Friday, September 26, 2003

The words Dr. Krauthammer uses to describe Democrats:

From Friday's Op Ed unhinged
losing it
regional prejudice
unhinged from reality
blinding Bush-hatred
passage ... to pathology


Thursday, September 25, 2003

Bush the businessman:

From two Salon articles (Joe Conason's Big Lies excerpt, and Molly Ivins' and Lou Dubose's Bushwhacked! excerpt), we created two diagrams:

What did we learn from this exercise?

  1. Failed businessman Bush was rescued multiple times because he was the son of a politically powerful father.
  2. How Bush got rich:
    • He was invited to be a part owner of the Texas Rangers because his last name was Bush.
    • He was able to secure his partnership in the team through the questionable sale of Harken stock.
    • The Rangers got government to pay for, and confiscate, assets that enriched the team.
    • Bush assisted in the effort to get government financial and legal support for the Rangers, and was rewarded with additional shares in the team.
    • When governor, his support of Hicks management of state university finances was a factor in Hicks later paying handsomely for the Rangers.


Wednesday, September 24, 2003

The day after:


Catching up on some old business:

Bill O'Reilly was on Good Morning America this week to promote his new book. The topic of Al Franken came up and O'Reilly was scathing in his comments about the comedian, which was to be expected.

In any event, we were thinking again about the Bill and Al spat at the Los Angeles Book Expo earlier this year. In particular, remarks by Al Franiken about the right-wing coverage of the Paul Wellstone memorial: (58min, 10 meg MP3 audio, from this website) (at the 20 minute mark)
They distorted that memorial so badly.

I wish Tucker were here today, for Tucker the next day said that Republican senators who had come, friends of Wellstone, were shouted down by people, by the crowd, when they were trying to speak. When they tried to speak.

That wasn't the format of the memorial.

There was lie after lie.

Weekly Standard - Christopher Caldwell did the most vicious thing on that, on the Wellstone memorial, did not see it. All he saw, I think, were some clips on Fox, that Mr. Hannity had put together.
We meant to track down the Caldwell story in the Weekly Standard back in June, but never got around to it ... until now. The article, Mourning in America, is available on-line, and includes these words: (excerpts, emphasis added)
It is in this context that the nationwide outrage over last week's "memorial service" for Wellstone at Williams Arena in Minneapolis is best understood. Millions of Americans--and 55 percent of Minnesota households--tuned in on television to watch a solemn commemoration and found a rally devoted to a politics that was twisted, pagan, childish, inhumane, and even totalitarian beyond their worst nightmares. The crowd of 20,000 booed a succession of people who had come to pay their respects to a dead colleague: Senate minority leader Trent Lott, Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, and former Minnesota senators Rod Grams and Rudy Boschwitz. Vice President Dick Cheney was disinvited from the affair. Former president Bill Clinton appeared on the Jumbo-Tron yuk-yukking and giving thumbs-up signs, looking happier than he had since . . . well, since Ron Brown's funeral. And most bizarrely, Wellstone's treasurer and friend Rick Kahn staged a confrontation with Republican representative Jim Ramstad and three senators (Domenici of New Mexico, Brownback of Kansas, and DeWine of Ohio) that was reminiscent of a Maoist reeducation camp. With the help of the mob, Kahn sought to bully and shame these Republicans into abandoning their party and supporting Walter Mondale, taunting: "We can redeem the sacrifice of his life, if you help us win this election for Paul Wellstone." And if they don't help. . . ? Small wonder Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd was said to have apologized afterwards to his Senate colleague Domenici. It was a sinister incident, unexampled in recent American politics.

Most of those who watched this spectacle felt a disgust bordering on shame. Lott and Ventura walked out of the service, and Ventura announced he had changed his mind about appointing a Democrat to hold Wellstone's seat for the next two months. But such feelings arose from decency, not partisanship. Minnesota's Republicans, after all, have every reason to be delighted with the political fallout from this "memorial service." The Democrats' beyond-the-pale politicization of Wellstone's death opened the way for Republican Norm Coleman to begin campaigning again, his only chance of making up an 8-point poll deficit against Wellstone's replacement, former vice president Walter Mondale. Television stations were flooded with angry calls, and the GOP received $150,000 in spontaneously generated phone contributions since the service. GOP leader Ron Eibensteiner asked for equal air time, on the grounds that Minnesota's Democrats had exploited their colleague's death to bamboozle networks into running a three-and-a-half-hour campaign ad--and hardly anyone thought that was going too far. One journalist at WCCO in Minneapolis-St. Paul said his station felt "hoodwinked and embarrassed."

The real sin was not against Wellstone's political foes (or the people his "mourners" cast as his foes) but against Wellstone himself. As has often been remarked in the days since, one clip in the video portion of the event showed Wellstone saying, "Politics is not about winning for the sake of winning. Politics is about the improvement of people's lives." The service blew a gigantic raspberry at that worldview. The late senator was treated as little more than one broken egg in a great get-out-the-vote omelet. The pilots and aides who died with him were barely treated at all. This Machiavellian glibness in the face of death was what left viewers most uneasy. One of our major political parties, or at least a sizable wing of it, appeared to be dancing a jig on the grave of a particularly beloved fallen comrade. What must they think of the rest of us?
Remember, the Weeky Standard is the baby of the "respectable" William Kristol, who gets on This Week, Fox News Sunday, and the Charlie Rose Show.

NOTE: Al Franken covers the reportage of the Wellstone funeral in his latest book, Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them - A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, which we learn from a review at Common Dreams.


Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Bush at the United Nations:

We should have guessed, since Bush mentioned it in his recent interview with Brit Hume on Fox, that "sex slavery" would be on the agenda. From a word count of the speech:
That's 14% - or 1/7th of the speech.
Iraq, the ostensible reason for the speech was 992 words, or 34% (essentially 1/3rd)


Supply-sider logic:

Via Tapped, we learn the following:
ANALOGIZE THIS. NRO seems to have given Donald Luskin a day off, so Bruce Bartlett takes a crack at Paul Krugman, while defending supply-side economists from the charge that they lack academic credentials:
Under the circumstances [of the 1970s], there was no time to write articles for obscure academic journals that might take years to get into print, organize scholarly conferences, and do all the things necessary to get the grudging respect of people like Paul Krugman. Supply-siders went directly to policymakers and the media with their ideas, bypassing the academics the same way Gen. Douglas MacArthur went around Japanese strongholds in the Pacific, leaving them isolated and ineffective.
Tapped would find the analogy more plausible if MacArthur had run out of troops halfway to Japan and found himself beating a hasty retreat back to California in much the same way that Ronald Reagan eventually discovered that his policies were bankrupting the country and he needed to turn around and raise taxes to prevent a fiscal disaster. [...]
We'd prefer to put it this way:
Under the circumstances [of the 1930s], there was no time to write articles for obscure academic journals that might take years to get into print, organize scholarly conferences, and do all the things necessary to get the grudging respect of people like Vavilov. Proponents of vernalization, such as Lysenko, went directly to Stalin and the media with their ideas, bypassing the academics, leaving them isolated and ineffective.


Bush at the United Nations:

Our review in one word: soporific


Religion and politics:

From the Washington Post: (excerpts)
Bush Presses 'Faith-Based' Agenda

     President Bush repealed and proposed several regulations yesterday to make it easier for religious charities to receive federal money, including allowing such groups to make hiring decisions based on job candidates' faith.
     The announcements were the most significant steps so far in Bush's plan to pursue his "faith-based" initiative through administrative power after encountering congressional resistance to doing so through legislation.
     "In any employment decision, there's discrimination," said Jim Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. "Universities hire smart people."
     Bush finalized four changes he had proposed earlier, including delineating the boundary for religious content of federally funded social-service programs. The administration bars federal money from use for "inherently religious activity such as worship, religious instruction or proselytization."
     Ira C. Lupu, an authority on religion and the Constitution at George Washington University Law School, said the regulations could make it easier for charities to push the boundary of how much religious content is allowed. "These regulations might not preclude funding for a substance-abuse program that includes religious inspiration for its participants," Lupu said. "They might say you want to motivate them with lessons from the Bible."
     Bush also proposed changing six rules, including a Justice Department regulation in a way that would allow religious entities to receive forfeited assets, most crucially real estate, under the same restrictions that apply to secular groups.
First of all, the fact that "universities hire smart people", and thus discriminate, is no justification for discrimination on other grounds - in this case on religious grounds. Or are we now free to discriminate based on race and gender?

Second. What's this about forfeited assets? Are religious groups stepping up to get a drug-runner's plane or boat? We'd like to know more about this aspect of the story.

UPDATE: The White House has a full page on this topic, with comments from three cabinet members

And it appears from this White House 'fact sheet' that the forfeited assets rule is not pernicious.


Brit Hume interview with Bush breakdown: (for those interested, the transcript is available here)





Color code







family matters







routine at the office, White House life




























foreign policy














domestic politics














intro / exit tease / credits







commercials / network promotions
















Bush quotes





Fox graphics, clips of Bush







Hume intro







How often talk to dad, Jeb







Running track, bad knee, exercise, south grounds, putting green, golf







South lawn


"getting away" from the office





Prayer and faith: daily, all kinds of places


"a lot"





Iraq and faith, god, Bush prays for families


"I am a lowly sinner", "people pray for me"





Iraq, faith


"progress is being made in Iraq"





Hume exit tease







commercials / network promotions







Oval Office, threat matrix, mail, schedule: A.Card, Tenet, Cheney, Rice, et al







JFK desk, different presidential seals, rug designed by Laura







Other presidents: Lincoln, uniting the country


I "set big goals"





western-themed painting: A Charge to Keep, from family friends (O'Neill),
painting is based on Methodist hymn (A Charge to Keep I have)


"really old picture"
"painting is reminder it's important to serve something greater than ourself"





Hume exit tease







commercials / network promotions







Iraq, "Bring 'em on" remark (was really taking to the troops: we're pretty tough)
Better to fight in Iraq than Yemen or mountains of Afghanistan


"I'm a man of peace", "stay on the offense"





Q: What did Saddam to with WMD? A: Hid or disbursed. The truth will out. David Kay.







United Nations. Message tomorrow: Let's work together. The U.N. has a chance ...


"Let's fight AIDS and hunger, deal with slavery, like sex slavery, proliferation"
"I made the right decision"





Germany / Schroeder - now helping







France / Chirac


"I'll continue to remind him ... America is a good nation"





Q: Will we get another resolution? A: Yes, U.N.: write constitution, oversee elections.
Larger role for member states of the U.N. (e.g. Poland, Great Britain)







Q: More troops? A: Training money (for Iraqi police) was 'stripped out' of latest supplemental.







Q: What about Americans who thought the war was already won? USS Abraham Lincoln statement reviewed.
Bush said he said it would be a challenge going forward. Groups like Ansar al-Islam would stay active.


"They were active during Saddam's period"












Arafat, Palestinians, Israel







Hume exit tease







commercials / network promotions







Economy, jobless recovery, [Bush] doesn't know when jobs will be added







Cut taxes, must make permanent







Conservative critics charge Bush is spending too much money







Nation is at war







Never forget the lessons of 9/11


"freedom equals peace",
"A free Iraq will be a significant dynamic in changing attitudes in the Middle East",
"Free societies are peaceful societies"





No attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11, attacks elsewhere







Finding Saddam, Osama bin Laden







FCC rule changes







Hume exit tease







commercials / network promotions







Democratic presidental field


"not paying attention to it", "I've got a job to do"
"I'm disappointed in the tone of senior statesmen"





Criticism of Bush vs. his dad









"I believe I've done the right thing"





Q: How do you get your news? A: Get briefed by A. Card, C. Rice.


"I have great respect for our media"
















Sunday, September 21, 2003

The U.N. is responsible for Bush misleading the American public (according to Andrew Sullivan):

Heard on the Chris Matthews Show, Saturday, 21 September 2003 (most recent transcripts not available, from our transcript of our audio clip - 310kb, which will be deleted after September):
CHRIS MATTHEWS: If the president made the statement he made this week, before we went to war, had said there's no actual connection - any evidence - between what happened to us 9/11 in 2001 and this war with Iraq - no actual particular connection. Would he have been still able to sell the war? Michael.
MICHAEL TOMASKY: Probably, but it would have been a whole lot harder, a whole lot harder, and it would have taken a whole lot longer. And there would've been a lot more debate about it.
HOWARD FEINMAN: I think he would have been able to, and I think he should have done it that way, rather than make it just one on a menu he's now featuring.
BBC REPORTER KATTY KAY: I think he would have been able to sell it, because along side it was a lot of intelligence being put out - a lot of information being put out - which now, in retrospect, has not been corroborated.
ANDREW SULLIVAN: He wanted to sell it that way but the U.N. demanded that he didn't.
ADDENDUM: SullyWatch also weighs in on Andy's appearance, and includes a sartorial suggestion for Sully.

AFTERTHOUGHT: We're pretty sure Sullivan was responding to Matthews' "Would Bush have been able to sell the war if he also said there was no Saddam-9/11 connection?" However, it's possible that Sullivan's "He wanted to sell it that way" was informed by the preceding comment that "there was a lot of information being put out". Being charitable to Andy, one might argue that Sullivan claimed Bush wanted to "sell it" using such information, but the U.N. was averse to that approach. But that doesn't make a whole lot of sense either. So, after thinking through all the possibilities, we return to our original perspective: Sullivan said Bush wanted to make the case for invading Iraq without invoking "connections" between Saddam and 9/11, but the U.N. demanded that he not do so.


Don't blame me, blame that guy behind the tree:

Heard during the panel discussion on Fox News Sunday (transcript link unavailable, this is from our transcription of our audio clip - 254kb, which will be deleted after September ):

WILLIAM KRISTOL: Generally speaking, obviously the White House is now really trying to make its case. The president made a speech Monday night. They put people out - Secretary Powell was on our show Sunday. Vice President Cheny was out. He's got to continue making the case that we're in for rough times here in Iraq. I think we'll be okay, but we have to suck it up, spend some money, take some casualties, maybe send some more troops, and so this will be part of his general case. The case he has to make is why this is so important. This wasn't just sort of discretionary war. It wasn't a mistake. It wasn't just a kinda crazy idea a few neoconservatives had. That this was fundamental to our security. He's got to make that case.
THIS JUST IN: Looks like Bush will piss off the General Assembly on Tuesday. From the Washington Post:
Bush to Tell U.N. He Made 'Right Decision' on Iraq

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush said on Sunday he would tell the United Nations he made the right decision to go to war in Iraq despite his failure to obtain Security Council backing for the conflict.

"I will make it clear that I made the right decision and that the others that joined us made the right decision," Bush said in an interview with Fox News Channel's Brit Hume.
Expect some booing of Bush at the U.N. (Mostly because of Iraq, but also because of the recent General Assembly vote on Arafat.)


Reason to turn off your TV:

On Sunday's Dateline on NBC: (7pm, 6-Central)
TV-show host Bill O'Reilly talks about raising children, the lawsuit against Al Franken and his new book, "Who's Looking Out for You''



On Sunday's Meet the Press, we note the following:
MR. RUSSERT (to ALBRIGHT): There’s a debate which is waged in political and diplomatic circles about September 11. Could more have been done by the Clinton administration prior to September 11—and you write about some of that in your book. Another book called “Losing Bin Laden” is out and it talks about, the Clinton administration, you specifically. Let me go through that and give you a chance to respond. In October 12, 2002, the USS Cole was blown up. “An American warship had been attacked without warning in a ‘friendly’ harbor—and, at the time, no one knew if the ship’s pumps could keep it afloat for the night. Now, they had to decide what to do about it.
     “[Clinton administration counter-terrorism czar Richard] Clarke had no doubts whom to punish. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had compiled thick binders of bin Laden and Taliban targets in Afghanistan, complete with satellite photographs and GPS bomb coordinates...The detailed plan was ‘to level’ every bin Laden training camp and compound in Afghanistan as well as key Taliban buildings in Kabul and Kandahar. ‘Let’s blow them up,’ Clarke said. ...
     “Around the table, Clarke head only objections—not a mandate for action...
“Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was also against a counterstrike—but for diplomatic reasons.
     ‘We’re desperately trying to halt the fighting that has broken out between Israel and the Palestinians,’ Albright said. Clarke recalls her saying, ‘bombing Muslims wouldn’t be helpful at this time.’...
     “Albright urged continued diplomatic efforts to persuade the Taliban to turn over bin Laden. Those efforts had been going on for more than two years and had gone nowhere. It was unlikely that the Taliban would every voluntarily turn over its strongest internal ally.”

And nine months later, after that discussion, September 11.
In case you were wondering, Russert took the time (one minute 20 seconds) to read 208 words of Albright-trashing from the book “Losing Bin Laden”, a product of Regenry Publishing.

Also, what's this about "nine months later ... September 11"? We don't have the book in question, but if the meeting took place nine months before September 11, it would have been in the very last days of the Clinton administration, and in such circumstances it's usually a good idea not to saddle the incoming president (of the opposite party!) with an operation he didn't approve.
MR. RUSSERT: That uncertainty has certainly spilled over into the American political debate, Bill Safire. I showed Secretary Albright Ted Kennedy’s comments about the war being a fraud. Senator Kennedy also offered this. ”[Sen. Ted] Kennedy said the administration has failed to account for nearly half of the $4 billion the war is costing each month. He said he believed that much of the unaccounted money is being used to bribe foreign leaders to send in troops,” which prompted this response from Tom DeLay, Republican leader in the House, “It’s disturbing that Democrats have spewed more hateful rhetoric at President Bush than they ever did at Saddam Hussein.” How big of a political issue has the Iraq war become?

MR. WILLIAM SAFIRE: Do you suppose we could bribe Jacques Chirac? I don’t think so. That’s not the right approach.
Maybe not Chirac, but how about Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan?
MR. RUSSERT: I’m going to get to Wes Clark in just a second. But, first, there was an interesting development within the administration this last week. Vice President Cheney was on this program last week and let me show you the question I asked him and his answer.

“The Washington Post asked the American people about Saddam Hussein, and this is what they said: 69 percent said he was involved in the September 11 attacks. Are you surprised by that?”
Cheney answered.
“VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: No. I think it’s not surprising that people make that connection.
QUESTION: But is there a connection?
George Bush, the president, this week, came out, a few days later, and said this: “We’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th.”
What happened?

MR. SAFIRE: I thought Cheney was terrific on this show last week. Better than us, even.
Cheney was a terrific liar.
MR. SAFIRE: I’ve always believed the Czech intelligence that said Mohamed Atta met in Prague four months before the September 11 attack with Saddam Hussein’s top intelligence agent in Europe. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m right. Nobody has definitively answered that. So that when Cheney was asked, he said, I think quite properly, “We don’t know.”
This is the refuge of "absolute proof", a common technique used by Holocaust Deniers.
MR. RUSSERT: Then why did the president say something different [from Cheney]?MR. SAFIRE: The president abandoned that position and said, “We have no evidence on it.”
MR. SAFIRE: I don’t know.
Worst ... lie ... ever.     Of course he knows. Cheney lied his ass off. (By the way, there are currently 1000 stories on Google news for "Bush Saddam connection".)

MR. SAFIRE: I see a delicious Machiavellian dynamic underneath this.
MR. SAFIRE: There was a party, a dinner party, in the Clintons’ home. The conversation was leaked by a close Clinton friend, probably with Bill Clinton’s enthusiastic endorsement. That former President Clinton said there are two stars in the Democratic Party: Hillary and Wes Clark. Now, of course, he meant there were eight stars.
MR. SAFIRE: Now, why is Bill Clinton pushing Wes Clark? The Clinton people are climbing on the Clark bandwagon. This is the way to stop Howard Dean. Now, why does Clinton want to stop Howard Dean? Could it be that he wants to wait and see and perhaps Hillary will get into this with General Clark as her vice president? Will he prefer to let someone else run and lose and, thereby, have a clear field for Hillary Clinton to run in 2008? What’s going on underneath the coverage? It’s just terrific.
MR. RUSSERT: Well, let us add a few logs to this Safire conspiracy fire...
MR. RUSSERT: ...because Bill Clinton went to California this past week, to the Panetta Institute, the home of his former chief of staff, and this is the news account from The New York Sun. “President Clinton stoked speculation that his wife, Senator Clinton, will run for president in 2004. Asked by his former chief of staff, Leon Panetta, where there was ‘a chance’ that Mrs. Clinton would run for president next year, Mr. Clinton left the door open. ‘That’s really a decision for her to make,’ he said at a public forum [in California]. The former president also said he believed many New Yorkers would have no objection to her breaking her pledge to serve a full six years in the Senate. ‘I was impressed at the state fair in New York, which is in Republican country in upstate New York, at how many New Yorkers came up and said they would release her from her commitment if she wanted to do it,’ Mr. Clinton said. ‘But she said...she doesn’t understand how to walk away from that. So I just have to take her for where she is right now.’”
Apparently, Meet the Press is now the appropriate forum for Safire to speculate wildly in order to score points. (We expect the Howler to address thiis aspect of professional journalism.) When will Noam Chomsky get the same opportunity?

Very nice of Russert to cite the conservative New York Sun for a portrait of leading Democratic figures.

Even though today's Meet the Press didn't have any truly outstanding outrageous moments, it was a good example of how slanted it is: Two strongly conservative commentators out of four. A couple of citations by Russert from partisan sources. And speculation and conspiracy theories.

What really bothered us was Safire not knowing for sure that Mohammed Atta didn't meet with Iraqi agents, or why Bush disavowed a connection between Saddam and 9/11 - Safire insists on a high standard before rendering a judgement - yet when it comes to sundry Democrats, any hunch will do.

It was ugly.