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:: Friday, January 28, 2005 ::

More than a fashion Faux Pas

I saw this on Political Animal, but I'll go further than Kevin. For the Vice-President to wear this to the ceremony at Auschwitz is either a huge screw-up or a deliberate insult.

I realize that -- to some people -- this sounds nitpicky or overly critical. It's not. This is a formal state affair, probably the most solemn occasion in Europe. It's a memorial for the Holocaust for Pete's sake. He's standing in a place where God knows how many died, and even the dumbest man would suspect to dress for a solemn event.

Maybe Dick didn't know better. Maybe he is just a jackass, but even given that, his staff did know. It's not like he was wearing Texas formal here (which would have been acceptable). It's a parka, a ski cap, and brown hiking boots. And, as Kevin pointed out, it's no like he didn't have the other clothes with him......

Personally, I think Dick was giving Europe the ole' middle finger again. Maybe he's pissed that -- despite Bush's claims in the debates -- we are going to have to forget about Poland helping out in Iraq.
:: Morat 11:25 AM :: ::

Third columnist caught with hand in the Bush till

Jesus, another one?:
Salon has confirmed that Michael McManus, a marriage advocate whose syndicated column, 'Ethics & Religion,' appears in 50 newspapers, was hired as a subcontractor by the Department of Health and Human Services to foster a Bush-approved marriage initiative. McManus championed the plan in his columns without disclosing to readers he was being paid to help it succeed.
Of course, he only got 10k (I bet there's some bitching about pay-scales going on among the bought and paid for right now!) but good lord....

No wonder people keep defending the indefensible. They're getting paid too. I always wondered why conservatives felt the government should be getting involved in marriage. It always seemed exactly the sort of thing better left to the people.
:: Morat 9:15 AM :: ::

:: Thursday, January 27, 2005 ::

Federal Propaganda Prohibition Act

See, this is one of the few perks of being the minority party.
Meanwhile, several Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday designed to stop what they termed taxpayer-funded 'covert propaganda campaigns' violating a provision included in annual appropriation acts since 1951.

Under the new bill, dubbed the Federal Propaganda Prohibition Act of 2005, the prohibition on propaganda would become a permanent part of federal law.
Federal agencies would also have to notify Congress about public relations, advertising and polling contracts, and the funding sources of all federally funded public relations materials would have to be disclosed.

Supporters of the effort include the two top Democrats in the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

The group also released a investigative report prepared by Democratic committee staff that found the Bush administration spent more than $88 million on contracts with public relations agencies in 2004, a 128 percent increase from 2000.
You get to force the GOP to either substantial change the way Bush is buying the media, or force them on the record as supporting taxpayer funded propaganda.

Either way, the Dems win. If it passes, Bush loses one of his little tools. If it is voted down, the Democrats get to beat the GOP over the head with the fact that they love wasting taxpayer money to support shoddy government programs that couldn't stand on their own otherwise....

It's about time someone got a freakin' clue. I can't wait until the FOIA requests into White House PR come out....I'm sure every news agency and their dog requested that information.
:: Morat 11:37 AM :: ::

:: Wednesday, January 26, 2005 ::

Bush and Press Conferences

I was thinking about Bush, his rare press conferences, and the behavior of the press pool today. Someone was complaining that Bush never gets asked the hard questions (questions like "So, why are you lying about Social Security" with the followup of "So why did you answer either not address the question?" or "Why did your answer contain more lies? or -- as is usually the case -- "Why did you use this question as an opportunity to repeat your lies?"). And it occurred to me that the press doesn't because George Bush is a political program.

There's simply no point in it.

I could write a program to duplicate his performance at press conferences (and debates). It would scan for key words like "Social Security" or "John Kerry" or "Debt" and randomly select from a handful of pregenerated sentences about those subjects. It'd be just as believable as Bush.

All press conferences are -- to Bush -- is a chance to randomly repeat his talking points. A reporter asks a question, Bush ignores it and focuses on the key word (Social Security these days) and responds with a pre-memorized comment on the wonderful nature of private accounts.

I think the press corp realizes there's simply no point in it. It's not a question and answer session. They're just randomly pushing buttons on a badly coded Turing machine.

Past Presidents didn't want to get caught in a lie. They didn't want to catch flak, and they honestly wanted to be thought well of by the public. Bush doesn't care. He'll lie to your face. He'll answer a totally different question than the one you asked. He'll lie in response to your follow up about why you lied. He'll push 'privitization' one day, then accuse you of being a liberal sympathizer for using the term the next day. He'll switch from 'private accounts' to 'personal accounts' and ignore any comments about doing it.

He doesn't care. He doesn't give a flying fuck what the press thinks, what the public thinks, what anyone thinks. The press just gives him one more microphone, and the only reason he bothers is because public support does make his plans easier. But I think he feels he'll get what he wants anyways, so his effort is pretty minimal.

I wouldn't pin any great hopes on him bowing to public pressure over anything. He doesn't care.

With Social Security, we can take refuge in the fact that Congress has to do it. Unfortunately, he doesn't need Congress to -- say -- pick a fight with Iran.

The Democrats would do well to remember one thing: Having the public on their side isn't enough. Bush doesn't care what the public thinks.
:: Morat 3:02 PM :: ::

No on Gonzales

I'm with Kos on this one. No Democrat -- no American -- should vote for a man whose name is synonymous with official US acceptance of torture and with the rejection of the Geneva Convention.

Any Democrat who votes "Yes" on Gonzales loses my vote for life. Period.

There are certain principles that should be unyielding, certain lines that cannot be crossed. This is one of them. Anyone voting for Gonzales for AG has demonstrated their complete and utter contempt for the ideals of America.
:: Morat 9:45 AM :: ::

Journalists in Iraq.

Slate's doing another one of their breakfast table email discussions. I generally don't read them, but this one is about the Iraqi elections and a passage from Monday caught my eye. Ghaith Abdul-Ahad (a freelance Iraqi journalist and a columnist for the Guardian was talking about Baghdad and bombs.
This was my Monday.
8:30 a.m.: Everything is ready, cameras are checked, batteries are charged, and boots are on. I am sitting on the balcony having the first coffee of the day and waiting.

It's around this time the big explosions usually happen. There is nothing in the world worse than waking up to the sound and the shock of an explosion; you lose precious time trying to figure out if you are OK. If it is just an improvised explosive device, you wouldn't bother going out, because the Americans and the police will already be there and the possibility of having your camera smashed by each of them is very high.
[...]
10:30 p.m.: This morning's explosion turned out to be a car bomb against the prime minister's party headquarters. The Americans cordoned off the area.

"I will smash you and your camera if you take a picture," said the GI who stood behind the barbed wire a kilometer from the real site of the explosion.
I don't know why that surprises me -- it's been occasionally reported since the invasion -- but with Steavenson (the other half of the conversation) discussing being unable to move around Baghdad without heavy security escort (and only then having access to maybe a quarter of the city) and now this...

How the hell can Iraq have an election? They don't even have people's names on the ballot. Bombs go off and people die daily in Baghdad, in Fallujah, and everywhere else in Iraq. I hear idiots talking about how 60% of Iraq is peaceful....they must be talking about the 60% that's desert. I think we should be more concerned with the 40%, because that's where the people live.

Can you imagine holding an election -- an election worth anything in, say, Detroit if 75% of the city was in anarchy?
:: Morat 9:11 AM :: ::

:: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 ::

End-Timers & Neo-Cons

Good article here by Paul Roberts (Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan and former editor of the WSJ):
Not so long ago I would have identified the liberal media as the New York Times and Washington Post, CNN and the three TV networks, and National Public Radio. But both the Times and the Post fell for the Bush administration's lies about WMD and supported the US invasion of Iraq. On balance CNN, the networks, and NPR have not made an issue of the Bush administration's changing explanations for the invasion.

Apparently, Rush Limbaugh and National Review think there is a liberal media because the prison torture scandal could not be suppressed and a cameraman filmed the execution of a wounded Iraqi prisoner by a US Marine. Do the Village Voice and The Nation comprise the 'liberal media'? The Village Voice is known for Nat Hentoff and his columns on civil liberties. Every good conservative believes that civil liberties are liberal because they interfere with the police and let criminals go free. The Nation favors spending on the poor and disfavors gun rights, but I don't see the 'liberal hate' in The Nation's feeble pages that Rush Limbaugh was denouncing on C-Span.

In the ranks of the new conservatives, however, I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives who literally worship George Bush. Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush.

The Iraqi War is serving as a great catharsis for multiple conservative frustrations: job loss, drugs, crime, homosexuals, pornography, female promiscuity, abortion, restrictions on prayer in public places, Darwinism and attacks on religion. Liberals are the cause. Liberals are against America. Anyone against the war is against America and is a liberal. "You are with us or against us."

This is the mindset of delusion, and delusion permits no facts or analysis. Blind emotion rules. Americans are right and everyone else is wrong. End of the debate.
(Link via Altercation).
:: Morat 9:57 AM :: ::

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