Tuesday, September 30

From the Pen of: Mark Streeter

This one's significant. Savannah's Streeter is generally right-of-center.

"Worse Than Watergate"

MSNBC's Hardball of September 30:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Don't you think it's more serious than Watergate, when you think about it?

RNC CHAIRMAN ED GILLESPIE: I think if the allegation is true, to reveal the identity of an undercover CIA operative -- it's abhorrent, and it should be a crime, and it is a crime.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: It'd be worse than Watergate, wouldn't it?

GILLESPIE: It's -- Yeah, I suppose in terms of the real world implications of it. It's not just politics.

From the Pen of: Jimmy Margulies

From the Pen of: Steve Benson

Media Bias Defined

Huh. Guess the Valerie Plame thing isn't really happening...at least according to that standard-bearer of right-wing accuracy, the Washington Times.

Actual screenshot 5:15pm PT 9/30/03

Folks, it is NOWHERE on their website. Not the front page, and not on the Nation/Politics page. It's even been censored from their AP and UPI "Breaking News" sidebars.

Now, let's talk about that bias by the press, shall we?

UPDATE 9:35pm PT: They finally have this elephant in their living room on the Nation/Politics page - ninth story down. Here's their spin on this "minor" story:

Bush endorses probe into CIA leak
President Bush yesterday welcomed a Justice Department probe into whether his administration improperly disclosed the identity of a CIA employee whom Democrats described as a covert agent.
Yessir. Valerie Plame's line of work is just a figment of our wacky liberal imagination. And let's not even start with Drudge's continual sliming of Joe Wilson at his little outpost of truth. These people are just insane.

Our Recommendations For The Vote

1) The White House (Fox News is a close second)
2) Your pick
3) Halliburton
4) Your Pick
5) Since Karl Rove isn't there, Bill O'Reilly
6) Your Pick

Of course we're talking about the 2003 Weasel Awards at Dilbert.com.


CNN just made the observation that - paraphrasing here, but the message is intact - the Bush administration will try to make this look like a political stunt by the Democrats so the American public won't pay much attention to it.

Ouch. Talk about a pre-emptive strike.

The Great Orator

"Leaks of classified information are bad things, and we've had too many lately in Washington. We've had leaks from the executive branch and leaks from the legislative branch. I want to know who the leakers are."

- President George W. Bush

Let's Review

Now that the DOJ is launching a full-scale investigation of the outing of Valerie Plame, let's do a quick look at what we've learned so far.

The right spent the better part of the eight years of the Bill Clinton presidency trying to find anything that resembled a scandal. Real estate deals, travel agency discrepancies, sexual misconduct of female employees, gays in the military, Hillary's health care plan - and they came up empty-handed until ultimately they found an intern who bragged about giving him oral sex. And long after his terms ended, we still heard of vandalism in the White House (untrue), his allowing of terror to grow (untrue again), how Kosovo was a deflection for the aforementioned oral sex, how his hunt for bin Laden was a coverup for the aforementioned oral sex, why his bombing of Baghdad was a diversion for the aforementioned oral sex, and of course the relentless reminder of the aforementioned oral sex.

The result: He was impeached because he got oral sex.

Today, the country's learning of just one in a string of scandals brewing in the Bush White House: How senior administration officials - to avenge for Joseph Wilson's criticism of the administration's acceptance of the flawed intelligence regarding Iraq's supposed purchase of uranium in Africa - revealed to a number of reporters and columnists that Wilson's wife Valerie Plame was a CIA operative.

The ramifications: Plame and everyone she came in contact with during her tenure overseas are now in danger, and could be killed.

Robert Novak, the first to report this information, says, "There is no great crime here." And he's already parsing words: "Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this." Okay. So maybe they saw him at a conference. They sent him an e-mail. They got the info to him somehow. He even said so all along.

As much as the wingnut idealists would like to believe otherwise, there is a great crime here. And it's greater than staining a blue dress. And in terms of potential human harm or death, it's definitely greater than Watergate.

Maybe the jig is finally up for this reckless and dangerous administration.

And maybe we'll see the culprits being led away from the White House with their jackets over their heads before they throw more Americans in front of the bus in the name of "patriotism" and "loyalty."

And maybe, just maybe, they'll start at the top: Karl Rove. Then work their way down to Mr. Bush.

But They're Right There With The Editorial

The L.A. Times fires off one of the first salvos:

...even by Washington standards, there is something particularly odious about an alleged White House leak seemingly designed to destroy the career of an undercover CIA officer married to former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

David Kelly, the British government scientist who was skeptical about evidence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, committed suicide after being mysteriously outed as a BBC source and later maligned by government officials. The Bush administration's alleged assault on Wilson's wife smacks in the same way of government retribution. If true, White House officials may have thought they were getting back at Wilson, but the thing they will have damaged most in the long run is their own credibility.

Page 11A In The L.A. Times

But the Valerie Plame scandal is huge news at the BBC.

All Is Right With The World

I just found out one of my top three comedians, Patton Oswalt, is a Dean guy.

Monday, September 29

Arnold's Business Success

Let's review how he did...and how he's doing now.

The Slimers' New Target

Drudge has posted the fact that Joseph Wilson contributed $1000 to the Kerry campaign.

So what is he saying here? That Wilson had it coming to him? That his wife and her contacts around the world deserve to be put in danger? Because they support Democrats?

You snivel-nosed ass. No wonder you wear a fedora. It keeps the crap from escaping.

Bush's Words Come Back To Haunt Him Just Like An Old Flightsuit

"First, we must remember the high standards that come with high office. ... above all, we are all accountable to the law and to the American people. My White House counsel, Al Gonzales, is my pointman on these issues. ... Second, we must remember that high standards of conduct involve not only obeying the law, but showing civility. As we go about our work, there's no excuse for arrogance and never a reason for disrespect toward others.... You'll be my representative. I expect each of you, as an official of this administration, to be an example of humility and decency and fairness."

-- President George W. Bush Conducts Swearing-In Ceremony for White House Staff, 1/22/01
Which one of us wacky looney-lib bloggers dug that quote up?

None. It's been brought back to light by none other than Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, who ripped into the Bush thugs in his official blog just moments ago.

"This was a petty and mean-spirited action, but with far-reaching repercussions. National security interests have been jeopardized, sensitive intelligence operations have been compromised, a woman’s career has been destroyed, and the lives of many of her sources could be at risk. This is a grave matter."
Isn't that worth about five or ten bucks to his campaign?

Don't Ask What Her Husband Had To Kiss

Fom the Pen of: Jeff Danziger

Jeff's a national treasure...

And What Does It Mean For The CIA To Look Into It?

George Tenet took the bullet for the famous sixteen words in the state of the union message under enormous pressure to do so. Bush didn't want to take the responsibility, if you remember. And since the CIA doesn't have the same case of ADD that Bush thinks the rest of America has, it's going to be payback time for him trashing their image.

The chickens come home to roost.

Joe Conason Chimes In

Go, Joe...

While the president's press secretary insists that Rove was not involved in this outrage, I can't help wondering how reporters, editors and bureau chiefs in the capital justify their silence. Tim Russert of NBC and Robin Sproul of ABC both said they wouldn't discuss any matter involving sources. That's an ironclad rule of journalism, up to a point. But what should a journalist do when a source commits a serious crime in his or her presence? What if that crime not only threatens to jeopardize human lives, but also harms U.S. national security in the most profound way?

The spiteful unveiling of Plame very likely did both. She is reported to have worked undercover on matters involving weapons proliferation, an issue of the deepest concern at the moment. Those who exposed her, including Novak, ran a great risk of compromising her sources. In many countries where proliferation is a problem, those people could be killed immediately.
Yes. That's how serious this is. Unlike an oral sex episode which did a bit of damage to a blue dress, this could have meant (and still can mean) PEOPLE BEING KILLED. Is it beginning to sink in now?

He Couldn't Resist Using The "C" Word

As if that excuses him from the wrath of his pals on the right. That aside, I seriously do applaud Bob Novak for his journalistic integrity on this matter. He shouldn't cave in to reveal his sources. It's up to the White House or an investigation to uncover this, not him.

"Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this. In July I was interviewing a senior administration official on Ambassador Wilson's report when he told me the trip was inspired by his wife, a CIA employee working on weapons of mass destruction. Another senior official told me the same thing. As a professional journalist with 46 years experience in Washington I do not reveal confidential sources. When I called the CIA in July to confirm Mrs. Wilson's involvement in the mission for her husband -- he is a former Clinton administration official -- they asked me not to use her name, but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else. According to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs. Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operator, and not in charge of undercover operatives"
Can anyone explain what Joseph Wilson being an official in the Clinton administration has to do with anything?

Scott McClellan Hates His Job

He's probably out looking for Ari Fleischer after today's press briefing. Read it all here at the Crackhouse.gov (whitehouse.gov) site. After pleasant kudos to the New Jersey Devils and happy talk about the Do Not Call registry, the session turned ugly immediately from the first question. The Valerie Plame scandal which is quickly unraveling was the topic throughout most of the hammering session by a suddenly curious press.

I don't think Bush can hide behind the "wartime president" excuse any more. Still, he will never do what the previous 42 presidents had to do in or out of wartime, and that is face the press and the public - warts and all - unscripted - unrehearsed - unknowing of where the questions will come from and what they will be - in the face of this scandal which betrays the trust and mission of our security agencies. The man simply has no guts or discernible leadership qualities to handle such a scenario.

All of you - write, call, fax, e-mail your local newspapers, TV and radio stations and make sure they keep this story on the front burner. Yes. It is that important.

If this administration treats matters such as the identities of CIA operatives this lightly, this marks an egregious breach of national security. It's beyond impeachable. It's treason.

Recall: Just An Observation

Nothing more. It probably doesn't mean anything. But one major candidate's advertising seems to have ground to a halt. All weekend, this candidate didn't have a single TV, radio or newspaper advertisement.

It's as if he (oops - or she, but she's not the one I've been keeping tabs on, but we'll say "she" just to be fair to him) well - appears as if they either ran out of money, or they're waiting for the very end for an advertising blitz, or maybe (and this is purely speculative) they stopped advertising because they're going to make a major announcement in the next few days.

Or at least that's how one might see it - if one were to believe this warped thinking. Me? I'm too busy to worry about such things.

Just forget I brought it up.

Sunday, September 28

STEP ONE: We admitted we were powerless over sloppy journalism - that our lives had become unmanageable.

It's rehab time for the news media. They're waking up and realizing they've been duped by the right-wing machine. The healing begins.

Media Review Conduct After Leak
CIA Inquiry Leads to Questions About What Should Be Published

When syndicated columnist Robert Novak reported on July 14 that "two senior administration officials" had told him that the wife of a prominent White House critic did undercover work for the CIA, it barely caused a ripple.

Former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV talked about the leak in interviews and at the National Press Club soon after, telling Newsday the message was "that if you talk, we'll take your family and drag them through the mud." Nation writer David Corn called the leak a "thuggish act," and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called it a "criminal act." After Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for an investigation, the New York Times, Washington Post and Buffalo News ran inside-the-paper stories.

But it was not until this weekend's reports that the CIA has asked the Justice Department to examine the matter that the story hit the front page of The Washington Post and the Sunday talk shows, sparking questions not just about White House motives but about media conduct.

Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, said Novak was in "dangerous territory. . . . Journalists should apply a civil disobedience test: Does the public good outweigh the wrong that you're doing? In a case where you are risking someone's life, potentially, or putting someone in danger, you have to decide what is the public good you are accomplishing. Because you have the freedom to publish doesn't mean it's necessarily the right thing to do."

Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of The Washington Post, one of the papers that published the July 14 column, said that "in retrospect, I wish I had asked more questions. If I had, given that his column appears in a lot of places, I'm not sure I would have done anything differently. But I wish we had thought about it harder. Alarm bells didn't go off. . . . We have a policy of trying not to publish anything that would endanger anybody."
STEP TWO: We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Your journalistic integrity is calling. Answer.

Recall: Here. Read This.

"Arnold is moving and Tom has settled down, but Tom's not dropping. I still contend when this is done, Tom will beat Bustamante. He'll come in second."

- John Feliz, Tom McClintock's campaign director in tomorrow's LA Times
I never said this had anything to do with the previous post. Okay?

Recall: I Still Can't Say

But a candidate will make a major announcement in the next day or so.

Or not. Probably not. Forget I said anything. I said too much. I gotta kill myself now. La la la. Go read something else.

So. How 'bout those Tigers?

Business Picks Up - Day Two

You can hear the fireplaces crackling and the shredders grinding at the White House tonight. Folks, this is not a lie about getting oral sex. This is a breach of national security by the Executive Branch. Now which deserves an independent investigation more?

Bush Aides Say They'll Cooperate With Probe Into Intelligence Leak

President Bush's aides promised yesterday to cooperate with a Justice Department inquiry into an administration leak that exposed the identity of a CIA operative, but Democrats charged that the administration cannot credibly investigate itself and called for an independent probe.

But the aides said Bush has no plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role in revealing the name of an undercover officer who is married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, one of the most visible critics of Bush's handling of intelligence about Iraq.

An administration official told The Washington Post on Saturday that two White House officials leaked the information to selected journalists to discredit Wilson. The leak could constitute a federal crime, and intelligence officials said it might have endangered confidential sources who had aided the operative throughout her career. CIA Director George J. Tenet has asked the Justice Department to investigate how the leak occurred.

Thanks A Pantload For Using Anti-Terror Money For Everything Except

Folks, please remember what's being revealed now when next November comes around. If you let these squatters remain in the White House, we're going to get more of this sort of madness:

U.S. Uses Terror Law to Pursue Crimes From Drugs to Swindling

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 - The Bush administration, which calls the USA Patriot Act perhaps its most essential tool in fighting terrorists, has begun using the law with increasing frequency in many criminal investigations that have little or no connection to terrorism.

The government is using its expanded authority under the far-reaching law to investigate suspected drug traffickers, white-collar criminals, blackmailers, child pornographers, money launderers, spies and even corrupt foreign leaders, federal officials said.

Lots More Emerging Scandal News

I spent the afternoon with my wife (we saw a sneak of "School Of Rock" - two huge thumbs up, so see it next weekend) so I'm catching up on the news right now. Atrios and Talking Points Memo have been doing an outstanding job in covering the Valerie Plame situation.

I'll be looking into more sources as the night rolls on, but if this story isn't the lead tomorrow morning, we'll know with whom the media are in bed with. Keep following this thing, readers...it's unfolding history one way or another.

Ann Coulter has been giddy in calling us treasonous. Here's the story that will show the world what her ilk has been trying to get away with since they stole the White House.

Quote THIS

"The world is safer today because, in Iraq, our coalition ended a regime that cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction."

- President George W. Bush during his radio address yesterday
Oh, go ahead. Quote me here:

The Flightsuit Comes Back To Haunt Him Already

This, along with the unfolding Valerie Plame scandal (which if there's any scintilla of justice left in this country), makes the Wesley-Clark-changing-his-mind-about-Bush crap seem as newsworthy as Gus in Des Moines not getting onions on his Big Mac.

Again - if there's any justice.

Saturday, September 27

Business Just Hit Critical Mass

How about a nice big gravy boat of "Holy $#@%!" with your business?

House Probers Conclude Iraq War Data Was Weak

Leaders of the House intelligence committee have criticized the U.S. intelligence community for using largely outdated, "circumstantial" and "fragmentary" information with "too many uncertainties" to conclude that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda.

Top members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which spent four months combing through 19 volumes of classified material used by the Bush administration to make its case for the war on Iraq, found "significant deficiencies" in the community's ability to collect fresh intelligence on Iraq, and said it had to rely on "past assessments" dating to when U.N. inspectors left Iraq in 1998 and on "some new 'piecemeal' intelligence," both of which "were not challenged as a routine matter."

"The absence of proof that chemical and biological weapons and their related development programs had been destroyed was considered proof that they continued to exist," the two committee members said in a letter Thursday to CIA Director George J. Tenet. The Washington Post obtained a copy this weekend.

The letter constitutes a significant criticism of the U.S. intelligence community from a source that does not take such matters lightly. The committee, like all congressional panels, is controlled by Republicans, and its chairman, Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), is a former CIA agent and a longtime supporter of Tenet and the intelligence agencies. Goss and the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), signed the letter. Neither was available for comment yesterday. The full committee has not voted on the letter's conclusions.
Developing Overwhelmingly...

Business Just REALLY Picked Up

Dear God - I don't ask much of you, but PLEASE, for the sake and safety of this country, don't let this story die...

Leak of CIA Name Being Investigated
A senior administration official said two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and revealed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife. That was shortly after Wilson revealed in July that the CIA had sent him to Niger last year to look into the uranium claim and that he had found no evidence to back up the charge. Wilson's account eventually touched off a controversy over Bush's use of intelligence as he made the case for attacking Iraq.

"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak.

Wilson, while refusing to confirm his wife's occupation, has suggested publicly that he believes Bush's senior adviser, Karl C. Rove, broke her cover. He said Aug. 21 at a public forum in Seattle that it is of keen interest to him "to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs."
Developing Like A Mother...

Business Just Picked Up

Oh, this is good. This is very very good. Because it's so bad for Karl Rove. Very bad.

CIA seeks probe of White House

The CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations that the White House broke federal laws by revealing the identity of one of its undercover employees in retaliation against the woman's husband, a former ambassador who publicly criticized President Bush's since-discredited claim that Iraq had sought weapons-grade uranium from Africa, NBC News has learned.

THE FORMER ENVOY, Joseph Wilson, who was acting ambassador to Iraq before the first Gulf War, was dispatched to Niger in 2002 to investigate a British intelligence report that Iraq sought to buy uranium there. Wilson published an article in July alleging, however, that the White House recklessly made the charge knowing it was false.

"We spend billions of dollars on intelligence," Wilson wrote. "But we end up putting something in the State of the Union address, something we got from another intelligence agency, something we cannot independently verify, in an area of Africa where the British have no on-the-ground presence."

The next week, columnist Robert Novak published an article in which he revealed that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert CIA operative specializing in weapons of mass destruction. "Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate," Novak wrote.

The White House has denied being Novak's source, whom he has refused to identify. But Wilson has said other reporters have told him White House officials leaked Plame's identity.

NBC News' Andrea Mitchell reported Friday night that the CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether White House officials blew Plame's cover in retaliation against Wilson. Revealing the identities of covert officials is a violation of two laws, the National Agents' Identity Act and the Unauthorized Release of Classified Information Act.
Let's see if anything comes of this. After all, it does follow the White House M.O. of the feds releasing bad news only on weekends when no one's paying attention. Stay tuned, dear readers...or as one Bush apologist says:


Recall: Issa on Maher

I'm finally watching it this afternoon - Rep. Darrell Issa, the man who bankrolled the recall but failed to remain a candidate on Real Time with Bill Maher last night. WOW, what a stinkburger he brought to the show. Whatever wasn't greeted by stinging silence was met by full and hearty groans.

I can't do it justice here. He brought the show to such a devastating screeching halt that the airbags deployed from my television. Catch the replays all this week on HBO. It's a great opportunity to watch a desperate man trying to salvage what's left of his political integrity by sucking up to Schwarzenegger - and an entire studio audience couldn't possibly care less.

Quote THIS

"THE PRESENT administration in the United States seems determined to pursue foreign relations with the finesse of a herd of elephants dancing to samba music in a rose garden."

- Opening line from the editorial in today's Jamaica Gleaner
They've managed to piss off freakin' JAMAICA.

Okay. Which One Of You Honyocks Asked For THIS?

We're guessing Palmolive's research showed the dish washing industry was due for a much-needed breathtaking jumpstart. So they came up with (drum roll) disposable washcloths with soap already in them.

I reeeeeally want to see the marketing research that showed people WANT to manually wash dishes.

Wait...Didn't These Guys Say Actors Should Just SHUT UP?

They sure did. Bill O'Reilly:
If the Hollywood crowd could pass my quiz and answer my rather boorish questions, I would apologize to them and listen intently as they told me that Hans Blix should have had more time to find anthrax in an uncooperative country the size of California. I would sit enraptured as Sean Penn explained the benefits of living under Saddam, Uday and Qusay Hussein. I would gladly pin the dove on Meryl Streep's lavish gown as she regaled me with her vision of peace and understanding in the age of Al Qaeda.

But most anti-war stars are not real big on confronting complicated historical questions. It is much easier to flash peace signs to like-minded compatriots at award programs and then retire to eat lavish dinners paid for by fawning sycophants.
Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity:
COULTER: But you don't hear athletes coming out and feeling like, we must have a position. And what are actors famous for? They imitate other people. They're good at imitating other people. Who cares what they have to say?

HANNITY: And look at what Danny Glover said. He called the president a racist. You know something, that's name calling and that's mean-spirited. And these are the types of attacks they are giving the president on a regular basis, on the brink of war.
I see...like these little gems of friendliness from the guy we're about to talk about here?
"If Clinton had only attacked terrorism as much as he attacks George Bush we wouldn't be in this problem."

"I think [Sen. Robert Byrd] must be burning the cross at both ends."

"[Howard Dean] can roll up his sleeves all he wants at public events, but as long as we see that heart tattoo with Neville Chamberlain's name on his right forearm, he's never going anywhere."
Well, read it and weep. The Repubs want none other than Dennis Miller to run for office in California.

Republican Strategists Eyeing Dennis Miller for State Politics
Draft Miller campaign comes on the heels of Schwarzenegger's success. 'We don't have much of a bench,' assemblyman says.

The comedian Dennis Miller is being talked about - apparently seriously - as a Republican candidate for a statewide post. Three Republican strategists interviewed in the last week have said they want to draft Miller into politics. One, a prominent Republican operative and Schwarzenegger aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that, once the recall election is over, he plans to recruit Miller to challenge Barbara Boxer for her U.S. Senate seat next year.

"There's a lot of us who'd like to see him campaign," Rob Stutzman, a Republican consultant and Schwarzenegger spokesman, said this week, noting Miller's appeal to younger voters. "Dennis Miller is at the cutting edge of biting political commentary."

Another Republican consultant said simply, "We love him."
Get a room.

Why are they rallying around actors now? Simple. The integrity and image of the GOP's career politicans have been so thoroughly trashed by the Bush administration, they need to get Austrian bodybuilders and stand-up comics to deliver their message on the "official mouthpiece" level.

How is it they go after Wesley Clark for showing support for the president before Bush was proven wrong - but they seem to forget their own reversals in a matter of months? JUST askin'...

The Sad Result Of A Poorly Planned War

With Each Attack, U.S. Image in Iraq Erodes

More than six months after the war began, loyalists to the former regime of Saddam Hussein have found a multitude of ways to create a sense of insecurity in Iraq, despite the efforts by U.S.-led coalition forces and civilian workers to stabilize the situation.

The loyalists have assassinated politicians, most recently Aqila Hashimi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council who died Thursday of her gunshot wounds. They are believed to have been involved in suicide bombings, including one at the United Nations' Baghdad headquarters last month that killed chief envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 others.

They have kept up a daily drumbeat of attacks on coalition forces — one American was killed Friday in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in the northern city of Kirkuk, and another died in a fire in Tikrit, Hussein's hometown. The deaths bring the U.S. military toll to 308, more than half of those since President Bush declared major combat over May 1.

A climate of apprehension pervades many areas of the country. Those Iraqis who work with the U.S.-led coalition routinely receive threats; every day, U.S. forces are targeted by attacks that injure if not kill; and everyone living in Iraq is regularly hamstrung by sabotage of power stations and oil pipelines.

Though the Americans are not necessarily blamed for specific attacks, many Iraqis hold them responsible for the instability.
Seems this administration is so busy looking for the inanimate WMDs, that they never factored the human ones into their strategy.

Recall: Watch This Space

I know it seems like an obvious observation and a non-prediction, but believe me here - there's going to be a major announcement early next week. Wish I can say more. I can't. Just trust me on this one.

Tell you what - just forget I said anything. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Friday, September 26

L.A. Times Readers Have It Nailed

Of course it took some thinking and math, so you'll never hear it on talk radio. From this morning's letters section:
Why does the Republican administration continue to take the American people for a bunch of fools? L. Paul Bremer III, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq, compares his spending plan for rebuilding Iraq to the Marshall Plan, which rescued Europe in 1948-52 (Sept. 23). The Marshall Plan spent $13 billion (that is about $100 billion in today's dollars) over a stated limit of a four-year period. The Marshall Plan money went to 16 nations and benefited 270 million people, including at least 12 of our wartime allies. We will now pour hundreds of billions of dollars into a single country of 26 million people, most of whom resent our presence there and some of whom are killing and maiming American, British and U.N. personnel.

The purpose of the Marshall Plan was to make the devastated European economies viable again and to give the European people the means to reconstruct their own countries. In Iraq, American and a few other foreign interests are doing the investing and rebuilding rather than the Iraqis themselves. Just imagine what all that money could do for creating jobs, improving schools and cleaning air and water in our nation. What a farce!

Matt Schwartz
Laguna Woods

From the Pen of: Ben Sargent

From the Pen of: David Horsey

Talk Like Bill O'Reilly Day

Okay. Look. Atrios and Blah3 are celebrating this thing. Okay? Fine. I'm not gonna be a part of it. Okay? Not gonna get into it. I won't. It's stupid. It's childish. And it's just...plain...wrong. Okay?

Look. Here's the difference. The difference between them and me is that - in MY opinion - they're all being funded by the DNC and enemies of this country. Okay? That's the difference. I'm more level-headed than this. I'd rather take the high road than roll in the mud with these looneys. They should all just choke on French wine and cheese with their peacenik friends. Or better yet - just SHUT UP.


America's Thick Skin

We smashed cases of French wine.
We chided them for being "Old Europe."
Our government invented "Freedom Fries" and "Freedom Toast."
Neocons crammed my e-mail with frog jokes and French-bashing cartoons.
We boycotted French businesses (jeopardizing American workers).
We embarrassed France at every opportunity.

So of course, there's apoplectic national outrage over this.

Gone Too Soon

George Plimpton - Did more for the sake of scribing than anyone else.
Robert Palmer - I still cherish my "Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley" LP.

"I want to go to Sacramento and I want to work for you because I'm not beholden to anyone. I don't owe anyone anything."

Except these fine folks totalling over $6,000,000 (not including his own $6 mil) - almost twice as much as #2's total.

Thursday, September 25

Arnold's Business

Oh, yeah. To make the point that he knows how to fix California's economic infratsructure, Arnold Schwarzenegger made this claim at last night's debate:

"I am the only one here that has run businesses, developed them and met the payroll and has paid for workers' compensation and taken care of the health care of the employees."
And it finally dawned on me...we in L.A. all remember that business very well! Need a reminder?


And his current restaurant - Schatzi's On Main - just squeaked a B rating by the L.A. Department of Health.

Current Score: 80 B

017 Holding of PHF
023 Food Storage
028 Soap/Drying Device
031 Improperly Cleaned/Not Maintained Clean
051 Condition
054 Wiping Rag
058 Not Maintained Clean
061 Other Insects
Bon Appetit!

Quote THIS

"Country radio called and wants to know if it's true that you're leaving country music? This one must be a prank call. I mean, how can you leave a party now when the hosts had shown you to the door six months ago?"

- Dixie Chick Natalie Maines

Tankety Tankety Tankety

FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll. Sept. 23-24, 2003. N=900 registered voters nationwide. MoE ± 3.

"Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?"

Approve 50% (down from 58% three weeks ago)
Disapprove 40% (up from 33%)
Don't Know 10%

As Hoffmania! reader Gettimout points out, Bush is pulling these numbers all by himself - with his own policies and without the help of a multi-million dollar independent counsel. Well played, Tex.

Drudge: Horny For Clark

Wow. Talk about obsessive. Matt's homepage looks like the darkened bedroom wall in a stalker movie.

Actual screenshot from 3:15pm PT

It'll take me hours to wash the slime off my monitor. The crackhead machine has officially launched the attack campaign against a four-star general. Zero respect. None.

Drug Use In California Increases

That's the only explanation for this - a KABC-TV online poll:

Avoid Slapping Yourself In The Forehead When You Read This

Wait. Put your hands at your side. And keep in mind how utterly scripted every nuance of the flightsuit episode was. The turning of the ship to avoid San Diego in the camera shots. The position of the "Mission Accomplished" banner. The camera crew of about 4 dozen waiting for him. Okay? Good. You may continue.
'Mission accomplished': Bush brag or Demo fib?

After weeks of Democratic assaults that President Bush was a nitwit for declaring "mission accomplished" in Iraq during his May 1 landing and victory speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln, the White House is bidding to set the story straight. The issue should be a simple one: Bush never uttered those words. "The president," argues communications boss Dan Bartlett, "said exactly the opposite: The mission continues." But Bush stood under a banner declaring "mission accomplished." Why? Bartlett says that the Lincoln's captain had the banner made up to thank his crew for the longest-ever carrier tour, not to declare the war over. "It is something the troops are really proud of," says Bartlett. "Of course they can hang the banner." But the picture was all the Demos needed. "On TV," he says, "they never play the [sound] bite of the president, they just show the image with the banner." Democratic polls show that the public buys their spin, which doesn't really surprise Bartlett. "Look, perception becomes reality," he says. "But the facts don't back it up."
We bet you slapped that forehead at "said exactly the opposite" didn't ya?

Recall Debate: Response From The World's Smartest Mailbag

There isn't a huge crowd of readers to this site, but the ones I do have ROCK. Some e-mail reaction to my recall debate review (scroll down two posts to read it)...

B.I.: "I too have seen the Indian Gaming adds. And everytime he asks "When are they going to pay their fair share?" I yell at the screen "DON'T YOU THINK BEING SCREWED FOR 200+ YEARS IS 'PAYING THEIR DUES'?" Let's take away Arnold's land, give him no way of getting employment. Stick him on an unworkable plot of land and for added kicks make promises of a better life and then don't deliver... See how he feels after that!"

Bossjock: "Well said and written. You may have a future career. Two if you decide to run for office."

Having one career in this economy would be great, thanks.

Finally, spankthedurtyje writes: "Not Only Sex Site makes Huge MONEY!!! Click Here to wrok (sic) at home!!!" I couldn't agree more.

Look for the original piece at Buzzflash later today. You're always welcome to fire back at hoffmanblog@earthlink.net or by posting a public comment with the link at the end of each post. Keep 'em coming.

Worst...Numbers...EVER Part III & IV

NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by the polling organizations of Peter Hart (D) and Robert Teeter (R). Sept. 20-22, 2003. N=1,007 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.1.

"All in all, do you think things in the nation are generally headed in the right direction, or do you feel that things are off on the wrong track?"

Wrong Track 50% (worst since poll started in 1997)
Right Direction 38%
Mixed 8%
Not Sure 4%

"In general, do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as president?"

Approve 49% (worst since Bush took office)
Disapprove 45%
Don't Know 6%

Gray Davis Is Sleeping Well Tonight

Arnold Schwarzenegger walked into this thing with the M.O. of the Republican party for the new millennium: expectations so low that if he says anything even remotely resembling quasi-intelligent that he'd be hailed as a freaking hero. Tonight's recall debate was supposed to be his Super Bowl, World Series and Stanley Cup Finals rolled into one. Arnold was the 1976 Buccaneers, the 1962 Mets, and the 1975 Capitals. He just plain sucked, saying absolutely nothing new since his Tonight Show announcement.

The question he never answered is the question nobody dares to ask him. Not on the trail and not at the debates:

"What do you plan to do about it?"

To wit:

"When we bring jobs back and the economy is booming, then we create more revenue and then we can afford some of the programs and pay off the debt."
What do you plan to do about it?

"The politicians make a mistake. They keep spending and spending and spending. Then when they realize they made a mistake and they spend the money they don't even have, then go out and tax, tax, tax. You guys have an addiction problem. You should go to an addiction place because you cannot stop spending."
It's "halfway house," Genius. But WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO ABOUT IT?

"I just think it is ridiculous for Cruz and for Arianna to say everything's fine and dandy and that everything is perfect. It's not ... You've got to be honest with the people. Remember one thing, in California we have a three-strike system. You guys pulled wool over the people's eyes twice, the third time now you are out. On October 7th you are out."
I have no freakin' idea what he said there, but WHAT THE HELL DO YOU PLAN TO...oh forget it.

By the way, anyone over the age of 11 who still uses "and stuff like that" to end a sentence (as Arnold did repeatedly throughout the night) should be barred from public life. No matter - Schwarzenegger spent so much time quibbling with Arianna Huffington over trivial crap, that he forgot why he was there.

Speaking of Arianna, she was punditing up a storm - which doesn't translate well in a debate for public office. Her remark about how Arnold treats women was met by a gasp with a wind chill factor of -45. But she did succeed in completely derailing Arnold's focus and that alone was worth having her there.

What is it about Green party candidates that keeps reminding me of those weirdass English teachers I had in college? Peter Camejo had all the trademarks: all the stage presence of lint, the screwy hair, and the SHEER VOLUME OF HIS VOICE. The only thing missing were the elbow patches on his jacket. The Green has replaced the Libertarian as the house weirdo of political discourse.

That leaves the only two outposts of sanity for the evening - the career politicians themselves, Cruz Bustamante and Tom McClintock. Now BELIEVE me, I'm in no way a fan of McClintock's politics, but he and Cruz both gave me a new appreciation of slick professional election-time rhetoric. Because the "plain talk" of the other three made me want to jam pencils into my skull to release the pain. I'm an advocate of "No On Recall - Yes On Bustamante" but if the Republicans talk McClintock out of running in favor of Schwarzenegger - especially after tonight - they're even stupider than I've been giving them credit for.

Finally, if you live in this state, you see Arnold's "Indian Gaming" spot ad infinitum on the tube. And all I keep hearing in my head all day like a bad song is him saying how Indian casinos need to pay "theeah feeah sheeah" of taxes. I usually say out loud, "WHATTYA PLAN TO DO ABOUT IT?" - which generally draws concerned stares (or "steeahs") from those around me.

Me? I've made my decision. I'm voting for moving to Las Vegas.

Maybe check into one of those "addiction places."

Wednesday, September 24

From the Pen of: Ben Sargent

Richard Miniter Update

Oh yeah...I almost forgot about this guy! Remember Miniter's porn for wingnuts book about how Clinton failed to get bin Laden when he was offered his head by a "some guy" from the Sudan?

It's out.

And it's flatlining at #119 at Amazon. Looks like Miniter needs to make a third rewrite of this piece of crap.

Actually, Brit Hume Was Scaring The Children

Bush interview dead last in broadcast TV ratings

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - On Monday night, the American public was apparently far more interested in new comedies and a blowout football game than their president's take on the state of the international effort to rebuild Iraq.

The results showed the Bush interview, conducted by Fox News chief correspondent Brit Hume from the Oval Office of the White House, drew an average of about 4.30 million viewers in the hour, with a 1.6 rating and a 5 share in the crucial audience of adults ages 18 to 49.

"That is a sorry state of affairs," said Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University.

Bush Convention Will Be In Enemy Territory

New Yorkers - you know, the ones who suffered most from the 9.11 attacks? - aren't very happy with President Flightsuit's ability to lead the country.
Bush’s NY Poll Numbers Plummet

President Bush's approval rating has suffered a double-digit drop among New York voters in five months and about one-quarter of Republicans now say they will vote against him, a statewide poll reported Tuesday.

Bush's approval rating was 44 percent in the New York poll, down from 58 percent in April and a high of 79 percent in December 2001, just three months after the terrorist attacks brought down the World Trade Center towers and sent Bush's approval ratings soaring in New York.

But in the latest Marist poll, 48 percent of New York voters surveyed, including 23 percent of Republicans, said they definitely planned to vote against Bush in the 2004 election.
And no, New York doesn't want his party in their city.

Michael Moore Builds The Perfect Candidate

Gee, Mike...I didn't know Ralph Nader met all these criteria.
So, Howard Dean, if you want my vote, promise me that you'll cut the Pentagon budget and call for a moratorium on the death penalty. Wesley Clark, if you want my vote, tell me how you'll guarantee health care to every single American and that, even though you're a hunter, you'll push for stronger gun control laws. Dennis Kucinich, if it were you vs. Bush today, I'd hope that you would have done the work needed to convince the majority of Americans to vote for you. Carol Moseley Braun, if the moderator at the debate on Thursday ignores you for the first 15 minutes (as George Stephanopoulos did back in the May debate), I hope you won't wait your turn and will just jump right in—we're long overdue for a woman President. And Al Sharpton, just keep being you and cutting through all the b.s. in these debates -- you produce the stinging laugh we all need right now.
I guess I'm just still stinging over the 2000 debacle which (sorry, Mike) was due in no small part to your shilling for the Green party. Hope you'll understand if not all the candidates fall all over themselves just to make you happy.

Tuesday, September 23

Nearing The First Mil

The Howard Dean campaign is getting close to the first million mark in their September to Remember online contribution drive. Help get the word out by clicking the bats in the left column.

Hoffmania! has set its own goal of just $500. Hey, I get a lot of hits, but not as many as the big blogs. I gotta be real here! Let's see how close I can get. You can donate ANY amount from a dollar on up. Here's my own bat:

GOAL: $500
Raised so far: $65

Okay. So I haven't had any $2000 a plate dinners at my condo. I'm tryin'.

Be Careful What You Write - People Like Us Will Remind The World What A Jackass You Are

Last August as reported by Robert Novak:
Former international weapons inspector David Kay, now seeking Iraqi weapons of mass destruction for the Pentagon, has privately reported successes that are planned to be revealed to the public in mid-September.

Kay has told his superiors he has found substantial evidence of biological weapons in Iraq, plus considerable missile development.

Senior officials in the Bush administration believe Kay's weapons discoveries should have been revealed as they were made. However, a decision, approved by President Bush, was made to wait until more was discovered and then announce it -- probably in September.
Yesterday at Condoleezza Rice's press briefing:
DR. RICE: Well, let me first say that David Kaye has an orderly process for mining the miles of documentation, the hundreds, even thousands of interviews, that need to be done, the physical evidence that needs to be gathered to understand precisely the status of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the status of the programs, what became of unaccounted for weapons stockpiles.

Q When will Kaye's report will be public?

DR. RICE: David Kaye is not going to be done with this for quite some time. And I would not count on reports. I suppose there may be interim reports. I don't know when those will be, and I don't know what the public nature of them will be.

He Lost Me During Paragraph One

MR. SECRETARY GENERAL, Mr. President, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen: Twenty-four months ago — and yesterday in the memory of America — the center of New York City became a battlefield, and a graveyard, and the symbol of an unfinished war. Since that day, terrorists have struck in Bali, Mombassa, in Casablanca, in Riyadh, in Jakarta, in Jerusalem — measuring the advance of their cause in the chaos and innocent suffering they leave behind.

Last month, terrorists brought their war to the United Nations itself. The UN headquarters in Baghdad stood for order and compassion — and for that reason, the terrorists decided it must be destroyed.
Dear friends - I am really really REALLY sick of President Flightsuit believing that all terrorists are all coming from the same place and the same organization. Hence the name (as if it were a crosstown rival team), "The Terrorists." But these are complex times and the president likes simple - because simple people are happy people.

However, there's a problem with his message. He's not talking to red states. He's not talking to a group of awestruck garment workers. He's not talking to the bobblehead choir of talkshow hosts for which he can do no wrong.

He's talking to the leaders of the rest of the planet. They're not as naive as Bush thinks Americans are. They know that all these terrorists of which he speaks are not all from the same team. They know that the terrorists who perpetrated 9.11 are not the ones who blow up buses in Israel. And neither of those were the ones suspected of bus-bombing the U.N. in Baghdad. In other words, he's trying to do to the world what he's done to us - lie.

One minute into his speech, he lied - trying desperately to convince the United Freaking Nations that all the same people are trying to kill us all. He painted the grim picture of terrorists getting WMDs and "nucular" weapons to destroy the rest of the world.

He says this to a gathering of nations which knows the one simple truth that has held up throughout history: TERRORISM DOES NOT WORK. It destroys. It disrupts. It kills. But there has not been an instance where a strong-willed country has ever fallen to terrorists. Just don't tell Bush that. It's his number one campaign point for the next year. And he'll prey on our fears and tap into our nightmares to get votes. Terrorism works against the weak, and it's working like a charm on this president.

Bush would rather send that message of fear and dread (with some global child molestation thrown in for good measure) to the United Nations than one of strength and resolve. Sick minds create and exploit sick scenarios.

It's time to cure America (and the world) of this sickness. It's time to send President Pilotpants back to Crawford, Texas where he can send fear and dread into his ranchhands all he wants to - just to show them who's boss.

Just as long as he's not ours.

Powell - Before They Roughed Him Up

Once upon a time, our Secretary of State was very confident about Iraq's ability to produce and deliver weapons of mass destruction.
...the sanctions exist -- not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.

Sec. of State Colin Powell at a Cairo press conference - 2/4/01
Verbatim from the State Department website

Recall Back On: Repubs Imploding

By now you all know the California gubernatorial recall is back on for October 7th. This has caused major panic in the Republcan party. Seriously.

If the GOP had more time, they could shake out one of their two top candidates who are splitting the Republican vote. Now, that's not going to happen. Schwarzenegger definitely won't drop out - and bouyed by his rising numbers, neocon Tom McClintock has declared he's in it for the duration.

Well, it gets better.

Remember Darrell Issa? The millionaire congressman who bankrolled the recall so he can become governor? He dropped this bombshell on his partymates...

Shocking Statement About the Election from Issa

A shocking statement from the man who spent a small fortune to get the California recall effort started. Congressman Darrell Issa now say it may be best to keep Gray Davis in office, after all. Issa claims a split between the two leading republicans could result in a disastrous political climate.

He adds that he would rather have Davis as Governor than Cruz Bustamante, who he call a more liberal leader. Issa said, "When you vote, if there are still two major Republicans, Tom McClintock and Arnold Schwarzenegger, then I advise you to vote no on the recall."
This sends a clear message to the state Repubs. In the Bizarro World, that is. Here on Earth, it's panic and confusion.

Fun, ain't it?

Monday, September 22

Recall: Schwarzenegger's Cheat Sheet

At Arnold's request, here are the questions - IN ADVANCE - that will be asked at Wednesday's debate. At least there'll be SOME element of surprise: the candidates can ask each other questions. I kinda like that. Arnold won't.

A Pledge We Can Agree On

Chris Andersen of Interesting Times e-mailed a thought out to many of us in the Blogosphere:
I've been thinking long and hard about some of the recent bad blood that is being spilled in the battles between Clark and Dean supporters.

I'm sick of it.

Therefore, I am pledging that from this point onward I will not be a part of any divisive campaign that will tear Democrats apart.
If you've been reading Hoffmania! on a regular basis, I'm all over that concept. I'd like to see Kerry and Gephardt take a similar pledge - Kerry to stop trashing Dean when he thinks microphones are off, and Gephardt to begin by dismantling his "Dean Facts" site. Let's get busy on these, gang.

Why Right Wing Talk Shows Are In A Panic Today

Keep in mind there's a margin of error of 3% here, so yeah - the neocons are in a mild state of horror. Dean and Clark (as well as Kerry and Lieberman) are in a virtual dead heat with the Rove administration!

USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll results

If retired General Wesley Clark were the Democratic Party's candidate and George W. Bush were the Republican Party's candidate, who would you be more likely to vote for — Wesley Clark, the Democrat or George W. Bush, the Republican?

Among registered voters nationwide:
Wesley Clark 49%
George W. Bush 46%

If former Vermont Governor Howard Dean were the Democratic Party's candidate and George W. Bush were the Republican Party's candidate, who would you be more likely to vote for — Howard Dean, the Democrat or George W. Bush, the Republican?

Among registered voters nationwide:
Howard Dean 46%
George W. Bush 49%

Speaking Of The Dixie Chicks

It's about time they moved out of that neighborhood...

Chicks to break with country scene

The Dixie Chicks say they don't want to be a country music band any more.

Violinist Martie Maguire told Spiegel magazine: "We don't feel part of the country scene any longer, it can't be our home any more."

She said she was disappointed other country singers didn't back up the Dixie Chicks in their criticism of George W Bush's politics on Iraq. "A few weeks ago, Merle Haggard said a couple of nice words about us, but that was it," Maguire complained. "The support we got came from others, like Bruce Springsteen."

Going home empty-handed from the Country Awards ceremony also made them decide to break with the scene, Maguire said.

"Instead, we won three Grammys against much stronger competition. So we now consider ourselves part of the big Rock 'n' Roll family."

The Sliming Begins

The attack campaign against Gen. Wesley Clark began practically minutes after his announcement of candidacy. It's no secret that this is Karl Rove's M.O. - to find as many enemies Clark may have and sic them on the right wing propaganda machine.

As Joe Conason pointed out in Big Lies, the machine's heirarchy is to give the story to Drudge, Newsmax, the Freepers and the other bottom-feeders who then feed it to Fox, the Washington Times and NY Post who report it on their "legit" media. Then said bottom-feeders bang the drum loud enough that the other ("liberal") networks and newspapers are "ignoring" the story until they cave in and it becomes "news." See Drudge right now for his headline, "GENERAL CLARK WORE BOSNIAN WAR CRIMINAL'S MILITARY CAP!" for the latest spawn of this machine.

And since the White House has access to all of Clark's military records, we'll get accounts like this from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Jack Kelly - a former Marine who served in the Reagan administration:

Gen. Clark was CINCEUR when the Kosovo war began, and bears much of the responsibility for President Clinton's decision to try to bomb Serb dictator Slobodan Milosevic out of Kosovo. Gen. Clark argued that after a few days of bombing, Mr. Milosevic would fold his tent and slink away. When the Serbs didn't budge after months of bombing, Gen. Clark lost Mr. Clinton's favor.

As the war dragged on, Gen. Clark advocated the use of ground troops. This put him at loggerheads with Gen. Henry Shelton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and with Gen. Eric Shinseki, chief of staff of the Army, who thought this was a terrible idea. These generals faulted Gen. Clark for getting America into an unnecessary war, and for having done a poor job of preparing for it.

"NATO did not expect a long war," wrote former Clinton national security aide Ivo Daalder. "Worse, it did not even prepare for the possibility."

The conduct of the war drew unprecedented criticism from Gen. Clark's predecessor, Gen. George Joulwan, and a quiet rebellion by subordinate commanders.

Sunday, September 21

Aaron Sorkin, Come Home!

NBC's 'West Wing' to Take More Bipartisan Approach

Executive producer John Wells promises that Sheen will get his old job back before long.

But Wells said Goodman's guest-starring role is just one way in which "West Wing," which some have criticized as being too liberal, too Democratic, will become more politically balanced this season.

To represent the Republican point of view, Wells has recruited former Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein, along with John Podhoretz, a conservative columnist who wrote speeches for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush senior. Wells said Podhoretz has been one of the show's "staunchest critics" in recent years.
I'm wondering if this has anything to do with Sorkin's "quitting" last May...
There have been suggestions that the show, launched in more peaceful times, lost its course after September 11 as make-believe politics were displaced by real world events. The series' star, Sheen, has also come under attack for his antiwar efforts. After voicing his dissatisfaction with President Bush and the war with Iraq last month Sheen said NBC big-wigs "let it be known they're very uncomfortable with where I'm at" on the war and said the network worried that his vocal antiwar stance would affect the show's ratings--NBC officials swore there was "no concern among top management."
This story points out that Wells was put in place at the request of NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker - not the show's creative team or studio.

(MONDAY MORNING UPDATE:) Hope NBC enjoyed what will probably be the last Emmy for "West Wing" if their plan takes root.

You're SO Not Seeing This Reported Here

Looks like a lot of military folks saw right through the flightsuit. From the Independent U.K.:
White House is ambushed by criticism from America's military community

George Bush probably owes his presidency to the absentee military voters who nudged his tally in Florida decisively past Al Gore's. But now, with Iraq in chaos and the reasons for going to war there mired in controversy, an increasingly disgruntled military poses perhaps the gravest immediate threat to his political future, just one year before the presidential elections.

From Vietnam veterans to fresh young recruits, from seasoned officers to anxious mothers worried about their sons' safety on the streets of Baghdad and Fallujah, the military community is growing ever more vocal in its opposition to the White House.

Worst...Numbers...EVER Part II

Ipsos-Reid/Cook Political Report Poll. Sept. 16-18, 2003. N=1,000 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.1.

"Generally speaking, would you say things in this country are heading in the right direction, or are they off on the wrong track?"

Wrong Track 57% (previous high 56% 9/2/03)
Right Direction 37%
Not Sure 6%


Newsweek Poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates. Sept. 18-19, 2003. N=1,001 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.

"Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?"

Approve 51% (previous low was 52% last week and 2/8/01)
Disapprove 42%
Don't Know 7%

Clark Debuts At #1 On This Week's Top 40

Newsweek Poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates. Sept. 18-19, 2003. N=377 registered Democrats and independents who lean Democratic nationwide. MoE ± 6.

"Now I'm going to name 10 Democrats in the race for president. After I read you their names, tell me which ONE you would most like to see nominated as the Democratic Party's presidential candidate in 2004. Here are the choice . . . ." (July '03 in parenthesis)

Wesley Clark 14% (n/a)
Howard Dean 12% (12%)
Joseph Lieberman 12% (13%)
John Kerry 10% (10%)
Dick Gephardt 8% (14%)
Al Sharpton 7% (6%)
John Edwards 6% (6%)
Bob Graham 4% (7%)
Carol Mosely Braun 2% (3%)
Dennis Kucinich 2% (2%)
Dean's and Kerry's numbers were unaffected by Clark's numbers here - other than everyone's rank going down a notch with Clark's debut. Gephardt and Graham took pretty big whacks. But with a margin of error of a whopping 6%, this is pretty much a non-story here. Just interesting.

Dean Swings For The Fences

...in the next ballpark. We knew the Howard Dean campaign was going to try to do something spectacular this month, and here it is. They're trying to raise $5 million in web contributions over the next ten days.

I've always wondered how they were able to pull off their past endeavors by targeting both Bush and Cheney in their respective fund-raisers, but they did it. So I'll bury any doubts I have about these folks pulling it off, and we'll just watch the progress from here with the progress meter in the left column.

By the way, contributions made through this site get credited to Hoffmania! - no monetary reward, just an ego pat on the head over our ability to help out. If I get any status update, I'll let you all know. So far, we've already raised $50 since I posted the link several minutes ago. Damn.


The Difference Between "Idiots With Kids" and Fathers

The result of a little rivalry quibble:
Police detained two suspects and were searching for another Saturday in the killing of a 25-year-old San Francisco Giants fan in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium, a shooting that authorities said had been triggered by a decades-old baseball rivalry.

Two families leaving the game during the eighth inning apparently traded words about the teams, police said. The dispute culminated when Mark Allen Antenorcruz, of Covina, was shot twice after a man he was arguing with pulled a .25-caliber semiautomatic handgun from his family's white SUV, police said.
Family "men". Ya gotta love 'em. Always setting a great example in front of their families.

Last night, less extremely, we waited in line at the taxi stop following "Bugs Bunny On Broadway" at the Hollywood Bowl. After waiting 45 minutes, ours came - but some "good dad" tried wedging himself and his snotnose kids between us and the cab, cursing his ass off and screaming that he phoned for that cab (the driver denied it). He almost took off my friend's leg by trying to slam the door when he lost the argument - all this in front of his kids.

You need to go through a rigorous weeklong screening process to adopt a cat today. But any gearhead with reproductive organs can have a kid. And not very many of them are fit to be fathers.

Another Indication It Has Become Another Vietnam

Mortar Fire Kills Two U.S. Soldiers at Iraqi Prison

ABU GHRAIB, Iraq -- A volley of incoming mortar fire that has become almost routine at the U.S.-occupied Abu Ghraib prison slammed into the square-mile prison compound Saturday night, killing at least two U.S. soldiers and seriously wounding at least a dozen of the U.S. Army military police who guard and run it.

It was a relatively light attack -- just two 82 mm rounds, after weeks that have seen as many as seven a night. But one was a direct hit, exploding in a tent filled with U.S. soldiers inside the compound in one of the worst single attacks on American forces since they occupied Iraq five months ago.
Every week, we're turning sad corners on this war. Now we're seeing words like "routine" and "relatively light attack" when we read reports of U.S. casualties in Iraq.

Vietnam. Again.

Saturday, September 20

Lying Lie Lie Liar Lying Liar

Eric Alterman:

Bush was asked, "How did you feel when you heard about the terrorist attack?" Bush replied, "I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower--the TV was obviously on. And I used to fly myself, and I said, well, there's one terrible pilot. I said, it must have been a horrible accident. But I was whisked off there. I didn't have much time to think about it." Bush repeated the same story on January 5, 2002, stating, "First of all, when we walked into the classroom, I had seen this plane fly into the first building. There was a TV set on. And you know, I thought it was pilot error, and I was amazed that anybody could make such a terrible mistake...."

This is false. Nobody saw the jetliner crash into the first tower on television until a videotape surfaced a day later. What's more, Bush's memory not only contradicts every media report of that morning, it also contradicts what he said on the day of the attack. In his speech to the nation that evening, Bush said, "Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans." Again, this statement has never been satisfactorily explained. No one besides Bush has ever spoken of these "emergency plans," and the mere idea of their implementation is contradicted by Bush's claim that at the time, he believed the crash to have been a case of pilot error.
I'll flog this video until my arms fall off - the video which conclusively shows Bush's inaction while New York was exploding. See it here.

Another Radio Legend Gets Conglomerated

Dan Ingram is the reason just about every disk jockey from the NYC area got into the business. He's still one of the smartest and quickest minds you'll hear on the air, and he deserves much better than this.

Legendary disc jockey Dan Ingram says he decided to hang up his headphones rather than take a pay cut.

"Let's just say the people with sharp pencils at [WCBS-FM parent] Infinity Broadcasting decided the amount of money they were paying me was way too much and they just wanted somebody cheaper," Ingram told Ed Walsh yesterday on WOR radio's morning program.

Ingram, a mainstay of New York radio for more than 40 years - the last 10 at CBS (101.1 FM) - disappeared from his weekend shifts on the oldies station without explanation in June. Ingram wasn't given a chance to bid farewell to his fans with a final show.

"I think they were afraid of what I might say," he told Walsh. A spokeswoman for Infinity Broadcasting declined to comment.
Ingram's a pro. He has always conducted himself with class and grace in his entire career, and they really underestimated him. I was both sorry and elated to read this part of the story:

Ingram added he has no plans to return to the air as a disk jockey. Instead, the die-hard Democrat and longtime union official is shopping a one-minute commentary segment to radio stations.
For my money, anything this guy does is golden, and he'll be great at it. I worked with this radio giant, and he unselfishly gave me huge moral support when my feet were being dragged out the door of Musicradio WABC. As I said - class. Good luck, Kemosabe.

From the Pen of: Ben Sargent

Kerry's Obsessed

Kerry Says Dean Is 'Imploding'

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 — Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts today sharply criticized one of the other leading Democrats running for president, Howard Dean, asserting that some of his recent pronouncements show that his "bubble's bursting a bit."

Referring to statements by Dr. Dean, the former governor of Vermont, on the Middle East, the Hamas guerrillas and other issues, Mr. Kerry said, "You can't make 15 gaffes a week and be president."

Mr. Kerry's remarks came near the end of an interview on WCBS-TV in New York when the camera had turned away from Mr. Kerry, who was still wearing a microphone.

Mr. Dean's campaign manager, Joe Trippi, seemed mildly amused by the interview.

"I guess we're just on his mind a lot," Mr. Trippi said, pointing to another episode, the recent debate in Baltimore, when a microphone picked up Mr. Kerry muttering, "Dean. Dean. Dean. Dean. Dean."
John, John, John, John, John. Keep your eye on the ball, buddy. It's Bush who needs your focus. Don't worry so much about Dean if you're as strong as you believe you are.

Stay Strong, Ted...Stay Strong...

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Under fire from Republicans on Friday, Sen. Edward Kennedy defended his harsh criticism of President Bush's policy on Iraq, in which he charged that the threat from Saddam Hussein was exaggerated by the administration for political purposes.

"This is a failed, flawed, bankrupt policy," the Massachusetts Democrat said on CNN's "Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics." "The American people want answers."

DeLay said Kennedy "went too far" and he called on Democrats to repudiate Kennedy's comments.

"It's disturbing that Democrats have spewed more hateful rhetoric at President Bush than they ever did at Saddam Hussein," DeLay said in a written statement.

But Kennedy would not back down and said Republicans attack the patriotism of those who question White House policies.

Stop The Web!

Breaking News: They found Nemo.

Friday, September 19

Davis Wants It Over With

Interesting news from the recall today:
Gov. Gray Davis said Friday he wanted to get the recall election over with Oct. 7, as he appeared with former Vice President Al Gore and cast the recall as the latest in a string of Republican power grabs.

"My attitude is, let's just get it over with. Let's just have this election on Oct. 7, put this recall behind us so we can get on with governing the state of California," Davis said after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided to reconsider a three-judge panel's ruling postponing the election.
"Interesting" because Gray Davis seems to have absolutely no ulterior reason to make such a pronouncement. He supposedly has enough of a war chest to last him even through a March postponement. It's been reported that his opponents don't have that kind of scratch and that Schwarzenegger's campaign team can't last that long.

So either Gray Davis is (a) ready to blow the bank in the next couple of weeks, (b) he's confident he's got the recall beat, or (c) he's finally just as fed up as all of us with the whole thing.

The Mailbag With Brains

Somehow, I've seemed to have attracted a very smart and erudite following. DEAR GOD HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN? My e-mail has been a great source of pride for me because of messages like this one (name and work info withheld):

I have quickly become addicted to your blog. The only other one I read regularly is Talking Points Memo. You have an amazing talent of getting news stories before they become mainstream. My friends think I am psychic.

I wanted to thank you for this wonderful service!

One other thing -- not to impugn your effectiveness, but I frequently want to send links from your website to my friends and colleagues but do not. As much as I dislike this administration, I mean REALLY dislike this administration, it would be unprofessional of me to pass on things that refer to them as crackheads. This is your site and you have every right to post what you wish -- but your euphemisms may hinder your evangelization. I suspect if you toned down the language, more people would e-mail your site to others, and your would grow in influence.
We pride ourselves here at getting items posted as soon as we get our mitts on 'em, so for you to notice is genuinely appreciated. And to be lumped into the same company as TPM is indeed an honor.

As for the "crackhead" thing, there's a great point there if you're going to pass my kicky-feet rants around more legit venues. Part of my reply to this writer told of both me and my wife dealing with cocaine addicts in our past (thankfully, neither of us were). Their behavior ranged from arrogant to bull-headded to paranoid to violent - and all the while unable to take responsibility for their actions. Sound familiar?

As I mentioned before, there is far more evidence of Mr. Bush's past with cocaine than that of Mr. Clinton using pot. Still, Clinton's enemies still refer to him as "that pot-smoking draft-dodger" to this day. Even if it were true, the difference between the knee-jerk arrogance of Team Bush and the calculated level-headedness of Team Clinton illustrates the difference between the two personality cultures.

But let's not kid ourselves - I'm an attention whore. And anything I can do to get the message out to as many people as possible who need to be educated to a higher level of sanity and fairness, well - okay. I'll back off on the overusage of "crackhead" when refering to the current presidency.

Unless of course they do something really crackheaded. Which can be at any minute.

From the Pen of: Rick McKee

Best wink at the polititoon industry yet:

From the Pen of: Ben Sargent

Recall: The GOP Gap Turns Cavernous

How bad has it become for the Repubs? Neocon Tom McClintock may be joining forces with Democrat Cruz Bustamonte to boycott the only debate Schwarzenegger has deemed fit to attend. Again, the L.A. Times:

Both candidates demanded that the format of the debate set for Wednesday in Sacramento be changed, saying it was inappropriate that questions had been provided in advance.

The actor responded angrily, lashing out for the first time against McClintock, the conservative Republican whose candidacy threatens to split the GOP vote in the recall election.

"I think that as far as Tom McClintock is concerned, the question for him is: What side is he on?" Schwarzenegger said. "Is he on the side of the Republicans? Does he represent the Republicans? Or does he represent Bustamante? Because he's getting money from the same Indian tribes that are financing his commercials and his TV spots."
Standing outside of California (which I wish I was until this thing is over), you can understand why the rest of the country is laughing its collective ass off. The Republicans wanted their leading candidate with political experience to step aside and pave the way for a bodybuilder/actor who will not debate unless he can see the questions first.

It's all part of that dumbing-down process we keep hearing about. We see it every day in a president who has lowered the competency bar to the point where the press and the public give him and his thugs a pass at just about everything they'd impeach our previous president for. Well, now we have a living, breathing and tangible example of this on a local level in its embyonic stage. And still, the GOP is sticking by its guns.

Republicans. They're the party of lowered expectations, plain and simple - designed intentionally, so that when any of them does anything that resembles mild success, it seems genius. I call it political flugtag.

The L.A. Times Takes Them To The Woodshed

The lead editorial this morning:
So Which Story Is It?

President Bush's declaration Wednesday that Saddam Hussein had Al Qaeda ties but that there was "no evidence" he was linked to 9/11 had an Alice-in-Wonderland quality. Only a few days earlier, Vice President Dick Cheney on national television had expanded the administration's claims, hinting darkly that Hussein's security forces might have been involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and that Iraq was at "the heart of the base" of the terrorist threat that culminated in Sept. 11.

Who is the public supposed to believe, Bush or Cheney? In delivering a different message depending on what day of the week it is, the administration is shredding whatever remains of its credibility on Iraq.

On Thursday, Hans Blix, the former United Nations weapons inspector who has patiently watched as the United States and Britain fruitlessly search for weapons they said Blix was too incompetent to discover, finally decried "the culture of spin, the culture of hyping." Both Blix and his successor at the U.N., Demetrius Perricos, say Hussein probably destroyed any weapons of mass destruction a decade ago.

The administration's flip-flops aren't trivial, but rather are symptomatic of wider disarray. At a moment when Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is trying to win the cooperation of wary allies for a U.N. resolution that will internationalize the occupation and bring in foreign troops and money, Cheney went out of his way to antagonize Europeans. Cheney made an impassioned case Wednesday at the Air Force Assn.'s annual convention for an America goes-it-alone policy — preemptive strikes abroad whenever and wherever Bush sees fit. The unspoken premise is that the U.S. doesn't need the U.N. or other countries to help rebuild invaded countries.

With Iraq in danger of meltdown, however, it's clear that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon have failed to properly plan for the postwar period. Bush not only needs Europe on board, he also must listen to Republican lawmakers, led by Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) and Sen. Charles Hagel (R-Neb.), who are urging the White House to shift control of Iraq's reconstruction from the Pentagon to the State Department.

Time To Wash The Walls And Vacuum The Rug

Welcome to all of you guys coming here from Bartcop and Dean Nation!

Thursday, September 18


Oopsie daisy! It's not there!
AP: No Evidence Iraq Stockpiled Smallpox

Top American scientists assigned to the weapons hunt in Iraq found no evidence Saddam Hussein's regime was making or stockpiling smallpox, The Associated Press has learned from senior military officers involved in the search.

Smallpox fears were part of the case the Bush administration used to build support for invading Iraq and they were raised again as recently as last weekend by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Clark: Welcome To The Jungle

The radio gabblers and the Internet nutcases will smear Clark because they and their master Karl Rove fear him.

It will be interesting to see how much of this the Republicans can perpetrate before their tactics start to backfire. But their real problem is that they don't know any other way to win an election -- and their sinking numbers could soon give rise to panic. The more they attack Clark now, the more obvious it will become that he is the nominee of their nightmares.
I still have to wonder if Clark would be in the running at all had it not been for the road being paved by Howard Dean. Dean essentially gave us credible permission to openly criticize the Crackhead Administration with a boldness that knocked the right - right on its ass. They still haven't come up with a plausible defense against it.

I've devoted a lot of time and energy to Dean's run, so I'll admit it colors my view of this campaign. But while everyone is tripping over each other over the general's candidacy, y'all should give credit where it's due and give props to the guy who opened the door.

Wow! Great Unemployment News!

Jobless claims fell last week, the government said Thursday, by more than analysts expected, dropping just below the benchmark 400,000 that signifies job-market weakness.

The Labor Department report said 399,000 people filed for benefits in the week ended Sept. 13, compared with a revised reading of 428,000 in the prior week.
Hey, America! We're 1000 shy of "weakness"! But we're down to only 399,000 new folks this week who won't vote for Team Crackhead next year.


U.S. Deficit Goes Over $400 Billion

WASHINGTON — With one month left in the fiscal year, the U.S. budget deficit moved further into record territory, passing the $400-billion mark for the first time, the Treasury Department said Wednesday.

A shortfall of $76.48 billion last month pushed the fiscal 2003 budget gap to $400.46 billion, a Treasury report said. The fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

The Spawn Rises

Born with a silver pitchfork in his mouth

In an ascension that could spark a heated rivalry for the News Corp. throne, Rupert Murdoch's younger son, James, is poised to take the helm of British Sky Broadcasting, Britain's dominant pay TV provider and a jewel in the family's media conglomerate.

Quote THIS

Simi Valley conservative activist Steve Frank on Arnold Schwarzenegger:

"He goes on [the Howard Stern Show which has] whores, prostitutes, moral degenerates and says, 'I'm a wonderful guy, I should be governor. He goes on Larry King, who fawns over every misbegotten movie star who comes down the pike. He goes on Oprah Winfrey and talks about his sex life. What kind of sickness is this?"
It's much more fun when Republicans rag on each other, isn't it, Mr. Gephardt?


I'm hearing this "Howard Dean is George McGovern" crap again from both Repubs and Dems, and frankly, I'm sick of it. So to repeat what I said about this subject last July:

Dear readers...what people keep forgetting in Nixon's landslide over McGovern in '72 was what a fallen rock zone McGovern's campaign was. I was there. I was a student activist for McGovern. And even I lost faith as that November loomed.

So for any pundit/columnist/political genius who has forgotten, PAY ATTENTION:

In the middle of the campaign, it was revealed that McGovern's running mate Tom Eagleton was treated for nervous exhaustion three times in the 60s - and twice went for electroshock therapy for depression. McGovern's pledge to stand behind Eagleton "1000%" - just before he replaced him with R. Sargent Shriver - was a political disaster. And Shriver's vast (and only) political experience as head of the Peace Corps wasn't what we in advertising call "added value" in a presidential team.

If Dean has half a brain (which gives him the edge over Dumbya if he's the Dem's choice), he won't repeat McGovern's ineptness. Let's drop the comparisons once and for all. Okay?

It Was Bad. It's Now Worse

CBS News Poll. Sept. 15-16, 2003. N=675 adults nationwide. MoE ± 4.

"Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?"

Approve 52% (down from 55% three weeks ago)
Disapprove 39% (up from 37%)
Don't Know 9% (up from 8%)

From the Pen of: Jeff Danziger

Danzy's on a roll...

They're Running Out Of Wheels To Fall Off

President Bush said Wednesday that there was no proof tying Saddam Hussein to the Sept. 11 attacks. Bush's statement was the latest in a flurry of remarks this week by top administration officials after Vice President Dick Cheney resurrected a number of contentious allegations about Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda in an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

"We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th," Bush said in an impromptu session with reporters. He contended, however, that "there's no question that Saddam Hussein had Al Qaeda ties."
I don't give a rat's ass about where Saddam gets his neckwear. We were lied to and now these crackheads can't get their stories straight.

Oh Yeah - We're Bringing Stability Over There

Well, look who wants to go nuclear...

Saudi Arabia, in response to the current upheaval in the Middle East, has embarked on a strategic review that includes acquiring nuclear weapons, the Guardian has learned.
Wonder how much dot-connecting is going on at the White House over this? Forget it. They're too busy backpedaling on the Saddam-9/11 connection.

Wednesday, September 17

Helpin' The GOP

That's what Dick Gephardt's doing with his latest online strategy: an official Gephardt Bash-Howard-Dean website. In New Jersey, we used to call this sort of thing the work of stunads. Any game plan that Gang Rove can use against whoever the Democratic candidate will be (and we know this: it WON'T be Gephardt) is giving a second green light to the Crackhead Administration.

We all remember what the first green light was, Dick.

Another Reason To Love The Man In Black

From Today's Jamaica Gleaner:
Cash contributes to Jamaican charity
published: Wednesday | September 17, 2003

Photo from SOS-Jamaica website

OFFICIALS WITH SOS Children's Villages were surprised the family of Johnny Cash requested donations in his memory be sent to them.

The singer, who died Friday, had worked with the charitable organisation near his home in Jamaica, often visiting the children it supported and following their progress.

Cash lived next to the village that opened in 1972 and regularly visited it, charity officials said.

He also donated money for construction of a home in the village and occasionally entertained children there with his music.
We've been going to Jamaica for several years (in fact, we'll be there this coming winter), and were very much aware that Cash had a home there. Jamaicans are amazing people who genuinely treasure their children. This is exciting news for a little country that's seen its share of hard times.

Thank you, Johnny. You can contribute to the SOS Children's Village in Jamaica by clicking here.