Monthly Archives: August 2004

Kitty Meets The Real World

Kathryn Lopez chewed through the leather straps this morning, got out of bed and discovered people! On the street! Expressing their opinions of her preznit! Heavens to Betsy, Maude, have the housemaid bring the smelling salts.

Around 7, a woman on the downtown side of 34th street, outside of a sport bar stopped in her tracks, looking at the police-state look of the Garden-surrounding streets, the condensed traffic lanes, and said, for anyone who cared to listen, “F*** Bush. You hear what I’m saying?” Yup. Two guys nodded. But this wasn’t even an ANYBODY BUT BUSH moment, necessarily. It was more a native New Yorker, leave us alone already cry to fellow bees-buzzing along in the rat race (mixed animal metaphor clichs!). Don’t get in our way, GOPers with your funny hats.

On the bright side, for once, I’ll feel safe to wear that Bush-Cheney cap…

Thank God for that. It’s hard, isn’t it, feeling so threatened by your status as a Bush-Cheney supporter that you can’t even wear your hat? The sacrifices our country asks of us are tremendous, Kathryn, and it’s good to know you have the couarge to meet them unwaveringly.


Political street art in NYC

I got this email today:

We are emailing certain bloggers to let them know about a street art project happening during the Republican National Convention. Since the authorities quickly remove political posters and activist stencils, we plan to use to document unprecedented levels of political street art. Signed: Ryan, editor of StreetMemes.

Examples already up can be found: here


and here

Feith Aide Spied for Israel

From Holden:

Ya gotta hand it to Doug Feith, he does not discriminate between spies for Iran and spies for Israel. He likes them both.

The FBI is investigating whether an aide to the Pentagon’s No. 3 official acted as a spy for Israel, giving the Jewish state classified materials about secret White House deliberations on Iran, two federal law enforcement officials said Friday.


The officials refused to identify the Pentagon employee who is under investigation, but said the person works in the office of Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy at the Pentagon.

Feith is a key aide to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, working on sensitive policy issues, including U.S. policy toward Iraq and Iran.

The investigation centers on whether the employee in Feith’s office passed secrets about Bush administration policy toward Iran to the main pro-Israeli lobbying group in Washington, the American-Israeli Political Action Committee, which then allegedly gave them to the Israeli government, one official said.

A Great Record — For Me to Poop On

From Holden:

I’m channeling Triumph the Insult Comic Dog after reading the new 19-chapter President Bush’s Record of Achievement at the White House web site.

Some lowlights:

The Introduction, which summarizes the achievements of a “first term [that] has been among the most consequential and successful in modern times”, fails to mention Iraq (kinda like the official Cheney bio that doesn’t mention Halliburton).

There is actually a chapter called Promoting Peace and Democracy – and Acts of Mercy

Iraqi WMD, or any Iraqi threat to America, received no mention.

The chapter entitled The Condition of America seems to be leftover from the previous administration, as it cites the following wonderful trends:

The largest welfare caseload decline in history occurred between 1996 and 2003, with the caseload falling 60 percent.

The rate of teen deaths by accident, homicide, and suicide fell 17 percent between 1996 and 2001.

Once again, your tax dollars at work.

Your Republican terrorists at work


Police have confirmed that an explosion that blew out the windows of a Boston area lab that specializes in stem cell research was caused by a pipe bomb.
I don’t think it is an overstatement to say that the president has created a climate of intensifying division and conflict in this country by exploiting the religious convictions of the fundamentalist christians in his base. I often wonder if Bush himself really has the deep christian convictions that he claims he does. But whether he does or not, by his words and his actions he has given a certain amount of credibility to the domestic terrorists who believe that they are doing “God’s work” by attacking abortion clinics and now this lab. And this is what I find so incredibly dangerous about this administration – that it panders to the American Taliban that would drag us back to the kind of life that is reflected in the old testament: patriarchal, paternalistic, rigid, unforgiving and backwards.

Inside The Imam Ali Shrine

Just to make sure, you’re all reading Christopher Allbritton, right?

I was on the roof trying to get my BGan to connect when Najaf’s finest burst onto the roof with a Kalashnikov and order me and the other journalists down to the lobby. The cops had raided the hotel and forced all the journalists out onto the street. We were terrified. The cops yelled at us and pointed their weapons toward us. Several large trucks were waiting and knew we would be loaded onto them. Then they started shooting.

“Yella, yella” they ordered us. BANG BANG! They fired their weapons just over our heads forcing us to crouch. The foreign journalists and the Arab media were separated into separate trucks and we were all brought to the police station at gunpoint. On the way, they continued to scream at us and point their weapons in our faces. I tried to put my money in my bag, but a young police officer thrust his Kalashnikov at me and rifled through my bag.

Finally, we made it to the police station. My friend Phillip urged me to ride it out, be calm, smile a little. Then we were herded into the police chief’s office for the most bizarre press conference of my life.

The Shrine would be stormed tonight, he said, and we would be allowed to get on a bus and go visit it tomorrow to see the damage the Mahdi Army had done to it. The Sistani protesters in Kufa were really Mahdi guys and they had to be killed. Oh, and thank you for coming.

A few of us put up a fight, demanding why they couldn’t just invite us down for a presser instead of kidnapping us. Oh, no, the commander said, that must have been a mistake. I just asked them to bring you to me… There was no order to brandish weapons, push journalists around and fire into the air. One cop, a lieutenant, just smiled at us when we pointed our fingers at him and said he was the one leading the raid, yelling and pointing his side arm at us.

These are Najaf’s finest. They’re like the old regime, only less disciplined. They’re terrifying and they’re the most dangerous element in this conflict. The Americans and the Mahdi Army have pretty set positions and you know they’re not targeting journalists. But the police here have been engaging in a systematic intimidation of us for three weeks now. The governor of Najaf has reportedly threatened to jail journalists who don’t write down exactly what he says when he says it in interviews.


The Whore’s Price

Attention NYC bloggers. I want photographs of any reporter, correspondent, photographer or “pundit” who visits this.

Besides an army of antiwar and anti-Bush activists, New York’s Republican National Convention is ready to greet you, directly across from Madison Square Garden, with a full city block of indoor media workspace, gourmet prepared-to-order edibles, and dozens of permanent bathrooms. And if that’s not enough, there’s the complimentary day spa, which will offer free massages, facials, manicures and shoe shines. Oh, did we mention the complementary cold beer?

I’m not surprised they’d offer the spa. But I’d be appalled if anyone took advantage. Have some fucking pride.


Good Question

Holden, you up for this one?

I’ll bet you $50 to MoveOn nobody takes this reward before October 1.

Unless you’re too busy grooming your pony to gamble …


President Clueless

From Holden:

The New York Times’ David E. Sanger and Elisabeth Bumiller briefly interviewed Dubya on the campaign trail yesterday. Let others blog about his belief that John Kerry is telling the truth about his Vietnam experiences while stubbornly refusing to denounce the Swift Boat Liars, or his grudging admission that he miscalculated on the aftermath of invading Iraq.

I’m struck once again by his totaly lack of a clue.

First, the setting:

Mr. Bush conducted the interview in an unusual setting: A cinderblock dressing room, outfitted with a conference table and leather reclining chairs, accessible only by walking through a men’s room underneath a small stadium here, where he appeared for a campaign rally.

Next, the cluelessness:

On environmental issues, Mr. Bush appeared unfamiliar with an administration report delivered to Congress on Wednesday that indicated that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases were the only likely explanation for global warming over the last three decades. Previously, Mr. Bush and other officials had emphasized uncertainties in understanding the causes and consequences of global warming.

The new report was signed by Mr. Bush’s secretaries of energy and commerce and his science adviser. Asked why the administration had changed its position on what causes global warming, Mr. Bush replied, “Ah, we did? I don’t think so.”


Mr. Bush also took issue with Mr. Kerry’s argument, in an interview at the end of May with The New York Times, that the Bush administration’s focus on Iraq had given North Korea the opportunity to significantly expand its nuclear capability. Showing none of the alarm about the North’s growing arsenal that he once voiced regularly about Iraq, he opened his palms and shrugged when an interviewer noted that new intelligence reports indicate that the North may now have the fuel to produce six or eight nuclear weapons.

I Just Put My Bush Boom on a Milk Carton

From Holden:

Second Quarter GDP slips to 2.8%:

The U.S. economy, struggling under the weight of a bloated trade deficit, grew at a relatively modest 2.8 percent annual rate in the second quarter, a slower pace of expansion than previously thought.

The new reading on gross domestic product (GDP) issued by the Commerce Department Friday furnished fresh evidence that the business recovery hit a rut in the spring and early summer. The growth rate was weaker than the 3 percent figure first estimated a month ago and showed that the economy, which had been moving along at a decent clip, lost considerable momentum in the April-to-June quarter.

Did You Ever Have To Finally Decide?

From Mike Miner’s Hot Type, we get this:

Steve Chapman in the [Chicago] Tribune, August 22: “From listening to both sides, you’d think Kerry and President Bush were running for trustee of VFW Post 836. Though the differing war stories may be endlessly fascinating to anyone who served in Vietnam, or anyone who strove heroically to avoid serving in Vietnam, the rest of us would rather hear the candidates recite from a volume on patent law.”

The Sun-Times made roughly the same point in an editorial August 24: “Nothing is more unappealing than the thought of this bickering over 35-year-old history extending any closer to November. . . . Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether John Kerry was a war hero or a self-aggrandizer half as much as his views on the economy, education, health care and the war on terror matter.”

But it does matter. Anyone can have views. Views clash and confuse, leaving voters looking for something specific that will cut through the confusion — some kind of tiebreaker. Like character. A lot of uncertain voters would believe Kerry lied about being a war hero because it would let them make up their minds.

I don’t think there are “a lot” of uncertain voters out there. If recent polls are any indication, people have pretty much made up their minds. But Miner does point out a tendency in our lazy electorate: to form an opinion of a candidate’s “character” and then look for things to confirm that opinion.


Where Is The Shame?


Mr. Bush himself, the nation’s commander in chief and the biggest hawk of all. He revels in the accouterments of combat. The story was somewhat different when he was 22 years old and eligible for combat himself. He managed to get into the cushy confines of the Texas Air National Guard at the height of the Vietnam War in 1968 – a year in which more than a half-million American troops were in the war zone and more than 14,000 were killed.

The story gets murky after that. We know the future president breezed off at some point to work on a political campaign in Alabama, skipped a required flight physical in 1972 and was suspended from flying. He supported the war in Vietnam but was never in any danger of being sent there.

Vice President Dick Cheney, another fierce administration hawk. Mr. Cheney asked for and received five deferments when he was eligible for the draft. He told senators at a confirmation hearing in 1989, “I had other priorities in the 60’s than military service.” Many draft-age Americans had similar priorities – getting an education, getting married and starting a family.

Attorney General John Ashcroft. He is reported to have said, “I would have served, if asked.” But with the war raging in Vietnam, he received six student deferments and an “occupational deferment” based on the essential nature of a civilian job at Southwest Missouri State University – teaching business law to undergraduates.

Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary and a fanatical hawk on Iraq. He was not fanatical about Vietnam and escaped the draft with student deferments.

There are many others.

I would like to see at least some of these men, in keeping with their positions as leaders of a great nation, stand up and say it is wrong – just wrong – to try and reap a cheap political gain by defacing the sacrifices of individuals like John Kerry, John McCain and Max Cleland, who put themselves in mortal danger in the service of their country.


Slipped the surly bonds of earth

A little beauty to end the day. Photoblogging the Manhattan Bridge work with the Sky Cowboys.


Coalition Trouble

From Holden:

The Italian Foreign Minister, channeling Brer Rabbit, says Italian troops will leave Iraq if asked:

The Italian government is ready to pull its troops working with the U.S.-led coalition out of Iraq if Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s government in Baghdad makes such a request, Italy’s Foreign Minister told al-Jazeera.

“We are ready to leave Iraq, even tomorrow, if the government of Allawi asks us,” Franco Frattini said in an interview with the Doha, Qatar-based television station.

Frattini’s comments contradict statements made by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who said Tuesday the Italian government won’t withdraw troops from Iraq following threats of attack by an armed group that kidnapped an Italian journalist.

Meanwhile, the effort to impeach Tony Blair begins:

SCOTTISH and Welsh Nationalists are leading an attempt to impeach Tony Blair for misleading Parliament in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

With the backing of two senior Tories – art spokesman Boris Johnson and Ribble Valley backbencher Nigel Evans – they want to use the ancient process to highlight the Prime Minister’s inaccurate comments about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.

The mechanism has not been used for more than 150 years since an attempt to impeach Lord Palmerston over claims he had entered into a secret treaty with Russia.

But following a report by two academics – Glen Rangwala from Cambridge and Dan Plesch from London – the MPs have decided to resurrect the power.

Welsh Nationalist MP Adam Price said: “For the Prime Minister to mislead Parliament and public and get away with it is not acceptable.”

SNP Westminster leader Alex Salmond added: “There is no more serious charge than leading the country to war based on a lie.”

All nine Nationalist MPs have signed the motion, which will spark a debate in the Commons. There will then be a vote on whether Blair should be committed for trial by the House of Lords.

Opportunity and the hierarchy of grief

If Rescue Me doesn’t win an Emmy for its writing in this episode there is no justice in the world.

Last night Athenae’s Obsession with Denis Leary’s Creation hit on something I think is worthy of discussion going into the Grave Dancer’s Union this week in New York. Especially since Miserable Failure plans to watch the convention from a firehouse.

Poet Charlotte Mayerson wrote, after losing a son to AIDS, “That I don’t own his death/Is a required course/His friends teach.” Rescue Me last night dealt with a firefighter who sat in a room full of people who said they were traumatized by Sept. 11, 2001, though they were miles away, and he told them what trauma really meant: He was there, he lost friends and family. You weren’t, and didn’t. So you don’t get to have the feelings you claim to have. You don’t get to talk out loud about this stuff and get the sympathy you want. You don’t own that day. And it wasn’t an admirable sentiment, it wasn’t perfectly cathartic and relatable. But it was real.

There is a vicious relativity to grief, an innate selfishness that says, I am the one who loves the most, therefore I am the only one who feels the pain this way. Whoever first said that misery loves company never understood the warmth one feels in wrapping that privileged status around oneself and standing as the special one, the one who has the most right to feel something, to feel deepest. At my grandfather’s funeral, someone came up to me and said, “You know you have to take care of your mother. She’s the one who will take this the hardest.” My mother, in turn, was told by someone else to take care of her mom. There was a terrible hierarchy of who, based on relationships to the dead, was allowed to feel to what degree. And it wasn’t entirely wrong.

I have a co-worker who went around after 9/11 saying that that day’s events “gave my life so much more meaning.” One of my mother’s friends enthused that “it’s made me love my family more.” Bully for all of them. I don’t know why you need a national tragedy to give your life meaning or make you love your family, but whatever turns your crank, I guess. I’m happy you’re hugging your kids, no matter what it is that reminded you you need to do that.

No one person, or even any one group of people, has exclusive rights to feel anything about Sept. 11, but it’s worth reminding that while no one owns that day, to some worse things happened than to others. We can be united and sympathetic to those who have lost, we can be unnerved, but the real meaning of that day belongs to those who lost family, who lost friends and colleagues. It belongs to the real people with holes in their lives, not just the people who saw it on TV.

That day made President Bush a war president. It made his party the guardians of the right ways to think and to talk about the unthinkable, the inexpressible. And this week, he’ll give an acceptance speech littered with references to the mass graves in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania. Make no mistake about the choice of venue: His words will be a national eulogy at a national funeral. But only some of the mourners will have known the deceased.

All are welcome to pay their respects, I’m sure. But those who are just there to gawk, or to give their own lives meaning, should have the grace and the dignity to step out of the way when actual family and friends of the dead come forward.



courtesy of Juliusblog, exclusive photos of a banner that greeted RNC participants upon their arrival in New York – until a swat team took it down.

Roy Hoffman, Liar

The Associated Press has located a March 18, 1969, report from Task Force 115, that was filed just 5 days after the swift boat action that resulted in John Kerry’s being awarded two of his medals. The report supports Kerry’s version and contradicts the swift boat liars.

Task Force 115 was commanded at the time by Roy Hoffman, one of the swift boat liars. The anti-Kerry group has not produced one official Navy document supporting its claims.
link here
Personally, I think a public apology from every one of those liars is in order. And an apology is especially in order from the liars in the White House who engineered this smear.

Juan Cole on tonight

Professor Juan Cole will be on the Lehrer News Hour tonight, discussing Sistani and Muqtada al-Sadr. He is also appearing on CNN Headline News, between 7 and 7:30 or 7:30 – 8.

I Can Understand the Confusion

From Holden:

Jenna and Not-Jenna work the phone banks.

“They’ve made phone calls from phone banks, saying `Hi, I’m Barbara or Jenna Bush,” [spokeswoman Susan] Whitson said.