Monthly Archives: May 2006

Snow Plowed

From Holden:

CNN says Treasury Secretary John Snow has resigned.

Not that it will change the way President Drunken Sailor manages the economy.

No Shame

From Holden:

Another item for the Department of No Surprises.

Federal authorities are actively investigating dozens of American television stations for broadcasting items produced by the Bush administration and major corporations, and passing them off as normal news. Some of the fake news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted the companies’ products.

Investigators from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are seeking information about stations across the country after a report produced by a campaign group detailed the extraordinary extent of the use of such items.

The report, by the non-profit group Centre for Media and Democracy, found that over a 10-month period at least 77 television stations were making use of the faux news broadcasts, known as Video News Releases (VNRs). Not one told viewers who had produced the items.

[snip]

The range of VNR is wide. Among items provided by the Bush administration to news stations was one in which an Iraqi-American in Kansas City was seen saying “Thank you Bush. Thank you USA” in response to the 2003 fall of Baghdad. The footage was actually produced by the State Department, one of 20 federal agencies that have produced and distributed such items.

Laura’s Alien Lovechild

From Holden:

Spocko does the country a great service by posting The Globe’s story on the troubled Bush marriage.

Duty

A couple of quotes to provide food for thought:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any American Emperor, corporate potentate, rogue state or false sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen. I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. I will sadly bear arms on behalf of the United States if necessary to defend it. I will seek out opportunities for work of local and national importance in defense of freedom and justice, and finally, that I will remember always that one of the defenses of freedom is its exercise.

— Kos diary

America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve got to want it bad, because it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil who is standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.

— The American President

For the past six years and longer, government has been telling us we have to do less and less. Country attacked? Sure, hang out a flag if it makes you feel better, but mostly, go on as you always have. Country at war? Don’t worry, you won’t be asked to conserve or sacrifice. That’s for other people’s kids. Pat Tillman aside, major league sports teams didn’t exactly shut down while healthy young men enlisted in droves, and factories weren’t emptied out. Our leaders told us, eh, we’ll do it with what we’ve got, don’t worry about us.

Don’t do anything, they say, and so, noble examples aside, we don’t.

But responsibility isn’t always a burden. Responsibility gives rise to a feeling of control, of power over one’s surroundings, of some way, however small, to participate in greater civic life and determine the course of the country’s future. Responsibility isn’t a bad thing, it isn’t too much. We landed a man on the moon. We can do what we really set out to do.

Instead we’ve got guys tapping away at their keyboards who sincerely believe they’re part of the war effort, because that’s all they’ve been called on to do.

And so on Memorial Day I want to ask what our obligations at this point should be, what we should be required to do to make this country a better place. What do you think our requirements of citizenship truly are?

A.

2 CBS NEWS crew killed in Iraq, correspondent Kimberly Dozier seriously injured

From Scout:

From CNN….CBS News reports a cameraman and soundman for the network were killed today in Iraq; correspondent Kimberly Dozier critically injured.

UPDATE: Here is the story from CBS News

(CBS/AP) Two members of a CBS News team, veteran cameraman Paul Douglas, 48, and soundman James Brolan, 42, were killed and correspondent Kimberly Dozier, 39, was seriously injured Monday when the Baghdad military unit in which they were embedded was attacked.

They were reporting on patrol with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, when their convoy was struck by a roadside bomb.

The attack was among a slew of car and roadside bombs left about three dozen people dead before noon Monday, including one explosion that killed 10 people on a bus. Nearly all the attacks occurred in Baghdad.

Here is the official dispatch from CBS News “A CBS News television crew embedded with the 4th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army came under attack today in central Baghdad. The journalists were reporting from outside their humvee and are believed to have been wearing their protective gear. Cameraman Paul Douglas and soundman James Brolan, both London-based, were killed. Douglas, 48, had worked for CBS News in many countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Rwanda and Bosnia, since the early 1990s. Brolan, 42, was a freelancer who had worked with CBS News in Baghdad and Afghanistan over the past year. He was part of the CBS News team that had received a 2006 Overseas Press Club Award for its reporting on the Pakistan earthquake.

CBS News Correspondent Kimberly Dozier, 39, sustained serious injuries in the attack and underwent surgery at a U.S. military hospital in Baghdad. She is in critical condition, but doctors are cautiously optimistic about her prognosis.”

Dozier and her crew are among the latest American television journalists to become casualties in Iraq. Former ABC News “World News Tonight” co-anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt suffered severe injuries in a roadside bombing in Iraq Jan. 29, 2006. Woodruff is still recovering from serious head injuries and broken bones. Cameraman Vogt has returned home to France for more rehab.

Oh Say Can You Sing

Digby’s looking for songs or song lyrics that exemplify liberal identity. He’s using embarrassing hack Gretchen Wilson and her bad and obvious song as an example of how a certain type of in-your-face dime-a-dozen country music has come to be tied to conservative politics, like a perfect marriage between a giant pile of money and a rotting bucket of squid, and saying, hey, what’s our music?

It’s an interesting question, because all stereotypes aside (and admitting that what I know about music would fill a very small page in the world’s smallest notebook), it’s about what type of and what specific music speaks to you, what feels familiar to you and what makes you say, oh, I know how that feels. Myself, I’ve always been partial to Bob Dylan:

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?

Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?

I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’,

I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest,

Where the people are many and their hands are all empty,

Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters,

Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison,

Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden,

Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten,

Where black is the color, where none is the number,

And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it,

And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it,

Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’,

But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’,

And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard,

It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

But in the end, you really, really, really can’t beat a much-loved, much-warbled, drunken old bar song like this.

A.

Momma Don’t Let the Baptists Pray Over My Dead Body…err bones

From Scout:

Yesterday a body was found in New Orleans by the NO Fire Dept search team. Last Wednesday another body was found by members of Victim Relief Ministries after they had been contacted by relatives to search a specific address.(post here) Victim Relief Ministries has been on hand in the past when Katrina victims were belatedly found to read a prayer over the victim.

Before I get to my point here is some background on Victim Relief Ministries (VRM).

Victim Relief Ministries is a mission of Texas Baptist Men (TBM). TBM partners with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) which is the domestic missions agency of the Southern Baptist Convention. Here is NAMB‘s vision statement

Specifically, we do this by focusing on six major objectives that also form the basis for how this Web site is structured: sharing Christ, starting churches, volunteering in missions, sending missionaries, impacting the culture and equipping leaders. The end goal is reflected in our vision statement:

“We see a day when every person in every community in the United States and Canada will have the opportunity to hear the gospel, respond with faith in Christ, and participate in a New Testament fellowship of believers.

The Baptists role in disaster relief has been growing over the years. There is a generally accepted belief that when the government response to Katrina failed the faith based groups stepped in after the fact and succeeded where the government did not. Yet the Baptist’s role had been growing more defined over time PRIOR to Katrina. In fact they are the third largest disaster relief organization in the US behind the Red Cross and Salvation Army. It has been these 3 organizations that are called by state officials and FEMA when a disaster strikes. To demonstrate further their expanding role, in August 2004, the executive director of Victim Relief Ministries announced that the Department of Homeland Security had “given the non-profit group the “lead role” in in mobilizing the faith community following a large tragedy.”

Katrina was a big moment for faith based missions. The Gulf Coast post-Katrina has been a veritable Petri dish for Bush’s faith based initiative. It has been a demonstration of a shift from government providing disaster relief to church missions doing so. Whether that was planned, or by failure of the government, can be argued but the result has been the same.

As an American citizen I’ve got a problem with that. Simply put……Should disaster befall me I don‘t want the Texas Baptists praying over my dead body, or in the case it takes 9 months to find me, make that my bones.And I’ve found a personal solution at least.

(Click Read More)

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Tribalism

A quick thought to add to the ongoing discusson:

That people don’t just define themselves by what they are, they define themselves by what they’re not. So as we’re talking about what our particular tribe’s attributes are, we need to be thinking about the kind of distinction made, like that during the lead-up to the war, Republicans’ dominant thing was, “Well, I’m patriotic.” With the and what the fuck are you, you lily-livered liberal woman heavily implied by that.

In defining yourself, you also define your opposition.

A.

U-N-I-T-Y

Who you callin’ a bitch?

Look, we would have lost the Hayden nomination. They are the majority. But even if they like Hayden they should have voted against him. They could have used that vote as a show of solidarity against Bush’s executive infallibility doctrine, complained vociferously about the lack of checks and balances and set oureslves up as being in united opposition to Bush. Being seen as obstructionist against a 29% president is A GOOD THING! He does not have the country’s support. The issue itself is secondary to the optics of the Democrats opposing this administration in a high profile way.

And look, that’s basically it. The point isn’t that we can’t win, so let’s go along to get along if we can’t win anyway and why bother pissing anybody off.

The point is to build a public image as the alternative to these anti-government nitwits, and we can’t do that if half of us are on board with everything they do. Then we’re not an alternative, we’re the guys that are just as bad as the other guys, so why not stay home on election day and scratch your ass and eat your Cheetos? I’m not saying it’s entirely Democrats’ fault that the electorate is lazy and uninformed, but certainly we ain’t helping matters with Roberts, Hayden, Abu Al, all the appointments we’re letting slide through because eh, we don’t have the votes.

The moment comes, you stand up. Whether you think you can succeed or not, whether anybody’s behind you or not, whether you think you can make a difference or not. You stand up, for the sake of your miserable soul. For the sake of the person who’s staring back at you in the mirror. And don’t come at me like you don’t know when the moment is. You know it. And you either stand up, fail, regret it for a minute and move on to the next fight, or you stay seated, and spend the rest of your life making excuses for why you didn’t act. I know people who live like this, man, and they are some of the miserablest people on earth, always on about how if it wasn’t for this, or that, or the other thing, they’d have just taken their shot.

We don’t want to be the party of miserable, excuse-making motherfuckers. So let’s cut it out already. Take a stand, and hold on tight.

Not. One. Inch.

A.

2 More Bodies Found in NOLA

From Scout:

From the Times Picayune

A firefighter search team found the body of an unidentified Hurricane Katrina victim Saturday morning at a Banks Street home in Mid-City. The discovery came about 9:45 a.m. at 3008 Banks St. as 16 firefighters from the New Orleans Fire Department and Southeast Louisiana Task Force 1 checked houses on a list of missing persons. The list was prepared by the Louisiana Family Assistance Center in Baton Rouge. There are 47 addresses on an updated search list now in use by the search team, according to the New Orleans Fire Department. Other details about the body discovery weren’t immediately available. The successful search follows the recovery of a decomposed body believed to be that of a Katrina victim on Wednesday at a home near Southern University at New Orleans. That body was discovered by a Texas company, Victim Relief, that sends two-person teams to check homes on a missing-persons list it prepares using leads from relatives.

As of Thursday there were still 237 people listed as missing in Louisiana.

It is 271 days or 8 months and 28 days since Katrina hit and we are still finding bodies.

More on the faith based organization, Victim Relief, later

Friday Video

From Scout:

Tony Blair’s visit prompted this video of past press conferences including yesterday’s with Bush’s (rehearsed?) take on his Iraq mistakes.

Music: Marcia Ball

Warning: Graphic video included

When Good Media Crit Goes Bad

This is really sad. I’m totally on Willy Stern’s side with this:

Yes, the numbers are boring, Mr. Dubow, but you ought be laughing all the way to the bank. Your operating profit margin last year was a whopping 30.6 percent, significantly better than your elitist competition, those who snicker behind your back at Gannett’s all-color weather maps and 3-inch fluff stories. Herewith, the competitions’operating profit margins, as reported by Value Line: Dow Jones (13.6 percent); New York Times (14.9 percent); and Washington Post (20.1 percent). While these bastions of journalistic excellence are laying off their bow-tied-wearing, leftward-tilting, Ivy League-educated journalists, Gannett marches on. Yes, Mr. Dubow, congratulations. You’re not a news snob; you’re a success story.

But Stern can’t just confine himself to bashing on “arrogant corporate tools” who see 18 percent profits as “underperforming” and cut newsrooms before they fly commercial.

No, he has to talk about how all reporters are morons:

Walk into the newsroom of any of your 90 newspapers today. Or head down to one of your local TV stations. Look around. Better yet, pop down to Nashville and visit with the writers and editors at The Tennessean. Then ask yourself whether any of these news people have the brains to make partner at the blue-chip law firm downtown, or receive tenure at a top university, or become a talented surgeon. You already know the answer, and so do I. With a few exceptions—some of the journalists at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and a few others—the staffs of daily newsrooms today are largely composed of unimpressive people doing singularly unimpressive work. Call it the “Department of Motor Vehicle-ization” of the news business.

and all bloggers are creeps:

The meteoric rise of a million bloggers in their pajamas is maddening. These parasitic information gatherers leech onto the news content that your edit staffs produce, pay nothing to print newspapers or to staff overseas bureaus, yet steal huge chunks of your readership daily. The news business still hasn’t found a solution to the increasingly partisan nature of media organizations or its inexorable drift toward sensationalism, entertainment and shouting-to-be-heard.

And so from the bottom of my former reporter, current blogger heart, Mr. Stern, fuck you. You walk into any newsroom in this country and you’ll find people who work harder on their laziest day than you work on your busiest. My former colleagues did work that changed laws, saved lives, repaired damage and in some cases even inspired people, and they did it all for shit pay on lousy hours and sometimes under duress from the very corporate tools you so despise. Why lump their hard work in with your excoriation of the people really ruining the press?

As to your point about bloggers, wow, is that a stupid paragraph. I wish the Internet had a contest for “stupidest paragraph” because I’m pretty sure that would fetch you a tidy prize. It’s like a mishmash of shit that hasn’t been true since 1996, with a string of stereotypes and clichs and somebody else Mad Lib-ing the verbs.

And not for nothing, Mr. Stern, but maybe your students, so smart, so young, so full of determination never to work in newspapers? Maybe they feel that way because you tell them stuff like this in class: that the industry is doomed, that reporting is for people too dim to get into law school, and that they’d be better off working at the DMV.

I’m sorry your students are venal, full-of-themselves pricks who don’t have that kind of public service in them, the kind of public service that leads to getting shot at in Iraq and LA, that leads to working three days without a break calling everybody in the phone book trying to track down a slice of information so minute it’s like looking for a needle in a stack of needles but if you can get it right, you’ll stop somebody in power from stealing from the powerless. I’m sorry that no longer inspires you and your beknighted children.

However, I fail to see where that’s the fault of reporters or bloggers.

A.

Friday Foxblogging

Fox peeks out from behind the plastic box he and his brothers use as a hideout.

A.

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Pathetic. Pa-fucking-thetic. The big story of the day is that Chimpy’s former BFF and largest contributor Kenneth Lay was found by a jury of his peers of committing multiple felonies and yet the name Lay did not grace the lips of any of today’s gagglers.

This is as close as they came.

Q Tony, the President often mentions corporate crime in his speeches, as recently as yesterday. We’ve had the Enron convictions now over the noon hour. Any comment from the White House?

MR. SNOW: Well, any comment is that the Justice Department — you know, we congratulate the Justice Department on successfully concluding a highly complex conviction, a set of legal proceedings that led to the convictions today in the Enron case. I mean, the administration has been pretty clear there is no tolerance for corporate corruption. And furthermore, the Justice Department has been going aggressively after those who are involved in corporate corruption.

[snip]

Q Can I ask one more on Enron? Does the administration favor compensating the victims now in some way?

MR. SNOW: I honestly don’t know. I mean, I don’t know.

What a fucking waste of space, our press corps.

Obsession grudgingly continues, Read More.

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Yet Another All-Time Low

From Holden:

Chimpy dropped 8 points in the latest Diageo/Hotline poll to 37%, which happens to be 2 pts. below his previous low for this poll.

Overall, the president’s current approval rating is 37%, with 61% expressing disapproval of his job performance. In the February Diageo/Hotline Poll, 45% of respondents expressed approval of the president’s job performance, with 52% disapproving. The president’s job approval has dropped 13 points among Republicans (70% approval in May vs. 83% in February) and 8 points among Independents (33% approval in May vs. 41% in February).

“A thirteen point decline in Republicans who approve of Bush should be a red flag for GOP candidates,” said Chuck Todd, Editor-in-Chief of The Hotline. “Bush is no longer dropping in approval among his adversaries, but also among his base. The effects of this will be seen as the midterms get closer.”

[snip]

The percentage of Republicans who say they will vote to reelect their current member of Congress is hovering just above 30%. This is a six-point drop from February and the lowest point in the Diageo/Hotline Poll this year. The majority of voters (59%) say they have “a lot” of interest in the 2006 elections, while only 37% have a favorable view of Congress. In terms of favorability, Republicans in Congress have a 53% unfavorable rating among voters, while Democrats in Congress have a 42% unfavorable rating.

More troubling for Republicans in Congress are general traits of political parties identified by voters. Republicans are seen more likely to be corrupt than Democrats (29%-16%), while Democrats are considered to be more open to working with the other party than Republicans (36%-20%) and more open to moderate ideas (48%-26%).

And just what is the Diageo/Hotline poll?

Diageo, the world’s leading spirits, beer and wine company, and The Hotline, the leading daily news briefing on American politics, have teamed up to bring you the Diageo/Hotline Poll.

Rebuplikkkan strategist Ed Rollins eyeballs the numbers for the poll.

The Diageo/Hotline Poll of 801 registered voters, conducted by Financial Dynamics from May 18 to 21, with analysis by Ed Reilly (D) and Ed Rollins (R)…

So it’s time once again to update the list of current all-time lows for the Bushboy.

ABC News/Washington Post: 33%

American Research Group (ARG): 34%

American Research Group (ARG): 32%

AP/Ipsos: 33%

CBS News: 33%

No longer an all-time low. CBS News: 35%

CNN: 32%

UPDATE: Chimpy leaps up to 34% in the latest CNN poll.

Diageo/Hotline: 37%

Fox News: 33%

Chimpy surges in the latest Fox News poll to 38%, so that Pony Blow appointment must be paying off already.

So much for that bounce, Chimpy is back down to 35% accoridng to Fox.

Gallup: 36%

Note: the USA Today/Gallup Poll and the Gallup Poll are conducted independently.

Harris Interactive: 29%

NBC/Wall Street Journal: 36%

Newsweek: 35%

USA Today/Gallup: 34%

USA Today/Gallup: 31%

Zogby: 32%

Conspiracy and Obstruction of Justice

From Holden:

Another blockbuster from Murray Waas on the Plame case.

On September 29, 2003, three days after it became known that the CIA had asked the Justice Department to investigate who leaked the name of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, columnist Robert Novak telephoned White House senior adviser Karl Rove to assure Rove that he would protect him from being harmed by the investigation, according to people with firsthand knowledge of the federal grand jury testimony of both men.

The excerpts continue, click Read More…

Continue reading

Down Memory Lane

From Holden:

January 10, 2002:

Q When was the last time you talked to either Mr. Lay or any other Enron official, about the — about anything? And did discussions involve the financial problems of the company?

THE PRESIDENT: I have never discussed, with Mr. Lay, the financial problems of the company. The last time that I saw Mr. Lay was at my mother’s fundraising event to — for literacy, in Houston. That would have been last spring. I do know that Mr. Lay came to the White House in — early in my administration, along with, I think 20 other business leaders, to discuss the state of the economy. It was just kind of a general discussion. I have not met with him personally.

Q — to inoculate and your administration politically from the fallout?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, Ken Lay is a supporter. And I got to know Ken Lay when he was the head of the — what they call the Governor’s Business Council in Texas. He was a supporter of Ann Richards in my run in 1994. And she had named him the head of the Governor’s Business Council. And I decided to leave him in place, just for the sake of continuity. And that’s when I first got to know Ken, and worked with Ken, and he supported my candidacy.

This is — what anybody’s going to find, if — is that this administration will fully investigate issues such as the Enron bankruptcy, to make sure we can learn from the past, and make sure that workers are protected.

Bush Gets Lay-ed!

From Holden:

What a lovely couple.

Chimpy with his one-time largest political contributor.

Poppy with convicted felon Ken Lay.

That’s Chimpy in the foreground while convicted felon Ken Lay shakes hands with Poppy Bush in the background.

UPDATE: historyman directs me to The Smoking Gun’s collection of Bush/Lay letters.

The Snarl Takes The Stand

From Holden:

Wouldn’t it be sweet if Court TV was allowed to televise the Scooter Libby trial?

Vice President Dick Cheney could be called to testify in the perjury case against his former chief of staff, a special prosecutor said in a court filing Wednesday.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald suggested Cheney would be a logical government witness because he could authenticate notes he jotted on a July 6, 2003, New York Times opinion piece by a former U.S. ambassador critical of the Iraq war.

Fitzgerald said Cheney’s “state of mind” is “directly relevant” to whether I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s former top aide, lied to FBI agents and a federal grand jury about how he learned about CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity and what he subsequently told reporters.

Libby “shared the interests of his superior and was subject to his direction,” the prosecutor wrote. “Therefore, the state of mind of the vice president as communicated to (the) defendant is directly relevant to the issue of whether (the) defendant knowingly made false statements to federal agents and the grand jury regarding when and how he learned about (Plame’s) employment and what he said to reporters regarding this issue.”

[snip]

In his grand jury testimony, Libby said Cheney was so upset about Wilson’s allegations that they discussed them daily after the article appeared. “He was very keen to get the truth out,” Libby testified, quoting Cheney as saying, “Let’s get everything out.”

[snip]

Cheney viewed Wilson’s allegations as a personal attack because the article suggested that the vice president knew that Wilson had discounted old reports that Iraq had tried to buy uranium yellowcake from Niger to build a nuclear weapon.

[snip]

The prosecutor wants to use Cheney’s notes on the Wilson article to corroborate other evidence he has that Libby lied about outing Plame to reporters.

In a filing last week, Libby’s lawyers said Fitzgerald would not call Cheney as a witness and would have a hard time getting the vice president’s notes admitted into evidence at Libby’s trial, which is scheduled for January.

“Contrary to defendant’s assertion, the government has not represented that it does not intend to call the vice president as a witness at trial,” Fitzgerald wrote. “To the best of government’s counsel’s recollection, the government has not commented on whether it intends to call the vice president as a witness.”

The fact that Cheney’s notations included a reference to Wilson’s wife makes it “more likely than not” that the vice president and Libby discussed her shortly after Wilson’s article was published — and not weeks or months later as Libby told the grand jury, Fitzgerald wrote.

[snip]

“He often cut out from a newspaper an article using a little penknife that he has and put it on the edge of his desk,” Libby testified, according to a transcript of the grand jury proceeding that Fitzgerald attached to his filing.

Libby testified that Cheney would pull an article out of the pile later and “think about it.”