Saturday, May 31, 2008

David Frum is a clown

David Frum, writing about Scott McClellan, does two things in his piece today. First, he gets a solid dig in on Dana "Cuban Missile Crisis?" Perino, writing, "As the current press secretary Dana Perino daily reminds us, you don’t have to be a genius to succeed as press secretary." Mee-Oww.

Then, in response (I suppose) to McClellan's claim that the press has been too lenient on the Bush administration, Frum writes:
Yet there is something very sad and sympathetic about McClellan and the bitter, accusatory memoir that leaked out this week. (The book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception, has hit number one on Amazon.com’s sales chart despite the fact that it won’t be officially released till next week.)

If you ever watched McClellan’s televised confrontations with the savage White House press corps, you probably thought: This is terrible! The man has no business being up there. He looks frightened, like a schoolboy trying to retrieve his mittens from a persecuting gang of bullies.
Here are all the questions from the most recent press briefing. Please point to the "savage" ones.
Q Congressman Wexler has called on Scott McClellan to testify before Congress, and Congressman Conyers says that he has directed his committee staff to reach out to Mr. McClellan to make arrangements for him to talk to the committee. Does the White House have any objection to this kind of conversation?

Q Could the White House block him from testifying if he wanted to testify? Or how does that work?

Q Yes.

Q Has President Bush read this -- read McClellan's book or does he have any intention to, to sort of find out what this is all about?

Q You haven't bought it for him?

Q Has he expressed any kind of feeling about it?

Q I'm trying to make a living myself. (Laughter.)

Q This morning you said that this wasn't about the messenger, it was about the message.

Q But isn't it precisely about the messenger, because those criticisms that Scott raises in his book -- they've been out there -- usually they come out of the mouths of Democrats -- but they've been out there. So isn't it precisely --

Q But what I'm saying, though, isn't it the fact that a former member of the inner circle is saying them that it adds some degree of legitimacy; it's not just dismissible by saying, well, those are Democrats and they're our political opponents?

Q But he makes a number of charges, and not all of them are that direct. For instance, he says the President engages in "self-deception." And that's not something that may be willful, but it still has significant consequences.

Q One more. Just in terms of sort of the ongoing battle for public opinion, people who have been in the middle and can dismiss a lot of criticism because they'll say it's politically motivated, they're looking at this and saying, now, hang on a second, this is different because you have a member of the inner circle. So it seems as though this would affect sort of the general sense of the public about the presidency.

Q Can we just talk about what isn't true in the book? I mean, you go to the part about weapons of mass destruction and the big threat wasn't great and gathering as the White House said. And you said that's not true? Was there no exaggeration? Was there no hiding? Was there no spinning about the war?

Q But the order of what was talked about at the time in the buildup to the war was largely about weapons of mass destruction.

Q There were no suicide bombers in Iraq.

Q Just a general question, then, Dana. I mean, one of the things he talks about is spinning, exaggeration, I mean, what goes on at the podium -- which is an indictment of you, as well. Do you think there's no spinning?

Q Define your job for me. I know Scott in the book says that his job -- he believed his job was to advance the agenda of the President of the United States.

Q In the book it reports that there came a time when the administration ignored contrary evidence and went ahead with the evidence that it did have on weapons of mass destruction. Isn't that demonstrably true now that the -- once the administration said that our intelligence is wrong?

Q When you say that we've known for a little while that this was coming, was the manuscript well circulated within the --

Q But when you said "we knew," who was "we"? Was it the Counsel's Office?

Q Was the President aware? Was the Chief of Staff --

Q Do you know whether anybody contacted Scott McClellan about the content?

Q Dana, you've used words like "sad" and "disgruntled" when talking about Scott and the book. Do you have a sense of his motivation after a few days of this back and forth about --

Q How about the idea of somebody from the inner circle writing a book, whether it's a Republican President, a Democratic President -- is this bad for the overall Office of the President if the President has to worry about somebody in his inner circle perhaps using something that is said in a meeting for a book?

Q Are you surprised he might vote for Obama?

Q Sorry you're on the hot seat on this, and excuse me if you've already been asked this at some point, but if you -- have you harbored any doubts about the war, and if you did, would you speak up, and would you resign?

Q But if you have a crisis of conscience, what is --

Q And if so, what is your obligation --

Q Well, let's just broaden it. If a staff member has doubts, do they have an obligation, any staff member, to speak up --

Q Is there -- has the White House gotten involved in the Fulbright situation with the students in the --

Q Dana -- and I'm sorry if it was addressed this morning; I apologize --

Q -- does the White House have any response or further response to the allegations of the Commerce Department computer being hacked into while in China? Have you talked with any agencies involved, or with China?

Q But is it a concern to the White House that something like this --

Q Dana, a question. Is the President satisfied with the response in the private sector to safeguard computer networks?

Q Well, certainly this is a major concern, particularly with the utilities.

Q But there have been reports that the private sector hasn't done anywhere near as much as the government has to safeguard --

Q If it were ever to be shown that a power failure like the one that hit the Northeast in 2003 was the result of a cyber attack, would the President consider that an act of war?

Q Dana, I have a couple for you. One is do you have a reaction to the cluster bomb vote?

Q And this morning you said you would assume that Prime Minister Olmert would be welcomed here next week. If he shows up at AIPAC at the event --

Q But it's not -- so it's not on his schedule? And would they meet at the White House, would they meet in another setting? What was the --

Q Okay, but it's not on the schedule then as of right now?

Q Dana, two quick questions, please. One, as far as Scott is concerned, we all have known him very well and he was very close to the President, and the President is a loyal friend. And also he was like a family to him, and also he was close to everybody in the White House. What do you think have gone wrong? Do you think he was bitter about something, or maybe influenced from his Democratic mother, or something? (Laughter.)

Q And second one is that, as far as terrorism is concerned in Afghanistan and on the Pakistan border, American NATO commander is now retiring, and what he said that what we expected from Pakistan was not done, and there is a long way to go as far as fighting terrorism. And now Pakistan has a new deal with the terrorists and that means they will withdraw their forces from the border. And here CIA Chief Michael Hayden said that we are defeating terrorism and al Qaeda --

Q So where do we stand now? Is President briefed on all this, where we stand now --

Q Thank you.

Q Wait a minute, Dana -- Dana.

Q I have one question that has nothing to do with your -- (laughter.) This morning The Washington Times published a statement by Marine Corps Sergeant Steven Pryor of Bowie, Maryland: "The photographs of unprofessional behavior by newly commissioned Air Force officers and President Bush on the front page of Thursday's edition are incredibly disappointing, clownish, and set a horrible example for everyone in the military." Will this Marine sergeant be punished for this statement, or not?

Q You saw the pictures on the front --
Oh, the horror of a press corps asking how the president "feels" about everything. They're savages, I tell you, savages.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Dueling Jesuses

So is McCain Jesus or is Bush Jesus?

I'm confused.

Jonah Goldberg is hilarious

But only unintentionally.

Jonah, January 10th:
(Ezra Klein) calls John Holbo's "review" of my book "one of the finest pieces of writing I've ever read in the blogosphere." Of course Holbo hadn't actually — what's that word again? oh right — read my book before he crafted this oh so fine piece of writing. Once again, Ezra is so perfectly, comically, Ezra. He himself famously finds it very hard to read books (It's hard and it's boring and it takes a really long time, he says). So he outsources criticism to people who haven't read it either. It's a pas de deux of phone-it-in hackery. (Emphases in the original).

Jonah, today:
Not since America’s most revered feckless crapweasel, former Vermont Sen. James Jeffords, switched parties have Beltway Republicans been more eager to sew a half-starved ferret into someone’s body cavity. In this case, the desired victim is former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, who has coughed up a time-honored hairball of capital culture: the “tell-all” memoir. This is a bit of a misnomer in that they usually tell little but claim much.

[snip]

In McClellan’s book, What Happened (oddly missing a question mark), the author purports to explain how the Bush White House launched a “propaganda machine” to push the country into a war of choice.

I have not read the book. I will once I finish eating the contents of my sock drawer (which ranks slightly higher on my to-do list)...(Emphasis mine.)
Good stuff.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

This is going to get ugly

Or am I wrong?
  • Scott McClellan writes a book saying Bush is a liar.

  • Fox News pundits go crazy attacking the book, including this comment from Gretchen "Crazy Eyes" Carlson:
    Scott McClellan better not have any skeletons in his closet. I hope he didn’t do anything that he doesn’t want the world to know about because we all have, and all of his secrets are going to be coming out.
  • "Top" male prostitute/right-wing reporter Jeff Gannon writes:
    What I hear about the book does not sound like the Scott McClellan I knew for two years. I can say without fear of contradiction, that I knew Scott better than any other White House correspondent or Washington reporter.
It's at least refreshing to see Foxholes so freely admit that the right-wing response to criticism is to go digging around for shit to sling at people.

Your got your missionary in my mission

Somebody call Mikey Weinstein. Christian evangelism in the military is now having serious effects on the military mission.
At the western entrance to the Iraqi city of Fallujah Tuesday, Muamar Anad handed his residence badge to the U.S. Marines guarding the city. They checked to be sure that he was a city resident, and when they were done, Anad said, a Marine slipped a coin out of his pocket and put it in his hand.

Out of fear, he accepted it, Anad said. When he was inside the city, the college student said, he looked at one side of the coin. "Where will you spend eternity?" it asked.

He flipped it over, and on the other side it read, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16."
This plays to the worst fears of Muslims in the region and gives those attacking our troops an excuse to consider themselves Mujahidin just like bin Laden said they were. If you want to be a missionary, fine, but take of the uniform.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rich Lowry scrubs at his bloody hands

Rich "Conservatives need to think like the DDR come election time" Lowry wrote a post at the Corner which comes oh-so-close to being honest in a post about McClellan's bombshell book.
The reason that Saddam supposedly posed a threat to us always came back to WMD, and the fact is that the dire scenarios sketched by the Bush administration in the run-up to the war did not turn out to be accurate.

For many of us, the war was supposed to be about U.S. national security and only about U.S. national security. It would be nice if we could make Iraq a better place, just as it would be nice if we could make Afghanistan a better place, but that was never a sufficient reason to go to war. The reason to go to war was to find and kill every last son of a bitch who had anything to do with 9/11. And that job was not the main focus in Iraq, and in any event is unfortunately not finished.

One of the main reasons John McCain is facing such an tough job today is that we are now in the sixth year of a war that the president of his own party started by mistake.
Started by mistake?! As in, "Oops! I started a war?!"

This is a completely bullshit attempt by Lowry to soft-peddle not only Bush's charge into Iraq despite massive amounts of evidence suggesting there were no WMDs, but also to excuse writers (like Lowry himself) who screamed loudly for the war. In fact, Lowry argued in May of 2002 Bush wasn't pushing hard enough when members of the military leadership balked at attacking Iraq.
Bush should (within reason) refuse to take "no" for an answer from the Joint Chiefs. If they can't come up with a plausible plan for invading Iraq, they should think harder. If they can't contemplate the risks involved in invading without Saudi bases, they should get over it.

It is Bush, the president of the United States, who should be riding herd over the Chiefs rather than the other way around.

This episode should serve to prove to conservatives what defense analyst and NR contributing editor John Hillen has been saying for a long time: America's military leadership is an unimaginative backwards-looking bureaucracy that has been allowed to run free of vigorous civilian leadership for too long.
So, yes, the war was a mistake, but the mistake was on the part of those who took the Bush administration at its word (see Greenstock, Jeremy and "automaticity"). The war, however, was started deliberately, by a president who refused to see the evidence before him, aided by a coterie of armchair generals and chickenhawks who hollered every time it looked like their war might not happen. Doug Feith, Scott McClellan, Rich Lowry and the assorted warbloggers and assholes can try all they want to make this war look like it's Bush's fault alone, but without his loyal hacks and, in fact, the entire Republican party behind him, it wouldn't have been started and it wouldn't have continued as long as it has.

Update: Boehlert reminds us that, back when Rich Lowry was cheering for war, someone else said this:
  • "[T]he Administration has not made a convincing case that we face such an imminent threat to our national security that a unilateral, pre-emptive American strike and an immediate war are necessary."

  • "[T]he Administration has not explicitly acknowledged, let alone explained to the American people, the immense post-war commitment that will be required to create a stable Iraq."

  • "A largely unilateral American war that is widely perceived in the Muslim world as untimely or unjust could worsen not lessen the threat of terrorism."

  • "War with Iraq before a genuine attempt at inspection and disarmament, or without genuine international support -- could swell the ranks of Al Qaeda sympathizers and trigger an escalation in terrorist acts."

  • "[I]nformation from the intelligence community over the past six months does not point to Iraq as an imminent threat to the United States or a major proliferator of weapons of mass destruction."

  • "[T]here is no clear and convincing pattern of Iraqi relations with either Al Qaeda or the Taliban."
Pretty dead-on, huh? Obviously, though, these words came from a man not worth being taken as seriously as Lowry.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Its no use, he sees him, he starts to shake and cough...

Via ThinkProgress, Bush and McCain will be having a private little rendezvous with a few GOP donors. They've moved the venue of the meeting in order to "avoid cameras."

It sounds like they might be getting serious...

Idiot

The Purple Avenger--paging Dr. Freud!--goes after Obama.
In one of his more egregious and easily demonstrated lies, made even more so by the day he decided to let it loose on, Obama has rewritten WWII history such that the allies liberated Auschwitz...

Auschwitz of course is in Poland. It was liberated by the Red Army on Jan 27 1945. Poland, on most maps is usually placed to the east of Germany, although we may need to investigate the geography textbooks the Messiah used as a child...
Of course...
The Allies of World War II were the countries officially opposed to the Axis powers during the Second World War. Within the ranks of the Allied powers, the British Empire, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the United States of America were known as "The Big Three."
I get that Obama may have gotten this wrong here, but right-wing bloggers are so funny when they try to correct others' slip-ups and embarrass themselves. Even gamers aged 12+ know that the Soviet Union was, indeed, included among "the Allies."

One wonders what textbooks the "Avenger" used.

Update:After checking, it seems Obama might have garbled the language here, but saying that "he had an uncle who was one of the, um, who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps" is very different than saying his uncle "liberated Auschwitz." The uncle could very well have a) been one of the first American troops into Auschwitz and b) liberated concentration camps. There were, after all, several such camps. The question here is should he be lectured on picayune bullshit stuff like this by people who can't use the word "ally" properly and is this as important as not knowing a damn thing about our current enemies?

How John Hinderaker feels about the troops

They don't count.
(I)t seems beyond dispute that something has made us safer since 2001. Over the course of the Bush administration, successful attacks on the United States and its interests overseas have dwindled to virtually nothing.

[snip]

2000
October: A suicide boat exploded next to the U.S.S. Cole, killing 17 American sailors and injuring 39.

2001
September: Terrorists with four hijacked airplanes kill around 3,000 Americans in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

December: Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber," tries to blow up a transatlantic flight, but is stopped by passengers.

The September 11 attack was a propaganda triumph for al Qaeda, celebrated by a dismaying number of Muslims around the world. Everyone expected that it would draw more Muslims to bin Laden's cause and that more such attacks would follow. In fact, though, what happened was quite different: the pace of successful jihadist attacks against the United States slowed, decelerated further after the onset of the Iraq war, and has now dwindled to essentially zero. Here is the record:

2002
October: Diplomat Laurence Foley murdered in Jordan, in an operation planned, directed and financed by Zarqawi in Iraq, perhaps with the complicity of Saddam's government.

2003
May: Suicide bombers killed 10 Americans, and killed and wounded many others, at housing compounds for westerners in Saudi Arabia.

October: More bombings of United States housing compounds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia killed 26 and injured 160.

2004
There were no successful attacks inside the United States or against American interests abroad.

2005
There were no successful attacks inside the United States or against American interests abroad.

2006
There were no successful attacks inside the United States or against American interests abroad.

2007
There were no successful attacks inside the United States or against American interests abroad.

2008
So far, there have been no successful attacks inside the United States or against American interests abroad.
Get that, soldiers? You are not "American interests abroad." Neither, it seems are Iraqis, the Green Zone, etc.

So why the fuck are we still there?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Is Barack Obama a Muslim?

No.

Your Ex-Lover Is Dead

By Stars

Have a good weekend, gay people

And don't forget to leave poor old Pensacola some of your money. It's funny how accepting this town gets once a year (cha-ching!), but odd that the local paper pretty much avoids the word "gay."

Friday, May 23, 2008

Quote of the day

In fact, I'd be surprised if anyone has a better, more concise take on this issue all year. Joe Biden, ladies and gentlemen:
The worst nightmare for a regime that thrives on tension with America is an America ready, willing and able to engage. Since when has talking removed the word "no" from our vocabulary?

McCain's mercenary sergeants

"Any officer can get by on his sergeants. To be a sergeant you have to know your stuff. I'd rather be an outstanding sergeant than just another officer." - Sgt. Major Daniel Daly
I finally read Jim Webb's book Fields of Fire recently and was surprised by the skill with which (now-senator) Webb painted a picture of the complexities of men at war. The book is neither pro-war nor anti-war but it is definitely pro-Marine, pro-grunt. As a veteran, one of the scenes that I found most touching involves a young Marine from a troubled, urban background who has come into his own in the Corps and, as his platoon prepares to head out for another in a long series of firefights, heads to the admin tent to re-enlist.

The Marine, known as Snake, is as complex as all the characters and by no means an angel, but he is a fighter and has found that the Corps suits him. He understands the ways of battle and finds that his austere upbringing has prepared him for the challenges of service.

But many of his fellow Marines mock Snake as he leans toward becoming a "lifer." To them, the service has offered only terror and hardship.

I bring this up only to point out the obvious: People enlist and re-enlist in the military for reasons which are their own. Some who enlist for steady money and education opportunities suddenly find themselves loving the physical challenge and the esprit de corps too much to leave. Some who want only to serve their country find service an insufficient reason to remain.

So I'm bothered by John McCain's response to Barack Obama, who pointed out that Webb's remodeled G.I. Bill is something McCain should get behind. In general, McCain makes two points: The first seems to be that a military man (McCain himself) should be trusted to act in the best interests of the military more than Obama who, McCain says, "did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform..." The argument isn't logical, really (and, as Mark Kleiman says, highlights McCain's anger management issues). McCain's service doesn't necessarily equate to perfect policy judgment regarding the military. If that is the case, though, then shouldn't we put even more weight behind the thousands of members of the American Legion and the VFW--every one a veteran--who have thrown their support behind Webb's bill?

More personally, however, I feel a true disdain for noncommissioned officers in what McCain is saying when he says the bill would encourage "people not to choose to become noncommissioned officers." Does McCain really believe those who choose to remain in the military and serve as NCOs only do it because they don't have a chance to go to college? Does he really think money is the only thing that makes a man or woman want to continue to serve? This is a horrible thing to suggest about the NCO corps.

In fact, when you do meet an NCO who has remained in the service for purely financial reasons, you are almost always meeting an inferior NCO. Without a true love of their service, NCOs simply cannot lead well.

In Kandahar a few years back, I ran into a sergeant major I knew from my time in Bosnia and I bought him a cup of coffee. This was a guy everyone respected and (when possible) liked. He led with an easy sense of what soldiers needed to hear to be better, meaning that he rarely had to yell; merely saying he was disappointed in a young corporal was enough. We'd never really talked about ourselves, having a purely professional relationship, but over coffee I learned that he'd come from a dirt-poor family in southern Alabama and had been drafted during Vietnam. I asked him what kept him in and he said (and I paraphrase) that once he'd put the uniform on, he just couldn't bring himself to take it off.

When I first joined the Navy, I met a chief who I still remember as one of the best leaders I've ever known who had joined the Navy with a degree and would be retiring from it with a master's at least. When one of my fellow classmates asked him why he hadn't "gone officer" or gotten out, he smiled and said, "Hell, I'm suprised they pay me to do this shit, 'cause I'd do it for free."

Suggesting that those who choose to become enlisted leaders in the military do so for purely mercenary reasons is not only wrong and disrespectful of NCOs, but enacting policies that keep people in the service for those reasons is detrimental to the military. McCain should know that.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

von Spakovsky

Hans van Spakovsky, the Bush nominee to the FEC known for his vote-suppressing ways, complains in the Wall Street Journal:
My own hard feelings will pass. But the political system has been damaged once more by the poisonous tactics of the left, and there is no reason to think that the whole sorry spectacle will not be repeated again and again and again. So long as such tactics are accepted and even encouraged by politicians and the media, it will become harder and harder to find ordinary citizens willing to submit to the character assassination that now passes for our confirmation process.
Of course, I'm certain it just slipped his mind that he also lied to the Senate Rules Committee.
When von Spakovsky -- whose nomination as commissioner on the Federal Elections Commission is still pending -- testified before the Senate Rules Committee last month, he claimed that he'd consulted with lawyers in the voting rights section before drafting the letter. "This was not me acting by myself, "he testified. "You know, I would have been consulting with the other attorneys there [in the voting section] to do it."

But that wasn't true, as Joe Rich, the chief of the voting section at the time, told TPMmuckraker. Rich is one among six veterans of the section who wrote the committee to object to von Spakvosky's nomination, calling him "the point person for undermining the Civil Rights Division's mandate to protect voting rights" when he worked at the Justice Department. Calling von Spakovsky's testimony "a flat out misrepresentation," Rich said that none of the career attorneys in the section had been aware of the letter -- even then-Assistant Attorney General Alex Acosta, who oversaw the Civil Rights Division, had not known about it. The letter went out under the signature of Sheldon Bradshaw, a senior political appointee in the division, on his last day.

In written answers...submitted to the committee weeks later, von Spakovsky changed his tune: "As I recall, I may not have consulted with the Section prior to drafting [the letter]." Von Spakovsky did not note that this was at variance with his spoken testimony. He continued, however, to say that he thought that he did consult with the section on a follow-up letter, sent in September. That letter, of course, reversed his earlier advice.
See TPM Muckraker for a long list of stories denoting the many other things von Spakovsky forgot to mention in his column. Please note their use of the "poisonous tactics of the left," including quoting him word for word and pointing out his actions.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"McCain's defense of the speech was, 'I meant in my dreams.'"

Damn...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The mask slips

Kathleen Parker has given up on code words.
Full-bloodedness is an old coin that's gaining currency in the new American realm. Meaning: Politics may no longer be so much about race and gender as about heritage, core values, and made-in-America. Just as we once and still have a cultural divide in this country, we now have a patriot divide.

Who "gets" America? And who doesn't?

The answer has nothing to do with a flag lapel pin, which Obama donned for a campaign swing through West Virginia, or even military service, though that helps. It's also not about flagpoles in front yards or magnetic ribbons stuck on tailgates.

It's about blood equity, heritage and commitment to hard-won American values. And roots.

Some run deeper than others and therein lies the truth of Josh Fry's political sense. In a country that is rapidly changing demographically -- and where new neighbors may have arrived last year, not last century -- there is a very real sense that once-upon-a-time America is getting lost in the dash to diversity.

We love to boast that we are a nation of immigrants -- and we are. But there's a different sense of America among those who trace their bloodlines back through generations of sacrifice.
Read.

Edwards endorses Obama!

Sad

Dana Milbank:
A steep descent brings Clinton's plane to Charleston's hilltop airport. After an appropriate wait, she steps from the plane and pretends to wave to a crowd of supporters; in fact, she is waving to 10 photographers underneath the airplane's wing. She pretends to spot an old friend in the crowd, points and gives another wave; in fact, she is waving at an aide she had been talking with on the plane minutes earlier.
Milbank's "Dead Parrot" premise courtesy of David Corn, via Don Surber, via Rod Dreher and many other bloggers, which he seems to have forgotten. The newspaper rule: It's not plagiarism if you steal from bloggers.

For the Republican party...

"It can’t get any worse," said an unnamed GOP strategist after a Democrat won the special election for Mississippi's First Congressional District last night. Bush won that district by a huge margin in 2004.

Unfortunately for Republicans, it can and will get worse.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Penance

Via Atrios, it seems Bush says he gave up golfing because he sent a bunch of Americans to die in his bullshit war.

Which reminds me of the old days, when he just seemed like a fuckwit, not the dangerous megalomaniac we found out he really is.



Update: More on Bush's heart-wrenching decision.

Don't start no shit, won't be no shit

Yesterday Republicans were whining about the Newsweek article on the preparations Obama's team is making to combat Republican smear tactics.

Of course, one of the main points of the article was this:
Sen. John McCain himself has explicitly disavowed playing the race card or taking the low road generally. But he may not be able to resist casting doubt on Obama's patriotism. And the real question is whether he can—or really wants to—rein in the merchants of slime and sellers of hate who populate the Internet and fund the "independent expenditure" groups who exercise their freedom in ways that give a bad name to free speech.
To suggest that Republicans would falsely slime Obama, said McCain aide Steve Schmidt, amounted to "a broad attack on the Republican party." Rich Lowry today argued that Obama is trying to make "rules" which limit discussion in this election.
(Obama) campaign knows he’s vulnerable to the charge of being an elitist liberal. Unable to argue the facts, it wants to argue the law — defining his weaknesses as off-limits.

The campaign can succeed in imposing these rules on the race only if the news media cooperate. Newsweek signed up for the effort in a cover story that reads like a 3,400-word elaboration of the “distraction” passage of Obama’s victory speech. “The Republican Party has been successfully scaring voters since 1968,” it says, through “innuendo and code.” McCain “may not be able to resist casting doubt on Obama’s patriotism,” and there’s a question whether he can or wants to “rein in the merchants of slime and sellers of hate.”
"HOW DARE OBAMA SUGGEST WE'RE A PARTY OF SMEAR MERCHANTS!" Lowry seems to whine. Unfortunately for Lowry and the others, their fellow Republicans today dropped an embarrassing turd in the middle of the Republican pity party punch bowl, claiming Obama said some crazy shit about Israel in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic. Goldberg tells the story so far:
A press release from House Republican leader John Boehner asserts that Barack Obama told me that Israel is a "constant sore" that infects American foreign policy. "Israel is a critical American ally and a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, not a `constant sore' as Barack Obama claims," Boehner's statement reads.

Mr. Boehner, I'm sure, is a terribly busy man, with many burdensome responsibilities, so I have to assume that he simply didn't have time to read the entire Obama interview, or even the entire paragraph, or even a single clause. If he had, of course, he would have seen that Obama was clearly calling the Middle East conflict, and not Israel, a sore. Why, there's no one who would disagree that the Middle East conflict is a "sore," is there?
Goldberg (no lefty) goes on to say that Boehner's statement is "mendacious, duplicitous, gross, and comically refutable." Andrew Sullivan called it a "flat-out lie." Matthew Yglesias said, in his wishy-washy way, they're "misrepresenting" what Obama said. Michael Goldfarb says the smear is is a "bit of a stretch" (which is the best you'll get from a guy like Goldfarb). Dean Barnett called the attack "painfully lame." The WaPo says the comment was "taken completely out of context."

It's just a blatant, horrible, straight-up smear of exactly the type we've come to expect from a desperate, rudderless Republican party. And it's proof the Obama is right to prepare to fight more of the same.

Update: dday at Hullabaloo.
There's no real slickness to the strategy, or forethought put into it. Birds are gonna fly, fish are gonna swim, and Republicans are gonna lie about the Democrat.

Who are the ad wizards who came up with that one?

First there was the prison-stripe-wearing, wide-stanced, year-humping elephant logo for the Republican convention. Now the Republicans have rolled out a new slogan that's sure to convince the country get onboard the Republilove train. But there's a wee problem.
In today's New York Times' Caucus blog, Carl Hulse reports that House Republicans have got themselves a brand-new slogan:
It looks like Republicans will counter the Democratic push for change from the years of the Bush administration with their own pledge to deliver, drum roll please, "the change you deserve." The first element of the party agenda developed over the past few months by the leadership and select party members will focus on family issues.
[snip]

What the GOP doesn't seem to realize, because they are idiots, is that "the change you deserve" is the registered advertising slogan of Effexor XR, a drug that many of you might have started taking as a result of all the...you know -- terrorism. (Hat tip to Bluestem for catching this gem.)

Effexor, also known as Venlafaxine, is approved for the treatment "of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder in adults." Its common side effects are very much in keeping with the world the House Republicans have striven to build: nausea, apathy, constipation, fatigue, vertigo, sexual dysfunction, sweating, memory loss, and - and I swear I am not making this up - "electric shock-like sensations also called 'brain zaps.'"
Beyond that, don't forget that word they've added: deserve.

Republicans don't think homeowners deserve help in the housing crisis. They don't think veterans deserve a G.I. Bill that would actually, you know, cover college. They don't think the American public deserves to be listened to on issues. Hell, they don't even think that mothers deserve Mother's Day more than they deserve to play politics.

So, when it comes down to it, how much change do Republicans probably think you deserve? Not much.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Jeralyn's point?

Let me state this: I love Jeralyn Merritt. However, she is just about the most, um, devoted Hillary followers I read often. Today, though, I don't get most of what she's chastising Obama for.

You see, Obama today said this:
One of the saddest episodes in our history was the degree to which returning vets from Vietnam were shunned, demonized and neglected by some because they served in an unpopular war. Too many of those who opposed the war in Vietnam chose to blame not only the leaders who ordered the mission, but the young men who simply answered their country’s call. Four decades later, the sting of that injustice is a wound that has never fully healed, and one that should never be repeated.
In her initial post, Jeralyn makes no argument but takes Jonathan Martin's point (never a good idea, per the previous post) and says that Obama will throw "us under the bus."

In an update, she then complains about his use of the phrase "the degree to which," extrapolating his point to suggest he's talking only about spitting and then calling it all a myth. So she's arguing against something he never said and saying that thing he didn't mention wasn't as widespread as he said it was. Got it?

But here's the part that ticks me off and makes me have to post about this. Her second update in full:
This really gets me too:
"The young men who simply answered their country’s call."
They were drafted, they had no choice. Many fought tooth and nail not to go, including those I knew. The saddest part of the history of the Vietnam war is that our young men died in it. Another war that never should have been fought. Like Iraq. And what does Obama do? Rather than drawing that connection, he calls out the poor actions of a minority of war protesters 40 years ago in his effort to score political points as a patriot with W. Va. voters, much like John McCain.
The truth is, about two-thirds of the soldiers who fought in Vietnam enlisted. Certainly some enlisted when they saw their draft number was going to come due, but that's far from fighting "tooth and nail" not to go. During World War II, over sixty percent of those who fought were draftees. Jeralyn can argue all she wants, but to suggest that Vietnam was particularly bad because those who fought it "had no choice" is ahistorical nonsense.

The many moods of Jonathan Martin

OK, the two moods of Jonathan Martin--and you get to see both of them in less than twelve hours!

First, he wrote this about Mark Salter's complaints over the Newsweek article around 1 a.m.
I'm guessing Salter took umbrage (with some justification) at this, among other passages: "The Republican Party has been successfully scaring voters since 1968, when Richard Nixon built a Silent Majority out of lower- and middle-class folks frightened or disturbed by hippies and student radicals and blacks rioting in the inner cities."
But that argument is supported by contemporary statements of the Nixonites involved, as documented by very well by Rick Perlstein in Nixonland. For example read this, from an excerpt:
Nixon had tried to talk to the student demonstrators. He concluded he preferred the hard hats. "Thinks now the college demonstrators have overplayed their hands," Haldeman wrote in his diary, "evidence is the blue collar group rising against them, and [president] can mobilize them."
Add to that Ken Mehlman's 2005 apology for the "Southern Strategy" and you've got the whole rebuttal wrapped up in a neat little ball, all with evidence from Republicans.

But what cracks me up is that eleven hours later, Jonathan Martin wrote this about Barack Obama's statement that "One of the saddest episodes in our history was the degree to which returning vets from Vietnam were shunned."
This is language that will bring a smile to the face of the Jim Webb's of the world -- it accepts and confronts head-on one of the central reasons why ancestral Democrats in traditional parts of the country like West Virginia have moved away from the party. It's not the perception that the they were weak on national security -- though that was and is and important element -- but the lingering view that Democrats, by virtue of the actions of some in the anti-war movement, resented the grunt himself for doing his duty. Conservatives know this well, which is why they seized on Bill Clinton for his 60s-era statement that some in the country had come to "loathe the military' and hung John Kerry's "Genghis Khan" testimony about alleged Vietnam atrocities by U.S. troops around his neck.
In other words, Jonathan Martin thinks it's justifiable for Republicans to be pissed that someone would suggest they've been using a fear of radicals against Democrats since Nixon was in office, but then suggests that Republicans have been using a fear of radicals against Democrats since Nixon was in office.

More whiners whine

It's not just Mark Salter crying big, drippy tears over the Newsweek story. Now Steve Schmidt--another McCain aide--jumps in, complaining to Rich Lowry.
It's one of the top five most biased pieces of journalism ever written. It's a broad attack on the Republican party. It deliberately fails to mention the increasing negative energy on the MoveOn.org side and the 527's on the left. It tries to define issues of great importance as illegitimate. It could be titled, 'Thus Speaketh Evan Thomas.' But he doesn't get to define what issues Americans consider important on election day.
Whaaaah!

Funny, but despite the fact then-Bush-campaign-aide Steve Schmidt bitched and moaned when Kerry pointed out the many connections between the Bush campaign and the Swift Boaters, Bush confirmed Kerry's accusations by doing an end-run around Congress to appoint one of the groups biggest donors as the ambassador to Belgium. Of course, I'm sure Schmidt would say there's no "there there."

But here's how his fellow Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign aide Patrick Ruffini--whom John Podhoretz called a "brilliant blogger," "GOP-uber-webguy," and "invaluable" on the National Review group blog--recently described how Bush used the Swift Boaters to his advantage in that campaign.
In many ways, the Bush campaign had the right approach with the Swift Boat Veterans. Any functionary or board member who had been connected in any way with the Swift Vets resigned from the campaign. The campaign told them — and, crucially, any 527 — to take down their ads. They repeated that they respected Kerry’s service — without turning into a mouthpiece for the Kerry Vietnam narrative.

But nothing was done to single out or disrespect John O’Neill and the other veterans who had earned their right to speak.
And he continues:
The challenge in modern Presidential campaign is not simply to paint your opponent as wrong on the issues, and to prevail in a civil debate. It is to render the opponent unacceptable to 48% of the electorate, and merely less preferable to 3%. Despite McCain’s troubles with the base, conservative media (and Hillary) are doing the heavy lifting on the unacceptable part.
In other words, McCain gets to act as if he's above the fray while others do the smear work and that is exactly what Kerry complained about and the article says the Obama campaign is prepared to fight.

Whiners can whine all they want, but the proof of Republican dirty trickery--and approval of it by party hacks--isn't hard to find.

Note to whiny bastard Mark Salter.

In response to Newsweek's article on Obama, Mark Salter--noted whiner--whines some more.
(John McCain) has never said that Senator Obama shares Hamas’ goals or values or proposed a relationship with Hamas different than the one he would propose. On the contrary, he publicly acknowledged that he doesn’t believe Senator Obama. He did note that there must be something about Obama’s positions, particularly his repeated insistence that he would meet with the President of Iran (Hamas’s chief state sponsor), that was welcomed by Hamas.
Dear Mark: Your party might actually be trusted on issues of national security if y'all would quit taking terrorists at their word and realize they're using you.

Another supporter admits that McCain=Bush

In the wake of refreshing honesty from neocon Lawrence Kaplan, who said electing John McCain would be a nod for neocon policies because it would be an "endorsement to that sort of foreign policy," we now have Congressman Roy Blunt (R-MO) admitting that McCain would continue Bush's disastrous economic policies as well.
BLITZER: When it comes to domestic economic issues, what is the major difference between President Bush's policies, what he wants to do, and what John McCain would do if he were president?

BLUNT: Well, I think what John McCain wants to do is continue these pro-growth tax policies that our friends on the other side have been talking...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: But that's what President Bush wants to do too.

BLUNT: And there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with that.

BLITZER: So it would be in effect a third Bush term when it came to pro-growth tax policies?

BLUNT: It would be. I think it would be. And I think that's a good thing.
America disagrees.
When it comes to the way Bush is handling the economy, 23% of registered voters approve of the way Bush is handling the economy and 72% disapprove.
Keep it up, Roy!

Idiot neocons still ignore intelligence

On Saturday, Gabriel Schoenfeld, senior editor at Commentary, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal which shows just how little attention neocons really pay to the intelligence community, as well as the depths to which they'll stoop. The article is basically a long piece trying to suggest that terrorists want to help Barack Obama win. It's the usual tripe, of course, but I just couldn't let one part go. Schoenfeld writes:
In 2004, Osama bin Laden's television appearance only a weekend before the presidential election may have been a naked attempt to influence the outcome by reminding voters that he was still at large and President Bush's policy had failed.
Our own C.I.A. says exactly the opposite, of course.
Just before the 2004 American elections, Kilcullen was doing intelligence work for the Australian government, sifting through Osama bin Laden's public statements, including transcripts of a video that offered a list of grievances against America: Palestine, Saudi Ara-bia, Afghanistan, global warming. The last item brought Kilcullen up short. "I thought, Hang on! What kind of jihadist are you?" he recalled. The odd inclusion of environmentalist rhetoric, he said, made clear that "this wasn't a list of genuine grievances. This was an Al Qaeda information strategy." Ron Suskind, in his book "The One Percent Doctrine," claims that analysts at the C.I.A. watched a similar video, released in 2004, and concluded that "bin Laden's message was clearly designed to assist the President's reelection." Bin Laden shrewdly created an implicit association between Al Qaeda and the Democratic Party, for he had come to feel that Bush's strategy in the war on terror was sustaining his own global importance.
So, without Bush and his foreign policy efforts, bin Laden would probably be less powerful, so it's likely that far from being terrorists' "worst nightmare," John "Last Chance for the Neocons" McCain would be the president they would choose for us as well. And, when you consider this article with Weekly Standard editor Michael Goldfarb's recent admission that he doesn't care whether our policies are aiding in terrorists recruiting efforts, you have to wonder if the neocons are actually relying on the terrorists to swing the election their way.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Post on demand

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry says lower the voting age. My thirteen-year-old son just said, "I demand you post something agreeing with that."

I agree.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Atrios invokes Nitpicker Rule #1

He just doesn't know it.

It goes like this:
No country, party, religion or profession has yet cornered the market on heroes or assholes.

Bad researcher chastises Obama for bad research

Smart guy Jack Kelly writes over at Real Clear Politics that Obama "needs a history lesson." He argues that Obama's statement that it is "wisdom to talk not just to our friends, but to our enemies, like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy did, and Truman did" is ahistorical, considering Roosevelt didn't deal directly with the Nazis. This is true, but Kelly fails to take into account that perhaps the main reason Roosevelt never dealt with Hitler face-to-face is because transportation was such that heads of state still relied on diplomats (remember them?) to talk for them.

Roosevelt did, however, write directly to Hitler that if Hitler was willing to foreswear attacking several nations, Roosevelt would be
prepared to take part in discussions looking toward the most practical
manner of opening up avenues of international trade to the end that every Nation of the earth may be enabled to buy and sell on equal terms in the world market as well as to possess assurance of obtaining the materials and products of peaceful economic life.

At the same time, those Governments other than the United States I which are directly interested could undertake such political discussions as they may consider necessary or desirable.
That seems like trying to talk to Hitler to me.

The funniest part, however, is that after complaining that Obama doesn't know his history, Kelly ends his column this way:
History is an elective few liberals choose to take these days, noted a poster on the Web log "Hot Air." The lack of historical knowledge among journalists is merely appalling. But in a presidential candidate it's dangerous. As Sir Winston Churchill said:

"Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
Of course it wasn't Churchill who said that--though the lazy internet researcher might think it is. That's an oft-misquoted line from George Santayana, who wrote in Life of Reason that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to fulfill it."

It takes a village to raise a child...

But it takes sitting at home with mom all day to make them want to smoke pot from a corpse's parts.
The Kingwood teenager's story of decapitating a corpse and using the head to smoke marijuana was so outlandish that at first Houston Police Department senior police officer Jim Adkins did not believe it.

Yet, Kevin Wade Jones Jr., 17, appeared almost indifferent as he relayed the bizarre description of his and two friends' activities at an Humble area graveyard, Adkins said.

"I just doubted it because it's very morbid, and I couldn't see anybody doing something like this," Adkins said Thursday.

Not until police went to the home of another Kingwood 17-year-old, Matthew Richard Gonzalez, did the officer believe the tale.

"He regurgitated in his plate of food when I asked him about it," Adkins said. "So I knew there was some truth to the story."

Now, Jones, Gonzalez and a juvenile whose name has not been released are each charged with abuse of a corpse, a misdemeanor. All three were arrested Wednesday night.

[snip]

The three boys, all home-schooled, have also been charged in connection with the vehicle break-in. Jones and the juvenile are charged with credit card abuse, while Gonzalez pleaded guilty to a charge of misdemeanor theft between $50 and $500.

A prediction

My favorite campaign ad of the next few months will deal with this, if anyone has the cheek to put one out.

To all mothers, please know that we Democrats love you, not like those nasty Republicans.

Update: Dana Milbank catches the funniest bit and provides would-be ad producers with the perfect tag line: [Scary political ad guy voice] Republicans: They were for motherhood before they were against it.

Stop-loss

In an article in the L.A. Times, Julian Barnes brings an increase in the use of stop-loss orders to our attention.
The number of soldiers forced to remain in the Army involuntarily under the military's controversial "stop-loss" program has risen sharply since the Pentagon extended combat tours last year, officials said Thursday.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates was briefed about the program by Army officials who said that thousands of new stop-loss orders were issued to keep soldiers from leaving the service after Gates ordered combat tours extended from 12 to 15 months last spring.

The Army has resorted to involuntary extensions of soldiers' enlistment terms to prevent them from leaving immediately before a combat tour or in the middle of a deployment.
Though the article is a good one, Barnes is actually missing the point here a bit. These stop-loss orders aren't just going to soldiers who would "leave a pretty gaping hole" if pulled from an active unit, as Secretary of Defense Gates says in the article, but are actually hitting people who haven't been in uniform in some time.

Case in point: Colby Buzzell, author of the excellent memoir My War and writer for Esquire, who recently received orders to drop his, um, classes and grab his socks after three years as a civilian.

Buzzell is actually in the area that I consider a "soft" stop-loss case. You see, what most non-veteran civilians don't realize is that almost all servicemembers sign a contract for eight years, at a minimum. Sure, the military talks about two-year or four-year contracts, but they're only talking there about the initial active requirement. Once that's completed, servicemembers still have an Individual Ready Reserve requirement that lasts up to eight years after they went to boot camp. So Buzzell signed up for two, did his time and now, three years after his active time ended, will be heading off again. He could have been out of uniform for a lot longer and still have been called up.

But "hard" stop-loss cases can keep you in even longer than the eight years of your contract and this could be part of what is driving the rise in usage of the stop-loss program. Think about it: 9/11 happens and hundreds of young Americans show up at recruiting offices to do their part. If they signed up in late 2001, that means they'll be reaching their seven-year mark this year. So, if the Army needs to find a unit to deploy, they'll pick one and then find people to fill in personnel holes. It could take months for the unit to actually deploy, then there's the actual 15-month deployment, plus the Army can keep you in up to 90 days after you return from the deployment.

That means that many of those soldiers who joined for two- and four-year tours in a rush of patriotism could be receiving letters in the mail that will call them back to the service after 3-5 years of civilian life. Then, depending on whether it takes six months or a year to get their "boots on the ground," those supposedly volunteer troops--the wiseass military term is "voluntold"--could spend the next two to two-and-a-half years of their lives serving, even though their contracts ran completely out a year or two earlier.

I will guess that we will see further increases in the use of the stop-loss mechanism as we near the end of the year.

"Many people believe that the draft ended the Vietnam War," Buzzell writes, adding:
I'm convinced that reinstating the draft would definitely end this war. Rich, connected people will always find a way to evade mandatory service, but what about the rest of America? The middle class - people with good jobs and nice lives - would perhaps riot if the government even suggested that it expected from them what the Army expects from veterans.
He's absolutely right here. The lack of a draft is not due to the lack of a need for a draft, but is a political decision made to keep Americans from marching in the streets in large numbers to end this war.

Some try to claim the draft weakens the military, as Oliver North did two years ago:
Reinstituting the draft would inevitably require that these standards be lowered. We've made that mistake before. In the late 1960s President Lyndon Johnson implemented what he called "Project One Hundred Thousand" -- a program that forced the military to accept draftees who would otherwise have been rejected.
But the military is already accepting enlistees they would have rejected in the past and those "waiver" recruits have higher rates of misconduct and desertion than those who did not require an enlistment waiver, according to the Army's own study. Further, the DoD has sent 43,000-plus troops to war who are, by the military's own standards, classified as medically unfit.

And, frankly, the fact the stop-loss program exists has to be turning off some of the more ideal recruits who might have otherwise chosen to join the service. It's an anti-recruiting program.

As I wrote in comments elsewhere, the stop-loss situtation is one of the worst example of the callousness of our current political class. During Vietnam, there was a refusal to activate large portions of the Guard and Reserve because that's where the elites were stowing their children. Post-Vietnam, the Army stuck units with vital military interest in the reserve components in order to force politicians to activate them if they wanted to go to war. Today's unwillingness to demand service is equally cowardly and driven solely by the desire of politicians to remain in power.

If you want to end this war, you should be working to close down this program and reinstating the draft. If you think it's the right thing to do, you should have the courage of your convictions, end this program and make your case that staying is the right thing to do and a draft is the only way to do it. Anyone who cares about our country and our military should want this ridiculous policy ended.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Mark Salter can shove it up his azimuth

Mark Salter is all pissed about Obama's statement that John McCain is "losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination."

"He used the words 'losing his bearings' intentionally," Salter wrote in a release, "a not-particularly-clever way of raising John McCain's age as an issue..."

But Obama's statement is an excellent one that gets right to the issue and seems aimed right at a former sailor's heart. Bearings, after all, simply means (as Merriam-Webster puts it) "the situation or horizontal direction of one point with respect to another or to the compass." In other words, Obama is saying that McCain, who has repeatedly said he would run a clean campaign is losing sight of that goal when he suggests Obama is the Hamas candidate.

Any sailor should know that and one would think a campaign that tried to make a big deal out of the spelling of the word "flak" would not want to get into a semantic argument about a word McCain more than likely understands all too well.

And, when you watch the video and hear what he said in context, Obama's answer seems extremely classy, making Salter seem like a child.



Update: Marc Ambinder has the best description of the tone of Salter's lengthy rant: measured high dudgeon.

Another loser foresees Republican victory

Earlier today, I pointed out a group of republican losers (and I mean that in the literal, guys-who-actually-lost sense and not entirely in the simply pejorative sense) who think they have the ability to tell their fellow righties how to win some elections.

Here's another:
My analysis of individual state polls shows that today Mr. McCain would win 241 Electoral College votes to Mr. Obama's 217, with 80 votes in toss-up states where neither candidate has more than a 3% lead. Ironically, Mrs. Clinton now leads Mr. McCain with 251 electoral votes to his 203 with 84 in toss-up states. This is the first time she's led Mr. McCain since I began tracking state-by-state results in early March.
Ladies and gentlemen, that is Karl F-ing Rove, who argued--a week before the 2006 election--that he could mathematically prove Republicans would win the House and Senate. "You may end up with a different math," he said, "but you're entitled to your math and I'm entitled to the math."

Poor Karl, thinking there's many types of math.

But at least he did kill the Myth of the Liberal Media.

Malkin's selective outrage

Michelle Malkin tosses out another corker with her particular brand of racist flair:
Time for another installment of Stuff Muslims Don’t Like.

#2: Due process for wives.

In Malaysia, Islamic Sharia law allows men to divorce their wives with a triple talaq text message.

Coming to the US?

Well, here’s a small dose of sanity–surprising, I know–from Maryland’s Supreme Court, which refused to recognize Islamic divorce. Yes, you can resist sharia creep...
I'm not sure that Sharia actually dealt with the validity of text messages, being hundreds of years old and all. I do find it odd that, despite her clear suggestion that she supports due process for wives, I have yet to see her denunciation of her heroine Phyllis Schlafly, who argued that a husband can't be said to have committed rape against his wife. "By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don't think you can call it rape," she said.

Right Wing magazines attack Cindy McCain

Cindy McCain has now made it official, telling Ann Curry she will not release her tax returns. The Democratic National Committee has quite correctly pointed out that this is unacceptable, especially when you consider that McCain has relied on his wife's money and corporate jet to help fund his campaign.

Suprisingly, conservative magazines have attacked Mrs. McCain on this issue in an unexpected show of intellectual honesty.

The National Review's Andrew Stuttaford writes:
Trusts and income this large, even if only partly controlled by a potential future First Lady, matter. We've already seen how (she) effectively helped finance her husband's campaign, at least in its bleaker moments.
Matthew Continetti writes for The Weekly Standard that she should give up the returns, even though it would be difficult:
Making (her) tax returns public would confirm that she's (Senator McCain's) sugar daddy (sugar mommy?). It would also strike a blow against (her husband's) populist rhetoric by detailing the lavish lifestyle he and his wife enjoy...
Even Robert Novak has surprised me by writing that this is "politically critical, because no previous presidential candidate relied so much on his spouse's wealth" and without his wife's money, "it is fair to say (he) would not be his party's presidential standard-bearer and probably would not even be a U.S. senator today."

The Washington Post editorial board has also joined in, writing:
...with her husband seeking the presidency, her financial dealings, as well as his, ought to be as open as possible. Keeping her returns private would set a bad precedent. Imagine a future presidential candidate whose spouse has complicated business dealings or federal contracts, chooses to file a separate tax return, and refuses to make it public.
With such refreshing honesty all around I expect we'll see --

Um, wait.

I'm sorry. All those editorials were about Teresa Heinz-Kerry's tax returns and are from 2004.

So never mind. I doubt we'll hear much of anything from these usual suspects this time around.

Update: Of course, now that it's McCain's wife getting grilled, his spokesdrones are saying that "Howard Dean continues to lower the bar in this election."

This is simple: All these right wingers are full of shit or they call Cindy McCain out. I'm betting on feces.

A good cause

When I was in Afghanistan, I started a grassroots online drive to get pens to kids there after I was told by a civil affairs guy that giving an Afghan child a pen was tantamount to giving them a scholarship. Y'all came through and gave those children hundreds of thousands of pens. I couldn't have been prouder of you.

But Todd Schmidt, an officer I worked with over there, is going much farther than I would have dreamed. He founded Operation Dreamseed, a nonprofit group which helps Afghan schools with everything pencils and desks to lunches and teachers' salaries.

Give.

Losers to tell the right how to win

Via Marc Ambinder, I see that Patrick Ruffini and his pals are starting a new blog called "The Next Right." Ruffini, if you don't know him, describes himself thus:
From 2005 to 2007, Ruffini served as eCampaign Director at the Republican National Committee, overseeing the Party’s online strategy for the 2006 election cycle.
And that just worked out fabulously, no?

More recently, Ruffini defended his fellow online righty Soren Dayton, after Dayton was booted from the McCain campaign for trafficking in racially-charged online smears of Obama through his Twitter account. Ruffini wrote that McCain was wrong to fire his buddy Dayton, because elections aren't about silly things like issues.
The challenge in modern Presidential campaign is not simply to paint your opponent as wrong on the issues, and to prevail in a civil debate. It is to render the opponent unacceptable to 48% of the electorate, and merely less preferable to 3%.
In other words, smears are great. Which, oddly enough, sounds like the right I'm used to, so I'm not looking forward to the next one.

Then again...

"The Next Right," according to Ruffini, won't be about the political news of the day, but will instead focus on the what the right needs to do to build a better online infrastructure to match that of the left (of course, holding on to ideas that young Americans don't agree with probably won't be one of their suggestions). Dayton will join Ruffini on the blog, along with Jon Henke of QandO, who was the "new media coordinator" for George Allen's Senate campaign.

In other words, leading the right to a new online tomorrow will be overseen by a guy who helped lead the Republican party to a huge deficit in online donations, a guy who doesn't understand the basics of social networking or the Google cache, and the guy whose boss lost his campaign because they couldn't beat back a YouTube video.

I love it.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Kaplan confirms obvious: McCain=Bush

Lawrence Kaplan's book The War Over Iraq (co-written with William Kristol) is probably the ultimate collection of pre-Iraq War talking points ever published. It proved to be a very useful tool to war supporters in the run-up to the war and John McCain loved the book, though I'm sure he will have forgotten (or hopes you have).

In a recent interview in Der Spiegel, however, Kaplan admitted that the Iraq War was a mistake--"(R)eality demands this answer," he said--but here's the most important bit for those who aren't convinced that a vote for McCain is a vote for a fourth Bush term.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The Iraq war was percieved as the one chance the neocons had in our time to prove that their theories were right. Is neoconservatism already a historical footnote?

Kaplan: The near-term argument here is that if John McCain wins the presidential election, neoconservatism will have been vindicated. Because by voting him into office, people will have tacitly given their endorsement to that sort of foreign policy.
So: Want more Bush-style foreign policy? McCain's your man!