Friday, October 31, 2003

I am Atrios

Sorry, but I've been away -- too busy working on that other site. Today, though, I have to declare to you and Jeffrey Upton (lawyer to self-proclaimed Krugman-stalker Donald Luskin) that I am Atrios.

Friday, October 24, 2003

The man can't even beat out a junkie

A statement by James Brolin's manager, Jeff Wald, after his client's talent was questioned by Michael Reagan.

James Brolin has won numerous Emmys and Golden Globes; he's had three hit series and 30 feature films, including 'Traffic' and 'Antwone Fisher.' Meanwhile, Michael Reagan, who was born into the Lucky Sperm Club, has parlayed that into nothing but being a second-rate radio personality.

In the sperm's defense, it only thought it was lucky... and then it turned into Michael Reagan.

The Previous Adventures of Popeye the Sailor

...He's fond of tatooin'
and leads women to ruin.
He's Popeye the sailor maaaaaaan!

You have to read this great short story by Jim Ruland.

(Link via BoingBoing.)
So I've got to like Viggo Mortensen now?

In Salon:

With regard to history, Bush's record with regard to foreign relations, the environment, the economy, concern for the average citizen ... I can't think of any accomplishment that will put him anywhere else than in last place historically as a president. Of all the presidents in the history of the United States, it's hard to think that there's anything other than public relations -- getting people to swallow huge lies so you can get your dirty work done -- that this president will be considered remarkable for.
I give it two lightning bolts down

Does anyone else think that TBogg is one "shocked Mel Gibson" away from believing in God?

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Coming around

Phil Carter has finally gotten to the bottom of the whole "soldiers paying for their meals in hospitals" thing. Good for him.

For the record, "Dem Vet (not Jo Fish -- the Democratic Veteran) and I were trying to kill this story when it first popped up on Atrios' blog. We said, in the comments:

Here's the skinny. I just got off the phone with a Sergeant Major in finance who explained it this way:

Soldiers get paid separate rations any day they don't get their food from the military, which has to pay them. When I went to Bosnia, I just got $8.10 less every day, but I also got a bunch of other benefits. When the military is feeding you, you either don't get your "separate rations" payment (seprats in military-speak) or you have to pay it back.

I honestly think this rule is pretty fair, guys.
Terry | Email | Homepage | 09.11.03 - 2:51 pm | #

....

(T)he idea is that, if the Big Green Mommy is making you dinner, she shouldn't pay for your Big Mac. I'm pretty sure that no one in Bosnia was getting that $8.10.
Terry | Email | Homepage | 09.11.03 - 3:02 pm | #

...

Guys, we have real issues to deal with and this kind of thing is silly. The government either pays for your meal or gives you $8.10 on top of your regular pay. That's fair.

Yes, it should have been taken directly from his check so he didn't get a bill for $243 and, yes, they shouldn't have been assholes about it, but these are simply systems, people. A bill comes down that was building up for a month and, since the money should have started flowing out of his pay and into the hospital fund automatically, it looked (to the computer) like it was late. This is not a big deal. It's a simple error and soldiers know these happen. Trust me.

Let's move on.
Terry | Email | Homepage | 09.11.03 - 3:12 pm | #

...

All military personnel get free food. They either eat for free in the Mess Hall or they receive money. The hospital has to pay it's suppliers for the food it prepares and it charges the soldiers for food they eat. If the soldier isn't getting extra money for rations, his company clerk puts him on food rations for the period of time he's in the hospital. It's just accounting procedures. No soldier is paying extra for his/her food. If Sgt Murwin is receiving money for his food, he needs to pay the hospital. This isn't news to any soldier/sailor.
Dem Vet | Email | 09.11.03 - 3:19 pm | #

...

(T)he military is finally starting to see the tiny, evil man behind the glowing, flame-spewing, Republicans-support-the-military myth. I'm not saying we shouldn't use what we can against those guys, but smacking them in the face with red herrings is only going to make us look like we don't know how the military works, even though more Dems in congress served in the military than Rethuglicans.
Terry | Email | Homepage | 09.11.03 - 3:28 pm | #

...

Lets also not forget, that soldiers/marines/sailors aren't children. They shouldn't have to have some big brother taking money out of their paychecks willy-nilly. They know what a bill looks like, they know how to pay them. When there are exceptional circumstances such as a marine in the hosp, then the First Sergeant/Rear First Sergeant is supposed to look out so these things don't fall through the cracks.
Dem Vet | Email | 09.11.03 - 3:51 pm | #

Just sayin'.
Smoking gun

Get Your War On!
A note to the military industrial complex

Fellas, I have to say that I think a lot of us would feel safer if you just stopped building crazy shit to make us feel safer?

The United States has been developing what could become a new concept in destroying enemy ballistic missiles in their boost phase.

The concept calls for stationing a huge blimp out of enemy aircraft or missile range that would detect preparations for and launch of any enemy ballistic missile. The blimp would then relay the information to fighter jets that would shoot down the enemy launcher or missile.

The project has been sponsored by the Defense Department's Missile Defense Agency. The agency has awarded Lockheed Martin a $40 million design and risk reduction contract to advance a project to develop and demonstrate a prototype of a high-altitude airship that could remain in the air for one month.

Lockheed Martin executives said the airship would be 500 feet long, 160 feet in diameter and have a volume of 5.2 million cubic feet. This would be about 25 times larger than the blimps seen at athletic events.

Oh, the humanity! How can we really be paying $40 million dollars for someone to design us a balloon? And where on earth is "out of enemy range"? Really. I want to know. 'Cause if, say, an enemy aircraft gets close to this thing, how is a 500 foot long blimp going to get the hell out of the way? This is going to keep us from getting blasted by nuclear weapons?

Does anyone know where John Poindexter's working now? This sounds like one of his crackpot schemes.
Moments in the history of pre-emption

Gen. Boykin's recent comments started me thinking about our war in a different way: Would we have committed the crime of a pre-emptive war if we weren't being led by someone who believed he knew the mind of God? There seems to be a religious/political drive behind all those who have committed pre-emptive attacks. Is it any wonder that most of those incidents are now identified as "massacres"?

For example, let's look at the testimony of the "Fighting Parson," Col. John Chivington, who is now known as the "Butcher of Sand Creek" for leading his men in the "Sand Creek Massacre":

My reason for making the attack on the Indian camp was, that I believed the Indians in the camp were hostile to the whites. That they were of the same tribes with those who had murdered many persons and destroyed much valuable property on the Platte and Arkansas rivers during the previous spring, summer and fall was beyond a doubt. When a tribe of Indians is at war with the whites it is impossible to determine what party or band of the tribe or the name of the Indian or Indians belonging to the tribe so at war are guilty of the acts of hostility.

That kind of sounds familiar. Some people attacked us and these people look like those people, so we killed them.

Chivington even had a similarly cowed press in the Rocky Mountain News, which chastised those who were appalled by his acts in an editorial:

But we are not sure that an investigation may not be a good thing. It should go back of the "affair at Fort Lyon," as they are pleased to term it down east, however, and let the world know who were making money by keeping those Indians under the sheltering protection of Fort Lyon; learn who was interested in systematically representing that the Indians were friendly and wanted peace. It is unquestioned and undenied that the site of the Sand creek battle was the rendezvous of the thieving and marauding bands of savages who roamed over this country last summer and fall, and it is shrewdly suspected that somebody was all the time making a very good thing out of it. By all means let there be an investigation, but we advise the honorable congressional committee, who may be appointed to conduct it, to get their scalps insured before they pass Plum creek on their way out.

It turned out, though, that Chivington also had his own truth-telling Mr. Smith, though, who corrected the record. From the testimony of eyewitness John Smith:

Question. Do you know the reason for that attack on the Indians?

Answer. I do not know any exact reason. I have heard a great many reasons given. I have heard that that whole Indian war had been brought on for selfish purposes. Colonel Chivington was running for Congress in Colorado, and there were other things of that kind; and last spring a year ago he was looking for an order to go to the front, and I understand he had this Indian war in view to retain himself and his troops in that country, to carry out his electioneering purposes.

Question. In what way did this attack on the Indians further the purpose of Colonel Chivington?

Answer. It was said - I did not hear him say it myself, but it was said that he would do something; he had this regiment of three-months men, and did not want them to go out without doing some service. Now he had been told repeatedly by different persons - by myself, as well as others - where he could find the hostile bands.

The same chiefs who were killed in this village of Cheyennes had been up to see Colonel Chivington in Denver but a short time previous to this attack. He himself told them that he had no power to treat with them; that he had received telegrams from General Curtis directing him to fight all Indians he met with in that country. Still he would advise them, if they wanted any assistance from the whites, to go to their nearest military post in their country, give up their arms and the stolen property, if they had any, and then they would receive directions in what way to act. This was told them by Colonel Chivington and by Governor Evans, of Colorado. I myself interpreted for them and for the Indians...

Question. Had there been, to your knowledge, any hostile act or demonstration on the part of these Indians or any of them?

Answer. Not in this band. But the northern band, the band known by the name of Dog soldiers of Cheyennes, had committed many depredations on the Platte.

Question. Do you know whether or not Colonel Chivington knew the friendly character of these Indians before he made the attack upon them?

Answer. It is my opinion that he did.

Question. On what is that opinion based?

Answer. On this fact, that he stopped all persons from going on ahead of him. He stopped the mail, and would not allow any person to go on ahead of him at the time he was on his way from Denver city to Fort Lyon. He placed a guard around old Colonel Bent, the former agent there; he stopped a Mr. Hagues and many men who were on their way to Fort Lyon. He took the fort by surprise, and as soon as he got there he posted pickets all around the fort, and then left at 8 o'clock that night for this Indian camp.

It's like an echo.

Let's look also at the Mormon-led "Mountain Meadows Massacre" and the reasons for it, as described by John D. Lee, the only man punished for the incident.

Haight said that unless something was done to prevent it, the emigrants would carry out their threats and rob every one of the outlying settlements in the South, and that the whole Mormon people were liable to be butchered by the troops that the emigrants would bring back with them from California. I was then told that the Council had held a meeting that day, to consider the matter, and that it was decided by the authorities to arm the Indians, give them provisions and ammunition, and send them after the emigrants, and have the Indians give them a brush, and if they killed part or all of them, so much the better.

I said, "Brother Haight, who is your authority for acting in this way?"

He replied, "It is the will of all in authority. The emigrants have no pass from any one to go through the country, and they are liable to be killed as common enemies, for the country is at war now. No man has a right to go through this country without a written pass."

"(T)he country is at war now" seems to be a common excuse for atrocities.

Santayana, sadly, has been proven correct.
A note to the press

Quit referring to Marines and Air Force personnel as soldiers. It's inaccurate.

Army=soldier
Navy=sailor
Marine Corps=Marine (Yes, it's capitalized. Look in your style guides, people.)
Air Force=airman

If you can't get this simple thing right, no service member will take you seriously when you talk about military issues. Trust me.

That is all.
Mixed messages from the Puzzle Palace

Ken Adelman, February 13, 2002:

I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps.

Don Rumsfeld, in a newly-released memo that he sent on October 16:

It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog.

Maybe he means a "long, hard slog" through cake...

Monday, October 20, 2003

Shorter Cal Thomas

"Muzzling the wrong dog":

Only Christian extremists can defeat Muslim extremists.
The rundown

Happy Furry Puppy Story Time has an excellent rundown of current events, but does get the title of Alan Colmes' new book wrong. I believe the actual title is Liberal like a Fox: A life spent on my knees.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Keep politics out of the military

As someone who has served in two branches of the military, I completely support service members rights to free speech, but only to a point. Now, before you jump up and down on me about that, I would point out that anyone who has served for any length of time knows that there are limits to what we are allowed to say while on active duty. Under Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, for example, commissioned officers are not allowed to make "contemptuous" statements against the President, the Vice President or quite a few other people. You can believe, as I do, that there are good reasons for these prohibitions -- the maintaining of good order and discipline; protecting enlisted soldiers from being coerced to serve not only their country but a political party; etc. -- but, like it or not, it's the law and those who can't follow those rules should either be punished or simply asked to leave.

Recently, certain members of the military have been using their positions for the opposite purpose of that outlawed by Article 88: Attempting to garner support for George W. Bush. For example, there's Lt. Gen. William Boykin, who thinks that Jesus wants George in charge:

Gen Boykin has repeatedly told Christian groups and prayer meetings that President George W Bush was chosen by God to lead the global fight against Satan.

He told one gathering: "Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. He's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this."

Politics aside, if Republicans believe that "negative" reporting about the situation in Iraq will lead to further attacks from Islamist terrorists, they've got to believe that a man saying that God is on our side and that Allah is a false "idol" might be equally bad for business. Especially when he's the man who's hunting Osama bin Laden.

But that's speculation. Who can say (even in this rather obvious case) what might happen as a result of statements like this? The better point to make here is that the Pentagon is now covering for this man, despite the fact his statements are a clear violation of the rules of military conduct.

Wait. What's that, Gen. Myers?

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said "there is a very wide gray area on what the rules permit" but that "at first blush, it doesn't look like any rules were broken."

Au contraire. Department of Defense directive 1344.10 says that an active duty military member may not make partisan political speeches and, frankly, this goes double for guys who do it while wearing their uniforms.

Boykin has embarrassed himself and should be relieved.

But he's not the only one.

As was discovered recently, Army Lt. Col. Dominic Caraccilo, commander of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, wrote a form letter and then passed it around to be signed by soldiers (and in some cases those signatures are said to not be real) and then sent to American newspapers as letters to the editor.

Where's the harm? The letters were basically pro-soldier, right? Yes, but they were clear violations of 1344.10, too. The directive allows soldiers to

Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper expressing the member's personal views on public issues or political candidates, if such action is not part of an organized letter-writing campaign or concerted solicitation of votes for or against a political party or partisan political cause or candidate.

You see. The law allows soldiers to express their personal views, but not as part of a letter-writing campaign. That, in itself, is a violation. This case, however, is made much worse by the fact that it was the battalion commander who organized this activity. For one, his actions could have put his soldiers' careers at risk because they are now violators of DOD directives. Even worse, many of his soldiers may disagree with the position taken in the letter, but felt coerced into signing it because it came from their C.O.

Again, there are reasons for limiting the free speech of members of the military. Caraccilo and Boykin should know better, especially after enlisted soldiers were threatened with discharge for badmouthing Rumsfeld and Bush, even though they weren't covered under Article 88 (because they weren't commissioned officers). Caraccilo and Boykin are both high-ranking officers and should be held to a higher standard than the enlisted soldiers under them. If there's any justice, both will be looking for positions in the private sector very soon.

Update: I would like to add that, in Boykin's case, he's proven that, from even an apolitical view, he can no longer do his job.

In order to become a general, Boykin had to have at some point attended the Army's Command and General Staff Course, which teaches leadership skills to officers who are preparing to take the step to colonel and higher. I refer you now to Chapter 2 of the CGSC Hanbook, "The Leader and Leadership: What the Leader Must Be, Know, and Do." In a section on "Character and Beliefs" (2.100-2.103), we find the following:

The Constitution reflects our deepest national values. One of these values is the guarantee of freedom of religion. While religious beliefs and practices are left to individual conscience, Army leaders are responsible for ensuring their soldiers’ right to freely practice their religion...

(N)o leader may apply undue influence or coerce others in matters of religion—whether to practice or not to practice specific religious beliefs.

Call me crazy, but I think that I might be negatively influenced if I were a Muslim and my commander said that I was placing my faith in an "idol" who was not a "real god."

I have no problem, really, with Boykin believing that's the case, but when he stands up in public and in uniform and says that it's so, he's made it clear that he is not, as the CGSC says, "Army leader" material.

Update: DHinMi has an excellent post on this issue over at the Daily Kos. The post points to DOD 1344.10 (two hours after I did -- toot, toot), but adds an even more damning tidbit from Army Regulation 670-1, which any good soldier knows is the regulation regarding the wear of the uniform.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Spinner One is on the attack

The New York Times' most reliable Gore-basher, Katharine Seelye (dubbed "Spinner One" by Bob Somerby), is now attacking Clark. Today she writes:

The campaign of Gen. Wesley K. Clark, who has based his Democratic presidential bid on his career in the United States Army, this week released 200 pages of internal military evaluations from his commanding officers, who repeatedly used only superlatives to describe his skills, energy and leadership abilities...

The release comes at a time of increasing interest in General Clark's biography and several weeks after officials who had served with him said his career revealed both strengths and shortcomings.

In one incident in 1994, General Clark posed with Gen. Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian-Serb general accused of slaughtering hundreds of civilians. General Clark had been advised by the State Department not to meet with him, but he did anyway, swapping caps and posing for pictures.

While Nitpicker thought, stupidly, that he'd already cleaned up this smear, it's very interesting to note what Seelye's doing here. Using the renowned journalistic technique of the "circular question" -- the reporter wants to know something or make something known, so he or she says that "questions continue to swirl about politican X" -- she says that "increasing interest" has driven her to report that Clark posed with Mladic. Where are those questions coming from? Why, The Weekly Standard, of course. And, let's remember, our old friend Bob Novak spun this pretty hard last month, suggesting (as Seelye seems to) that Mladic was already indicted when Clark met with him, which was a lie. The Free Republic's on the case, too.

Let's all just remember that this happened before Clark received his promotion to four star general and was chosen to be the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. He said in his book that he was never "advised by the State Department" not to meet with Mladic and no one has come forward to say that this is untrue. Anyone who knows how political the upper ranks of the military are knows that, if this story was as damning as it's made out to be, Clark's career would have been over.

Apparently Spinner One has set her sights on the General and she's firing with Republican-provided ammunition. Unfortunately, for her and the Republicans, she's firing blanks.
Missing the point yet again

Ann Coulter misses it like no other. Here's the part that got me giggling.

Rush has hardly been the anti-drug crusader liberals suggest. Indeed, Rush hasn't had much to say about drugs at all since that spinal operation. The Rush Limbaugh quote that has been endlessly recited in the last week to prove Rush's rank "hypocrisy" is this, made eight years ago: "Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. ... And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up."

What precisely are liberals proposing that Rush should have said to avoid their indignant squeals of "hypocrisy"? Announce his support for the wide and legal availability of a prescription painkiller that may have caused him to go deaf and nearly ruined his career and wrecked his life? I believe that would have been both evil and hypocritical.

Did you catch that sweet, sweet line: Rush hasn't had much to say about drugs at all since that spinal operation.

That, Skinny, is exactly what makes him a hypocrite. It's the new Republican way to cover your ass.

A few months ago, this same defense was used by William Bennett, who pointed out that he never said anything bad about gambling. Ethicist Randy Cohen saw right through that one, writing that "The reason he personally never addressed the issue is now perfectly clear -- because he's a gambler."

So now Limbaugh fans feel that they can use the same tactic, but it's just as weak a defense for the man in the big leather chair. Limbaugh may, indeed, have quit talking about drugs after his back surgery, but isn't it hypocritical to only cease bashing addicts once you've become a junkie?

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Draft Ben Shapiro

Apparently, I was about eight months ahead of the curve on suggesting that Ben Shapiro ought to put his ass in a military uniform.

Atrios has now put his political weight behind this idea.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Here's a question

What would the reaction have been if a liberal magazine had titled a Schwarzenegger article "Arnold Uber Alles"?
Help request

I've got some time coming up during which I will not be able to post, so I'm looking for someone to join the blog. Anyone interested should e-mail me at nitpickerblog@hotmail.com.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Don't look at me

Nitpicker had nothing to do with "outing" Valerie Plame. I can, with a clear conscience, sign this affidavit.

Karl? Scooter?
O'Reilly and what America wants

You've got to give O'Reilly credit. You really do. Check out last week's New York Times bestseller list:

1 WHO'S LOOKING OUT FOR YOU? by Bill O'Reilly.
2 LIES (AND THE LYING LIARS WHO TELL THEM), by Al Franken.
3 MADAM SECRETARY, by Madeleine Albright with Bill Woodward.
4 BUSHWHACKED, by Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose.
5 THE GREAT UNRAVELING, by Paul Krugman.
6 SHUT UP & SING, by Laura Ingraham. (+)
7 REAGAN: A Life in Letters, edited by Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson and Martin Anderson.
8 PERSECUTION, by David Limbaugh. (+)
9 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, by Walter Isaacson.
10 LIVING HISTORY, by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

O'Reilly took the top of the chart his first week out of the gate. According to Matt Drudge, he's going to lose it back to Al Franken's book (which held the top spot for five weeks before), but he took it all the same.

What he really deserves the credit for, though, is for doing it without help. Look at the two blatantly conservative books on the list -- those by Laura Ingraham and David Limbaugh. Make sure you point out to everyone that that means that "some bookstores report receiving bulk orders." In other words, conservative groups purchase boxes of these books and hand them out at meetings and conferences for the express purpose of raising the book's profile nationally. It's also a way to underwrite the work of right wing polemicists, ensuring that they will continue to get book contracts and be able to afford to write these books.

Note that not a single book by a liberal and/or Democrat -- half the list -- requires this type of economic stuffing of the ballot box. O'Reilly didn't need it either, so he deserves a pat on the back. This must say something about what America's really feeling right now.

Nitpicker is currently slogging through O'Reilly's book, however, and believes that it's selling more because of his continuous hawking of the book on his show than because it's a good book. Also, I got my copy from the library, adding not a single purchase to O'Reilly's sales total.

(I'll write tomorrow about one of O'Reilly's most egregiously unsupported arguments -- the idea that the founding fathers wanted religion and politics to hold hands.)

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Cut along the dotted Mason-Dixon line

TBogg points us, as only he can, toward the hilarious/pitiful responses to Andrew Sullivan's foolish/naive article, which asks, "When will Republicans accept us gays?"

The answer: Not soon. But this response caught my eye:

Say Goodbye to the South
James Fanning - Rosedale, N.Y.

If the Republicans endorse gay marriage they can kiss the religious right and the Bible Belt goodbye. The same way the Dems lost the South after the '65 civil rights signing.

He's right. But was the "'65 civil rights signing" the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do? Me, I'm about ready to send a "heads up" to homosexuals, blacks, Jews and liberals; apologize for the Civil War on behalf of all free states; and then tell the South that if they want to secede now, that's all right by me.

Family values

So, while Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich has been fighting to put more guns on the street, his wife has apparently been eagerly awaiting the moment when those guns would be available. Why? So she can kill Britney Spears.

While speaking at a domestic violence conference at Hood College in Frederick, Kendel Ehrlich said it is important for women to get as much education as possible to avoid becoming dependent on anyone else.

"It is incredibly important to get that message to young women. You know, really, if I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would," Ehrlich said Friday.

Yeah. Let's shoot the multi-millionaire pop star because she teaches girls how to be "dependent."
Congratulations

Maybe it was the time in Iraq that did it, but based on the fact that someone found Nitpicker by searching for "wedding chapels at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Air," it looks like congratulations are in order for some lucky soldier (of the 3rd ID?). Best of luck and hooah!
Arnold, Schmarnold

I don't really care. I said a long time ago that California could do worse than a socially liberal Republican and, frankly, if there are any "messages" to be taken from this travesty (which were being vainly sought by pundits last night and this morning), they are positive ones for Democrats.

  1. People are ticked about the economy. It's true. For the past six months the Republican argument has been mainly that "Under Gray Davis, California went from a surplus to a record $38 Billion deficit - more than the deficits of all other states combined." All true, but, if we force pundits to face their own words, this could be our battle cry next November. It'll sell.


  2. Phony "character" debates are over. Again, it should be pointed out that Clinton cheated on his wife with a willing participant, whereas Arnold, it appears, committed sexual assault on numerous occassions. Odd thing is, no one cares. I would like for someone to care about sexual assault, I really would, but it seems to me that Republicans, by electing such poorly qualified goobs over the past few years have taken the "character" issue off the table. How could Hannity smear our candidates after fighting for Arnold so vehemently? Did you notice that drugs and failing to perform military service were swept under the rug in the 2002 election, when the poster boy for both was elected President?

    This is not to say that I think Dems have a lower moral character, but only that those who would attempt to smear our candidates with trumped up bullshit will have to think twice now.


  3. People want a hero. Even if he only plays one in the movies. I think this bodes well for Wesley Clark and badly for "Off to Offut" Bush.


  4. Being pissed off doesn't hurt anything. We've known this for some time, of course, but Arnold's election is a very good illustration. Those who've been saying that the "angry" Howard Dean is unelectable because of that anger are deluding themselves. Arnold ran the angriest campaign I've seen in years and people ate it up. "Puke politics?" I got your positive message right here, pal.

These are only a few of the major positive developments I see coming out of the election, but I could be wrong. Feel free to argue with me in comments.

Flashback: I just wanted to remind you of how full of shit Matt Drudge is.

Update: Tom Spencer believes that the numbers, being greatly exaggerated, show no actual trends here. However, Nancy Pelosi says I'm right.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Polls v. poles

There's an interesting article on Salon today by Eric Boehlert, suggesting that Bush's speech on Sept. 7 caused a "holy shit" moment among Americans, leading to Bush's current drop in the polls.

It probably did help. Here's Boehlert:

The subsequent poll results have been stark for the White House. According to last week's New York Times/CBS News survey, just 47 percent of Americans approve of the way Bush is handling the situation in Iraq. That's down 10 points since August. A bipartisan 61 percent don't support Bush's request for $87 billion.

According to a Gallup poll taken between Sept. 19-21, 50 percent think the war in Iraq was worth it. That's down from 63 percent on the eve of Bush's September address. Gallup also found Bush lost 7 points off his approval rating immediately following his Sept. 7 speech, hitting the lowest point of his presidency.

Meanwhile, the New York Times/CBS found 51 percent – also a new low -- approve of the job he's doing as president. Perhaps even more telling was the 42 percent who disapprove of his performance as president. That's the highest negative rating the ongoing Times/CBS poll has ever recorded during Bush’s presidency.

Even the Fox News poll -- which has routinely found higher approval ratings for Bush than other surveys -- reported that his standing fell from 58 to 50 percent in the two weeks immediately following his Sept. 7 prime time speech. That 8-point drop represents the biggest survey-to-survey decline recorded by Fox since Bush took office.

But those of us who have been paying attention know that the myth of Dubya the "popular wartime president" has always been only that: a myth. Looking at his numbers in context show that he has never really had solid support, but people felt like rallying around the flagpole. Bush just had to stand near it.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

O'Reilly's a lying asshole, Chapter 102

I was in the car earlier and caught the opening of O'Reilly's radio show. He said that he wanted people to call in but they should be prepared to back up any comments they're going to make and couldn't just rely on "character assassination." I figured he was talking about Rush Limbaugh and, sure enough, he proved it by going straight into a little bit about how it seemed like there might be some truth to the Limbaugh charges because he'd hired a big-time Miami defense attorney already.

Then O'Reilly lied his ass off.

He said that, if they were true, they were sad. "We feel bad for people who are addicted to drugs. We really do."

Hasn't this bastard learned yet that this is the internet era? Here's what he said December 5, 2002, about Whitney Houston, after she talked about her drug problems in an interview with Diane Sawyer:

O'REILLY: .... she was posing.

IRA KRAMER, M.D., NEW YORK CENTER FOR ADDICTION: ... presenting a veneer.

O'REILLY: Right. "I'm tough." You know, "I'm"...

KRAMER: She is tough.

O'REILLY: No, she's not.

KRAMER: She's vulnerable.

O'REILLY: Well, she's -- that's not the same as tough. If you're tough, you don't need alcohol or drugs, all right. You can make it on your own.

KRAMER: Well, I...

O'REILLY: Tough people don't need it.

KRAMER: I think that it's the drugs that make people drug addicts, not the personality. I'm often asked, "Who's a drug addict? Who can become a drug addict?"

O'REILLY: Anybody can.

KRAMER: Anybody because...

O'REILLY: Sure.

KRAMER: ... because the drugs are addictive.

O'REILLY: But, if you're tough, you don't seek it. If you seek it, you're looking for something else. Strong, tough people make it on their own, not to say that you can't become tough.

KRAMER: She looked to me like a vulnerable girl.

O'REILLY: She is vulnerable, but, look, I'm...

KRAMER: Yes. Very, very much so.

O'REILLY: I'm not feeling sorry for her. You are. I'm not.

And on April 24, 2001, he said this about Daryl Strawberry.

O'REILLY: (H)e simply cannot or will not push away from the narcotics. He won't do it... That tells me that he's too weak, he's too weak to do it, he doesn't want to do it...

All right, now, who should pay for his psychic rehabilitation? You and me? Should we pay for this?

EUGENE "MERCURY" MORRIS, FORMER PRO FOOTBALL PLAYER: Yes.

O'REILLY: We should.

MORRIS: I think so.

O'REILLY: Oh, come on.

MORRIS: To save a human being, yes. To save a human being, yes. You go look at Congress, they're willing to allocate $3 million to see if turtles lay their eggs east or west of the turnpike. So, I mean, come on. It's not about money, it's about human beings and whether or not -- is this guy worth saving? And I say that...

O'REILLY: Even -- you know, I would suggest -- I would agree with you, if a guy would come in and say, I really want to be saved, I really do, but you know as well as I do that most junkies don't. They like what they do, they like being high, they like having no responsibilities. I'm supposed to pay to help them?

MORRIS: I don't agree with that. You go look at people -- look at the kid who was Archie Bunker's son. He killed himself because he couldn't get off of cocaine. Come on, man, snap out of it. It's not about whether or not he's getting high, it's about whether or not he wants to make the kind of choices that make his life work, and make the people around him...

O'REILLY: You know what it's about, Mr. Morris? It's about controlling yourself. And people -- some people can't. And I say, if you can't control yourself, I don't want to pay for you, but I'm willing to incarcerate you in a therapeutic environment to take you away and protect you from yourself. It works.

So we'll see if O'Reilly pushes for the incarceration of Rush Limbaugh, because it appears, so far, that his "sadness" about peoples' addictions are reserved for conservative white guys.

Friday, October 03, 2003

The snowball effect

For those conservatives who've been dismissing the Exposure Scandal because, so you've deduced, Valerie Plame wasn't a covert operative (it looks like Misters Reynolds, Robbins, Luskin, Sullivan, Limbaugh and Hannity have commented to this effect), I point you to this:

The leak of a CIA operative's name has also exposed the identity of a CIA front company, potentially expanding the damage caused by the original disclosure, Bush administration officials said yesterday.

The company's identity, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, became public because it appeared in Federal Election Commission records on a form filled out in 1999 by Valerie Plame, the case officer at the center of the controversy, when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore's presidential primary campaign.

Robert Novak, the guy who started all of this by "outing" Plame over the objections of the CIA is such an idiot that (according to Atrios) he tried to smear her today for donating $1,000 to Gore while listing a "fictitious employer." He then went on to say that it was illegal for her to list such an employer. Well, dumbass, it's probably not illegal if you're a covert agent and the CIA doesn't want people to know that you work for them.

Now we have to wonder how many people can be connected to Brewster-Jennings -- and therefore outed as CIA agents -- through other forms of documentation. How many careers have been ruined? How many agents and contacts have been compromised? It's time for conservatives to admit that this was a huge, huge mistake that has far reaching consequences for our national security.

If I were the leaker, I'd be thinking plea deal right now. Oh wait. Ashcroft said that prosecutors "must charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offenses that are supported by the facts." For once, I agree with him.

Update: Billmon's pissed too. He's got more on the "fake" company.

Update: Novak:

On the same day in 1999 that retired diplomat Joseph Wilson was returned $1,000 of $2,000 he contributed to Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore a month earlier because it exceeded the federal limit, his CIA-employee wife gave $1,000 to Gore using a fictitious identification for herself.

In making her April 22, 1999, contribution, Valerie E. Wilson identified herself as an "analyst" with "Brewster-Jennings & Associates." No such firm is listed anywhere, but the late Brewster Jennings was president of Socony-Vacuum oil company a half-century ago. Any CIA employee working under "non-official cover" always is listed with a real firm, but never an imaginary one.

The White House's political gaming and Bob Novak's lack of foresight are making us all less safe. Bastards.

Again, see Billmon. The "imaginary" company isn't so "imaginary" after all.
Hear ye! Hear ye!

All rise. The case of The Bush Administration v. Andrew Sullivan will now commence.

Mr. Sullivan, your opening statement.

The administration claimed that Saddam had used WMDs in the past, had hidden materials from the United Nations, was hiding a continued program for weapons of mass destruction, and that we should act before the threat was imminent. The argument was that it was impossible to restrain Saddam Hussein unless he were removed from power and disarmed. The war was legally based on the premise that Saddam had clearly violated U.N. resolutions, was in open breach of such resolutions and was continuing to conceal his programs with the intent of restarting them in earnest once sanctions were lifted.

President Bush responds:
Saddam Hussein is a man who told the world he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction, but he's got them. He's a man who a while ago who was close to having a nuclear weapon. Imagine if this madman had a nuclear weapon. It's a man who not only has chemical weapons, but he's used chemical weapons against some of his neighbors. He used chemical weapons, incredibly enough, against his own people. He can't stand America. He can't stand some of our closest friends...

No, he's a threat. And that's why I went to the United Nations.

Anything else, Mr. President?

The dictator of Iraq and his weapons of mass destruction are a threat to the security of free nations. He is a danger to his neighbors. He's a sponsor of terrorism. He's an obstacle to progress in the Middle East. For decades he has been the cruel, cruel oppressor of the Iraq people...

Saddam Hussein has a history of mass murder. He possesses the weapons of mass murder.

Thank you, sir. Let's move on. Wait. I'm sorry. You wanted to continue Mr. President?

The chemical attack on Halabja -- just one of 40 targeted at Iraq's own people -- provided a glimpse of the crimes Saddam Hussein is willing to commit, and the kind of threat he now presents to the entire world.

Go on...

Recognizing the threat to our country, the United States Congress voted overwhelmingly last year to support the use of force against Iraq. America tried to work with the United Nations to address this threat because we wanted to resolve the issue peacefully.

Thank you sir, but we don't have time for much more of this.

At any moment during the last 97 days -- and during the last 12 years -- Saddam Hussein could have completely and immediately disarmed himself. Instead, he's used all this time to build and to hide weapons. He must be hoping that by stalling he'll buy himself another 12 years. He's wrong. This country will not accept a serious and mounting threat to our nation, our people, and our friends and allies.

I think we've heard enough. Yes, yes, Mr. President, we know you have many, many more instances where you said that Saddam had weapons and said that the was a threat, but I think we're wasting the jury's time. We find Andrew Sullivan guilty of looking for the pony in a pile of horseshit. Case closed.
Excuse me, James, but your "kerfuffle" is still showing

Remember, Nitpicker showed you before that this word is OpinionJournal code for "Shut up shut up SHUT UP!"

Columnist Robert Novak weighs in with more details on the Valerie Plame kerfuffle... - "Plame-Out?--II," October 1, 2003, OpinionJournal

Andrew Sullivan calls it "kind of perfect Washington storm--about something that will never formally become much more than nothing." But journalists are doing their best to gin up the Valerie Plame kerfuffle into a scandal... If the Plame kerfuffle ends up withering away because of its own insubstantiality, perhaps Watergate nostalgia will go out of fashion once and for all. - "An Uncertain -Gate, " October 2, 2003, OpinionJournal

Does this passage from Act V, Scene I of "Henry V" shed any light on the Plame kerfuffle? - "The Bard Weighs In," October 2, 2003, OpinionJournal

Today, though, Nitpicker takes pity on Mr. Taranto and his buddies. It can be awfully hard to come up with words to try to make the commission of a felony and destroying the usefulness of an intelligence asset for political gain look like a fuss about nothing. For my money, pother, hurly-burly, hubbub, bustle and to-do are excellent alternatives.

Update: Naked Furniture brings us more "Fun with Republican Phraseology."
What war was Joseph Wilson opposed to?

I caught this letter from the Denialist wing of the Republican Party over at Talking Points Memo. The whole thing's bullshit, but this line caught my eye:

Why was a war critic selected by the CIA to vet British claims of Saddam's interest in "yellowcake"? The answer is he was selected by his wife.

(Of course, Wilson was the former ambassador to Gabon, a country which provides yellowcake uranium to France for its nuclear industry, so he knows something about how countries do that. He was also a Clinton advisor on Africa and Bush and Reagan stuck him in Iraq. Of course, those couldn't be reasons...)

What this letter made me wonder, though, is this: Of what war was Joseph Wilson a critic? Up until more than a year after Joseph Wilson returned with his report in February 2002, the White House was still saying it was undecided about whether or not the U.S. would need to attack Iraq. Before Wilson took his little trip, there was no war for him to criticize. Wilson, in fact, had been arguing to Clinton that we needed to ensure that Iraq was disarmed and had been doing that for some years. His sin, apparently, was that, as Novak put it in the column that fired up the recent scandal, he considered "military action as a last resort." Funny, but that's what the White House said they were doing, too.

  • We are fighting terror with all the tools we have at our disposal: diplomacy and law enforcement, intelligence and homeland security. As a last resort, we have turned to our military. - George W. Bush, April 16, 2003

  • The attacks of September the 11, 2001 showed what the enemies of America did with four airplanes. We will not wait to see what terrorists or terror states could do with weapons of mass destruction. We are determined to confront threats wherever they arise. And, as a last resort, we must be willing to use military force. We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force. - George W. Bush, March 8, 2003

  • The President views the use of military force as a last resort, which he hopes can be avoided. But it's a last resort that if he makes the decision that it's necessary to engage in, he will do so to protect the people of the United States from attack. - Ari Fleischer, February 24, 2003

  • The President understands, and is the first one to understand, that in the event he reaches this conclusion that Saddam Hussein has refused to disarm, Saddam Hussein continues to defy the inspectors and to hide his weapons, and that if the only way to achieve disarmament is through military action, the President is the first to understand the need to communicate that message to the American people. And indeed, he is prepared to do so, if it gets to that point.

    It has not reached that point at this time. - Ari Fleischer, January 13, 2003

  • You said we're headed to war in Iraq -- I don't know why you say that. I hope we're not headed to war in Iraq. I'm the person who gets to decide, not you. I hope this can be done peacefully. - George W. Bush, December 31, 2002

  • I don't think President Putin was suggesting that President Bush needs to have that -- he understands clearly that President Bush has a focus that is militarily oriented toward Iraq as a last resort. - Ari Fleischer, November 23, 2002

  • War is a last resort. But the choice is Saddam Hussein's. And we don't want any game playing, and we've made that abundantly clear. And it is his choice; he needs to follow through. - Scott McClellan, November 14, 2002

  • Again, this is getting into "ifs" and everything, all hypotheticals. It's very clear what he needs to do. This is about disarmament and this is a final opportunity for Saddam Hussein to disarm. If he chooses not to do so peacefully, then the United States is prepared to act, with our friends, to do so by force. And we will do so forcefully and swiftly and decisively, as the President has outlined. But the President continues to seek a peaceful resolution. War is a last resort. - Scott McClellan, November 12, 2002

  • So Joseph Wilson was, basically, about as much a "critic of the war" before it started as George Bush and the rest of our pals in the White House.

    But, Robert Novak adds, after the war Wilson was all kinds of pissy.

    He has seemed much more critical of the administration since revealing his role in Niger. In the Washington Post July 6, he talked about the Bush team "misrepresenting the facts," asking: "What else are they lying about?"

    I wonder why, Bob. Could it be that the man actually took the White House at their word when they said war would be a "last resort"? Could it be that he believed the White House was posturing to achieve a result in Iraq, but realized, once the war had begun, that they were just plain liars who were taking us into a war based on information that he, more than the rest of us, knew to be false?

    There is no indication so far that, prior to his mission to Niger, Joseph Wilson opposed Bush on Iraq. Nor is there evidence that he opposed Bush after his return from Iraq. The only evidence available says that a respected diplomat was asked by his country to do a job and, finding that his country was being led by people who lacked integrity, decided to stand up for truth. He is the best current example of the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished.

    Thursday, October 02, 2003

    Gone daddy gone

    I'm off to K.C. to meet some friends and see Al Franken. You guys be careful while I'm gone.
    Apparently, Santorum's one of those "Pentecostal Catholics"

    Nitpicker, who is a Catholic convert, would like to know what the hell Rick Santorum is talking about here:

    Charges of an anti-Catholic bias have resurfaced over district court nominee J. Leon Holmes, but this time they are leveled against centrist Republicans rather than at Democrats.

    Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) is angry with members of his own caucus who object to writings by Holmes, a devout Catholic, about women and marriage...

    Holmes, a lawyer and the former president of Arkansas Right to Life, wrote that the duty of the wife is “to subordinate herself to her husband.” Also, he has compared abortion to slavery and maintains that rape victims seldom become pregnant.

    OK, the "rape victims seldom become pregnant" thing is just stupid, but I give that the man has the right to compare abortion to whatever he wants. But for Rick Santorum, a supposedly devout Catholic to suggest by implication that it's Catholic doctrine for women to "subordinate" themselves to the will of any man and just hang around fulfilling male needs is frigging ridiculous.

    Has he never heard of St. Jeanne D'Arc? Or Agatha Hildegard -- who put up with her husband's abuse, but is known a model wife by the church because she changed him, which seems piss poor subordination? Or how about the 7 or 8 other Agathas? Or Saint Fabiola, patron saint of difficult marriages, who (gasp!) divorced her husband because he abused her. Or, gosh, you could go all the way back to Sarah, who, despite Abraham's wishes, had Ishmael and his mother kicked to the curb! (She also snickered at God and then lied about it, making her one of the most human characters you'll ever meet in the Bible.) The Bible and church history are filled with strong-willed women who weren't really the "subordinate" type.

    Before Santorum starts ranting again and suggesting that questioning someone's kooky and historically unsupported views is anti-Catholic, I suggest he make a little prayer for help from Christina the Astonishing, who is, among other things, a patron saint of the mentally ill.
    .
    Whither Marshall?

    As we talked about yesterday, Congressman Jim Marshall (D-GA) has been complaining that the press and politicians are hurting our efforts in Iraq. Let's look a couple of his arguments again.

    We not only need Iraqi tips and intelligence, we need Iraqis fighting by our side and eventually assuming full responsibility for their internal security. But Iraqis have not forgotten the 1991 Gulf War. America encouraged the Shiites to rebel, then abandoned them to be slaughtered. I visited one of the mass graves, mute testimony to the wisdom of being cautious about relying on American politicians to live up to their commitments...

    Instead of being negative about Iraq, Democratic presidential candidates should emphasize the positive aspects of their own plans for Iraq. Save the negative attacks for the issues of jobs and the economy. Iraqis are far less likely to support the coalition effort if they think America might withdraw following the 2004 election.

    While he's got a basically good point, I don't think anyone besides Kucinich (who, let's face it, isn't going anywhere near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue) has suggested that we simply withdraw from Iraq. The other Dems have simply stated that Bush's administration has been stupid in handling the war and they would be better. That's it. (And you'd think a Democrat would at least point out that it was the previous Bush administration who "abandoned" the Shiites "to be slaughtered.")

    My question is why hasn't Marshall been as outspoken about the leaking of Valerie Plame's name to the press? As former CIA case officer Jim Marcinkowski points out, the argument against leaking is nearly identical to Marshall's argument against negative comments.

    If an overseas operative is exposed, a good foreign — and perhaps very hostile — intelligence service will begin to piece together the "mosaic" of that person's life, placing many innocent and unsuspecting people in harm's way. In fact, even though very few social or ordinary contacts with people in a foreign land are intelligence- related, once an operative is exposed, everyone who has come into contact with the operative will come under scrutiny and will risk imprisonment or even death.

    Even if the operative and her agents are able to escape harm, what is the comfort level for other foreign nationals who may want to work with us, knowing that at any time they could be exposed by a political actor in the U.S.? That is why someone guilty of exposing an operative faces severe criminal penalties. (Link via CalPundit.)

    You see? Both arguments come down to a simple point: We can't let partisan political maneuvers damage our respectability in the eyes of those who would help us.

    Why don't you contact Marshall and point out the similarities to him?

    Macon Office:
    682 Cherry Street, Suite 300
    Macon, GA 31201
    Phone: 478/464-0255
    Toll-free 877/464-0255
    Fax: 478/464-0277

    Washington Office:
    502 Cannon House Office Building
    Washington, DC 20515
    Phone: 202/225-6531
    Fax: 202/225-3013
    Bastards

    Never ones to address actual problems, the Bushies have instead decided on a plan to deal with Joseph Wilson:

    The White House encouraged Republicans to portray the former diplomat at the center of the case, Joseph C. Wilson IV, as a partisan Democrat with an agenda and the Democratic Party as scandalmongering. At the same time, the administration and the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill worked to ensure that no Republicans in Congress break ranks and call for an independent inquiry outside the direct control of the Justice Department.

    "It's slime and defend," said one Republican aide on Capitol Hill, describing the White House's effort to raise questions about Mr. Wilson's motivations and its simultaneous effort to shore up support in the Republican ranks. (Link via Atrios.)

    Luckily for the White House, Reverend Moon's Masters of Misrepresentation and Purveyors of Prevarication are on the case, saying exactly what the White House wants:

    Mr. Wilson told The Washington Post he and his wife are already discussing who will play them in a movie.
    He contributed to Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign and is aiding Democratic candidates. Yesterday, Mr. Wilson, a lover of the limelight, was to brief the House Democratic Caucus. But Democrats called off the session for fear they would make the investigation a partisan affair, which Republicans say it already is.

    "My political leanings are left of center," Mr. Wilson said on C-SPAN this week.

    A person in Mr. Wilson's office yesterday told a reporter that he was in the midst of a press interview, that his voice mail was full, so "call back later."

    Mr. Wilson now works at the Middle East Institute as a scholar and frequent Bush critic. He also runs JC Wilson International Ventures. A Senate Republican staffer jokes that he is already on the short list for secretary of state, no matter who the Democratic nominee is.

    First, read that crappy prose again. It's a list in paragraph form -- all points and no transitions. Pitiful. Master Gunny Hobbs would've had my ass for writing like that.

    Second, though, The Washington Times must think its readers are complete idiots. Yes, Wilson said his wife and he were discussing "who will play them in a movie," but that's just an obvious fucking joke. Then the writer goes on to report a joke by a "Senate Republican staffer" as if it has any place in a story which, at its core, is about the rule of law and the damaging of our national security for partisan political ends.

    As unserious and embarrassing as this administration is, their subsidiary conservative hacks are ten times worse.

    Wednesday, October 01, 2003

    RNC needs new liars

    Robert Novak, faithful famulus of fainéant Fauntleroys*, is spinning like crazy to smooth this whole thing over. Who gives him time to do so? Why, his own network, of course.

    BLITZER: All right, the other issue that's come out is this article that appeared in Newsday, the newspaper on Long Island, July 22 after your July 14 column. The reporters said this. They were following up on your story. "Novak, in an interview, said his sources had come to him with the information. `I didn't dig it out. It was given to me,' he said. `They thought it was significant, they gave me the name, and I used.' "

    NOVAK: Now, these reporters made a bad mistake. They said they came to me with the information. I never told them that. And that's not in quotes, is it?

    BLITZER: They said that the sources said they -- your sources had come to you...

    NOVAK: Yes, but that's not in quotes.

    BLITZER: That's not in quotes.

    NOVAK: So then they made that up. I never said that. I said I didn't dig it out in the sense I went through the files of the CIA. It was given to me, as I just told you. There's no inconsistency there at all. But that is -- you have to be very careful, Wolf, with these things because they say that the idea that -- they're saying they came to me. They did not come to me.

    (CROSSTALK)

    BLITZER: ... the quote part is correct, "I didn't dig it out. It was given to me."

    Fair enough, but if the "quote part is correct," what about the part where he says "they thought it was significant"? For what reason did they think it was significant? Novak himself said that he put it in the "in the sixth paragraph of a 10-paragraph story" even though a CIA official asked him not to run it, suggesting that "exposure of her name might cause difficulties if she travels abroad." He said it was a "weak request," but, if Novak didn't think it was significant, then why use it at all?

    Clearly, as a partisan hack, Novak was trying to paint Wilson with the brush of nepotism, which is the only way that the fact of his wife's employment could be considered "significant." He's a spinner and a parser and a problem when he's stoned. He's a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction -- wait. I slipped into an old Kris Kristofferson song there for a minute. Let's just say Novak's a liar and call it at that.

    Update: Eric Boehlert rubs Novak's nose in it. Oh. The. Humanity.

    *Take that, William Safire!
    Limbaugh's gone

    The NFL needs a long, hot shower after this:

    In the wake of his controversial statements regarding Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Rush Limbaugh has resigned from his position on ESPN's NFL pregame show. ESPN has accepted the resignation.

    Limbaugh issued a statement late Wednesday night in which he wrote:

    "My comments this past Sunday were directed at the media and were not racially motivated. I offered an opinion. This opinion has caused discomfort to the crew, which I regret.

    "I love NFL Sunday Countdown and do not want to be a distraction to the great work done by all who work on it.

    "Therefore, I have decided to resign. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the show and wish all the best to those who make it happen."

    George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN and ABC Sports, issued the following response:

    "We accept his resignation and regret the circumstances surrounding this. We believe that he took the appropriate action to resolve this matter expeditiously."

    Ri-i-i-i-ght. I read that as, "I'm glad I didn't have to fire his racist ass and put up with a million damn phone calls from his idiot minions, but I woulda."

    Update: Considering this story was reported by the AP just minutes after they posted a story with the headline "Limbaugh Stands by His Remarks About Race and Philadelphia Quarterback," you have to wonder if this story (in today's New York Daily News had anything to do with his decision.
    Holy Merde

    Even George Will -- the only man who can tie a perfect bow tie without removing his head from his ass -- gets it: This administration's integrity problems are damaging our national security.

    This president or a successor is likely to have to ask the country to run grave risks in response to intelligence from what the government will call "solid sources." So, unless the public is convinced that the government is learning from this war -- learning how to know what it does not know -- the war may have made the public less persuadable and the nation perhaps less safe.

    Americans know that government, whether disbursing money or gathering intelligence, is not an instrument of precision. Hence they want the government to have the confidence -- in itself, and the public -- to say, as John Book did, that it was wrong.

    Now, call me kooky (and obsessed), but maybe Mr. Will might finally see his way clear to do the same?
    Get thee to a thesaurus!

    First, a definition (from Merriam-Webster OnLine):

    Main Entry: ker·fuf·fle
    Pronunciation: k&r-'f&-f&l
    Function: noun
    Etymology: alteration of carfuffle, from Scots car- (probably from Scottish Gaelic cearr wrong, awkward) + fuffle to become disheveled
    Date: 1946
    chiefly British : DISTURBANCE, FUSS

    On the other hand, it seems to be the way that the kids over at the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal say "Quit looking at that!" or "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!":

    Ideology and jealousy are behind the kerfuffle over a Fox News exec's letter to the president... Our own policy is to give advice to politicians every day in these columns. But let's all be candid and admit that this Ailes kerfuffle has nothing to do with ethics. - "What Ailes the Press?" - November 22, 2002, OpinionJournal

    Tune in tonight as The Wall Street Journal editorial board discusses the stock-market rally, the conflicts with Iraq and North Korea, the Roger Ailes kerfuffle, Democrats' reaction to their recent defeats and revelations about JFK's ill health. - "Democratic Pains," November 22, 2002, OpinionJournal

    There's a kerfuffle at the U.N. over Saddam Hussein's 12,000-page weapons report. U.S. officials demanded, and the weapons inspectors agreed, that America be able to see the unexpurgated report. - "Syria isn't Second-Class," December 11, 2002, OpinionJournal

    "Reporting" on the NATO kerfuffle, Reuters offers this gem: "The three NATO rebels, trying to slow the rush to war, say moves to defend Turkey would signal that a conflict had begun." - "Reuterville Rush Hour," February 11, 2003, OpinionJournal

    Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports on the kerfuffle over Michael Savage's new MSNBC show. "Advocacy groups, led by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, have launched a letter-writing campaign to keep Savage off the air." - "Savage Inequalities," March 6, 2003, OpinionJournal

    "The Santorum Kerfuffle," April 23, 2003, OpinionJournal

    Salon reports that Lara Jakes Jordan, the Associated Press reporter whose interview with Sen. Rick Santorum set off a kerfuffle about gay rights and sodomy statutes, "is the relatively new bride of Jim Jordan, the presidential campaign manager for Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass." - "All In the Family," April 24, 2003, OpinionJournal

    In National Review Online, Stanley Kurtz argues that last week's Santorum kerfuffle was but a preview of a "titanic national struggle" over same-sex marriage... - "Look For the Union Label," April 29, 2003, OpinionJournal

    In 2000 Rendell, as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was a prime Gore defender during the re-re-recount kerfuffle. - "Eat Your Heart Out, Al Gore," May 22, 2003, OpinionJournal

    "The Iraqi Weapons Kerfuffle," June 12, 2003, OpinionJournal

    No one has alleged that anyone has committed any crime with regard to the State of the Union kerfuffle, and indeed if making debatable statements in political speeches were against the law, it's hard to think of any politician who would escape impeachment or prosecution. - "A Confederacy of Dunces," July 16, 2003, OpinionJournal

    Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports from Baghdad on something far more important than the Niger kerfuffle... - "The Left's Tortured Logic," July 21, 2003, OpinionJournal

    Clinton phoned in to CNN's "Larry King Live" last night, during a program honoring Bob Dole on his 80th birthday, and he offered some comments on the recent kerfuffle over uranium and the State of the Union address. - "A Cheer for Clinton," July 23, 2003, OpinionJournal

    Remember that kerfuffle a few weeks back over a sentence in President Bush's State of the Union that some administration foes decided to dispute six months after the fact? Neither do we, but a reporter asked the president about it at a press conference yesterday... - "Blast from the Past I," July 31, 2003, OpinionJournal

    The recent kerfuffle over "unconventional" monetary-policy measures, second, is an old story. - "The Economy: Do No Harm," August 11, 2003, OpinionJournal

    In Texas, meanwhile, the kerfuffle over redistricting goes on, with Democratic state lawmakers taking refuge in New Mexico to avoid a quorum that would allow the passage of a bill under which a Republican gerrymander would replace the existing Democratic one. - "Don't Mess with Texas?" August 12, 2003, OpinionJournal

    Why risk creating the Bush White House's first-ever scandal over the yellowcake kerfuffle, an issue that no one cared about outside the Beltway and the Bush-hating left? It doesn't sound like something Karl Rove would do. - "The Plame Facts," September 29, 2003, OpinionJournal

    "Political Intelligence: The agenda behind the kerfuffle over Joe Wilson's wife," October 1, 2003, OpinionJournal

    I think we've found a "tell." Anytime James Taranto or one of his buddies writes that something is a "kerfuffle" it means that they're really down on their knees praying, "Please, God, make them pay attention to something else. Please please please..."
    All the news that's there to print

    Today, another bitchy statement from Congressman Jim Marshall (D-GA) about how journalists are hurting soldiers by reporting, you know, things that happen in Iraq:

    I went to Iraq a couple of weeks ago to resolve for myself the recent contrast between gloomy news coverage and optimistic Pentagon reports of our progress. My trip left no doubt that the Pentagon's version is far closer to reality. Our news coverage disproportionately dwells on the deaths, mistakes and setbacks suffered by coalition forces. Some will attribute this to a grand left-wing conspiracy, but a more plausible explanation is simply the tendency of our news media to focus on bad news. It sells. Few Americans think local news coverage fairly captures the essence of daily life and progress in their hometowns. Coverage from Iraq is no different.

    Falsely bleak Iraq news circulating in the United States is a serious problem for coalition forces because it discourages Iraqi cooperation, the key to our ultimate success or failure, a daily determinant of life or death for American soldiers. As one example, coalition forces are now discovering nearly 50 percent of the improvised explosive devices through tips. Guess how they discover the rest.

    I challenge Marshall, then, to explain where that news should come from. Yes, it's a journalist's job to hit the streets and find the news, but, often, journalists get their leads from the people they're covering. Over the past two weeks, the Coalition Provisional Authority has released the following press releases:

  • George Wolfe Appointed Director of Economic Development: 19 September 2003
  • UK to Provide Football Assistance to Impoverished Iraqi Youths: 19 September 2003
  • Marines to Hand Over Al-Hillah Region to Spainards [sic]: 21 September 2003
  • Central European Experts on Economic Reform to Offer Advice to CPA: 21 September 2003
  • Iraqi Finance Minister Announces Significant Economic Reforms: 21 September 2003
  • Iraqi Football Team Moves One Step Closer to Olympics: 22 September 2003
  • 5000 Year Old Warka Mask Returned to Baghdad Museum: 23 September 2003
  • President Bush's Remarks in Address to United Nations General Assembly: 23 September 2003
  • British Prime Minister Tony Blair Mourns the Passing of Hakila Al-Hashimi: 25 September 2003
  • Ambassador Bremer Laments the Murder of Hakila Al-Hashimi: 25 September 2003
  • Iraqi Students Return to Be-Baathified School: 01 October 2003

  • On the other hand, CENTCOM has released this list in the same time:

    SOLDIER DIES FROM NON-HOSTILE GUNSHOT WOUND 9/30/03
    SOLDIER DIES DURING RESCUE ATTEMPT 9/30/03
    ONE SOLDIER DIED, ONE MISSING IN CANAL INCIDENT 9/30/03
    ONE SOLDIER KILLED IN COMBAT NEAR SHKIN, AFGHANISTAN 9/30/03
    ONE SOLDIER KILLED, ONE CIVILIAN INJURED DURING AN ATTACK NEAR AL HABBANIYAH 9/29/03
    ONE 4TH ID SOLDIER DIED, ONE INJURED IN BUILDING FIRE 9/26/03
    ONE 173RD BDE SOLDIER KILLED, TWO WOUNDED IN RPG ATTACK 9/26/03
    ONE SOLDIER DIES, TWO INJURED IN VEHICLE ACCIDENT 9/25/03
    SOLDIER DIES FROM NON-HOSTILE GUNSHOT WOUND 9/23/03
    ONE 3RD ACR SOLDIER KILLED IN IED ATTACK 9/21/03
    TWO SOLDIERS KILLED, 13 WOUNDED IN MORTAR ATTACK (CORRECTED) 9/21/03
    THREE 4 ID SOLDIERS KILLED, TWO WOUNDED IN ATTACK 9/19/03
    4TH INFANTRY DIVISION SOLDIER DIES 9/18/03
    SOLDIER DIES IN NON-HOSTILE INCIDENT 9/17/03

    Even if you reported these incidents side-by-side as nothing but lists, you'd find that the American people are going to perceive Iraq as not going well. It's not the media's fault that the American people, oddly enough, are sick of hearing about their soldiers dying for a war which seems more and more to have been inspired by politics and not solid intelligence (of any type).

    On the other hand, let's look at the record. From the list of CPA press releases above, it seems that hundreds of stories were reported about Iraq and football and dozens about the Warka mask's being returned to the Baghdad Museum, including stories by CNN and the San Francisco Chronicle.

    The problem for people like Marshall is that the media is reporting the "good news" in Iraq. There's just not much of it.
    What a difference a few hours makes

    Alberto Gonazales, yesterday (emphasis Nitpicker's):

    We were informed last evening by the Department of Justice that it has opened an investigation into possible unauthorized disclosures concerning the identity of an undercover CIA employee.

    Alberto Gonzales, later that same day:

    Pursuant to a request from the Department of Justice, I am instructing you to preserve and maintain the following: "For the time period February 1, 2002 to the present, all documents, including without limitation all electronic records, telephone records of any kind (including but not limited to any records that memorialize telephone calls having been made), correspondence, computer records, storage devices, notes, memoranda, and diary and calendar entries, that relate in any way to:

    1. Former U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, his trip to Niger in February 2002, and/or his wife's purported relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency.

    2. Contacts with any member or representative of the news media about Joseph C. Wilson, his trip to Niger in February 2002, and/or his wife's purported relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency...

    Update: Let's not forget that Valerie Plame has more than a "purported" relationship with the CIA, as Tim Phelps and Knut Royce reported on July 22:

    The identity of an undercover CIA officer whose husband started the Iraq uranium intelligence controversy has been publicly revealed by a conservative Washington columnist citing "two senior administration officials."

    Intelligence officials confirmed to Newsday yesterday that Valerie Plame, wife of retired Ambassador Joseph Wilson, works at the agency on weapons of mass destruction issues in an undercover capacity - at least she was undercover until last week when she was named by columnist Robert Novak.

    Novak, in an interview, said his sources had come to him with the information. "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me," he said. "They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it."
    I'm sorry, Ambassador Bremer, could you repeat everything after "$87 billion..."?

    Local embarrassment Sam Brownback gets caught not paying attention while Paul Bremer explains where the $87 billion for Iraq are going.

    A picture is worth a lot of headaches, as Sen . Sam Brownback (R- Kan.) has discovered. Seems Roll Call photographer Tom Williams snapped a picture of the senator signing pictures of himself during a Sept. 22 hearing in which Iraq viceroy L. Paul Bremer was testifying about that $87 billion spending request.

    The picture appeared in Roll Call the next day -- no big deal, because few Kansas voters subscribe.

    But it was picked up in the Wichita Eagle. The paper ran the photo and a story about it on Sept. 24, noting that "gleeful Democrats" were sending it around the Hill and that Brownback's office "had spent the day dealing with the fallout."

    Click on the link to read the Wichita Eagle's "Seuss-atorial" about "Sam-I-Am."