Friday, April 30, 2004

N.C. Censorship of Ted Koppel

Two ABC affiliates owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, WXLV in Greensboro and WLOS in Asheville, have been ordered NOT to broadcast "Nightline" tonight because host Ted Koppel intends to read aloud the names of the over 560 U.S. troops killed in Iraq. The Sinclair Group also owns stations in several other states, all of which intend to boycott Koppel's read-aloud.

According to the campaign watchdog group,, the Sinclair
Group has given over $200,000 to the Republican Party and Republican
candidates, and zero to Democrats. A top Sinclair Group executive has
done opinion pieces bashing John Kerry, and the company has criticized
the media for only broadcasting "bad news" about Iraq. Far-right
commentators are now billing Sinclair as "the next Fox News."

If you feel inclined to express yourself about this development, here's the contact information:

Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
10706 Beaver Dam Road
Hunt Valley, Maryland 21030
410-568-1500 (Main Telephone)
410-568-1533 (Main Fax)

Sinclair CEO:
VP of Programming and Promotions:

Thursday, April 29, 2004

This Just In!

The headline in the New York Times this a.m. -- "Support for War Is Down Sharply," according to a new NY Times/CBS News poll -- and when George W. Bush's mouth moved this morning in his "talk" with the 9/11 Commission, Vice President Dick Cheney's voice came out.

The Specter of Defeat

From reading coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer of the Sen. Arlen Specter/Patrick Toomey Republican primary in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, you'd get the impression that it was actually Toomey who won rather than the incumbent Specter (the Inquirer requires free registration). The lead paragraph in this morning's analysis piece reads: "Sen. Arlen Specter won. But so did the Club for Growth." How so?

The Club for Growth, the conservative anti-tax organization, groomed Toomey and pumped millions into his attempt to bump off a several-term Senate veteran. That race was given zero chance of succeeding just a few months ago, but by pasting a "liberal" label on Specter, Toomey and his puppet-masters in the Club for Growth came within 16,000 votes of heaving Specter out into the cold. And apparently, a "near upset" of Specter was enough to give the Club for Growth's president Stephen Moore strutting rights, since Specter had to bring in the president himself to help him eke out a very narrow victory. "One thing that came through clearly is there is some discontent with the way Republicans have been governing," Moore said in an interview. "There's a kind of conservative revolt. The White House came within an eyelash of being big-time embarrassed," he said.

Big time! Once again we hear that El Presidente is insufficiently conservative for a large portion of the Republican Party. Sobering thought, ain't it?

Stephen Moore went through the motions, at least, of urging Toomey's supporters to now support Specter in the general election, but there's anecdotal evidence that many of the Republicans who became convinced that Senator Specter has been sleeping with Beelzebub all these years find it difficult to turn on a dime and bust their butts getting to the polls in November on his behalf.

Specter's Democratic opponent this fall is Rep. Joseph M. Hoeffel, little known outside of Pennsylvania and maybe not all that well known inside Pennsylvania. Nobody's giving him much of a shot at defeating Specter, but there's a chance that the Specter/Toomey primary will give Hoeffel the boost he needs.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Do You BELIEVE These Guys?

Not only is El Presidente apparently holding to his plan of putting his tender little hand into the big strong paw of his vice president before going in TOGETHER tomorrow morning to face the meanies on the 9/11 Commission ... an amazing admission in itself that Bush without Cheney has no brain ... but the Bush White House has also decreed that there will be no recording made of the event, no recording device allowed in the room, but rather a "note-taker," and if the White House has its way, probably an arthritic note-taker with a bad Bic. (New York Times story here.)

Somewhere over the weekend I recall seeing Bob Woodward on one of the Sunday Morning Gasbag Hours speculating that surely -- SURELY! -- Bush would change his mind about going in with Cheney, just for the pure embarrassment factor alone of having a presumably grown president who can't seem to stand on his own before a panel looking to get to the bottom of what happened to allow 19 citizens of the Third World to defeat completely and utterly the 21st century defenses of this great nation. Evidently, somewhere right now Bob Woodward is incredulously repeating to himself, "Bush is ACTUALLY going through with it ... hiding behind Cheney!" Remarkable.

But even more remarkable is Bush's further scrambling to make sure that no one ever knows what exactly he says in that closed, recorder-less room. And that the 9/11 Commission agreed to these conditions! "Mr. Bush will not be under oath, and the White House has been adamant that what he says should not be considered official testimony. 'He is not testifying, he is talking to them,' " said an unidentified White House spokesperson.

"He's NOT testifying," folks. He's "talking." Well, maybe not even that.

Vice President Cheney: "Come here, little fellow, and sit on my knee. Pull your shirttail out, and let me get my hand up under there. Now! We're ready for questions, Mr. Chairman. Aren't we, little pal?"

It'll be about as transparent as that. "Legal scholars said the lack of an official transcript would give the White House some deniability and make it more difficult to use the president's words as evidence in a future suit against the government. 'It gives them more maneuverability in case someone slips up or says something he regrets,' Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University, said."

Yeah, quite the man's man we've got in the White House! Quite the brave soul. Quite the leader of the Free World.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Young Women Waking Up to Threats to Abortion Rights

The coverage I've been reading about the massive abortion rights march in Washington, D.C., last Sunday -- like this one -- has emphasized the great numbers of young, college-aged women who participated ... something of a turn-around since the last big women's rights march 12 years ago when the predominate age group protesting the first Bush administration's abortion policies were women "of an age," that is, those who could remember what life was like in pre-Roe v. Wade America, especially in pre-Roe v. Wade North Carolina. (I remember at least one ASU student who was taken out of state in 1972 for an abortion that was positively, absolutely illegal in N.C. -- not to mention immoral enough to bust hell wide open!)

With El Presidente poised to replace a Supreme Court justice or two in his second term, more and more young women, for whom 1973 is not only ancient history but literally pre-history, are beginning to catch on to the fact that freedom of choice is NOT guaranteed in the Land of the Brave and the Formerly Free, and that the dark forces currently in charge of the Republican Party, and to whom El Presidente (but not his wife, God bless her!) owes his allegiance, are not only determined to outlaw ALL ABORTION but ALL BIRTH CONTROL as well, as soon as they can. This struggle is, and always has been, a war on women's freedom from the consequences of sex.

I grew up in pre-sexual revolution rural Texas where the Southern Baptist Church was supreme and where there simply was no such thing as abortion. Didn't exist. Wasn't even talked about. We were preached at constantly. Having sex would be like touching a downed powerline. You die instantly! And yet, you know, abstinence training was just -- how you say? -- inadequate. I knew plenty of teenage girls -- including one notorious one, aged 13 -- who turned up pregnant. First, they were escorted out of school, never to return. Couldn't have a pregnant girl in school, oh no! Then she was hastily married off to the young man, whether the young man was quite ready for that step or not. No question 'bout that. The fruits of total abstinence training were bitter. Adults told us all along that sex was death, and that's exactly how it turned out.

A few of those forced marriages actually lasted, though the notorious 13-year-old later put her enforced husband's pistol to her temple on her 30th birthday. I knew her. She was as smart as a whip and rebellious, and she had the patience to wait a full 17 years before taking her revenge on a system that enforced her unwilling servitude. Her body was not her own, and she resented the hell out of it.

George Bush is from Texas, and he seems very comfortable with the notion of returning us all to 1957, just like it was in Texas. You have sex, you die! Especially if you're a woman. (But not, naturally, if you happened to be the playboy rich kid of a rich daddy, but let that go!)

I've made some college-age males uncomfortable recently urging that we bring back the draft. I can understand their unease. But until college-age men, along with college-age women, wake up and begin to notice what's happening to the democracy they've taken for granted, the death-dealing of the Rovians is going to be on all our heads. The draft, I figure, just like the end of Roe v. Wade, is the clearest wake-up bell that can possibly ring.

How to Get a College President's Goat

Only now are we finding out that Dick Cheney's attack on John Kerry's patriotism yesterday at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, was a phony set-up that has angered the college's president. Seems that Cheney's people called the Westminster officials days before to say that the vice president wanted to make a "major foreign policy" address in the exact same campus building where Winston Churchill first coined the term "Iron Curtain" in a famous speech in 1946. Oh, well then, a history-making event like THAT induced the college president, Fletcher Lamkin, who also used to be a former administrator at West Point, to assemble the entire college community to sit reverently for the vp's important "major foreign policy" address. Only it turned out to be nothing more than a campaign event, a slashing attack on Kerry as unpatriotic, from a man who dodged the draft himself during the Vietnam War with a student deferment.

Well, President Lamkin AIN'T amused. Josh Marshall published today an email that Lamkin sent to the entire Westminster College community expressing his distaste for Cheney's craven behavior: "I was surprised and disappointed that Mr. Cheney chose to step off the high ground and resort to Kerry-bashing for a large portion of his speech. The content and tone of his speech was not provided to us prior to the event -- we had only been told the speech would be about foreign policy, including issues in Iraq."

President Lamkin has felt obliged to offer John Kerry the same platform and opportunity to defend himself against the vp's intemperance. We trust that Kerry will take the president up on the offer. Missouri is one of those battleground states, after all.

Catholic Church Declares a Jihad

Catholic Cardinal Francis Arinze, a top Vatican official who was apparently speaking for his boss the pope, said last Friday that Catholic parish priests should withhold communion from Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, which everyone took to be a direct attack on Sen. John Kerry but naturally took in scores of others not so high-profile.

Cardinal Arinze was apparently not inclined to be embarrassed about making such pronouncements from the highest reaches of a church hierarchy that has spent decades covering up the busy world-wide grubbing of boy-buggerers.

And we note that his pronouncement also took in our own Governor Mike Easley, a devout Catholic who was known to pack a concealed handgun during his days as a prosecutor and who has about the same response to church thugs as he did to drug thugs ... i.e., "You have my sincere permission to pound sand." According to a piece in this morning's News & Observer, Gov. Easley "will not be deterred by a top Vatican cardinal's pronouncement that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be denied Communion.
Easley has always been comfortable that his belief in a woman's right to choose abortion is compatible with his Catholic faith. He attends church services every Sunday...."

Monday, April 26, 2004

My President Is Cheap Cosmetics

Matt Bai published a fascinating and detail-laden inside look at the Bush/Cheney reelection effort in the New York Times Magazine yesterday, and the bottomline is that Rovians have apparently organized on the Amway model of the pyramid scheme, or Multi-Level Marketing, as it's known, with each precinct captain an independent entrepreneur recruiting other sub-entrepreneurs who'll do their work recruiting sub-sub-entrepreneurs for the cause of passing on the propaganda without question and all in hope of the ultimate reward, an extra cushion in Heaven ... sort of like the Mary Kay Cosmetics pyramid, with a ride in a pink Cadillac of Bush/Cheney as the ultimate motivational impetus.

"...the Bush campaign [has] its own kind of toolbox for recruits. It includes ''7 Steps to 72-Hour Success,'' a brochure that shows you how to create your very own ''magic chart,'' a color-coded time line for every activity in the campaign. Another of the seven steps is to recruit Bush Team Leaders, or B.T.L.'s, as the campaign sometimes refers to them. These are volunteers who are given prizes, like a signed note from the president, for accomplishing six specific tasks, the first of which is to recruit five other B.T.L.'s. Volunteers are also rewarded (with 'a presidential screen-saver') for calling in to talk radio programs or writing letters to the editor on behalf of the president. 'Train volunteers in each of the 7 Steps,' the brochure commands. 'They will be the implementers.' "

There's much more revealing detail and specific strategies for the selling of the president, by the pound or by the ounce.

Amazing stuff! And effective, we suspect. This is what $180 million will buy you. Even if the same money can't make the quagmire in Iraq disappear.

(Thanks to Susan for the tip!)

Where Is the ACLU When You Need It?

Those of you who think America's in the hands of the Just and the Righteous and only the guilty have any reason to fear for the future ... take a look at what happened to a 15-year-old (15-YEAR-OLD!) kid in Washington state who expressed his inner Goth in some student art that depicted El Presidente as a devil launching a missle. Another drawing showed President Bush's head on a stick. His art teacher -- bless her meddling, small heart! -- told on him to the school administrators, who, in turn, called in police, who know a dangerous character when they see one, so they called in the Secret Service. (Story here.) "The boy was not arrested but the school district has taken disciplinary action." Our hapless 15-year-old has not only had his first taste of art criticism; he's gotten an indelible lesson in Freedom of Expression under the Bush Regime.

Whatever "disciplinary action" might amount to, it's clearly not enough. Oh come on! Can't we do better than a slap across the face? He looks like an "enemy combatant" to us and needs sending to Guantanamo. That'll sap the "art" right out of him!

The N.C. Medicaid Malfeasance Scandal

There's a comprehensive overview in the Raleigh News & Observer of the mismanagement of state medicaid funds that the Republicans have jumped all over, since it involves a Democratic State Auditor (Ralph Campbell) referring the matter to criminal investigation. The most prominent potential defendant will be Democratic State Senator Fountain Odum's wife Hooker Odum. With plenty of opprobrium left over for the (mis)management of Gov. Mike Easley. Tsk.

This is not good and precisely the kind of thing that Republicans can use to ride the Democratic Council of State out of office this year. The appearance is that the State Auditor did the right thing in blowing the whistle and that the Gov and Hooker Odum (especially) have done the wrong thing.

Bush's Unfinished Business

Seymour Hersh, still one of the best shoe-leather reporters still working a beat, has a sobering piece on the "deteriorating" situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban is far from defeated, where "nation-building" languishes, where a too-small force of American troops have been left as a rear-guard while Bush/Cheney & Co. moved on to the bigger fool's gold in Iraq. Here's a key paragraph from the New Yorker piece:

"The turmoil in Afghanistan has become a political issue for the Bush Administration, whose general conduct of the war on terrorism is being publicly challenged by Richard A. Clarke, the former National Security Council terrorism adviser, in a memoir, "Against All Enemies," and in contentious hearings before the September 11th Commission. The Bush Administration has consistently invoked Afghanistan as a success story -- an example of the President's determination. However, it is making this claim in the face of renewed warnings, from international organizations, from allies, and from within its own military -- notably a Pentagon-commissioned report that was left in bureaucratic limbo when its conclusions proved negative -- that the situation there is deteriorating rapidly."

Thanks to Stumpy for the tip.

As Cold as Dick Cheney's Heart?

A disaster movie set to open nationally on May 28th, "The Day After Tomorrow," has got the Bush administration's panties in a bunch. Why? Because the movie depicts a climatic catastrophe brought on by massive environmental degradation, specifically global warming, a sore subject with this laissez faire White House, since it more or less denies that any such thing as global warming is even happening.

So sore a subject, in fact, that NASA administrators, hearing about the movie plot (which features a sequence in which the president's motorcade is flash-frozen ... if only!), issued a directive to its scientists not to talk to ANYBODY about events depicted in the movie, apparently lest any errant scientist should let slip the non-news that indeed the Bush administration is fiddling while the environment goes to hell. (New York Times story here.)

(Of course, once "outed" that it was trying to censor its own scientists -- again! -- NASA began backpedaling and said that the eggheads would be allowed to answer questions about the science in the movie. But so what? This administration often waffles once someone blows the whistle. It does not, however, change the essential behavior that led to the coverup.)

"Copies of the [thou shalt not speak to the press] message ... were provided to The New York Times by a senior NASA scientist who said he resented attempts to muzzle climate researchers .... 'It's just another attempt to play down anything that might lead to the conclusion that something must be done' about global warming, one federal climate scientist said. He, like half a dozen government employees interviewed on this subject, said he could speak only on condition of anonymity because of standing orders not to talk to the news media."

"Along with its direct criticisms of a Bush-like administration, the movie also could draw attention to a proposed Bush budget cut. The lead character, played by Dennis Quaid, is a paleoclimatologist, an investigator of past climate shifts, for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. President Bush has proposed sharp cuts to the agency's paleoclimatology program, which began under the first Bush administration."

I heard a caller on C-SPAN this a.m., voice all a-quiver, speak cryptically about what might happen with the Gulf stream, so I went looking. And I so get it! why his voice was quivering. Take a look at this and at this, for starters. There's a lot more scientific opinion out there in this vein.

Abrupt climate change? It happened in the past, it could happen in the future. One such abrupt change killed the dinosaurs, or at least most of them. The surviving ones currently occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. might be caught in the next one.

This Divided Nation

David von Drehle published the first of a three-part series on "America in Red and Blue: A Nation Divided" yesterday in the Washington Post, with parts two and three to follow today and tomorrow. It won't cheer you up, but it's required reading.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Photos of Dead Soldiers' Coffins

Though El Presidente has decreed that Americans should be kept as completely in the dark as possible about the returning war dead, some recent photos of flag-draped coffins, lined up like grid-lock on the Capitol Beltway, has made it to the Internet. Drudge has up several today. Take a look. It's exactly what the Rovians don't want you to see, or think about, or -- Gawd knows! -- do anything about.

Thanks, Senator Hagel

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who reads this site on a daily basis and does exactly as we suggest, picked up our "bring back the draft" plea yesterday and spoke in the U.S. Senate eloquently on the subject of national sacrifice (if not specifically the draft). He feels that all Americans should "bear some responsibility ... pay some price" in defending the nation's interests, a basic concept that his own president has steadfastly avoided. El Presidente is much too busy giving all available cash to the already-rich to EVER suggest that they might need to SACRIFICE. Sacrificing is for the little people, like the guys and gals who make up our all volunteer Army.

Sen. Hagel said he was not exactly advocating reinstatement of the draft, although he added he was "not so sure that isn't a bad idea."

His main interest, he said, is to ensure that some kind of mandatory national service is considered so "the privileged, the rich" as well as the less affluent bear the burden of fighting wars of the future.

Hagel said he did not expect to see action on such a bill this year but wanted to spark debate that would "bring some reality to our policymaking" about future military needs. With U.S. forces in Iraq stretched thinner than they have been at any time since Vietnam and with wartime needs likely to continue indefinitely, "this is a steam engine coming right down the track at us," he said.

What he did not comment on -- except indirectly, by inference -- is the King of Denial currently in the White House, George "We Don't Need More Troops in Iraq" Bush, George W. "Because Everything Is Just Hunky-Dory."

The draft would do wonders to awaken the younger generation to the fact that their democracy is threatened with extinction and that they might ought to rouse momentarily out of their MTV haze and pay attention to who's doing what and to whom and how.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

The College Vote -- As in, "Dream On!"

Here are some true words written in summary of the "college vote" in an election year: "The youth vote traditionally has proved more pipsqueak than powerhouse."

That assessment, however, comes in an article in the Christian Science Monitor which also suggests that this year the environment may play a big role as motivator for the 18-24 year-old vote.

And there are few policy areas where the Bush administration has a worse record than the environment (but just let me count the ways this President has failed!).

"The youth vote represents a huge untapped reservoir. In 2000, there were about 30 million citizens 18 to 25 years old, about 16 percent of the total voting population. But in the last presidential election only 37 percent of that age group voted, compared with 64 percent of those over 25 years old, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement reports."

Dismal. In a democracy where fewer than half of the total population bothers to vote, where even less of eligible young people go to the polls, that democracy is ripe to be lost. Don't think it can happen? El Presidente is right now out campaigning on the virtues of his USA Patriot Act, asking for even more power.

"Younger voters, especially Generation Y (born between 1975 and 1995), seem likely to connect on the environment, some pollsters say. They hold green views more strongly than their Generation X (1964-75) counterparts and are more likely to oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge...." But their information is shallow, their commitment weak, their attention easily distracted by the baubles they crave.

Bring back the draft!

5th District Cash Run

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington nonpartisan organization that analyzes campaign contributions, has ranked the 5th District Republican race to replace Rep. Dick Burr as the most expensive congressional race nationwide, in both money raised and money spent. That's a statistic that takes in a fair amount of real estate, not to mention a whole lotta bat skins!

Jack Fleer, a professor emeritus of political science at Wake Forest University, said, "This is essentially a one-party district. So you wonder why it takes so much."

Well, when you're pointing out how relatively less close to the Supreme Being your opponents are, as opposed to your own sweet self, that costs a lot of money. Can't just wait for God Himself to whisper the name "Vernon Robinson" into the ear of every last Republican primary voter, though we're sure He'd get around to it eventually.

The actual dollar amounts raised: Three of the Republican candidates -- Vernon Robinson, Jay Helvey and Ed Broyhill -- have raised more than $1 million each.

Robinson, a member of the Winston-Salem City Council, remained in the fund-raising lead after first-quarter reports were filed with the Federal Election Commission last week. Robinson raised $442,287 in the first quarter, giving him a total of $1.6 million.

Helvey, a former managing director of J.P. Morgan, raised $186,339 in the first quarter for a total of $1.1 million total. Broyhill, a Winston-Salem businessman, raised $416,999 in the first quarter, also for a total of $1.1 million.

Helvey's total includes $338,250 in personal loans and contributions; Broyhill's total includes $651,500 in personal loans and contributions.

Among other Republicans, Nathan Tabor, a vice president at Revival Soy in Kernersville, raised $501,487 total, including $273,133 in personal loans and contributions. N.C. Sen. Virginia Foxx of Banner Elk has raised $427,631, including $50,000 in personal contributions.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Winston-Salem Passes Moratorium on Big-Box Retailers

City Council members approved a 90-day moratorium on "big-box retailers" last night while they study new design and development rules. The moratorium prevents rezonings and permits for buildings of 150,000 square feet or over and was precipitated by citizen protests of a proposed new Wal-Mart Supercenter, which would be the third Wal-Mart in Forsyth County. Lawyers for Wal-Mart argued that the moratorium would be detrimental to the company.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Bush's War Causes a Growing Rift on the Right

An article by David D. Kirkpatrick this a.m. in the New York Times probes a growing split among conservatives over the Iraqi War, with traditional conservatives like Pat Buchanan and direct-mail guru Richard Viguerie growing more disenchanted by the second with Bush's War while the neoconservatives continue to preach the virtues of preemption.

"I cant think of any other issue that has divided conservatives as much as this issue in my political lifetime," Mr. Viguerie said. Recent events, he said, "call into question how conservatives see the White House. It doesn't look like the White House is as astute as we thought they were."

They thought the "White House" was astute but not necessarily the president. The "White House," as a collective noun, includes most prominently V.P. Dick Cheney, a neoconservative drum-beater.

"Considered descendants of a group of mostly Jewish intellectuals who switched from the political left to the right at the height of the cold war, the neoconservatives are defined largely by their conviction that American military power can be a force for good in the world .... [As] a group [they are] closely identified with Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, and William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard."

For traditional conservatives, the Iraq War is also a matter of money. A BIG matter.

Just more of the mess Bush has made of things ... and this the inside mess he's made among his own political troops.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

The Media ... Stirring Itself?

Barry Ritholtz has posted quite a summary of the events that have begun to turn the complicit corporate press around on the Bush presidency: "A lack of vigorous fact checking, and little challenges of outright falsehoods [by the corporate media] has enabled much of what the Bush White House has accomplished in their first term. With few exceptions (The New York Time's Paul Krugman, and the Kansas City Star come to mind), the Press has been mostly AWOL during most of President Bush's term." Why? According to Ritholtz, "W utterly charms the pants off of the press corps."

Which is why, Ritholtz says, the blogosphere has blossomed with anti-Bush sites, as the general public's dissatisfaction with the Fourth Estate has grown into outright rage. There's a good reason for a site named ""

But something new seems to be happening: "Rove & Company has lost the 'benefit of the doubt' " with the corporate media, with that new, more aggressive tone on display at El Presidente's press conference last week.

Ritholtz pegs the new aggressiveness on a single tipping point ... the media outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame via Bob Novak's column. "After years of spin and overtly politically motivated policies, that single event is where the White House 'jumped the shark.' I suspect it was the event that crossed the line for many professional journalists."

(Thanks to Stumpy for the tip.)

Keeping Our Balls in the Air

The trouble with "balls" is that they're often disconnected from any controlling brain function. Ramming the point home becomes its own excuse for being, the only excuse for being. The rest of the world goes blank until the deed is done. And when The Ram gets out of control, the terror, death, and destruction that may follow are simply not heard, not seen, not comprehended, since it takes higher brain functions to filter the screams into meaning. Bob Woodward's new book on the Bush presidency, "Plan of Attack," excerpts of which are now difficult to avoid across the Internet, presents a president heady on the fumes of machismo. He seems to have gassed his cerebellum with it.

"Plan of Attack" suggests it was British Prime Minister Tony Blair who played a critical role in persuading Bush to seek a resolution from the United Nations before declaring war on Iraq. According to Woodward, at a meeting with the president at Camp David in early September 2002, Blair backed Bush on Iraq but said he needed to show he had tried U.N. diplomacy. Bush agreed, and later referred to the Camp David session with Blair as "the cojones meeting." These are Bush's own words, garnered during several hours of interviews he granted to Woodward for the book. Can't you just see it now? The White House steam room cloudy with the sweat of REAL MEN, into which steps suspected international pansy Tony Blair. "Who got the cojones, Tony?," a Texas accent growls out of the haze. "Huh? You a MAN or a ... TEA-SIPPER?"

Since rumors persisted in the lead-up to the Iraq War that Shrub's own father did not support the plan, Woodward asked George W. a pointed question about his father's support, and the son's answer is such a complex wad of conflicted masculinity mixed in with crusader Christianity: "You know he [George H.W. Bush] is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to," Bush said. The "higher father" evidently has bigger balls than anybody. He's the God of War. And more appallingly, the Bush son seems to have bought into the stereotyping of his own father as an ineffectual purse-holder.

But Ares is a tough god to hang with. Asked by Woodward how history would judge the war, Bush replied: "History. We don't know. We'll all be dead."

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen ... this White House's sense of accountability, the end result of testosterone poisoning. "We'll all be dead." Well, yes. Just ask the almost 700 American troops already killed in Iraq.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Wal-Mart Nation

A little academic research on Wal-Mart -- its cash flow, its labor pratices, its attempts to take over whole cities -- was on view at an academic conference in Santa Barbara this past week. Not that academics can invariably find their own asses with both hands and a head start, but they do sort out information.

"The company's pay scale and hard-nosed labor practices, said Simon Head, a fellow at the Century Foundation and author of 'The New Ruthless Economy: Work and Power in the Digital Age' (Oxford University Press, 2003) mean that 'Wal-Mart is certainly a template of 21st-century capitalism, but a capitalism that increasingly resembles a capitalism of 100 years ago.' He added, 'It combines the extremely dynamic use of technology with a very authoritarian and ruthless managerial culture.' "

"What do low-cost goods mean in light of the pressing issues of the global environment, global human rights and the global labor force?" asked Susan Strasser, a history professor at the University of Delaware. "And how do we move beyond the single-minded self-interest of price?"

"The single-minded self-interest of price" ... it's the same human impulse that says not in my backyard but in that guy's backyard is just find & dandy. As long as I get my cheap dog food, what'da I care about who's getting ripped off? Don't care about the environment, "global human rights," or working people? Then, congratulations! You're a George Bush American! And a Wal-Mart shopper!

Freakin' A! Kerry Takes Off the Gloves

It's nice to come home after dark, after being out of the loop all day long, to find that John Kerry has come out swinging against the draft-dodging but war-lovin' bunch currently occupying the White House.

"Mr. Kerry did not specifically attack President Bush, whose service in the National Guard has been the subject of much debate, but he called Vice President Dick Cheney as well as Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's political guru, people 'who went out of their way to avoid their chance to serve when they had a chance.'

"Mr. Kerry also referred to the 'twisted ethics and morality' of 'these people in the White House today,' citing attacks on his fellow Vietnam veterans John McCain, the Republican senator from Arizona, and Max Cleland, the former Democratic senator from Georgia."

"I WENT," John Kerry said. That emphasis brought down the house.

And that's a pretty good 30-second spot in the making, come to think of it.

"I'm not going to listen to them talk to me about patriotism and how asking questions about the direction of our country somehow challenges patriotism, because asking questions about the direction of our country is patriotism."

So maybe he meant it when he said he wasn't going to be Dukakis?

The real pay-off? This, information supplied by the New York Times research department.

"Mr. Cheney received a student deferment from the draft in 1963, when he was attending Casper College in Wyoming, and another when he went to graduate school in 1965. As an expectant father the next year, he received a hardship deferment.

"Mr. Rove's Christmas birthday gave him a draft lottery number of 84 in 1969. A spokesman for the Bush re-election campaign said Mr. Rove received a student deferment upon enrolling in the University of Utah in late 1969.

"Mr. Rove lost the deferment when he transferred to the University of Maryland in 1972, the spokesman said, and was classified as 'extended priority,' which put his name atop the draft list. But no one was called up the next quarter."

Another zinger: Mr. Kerry said President Bush "has to distort someone else because that's the only way they can survive."

And then the killer: "See that great Stars and Stripes back there?" he asked. "I fought under that flag, I fought under that flag and saw that flag draped over the coffins of friends."

Mr. Kerry added, "The bombs, the political bombs may be bursting in air today around us as they try to distort the truth, but when I look up, that flag is still there, and it belongs to all Americans, not to them."

Not to them, not to them.

So all of a sudden, it's looking nicer having this candidate. Maybe Dean talked to him.

Friday, April 16, 2004

The Toe-Sucker Lectures the Thumb-Sucker

Dick Morris, last heard from just prior to getting caught sucking the toes of a hooker during the Clinton adminstration -- rapidly moved himself, post-Bubba, from helping Clinton "triangulate" the Republicans to coaching Our Own Imperial Bush on how to rule by means of "perpetual war" ... THAT Dick Morris this last Wednesday seemed to be sneaking off the neo-con reservation. In his column in The Hill, Morris waxes woe-be-gone over the Iraq quagmire:

"By framing the choices in Iraq as 'staying the course' or 'cut and run,' Bush is injecting a self-defeating, macho false choice, which can only trap him into a downward spiral of casualties and political defeat."

Ummmmm ... "macho false choice" ... hurts so good!

"As the result of last week's events, Kerry eroded Bush's lead on the crucial question of who would be the better president to handle the war on terror. Before the blood-letting, Bush led 54-36; afterwards, his lead had dwindled to 51-40.

"America is aroused as it has not been in decades by the need to respond to Sept. 11 and destroy the forces of terror. But in Iraq, we are now fighting adversaries who recently sided with us against Saddam. The cleric we pursue [Muqtada al Sadr] had to watch his father die at the dictator's hands."

Add to the downward spiral of Bush's strut across Iraq his bizarre decision to derail the "roadmap to peace" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by giving Sharon everything HE wanted ... well, this is a fine kettle of fish you've dunked us in, Ollie!

Morris was indulging in perpetual war fantasies less than a month ago. Now Morris is matter-of-factly striking the gong of the Vietnam comparison, something your doctrinaire Bush supporter HATES to hear: "Terrorism is no longer the issue in Iraq, nor is Saddam. American occupation is the issue. It is our presence that is causing, not curing, the conflicts we witness every night on television. The solution must parallel the Vietnamization sponsored by Richard Nixon."

Why, Dick, we never knew ye!

Rummy Gets Honest

The New York Daily News -- no "liberal" organ, this! -- covered Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon press briefing with unusual candor. Rumsfeld actually admitted he made an error, which has got to be a first for this administration! "I certainly would not have estimated that we would have had the number of individuals lost that we have had lost in the last week," Rumsfeld said.

Well, okay, NOT exactly an admission of error, but about as close as one gets with this crew.

This was the press briefing, incidentally, when Rummy was announcing that -- oops! -- "we lied" to about 21,000 American troops in telling them they'd be able to go home now. "You got 90 more days in hell, boys, courtesy of General John Abizaid," who actually called this administration's bluff. Bush and Rumsfeld had been saying all along that they'd be pleased as punch to send more troops to Iraq, but golly, gosh, gee, the generals over there just keep saying, "We've got a world enough and plenty of soldiers to pacify this little sorry-assed country." Then Abizaid took over and had the gall to say, that well, yes, he COULD use more troops, dammit, and Bush&Rummy get around that particular dilemma by NOT sending more troops but by the cruel and unusual punishment of making guys who've already been there a freaking YEAR stay on another 90 days. At least. Cool move! Cool war! Could we have another one, if we say "Pretty please"?

Spin o' Matic

Ruy Teixeira's discussion of how Republican pollsters are currently spinning Bush's approval rating makes for thoughtful reading. We're now getting authoritative word from Republican analysts that 45-49 percent approval rating for Bush means it will be a close race, with the "advantage" going to Bush. Likewise, according to the same Republicans, an approval rating of 40-44 percent -- exactly where Bush currently is in at least one national poll -- "would translate into a dead heat race." To this curious new math, Teixeira says, "Don't be taken in. They're worried. Real worried."

Yesterday, on Tax Day, Teixeira presented polling data that "49 percent say their overall tax burden -- federal, state and local -- has gone up in the last three years. That's almost four times the number (13 percent) who say their tax burden has gone down over that time period. And here's an even more devastating datum: in a new ICR-Money magazine poll, 60 percent say they personally did not benefit from the 2003 tax cut, compared to just 34 who say they did." Teixeira doesn't see Bush's much-vaunted self-moniker as the "Taxcutter in Chief" as helping him with the vast middle class, since the piddling cuts most got are being offset by state and local taxes needed to make up the federal cuts to services.

Welcome to the Great Smoggy Mountains!

A report out today from the National Parks Conservation Association says that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park "is beginning to die" from a combination of ground ozone, acid rain, and Bush administration defunding and neglect. The failure to enforce clean air regs all over the East Coast but especially in the Tennessee Valley, where scores of old fossil-fuel-burning power plants still belch their crap unimpeded, is adding up to a natural disaster in the making. On Thursday of this week, the Bush Environmental Protection Agency itself admitted that the Smokies are a "nonattainment" area that hasn't met federal clean-air standards. "Nonattainment" is a federal euphemism for "blindingly awful air, and furthermore we couldn't care less because black bears and the tourists who tease them aren't major campaign donors!"

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Rovians Cutting Back on TV Spending

Still sunk at 2 a.m. in the gloom of contemplating four more years of this unusually gifted man currently occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I surfed the 'net all night and among my stops saw that Drudge was forecasting that the L.A. Times today was going to headline an article about the Bush campaign deciding to cut back on TV advertizing. (Why? I wondered, when they've got all the money in the world.) And so with the sun finally up this a.m. I went first thing back to Drudge to find the promised article, but didn't find the link. Then got distracted by other headlines and forgot about the phantom L.A. Times story until I just now ran into a reference to it on Kos, along with the link.

So here 'tis ... and it's worth contemplating ... since the analysis offered is that after spending $40 million at least already on TV, which was expected to be the preemptive Kerry knock-out blow (from a bunch that has raised preemption to sacramental levels), the Rovians are nonplussed to find the air wars have not after all pummeled the enemy into surrender and are pulling back to reassess and retool.

Here are some key graphs from the article:

...Anthony Corrado, an expert on campaign finance at Colby College in Maine, said that since March 4 -- just after Kerry in effect wrapped up his party's nomination -- Bush has bought about as much television advertising as past presidential candidates purchased for the entire general election campaign.

"And frankly," Corrado said, the president's campaign "didn't move the [poll] numbers that much."

He added: "The Bush campaign came out heavy, both in terms of volume and with some of their strongest attacks, and they didn't get a knockout."

A key factor blunting the ads' impact, analysts said, was the escalation of violence in Iraq and questions that have surfaced about the administration's antiterrorism efforts before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks....

But extensive polling by the University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey found that Kerry's favorability ratio was virtually unchanged from the start of March until its end in the 18 states where the Bush campaign has advertised. And the Bush advertising apparently has done little to affect the president's standing with the public.

The Annenberg survey found that Bush's favorability rating in the 18 states did not change during March....

Summing Up II

Found on Howie Kurtz's blog ... this reaction to El Presidente's press conference last night, from conservative commentator William Kristol:

"I was depressed. I am obviously a supporter of the war, so I don't need to be convinced. But among people who were doubtful or worried, I don't think he made arguments that would convince them. He didn't explain how we are going to win there."

Summing Up the Press Conference

First, I thought I'd go through the transcript of the president's press conference this evening and highlight the howlers that caught my attention. But that project degenerated soon enough in the late-night haze of his non sequiturs. And the growing depression. This man is just so clearly unprepared to be president of the fraternity, let alone the United States.

One cut-away shot of Condolezza Rice during the ordeal became my icon for the evening. She looked like she'd been bludgeoned by reality, sunk in her chair, wearing an expression of ineffable pain. A penny for your thoughts, Condi!

Casting about for print coverage, I came across an AP story filed by Mitch Stacy from Tampa in which he quotes the reaction of a retired businessman from Chicago, A.L. Reynolds, 68, who described himself as an independent and who watched the press conference with a group of black activists who are opposed to the Iraq war:

"I feel sorry for him," said Reynolds. "He has not answered one reporter's question, he has not apologized, he has an arrogant attitude and he's not going to change anyone's opinion with this speech. ... I feel very sorry for him and I'm scared for us."

That about says it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Irony 102

One of my indelible memories from April of 1992 was the Pro-Choice march in Washington, D.C., during which a million protestors of the policies of Bush I, threw tennis balls over the White House fence. Directly across from the White House, on a corner of Lafayette Square, a man in shirt-sleeves with a lean (and very red) face screamed insults at us through a loud-speaker. That was Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, and for his time the most effective organizer around for the cause of greater government power in the lives of women.

Since then, he's branched out and become a major mouth fighting equal rights for homosexuals.

Wonkette today put us onto the story of Terry's own son Jamiel, who has come out as gay and written about Life With Father in Out magazine.

Terry has responded with his own essay in WorldNetDaily.

As irony goes, this is of the cosmic variety, sort of along the lines of old racist firebrand Strom Thurmond turning out to have a black daughter. Or assorted televangelists' swinging on the trapeze of sexual gymnastics.

Irony 101

This current president forces on me the serious study of irony, head-work I'd just as soon avoid in favor of, say, studying when best to plant peas, but if you're paying the least amount of attention, you can't fail to notice the disconnect between what George W. says versus what he does and versus, actually, REALITY. Michael Tomasky, at The American Prospect, has posted an intense discussion of that very thing, following hard on the heels of El Presidente's astounding statement over the weekend that the newly released memo ("Bin Laden Determined to Attack inside U.S.") said nothing about an attack inside the U.S.:


For a group of people who have spent a lot of time over the last 25 years or so lecturing the rest of us about "personal responsibility," Republicans sure don't seem to have any passion for displaying any of their own.

It's incredible that President Bush could go before reporters -- as he just did -- and assert that the August 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing said "nothing about an attack on America." In the narrowest possible sense, arguably true; the briefing said nothing about a specific attack on a specific place on a specific date. But it clearly said quite a lot about the potential for future attacks, and Bush danced around this (which is a distinct advantage of taking about four questions).

The fact that he tried not to answer questions wasn't so remarkable; all politicians try not to answer questions. But what was disturbing was his manner. We saw the usual mental confusion and frighteningly long pauses as his mind scoured its grim landscape for an appropriate word. But the main thing we saw was an appalling nonchalance about the most tragic day in the history of this country. We didn't have information, Bush said; it was all about vague intentions, and we couldn't act on intentions.

Ponder, by the way, the audacity of that: We were pushed into war over Saddam Hussein's supposed intentions, at least as they were described to us by the administration. Those intentions, which weren't even true, were worth 600-plus American lives. Osama bin Laden's intentions, which were quite real, were vague, ignorable, and not worth the attention of serious people. ...


The pressure's sure ON for this evening's live, prime-time press conference. Frankly, our money's on El Presidente's handlers to have him so prepped that he'll handle the corporate drones of the White House Press Corps. They haven't got the guts anyway.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Aiding & Abetting?

That dinosaur of the Jurassic Age, Andy Rooney, has just published a column that's going to get him strung up -- Drudge is smugly show-casing it, inviting an onslaught -- but ole Rooney is still capable of telling the acerbic truth:


...Our soldiers in Iraq are people, young men and women, and they behave like people -- sometimes good and sometimes bad, sometimes brave, sometimes fearful. It's disingenuous of the rest of us to encourage them to fight this war by idolizing them.

We pin medals on their chests to keep them going. We speak of them as if they volunteered to risk their lives to save ours, but there isn't much voluntary about what most of them have done. A relatively small number are professional soldiers. During the last few years, when millions of jobs disappeared, many young people, desperate for some income, enlisted in the Army. About 40 percent of our soldiers in Iraq enlisted in the National Guard or the Army Reserve to pick up some extra money and never thought they'd be called on to fight. They want to come home.

One indication that not all soldiers in Iraq are happy warriors is the report recently released by the Army showing that 23 of them committed suicide there last year. This is a dismaying figure. If 22 young men and one woman killed themselves because they couldn't take it, think how many more are desperately unhappy but unwilling to die.

We must support our soldiers in Iraq because it's our fault they're risking their lives there. However, we should not bestow the mantle of heroism on all of them for simply being where we sent them. Most are victims, not heroes.

Scalia Apologizes

At 3:40 this afternoon, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia published an apology to the two reporters whose tape recordings were erased last week in Hattiesburg, Miss. And in a letter to Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Executive Director Lucy Dalglish, Scalia said he didn't approve of the actions by a U.S. Marshal, who seized the recorders and ordered the recordings erased. "You were correct that the action was not taken at my direction; I was upset as you were," Scalia wrote. "I have written to the reporters involved, extending my apology."

Apparently, hell is now encased in ice.

Skating even further across the glaze, Scalia also pledged that he would revise his policy forbidding recordings of his public speaking events, to allow recording for use by print media. But still nix on TV cameras. His repentance doesn't extend quite THAT far.

All's Unquiet On the Eastern Front

While everybody's looking at Iraq, meanwhile Afghanistan is going back hell-ward, and Billmon has a discussion and good links here, including a Bob Novak column which admits that more troops are needed THERE too. It's hard enough to find out what's actually transpiring in Mess 'o Potamia, so you can forget the corporate media telling you ANYTHING at all about Afghanistan.

Guess We'll Have to Nuke Sydney Too

To get a little perspective on how the U.S. slog in Iraq is looking in the rest of the world, take a look at this piece in the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald, especially the end of the article, which offers a peek at behavior you'll wait a lifetime to see reported state-side. (Thanks to Bob for sending this on.) Here's the "money" quote:

"In the last week the Americans have managed what the Iraqis have been unable to achieve in a year -- a sense of national unity. But the glue is outrage and anger as Iraqis who have stood back from Washington's attempt to remake the country have found voice and weapons to challenge the US occupation."

And for the record, Australia IS a member of "The Coalition of the Willing." And so far, they aren't rounding up people Down Under for failing to be enthusiastic for Bush's War.

The 64 Trillion Dollar Question

From the transcript of yesterday's "Meet the Press," during which Tim Russert put an important question to Iraqi Ambassador Paul Bremer:

MR. RUSSERT: June 30: You're going to turn the keys over to the Iraqis. Who do you turn them over to?

AMB. BREMER: Well, that's a good question....

To which, later in the same program, columnist David Broder responded:

MR. DAVID BRODER: Well, it's been a terrible week or 10 days for this country and therefore for the administration. But I think compounding it has been the fact that of all moments, the president chose this moment to disappear. At a time when the country really needs to hear from a president, from its president, and the world needs to hear from the president, he's gone silent on us, and it's inexplicable to me....

Tim, what strikes me about this [memo release] is that the two White House officials who briefed reporters yesterday when this was released were asked: What did the president do when he got this memo? And they said, "Well, we can't discuss the president's response." That's stunning to me because it fits into what I'm afraid has been a pattern of passivity on the part of President Bush in dealing with this whole question of terrorism, a pattern that continues even today when we don't know where the president is in his thinking about what's happening now in Iraq, what's happening with the 9-11 Commission. The country needs a president at moments like this....

And the calendar works against the president at this point on Iraq because he is insisting on that June 30 hand-over date. And when you asked Ambassador Bremer, "To whom are you going to hand power," his response was, "That's a good question, Tim." That is not a good answer. And when we do not know -- and not only don't we in the press know, not only does Tim Russert not know, but we've had the leading members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Lugar and Senator Biden, say, "Nobody in the administration is talking to them about what we think will happen or what we want to happen in Iraq after June 30th."

Saturday, April 10, 2004

The Saturday-Before-Easter Document Dump

When do you know an administration is either (a) stressed to the point of cracking because of leaks or (b) ashamed of itself or (c) both? When it starts dumping highly classified, hitherto jealously guarded secret documents on a weekend. Most of Bush's environmental roll-backs, for example, have been announced on Friday afternoons, to ride the wave of the weekend past normal scrutiny by the news cycle.

So here, now, after all the stonewalling, is the Presidential Daily Briefing from August 2001, delivered a full month before 9/11 to El Presidente in Crawford, Texas. He was on vacation, get it? That's where he is now, too. This guy's on vacation a good deal.

At the moment, all I can turn up on the web are AP reports but no full transcripts yet.

The point is that the White House has maintained for years now that it had no inkling, no idea whatsoever, that bin Laden might be plotting massive destruction inside the United States of America.

This document dump either (a) proves the White House right or (b) proves the White House wrong. The question remains that if this briefing offers proof of (a), then why, dear brethren, would the president's handlers have tried so desperately for so long to keep this two-page briefing a secret?

Friday, April 09, 2004

John Dean, On Our Dire Circumstances

Here's just a portion of a radio interview former Richard Nixon staffer John Dean did earlier this week with Amy Goodman:

AMY GOODMAN: We are talking to John Dean, author of "Worse Than Watergate, the Secret Presidency of George W. Bush." You were talking about Dick Cheney, what is his role in this White House, and is this Vice President's role unusual?

JOHN DEAN: It is very unusual. He's the most powerful Vice President we have ever had. He is in essence the Co-President. I think the best evidence of that is the fact that when the two of them are going to appear in the 9-11 commission, they're going together, in tandem. That speaks -- you know, one doesn't have to explain that terribly deeply.

AMY GOODMAN: Why don't you? No, why don't you explain it.

JOHN DEAN: I will, but let me come around this way to explain it. You have it with George Bush a president who is very good at working the campaign trail. He's very good at raising money. He has been doing it all of his life. He knows how to do that. He has got a pleasant public personality. It isn't as pleasant in private, but he is very good at putting a smile on his face and going out and glad-handing and pretending he's a regular guy that everybody wants to be his friend and he wants to be everybody's friend. He is -- he has been the Head of State of this Presidency. the Head of Government, which is a whole different ballgame, these are things that don't interest George Bush too terribly. He has no intellectual curiosity. He doesn't want to get into policy matters deeply. As even one of his speechwriters David Frum said, you couldn't give this president a quiz on his own administration and hope that he would pass it. He's not stupid, but he's ignorant but ignorant by design it appears. To go into the 9-11 Commission, I don't think George Bush could get very far other than to embarrass himself seriously in front of the Commission. While Tim Russert had him one on one under camera in the Oval Office, we all saw how thin and shallow that was, that it would be far worse with a Commission asking him fairly penetrating questions that Cheney can obviously answer and Bush can't.

Update on Polling

Ruy Teixeira has finally delivered himself of an opinion on recent polling of El Presidente's performance ratings ... especially the recent Pew Research Center poll which gives Bush the worst approval rating of his presidency, and Teixeira makes big eyes at the terrific negative swing in opinions about Bush's handling of the "war on terror" ... "Bush's approval rating on Iraq is down to 40 percent with 53 percent disapproval. That's a 35 point swing from the Iraq rating Bush received in January in the same poll (59/37)."

Teixeira also takes an impatient swipe at John Kerry's policy statements of late, implying that Bush's bad poll numbers alone won't be enough to unseat him. We need a strong Democratic candidate with a clear and compelling vision running against him.

Sludge Report

Reuters is reporting that "60 Minutes" on Sunday will feature a segment on whistle-blower Jack Spadaro, former head of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy, who says that the Bush Department of Labor whitewashed a report that held mining company Massey Energy Co., a contributor to the Republican Party, responsible for the "worst environmental disaster in the history of the eastern U.S.," the spill in October 2000 of some 300 million gallons of coal sludge from a containment pond into the Big Sandy River, which flowed ultimately into the Ohio River, contaminating municipal and private water supplies in both West Virginia and Kentucky and killing untold amounts of aquatic life.

"The Bush administration came in and the scope of our investigation was considerably shortened," Spadaro, who helped investigate the spill for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), will say on the CBS show.

Spadaro said the company could have faced large fines and criminal charges.

But he said that MSHA curtailed his report and cited the company for two violations rather that the eight he sought. Spadaro said he refused to sign the report and resigned from the investigation.

UPDATE: Oops! (and thanks to Michelle for pointing this out), but the "60 Minutes" piece featuring Spadaro ran last Sunday, while we were otherwise engaged. Sorry 'bout that.

What Would Jesus Bomb?

Today Secretary of State Powell is quoted in the Washington Post, saying the recent uprisings, death, and destruction in Iraq are "disquieting." That's picking your words carefully, General!

Yesterday, during the 9/11 Commission barbecuing of Condi Rice, ex-Senator Bob Kerrey tossed off as aside about there being no good options now in Iraq, that we've gotten ourselves into a quagmire where every muscle-twitch to get out only sinks us deeper. Here's a portion of what Kerrey said, from the transcript:


I believe, first of all, that we underestimate that this war on terrorism is really a war against radical Islam. Terrorism is a tactic. It's not a war itself.

Secondly, let me say that I don't think we understand how the Muslim world views us, and I'm terribly worried that the military tactics in Iraq are going to do a number of things, and they're all bad. One is...


No, please don't -- please do not do that. Do not applaud.

I think we're going to end up with civil war if we continue down the military operation strategies that we have in place. I say that sincerely as someone that supported the war in the first place.

Let me say, secondly, that I don't know how it could be otherwise, given the way that we're able to see these military operations, even the restrictions that are imposed upon the press, that this doesn't provide an opportunity for al Qaeda to have increasing success at recruiting people to attack the United States.


This a.m. on C-SPAN, Brian Lamb opened the phones on the question, "What should we do now in Iraq? Forget the past. What do we do now?" A remarkable percentage of those professing absolute loyalty to El Presidente urged "nuking 'em." One man said, "They take down the World Trade Center ... we melt Mecca," not pausing to reflect that Mecca is in Saudi Arabia, not Iraq, which might actually make a trifle more sense than the invasion of Iraq made, considering the nationality of a majority of the 9/11 hijackers.

The willful myopia of Bush loyalists seems a perfect reflection of the myopia of their Fearless Leader. The present uprising in Iraq, which seems to be doing what few thought possible -- uniting Shiites and Sunnis in one massive resistance against the American occupation -- was precipitated by an act of censorship ... the shutting down of Muqtada al Sadr's daily newspaper. Let's see, America ... we don't like "the lies" the fiery young cleric al Sadr is peddling in his newspaper, so we have two options: (a) let it go, actually allow the Iraqis to practice freedom of speech, let the Iraqis talk talk talk about how awful the American devils are, or (b) shut it down and make a martyr of al Sadr and give the Iraqis a valuable object lesson in what we REALLY mean when we preach "democratization," and have the Iraqis shoot shoot shoot at us instead of talk talk talk trash. Which option seems best to you?

Meanwhile, George Bush is cutting brush in Crawford, about which John Kerry finally got off a good line (well it WOULD have been a good line, if the Senator would cut the word-count): "I notice President Bush is taking some days off down at Crawford, Texas, and I'm told that when he takes days off, you know, he totally relaxes," Kerry said. "He doesn't watch television, he doesn't read the newspapers, he doesn't make long-term plans, doesn't worry about the economy. I thought about that for a moment. I said, 'Sounds to me like it's just like life in Washington, doesn't it?"

News From the Police State

While Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia stood at the podium speaking to a group of high school students at Presbyterian Christian High School in Hattiesburg, Miss., last Wednesday, a U.S. Marshall approached two reporters in the front row and ordered them to hand over their tape recorders, that Justice Scalia, who was at that very moment intoning vigorously on the sacredness of the U.S. Constitution, did not practice the First Amendment when it came to his own speeches. One of the reporters refused, and the U.S. Marshall pryed the recorder out of her hands by main force, and then, because the Marshall couldn't figger out how to make the thing work, helped the Marshall erase that part of the speech which had been recorded. The reporter should never have done that. The reporter should have gone to jail for the sake of the Constitution, professed as sacred to the heart of the man who ordered the tape erased. And we thought Antonin had a fine head for irony!

UPDATE: Here's the account of the tape confiscation written by the very AP reporter who helped the U.S. Marshall erase her tape.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Inglewood Voters Reject the Evil Empire

Voters in Inglewood, Calif., rejected yesterday a Wal-Mart plan to carve out its own kingdom free of the rules that govern development in the rest of this city. And it wadn't even close: 4,575 residents voted in favor of Wal-Mart's plan, while 7,049 voted against it. The Rev. Jesse Jackson and U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters joined the opposition to Wal-Mart on Monday, which may have helped to boost the vote. So Wal-Mart spent over $1 million trying to circumvent the city's rules, when that money might have been better spent complying. Same old story ... the rich'll do ANYTHING to keep the laws that apply to everybody from applying to them.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

$2,000 Will Get You ... No Silverware

In Charlotte yesterday, where El Presidente was collecting $2,000 a plate from the Truly Committed, the expensive lunch crowd found themselves a little non-plussed that NO SILVERWARE was offered to eat with. Then an enterprising young Republican noticed the small print at the bottom of the program and read aloud for the benefit of her tablemates (since most rich Republicans DON'T read, my dear!): "At the request of the White House, silverware will not accompany the table settings." No silver. No friggin' plastic, even! Eat with your hands, True Believers! (I'm not making this up: read it in the Charlotte Observer here.) Clinking of silverware, you know, like cell phones, annoys El Presidente. The gnashing of the teeth of the filthy rich, on the other hand, is like music!

What about protestors? "On the other side [of College Street from the Charlotte Convention Center], environmentalists, anti-war demonstrators and Democrats waved signs and denounced Bush. His limousine never came within sight of the crowd, which numbered about 100 at its high point." (Story here.) They too were eating (their hearts out) without silverware, but they enjoyed the meal more!

While Bush was talking jobs (it's morning again in Carolina!), the Charlotte Observer decided today to highlight the sour disposition of laid-off Pillowtex workers, which seems only fair. (Story here.)

What, Me Worry?

Presidential candidate John Kerry, responding to questions from a number of reporters for regional newspapers, said he had "plenty of time" to define himself to the American people, brushing aside criticism that he's been on vacation and in the hospital more lately than on the campaign trail, allowing the Rovians to nuke him with several million dollars worth of TV advertizing. (New York Times story here.)

Does Kerry even get it, that he's behind the eightball already? Not from the way he talked to these reporters: "We have to get out there and make sure people know who I am, what I stand for," he said. "We'll be doing that." Don't you just love that use of the future tense ... "we will be doing that, eventually, when I finish fiddling around with ski vacations and picking dead leaves off the ivy."

Kerry only got combative "when told that some conservatives were criticizing him for being a Roman Catholic who supported policies, like abortion rights and same-sex unions, that are at odds with Catholic teaching." "Who are they?" he demanded of his questioner. "Name them. Are they the same legislators who vote for the death penalty, which is in contravention of Catholic teaching?"

He added: "I'm not a church spokesman. I'm a legislator running for president. My oath is to uphold the Constitution of the United States in my public life. My oath privately between me and God was defined in the Catholic church by Pius XXIII [he meant John XXIII] and Pope Paul VI in the Vatican II, which allows for freedom of conscience for Catholics with respect to these choices, and that is exactly where I am. And it is separate. Our constitution separates church and state, and they should be reminded of that."

Sadly, he jumps about two feet high, still, when poked with the word "liberal": "Mr. Kerry suggested that he would not allow himself to be pigeonholed as a liberal." Nothing was learned by the Michael Dukakis experience of 1988, evidently. Absolutely nothing.

Nader Takes a Hit in Oregon

The Naderites put out the word in Portland, Oregon, yesterday for a thousand people to come on down to the Roseland Theater to sign a petition to get him on the ballot, which would have made Oregon the first of 50 state ballots that Nader qualified for. (L.A. Times story here.) But only 741 people showed up, in a state where Nader was strong in 2000.

Nader was trying to ease onto the ballot through a little-used option of getting a thousand signatures at one event. The other avenue requires 15,000 signatures ... a mere drop in the bucket compared with what some states impose on independent candidates (like North Carolina, for example).

Monday, April 05, 2004

Now This Is a Poll We Pay Attention To

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press is out this afternoon with a new poll that shows Bush's overall job rating at its historic low, at 43 percent approval. This is one of the more respected public opinion polls, and its findings are far more credible, far as we're concerned, than many of the "horse-race" polls getting bandied about these days. I found the news write-up on the AP wire about 10 minutes ago. It's being reported all over the place this evening, including a lengthy report on NPR.

U.Md. Students Shout at Lynne Cheney

Drudge has this story up this morning, that three University of Maryland students face disciplinary action for "disrupting" a Lynne Cheney speech on campus back on February 29th ... one for shouting a question about gay marriage, one for shouting a question about slave reparations, and one for uttering a profanity in response to something Cheney said.

Apparently, there was no microphone provided for audience questions, so two of the students did the rude student thing of shouting their questions. For this rudeness, they face ... what? Expulsion? It's unclear what "disciplinary action" might entail.

But the Maryland ACLU has gotten involved on the students' behalf. The ACLU says that the university's action infringes on the students' right to free speech. "What the university officials appear to have done appears not only to be in violation of their own speech code, but also of the First Amendment," said Susan Goering, executive director of Maryland's ACLU.

If Lynne Cheney's smart, and no one ever said she wasn't, she'll send the same lawyer she sent to New American Library on over to the University of Maryland and recommend that the University just drop all this disciplinary stuff before it begins to get even further into the press as AN ISSUE.

Publisher Pulls Cheney Book

When has an author ever sent her lawyer to demand that a book of hers NOT be reissued as a paperback? When the author is Second Lady Lynne Cheney and the book includes a very mockable lesbian love affair! That is to say, the book gets pulled when the author is a big old sitting hypocrite.

First reported here in a posting last week, Cheney's 1981 novel "Sisters" was scheduled for paperback treatment without Cheney's knowledge (and it's very much within the rights of the publisher to issue a paperback edition when "conditions warrant"), but Cheney sicced her lawyer on New American Library, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), and the next thing we know, the book's been pulled from publication tomorrow. Which has to have cost NAL a pretty penny, since the typesetting, the cover design, the printing, and much of the publicity must already have been done. But they'll eat it, evidently, rather than defy The Queen Bee. (AP story on this most recent development is here.)

Another Bush Flip-Flop

...and this one's a doozy! Here are the details, from the Washington Post:

"On Oct. 17, 2000, in a presidential debate against Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Gov. George W. Bush of Texas promised a patients' bill of rights like the one in his state, including a right to sue managed-care companies for wrongfully refusing to cover needed treatment.

" 'If I'm the president ... people will be able to take their HMO insurance company to court,' Bush said. 'That's what I've done in Texas and that's the kind of leadership style I'll bring to Washington.'

" [BUT] Today, legislation for a federal patients' bill of rights is moribund in Congress. And the Bush administration's Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to block lawsuits under the very Texas law Bush touted in 2000....

"Bush ... was actually never as strongly in favor of the Texas statute as he said at the debate. As governor, he vetoed it in 1995, then let it become law without his signature in 1997, saying, 'This legislation has the potential to drive up health care costs and increase the number of lawsuits. I hope my concerns are proven wrong.' "

Daschle Gets His Own "Nader"

Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), the ineffectual minority leader in the Senate who can't bring himself to vote with the Democrats on some key issues and who is running for reelection against the strong Republican challenger John Thune, now has opposition on his left from Tim Giago, a Native American newspaper publisher who is also a Democrat but will run as an Independent. South Dakota has about 60,000 Native American voters who tend to vote solidly Democrat. Even before Giago popped up on the political scene, everyone expected Daschle's reelection to be a very close race. Giago's siphoning off of Native American support could be the deciding factor. (Washington Post story here.)

Beware, O Boone, of The Evil Empire

Everyone's waiting to see what Wal-Mart will do about being turned down by the Boone Board of Adjustment for an expanded Superstore here. If the following example of Wal-Mart's recent activities in one California municipality is a bellwether, we might expect the company to make a move at taking over our Town Council.

In Inglewood, Calif., after the local city council said no to a Wal-Mart megastore complex on 60 acres (on the basis of environmental, traffic, labor, public safety, and economic concerns), Wal-Mart paid people (paid!) to gather 10,000 signatures on a petition for a ballot measure to be voted on tomorrow. If agreed to by the citizens, the ballot measure (known as "initiative 04-A") will "essentially exempt Wal-Mart from all of Inglewood's planning, zoning and environmental regulations, creating a city-within-a-city subject only to its own rules." (New York Times story today here.)

Did you hear that quite clearly? ... "subject only to its own rules..."

O brave new world that hath such creatures in it!

"The company is blanketing the community [of 112,000] ... with mailers and telephone calls and is broadcasting advertisements on television stations...." The corporation has hired a public relations firm to manipulate the credulous, spending over $1 million to get the voters to buy into this particular fantasyland. What won't you give up, voters, for cheap dog food and toilet paper?

"...Inglewood will be a test case. If the initiative succeeds here, [opponents] say, it will become a model for Wal-Mart sovereignty across the nation and around the globe."

There is some hope, according to the NY Times, that even if the ballot measure passes, which it easily could, it might be ruled legally invalid: "The attorney general's letter to the Inglewood City Council states that while the initiative process may be used to adopt land-use and planning measures, the ballot cannot be used to usurp powers granted to elected bodies, like issuing building permits. The attorney general also said the initiative might be in conflict with state laws governing subdivisions and the environment.

"The initiative, which can pass by a simple majority vote, includes a provision requiring a two-thirds vote of the public to alter any of the terms of the development project. The attorney general said that provision also appeared to conflict with state law."

How blatant is this? If you can't make it under the rules, get the gullible voters to change the rules JUST FOR YOU, and then write it into the law that the rules made JUST FOR YOU can't be changed back without a super-majority of the public voting in favor. You're quite a credit to democracy, Wal-Mart! Quite a testament to where we're headed in this country ... the United States of Wal-Mart!

Saturday, April 03, 2004

The Bush Flip-Flops

The Center for American Progress put together a well-documented Bush flip-flop list, ably and succinctly summarized by Daily Kos yesterday. Here 'tis:

Bush opposes the Department of Homeland Security.
Bush supports the Department of Homeland Security.

Bush says we found the weapons of mass destruction.
Bush says we didn't find the weapons of mass destruction.

Bush supports free trade.
Bush supports restrictions on trade (steel tariffs).
Bush supports free trade again (rescinds steel tariffs).

Bush wants Osama dead or alive.
Bush doesn't care about Osama.

Bush supports mandatory caps on carbon dioxide.
Bush opposes mandatory caps on carbon dioxide.

Bush resists an outside investigation on WMD intelligence failure.
Bush supports an outside investigation on WMD intelligence failure.

Bush opposes creation of independent 9/11 commission.
Bush supports creation of independent 9/11 commission.

Bush opposes time extension for 9/11 commission.
Bush supports time extension for 9/11 commission.

Bush limits testimony in front of 9/11 commission to one hour
Bush sets no time limit for testimony.

Bush says gay marriage is a state issue.
Bush supports constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Bush opposes nation building.
Bush supports nation building.

Bush says it is impossible to distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam.
Bush says Saddam had no role in al Qaeda plot.

Bush vows to have a UN [Iraq] vote no matter what.
Bush withdraws request for vote.

Bush opposes [Middle East] summits.
Bush supports summits.

Bush opposes McCain-Feingold.
Bush signs McCain-Feingold into law.

Add to this list, the latest, just out in the press this a.m.:

Bush refuses to declassify thousands of Clinton-era documents for 9/11 commission.
Bush agrees to allow 9/11 commission to review Clinton documents.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Showdown Over Another Bush Judicial Appointee

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is easily the most hated in the nation, at least by the right-wing, most recently for finding merit in Michael A. Newdow's contention that "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was unacceptable "state-creep" into religion. (Previous posting on Newdow here.)

Now President Bush's nominee to take a seat on the Ninth Circuit, William G. Myers III, is shaping up to be another one of those showdowns. Yesterday, in a straight party-line vote, the 10 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to report the Myers nomination to the full Senate, while all 9 Democrats voted "nay." The only times when the Democrats have held together as a bloc in the Judiciary Committee eventually led to defeat of the nominee before the full Senate ... death by filibuster ... and to general gnashing of teeth over on the Right. We seem headed there again.

Footnote, for all those Republicans out there who like to believe that Democrats are out to frustrate ALL Bush's picks for judgeships ... during the last three years, over 170 Bush judges have been approved by the Senate. Only six have been defeated. Myers, we fervently hope, will be Number Seven.

Myers, an Idaho lawyer best known for representing mining and cattle interests, is opposed by environmental groups as well as by tribal, civil rights, labor, and women's groups. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said Myers' record as a private attorney, his actions as Interior Department solicitor and his public speeches attacking the nation's environmental laws showed that he would be "an anti-environmental activist on the bench." (Los Angeles Times report on the vote yesterday, here.)

"He has a consistent record," Leahy said, "of using whatever position and authority he has had to fight for corporate interests at the expense of the environment and of the interests of the American people in environmental protections."

Not one of the 15 members of the American Bar Assn.'s judicial screening committee rated Myers "well qualified," while more than one-third judged him "not qualified."

"Nominating Myers is like sticking a thumb in the eye of all senators who believe extremists have no place on the federal bench," Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

Time to write your senators about this particular nomination. You want more evidence of his extremism? People for the American Way has a pretty good summary of his career, as does Mother Jones. Click on the highlighted words.

John Dean Roasts Bush/Cheney

John Dean, famous spiller-of-the-beans from the Nixon regime, uses his expertise on scary presidencies to skewer Bush/Cheney in Salon (and because Salon's own site is so annoying, I'm quoting here from Howie Kurtz's site, who summarizes and quotes generously):

"As Richard Nixon's White House counsel during the Watergate scandal, John Dean famously warned his boss that there was 'a cancer on the presidency' that would bring down the administration unless Nixon came clean. In his new book, 'Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush,' Dean warns the country that the Bush administration is even more secretive and authoritarian than Nixon's -- in fact, he writes, it's 'the most secretive presidency of my lifetime.'

" 'To say that the [Bush-Cheney] secret presidency is undemocratic is an understatement,' he adds. 'I'm anything but skittish about government, but I must say this administration is truly scary and, given the times we live in, frighteningly dangerous.'' "

Says Dean: "Nixon became a secretive president, as his presidency proceeded, while Bush and Cheney were secretive from the outset. Nixon actually tried to reduce the excessive national security classification of documents (through a panel headed by the man who is now chief justice of the United States), while Bush and Cheney have tried to increase classification (and 9/11 does not hold up as the reason for much of it). Nixon only abused executive privilege (the power of a president to withhold information from his constitutional co-equals) after Watergate, while Bush and Cheney have sought to abuse the privilege from the outset. Nixon was never taken to court by the General Accounting Office for refusing to provide information about executive activities, while Bush and Cheney forced GAO to go to court (where GAO lost under a recently appointed Bush judge). Nixon believed presidential papers should be available for historians, but Bush has undermined the laws to make such records available to the public.

"While Nixon's presidency gave currency to the term 'stonewalling,' Bush and Cheney have made stonewalling their standard procedure, far in excess of Nixon."

Yes, "frighteningly dangerous" ... which accounts for the ferociousness of the anti-Bush backlash ... and the unity of the Democrats to BE Democrats (even though Erskine Bowles seems to have missed that vibe).

Another Whistleblower Saying Bush Admin. KNEW

Drudge is headlining today a report in the British Independent that a translator who worked in the FBI's Washington field office says she told the 9/11 Commission that information "was circulating within the FBI in the spring and summer of 2001 suggesting that an attack using aircraft was just months away and the terrorists were in place. The Bush administration, meanwhile, has sought to silence her and has obtained a gagging order from a court by citing the rarely used 'state secrets privilege'."

Democrats Finally Act Like Democrats

Proud to report that -- finally! -- yesterday Senate Democrats hung together in their attempt to raise the minimum wage. The vote came on a cloture motion to cut off debate on reauthorization of Welfare Reform. The Republicans wanted to end debate; the Democrats were fighting to attach a new minimum wage provision to the bill, proposing to raise the rate from $5.15 an hour (where it's been stuck since 1997) to $7.00 an hour over two years. "A person who works 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year would then make $14,560, rather than the current $10,712. Under federal guidelines, a family of three is considered poor if its annual income is less than $15,670."

The vote on cloture was 51 for (all Republicans) to 47 against (all Democrats). It takes 60 votes to end debate. The Democrats hung together for a change! And it was a good principle to hang together FOR.

As Senator Barbara Boxer said, the higher minimum wage was a logical corollary of the welfare bill. "We want to get people off welfare," Mrs. Boxer said. "That's the point of the underlying bill. Let's get them into work that pays. I hear all about compassionate conservatism. Fine. Show it to me. Where is it?" (Quotes from the New York Times story this morning.)

Bush Again Blocking Info to the 9/11 Commission

This morning's New York Times contains an article about the Bush administration's withholding -- get this! -- of Clinton administration documents from the 9/11 Commission.

As Jon Stewart might say, "Wha-a-a-a?!"

Nearly 11,000 pages of documents requested by the Commission and gathered from the National Archives with the cooperation of Bill Clinton, covering the Clinton administration's internal discussion regarding Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and the strategy for dealing with Islamic terrorism ... three-quarters of them are now being withheld from the Commission on orders of the Bush administration, which apparently has the authority to withhold them, or at least is asserting that authority.

Why on earth? The Bushies, especially Condi Rice, has bragged much in recent weeks that "the Bush administration had a tougher, more comprehensive plan than the Clinton administration had for dealing with Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and the Taliban." So wouldn't these blocked papers demonstrate that?

Unless they DON'T demonstrate that. Ummmmm. Why would the Bush administration decide that papers which Bill Clinton is totally willing to share with the 9/11 Commission NOT want those papers shared, unless the iinevitable comparison was going to make the Bush administration look bad.

The evidence of cover-up is palpable and overwhelming. First, Bush didn't want a commission to investigate this stuff in the first place. Then, when it became politically difficult to oppose a commission, he agreed to it and then immediately began putting up roadblocks, both to documents AND to letting members of his administration testify under oath. What DON'T they want us to know, if not their own incompetence, now compounded by their own transparent mendacity?

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Ashcroft Shuts Down

Yesterday we linked here to the funny parody site, which was making fun of Lynne Cheney about her lesbian novel Sisters.

Just got a tip from a reader that visitors to are now being redirected to the cybercrimes division of John Ashcroft's Department of Justice. Our reader hopes this is an elaborate April Fool's joke by the folks at and not what it looks like -- another example of The End of Free Speech in the United States of America.

Evidence is strong that it ain't no joke. Back in early March, Vice President Cheney apparently threatened the creator of Here's an account of what went down, from Geek Muffin, with an internal link to Salon's article:

"Today [March 7] Salon ran a story and interview with the creator of the parody site, John Wooden. Wooden received a letter from Dick Cheney's office last month, ordering him to remove all online references to Cheney's wife, Lynne -- that the references, pictures, and fake biography of her were illegal (showing legal cases for precedent) and that Wooden was breaking federal laws by displaying the presidential seal on his site, and by not making his disclaimer obvious enough."

We're putting the word out on a few other blogs to find out what's happened to John Wooden. Stay tuned.

UPDATE ... Though John Wooden wasn't in jail yesterday, today we'd consider supporting an amicus brief for his immediate incarceration for the crime of unbearable lightness of being, since was back on-line last night with an "April Fools!" confession. Bad boy!

Put this guy in charge of the "pacification" of Falluja.

They Can't Stand the Heat

The Bush-Cheney campaign is trying to use the Federal Elections Commission to muzzle its critics, from MoveOn.Org to the Media Fund, both of which have run TV spots strongly critical of El Presidente. Bush-Cheney Reelect and the Republican Party have filed a complaint with the FEC alleging criminal collusion. (Washington Post story here.)

Which led Thomas B. Edsall to remark, "In an unusual move for a party traditionally opposed to campaign finance laws and government regulation, the GOP has turned increasingly to the federal regulatory system, especially the FEC, to restrict, if not silence, Kerry allies."

What we've always said ... Republicans HATE government except when they love it.

And more of what we've seen plenty of, under the cover of "Patriotism" ... the attempted silencing of all opposition.

To which the Rovians have added this deliciously twisted addendum: they've actually asked the FEC to dismiss their own complaint quickly. Yes, dismiss. Why? So they can appeal to the courts for a quick injunction. The rules demand that they work through the established complaint process, and the established complaint process can drag on for months, so by asking that their complaint be summarily dismissed by the FEC, they can step up the calendar along with the heat by appealing to the courts for injunctive relief. Hey, get the right judge, and you can do wonders!

What seems to have set off this hysteria is that Bush was comfortably spending seven times what Kerry was able to muster for TV ($41.8 million in March to Kerry's $5.8 million), but MoveOn and Media Fund's anti-Bush ads were reducing the Bush media advantage to a mere 2 to 1, an unacceptable leveling of the field. Can't have that! So we get another domestic version of "shock and awe." Use government itself to squelch democracy.