Sunday, March 7

It's Past Time For Consequences

One must believe that the Karma Bank ought to be ready to pay off dividends. The last paragraph sounds like a dandy vacation idea.

Selling Death for Fun and Profit
By William Rivers Pitt

They enjoyed umbilical ties to Enron, one of the companies which participated in the gang-rape of our economy, and have suffered no consequences. They gave away the Federal Treasury to the wealthiest of their supporters, compounding the budgetary shock that came in the aftermath of Enron, and have suffered no consequences. They raided Social Security to make up the difference, after promising explicitly that they would not, and have suffered no consequences.

They made war on a nation that was no threat to the United States, in defiance of practically the entire world, and have suffered no consequences. They lied to the American people day after day after day about the nature of this nonexistent threat, painting pictures of a rain of poison gas from Iraq pelting down on the innocent so as to scare people into line, and have suffered no consequences. They destroyed the career of a deep-cover CIA agent in retaliation for the exposure of their lies, an agent running a network to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists, and have suffered no consequences. It is, as ever, the dead and maimed soldiers, along with their families, who have taken on the burden of suffering those consequences.

Pointedly, they stood steward over the most catastrophic attack in American history and have suffered no consequences. They blew past warnings of impending attacks from several allied nations, and likewise blew past warnings of impending attacks from trusted voices within their own ranks, and have suffered no consequences. They have stonewalled each and every step taken towards trying to find out why and how the attack took place, going so far as to attempt to give master secret-keeper Henry Kissinger control of the investigation, and have suffered no consequences. They have blithely slapped down pleas for clarity and truth from the family members of the victims of that dark day, and have suffered no consequences.

So it goes today with the new battery of political ads unleashed by the Bush for President brigade, and with the plans being laid by the GOP for their September convention. When you live in a world without consequences, this is what you are capable of.


Bush is going to New York City to accept the nomination of his party. He will be met by hundreds and hundreds of thousands of everyday Americans, who will raise their voices in a solemn chorus with the firefighters, the police, the EMTs and the families of the victims. In that solemn chorus will be one theme.

How dare you, George? How dare you?

If you stand with the victims, with the soldiers, with the firefighters and police and EMTs, if you stand with outrage in your heart, perhaps the time has come to make some plans. Perhaps the time has come to book a plane, or a train, or a donkey, or whatever, to bring you to New York City this September. The city that never sleeps is as good a place as any to deliver a wake-up call. Actions will, at long last, have consequences.

Har Har! Oh STOP, Mr. Cheney!

No. Really. Stop.

Repubs: Scared Paranoid

This will have one of two effects. It'll test the lapdoggedness of the media and they'll bow to this faux cease-and-desist order. Or they'll finally be pushed over the edge and give the RNC the collective finger. Gut check time...

RNC tells TV stations not to run anti-Bush ads
GOP committee says's spots are illegally financed

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Republican National Committee is warning television stations across the country not to run ads from the Voter Fund that criticize President Bush, charging that the left-leaning political group is paying for them with money raised in violation of the new campaign-finance law.

"As a broadcaster licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, you have a responsibility to the viewing public, and to your licensing agency, to refrain from complicity in any illegal activity," said the RNC's chief counsel, Jill Holtzman Vogel, in a letter sent to about 250 stations Friday.

"Now that you have been apprised of the law, to prevent further violations of federal law, we urge you to remove these advertisements from your station's broadcast rotation."

But's lawyer, Joseph Sandler, said in a statement that the ads were funded legally, calling the RNC's letter "a complete misrepresentation of the law."

"The federal campaign laws have permitted precisely this use of money for advertising for the past 25 years," he said.

The RNC charges that because the ads are designed to help defeat President Bush, the group cannot pay for them with unlimited "soft money" contributions but only with contributions raised in amounts less than $5,000.

Although is a so-called "Section 527" organization that is legally allowed to raise soft money in unlimited amounts from donors, the new campaign-finance law prohibits the group from using those funds to pay for ads that directly attack Bush, Vogel said.

And in a bit of political one-upmanship, the letter quotes the presumptive Democratic nominee, Sen. John Kerry, as saying that the objective of the new law "is to eliminate altogether the capacity of soft money to play the role that it does in our politics."
I can bring up the notion that visiting the groundbreaking a 9-11 memorial, then walking 40 steps to a million-dollar fundraiser for your campaign is an affront to the tenets of humanity, but I've already piledriven that point home.

Here's what you need to fight this bullcrap: Contact Info For The TV Networks

Thanks, Kevin

Saturday, March 6

Florida, Florida, Florida

Florida voters leaning toward Kerry
A poll shows that a plurality of Florida voters disapprove of President Bush's performance on the economy and the war in Iraq, while his Democratic opponent is stronger with crucial swing voters.

Increasingly critical of President Bush on his handling of the economy and the war in Iraq, more Florida voters now say they plan to support Democrat John Kerry than to help reelect the president, according to a new poll.

The [Miami] Herald/St. Petersburg Times survey reveals striking vulnerabilities for Bush among key independent voters in the state that narrowly put him into the White House four years ago.

More Florida voters disapprove of his job performance than approve, another sign of the president's lagging popularity since the 2001 terrorist attacks transformed Bush from a polarizing figure into a popular wartime president.

A majority of voters believe that the United States is ''moving in the wrong direction'' under Bush -- a marked reversal from two years ago, when 7 in 10 voters, including half of Democrats, approved of Bush's job performance.

While Kerry secured the nomination only days ago, he holds a 49 to 43 percent lead over a president who just four months ago led every potential Democratic challenger by as many as 18 percentage points.


Most alarming to the White House is likely to be the president's eroding approval ratings on the very issues that he plans to make hallmarks of his reelection and that typically favor Republicans.

More than half of Florida voters disapprove of his handling of the economy, while only 46 percent approve of his leadership on Iraq.

Despite the GOP's attempt to woo seniors by pushing legislation to curb the rising cost of prescription drugs, voters overwhelmingly trust Kerry more than Bush to protect Social Security and Medicare benefits.

The Florida results reflect national polls that have shown Kerry leading Bush by as many as 10 percentage points, a striking contrast to Bush's rising numbers after the United States captured former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in December.

What Mindless Web Surfing Reveals

Not only is "Nancy" still an active comic strip, but when did Aunt Fritzi become a hottie?

Yeah, I know. When I got older than her.

Quote Of The Day

Welcome here to the dark side, Howard...
"My days here are numbered because I dared to speak out against the Bush administration and say that the religious agenda of George W. Bush concerning stem cell research and gay marriage is wrong. And that what he is doing with the FCC is pushing this religious agenda. And also the fact that the guy takes more vacation than any President ever. It's time for him to leave. Having said that pushed me off the air in six markets."

- Howard Stern

Repeating: This Is Just Shameless Unmitigated GALL

Taking a moment for a photo-op at a 9/11 memorial site when the real reason for being in the 'hood is to raise a million bucks for your campaign. This takes major MAJOR balls.

Amid Criticism of Campaign Ad, Bush Will Visit a 9/11 Memorial

Facing intense criticism for using images of the destroyed World Trade Center in his campaign commercials, President Bush will attend the groundbreaking for a Sept. 11 memorial in Long Island next week, the White House announced Friday.

Mr. Bush is to attend the ceremony for the memorial in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, N.Y., on Thursday. Less than three hours later, he is to attend a political fund-raiser at the Carltun restaurant, in the same park, where he is expected to raise as much as $1 million for his re-election campaign.

Memo to Kerry Campaign: Get Howard Dean's Old Webmasters

I'm dyin' to hear Kerry's radio rebuttal to President Pants' address - both of which already happened. Gotta hand it to the old folks - that sucker would've been posted with transcript and audio WHILE it was broadcast. - and their blog - still have nothing. Get crackin' on this, guys. I got an itchy linking finger here and we're all waiting to hear it...

Welcome Author David Dvorkin

(trumpets blaring)
(marching band enters the site)
(confetti flying)
(Work with me here. Use your imagination.)

We're proud to welcome Hoffmania's first advertiser: David Dvorkin's upcoming novel, Business Secrets from the Stars.

Friday, March 5

From Salon: A 9/11 Widow's Open Letter To Bush About His Ads

President Bush: Don't use my husband as your mascot
By A.R. Torres

March 5, 2004 | Dear President Bush:

My husband, Luis Eduardo Torres, was at his second day of work at Cantor Fitzgerald when he was killed on Sept. 11. He jumped from the 105th floor of the North Tower. Most of his upper body was recovered, identifiable only through dental records. I was seven months pregnant at the time.

It is with him in mind that I'm writing to you, to question your disturbing reelection ad campaign. Yesterday I saw the three ads you're now running all over the country, specifically on cable stations in the "swing states," where you feel you need to come out fighting strong. It was the "Safer, Stronger" ad that shocked me the most. At the commercial's midpoint, the words, "Then ... a day of tragedy" dramatically appear on the somber black screen. And the centerpiece: an image of ground zero, the hulking remains of a tower, alongside a human corpse, carried out by several firefighters. Both the tower and the human are draped in American flags.

The flags were intended to honor ground zero and the remains of the dead, but here they are merely props, used to add a powerful patriotic punch to your message. The tower and the corpse are two hideously broken and disfigured things behind and under the flag, and your image -- with your red tie, white shirt, and blue suit, standing in front of thick strong white columns -- serves as another, symbolic, flag.

That image of ground zero, and the body shrouded with the flag, reminded me of the sulfur from the few pathetic remnants of my husband's last day: his Cantor ID, Debitchek Meal Card and subway Metrocard.

I thought I'd finished dealing with the gruesome aspects of his dead body, but it came back to me during your commercial. I had a thought I'd never had before: Was every corpse draped in an American flag as it emerged from ground zero, or was it just an honor bestowed upon the uniformed workers? What if that was my husband's body, now serving as a "spokesman" for your campaign?

I canceled my toddler's afternoon activities so I could do research. I could hear my voice quake as I called the medical examiner and the mayor's office. Initially, uniformed personnel were the only ones wrapped in the flag, I learned -- but it became standard practice to cover all the dead in that way.

In effect, then, Mr. Bush, you've paraded all our 9/11 dead out as the official mascots of your reelection campaign. You use them to show our nation that you can protect us against what we should all fear the most -- being an anonymous corpse in another attack.

But these sleights of image and crafty juxtapositions are the only true demonstrations of your leadership abilities. After all, on that tragic day you didn't actually lead the nation: according to the work of the "Jersey girls" -- the four 9/11 widows who fought to have an independent commission investigate the tragedy -- your first reaction to the plane hitting the North Tower was to blame the pilot. And you continued your activities -- reading stories to a group of young schoolchildren. And as you try to impress our nation with your role during and after 9/11 in these ads, you refuse to talk meaningfully to the independent commission about the specifics of your role prior to 9/11 and how much you knew about a potential large-scale al-Qaida plot.

I didn't think that co-opting 9/11 with such disregard for those of us who have been affected by this tragedy would anger me so much. I hope that John Kerry doesn't use 9/11 to strengthen his own candidacy . But so many 9/11 families are sick at your use of our sadness ... I can't imagine it being any worse than where you have already led us.

About the writer
A.R. Torres lives in New York. Her husband, Luis Eduardo Torres, died on Sept. 11, his second day of work in the World Trade Center. She is currently working on a graphic novel about her loss and post-9/11 experiences.

Talk About Unmitigated Gall

If I were President Chutzpah, this would be the last place I'd show my face this month - especially for the REAL reason he's going to be there. Jeebus.

Bush to visit Sept. 11 memorial next week

President Bush, facing criticism from victims' relatives for using images of the destroyed World Trade Center in campaign ads, will visit a Sept. 11 memorial in New York next week.

Bush plans to tour the memorial Thursday in Long Island's Nassau County, one of the city's suburbs, prior to attending a re-election fund-raiser that night in East Meadow, N.Y.
AFTERTHOUGHT: Okay, I get it. They're making him do these over-the-top moronic acts of idiocy NOW, getting them out of the way, then they can pull out the "Smarter George" strategy as November approaches.

In The Making: A Campaign In Panic Mode

Flashback, March 2, 2004:

"If the Democratic policies had been pursued over the last two or three years, the kind of tax increases that both Kerry and Edwards have talked about, we would not have had the kind of job growth that we've had."

- Vice President Dick Cheney
Flash forward to today, from The Financial Times:

Dollar falls as US fails to create new jobs

The dollar tumbled on Friday as new data revealed that the US economy failed to create any new private sector jobs last month.

Against the background of a presidential campaign increasingly marked by protectionist rhetoric, total employment rose by just 21,000 in February, well below forecasts of around 150,000.

Even this modest job creation was entirely accounted for by a 21,000 increase in the government payroll. The figures raise questions about the sustainability of the US recovery and will alarm President George W. Bush.

The sluggish labour market has become a focus for Senator John Kerry, his Democrat challenger in November, who seized on the figures as evidence that Mr Bush's policies were failing.

Financial markets reacted swiftly to the disappointing data, pushing the dollar lower against the euro, which climbed briskly from $1.218 to $1.241.

Kerry Will Perform An Air Strike Tomorrow

Kos has a bit of John Kerry's Democratic response to Bush's Saturday morning radio cartoon show. Check it out. It'll be heartland America's first glimpse of what Bush has been hiding from them.

Stand By Your Man!

Hoo boy...this is getting really sticky. I'm sure Drudge is working on this story, right?

Report: Perry blames political foes for 'smear campaign'

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is denying widespread rumors that he and his wife plan to divorce over his alleged infidelity and that he will resign from office, according to a published report Friday.

Perry told the Austin American-Statesman in a copyright story that political enemies are responsible for the "smear campaign."

The first-term Republican, who was elected in 2002, said Thursday he was forced to respond publicly because the "obvious, orchestrated effort" had reached critical mass, with rumors spread by e-mail and on Web sites.

Perry said the rumors "are not correct in any shape, form or fashion. These are irresponsible. They're salacious. They're hurtful to my family."
Okay! Okay! Duly noted there, Rick. So let's hear from your wife...

The governor's wife, Anita Perry, declined to comment after her husband's interview with the American-Statesman.
Um. Yeah. Well, ya can't bottle that kind of enthusiasm...

The Other Issue In Bush's TV Ads

CNN also pointed out this morning that over 400,000 people have simply given up looking for work, which effectively removes them from the total unemployment numbers. So if these fenderheads tell you over 400,000 Americans are off unemployment, you'll know why.

Lackluster Job Numbers a Growing Problem for Bush

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush's campaign argument that "America is turning the corner" under his leadership suffered a setback on Friday with a report that the labor market mustered only 21,000 new jobs last month, far fewer than anticipated.

The small gain disappointed White House officials who had hoped for stronger evidence of a recovering labor market and fueled Democratic attacks that Bush should be thrown out of office in the Nov. 2 election.

The numbers also appeared to dash any lingering hopes that the employment this year would average 2.6 million jobs above last year's level, as the White House projected last month in a an economic report from which most officials have tried to distance themselves. Meeting that forecast would require adding 300,000 jobs a month this year -- a figure that far exceeds most private forecasts.

Guilty On 4 Remaining Counts

Yesterday's Dilbert kinda sums up my feelings about Martha Stewart's critics...

Now that we nailed the person who at least gave some people something constructive in her life, the useless Enron jackasses still roam their mansions with our ill-gotten dollars for buying their paper electricity. American justice personified.

Memo To Bush-Cheney '04: Use This 9/11 Image If You Dare

Thanks, JFA

George "Pants" Bush

John "The Xerox" Kerry
Howard "Baby Buns" Dean
Bill "The Lone Drinker" O'Reilly

I did my name, and believe it or not, it's the same as Tony Soprano's: "Childlike Complexion"

The Sopranos Mob Name Generator

While Nero Fiddles In California...

...back in Rome, his aides are bumping into each other dealing with this:

Grand jury seeks records from White House regarding CIA agent

NEW YORK -- A federal grand jury that is probing the leak of a CIA officer's identity has subpoenaed the records of telephone calls made from Air Force One the week before the name of the officer was published in a July newspaper column.

Newsday reports in its Friday editions that the three subpoenas to President Bush's Executive Office also seek the July records created by an internal task force called the White House Iraq Group, which was created to publicize the threat of Saddam Hussein.

In addition, the grand jury wants the transcript of a White House spokesman's Nigeria press briefing, a list of birthday reception guest of a former president, and records of White House contacts with more than two dozen journalists and news organizations.

The subpoenas were issued to the White House on Jan. 22. The grand jury is attempting to find out if a federal law was violated that prohibits the intentional disclosure of the identity of an undercover agent by officials with security clearances.

The investigation came from concerns that officials in the Bush administration had told reporters the name of the CIA officer, Valerie Plame, to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, in his criticism of the administration's Iraq policy.

The Bad News: The Nader Factor Rears Its Ugly Head

Associated Press-Ipsos poll conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs. March 1-3, 2004. N=771 registered voters nationwide. MoE ± 3.5. (Data from 11/03 and earlier co-sponsored by Cook Political Report.)

"If the election for president were held today and the candidates were George W. Bush, the Republican, and John Kerry, the Democrat, and Ralph Nader, the independent, for whom would you vote?" If "other" or "not sure": "Do you lean more toward Kerry, Bush or Nader?"

Bush: 46%
Kerry: 45%
Nader: 6%
Any Nader supporters dancing in the street out there?

The Good News: The Rest Of The Numbers

Associated Press-Ipsos poll conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs. March 1-3, 2004. N=771 registered voters nationwide. MoE ± 3.5. (Data from 11/03 and earlier co-sponsored by Cook Political Report.)

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

Wrong Track: 60% (52%)
Right Direction: 35% (44%)
Not Sure: 5% (4%)

"If the election were held today, would you definitely vote to reelect George W. Bush as president, consider voting for someone else, or definitely vote for someone else as president?"

Definitely Someone Else: 42% (43%)
Consider Someone Else: 16% (18%)
Definitely Bush: 40% (37%)


Strong leadership. Changing times. This is our president being presidential.

"He spent two decades in Congress; he's built up quite a record. In fact, Senator Kerry has been in Washington long enough to take both sides on just about every issue.''
Yuk it up, cowboy.

Thursday, March 4

The Honest Bush Ad

By American Stranger, of course, at Take Back The Media.

STUNNER: Karen Hughes: 9/11 Families and Firefighters Don't Like The Ads Because They're Democrats

It really looks like no one is buying the bullcrap - not even the 9/11 families. Big surprise. Blah3 has the lowdown from them and from watching CNN. Read...

The story's now spilling out into the heartland, and a Bush spokesputz displays the warmth and understanding which have become their trademark. This is amazing...
Bush TV Ads Anger 9/11 Victims' Families
One woman says, "It's a slap in the face of the murders of 3,000 people."

NEW YORK (AP) - President Bush's re-election campaign on Thursday defended commercials using images from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, including wreckage of the World Trade Center, as appropriate for an election about public policy and the war on terror.

Some families of the victims of the attacks are angry with Bush for airing the spots, which they called in poor taste and for the president's political gain.

"With all due respect, I just completely disagree, and I believe the vast majority of the American people will as well," Karen Hughes, a Bush campaign adviser, told "The Early Show" on CBS.
Think Hughes is being arrogant? You ain't seen nothing yet...

"It's as sick as people who stole things out of the place," said Firefighter Tommy Fee of Queens Rescue Squad 270. "The image of firefighters at ground zero should not be used for this stuff, for politics."

The ads do not mention Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, focusing instead on improving Bush's image after criticism by Democrats in recent months.

"I would be less offended if he showed a picture of himself in front of the Statue of Liberty," said Tom Roger, whose daughter perished on American Airlines Flight 11. "But to show the horror of 9/11 in the background, that's just some advertising agency's attempt to grab people by the throat."

Hughes said the ads are a tasteful reminder of what the country has been through the last three years.

"I can understand why some Democrats might not want the American people to remember the great leadership and strength the president and first lady Laura Bush brought to our country in the aftermath of that," she said.
So the victims' families and firefighters are just a bunch of bitter Democrats, huh? Over 3000 families who couldn't even bury their dead because they disintegrated at the site where your ads were filmed are just partisan bullies, right? You people are sick. Just insane. Clean out your desks and get the hell out of our lives.

(You can actually watch this story grow legs, arms and hair at Google News. Hmmm...I wonder if they're now rethinking doing a photo-op at Ground Zero during the GOP convention...)

Cross-post and more comments at Daily Kos

The Firefighters Are NOT Pleased With President Bullhorn

Directly from the International Association of Fire Fighters website:

As Bush Trades on Heroism of Fire Fighters, His Homeland Security Funding Cuts Hurt Fire Fighters and Communities

WASHINGTON, DC – The General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO (IAFF), Harold Schaitberger, issued the following statement today after President Bush unveiled new political ads that use images of fire fighters in September 11, 2001 attacks for political gain.

“I’m disappointed but not surprised that the President would try to trade on the heroism of those fire fighters in the September 11 attacks. The use of 9/11 images are hypocrisy at its worst. Here’s a President that initially opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and now uses its first anniversary as cause to promote his re-election. Here is a President that proposed two budgets with no funding for FIRE Act grants and still plays on the image of America’s bravest. His advertisements are disgraceful.

“Bush is calling on the biggest disaster in our country’s history, and indeed in the history of the fire service, to win sympathy for his campaign. Since the attacks, Bush has been using images of himself putting his arm around a retired FDNY fire fighter on the pile of rubble at ground zero. But for two and a half years he has basically shortchanged fire fighters and the safety of our homeland by not providing fire fighters the resources needed to do the job that America deserves.

“The fact is Bush’s actions have resulted in fire stations closing in communities around the country. Two-thirds of America’s fire departments remain under-staffed because Bush is failing to enforce a new law that was passed with bipartisan support in Congress that would put more fire fighters in our communities. President Bush’s budget proposes to cut Homeland Security Department funding for first responders by $700 million for next year and cuts funding for the FIRE Act, a grant program that helps fire departments fund equipment needs, 33% by $250 million. In addition, state and local programs for homeland security purposes were reduced $200 million.

“We’re going to be aggressive and vocal in our efforts to ensure that the citizens of this country know about Bush’s poor record on protecting their safety and providing for the needs of the people who are supposed to respond in an emergency.”
Proud to have you guys on our side.

Wednesday, March 3

Bush Begins His Campaign With His Most Powerful Argument

The Media Of Bush's #1 Ally Speak Up!

Take it, Guardian UK!

...the consensus of current polls is that this is now a genuine contest. It is clear both that Mr Bush is beatable and that Mr Kerry is the best choice that the Democrats could have made to beat him. America's voters have done themselves a great favour. If they had picked Mr Dean, Mr Bush would have made mincemeat of him. By picking Mr Kerry, they have given the Democrats their best chance of recapturing the White House. That is something for Britons to welcome too. Nothing in world politics would make more difference to the rest of us than a change in the White House.

The free world has never had a stronger interest in the result of a US election than it has in the defeat of Mr Bush. Senator Kerry carries the hopes not just of millions of Americans but of millions of British well-wishers, not to mention those of nations throughout Europe and the world.
Let's hear it, Daily Record!

Vietnam vet Kerry takes on Bush

PRESIDENT George Bush will today launch the full might of his re-election campaign against Vietnam war hero John Kerry.

Senator Kerry is now the unopposed Democrat challenger for the White House. He wiped out his last remaining rival with a stunning success on the 'Super Tuesday' primaries, winning nine out of 10 states. And he's seen as the one man who can rattle Bush particularly when it comes to war records.

While Kerry was patrolling Vietnam's Mekong Delta ona river boat, Bush was serving in the Air National Guard ... and never left the USA.

Kerry won three purple hearts, a bronze star and a silver star in his 11 months of service. And, after returning to America as a hero, he then campaigned as a veteran against the war.

His supporters claim that, though both Bush and Kerry came from wealthy families, Kerry decided to stand up and fight, while Bush took the easy option and stayed at home.
More to come!

From the Pen of: Tom Toles

Damn straight...

Using 9/11 To Sell Their Product

That's exactly what Bush's first flurry of campaign TV spots is doing. Hard to believe he's playing this card so soon, but showing images - and invoking the message - of the 9/11 attacks are there in all their predictable glory.

How painful is this for the families of the victims to watch? That their loved ones died so the images can be used to sell the team which refuses to spend more than an hour with the commission trying to find out why the tragedy happened? To watch President Dressup belch platitudes about how Americans are hard-workin' good people while he turned Iraq into a trainwreck? To know it was coming, but right out of the box?

And in a display of unmitigated chutzpah, they also invoke the message that they inherited "a dot-com boom gone bust" and a declining stock market.

Any rational thinking American has got to be speechless over this. They have no conscience and no shame. Disgraceful.

Quote Of The Day

First, see this. Now read this:

"If the Democratic policies had been pursued over the last two or three years, the kind of tax increases that both Kerry and Edwards have talked about, we would not have had the kind of job growth that we've had."

- Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday

John Kerry - Because America Is Better Than This

It's all but official. It'll be John Kerry against George W. Bush (with both their running mates to be named later) in the 2004 presidential election. In spite of not being my first choice, Kerry is still a great man, towering over the Napoleonic whistleass now running this country. In fact, I do marvel at how someone who was a true activist against the Vietnam war has an incredible shot at being president of the United States. More importantly, he did so after he served his time protecting his band of brothers - something a lot of us didn't/wouldn't do (I was registered 1A-0 with the draft - a C.O.).

Kerry's voting record has its share of blemishes, and he's aware of them. It's also a much different world now. We all now know the extent to which Bush and company has stooped and lied to achieve their power-hungry goals, and those blemishes of Kerry's seem inconsequential by comparison.

America is better than this. We know it. The world knows it.

We MUST stop making enemies - the ones who truly hate us have done enough damage. We cannot foster any more. Our response to their deeds was showing the world how we can beat the crap out of what turned out to be a defenseless country, taking thousands of their citizens' lives in the process.

And make no mistake: Bush tanked the economy and ran up trillions of dollars in deficits to pay for this lie. Millions lost their jobs. And now the buzz is that we'll be raping what we all spent our lives kicking in to Social Security to help pay the bills.

America is better than this. And our work is cut out for us.

Mending the friendships worldwide which Bush torpedoed. A real economic situation where the entire country benefits. A stop to the trashing of the environment which - according to the Pentagon no less - will suffer irreversible damage in our lifetime. This is what Mr. Kerry has to pursue from this day forward.

Bush has to go. Bush will go. And we must fight the lie that's being propagated on talk radio and the Fox News punditry: It's not because we hate Bush. It's not because we hate Republicans. It's for none of the reasons they're trying to cram down your throats. They don't speak for us.

The truth: It's because we love our country too much to let these thugs ruin it. The truth will be the deciding factor in November. It's our strongest campaign platform.

Go, John Kerry. Give 'em hell. We're in your platoon now, and it's our turn to watch your back. Let's win this one for America.

Because America is better than this.

9/11 Commission: Some People Can't Wait To Tell Their Side Of The Story

Seems the 9/11 commission is about to get an earful from the Big Dog and Big Al - but they're getting nothing but static from their successors. This is gonna get VERY interesting. And suddenly, Dennis Hastert's bum's rush to a windup becomes clear.

Clinton, Gore Set to Face 9/11 Commission

WASHINGTON - The federal panel reviewing the Sept. 11 attacks has scheduled interviews with former President Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore this month but is struggling to get similar cooperation from President Bush and administration officials.

Members of the bipartisan commission said they were considering a subpoena to force the public testimony of national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. She has declined to appear at the panel's two-day hearing later this month.

"The commission wants to go back in the court of public opinion and appeal to the administration for them to reconsider their first stand," said commissioner Timothy Roemer, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana. "If we don't get that kind of cooperation, compelling Dr. Rice to come before us is an option."

The White House said Tuesday that Rice's testimony was a constitutional issue of separation of powers. "As a matter of law and practice, White House staff have not testified before legislative bodies," National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack said. "This is not a matter of Dr. Rice's preferences."

The 10-member commission also requested private meetings with Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney about what the administration knew before the attacks, potentially a sensitive subject in an election year.

While Clinton and Gore have consented to private questioning without a time constraint, Bush and Cheney have agreed only to private, separate, one-hour meetings with the commission's chairman and vice chairman, instead of the full panel.

Tuesday, March 2

Second Quiz Of The Day

Can you name the only president who has actual tangible proof of having not one, but several chances to get a known terrorist to American interests but passed on every single one - resulting in massive citizen deaths?

Hint: It ain't Clinton.
Another hint: Iraq is now an American interest.

Avoiding attacking suspected terrorist mastermind
By Jim Miklaszewski
NBC News

With Tuesday’s attacks, Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida, is now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq.

But NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger.

In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.

“Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11 and we still didn’t do it,” said Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution.

Four months later, intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe.

The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.

“People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president’s policy of preemption against terrorists,” according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.

In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.

The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

...despite the Bush administration’s tough talk about hitting the terrorists before they strike, Zarqawi’s killing streak continues today.

Upcoming Scene From The GOP Convention

Thanks to JACK-FM

Fox News In The Sign Making Business

There's a giant "CNN IS BAD NEWS" sign over Candy Crowley's right shoulder at Kerry HQ in Washington. Oops.

Wolf Blitzer Beer Game

It occurred to me that a good way to get hammered on Super Tuesday would be to watch the countdown clock for the closing of each state, and down a can of brew each time Wolf says "Look at this!" when CNN projects a winner. I would've been out by Georgia.

Howard Dean Finally Wins A State

The ones who knew him best loved him the most. CNN just declared Dean the winner in the Vermont primary today.

In my voting booth here in California, yep...Dean was the winner, too, in case you were wondering if I went through with it.

So Now All De Homosexshuls Vill Vote Fooah Proposition 57 And All Dot Stuff

It must be said that Arn raised over $10 million to push Proposition 57 - the $15 billion debt reduction to be put on California's already red-flagged credit card. Wonder if he'll feel the same after today's primary budget vote?

Governor Says Law Permitting Gay Marriage Would Be 'Fine'

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on national television Monday night that it would be "fine with me" if state law were changed to permit same-sex marriages.

In an interview with Jay Leno on NBC's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," Schwarzenegger also strongly rejected President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. "I think those issues should be left to the state, so I have no use for a constitutional amendment or change in that at all," he said.

The governor reiterated his opposition to the decision by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying city officials should abide by the state law.

But when Leno asked, "Would you have any problem if they changed the law?" the governor replied: "No, I don't have a problem. Let the court decide. Let the people decide."

Who Do YOU Believe In This Story?

Take this simple poll. "I believe (choose only one):
a) Dick Cheney
b) Jean-Bertrand Aristide
c) Daffy Duck when he says it's rabbit season"

Yeah. Me too.

Cheney Says Aristide Had Worn Out Welcome

Vice President Dick Cheney said on Tuesday Jean-Bertrand Aristide had "worn out his welcome" as Haiti's president but that the United States did not force him to leave as he claims.

"He made the choice to leave. He resigned the office of his own free will and left on a civilian aircraft which we chartered for him. He left with his security detail. This was his decision to go," Cheney told the Fox News Channel.

Aristide, who left Haiti on Sunday and is living in temporary exile in the Central African Republic, has claimed he was abducted by U.S. soldiers and was a victim of a coup.

"They lied to me, and they may lie to you too," Aristide told CNN on Monday. "They used force to push me out."

They've Got This Fenderhead Addressing Radio Decision-Makers

As the person who sent this to me said: If we don't bleach the news, how do we get Drudge's skid marks out of it?

During this speech, by the way, he still defended his Kerry extra-marital affair story. Jeebus. From Radio and Records Online:

Matt Drudge Cautions Against 'Bleaching' The News

During his Saturday-morning keynote address at the R&R Talk Radio Seminar, the Premiere Radio Networks weekend host and Internet mainstay advised Talk and News radio executives not to let the industry's current sensitivity about broadcast indecency affect how they pursue news, especially when a story might prove controversial. "Be careful about bleaching out information," he said, "because you may just be left with a shell. If we take out the Clorox and make everything a little more boring and a little more dry, Generations X and Y are going to go somewhere else." Noting that technologies like wireless Internet are going to increase citizens' access to news and information, he said the challenge for radio to compete is only going to increase and implored the audience to rise to the challenge. "You have to make a decision," Drudge said. "Are you going to take this fight, or do what others tell you to do?" He continued, "You know the FCC is going to step in somehow, so all of this is setting up a rough ride for citizens in this country." But Drudge vowed that he won't alter his behavior in light of increased scrutiny from the FCC and Congress. "I'm not going to roll over, like I saw some gentlemen roll over on Capitol Hill," he said.
(Don't do it, Hoff. Resist that last line. Show restraint...)

All Hell Breaking Loose In Iraq

I just got home from seeing Bob Weir at House Of Blues and CNN is covering some serious bombings which have taken place in Baghdad and Karmala during the holy obervance of Ashoura. Nine explosions within seven minutes in Karbala.

This is apparently the first time Shiites have been allowed to celebrate this day in decades.

This is awfully chaotic stuff. Tune in.

Monday, March 1

Why Am I Voting This Way Tomorrow? WHY?

Call me nuts. Call me a vote waster. Call me what you will.

I think I'm actually going to vote for Howard Dean in the Cali primary tomorrow.

I've really been doing some serious thinking about where my vote's going to go, and I really can't think of a better place for it (Go on. You know you want to say it. A good place for my vote is up where my head is stuck. SAY IT). I'm genuinely not finding the heart or wherewithall to give that vote to Kerry or Edwards yet. They're okay guys, but they still haven't struck me as the people who will carry the message of Democratic and progressive values (Go on. Say how you'd like to strike me with Democratic values and a bag of quarters. SAY IT!).

Yeah, there's Kucinich, buoyed by his dazzling upset in...Hawaii. But, man - none of these guys has the economic record of Dean. They don't have the gubernatorial experience. And frankly, anyone can blow holes in the experience of the whole lot of them, including Dean.

But the way I see it, our little pack of wolverines needs SOME representation at the convention. Yes, it looks like Kerry is going to be the guy, and that's fine with me. But as long as he's so huge, I just have this urge to inject the boy with a shot of what the Dean campaign was all about, and to see to it that at least SOME of our message - y'know, the pre-yawping part - becomes integrated into the Kerry campaign.

Democrats are blessed with a lot of things in our favor - the biggest one is the truth. When our candidate breaks out, he'll have that as his number one asset. I'm hoping my vote will keep his feet to the fire and to not let Bush dictate the conversation with his little costume parties.

Now go ahead and let me have it...

If You Can't Befriend Other Countries, REGIME CHANGE

First, Democracy Now's story of how Aristide was shoved out the door. Actually it was more like a FedEx pickup by President Cokesnort's crew.

This is getting to be a pretty nasty habit of the executive branch. Of course had they done this in Iraq, 550+ Americans would still be alive. Nonetheless, Haiti is going to be America's hot new vacation destination - once we finish cleaning up Afghanistan. And Iraq. And Libya. And Hollywood.

U.S. political maneuvering behind the ouster

The departure of Haiti's Jean-Bertrand Aristide is a victory for a Bush administration hard-liner who has been long dedicated to Aristide's ouster, U.S. foreign policy analysts say.

That official is Roger Noriega, assistant U.S. secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, whose influence over U.S. policy toward Haiti has increased during the past decade as he climbed the diplomatic ladder in Washington.

"Roger Noriega has been dedicated to ousting Aristide for many, many years, and now he's in a singularly powerful position to accomplish it," Robert White, a former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador and Paraguay, said last week.

White, now president of the Center for International Policy, a think tank in Washington, said Noriega's ascent largely has been attributed to his ties to North Carolina Republican Jesse Helms, an arch-conservative foe of Aristide who had behind-the-scenes influence over policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean before retiring from the Senate two years ago.

"Helms didn't just dislike Aristide, Helms loathed Aristide because he saw in Aristide another Castro," said Larry Birns, director of the Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs, which has been strongly critical of the Bush administration's policy on Haiti.

Pandora's Box

An old secret tradition boils over into the mainstream press. Now EVERYONE's gonna start calling him this.

Oh, wait. They already are.

Thanks, Blah3


Don't worry. This is one tough asshole who'll be around for a LONG time. He has too much work to do.

Oh, This'll Help Nurture Great Radio Talent

Here's a great idea from the geniuses running the radio business. Hire someone who makes dick jokes, tell them to push the envelope, then make them pay for it if they get hammered by the FCC. WHAT!?!

From the Radio Business Report:

Cleaning up the airwaves is a laudable pursuit, so we wish Clear Channel well in instituting its new "zero tolerance" policy. It will be interesting, though, to see what guidelines the company is able to come up with to deliver to its employees. As Mark Mays recently noted, the FCC's enforcement has been so erratic that no one knows what its indecency standard is.

Most strange, though, is Clear Channel's plan to include language in its new talent contracts to make the employee pay part of the bill if their broadcast is fined for indecency by the FCC. If a DJ has another job prospect at anywhere close to the same pay package, why on earth would they ever sign a Clear Channel contract that leaves them open to virtually unlimited liability, but gives them no role in deciding whether to pay up or fight?
By the way, the same article echoes exactly what was said here a few days ago:

Howard Stern was expendable to Clear Channel. He aired on only six of the company's stations and his show wasn't even a Clear Channel product. By very publicly pulling Stern off his stations, John Hogan was able to divert some of the political heat away from his company and onto Infinity Broadcasting, owned by Viacom. Let's face it, the show that got Stern yanked from Clear Channel's stations wasn't different from a typical Stern show. But pulling Stern just before Hogan was due to testify before Congress was a brilliant PR move. One of the Members of Congress even praised Clear channel for its actions, as opposed to the "bad actor" Viacom.

Sunday, February 29

Drudge Still Trying Too Hard

Shocking headline at the Fort Drudge Most today:


So's I clicks on it, and I sees this:

Democrat frontrunner John Kerry is not sure God is on America's side in the war terrorism. Kerry made the startling comments during Sunday's Democrat presidential debate in New York City.

Elizabeth Bumiller of the NEW YORK TIMES asked Kerry: "President Bush has said that freedom and fear have always been at war, and God is not neutral between them. He's made quite clear in his speeches that he feels God is on America's side.

"Is God on America's side?"

KERRY: Well, God will -- look, I think -- I believe in God, but I don't believe, the way President Bush does, in invoking it all the time in that way. I think it is -- we pray that God is on our side, and we pray hard. And God has been on our side through most of our existence.
Call me nuts, but I don't see how fedorabrain drew the conclusion.

So Bush can say with absolute certainty that God IS on our side? We have tangible truth on this? And Kerry can't produce that same truth? This is truly a theological breakthrough.

Drudge has officially forfeited his shot at a productive life if this is all he's got left.

Here's Your Morning Coffee, Mr. President. Oh, And Here's Your Latest Poll Numbers


CBS News Poll. Feb. 24-27, 2004. N=1,545 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3 (total sample).
Trend includes surveys conducted jointly with and independently by The New York Times.

"Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?"
(Results from two weeks ago in parenthesis)
Approve: 47% (50%)
Disapprove: 44% (42%)
Don't Know: 9% (8%)

"Is your opinion of George W. Bush favorable, not favorable, undecided, or haven't you heard enough about George W. Bush yet to have an opinion?"
Favorable: 40% (44%)
Unfavorable: 36% (36%)
Undecided: 18% (14%)

"If the 2004 presidential election were being held today, do you think you would probably vote for George W. Bush or probably vote for the Democratic candidate?"
Democrat: 48% (47%)
Bush: 43% (42%)
Can't Say/Don't Know: 7% (11%)
Someone get a sponge...

Mo Dowd Lets Loose With A Great Line

Too bad it wasn't her own, but it's good nonetheless:

Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, George Tenet was asked why the C.I.A. never picked up the trail of Marwan al-Shehhi, the pilot who crashed Flight 175 into the south tower on 9/11.

Thirty months earlier, German intelligence had passed on a hot tip to the C.I.A. — the Al Qaeda terrorist's first name and phone number.

"The Germans gave us a name, Marwan — that's it — and a phone number," the director of central intelligence replied, adding: "They didn't give us a first and a last name until after 9/11, with then additional data."

For crying out loud. As one guy I know put it: "I've tracked down women across the country with a lot less information than that."

Y'Know - Kinda Like What Clinton Tried To Do Before The Guy Blew Up New York

It's wonderful that President Pilotpants has finally gotten around to this, now that he's stopped using Iraq as a playground, and long after his GOP fenderhead pals hogtied his predecessor for trying to do this:

Bush orders bin Laden caught

GEORGE W. Bush has reportedly ordered US agencies to step up efforts to catch Osama bin Laden amid accusations by Democratic presidential frontrunner John Kerry that the White House has neglected the al-Qa'ida leader to the US's peril.

The renewed focus on bin Laden, who US intelligence believes is hiding on the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border, comes amid bitter politicking in the US over national security.

Senator Kerry says Mr Bush effectively allowed bin Laden to escape two years ago when he relied on local warlords instead of US troops to hunt him in Afghanistan's Tora Bora region.

News of the stepped up hunt comes less than a month after the senior US military spokesman in Afghanistan, Colonel Brian Hilferty, said: "We're sure we're going to catch Osama bin Laden this year."


Bush sending Marines to Haiti
2/29/2004 2:48 PM
By: Capital News 9 web staff

President Bush said he's sending the Marines to Haiti to help restore order.

He's urging the people of Haiti to reject violence, following Sunday's ousting of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Bush called it "the beginning of a new chapter in the country's history."
When Bush declares a new chapter in your country's history...RUN.

More Important Stuff From This Morning's Paper

I'm not sure when this happened, but on the comics page, apparently Cathy is engaged to that guy she's been dating since the strip started several hundred years ago.

I'm a huge fan of the funnies, but Cathy is one of those strips that I really don't pay much attention to, simply because the formula's remained the same since its inception.

Panel 1: Establishing shot of Cathy...
a. engaging in conversation with boyfriend/mother/co-workers/waiter.
b. shopping for a swimsuit.

Panel 2: A growing sense of panic and/or concern.

Panel 3: A cloud of chaos with arms flailing, sweat drops flying and paper tearing.

Panel 4: Cathy standing/sitting in the middle of a shredded pile of something expressing an obvious conclusion.

Man, I miss Calvin and Hobbes...

The Plan's Not Going Well

If Bush wants to run on his record, he's in deep poop. From this morning's L.A. Times:

Domestic Troubles Challenge Bush Campaign

WASHINGTON — When President Bush's political strategists planned his reelection campaign, they hoped to woo voters with an impressive list of achievements in domestic policy: a resurgent economy, tax cuts, an education plan and a prescription drug benefit for senior citizens. It hasn't worked out that way.

To Republicans' distress, Bush has run into trouble on all those fronts. The economy's recovery has been stubbornly slow. The president's tax cuts are not universally popular. His education changes have drawn criticism from educators and state officials in both parties. And the Medicare bill has failed to impress elderly voters.

"When President Bush goes to make his case for a second term, his domestic performance will not be his strong suit," said pollster Andrew Kohut of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for People and the Press. "It's not a hopeless thing, but boy — he has some work to do to get people to feel better about what he has accomplished."

Republican strategists acknowledge that the president has not yet succeeded in making his domestic agenda an effective selling point.

"When you look at the specific concerns about the Medicare law and No Child Left Behind, they start a little bit rocky," said Republican pollster Bill McInturff, referring in part to Bush's education program. "But that's why God made campaigns."

One problem, Republicans said, is that the Bush campaign has been slow in starting in a political season that has seen the president's Democratic rivals focus their criticism on the incumbent (instead of on one another, as the GOP had hoped).

"His Democratic opponents have run more than 36,000 television ads attacking President Bush or his policies," said Scott Stanzel, a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign. "It's time to reframe the debate."

Minnesota's Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty noted a second, more troubling problem: So far, Bush's domestic accomplishments are mostly on paper.

In a poll by the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center released Feb. 9, 63% of respondents said they got little or no benefit from the tax cuts; only 33% said they derived "some" or "a great deal."

Friday, February 27

Still Think The Occupation's Going Well, Senator Daschle?

This is heartbreaking, disgraceful and horrific. My vote automatically goes to the Democratic candidate who travels to Iraq and brings back a firsthand account of what he sees there. This is what will never be seen by Preznit Giv Me Turkee:
Dying of neglect: the state of Iraq's children's hospitals

In Iraq's hospitals, children are dying because of shockingly poor sanitation and a shortage of medical equipment. In Baghdad's premier children's hospital, Al-Iskan, sewage drips from the roof of the premature babies' ward, leaking from waste pipes above.

In the leukaemia ward, the lavatories overflow at times, spreading filthy water across the floor that carries potentially lethal infection.

Rubbish is piled on the stairs and in the corridors: old broken bits of machinery, discarded toilet cisterns, babies' cots filled with mountains of unwanted paperwork. The fire escape is blocked with discarded razor wire.

Nearby lie blankets still black with the blood of Iraqi soldiers wounded during the war - for months, they must have been fetid breeding grounds for disease.

This is the reality of life in Iraq under American occupation. Ten months after the fall of Saddam, the invasion that was supposed to have transformed the lives of ordinary Iraqis has done little for the children in Al-Iskan Hospital.

Of the billions of dollars the US is spending in Iraq, little seems to have found its way to Al-Iskan. In a country that sits on top of the second largest proven oil reserves in the world, children are dying in hospital beds because of a shortage of such basic equipment as oxygen cylinders.

Issues The Dems Can OWN #1

Republicans and wingnuts shrug off global warming - because they just don't GET IT. Unfortunately, neither do a lot of Democrats, because they're too busy deflecting all the non issues the right wing wackos are slapshotting their way. But as you may know by now, no one less than Bush's military (who do more than bomb the snot out of countries without WMDs) hurls an indictment of our survival on this planet at President Whistleass.

Give Bush his little anti-same-sex marriage crusade. It's being overwhelmed by two coasts, it's not going anywhere and it's not nearly as urgent as everyone's making it out to be. You say we need issues to call our own? Let's start here.

Bleak Forecast
By Arianna Huffington, AlterNet
February 25, 2004

If he's smart enough to use it, the Democratic nominee may have just been handed the perfect cudgel with which to pummel President Bush – and cripple Karl Rove's attempts to position his man as America's go-to guy on national security.

The weapon in question is a new report on the grave and gathering threat posed by global climate change – and the potentially cataclysmic consequences of the Bush administration's obstinately ignorant approach to global warming.

And the thing that makes the report so frightening – and the prospective bludgeon so crushing – is that it wasn't authored by some crunchy granola think tank or a band of tree-hugging EarthFirsters, but by the U.S. Department of Defense.

That's right, the Pentagon – Rummy's playpen. In fact, the report, which was slipped to the press earlier this month after being kept under wraps by the White House for four months, was commissioned by Andrew Marshall, a legendary DOD figure, nicknamed "Yoda" for his sagacity. As head of the Pentagon's secretive Office of Net Assessment, Marshall has offered national security assessments to every president since Richard Nixon.

And this latest assessment pegs climate change as a far greater danger than even the scourge of international terrorism.

And Then Ya See, The Crack Wears Off And They Have To Face The Truth...

Flashback - My take on Dennis Hastert enforcing a 9-11 inquiry 5/27 deadline:

I get ripped occasionally for referring to Bush and his Washington servants as "crackheads" and I probably deserve the criticism. It's not a very nice thing to say and I have no proof that any of them are still smoking crack or doing blow.

However, when I see this kind of transparent panicky behavior which is obviously aimed at covering up any possible wrongdoing, I really, really have to restrain myself. These are classic cokehead symptoms.
Well...guess what happened today?

9/11 Panel Gets Green Light

An intense congressional political battle came to an end on Friday when House Speaker Dennis Hastert agreed to give the independent panel investigating the Sept. 11 attacks an extra two months to finish its report.

Hastert, R-Ill., in a letter to the two chairmen of the commission, former New Jersey Republican Gov. Thomas H. Kean and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., acknowledged that he had been “reluctant to support this extension” because of the need for Congress to move quickly on the findings of the report.

President Bush supports the extension and the Senate earlier Friday passed on a voice vote a Senate Intelligence Committee bill including the two-month extension.

However, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., who have led efforts to prolong the life of the commission, have demanded a guarantee that the House would act by next week on that Senate bill.

Hastert and other GOP House leaders had balked at granting the panel additional time.

Broadband Corner

Virtual Frog Dissection - doesn't allow you to cut away from the lines for total mutulation, though.
And another great moment in advertising (best to right-click and save).

Move Over, Chevy. Step Aside, Wayne.

Clear the way for Dennis.


DENNIS Miller is taking a two- week hiatus from his new CNBC talk show - which is being remade while he's gone.

"The main thing we're going to do differently is to have a studio audience," consulting producer Steve Friedman told The Post. "We're not doing the 'Tonight Show' - we want it more like a nightclub, and we're looking at an audience of around 100 people a day." Miller has, thus far, worked without a studio audience - relying only on laughs from his crew.

"Dennis' comedy is terrific, and it really helps if somebody is there to respond to it," Friedman said. "I love the crew, but that's not enough."

Can We Move In? It's Cold Out Here These Days

I'm not saying he didn't earn it, but DAMN, Joe Trippi has a nice spread near Chesapeake Bay. Maybe he can help pay off the $400,000 debt the Dean campaign still has after Trippi blew the wad in Iowa. Just wonderin'.

(The post is at Trippi's Change For America site which is trying to continue Dean's message without Dean - who's going to form a political action group of his own. It's all so confusing.)

But It Really Sucked To Be Worth Less Than $20 Billion

Quote of the day:

"All told, it was a fabulous year to be very rich."

- The Houston Chronicle reporting on Forbes' world's richest people

Springtime In Libya

Take the kids to Tripoli this year. Whee.

US lifts Libya travel ban, encourages deeper ties
By Terence Hunt, Associated Press, 2/27/2004

WASHINGTON -- The United States lifted a longstanding ban on travel to Libya yesterday and invited American companies to begin planning their return, after Moammar Khadafy's government affirmed that it was responsible for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.

The administration also encouraged Libya to establish an official presence in Washington by opening an "interests section," a diplomatic office a classification beneath an embassy. And Washington will expand its diplomatic presence in Tripoli.

Thursday, February 26

From the Pen of: Ben Sargent

From deep in the heart of Texas, Sarge has been on W's case for years...

From the Pen of: Steve Sack

Do ANY Of These People Have Any Patience?

I get ripped occasionally for referring to Bush and his Washington servants as "crackheads" and I probably deserve the criticism. It's not a very nice thing to say and I have no proof that any of them are still smoking crack or doing blow.

However, when I see this kind of transparent panicky behavior which is obviously aimed at covering up any possible wrongdoing, I really, really have to restrain myself. These are classic cokehead symptoms. Slow, sure and forthcoming are character traits those types generally don't engage in.

House Speaker Firm on 9/11 Panel's Deadline
Hastert, worried about disclosures during an election season, says he will block bills that seek to give the investigative commission more time.
By Greg Miller
Times Staff Writer

February 26, 2004

WASHINGTON - House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said Wednesday that he would block legislation to extend the deadline for a commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks - a serious setback to the panel, which also on Wednesday expressed disappointment over limits on its access to President Bush and other administration officials.

Hastert refused to allow a bill extending the commission's deadline to be introduced in the House, angering Democrats on Capitol Hill. Bush had endorsed the idea of giving the panel two extra months - until July 26 - to complete its investigation.

A spokesman for Hastert said the speaker opposed postponing completion of the report partly out of concern that it would push the release of the commission's findings - and any damaging disclosures - into the heat of the presidential campaign. The panel's mandate calls for it to complete its work by May 27.

Safire's Apples And Oranges

First, highlights of the article.

Return to Riga

Can people who have been taught only submission for generations, who are strangers to democracy, be trusted to govern themselves?

That's the question facing us in Iraq today. We will be asking the same question come the revolution in Iran or, even sooner and closer, after the chaos in Haiti.

Look for an answer in Riga, the beautiful capital of Latvia, a northern European nation conquered by Hitler before we entered World War II. He traded it to Stalin, and Latvians lived under oppression and Russian colonization for two generations.

When Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia broke free, Ukraine followed (despite Bush's "chicken Kiev" speech) and the house of Communist cards collapsed.

In the years since, Latvians suffered the anguish of raw democracy. The hundreds of thousands of Russians sent to colonize and dominate were no longer the elite; they now made up a disliked minority that would not go "home." Grudgingly, Latvia offered citizenship to Russians willing to learn the local language and residency to the rest.

Meanwhile, squabbles proliferated among former political allies. Personalities clash; coalitions are hard. Ten rightist cabinets failed to last a full term and only last week, the Parliament had to turn to an amiable Green Party leader to preside as the nation achieves its dream of membership in NATO and the European Union.

Latvians, new to democracy, are trying to embrace Europe without forgetting that America is their most reliable friend. In the same way, my other favorite pushed-around people — the Kurds of Iraq — have emerged from a U.S.-protected decade of tribal rivalries to show other Iraqi Muslims how their regional parliamentary progress can be a national example.

Democracy is heady wine and causes initial hangovers. But given a chance to become a habit, the exhilarating experience of freedom enriches and ennobles people. That's hard to believe until you've seen it with your own eyes.
It's a nice sentiment, but the comparisons to Iraq are totally without merit.

While Safire has been to Riga twice in 15 years, I have a good friend from Long Island who moved back there a dozen years ago - first as media director of the new government and now as a general manager of a few of Riga's media outlets.

We discussed this article and he agrees that it's a pretty huge stretch to make the Iraq-Latvia connection:

1) Democratic Latvia didn't come about by an invasion by another country.
2) Democratic Latvia was a choice made from within by its own people.
3) Latvia wanted to be part of the European community.
4) Democratic Latvia was ultimately the end product of a failed Communist rule.

In other words, Latvia's democracy is probably the purest form of democracy you'll find anywhere. It was decided by the people once they made their own break from a failed superpower. It wasn't foisted upon them by pressure or by outside military force. And they'll ultimately be welcomed by Europe with open arms, not shoved down their throats - nor were countries barred from the rebuilding process by outside edicts.

My friend adds that even though the USSR was considered an oppressive government, they did have a technological and cultural infrastructure which made the transition a lot easier.

Yes, there were big time growing pains, but democracy was done on their schedule under their conditions.

As you can see, Iraq's story has absolutely nothing in common with Latvia's. I like to think that Safire's smart enough to realize that.

Howard Stern Yanked Off - By His Parent Company's Competition

Talk about cutting off your nose to spite (or save) your face...
Clear Channel Addresses Decency After Firing DJ

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Radio station giant Clear Channel Communications Inc. said on Wednesday it was dumping nationally syndicated shock jock Howard Stern from its stations under a new "zero tolerance" policy toward indecency.

In dropping Stern from its six radio outlets that carry his show, Clear Channel cited his interview on Tuesday with Rick Solomon, the man who was filmed having sex with hotel heiress and TV reality star Paris Hilton in a video widely distributed on Internet porn sites.

According to a transcript of the show released by San Antonio, Texas-based Clear Channel, Stern asked Solomon if he engaged in anal sex and referred to the size of his penis. Using a racist term, a caller to the show asked Solomon if he had ever had sex with any famous black women.

The action against Stern came a day after Clear Channel fired Florida radio personality "Bubba the Love Sponge," after federal regulators accused him of airing sexually graphic material on Tampa's WXTB-FM and three other Florida stations.
Chalk this up as another one of those "issues" that are being waved in our faces by the Bush gang as a diversion. Broadcast indecency (spurred by the Janet Jackson debacle) joins same-sex marriages and bad guys with bombs as simple talking and acting points which the right owns right now. And Howard Stern is paying the price in this war on entertainment. But he won't starve.

First, let's put this in perspective. Six Clear Channel stations is a spit in the ocean. This is not a major shutdown of the Stern show by any stretch of the imagination. CC owns over 1200 radio stations. Guaranteed there are ten other stations in each of those markets who are tripping over themselves to get the rights to Howard Stern as you read this.

Secondly, all this is is Clear Channel's second token move this week to show they're "doing something" - the first being their firing of Bubba the Love Sponge (I've heard this guy - his name is his whole act).

And third, it's a slap at their major competitor, Infinity, while they're under the microscope in the Super Bowl aftermath. So know this, radio fans: It's a PR move to boost CC's image and to kick Infinity/CBS in the nuts while the feds turn up the heat.

Howard Stern will - and should - continue to prosper and be heard. Clear Channel will get some publicity out of this, but you can believe the local management teams of those six stations are tearing their hair out over the monumental lost revenue they're looking at now.

Which gives you some idea how much Clear Channel cares about radio and its people on the local level.

Wednesday, February 25

Father Forgive Them

Downpours bring out the worms...

Jews, Christians Upset Over Pastor's Sign

DENVER - A pastor displayed the message "Jews Killed The Lord Jesus" in front of his church on a busy Denver thoroughfare Wednesday, prompting outrage from Jews and Christians alike.

Pastor Maurice Gordon said he was inspired by the intense discussion leading to Wednesday's release of the Mel Gibson film "The Passion of the Christ," which some have criticized as anti-Semitic and others have hailed as powerfully portraying the Crucifixion of Christ. Gibson has said the movie does not blame Jews for the death of Jesus.


In a nutshell, Alan Greenspan is suggesting we cut into Social Security to pay for the tax cuts Bush gave the wealthy.

And Al Gore's "lockbox" officially moves from being an SNL punchline to a faint distant memory. You still laughing?

Love Letters To Dean

They keep on coming by the same folks who played a big role in killing his campaign...the media. This one stands out from Business Week:

As Mission Accomplished in Baghdad gave way to Mission Impossible and Mission Unnecessary and finally Mission Totally Fabricated, Dean soared. In the background, the Democratic powerbrokers shivered and quivered, and huddled together -- much like the Republicans in 1992, when the Buchanan Brigade momentarily threatened the GOP status quo. The man had to be stopped.

No upstart from the woods of New England was going to seize the self-fulfilling, self-aggrandizing, self-lubricating power machine of special interests, corporate lobbyists, New Democrats, fat-cat law firms, think-tank theoreticians, union pooh-bahs, foreign policy blowhards, and coddled Washington pols. So the Democratic Party savaged one of its own.

As The Washington Post reported on Feb. 11, a group called Americans for Jobs & Healthcare spent $500,000 on ads attacking Dean in the run-up to the primaries. The Post said the group was headed by David Jones, a longtime adviser to Gephardt. It said the group's spokesman was Robert Gibbs, who had previously been working for the Kerry campaign. And where did the money come from? According to the Post, disgraced former Senator Robert Torricelli of New Jersey, a Kerry supporter, gave $50,000.

Other money, according to the Post, came from Alan Patricof, a Clark fund-raiser, and Bernard Schwartz, chairman of Loral Corp. Schwartz is a longtime moneybag for the Democratic Establishment who had close ties to the Clinton Administration. One ad the group ran questioned Dean's foreign policy expertise and used an image of Osama bin Laden.
By the time the Iowa caucuses arrived, the attacks and the spendthrift Mr. Trippi had taken their toll. And then came The Scream -- which wasn't really a scream but just a weary man in a noisy room trying to rally his troops. In one wild night, Dean had been stopped. He hadn't been allowed to try to take back the country. And, more important, he hadn't taken back the Democratic Party. It remained safe in the soft, manicured hands of the Teddy Kennedys, Bill Clintons, Terry McAuliffes, John Sweeneys, and, yes, John Kerrys of the political world. And Howard Dean became Howard the Duck.
Just amazing. NOW they run to his defense.

Democrats: Are You Listening?

Steve Lopez does make a very good point in today's L.A. Times. Even though we see gay marriage and Mars missions as trivial and foolish as issues (which I admittedly did in the post below), they're issues - real or manufactured. Democrats need to do more than make going after Bush their message. We need to grab on to several issues and pound them. Lock onto them. Make them our property. And own them all the way. Otherwise, we're letting the GOP dictate our message - again.

And I'd like to add - John Kerry, John Edwards, or whoever gets the nomination: if you want a clinic on key issues and how to deliver them, sit down with Howard Dean for a couple of hours. You guys really need it, because a lot of us are still unclear about what you are.

[The Democratic Party] lost its way when Bill Clinton got one look at Monica Lewinsky's thong and went crazy.

Ever since that hallmark moment — if not when Clinton started shoplifting Republican ideas like ending the welfare state — Democrats have been like teenagers suffering through adolescence.

They're rebels who aren't sure what the cause is any longer, which is why they appear on the verge of a nervous breakdown over gay marriage, and don't have much in their arsenal beyond trashing George Bush.


Yeah, I'm aware that current polls show either Kerry or Edwards beating Bush in November, but as GOP strategist Arnie Steinberg points out, this is February.

"Are the numbers accurate? Yes. Will they hold up? No."

Not if the Democratic candidate doesn't learn something from the essential truth about George Bush and the Republican Party: They know exactly what they stand for and how to herd the sheep.

It's always the same recipe: tax cuts, heterosexuals, tax cuts, God, tax cuts, military prowess, tax cuts, small government, tax cuts, big business, and, of course, tax cuts.

Stick to that formula, and all sins are forgiven. You can fudge claims about the reasons for war. You can go duck-hunting on Air Force Two with a Supreme Court justice.

Sure, there are sharp differences within the GOP on whether Bush is too big a spender, and on any number of social issues. But true conservatives would vote for a one-eyed parakeet if it promised to go after tax-and-spend liberals.

I'm asking the Democratic candidates, beginning with tomorrow night's debate, to put their own package together and start hammering away at it as Republicans do.

A total healthcare overhaul.

A fearless defense of the environment.

A guaranteed living wage.

A chicken in every pot.

A fat surtax on everyone in Dick Cheney's income bracket.

Something bold. Anything.

Lashing out at George Bush is great sport, sure, and certainly worth the effort. But I don't think it gets you the keys to the White House.

Not That You Asked...

But I haven't given my thoughts about the discussion about gay and lesbian marriage. I just think there's just too much false outrage over this. It a non-issue. And declaring a constitutional amendment BANNING it is utter nonsense. Our constitution is an outline of our freedoms and our rights - not an outlet for personal outrage or to invoke it as a threat to any group. We might want to revisit the preamble:

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

It seems what's going on now is simply a strike against a segment of America seeking a bit of dignity and happiness. Gay/lesbian marriage opponents loudly proclaim that they already have the same rights under some states' civil union laws and they don't need to have the formality of marriage. They have no reason to get married.

Well, why the hell not? Because it's the last safe outpost of heterosexuality? Please. We heteros have really screwed up the sanctity of marriage since marriage was invented - that we all can agree on. Welcoming homosexuals into the fray might teach us a few things about love and loyalty.

Look, folks, your sexual orientation is NOT, NOT, NOT a matter of choice. No one in their right mind chooses to be the recipient of scorn, hate, taunts and the sort of mob warfare they're facing now. The "controversy" is nothing more than a ruse, a joke, a smokescreen for the bigger problems we've got.

Bush knows this is a simple thing his red-state constituents can wrap their minds around. Not his history of avoiding wars 30 years ago and having no problem declaring them now. Not trashing the economy. Not stonewalling investigations of abusing intelligence of outing CIA agents. But gay marriage? Oh, we know this can't be good, because our preacher told us so.

Simple people are happy people. Unfortunately, life is more complex than this. Homosexual marriages are important to whoever's getting married. Let them. And let's keep our focus on the stuff that can screw up our lives for real, not these fake manufactured problems.

There's No Reason To Believe Geoffrey O'Connor's Feelings Were Hurt By Not Going Along

Perry, staff took Bahamas trip paid for by donors

AUSTIN -- Gov. Rick Perry, his wife and staff and some of the state's largest Republican donors traveled last week to the Bahamas, where they talked about school finance.

A Perry spokesman tells The Dallas Morning News that the three-day trip was a working retreat during Presidents Day weekend. Citizens watchdog groups slammed the trip as an example of how well-heeled donors gain access to the governor.

On the trip to the Abaco Islands were contributors James and Cecelia Leininger and John and Bobbi Nau. The Leiningers have given Perry's campaigns more than $75,000 since 2000. The Naus have donated more than $100,000 to his campaigns.

Also accompanying the Perrys were political adviser Dave Carney; chief of staff Mike Toomey; deputy chief of staff Deirdre Delisi; Delisi's husband, GOP political consultant Ted Delisi; and budget director Mike Morrissey.

Washington-based anti-tax leader Grover Norquist, Brooke Rollins of the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, and Rollins' husband Mark Rollins also took the trip.

Perry spokesman Robert Black said the Perrys used campaign funds to pay for their trip, while the staff's expenses were covered through private funds. He didn't elaborate.

The Daily Show

Jon Stewart took a rather humorless John Podhoretz (NY Post columnist and author of "Bush Country") to school tonight in a way I haven't seen from Stewart - well, ever. It was very civil, but Jon had no problem letting his feelings be known.

STEWART: What is President Bush's greatest accomplishment in your mind?
PODHORETZ: I think the War on Terror...
STEWART: Yes, he did start that...
PODHORETZ: They've set a new standard for how to approach the world, how to make Americans safe and how to advance the prospects of freedom and liberty in the world.
(This was met with a couple of seconds of silence followed by snickering from the audience.)

PODHORETZ: I do believe that a lot of the people who criticize the president do criticize him in a reckless and irresponsible and unfair that he's a moron, one that he's a puppet, one that he's a religious fanatic, one that he's like Hitler...
STEWART: I remember a few years back, there was a guy in the White House, I can't recall his name...uh...Clinton was his name. And I remember Representative Dan Burton calling him a scumbag on national TV. So I find it really odd that the argument is now brought up that discourse in this country has become outlandish or attack oriented when I remember eight years of pretty vicious and seemingly ad hominem type attacks on him.

STEWART: Do you really think that people believe that Bush is a moron?
PODHORETZ: I do. Last week both Joe Klein in Time and Jonathon Alter in Newsweek worte columns which essentially said that Bush does not have the intellectual heft to be president and is doing it in a silly way.
STEWART: I think you got a guy who's clearly...he went to Yale and Harvard and a lot of other very elite east coast institutions. I think he's very bright. I think we're stupid and I'll tell you why - if we weren't, he wouldn't talk to us this way.
(laughs and applause)
STEWART: Personally...I didn't know this crowd was so partisan and freaky. He's much smarter than what he shows us. What he seems to shows us is [low Southern drawl], "Freedom is good...and people like it." He doesn't trust us enough to say to us, "We need to establish a bulwark in the Middle East of democracy." He says to us [drawl again], "They could get their hands on bombs."

STEWART: I think there's a legitimate concern that 9-11 changed everything. But I'm not sure that everybody needs to believe that it changed it this way...that tends to be the way it's portrayed as, "You guys don't understand. 9-11 changed everything, and if you don't abide by the way we see the world, you're a fool or you're naive." And that strikes me as irresponsible.

Tuesday, February 24

Oh, You're Familiar With Our Work?

Al-Qaeda sweep worries Pakistan press

As Pakistani forces launch a new offensive against al-Qaeda and Taleban suspects in the border area with Afghanistan, Pakistani papers worry about possible US involvement and potential consequences for the population.

Today's Work Of Art

Click on it...Danziger's got a double-shot of fine toonage today.

The Annotated Bush

A good mornin' front-page story in today's L.A. Times. Let's do a little deconstructing.

Bush Takes Aim at His Democratic Challengers
By Edwin Chen and Maura Reynolds
Times Staff Writers

February 24, 2004

WASHINGTON — Moving to seize the political offensive, President Bush on Monday delivered a direct attack on the Democrats trying to unseat him, saying they had offered no policies that would win the war on terrorism or expand the economy.
Mr. Bush, however, hopes to come up with some before election day.

"So far all we hear is a lot of old bitterness and partisan anger," Bush said. "Anger is not an agenda for the future of America."
But fear, bullying and making phoneyed-up military aggresssion with a $500 billion deficit sure is.

In one of the most partisan speeches of his presidency, Bush burnished the two pillars of his reelection bid so far: that he is a decisive "wartime president" who will not relent in the war against terrorism, and that he remains deeply engaged in the task of creating new jobs. But for the first time, Bush also criticized what he said were the failings of the Democrats competing for the nomination to challenge him in the November election.
Hopefully, it'll occur to voters that both of those pillars were created by President Fenderhead himself.

Voters, Bush said, would have "a very clear choice" between his vision of "an America that leads the world with strength and confidence or an America that is uncertain in the face of danger."
Hey! That's the Democrats' slogan, too!

Contrasting his tax cuts with proposals from the Democratic candidates, Bush warned: "Listen closely, because there's a theme. Every promise will increase the power of politicians and bureaucrats over your income, over your retirement, over your healthcare and over your life. It's the same old Washington mind-set: They'll give the orders, and you'll pay the bills."
He threw that in as a joke, right? I don't have a 401k anymore, and that's his idea of ironic humor, correct?

The address, to a receptive audience of Republican governors and donors at a Washington convention center, marked a decision by Bush and his reelection team to move onto an aggressive campaign footing even before Democrats had chosen their nominee.

Next week, the Bush campaign will air its first television advertisements, another signal that Bush is willing to show himself as a partisan candidate as well as a president.
And everything else he's done for the last three years has been bi-partisan? Right.

This animal is in the corner and he's wounded. But still, I can't help feel some deep-down hope because the junk they're feeding Drudge, NewsMax and whoever else has a track record of smear-and-slime is just not sticking. And that's probably because the American public has wised up and adopted "Won't Get Fooled Again" as our new national anthem.

It's going to get much uglier than this, guaranteed. I like to think we're ready for it.