The Nattering Nabob <$BlogRSDUrl$>
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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

F*x News
 
I almost feel guilty about posting this, but I love it when sanctimonious assholes are caught with their pants down looking stupid.

Fox News ran a promo for an episode of Your World with Neil Cavuto called "Porn in the USA" - apparently a show about protecting kids from porn.

Anyway, the promo included a screenshot from a porn site showing some girl getting laid. Fox, of course, airbushed out the nipple on the girl's exposed tit.

But they somehow failed to airbrush out the large, erect penis that's inside of her. On television.

Of course, an alert cyberspace citizen named mjsmitho noticed this, and got a screenshot of the moment and posted it in cyberspace to be preserved for all eternity. Don't click on the link if you're at work or someplace where you can get in trouble.

Where's the FCC when you need them?

And to think of all that fuss over Janet Jackson's boob...

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Moore and the whores
 
Michael Moore, during an interview with Hannah Storm of CBS News, told CBS - to their face - exactly what many of us think of thier coverage and the coverage of the networks. The networks try to deny it, but his point is undeniable.

Storm: "So this is satire and not documentary? We shouldn’t see this as..."

Moore: "It’s a satirical documentary."

Storm: "Some have said propaganda, do you buy that? Op-ed?"

Moore: "No, I consider the CBS Evening News propaganda. What I do is..."

Storm: "We’ll move beyond on that."

Moore: "Why? Let’s not move beyond that. Seriously."

Storm: "No, let’s talk about your movie."

Moore: "But why don’t we talk about the Evening News on this network and the other networks that didn’t do the job they should have done at the beginning of this war?"

Storm: "You know what?"

Moore: "Demanded the evidence, ask the hard questions-"

Storm: "Okay."

Moore: "-we may not of even gone into this war had these networks done their job. I mean, it was a great disservice to the American people because we depend on people who work here and the other networks to go after those in power and say 'Hey, wait a minute. You want to send our kids off to war, we want to know where those weapons of mass destruction are. Let’s see the proof. Let’s see the proof that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11.’"

Storm: "But-"

Moore: "There was no proof and everybody just got embedded and everybody rolled over and everybody knows that now."

Storm: "Michael, the one thing that journalists try to do is to present both sides of the story. And it could be argued that you did not do that in this movie."

Moore: "I certainly didn’t. I presented my side..."

Storm: "You presented your side of the story."

Moore: "Because my side - that’s the side of millions of Americans - rarely gets told. This is just a humble plea on my behalf and not to you personally, Hannah. But I’m just saying to journalists in general that instead of working so hard to tell both sides of the story, why don’t you just tell that one side, which is the administration, why don’t you ask them the hard questions-"

Storm: "Which I think is something that we all try to do."

Moore: "Well, I think it was a lot of cheerleading going on at the beginning of this war-"

Storm: "Alright."

Moore: "A lot of cheerleading and it didn’t do the public any good to have journalists standing in front of the camera going 'whoop-dee-do, let’s all go to war’. And, and it’s not their kids going to war. It’s not the children of the news executives going to war-"

Storm: "Michael, why don’t you do you next movie about networks news, okay? Because this movie..."

Moore: "I know, I think I should do that movie."

Storm: "...because this movie is an attack on the president and his policies."

Moore: "Well, and it also points out how the networks failed us at the beginning of this war and didn’t do their job."

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Extremists in America
 
I'm going to post Oliver Willis' article in full here, because it's that good. But go read the rest of his blog, which is ALSO very good.

Extremists In America

Jeff Jarvis has an interesting post up about political polarization in America. A few weeks ago, when I was in a bit of a funk, I thought "you know, it's quite possible we could have a civil war in this country". I know that that isn't true, or rational, but I do believe that we really are that far apart.

I'm right up there in the legion of Bush-haters, but on September 11 I was ready to back him full tilt against terrorism. When Al Qaeda struck, they didn't distinguish between political affiliation, and when we expressed our love for each other and our resolve against them - it wasn't based on what party you were a member of.

The disconnect happened when we decided to go into Iraq. From the perspective of the left, Bush just never made a comprehensive case for going into Iraq, while we were ostensibly in the middle of a war on terrorism.

I tried to listen with an open mind, I swear. I thought 9/11 opened his mind, and we would have a newfound resolve to fight terrorism to the ends of the earth. But what I saw was a reversion to the divisive politics of the 2000 election, impeachment, and the entire Clinton presidency. The war on Iraq became a midterm election year issue, rather than a national security policy. That's a great way to alienate half of the political sphere. I see the same attitude on conservative blogs and their comments, remarking that the left is either idealogically in league with terrorists. I can't speak for the left of old, but it would take someone with the psyche of a battered wife to just sit there and take that.

They will deny it, but the right got behind their bombthrowers big time in the '90s. Folks like Rush Limbaugh were completely absorbed into the GOP and that anger fueled a midterm election win. The result of that was that Bill Clinton swerved to beat them, and they lost it - and we got handed impeachment.

Maybe its because of where I stand, but I fail to see how a couple of documentaries, a fledgling radio network, a few green thinktanks, and a growing army of internet pamphleteers even comes close.

I get branded as an extremist, some sort of wild-eyed radical liberal. Know what my platform is?

I believe in decently regulated free markets. I believe in global trade, with safeguards for decent wages and working conditions. I'm in favor of the death penalty. I believe in the use of the military when all other options are exhausted. I want all terrorists dead. I think the UN is a good idea, and we should work to make it worthwhile. I think that the middle class should get a cut in taxes. I think that affirmative action needs serious work, and if we got serious about education there would be no need. I think the government is us, and I think it should be our goal to make it better - not to destroy it and leave things up to corporations whose only focus is their quarterly earnings.

But I believed that the war in Iraq was the wrong war, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons, and now obviously run by the wrong people. For that, I get called all sorts of names by the right, branded as all sorts of things - but I'm just supposed to shrug that off?

Get real.


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Under the category, "Shooting Fish in a Barrel."

"With thousands of Republicans set to invade the city this summer, high-priced escorts and strippers are preparing for one grand old party.

Agencies are flying in extra call girls from around the globe to meet the expected demand during the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 gathering at Madison Square Garden.

"We have girls from London, Seattle, California, all coming in for that week," said a madam at a Manhattan escort service. "It's the week everyone wants to work."


No comment. WAY too easy.

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Some Sovereignty
 
When Iraqi "sovereignty"(sic) was "transferred"(sic), they all passed a note around about the "surprise" decision to transfer power two days early. Condi Rice had written on a card, "Iraq is sovereign" and Bush wrote across on the side, in supposed response, "Let freedom reign!"

Then, of course, they immediately photographed the note and distributed it to the news media. “Mission accomplished” revisited.

It is hard to believe that there are some citizens who think that this note wasn't specifically scripted beforehand for P.R. purposes, but sadly, there ARE people that gullible, and they make up some of Bush's base, which seems to consist entirely of the dupers and the dupes.

The Bushies are trying to give the impression that the so-called "transfer of power" was a moment of earth-shaking significance, and they needed SOME P.R. to make up for the fact that the actual event was furtive and clandestine.

Transferring power on the sly certainly was an odd thing to do, considering the fact that our occupying forces were supposed to be greeted by deliriously happy Iraqis throwing flowers and all.

But they needed to do SOMETHING to give the impression that it was an historical moment when in reality it was just bureaucratic paper-shuffling, and nothing much has really changed at all.

“Sovereign” Iraq is obviously not sovereign. The government is not elected. The government, in fact, is hand-picked by an occupying force and was chosen because they were a puppet of that occupying force. They will govern in cooperation with the occupying force and with the American Businesses who have been awarded almost all of the contracts by the occupying force, and who are linked through personal ties and campaign contributions to the Bush administration.

The Iraqis are no freer of the United States than they were last week.

And the United States is no freer of Iraq that IT was last week. We still have 130,000 troops over there getting shot at with no real clue as to how or when we will bring them home. We still have billions upon billions of dollars bleeding from the United States Treasury and fattening the coffers of Bush's cronies while our infrastructure, our hospitals and our schools are crumbling over here.

As long as Iraq is occupied by a foreign army, ruled by foreign businesses and run by people who are hand-picked by a foreign power, “sovereignty” isn’t merely a sham, it’s a pathetic joke. And a transparent, obvious, cynicalm, pathetic joke.

You may think I'm too cynical. But I'm not nearly as cynical as THESE folks. I couldn't possibly be.

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Who said it?
 
"Don't ask questions, and listen calmly to us, and everything will be all right."

Who said it? Mohammed Atta on 9/11, preparing to crash a plane into the WTC - or the Bush administration to the American People?

The answer, of course, is both.

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Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times, in what, I swear, is intended as a DEFENSE of Bush against charges of lying, sets a brand-new record in the field of "damning with faint praise":

"In fact, of course, Mr. Bush did stretch the truth. The run-up to Iraq was all about exaggerations, but not flat-out lies. Indeed, there's some evidence that Mr. Bush carefully avoids the most blatant lies — witness his meticulous descriptions of the periods in which he did not use illegal drugs.

True, Mr. Bush boasted that he doesn't normally read newspaper articles, when his wife said he does. And Mr. Bush wrongly claimed that he was watching on television on the morning of 9/11 as the first airplane hit the World Trade Center. But considering the odd things the president often says ("I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family"), Mr. Bush always has available a prima facie defense of confusion.

Mr. Bush's central problem is not that he was lying about Iraq, but that he was overzealous and self-deluded. He surrounded himself with like-minded ideologues, and they all told one another that Saddam was a mortal threat to us. They deceived themselves along with the public — a more common problem in government than flat-out lying."


So, according to Kristof, Bush wasn't lying: he's just confused and self-deceptive.

That's the DEFENSE.

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Monday, June 28, 2004


 

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Billions Missing
 
"For the entire year that the CPA [Coalition Provisional Authority] has been in power in Iraq, it has been impossible to tell with any accuracy what the CPA has been doing with Iraq's money. - Helen Collison, Christian Aid.


Is it my imagination, or is theft becoming downright predictable with this crew?

"Billions of dollars belonging to Iraq is not accounted for by the Coalition Provisional Authority, which was given responsibility by the United Nations for the country's finances, British lawmakers and aid activists said Monday.

There are glaring gaps in the handling of $20 billion generated by Iraq's oil and other sources since the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein ended last year, according to reports from the Liberal Democrats, Britain's third-largest political party, and Christian Aid.

The Christian Aid report also said the majority of Iraq's reconstruction projects have been awarded to U.S. companies, which charge up to 10 times more than Iraqi firms.

There was no immediate reaction from coalition officials to the reports."


Why am I not surprised? This is, after all, Standard Operating Procedure for the Bush Barons. First, they awarded Cheney’s old company a no-bid contract, and guaranteed them a profit percentage, thus making it lucrative for the robber barons to waste as many tax dollars as possible.

And NOW, there’s 20 billion dollars missing, and the reconstruction projects are being award to American firms instead of to those Iraqis who we claim to want to help so badly. Even though the American firms cost an arm and a leg.

What actually appalls me isn’t the theft; it’s the cynicism. Obviously, the Cheney Cartel believes that they can get away with anything, no matter how blatant and obvious, and they don’t IMAGINE that they will ever be made accountable for their actions.

Sweet, isn’t it? First they make billions by bombing a country and then they make billions rebuilding it. I wonder if they'll repeat the cycle again and again so they keep making more and more money?

No wonder they were willing to stop at nothing to gain power.


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Sunday, June 27, 2004

FaithfulAmerica
 
The religious communities of America are doing our "religious" President's job for him. Thank God SOMEBODY is!

"People have heard apologies coming from American officials, but measures that have been taken haven't convinced them that the apologies are sincere. But hearing apologies from religious Americans struck a chord here."
- Gamal Abdul Gawad, interviewed by NBC News in Egypt about the ad.

The campaign to put an ad on Arab TV expressing sorrow over torture in Iraq has been tremendously successful. Thanks for making it happen! In just a few days, 92,000 people have endorsed the ad and given $150,000! The ad has been featured on MSNBC, CNN and in most major newspapers. Its first run on Arab TV has generated a wonderful response from the Arab world.

The press is also reporting a larger story about FaithfulAmerica.org as part of a new, progressive, religious movement in America. We are going to run the ad again, and this time we hope to say the message comes from over 100,000 Americans. So please send this to five or ten people you know who might want to be part of this new, progressive, faith movement. The link below leads to the campaign page, where people can endorse the ad or read media coverage.

www.faithfulamerica.org/adclip.htm

Together, we'll build a country where hope, justice, community and the common good matter again.

Blessings,
The FaithfulAmerica.org Team

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"First of all, most of Europe supported the decision in Iraq. Really what you're talking about is France, isn't it? And they didn't agree with my decision. They did vote for the U.N. Security Council resolution. ... We just had a difference of opinion about whether, when you say something, you mean it." - George W. Bush, showing the Irish that the President of the United States is a babbling fool who is completely ignorant about the rest of the world. Attribution

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Contrast
 

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Reality Bites
 
Same old, same old: once again the Bush administration believes whoever is willing to tell them what they want to hear, and once again, that practice bites them in the ass:

A captured Qaeda commander who was a principal source for Bush administration claims that Osama bin Laden collaborated with Saddam Hussein's regime has changed his story, setting back White House efforts to shore up the credibility of its original case for the invasion of Iraq. The apparent recantation of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a onetime member of bin Laden's inner circle, has never been publicly acknowledged. But U.S. intelligence officials tell NEWSWEEK that al-Libi was a crucial source for one of the more dramatic assertions made by President George W. Bush and his top aides: that Iraq had provided training in "poisons and deadly gases" for Al Qaeda.


HERE'S a novel idea for the Bushies: how about making your opinions conform to reality, instead trying to force reality into conforming to your opinons?

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Saturday, June 26, 2004


 
"I expressed myself rather forcefully, felt better after I had done it." - Dick Cheney, defending his action of telling a Senator to go fuck himself.


Kind of ironic, isn't it? I mean, I thought conservatives hated all that "if it feels good, do it" stuff. I thought they despised that philosophy, and considered it the very epitome of modern immorality.

Maybe somebody should ask Dick if it IS in fact OK to do something because it feels good even if it's wrong.

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A thought: Cheney SWEARS that he no longer has any connection to Halliburton.

So why is he taking the investigation of Halliburton as a personal accusation?

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From the news story:

"Asked if he cursed the Vermont senator, Cheney told the Fox News program, the Cavuto Report, "Probably."

"Probably?"


You aren't sure whether you said it or not, Dick?

ha ha

Yeah, and your "probably" as crooked as a corkscrew.

Are these people psychologically incapable of giving straight answers?

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Friday, June 25, 2004

Murder At Abu Ghraibe?
 
This implicates the top guys.

BAGHDAD, June 24 -- The company commander of the U.S. soldiers charged with abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison testified Thursday that the top military intelligence commander at the prison was present the night a detainee died during an interrogation and that efforts were made to conceal the details of the detainee's death.

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"There's no question that we have suffered some loss, if not of prestige then at least of support in the world by following a more unilateral course. But that's not very important to [the Bush White House], because they saw 9/11 as an opportunity to move the country to the right and mold the world the way they thought it ought to be molded.

That's why they morphed the attack by al-Qaida into the war on Iraq, which is something they wanted to do beforehand. Paul Wolfowitz tried to get me to depose Saddam ... They see the world very differently. I believe we ought to be trying to build more and more institutional cooperation in the world, while reserving the right to act alone when we have to. They have believed, at least for the first three and a half years, that they should act alone whenever they can, using the springboard of what happened on 9/11 -- and cooperate when they have to. In the end it may bring us to the same place. In Iraq they've gone to the U.N. to get a resolution. But in the meanwhile we're leaving a lot of broken pottery along the way."
- President Bill Clinton Attribution

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Thursday, June 24, 2004

Dick Under Pressure
 
Looks like the pressure is getting to Dick. Maybe Dick Cheney, like Lon Cheney, occasionally morphs into a wolfhound. Or is that his natural state?

From Reuters:

Vice President Dick Cheney blurted out the "F word" at Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont during a heated exchange on the Senate floor.

The incident occurred on Tuesday in a terse discussion between the two that touched on politics, religion and money, with Cheney finally telling Leahy to "f--- off" or "go f--- yourself," the aides said.

According to congressional aides, Leahy said hello to Cheney following the taking of the Senate group photo on the floor of the chamber.

Cheney, who is president of the Senate, then ripped into Leahy for the Democratic senator's criticism this week of alleged war profiteering in Iraq by Halliburton, the oil services company that Cheney once ran.

During their exchange, Leahy noted that Republicans had accused Democrats of being anti-Catholic because they are opposed to some of President Bush's anti-abortion judges, the aides said.

That's when Cheney unloaded with the "F-bomb," aides said.


Well, obviously, "Go Fuck Yourself" is the only possible response when someone complains about your smears. Isn't it great that the grownups are in charge? What will we tell the children?

Begala came up with this winner on Crossfire:

BEGALA: Meanwhile, Vice President Dick Cheney blew a gasket on the Senate floor this week, telling Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont to -- quote -- "go 'F' yourself" -- unquote. Look at it this way, though. Maybe Cheney was just telling Leahy the Republican version of safe sex. I don't know.

(LAUGHTER)


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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

My Pet President
 
One thing that Moore's movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, already seems to have accomplished is that it has made the public at large aware of the footage of Bush sitting in the classroom without doing anything for several long minutes after being told that the United States is under attack. Cyberspace political junkies have long been aware of this footage: people who get their news from TV and newspapers haven't been. Until now. Thanks to Michael Moore.

Incidentally, if you haven't seen the video, it's been available in cyberspace for two years. The full version, in Quicktime (25mb), is here, and an excerpted version, in Real Player (7mb), is here.

If you want proof that the media certainly is not liberal and certainly IS clueless, think about the fact that there has been endless coverage of Bush and 9/11; 9/11 and Bush; what Bush did on 9/11; how 9/11 defined Bush; ad nauseam. And ask yourself how come, amid all this coverage, there has been footage of Bush at the moment that he was told that we were under attack - but not one major news channel thought it might be interesting to actually show it?

But one thing that is largely escaping attention is that Bush didn't just sit there after knowing that the second plane hit: he had not yet started his photo-op when the first plane hit and yet he still chose to continue with his photo-op instead of taking some action.

He didn't know it was a terrorist attack at that point? Maybe, but he certainly knew that a major disaster had just hit the downtown area of the nation's largest city, but he didn't think it was worth interrupting a photo-op for.

And it's assumed that he didn't know it was a terrorist attack, but I'm not so sure. I didn't know it was an attack yet. You didn't know it was an attack yet. But those in power MUST have known it: because they certainly DID know that the plane that had hit the skyscraper had been hijacked.

To you and me, it was a perfectly normal morning. To the Pentagon, the Strategic Air Command and the White House, it was a morning where there had been four planes hijacked. You don't think that got somebody's attention? You don't think they realized that something was up?

And then one of the hijacked planes hit a skyscraper. And they knew that there were three other hijacked planes in the sky, one on a trajectory to New York, and one to DC.

So how the hell could they not have realized it was an attack? An idiot would connect those dots.

But Bush decided to go into an elementary school classroom and read My Pet Goat, instead.

And then he tried to spin his actions as heroic.

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Monday, June 21, 2004


 
"The rich have the right to buy more homes than anyone else. They have the right to buy more cars than anyone else, more gizmos than anyone else, more clothes and vacations than anyone else. But they do not have the right to buy more democracy than anyone else." - Bill Moyers



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AP:
"Defense lawyers for soldiers on trial in the Iraqi prisoner abuse case won permission Monday to question two top U.S. generals, and the military judge ordered that the Abu Ghraib prison not be torn down because it is a crime scene."

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"I believe that if we had and would keep our dirty, bloody, dollar-soaked fingers out of the business of these nations so full of depressed, exploited people, they will arrive at a solution of their own -- and if unfortunately their revolution must be of the violent type because the "haves" refuse to share with the "have-nots" by any peaceful method, at least what they get will be their own, and not the American style, which they don't want and above all don't want crammed down their throats by Americans."

-General David M. Shoup, May 14, 1966
Commandant of the Marine Corps 1960-63,and winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor

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Orwell That Ends Well
 
Atrios has uncovered a glimpse into the cold, dark heart of the modern right-wing.

"Republican pollster and strategist Frank Luntz, who for some reason also makes regular appearances on NBC and hosts his own show on MSNBC, something no Democratic pollster and strategist does, regularly issues talking points. Here's what he issued for talking about Iraq and 9/11. Check them out! I'm not sure how new or old this is."
It reminds me very much of Gingrich's "Language: a key mechanism of control." Documents showing unscrupulous people openly talking about ways to manipulate others chill me. The fact that a pollster is urging the Republican party to use language to manipulate opinion makes it doubly chilling.

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Lying again
 
From Altercation:

Transcript, CNBC’s “Capital Report,” June 17, 2004

Gloria Borger: “Well, let’s get to Mohammed Atta for a minute, because you mentioned him as well. You have said in the past that it was quote, “pretty well confirmed.”
Vice President Cheney: No, I never said that.
BORGER: OK.
CHENEY: Never said that.
BORGER: I think that is...
CHENEY: Absolutely not.

Transcript, NBC’s “Meet the Press,” December 9, 2001.

Vice-President Cheney: “It’s been pretty well confirmed that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April.”



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This is a bit more erudite than the usual offering. A solid explanation of what's wrong with laissez-faire capitalism and why right-wing economic policies just don't work.

Excerpt:

"There is nothing "normal" about a nation having a middle class, even though it is vital to the survival of democracy.

As twenty-three years of conservative economic policies have now shown millions of un- and underemployed Americans, what's "normal" in a "free and unfettered" economy is the rapid evolution of a small but fabulously wealthy ownership class, and a large but poor working class. In the entire history of civilization, outside of a small mercantilist class and the very few skilled tradesmen who'd managed to organize in guilds (the earliest unions) like the ancient Masons, the middle class was an aberration.

If a nation wants a middle class, it must define it, desire it, and work to both create and keep it.

This is because a middle class is the creation of government participation (conservatives call it "interference") in the marketplace, by determining the rules of the game of business and of taxation, and by providing free public education to all. And it wasn't until 1776, when Thomas Jefferson replaced John Locke's right to "life, liberty and property" with "life liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" that the idea of a large class of working people having the ability to "pursue happiness" - the middle class - was even seriously considered as a cornerstone obligation of government."


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Howard Kurtz is the Washington Post's columnists whose job it is to report on the various biases of the media. More than one person has noted that he has a few biases of his own:

Kurtz's explanation of why Clinton doesn't get the same treatment as Reagan:

"Some obvious caveats: Reagan, despite the Iran-contra scandal, left office a popular figure; Clinton's departure came two years after he was impeached and was clouded by his wave of last-minute pardons."


Ummm, Howard? Clinton left office a MORE popular figure than Reagan, according to every poll.

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http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/06/21/moon/index.html

We hear a lot about "religion" from the folks in Washington. Does anyone but me find it horrifying that some of our representatives are squarely in hip pocket of maniacal cultist Sun Myung Moon?

"On March 23, the Dirksen Senate Office Building was the scene of a coronation ceremony for Rev. Sun Myung Moon, owner of the conservative Washington Times newspaper and UPI wire service, who was given a bejeweled crown by Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill. Afterward, Moon told his bipartisan audience of Washington power players he would save everyone on Earth as he had saved the souls of Hitler and Stalin -- the murderous dictators had been born again through him, he said. In a vision, Moon said the reformed Hitler and Stalin vouched for him, calling him "none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent."

To many observers, this bizarre scene would have looked like the apocalypse as depicted in "Left Behind" novels. Moon, 84, the benefactor of conservative foundations like the American Family Coalition -- who served time in the 1980s for tax fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice -- has views somewhere to the right of the Taliban's Mullah Omar. Moon preaches that gays are "dung-eating dogs," Jews brought on the Holocaust by betraying Jesus, and the U.S. Constitution should be scrapped in favor of a system he calls "Godism" -- with him in charge. The man crowned "King of Peace" by congressmen once said, according to sermons reprinted in his church's Unification News: "Suppose I were to hit you with the baseball bat to stop you, bloodying your ear and breaking a bone or two, yet still you insisted on doing more work for Father."


I think any officeholder - Republican or Democrat - who sucks up to this lunatic should be removed from office. What the hell kind of representation are we getting?

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Saturday, June 19, 2004

Playing into Bin Laden's Hands
 
The author is Anonymous, but apparently the details leave little doubt that it IS an administration official. Of course, you have to read about it in a British newspaper.


"A senior US intelligence official is about to publish a bitter condemnation of America's counter-terrorism policy, arguing that the west is losing the war against al-Qaida and that an "avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked" war in Iraq has played into Osama bin Laden's hands.

Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, due out next month, dismisses two of the most frequent boasts of the Bush administration: that Bin Laden and al-Qaida are "on the run" and that the Iraq invasion has made America safer.

In an interview with the Guardian the official, who writes as "Anonymous", described al-Qaida as a much more proficient and focused organisation than it was in 2001, and predicted that it would "inevitably" acquire weapons of mass destruction and try to use them.


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Friday, June 18, 2004

Evil Breeds Evil
 


So, the bastards have beheaded another innocent American.

Well, George Bush spent two years ignoring those bastards. While pretending otherwise.

He went after Al Qaeda half-heartedly. He took the focus off of them as soon as he could, because protecting the United States just wasn't very important to him. He didn't want to protect American Citizens: All he wanted was an excuse to occupy Iraq.

And while we were using trained soldiers as the Bagdhad Police Force, Al Qaeda regrouped. And grew.

Instead of going after the terrorists, Bush decided do what he had wanted to do since taking office: go after Iraq.

Instead of killing the terrorists he decided to kill the ones who aren't terrorists.

Which accomplished nothing but the creation of more terrorists.

How many people have joined Al Qaeda in the last year who would have totally rejected such an evil organization two years ago? But then someone they knew was killed by an American bomb?

What would your reaction be if your daughter had gotten her legs blown off?

Well - you'd want to KILL ALL OF THEM. Heck, you may want to kill all of them now, and Paul Johnson was a stranger to you.

How would you react if Paul Johnson wasn't a stranger? What if he was your kid? Or your mother or father?

Well, that's how a whole lot once moderate Arabs have now begun to react to us.

Bush has played right into Al Qaeda's hands with his foolish Iraqi invasion.

Al Qaeda is using our invasion as Exhibit A in their recruiting drive.

They are using it as proof that all the bad things they've said about us are true.

Bush has disgraced our nation, and placed us all in danger by doing so.

What a disaster.


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Thursday, June 17, 2004


 
This was sent in to atrios, and I'm taking it from his website whole.

I've attached a photo you might find interesting.

It's from Bush's cabinet meeting on Thursday. When I saw the photo I noticed the notes he had made and wondered what they said. I cropped the photo and rotated it so I could read them and...

The page on the left looks like scripted sound bite lines. The second line says (i think) "sworn emeny of US."

But what I find more interesting is the right page.

It's a list of reporters and where they work. the first is DEB RIECHMANN fromt the Associated Press.

What I wonder is. Is this a list of the people he was going to call on? Is it all the reporters in the room? Can't he remember their names by now? and so forth. there are more but... who has the time.




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"People here still haven't stopped buzzing about the president's bizarre behavior at the White House unveiling ceremony for the Clintons' official portraits on Monday. Mr. Bush acted totally out of character: witty, engaged, amiable, bipartisan and magnanimous." - Maureen Dowd

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DUH
 
"We have had to do some of the things we criticized once," [Republican Rep. David] Dreier admits. "But now that I'm in the majority, I have this responsibility to govern. It's something I didn't completely understand when I was in the minority." Attribution

Read the whole thing. Articles this critical of Republicans don't usually appear in USA Today.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2004


 
"President Bush's campaign is now attacking John Kerry for throwing away some of his medals to protest the Vietnam War. Bush did not have any medals to throw away, but in his defense he did have all his services records thrown out." —Jay Leno

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The web page of the Government Reform Minority Office, which is investigating the Halliburton Scandal a.k.a. "Cheneygate" (ranted about below) has full reports about the whole scandal.

For convenience, here are the links to the five statements of the five whistleblowers who actually worked for Halliburton. PDF format:

David Wilson;
James Warren;
Marie De Young;
Mike West;
Henry S. Bunting


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Cheneygate
 
One of the weirder paradoxes of the modern media is that twenty-four-hour news coverage means less news. The cable stations have all the time in the world to cover things in some sort of depth, but they can only concentrate on one story at a time, and they cover that one story with absolutely no depth whatsoever. Lots and lots of heat, but precious little light.

Anywho, one scandal that has received very little coverage is the Halliburton Scandal. We should take a page from the right-wingers Book of Linguistic Strategy, and just suffix everything with “-gate.” So we’ll call this one “Cheneygate.”

So – what are the details of Cheneygate?

Halliburton, as you know, is Dick Cheney’s old company. And they were awarded a no-bid contract by the Pentagon for rebuilding Iraq – a massively profitable endeavor.

On Meet the Press on September 14th, Cheney said that he had nothing to do with the Halliburton contracts. He said he had not been informed of them and political appointees were not involved with them. But officials at the Pentagon say that Cheney’s staff was briefed at least twice by political appointees who had awarded Halliburton the contract. If the Pentagon officials are telling the truth, Cheney flatly lied.

But the real scandal is worse than that: apparently, Halliburton didn’t just get a contract, they got a cost-plus contract: they are guaranteed a certain percentage of profits. As far as I know, that is unheard of for an organization that is working for the government. And it means, in true looking-glass fashion, that the more they spend, they more they make.

So they have been intentionally wasting money like crazy.

Six whistle-blowers have told Henry Waxman – who is the ranking Democrat in the House Government Reform Committee - that Halliburton is defrauding the United States Treasury. Five out of the six worked directly for Halliburton and the sixth worked for a subsidiary. But unfortunately, the head of the Committee – Tom Davis – is a Republican, and he has refused to allow the whistleblowers to testify. It’s nice to know that the head of a Reform Committee is covering up the wrongdoing of those he is charged with investigating.

David Wilson, a convoy commander for Halliburton, and James Warren, a Halliburton truck driver, are two of the whistleblowers. They have stated that new $85,000 Halliburton trucks in Kuwait were "abandoned or torched" if they got a flat tire. They claim that they "removed all the spare tires in Kuwait," so they would have to replace the entire truck after a blowout. In addition, they said, they were instructed not to change the oil in the trucks.

James Warren and Marie de Young tell similar stories: Warren claims that after he complained about the practices to Randy Harl, the head of a Halliburton subsidiary, he was fired.

Marie deYoung, who worked in the subcontracts department of Halliburton, said the company paid for a laundry service that was so inefficient it cost $100 to wash a bag of laundry. Ms. de Young was told, she said, that she was providing too much information to Pentagon auditors, and concluded that the corporate culture was one of "intimidation and fear."

In addition, truckers have been driving empty trucks from one end of Iraq to another, simply to waste money. To add to the disgrace, these truckers lives have been at risk, since they get assaulted, attacked and shot at while driving the empty truck.

David Wilson said, "There was one time we ran 28 trucks, one trailer had one pallet (a trailer can hold as many as 26 four-foot square pallets) and the rest of them were empty." Wilson was the convoy commander on more than 100 runs. Warren said he drove empty trucks through Iraq more than a dozen times. Three other truckers have confirmed their accounts.

Look, I KNOW that the Republicans control both houses, and I KNOW that it’s hard for them to place country before party when they are the ones in power.

But what the HELL does it take to launch a serious investigation? That’s EVERYBODY’S tax money being thrown into a hole, after all. Do Republicans consider Cheney's friends to be immune from the law? Do they CARE if a private corporation helps to bankrupt the United States?

And what the hell does it take for the American media to give major coverage to a serious story?

Maybe if the heads of Halliburton had been getting blowjobs while robbing the United States treasury, it would actually be treated like a scandal.


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"Several commissioners have told The Associated Press that drafts of the final report detail the many communication gaps and missteps by FBI and intelligence officials in detecting the plot. But they said the drafts refrain from placing blame on individuals in the Bush and Clinton administrations to avoid charges of partisanship." Attribution


So, even if there IS someone to blame, and blame is warranted, necessary and true, the Commission won't do it because their afraid they'll be seen as partisan?

Perception is more important than accuracy?

If some findings are off the table and not up for consideration, what the hell is the purpose of the Commission?

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Tuesday, June 15, 2004


 

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"According to the New York Times, last year White House lawyers concluded that President Bush could legally order interrogators to torture and even kill people in the interest of national security — so if that's legal, what the hell are we charging Saddam Hussein with?"

"Attorney General John Ashcroft told Congress they shouldn't be asking him about the legality of the war until the war is over. And there's precedent for that — I think it's called the Nuremberg Trials."


- Jay Leno

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Monday, June 14, 2004


 
This little bombshell appeared in the New York Times:

"President Bush asked a top Vatican official to push American bishops to speak out more about political issues, including same-sex marriage, according to a report in the National Catholic Reporter, an independent newspaper.

"Bush said, 'Not all the American bishops are with me' on the cultural issues. The implication was that he hoped the Vatican would nudge them toward more explicit activism."

Mr. Allen wrote that others in the meeting confirmed that the president had pledged aggressive efforts "on the cultural front, especially the battle against gay marriage, and asked for the Vatican's help in encouraging the U.S. bishops to be more outspoken."


The hubris is astounding. When Kennedy was President, there were fears that the President may be answerable to the Pope. Apparently, Bush has turned that fear on its head, and thinks that the Pope is answerable to the President!

I wonder if American Roman Catholics will have any objection to a secular President trying to dictate to the Church?


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"Finally, there's a flag-draped coffin and military funeral that President Bush wants to be associated with, and wants us to see." - Maureen Dowd, on Reagan's funeral

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Sunday, June 13, 2004


 
What a revealing way Colin Powell chose to explain things:

"It's a numbers error. It's not a political judgment that said, 'Let's see if we can cook the books.' We can't get away with that now. Nobody was out to cook the books. Errors crept in," he told ABC's "This Week."
You can't get away with cooking the books NOW, Colin? The way you could get away with it before?

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"What did the president know and, if not, why didn't he know it?"
- Al Franken

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Bush Must Go
 
A group of very influential people - "Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change" - several of whom are Republican appointees of Reagan and Bush 1, are about to issue an official statement condemning Bush's foreign policy. The article is long and you can see it all at the link below. Emphases mine:

Retired Officials Say Bush Must Go

WASHINGTON — A group of 26 former senior diplomats and military officials, several appointed to key positions by Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, plans to issue a joint statement this week arguing that President George W. Bush has damaged America's national security and should be defeated in November. The group, which calls itself Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, will explicitly condemn Bush's foreign policy, according to several of those who signed the document.

The 26 ex-diplomats and military leaders say his foreign policy has harmed national security. Several served under Republicans.

The signatories

While not explicitly endorsing Sen. John F. Kerry for president, 26 former diplomats and military officials, including many who served in Republican administrations, have a signed a statement calling for the defeat of President Bush in November. Their names and some of the posts they have held are:

Avis T. Bohlen — assistant secretary of State for arms control, 1999-2002; deputy assistant secretary of State for European affairs 1989-1991.

Retired Adm. William J. Crowe Jr. — chairman, President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Committee, 1993-94; ambassador to Britain, 1993-97; chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1985-89.

Jeffrey S. Davidow — ambassador to Mexico, 1998-2002; assistant secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, 1996

William A. DePree — ambassador to Bangladesh, 1987-1990.

Donald B. Easum — ambassador to Nigeria, 1975-79.

Charles W. Freeman Jr. — assistant secretary of Defense, International Security Affairs, 1993-94; ambassador to Saudi Arabia, 1989-1992.

William C. Harrop — ambassador to Israel, 1991-93; ambassador to Zaire, 1987-1991.

Arthur A. Hartman — ambassador to the Soviet Union, 1981-87; ambassador to France, 1977-1981.

Retired Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar — commander in chief of U.S. Central Command, overseeing forces in the Middle East, 1991-94; deputy chief of staff, Marine Corps, 1990-94.

H. Allen Holmes — assistant secretary of Defense for special operations, 1993-99; assistant secretary of State for politico-military affairs, 1986-89.

Robert V. Keeley — ambassador to Greece, 1985-89; ambassador to Zimbabwe, 1980-84.

Samuel W. Lewis — director of State Department policy and planning, 1993-94; ambassador to Israel, 1977-1985.

Princeton N. Lyman — assistant secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, 1995-98; ambassador to South Africa, 1992-95.

Jack F. Matlock Jr. — ambassador to the Soviet Union, 1987-1991; director for European and Soviet Affairs, National Security Council, 1983-86; ambassador to Czechoslovakia, 1981-83.

Donald F. McHenry — ambassador to the United Nations, 1979-1981.

Retired Air Force Gen. Merrill A. McPeak — chief of staff, U.S. Air Force, 1990-94.

George E. Moose — assistant secretary of State for African affairs, 1993-97; ambassador to Senegal, 1988-91.

David D. Newsom — acting secretary of State, 1980; undersecretary of State for political affairs, 1978-1981; ambassador to Indonesia, 1973-77

Phyllis E. Oakley — assistant secretary of State for intelligence and research, 1997-99.

James Daniel Phillips — ambassador to the Republic of Congo, 1990-93; ambassador to Burundi, 1986-1990.

John E. Reinhardt — professor of political science, University of Vermont, 1987-91; ambassador to Nigeria, 1971-75.

Retired Air Force Gen. William Y. Smith — deputy commander in chief, U.S. European Command, 1981-83.

Ronald I. Spiers — undersecretary-general of the United Nations for Political Affairs, 1989-1992; ambassador to Pakistan, 1981-83.

Michael Sterner — deputy assistant secretary of State for Near East affairs, 1977-1981; ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, 1974-76.

Retired Adm. Stansfield Turner — director of the Central Intelligence Agency, 1977-1981.

Alexander F. Watson — assistant secretary of State for Inter-American affairs, 1993-96; deputy permanent representative to the U.N., 1989-1993. Source: Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change




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"He's probably the least-qualified person ever to be nominated by a major party. What is his accomplishment? That he's no longer an obnoxious drunk?" -- Ron Reagan Jr., speaking about Dubya
Boy, there's a lot of good quotes from Ron Reagan, Jr.

Could you imagine the hysterical and frothing reaction of the right-wingers if the Democrats nominated a Presidential candidate named "Ronald Reagan" - and he was a liberal?

ha ha

I know, I know - it ain't gonna happen. But my, oh, my, that would be wickedly satisfying.

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Saturday, June 12, 2004

New torture photos released
 
Warning: unsettling pictures at the links.

One.

Two.

Three.

To date, no U.S. public official has stated that Iraq had any part in the attacks of September 11th.

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"Dad was also a deeply, unabashedly religious man. But he never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage. True, after he was shot and nearly killed early in his presidency, he came to believe that God had spared him in order that he might do good. But he accepted that as a responsibility, not a mandate. And there is a profound difference."
- Ron Reagan, Jr., obliquely bitch-slapping George W. Bush. Attribution

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Who Won the Cold War?
 
Out of all the fictions and myths surrounding President Reagan, the script that his sycophants most want to spread is the idea that he won the cold war. You know the story: Saint Ronnie heated up the arms race and broke the Soviet Union.

The only problem is that - like most Reagan myths - it just ain't true.

Most historians will tell you that the Soviet Union collapsed from its own internal weakness. In fact, the Soviets themselves wrote about their weaknesses before Reagan ever took office. It was dissatisfaction with those weaknesses that brought Gorbachev into power in the first place.

And the Soviet Union never even TRIED to keep up with the U.S. in the arms race during the 80s. The didn't think Star Wars was realistic.

But there was one single event that did severely weaken the Soviet Union, and which directly led to the collapse of the country. You know what that was: their disastrous War in Afghanistan.

That war was fought against American-backed Islamicists. And the decision to back those Islamicists was made by President Jimmy Carter.

Robert Gates, the head of the CIA under Carter, wrote his memoirs. In those memoirs he says that the United States began to secretly arm the Maujahideen in July of 1979 - six months before the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

It was, according to Gates, the largest covert military operation ever undertaken by the CIA, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's National Security Advider, told him that intervening in Afghanistan might cause the Soviet Union to invade. Mind you, this was not some act of prescient brilliance - they didn't know that it would be a good thing for the Soviets to invade, they thought it was a serious risk - but they did know that the Soviets might.

And the Soviets DID invade.

And never recovered.


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Friday, June 11, 2004

He's even pissing off Republicans
 
From Capitol Hill Blue

"As the nation prepares to bury former President Ronald Reagan, Republican insiders fight among themselves over plans by the political team of President George W. Bush to use images of and speeches by Reagan in new television ads aimed at jump-starting a faltering campaign.

“They’re disgusting,” says one long-time Republican who participated in a focus group to preview the new television ads. “They dishonor the memory of Ronald Reagan and if President Bush allows these ads on the air I, for one, will not vote for him in November.”

The ads, ordered up by Bush political advisor Karl Rove immediately after Reagan’s death last Saturday, use images of Reagan and excerpts from his speeches in what one angry GOP conservative describes as a “callous attempt to tie George W. Bush to the legacy of Ronald Wilson Reagan.”


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Ashcroft should be held in contempt
 
The Bush administration is no longer even PRETENDING to be bound by the rule of law. There actions are CLEARLY legally actionable, but nothing will happen, because the GOP controls Congress. As far as I'm concerned, the GOP is now aiding and abetting criminality.

Check out the transcript of the Senate Judiciary Committee questioning John Ashcroft, and ask yourself if you can BELIEVE this man's arrogance, hubris and total contempt for this nation, its institutions and its laws:

TED KENNEDY: There are three memoranda -- January 9, 2002, signed by John Yoo; the August 2002 Justice Department, the memo -- and the March 2000 -- the inter-agency working group.

Those are three memoranda. Will you provide those to the committee?

ASHCROFT: No, I will not.

KENNEDY: Under what basis?




ASHCROFT: We believe that to provide this kind of information would impair the ability of advice…to be candid, forthright, thorough, and accurate at all times.



KENNEDY: General, has the president authorized you to invoke the executive privilege today on these documents?

ASHCROFT: I am not going to reveal discussions -- whether I've had them or not had them with the president.

He asked me to deal with him as a matter of confidence.

I have not invoked the executive privilege today. I have explained to you why I'm not turning over the documents.

KENNEDY: Well, what are you invoking then?

ASHCROFT: I have not invoked anything. I have just explained to you why I am not turning over the documents.



JOE BIDEN: Well, General, that means you may be in contempt of Congress then.


Yes, he SHOULD be found to be in contempt of Congress. The only reason he will not be is that the Republicans place party before country and party before law.

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Reagan and AIDS
 
From Andrew Sullivan by way of Matt Gunn.

How little did Reagan care about the AIDS epidemic? Here are press briefings from Reagan's spokeman, Larry Speakes, 1982 and 1984 (Larry Speakes was Reagan's Spokesman):

Q: Larry, does the President have any reaction to the announcement from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?
MR. SPEAKES: What's AIDS?
Q: Over a third of them have died. It's known as "gay plague." (Laughter.) No, it is. I mean it's a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the President is aware of it?
MR. SPEAKES: I don't have it. Do you? (Laughter.)
Q: No, I don't.
MR. SPEAKES: You didn't answer my question.
Q: Well, I just wondered, does the President ...
MR. SPEAKES: How do you know? (Laughter.)
Q: In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke?
MR. SPEAKES: No, I don't know anything about it, Lester.
Q: Does the President, does anyone in the White House know about this epidemic, Larry?
MR. SPEAKES: I don't think so. I don't think there's been any ...
Q: Nobody knows?
MR. SPEAKES: There has been no personal experience here, Lester.
Q: No, I mean, I thought you were keeping ...
MR. SPEAKES: I checked thoroughly with Dr. Ruge this morning and he's had no - (laughter) - no patients suffering from AIDS or whatever it is.
Q: The President doesn't have gay plague, is that what you're saying or what?
MR. SPEAKES: No, I didn't say that.
Q: Didn't say that?
MR. SPEAKES: I thought I heard you on the State Department over there. Why didn't you stay there? (Laughter.)
Q: Because I love you Larry, that's why (Laughter.)
MR. SPEAKES: Oh I see. Just don't put it in those terms, Lester. (Laughter.)
Q: Oh, I retract that.
MR. SPEAKES: I hope so.
Q: It's too late.


And, even after it became clear that AIDS was a major epidemic, the Reaganites still brushed it off. The transcript from 1984:

Q: An estimated 300,000 people have been exposed to AIDS, which can be transmitted through saliva. Will the President, as Commander-in-Chief, take steps to protect Armed Forces food and medical services from AIDS patients or those who run the risk of spreading AIDS in the same manner that they forbid typhoid fever people from being involved in the health or food services?
MR. SPEAKES: I don't know.
Q: Could you -- Is the President concerned about this subject, Larry --
MR. SPEAKES: I haven't heard him express--
Q: --that seems to have evoked so much jocular--
MR. SPEAKES: --concern.
Q: --reaction here? I -- you know --
Q: It isn't only the jocks, Lester.
Q: Has he sworn off water faucets--
Q: No, but, I mean, is he going to do anything, Larry?
MR. SPEAKES: Lester, I have not heard him express anything on it. Sorry.
Q: You mean he has no -- expressed no opinion about this epidemic?
MR. SPEAKES: No, but I must confess I haven't asked him about it. (Laughter.)
Q: Would you ask him Larry?
MR. SPEAKES: Have you been checked? (Laughter.)

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Thursday, June 10, 2004


 

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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Good idea
 
Kos makes a GREAT point.

Read his commentary, yourself, but the gist is:

The Republicans want to honor Reagan, right? They’re falling all over themselves thinking of new ways to honor Reagan: the dime, the $10 bill, Mt. Rushmore.

Weel Nancy Reagan has said that the BEST way to honor her husband is to fund stem-cell research, which would have made his last days easier. The Republicans want to do everything under the sun – some things that are totally absurd – to honor him.

But not one of them has suggested that they do what the man’s own family has suggested.

So how about the Democrats proposing it instead?

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Ronald Reagan Jr said:
 
"My father crapped bigger ones than George Bush," says the former
president's son,

"The Bush people have no right to speak for my father"Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the '80s. But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father's -- these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive, and just plain corrupt. I don't trust these people." - Ronald Reagan Jr.


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"I don’t think that fundamentalists are particularly good representatives of religious faith. Certainly fundamentalists don’t have the monopoly on religious faith they seem to feel they have. I’m a huge fan of both the secular and the rational, and I think both are in desperately short supply these days — the hegemonic grim spirit of the age being incarnate in our thought-disordered bloody, greedy, little plutocrat-slash-soulless-theocrat of an unelected President — but I don’t know that only secular rationalism opposes religious fundamentalism. Living, intelligent faith, believing in a genuinely merciful, compassionate and just God, opposes the murderous, unimaginative verities of fundamentalists of all denominations and creeds." --Tony Kushner, playwright Attribution


Thank you, Tony.

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Thought I'd share with the folks who read this site something by a singer named Dave Lippman . Aside from singing and writing great songs, Dave does a character piece where he plays "George Shrub, the world's only singing CIA agent." Here are some of Mr. Shrub's remarks on the war(s).
________________

George Shrub
Remarks to the Joint Session of the
Coalition Against Saddam Hussein
(CASH)
and the Organization for the Underwriting of Reasonable and
Orderly Increases in Lubrication
(OUR-OIL)
on the current opportunity
to expand the War on Causeless and Unauthorized Terrorism



There's no way to overstate the tragedy that occurred, and probably no way to overstate the response required. But I'll try.

After the attack on America, President Bush was immediately in command. There has been no word on why this particular moment was chosen to transfer authority.

Some Arabs have said they hope the tragedy might cure the indifference of Americans to the suffering of two-thirds of humanity. When they call us indifferent, we don't know what they're talking about, and of course, we don't care. We do know that they hate us because of our freedom. Our plunder of their resources, installation of dictators, imposition of sanctions, slaughter of children - these they are ambivalent about, but they do hate us for our freedom.

I don't remember training Osama to do this sort of thing, in particular. I've checked my files, and I see that we did train him to make terror attacks, generally, but against the Soviets. And obviously, they're somewhat hard to find these days.

Now as to the previous Afghan government, which banned all forms of entertainment (thus their name, the Tellyban): we supported them, among others, in the war against the Soviets, but they are now our enemies. This week. True, they did stop growing opium, for which we rewarded them with $43 million in May. And they do keep their women in line, which saves us the trouble.

When we were debating whether to bomb them, some radical arch-pacifist members of the war team pointed out that the Afghans already suffered from poverty as well as from a four-year drought - which is the result of praying to the wrong God, of course. But we decided that, since their life expectancy is about 40 and they were liable to die before we got there, we had better hurry.

Basically, people in these colonies - that is, countries - have misunderstood Pax Americana. They thought it meant Pox on America. Which they're trying to do, with their unauthorized biological weapons and toxic sloganeering. In any case, we're through playing around. After Afghanistan, we're going to profile Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, and any other countries ending in an, a or aq. Why? Because those are the countries that started all this by taking our oil. I don't know how our oil got under those countries, but we've got to get them off the top of it. And we'll do that, as soon as we figure out how our freedom fighters turned into their terrorists. Meanwhile, we must close ranks. This is not the time to criticize the US government; there's no time for that now - or, come to think of it, ever.


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Apparently, Bush believes that the law does not apply to him.

The proposition that the law does not apply to the President is the very definition of a monarchy. We are (supposedly) a nation of laws, not of men.

Democracy in Iraq? They don't even want democracy HERE.

"President Bush, as commander-in-chief, is not restricted by U.S. and international laws barring torture, Bush administration lawyers stated in a March 2003 memorandum.

The 56-page memo to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld cited the president's "complete authority over the conduct of war," overriding international treaties such as a global treaty banning torture, the Geneva Conventions and a U.S. federal law against torture.

"In order to respect the president's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign ... (the prohibition against torture) must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his commander-in-chief authority," stated the memo, obtained by Reuters on Tuesday.

These assertions, along with others made in a 2002 Justice Department (news - web sites) memo, drew condemnation from human rights activists who accused the administration of hunting for legal loopholes for using torture.

"It's like saying the Earth is flat. That's the equivalent of what they're doing with saying that the prohibition of torture doesn't apply to the president," said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights."




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Tuesday, June 08, 2004


 
Making the email rounds:

Last month, a worldwide survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was:

"Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?"

The survey was a huge failure...

In Africa they didn't know what "food" meant.

In Eastern Europe they didn't know what "honest" meant.

In Western Europe they didn't know what "shortage" meant.

In China they didn't know what "opinion" meant.

In the Middle East they didn't know what "solution" meant.

In South America they didn't know what "please" meant.

And in the US they didn't know what "the rest of the world" meant.

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Corpse Campaign
 
In a move that surely must set some sort of record for campaign cynicism, the Bush campaign has turned their campaign website into a giant Reagan memorial page, with a convenient link to the rest of the site.

Here's an email sent around by the Bushies:

Dear ___________________________

America has lost one of its greatest leaders. President Reagan's optimism and vision restored America's spirit and helped to

spread freedom and democracy.

On behalf of President Bush's campaign I would like to offer our sincerest condolences to Nancy Reagan and the Reagan family.

Our nation mourns with you.

In this time of mourning, I encourage you to go to www.GeorgeWBush.com to read some of President Reagan's greatest speeches.

Sincerely
Marc Racicot
Chairman
Bush-Cheney '04


Understand how slimy this is: Kerry has announced that he will not campaign for the coming week out of respect. The Bushies, though, have immediately USED Reagan's death as a campgin prop. The Bushies could have placed a link to any non-partisan site honoring Reagan - there are tons of them. Instead, they turned Reagans death into a campaign event. Anything on the campaign site is clearly PART of the campaign. And used it as an easy way to increase traffic to their campaign site.

There is NO depth that these folks won't plumb.


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Krugman's column today is very good. He makes interesting comparisons of Reagan and Bush; and Reagan and Clinton.

"Over the course of this week we'll be hearing a lot about Ronald Reagan, much of it false. A number of news sources have already proclaimed Mr. Reagan the most popular president of modern times. In fact, though Mr. Reagan was very popular in 1984 and 1985, he spent the latter part of his presidency under the shadow of the Iran-Contra scandal. Bill Clinton had a slightly higher average Gallup approval rating, and a much higher rating during his last two years in office.

We're also sure to hear that Mr. Reagan presided over an unmatched economic boom. Again, not true: the economy grew slightly faster under President Clinton, and, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the after-tax income of a typical family, adjusted for inflation, rose more than twice as much from 1992 to 2000 as it did from 1980 to 1988."


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Monday, June 07, 2004

The Legacy
 
Ah - remember the 80s? The Reagan Years?

Quickchange does, and they've done the yeoman's task of compiling a handy-dandy chronology of the Reagan legacy so we don't ever forget.

Some excerpts:

2/18/81
President Reagan warns a joint session of Congress that the national debt is approaching $1 trillion. "A trillion dollars," he explains, "would be a stack of $1,000 bills 67 miles high." (see 10/23/81)

9/15/81
President Reagan says he is "as committed today as on the first day I took office to balancing the budget."

10/23/81
The national debt hits $1 trillion.

11/23/81
President Reagan vetoes a stopgap spending bill, thus forcing the federal government - for the first time in history - to temporarily shut down. Says House Speaker Tip O'Neill, "He knows less about the budget than any president in my lifetime. He can't even carry on a conversation about the budget. It's an absolute and utter disgrace."

12/20/81
Reagan Officials Seek To Ease Rules On Nursing Homes. Proposals Include Repeal Of Regulations On Sanitation, Safety And Contagion - The New York Times

1/15/82
Press Secretary Sheila Tate says that Nancy Reagan "has derived no personal benefit" from her acceptance of thousands of dollars worth of free clothing from American designers, explaining that the First Lady's sole motive is to help the national fashion industry. It seems getting fabulous clothes for free isn't considered a personal benefit.

1/19/82
At his seventh press conference, President Reagan:
· Claims there are "a million more working than there were in 1980," though statistics show that 100,000 fewer people are employed.
· Claims he has received a letter from Pope John Paul II in which he "approves what we've done so far" regarding U.S. Sanctions against the USSR, though the sanctions were not mentioned in the papal message.
· Responds to a question about the 17% black unemployment rate by pointing out that "in this time of great unemployment," Sunday's paper had "24 full pages of ... employers looking for employees," though most of the jobs available - computer operator, or cellular immunologist - require special training, for which his administration has cut funds by over 30%.
· Responds to a question about private charity by observing, "I also happen to be someone who believes in tithing - the giving of a tenth," though his latest tax returns show charitable contributions amounting to 1.4%.

3/1/82
Sen Bob Packwood (R-OR) claims President Reagan frequently offers up transparent fictional anecdotes as if they were real. "We've got a $120 billion deficit coming," says Packwood, "and the President says, 'You know, a young man went into a grocery store and he had an orange in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other, and he paid for the orange with food stamps and he took the change and paid for the vodka. That's what's wrong.' And we just shake our heads."

3/24/82
Agriculture official Mary C. Jarratt tells Congress her department has been unable to document President Reagan's stories of food stamp abuse, pointing out that the change from a food stamp purchase is limited to 99 cents. "It's not possible to buy a bottle of vodka with 99 cents" she says. Deputy White House press secretary Peter Roussel says Reagan wouldn't tell those stories "unless he thought they were accurate."

5/13/82
At his 10th press conference, President Reagan states, that while "there is no recall" for missiles fired from silos, "those that are carried in bombers, those that are carried in ships of one kind or another, or submersibles...can be recalled if there has been a miscalculation."

12/04/82
U.S. Jobless Rate Climbs To 10.8%, A Postwar Record. 11.9 Million Out Of Work - The New York Times


10/19/83
At his 20th press conference, President Reagan is asked about the safety of US Marines in Beirut. "We're looking at everything that can be done to try and make their position safer," he says. "We're not sitting idly by."

10/23/83
A truck bomb at the US barracks in Beirut kills 241 Marines.

10/24/83
Larry Speakes calls speculation about a US invasion in politically torn Grenada "preposterous".

10/25/83
Claiming that US medical students are in grave danger, President Reagan launches an invasion of Grenada.

12/8/83
In response to accusations that the administration's policies toward the poor are unnecessarily cruel, Ed Meese says "I don't know of any authoritative figures that there are hungry children. I've heard a lot of anecdotal stuff, but I haven't heard any authoritative figures...I think some people are going to soup kitchens voluntarily. I know we've had considerable information that people go to soup kitchens because the food is free and that that's easier than paying for it...I think that they have money."

12/12/83
President Reagan, addressing the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, tells of the captain of a B-17 who went down with his plane voluntarily when he and the crew were unable to rescue the trapped and wounded ball-turret gunner. "The last man to leave" said the President, "saw the commander sit down on the floor. He took the boy's hand and said 'Never mind, son, we'll ride it down together.' Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously awarded."

Columnist Lars-Erik Nelson-after checking the citations on all 434 Congressional Medals of Honor awarded during WWII-reveals that none of them match President Reagans' story. "It didn't happen," writes Nelson. "The President of the United States went before and audience of 300 real Congessional Medal of Honor winners and told them about a make-believe Medal of Honor Winner." Responds Larry Speakes, "If you tell the same story five times, it's true."

12/20/83
At his 21st press conference, President Reagan claims El Salvador has "a 400 year history of military dictatorships." The first military regime didn't take power until 1931.

1/31/84
President Reagan on Good Morning America, defending his administration against charges of callousness: "You can't help those who simply will not be helped. One problem that we've had, even in the best of times, is people who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice."

2/2/84
"He may be ready to surrender, but I'm not." - President Reagan responding to Tip O' Neill's advocacy of a pullout from Beirut.

2/7/84
President Reagan announces plans to get the Marines out of Beirut, describing the action as "decisive new steps." Larry Speakes explains, "We don't consider this a withdrawal but more of a redeployment."

4/11/85
The White House announces that President Reagan will lay a wreath at the Bitburg, West Germany, military cemetery housing the graves of both American and Nazi soldiers. It is quickly noted that there are, in fact, no Americans buried there.

4/18/85
While Michael Deaver is in West Germany searching for an "appropriate" concentration camp for the President to visit, President Reagan defends his visit to Bitburg by claiming the German soldiers "were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps."

4/29/85
President Reagan defends the Bitburg visit as "morally right," adding, "I know all the bad things that happened in that war. I was in uniform for four years myself." President Reagan spent his time during World War Two in Hollywood, making training films.

5/5/85
After having visited the Bergen-Belsen death camp, President Reagan makes an eight minute stop at Bitburg. During the ceremony, he cites a letter from 13-year-old Beth Flom who, he claims, "urged me to lay the wreath at Bitburg cemetery in honor of the future of Germany." In fact, she urged him not to go at all.

5/21/86
President Reagan tells a group of students, "I don't believe that there is anyone that is going hungry in America simply by reason of denial or lack of ability to feed them. It is by people not knowing where or how to get this help." Asked what this observation is based on, Larry Speakes says, "That is his view." Critics note that the Reagan administration eliminated the program that informed needy people of available benefits.

11/13/86
In an address to the American people on the Iran arms deal, President Reagan states: "During the course of our secret discussions, I authorized the transfer of small amounts of defensive weapons and spare parts for defensive systems to Iran...These modest deliveries, taken together, could easily fit into a single cargo plane...We did not - repeat - did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages, nor will we."

11/14/86
In the wake of world denouncement over President Reagan's speech, Donald Regan is asked if it isn't hypocritical to ask other nations not to ship arms to Iran while we do just that. 'Hypocrisy is a question of degree," he responds.

11/19/86
At his 39th press conference, President Reagan describes the arms shipment as "really miniscule," again claiming that "everything that we sold them could be put in one cargo plane and there would be plenty of room left over."

11/25/86
President Reagan appears in the White House briefing room to say he "was not fully informed on the nature of one of the activities" undertaken as an off-shoot of the Iran arms deal. He announces that National Security Adviser John Poindexter has resigned and NSC staffer Oliver North has been fired, then introduced Ed Meese to explain why.
"Certain monies which were received in the transaction between representatives of Israel and representatives of Iran were taken and made available to the forces in Central America which are opposing the Sandinista government there," says Meese. "We don't know the exact amount yet. Our estimate is that it is somewhere between $10 and $30 million...The President knew nothing about it."

12/9/86
Oliver North and John Poindexter invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Says North, "I don't think there is another person in America that wants to tell this story as much as I do."

12/11/86
President Reagan are reportedly "stunned" by his allies' refusal to defend him on the Iran-contra matter. Explains Robert Dornan, usually a staunch Reagan supporter, "When someone says, 'But he was giving arms to people he knew had killed our Marines,' it's hard to respond to that."

12/23/86
"The President ordered this whole operation on Iran. He ordered his Administration not to tell the intelligence committees what he was doing. Now he wants the intelligence committee to tell him what his Administration was doing during the time they were under his orders not to tell the intelligence committee. Even Alice in Wonderland doesn't get this twisted around." - Senator Patrick Leahy on President Reagan's
eagerness to receive the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the arms deal.

1/9/87
The White House releases the finding - signed by President Reagan on January 17, 1986 - authorizing the sale of arms to Iran and ordering the CIA not to tell Congress.

1/28/87
"On the surface, selling arms to a country that sponsors terrorism, of course, clearly, you'd have to argue it's wrong, but it's the exception sometimes that proves the rule." - George Bush on Good Morning America.

2/20/87
"The simple truth is, 'I don't remember - period'" - President Reagan writing to the Tower Commission to set the record straight about whether he authorized the arms shipment in advance.

4/1/87
A White House official admits that President Reagan has never discussed AIDS with Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and has yet to read Koop's six-month--old report, which predicted 180,000 deaths from the disease by 1991.

5/15/87
President Reagan says he was "very definitely involved in the decisions about support to the freedom fighters. It was my idea to begin with." Asked about the conflict between this statement and previous claims of abject ignorance, Marlin Fitzwater says, "They're going to stay in conflict."

6/2/87
Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams acknowledges to the Iran-contra committee that it was "a mistake" for him to have misled Congress in earlier testimony.

7/9/87
On his third day of testimony, Oliver North states that he shredded documents in the presence of Justice Department officials.

7/15/87
John Poindexter claims that he kept the President uninformed of the fund diversion - though he was sure he would "approve if asked" - in order to "provide some future deniability." He adds, "On this whole issue, you know, the buck stops here with me."

7/23/87
John Poindexter is reported to have used the phrase "I can't recall" (or some variation thereof) 184 times during his five days of testimony.

7/29/87
During two days of testimony, Ed Meese used the phrase "I can't recall" (or some variation thereof) 340 times.

6/8/88
"You know, if I listened to him long enough, I would be convinced that we're in an economic downturn, and that people are homeless, and people are going without food and medical attention, and that we've got to do something about the unemployed." - President Reagan accusing Michael Dukakis of misleading campaign rhetoric.

12/22/88
President Reagan - whose tenure has coincided with a huge increase in the homeless population - uses his last interview with David Brinkley to again claim that many of these unfortunates are homeless by "their own choice," as must be many of the jobless, since he again points out that the Sunday papers are full of want ads.

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Sunday, June 06, 2004


 

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By the way, if you haven't seen the trailer for Fahrenheit 911, go watch it. The trailer is a great anti-Bush campaign ad.

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The Casket
 
President Reagan's casket is going to cross the U.S. so people can view it and pay their respects. Which is just fine.

So how come Bush claims that viewing coffins of our fallen soldiers is an act of DISrespect?

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From atrios:
Max catches the Washington Post just making stuff up.

The occasion of a man's death is not the time to pile on him, but nor is it the time to let the mythmakers get away with manufacturing reality.

Reagan was not the most popular president in modern history - that honor goes to Bill Clinton.

Reagan did pass what was, at the time, the largest tax cut in history. That was quickly followed up with what still holds the record for the largest tax increase in history.

The number of nondefense federal employees grew under Reagan, as they did under the first Bush. The number shrunk when Clinton was in office.

The economy under Reagan grew at an average rate of 3.5%, a healthy clip matched by the economy under Bill Clinton. The unemployment rate averaged 7.3%.

We all know what happened to deficits and the federal debt.

I have plenty of my own reasons for disliking the politics of the Reagan administration, but unless the only thing of importance to conservatives is the top marginal tax rate, judged by their own criteria there was not much to cheer about during that time.

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On President Reagan
 


Buffalo Bill's
defunct
who used to
ride a watersmooth-silver
stallion
and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
Jesus
he was a handsome man
and what i want to know is
how do you like your blueeyed boy
Mister Death

- e.e. cummings, "Buffalo Bill's Defunct"

William Rivers Pitt has excellent - and, I think, accurate - thoughts about the death of the 40th President of the United States. I wasn't sure what to say about it myself, since I didn't like the man and I think he did a lot of damage, but I don't want to badmouth the recently dead - that's the sort of thing right-wing haters do. Mr. Pitt, God bless him, puts it in solid perspective.

As for me, I simply have the same wish for Mr. Reagan that I have for everyone who dies: that he be forgiven his sins. May light perpetual shine upon him.


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From Doug Thompson and Capitol Hill Blue comes a rather frightening picture of the inside of the White House. "The Final Days", anyone?

Despite Thompson many faults (the man was downright ugly on the subject of Bill CLinton), at least he's a real conservative, instead of some neo-con Bushite. Which means he actually has some principles.

Bush's Erratic Behavior Worries White House Aides

President George W. Bush's increasingly erratic behavior and wide mood swings has the halls of the West Wing buzzing lately as aides privately express growing concern over their leader's state of mind.

In meetings with top aides and administration officials, the President goes from quoting the Bible in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and others that he classifies as "enemies of the state."

Worried White House aides paint a portrait of a man on the edge, increasingly wary of those who disagree with him and paranoid of a public that no longer trusts his policies in Iraq or at home.

"It reminds me of the Nixon days," says a longtime GOP political consultant with contacts in the White House. "Everybody is an enemy; everybody is out to get him. That's the mood over there."

In interviews with a number of White House staffers who were willing to talk off the record, a picture of an administration under siege has emerged, led by a man who declares his decisions to be "God's will" and then tells aides to "fuck over" anyone they consider to be an opponent of the administration.

"We're at war, there's no doubt about it. What I don't know anymore is just who the enemy might be," says one troubled White House aide. "We seem to spend more time trying to destroy John Kerry than al Qaeda and our enemies list just keeps growing and growing."

Aides say the President gets "hung up on minor details," micromanaging to the extreme while ignoring the bigger picture. He will spend hours personally reviewing and approving every attack ad against his Democratic opponent and then kiss off a meeting on economic issues.

"This is what is killing us on Iraq," one aide says. "We lost focus. The President got hung up on the weapons of mass destruction and an unproven link to al Qaeda. We could have found other justifiable reasons for the war but the President insisted the focus stay on those two, tenuous items."

Aides who raise questions quickly find themselves shut out of access to the President or other top advisors. Among top officials, Bush's inner circle is shrinking. Secretary of State Colin Powell has fallen out of favor because of his growing doubts about the administration's war against Iraq.

The President's abrupt dismissal of CIA Directory George Tenet Wednesday night is, aides say, an example of how he works.

"Tenet wanted to quit last year but the President got his back up and wouldn't hear of it," says an aide. "That would have been the opportune time to make a change, not in the middle of an election campaign but when the director challenged the President during the meeting Wednesday, the President cut him off by saying 'that's it George. I cannot abide disloyalty. I want your resignation and I want it now."

Tenet was allowed to resign "voluntarily" and Bush informed his shocked staff of the decision Thursday morning. One aide says the President actually described the decision as "God's will."

God may also be the reason Attorney General John Ashcroft, the administration's lightning rod because of his questionable actions that critics argue threatens freedoms granted by the Constitution, remains part of the power elite. West Wing staffers call Bush and Ashcroft "the Blues Brothers" because "they're on a mission from God."

"The Attorney General is tight with the President because of religion," says one aide. "They both believe any action is justifiable in the name of God."

But the President who says he rules at the behest of God can also tongue-lash those he perceives as disloyal, calling them "fucking assholes" in front of other staff, berating one cabinet official in front of others and labeling anyone who disagrees with him "unpatriotic" or "anti-American."

"The mood here is that we're under siege, there's no doubt about it," says one troubled aide who admits he is looking for work elsewhere. "In this administration, you don't have to wear a turban or speak Farsi to be an enemy of the United States. All you have to do is disagree with the President."

The White House did not respond to requests for comment on the record.

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Friday, June 04, 2004

So-Called Liberal Media
 
There is a new CBS Poll. It's quite an interesting poll, but I'd like to draw your attention to the headline. It should be enough to put to rest the myth of the "Liberal Media" FOR EVER. It reads:

"CBS Poll: Vets Favor Bush"

A perfect example of the "Liberal Media." Actually, there are TONS of findings in this poll, and overall, it's DEVASTATING to Bush. But what's the headline? "VETS FAVOR BUSH." The first instinct of the "Liberal" CBS was to spin so that it seemed to favor Bush.

How about these headlines instead?
----------------
"MOST VETS THINK WAR IS GOING BADLY"

HOW IS WAR GOING FOR U.S.?
ALL
Well 37%
Badly 60%

VETERANS
Well 47%
Badly 51%

----------------------------
"MOST VETS DON'T THINK IRAQ WAR IS WORTH COSTS"

WAS IRAQ WAR WORTH COSTS?
ALL
Yes 33%
No 60%

VETERANS
Yes 40%
No 55%

-------------------------------
"MOST VETS THINK US SHOULD HAND OVER CONTROL NOW"

U.S. TROOPS SHOULD:
ALL
Stay as long as it takes 45%
Turn control over to Iraqis now 49%

VETERANS
Stay as long as it takes 47%
Turn control over to Iraqis now 49%

---------------------------
"MOST VETS THINK BUSH HAS NO CLEAR PLAN"

DOES BUSH ADMINISTRATION HAVE CLEAR PLAN FOR 6/30 HANDOVER?
ALL
Yes 24%
No 60%

VETERANS
Yes 26%
No 63%




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