Monthly Archives: July 2005

Random Happy Photo: We Got More Bounce In California

I know, I know, weaselboy. I know. Most of the time he just kisses ass insider kool kids blah blah blah. But honestly, read this and tell me you don’t want to make out with him just a little.


Tell Me A Story

The legend goes like this. Somebody once challenged Ernest Hemingway to tell a whole story in six words. He replied: “For sale: baby shoes. Never used.”

Other writers were challenged to do the same. Witness replies to this 2003 contest:

John Updike: “Forgive me!” “What for?” “Never mind.”

Tobias Wolff: “She gave. He took. He forgot.”

Michael Cunningham: “My nemesis is dead. Now what?”

And our own staff favorite, from Norman Mailer: “Satan – Jehovah – 15 rounds. A draw.”



Gaggle Extra: Bolton Edition

Too much good stuff today:

Q First on Bolton, and then another question about today’s discussion. Is the President concerned about the apparent error on Mr. Bolton’s questionnaire to the Senate, in which he said that he had not been questioned in a federal investigation in the preceding five years, when now it has been revealed that, in fact, he was at least interviewed in the context of the Inspector General-CIA investigation of the uranium potential sale from Niger to Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think the State Department addressed that last night and it was John Bolton who pointed that out.

Q Is the President concerned about this?

MR. McCLELLAN: Do you have a follow-up?

Q So is the President concerned about it? (Laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: No. I just said, no.

And on Fingergate, we have Your Daily Les:

Les, go ahead.

Q Scott, The Washington Post this morning reports that, “Many days, no doubt, he” — that’s you, Scott — “he harbors his own desires to finger his feelings about reporters.” (Laughter.) That’s what they reported. And my question is, since The Post also reports that “The President suddenly thrust his right hand into the air and extends a finger.” White House officials yesterday said it was his thumb. Could this be interpreted as the traditional thumbs-up signal, or is it a mistake to confuse the President’s thumb with his middle finger?

I have a follow up.

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, okay, I found all this kind of preposterous —

Q It was in The Washington Post.

MR. McCLELLAN: — and the story that was run there. Clearly, if you look at it and if you were there, you would recognize that the President was giving a thumbs-up. Someone in the media had asked something to the effect of, how does it look on the Central American Free Trade Agreement, and the President gave the thumbs-up.


Today on The Gaggle: Republicans Asplode!

Stem cell woes for the preznit and for Scottie:

Q The Republican Party appears to be moving away from this President on this issue. How does he react to that?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that there are many Americans that share the President’s view that we need to continue to explore and advance science, but we need to make sure that we maintain ethical standards. As I said, these are decisions that have far-reaching consequences. And that’s why the President worked to find common ground on this difficult issue.

Q Okay, let me just interrupt. Most Americans —

MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on, hang on.

Q Most Americans don’t support the President’s decision, according to polls.

MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on. This is a difficult issue. The President recognized that when he made his decision back in 2001. The President has always worked to try to find common ground on difficult issues.

The decision that the President made was addressing taxpayer dollars. The President does not believe we should be using taxpayer dollars for — or to support the further destruction of human life. That’s where he set the line. Now, there’s no prohibition on the private sector research that goes on. There are a lot of lines that are now available so that we can move forward on the basic research.

Q As an individual, does he support the private research that’s going forward on embryonic stem cells?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President — the decision he made was relating to taxpayer money.

Q I understand that. I’m asking if as an individual —

MR. McCLELLAN: And the President is someone who believes we shouldn’t be creating life for the sole purpose of destroying it. And he stated that position.

Q Separate issue.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that addresses your question.

Q One factual thing here. Well, let me just get an answer to this first part. The fact is that the Republican Party is moving away from this President, and there is a feeling that Senator Frist articulated today that, in effect, the President is stuck in a 2001 decision when the science is passing him by.

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, I’m going to disagree with you right now on saying the Republican Party is moving away. The Republican Party is united and moving forward to implement important priorities for the American people. This week has been one of the most successful weeks —

Q On stem cell — I’m talking about this issue.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, you made a general statement that they’re moving away.

Q No, no, I meant on this issue. I meant on this issue.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, but let me talk about this issue, because some of you in this room, and some of your colleagues, two months ago, were saying that this President is facing lame duck status, that we can’t get things done that —

Q Let’s not divert off of that, Scott. I was specific to this issue. Let’s not get off on that.

MR. McCLELLAN: Of course, you don’t want to talk about it.

Q That was your opening statement, you had time about that. No, the Republicans support you on any number of things, I can list them —

MR. McCLELLAN: You don’t want to talk about it.

Q I’d love to talk about it, let’s lengthen the briefing, but one question about —

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not going anywhere.

You know those movies where lions are taking apart a gazelle and the narrator’s telling you exactly which organs they’re ripping out and in what order? This is sort of like that:

Q I have a follow-up and then another question. You’ve said that the President does not support the further destruction of human life through creating new embryonic stem cell lines. Does he think it should be criminal to destroy frozen embryos that are not used in fertility clinics?

MR. McCLELLAN: Jessica, no, this is relating to the taxpayer dollars. That’s the President’s decision.

Q But if the President believes that’s the destruction of life, why doesn’t he make an effort to oppose it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Jessica, the decision that he made was relating to taxpayer dollars. He’s the President, and this is taxpayer money. This is federal funding.

Q So what should happen to the 400,000-plus frozen embryos that are sitting in fertility banks not being used, waiting to be thrown out?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in fact, he just had an event a short time ago, talking about how there are embryo adoption families, people that can adopt these embryos and —

Q But that’s a nominal — nominal — number compared to the hundreds of thousands of embryos —

The whole thing really is a treat today.


La Vie en Roses

From Tena:

Robert Jeffers, posted this piece by Krugman (and Jeffers has the link; my registration was wiped out when I cleared my cookies to be able to logon to First-Draft) yesterday, and predicted it would be all over the blogosphere by today. So here’s a contribution to the spread:

The point is that to the extent that the French have less income than we do, it’s mainly a matter of choice. And to see the consequences of that choice, let’s ask how the situation of a typical middle-class family in France compares with that of its American counterpart.

The French family, without question, has lower disposable income. This translates into lower personal consumption: a smaller car, a smaller house, less eating out.

But there are compensations for this lower level of consumption. Because French schools are good across the country, the French family doesn’t have to worry as much about getting its children into a good school district. Nor does the French family, with guaranteed access to excellent health care, have to worry about losing health insurance or being driven into bankruptcy by medical bills.

Perhaps even more important, however, the members of that French family are compensated for their lower income with much more time together. Fully employed French workers average about seven weeks of paid vacation a year. In America, that figure is less than four.

So which society has made the better choice?


American conservatives despise European welfare states like France. Yet many of them stress the importance of “family values.” And whatever else you may say about French economic policies, they seem extremely supportive of the family as an institution. Senator Rick Santorum, are you reading this?

No wonder the Repugs hate the French – they are proof that taking care of all the citizens of a country makes life in that country easier for the citizens. It has always been one of the chief building blocks of American propaganda that this is the greatest place on earth to live.

I think that it may have been true – at one time. Bush’s America, on the other hand, is turning into an intolerant third world nation, complete with brain drain and decadent ideas that cannot carry this country into the future. We’ve been going backwards now for about 4 years – ever since the reactionary Bush Junta and its minions, the Religious Right, took over, and started yanking the entire country backwards. They have moved us away from science and other intellectual pursuits, diplomacy, and all programs designed to help the less fortunate. If you ain’t a billionaire in Bush’s America, then you ain’t nothing, my friend. And you ain’t going to get nothing, either, even with a great big “R” on your voter registration.


First of all, how fun is it that Frist is jumping ship on the Holy Embryo Issue?

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on Friday threw his support behind House-passed legislation to expand federal financing for human embryonic stem cell research, breaking with President Bush and religious conservatives in a move that could impact his prospects for seeking the White House in 2008.

“It’s not just a matter of faith, it’s a matter of science,” Frist, R-Tenn., said on the floor of the Senate.

Frist’s announcement immediately dented his support among Christian conservatives but won lavish praise from former first lady Nancy Reagan, who said it “has the potential to alleviate so much suffering.” Her husband, the late former President Ronald Reagan, had Alzheimer’s disease

I mean, Bill Frist. Who spoke to that howling, drooling, ranting Justice Sunday crowd. If you’ve lost Frist you’ve lost, well, you’ve lost a catkilling freak who probably was just going to figure out another way to screw you anyway, so you really haven’t lost all that much, but boy, I love a good Republican hissyfest.

Second, I don’t believe for a minute he’s had a sincere change of heart or suddenly remembered he went to medical school and should use that knowledge for something other than diagnosing videotapes. I believe he really, really, really wants to be president, despite having all the charisma of a piece of laundry lint, and he looked at the numbers on this and said screw it, I’m going home early.


Today on the Gaggle

Today on the Gaggle, there’s a lot of serious talk about the energy bill and Helen jamming her questions directly up Scottie’s ass and displaying an attitude I think we all love a whole lot, but I’d like to focus on something that barely gets a mention, and that something is:

President Asshole.

Here’s Scottie’s response to a reporter’s question:

Q Scott, last night on the Tonight Show, Jay Leno, who apparently is subbing for Johnnie, displayed a video of the President at the Capitol yesterday. In that video, the President walking away from the press lifts his hand and raises a finger. Mr. Leno interpreted it as, shall we say, a finger of hostility. Each of our fingers has a special purpose and meaning in life. (Laughter.) Can you tell us what finger it was he held up?

MR. McCLELLAN: Ken, I’m not even going to dignify that with much of a response. But if someone is misportraying something, that’s unfortunate.

Q Well, it was not a finger of hostility?

MR. McCLELLAN: Ken, I was there with him, and I’m just not going to — I’m not going to dignify that with a response. I mean, I haven’t seen the video that you’re talking about, but I know the way the President acts. And if someone is misportraying it, that’s unfortunate.

Misportraying? The fuck? First of all, that isn’t even a word. Second, it’s a video. Did he or did he not give the finger to a video camera? I mean, this isn’t hard. I saw the video. If you clicked on the link above, you saw the video. What finger did it look like he held up to you?

And frankly, I don’t want to get too het up about this, because the President’s been giving us the finger for four and a half years now, and I’m kind of relieved that at least now he’s doing it openly. But I am disturbed that Scottie’s either implying that he, the reporter, is blind, or that the video was in some way doctored, or that a video can be “misportrayed” without being doctored, which is just dumb. Er. Than usual, for this crowd.


Perlstein has the answers for ’06 and ’08 and beyond – ”Unfucking the Donkey”

From Tena:
link here

[with a nod to Atrios, who has also posted a link to this speech by Perlstein]

It’s simple. Barack Obama put it exquisitely in his victory speech: “Government can help provide us with the basic tools we need to live out the American dream.”

Here’s a dirty little secret. The Republicans know this. Nothing scares them more than us returning to our simple answers.

Here’s Bill Kristol, in a famous 1993 memo I’m sure you’re all familiar with: “Health care is not, in fact, just another Democratic initiative . . . the plan should not be amended; it should be erased. . . . It will revive the reputation of the . . . Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests.”

I’d say this memo is the skeleton key to understanding modern American politics, if it didn’t make me yawn. There’s nothing here that’s unfamiliar to historians who’ve read Republican secrets going back 25, 35, even 70 years. You can sum them up in 10 words: “If the Democrats succeed in redistributing economic power, we’re screwed.”

They have reason to fear.

I think Perlstein’s got it, I really do. This is what the Democratic Party has stood for for a long time – economic justice for all Americans. The Republicans have jerked the national dialogue over to national security (and they really do nothing about it, but talk and invade countries without provocation, thus making our nation much less secure,) and what the Democrats need to do is to stand up and start talking about the economy again.

As Rick points out, the Republicans handed the Democrats a huge gift, all wrapped nice and shiny with a big ol’ bow. That gift is Social Security. Bush grasped the third rail in his arrogance and he got burned. It’s time for the Democrats to turn up the juice and electrocute the Republicans with their economic agenda that seeks only to give more to those who already have everything.

Har De Har Har

OMG Senators SO FUNNY!!11!

One senator asked Mr. Bruno if the state would steam ahead on Medicaid reform with a governor who was now a lame duck. Another: “More casinos.” Another: “Maybe we can do our fall session” on conference calls.

Then, one by one, the senators started to sign off. Mr. Bruno thanked a senator, whom he called Billy, for a tie. One of his colleagues asked Mr. Bruno, “Did you get that Mercedes I had delivered to your house?”

The NY GOP. Feast your eyes, voters.




The point here is that the invasion of Iraq was part of a much larger, long-term policy that had to do with the U.S. imposing its will, militarily when necessary, throughout the Middle East and beyond. The war has gone badly, and the viciousness of the Iraq insurgency has put the torch to the idea of further pre-emptive adventures by the Bush administration.

But dreams of empire die hard. American G.I.’s are dug into Iraq, and the bases have been built for a long stay. The war may be going badly, but the primary consideration is that there is still a tremendous amount of oil at stake, the second-largest reserves on the planet. And neocon fantasies aside, the global competition for the planet’s finite oil reserves intensifies by the hour.

Lyndon Johnson ignored the unsolicited advice of Senator George Aiken of Vermont – to declare victory in Vietnam in 1966. The war continued for nearly a decade. Many high-level government figures believe that U.S. troops will be in Iraq for a minimum of 5 more years, and perhaps 10.

That should be understood by the people who think that the formation of a permanent Iraqi government will lead to the withdrawal of American troops. There is no real withdrawal plan. The fighting and the dying will continue indefinitely.


The Guess Jeans

Hi. My name’s Athenae. I’m a recovering Catholic schoolgirl.

I got a funny e-mail about the post below asking me, basically, why all the anger toward the poor, misunderstood DLC. I’d like to explain my thought process a little, how I came to the conclusion that a lot of people apparently haven’t come to yet, but which I believe is right. And the easiest way to do that is to tell you the story of the Guess jeans.

Continue reading

Today on The Gaggle: Athenae Is Obsessed With Hockey

My beloved college hockey team’s fans have a cheer. Goes something like this:

Gimme a V.

Gimme an I.

Gimme an A.

Gimme a G.

Gimme an R.

Gimme an A.

What does it spell?


Keep it up! Keep it up! Keep it up!

From the mouths of the Crease Creatures to the pencils of the press corps, because they’re not letting up on Karl Rove’s security clearance:

Q Has Karl Rove offered to resign, in view of his problems?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you keep asking these questions that are related to an ongoing investigation —

Q Does he still have his security clearance?

MR. McCLELLAN: — and those are questions that have already been addressed.

Q No, they — I’ve never heard this before. Have you?

MR. McCLELLAN: The question has been asked before.

Q We haven’t heard an answer.

Q What was your answer?

Q There hasn’t been an answer.

Oooh, and you know what else we have? We have a Social Security question! Remember Social Security reform? That thing that President Bush was going to get right on until he realized that most of America doesn’t trust him with the keys to that particular car?

Q On Social Security, if the President doesn’t get any action from the House and Senate this year, doesn’t get reform, will he consider rolling Social Security reform into his tax reform package?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we believe it’s important to move forward on Social Security reform this year. And that’s something the President talked about with members of the House earlier today. There is a commitment from the leaders of the committees in the two chambers to continue moving forward on strengthening Social Security. It’s important that we act this year for the reasons that we’ve stated previously because it only gets worse over time, and the longer we wait, the most costly it becomes, an additional $600 billion a year if we wait to act. That’s why it’s important to act now. We know it’s on an unsustainable course. And the President is going to continue working with members to get something done this year, and he’s confident that we can continue to work together and move forward on this important priority for the American people.

Nothing is going to change for today’s seniors, but this is about helping our children and grandchildren realize a brighter future by having a secure retirement when they get ready to retire.

Whoever puts the stupid in this guy’s cornflakes, let up a little, okay? He has to at least be able to button his shirt in the morning.

Next up, it’s the Jeff Gannon Memorial Award for Sucking Up:

Q Many pundits and news organizations are focusing attention on John Roberts’ links to the Federalist Society. Do you remember any such focus or concerns expressed about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s overt activism on behalf of one of the most controversial groups in America, the ACLU? And do you see a double standard here in the media? And I have a follow-up.


Iraq to U.S.: Off Our Lawn, NOW

Iraqis have had enough of our freedom:

Iraq’s transitional prime minister called Wednesday for a speedy withdrawal of U.S. troops and the top U.S. commander here said he believed a “fairly substantial” pullout could begin next spring and summer.

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said at a joint news conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the time has arrived to plan a coordinated transition from American to Iraqi military control throughout the country.

Asked how soon a U.S. withdrawal should happen, he said no exact timetable had been set. “But we confirm and we desire speed in that regard,” he said, speaking through a translator.

So do we. I’m thinking more RIGHT NOW than next spring, though.


Department of Yes, Yes, Oh God Baby Yes

Today on Romensko’s buffet of vanity, stupidity, greed and nonsense we find two tasty morsels of journalism wisdom, two people who’ve somehow managed to climb over the mountainous terrain of whatever CNN is spewing these days about hip young bloggers and how they’re gonna kill journalism, and actually survey the landscape that’s there instead of the one Daryn Kagan told them was there.


Newspapers have become strangely enamored with Web logs, a.k.a. blogs, recently adopting an “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mentality. Examples range from ink-stained curmudgeons blogging away at the TV Critics Assn.’s semiannual gathering in Beverly Hills to the Los Angeles Times’ revamped, Internet-oriented Sunday op-ed section. No one, in fact, is immune from high-tech pandering, including National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” program, which solicited emails last week containing listeners’ TV series suggestions in a misguided attempt to seem cool.

Alas, these demographically motivated incursions by conservative old media into the online realm almost invariably reek of desperation, much like an aging hipster uncomfortably trying to squeeze into jeans from the young men’s dept.

Marry me, Brian. Marry me right now. I don’t deny there’s a sort of undercurrent of hostility to blogging running through his piece, but he saves his greatest contempt for exactly where it belongs: established media so desperate for relevance that they flail around trying to do everything except what they’re actually good at, what got them an audience in the first place.


The media give the public what the public wants, but maybe it’s time to give the public what it needs instead. Is it nave or idealistic to expect the media to operate outside a capitalist and competitive system in which profit is the bottom line?

Perhaps we should start exploring new ways to fund the media so they won’t be susceptible to market forces.

It’s idealistic, but it’s not naive. It’s facts and it’s about time the industry faced them. Market forces are killing journalism faster than the Internet ever could. There’s no traditional career track anymore, small papers are being bought up by larger ones and turned into clones of their corporate parents, CEOs steal millions from their companies while journalists are told they can’t have a couple of dollars’ raise to support a family on because “times are tight right now.” Reporters, good reporters, work for the love of the job and do it for peanuts compared to the rich assholes who run their lives and take their work and pocket the profits. But you never see Howie Kurtz or Tom McPhail (supreme ignoramus that he is) boring on about that, do you? It’s just easier to blame the Internet.

And this lovely lady puts her finger right on the solution to the problem. Leaders in journalism have the power to do something about the trend toward the shallow and soap opera in their trade. They have presses and TV studios. If they want to change things, they should do it, or they should shut the fuck up and wallow honestly, making no pretense that they’re just showing you Natalee Holloway because their audience demands it.


More Happy Democrats

Via Americablog, this story is just chock full of things that make a blue-state girl smile:

White House strategist Karl Rove helped Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele raise $75,000 Tuesday night at a Capitol Hill event picketed by demonstrators angry over Rove’s possible role in releasing a covert CIA officer’s identity to the press.

About 65 people showed up at the event at the headquarters of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The fundraiser was closed to the media.


Steele and Rove both entered through a side entrance, bypassing about 40 protesters from the liberal group Progressive Maryland, who stood chanting in the oppressive heat.

Tom Hucker, executive director of Progressive Maryland, said Steele should not be linking himself with Rove because of Rove’s possible legal and ethical problems.

“No one who would choose Karl Rove as a friend is fit to serve in the U.S. Senate,” Hucker said.


In a statement, Democratic National Committee spokesman Josh Earnest attacked Rove for continuing to raise money while under an ethical and legal cloud.

“The Rove money machine doesn’t seem to stop for anything, not for special prosecutors or possible threats to the nation’s national security,” he said.

Progressive Maryland, the Dem spokesman, the Dem candidate … Nicely done by all.


Happy Democrat Photo: How We Do Edition

Remember when I was saying this morning that we needed to quit agreeing with every nasty thing the Republicans said about us and tell them where to stick their lies?

Yeah. I want to have his little babies.

Click here to contribute to Hackett for Congress. No chickenhawks need apply.


Today on The Gaggle, Mars, Bitches! Edition

Today Little Scottie is the target of some high quality snark from reporters who’ve noticed we’re not exactly terraforming the red planet as we speak or anything:

Q So the President supports a Mars mission?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, this is a long-term mission that the President outlined, John, so I think you have to look at the overall perspective in what the President said. But he wanted to make sure that there’s a clearly defined mission for our space program, and there is. And he believes it’s important to continue to advance space exploration and for the United States to continue to lead the way. And that’s what we are doing, and today’s launch is an important first step to put us back on track.

Q And how is the Mars program going?

MR. McCLELLAN: NASA can probably update you on the effort. Again, this is a long-term program, and you can sit there and smirk about it, but the President felt it was important — (laughter) — the President felt it was important to outline a clearly defined mission for NASA. And we’re all excited about today’s launch and we wish the —

Q Will he be speaking about it —

MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on — we wish the crew all the best.

We have the award for the Worst. Question. Ever.

Q Scott, first of all, to all those involved with today’s launch of the Shuttle Discovery, to the astronauts aboard, and to all of us, isn’t this a great country, or not? (Laughter.)

But the press corps hasn’t completely lost its spine. Watch Scottie aggressively not give a damn about reassuring CIA agents they won’t be outed for petty political retribution:

Q Scott, in the wake of the Valerie Plame incident, on which you will not comment, intelligence officials have indicated there’s a growing concern among operatives in the field, a fear that they might be the targets of political manipulation. And they have indicated that something must be done on the part of the White House to help allay these fears. And given that these people are in the forefront of the war on terror, isn’t it necessary to do something more than simply stonewalling all discussion of the incident in order to restore confidence?

MR. McCLELLAN: And I’ll reject your characterization. What we’re doing is helping to advance the investigation forward. And the President said he’s not going to get into trying to draw conclusions based on reports in the media. Let’s let the investigators complete their work. And that’s what we’ve said, so I’ll reject your characterization. We have for a long time said that we want to help them get to the bottom of this and the best way to do that is to cooperate fully in that investigation. And that means not commenting on it here from this podium.

The Karl Rove stonewall continues.

Next up, we have your daily Les:

Q Scott, when the Reverend Jesse Jackson admitted that he fathered a child out of wedlock, the President, as you remember, telephoned him after this admission. And since Karen Stanford, the mother in this case, has just stated, “I was attacked by friends, strangers in the black press without mercy and labeled by them a political stalker, gold digger and opportunist,” will the President now telephone Jesse’s victim, as he did, Jesse?

MR. McCLELLAN: I appreciate your question, Les, and I don’t have —

Q You appreciate the question?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. Les —

Q Do you think I could appreciate an answer?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I don’t think it’s worthy of an answer.

Q You don’t think it’s worthy of an answer?

MR. McCLELLAN: Because your characterization is not accurate.

Q It’s not? How is it inaccurate?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead.

And last but certainly not least, we have the Best. Question. Ever.

Q We’re approaching the four-year anniversary of 9/11. And right after 9/11 the President said he wanted Osama bin Laden dead or alive. Do you consider it a failure by either the military or the intelligence that four years later Osama bin Laden is not only on the loose, but is still being tied to terrorist activities extending into Spain, Egypt, Iraq and England?

Scottie’s reply: Blah blah blah on the run cakes. I’d like to send that reporter a cookie.