American City: New Orleans, Helen Hill and Me." After reading what Phil has to say, I'm sorry I never knew her or the city -- and now they're both gone.
Glenn Greenwald was recently trying to figure out the source of the logo for the Victory Caucus, a group of right-wingers who believe that America can triumph in Iraq if they, the Caucus members, sit on their fat asses and complain about war opponents ... or something like that. Here's the logo:

Hmmm ... it does look a wee bit like the logo in this Nazi propaganda leaflet, no?

About the leaflet:

The Germans seldom used humor in their leaflets, but this one is a rare exception. The front shows the phrase "V1" in a red circle, surrounded by four cartoons. One compares Winston Churchill's "V for Victory" sign with "V1," a second shows London journalists keeping mum about the death and destruction, a third depicts civilians being reminded of V weapons when they see a British corporal's V-shaped stripes, and the final one depicts a British Tommy with his hands in the air in the shape of a "V." The message on the back of the leaflet is:


Britain built up an air defense of enormous proportions, sparing neither cost nor exertion in employing the most modern technical means.

With one stroke this whole system of air defense has become worthless with the introduction of flying bomb V-1.

V1 has upset all known methods of aerial warfare. Other equally revolutionary new weapons will follow. They will prove to you that V1


There ya go, Victory Caucus. You're imitating a classic bit of propaganda from "the Good War" -- except from the wrong side.

Over the weekend, William Saletan had an article at Slate about a new pain weapon:

...Three weeks ago, the U.S. armed forces tested it on volunteers at an Air Force base in Georgia. You can watch the video on a military Web site. Three colonels get zapped, along with an Associated Press reporter. The beam is invisible, but its effects are vivid. Two dozen airmen scatter. The AP guy shrieks and bolts out of the target zone. He says it felt like heat all over his body, as though his jacket were on fire.

The feeling is an illusion. No one is harmed. The beam's energy waves penetrate just one-sixty-fourth of an inch into your body, heating your skin like microwaves. They inflame your nerve endings without actually burning you. This could be the future of warfare: less bloodshed, more pain....

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, all military and police weapons cause serious suffering, and Saletan assures us that this one does virtually no long-term damage and drastically reduces collateral damage. On the other hand, I can imagine this being repurposed -- used not just once, to incapacitate, but repeatedly, as an instrument of torture that has the advantage of doing no physical damage. In fact, I can't imagine it not being used that way (and I can't imagine that not doing long-term psychological damage).

Typical liberal, right, with my silly qualms? I suppose I should be more like John Tabin of The American Spectator's blog. For him, it's all very simple:

If you don't think this is totally awesome, I'm not really sure how you can possibly be male.

Ah, the moral clarity of the right.

An announcement from Michael "A.J. Sparxx" Illions of the righty blog PoliPundit:

I am proud to announce that after reaching an agreement with TCV Media, the consulting firm hired by Duncan Hunter's campaign, I will be joining the team working on the Duncan Hunter for President campaign, effective Monday, February 19th.

My responsibilities cover both national and state duties....

...During the 2004 presidential race, I put to good use my being a 10-year professional athlete in the pro-wrestling and sports entertainment industry. Together with Richard Ross, we started the Pro-Wrestling Republican Coalition....

Scroll down here to see who was the "Advisor" to the Pro-Wrestling Republican Coalition:

Bobby Eberle.

(Link via Becoming Gannon.)

Bobby Eberle, of course, was the president and CEO of GOPUSA and Talon News when Talon's star "reporter" was the notorious softball-question-throwing Bush worshiper and onetime sex worker, Jeff Gannon.

See also this 2004 Talon News article:

...Bobby Eberle, President and CEO of GOPUSA, who serves on the Board of the PWRC as an Issues and Policy Advisor, sees the potential of tapping into a new conservative audience.

"Just as Republicans have seen the benefit in reaching out to 'NASCAR dads,' the PWRC represents a way to deliver a conservative, pro-Republican message to a large and mostly overlooked voting block," Eberle said.

Sparxx added, "We are really excited about where we can go with this group and having the stars of Pro Wrestling and the fans come together for something this important is a great feeling of being involved and playing a small role in getting President Bush reelected."

I know the press won't consider this as shocking as using the word "Christofascist," but I think it deserves a wee bit of scrutiny, no?


By the way, the CEO of the consulting firm hired by Duncan Hunter, TCV Media, is Nathan Tabor of The Conservative Voice, who, when he's not writing articles such as "Liberals Hate GOD," can be found arguing that insurance companies should openly discriminate against gay people. Wonder if he'd make an exception for Jeff Gannon.


MORE: Here's Illions as a bylined reporter for Talon News. SourceWatch also notes that Illions was chairman of the September 16-18, 2004, GOPUSA Issues and Action Conference.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

You may know that John McCain was in South Carolina today, where he made a campaign appearance at which he said Roe v. Wade should be overturned, then attended a pro-abstinence rally.

At that rally, McCain did something rather remarkable: He actually invented a new kind of sanctimonious rabble-rousing. What McCain did was to bring up his own suffering in a POW camp in Vietnam -- and imply that it's analogous to the struggle of members of his audience to remain chaste:

He also talked about his experience as a prisoner of war during Vietnam, and described some of the torture he suffered. His captors "wanted to make us do things that we otherwise wouldn't do," including confessing to war crimes, McCain said.

He and fellow prisoners were beat up for practicing their religion, but they continued to do it. "Sometimes it is very difficult to do the right thing," he said.

That's really new, isn't it? Other right-wing pols or pundits might assert that an American who's told to remove a creche from city property is suffering like someone in a faraway land who's been brutalized or imprisoned for having certain beliefs. But that's an analogy based on a far-off example. McCain was offering himself as the example, and saying that a kid who's tempted by the culture to have premarital sex is just like him when the guards beat him and his fellow prisoners for trying to pray -- which he has to know is preposterous.

That's shameless. But it's a new kind of shameless, so give the guy credit.


By the way, the editors of The New York Times Magazine picked a hell of a day to run this article by Gary Rosen, the managing editor of Commentary:

Try a quick political thought experiment. First, form a mental picture of the Democratic front-runners for president -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Now do the same for the leading Republican contenders -- John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Next (and this is the key step), imagine each of them in church, sitting in a pew, head bowed, or better still, at the pulpit, delivering a homily or leading the congregation in worship.

Strange, no? It's not hard to envision Clinton and Obama among the faithful....

But McCain and Giuliani? You somehow imagine them fidgeting during the hymns and checking their watches. The senator is an Episcopalian, the former mayor a Catholic, but neither man, you have to think, would be caught dead in a Bible-study group or could possibly declare, a la George W. Bush, that his favorite philosopher is "Christ, because he changed my heart." In the piety primary, the Democrats win hands down....

Er, in the case of McCain, apparently not.

And how can Rosen say this about Giuliani -- the guy who tried to get the Brooklyn Museum defunded and evicted after it presented the "Sensation" exhibition, which featured a "blasphemous" painting called The Holy Virgin Mary (this despite the fact that slides from the exhibit had been reviewed and approved by Giuliani's subordinates)? Believe me, President Giuliani will play the Catholic card as readily as William Donohue, multiple marriages notwithstanding.

Rosen's article is dumb in other ways as well -- he seems to be under the impression, for example, that Daniel Dennett and Jerry Falwell have approximately equal influence on our political life. But this assertion about piety is absurd -- we've been trained for years to discount the piety of all Democrats (even when, like Jesse Jackson, they're actually ordained ministers), while assuming that all Republican ears are touched by God's lips. That's not going to change, no matter who heads the '08 tickets.
Oh, good Lord -- are we getting another story about President I-Don't-Govern-Based-on-Public-Opinion and his desperate need to speculate out loud about how he'll be judged by history?

Yup, from Reuters:

In the Lincoln Bedroom, President George W. Bush likes to show off one of the most treasured historical artifacts in the White House, a handwritten copy of Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Gettysburg Address.

...The Queen's Bedroom offers memories of Winston Churchill, who stayed there before and after World War Two, as Bush told C-SPAN, "waddling around ... with a cigar in one hand, a brandy in the other, demanding attention."

...The president believes it will take some time to determine his place in the pantheon of presidents, despite the negative assessments some historians have already made.

...Bush, a Republican, sees historical parallels in Democrat Harry Truman's presidency....

Yeah, yeah, we get it -- Truman was hated during his presidency and is well regarded now. Ditto for Churchill: We know, we know -- he was voted out of office after World War II. The public isn't always right! Not that Bush cares about any of that, of course....

I know the stories of Churchill and Truman give Bush and his fan club hope for his vindication by history, but Bush and the fans seem to be suggesting that negative assessments during one's own time are routinely reversed by history. Let me disabuse them of this notion by throwing out a few names:

* Joe McCarthy

* Lyndon Johnson

* Richard Nixon

The consensus on these guys really hasn't changed in (respectively) thirty, forty, and fifty years. (Yeah, people now accept that Nixon on domestic issues was to the left of every president since Reagan -- but that hasn't removed the stench of Watergate and the war, and thus hasn't changed his standing one iota.) So there's no reason for Bush and the Bushites to think a reassessment is inevitable -- it simply isn't.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Oh, America, get a grip:

With One Word, Children's Book Sets Off Uproar

The word "scrotum" does not often appear in polite conversation. Or children's literature, for that matter.

Yet there it is on the first page of "The Higher Power of Lucky," by Susan Patron, this year's winner of the Newbery Medal, the most prestigious award in children's literature. The book's heroine, a scrappy 10-year-old orphan named Lucky Trimble, hears the word through a hole in a wall when another character says he saw a rattlesnake bite his dog, Roy, on the scrotum.

"Scrotum sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much," the book continues. "It sounded medical and secret, but also important."

...The book has already been banned from school libraries in a handful of states in the South, the West and the Northeast, and librarians in other schools have indicated in the online debate that they may well follow suit.

... Wendy Stoll, a librarian at Smyrna Elementary in Louisville, Ky., wrote on the LM_Net mailing list that she would not stock the book. Andrea Koch, the librarian at French Road Elementary School in Brighton, N.Y., said she anticipated angry calls from parents if she ordered it. "I don't think our teachers, or myself, want to do that vocabulary lesson," she said in an interview. One librarian who responded to Ms. Nilsson's posting on LM_Net said only: "Sad to say, I didn't order it for either of my schools, based on 'the word.'" ...

If you want to put a warning sign on the book at the library, fine -- but excluding it altogether? For one utterly clinical word?

Back in the early '80s, a little boy in the movie E.T. called his brother "penis-breath." This did not lead to the collapse of American civilization -- heck, we even went on to win the Cold War. Many children who heard that shocking expression are now productive adult citizens who vote and own property; some, no doubt, are even Republicans.

Ah, but it's the Bush era. I'm sure Dinesh D'Souza would tell us that a society that allows the word "scrotum" in a children's book is just asking to be nuked by jihadists. Steven Speilberg even cut "penis-breath" from a 2002 re-release of E.T., possibly out of fear of just such an eventuality.

Would the fact that male dogs have scrotums truly be a shock to, say, any kid who's growing up on a farm? Or any kid anywhere who's ever watched a dog engage in personal grooming?


UPDATE: The non-Fox News Roger Ailes makes note of a couple of other texts you might need to keep away from the children if you're shielding them from this book.

Yeah, "TREASON." If you really care, you can go here to read the accompanying op-ed, which appears under the byline of Ralph Peters (though it was almost certainly punched up, if not actually drafted, by the Post's editorial staff, judging from the fact that, like the paper's unsigned editorials, it's full of italics and larded with one-sentence paragraphs such as "Congresswoman Pelosi, have you no shame?").

I want to flip the script on Peters, the Post, and every other shrill idiot who's going to yell "Treason!!!" now. Talk is cheap. This editorial and all the other fulminating that's to come add up to, well, a non-binding resolution.

If the Post really thinks this vote is so bad -- treasonous, in fact -- why doesn't Rupert Murdoch use his huge amount of influence with this administration to demand that Nancy Pelosi and everyone else who voted to condemn the surge actually be brought up on treason charges? Come on, let's have this fight. If what's been done is treason, is anything less acceptable?

And shouldn't everyone who's ever told a pollster that the troops should come how now, or soon, also be brought up on treason charges? Surely this administration would be more than willing to demand that polling organizations release the names and/or phone numbers of people who gave such responses to poll questions. Why hasn't Murdoch called on the administration to do so? Aren't those people also giving the enemy aid and comfort?

And while we're on the subject, why not try Ralph Peters for treason? After all, the guy who says today

The "nonbinding resolution" telling the world that we intend to surrender to terrorism and abandon Iraq may be the most disgraceful congressional action since the Democratic Party united to defend slavery.

is the same guy who wrote this in November:

And contrary to the prophets of doom, the United States wouldn't be weakened by our withdrawal, should it come to that....

We'll still be the greatest power on earth.

Why wasn't that treason, if the House vote was?

Have the courage of your conviction, Rupert. Demand that Bush divide the country by trying and hanging, perhaps, the majority of Americans. Your side says that if the Democrats are really serious about ending the war, they should try to cut off funding; I say if you're really serious when you say this is treason, you should demand mass drumhead trials. Otherwise, you're just blowing smoke to rouse the rabble.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Bush Regains His Footing
By David S. Broder
Friday, February 16, 2007; A23

It may seem perverse to suggest that, at the very moment the House of Representatives is repudiating his policy in Iraq, President Bush is poised for a political comeback. But don't be astonished if that is the case.

Blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah.

He has been far more accessible -- and responsive -- to the media ..., holding any number of one-on-one interviews, both on and off the record, leading up to Wednesday's televised news conference. And he has been more candid in his responses than in the past.

Blah blah blah blah blah blah.

And whether the American people will see it, no one knows.

Really, everything else in the column as it was actually published is a rationalization for the warm, tingly feeling Broder began to get when Bush started seeming more "responsive to the media" and "candid." Oooooh, he is nice! We were right all along! He's being nice to us again, just like during the 2000 campaign! He isn't, of course, nor is he being "candid," but they'll take whatever emotional crumbs they can get in the Beltway press corps.

You may already know that many wingnuts are freaking out after learning that the Utah mall shooter, Sulejman Talovic, was a Bosnian Muslim -- this despite the fact that the FBI has ruled out terrorism as a motive and the fact that, according to the Deseret News in Salt Lake City,

There is no record that Talovic attended any of the mosques in the Salt Lake area, according to both Tarek Nosseir, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake and Bobby Darvish, president of the Muslim Forum of Utah. Nosseir noted that many Bosnian Muslims are more secular than religious.

"Having lived under Soviet Union rules for decades, where religious freedom was not an option, a majority of these people" are not practicing Muslims, he added. "What I hear is that he came a couple of times at most, to Eid prayers, but I can't confirm that he came."

Well, now there's a freakout at Free Republic over a videotape taken in the mall during the shootings and broadcast on a Salt Lake City TV station -- according to the Freepers, if you listen to the audio (specifically, the part that plays just as the duration counter passes the "hoo" in "Shooting" in the caption on the TV station's Web site), you hear the shooter shouting, "O.B.! O.B.! Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar!"
Here's the video. Try it yourself.

What these people are ranting about absolutely does not sound like "Allah akbar" or "Allahu akbar" -- it's not even four syllables, much less five. If it's the shooter speaking Bosnian, I'd say it sounds like "Kamandlakh" (whatever the hell that would mean); if it's someone from law enforcement (as one of the saner Freepers suggests), he might be saying, "Come on up!"

Yet I fear this theory will never die on the right.

Even Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs has rejected the "Allah Akbar!" interpretation of what's said on the video. However, he's not ruling out jihad as a motive. (Needless to say, he was one of the first to suggest that the shooter might have been motivated by what righties call "sudden jihad syndrome.")

What's maddening is that Talovic's story makes perfect sense based just on what we know. He was a child of war who fled his homeland at age ten. Since then, he's had a history of (non-ideological) violence. Is that sequence of events in any way surprising?