Friday, June 30, 2006


I had more posts planned, but I never got around to them, and now I'm heading out on a short break. I'll be back on July 8 or (more likely) July 9. Thanks again for dropping by. Happy Fourth.


By the way, if you're 100% certain that we're facing an enemy capable of destroying the West as we know it, read this. On the other hand, if you're 100% certain our side is winning in Iraq, read this.

Well, not scrapbooking exactly: Some idiot from Free Republic took a cutesy-wootsy thank-you card, added text to it, and posted it on eBay under the heading "Osama thank you card sent to treasonous NEW YORK TIMES."

Bids are up to thirty bucks.

Text of card:

Praise be to Allah the most merciful.  As I continue to hide in caves, live with real smelly women, and run from the American infidel swine, I don't often receive good news.  My heart sunk lower than camel dung when I heard what they did to the Z-man's safe house.  Praise be to Allah, may he be enjoying the virgins.
May Allah heap rewards on you for your story that leaked what your government was doing to my friends' money.  Thanks to you, we have renewed hope, and with Allah's great power, we will drive the infidels out of our sacred land.  We will beat them like a mullah would beat his Persian rug or teenage daughter who dared to show her knee.
As Allah is my witness, when it is time for us to strike again deep into the heart of the infidel, we will do our best not to destroy your New York Times building.  Just in case, my brother in law sells insurance.  You two need to talk.  Don't worry, I've told him about you.  He won't slit your throat.
Please pass friendly greetings for me to The Murtha, The Perky One, The Perjuring One, and The One Who Flies on a Broom.  May Allah forgive me, but I could tell you stories about how I defile the One Who Flies on a Broom in my dreams.  She is so hot and would look wonderful in a burqa.  
Your pal forever,

Thirty bucks. Someone would pay thirty bucks for that. Right-wingers sure know the value of a dollar, don't they?

(By the way, for those not hep to the lingo, "The One Who Flies on a Broom" is Hillary. "The Perjuring One" is probably Kerry, and "The Perky One" is, if I'm not mistaken, Katie Couric; it is generally assumed on the right that Couric consults regularly with Michael Moore, Dan Rather, Pinch Sulzberger, John Murtha, Nancy Pelosi, and Ward Churchill on plans to hand America over to the dark lords of Islamofascistan. I can't believe I know all this.)

Lead paragraphs of Richard Brookhiser's current column in The New York Observer:

In 2001, scientists exploring murky river bottoms in Indonesia found a new creature, the mimic octopus, normally a bland, brown mollusk about two feet long. But by manipulating its tentacles and changing color, it can imitate deadly sea snakes and lionfish.

The two Democratic Party resolutions on Iraq that the Senate rejected last week were mimic octopuses, efforts to imitate a foreign policy. But perhaps Team Bush is also a mimic octopus, promising us a war on terror while leading us into uncertainty instead.

A mimic octopus? I don't think that's what Team Bush is. What's the sea creature that, when attacked, goes after its attacker, then gets bored and goes after some completely unrelated creature, gets pummeled, winds up beached on the shore, and uses all this as a sexual display? What creature is that? That's what Team Bush is. I'm sure I'll think of the name eventually.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


From the Palm Beach Post:

Gov. Jeb Bush has used his recently revived nonprofit foundation to pay a former campaign finance director and two former campaign aides.

Although Bush has said his Foundation for Florida's Future is not a way of keeping his political machine intact after he leaves office early next year, recent disclosures on the foundation's Web site show that it paid:

• Nearly $99,000 to Ann Herberger, Bush's campaign finance director during two campaign and a longtime political fund-raiser for his family.

• Nearly $70,000 to Neil Newhouse of Washington-based GOP Public Opinion Strategies group for polling last October.

• $48,000 for "management services" to a lobbying and public-affairs firm whose staff includes Mandy Clark and Mandy Fletcher. Both worked on Bush's reelection campaign and on his brother's presidential reelection campaign.

• $23,500 for "legal services" from the Washington law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs.

• $20,000 in February to GOP political strategist Adam Goodman's The Victory Group Inc.

...Bush also has tapped three "Rangers" -- fund-raisers who brought in at least $200,000 for President Bush's 2004 campaign -- to sit on the foundation's board....

... when asked about the subject of the $70,000 poll, Bush said, "I'm not going to tell you."

Bush had said he resurrected the foundation to campaign for a constitutional amendment to allow the state to pay for private- and religious-school tuition for children in failing schools....

He's running for president -- it's only a question of when.

And if he runs, you know he'll win. Even if he loses.

(Via DU.)

The Bush administration has been unable to muster even half of the 2,500 National Guardsmen it planned to have on the Mexican border by the end of June.

As of Thursday, the next-to-last day of the month, fewer than 1,000 troops were in place, according to military officials in the four border states of Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona....

Some state officials have argued that they cannot free up Guardsmen because of flooding in the East, wildfires in the West or the prospect of hurricanes in the South....

Bush's plan for stemming illegal immigration by using National Guardsmen in a support role called for 2,500 troops to be on the border by June 30, and 6,000 by the end of July.

But National Guard officials said Thursday that they probably won't reach the 2,500 target until early to mid-July and won't make the 6,000 deadline, either. Also, they said the number of troops will fluctuate from week to week over the course of the two-year mission....


The Bush administration: the gang that couldn't pander straight.

Well, I wondered who'd say this first, and of course it's the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler:

The Supreme Whores are in dire need of Intervention by Lynch Mob™.

The next McVeigh will have his and other right-wing blogs bookmarked.

Check out the reaction to the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision by Oak Leaf at Polipundit:

(FLASH) Instrument of Surrender Signed by SCOTUS

This morning, the United States of America signed the instrument of surrender with al Queda and all affiliated terror organizations. The signatories representing the United States were Anthony Kennedy, Steven Bryer, John Paul Stevens, Ruth Ginsburg and David Souter.

The reason for this unconditional surrender was that while the Supreme Court Justices "support the troops" and particpate in drives to send old magazines to soldiers, they do not "Trust the Troops."...

I wasted 12 months of my life in Afgahnistan for this.

Support by the military in the GWOT is going to collapse.

This opinion will go from a ripple to a wave throughout the uniformed military. We were slapped by John McCain last December. Today, we are slapped by the Supreme Court. This afternoon, I am removing myself from the volunteer list at Human Resources Command-St. Louis to re-deploy. I will not be the only one.

UPDATE: I have received three e mails so far from guys in Afgahnistan on my ".mil" e mail. The sentiment is as follows:

$%^& the supreme court. They have no idea what we are going through. Major xxxxxxxxx

My third tour for what? SHIT!!! Captain xxxxxxxxxx

I want to go home to my family now. Master Sergeant xxxxxxxxx

Unbelievable -- the Supreme Court wants the provisions for dealing with suspected terrorists to stay within the rule of law and these guys want to take their ball and go home.

(But maybe I shouldn't blame them -- after all, the right-wing noise machine, including mid-Atlantic headquarters in the White House, has been telling them for years that the only alternative to Bush dictatorship is total surrender to Pure Evil. It's understandable that these guys don't think there's anything in the middle.)

You remember the Bush administration's recent little slip-up on personal privacy:

Personal data on about 17.5 million veterans, including their birthdates and Social Security numbers, was stolen last month when a burglar took a laptop containing the information from the home of an analyst for the Department of Veterans Affairs....

And you probably also remember that the Bushies vowed to make amends:

The Veterans Affairs Department offered to pay for a year of free credit monitoring for the veterans, which it said would cost about $160.5 million.

You may not remember exactly how the Bushies wanted to make amends:

Last week, the department said it would cover most of that cost by taking money from accounts that pay health and other benefits for veterans.

Some people got upset at that. Democrats in particular complained.

But not to worry! Now we're assured that the cost of this isn't going to come out of other veterans' programs:

... In a letter on Wednesday, Rob Portman, director of the White House Office of Management, recommended paying for the monitoring by taking about $130 million from a food stamp employment and training program, a farmers' assistance program, student loans and a program for young people released from prison.

Ah, much better, right?

The Bush administration: champions of ordinary Americans. Not like those damn elitist Democrats.


UPDATE: The VA says the stolen laptop has been recovered and (per AP) "there is no evidence that anyone accessed Social Security numbers and other data on the equipment."

What do you think happens next? Think they'll try to charge the vets for the data protection that's already been extended to them? Think they'll try to cut the $130 million from the other programs anyway?


UPDATE: More bumbling was revealed at hearings today:

Under House questioning, the VA also:

Disclosed it had lost sensitive data in at least two other cases. In Minneapolis, a VA employee put a laptop containing data for more than 60 veterans in the trunk of his car, which was then stolen. There have been two reports of identity theft from that incident, according to Buyer.

In Indianapolis, a back-up tape containing files on as many as 16,357 legal cases involving veterans was lost from a VA regional office. Nicholson said authorities and the VA inspector general were investigating, and those whose information was lost would be provided credit monitoring.


Peggy Noonan today, writing about Hillary Clinton:

She does not seem like someone who would anguish and weep over sending men into harm's way.

... Maybe a lifetime in politics has bled some of the human element out of her. Maybe there wasn't that much to begin with. Maybe she thinks that if she wept, the wires that hold her together would short.

Peggy Noonan today, writing about The New York Times:

Frank Rich is running around with his antiwar screeds as if it's 1968 and he's an idealist with a beard, as opposed to what he is, a guy who if he pierced his ears gravy would come out.

What the hell is this? Noonan, the high and mighty defender of human modesty and dignity, the one who threatened that if another airport security person touched her she'd shriek, "You are embarrassing the angels" -- suddenly she's Don Rickles? Suddenly she's doing fat jokes?

Once only Ann Coulter, among mainstream pundits, declared that political opponents deserved death on charges of treason; now everyone's doing it. Coulter's use of the term "infallibility" as a weapon is now entrenched in our political language. And now this -- politics reduced to cheap riffs on appearance and personal affect -- from someone who used to pretend to be above such rhetoric. Coulterism is now utterly, irreversibly mainstream.


On the other hand, Noonan is still Noonan. Here she is in her attack on Hillary today, citing presidents who, presumably unlike Hillary, have grieved at having to send soldiers into combat:

LBJ felt anguish; there are pictures of him, head in hands, suffering. Bush the Elder wept as he talked, with Paula Zahn, about what it was to send men to war. Bush the Younger would breastfeed the military if he could.

That last sentence? Eeeeuuuuw.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Somewhere in hell, Joseph Goebbels is saying, "Nice work."

Well, Coulter's back at #1. But Ron Suskind's #5, Greg Palast is #11, and another Calvin Trillin verse collection from The Nation (this ine's called A Heckuva Job) is #13. And Al Gore's slipped a wee bit on the paperback list, but just to #2. (This list will be up on the Times site over the weekend.)
I'm hearing buzz about a protest in front of the NYTimes soon. Stay tuned.

--Rumor posted at Free Republic

Oh, man ... where's Diane Arbus when we really need her?

They exist in one place, and one place only: in the fevered imaginations of right-wingers.

...If they start prosecuting journalists, it’ll lend surface credibility to all the whining about creeping fascism. Some independents will respond to that, and we’re in a tough enough position electorally right now that that’s not a risk that should be taken lightly. Would you prefer having an obstructionist Democratic Congress passing presidential censure resolutions to mark the occasion every time one of these articles is published?

Oh, that's rich. Democrats in Congress actually defending newspapers that expose illegal usurpations of power? And maintaining enough party discipline to get such resolutions passed?

Stop, you're killing me.


The guy quoted above also says,

Fifty percent of the population is fighting a war on Bush

-- and, well, there it is: half of America is guilty of treason, according to right-wing logic. (To right-wingers, "war on Bush" is shorthand for "war against the war against terrorists." No criticism of means and methods is permitted.) One might imagine that if we could get to 50.1% we'd get to determine what's in the best interests of the country, but these are parlous times, so I assume we simply can't let democracy get in the way.


(Source of quotes above: comment at the link time-stamped June 23, 2006 at 9:20 PM.)

On Hardball last night, Chris Matthews discussed the subject with Ron Suskind, author of The One Percent Solution (link via the Mahablog):

...MATTHEWS: Well let me just tell you what you said [in your book]. "Eventually not surprisingly," and we're talking about electronic transfer surveillance, "our opponents figured it out. It was a matter really of deduction. Enough people got caught and a view of which activities had in common provides clues as to how they may have been identified and apprehended. We were surprised it took so long," said one intelligence official.

So in other words, the bad guys figured out how we were catching them.

SUSKIND: Right, it's a process of deduction. After a while, you catch enough of them, they're not idiots. They say, "Well, we can‘t do the things we were doing." They're not leaving electronic trails like they were.

MATTHEWS: So what's Cheney beefing about here?

SUSKIND: The fact is -- look, I'm sure...

MATTHEWS: Or President Bush. That the bad guys found out about it before the "Times" did.

SUSKIND: I'm sure the program is of some value, but I think the White House ought to be straight with people, that this has been a thing of diminishing return for several years now, this kind of electronic surveillance.

MATTHEWS: ... you knew that the bad guys, al Qaeda and there are other people like them around the world trying to hurt us, had resorted to carriers, to physical people, human beings, carrying stuff around.

They used to use the Western Union, which I find fascinating, like reporters used to just file dispatches, they used Western Union and then they used electronic transfers. And then they got smart because they knew we were watching them.

SUSKIND: And the common knowledge in the tops of the intelligence community. Over time, they got smart. They adapted....

MATTHEWS: Do you think, Ron Suskind, that when the president got up today and got excited about this enough to go on television and blast "The New York Times," that he knew that the al Qaeda forces are against us in the world, already knew about this thing months ago, they didn't need to pick up "The New York Times" this weekend.

SUSKIND: I'm not sure what the president knew or didn't. But the fact is this is common knowledge, what's in this book at the top as I see it, the intelligence community, I'm sure he must have known that.

Newsweek's Evan Thomas, also on the show, concurred:

THOMAS: ... I just don't think that this disclosure -- I think as Ron Suskind was saying earlier, I think al Qaeda has known for a long time, has assumed that we -- the United States government does it kind of thing.

After all, we've trumpeted the fact that we do track the terrorist money, that that's one of our tools, so I'd be very surprised if the bad guys didn't know -- didn't already know that they were doing it. They didn't need "The New York Times" to tell them that.

Note (as Matthews does) that Suskind wrote what he wrote in his book well before the appearance of the recent newspaper stories.

Now, you don't have to join me in donning the tinfoil hat, but I'm leaving mine on -- I still think it's quite possible the administration wanted to leak knowledge of a secret program that had outlived its usefulness, in order to attack the Evil Liberal Media.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I approve:

A week after the GOP-led Senate rejected an increase to the minimum wage, Senate Democrats on Tuesday vowed to block pay raises for members of Congress until the minimum wage is increased.

"We're going to do anything it takes to stop the congressional pay raise this year, and we're not going to settle for this year alone," Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said at a Capitol news conference.

... During the past nine years, as Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to increase the minimum wage, members of Congress have voted to give themselves pay raises -- technically "cost of living increases" -- totaling $31,600...

I have an idea: Let's link congressional pay raises to the minimum wage permanently. If Republicans want to block a minimum-wage increase, fine -- they get no pay raise. No minimum wage increase for a decade or two? No pay raise for a decade or two.

And what happens if some future libertarian-leaning Congress manages to abolish the minimum wage altogether (which I wouldn't rule out)? Well, if the minimum pay for ordinary citizens is left strictly to the discretion of employers, then the same thing should happen to congressional pay: Leave it to the discretion of Congress's employers, i.e., the voters. Put congressional pay up for a vote.

I don't think most members would like the result of that.


Democrats are fighting for a minimum-wage increase and improvements in the Medicare drug benefit while Republicans have devised a Contract with America's Right-Wing Lunatic Fringe:

... One [GOP bill] would ... strip the Supreme Court and other federal courts of jurisdiction over cases challenging the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance. The legislation is a response to a 2002 Appeals Court ruling that held the pledge is unconstitutional because of the presence of the words "under God." ...

Another measure would block the payment of attorney fees in challenges to the display of the Ten Commandments in public areas and other, similar church-state lawsuits.

An abortion-related proposal would require that some women seeking to end their pregnancies be informed the procedure "will cause the unborn child pain" and they have the option of receiving drugs to reduce or eliminate it. A separate measure would ban human cloning, a prohibition that cleared the House in the previous Congress.

... One [bill] would prohibit the confiscation of legal firearms during national emergencies, barring practices such as the one that officials said arose in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit....

House Republicans also said they would hold a vote on legislation to apply gambling laws to the Internet.

Good grief.

If you went out into the general public and asked Americans to rank-order these issues along with, say, 125 other issues, in order of importance, these would all rank way down in the triple-digit range. Yet on the wingnut lunatic fringe -- trust me, I lurk at Free Republic and all the time -- these are the pressing issues of our time. In Wingnuttia, they'd rather see these laws passed than see cancer cured. (Well, maybe not the gambling law -- I don't know where the hell that came from. Oh, wait -- yes I do.)

Sneering mainstream pundits denounce Democrats as selling out the unwashed crazies every time they move an inch to the left of right-center -- yet the GOP panders to far-right crazies this way and no one says a word. Court-stripping, Joe Klein? Unrestricted guns in a disaster zone, Mark Halperin? Your thoughts?
A constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration died in a Senate cliffhanger Tuesday, a single vote short of the support needed to send it to the states for ratification a week before Independence Day.

The 66-34 vote in favor of the amendment was one less than the two-thirds required....


So the Republicans finally scared up a problem to which their electoral success in November could conceivably be a solution -- "Just vote for one more of us and we can stop those filthy hippies who burn maybe five flags a decade!" (They were hoping for such an outcome with the gay-marriage vote, but they fell so far short of two thirds that I'm not sure it's even mathematically possible to elect enough Republican senators this year to rescue America from the gay barbarians.)

But Is this actually going to work? With everything that's going on right now, are there people for whom the deciding factor in casting their vote will be one hairy guy every two or three years burning a piece of cloth? Well, to point out the obvious, we've voted based on stupider things, and for higher office.
...What was Rush doing in the Dominican Republic? Why was he returning from a country known for its thriving sex trade, with a bottle of Viagra that didn’t have his name on it?

... what was Rush doing with it, whether he went there to get it or took it there with him, in a country described back in 2001 as a place "where the pimps roam free"? ...

...What was Rush doing with a Viagra prescription in a country that one christian aid organization described as having the highest number of people working in the world working in the sex trade, including children? ...

Interesting question from Terrance at The Republic of T.


There have always been consequences to having sex. Always. Now, however, some of these consequences are severe: debilitating venereal diseases and AIDS. You can now die from having sex. It is that simple. If you look, the vast majority of adults in America have made adjustments in their sexual behavior in order to protect themselves from some of the dire consequences floating around out there. For the most part, the sexual revolution of the sixties is over, a miserable failure. Free love and rampant one-night stands are tougher to come by because people are aware of the risks. In short, we have modified our behavior....

The fact is that abstinence works every time it is tried....

I have stated elsewhere in this book, and I state it again here, that there are many people who wish to go through life guilt-free and engage in behavior they know to be wrong and morally vacant. In order to assuage their guild they attempt to construct and impose policies which not only allow them to engage in their chosen activities but encourage others to do so as well. There is, after all, strength in numbers.

Promiscuous and self-gratifying, of-the-moment sex is but one of these chosen lifestyles....

--Rush Limbaugh, The Way Things Ought to Be

Gee, I'm so glad those principled conservatives wouldn't stoop to using a victim to score political points:

Bush To Jog With Soldier Who Lost Both Legs In Iraq

President George W. Bush is set to go jogging Tuesday with a soldier who lost both legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Weather permitting, the president will take a spin on the White House track with Army Staff Sgt. Christian Bagge. The 23-year-old Eugene, Ore., native was riding in a convoy near Kirkuk a year ago when a blast tore apart his Humvee....

In 2004, Bush jogged with a soldier who lost a leg to a landmine in Afghanistan and met the president at Washington's Walter Reed Army Hospital....

Oh, forget I brought this up -- Ann Coulter has explained that the moral distinction is that if Bush does it, it's OK:

[ALAN] COLMES: ... President Bush ... ran a commercial using a little girl who lost her mother during 9-11 and used that and that helped sell him to the American people. Was that using 9-11?

COULTER: No, you refuse to grasp the distinction --

COLMES: Was that using the tragedy to promote a political agenda?

COULTER: No. He's the commander in chief. Do you think FDR didn't run on World War II when he was running for president? He's the commander in chief....

COLMES: So it's OK to use someone's tragedy if you're the commander in chief --

COULTER: You never see conservatives doing this.

COLMES: -- and running for office?

COULTER: No, he's not using someone's tragedy. He's talking about the war on terror, which we are in the middle of -- He's the commander in chief.

Got it.

(Via DU.)
Maybe we're not all that close to theocracy if even Brit Hume of Fox News thinks this Utah Republican is making a fool of himself:

As if beating a five-term congressman wasn't hard enough, John Jacob said he has another foe working against him: the devil.

"There's another force that wants to keep us from going to Washington, D.C.," Jacob said. "It's the devil is what it is. I don't want you to print that, but it feels like that's what it is."

Jacob said Thursday that since he decided to run for Congress against Rep. Chris Cannon, Satan has bollixed his business deals, preventing him from putting as much money into the race as he had hoped.

Numerous business deals he had lined up have been delayed, freezing money he was counting on to finance his race....

Asked if he actually believed that "something else" was indeed Satan, Jacob said: "I don't know who else it would be if it wasn't him. Now when that gets out in the paper, I'm going to be one of the screw-loose people."

...Jacob explained that, when people try to do something good, there are frequently forces that align to stop them.

"We have a country that was created by our Heavenly Father and it was a country that had a Constitution and everyone who came to America had strong faith. If that can be destroyed that would be the adversity. . . . Whether you want to call that Satan or whoever you want to call it, I believe in the last eight months I've experienced that."

You have to admit -- most big-league pols still aren't quite this bad. Bush, for instance, doesn't say Satan hid the WMDs. (At least he doesn't say that in public.)

Though I wish I didn't have the sinking feeling that, in a generation or two, all U.S. politicians will talk this way.

Then again, maybe Brit posted a snickering link to this story only because he's standing up for GOP incumbency protection -- the congressman Jacob is trying to unseat, Chris Cannon, is a fellow Republican. (Cannon's been deemed not conservatively correct on immigration. Alas for Jacob, his hard-line immigration stance is undermined somewhat by possible immigration-law violations on his part. I guess those must have been Satan's fault, or maybe it was Satan's fault that he got caught.)

Jacob is still supported by the Godfather of Immigrant-Bashing, Congressman Tom Tancredo, and Pat Buchanan's sister Bay, who've endorsed Jacob via their Team America PAC. (I love the fact that Tancredo's PAC has the same name as that movie by the guys who created South Park.)


UPDATE, 6/28: Jacobs lost the primary. Satan was not available for comment.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I guess it was fun while it lasted...

Mass. Defaults Reaching 'Epidemic Level'

At least three sources are calling attention to rising foreclosures in the state of Massachusetts today., a California-based real estate investment advisory firm and publisher of foreclosure property information, reported today that foreclosure activity in Massachusetts was reaching an epidemic level and clogging the court system.

"Our Massachusetts research team spent four hours on June 8 with clerks and judges in the District, Superior, and Land Courts and learned that the courts have a 30-45 delay in even issuing docket numbers for foreclosures across the state," said president Alexis McGee.

She went on to say that her information indicated that foreclosure filings for Massachusetts in the month of May were at the highest level for a single month since a similar financial crisis in the mid 1980's.

... May 2006 foreclosure filings are 105 percent higher than May 2005 and over 165 percent higher than May 2004 levels.

"We expected foreclosure rates to increase again this year, but the levels we are tracking outdistance our earlier predictions," said Jeremy Shapiro, president and co-founder of "It is clear that many homeowners, especially those with adjustable rate mortgages, are being pushed closer to the edge as interest rates rise at such a consistent clip. We may be witnessing a 'perfect storm' scenario where a flat real estate market, higher interest rates, rising energy costs and specialty loans are causing significant difficulty for thousands of Massachusetts property owners." ...

As Paul Krugman has noted, maybe 30 percent of Americans live in parts of the country where housing prices have gone up the way they have until recently in Massachusetts -- but the value of homes in those areas is more than half the total market value of homes in the U.S. (because the houses are so pricey).

And now -- in Massachusetts, at least -- the bubble seems to be bursting, very rapidly. And the housing market doesn't have to implode everywhere to have a widespread effect.

(Via DU.)
Hey, Richard Cohen --

... anger [is] festering on the Democratic left.... I have seen this anger before -- back in the Vietnam War era....

The hatred is back. I know it's only words now appearing on my computer screen, but the words are so angry, so roiled with rage, that they are the functional equivalent of rocks once so furiously hurled during antiwar demonstrations....

-- any chance you'd be willing to write about a real lynch-mob mentality?

'Denver Post' Publishes Letter That Advocates Beheading Editors, Pundits

Did The Denver Post go too far in publishing a letter to the editor today that advocates the beheading of editors, commentators, and politicians who have criticized the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay?...

The letter was written, ironically, by a resident of Littleton, Colo., site of the bloody Columbine High School shootings in 1999....

"Why have those who have continually howled at our treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo met the recent kidnapping and sadistic and brutal murders of our two young soldiers with deafening silence?" the letter began. "Where is your outrage now?" It then stated that the U.S. "should" behead 100 prisoners in retaliation, as well as " editors, commentators, college professors and left-wing congressmen who would suddenly break their silence to come out in support of these enemy jihadists. We need to stop listening to these sanctimonious hypocrites who apply the rules of war only to our side." ...

It'd be nice if you would, though I won't hold my breath.


UPDATE: I'm way behind on my cultural references. Until now I've avoided reading this Lee Siegel "blogofascism" blather:

I am overwhelmed by the intolerance and rage in the blogosphere. Conscientiously criticize, in the form of a real argument, blogospheric favorites like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and the response isn't similar criticism, done conscientiously and in the form of an argument, but insults, personal attacks, and even threats. This truly is the stuff of thuggery and fascism.....

And on and on. But our friend from Littleton, for all we know, doesn't even own a computer. Lee Siegel, your thoughts?
I'm with TBogg: I don't think this Meghan Daum column about Ann Coulter in the L.A. Times is funny or smart. Sure, it may seem clever to say this about Coulter:

imagine having a wit so dry that even you haven't yet realized you're a satirist.

But then Daum goes on to quote Davey Horowitz and a few others:

On "Larry King Live" last week, David Horowitz, president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, declared Coulter "much funnier" than Bill Maher and Al Franken combined and decreed "Godless" "absolutely" a work of satire. Republican strategist Karen Hanretty appeared on "The O'Reilly Factor" a week or so earlier and characterized Coulter's work as "tongue-in-cheek."

Even a few common citizens got the joke. A letter to the editor of the Arizona Republic criticized columnist Leonard Pitts for showing "his own ignorance by failing to recognize Coulter as a satirist, in the mode of Jonathan Swift." Here at home, a reader responded to L.A. Times columnist Tim Rutten's suggestion that Coulter was essentially in the pornography business with: "Coulter isn't selling pornography, she's selling satire — and doing it with great success."

It would be helpful if Daum understood that "satire" is not an exact synonym for "comedy" -- satire is an assault on a target that's intended to be taken seriously, even as it gets laughs. Horowitz and the two letter writers say "satire" as if that means we can just shrug off what Coulter says as nothing but madcap fun. That's wrong -- satire is meant to wound. There's really no such thing as an unwitting satirist.

Coulter knows exactly what she's doing: she's engaging in deadly-earnest character assassination, and she's doing it with punchlines (a) because that gives her the out of "It was a joke -- can't you take a joke?" and (b) because getting a mob to laugh at her targets is sick fun. Feel free to call that satire, but don't tell me that it's all harmless.

Then again, Daum gets off on the wrong foot right from her opening paragraph:

LIFE IS HARD for satirists. Like high school poets or people who get aroused when they put on furry mascot costumes, no one understands them. Back in 1729, Jonathan Swift was almost universally reviled when he suggested, in "A Modest Proposal," that the antidote to urban squalor was to eat the children of poor Irish immigrants and use their skin to make "admirable gloves for ladies and summer boots for fine gentlemen."

That's absolute bollocks:

Swift became a national hero of the Irish with his Drapier Letters (1724) and his bitterly ironical pamphlet A Modest Proposal (1729), which propounds that the children of the poor be sold as food for the tables of the rich.

--The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition the 1720s he resurfaced as a champion of the Irish people.... 'A Modest Proposal' (1729), a bitterly ironic tract in which he suggested that the starving Irish sell their children as meat, further enhanced his reputation as 'the Hibernian Patriot.'

--biography at the Web page for the Knopf edition of Gulliver's Travels

Swift's readers understood what satire is. Daum doesn't.

From today's New York Times:

...Despite the violence that has plagued Iraq since the American occupation began three years ago, its schools have been quietly filling. The number of children enrolled in schools nationwide rose by 7.4 percent from 2002 to 2005 ...

The increase, which has greatly outpaced modest population growth during the same period, is a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy landscape ...

... According to American government estimates, Iraq's population grew by about 8 percent to 26 million from 2002 to 2005. ...

Just to summarize: 7.4 percent "greatly outpaces" 8 percent.

Got it.

(Actually, the overall numbers given elsewhere in the story do seem to indicate a big jump, 27%, in attendance at secondary and high schools, but an increase in primary-school attendance, 5.7% -- 3.5 million to 3.7 million -- that doesn't even keep pace with the population increase. I don't know where the hell 7.4% comes from. Would it kill The Greatest Newspaper in the World to get hold of the raw numbers and hand them to an intern on 43rd Street who knows how to check them with a calculator?)

Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists mutilated two U.S. soldiers, and an al-Qaeda-linked group now claims to have killed four Russian hostages, beheading two on video.

Fortunately, according to Lorie Byrd at the righty blog Wizbang, that's not a particularly bad thing:

Those politicians and journalists who use such media-driven atrocities as an indication of the overall situation in Iraq or of the status of the War On Terror (and there were many of them last week) mislead their readers/viewers/voters. Iraq is a very dangerous place, at least certain cities there are very dangerous, but what happened in Iraq could just as easily have happened down the road from me in Jacksonville or Fayetteville, NC. It would probably even be easier to snatch a couple of soldiers or Marines in one of those two U.S. cities, while they are going about their business in town -- banking, shopping or stopping off for a beer or two. Just look at what Jeffrey Dahmer did in Wisconsin, and there was only one of him. There really isn't much to keep a group of determined jihadists with the proper weapons from doing the same to someone, even a soldier or sailor or Marine, here in the States.

Yeah -- probably seven or eight people have been ritually beheaded in this country while you were reading this sentence.

But the goal is not to convince the American public that the U.S. military is failing in Jacksonville or Fayetteville, NC, is it? The goal is not to create public pressure on politicians to cut off funding or to call for a pullout of the troops based at Fort Bragg or Camp LeJeune. Evidently, the U.S. media does not grasp this concept because if they did so many would not have reported the heinous, barbaric murders of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas Lowell Tucker in the context of the status of the war effort in Iraq. Instead they would have focused on the desperation those in the jihadist movement must be experiencing to have to sink to such depths of depravity and brutality in order to draw attention to their cause, which is experiencing major setbacks every day. They might also have done a few pieces about how a movement claiming religious motivation could employ such sub-human methods. If such terrorist attacks were reported in that context, there wouldn't be as much point carrying them out in the first place either though, would there?

OK, I have an idea. Let's just ask the troops to put down their weapons and allow themselves to be captured, tortured, and killed. Maybe if the "MSM" sees enough of this kind of brutality it will finally get the message: the torture and barbarity is a sign of failure and desperation, and the more of it there is, the clearer it is that we're winning.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Well, maybe that explains her personality. She insists in this interview with that she never did drugs at any of the dozens of Dead shows she attended over the years -- but maybe she just thinks she never did drugs. Maybe somebody dosed her chardonnay with some reject hallucinogen from a particularly bad batch, and the result is the cackling character assassination addict we know today.

By the way, she lists a lot of fellow Deadheads of her political persuasion, and they sound just utterly charming:

Jim Moody, MIT grad and libertarian attorney (and Linda Tripp's lawyer); Gary Lawson, former Scalia clerk.... I believe the great New York subway vigilante Bernie Goetz was a Deadhead.

And the first one she mentions is

Peter Flaherty, President, National Legal And Policy Center

Fun fact about Peter: he once issued a press release denouncing Lehman Brothers for apologizing for participating in the slave trade. I'm not joking. He thought that was a bad thing to do. So much for the spiritual power of the Dead. (Sorry, they're OK, but I've never been a real fan.)

Jeff Jacoby in today's Boston Globe:

In truth, ... most Americans have never thought about what it would mean if the terrorists really did win -- if militant Islamists were to succeed in their quest for political control of the United States. It isn't something that elites in academia, government, or the media generally like to talk about, for fear of being branded racist or "Islamophobic."

I'll speak just for myself, Jeff: it's true -- I haven't really thought about what it would mean if the terrorists won. But it's not out of "fear of being branded racist or 'Islamophobic.'" It is, rather, for the same reason that (in the words of the noted philosopher Wayne Campbell) I haven't really thought about what it would mean if monkeys flew out of my butt. In both cases, I haven't considered the possible consequences because these things will never happen.

What's inspiring Jacoby is The Book That Won't Die, Robert Ferrigno's novel Prayers for the Assassin, which envisions an Islamicist takeover of the U.S. I've written about this book a few times, and I'm sticking with what I said before: Islamicists might destroy this country, but they'll never conquer it. Maybe they could lay waste to America, given access to enough weapons -- but Americans who are fighting with one another now would unite and fight a repressive Islamist regime. We'd have our government's weapons, individual weapons, and vastly superior knowledge of the terrain. We would not lose.

Now, I'll confess I still haven't read this damn book, but every detail I learn about it makes it sound more and more preposterous. This is what Jacoby says Americans would meekly accept:

... university professors can lose their jobs for being "insufficiently Islamic," cellphone cameras are illegal, and men can only dream of "loud music, cold beer, and coed beaches." ...

In one scene, ... a cabbie tunes his radio to a popular call-in show called "What Should I Do, Imam?" As Ferrigno's heroine listens from the back seat, a caller asks whether there are any kinds of music that one can listen to without running afoul of Muslim law.

"Good question, my daughter," the imam answers. "The Holy Qur'an is quite clear that music is forbidden...."

...Life is especially hard for women, who may not leave their homes without written permission from a male relative, and even then risk being whipped by the Black Robes -- the Sharia-enforcing religious police -- if a lock of hair slips out from beneath their head scarves, or they neglect to keep their ankles covered....

Oh, good grief. We have 200 million privately owned firearms in this country right now, we have 5,300 operational nuclear warheads, and we'd just put up with no rock or country or hip-hop, no bare midriffs, and no brewskis? Give me a freakin' break.

But, as I've said before, this scenario seems plausible to right-wingers because the moral dictates of Islamicists are kind of appealing to the right. Jeff Jacoby is no exception. He writes:

[Ferrigno] is also quite aware of Islam's appeal. Many converts to Islam find comfort and reassurance in its moral certainty and firm standards, and Ferrigno underscores the point. "Don't tell me about the old days, girl, I lived through them," says one character, a top government official. "Drugs sold on street corners. Guns everywhere. God driven out of the schools and courthouses. Births without marriage, rich and poor, so many bastards you wouldn't believe me. A country without shame. Alcohol sold in supermarkets. Babies killed in the womb, tens of millions of them.... We are not perfect, not by any measure, but I would not go back to those days for anything."

This is Jacoby thinking, "Gee, that does sound appealing ... prayer in the schools, no abortion, no brews at the convenience store -- that's the world I've been trying to create for years in my columns!"

I don't think Jacoby, or most of the other people who think Ferrigno's scenario is plausible, are (as Atrios would put it) "bedwetters" or" whiny-ass titty babies." They don't fear this. They find it rather inspiring.

It's normal to enjoy fictional villainy while also recognizing it as evil, but most villains to whom we respond violate taboos. Ferrigno's villains impose taboos -- and that gives readers like Jacoby a vicarious thrill.
This week, we learned that the most powerful unelected, unappointed Republican in America, a man with extremely close ties to the Bush White House, was a bagman for the notorious felon and sleazebag lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

We also learned that a top liberal blogger responded to an embarrassing story about a colleague by recommending that other bloggers not write about it -- a recommendation that was sometimes ignored.

Guess which one of these circumstances prompted David Brooks to resort to 1940s crime-beat language in his Sunday New York Times column?

The Keyboard Kingpin, a k a Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, sits at his computer, fires up his Web site, Daily Kos, and commands his followers, who come across like squadrons of rabid lambs, to unleash their venom on those who stand in the way. And in this way the Kingpin has made himself a mighty force in his own mind, and every knee shall bow.

This is what I'm always talking about -- the ability of the GOP noise machine to turn all prominent Democrats into dangerous freaks, people with pathological or neurotic personalities who can't be trusted anywhere near power, while our side can't ever seem to do the same to even the worst Republicans.

(Notice that Kos, in this passage, is both dangerous -- a "Kingpin" -- and ludicrous -- "a mighty force in his own mind." Getting both of these notions into one paragraph makes this a classic dangerous-freak narrative.)

This kind of Republican attack happens all the time -- frequently, as in this case, just as the subject is making his way onto the national stage (think of the snickering about Wesley Clark just as he entered the presidential race in '04 or the pre-convention hit jobs on Kerry); the Republican attack machine defines the person before the person can define him- or herself.

There's never a slip-up on our side without this kind of response. You know the famous line of political advice, ascribed to James Carville --"When your enemy is drowning, throw him an anvil." Well, it's as if Republicans are able to monitor every body of water on the planet, and whenever a Democrat, or even someone who can be associated with Democrats (Jacques Chirac, Ward Churchill), stumbles, they're immediately on the scene with half a dozen anvils and a video camera, broadcasting the flailing in the water to the nation and saying, "Can we really afford to have people like this as lifeguards?"

Meanwhiler, here's Grover Norquist, a felon's bagman, about whom Brooks chose not to write:

In Jack Abramoff's world, prominent Washington tax-cut advocate Grover Norquist was a godsend.

Moving money from a casino-operating Indian tribe to Ralph Reed, the Christian Coalition founder and professed gambling opponent, was a problem. Lobbyist Abramoff turned to his longtime friend Norquist, apparently to provide a buffer for Reed.

The result, according to evidence gathered by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, was that Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform became a conduit for more than a million dollars from the Mississippi Choctaw to Reed's operation, while Norquist, a close White House ally, took a cut....

Here's more:

... Blunt e-mails that connect money and access in Washington show that prominent Republican activist Grover Norquist facilitated some administration contacts for [Jack] Abramoff's clients while the lobbyist simultaneously solicited those clients for large donations to Norquist's tax-exempt group.

Those who were solicited or landed administration introductions included foreign figures and American Indian tribes, according to e-mails gathered by Senate investigators and federal prosecutors or obtained independently by the Associated Press.

"Can the tribes contribute $100,000 for the effort to bring state legislatures and those tribal leaders who have passed Bush resolutions to Washington?" Norquist wrote Abramoff in one such e-mail in July 2002.

"When I have funding, I will ask Karl Rove for a date with the president. Karl has already said 'yes' in principle and knows you organized this last time and hope to this year," Norquist wrote in the e-mail....

And here's how plugged in Norquist is to the all-GOP federal government:

The "Wednesday Meeting" of Norquist's Leave Us Alone Coalition has become an important hub of conservative political organizing. President Bush began sending a representative to the Wednesday Meeting even before he formally announced his candidacy for president. "Now a White House aide attends each week," reported USA Today in June 2001. "Vice President Cheney sends his own representative. So do GOP congressional leaders, right-leaning think tanks, conservative advocacy groups and some like-minded K Street lobbyists. The meeting has been valuable to the White House because it is the political equivalent of one-stop shopping. By making a single pitch, the administration can generate pressure on members of Congress, calls to radio talk shows and political buzz from dozens of grassroots organizations. It also enables the White House to hear conservatives vent in private -- and to respond -- before complaints fester...."

And yet Kos is the big thug. And, to Brooks, the big story.

I keep thinking that the power is the left blogosphere needs is that it can be part of a message machine to rival that of the Republicans -- we generate a lot of ideas and messages, and if our side had a better radio/TV/print/Internet/think tank infrastructure, what bloggers do could feed into it much more effectively and help change Americans' perceptions. But that's not what people like Kos and Jerome Armstrong are stressing -- they think the left blogosphere needs to focus on electoral politics. (I think: If that's such a good approach, why aren't the Republicans doing it? They know how to win elections.) So I've disagreed with Kos-ism, and haven't been a Kossack. First I want that damn message machine. And now it seems to me that Kos and Jerome are victims of the far superior one the Republicans have built.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


From The New York Times:

The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say.

According to a classified briefing at the Pentagon this week by the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the number of American combat brigades in Iraq is projected to decrease to 5 or 6 from the current level of 14 by December 2007.

Under the plan, the first reductions would involve two combat brigades that would rotate out of Iraq in September without being replaced. Combat brigades, which generally have about 3,500 troops, do not make up the bulk of the 127,000-member American force in Iraq....


So I guess all that talk about timetables "emboldening the enemy" is no longer operative, right?

(Yeah, I know: according to the rest of the article, this is just a plan for a timetable. It's supposed to be conditional -- we'll only do it if, among other things, the insurgents mellow out. But why, if I were an insurgent, would I think I could continue to fight while waiting out a Democratic timetable but not think I could stop fighting temporarily while waiting out a Bush administration timetable?)

Yesterday I said it seemed possible that the Bush administration leaked the story of U.S. surveillance of financial records to the press in order to arouse GOP voters' anger at "liberal media traitors."

Would the Bushies leak a story just so they could discredit the recipient of their own leaks? Well, there is this story from Karl Rove's past, assuming it's true:

In 1999, St. Martin's Press published a critical biography of Bush titled "Fortunate Son". The book quoted an unnamed "high-ranking advisor to Bush," who revealed Bush's 1972 drug bust....

Hatfield later revealed that his source was none other than Karl Rove.... [L]eaking the story to Hatfield essentially discredited the story and sent it into the annals of conspiracy theory. Soon after the book was published and just as St. Martin's was preparing a high profile launching of the book, the "Dallas Morning News" ran a story revealing that Hatfield was a felon who had served time in jail. In response, St. Martin's pulled the book.

"When the media stumbled upon a story regarding George W. Bush's 1972 cocaine possession arrest, Rove had to find a way to kill the story. He did so by destroying the messenger," says Sander Hicks, the former publisher of Soft Skull, which re-published "Fortunate Son." "They knew the stories of Dubya's cocaine and drink busts would come out, so they made certain that it would come out of the mouth of a guy they could smear," said journalist Greg Palast, who wrote the forward to the final edition of the book.

The circumtances aren't exactly comparable, but Rove knows his base considers The New York Times as sleazy as many mainstream observers found Hatfield.

Would the Bushies accuse their enemies of violating privacy when the violation was their own doing? Well, there's this story from Karl Rove's past:

Rove Allegedly Bugged His Own Campaign Office To Distract From A Debate. During the 1982 Clement campaign, Rove discovered an electronic listening device in his campaign office. While an FBI investigation was inconclusive, rumors later swirled that Rove in fact had planted the bug himself in order to distract from an impending debate. The local DA concluded that "Rove had hired a company to debug his office, and that the same company had planted the bug,"? according to one unnamed DA's office source. [The Nation, 3/5/2001, New Yorker, 5/12/2003, Washington Post, 10/7/1986]

Karl Rove is a small-time political dirty trickster who's been given access to all the levers of power of the imperial presidency. It's like giving Beavis and Butt-head the nuclear launch codes. And it's even worse than that, because Rove got access to this power at a moment in history when allowing the White House to do just about anything seems justified in a lot of people's eyes.

I think this is a sleazy local political operator's tawdry little dirty trick -- but it's done in an incredibly high-stakes game in which the chump doesn't lose a local political race, he could lose his life. As TBogg notes, the righties are actually talking about vigilante murders of journalists:

I truly believe that the only tangible impact should be the judicious and righteous exercise of our Second Amendment rights against [New York Times reporters Eric Lichtblau] and [James] Risen. We are at war and I can easily make a perfectly legal case for the termination of saboteurs by any means necessary.

Even if nobody takes a shot at these guys now, Politics Rove Style will persist (it's so successful, after all), and sooner or later some operative (Rove or an emulator of Rove) is going to paint a target on a political enemy's head and someone's going to hit that target.


NOTE: None of this is meant to imply that Rove leaked this story himself. But you know the man's rep -- he leaves no fingerprints.

Friday, June 23, 2006

This story was in today's New York Times:

Iran Aiding Shiite Attacks Inside Iraq, General Says

Iran has stepped up its support for violent Shiite groups in Iraq and is providing the weapons and training so they can attack American troops, the top American commander in Iraq said Thursday.

"They are using surrogates to conduct terrorist operations in Iraq both against us and against the Iraqi people," the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., told reporters. "It is decidedly unhelpful." He said that the Iranian assistance had increased since January and that this had emerged as an important factor in weighing further reductions in American forces in Iraq....

"We are quite confident that the Iranians, through their covert special operations forces, are providing weapons, I.E.D. technology and training to Shia extremist groups in Iraq," the general said....

Here's what I find strange about this: only a week ago, we were being told we should believe in the genuineness of a letter found in Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's safe house, which suggested that Zarqawi was deceiving us about Iranian ties to the insurgency:

The question remains, how to draw the Americans into fighting a war against Iran? ... it is necessary first to exaggerate the Iranian danger and to convince America and the west in general, of the real danger coming from Iran, and this would be done by the following:

1. By disseminating threatening messages against American interests and the American people and attribute them to a Shi'a Iranian side.

2. By executing operations of kidnapping hostages and implicating the Shi'a Iranian side.

3. By advertising that Iran has chemical and nuclear weapons and is threatening the west with these weapons....

5. By declaring the existence of a relationship between Iran and terrorist groups (as termed by the Americans)....

I had my doubts about the authenticity of that letter, as I said when it was released. (I like what one of my commenters said: "We need to start making body armor from terrorists' papers and passports. Those things are indestructible.") But it was widely assumed to be genuine. (It was very comforting to think so, because the main thrust of the letter was that Zaqawi was saying, "We suck as terrorists.")

So, which is it? Are the Iranians involved in the Iraqi insurgency? Or is the Zarqawi letter legit?
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - A purported spokesman for the Taliban said Friday that the militant group had beheaded four Afghans it accused of spying for U.S.-led forces.

The men were abducted at gunpoint by armed men and their headless bodies were dumped in the southern province of Zabul and found Thursday and Friday, said Ali Khail, a spokesman for the provincial governor.


Kinda gives a whole new meaning to the expression "Iraq the Model," doesn't it?
U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta submitted his resignation effective on July 7, White House spokesman Tony Snow said on Friday.


In case you've forgotten, he's another person whose death Ann Coulter has envisioned with glee:

According to initial buoyant reports in early February, enraged travelers rose up in a savage attack on the secretary of transportation. Hope was dashed when later reports indicated that the irritated travelers were actually rival warlords, the airport was the Kabul Airport, and Norman Mineta was still with us.

Yeah, being beaten to death by a mob is suitable punishment for the crime of making blondes go through airport security.

I don't know about you, but the existence of this event -- which is going on as I type this -- creeps me out: explains the event:

Starting at 10AM ET, live from Washington, Rush moderates a discussion featuring the brains behind "24" -- Joel Surnow, Robert Cochran and Howard Gordon -- your favorite "24" cast members, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Heritage Foundation analysts, more...

So this is cross-marketing for Rush, 24, the Heritage Foundation, and the Bush administration. Oh, and it's taking place at the Ronald Reagan Building in D.C., which is owned by the General Services Administration. Your tax dollars at work!

I know Taylor Marsh insists that Jack Bauer is a Democrat, but it looks as if he's a wholly owned subsidiary of the GOP.
Well, you probably know about this by now:

Bank Data Sifted in Secret by U.S. to Block Terror

Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials....

--New York Times

The administration is furious about the fact that this has come to light, right? Well, yes, that's what we're told:

Administration officials ... asked The New York Times not to publish this article, saying that disclosure of the ... program could jeopardize its effectiveness....

On Thursday evening, Dana Perino, deputy White House press secretary, said: ... "The president is concerned that once again The New York Times has chosen to expose a classified program that is working to protect our citizens."

Am I crazy to suspect that that's not exactly true? Am I crazy to suspect that the administration might want this and other privacy stories out there now?

Consider the reaction in the right blogosphere, which is as expected:

I'll resist the temptation to say Ann Coulter was right about where Timothy McVeigh should have gone with his truck bomb. I'll say only this: it's becoming increasingly clear to me that the people at the New York Times are not just biased media folks whose antics can be laughed off. They are actually dangerous.

It's hard to imagine that this program could still be effective. If it worked at first, as the article suggests it did, surely terrorists would have changed their methods of shifting money around to escape detection. So it's reasonable to think that the program isn't very useful anymore.

Except as a spur to right-wing rage.

I think the administration is feeding stories like this to the press right now as part of the '06 campaign. The GOP base doesn't differentiate between the media and the Democratic Party -- they're all treasonous lefties. But you still have to fire the base up, give them a reason to vote Republican.

Feeding a story like this to the Times and then denouncing it as an attack on national security in a time of war would certainly accomplish that.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


...for right-wing rage junkies, from the comments at the righty blog Wizbang:

Lets take a page from Uncle Joe Stalin's playbook: punishment battalions.
The Soviets would take political prisoners and put them in the front line against the Germans. Behind them were better armed secret police troops. The politicals were given a choice, fight the enemy and perhaps survive or try to turn tail and face certain execution.

So lets draft the left wing scum, send them out to fight the terrorist scum ( with bolt action rifles)and shoot on sight any deserters or stragglers. Dead terrorists, dead lefties. A win-win situation and inspired by one of the chief commie gods Joseph Stalin.

Posted by: cubanbob at June 22, 2006 11:25 AM

Here, cubanbob -- you need a towel?

Get used to this, folks -- the eliminationist rhetoric from the right is only going to escalate. If we're lucky, no one will actually act on it. And no, the escalation won't mean they'll stop calling us "unhinged."
Amnesty International on the killings of Privates Menchaca and Tucker:

Amnesty International Deeply Disturbed by Reports of Brutal Torture of 2 U.S. Soldiers

Wed Jun 21, 1:36 PM ET

Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA's executive director, made the following statement in response to the alleged killing and torture of two U.S. soldiers in Ramadi, Iraq:

"Amnesty International, first and foremost, extends its sincerest condolences to the families of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker for their tragic loss. We are deeply disturbed by reports that these two soldiers were brutally tortured. These reports, if proven true, may rise to the level of war crimes.

Amnesty International condemns the torture or summary killing of anyone who has been taken prisoner and reiterates that such acts are absolutely prohibited in international humanitarian law. This prohibition applies at all times, even during armed conflict. There is no honor or heroism in torturing or killing individuals. Those who order or commit such atrocities must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law without recourse to the death penalty.

Amnesty International again calls on armed groups in Iraq to immediately cease all executions, torture or ill-treatment of people. Armed groups, like other parties to the conflict in Iraq, are required to comply strictly with international law and remain accountable for their actions."

Amnesty International released a report, Iraq, In Cold Blood: Abuses by Armed Groups, in July 2005. For a copy of the report, contact the AIUSA press office at 202-544-0200 ext. 302.

Gee, I thought groups like this only complained about Americans. Right-wingers told me so -- it must be true, right?

Here's that AI report "Iraq in Cold Blood." Sample passage:

Thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed and thousands more injured in attacks by armed groups in the past two years.... Many of the killings of civilians were carried out in a perfidious way, with suicide bombers or others disguising themselves as civilians, or were marked by appalling brutality -- as in the cases of hostages whose deaths, by being beheaded or other means, were filmed by the perpetrators and then disseminated to a wide public audience.

Many of these killings by armed groups, in Amnesty international’s view, constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.

You may not like the measured tone of all this, or the aversion to the death penalty, but this is the tone AI takes in its reports as a rule, including the reports that upset right-wingers, such as this one on torture in Iraq's prisons (which, by the way, also condemns the targeting of civilians by insurgents as "crimes against humanity").

If we ever wondered how right-wingers see the world, well, this quote from a right-wing blog tells us everything we need to know:

I notice in the news today a lot about Gitmo and the treatment of terrorists. I notice a lot about how bad the economy is (which is an out and out lie). I notice a lot of interviews with democrats like hillary and john kerry about how we need to get out of the ‘quagmire’ of Iraq. I notice there are reports about the outrages our troops are doing to the poor terrorists.

I see NOTHING about our Soldiers being captured, tortured, having their eyes gouged out, and finally being murdered by decapitation.

That by itself is enough for a declaration of war.

I guess it never occurred to this blogger to, y’know, read a newspaper, or turn on a news broadcast, or go to a news site on the Internet, given that those are considered among the best ways to find a news story, if a news story is what you’re looking for.

Here are 3,490 Google News hits for "Menchaca" (the surname of one of the soldiers in question).

And here's yesterday’s front page from an obscure paper called The New York Times, which had as its lead story "U.S. Says 2 Bodies Retrieved in Iraq Were Brutalized."

Naah -- if you're a right-winger, you pay no attention to any of that. It doesn't exist.

Instead, you declare war. On your countrymen. For failing to do something they've actually done.

Rage junkies. Blinded by rage.

(Via Hotline's Blogometer.)

First, the truth:

Condoms Found to Block a Virus Harmful to Women

The consistent use of condoms protects against human papillomavirus, a cause of warts and cervical and other female cancers, researchers are reporting today.

In the study, which independent experts said was the most conclusive to examine the role of condoms in preventing infection with the virus, women whose male partners used condoms every time they had sexual intercourse had less than half the rate of infection as did women whose partners used condoms less than 5 percent of the time.

..."The findings are definitive," said Dr. James R. Allen, president of the American Social Health Association, an organization in Research Triangle Park, N.C., dedicated to the prevention of sexually transmitted infections.

... no malignant or precancerous cervical lesions were detected in 32 patient years at risk among women reporting 100 percent condom use by their partners. That compared with 14 such lesions in 97 patient years at risk among women whose partners did not use condoms or who used them less consistently.

The study "provided a very clear answer" to the question of the protective benefits of condoms and papillomavirus infection, said Dr. Allen of the American Social Health Association....


And now, the lies:

HPV differs from other STDs in that condoms offer virtually no protection against infection.  According to John V. Dervin, M.D., associate specialist in radiology and assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco, "Human Papilloma Virus, thought of as the 'seed' of cervical cancer, is a regional rather than localized disease, and its infectivity is not contained by condoms."

--Independent Women's Forum article, September 22, 1999

Led by then-Rep. Tom Coburn (R-OK), a physician and staunch proabstinence opponent of government-funded family planning programs, [social conservatives] were successful in attaching an amendment to the House version of the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Act mandating that condom packages carry a cigarette-type warning that condoms offer "little or no protection" against an extremely common STD, human papillomavirus (HPV), some strains of which cause cervical cancer. Although this directive was removed before the bill was enacted, Coburn and his allies were able to secure a requirement that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reexamine condom labels to determine whether they are medically accurate with respect to condoms' "effectiveness or lack of effectiveness" in STD prevention.

--Guttmacher Report, Alan Guttmacher Institute, March 2003

In its first public response to a 2000 law, the FDA is proposing a revised set of condom labeling requirements....

After five years of review, the agency is proposing adding the following messages on condom packages: 

... * Condoms "cannot protect" against herpes and HPV, which can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact outside covered areas. Still, "using condoms every time" will provide "some benefit." ...

--HHSWatch, November 2005

Condoms, whether used correctly and consistently or not, do not prevent the spread of HPV.

--Family Research Council article archived July 13, 2005

The reality is that HPV can exist outside the area covered by a condom, so condoms aren't 100% effective in preventing transmission. But clearly they lower the odds. A lot. And a lot of people wanted (and still want) you to think otherwise.

Lovely to see that Karl Rove got Jim Rutenberg and our old friend Adam Nagourney to retype a big fat list of GOP talking points on the war and plop them in the middle of this article, "Rallied by Bush, Skittish G.O.P. Now Embraces War as Issue," which is the lead story on the New York Times Web site as I write this:

...meetings were followed by the distribution of a 74-page briefing book to Congressional offices from the Pentagon to provide ammunition for what White House officials say will be a central line of attack against Democrats from now through the midterm elections: that the withdrawal being advocated by Democrats would mean thousands of troops would have died for nothing, would give extremists a launching pad from which to build an Islamo-fascist empire and would hand the United States its must humiliating defeat since Vietnam.

Republicans say the cumulative effect would be to send a message of weakness to the world at a time of new threats from Iran and North Korea and would leave enemies controlling Iraq's vast oil reserves, the third largest in the world....

"The fundamental question," [Republican chairman Ken] Mehlman said, "is if you think the enemy is more brutal than before, is the answer that you should surrender?"

And it's curious that this happens at the exact moment when Senator Santorum and Congressmen Hoekstra are suddenly rising up to talk about very old, degraded chemical weapons in Iraq as if they're newly discovered, dangerous WMDs and thus a justification for the war.

And the radio ad I mentioned in my last post -- the one from the allegedly "non-partisan, not-for-profit organization" Move America Forward? Well, that ad was one of three MAF announced yesterday. The other two are a TV ad and a radio ad ticking off all the nasty terrorists and dictators we've rolled up in Iraq (and Afghanistan), and all the lovely schools and roads we've built. (Watch the TV ad at YouTube here.)

Clearly the Republican effort to make the Iraq War seem like an excellent idea moved forward on several fronts in the last day or two. And good old Adam Nagourney did his bit, telling us that Republicans are saying, "Yeah, I support the war -- you got a problem with that?" Getting this story into the Times was as big a part of the GOP reelection effort as the MAF ads or the Santorum/Hoekstra announcement. Nice of Nagourney and Rutenberg to make it so easy.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


New from the pro-Bush propagandists at Move America Forward:

Radio Ad 1: "Winning the War Against Terrorism"

Description: Features Joseph Williams, father of Marine Michael Jason Williams who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Williams asserts that the war in Iraq has helped to make America safer. Also features Deborah Johns, mother of Marine William Johns, who is returning to Iraq for his THIRD tour of duty. Urges the American people to pull together as a nation to show the terrorists that we are in this fight to win. 60-second radio advertisement.

But wait! Didn't Ann Coulter tell us that only liberals use spokespeople like this? And didn't a whole lot of pundits and conservative operatives tell us she was right? So how can this ad even exist?

(MP3 of the ad here.)

Just e-mailed out a couple of hours ago.

The good news: Ann Coulter drops to #2, after only one week at #1.

The bad news: She's been replaced at #1 by Tim Russert.

(Oh, but Al Gore's #1 on the paperback list..)

(The list will be up at the Times Web site over the weekend.)

The New York Daily News today:

The New York Post today:

Why does Rupert Murdoch hate the troops?
Sure glad we're letting the free market work its magic:

Drug Prices Up Sharply This Year

Prices of the most widely used prescription drugs rose sharply in this year's first quarter, just as the new Medicare drug coverage program was going into effect, according to separate studies issued yesterday by two large consumer advocacy groups.

AARP, which represents older Americans, said prices charged by drug makers for brand-name pharmaceuticals jumped 3.9 percent, four times the general inflation rate during the first three months of this year and the largest quarterly price increase in six years.

...Over all, AARP said, higher prices mean that the cost of providing brand-name drugs to the typical older American, who takes four prescription medicines daily, rose by nearly $240 on average over the 12-month period that ended on March 31.

... a separate study, by Families USA, a patient advocacy group, found similar inflation rates among brand-name drug prices.

This isn't a bug, of course -- it's a feature:

Congress barred [Medicare] from negotiating prices with drug makers when lawmakers devised the new so-called Part D drug program.

Good thing, too. Look what happens you do give the government the power to negotiate drug prices:

The federal Department of Veterans Affairs, which is able to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical makers, is paying 46 percent less for the most popular brand-name drugs than the average prices posted by the Medicare plans for the same drugs, [Ron] Pollock [of Families USA] said.

Can't have that in Medicare! Heaven forfend!
I'm afraid Republicans just won the '06 midterm elections:

In a defeat for President Bush, Republican congressional leaders said Tuesday that broad immigration legislation is all but doomed for the year, a victim of election-year concerns in the House and conservatives' implacable opposition to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.

I really hoped the old arm-twisting Bush would reemerge and force the House and Senate to compromise -- I thought that would at least seal the doom of Senate Republicans, who'd be blamed for the "sellout" by the GOP's immigrant-bashing zealot base. Apparently that's not to be.

I know, I know: polls says Americans favor a balanced approach. But emotion drives voting decisions, and there's a lot more anti-immigrant emotion in this country among voters than pro-immigrant emotion. From gun control we know, or ought to know, that an obsessed minority can easily trump a non-obsessed majority. As a regular lurker at right-wing Web sites, I can assure you that anti-immigrant zealots are as passionate as Second Amendment absolutists.

In typical shameless fashion, Republicans plan to attack Democrats for essentially agreeing with a Republican president that illegal immigrants aren't Satan incarnate:

Some officials added that Republicans have begun discussing a pre-election strategy for seizing the political high ground on an issue that so far has served to highlight divisions within the party. Among the possibilities, these officials said, are holding votes in the House or Senate this fall on additional measures to secure the borders, or on legislation that would prevent illegal immigrants from receiving Social Security payments or other government benefits.

"The discussion is how to put the Democrats in a box without attacking the president," said one aide, speaking on condition of anonymity.

That, and not fact-finding, is obviously the point of this:

... House Republican leaders said Tuesday that they would hold summer hearings around the nation on the politically volatile subject....

"We are going to listen to the American people, and we are going to get a bill that is right," said Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, who said he had informed Mr. Bush of the plan....

Hmm -- I wonder which hotly contested congressional districts those hearings are going to be held in.

And gosh, Republicans seem to be experiencing a weird amnesia about the involvement of members of their own party in the Senate bill:

In a swipe at the Senate version, Representative Deborah Pryce of Ohio, a senior member of the Republican leadership, labeled the legislation the "Kennedy bill" -- a dismissive reference to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, who helped write the measure in cooperation with Republicans including Senators Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and John McCain of Arizona.

And here's another amnesiac:

Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean deliberately referred to the Senate measure as the "Kennedy'' bill, instead of the Kennedy-McCain bill, signaling the polarizing political dimensions of the road ahead.

Must be the heat that's causing all this memory loss.

You know what's happening, don't you? Immigration is becoming like Iraq or abortion -- an issue on which the public is split, but the Republicans have declared themselves the Champions of Normal Americans, while painting the Democrats as the party of the fringe. Eventually the Democrats will be cowed into silence, just as they have been until recently on Iraq, just as they are on abortion, just as they are on gun control. Therefore, even members of the public who disagree with the Republicans won't rally to the Democrats.

The odd detail this time is that Bush supports a path to citizenship. But that's not going to stop the GOP from attacking Democrats. Remember that Bush opposed the formation of the Department of Homeland Security, then supported it -- and then the GOP (successfully) made Democratic opposition to provisions in the final bill an election-year issue.

Here's what Democrats should do, but won't: on the day of each hearing on the GOP's tour, a full-page ad should appear in every local paper. The ad would be a dignified portrait of President Bush surrounded by bunting, with these words under it:

The vast majority of illegal immigrants are decent people who work hard, support their families, practice their faith, and lead responsible lives. They are a part of American life.

--President George W. Bush, May 15, 2006


Illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law, to pay their taxes, to learn English, and to work in a job for a number of years. People who meet these conditions should be able to apply for citizenship.

--President George W. Bush, May 15, 2006

That's it. Just that.

People should also volunteer to stand up at the back of each hearing holding up signs identical to the ad. They should do so silently, and in a dignified manner. If they're denied entry or arrested, they should go quietly, but there should be an effort to make sure the incident is publicized.

If Republicans are going to hang immigration around anyone's neck, the neck of the leader of their own party should not be spared.