Saturday, November 19, 2005


Mark Evanier has a wonderful idea.
The late Jack Benny always claimed to be 39 years old. The U.S. Postal Service is about to raise the price of first-class postage to 39 cents. Don't you think there ought to be a 39-cent Jack Benny stamp? Of course there should be a 39-cent Jack Benny stamp.

He's right, and if you go to his blog, there's a link to a petition you can sign. I did; Benny is one of my favorites. As Fred Allen (another) said:

"I didn't mind that he kept his money in a wildcat's mouth. But he was snide enough to find one with lockjaw."


Some things happened in the House of Representatives yesterday.
The fiery, emotional debate climaxed when Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, the most junior member of the House, told of a phone call she received from a Marine colonel.

"He asked me to send Congress a message - stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message - that cowards cut and run, Marines never do," Schmidt said.

Democrats booed and shouted her down - causing the House to come to a standstill.

Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., charged across the chamber's center aisle screaming that it was an uncalled for personal attack. "You guys are pathetic. Pathetic," yelled Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass.

One or two of you longtime readers may remember Ms. Schmidt.

ETA: Taegan Goddard writes that Schmidt's speech was "Potentially Career Ending"
As you may have read earlier, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH), the woman who barely beat Iraq war vet Paul Hackett (D) in Ohio's special election earlier this year, unleashed a vicious attack on Rep. John Murtha (D-PA). She essentially called the 37 year Marine veteran and purple heart recipient a coward. Later, she asked for her remarks to be withdrawn from the record.

ETA, again: The Moderate Voice has another good post on what Joe Gandelman calls
one of the most clumsy, politically transparent and possibly counterproductive political operations since the GOP Congress inserted itself into the Terri Schiavo affair

Through a Kristol, darkly

A little over a week ago, I posted about a Weekly Standard article by William Kristol in which he responded to the latest survey info:

57 percent of Americans endorsed that proposition that the president "deliberately misled people to make the case for war with Iraq," compared to 35 percent who thought he "gave the most accurate information he had." Five months ago, those numbers were 44 percent "misled" versus 47 percent "accurate information." Eight months ago, shortly after Bush's second term began, there were only 41 percent who thought Bush had "misled" them, while 53 percent credited the president with being "accurate."

No new information has appeared in those eight months. All that has happened is an unanswered assault by Bush's enemies. The White House figured the election was over and didn't recognize that the anti-Bush campaign would continue.

I spent the remainder of the post speculating on reasons why the percentages might have risen. Suggesting that it might be more that just the result of assault his enemies. But what I forgot to do is question Kristol's basic claims.

Thank god for Media Matters.
First, the polling data Kristol cited was incorrect. Kristol erroneously claimed that NBC/Wall Street Journal polling data showed that eight months ago, only 41 percent of Americans thought Bush had "misled" the nation into war and five months ago, only 44 percent though he had done so, compared with 57 percent today. However, the poll numbers Kristol cited were not from NBC/WSJ polls taken in January and March of this year, as he claimed, but were, in fact, from 2004. They show that, in June 2004, a plurality of Americans believed that the administration "deliberately misled people to make the case for war."

Second, Kristol falsely asserted that "no new information" has emerged in the past eight months to justify the shift he purported to identify; in fact, new evidence has emerged. Some of the events and documents shedding further light on the Bush administration's case for war include the recently revealed Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) assessment of Al Qaeda operative Ibn Al-Shaykh al-Libi and June 2005 reports on certain British prewar memos, including the so-called "Downing Street Memo." Since March 2004, when the correct NBC/WSJ polling data indicates that the downward trend Kristol identified began, other significant pieces of "new information" that may have influenced public opinion have also come to light.

Click link above for more details; it's also a good day to stroll through MM's items in general. I especially like the debunking of the "former presidents don't criticize current ones" myth.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Dying Gaul the name of a film written and directed by Craig Lucas, based on his play. Roger Ebert's review grabbed me with his synopsis of the story--
"Woe to him who seeks to please rather than to appall."

Those words appear onscreen in the first shot of "The Dying Gaul." Here is another quotation, from later in the film: "No one goes to the movies to have a bad time. Or to learn anything." The first quotation is from Herman Melville's Moby Dick. The second is by a Hollywood studio executive, about a screenplay he likes but thinks is not commercial. The screenplay is about a homosexual love affair. Make the lovers heterosexual, the executive tells the writer, and I'll cut you a check for $1 million, here and now.

The executive is Jeffrey, played by Campbell Scott, who is becoming a master of characters with controlled but alarming emotions. The screenwriter is Robert, played by Peter Sarsgaard, in a sincere and inward role a little unusual for him. His screenplay is about his former lover, who was also his agent.

"Americans hate gays," Jeffrey tells him flatly.

--but did not in the end make me want to pay eight bucks to see it. Its low rating on Rotten Tomatoes didn't help either, but it's entirely possible I'll see it when it hits DVD or cable (it's a natural for Logo or Bravo).

But I did want to know where the story went, so I requested a book of Lucas' plays from the library and read it. I think the parts that resonated with me are not necessarily those that drove Lucas emotionally when he was writing it, judging from the play and his afterword. I can't be too specific without giving away more than I should; the story goes into some twisted and dark places that should be revealed to the reader or viewer on their own terms.

But artistic compromise, and specifically the...I hate to say economic viability but that is what I'm talking about, of a story about a homosexual love affair, are issues for me. For any of you who don't know, I've been working on such a story in a variety of forms for a couple of years or so. My story is about lesbians, not gay men, but the principle's the same. But I have added fears that because I'm a straight man writing about gay women, my "take" on them will be dismissed. Or worse, that it should be.

It's weird, but in a way, I find myself afraid that someone will say (in so many words), "You can't come in here. You're a boy." These fears are probaby fed by another book I'm in the middle of reading, which I expect to say a few words about here when I'm finished.

For another thing, I don't want to use that as an excuse, though. I mean maybe I'm anticipating resistance on a sexual front so I can defend myself if people just find fault with the story. Or the way I tell it. I don't want to be like Roseanne, Madonna or Striesand, assuming sexism everywhere if people just don't like my work.

"The Dying Gaul" is a story of identity, deception, and revenge.

What? What? I hope to god.

Your Birthdate: September 1

You are a natural born leader, even if those leadership talents haven't been developed yet.
You have the power and self confidence to succeed in life, and your power grows daily.
Besides power, you also have a great deal of creativity that enables you to innovate instead of fail.
You are a visionary, seeing the big picture instead of all of the trivial little details.

Your strength: Your supreme genius

Your weakness: Your inappropriate sensitivity

Your power color: Gold

Your power symbol: Star

Your power month: January

I would really like to know you better
But sometimes I'm afraid that it's not meant to be
I would like to believe in something higher
But I can't get a grip on all the little things
When the night comes I cannot sit still you see
And the years they have not been so kind to me
Got a gallery of figures standing all in a row
And every single figure has a soul of its own
But I never look back
Never look back
Don't turn your back on me
(Hey yeah) My life has come unraveled again
Like so many threads
(Hey yeah) my life has begun unfolding
In so many pieces
(Hey yeah) my life has come unraveled again like
so many threads in the wind - drift away - drift away

~Oingo Boingo, "My Life"

Your strength: Your supreme genius

"Wile. E. Coyote: Super Genius. I like the way that rolls out."
Your weakness: Your inappropriate sensitivity

Oh, that's not true. Ask anyone who's ever dared to find fault with something I've written. Right, Corey?
Your power color: Gold

So what am I, a Spandau Ballet lyric?
Gold (gold)
Always believe in your soul.
You've got the power to know
you're indestructible.
Always believe in 'cause you are
gold (gold.)
Glad that you're bound to return
there's something I could have learned.
You're indestructible, always believe in...

As it turns out, I went with number five, but... was a very tough decision. Via TGW:
You can cast a vote for the number one dumbest thing that came out of pResident Bush's mouth this year. I don't know how anyone managed to narrow the pool down to only five of the dumbest, but here they are.

Read them and laugh, or cry.

1) "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." —to FEMA director Michael Brown, who resigned 10 days later amid criticism over his handling of Hurricane Katrina, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005

2) "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." —Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005

3) "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." —on "Good Morning America," Sept. 1, 2005, six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina

4) "You work three jobs? … Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." —to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005

5) "I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible?" —in a note to to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a U.N. Security Council meeting, September 14, 2005

Oh, I just don't know where to begin, in the words of Elvis Costello...

Thank you, conservatives

Shakespeare's Sister has an entry answering a question posed by another blogger:
[C]ould it be better that Kerry lost and the Democratic Party didn't have to take responsibility for all the messes Bush created?

Shakes' short answer is yes. I'm not sure I agree with that or with everything in her long answer, but it's worth reading.

Conservatives have been doggedly pursuing this moment for a generation, and I don’t think anything was capable of stopping them, except for what’s happening now—an exposure of their radical and heartless agenda for exactly what it is. It’s not just that Bush is incompetent (although he is), but that the conservative philosophy is fundamentally flawed and irreparably ill-suited to a liberal democracy.

I think it's worth adding this to the equation. What I suspect has conservatives gnashing their teeth at night in the dark is this: After, as Shakes says, pursuing this moment for a generation, they pinned their hopes on an incompetent. Thus virtually ensuring those hopes would be dashed.

The "conservative philosophy," such as it is, may or may not be "fundamentally flawed and irreparably ill-suited to a liberal democracy." But with Bush in charge, it was never going to be able to stand for very long. And who put Bush in charge of the conservative philosophy?

The answer to the question of could there be a worse President for America than Bush is: Yes. Picture, if you can, a competent Bush. Someone equally corrupt, compromised, right-wing and conservative--but who knows what he's doing.

Chilling, isn't it? For that reason, we must thank conservatives for putting all their eggs into a basket with holes in the bottom. That's why they're now-splat-laying them all over the place. They decided that Bush should be the Republican party, to the country, and the world.

And he is. And the chickens, as they say, are coming home to roost. And the people are noticing that the eggs weren't exactly golden to begin with.

PS: Also thanks to Shakes for remembering something I sometimes think I'm the only one who remembers; the tide did not turn with the Supreme Court nominations or even Katrina...

Only in its wanton and unchecked application were [the conservative philosophy's]intrinsic defects and hypocrisies laid bare to the average American; it’s wise to remember, the first widespread revolt against the current power-holders centered around a woman named Terri Schiavo. She was the beginning of their (domestic) end, long before a hurricane named Katrina.


Spending your Saturday nights in while your gay friends live fabulous, romantic lives? Parents & Friends of Ex-Straights can help! Get out of that straight jacket and don't be a hopeless hetero anymore!

Get the popcorn

David Neiwert is in the middle of a multi-part takedown of:

  1. The right in general
  2. Their tendency to cry to mommy when the big ole' lefties are mean to them in particular
  3. Michelle Malkin in specific.

Neiwert is impassioned, but he also has information on his side, which makes for an irresitable combination. Enjoy. Here's how he wraps up today's installment, to whet your appetite:

...if Michelle Malkin -- or anyone genuinely concerned about the state of the nation's discourse -- were seeking answers about why we're seeing this kind of response from the left, she would have to seriously examine the effects of the conservative movement's rhetoric of the past decade.

What they would find is that people on the right have been repeatedly, and aggressively, poking their opponents in the eye with a sharp stick.

And now they're acting all innocent and wounded when folks on the Left respond with howls of somtimes inchoate anger.

As we'll see, there have been a lot of these sharp eliminationist sticks being wielded by the right in recent years, and well before. And no one -- no one -- has been reining them in on the right. Indeed, not only are Malkin's claims to the contrary thin and completely unsupported, she has herself been leading the stick-poking brigade.

But wouldn't it be nice...

Matt Stoller of The Blogging of the President and MyDD has put together a platform on which he thinks Democrats should run in 2006. Looks to me like something I could get behind.
# Impeach the Secretary of Defense and all other responsible parties for incompetence and criminal negligence in the prosecution of the war in Iraq

# A Constitutional Right to Privacy

# A Higher Minimum Wage

# Universal Health Care

# Universal Free University Education

# National Mass Transit

# Full Corporate Governance Reform to End Corporate Corruption

# National Free Internet Access and Copyright Reform


Okay. As you may have read, Congressman John Murtha of PA made a statement yesterday in which he said, among other things:

The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion.

The main reason for going to war has been discredited.

This is the first prolonged war we have fought with three years of tax cuts, without full mobilization of American industry and without a draft. The burden of this war has not been shared equally; the military and their families are shouldering this burden.

Now, you may not have heard of Congressman Murtha before (I hadn't). So let's see what we can find out about him. The Moderate Voice has a good round-up of information and opinions about the man, basically, he is

the top Democrat on military spending — a longtime respected, decorated Vietnam veteran...hardly the kind of person that can be accused of being unpatriotic.

So for him to say these things is considered by most rather signifigant. Meanwhile, back at Blogs For Bush-the boys who think absolutely none of Mr. Bush's current problems are real--

And how, pray tell, was the war "advertised"? I don't recall an ad campaign for the war, so maybe Congressman Murtha will direct us in future to the relevant sources for this ad campaign.

It's called a "metaphor," dear boy, you wouldn't understand. Congressman Murtha was speaking of the selling of the war done by Bush, Cheney & Co; the reasons they gave for going to war that have now been discredited. Oh, but wait:

It is to be hoped that Mr. Murtha is not buying into the leftwing screed about "Bush lied" to get us into war.

I wouldn't presume to speak for Mr. Murtha. But no matter whether he thinks, as I and most Americans do, that Bush lied, or that he "merely" relied upon faulty and misleading intelligence, I think I know what he means: To all but the most starry-eyed, it's clear that the reasons given for going to war did not exist. At least, not in sufficent size or number to present an "imminent threat," or "clear and present danger."

And that's a Big Fucking Deal, to coin a phrase. But let's move on (to coin another):

In a nation of nearly 300 million people, how do we share the burden "equally", Congressman? Are we to institute a draft and raise an army of, oh, 30 million men in order to fight five thousand or so bitter-enders in Iraq?

Again--not speaking for the Congressman, but this is what it seems he meant, to me: How do we share the burden equally? We don't cut taxes on the people who can most afford them. If we're asking people to step up and sacrifice, we ask everybody to step up and sacrifice.

If we're going to fight a war, we do it with the best-equipped, best-trained Army we can get. As opposed to sending men and women into the field without armor and teaching them that torture is okay.

And if you believe this is a war fought for good reasons, then why the hell wouldn't you want us to institute a draft? If you have some hesitation there, it's for one of two reasons. Either you're afraid you might actually be called away from the keyboard and have to get bloody, or you know it isn't a war being fought for good reasons.

Or, as Murtha said:
Murtha uncharacteristically responded to Vice President Dick Cheney's comments this week that Democrats were spouting "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges" about the Bush administration's use of intelligence before the war.

"I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there," said Murtha, a former Marine. "I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

ETA: Laura rightly quotes parts of Murtha's speech that should not be missed in all the hubbub about whether or not he's right about the war, right to dissent, or patriotic.
I go out to the hospitals every week. One of my first visits -- two young women. One was 22 or 23, had two children; lost her husband. One was 19. And they both went out to the hospitals to tell the people out there how happy they should be to be alive. In other words, they were reaching out because they felt their husbands had done their duty, but they wanted to tell them that they were so fortunate, even though they were wounded, to be alive.

I have a young fellow in my district who was blinded and he lost his foot. And they did everything they could for him at Walter Reed, then they sent him home.

His father was in jail; he had nobody at home -- imagine this: young kid that age -- 22, 23 years old -- goes home to nobody. V.A. did everything they could do to help him.

He was reaching out, so they sent him -- to make sure that he was blind, they sent him to John Hopkins. John Hopkins started to send him bills. Then the collection agency started sending bills....

There's more. Read it. And then ask yourself, if you need to, who is "not supporting the troops."

Our special prosecutor can beat up your special prosecutor

Jane Hamsher says...
Ken Starr. A pervy blabbermouth who went on a forty million-dollar panty raid, his image will forever be etched on the retina of America's collective unconscious as a professional peeping Tom who hijacked the nineties by dumpster diving for used condoms with Lucianne Goldberg and Linda Tripp. An unrepentant PR disaster, he is the envy of no one but the sexually frustrated and the perennially angry.

Compare that to the Gary Cooper-esque figure cut by Patrick Fitzgerald, whose investigation cost $723,000 in the first fifteen months and whose tight-lipped mien has reduced his Republican opponents to reenacting the final shoot-out scene from the Wild Bunch. (I know he's quite adamant about his political neutrality but like it or not fate has shoved him into the arms of the left, and we feel it's the natural habitat for one with such a well developed superego).

And it appears People Magazine is of the same mind. According to an interview on the Today Show, Fitzgerald has made the list in their Sexiest Man Alive issue.

Patrick Fitzgerald. Putting the "cuter" back in special prosecutor...

Inaugurating a new weekly feature

Last year (while still at the old blog), I found an interesting site purporting to list A Million Love Songs. As I said at the time,

Any such list that includes:
Book of Love
A song from Grease 2
A song written by Kirsty MacColl
An ELO song from Xanadu
and Pet Shop Boys

--I gotta give props. I'll just ignore the whole Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds thing...

Now, sadly, the site seems to have gone the way of all flesh, and several thousand shy of its goal. So: I'm thinking every Friday, I'm going to take a post here to list a few love songs and why I love them.

I may not reach a million, but I don't know about you, I need an occasional break from the political.


"The Way You Look Tonight," Tony Bennett. From the My Best Friend's Wedding soundtrack. The song is a classic and Bennett is an icon; the last man standing of his generation of crooners.

"I've Got A Crush On You," Frank Sinatra w/ Count Basie & Orchestra. From At The Sands.
Here the love is not so much between a man and a woman as a man and his music, or rather his musicians. This performance contains a great ad-lib when Basie saxophone player Lockjaw Davis plays a particuarly lovely riff after Sinatra sings about a cottage to share. Ole' blue eyes stops and says, "You wanna meet monday, we'll pick out the furniture?"

"Dulcinea," Richard Kiley. From the Man of La Mancha Original Broadway Cast album. One of Broadway's greatest love songs.

"This Means Anything," Paul Young. From The Secret of Association. "I'll be with you again", words without credence..."

"Wild Horses," Prefab Sprout. From Jordan: The Comeback; also on the Life Of Surprises best-of. It's dear, it's crystalline and it contains the single greatest cameo appearance by a film and television actress (Jenny Agutter) on a pop song...

That'll do for now. Nominations will be thankfully accepted in comments or e-mail, but please don't just send me an artist and a title, give me a line (at least) about why you love it...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Happy Endings

Finally saw this movie, which I'd been wanting to do for a while since I liked Don Roos' The Opposite of Sex a lot, and Maggie Gyllenhaal intrigues me. So how did I like it? I would have to call it flawed-some of the storytelling choices I'm not sure I agree with, meaning not only the story but the way it is told-but impossible to dismiss.

I think what may bother me is that the performances are excellent but the characters are spread too thin. I would much rather have focused on two or three of them rather than the nine or so this movie presents me with and expects me to care about.

Yet I cannot deny that it affected me, in some cases in ways too personal to talk about here.

On a lighter note, it's also something of a "Hey! That's..." festival. I knew about Tom Arnold and Lisa Kudrow, but the guy who plays Rory's dad on Gilmore Girls and the woman who used to play Nina Myers on 24 both show up too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dear Mr. O'Reilly...

Shakespeare's Sister had a bright idea:
Since his announcement that he’s going to put together an enemies list, I suspect none too few smart asses have been emailing him asking for inclusion—which I think is just the funniest thing ever. How big a mockable, impotent pantload do you have to be for people to react to your announcement of an enemies list by sending emails requesting to be on it? Ha!

Earlier, I got cc’ed on an email to Blathero Bill, and I thought it might be funny to start collecting the emails and/or posts of people asking to be put on Ye Olde Enemies List.

Here's my go, emailed earlier this afternoon:

Dear Mr. O'Reilly:

I am kindly requesting you add my blog, Dictionopolis In Digitopolis to your enemies list.

Not only have I written about my disgust with your comments regarding offering up San Francisco to al-Qaida, but I have even suggested to that Golden Gate city that they take you out themselves.

Now, I know you understand that was a satirical remark, Bill, since as you keep saying in defense of inviting terrorists to blow up my hometown, you yourself were being satirical. No doubt you are a satirist the equal, nay, the superior, of Jon Stewart or that annoying Al Franken.

So if that's not enough to qualify me, let me add that I also think you are a grossly dishonest man. Will that do it?

Best regards,
Benjamin Alan Varkentine

Yeah, you can smell the drink on his breath

Via a blog called Monkeys For Helping, a video that...well, you remember that story from a couple of months ago that Bush had fallen off the wagon? This video would seem to lend it creedence.

Now, I don't hang out in bars very often and it's certainly possible I'm projecting. But I have been around a few people who have had a few and I'm pretty observant. His slurred speech and body language, to me, reek of a man who's been doing a little drinky-winky on Air Force One.

I leave it for you to decide.

PS: You'll need to scroll down a bit (for some reason MFH doesn't provide a direct link), but it's totally worth it.

I'm not saying this will work. Because how would I know?

I'm not pretending to know anything about it. But for the record, this column by Nicholas D. Kristof seems to me the best answer to the "Okay, starting up in Iraq was a mistake, but now what the hell do we do?" question.

For whatever my opinion is worth.

It begins:
Iraq in the Rear-View Mirror
By Nicholas D. Kristof

"As we puzzle over how to end our nightmare in Iraq, the central question is the one raised by The Times on Aug. 7: “How much longer are valuable lives to be sacrificed in the vain endeavor to impose upon the Arab population an elaborate and expensive administration which they never asked for?”

Not this Times, though. It was The Times of London on Aug. 7, 1920, as a ferocious insurgency threatened the British occupation of Iraq.

The British had also started out thinking that they were liberators, only to find that they had catastrophically underestimated Iraqi nationalism.

Column courtesy of Egalia.

Grind those balls, sir. Grind them like you've never ground before.

In light of what AmericaBlog dubbed a very disturbing story about Bush's state of mind, this blog post becomes all the more illuminating.
Memo to the Secret Service [by George W. Bush].

Re: My Strawberries.

Somebody ate my strawberries. I put them in the little fridge I keep here in my bunker on Air Force One, but now they're gone. I bet Koizumi's behind it. He's wanted my strawberries since he first saw them while visiting me during my first term.

Who helped him? Someone had to get into the bunker while I was out pretending that everything is OK. It wasn't Koizumi, because I was with him all day. My dog, Barney, swears that nobody came in, but I don't trust him--he's too close to Santorum. Besides, he was passed out drunk on my special medicine when I returned. He wouldn't have seen anyone come in. I want him banned from the bunker.

PS: If you don't get it, get yourself to a video store and rent this.

Oh, Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob...

So it seems Bob Woodward might be in a mess of trouble. Well, at least Jim Belushi will be happy. As I understand it--and the best information is to be found at firedoglake--Woodward is apparently concerned that Robert Redford hasn't played him in years. And worried that people will confuse him with the J.T. Walsh portrayal in the utterly bizarre Wired picture.

So, he's now saying that he knew Valerie Plame worked for the CIA months, nay years, before Douchebag For Liberty Robert Novak did, so there, neener. It's just that he didn't tell anybody because...well, actually I'm not too clear on that yet, hang on...oh right. Because:

Woodward stopped being a "journalist" in the true sense of the word long ago -- when he decided celebrity status and book sales meant more than the truth. He has gone from being -- well, whatever he was, to something much worse: an official peddler of lies told by powerful people to whitewash their criminal activities.

That's right. It's said that his colleagues at the Washington Post are not best pleased.

ETA: The Washington Monthly says

Did Woodward tell anyone about this conversation back when it happened? He didn't tell his editor, but he says he did tell fellow Post reporter Walter Pincus. Pincus, however, says Woodward is delusional: "Are you kidding?" he says. "I certainly would have remembered that."

ETA, again: As you can well imagine, to the far right, this new revelation means "Plamegate" is a nothing story (no matter what most Americans think) and that the left is in denial about this. Funny, you can pretty much predict that this is what any and all new revelations about "Plamegate" will mean to the far right. Up to and including Bush going on prime-time network television and announcing that yes, he lied, sent other people's children to die needlessly and directed the outing of Plame himself. I'd say they have property a little closer to that certain river in Egypt than we on the left do, but see for yourself.

ETA one more time: Hullabaloo reminds us to see the whole board. And also makes a convincing argument that while reporters and bloggers spin endless yarns about the journalists who didn't do their jobs, we may be ignoring the one who did: Matt Cooper.

He may not be to this scandal what, say Bob Woodward was to Watergate--and maybe he wouldn't want to be--but he deserves another look.

I can't tell you how impressed I continue to be with the elite journalists in this country. After finding out that top reporters from The NY Times, The Washington Post and NBC all withheld information from the public about their leaders, I can only wonder what else they may be keeping back because of their cozy relationships, book deals, or political sympathies. This is a crisis in journalism.

Matt Cooper was leaked to by Karl Rove in the summer of 2003 and he fought to keep from revealing his source. But he fulfilled his responsibility as a journalist by writing a story and it was the real story about what was going on. Here's the first paragraph of Cooper's first article on the subject back in 2003:

Has the Bush Administration declared war on a former ambassador who conducted a fact-finding mission to probe possible Iraqi interest in African uranium? Perhaps.

Matt Cooper, huh?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

That's Benjamin Alan Varkentine, Bill.

Bill O'Reilly (via Crooks and Liars).
I'm glad the smear sites made a big deal out of it. Now we can all know who was with the anti-military internet crowd. We'll post the names of all who support the smear merchants on So check with us.

Just so you get the names, right, Bill. Benjamin Alan Varkentine.

Just what I need.

Something else to feel gender confusion about.
GQ's Man of the Year? It's a woman, baby
Magazine picks Jennifer Aniston for her ‘poise’ during breakup with Pitt

So. Apparently, the person who was almost responsible for the end of my then-current relationship when they posed butt-naked on the cover of Rolling Stone with the butt showing and a man.
(I was with my girlfriend in a supermarket the first time I saw it and almost got whiplash from how fast my head snapped to look).

Apparently, the person whose hot ass, smooth skin, warm eyes and soft hair I like to watch moving on Friends reruns...also, a man.

Well, that's just great.

'Nuff said

Quoted verbatim and in toto from Blogenlust:
A Brief Look At The Evolution of Presidential Accountability
1945, President Harry S. Truman

"The Buck Stops Here."

2005, President George W. Bush [paraphrase]

"Yes, we were wrong about some things, but everybody else was wrong, too, so get over it."

Wiggle and squirm, Mr. President, wiggle and squirm. The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

For you latecomers

Got a comment this morning from a Mr. David E. Morgan, who said (in reference to "Dick Cheney decides to do his time," below)...

Easy, pal. There are intelligent hillbillies down here. We're protesting Leaky Dick's visit, and hopefully no brainwashed rednecks will beat us up. Wish us luck.

It seems a re-statement of policy is in order. As a rule, I try not to follow the no doubt media-induced stereotypes about the southern states, to wit that every single person down there is a brainwashed hillbilly.

I try to treat every person as an individual, to be judged by the content of their character, and not the color of their neck. Tennessee, however, and specifically Knoxville Tennessee, is personal, and I will continue to bash those duck-humping, racist, rock-stupid, anti-sex and illiterate hillbillies in the mouth until their teeth spill out like bloody Chicklets upon the ground.

That is the policy of this blog until further notice.

Thank you for your attention.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I never met a rose

Oh I have met a daisy
But where we met is hazy
And I have walked the streets
With marguerites
And clinging vines beside me

Oh I've met a lot of those
But I never met a rose

There's often been a heather
An armful all together
And I have even met a violet
That almost satisfied me

Yes I've met every kind that grows
But I never met a rose

Among the dallies
I often dally
I left a lily in the valley

But now and then I ponder
And wonder as I wander
Among the fields and shrub
Perhaps the trouble is
Who knows
That I never met a rose

Never, never met a rose

While roaming through the clover
Could I have passed her over
When all is said and done
Am I the one to blame
Who knows
That I never met a rose

Never, never met a rose

~Music by Frederick Loewe, Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner

Well, may I?

You are the Hungarian. Using your phrasebook, you try to buy cigarettes by saying
You are the Hungarian! You just HAD to buy that
CHEAPO Hungarian-to-English phrasebook...

What Monty Python Sketch Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Well, they've got me there

Pinched from Paul.

Dick Cheney decides to do his time in hell

So when he goes to prison, it won't seem so bad. That's right, he's going out among the anti-sex illiterate hillbilly idiots in a land we call...Knoxville, Tennessee.

And why wouldn't you be proud?

Via TGW:

From the Washington Times,
"I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

"It has been an honor and source of personal satisfaction for me to serve in the office of the Solicitor General during President Reagan's administration and to help to advance legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly,"

...Supreme Court nominee Alito, 1985, in documents to be released today from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Why I don't like Maureen Dowd so much as some of my Liberal comrades do

First, go read this Eric Alterman post from last year about how Dowd equated Clinton's lie with Bush's. As Alterman said:
"Let’s do a tally, shall we?

People dead from Clinton’s lie: 0
People dead from Bush’s: tens of thousands.

Endless quagmires caused by Clinton’s lie: 0
Endless quagmires caused by Bush’s lie: 1"

Then, join me in giving an air-synthisizer riff to Shakespeare's Sister for finding this excellent post by Scott Lemieux.
I don't think her columns are any better now that her substance-free hackwork is directed against the administration she did her best to help put in office.

This is one of those posts that if I quoted everything I want to hit you with, we'll all be here till tomorrow, so just go and read at your leisure.

Responding to a restrained rant

Mark Evanier writes:
I haven't written anything political here for a little while because every time I try, things quickly descend into the Painfully Obvious. Does anyone not know that Bush is in trouble? That the torture scandal is a no-win game for him?

Actually, yes. The conservative Bush-supporters don't know any of that, or they're pretending they don't, which isn't much better from my POV. They think Bush's troubles are just bad press, and they're trying like mad to win the torture scandal game for him.

Mark goes on to say something similar to what I've said here about not understanding how "Bush is an idiot" is a defense against "Bush is a liar." Then:
But I also don't get why Democrats keep harping on this "lie" thing and saying he "misled us into war." Some people will buy that it was deliberate but others will write it off to good intentions and bad sources, and we shouldn't tolerate that, either. Seems to me, Democrats would be better off (and perhaps more accurate) saying, "Our Iraq policies have been a mixture of faulty intelligence, misleading intelligence, cherry-picked intelligence and intelligence slanted to justify what this administration already intended to do. It doesn't matter how much of this was done intentionally. None of these are acceptable, especially when sending Americans off to war."

I think it's the "keep it simple, stupid" rule, myself. Lying or misleading us into war is so basic that almost anyone can understand it. Especially since the Republicans don't seem to be able to make a very convincing case that it's not what happened.

If Democrats said something like what Mark suggests, well, I agree with almost every word of it but I fell asleep halfway through the sentence. And I think most Americans would, as well. I also worry that once we get into "cherry-picked" and "slanted" instead of "lied" and "misled" we're doing that thing that George Carlin has done jokes about: Using language to separate ourselves from the reality of a situation.

Also, like a lot of Democrats, I'll admit I get some joy out of shoving the word "lie"--which is what Republicans claimed impeaching my president was about--down their throats. I also think it does matter how much of it was done intentionally, but that doesn't mean any of it is acceptable if it wasn't.

ETA: Kevin Drum asks
Did the Bush administration mislead the country during the runup to the Iraq war? It's true that they turned out to be wrong about a great many things, but that doesn't answer the question. It merely begs it. Were they sincerely wrong, or did they intentionally manipulate the intelligence they presented to the public in order to mask known weaknesses in their case?

The case for manipulation is pretty strong. It relies on several things, but I think the most important of them has been the discovery that the administration deliberately suppressed dissenting views on some of the most important pieces of evidence that they used to bolster their case for war.

Resist the obvious joke

Credit: firedoglake

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Hello. I'm Johnny Cash.

Roger Ebert has an article here about the forthcoming Cash bio-pic, "Walk The Line" that makes it sound promising. I'm a fan of Cash, and the film's been getting great pre-release reviews. But I confess I was a little worried it might be overburdened with mythmaking and showbiz cliches.

Well, maybe not. Ebert writes that Cash, who would later approve the choice of Joaquin Phoenix to play him,
had one requirement for the star of "Walk the Line": "Whoever plays me, make sure they don't handle the guitar like it's a baby. Make them hold it like they own it!"

He also reminds me that the film's director and writer, James Mangold, also made "Heavy" and "Identity", among others. These are films that show undeniable talent, although they're flawed (especially the first).

So maybe it won't be so bad. After all, until "Fellowship of the Ring" came out, I was afraid that was gonna be a collection of overused cliches too...

I like wolves

Credit: The News Blog

Edwards is still my man, but I could support this guy too

Daily Kos has a review of Dean's interview on Meet The Press this morning. I wish Armando (the reviewer) had provided more direct quotes, and I suspect there's something of starry-eyed hope in his thoughts, but I still think he's mostly right.

Excerpts follow.
Dean also took an opportunity to tweak Russert's assumption that faith = Christianity. Russert spotlighted a Tim Kaine statement about his Christianity and asked Dean if Dems willbe talking more about their faith. Dean reminded Russert that faith does not equal Christianity.

The Alito Nomination. Russert tried to put Dean on the defensive on the question of the Alito nomination, suggesting that Dem opposition would amount to obstructionism. Russert referenced a NYTimes editorial today as a negative example of this. Dean turned this entirely around, embracing the Alito nomination process as a chance for Dems to define themselves as the Party of Mainstream Values. In particular, Dean endorsed this portion of the editorial:

The Alito nomination comes at a critical moment for the Democratic Party. With President Bush's poll numbers plummeting, Democrats are finding a new optimism about their chances in 2006 and 2008. But to capitalize on the Republicans' weakness, the party needs to show that it has an alternative vision for the country. As the Democrats refine their message for next year's elections, the first thing they need to be able to say to the American people is that they did not sit by idly while the far right took over the Supreme Court and began dismantling fundamental rights and freedoms.

Keep Us Safe. While acknowledging the Democratic political weakness on national security and the need to address it, Dean resisted Russert's call for Democratic alternatives on Iraq and other national security issues. Dean rightly pointed out that Republicans are in complete control of the government and that they do not take advice from the Democrats.

Which leads to my final point - When Do Democrats Define Themselves? Dean gave the right answer - when the voters have a chance to make a choice for real change, in 2006. The Elections. The Democrats are doing what they are supposed to do right now - opposing a Republican agenda harmful to the country.

Wait a minute

That whacky Bill O'Reilly is continuing to defend his comments that terrorists should have carte blanche on San Francisco, and should start by blowing up the Coit Tower. I take this issue very personally.

I was born and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, still have friends there, and consider it my home. In a nutty, writer way I even take it personally because my characters Keitha, Annabel & Colley all live there.

Other bloggers have pointed out the brilliance of O'Reilly's having named as his preferred target a building that just happens to have been built as a tribute to firefighters. Good call. But what made me want to put my hand back in about it is this little toxic spill I'd previously missed:

"I'm from New York,” O’Reilly said on the radio Friday. “There are dozens of people in my neighborhood, on Long Island, who are dead because of 9/11, and you people are telling me you're not going to allow military recruiting out there. Hey, it's serious, and I think you guys need a wake-up call."

So. Bill O'Reilly is wrapping himself in 9/11, and claiming moral authority to make potentially dangerous statements about my hometown because he happens to be from New York. Really. That's funny, because in an often-retold 2003 exchange, he berated a man whose father died in the 9/11 attacks (and that, my friends, is moral authority).

O'Reilly shouted repeatedly at him to "Shut up!" cut off his mike and, off-air, threatened to "tear him to fucking pieces." Because the man didn't support the military action in Afghanistan and thought that O'Reilly and others like him "evoke 9/11 to rationalize everything from domestic plunder to imperialistic aggression worldwide."

I know it's hard to believe now that anyone in 2003 could have thought that conservatives would evoke 9/11 to rationalize their separate agendas. Especially since, as we are assured, Bush did not mislead anyone on the Iraq war.

(ETA: Although, as Laura comments in War and Piece,
If the White House has nothing to hide, why are they trying so hard to prevent an investigation of how the policymakers used the intelligence they received? Why don't they welcome such an investigation?
But I digress.)

I know I've probably wasted more space on this than it deserves, considering that it doesn't tell you anything that any informed person doesn't already know: Bill O'Reilly is a liar. But like I say, I take the issue very personally. I don't want anybody messing with my Golden Gate city or any of its surrounding lands. And if anything Bill O'Reilly has said has made it even one percent more dangerous...

I just find it exceedingly slimy, even for a conservative, even for O'Reilly, to posture yourself as the mouthpiece for the dead when you wouldn't even let a man's son speak for himself.

Okay, you know that cartoon sound effect where a character shakes their head to clear it?

From Brad R. at Sadly, No!:
RNC chairman Ken Mehlman is on Meet the Press right now making the argument that Americans will keep voting for Republicans because they're "the party of change":

The American people want change, because too often the government hasn't served their needs.

Need I say more?

How he got into my pajamas I'll never know.

Crooks and Liars and The Anonymous Liberal both have good posts linking to a story in The Washington Post, a paper that really does seem to be feeling its oats these days. If I were cynical, I'd say that having already brought down the goverment once, they see another in their sights.

Fortunately, I'm not cynical. C&L observes that
The new WaPo article shows that there will be no wiggling out of this indictment for Scooter when his trial begins. You can count on a trial unless a jail cell becomes too big a cross to carry for him and he flips on his "ex-hip-mate," Dr. Evil.
AL's post, and the WP story, is about the fact that
It's been more than two weeks since the Vice President's chief of staff and closest adviser, Scooter Libby, was indicted on five felony counts for lying to the FBI and to a federal grand jury in connection with the Valerie Plame leak investigation. The circumstances surrounding these lies, as laid out in the indictment, suggest only one obvious motive for Libby's otherwise inexplicable behavior: to protect the Vice President. And no one has even bothered to suggest (even through anonymous sources) a plausible alternative explanation. In short, Libby's behavior reeks of cover up, and Dick Cheney is the only obvious beneficiary.