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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Late Nite FDL: Joe Klein -- In His Own Words, Final Round

I thought we would announce the winner of the Joke Line Joe Klein mental midgetry award tonight but I fear that the varying amounts of traffic/participation we have had on each night make a cumulative vote total a bit skewed, so we find ourselves in the interest of fairness conducting a runoff. Tonight the top vote getters from each of the previous heats will advance and tomorrow we will have our counter-Oscars when we will award the gold.

Since it was Digby's relentless skewering of Wee Joe that inspired this particular contest in the first place, it is only fitting that Digby be the wind beneath our wings tonight:
Has there ever been a more useful Republican idiot than Joe Klein? I don't think so. If you don't believe me, check out the huge array of idiotic statements he's written over at firedoglake. Jane says, "No one man can claim credit for the minority status of Democrats today, but Joe Klein can certainly rest easily knowing that he has done more than his fair share." I think he and all his fake liberal pundit friends are the most responsible of all. They are killing us. People on both the left and the right confuse Joe Klein with a real Democrat and mistake his incomprehensible political philosophy for that of the Democratic Party. If there is nothing else that the liberal blogosphere can do, we must make it clear to the American people and the Democratic politicians that Joe Klein speaks only for his elite, insider cadre of cocktail weenie addicts. His opinions are irrelevant to serious Democratic politics.
We humbly accept the challenge. And with that here are tonight's finalists in Joe Klein: In His Own Words:
3. "The possibility of vice-presidential anguish was barely mentioned by most commentators at first. Cheney is a tough customer; Oprahfied "sharing" isn't his way. But then, there he was, with that haunted look in his Fox News interview, saying, "[T]he image of him falling is something I'll never be able to get out of my mind. I fired, and there's Harry falling ..." Hunting had given him "great pleasure" in the past, but he wasn't so sure now. In fact, he sounded a lot like the combat veterans I've spoken with over the years, for whom the living nightmare of firing a weapon under questionable circumstances is a constant theme."

13. "People like me who favor this [NSA wiretapping] program don't yet know enough about it yet. Those opposed to it know even less -- and certainly less than I do."

25. "I've never seen George Bush lose a debate. He is a brilliant minimalist.

36. "Abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution, and so interpretations are all we have. One way to solve this--perhaps the best way--is to put abortion to a vote, as a constitutional amendment or on a state-by-state basis. Issues this important should be decided democratically, don't you think?"
Tough contenders all. Who will wear the coveted crown? Judges the burden is upon you. Since we have all snarked on these particular entries before, tonight is simply a victory lap -- freestyle snark for the fun of it. We will also be announcing the winner of the Charles P. Pierce Award for Excellence in Klein Snark tomorrow, the winner currently being held in a sealed envelope by the firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Please vote by number, vote early, and since this is not Florida, only once.


Amy Ridenour: How Low Can You Go?

Margot has found the perfect job for Amy Ridenour (no, not Dennis Hastert impersonator).

Angie lets us know she was a real piece of work during her testimony before the Indian Affairs Committee.

Valley Girl gives us this link to an article about the NCPPR entitled "Tom DeLay's Right Arm" and quotes from The Hill, June 23, 2005:
The Center's chief executive officer, Amy Ridenour, a friend of Abramoff's from their time as College Republicans in the early '80s, testified that Abramoff told her the money was part of an "educational project to tell the American people ... the very impressive story of the ... Choctaw Indians." She accepted an additional $1.5 million contribution in 2003. Abramoff directed her to route that money to the Capitol Athletic Foundation and a company named Kaygold.
And it looks like Pam Spaulding has been on this one for a while.

Yet another College Republican. What a pernicious mutant breeding ground that turned out to be.

Update: Digby chimes in:
Amy has long been jack, ralph and grover's personal bitch. From Frank Foers great piece about the College Republicans:
Back in 1981, Abramoff and his campaign manager, Norquist, promised their leading competitor, Amy Moritz, the job of crnc executive director if she dropped out of the race. Moritz took the bait, but it turned out that Abramoff had made the promise with his fingers crossed. Norquist took the executive director job and named Moritz his deputy. That demotion didn't last long, either. After discovering the talented Ralph Reed, Norquist handed the Christian Coalition godfather Moritz's responsibilities and her office space. They placed all of Moritz's belongings in a box labeled "amy's desk." Even 25 years later, she hasn't shed her role as College Republican doormat. Abramoff used her think tank, the National Center for Public Policy Research, to funnel nearly $1 million into a phony direct-mail firm with an address identical to his own.
Poor Amy. Never cool enough for the real Ratfuckers. While the three little pigs were making millions, she was still doing college republican level dirty tricks: Bilking old people.

Her "think tank" was also used last year by the allegedly liberal NPR to explain why social security privatization was such a great idea. They actually referred to it as non-partisan. I wrote about it here.

I was told by a reader who complained that the executives of the show were appalled when they realized that their producers had no idea that they were dealing with a right wing organization.

I was appalled that NPR producers didn't realize they were broadcasting partisan swill just by the content alone. I had heard the program while driving down the 405 and almost swerved off the clover-leaf when I realized it was going to be unrebutted.
I guess that particular College Republican chestnut of ripping off the elderly is something passed down from generation to generation.

The GOP. They're all about tradition.


Day of the Locusts

In January, 2005 Raw Story published a letter sent by Amy Ridenour of The National Center for Public Policy Research to elderly people under the pretense that they were "saving" their endangered Social Security benefits:
"Should we put most of our time and effort into fighting to prevent liberal big-spenders from draining an estimated $100 billion from the trust fund?" Ridenour asks. "Or should I go head to head against the left-wing's reckless use of $70 billion tax surplus when they promised to put our Social Security first?"
It was one of many "scare letters" designed to terrify the elderly. And it worked. According to the San Francisco Examiner:
The letters so distressed Shelby, who is 86 and lives in a senior center, that she often sat up nights, fretting over which crisis most deserved her help. Fearful that her benefits might expire, she regularly responded with small donations.

"I didn't know that I could just turn them down," Shelby said. "I was thinking it was something I had to do. . . . I thought if I didn't correspond about Social Security, I wouldn't get my checks."

Shelby is one of millions of seniors nationwide targeted by so-called "fright mail," computer-generated by self-proclaimed public policy organizations in mostly legal but controversial campaigns to raise cash.


Amy Moritz Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, says that emotional pitches get results, and insists that would-be donors don't want the details.

"It's just that you're competing with a lot of other organizations. People seem to respond better to emotion than they do with letters that have lots and lots of facts," said Moritz, who said her letters were written by a direct-mail firm, Response Dynamics, but read by her before they were sent. "You have to give something that is light enough that people will be willing to read it upon receipt. . . . If they don't read it right at that moment, all the studies show they never will."
In the Ridenour letter printed by Raw Story, she tells her elderly victims that:
Inside your sealed envelope is information regarding the potential collapse of the Social Security system -- and how it can endanger you and the entire United States senior citizen population."

It is also critical that you share this pertinent information ONLY [sic] with other trustworthy individuals.
In other words don't tell anybody who might tell you this is a scam and interfere with our right to fleece you. A typical tactic used by those who exploit children and the elderly.

Raw Story noted at the time that NCPPR were the group that paid $64,000 in travel expenses when Hot Tub Tom went to Moscow in 1997, and over $70,000 for a trip made by DeLay and his aides in mid-2000 to Europe. Oh and they mention that one of the NCPPR's directors at the time was Jack Abramoff.

Suddenly the NCPPR has decided that Raw Story has "violated their copyright" by printing the letters, which is such unmitigated bullshit it's hard to know where to begin. The publication of the letters would be a rather text book case of Fair Use, but the point of the cease and desist email doesn't have anything to do with the merits of their claim (virtually none) -- it has to do with the fact that most small organizations don't have the funds to hire lawyers to battle this stuff so it is easier to comply with the request than to fight it.

You can read the excerpted letters here and here.

There is a bright side to all this -- it gives the story a whole new life cycle, and awakens people to the machinatians of social mange/professional GOP crooks like Amy Ritenour. Who will not doubt be making a more prominent entry onto the Abramoff stage in the near future.

Nice to be able to accelerate her debut.

Update: Pigboy tells us Amy has a blog -- and it is quite possibly the ugliest blog I've ever seen. Funny that.

I wonder -- can you blog from the slam?


The Apostasy of Michael Brown

I didn't expect my post about Michael Brown to cause as much controversy as it did. But it got a conversation going that I think is actually quite interesting so I'd like to carry it a bit further.

Josh Marshall is right -- the release of the new tapes show simply that Brown cared about what was going on, was aware of the potential danger of Katrina and tried to do something to address it. It does not absolve him from a host of other sins we've all devoted much time to documenting from the time Katrina hit. And as Atrios notes, his current candor does not make Brown a hero. It would have been heroic to step up at the time and tell the public what was happening, at a time when it could have made a difference. That didn't happen.

And as Digby notes, Michael Brown really didn't have many other options. He was so thoroughly discredited, so completely goated by BushCo. that he didn't have much alternative but to turn on them if he wanted to have a future at all as anything other than the guy who forever fucked New Orleans.

Still, his current actions took some nerve. The kind of nerve people quite frequently can't muster on their own and are much more likely to discover when they know they have people who will back them. Which raises an interesting point of speculation.

As a veteran of many PR trench warfare campaigns, I can tell you that the first thing I would've done once it became apparent that BushCo. was going to throw him under the bus would be to go after Brownie. If I was, say, a big politician who had been targeted by the GOP and lost my seat, or was given to a pugilistic bent, or had an axe to grind over any high-profile Rovian rat-fuck delivered by BushCo. over the years I would've looked at the Katrina disaster, recognized that it was the single worst blow to George Bush's credibility in the public mind and gone immediately to work on the guy who had the potential to deliver me a blue dress moment.

I have no knowledge of what actually happened but the push to rehabilitate Brown does have, at moments, something of an organized feel (particularly the superb timing). And right now, Brown has the ability to do what no other person can -- keep Bush's Katrina inadequacies in the headlines, kicking him when he's down and damaging his poll numbers such that it both paralyzes him and emboldens his opponents.

None of which can work, mind you, if nobody is willing to listen to Brown's story. That Bush let someone with the goods on him get so far out of the fold is an incredibly stupid mistake; Brownie above all others should've been kitted up with some cushy job and bankrolled to into abject silence. It was an outrageous stumble on the part of a beleaguered and embattled administration, one I'm more than willing to take advantage of.

So if you're still speaking, Michael Brown, I'm all ears.


Earn It -- Don't Cheat Your Way Through

Shorter Harry's Reid, in his response to Bill Frist on Friday: "Have you no shame?"

Here is the pertinent part of Reid's response in full:

“I agree with Senator Frist, the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee has been bogged down by partisanship. The only way we can restore this important committee’s non-partisan tradition is for Leader Frist and Chairman Roberts to stop bowing to the pressure of the Bush White House and permit the committee to do its job. When faced with strong evidence that the Bush Administration has misused intelligence, misuses that have made America less secure, time and again the Senate Intelligence Committee has ducked its responsibilities and refused to hold the Administration accountable. The recent record of the Republican-controlled committee is most notable for its abdication of authority and responsibility.

“The Intelligence Committee’s meeting on March 7th presents an important credibility test for Senator Frist and Senator Roberts. If both are serious about their desire to let this committee perform its duties, Chairman Roberts will keep his word and permit the committee to conduct a vote on Senator Rockefeller’s reasonable proposal to review the Administration’s controversial domestic spying program.”
It's the accountability, stupid. Please take some time to let your Senators, your local media, the corporate media and whomever else you feel is appropriate that the Republican Leadership's attempt to cheat on behalf of George Bush is just plain wrong. That Bill Frist and Pat Roberts and the Republican leadership of the Senate, along with the Bush Administration, are trying to go back on their word.

The American public should not stand for this, because it is just plain wrong.

If the President of the United States is too scared to allow the Senate Intelligence Committee to do its job over oversight -- then all Americans deserve to know what he and the Republican leadership are trying so desperately to hide about the NSA -- from Senators, from the FISA court judges, from the American public.

What are they trying to desperately to hide about George Bush's role in authorizing the conduct in question? Why is the Bush Administration and the Republican leadership so terrified of oversight that they are willing to throw out decades of Senate tradition and the bipartisan nature of the Senate Intelligence Committee just to protect George Bush?

Bill Frist is trying to use his position to enable the Bush Administration to cheat their way around legitimate oversight. If George Bush wants people to respect his position, perhaps he ought to think about following the rules for a change instead of having everyone bend the rules to suit his needs of the moment. He's a President, not a king, and it is about time someone made that abundantly clear to him.

Note to Bushie: the rules apply to everyone, even you. And if you broke the law, the American public -- including Senators from all political stripes -- have a right to know about it. Enough with the lies and the cheating -- it's time for some accountability.

And just so ya know, Cartman is a crappy role model for Presidential behavior.

(Hat tip to dmsilev at dKos for the heads up.)


Bill Frist: Cheater and Hypocrite

Bill Frist on November 7, 2003, on the floor of the Senate:
The [Intelligence] Committee’s nonpartisan tradition has been carefully cultivated over the years by its members. The tradition is part and parcel of the Committee’s rules, which extend prerogatives to the Minority that are not found in other committee rule books.

For a quarter century, there has been a consensus in the Senate that the Committee’s nonpartisan tradition must be carefully safeguarded. Nothing less is acceptable, given the dangerous and sensitive nature of the subject matter for which it has oversight responsibility. (emphasis mine)
Bill Frist on March 3, 2006 (via Glenn Greenwald), in a letter to Sen. Harry Reid:
The Committee was established and structured to reflect the Senate’s desire for bipartisanship, and to the maximum extent possible, nonpartisan oversight of our nation’s intelligence activities. If attempts to use the committee’s charter for political purposes exist, we may have to simply acknowledge that nonpartisan oversight, while a worthy aspiration, is simply not possible. If we are unable to reach agreement, I believe we must consider other options to improve the Committee’s oversight capabilities, to include restructuring the Committee so that it is organized and operated like most Senate Committees. (emphasis mine)
So, when it suits Bill Frist's purpose politically to pretend to be a bi-partisan, non-political committee supporter to score points on the floor of the Senate, that's hunkydory.

But when you get down to a question of the majority of the Intelligence Committee members wanting to do their jobs and investigate what is an illegal use of the NSA for domestic surveillance by the Bush Administration...well, that just can't be allowed, and Frist's previous assertion "that the Committee’s nonpartisan tradition must be carefully safeguarded" be damned.

Bill Frist: cheater and hypocrite.

Please, take some time to write, fax and call your Senators, radio talk shows and media folks -- both via e-mail and on any media blog comments threads where this would be approriate to discuss (thanks to reader froggermarch for the idea on this). This craven attempt to manipulate the rules of the Senate because George Bush is too cowardly to face up to the consequences of his decisions cannot be allowed to stand. Bill Frist does not get to cheat without a light being shone on his hypocrisy.

Please, take some time to help us shine a very bright spotlight on this.


Bill Frist: Cheater

Since its creation in 1976, the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has purposely been a bi-partisan, non-political committee. It was specifically designed to minimize the partisanship among Republicans and Democrats, to function as a check on the executive branch's substantial powers of surveillance and intelligence gathering, and to ensure that consideration of the national security of this nation was not done in a politicized atmosphere -- but, rather, with only the best interests of the entire nation in mind.

The balance of the Committee is essential to maintaining this apolitical oversight.

But President Bush doesn't want the Senate to do its job and provide oversight of his illegal use of the NSA for domestic spying without a warrant in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Despite applying substantial behind-the-scenes pressure, there are Republicans on the Intel Committee who put the nation's interest ahead of Karl Rove's dictates, and it looks as though the vote scheduled for March 7 will lead to oversight hearings of this illegal NSA mess. (An enormous thank you to everyone who has participated in our Roots project -- you have made such a HUGE difference.)

Except for one thing: Bill Frist has decided if they can't win on the merits, then he'll cheat. Frist threatened Harry Reid, in a letter delivered late on Friday, that he would change the composition of the Intel Committee unless they rubber stamped the Bush Administration's repeated illegal activity.

Guess Frist was hoping reporters would miss his smarmy threat of cheating if he dumped it in the late Friday news cycle...too bad for him, Glenn Greenwald caught it.
Frist specifically threatened that if the Committee holds NSA hearings, he will fundamentally change the 30-year-old structure and operation of the Senate Intelligence Committee so as to make it like every other Committee, i.e., controlled and dominated by Republicans to advance and rubber-stamp the White House’s agenda rather than exercise meaningful and nonpartisan oversight.

Yet again, Republicans are threatening to radically change long-standing rules for how our government operates all because they cannot manipulate the result they want. From redistricting games to changing the filibuster rules, when Republicans are incapable (even with their majorities) of manipulating the political result they want, they use their majority status to change how our government works in order to ensure the desired political outcome.

While Frist’s threat here is, in one sense, of a piece with those tactics, it is actually quite extraordinary and motivated by a particularly corrupt objective. The whole purpose of the Senate Intelligence Committee – the only reason why it exists – is to exercise oversight over controversial intelligence activities. Whatever else one might want to say about the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program, it is controversial on every front. There is no conceivable rationale for the Intelligence Committee not to hold hearings.
This truly is an unprecedented move: the Senate Majority Leader is threatening to make the Intelligence Committee a political rubber stamp because the White House and the Republican leadership are so terrified that the President's actions won't withstand scrutiny and will be found illegal by the Committee.

Bill Frist is nothing but a cheater, who is trying to rig the Committee -- a majority of whose members WANT to provide oversight and actually DO their jobs. This is the single most craven, pathetic and weak move -- the fact that the interests of the nation would be served by an oversight hearing takes a back-seat to Karl Rove's marching orders that George Bush's authority not be questioned. Ever.

Because how dare the American public deserve honest answers, and how dare the United States Senators want to exercise their responsibilities to provide real, meaningful oversight rather than just be a rubber stamp -- even in the face of real, honest questions of illegality.

What, exactly, does Bill Frist and the rest of the Republican leadership think their job is as Senators? I mean, honestly: what is your purpose as a separate branch of government, if not to provide checks and balances through meaningful oversight, on important issues like violations of law and an end-run of Constitutional principles on top in addition to your legislative duties? Why are my tax dollars paying your salary, funding your cushy health insurance, paying your substantial retirement plan -- if you aren't going to bother to do your whole job?

What a bunch of frightened babies huddling in the corner of the Senate, taking orders from Karl Rove and hoping it will all blow over before the elections in the Fall. That Bill Frist would have to resort to cheating to protect the President's flank is just pitiful. That he thinks the American public will just swallow it whole, though, is wrong. Dead wrong.

I'm asking you to take some time today to e-mail, fax, or call your Senators. And to also contact members of the media. Inform them exactly what Bill Frist is trying to do and that you see this tactic for what it is -- cheating -- and that you will not stand for it. If Frist thought he could dump this out with the Friday trash and no one would notice, he thought wrong. Let's make sure he doesn't get away with this tactic.

I have not been able to find one piece of reporting in the corporate media about this today. Let's hang the cheater sign around Bill Frist and George Bush's neck. Please, take some time to call a talk radio show in your area, send out a fax or an e-mail -- anything -- between now and March 7th when the Intelligence Committee votes. The only way the Republican leadership gets away with this is if we all sit back and passively let them do it.

I refuse to let that happen. Bill Frist and George Bush are cowardly cheaters -- and it's time to hold them accountable.

(Painting entitled "Cheater with the Ace of Diamond" by Georges de la Tour.)

UPDATE: Georgia10 has more at DKos.
"Operate like most Senate Committees" is code for "controlled by rubber-stamp Republicans and no minority rights." Frist is threatening that if the Democrats demand the President be held accountable for breaking the law, then he'll just change the law to silence them. Typical Republican maneuver, to be sure, but the frequency of the tactic doesn't diminish its repulsiveness.
Georgia10 has some links to Sunday shows, including the Chris Matthews show (which I think is pre-taped on Fridays, but I'm not certain on this -- maybe a reader knows for sure and can let us know in the comments). In any case, please take some time to contact all Senators -- not just the ones on the Intel Committee, but all of them. Your Senators should know that you will not tolerate partisan cheating just so George Bush can continue to illegally spy on Americans without anyone questioning his authority.

NOTE: I made an error regarding Committee composition, which has been corrected above -- it's an equalization by the rules, and not the numbers on the Committee. Glenn has a great post on this. Thanks to reader Anonymous for the heads up on this -- I was so pissed off this morning, I didn't do my usual research re-check before posting.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Late Nite FDL: Joe Klein In His Own Words, Fourth Semi-Final Round

And thus we arrive at this, the final night of our semi-final round to see who will take home the gold for finding the most gallingly stupid Joe Klein comment of all time. If the past three nights have taught us nothing else, it is that there is no agony of defeat here; each and every comment proffered for entry seems to supersede the one before it for pure noxious flapdoodle.

No one man can claim credit for the minority status of Democrats today, but Joe Klein can certainly rest easily knowing that he has done more than his fair share.

So without further ado, here are tonight's contenders in "Joe Klein, In His Own Words:
29. "And yet, for the moment, Bush's instincts -- his supporters would argue these are bedrock values -- —seem to be paying off. The President's attention span may be haphazard, but the immediate satisfactions are difficult to dispute. Saddam Hussein? Evildoer. Take him out. But wait, no WMD? No post-invasion planning? Deaths and chaos? Awful, but ... Freedom! Look at those Shi'ites vote!"

30. "As for Bush, a hopeful sign is that he spent more time talking about poor people when he ran for president than any Democratic nominee I've watched -- —since, er, McGovern. His domestic policy was the most creative of any Republican I've ever covered, far more creative than Gore's."

31. RE: Bush's "incredible instincts": "But expertise and deliberation have never seemed more stodgy, unappealing and unconvincing than they do right now."

26. "I think private accounts a terrific policy and that in the information age, you're going to need different kinds of structures in the entitlement area than you had in the industrial age."

33. "Kerry, like many other Democrats, never truly understood this reality. He did not bother to visit the Southern Baptist Convention or any other fundamentalist group to say, Look, we're going to disagree on some issues, but there are lots of things we have in common, and I want to hear your point of view. He did not take a "listening tour" through rural Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi; he simply ignored the South. When Whoopi Goldberg lewdly compared the President to a body part in her southern hemisphere, Kerry -- —who was in the audience -- —came onstage and said entertainers like Goldberg represented "the heart and soul of America." He did not criticize the mayor of San Francisco when he broke the law to perform gay marriages. He condoned late-term abortions. He had nothing to say about Janet Jackson's Super Bowl breast flash. Unlike Al Gore, he did not even give a speech supporting faith-based social programs. To religious conservatives, he seemed a secular extremist. The Democrats have paid a heavy and honorable price for their support of equal rights -- —first for African Americans and now for homosexuals."

34. "I'm not nearly as smart as Eric [ Alterman], to have opinions without bothering to report first. Instead let me react by speaking to the facts. After all, I've lived my life by seeking out facts and then reporting them. One advantage I think I have over other columnists is that I do reporting."

35. "Given the circumstances, there is only one possible governing strategy: a quiet, patient, and persistent bipartisanship."

36. "Abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution, and so interpretations are all we have. One way to solve this--perhaps the best way--is to put abortion to a vote, as a constitutional amendment or on a state-by-state basis. Issues this important should be decided democratically, don't you think?"

37. "I watched the President go through his public paces last week—a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, speeches touting Social Security reform and the Patriot Act—and his stubborn consistency was both admirable and annoying. His unwillingness to drop Social Security reform in the face of lousy polling results is certainly admirable. He has changed the emphasis from semi-privatization of old-age pensions (although he still favors that change) to the solvency of the system, and he has proposed a creative solution, progressive indexing, which would modulate benefits according to income, with the poor receiving proportionately more than the wealthy. This is an idea Democrats would embrace if they had the courage of their "progressive" convictions. But the donkeys appear to be more obsessed with social issues (like abortion rights) than with programs to benefit the poor, and most obsessed with short-term tactics to thwart Bush, regardless of the quality of his proposals."
Remember to vote only once and by number, and that your comments are also being evaluated for snark factor as they contend for the Charles P. Pierce Award for Excellence in Klein Snark. Mr. Pierce will be selecting the winner of this award from entries made in the comments section, so please defend your choice with craft and passion. The winner of this coveted crown will likewise be awarded a DVD copy of the darkly funny and late lamented show Action.

Show Joe some love.

First night semi-final round
Second night semi-final round
Third night semi-final round


Meltdown in the Falafosphere

Mike Stark's O'Reilly action makes it to Olberman. Mike reports he now has dozens more volunteers for a Monday call-in, and that he has told O'Reilly he will cease and desist if he takes down his anti-Olberman petition and apologizes to Keith.

I know, I know, when pigs fly. But it's good old fashioned entertainment for the rest of us in the mean time.

Crooks & Liars has video of the glue coming out of O'Reilly's cracks. Watch if for no other reason than the former prosecutor who says the only person who's done anything actionable here is O'Reilly, and that she thinks he needs to be investigated.


Brownie Redux

Michael Browne's willingness to be honest about what happened during Hurricane Katrina and not be just another ass-coverer for the sins of BushCo. has facilitated one of the most amazing image rehabilitations in blogger history. Over at The Moderate Voice Joe Gandelman wrote an apology to him, and received this in his comments (Joe believes it is legitimate):
Dear Joe:

I have religiously avoided responding to any of the blogs, but feel compelled to respond to you. Apology accepted. And thank you, too, for the apology.

I have stated on numerous occasions the mistakes that I made and accepted responsibility for those mistakes. And, I hope now that the public, Congress, and especially the Administration, will heed the warnings I wrote to them in 2003, 2004 and 2005, that this kind of disaster was inevitable because of the way the Department of Homeland Security was functioning. I would be glad to provide you copies of those memos if you're interested.

In January, 2005, I came to the conclusion that FEMA was doomed to failure. But rather than quit immediately (which my wife reminds me constantly was a huge mistake for our family) I commissioned an internal study (the "Mitre Report") in order to leave a legacy of how FEMA could make things work that were broken - logistics, supply chains, communications. We were never able to finish that study because of a lack of funding and of course, impending disasters.

The Mitre Report is now in the hands of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and I hope they make good use of its initial findings and recommendations.

Best regards,

Michael D. Brown
I'll pick up that baton from Joe -- Michael Brown was in over his head but contrary to what I snarked about at the time, the tapes show that he did appreciate the threat and he was trying to get the government to respond. They wouldn't, and they deserve to absorb every bit of scorn that was heaped on Brown at the time for their failure to do so, so I would officially like to transfer my snark. It is to Brown's credit that he's being honest about it now and refusing to be the BushCo. goat. I offer my apologies and hope that others are encouraged to follow in his footsteps.

Update: FWIS "Michael Brown" responds in the comments.


O'Reilly Sicks The Goons on Mike Stark

Just got an email from Mike Stark. One of the people he organized into an O'Reilly call-in, whose crime was uttering the name "Olbermann" on Bill's radio show, was contacted by someone who identified himself as Tony Burdy of Fox Security. For the record, this is what was said on the radio show:
O'REILLY: Orlando, Florida, Mike, go.

CALLER: Hey Bill, I appreciate you taking my call.


CALLER: I like to listen to you during the day, I think Keith Olbermann's show --

O'REILLY: There ya go, Mike is -- he's a gone guy. You know, we have his -- we have your phone numbers, by the way. So, if you're listening, Mike, we have your phone number, and we're going to turn it over to Fox security, and you'll be getting a little visit.

HILL: Maybe Mike is from the mothership.

O'REILLY: No, Maybe Mike is going to get into big trouble, because we're not going to play around. When you call us, ladies and gentleman, just so you know, we do have your phone number, and if you say anything untoward, obscene, or anything like that, Fox security then will contact your local authorities, and you will be held accountable. Fair?

HILL: That's fair.

O'REILLY: So, just -- all you guys who do this kind of a thing, you know, I know some shock jocks. Whatever. You will be held accountable. Believe it.
So Mike called Fox Security back:
I took the number and called Tony. We had a ten minute conversation. I explained that I run and that I am recruiting callers to join me in calling Bill's show to protest his smearing of Keith Olberman. Tony explained to me that if he can use his years of experience as a NYC Police detective as a guide, that it can be considered harassment if you repeatedly call somebody. I told him that i was no lawyer, but it would probably take a pretty novel argument to convince a judge that a person was harassing a talk show host by accepting their invitation to call... I also explained that he can sample the wares on my site and see for himself that I've never been rude or disrespectful.

I asked him to tell O'Reilly that we'd be happy if he took the anti-Olberman petition down and apologized to Keith. Tony said that would be an unlikely turn of events, and we left it at that.
Then Mike received another email from another caller:
I just got a phone call from the head of Fox Security, Anthony Burti, #212-XXX-XXXX. I got the call on the phone I used to call him from the head of Fox News security. He said that harassing phone calls were coming from my phone. I asked him how many? He did not know. I asked him what was said that was harassing? He said that he did not know but that it did not have to be what was said, but how many calls were being made. He tried to make like I made 20 phone calls instead of one, and that I cursed O'Reilly out. All I said was that I was grateful to O'Reilly for turning me on to Olberman. Then he hung up.
I guess O'Reilly was telling the truth, the Falafosphere does have its own personal storm troopers.

Fifty bucks says Loofah Boy likes to parade around in lace panties and jack boots.

Update: Mike gets more emails from yet another caller:
I called back Fox Security, (unfortunately was not able to tape the call), but Tony was very pleasant, and told me that my phone number had come up on a list of having called Bill "numerous times". I interupted and said "Numerous times? I had to call several times to get through, but today was the first time that I called the Bill O'Reilly show."

He seemed surprised and said that "If that's the case than I apologize for calling you." (I paraphrase here...) Some people have called numerous times and it can rise to the level of harassment based on the number of calls, and it varies from state to state. (it "can" not that it "does"!)

I asked him why security at Fox News was handling an issue that happened at Westwood One. He didn't have much of an answer, accept to say that Bill wanted them to look into it, and they work for the same company. Honestly, he really didn't sound like he wanted to be doing this at all. Then he told me that "you're entitled to like or dislike whoever you want, you know, freedom of speech, but if it rises to the level of harassment, then they have to take it seriously. I commented that "Ol' Bill has some pretty thin skin, huh?" He didn't really answer, then I assured him that I was no threat to Bill O'Reilly.
That's a very good question. If O'Reilly's show is on Westwood One, what the heck does Fox Security have to do with it? And what right would Fox have to be taking legal action?


In Over Their Heads

We've been having some vigorous discussion here -- and have been in correspondence with the ombudsmen of The Washington Post and New York Times -- about various ethical and journalism issues. We thought you'd be interested in these issues, and we'd appreciate your thoughts about them. We also think some of this should raise caution flags for your gatekeeping editors as they assess whether to use copy from competing national news organizations.

First, in this post-Jayson Blair era, we believe newspapers must be more transparent then ever about the sources of their stories. That includes acknowledging when others have beaten us to a big story. The Washington Post and New York Times each failed this standard in recent weeks.

On Feb. 7, Warren Strobel reported on a State Department reorganization that sidelined career arms control experts who don't share the Bush administration's mistrust of international arms negotiations and agreements. Exactly two weeks later, The Washington Post published a virtually identical story by Glenn Kessler. We say "virtually identical" only because the stories were written with different words. There was not a single fact in Kessler's story that was not in Strobel's, the product of weeks of careful enterprise reporting and interviews with 11 current and former government officials. We have asked, through the Post's ombudsman, Deborah Howell, who was once executive editor in St. Paul, for a published acknowledgement of the Knight Ridder story. To date, it hasn't happened. We understand that there has been vigorous opposition from the Post reporter, who has claimed, in essence, that the "trade press" had already widely reported the story, a contention that is in fact not correct. We're waiting to see what happens.
Lil' Debbie is on the case. When she's done covering the local pie eating contest and flogging Dana Milbank for his fashion gafs I'm sure she'll be all over this.

Meanwhile our Roots radio advisor Mike Stark had scored a direct hit on Bill O'Reilly with his team of radio callers. At the very mention of the word "Obermann" O'Reilly said Fox Security would personally order the police to deal with it. C&L says Keith will be covering it tonight on Countdown. More must-see TV.

Update: Howie Klein is over at Kos giving Lieberman a whipping. If you're a Kos member please go hit the "recommend" button.


Judas Sheep

From aRealPatriot, per me to me:
There is something known as a [sic] Judah sheep.

These are sheep that lead their own brothers and sisters to their doom and slaughter, then they get out of the way just before they themselves are slaughtered.

The rest of the sheep follow the "Judah" to their own doom, even through the slaughtered screams of their kin before them.

Clearly, there are not only "Judah sheep" among animals, there are those among men that would lead their own to slaughter as well.

The question arises;

Do Judah sheep know what they are doing and what will become of their brothers and their sisters?

I would think most of these "Judah sheep" both sheep and men, probably not, for these sheep and and these men have been conditioned to do what they do. They don't exactly see or understand where they lead those behind them, they think it's their calling in life

However among men there ARE Judah sheep that DO know what they are doing.

They are part of the very plot.

I don't believe people that support this administration even through the legislation that flies in the face of their own best interest, and people that try to convince others that these are good policies actually know that they have become Judah sheep.

Supporting these policies that attack the fiber of the middle class demonstrates the how effective the corporate propaganda machine really is.

I believe most of the middle class in America who vote republican are just sheep, and victims of the corporate propaganda machine, they are shallow and lazy, and they are hypnotized by the marketing strategies of corporate enterprise.


The politicians and the media personalities who repeat things like "talking points" do know what they are doing.

People that protect and defend those who forge data and initiate unprovoked war against countries that they know pose no threat to our country.

And people that protect and defend policies that would actually siphon vital resources FROM our fight against terrorism, and take the equipment and funding FROM the boys and girls that desperately need those resources if they are to succeed.

And people that protect and defend policies that create terrorism in countries where none existed before, and policies like those that deliberately destroy the infrastructure of the country we overthrow.


And policies that would take our very own money which we invested for generations and giving those assets to the richest people on the planet, people who will never ever spend it...our hard earned money which we earmarked for our retirement, we earmarked your parents health and drug care, and most important, investments we earmarked for our children's college education.

Even your kids future is not a sacrifice too great to these Judah sheep.

It's mind boggling the damage that can be done to this country before the people that enable it realize what's happening.
Name your favorite Judas Sheep.

(Anonymous pointed out in the comments that it's actually "Judas Sheep." But the point is the same.)


Like We Needed More Proof the Warmongers Were Actually Chickenhawks

I think it's great that a guy who normally gets 200 hits a day can terrify a sitting U.S. Senator just by telling the truth, but how petrified must Lieberman be of Ned Lamont to try and strongarm the Huffington Post into censoring their bloggers?

I guess that "Vote Lieberman: Warmonger" slogan must not be testing out too well.

Anyway, go read about how Howie Klein is giving Joe Lieberman the running shits. It's a scream.

Update: Howie has more Lieberman graphics love here, and he's got two more musicians giving statements about their opposition to Holy Joe. I guess I understand why he's now in the Imodium brigade.


Couldn't Resist...

Will the Christian Broadcasters Association now face the wrath for voting Pat Robertson off their Board of Directors like he told the folks in Dover, Pennsylvania they would for voting against his wishes?

Guess we'll see.

(And how pathetic is it to have your spokesperson say you intended to separate from the board only after you lost the election and you are scrambling to save face? So sad, so very sad.)

(Photo via Pam's House Blend.)

UPDATE: And now, the Army has a new role: Concern Troll. Your tax dollars, hard at can't make this shit up.

And "the tea snarf of the day" award goes to Meteor Blades for: "Patwa." Brilliant. Just brilliant.


Hellooooo In There...

ThinkProgress headline from today:
Before Katrina Struck, Michael Brown Warned Bush ‘The Levees Could Actually Breach’
Major corporate media outlet headlines on the issue of Bush being warned that levees could breach, or that FEMA had done a trial run on this very issue on the year prior to Katrina, or that the President was getting constant updates along with Michael Chertoff at DHS headquarters on the conditions in the Gulf Region:
**crickets chirping**
Yep, Media Matters is a good read again today.

Hellooooooo, in there?

UPDATE: Just a reminder -- please take a moment to click thru the ads on our blog and peruse the information, the wares, the great stuff our advertisers have for you to see. These ads help defray our blog costs, so please be nice to the folks who buy them and take a peek at what they are offering or with what they would like your help. And now back to our regularly scheduled discussion...

UPDATE #2: Holy mogambo...we've been nominated for a Koufax for Best Blog. Wow. Thanks, really, just thanks.


All Hat, No Cattle

It's not enough that the President lies about the big things. He lies about the little ones, too. Remember the flap over Kerry ordering his cheesesteak in Philly with Swiss cheese and Rove and his malignant cronies having a field day over it? They set up a photo-op shortly afterward in Philly, with George Bush standing in front of a crowd at a Boeing plant, so he could go on camera and say:
"This is the 32nd time I’ve been to your state of Pennsylvania," he told the Boeing crowd, "and, you all know the reason why, don’t you? It’s because I like my cheesesteaks Whiz Wit’."
Except for one thing: Bushie likes his cheesesteak with American cheese, and not the Philly-preferred Cheez Whiz and provolone, too. So, no honesty from President Bush about this little cheesy detail? Hell no.
She reported that Bush actually "prefers his steak absent of the usual Cheez Whiz and provolone, accompanied only by cheese of the American variety," information that she obtained from her own Deep Throat, one Caeser Barnabei, the owner of the well-known cheesesteak shop, Jim's Place. Barnabei, who has fed the Bush camp on previous swings through Pennsylvania and provided "70 to 80 hoagies" for the Bush campaign yesterday, confided to Carey that "the Jim's Special is altered to whet the 'W' appetite."
As Matt Yglesias put it at the time, George Bush wants to be elected so badly, to do whatever it takes to cover his ass, that he is willing to lie about cheese. A completely unimportant detail to everyone (except perhaps a few die-hard Philly cheesesteak purists in Essington).

Why lie? Because he could. He and Karl and their malignant spin crew thought no one in the media would do any follow-up, that they'd move right on to the next spin cycle and never bother to look in the bottom of the washer for that one lost sock.

Too bad for them some enterprising young reporter did the follow-up (yay, Kathleen Carey). And too bad for them some enterprising reporter at the AP did a little follow-up of their own on the Katrina briefing video. And too bad we still have that video of the President just sitting on his butt, endlessly staring with that frightened rabbit in the headlights look on his face, after being informed by Andy Card that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center and that we were under attack.

George Bush is a product, with all sorts of fun labeling on the box -- nifty claims of "made with whole grains" and "fortified with vitamins and minerals," but what we're really looking at is a sort of candidate who, when you get down to what is really there, is a whole lot of fluff and nonsense, lots of fillers and ultra-refined crap, with a really good marketing team behind him. He sounds good when the team has everything working like a well-oiled machine, but those moments when he's off-script, off-plan, being "real" as opposed to "scripted," you get a real sense of who he is -- and in a crisis, it's not a pretty picture.

It's this pattern of behavior with this President that concerns me, the real behavior, not the spin and the projection and the tap dance that his Wurlitzer pals try to sell like so many PR folks with a wind-up Energizer bunny in their pocket -- and it ought to concern all Americans.

Faced with a crisis or some question of his leadership, his integrity, pretty much any question at all, George Bush's first response is to freeze, then huddle with his staff and come up with a media response. It's all statement, no actual leadership, no actual work. The PR blitz becomes the entire focus of this Administration -- all campaign mode, all the time, with no real concern for doing the actual work -- for really digging into the nitty gritty and governing.

All hat, no cattle.

And you know, I could really give a rats ass about what sort of cheese George Bush likes on his cheesesteak, because it has no bearing on anything in my life. But when he lies about something larger -- when he makes promises of aid to frightened Gulf Coast residents and then fails to follow-through on those promises after Katrina hits, sitting back and not deploying every resource available while people are dying, even though he promised to do just that, I get pissed.

Or when he just sits in a classroom filled with children with a copy of "The Pet Goat" in his hands (video here), for more than five minutes, with all those lives about to be lost in Manhattan and his very first action when he finally gets out of his little chair is to huddle with Andy Card and his PR crew, not call the Pentagon, not call the WH sit room, but to huddle with his PR folks to craft a statement for the media and then ride around on Air Force One for hours, leaving Dick Cheney in charge...well, that "all hat, no cattle" really fits, doesn't it?

Dan Froomkin summed it up perfectly in yesterday's White House Briefing:
Faced with challenges like these -- an attack on our nation or a natural disaster bearing down on our shores -- we can reasonably expect that our presidents will stand up, demand answers and options, and lead.

If the White House insists that Bush did that with Hurricane Katrina, it is incumbent upon them to back up that claim up with evidence. Otherwise, the image of him mouthing platitudes threatens to become defining of his presidency.
All talk, no action. That's our President in a nutshell, isn't it?

My husband reminded me this morning of a passage from the Bible (Matthew 15:8, in case you are interested), wherein Christ rebukes the Pharisees for doing a whole lot of talking, but not actually doing what they pretend to believe.
These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
George Bush likes to do a whole lot of public courting of the religious right. But it is worth a reminder that Christ's example was that you LIVE the teachings -- ALL of them, not just the ones that help give you a wedge issue and get you elected in the short-term, but ALL of them -- because just mouthing the words and then doing as you please is...well...hypocritical and wrong.

And it seems to me that repeated lying, especially when those lies are ones which lead to deaths of Americans, lead to damage to our nation, lead to the ever-widening divide between people who live here because immediate political gain for the short term by using a nasty wedge issue is more important to this President and his malignant spin crew than long-term damage to the nation as a whole...well, as Jane said, karma can come back to haunt you. And lately it sure seems like that's been happening in spades for George Bush and his Administration, doesn't it?

Lies have a way of catching up to you. When you lie about the little things that don't matter, over and over again, it starts to add up. And maybe you can get away with that, even as President, if it doesn't affect the lives of the American people. It's craven and weak and pathetic as a character question, but if it doesn't really impact the rest of the country and their everyday lives, it can be ignored by a vast number of people, I suppose.

But when you lie about the big things: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." or "we will move in whatever assets and resources we have at our disposal after the storm..." -- but you don't actually mean them or it's just a flat-out lie, and Americans know that you don't mean it and you are lying to them...repeatedly...about things that matter -- well, then the shit really begins to hit the fan.

Americans remember people pleading for help at the Superdome...for days. They remember FEMA sending refrigerator trucks filled with ice to Maine, instead of to the Gulf Coast, where they were actually needed. They remember the President staying on vacation, getting a new guitar, appearing at public events in California, while dead bodies floated in the streets of New Orleans and people in the Gulf Coast of Mississippi were living under make-shift shelters and scavanging in the local Walmart for baby formula to keep their children alive...for days, after the storm. And the President stayed on vacation, and federal resources sat on idle...for days. (And I see that Michael Chertoff is still drawing a paycheck. Accountability? Hell no.)

The American people see soldiers dying in Iraq and car bombs exploding there on the evening news and no amount of repeated lying to them on television about the insurgency being in its "last throes" makes that go away -- and it doesn't cover the fact that the President and his Administration knew all along that there was no "mushroom cloud" immediate threat from Saddam Hussein. And that they were told there was a substantial risk for civil war in Iraq -- that could spread to other nations in the Middle East -- if they didn't do the job right from the start. The fact that the Pentagon's plans were horribly underdone, and that we are facing a huge problem there now -- no accountability from Congress, no "second guessing" as the President puts it from the Administration. Well, that's just peachy -- if we just ignore the fact that we've botched things, maybe they'll just resolve on their own, eh? Lovely.

Lies have a way of catching up to you. And for this Administration, the constant stream of lies are catching up to them all at once. No amount of spin can cover the fact that this President is all hat and no cattle.

"Trust me" sure as hell doesn't cut it any more for George Bush, does it? But with Republicans controlling both houses of Congress, there will be no accountability for him either. He gets to continue to be the irresponsible frat boy, lying his way around whatever damage is done, getting away with not doing his job, having other people clean up his messes, only interacting with people who tell him he's doing a heckuva job.

You want to hold George Bush accountable? Elect a Democrat. It's that's simple. Until that happens, George Bush gets to continue to lie, hide, smear, and manipulate with impunity, because the Republican-controlled Congress will just continue to publicly mouth a few platitudes and then refuse to hold any further hearings and let George Bush and his malignant band of cronies do whatever they want without any real oversight.

You want to restore honesty to government? Then put Democrats in office who will hold him accountable. No more rubber stamp for George Bush's lies. No more.

It's time that "all hat, no cattle" learned the meaning of responsibility.

(Graphics love to BZB's Briarpatch. This photo had such a little ornery boy in his Tom Mix get-up, chasing people around with his pop gun feel to it. So perfect.)

UPDATE: I'm informed by "Tony" that no decent person orders their cheesesteak with provolone. When I was in grad school at UPenn in Philly, I got mine with Whiz and provolone, so clearly I'm not a purist, either. But I didn't insert my own preference above, I got the info from a local reporter who covered the issue initially, so clearly there is some local debate on what constitutes proper cheese on a cheesesteak, too. None of the "cheesy" debate, though, gets around the fact that George Bush actually likes his with American cheese -- and he lied about it, in public, to make himself look better for an election. George Bush can't even be honest about cheese -- what a wanker.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Late Nite FDL: Joe Klein In His Own Words, Third Semi-Final Round

The competition has been fierce this week to discern which comment by every B-list Bush apologist's favorite "Democrat" takes the title of Most Revoltingly Stupid Joe Klein Comment of All Time. Project Runway has nothing on the drama heating up in our comments section, just a few more bugle beads and bloomers.

From week to week people like Atrios and Media Matters do a very good job of pointing out the all-Republican, all-the-time composition of most TV news shows. Many in our comments section often wonder "where are the Democrats?" like they have anything to do with it.

The person who gets the coveted slot of "token Democrat" is usually of the Joe Klein ilk. We then get a break from Republicans endlessly repeating GOP talking points to hear a self-professed Democrat endlessly repeating GOP talking points. It's not like the Democrats are telling the bookers "sorry, I'm too busy." This guy gets the air time.

And what does he do with it? Here are tonight's entries for "Joe Klein: In His Own Words:"
19. "One can only imagine the Republican wrath and utter ridicule—the Rush Limbaugh fulminations—if, say, John Kerry had proposed a similar policy: Let's pin our Middle East hopes on the statesmanship of Hizballah and Hamas. But that is where the democratic idealism of the Bush Doctrine has led us. If the President turns out to be right—and let's hope he is—a century's worth of woolly-headed liberal dreamers will be vindicated. And he will surely deserve that woolliest of all peace prizes, the Nobel."

20. "I bow to nobody in my disdain for bloggers. You know, they're all opinions and very little information." (video here)

21. "And I've got to say, Bob, that, you know, usually at this - at this stage of a campaign, with a whole big field of a lot of candidates, you know, it's easy to look on them as a bunch of dwarfs or buffoons, but the Democrats have some really serious and substantive and - and effective candidates out there. Of course, there's another whole brigade of buffoons that are led by Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich and Carol Moseley-Braun, none of whom really have a chance to become president, and - and are kind of cluttering up the stage at this point, but there - there are some good, serious candidates out there, too."

22. The Democrats have for the last 10 or 15 years blatantly, shamelessly demagogued this issue. They've offered nothing positive on Social Security or on Medicare or on Medicaid, and it's time for them to compromise here. It's also time for the Republicans to compromise here. One area where you might see, you know, some--one possibility is the old Washington standby, the demonstration project. We might try privatization for some younger, you know, Social Security recipients--not recipients but, you know, contributors, or we might try it in a city or a couple of places. We haven't--we don't know how it's going to work."

23. "But these concerns pale before the importance of the program. It would have been a scandal if the NSA had not been using these tools to track down the bad guys. There is evidence that the information harvested helped foil several plots and disrupt al-Qaeda operations.There is no such thing as a pure political product. The two existing political parties are amalgams of passion and sanity, traditional liberalism and conservatism. Those who win the presidency create harmonic majorities by plausibly balancing these strains."

24. "In less than a second, less time than it takes to tell," Dick Cheney mused last week, his quail-hunting expedition had gone "from what is a very happy, pleasant day with great friends in a beautiful part of the country, doing something I love—to, my gosh, I've shot my friend. I've never experienced anything quite like that before." It was perhaps the most eloquent, emotionally unguarded moment from the notoriously buttoned-up Vice President. He seemed stunned, uncertain for once. And the haunted look in his eyes reminded me of what soldiers in Vietnam used to call the Thousand-Yard Stare—the paralytic shock that comes from seeing the impact that even low-caliber weaponry can have on human flesh.

25. "I've never seen George Bush lose a debate. He is a brilliant minimalist.

26. "And then there is her husband, a one-man supermarket tabloid. A few weeks ago, the New York Post ran a photo of Bill Clinton leaving a local restaurant with an attractive woman, and the political-elite gossip hounds went berserk."

27. "Look, this is a debate we're going to have in this country. And the rules may well change and they maybe should change. But to do it in the way that this has been done, to send the message that we're sending, you cannot guarantee me that we're not creating more militants, more -- and more problems for ourselves."

28. "If Lee does hook large black audiences, there's a chance the message they take from the film will increase racial tensions in the city. If they react violently--which can't be ruled out--the candidate with the most to lose will be David Dinkins."
Remember not only to vote by number, but to vigorously lobby for your choice because the winner of the best Klein snark in the comments section will also receive The Charles P. Pierce Award for Excellence in Klein Snark (to be awarded by Charles P. Pierce himself) and will also win a copy of the DVD of Action.

Now is your chance to do to Joe what he does to us every time he opens his mouth. Don't waste it.

First night semi-final round
Second night semi-final round


Bush Cargo Cult

The latest meme from TBogg. I'd say it's right up there with his best work -- "The Clenis" and "101st Fighting Keyboardists" (so omnipresent nobody remembers he originated them.) I think "Bush cargo culters" is a perfectly succinct description of those who don't have to have the slightest idea about what Fearless Leader is doing before they know they like it.

Latest case in point -- Ole 60 Grit O'Beirne:
I heard the fellow in front of the weather map saying we can't predict this could happen and then I heard Michael Brown telling us what his gut was telling him. Unfortunately, when I watched, I guess The National Weather Service fellow at his map, we all bring a lot of skepticism to weather reports, Chris. We're habituated to thinking weather reports are wrong....
That woman would get on her knees and blow a tail pipe if Bush asked her to.

(via TRex)


National Security Conservatives and the Polls: BushCo. Disaster

As mcjoan notes over at Kos, all of Bush's polls are in free fall. Periodically Gosprey sends me bits of interest from the subscription-only conservative Stratfor report, and I always feel like I'm getting a look into the belly of the beast. Behind all the lies and spin and absurd attempts to put a good face on things, they're freaked:
The point here is not to argue the merits of the Dubai ports deal, but rather to place the business deal in the context of the U.S. grand strategy. That strategy is, again, to split the Islamic world into its component parts, induce divisions by manipulating differences, and to create coalitions based on particular needs. This is, currently, about the only strategy the United States has going for it -- and if it can't use commercial relations as an inducement in the Muslim world, that is quite a weapon to lose.

The problem has become political, and stunningly so. One of the most recent opinion polls, by CBS, has placed Bush's approval rating at 34 percent -- a fairly shocking decline, and clearly attributable to the port issue. As we have noted in the past, each party has a core constituency of about 35-37 percent. When support falls significantly below this level, a president loses his ability to govern.

The Republican coalition consists of three parts: social conservatives, economic conservatives and business interests, and national security conservatives. The port deal has apparently hit the national security conservatives in Bush's coalition hard. They were already shaky over the administration's personnel policies in the military and the question of whether he had a clear strategy in Iraq, even as they supported the invasion.

Another part of the national security faction consists of those who believe that the Muslim world as a whole is, in the end, united against the United States, and that it poses a clear and present danger. Bush used to own this faction, but the debate over the ports has generated serious doubts among this faction about Bush's general policy. In their eyes, he appears inconsistent and potentially hypocritical. Economic conservatives might love the ports deal, and so might conservatives of the "realpolitik" variety, but those who buy into the view that there is a general danger of terrorism emanating from all Muslim countries are appalled -- and it is showing in the polls.

If Bush sinks much lower, he will breaks into territory from which it would be impossible for a presidency to recover. He is approaching this territory with three years left in his presidency. It is the second time that he has probed this region: The first was immediately after Hurricane Katrina. He is now down deeper in the polls, and it is cutting into his core constituency.

"In effect, Bush's strategy and his domestic politics have intersected with potential fratricidal force. The fact is that the U.S. strategy of dividing the Muslim world and playing one part off against the other is a defensible and sophisticated strategy -- even if does not, in the end, turn out to be successful (and who can tell about that?) This is not the strategy the United States started with; the strategy emerged out of the failures in Iraq in 2003. But whatever its origins, it is the strategy that is being used, and it is not a foolish strategy.

The problem is that the political coalition has eroded to the point that Bush needs all of his factions, and this policy -- particularly because of the visceral nature of the ports issue -- is cutting into the heart of his coalition. The general problem is this: The administration has provided no framework for understanding the connection between a destroyed mosque dome in As Samarra, an attack against a crucial oil facility in Saudi Arabia, and the UAE buyout of a British ports-management firm. Rather than being discussed in the light of a single, integrated strategy, these appear to be random, disparate and uncoordinated events. The reality of the administration's strategy and the reality of its politics are colliding. Bush will backtrack on the ports issue, and the UAE will probably drop the matter. But what is not clear is whether the damage done to the strategy and the politics can be undone. The numbers are just getting very low.
Karl Rove did not just arbitrarily decide that "national security" would be the battle cry for the 2006 elections. Losing the "national security" conservatives is an unmitigated disaster for them, and they know it.

The Dubai Ports World deal is set to go through on Monday. Another manifestation of Bush's "hang tough and fuck'em all" leadership strategy? This isn't just another garden variety scandal for the GOP. The implications are much greater. But it would seem that the Administration is treating it as such.


Investment Opportunities in the Coathanger Industry

I don't want Cecile Richards, head of Planned Parenthood, to feel left out by giving Nancy Keenan all the credit for the new Mississippi Rapist Rights Bill, so The General has a few words for her, too.

Feel the love.

Update: Digby on the Utah law which requires parental notification for abortions even if the father molested the girl:
These Republicans admit that women give up their rights when they have sex. Good to know. And they believe a child molesting father's parental rights are more important than the daughter he impregnated. Also good to know.
Thanks, Sammy Alito. You make this all possible.


The President Either Knew and Lied...Or He Doesn't Bother Doing His Job

Here's my conclusion after reading Murray Waas' exceptional new piece in the National Journal today: (1) the President either knew that Saddam posed no immediate threat to the United States and repeatedly lied to the American public and leaders around the world (and allowed multiple members of his Administration to lie about it as well) or (2) he doesn't bother doing his job, and had no idea what information was contained in multiple sensitive national security briefs that he was given over a long period of time, and no one in the Administration bothered to clue him in on this.

You choose.

I've wracked my brain this afternoon to come up with another alternative -- but no matter how I twist it around in my brain, it comes back to "he knew and lied" or "he doesn't bother doing his job."

The information regarding the aluminum tubes and the fact that the WH was aware of alternate uses for them isn't new -- Eriposte covered this issue back on Nov. 23rd on LeftCoaster in his exceptional series (which is up for a Best Series Koufax, btw -- congrats!).

What Waas does with this article, though, is put it in terms that major media outlets can distill into real questions for the White House -- and also gives excellent quotes and context to show how the Administration deliberately used each other to spin the false story on the tubes out. (I covered some of this WH story circle jerk, as has Jane, in our reporting on the WHIG. See here as just one example.)

One of the most damning aspects of the Waas article is this section, discussing the WH knowing -- via multiple reports from multiple intelligence agencies -- that Saddam Hussein posed NO threat to the US unless we attacked him first. (In other words, as a defensive action rather than an offensive one, should it come to that.)
The conclusion among intelligence agencies that Saddam was unlikely to consider attacking the United States unless attacked first was also outlined in Senior Executive Intelligence Briefs, highly classified daily intelligence papers distributed to several hundred executive branch officials and to the congressional intelligence oversight committees.

During the second half of 2002, the president and vice president repeatedly cited the threat from Saddam in their public statements. "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us," Cheney declared on August 26, 2002, to the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

In his September 12 address to the U.N. General Assembly, Bush said: "With every step the Iraqi regime takes toward gaining and deploying the most terrible weapons, our own options to confront that regime will narrow. And if an emboldened regime were to supply these weapons to terrorist allies, then the attacks of September the 11th would be a prelude to far greater horrors."

In an October 7 address to the nation, Bush cited intelligence showing that Iraq had a fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons. "We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the United States," the president declared.

"We know that Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy -- the United States of America," he added. "Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints."
These were all lies. All of them. The President and his staff knew -- or damn well should have known -- that the information they were feeding all of us, on talking head pundit shows or during national speeches or in testimony to Congress, all of it was lies.

And these lies were fed to a nation already reeling from the horror of 9/11, living in the ghostly shadow of the fallen towers in Manhattan, and looking to this Administration to keep them safe.

This Administration spit on the nation's trust, lied to our faces, and chose to start a war that we never needed to fight.

Because the scary threat that the Administration built to a fever pitch was a precariously balanced house of cards, on a false foundation of mis-used intelligence, cherry-picked so that no opinion that contradicted what George Bush and Dick Cheney wanted ever got into the public domain until we were already in Iraq.

Public statements made by officials in this Administration -- including by the President himself -- were unwavering in their accusations of wrongdoing on the part of Saddam Hussein. On the threat he posed to this nation. On the possibility of a "mushroom cloud." On the potential for nerve agents or other biological toxins being in his possession and being unleashed on the United States by Saddam's ties to al qaeda.

All lies. And all lies that the Administration knew -- or should have known, had they been doing their damn jobs -- were false before they were ever publicly uttered.
The report stated that U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously agreed that it was unlikely that Saddam would try to attack the United States -- except if "ongoing military operations risked the imminent demise of his regime" or if he intended to "extract revenge" for such an assault, according to records and sources....

On numerous other occasions, Cheney, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and then-U.N. Ambassador John Negroponte cited Iraq's procurement of aluminum tubes without disclosing that the intelligence community was split as to their end use. The fact that the president was informed of the dissents by Energy and State is also significant because Rice and other administration officials have said that Bush did not know about those dissenting views when he made claims about the purported uses for the tubes.
The President of the United States and his advisors have an obligation to the public to be honest and forthright with them if we are going to go into battle to defend our nation. To start a war is the single most critical decision a President ought ever make. For all those mothers and fathers who send their child into battle on behalf of our great nation, we owe them nothing less than full honesty -- and the President owes them nothing less than honesty with himself as to all of the information available before he gives the orders that will potentially send their children to their death.

This President has lost faith with these soldiers and their families. And Congress ought to be ashamed of themselves for providing what little oversight has been done -- they bear just as much responsibility as the President. Our men and women in uniform deserve much better than this.

They are facing death every day in the streets of Iraq because the President was too dishonest, too craven, too lazy to stand up and be honest with the American people about the reasons he was taking the nation to war. But the people who pay the price for this war are not the sons and daughters of privilege by and large -- and too often they are the families who can least afford to pay the price of so great a sacrifice. But pay it they do, for they love their nation. And for their love of country, what they have gotten in return is a President who has broken faith with them, and sent them into battle based on lies ginned up to create an atmosphere that would support Bush's War.

All that false caring about the troops, the praying with the families of the dead, the false bravado of the boo-yah in a speech on a base, is worthless if you didn't care enough about their lives to do the work to start with before they went into battle.

Just as all that false caring about the people in the Gulf Region here in the US is meaningless when you stay on vacation for days after you know how dire the situation is. All of the public staging, the spin, the Mighty Wurlitzer storylines about what a great, genial, wonderful man you are doesn't mean squat if you aren't man enough to listen to criticism when it is warranted -- and to information that contradicts what you want to hear. A real man faces reality, a coward hides in his bubble surrounded by sycophants who tell him only what he wants to hear and feeds him hand-picked audiences to stroke his ego.

To say that I am disgusted doesn't even come close today. No more lies without accountability.


Mississippi to Pass Rapist Rights Bill Too: Thanks, Nancy Keenan

As a direct result of Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court, Mississippi now falls in line behind South Dakota to pass a Rapist Rights Bill:
Gov. Haley Barbour said Wednesday he would probably sign a bill under consideration in the state House that would ban most abortions in Mississippi.

The measure, which passed the House Public Health Committee on Tuesday, would allow abortion only to save a woman's life. It would make no exception in cases of rape or incest.

Barbour, a Republican, said he preferred an exception in cases of rape and incest, but if such a bill came to his desk: "I suspect I'll sign it."

The full House could vote on the bill next week, and it would then go to the Senate.
And yet NARAL and Planned Parenthood continue to support Joe Lieberman and Lincoln Chafee. I'm hearing that they are greatly annoyed at having to deal with "attacks from the left" on this "one little point" that we seem to disagree on. They're catterwauling that this is "just what the right wants."

Number one -- if you're rubber stamping the people who put Alito on the bench, how EXACTLY does that qualify YOU as the left?

Number two -- it's not "one little point." If another vacancy comes up on the Supreme Court, how do NARAL and Planned Parenthood plan to fight it? If it was okay for Lieberman and Chafee to vote for cloture on Alito, what's going to be different the next time? Are they waiting for someone WORSE before they put up a fight?

Number three -- "just what the right wants?" I'll tell you "just what they right wants." They want to be able to steam roll their fundie freaks onto the bench with no organized opposition, which is exactly what they got. I really don't see how we can make them much happier.

Most big feminists, I'm finding out, have no idea that NARAL and Planned Parenthood are supporting Chafee and Lieberman, or that they told their memberships to thank them both for their Alito votes. When they find out they go appropriately apeshit. They've been contacting a much-irritated Nancy Keenan who seems to think choice is a fine price to pay to maintain her own personal access to Republican cocktail parties.

We get coathangers so she can have cocktail weenies.

Not one more penny for either organization until they agree to stop giving it to people like Lieberman and Chafee who put Alito on the bench.

If there is any hope of stopping this juggernaut, I urge everyone to put your money where it will do some good -- to send a wake-up call to the Democratic Party, NARAL and Planned Parenthood that this is bullshit, people are angry and they better smell the fucking coffee.

Give to Ciro Rodriguez and Ned Lamont.

The fight starts now.

(hat tip to Joe from Americablog and not to NARAL, whose blogger mailing list I am on)


Cue The Aneurysm

Dubai Ports World's $6.85 billion acquisition of Britain's P&O will close on Friday or Monday, despite an additional 45-day review by the U.S. government in response to security concerns, a U.S. Treasury Department official said on Thursday.

"My understanding is that the deal will not close today," Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt told a Senate panel. "Although they had announced March 2 as the closing date ... that deal will not now close until tomorrow or Monday."

Kimmitt made his statement in response to a question from lawmakers on the Senate Banking Committee.
Can I just say how unhappy I am that Dobbs is allowed to own this thing?


Maine and Nebraska Roots

The March 7 deadline on the vote by the Senate Intelligence Committee is looming as to whether or not they'll investigate the illegal NSA wiretaps, and the wavering Republicans -- Snowe and Hagel -- need some nudging. So we're asking people to both call and write on behalf of this today; BushCo. is on the ropes right now and the time is perfect to use it to our advantage.

Glenn Greenwald has been doing yeoman's work into this, you can brush up on talking points here and read his latest update here. But the basic point is that the Committee needs to vote to look into this.

So pick up your telephones, grab your fax machines and work those keyboards:

Olympia Snowe (R-ME) -- previously indicated she supported amending FISA in some fashion, but voted with Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) to adjourn the committee without considering a motion to hold NSA hearings.

Senator Snowe webmail

Senator Snowe Telephone Numbers:
Washington, D.C. Office (202) 224-5344
Washington, D.C. toll-free from Maine (800) 432-1599
Auburn office (207) 786-2451
Augusta (207) 622-8292
Bangor (207) 945-0432
Biddeford office (207) 282-4144
Portland office (207) 874-0883
Presque Isle office (207) 764-5124

Senator Snowe Fax Numbers:
Washington, D.C. (202) 224-1946
Auburn office (207) 782-1438
Augusta (207) 622-7295
Bangor (207) 941-9525
Biddeford (207) 284-2358
Portland (207) 874-7631
Presque Isle (207) 764-6420

Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
Senator Hagel Webmail

Senator Hagel Telephone Numbers:
Washington, D.C. (202) 224-4224
Omaha office (402) 758-8981
Lincoln (402) 476-1400
Kearney (308) 236-7602
Scottsbluff (308) 632-6032

Senator Hagel Fax Numbers:
Washington, D.C. (202) 224-5213
Omaha office (402) 758-9165
Lincoln (402) 476-0605
Kearney (308) 236-7473
Scottsbluff Office (308) 632-6295

We're also encouraging people who are from Maine or Nebraska, or have ties to those states, to write carefully crafted letters to local media outlets. Vichy Dems has the contact information for Maine here and Nebraska here.

We keep getting fabulous feedback about all the letters we managed to get printed in the local Kansas papers last week (more on that later), and I'm certain we can do the same in Maine and Nebraska. It's a great way to cut through the national media ice, fly under the radar and hit hard in the back yards of these Senators where our efforts can have the maximum impact.

Thanks to everyone for their help on this matter, you're inspirational.