Monthly Archives: August 2004

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

While shopping for a card for my wife’s birthday I was struck by the number of “Stupid Bush”-themed cards. For instance, one had a photo of Bush holding up three fingers on the outside with the caption, “I have three words for you on your birthday.” Then on the inside of the card it said, “Happy Birthday.”

Well, during today’s gaggle Ken Herman of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution got in on the act:

Q Is it true the President thinks the American Legion is the one with the designated hitter? (Laughter.)

Losing Bush’s War

Krugman in today’s NYTimes:

“Ever since the uprising in April, the Iraqi town of Fallujah has in effect been a small, nasty Islamic republic. But what about the rest of the Sunni Triangle?
Last month a Knight-Ridder report suggested that U.S. forces were effectively ceding many urban areas to insurgents. Last Sunday The Times confirmed that while the world’s attention was focused in Najaf, western Iraq fell firmly under rebel control…

Other towns, like Samarra, have also fallen. Attacks on oil pipelines are proliferating. And we’re still playing whack-a-mole with Moqtada al-Sadr: his Mahdi Army has left Najaf, but remains in control of Sadr City, with its two million people. The Christian Science Monitor reports that interviews in Baghdad suggest that Sadr is walking away from the standoff with a widening base and supporters who are more militant than before.”

Bush may have said recently that he “doesn’t want to be a War President,” but that doesn’t mean a damn thing. He started this war, and if there is one thing that is a pretty sure bet in America, it is that people will accept a War President only so long as he is winning the war. Bush may well have lost Iraq altogether; he may have created the perfect conditions for the establishment of another fundamentalist Islamic regime in the heart of the middle east. The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, as well. This is all standard operating procedure for George W. Bush – he has a history of taking over organizations, running them into the ground, and walking away. And just like always, it’s going to be up to someone else to try to clean up after the Miserable Failure. I just hope there’s something left to work with once the full extent of the damage is revealed.

What It’s Really All About

In case any of you still labored under the false impression that Republcans were concerned about fighting terrorism instead of fighting Democrats, here’s an illustrative little moment via the NYT:

The terrorists were booed, and so was Senator John Kerry, but the loudest scorn in the convention hall Monday night was reserved for the filmmaker Michael Moore.

Senator John McCain, speaking from the podium, mentioned “a disingenuous filmmaker,” an obvious reference to Mr. Moore, whose film, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” was a scathing attack on President Bush.

Mr. Moore just happened to be sitting in the hall, having found his way into the gathering with a press pass. Seated in the stands with other journalists, he gave a wave and held up his hand in the shape of an L, for loser, as the boos rose around him.

As Mr. McCain squirmed, the crowd broke into chants of “four more years.” Mr. Moore responded by holding up two fingers, saying, “Two more months.”

That’s what matters to Republicans: a loudmouthed filmmaker who said mean things about their preznit. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what turns them on.



Hell Yeah

Via Theoria at Kos.

Use this thread to discuss the speeches tonight if you want. But don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up. Keep fighting, no matter how weak or small you might feel. Speak up with whatever voice you have. Even if it’s a marker scrawled on a paper bag, or a light so small you think only you can see it. You never know who your actions influence. You never know where your work ends. Speak now.


Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Poor Little Scottie, once again he has to clean up after the boss.

Bush this morning:

Earlier in the day, in an interview on NBC-TV’s “Today” show that was broadcast to coincide with the start of the Republican National Convention in New York, Bush was asked “Can we win?” the war on terror.

“I don’t think you can win it,” he responded. “But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world.”

Uh-oh, Scottie, time to back-pedal:

Q Do you want to expand at all on the President’s comments this morning on the “Today Show,” about the war on terror?

MR. McCLELLAN: What about them?

Q He said — I’m paraphrasing here — he said that it, specifically, could not be won, but you could make conditions safer for Americans.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he was talking about winning it in the conventional sense. That’s what he was talking about. I mean, this — you’ve often heard him talk about how this is a different kind of war. We face an unconventional enemy. And it’s — I don’t think you can expect that there will ever be a formal surrender or a treaty signed, like we have in wars past. That’s what he was talking about, when he was talking about that. It requires a generational commitment to win this war on terrorism. I think you heard him talk about his two-prong strategy, that we must continue to stay on the offensive and bring the terrorists to justice before they harm us. We also must work to advance freedom to defeat the ideologies of hatred and tyranny. So that’s what he was talking about. You can’t put a time frame on it, per se.


If people want to get an idea of what it’s like to live in my city, check these blogs out.

This is what we do in Chicago. We bitch about the traffic and we bitch about the weather. The weather here is 10 minutes on the news, at least. That’s if there isn’t a “Stormwatch SuperTurboDoppler 2004 OMIGODWE’REALLGONNADIE!!!” going on. We are very serious about our weather.

I had friends in from England once who arrived at my house for dinner perplexed. They had just seen the local news. “There was a whole story about how a window blew out because the wind was so strong,” they marveled. “Aren’t there people being murdered in this city?” Yeah, I told them, about six blocks to the east there, there’s pretty much a drug market, too. Nobody cares. All our news people want to know is did they have footage of the window?



From Holden:

They cannot exist together.

The NY Times provides the matter:

[Pfc. Lyndie] England has said she and other guards were told to “soften up” prisoners for interrogations. But several witnesses denied any such orders were given. They testified instead that the abuse depicted in the photographs — men tethered to leashes, forced to simulate homosexual acts and piled in nude pyramids — was more for sport or revenge.

While WaPo provides the anti-matter:

Under pressure to extract more information from the prisoners — to “go beyond” what Army interrogation rules allowed, as an Army general later put it — the senior U.S. military commander in Iraq sent a secret cable to his boss at U.S. Central Command on Sept. 14, outlining more aggressive interrogation methods he planned to authorize immediately.

The cable signed by Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez listed several dozen strategies for extracting information, drawn partly from what officials now say was an outdated and improperly permissive Army field manual. But it added one not previously approved for use in Iraq, under the heading of Presence of Military Working Dogs: “Exploit Arab fear of dogs while maintaining security during interrogations.”

Sanchez’s order calling on police dog handlers to help intimidate detainees into talking — a practice later seen in searing photographs — was one of a handful of documents written by senior officials that Army officials now say helped sow the seeds of prison abuse in Iraq. They did so, according to an Army report released Wednesday, by lending credence to the idea that aggressive interrogation methods were sanctioned by officers going up the chain of command.

But the issue of using dogs is also an example of how the U.S. military’s ad hoc and informal decision-making in Iraq created confusion and allowed these harsh methods to infiltrate from Afghanistan to Guantanamo and finally to Iraq, despite Bush administration contentions that detainees in each theater of conflict were subject to different rules and that Iraqis would receive the most protections.


Other such documents cited by officials who participated in the two probes include a December 2002 memo signed by Rumsfeld that authorized harsh interrogation methods for prisoners at Guantanamo, and a controversial Feb. 7, 2002, memo signed by President Bush that declared that fighters detained in Afghanistan were not entitled as a matter of law to the protections afforded by the Geneva Conventions.

The Rumsfeld memo included authorization for the use of dogs; the Bush memo was cited by legal advisers to Sanchez as the basis for their determination that some Iraqi detainees were not entitled to the full legal protections provided by the Geneva Conventions, according to the independent panel.

Ain’t She Sweet?

Howie sucks off Laura Ingraham:

Ingraham (pronounced IN-gram) is on her third or fourth career by now. First female editor of the Dartmouth Review. Reagan administration speechwriter. Clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Criminal defense lawyer for Skadden, Arps. In the late ’90s she became a CBS commentator, hosted the program “Watch It!” on MSNBC and wrote books (including “The Hillary Trap”) before getting behind the radio mike.

What’s striking about Ingraham’s 9 a.m. program is how she seamlessly mixes politics and pop culture, talks about her dog and her search for a husband, and leavens it with what she admits is “sophomoric humor.” She does a “Lie of the Day” and “Guess the Guest” (by playing Larry King’s questions), chats up Darrell Hammond of “Saturday Night Live” and once interviewed a man who invented bird diapers.

“I don’t want to hear about politics three hours straight from anyone, let alone me,” Ingraham says. “It gets monotonous for the listener. It wouldn’t wind my clock.”

Well, once you’ve talked to the man who invented bird diapers I imagine it would be pretty hard to wind your clock.

Being one of the few nationally syndicated women in a male-dominated medium is irrelevant to her success, says Ingraham, but she must be doing something right. Her spring ratings were up from the previous winter by 143 percent in Washington, 114 percent in Los Angeles, 325 percent in San Diego and 39 percent in New York.

Jesus, Kurtz, was it good for you? Read your own effin’ paper, wouldja?

From 1997:

Laura Ingraham, the CBS and MSNBC analyst, is as hard as a diamond. Her killer views against gays, feminists, gun-control advocates and welfare stand out even in that booming segment of the instant-pundit industry: right-wing women commentators. That’s why her recent essay in the Washington Post apologizing for her rabid intolerance of gays dropped like a bombshell. Notorious in her student days for vilifying “sodomites” in the Dartmouth Review–and for sending a reporter to tape a Gay Students Association meeting, then naming names–she wrote that she changed her views after witnessing “the dignity, fidelity and courage” with which her brother and his late companion coped with AIDS. She now understands why gays need protection and regrets her “callous rhetoric.”

That might have been the end of that, except that when you shoot to the top of the pundit food chain just a year after shedding your lawyer’s pinstripes without any tedious apprenticeships, no good deed goes unchallenged. Jeffrey Hart, the Review’s faculty adviser, sent a memo to the Weekly Standard saying that Ingraham had some nerve dragging the Review into her “phony political confession” given that no one else there held, as she did, “the most extreme antihomosexual views imaginable.” He says she went so far as to avoid a local eatery where she feared the waiters were homosexual and might touch her silverware or spit on her food, exposing her to AIDS.

Too bad Howard couldn’t find a spot for that little anecdote in his column. Sometimes I wonder if these columnists have that interweb thingie installed on their computers.


“On bicycles, on foot, and some with their children in tow…”

link here.

“On bicycles, on foot, and some with their children in tow, hundreds of thousands of people moved through areas of Manhattan today in rallies or mass demonstrations, carrying messages against war and the Bush administration.
In the largest demonstration ever at a political convention, people swarmed through the midtown area of Manhattan in a march organized by United for Peace and Justice, passing by Madison Square Garden…At the height of the march, it took more than an hour to move one block.

I am so proud to be an American today. Yesterday, Americans showed up and made it clear to the Bush administration and to the world that this country belongs to us, and is not a wholly owned subsidiary of Halliburton. It was beautiful. Thanks to all of you who were in Manhattan yesterday, on behalf of those of us who couldn’t be there.

So Much For That Oil Revenue

I guess the oil fields were insufficiently “liberated.”

Oil exports from southern Iraq have come to a complete halt because of attacks on pipelines and are not likely to resume for at least a week, a senior Iraqi oil official said Monday.

Oil flows out of the southern pipelines which account for 90 percent of Iraq’s exports ceased late Sunday, an official from South Oil Co. said on condition of anonymity.

“Oil exports from the port of Basra have completely stopped since last night,” said the official. He added that exports were not likely to resume for at least one week.

A stop in southern oil exports costs Iraq about $60 million a day in lost income at current global crude prices, said Walid Khadduri, an oil expert who is chief editor of the Cyprus-based Middle East Economic Survey.

I’m sure we’ll see side-by-side coverage of this along with the convention, right?


Bush: We Can’t Win

Well, this should help with that “steady leadership in times of change” image:

Bush: ‘War on terror cannot be won’

� President George Bush has acknowledged that he does not think the war on terror can be won, but said it would make it less acceptable for groups to use terrorism as a tool.

In a US TV interview, Bush, who has said he expects the war on terror to be a long, drawn-out battle, was asked: “Can we win it?”

The president replied: “I don’t think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that the – those who use terror as a tool are – less acceptable in parts of the world.”

I don’t disagree with this, actually. But since when does he talk like this? I thought we were going to smoke them out or hang them high or shoot them down in front of the OK Corral? I thought that’s what the base liked to hear, that we’d put their heads on pikes at the gates of the city, tear down the statue of Liberty and put up a giant monument made entirely of gilded body parts blown up in our heroic struggle?

Did I miss a memo or something?


Something To Do

Why I’m here.

Freedom from fear also demands that our liberties and our sense of trust at home be safeguarded. Two hundred and two Septembers after the creation of our Bill of Rights, Attorney General John Ashcroft drafted a document that has eroded our Constitutional rights and broken down the mutual trust between the American people and their government — and between Americans and each other — by making suspects out of all of us.

That is not the act of a patriot.

A true Patriot Act is not born out of fear, but out of trust; it is not born out of division, but out of community; it is not born out of suspicion, but out of faith in each of us.

We need to remind this administration what a Patriot Act is.

A neighbor lends a hand to a friend in need — that is a Patriot Act.

A mother struggles for her children’s future — that is a Patriot Act.

An immigrant becomes a member of our American family — that is a Patriot Act.

Americans come together as a community and as a country to declare their values, their rights, and their very independence — that is a Patriot Act, as it was in 1776 and as it is over two hundred years later and as it will be, through our actions, over two hundred years from now.

Our patriotism is symbolized by our American flag, but our flag only flies because Americans have come together to raise it.

The flag doesn’t belong to John Ashcroft or to any political party or to any person who would use it to intimidate their fellow Americans. It belongs to all of us. Our document of patriotism — signed in September of 1787 — begins with: We, the People.

And it is We, the People, who have the power to change our country.

Steve Gilliard is reading all the convention stories so that you don’t have to. You can get detailed convention aggregate blogging here. And I’m sure my fellow posters will be chiming in with their impressions as well. My thing, this week, is to keep reminding myself (and by extension, all of you) why we’re spending all this time poring over every utterance of people whose approach to public policy makes us want to tear our hair out. It’s funny — I thought I’d be burned out or tired by now, sick of politics and ready for it all to be over. I am sick of the lies of this administration, sick of the blood and the death and the carnage for no reason at all, but I’m not tired of the fight. Not at all.

One of the things I love about y’all is that I know you’re already off your asses, doing stuff. I know you’re not just sitting in your undies hitting refresh on this thing. But if you’re looking for something more to do, deeply good people need your help running for office, organizations could use your hands and your voice, and in your hometown tonight, a streetcorner needs a flashlight, a window needs a candle.


We Want More Than The Wars Of Our Fathers

Sometimes you just have to see it.

A lot of people counseled the protesters to stay home. I’m personally glad they didn’t. In times like these, you shout with whatever voice you have.

And this is why:

The Pentagon says 969 Americans have died in action, including 831 since Bush stood on an aircraft carrier more than a year ago before a banner that read “Mission Accomplished.”

There are going to be parts of this week that will be discouraging. It might feel, for a while, as if those of us who are dismayed at the direction our country has taken are alone again. Look at that picture. We’re not.

Police gave no official crowd estimate of the day’s protest. One official put the size at 120,000, although it took nearly five hours for the procession to pass Madison Square Garden. Delegates meet there beginning Monday to nominate Bush and Cheney for second terms.

Organizers claimed they had turned out roughly 400,000 protesters.


“A Failure of Accountability”

As long as we’re discussing what is motivating those of us who oppose this administration, (per Athenae’s post, below,) perhaps this will make it clearer to those who profess not to understand why we are so motivated.


“Only a fews years ago, it seemed the slightest suggestion of malfeasance by a persidential administration–allegations of tampering with a minor administrative official, say, or indications that a cabinet secretary might have understated the amount of money given to a former girlfriend–could trigger a response from the other two branches of government: grand juries, special prosecutors, endless congressional hearings, even impeachment proceedings. Some of that auditing, especially during the Clinton administration, went too far. Yet now the country faces a frightening inversion of the problem. Though there is strong evidence of faulty even criminal behavior by a senior military commander and members of president Bush’s cabinet in the handling of foreign detainees, neither Congress nor the justice system is taking adequate steps to hold those officials accountable.

What’s particularly troubling about this breakdown of checks and balances is that some of the most disturbing behavior by senior officials has yet to be thoroughly investigated.

When the prisoner abuse allegations first became public in May, many members of Congress, including several senior Republicans, vowed to pursue the evidence up the chain of command and not to allow low-ranking reservists to be prosecuted while more senior officials escaped sanction. Yet as matters now stand, Mr. Rumsfeld, Gen. Sanchez and other senior officials are poised to execute just such an escape. When the scandal began, these leaders told Congress they were prepared to accept responsibility for the wrongdoing. As it turns out, they didn’t mean that in any substantive respect. Their dodge shames not only them but the legal and legislative bodies charged with enforcing accountability.”

See, it really isn’t difficult to understand what motivates those of us who despise George Bush and his presidency: we are motivated by our love of this nation and its constitution. We are sickened by the failure of our system of checks and balances. We are appalled that the country that was founded on the idea that the people are in charge is being run by an administration comprised of people who have nothing but contempt for the principles that we cherish and for us. This is supposed to be our country; but we have a president who achieved his office by thumbing his nose in the faces of the majority that voted against him, and has proceeded to govern as if he was an absolute monarch. That ain’t America, folks. And that’s why we are so damn mad.

It’s The Lies, Stupid

The San Fran Chronicle takes up the “Bush Hatred” idea.

Bush has also driven many detractors to the brink of rage, where the very sound of his voice or the sight of his face on television prompts an intense, gut-level reaction.

“There are occasionally politicians who are galling to a certain segment of the public,” said Loyola Marymount Professor Michael Genovese, co-author of “Polls and Politics: The Dilemmas of Democracy.”

“There is something about their personality, their style, their approach and what they are that brings out contempt in their opponents,” Genovese said. “And more than any politician in my lifetime, George Bush elicits that sort of emotion in Democrats.”


“Bush hatred is a driving force, if not the driving force, of this election,” said Jonathan Chait, an editor for the left-leaning New Republic, who wrote a story a year ago titled “Mad About You: The Case for Bush Hatred.” The cover story criticized not only what Bush stood for, but how he talks, how he walks and even the jokes he tells.

Look. I could care less whether George Bush or for that matter John Kerry is, deep down, a decent human being with a heart of gold who is right with God and Buddha. It’s not Bush’s hair that bugs me, it’s not his speaking voice or even his DUI arrests, and it’s not the fact that he’s a Republican and I’m a registered Democrat.

We elect a president to do things, and we judge him based on what he does.

This is what George W. Bush has done:

Funke was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif. After graduating from Heritage High School in 2003, he became a Marine and was sent to Iraq this winter.

��� Funke was on the wrestling team for one season. Donnie McPherson was his coach. While Funke was not the most experienced athlete, he showed up for practice regularly and worked hard. McPherson also recalled Funke’s enthusiasm for the military.

��� “He was just really excited about serving his country,” he said.

��� Funke’s aunt, Kathy Funke, told the Associated Press that Kane Funke expected to come home for a visit in two weeks.

��� “Now he’s coming back, but not the way we wanted him to,” she said.


First Draft’s Second Open Thread

Back by popular demand.


How To Please Your May-Unn

I really need to make a category on this site for posts along the lines of “What the fucking fuck?”.

You know, I’ve been married six years now to the love of my life, and I just never realized what our relationship was missing all this time. Excerpts:

I don’t care what he says…he wants your hair long. Quit chopping it off into a cut you see in a magazine on Hallie [sic] Berry. She would look better with long hair too. “Cute” is not a compliment…if he says your hair is “cute” it means he can’t think of anything better to say and is trying to be polite so as to not have his favorite warm, slippery hiding spot taken away. Even in the 20’s when short hairstyles were the rage, Southern Belles still kept their hair long…why? Because they knew their men preferred it that way. It’s soft and when your man snuggles his face into your neck, if you have long hair, it envelopes him with its sweet smell and soft, comforting texture. Plus, nothing feels sexier, as a woman, than to have your long, lustrous locks cascading over your bare shoulders and back. **Plus, it’s great for wrapping around their fists during rough sex.**

If you can’t cook…no worry. If you are good enough in the bedroom, your performance in the kitchen is inconsequential. Just leave him lightheaded and deliriously worn out. He could eat roadkill after that. But make sure you help him work up an appetite first. And should he ever get that “I’d rather be eating the sole of my shoe soaked in dog urine” look on his face at the dinner table, just excuse yourself and slide under the table to um…make sure his napkin is placed appropriately across his lap. And if you know what you’re doing, he’ll remember that disgusting food you cooked as the best dinner he’s ever had.

Men don’t like to be nagged. But sometimes you just can’t get them off their asses to do something that needs to be done. So, if you’ve asked him to do something twice and he still hasn’t, ask him one more time if he’s done it. If he says no or starts to make an excuse, nod, turn and exit the room and go and do whatever it is. If that means you have to leave dinner uncooked to go cut the grass…leave dinner uncooked. And after he sees you cutting the grass, he’ll come and try to take over. Don’t let him. Tell him if he wants to help, he can go finish dinner. But don’t hand over the lawnmower. It’s too late for him to redeem himself there. **Then should you ‘hurt’ yourself while performing said duty, imagine how guilty he would feel! I bet he wouldn’t wait until the third time you asked next time. Of course I’m not saying that you should intentionally hurt yourself, but screaming never accomplishes anything…crocodile tears, giant eyes, and silence does however.**

These are just some choice portions. You really should go read the whole thing. Huge portions of the wingersphere (tm Ntodd) just defy satire.


Plus ca change, and all that


Najaf, Iraq (Agence France Press) – Iraqi policemen rounded up dozens of journalists at gunpoint in a Najaf hotel and took them to police headquarters before later releasing them, an APF correspondent said.

The story goes on to say that the chief of police, Ghaleb al-Jezari, told the reporters he had had them brought to police headquarters because they don’t publish the truth, as he sees it, anyway. Progress in Iraq, the middle east’s newest democracy. Yup; uh huh.

I Want Your Resignation On My Desk By 5 p.m.

Excuse me, Mr. Feith? You might not remember me. We haven’t talked in a while. I’m your boss.

I pay your salary with a portion of what I work 50-60 hours a week to earn. The man whose election was partially paid for by my tax dollars hired the man who hired you; nonetheless, since I sign your checks, I consider myself your supervisor.

Like everyone else who works for me, you got a certain amount of slack at first. Some projects you worked on seemed to go well for a while. And the events which you weathered at the start of your tenure inspired me to cut you and your fellow employees a little bit of a break.

But this last mistake … I’m sorry, I just can’t let it go.

Western media are quoting unnamed American law enforcement officials as saying the FBI investigation centers on whether a Pentagon analyst passed classified information about U.S. policy on Iran to a leading pro-Israeli lobbying group in Washington.

That group, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) allegedly passed the secret information to the Israeli government. The suspect has not been named, but the quoted officials say the analyst works for the office of Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy at the Pentagon. Feith is an influential aide to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

A lot of people thought you should be fired after your Iraq presentation, which though well-received, turned out to be based entirely on falsehoods. The powerpoint was very pretty, but the results have left something to be desired. And this is just the final straw.

Now, don’t give me those “people above me approved” or “loyalty” arguments. Trust me, your superiors are getting similar notes from me in the coming weeks. But since you were directly responsible for this monumentally embarrassing and potentially damaging cock-up, you should be the first to go.

I’d like your resignation on my desk by the end of the day. Security will watch as you clean out your desk and then escort you from the building.

Don’t argue with me. That’s my house, asshole. I own it. And you don’t work in it anymore.