Monday, February 28, 2005

What's It Going to Take?

The propaganda campaign continues, but it has expanded its scope. Governor Schwarzenegger (R - CA, heard of him?) took a page out of the Bush-Orwell playbook and made a fake news segment of his own. Isn't that cute? Little brother copying Big Brother.

Using taxpayer money, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration has sent television stations statewide a mock news story extolling a proposal that would benefit political boosters in the business community by ending mandatory lunch breaks for many hourly workers.

The tape looks like a news report and is narrated by a former television reporter who now works for the state. But unlike an actual news report, it does not provide views critical of the proposed changes. Democrats have denounced it as propaganda. Snippets aired on as many as 18 stations earlier this month, the administration said.

The narrator says the proposal would permit workers to "eat when they are hungry, and not when the government tells them."
Well, isn’t that nice of them. Thank goodness someone finally stood up for that huge percentage of the population who don’t need to eat.
"I don't see it as propaganda," Millan said, adding that he is remaining fair and open-minded. "All I did was explain our intent and whether it is true we're trying to take away the right of the employee to have a meal period…. We're trying to allow the worker to eat or rest when they're hungry or tired."
See? The workers are clamoring to be allowed to just rest when they want to, not when they have to. In fact, every factory I’ve been in (I’ve actually been in a lot back in my engineering days – I’m not being an elitist snob), the employees were always complaining about all the stupid mandatory breaks they had to take. It was clear that if management’s hands weren’t tied down by labor laws, the workers could just kick it and crack a PBR whenever they asked. There certainly wouldn’t have been any pressure to work through their breaks or anything.
Rob Stutzman, Schwarzenegger's communications director, defended the so-called video news release, saying it is "just like any other press release, only it's on video."
A video played during the news, read by a former local news reporter.
On the tape, Millan says the new rule would ensure that employees have "the flexibility to determine whether or not they want to eat earlier or later, or skip lunch altogether in order to run personal errands and get off work earlier.”
So noble. So altruistic.
Singer called the video "partisan propaganda by the administration, which is supporting its friends and contributors in the business community."

Stephen Kepler, a lawyer representing Mimi's, said he was unaware that an executive appeared in the video. He said the chain is "not against employees taking breaks but are in favor of employees having the choice of when to take them."

Mimi's is a member of the California Restaurant Assn., which donated $21,000 to one of Schwarzenegger's campaign funds last year and provided food for his 2003 inauguration. The restaurant association, the California Chamber of Commerce and other major business groups are backing the Schwarzenegger proposal.
That would be the same Governor Schwarzenegger who promised to kick the special interests out of Sacramento. Well done, Arnold!

I Quit! Go Fuck Yourself!

Laurie Garrett of Newsday resigned today. For our reading pleasure, she left a public resignation letter. Oh, and it's a doozy. You should go to Romenesko to read the whole thing, but here are my favorite bits:

  • The leaders of Times Mirror and Tribune have proven to be mirrors of a general trend in the media world: They serve their stockholders first, Wall St. second and somewhere far down the list comes service to newspaper readerships.

  • The sort of in-your-face challenge that the Fourth Estate once posed for politicians has been replaced by mud-slinging, lies and, where it ought not be, timidity.

  • The "His Girl Friday" romance of the newshound is gone. All too many journalists seem to mistake scandal mongering for tenacious investigation, and far too many aspire to make themselves the story.

  • Honesty and tenacity (and for that matter, the working class) seem to have taken backseats to the sort of "snappy news", sensationalism, scandal-for-the-sake of scandal crap that sells. This is not a uniquely Tribune or even newspaper industry problem: this is true from the Atlanta mixing rooms of CNN to Sulzberger's offices in Times Square. Profits: that's what it's all about now. But you just can't realize annual profit returns of more than 30 percent by methodically laying out the truth in a dignified, accessible manner.

  • This is terrible for democracy. I have been in 47 states of the USA since 9/11, and I can attest to the horrible impact the deterioration of journalism has had on the national psyche. I have found America a place of great and confused fearfulness, in which cynically placed bits of misinformation (e.g. Cheney's, "If John Kerry had been President during the Cold War we would have had thermonuclear war.") fall on ears that absorb all, without filtration or fact-checking.
  • Brava, Ms. Garrett! This is everything I would say if a newspaper were ever to hire me and I had to resign in disgust. So, my loyal readers, what do you think? Will this shame any of those Bush-whipped reporters out there to get off their asses and do some real work? Or will they just dismiss her rantings with a simple, "what a bitch!" and be done with it. I'm betting on the latter, as the former is running 1000 to 1 odds in Vegas as of the time of this post.

    The United States is made up of what now?

    I sometimes think that the federal government has forgotten that there are things called "states" that make up this country. How else could you explain that they keep making the same mistakes at the federal level that are currently crippling state economies?

    Take the state I live in, for instance. Republicans controlled the state throughout most of the 1990's. During that time, the state had a budget surplus. So, the Republican state government cut taxes. And also started up a bunch of new programs (nothing so big as a war or two, mind you, but some new programs). Now, what a surprise, the surplus is gone, the state is in the hole, and tax revenues are over a billion dollars less than they were before the tax cuts. Education funds for college students and for universities are being slashed, government aid and assitance programs are having their funding cut or are being dumped altogether.

    Of course, now that we have a Democrat as governor, the Republican controlled state senate has vowed to vote down any tax increase. But that doesn't stop them from bitching about every proposed cut made in an effort to balance the budget.

    I dunno, does this sound familiar to anyone? Might the federal government take away a lesson from what's going on right now in the various states that make up this country? Or is this just what happens when your president doesn't read the newspaper?

    Cartoon Gannon

    Tom Tomorrow hits the nail on the head.

    I Learned It From Watching You

    Nice little blurb in Salon's War Room today. The part that I like:

    Now, the unexpected. When George Bush sat down with Vladimir Putin in Bratislava last week to deliver his long-awaited lecture on civil liberties and freedom of the press, Newsweek says Putin shot back with an attack of his own: "We didn't criticize you when you fired those reporters at CBS."

    Bush was apparently slack-jawed, and senior White House aides were angry. "Putin thought we'd fired Dan Rather," one administration official told Time. "It was like something out of '1984.'"

    Newsweek , rising to the defense of freedom of the press in these United States, says it’s "all too clear" that Putin sees the relationship between Bush and the American media as being "just like his own." Presumably, that means that Putin thinks Bush controls the U.S. media in the same way that he controls the Russian media. We can’t imagine where he got that idea.
    Brilliant. It's a little odd that someone from the Bush administration would bring up 1984. I would think that considering the policies they have in place, they would rather keep mentions of George Orwell to a minimum. Anyway, good for Putin! He's a fascist asshole, but it takes one to know one, eh Vladdie?

    Friday, February 25, 2005

    Freedom on the March

    I think I've used that lede before. It's just too perfectly ironic. Anyhow, Bob Herbert has a moving opinion piece today. He spoke with some completely innocent Canadian dude who was grabbed at a Kennedy Airport layover on his way back home, and promptly shipped off to Syria for some torture. If he wasn't Canadian, he'd probably still be in his tiny, rat-infested prison cell hearing the screams of his fellow torture victims ringing in his ears 24 hours a day.

    As it stands now, he only hears them when he sleeps. And of course, Mr. Herbert adds the perfect punctuation mark:

    This is a government that feels it is answerable to no one.
    How long does this continue, Mr. President?

    Why Don't You Subpoena Their Diaries Too?

    Famed DoG staffer, The Jeffersonian is in a tizzy about a story in the Times today, and I can't say that I blame him.

    Down in good-ol' Kansas, they have a freaky pro-life attorney general. No surprise there. But he decided that in order to protect and to serve, he needs to dig through the medical records of every woman who's had an abortion. If he can read every salacious detail about every dirty slut who has exercised her constitutional right to control her own body, he can hunt down a few rapists or something. That's the argument, anyway.

    "When a 10-, 11- or 12-year-old child is pregnant, under Kansas law that child has been raped, and as the state's chief law enforcement official it is my obligation to investigate child rape in order to protect Kansas children," Mr. Kline said. "There are two things that child predators want, access to children and secrecy. As attorney general, I'm bound and determined not to give them either."
    Weird thing is, he's not going after the records of only the pre-teen abortions. He's going after the records of ALL abortions.
    The clinics' brief said that the subpoena covered "the entire, unredacted patient files of nearly 90 women who obtained abortions at two Kansas clinics in 2003" and that it was not limited by age or the absence of abuse reports.
    That's odd. It almost sounds as if he's got some sort of political axe to grind...
    Despite that law passed in 1998, Kansas has become a national magnet for late-term abortions because of a doctor in Wichita who performs hundreds of them each year. The doctor, George Tiller, funneled at least $150,000 through political action committees to Mr. Kline's opponent in the attorney general's race in 2002, and his clinic, Women's Health Care Services, is one of the two whose records are being subpoenaed.
    I wonder if there's any sort of hidden agenda. Anyway, that's all beside the point. There are laws and just plain regular ethics in this country. We can't be just subpoenaing every damn medical record searching for the possibility of a crime having occurred. If that were the case, then we should issue a search warrant for every house in the country. No doubt there's a meth lab or a whorehouse that we don't know about somewhere. The government should read every piece of mail and listen in to every phone conversation. But they don't (yet). You know why? Because of that pesky United States Constitution. They got all kinds of neat things in there. Some we don't use - like about Congress declaring war - but some we do! And there's a little dealie about illegal search and seizure. So lay off the girls, would you, Mr. Kline? Don't you think they have been through enough?

    Left-Wing Media Elites

    Those left-wing east coast bastards just can't give the president a break! Oh wait... That's what they live for.

    Salon makes a good point this morning about Jeff Gannon. No one is covering this. No one is looking into this. What could possibly be missing from this scandal? It's got the four Ps - porn, prostitution, propaganda, and possible security breach. Nothing is missing from this scandal from a media perspective, and it's chock FULL of malfeasance, (which is admittedly fairly commonplace in this administration).

    So you might think, well... maybe a media issue isn't interesting enough to those outside of the "inside baseball" world to bother reporting. Also not true. And that's the part I forgot about:

    What's also curious is that last December another media controversy erupted over the role a journalist played in posing a controversial question to top White House officials. It involved a reporter for the Chattanooga Free Times Press, Edward Lee Pitts, who helped a National Guardsman craft a tough question posed to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld regarding the lack of body armor for U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq. Rumsfeld's at-times-cavalier response created a small firestorm. ("You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.") The revelation that Pitts was involved in formulating the question, and the debate over whether he overstepped a journalistic boundary, soon became a story onto itself in the mainstream press. Unlike Guckert, who was criticized for bending the rules to toss softball questions to administration officials, Pitts was accused of bending the rules to ask a question that was too hard.
    That line kicks ass. Explain this, MSM! Fucking Bill Keller of the New York Times is having some sort of email debate with Buzzmachine's Jeff Jarvis. Let's talk about this, Bill. They're spending time up in the clouds discussing the existential nature of "reporting," when it's not reporting that's the problem. It's the editors. It's the choosing the stories that's important. I don't think the New York Times can hide behind the usual excuses. Jeff Gannon is too wonky to be interesting? This ain't social security, Bill. There are naked pictures (now taken down). We didn't know about it? Gannon's name has appeared numerous times on your own op-ed pages. So what's their excuse? And what's Jarvis' excuse for not bringing this up as a single example of the failure of the MSM to protect us from the government when you have a forum with the executive editor of the New York fucking Times?

    "Protect us, Michael?" You hoopleheads! You think this isn't a big deal? This is everything! Evil thrives in darkness, my friend. The media is here to shine a light into the darkness. I know that the mere suggestion of a future totalitarian United States is enough for you to shut me off and put a metaphysical tin foil hat on my head, but I've got news for you. That's the road we're on right now. Are we so arrogant as to think that it couldn't happen here as easily as it happened in Germany, or Spain, or Italy, or France? All it takes is a pinch of fear. *ding* An obsequious media or even a state-sponsored news outlet. *double ding* And a giant motherfucker willing to seize control by eliminating civil rights as he sees fit. *triple fucking ding* This administration is throwing innocent people into jails by the thousand, torturing them, denying them access to council, leaving them for dead in Egypt. How do you know that you're not next? Are you counting on your anonymity and that you don't stick your neck out? The greatest heroes of this nation all stuck their necks out at some time or another. What happens when no one is willing to do so anymore?

    Let's face it. They're starting wars, annexing lands, pissing on our constitution. And Bill Keller and bloggerdude are debating sources and whether they should eat bagels or sandwiches at their sit-down. Look, when I complain about the mainstream media, it's not out of some fantastical notion that the blogs are the future of reporting or a ridiculous conceit that blogs are just better. This is shit. They're all shit compared to the New York Times. It's just that I'm legitimately frightened that if we go too far down this road that we're on, we're not going to be able to get back. I like voting. I like speaking my mind. I like learning about evolution in school. The tyrannical theocracy that they could be cooking up scares the bejeezus out of me. And that's my problem with the mainstream media. They're the only thing that protects us from THEM. And they're falling down on the job.

    Thursday, February 24, 2005

    GOP Handbook

    Unfortunately, I haven't yet had the time to read the entire Frank Luntz playbook.[pdf] (Go to Think Progress for some good rundowns.) But I have been flipping through it. I'm not saying anything new here, but this "playbook" perfectly epitomizes what's wrong with politics in this country. I can sum it up with an example paragraph:

    It's "INTERNATIONAL" trade, NOT "foreign" trade or "global" trade.

    For many reasons unrelated to this issue, the word "foreign" conjures up very negative images. Since Americans are more "pro-international" than they are "pro-foreign" or "pro-global" (globalization is a particularly frightening term to many Americans), we suggest you accept this terminology. INTERNATIONAL trade is favored over FOREIGN trade by 68% of Americans.
    The unspoken part of this paragraph and the rest of this 160 page handbook is that the Republicans DO favor FOREIGN trade, or anything else you want to call it. But by changing their language, they can convince people to vote against their own interests. George Orwell invented a whole language with which Big Brother was able to control people's thoughts.

    And essentially, that's what this entire book is. DEATH tax, not estate tax. Tax FAIRNESS, not tax cuts. PRODUCTIVITY in the workplace, not sweatshops. Ministry of LOVE, not Ministry of Torture. You get the idea. They've reframed their language - not their policies - to make them palatable to the average joe. By rights, the Democrats should be doing it too, I guess. But it still makes me sick.

    Instead of dumbing down our language and using misleading terms and idealized framing of policies, we should be educating the populace. People should be able to see death tax, estate tax, inheritance tax, or grandma's corpse tax and know what it means, who it benefits, and what getting rid of it would do to the economy. There's your panacea for Democratic victory, (and victory for democracy) - an educated citizenry.

    I also believe that I should be starting centerfielder for the Detroit Tigers, and that the radical Islamists should chill out and smoke a bowl. Yep, I'm full of ideas!

    Lying Is the New Black

    This country has become such a shameful place to live. I'm going to Europe in April, and I'm seriously considering buying one of those Go Canadian packages.

    Onto the specifics of this particular stain on our nation. Remember the lying assholes who smeared John Kerry in their Swift Boat campaign? I'm sure you already know that they have now started up an AARP smear campaign, which frankly doesn't even make sense. In their effort to put our social security funds into the pockets of Wall Street traders and fund brokers, they've decided to label the AARP anti-military and pro-gay. Ignoring the irrelevance of those "charges," how are they able to get away with lying about the lobby group who represents grandma and grandpa? Thank you, mainstream media.

    Moving on to the new smear - a book is coming out next month, Atomic Iran: How the Terrorist Regime Bought the Bomb and American Politicians.

    The book - which Nashville's Cumberland House Publishing won't release till next month - claims Democratic pols are being corrupted by Iranian money and helping the nuke-seeking mullahs in Tehran.
    It's enough to turn your stomach, isn't it? This is why we keep losing. We liberals are neither clever nor evil enough to write a whole book of lies in order to get our way politically. We believe the truth is more important than "winning."
    "Page 255 says: 'Hassan Nemazee ... one of John Kerry's top fund-raisers in his 2004 presidential campaign, was a board member of the AIC. Nemazee funded a long list of Democratic party candidates. ... At every event where Democratic candidates have been present, the AIC has been certain to press its agenda to restore economic and diplomatic ties between Iran and the United States."
    Why they're not concerned with Dick Cheney's actual ties to Iran, I'll never understand.
    Yesterday Nemazee - a wealthy Manhattan financier, U.S. citizen and Democratic Party donor who was Kerry's New York fund-raising chairman - told me that Corsi [Swift Boat Lies Alum and author of this book] is risking a slander suit if the book says he's an agent of the Iranian government.

    "The concept that I'm a shill for the mullahs flies in the face of reality," said Nemazee, whose family fled Iran after the fall of the shah. "I haven't been back for 26 years, and everything I had was confiscated by them. It is patently ludicrous."

    He added: "I wouldn't trust the mullahs as far as I could throw them. My belief is that the Iranian government is trying to obtain nuclear capability and will do whatever it takes."
    Poor Nemazee. He thinks that something being a complete and utter fabrication is enough to protect his name. Here's how it works: They make something up. They repeat it a million times. The mainstream media debate "both sides" as though one side can't be proven false with simple facts. It becomes "truth" in the minds of idiots (51% of the country). The Democrats and our souls lose once again. QED. Oh! The best part:
    Corsi, meanwhile, plans to relocate from New Jersey to Massachusetts to establish residency and run for Senate against Kerry in 2008.
    Where's a rapture when you need it?

    Wednesday, February 23, 2005

    Speaking of Torture

    I've been reading right-wing blogs today. Don't ask me why. Every once in a while, you come across a good one. Um... I mean good example of how stupid people can be:

    Freedom Fighters

    U.S. President George W. Bush shakes hands with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko at NATO headquarters in Brussels, February 22, 2005. Yushckenko was invited to a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission on Tuesday, as heads of state and government from 26 NATO countries met for a discussion on transatlantic issues at the highest level.

    This is the first meeting between the two since the Orange Revolution uprising in the Ukraine last year. The Pro-West Yushchenko who was poisoned in the run up to the Ukrainian election won the re-vote in the Ukraine late last year.

    Mr Yushchenko said the regime which had been in power for the past 14 years was now into its last days and the world had seen a "different country".

    "I think it would be appropriate to compare this to the fall of the Soviet Union or the fall of the Berlin Wall," he said.

    "Now every corner of the world knows Ukraine," he said.

    And today, every corner of the world saw the workings of the Bush Doctrine.

    President Yushchenko already has his own connection to Washington. Mrs. Yushchenko worked for the first President Bush in the Treasury Department.
    What's that? Hey, I've been a big supporter of Yushchenko on these pages. But the problem with Dipshit's logic there is that the people of Ukraine created their own freedom, not Bush. The Bush Doctrine is a little different, isn't it? Ukraine - peaceful protests. Bush Doctrine - 100,000 dead civilians. Ukraine - pictures of election fraud brings a re-vote. Bush Doctrine - pictures of tortured prisoners causes Bush to declare cameras unamerican.

    I think WE could learn a few things about democracy from Ukraine, not the other way around.

    Right Vs. Left

    Gannon/Guckert revisited, but it is only peripheral. The real point below is that from the left, we think and use facts. From the right, they use insults and change the subject. Observe it in action. The lefty blogger Minnesota Politics wrote to the righties at Power Line:

    Your recent post on the JD Guckert/Jeff Gannon story has to be one of the saddest examples of conservative head-in-sand syndrome I have ever seen. You claim that there are three issues being brought up by liberals: 1) He isn't a "real" journalist, 2) He was a Bush administration plant, and 3) He had something (“God knows what) €“to do with the Valerie Plame story. Of course, you blatantly ignore the most important issue, the one that is easily found on hundreds of blogs covering the story: how did a person using a fake name get access to the White House? If I applied for a pass to the White House using the name "Max Power", I would not get in unless I had some friends high up at the top. A closely-related issue is exactly what the links are between GOPUSA and Talon News. Now, you may think it perfectly acceptable for the President and press secretary to consistently call on a reporter who is working for what is essentially an arm of the Republican Party. If so, it would be nice if you would admit it. That doesn't mean that others aren't allowed to have a problem with that arrangement, however.

    You also take Americablog to task for "finding nude photos of Gannon and posting them online." He didn't "find" photos taken by some paparazzi at a secret party; he found websites where Guckert (let's use his real name, not his pretend name) posted his own photos. If you posted photos of your family on your web page and I posted a link to these photos, would that make me a low-life "outing" you? Come on. Guckert is not ashamed of these photos, otherwise he would not have put them on the web in the first place. If somebody else finds them and points them out to the world, they are doing nothing wrong.

    Just one, just once, it would be nice to see a conservative with the ability to find fault with other conservatives. I won't hold my breath, though.
    And Power Line's response?
    You dumb shit, he didn't get access using a fake name, he used his real name. You lefties' concern for White House security is really touching, but you know what, you stupid asshole, I think the Secret Service has it covered. Go crawl back into your hole, you stupid left-wing shithead. And don't bother us anymore. You have to have an IQ over 50 to correspond with us. You don't qualify, you stupid shit.


    The POTUS, or as I shall start calling him - The Coward in Chief - quietly removed a "town hall" meeting in Germany from his schedule because the Germans wouldn't let him handpick the crowd and the questions. As Americans, we're used to this. Bush cannot do anything that isn't scripted down to the last detail. But the Germans were a little taken aback.

    ...the White House requested that rules similar to those applied during Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit two weeks ago also be used in Mainz. Before meeting with students at Paris's Institute of Political Sciences, which preens the country's elite youth for future roles in government, Rice's staff insisted on screening and approving any questions to be asked by students.

    The Germans, though, insisted that a free forum should be exactly that. Wolfgang Ischinger, Germany's Ambassador to the United States, explained to the New York Times last week: "We told them, don't get upset with us if they ask angry questions."

    In the end, the town hall meeting was never officially dropped from the agenda of the trip -- instead it was dealt with in polished diplomatic style -- both sides just stopped talking about it.
    There should be a rule in journalism that the term "town hall" stop being used unless it is what it actually is supposed to be - a free exchange of ideas from within a community. Someone has to stop allowing this, albeit minor, devaluing of our language. Words have to mean something. And as trite and stupid of a term as "town hall" is, it is a term with a meaning. It certainly doesn't mean a mini-movie as part of a larger propaganda campaign. MSM - I'm begging you. Start calling them what they are - "pre-scripted Q&A" works for me - and Bush will perhaps, at the very least, stop scheduling these farces.

    This Bush 2005 World Tour reminds me of something... I can't quite put my finger...
    Eyes, hair, mouth, figure
    Dress, voice, style, image

    I'm their product, it's vital you sell me
    So Machiavell me, make an Argentine Rose
    I need to be thrilling, I want to be Rainbow High
    They need their escape, and so do I
    Let's hear it for the rainbow tour, it's been an incredible success...


    Remember those pesky audio tapes that President Bush's friend Doug Wead released to the Times last week? I don't know if Doug was living on Mars the last few years or something, but I guess he wasn't prepared for the backlash. From his website he writes:

    A Personal Note: My thanks to those who have let me share my heart and regrets about recent events. Contrary to a statement that I made to the New York Times, I know very well that personal relationships are more important than history. I am asking my attorney to direct any future proceeds from the book to charity and to find the best way to vet these tapes and get them back to the president to whom they belong. History can wait.

    Doug Wead
    Wow. They must have threatened to kill him, his family and his dog. All because he spoke truth. Bush isn't so much on board with "truth" is he? Dougie should have known better.

    But the story is even better than all that. The "liberal" media is in a frenzy.

  • Linda Chavez:
    What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? ... In a city where ambition often trumps decency, Wead may go down as one of Washington's most ruthless confidantes.
    Someone should tell Ms. Chavez about Linda Tripp.

  • An unsigned editorial in the Macon Telegraph:
    Wead is a sleazy opportunist
  • Unsigned editorial in the Indianapolis Star:
    Who needs enemies, Mr. Wead, who needs enemies?
    And as you might guess, they're completely ignoring four important points. 1) He left out all the juicy bits that might have confirmed everything the liberals say about Bush. 2) The right-wing hacks are ignoring the juicy bits that were left in, such as Bush's weed-smoking past, and his all-but-confirmation that he did piles and piles of blow. 3) If someone can be hurt by the truth, maybe that person isn't such a good person to begin with. 4) Bush came after his so-called friend with all the compassion of Nazi stormtroopers. How big of a betrayal can it be if Bush was willing to threaten his "friend's" life seconds after he released the tapes?

  • Independent News Organization

    More about Gannon/Guckert today in Salon today. The part I'm most interested in is the Christmas greeting from GOPUSA's (Talon News' parent shill company) founder, Bobby Eberle:

    "I'd also like to send a special thank you to all those who personally provided me with their assistance, guidance, and friendship, including ... Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, and G. Gordon Liddy..."
    -- Bobby Eberle, President and CEO
    Now, recall that Talon insists that they are an independent news agency. We know it's bogus, but they still say it. How independent is anything that would personally thank Karl Rove for his assistance and guidance, let alone friendship?

    Imagine if the executive editor of even the New York Times personally thanked Paul Begala for his friendship and guidance? Rush Limbaugh's head would have exploded, assuming he wasn't hopped up on crank or whatever he was snorting back then. And that's just the Times, not some crackpot liberal activist website. Just imagine...

    Tuesday, February 22, 2005

    So THAT'S Why She Never Called Me Back

    By now, I'm sure you've all heard about the theft and subsequent hacking of Paris Hilton's Sidekick. Oy. How on earth did this "woman" ever become a celebrity? How has it gone on this long? Blah, blah... It's all been said a million times.

    Anyhow, I don't know why anyone else hasn't pointed this out yet, (to my knowledge) - I'm not buying this story for a second. She appears in the T-Mobile ads. She's (literally) a whore for publicity, especially the kind of publicity that points out how SUPER she is. This whole thing is a T-Mobile PR stunt. Look at all the features we offer! Have all your slutty pictures with you at all times. Save the phone numbers of every celebrity you've fucked! Be a STAR like Paris Hilton!

    Makes me want to switch to Verizon.

    Monday, February 21, 2005

    We'll Miss You!

    Hunter S. Thompson killed himself last night. How horribly sad.

    Sunday, February 20, 2005

    The Liberal Hacks at CBS Are at it Again

    I've been told that I'm a clearinghouse for all things Jeff Gannon. In that spirit, courtesy of Capt. Willard of the PBR Street Gang, (Fuck that shit! Pabst - Blue - Ribbon! David Lynch, anyone?), here's CBS's Senior Political Editor, Dotty Lynch picking up where Joe Conason leaves off in discussing the Karl Rove/Jeff Gannon connection. (PBR has a funny caption.)

    This week Democrats, who have serious case of Rove envy, went a little nuts and started sending around information and graphic pictures of Gannon and his porn Web sites. But it is the more routine part of Gannon's life that deserves serious scrutiny. Planting or even just sanctioning a political operative in the WH press room is a dangerous precedent and Karl Rove's hope to become a respected policymaker will be hampered if the dirty tricks from his political past are more apparent than his desire to spread liberty around the globe.
    Dangerous indeed. Unfortunately, these people do more evil before breakfast than most people do all day, so "dangerous" is a sliding scale. I mean, what's worse? A shill in the White House press corps or an incompetent fool as our Secretary of State? How about a torturer as Attorney General? Certainly Jeff Gannon hasn't tortured anyone who didn't pay him to.

    Friday, February 18, 2005

    Sex-Free Conspiracy

    Joe Conason presents a much more reasonable conspiracy theory than mine. His isn't so much a theory as a list of facts that fit together and explain what happened. You see the difference between some joker on a website and a real investigative journalist?

    Long before "Jeff Gannon" became a household pseudonym in the nation's capital, he had earned considerable recognition among the political elites of South Dakota. During that state's closely contested Senate race last year, the Talon News writer - whose real name is now known to be James Dale Guckert - dug his claws deep into Tom Daschle, the former Senate minority leader narrowly defeated by Republican John Thune.

    In 2004 Republican leaders placed no higher price on any head, besides John Kerry's, than on the Senate Democratic leader's. For years, conservative organizations had attacked Daschle with campaigns that included notorious ads that paired the Army veteran with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. The smear efforts damaged Daschle's standing with the state's voters, and as the election grew nearer, Republican blogs and Web sites took up the dirty work. In what has now been exposed as a blatant Republican strategy, the seemingly independent bloggers had in fact been paid by the Thune campaign.

    While promoting Talon and Gannon as credible journalistic sources, Lauck's blog reprinted sensational paragraphs posted by Gannon on the Talon News Web site, urging readers to take special note of the Talon reporter's "quite interesting article" about Daschle's "Sopranos-style" tactics. The story contained no actual evidence of misconduct by either the Democratic senator or the Sioux Falls newspaperman, beyond anonymous quotes that accused them of Mafia-like intimidation of "small business owners" and other beleaguered anti-Daschle dissidents. (The "Sopranos" story, like all of Gannon's other works, has been scrubbed by Talon's Republican owners from their Web site.)

    The bloggers promoted dozens of Talon News attacks on Daschle, under the false flag of journalistic independence. They proclaimed themselves the paladins of truth, battling against South Dakota's "liberal media." Nobody in South Dakota would know until months after Nov. 2, when Daschle was so narrowly defeated, that those "independent" bloggers dogging him had been subsidized by the Thune campaign. But there, on the final post-election filings, were the names Lauck and Van Beek, who had been paid $27,000 and $8,000, respectively.

    And nobody in South Dakota could know, until now, the true identity and purpose of "Jeff Gannon" and his employers at Talon News.
    So there you have it. It seems much more likely that BushCo gave Gannon/Guckert special treatment because he was a flaming sword of Republican justice in South Dakota rather than a gay prostitute blackmailing someone on the WH staff. Too bad for them they didn't look into where else his flaming sword had been... [not a family-friendly link]

    Thursday, February 17, 2005

    Code Red! Head For Cover!

    Remember back when there were all those "terrorist threats" during the presidential campaign? Remember when Tom Ridge said "We do not do politics at the Department of Homeland Security."?

    AP Uncovers Ridge Meetings with Pollsters During Presidential Campaign


    Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge met privately with Republican pollsters twice in a 10-day span last spring as he embarked on more than a dozen trips to presidential battleground states, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

    Ridge's get-togethers with Republican strategists Frank Luntz and Bill McInturff during a period the secretary was saying his agency was playing no role in Bush's re-election campaign were revealed in daily appointment calendars obtained by the AP under the Freedom of Information Act.

    His aides resisted releasing the calendars for over a year, finally providing them to the AP three days after Ridge left office this month.
    They have a habit of doing that, don't they?

    The All-Spin Zone

    It's not easy coming up with this many different headlines all referring to propaganda. Too bad we don't have a president who isn't channeling Orwell. But I digress...

    Sidney Blumenthal, former senior advisor to the last great president, Bill Clinton, takes on the Jeff Gannon saga. In it, he too mentions blackmail, by the way, but in a much more responsible manner than I, because unlike Jeff Gannon and myself, Sid is a real journalist. He closes with:

    The experiment of inserting an agent directly into the White House press corps was a daring operation. Guckert's "legend," in the language of espionage, was that he was a news director, and his "false flag" was journalism. Until his exposure, this midnight cowboy in the garden of Bush and evil proved marginally useful for the White House. But the affair's longer-run implication is the Republican effort to sideline an independent press and undermine its legitimacy. "Spin" seems too quaint. "In this day and age," said McClellan, waxing philosophical about the Gannon affair, "when you have a changing media, it's not an easy issue to decide or try to pick and choose who is a journalist." The problem is not that the White House press secretary cannot distinguish who is or is not a journalist; it is that there are no journalists, just the gaming of the system for the concentration of power.

    Gannon Intrigue Continues

    The Jeff Gannon affair gets even more interesting. Turns out, he was granted access to the press room even before there was such a thing as the propaganda "news" website Talon News:

    Jim Guckert, an apparent former prostitute, had almost no journalistic experience when he started receiving daily press passes to enter the White House and participate in the daily press briefings. As far as the bloggeratti has revealed thus far, the organization he worked for before resigning last week (embarrassed by revelations of his apparent sex practice), Talon News, had been in existence only days before he received his first White House pass, said to be April 3, 2003, or thereabouts.

    But this post, in which someone brags about having asked a pro-war question at a February 28, 2003 White House press briefing, appears to have been made by Guckert under his pseudonym, Jeff Gannon. That would imply that Guckert was admitted into the White House even BEFORE his alleged news service existed. At that time, he [had] done some "writing" over the preceding couple of months for what appears to be Talon's predecessor, Republican activist website News. "Writing" is to be used loosely in this case, however, as much of his reporting during that pre-Talon period consisted of cutting-and-pasting stories from other news outlets or GOP press releases.
    Or as they put it in Salon:
    That means he wasn't working for any other news outlet in February 2003 when he was spotted by C-Span cameras inside the White House briefing room. And that means Guckert was ushered into the White House press room in February 2003 for a briefing despite the fact he was not a journalist.
    It is troubling that a the White House is willing to let in a shill to lob softball questions at the president and the White House communications staff, and completely fits this administration's propaganda M.O. But then there's the whole gay prostitute angle, which the right-wingers are attacking us for even bringing up - "If you liberals are so cool with homosexuality, then what do you care if he's gay?"

    We don't mind that he's gay. Personally, I don't even care that he's a prostitute. We've brought it up thus far because the Republicans, and therefore Talon News, are against homosexuality. We enjoy pointing out your hypocrisy. But this new twist could actually make the gay prostitute angle much more germane.

    [Prepare yourself for wild speculation with absolutely no evidence.]

    What if Jeff Gannon, the prostitute, was hired by someone in the White House? What if this Jeff Gannon character realized what was happening and started blackmailing the closeted White House gay dude? What if they shut him up by giving him press credentials? It certainly would explain why he was given a press pass before he was even associated with a fake news website instead of just dishing out their propaganda through any number of other already "accredited" shills, (Tony Blankley or Gloria Borger, for example). Wouldn't it? And wouldn't that be the best story since Monica? Better, because it actually has something to do with governing the nation.

    UPDATE: To add to the wildly irresponsible conspiracy theory, Jeff Gannon was given access to the confidential Valerie Plame memo. He refused to answer any questions about his source for the memo, but the FBI just let him go. And as we know, real journalist Matthew Cooper, and almost real journalist Judith Miller are going to be compelled to reveal their source in court or else they will face jail time. Let's ignore for a moment that the true Douchebag of Liberty Robert Novak is waddling free, why doesn't Jeff/James have to testify? Why isn't he going to jail? What might he say if he were put under oath? Just raising questions, my friends...

    It's Not My Business to Do Intelligent Work

    Mr. Rumsfeld goes to Washington, and hoo-boy, does he tear it a new one. Our esteemed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld answered some questions before Congress yesterday. Well, "answered" isn't really the right word. But he was definitely asked some questions. His behavior has the stink of "I am so outta here" all over it. You know how when your co-worker gives his two week notice and then if he even shows up, it's pulling teeth to get him to do anything other than print out resumes and read The Onion?

    Dana Milbank of the Washington Post reports:

    Two dozen members of the House Armed Services Committee had not yet had their turn to question Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at yesterday's hearings when he decided he had had enough.

    At 12:54, he announced that at 1 p.m. he would be taking a break and then going to another hearing in the Senate. "We're going to have to get out and get lunch and get over there," he said. When the questioning continued for four more minutes, Rumsfeld picked up his briefcase and began to pack up his papers.

    The chairman, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), apologized to his colleagues for a rather "unusual" situation.
    Hey! This one isn't his fault. Denny's only offers a 10% discount on their All-American Slam until 1. And he sure as hell ain't getting the French Slam.
    Asked about the number of insurgents in Iraq, Rumsfeld replied: "I am not going to give you a number."

    Did he care to voice an opinion on efforts by U.S. pilots to seek damages from their imprisonment in Iraq? "I don't."

    Could he comment on what basing agreements he might seek in Iraq? "I can't."

    How about the widely publicized cuts to programs for veterans? "I'm not familiar with the cuts you're referring to."

    How long will the war last? "There's never been a war that was predictable as to length, casualty or cost in the history of mankind."
    Weird, though. He was all about predictions a couple of years ago:
    "You don't know if it is going to last two days or two weeks or two months," he said. He is sure of one thing: "It certainly isn't going to last two years."

    "It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."
    I'm sure Rumsfeld would tell me to stop livin' in the past, man! So let's get back to yesterday:
    When the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Ike Skelton (Mo.), asked about the number of insurgents in Iraq, the secretary said, "I am not going to give you a number for it because it's not my business to do intelligent work." (He presumably meant to say "intelligence.") Ultimately, Rumsfeld admitted he had estimates at his fingertips. "I've got two in front of me," he said.

    "Could you share those with us?" Skelton inquired.

    Not just now, Rumsfeld said. "They're classified."

    In Europe last week, Rumsfeld joked that he was no longer the "old Rumsfeld" who disdainfully referred to France and Germany as "Old Europe."

    But Wednesday, he made it clear that the new Rumsfeld would not be a softy. When he scolded Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) by saying she incorrectly described his role, Tauscher inquired: "Is that old Rumsfeld talking to me now?"

    "I think so," Rumsfeld said, smiling.

    "I'd prefer new Rumsfeld," she requested.

    "No, you don't," he said.
    Is he threatening to kill her? Wouldn't that be a scene? Rummy leaps up out of his chair, dives over the big desk thingee, thrusts his hand into her chest, tears out her heart, and feasts on it as the beating slowly stops, peering at everyone as the blood drips down his chin.

    Yargh! It's hard to think that Rumsfeld hasn't killed with his bare hands though, isn't it? I imagine that for a relaxing vacation, he heads on over to Abu Ghraib for a couple of waterboardings in the morning, a facial and a steam after lunch, and electrodes to the genitals after dusk with a highball and a Cuban cigar.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2005

    That Dastardly Liberal Media

    Joe Conason ruminates on the current state of liberal bias in the media in the context of the Jeff/James Gannon/Guckert saga.

    Proof that "the liberal media" is but a figment of right-wing mythology has now arrived in the person of one James Guckert, formerly known as Jeff Gannon. Were the American media truly liberal - or merely unafraid to be called liberal - the saga of Mr. Guckert’s short, strange, quasi-journalistic career would be resounding across the airwaves.

    The intrinsic media interest of the Guckert/Gannon story should be obvious to anyone who has followed his tale, which touches on hot topics from the homosexual underground and the investigation into the outing of C.I.A. agent Valerie Plame to the political power of the Internet. But our supposedly liberal media becomes quite squeamish when reporting anything that might humiliate the Bush White House and the Republican Party.

    How did this character obtain a coveted place in the White House? What did the White House press staff know about him? How does his story fit within the larger scandal of payola punditry, with federal funds subsidizing Republican propagandists in the press corps? Did someone in the Bush administration give him a classified document?

    Such questions are evidently of little concern to our liberal media outlets, whose leading lights prefer to deliver prim lectures about the unwarranted invasion of Mr. Guckert’s private affairs and his victimization for his conservative views. In fact, everything known about him comes from material he posted on public Web sites, but that’s beside the point.

    Imagine the media explosion if a male escort had been discovered operating as a correspondent in the Clinton White House. Imagine that he was paid by an outfit owned by Arkansas Democrats and had been trained in journalism by James Carville. Imagine that this gentleman had been cultivated and called upon by Mike McCurry or Joe Lockhart—or by President Clinton himself. Imagine that this "journalist" had smeared a Republican Presidential candidate and had previously claimed access to classified documents in a national-security scandal.

    Then imagine the constant screaming on radio, on television, on Capitol Hill, in the Washington press corps—and listen to the placid mumbling of the "liberal" media now.
    What else is there to say?

    Open Letter to Gary Bettman

    Leaders of the NHL,

    You are willing to cut off your own nose to spite your face. Mr. Bettman's selfish pride and palpable hatred for Mr. Goodenow (who is equally self-serving and irresponsible) has irreparably ruined the sport that I've loved since I was a child. Your billionaire owners can't control their own spending, so you have to cancel the season to make some sort of stupid point. And at whose expense? The fans. The people who make a living thanks to hockey, (vendors, bar and restaurant owners, stadium personnel). The sport.

    Mr. Bettman, you should be ashamed of yourself. The fact that you think 6.5 million dollars in the pocket of a billionaire is more important than the game is perfectly emblematic of your short-sightedness and why you are unqualified to be the NHL commissioner. You never negotiated in good faith. You never had any intention of playing this season. You don’t love the game. You love only money and good publicity, and you’re horrible at that too, by the way. You do not deserve to be associated with a sport as noble and dignified as hockey. Why don't you try the NBA? I’m sure after a few years of you in charge, they’ll be the laughingstock of the sports world too.

    I've been a hockey fan, a Red Wings fan, an NHL fan since I learned to talk. Until Gary Bettman resigns, I will never watch another NHL game.

    The league's biggest ex-fan,
    Michael Grant

    Sir Lies-a-Lot

    That was my suggestion for a name for Sean Hannity's dog. Go there yourself and enter the contest as well.

    There are some funny suggestions over at Fark. My favorite - Colmes.

    Monday, February 14, 2005

    At Least Someone Finally Said It

    Thanks to the article in the Times the other day, they're calling for hearings to discuss Condoleezza's lies and the big 9/11 coverup that's been going on for about three and a half years now.

    In a letter to the chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, Tom Davis, Rep. Waxman (D-CA) writes: [pdf]

    We are writing to request that our Committee hold hearings to investigate two extremely serious questions raised by an article that appeared in this morning's New York Times. The first question is whether the Administration misused the classification process to withhold, for political reasons, official 9/11 Commission staff findings detailing how federal aviation officials received multiple intelligence reports warning of airline hijackings and suicide attacks before September 11. The second question related to the veracity of statements, briefings, and testimony by then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice regarding this issue.
    Ooh! Waxman can smell the burning pants too! Anyway, it goes on to detail all the lying bullshit this chick has been doing, and the ways in which BushCo has been covering it up in the name of Freedom. Sic 'em Henry!

    Friday, February 11, 2005

    In Court, They Call It Negligent Homicide

    Now that the election is over and all the do-nothings of the first term have been officially promoted, we finally see the proof of the gross incompetence of the Bush Administration. Here is a recently declassified memo written by Richard Clarke to Condoleezza Rice on January 25th, 2001 - five days after Bush was inaugurated – in which Mr. Clarke lays down a specific plan of action desperately needed to be taken against al Qaeda.

    "We urgently need such a Principals level review on the al Qida network."
    Could he have been any clearer? And Mr. Clarke refers to a plan:
    "Attached is the year-end 2000 strategy on al Qida developed by the last Administration to give to you."
    Developed by whom? Oh yeah, that slacker Bill Clinton. Strange. I remember Condi saying something slightly different:
    "No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration."
    *sniff sniff* Do you smell something? Is that...? It smells like pants on fire! And how about this one, from Clarke's memo:
    "At the close of the Clinton Administration, two decisions about al Qida were deferred to the Bush Administration...

    When and How does the Administration choose to respond to the attack on the USS Cole?"
    Do you recall during the 9/11 hearings when the Republicans were trying to blame 9/11 on Clinton, they would say, "What did Clinton do after the USS Cole bombing? Nothing!" Here’s why. And it’s documented proof – he didn’t want to step on Bush's toes. It was too close to the end of his term.

    What did President Bush do when he got this document? The first thing he did was wait until May and then place Dick Cheney in charge of an anti-terrorism task force. The second thing he did was absolutely nothing. The task force never met, and Cheney refused to so much as read anyone's recommendations. Seven months of sitting around planning how to screw the poor, making up stories about missing computer keys, and clearing brush in Texas. This horrible disaster of a president sat with his thumb up his ass while everyone around him was preparing for a possible major terrorist strike in the United States, and then covered up all the evidence of his and Rice's responsibility for 9/11 until after he was reelected. And now this lazy shit-for-brains is running the country for another four years. What on EARTH does it take to get impeached nowadays?

    And what does it take for the even lazier media to get off their asses and do their jobs?!

    Did You Retrace Your Steps?

    Dammit! Where are my keys?! Er... I mean, where is my gigantic container of deadly radioactive material?

    Our old friend Halliburton misplaced a huge barrel of americium, obviously the most patriotic ingredient in any radioactive bomb recipe.

    A Halliburton Co. shipment of radioactive material that landed in New York in October was lost en route to Texas, and was not found until Wednesday, when it turned up in Boston.
    Yeah. October! Those hard working, audit failing, price gouging, tax dodging patriots at Halliburton didn't think to bring it up until now, four months after they lost it.
    Markey said the lag time in reporting the disappearance of dangerous materials leaves open the possibility they could fall into the hands of terrorists without the government's knowledge.
    You think?!?

    Well, I'm sure it was a long farcical series of badly-timed coincidences and unfortunate happenstances that led to the material's disappearance. I mean, Dick Cheney used to work there; our government literally gives them billions of dollars in contracts every year, so they must have their act together, but good.
    The NRC report indicates the material was trucked to Massachusetts after a Boston label was inadvertently placed on the package at the freight company's Newark, N.J., facility.
    I see... Well, I guess that's not so bad, I know they have top-notch officials working in the New Jersey Homeland Security Office. And besides, it must be virtually impossible to get your hands on a label maker.

    I'm buying some duct tape...

    Thursday, February 10, 2005

    What Did They Know?

    And when did they know it? This Gannon thing is really picking up some major steam. I enjoy this show almost as much as the Kerik debacle.

    This time it's New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg asking the tough questions.

    Dear Mr. McClellan,

    I am writing to request that you immediately release documents to my office relating to the White House press credentials of James D. Guckert, a.k.a. "Jeff Gannon." Specifically, I am seeking documentation related to the question of which name Mr. Guckert/Gannon used when applying for credentials, and which name was on the official White House press credentials he received. Additionally, I am seeking documents indicating whether Mr. Guckert/Gannon received a "hard pass" or daily passes from your office. Despite your assertions to the contrary, at least one White House reporter has revealed that Mr. Guckert/Gannon appeared to have "hard pass" credentials.

    As you may know, Mr. Guckert/Gannon was denied a Congressional press pass because he could not show that he wrote for a valid news organization. Given the fact that he was denied Congressional credentials, I seek your explanation of how Mr. Guckert/Gannon passed muster for White House press credentials.

    I have led the effort in the Senate to investigate a number of instances of troubling propaganda efforts by the Administration. The Government Accountability Office has agreed to my requests to investigate various attempts at media manipulation: fake television news stories touting both the new Medicare law and the "No Child Left Behind" education program; a study rating individual journalists on their "favorability" to Republican education policies; and the payment to journalist Armstrong Williams.

    Since the Armstrong Williams controversy became public, Administration payments to two other journalists, Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus, have come to light. Given the backdrop of these scandals, coupled with Mr. Guckert/Gannon's role in recent White House press briefings and press conferences, it is understandable that the circumstances of Mr. Guckert/Gannon's credentialing have raised suspicion.

    Thank you for your cooperation.

    Sincerely, Frank R. Lautenberg
    It's always a bigger deal when the Senate gets into the act.

    No One Could Have Imagined

    Do you remember when Condoleezza said that at the 9/11 hearings? In case not, from the transcript, here are her exact words:

    "No one could have imagined them taking a plane, slamming it into the Pentagon" -- I'm paraphrasing now -- "into the World Trade Center, using planes as a missile."
    Guess what, you lying sycophant, someone, namely the Federal Aviation Administration, imagined exactly that, and they warned you about it FIFTY-TWO times!
    Federal Aviation Administration officials received 52 warnings prior to Sept. 11, 2001, from their own security experts about potential al-Qaida attacks, including some that mentioned airline hijackings or suicide attacks, The New York Times reported.

    The Times said in Thursday editions that a previously undisclosed report by the 9/11 commission that investigated the suicide airliner attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon detailed warnings given to FAA leaders from April to Sept. 10, 2001, about the radical Islamic terrorist group and its leader, Osama bin Laden.
    In case you're scoring at home - that's 52 more than the number of things she did as National Security Advisor to help prevent the deaths of 3000 people.

    So now you're thinking. That's weird. Why am I just hearing about this now?
    The Times said that a classified version and a partially declassified version of the 120-page report were given to the National Archives two weeks ago.
    Two weeks ago, eh? That would be January 27th. Care to take a guess what happened on January 26th? Correct! That would be the day that the Senate voted to promote this incompetent fool to Secretary of State.

    If this is a nightmare, I'm ready to wake up now.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    Joe Wilson - American Hero

    Ambassador Joseph Wilson (Valerie Plame, Niger, yellowcake) is interviewed in Daily Kos. Apparently, this Gannon fellow was part of the conspiracy that outed Valerie Plame. Joe's got some choice words for the Bush administration and the lazy, irresponsible mainstream media:

    "I have no reason not to ensure that the truth is told and I am tired of the way in which the Republicans have smeared my family and myself for no reason other than to perpetuate their lies to the American people. I did not like fascists when I fought them as a diplomat for 23 years and I don't like them now in my own country."

    "I think that in the absence of a responsible national media, the blogs play an important role in trying to shed light on various issues, including the bona fides of so-called White House correspondents as well as tackling questions overlooked or ignored by the national journalists. I also believe that the nature of the profession has changed to the detriment of good investigative journalism. No longer is there a quest for the truth so much as there is this apparent need to present both sides of an issue even if one is nothing but lies and distortions. Giving the same value to fiction as to fact in the interest of so-called fairness is to mislead the American people and the press has become party to that."

    Nice. Read the whole thing, it's chock-full...

    More on Gannon

    From Daily Kos:

    New York Representative Louise Slaughter writes:

    Dear Mr. President:

    In light of the mounting evidence that your Administration has, on several occasions, paid members of the media to advocate in favor of Administration policies, I feel compelled to ask you to address a matter brought to my attention by the Niagara Falls Reporter (article attached), a local newspaper in my district, regarding James "JD" Guckert (AKA Jeff Gannon) of Talon News.

    According to several credible reports, "Mr. Gannon" has been repeatedly credentialed as a member of the White House press corps by your office and has been regularly called upon in White House press briefings by your Press Secretary Scott McClellan, despite the fact evidence shows that "Mr. Gannon" is a Republican political operative, uses a false name, has phony or questionable journalistic credentials, is known for plagiarizing much of the "news" he reports, and according to several web reports, may have ties to the promotion of the prostitution of military personnel [...]

    And just this morning we have learned that "Mr. Gannon" has resigned his post at the, so called, Talon News amid growing concerns over his controversial background and falsified qualifications. In fact, it appears that "Mr. Gannon's" presence in the White House press corps was merely as a tool of propaganda for your Administration.

    America - Where the Poor Go to Die

    While the rich are laughing all the way to the bank because of Bush's regressive tax cuts, the poor are starving or freezing to death. Hey at least they have a choice. Salon combs through Bush's new budget, and finds some wholly unsurprising cuts in social programs.

    While Bush continues to skim off the top of the Social Security trust fund to pay for various initiatives and reduce the debt (while warning of its imminent bankruptcy), he has requested an additional $19.2 billion for the Pentagon, for a total of $419 billion -- and that excludes the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Compare those numbers to the money being cut for essential social services and it's obvious where this administration's priorities lie: The total budget for the Food Stamp Program alone could fit into the defense budget 13 times. Here are some details about proposed cuts to other programs millions of Americans rely on.

  • CUT: $57 million from the Food Stamp Program
  • CUT: $200 million from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
  • CUT: $361 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund
  • CUT: Community Development Block Grant programs
  • CUT: Upward Bound, Talent Search and GEAR UP
  • CUT: $48 million from the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program
  • CUT: The stateside Land and Water Conservation Fund

  • Let us reflect on Grover Norquist's famous quote:
    "My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

    Hot Gay Hypocrisy

    We have a big one today. Settle down... A big story. Remember Jeff Gannon, the White House's favorite softball-lobbing shill? Well, he's out at Talon News. Out and FABULOUS!

    Daily Kos has the story:

    Jeff Gannon aka Jim Guckert, and gay smut
    by kos

    Oh man, reality is truly stranger than fiction.

    "Jeff Gannon", the White House press propagandist "correspondent" for the fake "Talon" news service, turns out to be using a nom de plume.

    A group of dKos diarists have been peeling away the layers of Gannon's fake persona, summarized by World O'Crap. In one of those diaries, this revelation is made by Radically Bitter: Among the domains owned by Gannon/Guckert are these:

    In case this isn't clear enough, those last three are gay sex-themed names. Suddenly, his picture looks appropriately in character.

    So why is this relevant, other than today seems to have become "Republicans and sex hypocrisy day"?

    In reviewing White House press conferences from the past year, Media Matters for America has noted numerous instances in which Gannon's lobs -- leading questions that often include false assumptions favorable to the Bush administration -- have allowed McClellan to move to friendlier turf, away from having to answer questions on such issues as the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment; [...]

    So in addition to the "hypocrisy and sex" thing, we've got the "hypocrisy and gay" thing.

    And no, this wasn't planned. It's not my fault the other side unloaded so much hypocrisy in a single day.

    (In a sign of how I've lost complete control over this site, I note, with great irony, that I found out about the domain thing from Atrios.)

    Update: There is some concern that focus on the more salacious details of Gannon's hypocrisy detracts from more substantive discussions and investigations currently going on by various diariests.

    In a way, that may be true. Gannon is a propagandist, funded by god knows who, who essentially provide McClellan a lifeline whenever the White House press corps backs him into a corner.

    I, along with most liberals, couldn't care less if one of our colleagues or employees is gay. That's a problem with right wingers, not our side.

    So say Guckert's outing costs him his gravy train at Talon "News", and he is replaced by someone else, would that kill the issue?

    I don't think so, but I could be wrong. Personally, I think it would add fire to the crusade if they cut him loose. And it's not as if the "propaganda" angle is tied to Guckert. That one belongs to Talon News, independent of which sycophant they have infesting the White House press room every day.

    Ezekiel 25:17

    "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men..."

    [ed. - it's a movie quote, not a bible quote, so delete that email you started writing. Delete it!]

    Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is gettin' all up in the president's grill. It's making for some good reality TV.

    Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid questioned President Bush's honesty on Tuesday and said he wanted "the boys at the White House" to know he wasn't losing any sleep over the Republican Party labeling him an obstructionist.

    It was the second straight day the Nevada Democrat grew animated in response to the GOP criticism, and he said, "When you have a real bad chafe, is that what they call it, it's hard to get soothed."

    The object of Reid's ire was a lengthy RNC document headlined "Sen. Minority Leader Determined to Obstruct President Bush's Agenda."

    The White House refused to denounce the attack. "You can talk to the Republican National Committee about what they did. I'm not familiar with all the aspects of what they're doing," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. The RNC is chaired by Bush's former campaign manager and works closely with White House officials to advance the president's legislative agenda.

    Are we meant to believe that the president doesn't know what the RNC is up to? Isn't he, you know, the head of the Republican party? I'm pretty sure I remember him winning an election recently or something. The RNC isn't some rogue terrorist agency that Sydney Bristow is trying to infiltrate. I think they're even listed in the phone book! You have a phone, don't you, Mr. McClellan? Sure you do...

    By coincidence, Reid and his wife were Bush's guests at a small White House dinner on Monday night. The president broached the subject of the RNC criticism, Reid said, adding, "That was a private conversation I'm not going to discuss."

    Ooooh... How much fun would that dinner have been?

    Reid: Could you pass the salt? (asshole)

    Bush: What was that?

    R: Uh... Nothing! Do you have the salt down there? (lying prick)

    B: I'm sure I heard something that time.

    R: Must have been a passing airplane.

    B: I don't think they let airplanes pass over the White House anymore.

    R: Strange. So! Laura, you look great! (you married a lying shill for extremist religious freaks and polluting multi-billionaire corporate bastards)

    B: Now, you just wait a gall-durn minute!

    Ah, to be a fly on the wall...

    Surprise! *yawn*

    Yeah, big surprise - Bush is a liar. Who knew?

    The White House released budget figures yesterday indicating that the new Medicare prescription drug benefit will cost more than $1.2 trillion in the coming decade, a much higher price tag than President Bush suggested when he narrowly won passage of the law in late 2003.

    And it's a crappy program to boot! Oh yeah, and those evil, terrorist-loving Democrats predicted that, didn't they? One man's obstructionist is another man's truth-teller, I guess.

    Beginning with his January 2003 State of the Union address, Bush pledged to keep the total cost of the drug benefit to $400 billion over 10 years. An estimate by the Congressional Budget Office was close to Bush's figure.

    But shortly after Bush signed the program into law in December 2003, the White House revised its projection to $534 billion, but it never offered a detailed breakdown of that estimate.

    Last March, Richard S. Foster, Medicare's chief actuary for nearly a decade, said administration officials threatened to fire him if he disclosed his belief in 2003 that the drug package would cost $500 billion to $600 billion. Lawmakers in both parties accused the administration of concealing important information that could have derailed passage of the bill.

    Does anyone remember those quaint times when a "pledge" meant something? Remember how it used to be a requirement that the president not lie? They've got it down to a science - only lie if no one will care for longer than a day. Lucky for Bush, no one cares about anything for more than a day, unless there's a dead, white pregnant girl involved. And even then, she'd better be cute.

    Tuesday, February 08, 2005

    Promotion Day!

    Seems the victors are spreadin' 'round the spoils.

    Karl Rove, the senior political strategist who orchestrated President Bush's re-election campaign, has been promoted to deputy chief of staff, a job that will involve him in most White House policy and not just politics.

    Rove will now coordinate White House policy developed within the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council...

    Oooh... I just got the shivers.

    Rove will retain his title as senior adviser and continue to oversee strategy to advance the president's agenda.

    Duh! Er... what this guy said:

    "Empowering Rove in this way shows that Bush cares more about political positioning than honest policy discussions," said Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. "Bush knows that Rove is neither an economic nor a national security expert. He is simply an ideological strategist. ... Clearly, Bush thinks political manipulation matters more than keeping the president honestly informed about the state of the country."

    There are others, but this one's my favorite:

    Michael Gerson... will focus on the president's compassionate agenda, human rights and advancing freedom and democracy.

    What's that? Mr. President, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but I've seen what you think advancing freedom and democracy looks like and uh... not so much with the compassion and human rights. Maybe you should split those up.

    Same Torture Time, Same Torture Channel

    Typically, American television producers see a reality show in England and turn it into a ratings champ here in the States, (see Survivor and American Idol to name two). Finally, the US came up with something that UK producers plan to turn into gold. Gold, Jerry!

    From the Guardian, so I'm not making this up:

    C4 lines up Guantánamo-style torture show.

    I smell a hit!

    Dude! Put Down the Knife!

    Little break from politics for ya, folks. Just do me a favor - remind me never to go to Wales.

    Rugby fan cut off his own testicles.
    A Welsh rugby fan cut off his own testicles after his team beat England, police confirmed today.

    Makes sense to me...

    Monday, February 07, 2005

    As If Fear of Death Wasn't Bad Enough

    Three easy steps that you can take to become an asshole (if you happen to be president):

    1) Cut taxes on rich people. (this can be accomplished any number of ways, but look first to capital gains taxes, taxes on interest, and taxes on dividends)

    2) Start a war for no good reason on trumped up evidence. (ideally sending undertrained soldiers without the proper equipment needed to save their lives)

    3) While the soldiers are still being killed daily, inform them that you're cutting their health benefits and make those deadbeat "injured" soldiers pay for their own food while they're recovering in the VA hospital. (mentioning that you're going to extend the rich guy tax cuts at this point is not recommended, although if you did, you would then be eligible for the annual "W" Douchebag of the Year Award)

    There Is No Crisis

    Michael Kinsley proves that Bush's Social Security scheme is not only a scam, but mathematically destined to fail:

    The usual case against privatization is that (1) millions of inexperienced investors may end up worse off, and (2) stocks don't necessarily do better than bonds over the long run, as proponents assume. But privatization won't work for a better reason: It can't possibly work, even in theory.

    Read the rest of the proof. I'm sold.

    Sunday, February 06, 2005

    Thoughts on the Super Bowl Halftime Show

  • Paul still has the same bass guitar from the old days. Do you think he has those custom made? I seriously doubt that it's the exact same bass he played on Ed Sullivan.

  • Isn't it strange that they'd have an Englishman play the Super Bowl considering how uniquely American football is? Most of the limeys I've met don't even know the rules.

  • "Hey Jude" and "Live and Let Die" were a given. But I thought "Drive My Car" was a nice choice. Rubber Soul is a great record.

  • Paul may have lost the magic, (which is what we'd be saying about John as well, if he wasn't dead), but he's still one of the greatest songwriters ever to have lived.

  • Did they really have the crowd spell out "na" with cards under their seats during "Hey Jude?"

  • Paul was fine, and halftime shows are a pointless waste of time, but I think it's utterly ridiculous that they chose to do something dull and uninteresting because they're so paralyzed by fear of the religious nazis who feel the need to impose their idea of family values on the rest of the thinking people in the world. I mean, it's only him because they know he won't be exposing his breasts during the show. But what does it say about the contemporary music scene that they had to pick a guy who played four songs, the most recent of which was the theme song from a 1970s James Bond film?

  • I'm surprised it's only 7-7 at halftime. I thought I wanted the Eagles to win to stick it to Limbaugh, but Tom Brady went to my alma mater. I've decided that I'd like it if he were considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

  • Friday, February 04, 2005

    I Hate To Say I Told You So

    Wait a minute... I love saying I told you so!

    Turns out the voter turnout in Iraq wasn't anything like what they said it was. I mean, we knew that was coming, right?

    From Editor and Publisher:

    Everyone, of course, is thrilled that so many Iraqis turned out to vote, in the face of threats and intimidation, on Sunday. But in hailing, and at times gushing, over the turnout, has the American media (as it did two years ago in the hyping of Saddam's WMDs) forgotten core journalistic principles in regard to fact-checking and weighing partisan assertions?

    It appears so. For days, the press repeated, as gospel, assertions offered by an election official that 8 million Iraqis went to the polls on Sunday, an impressive 57% turnout rate. I questioned those figures as early as last Sunday, and offered the detailed analysis below on Wednesday. Finally, on Thursday night, John F. Burns and Dexter Filkins of The New York Times reported that Iraqi election officials have quietly "backtracked, saying that the 8 million estimate had been reached hastily on the basis of telephone reports from polling stations across the country and that the figure could change."

    Ultimately, this isn't about Iraq per se, but once again the lazy, irresponsible media. It's like they see it as their job to be a cheerleader for Bush, or if you prefer, for the United States' foreign policy. But that's not what the press is for. They're supposed to be the caretakers of truth. And with that duty, they're asleep at the wheel. I could go on, but The Daily Kos says it better than I would:

    Ultimately, the war will go on whether 95 percent of Iraqis voted, or 10 percent did. But this is symptomatic of the American press' laziness and willingness to uncritically regurgitate whatever spin "officials" deliver to them.

    Perception in this country is now that the elections were a huge success. And after yammering on and on about the great voter turnout in Iraq, none of these media outlets will report the final, actual numbers, in anything more than a back-page blurb.

    Once again, Americans will have a distorted view of the actual situation on the ground. And once again, when it comes to Iraq, deceit will be the name of the game.


    Slate has a funny article about Bush's penchant for lying and playing loose with facts, The Propaganda President. Hey, any article that starts with these opening paragraphs is worth reading:

    If "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il of North Korea and George W. Bush ever meet, I suspect the two will bond like long-lost brothers. Both men are first-born sons of powerful fathers who partied like adolescents well into their adult lives, after which they submitted to their dynastic fates as heads of state.

    Both avoid critical thought, preferring to surround themselves with yes men and apply propagandistic slogans to the onrushing complexities of justice, culture, economics, and foreign policy. Bush churns out buzz phrases with the best of them: He believes in "compassionate conservatism" and fancies himself part of the "army of compassion." He's the "reformer with results" who embraces the "culture of life." He shouts his paeans to "liberty" and "freedom" (a combined 27 times during last night's State of the Union speech, according to today's Washington Post) while reducing civil liberties at home.

    Isn't that spot-on? Read the rest...

    Hot Girl on Cartoon Action

    The Republicans are so batshit crazy, they don't even know what to attack anymore. If it's not SpongeBob, it's PBS just happening to show a pair of real-life lesbians in the background of a kid's show.

    They don't want homosexuality to become commonly accepted, I understand that, despite the fact that I think they're dead fucking wrong. But in the case of this show, it was that the PBS cartoon went to a farm to learn about cows, and it just happened to be a farm run by some lesbian couple. In fact, only an adult would even know that they're a lesbian couple. Two women on a farm - it's not like they dug through a chest of dildos or something.

    But that's all beside the point. This incident displays the true cruelty of the Republican party. Without putting a value judgment on homosexuality, the fact is that there are at least a small percentage of children growing up in same-sex parent homes, right? There is nothing in the world the GOP can do to stop that. I personally know at least one little girl whose father came to realize that he liked men and had to move out of mommy's house. Inexplicably, he is still a good man, and a great father. Shouldn't we, as a society, help those children out as best we can? If we keep our kids thinking that homosexuality is some terrible thing, these kids, however few, will grow up ashamed of their parents, confused and alone. The other kids at school won't know better than to pick on that kid unmercifully, that's how kids are. This poor, innocent kid - who Republicans pretend to care about - will grow up all messed in the head with a completely spoiled childhood.

    Just for that kid's sake, shouldn't we do what we can to expose all kids to non-conventional families (whatever that means - there's nothing "conventional" about my family) to, at the very least, let them know that they're not alone; that they're not in a freak family? I think we should. The Republicans think that kid should grow up a schoolyard pariah as punishment for his or her parent's "sinful" behavior. And that's the only thing to be ashamed of here.

    Horrible State of The Union

    I don't mean the speech, I mean the freakin' Union. Man, are we in trouble...

    Anyway, I bet you've been wondering, "Hey, why haven't those geniuses over at DoG written about the president's speech on Wednesday?" Well, I had planned to, and I had some nice snarky comments about the way Bush does a take to the camera after every sentence like the Church Lady after she says, "Satan!" Or wondering if that soldier's parents were the only two parents the president could find because of the strict requirements for a seat next to Laura for all non-Iranian spies: straight, white, still married, and not hating the president for killing their son.

    But after a day of thoughtful reflection, I decided that all of the blogs and leftish websites out there had covered the lies in excruciating detail. I have little to add. If you're searching for some good debunking, Think Progress did a fabulous job.

    Wednesday, February 02, 2005

    They're Getting Sneakier With Their Propaganda

    But a Big Mac's a Big Mac, they just call it Le Big Mac.

    Turns out the White House issued press credentials to some dude (Jeff Gannon) who writes for an extreme right-wing website. I guess credentials aren't such a big deal, I could probably get them, right? (wrong). The problem is that the folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have this nasty habit of always calling on him. The Boston Globe investigates (with my emphasis):

    Jeff Gannon calls himself the White House correspondent for, a website that says it is "committed to delivering accurate, unbiased news coverage to our readers." It is operated by a Texas-based Republican Party delegate and political activist who also runs, a website that touts itself as "bringing the conservative message to America."

    When Bush called on Gannon near the end of his nationally televised Jan. 26 news conference, he had just been questioned about Williams and the Education Department funds, an embarrassment to the administration. Gannon's question was different.

    "Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the US economy," Gannon said. "[Minority Leader] Harry Reid was talking about soup lines, and Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet, in the same breath, they say that Social Security is rock solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work -- you said you're going to reach out to these people -- how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"

    As it turned out, Reid had never talked about soup lines. That was a phrase attributed to him in satire by Rush Limbaugh on his radio show.

    Last year, during the presidential campaign, Gannon's comments could be even more pointed. In a Feb. 10, 2004, briefing with McClellan, for example, Gannon rose to deliver the following:

    "Since there have been so many questions about what the president was doing over 30 years ago, what is it that he did after his honorable discharge from the National Guard? Did he make speeches alongside Jane Fonda, denouncing America's racist war in Vietnam? Did he testify before Congress that American troops committed war crimes in Vietnam? And did he throw somebody else's medals at the White House to protest a war America was still fighting?"

    It's disgusting, isn't it? As I've said in the past, the government propagandists don't necessarily have to be paid directly from our tax dollars. If the government is passing legislation that helps them financially in return for positive press, it's the same thing - just conveniently harder to prove quid pro quo.

    But you know what? That’s not even the point, really. As a matter of principle, the White House Press Room should be populated only with journalists to ask questions, and the White House communications people to spread lies. That’s the way the system works – Question? Lie. Question? Lie. It can’t go – Lie? Lie. Follow-up lie? Lie. The whole thing breaks down!

    [UPDATE: Media Matters for America has more on the subject. Turns out Mr. Gannon's bio mysteriously disappeared from the Talon News website since this little affair has come to light.]

    It's Not Racist to Be Against Torture

    The Republicans are cramming everybody's head full of garbage like this:

    Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, set up a large photo of Gonzales on an easel on
    the floor.
    "To have this man, who has come from nowhere, from the most humble of
    circumstances, who typifies the struggle every immigrant family to this
    country has gone through, to not give him this opportunity when he is fully
    qualified for it, I think would be a travesty," Hatch said.

    And there are a million other quotes like it. "Shameful to deny this man a cabinet level position just because he's Hispanic." "To pull himself up from nothing and accomplish all that he's accomplished only to have his career derailed by a group of sore loser obstructionists is appalling." Etc.

    There are two things to be ashamed of here, and both fall on the Republicans. In the first place, it is BushCo who are the racist ones. Gonzales was at least partially chosen specifically because he is Hispanic. They chose him so they could use their race baiting tactics in order to browbeat the weak-kneed of the Democratic party (of which there are far too many) to vote for him.

    Secondly, it is shameful that they completely disregard the United States' pro-torture policy. When I turn on the television these days and I see "journalists" (talking heads only slightly more informed than those from I Love the 90s) actually debating under what circumstances torture should be allowed, I feel like my head is going to explode. In a matter of only months, our corrupt government was able to walk us down the road from a noble, if misguided, mission to spread freedom and democracy, to a place where torture is acceptable, and the Iraqis will accept our vision of their country or have their balls torn off by rabid dogs. And we find no outrage. Just "civilized" (cable news' version of civilized, anyway) discussion of the pros and cons of torture.

    It's torture, people. Do you understand what that means? Torture! Remember these photos? This is what our government engages in, and Gonzales was integral in fashioning that policy. It turns my stomach to think about it. And that's why Democrats or anyone with a soul opposes Gonzales. I have no problem with Hispanics, or people who worked their way out of the working class. I have a problem with people who condone torture.