Thursday, August 12, 2004

The Matthews Meter

I'll be spending the weekend at the beach, so no blogging until Sunday night or Monday. In the meantime, enjoy this rare glimpse of Fathead Chris Matthews bearing his teeth.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: We‘re back with John O‘Neill, the co-author of “Unfit For Command,” and John Hurley, national director of Veterans For Kerry.

Gentlemen, first of all, according to this Associated Press story, Kerry got a Purple Heart for getting shrapnel in his left arm above the elbow. If the shrapnel had hit him in the eye, the doctor said it could have blinded him. No. 2, he was wounded with a piece of shrapnel on February 20, this time in the left thigh. Doctors decided to leave the shrapnel in place—it is still in his leg—rather than make a wider opening to remove it.

The third time, he got it from a dangerous situation in March of that year, life-threatening. A mine exploded near Kerry‘s swift boat and enemy snipers were shooting around him. He won the Silver Star for chasing—beaching his swift boat, chasing after some V.C. in V.C. territory and killing one of the V.C. He won his Bronze for saving the life of Mr. Rassmann, as he pulled him into the boat in enemy territory. I don‘t get the point. If this is all roughly true, why are you—it is all—what is in dispute here, besides


HURLEY: Every word of it is true.


MATTHEWS: All of this is true. And you‘re building a case against the guy on behalf of a guy running for president with absolutely no military experience in the field. So what is the point?

O‘NEILL: First of all, when you start off with the assumption everything is true and refuse to allow it to be questioned...

MATTHEWS: No, I listened to every point you made, but the main point...

O‘NEILL: You haven‘t let me talk about most of them. We talked about his first Purple...

MATTHEWS: You talked about each one.

O‘NEILL: His first Purple...

MATTHEWS: One of the oldest tricks on this show is for somebody to come on the show after talking for 20 minutes and say they haven‘t had the chance to talk.

O‘NEILL: Well, the first...

MATTHEWS: I‘ll be glad to clock you, John...


MATTHEWS: ... on how many minutes you spoke on the show. So don‘t try that old trick. It is a particularly conservative trick, OK?


Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Liberal Bias

Howard Kurtz takes a look at pre-war coverage by his pinko, commie rag of a paper: The Washington Post.

Days before the Iraq war began, veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus put together a story questioning whether the Bush administration had proof that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction.

But he ran into resistance from the paper's editors, and his piece ran only after assistant managing editor Bob Woodward, who was researching a book about the drive toward war, "helped sell the story," Pincus recalled. "Without him, it would have had a tough time getting into the paper." Even so, the article was relegated to Page A17.


An examination of the paper's coverage, and interviews with more than a dozen of the editors and reporters involved, shows that The Post published a number of pieces challenging the White House, but rarely on the front page. Some reporters who were lobbying for greater prominence for stories that questioned the administration's evidence complained to senior editors who, in the view of those reporters, were unenthusiastic about such pieces. The result was coverage that, despite flashes of groundbreaking reporting, in hindsight looks strikingly one-sided at times.

"The paper was not front-paging stuff," said Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks. "Administration assertions were on the front page. Things that challenged the administration were on A18 on Sunday or A24 on Monday. There was an attitude among editors: Look, we're going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?"


Woodward, for his part, said it was risky for journalists to write anything that might look silly if weapons were ultimately found in Iraq. Alluding to the finding of the Sept. 11 commission of a "groupthink" among intelligence officials, Woodward said of the weapons coverage: "I think I was part of the groupthink."

Given The Post's reputation for helping topple the Nixon administration, some of those involved in the prewar coverage felt compelled to say the paper's shortcomings did not reflect any reticence about taking on the Bush White House. Priest noted, however, that skeptical stories usually triggered hate mail "questioning your patriotism and suggesting that you somehow be delivered into the hands of the terrorists."

Oh, well in that case I understand; it's just sound editorial policy that the content of your newspaper be determined by raging Bush supporters and misguided hicks.

"People who were opposed to the war from the beginning and have been critical of the media's coverage in the period before the war have this belief that somehow the media should have crusaded against the war," Downie said. "They have the mistaken impression that somehow if the media's coverage had been different, there wouldn't have been a war."

Yes, it's foolish to believe that a more informed population -- aware they were being fed not indisputable facts but one-sided interpretations -- would have demanded the administration put forth solid proof before supporting the war.

The Post is easily my favorite newspaper and the only one I have read on a daily basis for the better part of my 25 year life. Bottom line: this is a disgrace. Heads should roll.



Via Digby, we learn the Republicans have some pretty big convention plans.

He [Frank Breeden, the convention's director of entertainment] said yesterday that he expected the convention to be heavy with gospel, country and Broadway music, and with patriotic music.

And they're taking this broadway thing to heart -- trust us, we've managed to obtain a first draft of the song Bush plans to sing after accepting the nomination.

(sung to the tune of
I Feel Pretty, from Westside Story)

I feel pretty,
Oh, and holy,
I feel pretty and holy and bright!
And I pity
Any girl who isn't me tonight.

I love tax cuts
I love war time
I love tax cuts during war time and Christ!
And I pity
Any girl who isn't me tonight.

See the pretty girl in that mirror there:
Ordained to The White House by Christ!
Such a holy face,
Such a holy mandate,
Such a holy war,
Such a holy me!

I hate liberals
But when they scare me
One thought of Uncle Dick gives me joy
For I'm loved
By a pretty wonderful boy!


Have you met my good friend George?
Did you know Christ changed his heart?
Did you know his Dad was President?
Or that Saddam's nuclear program was about to restart?

A saying in Texas
Or maybe Tennessee,
Goes if you fool me once
Then it's shame on me.

If you fool me twice
wait a minute, then
If you fool me twice
Won't be fooled again.

So keep away from her,
Commies! Liberals!
You know not the
George we know!

Modest and pure,
Polite and refined,
Well-bred and mature
A wonderful find!

I feel outraged,
Oh, so outraged
That gays demand the right to marry.
The Constitution
Should be changed to satisfy me.

La la la la . . .

I feel macho,
I feel dandy,
I love nachos and candy but no wine,
And I'm so pretty,
John Kerry should just resign!


La la la la . . .


See the pretty girl in that mirror there:


What mirror where?


He'll surely be re-elected soon!


Which? What? Where? Whom?

Such a holy face,
Such a pretty dress,
Such a holy smile,
Such a pretty me!

Such a holy me!


I hate Kerry
And Edwards
But a thought of Uncle Dick gives me joy,
For I'm loved
By a pretty wonderful boy!


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Holier Than Thou

Browsing Ebsco Host for tales of Ted Sampley and Co.'s attacks on John McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary, I came across this delectable little quote.

More broadly, Marshall Wittmann, a McCain supporter and former legislative director for the Christian Coalition, sees a Republican K Street elite and the social conservative establishment facing the same conundrum: their growing irrelevance. For years, Republican candidates kowtowed to them. Now the Republican mainstream is edging toward the center and the shock troops of the conservative movement have scattered. The Christian Coalition is in decline and Bush, the establishment's anointed prince, is scrambling to preserve his crown.

"You have the conservatives in a deep panic pulling out the most grotesque and obscene tactics," Wittmann says. "The K Street establishment and the conservative establishment are united in fearing someone who they can't control."

My how things have changed. Four years ago, The Christian Coalition is in decline, now --


My Kind Of Town

On Friday, we reported this:

I have no idea who he is, but CNBC's reporter from the Chicago Board of Trade floor just reported that, as the disappointing payroll figures were released, there was "some chanting going on" which was "not very favorable to the incumbent."

Today, Paul Krugman clears it up.

When Friday's dismal job report was released, traders in the Chicago pit began chanting, "Kerry, Kerry." But apologists for President Bush's economic policies are frantically spinning the bad news. Here's a guide to their techniques.


Monday, August 09, 2004

The More Things Change

Internal numbers from the latest Time poll -- they aren't moving much.

And in the overall sentiment that weighs against President Bush's re-election chances, little change has been recorded:

A majority of voters still believe the country is going "off on the wrong track" — 51%, compared with 44% who answered that it was headed in the right direction. July's answers were 52% wrong track, 42% right direction.
A majority maintain that it's time for someone else to be president — 54%, while 42% maintain President Bush deserves to be re-elected. That's a one-point shift from our last poll, in which the breakdown was 53% - 43%.
Voters are evenly split, 47% - 47% on whether the United States was right or wrong to go to war with Iraq, where July's poll found a slight majority 49%-46% answering that it was wrong to invade.

Prediction: including quotes like this in his standard stump speech will not help the Prez.

Bush also said high taxes on the rich are a failed strategy because "the really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway."



Richard Perle on Ahmed Chalabi, from May --

"The CIA despises Chalabi; the State Department despises him," said Richard Perle, a senior Pentagon adviser and key supporter of the war who has known Chalabi for 15 years. "They did everything they could to put him out of business. Now there is a deliberate effort to marginalize him."

"He has devoted his life to freeing his country," Perle added. "He is a man of enormous intelligence, and I believe the effort to marginalize him will fail. They will end up looking ridiculous."

Sunday in Iraq --

Also yesterday, Iraq's chief investigating judge said arrest warrants had been issued for Ahmad Chalabi, a former Governing Council member with strong US ties, on counterfeiting charges, and for his nephew Salem Chalabi, head of the Iraqi tribunal trying Saddam Hussein, on murder charges. He is a suspect in the June murder of a top finance ministry official.


Sunday, August 08, 2004

London Calling

Why must we go to Britain for real criticism?

The Home Secretary has warned that American-style openness over the al-Qaeda threat risked exposing politicians to 'ridicule', and dismissed calls for him to supply more details to the British public as 'arrant nonsense'.

In a startling sideswipe at the White House - which put troops around what it said were new targets in New York last week, only for it to emerge that the intelligence underpinning the supposed threat was years old - David Blunkett says he is not prepared to discuss security operations simply to 'feed the news frenzy' in a slow summer. The Home Secretary, writing in The Observer today, is understood to be furious with David Davis, his Tory shadow, whom he had offered a confidential briefing about the arrests of 13 terror suspects in Britain last week.


Blunkett's words reflect a growing row over political handling of intelligence, with accusations in Washington that George Bush may be overemphasising the threat in order to boost his chances in November's presidential election - and in London, a new willingness by the Tories to make political capital out of the terror issue.

Last night, Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, rose to Blunkett's defence, warning of a 'Faustian bargain' between the media and politicians over terrorism. 'I am acutely aware that there is a Faustian bargain on offer for those who want it: airtime, in exchange for ratcheting the fear factor one notch higher,' he told The Observer.

He said the Bush administration's naming of potential targets in New York was 'of dubious worth', and that information should be published 'only if it would prove useful in preventing injury and loss of life'.

However Oaten said that while he backed a more low-key approach to the threat, it would have been less severe in the first place had the government not invaded Iraq.

His words reflect fears in Whitehall that high-profile American terror warnings have backfired. In his article, Blunkett argues that speculating in the same way about British targets would only cause panic: 'There has been column inch after column inch devoted to the fact that in the United States there is often high-profile commentary, followed - as in the most current case - by detailed scrutiny with the potential risk of inviting ridicule.

'In Britain the accusation is the opposite. It is that we don't say enough... we don't sufficiently raise the profile, and therefore the concern about terrorism.'