Friday, October 31, 2003

RNC wants to vet Reagan drama before it airs 

This kind of crap just boils my water.

Two things:

1. Why is this any of the RNC's business?

2. Since when does the RNC give a flying pig-fu-ck about "accuracy"?

The Republican National Committee Friday asked CBS to allow a team of historians and friends of former President Ronald Reagan and his wife to review a miniseries about the couple before it airs.

Republicans have expressed concern that the miniseries, titled "The Reagans," may inaccurately portray the couple.

In a conference call with reporters, RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie said he sent the request to CBS Television President Leslie Moonves.

Gillespie said that if CBS denies the request, he will ask the network to run a note across the bottom of the screen every 10 minutes during the program's presentation informing viewers that the miniseries is not accurate.

CBS spokeswoman Dana McClintock said Moonves received the letter, but neither he nor CBS had any comment on it or the miniseries.

Gillespie said that if CBS rejects both requests, the RNC would to sell tapes and DVDs on its Web site that would present "the real Reagan record."

"It's not the kind of thing we'll make money on -- I'm trying not to lose money on it," Gillespie said. "I want to publicize Reagan's record."

Gillespie added that print and TV ads are being prepared to rebut the miniseries and that Republicans may try to buy time to run the ads during the miniseries.

While Gillespie -- who acknowledged that he has not seen "The Reagans" and has formed his opinion of it based solely on news reports -- had a number of complaints, he said he was most concerned about a comment attributed to Reagan in one episode. There is no evidence that the president told his wife during a conversation about AIDS patients, "They that live in sin shall die in sin," Gillespie said.

The author of the screenplay, Elizabeth Egloff, has acknowledged that there is no evidence Reagan ever uttered those words, but she told the New York Times that "we know he ducked the issue over and over again, and we know she was the one who got him to deal with that."

The miniseries is scheduled to air November 16 and 18.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Bush: Up is down, down is up, and suicide bombings are good news 

I'm sure Wolfowitz will be glad to hear that the rocket attack that almost killed him was a GOOD thing.

President Bush this morning said the increasing attacks on U.S. personnel and supporters in Iraq are a sign of progress because the attacks indicate Iraqi opponents are getting increasingly desperate.

Meeting with the U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, in the Oval Office, Bush spoke after attacks on several police stations and a Red Cross facility killed at least 34 today in Iraq, following yesterday's attack on a hotel occupied by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz. Bush said terrorists in Iraq are reacting to American successes. "The more successful we are on the ground, the more these killers will react," Bush said.

Later, he expanded on that theme. "The more progress we make on the ground, the more free the Iraqis become, the more electricity is available, the more jobs are available, the more kids that are going to school, the more desperate these killers become, because they can't stand the thought of a free society."
In arguing that increasingly violent or brazen attacks are a sign of U.S. progress, Bush repeated an assertion that White House officials began to make back in August, when U.N. headquarters and a major mosque were attacked.

At his morning briefing, White House press secretary Scott McClellan sought to emphasize Bush's link between progress and heightened attacks. "We've always said the more progress we make, the more desperate the killers will become," the spokesman said. Asked how it could be determined that the attacks signaled desperation rather than sophistication, McClellan repeated: "The more progress we make toward a free and prosperous Iraq, the more desperate they will become."

So by inference, a LACK of suicide bombings and dead civilians would be a BAD thing? Why do some people continue to defend this ass-clown?

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Support for the troops - Bush style 

This is what passes for support for the troops in this administration.

Shot through both legs and held prisoner in Iraq for 22 days, Shoshana Johnson returned home to a difficult convalescence that lacked the media fury and official hype that attended her friend and comrade in arms Jessica Lynch.

Depressed, scarred, haunted by the trauma of her captivity and at times unable to sleep, Specialist Johnson walks with a limp and has difficulty standing for long. Now that she is on the verge of her discharge, the US Army is aggravating her injury, her parents say.

While Private Lynch was discharged in August with an 80 per cent disability benefit, Specialist Johnson learnt last week she will receive a 30 per cent disability benefit from the army for her injuries.

The difference, which amounts to $US700 ($1000) a month in payments, has infuriated Specialist Johnson and her family. They have enlisted the help of the Reverend Jesse Jackson to take their case to the news media, accusing the army of double standards, insensitivity and racism - Private Lynch is white; Specialist Johnson is black.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Republicans in Kentucky target black voters for intimidation 

The thirst for power is making them more brazen than ever.

Jefferson County Republicans intend to place Election Day challengers at 59 voting precincts in predominantly black neighborhoods, a move that NAACP leaders yesterday called blatant intimidation.

The GOP election workers, most of whom live outside the targeted precincts in western and central Louisville, Portland and Newburg, will be on hand to challenge voters who they suspect aren't eligible.

Raoul Cunningham, former state NAACP voting-empowerment coordinator, and former state Sen. Georgia Powers called the use of GOP challengers "an assault by voter intimidation and an effort to suppress the African-American community."

Among this year's challengers is Rita Seum, wife of Republican state Sen. Dan Seum. She lives in Fairdale and is assigned to the M-107 precinct near 28th and West Kentucky streets.

"My role is to be there, if anything comes up," she said. She said she plans to monitor the sign-in flow Nov. 4 and report to party officials instances in which improperly registered voters try to cast ballots.

Joann Gammon, who lives on Zorn Avenue, has been assigned to precinct N-110 at Christ the King Church on 44th Street. She said she will be at the voting site to report to party officials any voting irregularities, although she acknowledges she doesn't know anyone in her assigned precinct.

Gladys Bailey, who works at King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church in western Louisville and plans to vote Nov. 4, said she wouldn't be intimidated by challengers, although she worries that older residents might be deterred.

"I don't understand why they (challengers) would be there," she said.

MOST OF the 59 precincts where Republicans plan to assign challengers are heavily Democratic in voter registration.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

The 2003 George Bush Award for Excellence goes to....Ted Kennedy 

WASHINGTON -- IT'S NOT AS THOUGH Osama bin Laden gave a Jihad Award to Ariel Sharon, or Donald Rumsfeld gave his Good Pal Award to Condoleezza Rice. It's not even as though Dick Cheney gave his Favorite Foreigners Citation to the French.

But the news from College Station, Texas, this week -- that the First Father, former President George H.W. Bush, has given his own most treasured award to Senator Edward Kennedy -- is nearly as astonishing.

When it was announced (with amazingly little fanfare) that the pugnaciously anti-Iraq war Democrat Kennedy had been awarded the 2003 George Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service, so many jaws dropped all over Washington that usually voluble politicians were only heard swallowing their real thoughts.

Since the current President Bush veered away from the real war against terrorism in Afghanistan and went a'venturing in Iraq, much to his father's dismay, just about everybody close to Washington politics has known of the policy schism between father and son.

It was politically and philosophically obvious. But people around Father Bush, a coterie of traditional internationalist conservatives who protect him like a wolf mother does her cubs, would heatedly deny any family rift -- and nobody spoke publicly about it.

Now it's all out. Father Bush has done it in his own preferred nuanced way -- the way Establishment gentlemen operate -- but he has revealed the depth of his disagreement with his impetuously uninformed son.

And won't it be interesting to analyze the speeches citing Teddy, who is surely one of W's primary political nemeses, for his public service and principles at the Bush Library Center on the Texas A&M campus on Nov. 7? One can bet they will be subtle -- but also very clear.

The ideological rift between father and son has been growing ever since George W. began focusing on Iraq and, with that obsession, proposed "theories" of unilateralism (America needs room in the world) and preemption (kill even your perceived enemy before he kills you).

But while family friends say Father Bush has made his disagreements known to his son, they clearly have not found fertile soil in this White House.

More curious, and in many ways depressing, is the fact that this President Bush has embarked upon a policy designed to counter, or even to wipe out, his father's entire political legacy.

The father lived his life in the service of moderate and intelligent internationalism. His manners were always meticulously courteous, as he wooed even critics overseas to see the American position. He was even-handed in the Middle East and thus brought the area to the verge of peace for the first time in history; he was capable of using force but preferred to do it supported by coalitions of friendly states, thus cementing international cooperation.

The son seems to have made posturing against his father's accomplishments and beliefs his life's work.

W has given way to a radical right that abhors international coalitions and manners; he mocks the world and denies any need for its help. He has led the Middle East to the nadir of its hope and possibilities, and he has led the United States to a moment in history in which we face asymmetric warfare from one end of the globe to another.

And above all, he has replaced his father's courtesy and good graces with an almost proud rudeness and scorn for others.

Why? I'll leave the question of "killing the father" to the psychiatric thinkers. Meanwhile, the tension between these two men reveals itself daily.

November 7 will give us a chance to see how this tension, which is crucial to the public and political lives of all Americans, plays out. In the Bush Library announcement of the award to Teddy Kennedy, the spokesman praised the liberal senator as a man who "consistently and courageously fought for his principles," and as an "inspiration to all Americans."

You know what I wish (besides being able to read the president's mind)? I wish Father Bush would drop his polite reticence and tell us what he and the team of his presidency really think about what is happening in America today. I think, as responsible citizens, we deserve that.

Georgie Anne Geyer is a syndicated columnist.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Faux News: Fair and balanced disinformation 


Researchers from the Program on International Policy Attitudes (a joint project of several academic centers, some of them based at the University of Maryland) and Knowledge Networks, a California-based polling firm, have spent the better part of the year tracking the public's misperceptions of major news events and polling people to find out just where they go to get things so balled up. This month they released their findings, which go a long way toward explaining why there's so little common ground in American politics today: People are proceeding from radically different sets of facts, some so different that they're altogether fiction.

In a series of polls from May through September, the researchers discovered that large minorities of Americans entertained some highly fanciful beliefs about the facts of the Iraqi war. Fully 48 percent of Americans believed that the United States had uncovered evidence demonstrating a close working relationship between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Another 22 percent thought that we had found the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And 25 percent said that most people in other countries had backed the U.S. war against Saddam Hussein. Sixty percent of all respondents entertained at least one of these bits of dubious knowledge; 8 percent believed all three.

The researchers then asked where the respondents most commonly went to get their news. The fair and balanced folks at Fox, the survey concludes, were "the news source whose viewers had the most misperceptions." Eighty percent of Fox viewers believed at least one of these un-facts; 45 percent believed all three. Over at CBS, 71 percent of viewers fell for one of these mistakes, but just 15 percent bought into the full trifecta. And in the daintier precincts of PBS viewers and NPR listeners, just 23 percent adhered to one of these misperceptions, while a scant 4 percent entertained all three.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Bush propaganda machine at work 

From The Olympian:

Letters from hometown soldiers describing their successes rebuilding Iraq have been appearing in newspapers across the country as U.S. public opinion on the mission sours.

And all the letters are the same.

A Gannett News Service search found identical letters from different soldiers with the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, also known as "The Rock," in 11 newspapers, including Snohomish, Wash.

The Olympian received two identical letters signed by different hometown soldiers: Spc. Joshua Ackler and Spc. Alex Marois, who is now a sergeant. The paper declined to run either because of a policy not to publish form letters.

The five-paragraph letter talks about the soldiers' efforts to re-establish police and fire departments, and build water and sewer plants in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, where the unit is based.

"The quality of life and security for the citizens has been largely restored, and we are a large part of why that has happened," the letter reads.

It describes people waving at passing troops and children running up to shake their hands and say thank you.

It's not clear who wrote the letter or organized sending it to soldiers' hometown papers.

Six soldiers reached by GNS directly or through their families said they agreed with the letter's thrust. But none of the soldiers said he wrote it, and one said he didn't even sign it.

Marois, 23, told his family he signed the letter, said Moya Marois, his stepmother. But she said he was puzzled why it was sent to the newspaper in Olympia. He attended high school in Olympia but no longer considers the city home, she said. Moya Marois and Alex's father, Les, now live near Kooskia, Idaho.

A seventh soldier didn't know about the letter until his father congratulated him for getting it published in the local newspaper in Beckley, W.Va.

"When I told him he wrote such a good letter, he said: 'What letter?' " Timothy Deaconson said Friday, recalling the phone conversation he had with his son, Nick. "This is just not his (writing) style."

He spoke to his son, Pfc. Nick Deaconson, at a hospital where he was recovering from a grenade explosion that left shrapnel in both his legs.

Sgt. Christopher Shelton, who signed a letter that ran in the Snohomish Herald, said Friday that his platoon sergeant had distributed the letter and asked soldiers for the names of their hometown newspapers. Soldiers were asked to sign the letter if they agreed with it, said Shelton, whose shoulder was wounded during an ambush earlier this year.

"Everything it said is dead accurate. We've done a really good job," he said by phone from Italy, where he was preparing to return to Iraq.

Sgt. Todd Oliver, a spokesman for the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which counts the 503rd as one of its units, said he was told a soldier wrote the letter, but he didn't know who. He said the brigade's public affairs unit was not involved.

"When he asked other soldiers in his unit to sign it, they did," Oliver explained in an e-mail response to a GNS inquiry. "Someone, somewhere along the way, took it upon themselves to mail it to the various editors of newspapers across the country."

Lt. Col. Bill MacDonald, a spokesman for the 4th infantry Division that is heading operations in north-central Iraq, said he had not heard about the letter-writing campaign.

Neither had Lt. Cmdr. Nick Balice, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla.

A recent poll suggests that Americans are increasingly skeptical of America's prolonged involvement in Iraq. A USA Today-CNN-Gallup Poll released Sept. 23 found 50 percent believe that the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over, down from 73 percent in April.

The letter talks about the soldiers' mission, saying, "one thousand of my fellow soldiers and I parachuted from ten jumbo jets." It describes Kirkuk as "a hot and dusty city of just over a million people." It tells about the progress they have made.

"The fruits of all our soldiers' efforts are clearly visible in the streets of Kirkuk today. There is very little trash in the streets, many more people in the markets and shops, and children have returned to school," the letter reads. "I am proud of the work we are doing here in Iraq and I hope all of your readers are as well."

Sgt. Shawn Grueser of Poca, W.Va., said he spoke to a military public affairs officer whose name he couldn't remember about his accomplishments in Iraq for what he thought was a news release to be sent to his hometown paper in Charleston, W.Va. But the 2nd Battalion soldier said he did not sign any letter.

Although Grueser said he agrees with the letter's sentiments, he was uncomfortable that a letter with his signature did not contain his own words or spell out his own accomplishments.

"It makes it look like you cheated on a test, and everybody got the same grade," Grueser said by phone from a base in Italy where he had just arrived from Iraq.

Moya Marois said she is proud of her stepson Alex, the former Olympia resident. But she worries that the letter tries to give legitimacy to a war she doesn't think was justified.

"We're going to support our son," she said. But "there are a lot of Americans that are not in support of this war that would like to see them returned home, and think it's going to get worse."

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Rush - on Friday's Show 

It’s often been said that we rehab these people and find out what it is that makes them do what they do. But a criminal’s a criminal. There are bad people. There are bad people. There are good people too, but there are bad people.

For once, I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Lessons in Civility - by Paul Krugman 

This is terrific.

It's the season of the angry liberal. Books like Al Franken's "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them," Joe Conason's "Big Lies" and Molly Ivins's "Bushwhacked" have become best sellers. (Yes, I've got one out there, too.) But conservatives are distressed because those liberals are so angry and rude. O.K., they admit, they themselves were a bit rude during the Clinton years — that seven-year, $70 million investigation of a tiny money-losing land deal, all that fuss about the president's private life — but they're sorry, and now it's time for everyone to be civil.

Indeed, angry liberals can take some lessons in civility from today's right.

Consider, for example, Fox News's genteel response to Christiane Amanpour, the CNN correspondent. Ms. Amanpour recently expressed some regret over CNN's prewar reporting: "Perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News." A Fox spokeswoman replied, "It's better to be viewed as a foot soldier for Bush than as a spokeswoman for Al Qaeda."

And liberal pundits who may be tempted to cast personal aspersions can take lessons in courtesy from conservatives like Charles Krauthammer, who last December reminded TV viewers of his previous career as a psychiatrist, then said of Al Gore, "He could use a little help."

What's really important, of course, is that political figures stick to the issues, like the Bush adviser who told The New York Times that the problem with Senator John Kerry is that "he looks French."

Some say that the right, having engaged in name-calling and smear tactics when Bill Clinton was president, now wants to change the rules so such behavior is no longer allowed. In fact, the right is still calling names and smearing; it wants to prohibit rude behavior only by liberals.

Wanna read some scary stuff? 

It's called the Texas Republican party platform.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Liberals Dominate Bestsellers List 

I don't want to make too much of this (the list could be dominated by conservatives six months from now), but after today's California election, it's nice to see.

Bookstore display tables give the distinct impression there is a lot of lying going on in America these days, with President George W. Bush and his top advisers portrayed as the main culprits.

Bristling with indignation at the conservative Republican president and his policies, the books by liberal commentators include: "The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception" by David Corn, "Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth" by Joe Conason and "Bushwhacked" by Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose.

Michael Moore's new book, "Dude, Where's My Country?", is due Tuesday. The filmmaker and gadfly's last work, "Stupid White Men," was the bestselling nonfiction book of 2002.

And if readers can't figure out who is lying about whom and about what in these books, they can turn to "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" by acerbic political humorist Al Franken.

In various ways, these authors and others accuse Bush and his right-wing backers of telling big whoppers since winning the White House for the Republican Party almost three years ago by virtue of the razor-thin Florida vote.

Washington literary agent Jeff Kleinman, who said he receives one anti-Bush book "pitch" a week, said that in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, hijacked plane attacks on America, publishers tended to turn them down.

"Anything that was seen as anti-American was almost impossible to sell and I think the publishers' feelings were reflecting the marketplace, that people were not going to buy," Kleinman said.

But that has changed. Industry publications and best-seller lists show that some anti-Bush books are now selling well as the former Texas governor prepares to run for a second term in November 2004 and 10 Democrats vie for the challenger's mantle.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Ah those loving and forgiving southern Baptists 

It seems the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina has expelled a member church. For blaspheming Jesus? For cursing the Lord? For ordaining gay priests? For molesting young boys? Nope.

For accepting two gay men as members and later baptising them.

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina has expelled a Cabarrus County church for accepting two gay men as members and later baptizing them.

The action by the state's largest religious group represents the first time the convention has gone after a church for having openly gay members.

The 3,969-church convention previously kicked out three churches that ordained gays or blessed their relationships, based on a 1992 policy that forbids churches from showing "public approval, promotion or blessing of homosexuality."

Novak is a fucking asshole 

In his continual bid to outdo his own sliminess, Novak added to his revelations by giving up the name of a CIA business front used by some of its covert operatives.

The leak of a CIA operative's name has also exposed the identity of a CIA front company, potentially expanding the damage caused by the original disclosure, Bush administration officials said yesterday.

The company's identity, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, became public because it appeared in Federal Election Commission records on a form filled out in 1999 by Valerie Plame, the case officer at the center of the controversy, when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore's presidential primary campaign.

After the name of the company was broadcast yesterday, administration officials confirmed that it was a CIA front. They said the obscure and possibly defunct firm was listed as Plame's employer on her W-2 tax forms in 1999 when she was working undercover for the CIA. Plame's name was first published July 14 in a newspaper column by Robert D. Novak that quoted two senior administration officials. They were critical of her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, for his handling of a CIA mission that undercut President Bush's claim that Iraq had sought uranium from the African nation of Niger for possible use in developing nuclear weapons.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Slime and Defend 

The White House strategy, as reported in the NY Times.

The Bush administration pursued a two-track political strategy on Wednesday to minimize the damage from the criminal investigation into the disclosure of a C.I.A. officer's identity.

The White House encouraged Republicans to portray the former diplomat at the center of the case, Joseph C. Wilson IV, as a partisan Democrat with an agenda and the Democratic Party as scandalmongering. At the same time, the administration and the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill worked to ensure that no Republicans in Congress break ranks and call for an independent inquiry outside the direct control of the Justice Department.

"It's slime and defend," said one Republican aide on Capitol Hill, describing the White House's effort to raise questions about Mr. Wilson's motivations and its simultaneous effort to shore up support in the Republican ranks.

Why the confusion? 

This MSNBC article seems to illustrate top Washington pundits, politicians scrathing their heads about what the WH could possibly gain by exposing Wilson's wife as an undercover CIA operative.

Is it really that hard to figure out? The administration was smearing Wilson, the way they smear everyone who disagrees with them. They used Wilson's wife, not to out her, but to taint Wilson's qualifications as a WMD expert. Had Novak simply done that, there would be no story, just typical sliminess from the WH.

But Novak got ahead of himself and did something stupid. Now the WH tactic of intimidation and smears is catching up with them.

Serves them right.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Will they smear Larry Johnson next? 

Larry Johnson is a Republican CIA analyst and former trainee with Plame. He has some interesting (damning) things to say about the leak.

LARRY JOHNSON: Let's be very clear about what happened. This is not an alleged abuse. This is a confirmed abuse. I worked with this woman. She started training with me. She has been undercover for three decades, she is not as Bob Novak suggested a CIA analyst. But given that, I was a CIA analyst for four years. I was undercover. I could not divulge to my family outside of my wife that I worked for the Central Intelligence Agency until I left the agency on September 30, 1989. At that point I could admit it.

So the fact that she's been undercover for three decades and that has been divulged is outrageous because she was put undercover for certain reasons. One, she works in an area where people she meets with overseas could be compromised. When you start tracing back who she met with, even people who innocently met with her, who are not involved in CIA operations, could be compromised. For these journalists to argue that this is no big deal and if I hear another Republican operative suggesting that well, this was just an analyst fine, let them go undercover. Let's put them overseas and let's out them and then see how they like it. They won't be able to stand the heat.

I say this as a registered Republican. I'm on record giving contributions to the George Bush campaign. This is not about partisan politics. This is about a betrayal, a political smear of an individual with no relevance to the story. Publishing her name in that story added nothing to it. His entire intent was correctly as Ambassador Wilson noted: to intimidate, to suggest that there was some impropriety that somehow his wife was in a decision making position to influence his ability to go over and savage a stupid policy, an erroneous policy and frankly, what was a false policy of suggesting that there were nuclear material in Iraq that required this war. This was about a political attack. To pretend that it's something else and to get into this parsing of words, I tell you, it sickens me to be a Republican to see this.

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