Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
George Tenet ripped a new one
Michael Sheuer dismantles the former CIA director, who spilled his guts on "60 Minutes" tonight. Elsewhere, the backlash keeps coming. Forget Condi Rice, who has so many credibility problems of her own, her criticism of Tenet is irrelevant. The criticism from other CIA professionals is what's most damning.

Tomorrow morning, we'll have on our own CIA expert on the morning show. More on that later...

Update: Perle's paper boy takes on Tenet on his claims about September 12, 2001...

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posted by JReid @ 8:00 PM  
Friday, April 27, 2007
Meet Howard Beale
Mike Gravel channels the "I'm mad as hell" guy.

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posted by JReid @ 5:29 PM  
Distractopia
No surprise, Barack Obama wins the South Carolina stream of consciousness poll, which is heavily weighted toward Black Carolnians. But Hilary still wins the day, having come off the most prepared and presidential in last night's debate. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Meanwhile, surprise! The day after the debates, the Bush administration announces a major terror arrest! ... and there are big, nasty terror plots afoot in Saudi Arabia!!! See the media pant like a trained puppy over this one, but sorry guys, I've seen this movie before.

And Senator Dick Durbin says he knew we were being lied into the Iraq war, but couldn't say anything about it because he was sworn to secrecy as a member of the intelligence committee...

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posted by JReid @ 4:29 PM  
Worst person in the world

This might be the most hated man in America (George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, feel free to thank your lucky stars.)

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posted by JReid @ 4:07 PM  
Bodyslammed
An active duty soldier blasts the generals for their conduct of the Iraq war:

For the second time in a generation, the United States faces the prospect of defeat at the hands of an insurgency. In April 1975, the U.S. fled the Republic of Vietnam, abandoning our allies to their fate at the hands of North Vietnamese communists. In 2007, Iraq's grave and deteriorating condition offers diminishing hope for an American victory and portends risk of an even wider and more destructive regional war.

These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America's general officer corps. America's generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy. The argument that follows consists of three elements. First, generals have a responsibility to society to provide policymakers with a correct estimate of strategic probabilities. Second, America's generals in Vietnam and Iraq failed to perform this responsibility. Third, remedying the crisis in American generalship requires the intervention of Congress. ...
And that's just the opening. Read the rest here.

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posted by JReid @ 3:58 PM  
The Friday (not so) funnies
Miami-Dade's housing crisis continues, with a little shantytown having become a central pivot point. That shantytown burned down this week. Now the activists involved are planning their next move. We talked with Max Rameau, the lead activist, this morning.

Speaking of burning down the house, Don Imus' fired producer Bernard McGuirk says he didn't get the memo on dem nappy headed hos...



That drag thing? Living with that gay couple when Donna Hanover kicked him out for cheating? Forget all that. Rudy Giuliani is totally opposed to gay civil unions. No, really. Seriously. I mean, like, really opposed...


During the Democratic debates last night, the issue of South Carolina's continued use of the Confederate flag came up. It was handled deftly by both Barack Obama and Joe Biden, who pointed out that the reason the debate was being held at South Carolina State was that James Clyburn, and alumnus of the historically Black college invited them, despite the NAACP's flag-orignated tourism ban. Obama, for his point, said the flag belongs in a museum, not the capitol.

Apparently, some Black guy was outside the debates all dressed up in Confederate regalia. I wonder if it was this guy... and he's got a book... which led me to wonder, just what about those alleged Black Confederate soldiers? I suspect that few, if any, were really believers in the Confederate cause.

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posted by JReid @ 8:02 AM  
Thursday, April 26, 2007
On the radar
Those Rovian political briefings at 15 federal agencies to discuss the political prospects of key Republicans, and how your taxpayer dollars could be used to help them out. Name to watch: Lorita Doan.

George Tenet's historical rewrite. Can he escape being the fall guy for Iraq? No. Can he revive his reputation? What reputation? Will scads of people tune in to 60 Minutes on Sunday to hear his rant? Yep. As ABC News' online headline writers put it for the homepage, "now he tells us..."

The newly passed war funding bills on Iraq and the coming veto. The bills are not as futile as the veto threat suggests.

On tonight's debates, the base can call it for Obama all they want. The conventional wisdom among the press corps out of this debate will be that Hillary Clinton won tonight's debate. She seemed the most prepared and the most presidential, and she's the only one who responded to the question on an al-Qaida attack with an answer that makes political sense. Update: The National Review's Byron York agrees, and says the number two and three candidates did themselves no favors with securityphobic Republicans.

Also on the debates, it didn't resonate immediately, but look for John Edwards' rejection of the idea of a "war on terror" to begin bubbling up online, and among the right wingery (Limbaugh is already slamming his 12 second brain fart on who his moral leader is.) Edwards is running hard to the left, which is why his failure to raise his hand in answer to the question of whether there is a GWOT, was joined only by Dennis Kucinich and Kooky Mike Gravel.

McCain's pivot. He skipped the vote on the timetables bill, and has now called both for Alberto Gonzales to step down, and now, called the Iraq war "a great tragedy." Take one giant step away from the Bushies...

Condi Rice signals that she may fight the Democrats on their subpoena of her. This could set up a seminal showdown.

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posted by JReid @ 9:58 PM  
Grading the Dems
Evaluating the Democratic debate tonight, overall, I think Hillary Clinton was the best on stage tonight, scoring with her answer on the response to a terror attack, and being straightforward and succinct regarding the war.

Barack did quite well, too, though I don't think he did nearly as well as Chris Matthews thinks he did on the foreign policy questions.

It strikes me that were it not for his position on cutting off funding and ending U.S. involvement in the Iraq war this year, Bill Richardson, because of his views on guns and national security overall, could almost run as a moderate Republican, which makes him all the more attractive as a vice presidential candidate. One big miss for Richardson tonight: saying that he hesitated on Alberto Gonzales because he's Hispanic. That won't play in Peoria.

Dodd was a non-entity. Except for the one good line on speaking economically, Biden was, too.

I was disappointed in Edwards, who didn't really raise his game from the 2004 race.

Kucinich had his crazy guy routine stolen by Mike Gravel, who is truly out there. As I said in the previous thread, Kucinich should thank Gravel for making him look fairly normal tonight. Either that or he should hate him for stealing his lines...

There were no serious discussions on racial issues, nothing much for other minority groups to seize on (gays won't like Dodd's answer on civil unions), and not much fire overall. The debate was genial and mostly headline free. I'm looking for the Miami machine to start cranking on Richardson's Cuba answer, and I suspect the Iraq portion of the debate will make the most headlines.

Overall, if I had to guess, I'd say this debate will move the needle up slightly for Hillary and Obama, might make some GOPers take a look at Richardson (the NRA thing stands out) and also will make him the primo vice presidential candidate down the stretch.

So far, Obama is winning the post-debate online poll over at MSNBC, and Hillary is getting the highest negatives. I think that's just built in for her, because I don't think an honest reading of the debate supports that Barack won it, or that Hillary came off as less than credible. I really like Barack, but off all the eight standing up there tonight, Hillary was the one I could picture actually taking office as president.

So far, Edwards and Obama are neck and neck in the Kos Kids' poll, but commenters are lauding Mr. Gravel ... no, seriously they are ... which tends to take away from the lucidity of the poll.

Next week, it's the Republicans' turn. That one won't be as nicey-nicey.

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posted by JReid @ 8:49 PM  
The Dems debate
LIVEBLOGGING THE DEMOCRATIC DEBATE...

Pre-game show: For the Dem debate on MSNBC tonight, each of the 8 candidates has a slightly different mission.

For Hillary ... it's sound presidential

Barack ... live up to the charisma hype (and sound mature enough to be president)

Edwards ... get back the charisma hype

Richardson ... tuck in that neck...

All others ... say something memorable so as not to be blanked out of tomorrow's news cycle

7:00 - Okay, now to the substance. Brian Williams went straight to the war questions, starting with Barack and Hillary.

Barack reiterated that he is proud to have opposed the war from the get-go.

Hillary says as forthrightly as I've heard her that if she knew in 2002 what she knows today she would not have cast her Iraq vote the way she did.

Kucinich says you can't be against the war and continue to fund it.

Richardson says not only would he not vote to continue funding the war in Iraq were he in Congress, but that if he were president, he would push to withdraw all U.S. forces by the end of this calendar year, and use that leverage to push the Iraqis to come to a political settlement.

Chris Dodd talked about his legislation with Russ Feingold that would set a firm deadline to end the war.

Former Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska, who played a role in cutting off funds for the Vietnam war back in the day, got a shot in and called what the Congress is doing "embarassing." He said Congress should pass a law making it "a felony" for the president to remain in Iraq. Gravel, in very animated fashion for an old dude, laid out a tactic he said would force the president's hand: let the Senate Republicans fillibuster and call for a daily cloture vote at high noon to make clear who is keeping us in the war.

Next round, Obama is asked a question by a citizen who has a 19-year-old loved one deployed to Iraq. Obama is asked, what would he consider to be a "mission complete" status in Iraq. Obama so far isn't answering the question, but he did get his "we are one signature away from ending this war" line. He talked about needing 16 votes to override the veto. Short answer: Obama didn't answer the question.

Clinton's turn: Barack is right -- we have to put together the political support within the GOP to join with Dems to bring an end to the war. Easier said than done, and she adds that Bush seems determined not to change course despite the fact that we are losing ground. She ends by saying we need Republican support to finish the job.

Next round: "elephants in the room." This should be good!

Obama first -- "you promised a new kind of politics, so what about questionable ties to a Chicago donor tied to a kickback scheme." Obama: we have thousands of donors, this one engaged in bad behavior and I've denounced it.

Edwards -- "what about those $400 haircuts, paid for out of campaign funds?" -- Paying for the cuts out of campaign funds was a mistake. I'm privileged, yes, but that's not what I come from (cue the "son of a mill worker" shtick.) Actually, I'm being facetious, but Edwards handled it well, telling a good story, and ending that he's running to give others the same chance he's had. He's asked about repping hedge funds, and deftly parried it into a rundown of the lack of healthcare coverage.

In her response, Hillary bigs up the entrepreneurial economy and says that's what makes the country great. She also added a nice kicker that she's proud to represent the New York capital markets, and what we need to do is get back to a Democratic president who can undo the damage done by this president and the prior Republican congress.

Bill Richardson just got called on the carpet for being last in line to call for Alberto Gonzales' resignation. He admitted that he hesitated because Gonzales is Hispanic. Not a good move on the larger stage, hermano. But at least he was being honest.

Chris Dodd (I still can't figure out why this guy is running...) was asked about taking money from big money men. Honestly, he just said it and I've already forgotten what point he made...

Kucinich is doing his anti-war spiel now. He got in a pop culture reference by noting that this is not American Idol. I predict Kucinich will move up in the Moveon poll, but he still needs a pressed suit and a new life goal -- president really isn't on the table.

Joe Biden just got off a good one, giving a one word answer to Brian Williams' question about whether he can control his verbosity: "yes." Williams didn't seem to really believe he wasn't going to say anything else. Clearly, those stints on the Daily Show have helped.

Gravel is on a tear, saying some of the people on stage scare him. This guy is replacing Dennis Kucinich as the crazy uncle on the dais. So who scares you, Senator Gravel? He says the "top tier ones," and he says Biden "has a certain arrogance" and wants to tell the Iraqis what to do. He's now saying "we need to get out." "The entire deaths of Vietnam died in vain, and they're dying in vain this second. You know what's worse than a soldier dying in vain? More soldiers dying in vain..."

Hillary on her unfavorables, and the question of why Republicans are so looking forward to running against her. Hillary says you'd have to ask them. She says she takes it as a perverse form of flattery -- if they weren't worried, they wouldn't be so vitriolic. Hil reminded the audience that she tried for universal healthcare back in the day, and now the country is ready for change. This exchange will make the clips. Good job, Hil.

Next stop: abortion. Williams points out that most Americans polled approved of the SUPCO ruling on partial birth abortion. The question to Edwards: is there a disconnect between the candidates (all of whom are pro-life except Kucinich) and the public. Edwards says no disconnect. The question is whether women's health decisions will be made by women, or by a "bunch of men on the Supreme Court." He says the abortion issue is "extraordinarily difficult" for many people and "we have to show respect for people who have different views on this issue."

Obama, same issue: reiterates the difficulty of the decision, and says "I trust women to make these decisions with their doctors and their family and their clergy." Broader issue: can we move past the things upon which we disagree toward areas of agreement, such as reducing teen pregnancies. Nice parry.

Biden: would you have a Roe litmus test? Biden says he wouldn' t, but he would make sure his nominees shared his values re a right to privacy. Danger zone: Biden said he led the fight to dump Robert Bork. That will be looked up, dude. Also reminds that he opposed Clarence Thomas, Roberts and Scalito. He says the discussion is intellectually dishonest in that the procedure is so rare, but the legal maneuver is a first step toward ending Roe.

Kucinich says he wants to get America together in support of a "culture of life" including prenatal care, universal healthcare, etc., and listen carefully to those who are opposed to abortion. I'm now wondering if Kucinich has changed his mind on abortion (he used to oppose it) or if he's just being deft for the primaries.

Dodd is asked whether he regrets his vote for Roberts on the SUPCO (he's the only one on the dais who voted in favor of him.) Dodd says he's disappointed in Roberts, then he quickly moves on to Alito, and his history of voting pro-life.

7:52 ...

Each candidate is asked to pick a model SUPCO justice:

Richardson - Windsor White (dead), among the living? Ruth Bader GinsbergDodd -- Brennan (dead), GinsbergEdwards -- Ginsberg or Breyer

Clinton, did the government fail those students at VA tech. Yes. She throws in a "Bill" reference, talking about accompanying the then president to Columbine. We need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable. During the Clinton administration, that was a goal -- not to curtail gun ownershiprights. The background checks clearly didn't work.

Bill Richardson -- you are currently the NRA's favorite candidate in either party. Did anything about the massacre make you rethink your position on guns? Richardson smartly starts with condolences. He says he's a westerner and a hunter and the Second Amendment is precious in the west. Two big problems here are mental illness, and instant background checks should be properlyfunded at the state and local level. Richardson parries quickly to mental health parity. That NRA thing makes Richardson an even more attractive veep, I think.

Show of hands: how many of you have had a gun in the house: Gravel, Biden, Dodd, Richardson and Kucinich.

Biden: what could the feds have done? Biden's bragging again, saying he was the guy who put 100,000 cops on the street "that the Clinton administration made work so well." Aye, yay, yay! He then says close the gun show loophole, etc. says schools should be able to remove a student deemed dangerous.

Next up, taxes: Edwards is asked which taxes he'd raise. He says he'd get rid of the Bush tax cuts for those making $200K a year or more. Then he does the big dodge. Require employers to coverall employees with healthcare. But what about those tax cuts, dude?

Obama -- have a national pool people can buy into if they don't have health coverage, similar to what members of Congress enjoy. Second, control costs. Obama has statistics, which is good, includingthe rise in Black infant mortality. But weren't we talking about taxes?

Hillary says she tried to put forth a universal healthcare plan and people got scared. She says she's ready to try again. She says save money within the existing system first, before spending new money on new programs.

Richardson called the most strident in opposing tax increases to pay for healthcare. Richardson reminds the room that as a governor, he deals with these issues daily. His healthcare plan: no new bureaucracy, every American shares the costs, focus on prevention, cut out inefficiencies and bureaucracies, better information sharing to save cash, cut out middle men like HMOs between docs and patients. Richardson has clearly carved out the position as the most centrist or conservative guy in the race.

Q from the viewers: Re the ban on SC from the NAACP over the Confederate flag. Why are you guys here?

Biden answers that we're here because we were asked by James Clyburn, and it's better to show off this historically Black college than to walk away from this opportunity.

Barack says the Confederate flag should be put in a museum, that's where it belongs. But we've got really big problems, such as Black infant mortality. Parries to "people are hungry for change." Deft dodge.

Another Q from viewers: biggest professional or personal mistake? Gravel gets it. This should be good. Says he's the senior statesman up there and was beginning to feel like a potted plant. Then he tries to use Ronald Reagan's "youth and inexperience" line to no effect. Kucinich says his biggie was firing the police chief on the 6:00 news when he was mayor of Cleveland. Hillary says not enough time to list all of hers, but ends with "believing the president when he said he'd go to the U.N. on Iraq." Barack says he shouldn't have left the Senate in advance of the Terri Schiavo vote. Biden: overestimating the competence and underestimating the arrogance of the Bush administration. Edwards: voting for the Iraq war. "Unfortunately I'll have to live with that forever. The lesson I learned is to listen to my own judgment". Dodd: voting for the war. Richardson: being too impatient and aggressive, including a push to increase the minimum wage, and instead of pursuing diplomacy, tried to ram it through the legislature. Strange one to choose in a Democratic primary.

Next Q: would you defy the American people if you were president by offering amesty to illegal immigrants? Hillary: says she's for comprehensive reform, letting illegal migrants pay a fine, get in line and become citizens. Nobody else got socked with this one.

To Biden, how can we reverse the American brain drain? Raise teacher pay to get the best teachers in the world.

To Dodd: shouldn't welfare recipients have to pass a drug test? Dodd says we're an overtested society. Let's try a little tenderness.

To Edwards: with oil co profits so high, why is gas so expensive? Edward says we need to address climate change and dependence on foreign oil, focus on new technologies. Edwards isn't really giving me charisma, I have to say.

The candidates are fielding more questions from viewers. I won't recount them all. Kucinich is talking now, about healthcare and his universal plan, no profits for anybody, blah blah blah.

For all comers, one sentence please: "while sitting in the Oval Office on day one of your administration, what's the first thing you want to accomplish?"

Richardson -- get us out of Iraq, day two: Apollo program on energy independence, day three: climate change, day four: day off. That wasn't one sentence, so nobody else got a shot.

Next section will be non-Iraq foreign policy.

Obama is asked who are America's three most important allies. He says EU is most important, and we've made new allies via NATO. He's veered off into Afghanistan now, and I'm not quite sure why... looking east, the center of gravity is shifting to Asia. Japan has been a great ally, but China is rising, though they're not an enemy or a friend. I count two so far. In a follow up, Brian Williams notes that Obama didn't mention Israel. He calls him out on saying "nobody has suffered as much as the Palestinian people." Obama points out that the rest of that sentence was "because of failed Palestinian leadership." He'll get slammed tomorrow by the AIPAC lobby.

Biden? Biggest threats besides Iraq? North Korea, Iran and Putin's tendency to move in a totalitarian direction in Russia. Biden adds that we have to jettison the ideas of preemption and regime change in favor of "prevention" and "conduct change." This administration "is saying give up the weapons that are the only things keeping us from attacking you, and once you do that, we're gonna take you out."

Gravel says we have no enemies. We must start treating other countries as equals. Kucinich should fall on his knees tonight and thank God that this guy was on the dais...

Edwards is asked whether Russia is a friend or foe. He says the government has moved away from democracy under Putin, but we need to ask "how to make America a force for good again." He's having a Princess Di moment, talking about showing U.S. commitment to good things.

Richardson, the only diplomat in the house is asked how he would do things differently with Russia. The governor says he wants to see control of loose nukes, a new policy on Chechnya, stable energy supplies and more democracy. "Being stubborn isn't a foreign policy, and power without focus is blind." He says he would focus on terrorism and nuke proliferation. Richardson sounds great on these issues. Very coherent.

Next, Hil is asked about the Giuliani "vote for me or die" quote, and is asked how Republicans got that "protector" vibe going? She's pointing out the disconnect between rhetoric and reality on port and homeland security, and says the administration hypes the fear, but doesn't deliver. And its foreign policy "has made the world less stable, which ... has a ripple effect on what we're going to face in the future." Hil didn't take the opportunity to attack Rudy directly, interestingly. Maybe she's keeping her eye on New Jersey, the only contestible Blue state, or New York itself?
Dodd is basically reiterating Hillary. No news here.

Show of hands: is there a global war on terror? All hands went up except Edwards, Kucinich and Gravel. But no hands were held very high... Kucinich says that the GWOT has been a pre-text for aggressive war. He says he wants to stop using war as a foreign policy instrument and get rid of all U.S. nukes. Right. Gravel: please save this guy...

Obama: how would you change the U.S. military stance overseas if two U.S. cities were hit by al-Qaida (why two, Brian?) Obama says we need to change our domestic response capabilities, get good intelligence on who carried it out (Williams just said it was al-Qaida...) He's off on not using faulty intel and bluster, and talking to the international community. This was Barack's weakest answer of the night.

Edwards, same Q: Edwards says he'd make sure it was al-Qaida and try to figure out how they got passed us. So far, two answers, no winners. On GWOT, we have more tools than bombs.

Hil: starts her answer "Having been a Senator on 9/11..." nice. Says "a president must move swiftly to retaliate." ... If there were nations who gave aid or assisted the attack, we respond swiftly. Says she supported hitting the Taliban. Says we haven't found Bin Laden. Says "let's focus on who attacked us and let's get 'em." FINALLY, the right answer! Geez...

Impeach Cheney? No hands supporting Kucinich. So is it an appropriate use of time and energy? Kucinich has whipped out his pocket constitution, a la Senator Byrd.

Dodd: for civil unions, not for gay marriage.

Biden: time to get serious on climate change.

Richardson just threw in that he'd have a swift military response to a terror attack. Now on to Castro, Richardson we need to "find ways to deal with a post-democratic Cuba" -- I think he meant a post-Castro Cuba. He said he's opposed to the family visit ban by the Bushies, and says we should reevaluate the embargo. Miami's old school won't like that one...

Senator Mike Gravel is talking again ... he's really nutty...

Kucinich is calling out Barack on saying "all options are on the table" when it comes to Iran. He's saying we have to change energy policies and stop using war as a strategic tactic. Obama responds that it would be a mistake to go to war with Iran, but Iran having nukes would be a threat to us, and they are a major sponsor of terror. We just got our first "let me finish..." Obama is trying to buck up his foreign policy strength quotient. Now Gravel is jumping in ... oh, lord. He says we need to stop "scaring the bejeezus out of" Iran. Okay, he just declared the U.S. the biggest violator of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Yep. Great way to be a credible candidate.

Now, on to who is your moral leader? Edwards is pausing a long time, but says he couldn't identify a single person. He then says he goes to the Lord for counsel, and now mentions his wife as a source of great conscience, his father too is cited as an influence.

Hillary is asked if Wal Mart is a good thing or bad thing overall for America. She says it's a "mixed blessing" -- allows people to stretch their dollars further, but they've raised issues of corporate responsibility re providing healthcare for employees, non-discrimination, etc. She says that the administration and corporate America "don't see middle class Americans." Another winner for Hil.

Biden is asked if the Dems lose a third time, it will be "modern day extinction" for the party, so is there a winner on this stage, putting himself aside? Biden says he sees winners, and says anyone who is "wishing for Hillary is making a mistake ... on the Republican side." Good that he added that last bit.

"Now you can applaud."

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posted by JReid @ 7:08 PM  
The race is on
Well now, we've got ourselves a presidential race.

John McCain is taking off the gloves, dinging Giuliani, distancing himself ever so gently from the president and the war, and even calling for the head of Alberto Gonzales (guaranteeing that he stays in the first tier of the news cycle going into the Sunday Shows. Smart.) As badly as McCain is doing right now in the polls and the "money primary," don't count this guy out just yet. Baghdad John wants to be president probably more than anyone in this race on either side, and he has surrounded himself with the worst attack dogs from Bush-Cheney 2000 and the Swiftboat cause. He will scratch out the eyes of every other Republican and crawl through broken glass before he gives up the ghost. Hell, he has to fight. He's as old as sin, and this is his last shot.

Mitt Romney also begins attacking Giuliani more directly this week, taking shots at his duplicitous stand on abortion. (Romney's own duplicitousness on that and other subjects apparently inspiring in him not a whit of irony.)

By the way, the new NBC/WSJ poll is out of doors, and get a load of Fred Thompson! He's not even running and he's already within 5 points of McCain...

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger, Hils and Barack are squeezing closer together in the same poll, but Obama continues to have the big mo. His newest devotees? Bush pioneers.

Back to that poll for a minute. It shows just 22 percent of Americans believing the country is headed in the right direction, and a clear majority (nearly 6 in 10) wanting the Dems to set a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

Oh, you little surrender monkeys, you American people...

The Dems debate tonight in South Carolina. It's their first go, and hopefully won't be too deadly boring.

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posted by JReid @ 7:04 AM  
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Slapping Rudy
Leading Dems slapped back at Rudy for his inane, Bushesque comments about the dire consequences of a Democratic presidency in 2009. Here's a sampling, courtesy of the Politico:
"Rudy's arrogance has gotten the best of him," said Karen Finney, communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

"How can the man who failed to prepare NYC for a second attack after the first one, quit the 9/11 commission because he was too busy raking in money from sketchy business deals, can't assess if the surge is working or if Iran and North Korea have nuclear weapons claim that he will keep America safe?"
Dusting off his best FReeper imitation, Giuliani told an enthralled crowd of fear-addled, rage addicted New Hampshire GOPers:
"This war ends when they stop coming here to kill us!" Giuliani said in his speech. "Never, ever again will this country ever be on defense waiting for (terrorists) to attack us if I have anything to say about it. And make no mistake, the Democrats want to put us back on defense!"
Is this a political campaign, or an audition to be a fill in host for Michael Savage? Moving right along:
"Rudy Giuliani today has taken the politics of fear to a new low and I believe Americans are ready to reject those kind of politics," said Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) "America's mayor should know that when it comes to 9/11 and fighting terrorists, America is united."

"There are people right now in the world, not just wishing us harm but actively planning and plotting to cause us harm," said New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"If the last six years of the Bush Administration have taught us anything, it's that political rhetoric won't do anything to quell those threats. And that America is ready for a change."
I give Barack a B+ for his response. Hillary's, with the me-too-FReeper opening? I give a C, with the caveat that she has to play Margaret Thatcher in this movie in order for it to get green lighted.

Here's John Edwards:
"Rudy Giuliani's suggestion that there is some superior 'Republican' way to fight terrorism is both divisive and plain wrong. He knows better. That's not the kind of leadership he offered in the days immediately after 9/11, and it's not the kind of leadership any American should be offering now.

"As far as the facts are concerned, the current Republican administration led us into a war in Iraq that has made us less safe and undermined the fight against al Qaeda. If that's the 'Republican' way to fight terror, Giuliani should know that the American people are looking for a better plan. That's just one more reason why this election is so important; we need to elect a Democratic president who will end the disastrous diversion of the war in Iraq."
Meanwhile, John McCain did his big announce today, complete with a nice little dig at Rudy:
[The American people] ...won't accept that firemen and policemen are unable to communicate with each other in an emergency because they don't have the same radio frequency.
And the latest NBC News poll reads as follows:
Just before Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina, a new poll by NBC affiliate WIS-TV shows Clinton and Obama virtually tied (24%-23%), with Edwards (who won the state in 2004) in third at 16%. On the GOP side, meanwhile, a new Zogby poll has McCain leading Giuliani in South Carolina (22%-19%), with Fred Thompson in third and Romney in fourth.
Interesting ...

There's also an NBC News poll that comes out this evening that will show Giuliani losing support, down from 38% to 33%, McCain losing two points, down frmo 24% a month ago to 22% and Fred Thompson going to zero to 17%.

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posted by JReid @ 4:29 PM  
Paging Monica Goodling
Fifth Amendment Monica gets immunity for her testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on the Gonzalesgate affair. And it just gets worse for the Bushies:

By 21-10, the House oversight committee voted to issue a subpoena to Rice to compel her story on the Bush administration's claim, now discredited, that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa.

Moments earlier in the committee chamber next door, the House Judiciary Committee voted 32-6 to grant immunity to Monica Goodling, Gonzales' White House liaison, for her testimony on why the administration fired eight federal prosecutors. The panel also unanimously approved — but did not issue — a subpoena to compel her to appear.

Simultaneously across Capitol Hill, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved — but did not issue — a subpoena on the prosecutors' matter to Sara Taylor, deputy to presidential adviser Karl Rove.

And in case Gonzales thought the worst had passed with his punishing testimony last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the chairman and top Republican issued a new demand: Refresh the memory that Gonzales claimed had failed him 71 times during the seven-hour session.

"Provide the answers to the questions you could not recall last Thursday," Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and ranking Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, wrote to Gonzales on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Fredo, as Dubya calls Albertcito, is learning to handle the sting of rejection:

...Gonzales tried Wednesday to mend fences on Capitol Hill. He met with a key critic, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., who has complained that Gonzales was not truthful with him over the dismissal of Bud Cummins, the former U.S. attorney in Little Rock, Ark.

But his outreach apparently didn't take.

"I reiterated with the attorney general, face-to-face, that I think he should resign," Pryor told reporters in a conference call after meeting with Gonzales in Washington. "I think it's the best thing for the Department of Justice and it's probably the best thing for him personally and the administration."
Owie.

Meanwhile, there's more on the dirt that the Justice Department was up to when it was supposed to be looking out for the interests of the American people...

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posted by JReid @ 4:04 PM  
Our long national nightmare is over (and so is Barbara's)
Anyone who knows me knows I can't stand Rosie O'Donnell. I was forced to deal with her back in 1995 when I was interning for New York Women in Film and Television, which for some inconceivable reason, gave her an award that year. Lucky me -- I got to be her P.A. for the day. It was an unmitigated nightmare. Rosie was surly, mean, pushy, crass and vulgar. In short, she is EXACTLY what she appears to be on The View (not that I watch it -- I just watch the clips on Scarborough Country ... that's about all I need, thank you...)

So why would a supposedly sound journalist like Barbara Walters hire her to take the place of Star Jones? Beats me. But what's clear, is that Barabara has been struggling with her internal self ever since -- loving the ratings, but hating the Rosie. Well, now the ratings ... er ... vulgar she-devil is leaving The View. She's not being fired, she's just leaving. While Harvey Levin has been all over MSNBC defending her, I suspect that if Rosie quit, she did so because she knew that, particularly after her recent performance in front of over 1,000 industry women and 17 high school girls -- plus Hillary Clinton and Rupert Murdoch (video here) -- Barbara didn't want her back, ratings or none.
Good riddance, Rosie, you miserable shrew. But I'm still not TiVo'ing that horrid daytime monstrosity you've left behind. It's hard to watch Babs now, knowing what she was willing to do for ratings...
By the way, guess who's coming to breakfast on Friday?

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posted by JReid @ 2:10 PM  
Vetoing the generals
Guess who supports the Iraq Accountability Act?

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posted by JReid @ 10:21 AM  
Dennis Kucinich's impossible dream, or an idea whose time has come?
Kucinich launches his Impeach Cheney First drive, introducing legislation that would launch the first serious probe into the actions of the vice president. In an interview with the Washington Post, Kucinich states the urgency of his action as follows:
In fact, these articles of impeachment are deeply researched, will stand up in a discussion in the House and in the Senate. And I believe that they are -- that they're imperative to bring forth right now because the threat of war against Iran is very real.

Before you dismiss it as folly, read Kucinich's resolution and supporting documents here.

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posted by JReid @ 9:24 AM  
Huh?
At some point, the media is going to have to start evaluating the incoherent, ephemoral nature of Rudy Giuliani's foreign policy ideas. Witness these quotes from an interview he gave about a subject he should be very well versed in, considering he wants to become the next president:


"I don't know the answer to that," the former New York City mayor told reporters after speaking with a group of business leaders in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

Giuliani did, however, have an opinion on what he said is necessary for victory in Iraq -- an emphasis on helping Iraqis rebuild their country.

"By build I mean, re-establish the infrastructure, both physical and political, and the emphasis on that is going to be key to whether it does work or not," he said in response to a question about whether Bush's troop boost that was aimed at pacifying violence-plagued Baghdad was achieving results.

"We have had success in stabilizing certain parts of Iraq," Giuliani allowed. "The real question is whether we can hold it and use it as an opportunity to build."

He also said couldn't assess whether the Bush administration was focusing on the rebuilding aspect enough or at all. "That part of it is the part that I would emphasize dramatically, and I can't tell you how that's going," Giuliani said.

Huh???

The ex-mayor made his remarks a week after insurgents penetrated Baghdad with four bomb attacks that killed 183 people in the bloodiest day since the U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown began Feb. 14 with additional troops. On Monday, northeast of Baghdad, a suicide truck bombing killed nine U.S. paratroopers and wounded 20 in the worst attack on U.S. ground forces in Iraq in more than a year.

Giuliani also sidestepped a question about the circumstances in which he would withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq.

"The minute you start listing the circumstances under which you're going to pull out you start talking about defeat," Giuliani said. "What we have to achieve in Iraq is a government and a situation that acts as a bulwark against terrorism rather than as an encouragement for them -- and then you've got to figure out the strategies to get you there and make them work."
Again ... HUH????? This guy hasn't got the qualifications to be New York City mayor again, let alone the president of the United States. ... Damn, I'm glad I'm not a Republican voter.


Meanwhile, Republicans in New Hampshire confront a testy Rudy...


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posted by JReid @ 8:34 AM  
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Rudy plays the fear card, Wolfie plays the Bennett card
Rudy Giuliani played the uniter about as long as he can stand it. Now, he's showing himself for what he is, (as one Politico commenter put it) a "bald George W. Bush". Giuliani told an appreciative GOPer crowd that ... surprise! If Democrats win the White House in 2008, there will be another 9/11 ... I wonder if Rudy remembers who was mayor of New York City the first and the second time the World Trade Center was attacked -- and whose stupid idea it was to move the nerve center for emergency response into the WTC after the 1993 attack...

Meanwhile, Paul Wolfowitz, facing increasing calls for his ouster from the World Bank, hires impeachment-tested counsel...

Hey Rudy! Maybe if things get really bad -- or if you get elected president -- we could escape to this brand new planet, and leave you hear to do justice upon the terr'rists!

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posted by JReid @ 9:31 PM  
The steel trap
The Bush administration is digging in. With the president's approval ratings and credibility in the toilet, and his legacy hanging by a thread because of the incompetence of Iraq, compounded by the incompetence of Katrina, the incompetence of running the economy, immigration policy, etc., etc., etc., the administration has chosen to barricade itself in, and swing wildly at all comers like a bear with one leg caught in a steel trap, whether it's on Alberto Gonzales, on Iraq war funding, on timetables, or on Congressional oversight in any form (they don't want it, duh...)

So which fights can the White House win, if the Democrats dig in, too, and as the mechanisms of oversight inevitably kick in? I see the walls slowly closing in on this administration, but I am becoming increasingly convinced that they plan to hunker down, Nixon style, and cling to one another as the ship goes down. First, the walls falling. Let me count the ways:

1. Iraq propaganda. The lies of Iraq are now glaringly obvious, and perhaps the most egregious is the lies about heroism, by Jessica Lynch, by Pat Tillman -- both legitimate heroes due to their service, but each of whom were used cynically by a Pentagon desperate to sell the war to an increasingly skeptical public. Tillman's brother testified before Congress today, along with the a fellow Ranger who was with the former NFL star when he was cut down by friendly fire, and who was ordered not to tell Tillman's brother, Kevin (who was in a nearby convoy in the same Army convoy) what he knew, and of course, Ms. Lynch, who to her credit, refused to play along with the administration's glorification of her back in the early days of the war, in 2003. Their words about the administration were damning.

2. Investigation of Karl Rove. Finally, Rove becomes the direct target of an investigation, this time by the Office of Special Counsel, which, incidentally, has the power to subpoena White House officials, with the exception of the President and Vice President, according to former New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, who filed the complaint which got the ball rolling. Rove is being probed for possibly violating the Hatch Act, by firing Iglesias while the latter was performing his service in the Reserves. Rove is also being looked at for the alleged distribution of RNC email accounts to White House staffers to do political work they shouldn't have been doing on taxpayer time.

3. Albertogate. The Bushies are circling the wagons around the attorney general, but increasingly, the wagons are few and far between. Sources inside and outside the White House -- Republican sources -- are apparently privately pushing for him to go. One reason Bush may be hanging on tight: if Alberto resigns, the White House may fear that the Dems will next set their sights on Mr. "Don't Touch Me, Sheryl Crow!"

4. War funding. President Bush threw down the gauntlet on war funding and timetables today, in his own, Bushly sombar way, announcing unsurprisingly that he will veto the bill passed by the Congress to fund the war. The Bushies have clearly made the decision to try and throw Iraq over to the Dems, by making them the scapegoats for cutting off the funds. It seems to me that the Democrats have no choice but to come back fighting, too. If they fold, they give the Bushies ammunition to keep being recalcitrant, and to continue defying the will of the American people. Seemingly odd strategic choice: deployiing Five Deferrments Dick to take shots at Congress over matters of war. But for the White House to put forward the supremely unpopular veep, clearly indicates that they are no longer playing for the support of the American people (they probably understand that such support is lost to the ages) -- they are desperately kow-towing to the most extreme elements of their base, who love Cheney, and who want to see George W. Bush fight like a man.

By the way, here's what the president is vetoing, and Democrats should never let him forget it, not for a single day:
The bill approved $123.2 billion, with the vast majority — $96 billion — going to the Defense Department, mostly to continue military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also included a $1 billion increase for the National Guard and Reserve and $1.1 billion for improvements to military housing. The bill also has $5.75 billion for programs overseen by the State Department, with $3.2 billion of that for Iraq.
More on the bill here.

Update: Further proof that the White House has abandoned the vast majority of the American public, and is now playing strictly to the crazies: the rhetoric of the forward men for the Iraq project is getting more and more desperate. Beyond the despicable and cowardly Cheney, there's also the criminal Tom Delay, who went straight for the "treason" card, and the idiotic Bush sycophant Glenn Beck, who bet the farm this week, saying per the ThinkP headline: "Iraq Withdrawal Would Be ‘America’s Most Shameful Act Of Immorality Since Slavery’... right...

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posted by JReid @ 7:49 PM  
The Imus effect: the stupefying magic of appearing to do something Big
CBS Radio will soon have no talent on its network that have any edge to them at all. The network is all radio hosts who insist on doing racial jokes. Good thing Jackie Mason isn't still around. Clearly, we've entered a new era, which is probably a good thing, although you've got to know that blue language isn't going away, it will just go to satellite radio, underground radio, and the comedy clubs.

Meanwhile, Russell Simmons calls a meeting with record execs, to propose that they do ... what radio already ... does... ban three little words from the clean versions of hip-hop songs.

Wow. Now that's exactly on the scale of the jihad to get Don Imus canned...

By the way, a word to the wise: don't ever call anybody a ho, ever ... again... if you want to remain employed.

Meanwhile, will someone please fire Rosie O'Donnell ... from public life?

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posted by JReid @ 9:44 AM  
Remembering 'Cracker' Johnson
My friend and mentor James T hipped me to this article from this Saturday's Palm Beach Post. A great read, about a different time for African-Americans...

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posted by JReid @ 7:51 AM  
Wolfowitz asked to resign
From UPI:

WASHINGTON April 23 (UPI) -- An agency that oversees the World Bank is asking for the resignation of the bank's president, former deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.
In a document obtained by the Financial Times, the Independent Evaluation Group asked for Wolfowitz's immediate resignation, saying a continuation of his leadership will lead to "irreparable harm to worldwide efforts in poverty reduction and sustainable development."

The pressure for Wolfowitz to resign mounted last week, when 42 of the bank's senior former executives published an open letter urging his removal.

"There is only one way for Mr. Wolfowitz to further the mission of the bank: he must resign," the letter said.
Tick, tock...

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posted by JReid @ 7:06 AM  
Monday, April 23, 2007
9 U.S. troops killed in Iraq
The surge continues to claim lives.

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posted by JReid @ 9:22 PM  
Miss Piggy takes on the Warming Sisters. Oh, and Rich Little? Not funny...
The White House correspondents dinner is history, and the big news? Not the comedian. Not this year. Rich Little just didn't bring the funny. In fact, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall Mr. Little ever being funny ... no?


But I'll tell you who did: Laurie David and Sheryl Crow, hereafter to be known as the global warming Thelma and Louise... The two women attempted to accost Karl Rove to take his temperature on global warming, and instead were shooed away by Her Majesty with a haughty "don't touch me!" (What? No "bitches"???) All questions about why any man wouldn't want to be touched by Sheryl Crow might want to consult the nearest cast of La Cage a Folles... bitches...


The spat has become quite the talk on the blogosphere. Limbaugh is havingquite a field day with it, along with Ms. Crow's apparent "one sheet of toilet paper" rule. And no, Rosie, absolutely no one wants to picture your ass. (shudder!) Of course, what Crowe advocates: "only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where two to three could be required"... makes perfect sense ... if you're a chihuahua... otherwise, you're going to need at least two to five...


But back to Karl Rove. Miss Piggy apparently felt slighted by the intrusion on Her Majesty's dinner, to which the successor to Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, perhaps best known as Seniorita Douchebag, declares: respect the president ... ! ... er... his pudgy friend.


And for God sakes, let Sanjaya eat!!!

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posted by JReid @ 8:37 PM  
Dubya (hearts) Gonzo
President Bush gives Alberto Gonzales a hearty vote of confidence ... without ... having ... actually ... watched ... his ... testimony... And you thought Dubya was a moron...!

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posted by JReid @ 2:38 PM  
Boris Yeltsin dies
The image of Boris Yeltsin that will forever be burned in my mind is of him standing beside President Bill Clinton at a press conference, both laughing hysterically, to the point that each was as red as a beet. I don't even remember what they were laughing about, but it was striking to see an American and a Russian president, not only side by side, but behaving like old friends, sharing a belly laugh. Both men were given to their excesses -- Bill with women, Boris with the bottle. Both endured troubled times in their presidencies, and controversies. And Yeltsin, like Clinton, had a mixed legacy (in his case, mainly regarding the failure to stem the corruption that flooded in amid the wake of the Soviet fall.) But the idea of the two men becoming fast friends was emblematic of a sea change in U.S. -Russian relationships after the fall of the Soviet Union. Here was the new era, not of detente, but of friendship.

Those days seem long gone now that Russia has moved onto its second elected president, Yeltsin's hand picked successor Vladimir Putin, who is as retrograde and humorless as Yeltsin was jocular and approachable. The Russian leaders that I can remember -- Brezhnev and Gorbachev (Yeltsin's predecessor, who battled Ronald Reagan, and the last Russian president), Yeltsin and Putin, cut such different characters, and represented such massively different moments in our history with the Russo-Soviet post empire. What a shame that the current American president so misread the current Russian president, and that the Russian president has chosen to take his country so far backward.

Boris Yeltsin, the man who ushered in Russia's democratic president, and became its first democratically elected president, has died at age 76. Rest in peace, Mr. Yeltsin.

Related: The fall of the U.S.S.R.

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posted by JReid @ 1:04 PM  
CBS in the altogether
They were essentially bludgeoned into firing Imus, now CBS may be looking to shed another albatross: Katie "No Ratings" Couric, whose hiring was such a clear travesty for the CBS Evening News...

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posted by JReid @ 9:46 AM  
McGuirk fired, too
CBS fires Don Imus' perennially offensive longtime producer and sidekick, Bernard McGuirk, more than a week after Imus got the boot. McGuirk, who started the whole "ho" diatribe, will have to do his Ray Nagin and Cardinal O'Connor impressions elsewhere. Meanwhile, Jason Whitlock is publicly cool to the idea of replacing Imus at the FAN. ... the operative word being publicly. I know how hard it is to get a radio job, let alone a nationally syndicated show. If Whitlock has half a brain, he's seriously considering. ...

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posted by JReid @ 8:12 AM  
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Wolfie and Gonzo: a tale of two baddies
Apparently, being Paul Wolfowitz means hooking up your girlfriend with a plum job. Now, Germany becomes the first to say, he's got to leave the World Bank. There will be others.

Meanwhile, Frank Rich lights up the Bush administration for the twin scandals of Wolfie and Gonzo. From Wolfowitz to Gonzales, Rich weaves a tale of rank incompetence and probable malfeasance in an administration known almost exclusively for both ... Here's the opener:
President Bush has skipped the funerals of the troops he sent to Iraq. He took his sweet time to get to Katrina-devastated New Orleans. But last week he raced to Virginia Tech with an alacrity not seen since he hustled from Crawford to Washington to sign a bill interfering in Terri Schiavo's end-of-life medical care. Mr. Bush assumes the role of mourner in chief on a selective basis, and, as usual with the decider, the decisive factor is politics. Let Walter Reed erupt in scandal, and he'll take six weeks to show his face - and on a Friday at that, to hide the story in the Saturday papers. The heinous slaughter in Blacksburg, Va., by contrast, was a rare opportunity for him to ostentatiously feel the pain of families whose suffering cannot be blamed on the administration.
Brilliant start. A bit more:
At home, the president is also hobbled by the Iraq cancer's metastasis - the twin implosions of Alberto Gonzales and Paul Wolfowitz. Technically, both men have been pilloried for sins unrelated to the war. The attorney general has repeatedly been caught changing his story about the extent of his involvement in purging eight federal prosecutors. The Financial Times caught the former deputy secretary of defense turned World Bank president privately dictating the extravagant terms of a State Department sinecure for a crony (a k a romantic partner) that showers her with more take-home pay than Condoleezza Rice.

Yet each man's latest infractions, however serious, are mere misdemeanors next to their roles in the Iraq war. What's being lost in the Beltway uproar is the extent to which the lying, cronyism and arrogance showcased by the current scandals are of a piece with the lying, cronyism and arrogance that led to all the military funerals that Mr. Bush dares not attend. Having slept through the fraudulent selling of the war, Washington is still having trouble confronting the big picture of the Bush White House. Its dense web of deceit is the deliberate product of its amoral culture, not a haphazard potpourri of individual blunders.

Check out the whole column, courtesy of Truthout. Like many of Rich's, it's a must read.

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posted by JReid @ 6:36 PM  
Mr. Maliki tears down the wall
Iraqi P.M. Nouri al-Maliki bows to the pressure to suspend the building of a wall to separate Sunni from Shia in Baghdad, which was to have been built by the U.S. military. Sunnis had complained the wall would turn them into "caged animals" and an international outcry had drawn comparisons to the Berlin Wall, not to mention the wall being built by the Israelis to close off the West Bank, often using confiscated Palestinian land. The idea was a really, really stupid one. Luckily, Maliki has more fear than the Bush administration has brains.

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posted by JReid @ 6:18 PM  
A solitary, twisted life

The New York Times attempts to unpack the mind and the short, unhappy life of Virginia Tech killer Cho Seung Hui. The report, by N.R. Kleinfeld, also reveals more details about the time lag between the first and second shootings, and how police -- and the campus -- missed the forrest for the trees. The account -- that police initially believed the first female victim had been shot by her boyfriend, who was known to own guns -- makes sense, and in my mind at least, mitigates against the school's actions, at least a bit. That said, in the post-Columbine age, I doubt any campus is going to escape liability for something like this...



And for the conspiracy theorists out there, the link between Cho's older sister and the Iraq war has got to be damned irresistible...


And Congress, always timid on the subject of gun controll, may now consider a law that would keep the mentally ill from purchasing firearms.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech students want the media to leave campus, yesterday.



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posted by JReid @ 5:47 PM  
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Now wouldn't THAT be ironic...
CBS Radio is reportedly interviewing Jason Whitlock, an African-American sports columnist for AOL Sports and the Kansas City Star, to take Don Imus' old spot on WFAN as a syndicated national radio host. Conventional African-American Wisdom: That's great!

Um. .... you DO know I mean this Jason Whitlock:
Jason Whitlock, the columnist for the Kansas City Star and AOL Sports, has been one of the most vocal opponents of the effort to get Don Imus taken off the air for calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos." Whitlock isn't defending what Imus said, but he is saying that in many respects, Imus's critics are worse than Imus.

And in an appearance on Tucker Carlson's show on MSNBC, Whitlock lashed out at Imus's two harshest critics, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Whitlock said, "I would say to CBS, don't negotiate with terrorists...
Conventional African-American Wisdom: damn ...

Meanwhile, the KC Star has Whitlock playing it coy. And CBS Radio sues an L.A. radio station for its defiant airing of Imus reruns.

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posted by JReid @ 9:20 PM  
Friday, April 20, 2007
Baghdad bantustans?
The U.S. military builds a wall to separate the Sunni and Shia in Baghdad.
Several residents interviewed likened the project to the massive barriers built by Israel around some Palestinian zones.

"Are we in the West Bank?" asked Abu Qusay, 48, a pharmacist who said that he wouldn't be able to get to his favorite kebab restaurant in Adhamiya.

Residents complained that Baghdad already has been dissected by hundreds of barriers that cause daily traffic snarls.
Yep. There's a good idea. Make Baghdad more like the West Bank. That ought to win hearts and minds...

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posted by JReid @ 9:34 AM  
'Like clubbing a baby seal'
... That's how a Republican Senator described Alberto Gonzales' embarassing performance yesterday in defense of his conduct in the U.S. attorney firings.

Gonzales managed to unite 18 of the 19 members of the Senate Judiciary committee, with only Orrin "Please make me the next attorney general" Hatch coming to his defense. One Republican lawmaker, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, even called for him to face the same penalty that the eight U.S. attorneys faced: firing. White House insiders are talking, telling CNN and other news outlets that Gonzels didn't do himself any favors, even as the official WH line is that they "fully support" Gonzo. Right.

Two words: he's toast. From CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- White House insiders tell CNN that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales hurt himself during testimony before a Senate committee Thursday on the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

The sources, involved in administration discussions about Gonzales, told White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux that two senior level White House aides who heard the testimony described Gonzales as "going down in flames," "not doing himself any favors," and "predictable."

"Everyone's putting their best public face on," one source said, "but everyone is discouraged. Everyone is disappointed."
Still, there's no word on whether some elder statesman can go to the president and convince him to push Alberto out the door. If his own moral compass doesn't kick in, and I seriously doubt that the has much of a moral compass (torture, spying on Americans, other forms of enabling and hackery...) the Congress may have to remove him through impeachment.

Meanwhile, some RedStaters say stop throwing the GOPers under the bus.

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posted by JReid @ 8:56 AM  
Quick take headlines: Impeach me, my sweet impeachable you
RawStory says it has an anonymous source on Capitol Hill who says ultra-long shot presidential candidate, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, will introduce articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney next Wednesday. The source reportedly tells Raw that Kucinich delayed the introduction of the articles out of respect to the Virginia Tech families. Would such articles go anywhere, when Mother has said she ain't havin' no stinkin' impeachment talk? We shall see...

A pioneer in not only Miami, but also the entire southeastern United States, died this week. Mr. White, as everyone called him, desegregated the Miami Police Department three years before Jackie Robinson desegregated baseball. His funeral is today at noon.

Voted off or not, Sanjaya clearly has a big -- even if time limited -- career ahead of him in the immediate future. His sister likely does too. Next stop, Nickelodeon, with a quick detour at the White House. Seriously.

Harry Reid states the obvious on Iraq, and catches hell from the right...

The U.S. can't abide terrorists, except in Miami...

The good news: Rapper Cam'Ron has a code of ethics. The bad news: it includes not "snitching" on the serial killer next door...

The religious wing nuts who brought you protests at the funerals of our Iraq war dead now plans to bring its particular brand of lunacy to the Virginia Tech students' final ceremonies.

The owner of the online gun shop that sold Cho Seung Hui one of his two guns "feels terrible" about the killings... Here's thought: STOP SELLING GUNS OVER THE INTERNET TO INDIVIDUALS WTHOUT A GUN DEALER'S LICENSE! That way, you won't have to feel terrible ever again...

Irony alert! Former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey, who jilted his wife for sordid sexual liasons with men, never bothering to tell her -- or his previous wife -- that he, in fact, isn't into women ... is now teaching ethics, law and leadership at Kean University. I'm thinking if I'm a Kean parent, I want my tuition money back.

And now, a word from President Bush:
"There are jobs Americans aren't doing. ... If you've got a chicken factory, a chicken-plucking factory, or whatever you call them, you know what I'm talking about."

Makes you proud, doesn't he?

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posted by JReid @ 7:01 AM  
Thursday, April 19, 2007
MSNB-hypocritical?
I tend to fall on the side of freedom of information, and I loathe the idea of censorship. Americans receive such sanitized news, particularly when it comes to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Consequently, we have no idea what war looks like, and what the wars we're paying for are doing to the peoples of those countries, let alone our own troops. But I also sympathise with the families of the victims in Virginia, who are angry at NBC News for airing footage of the VTech killer. (As I stated in a previous post, I opted not to post a big pic of him on this blog...)

NBC News had this story all to itself, having been the only one who received the video. What to do with that video is the ultimate Hobson's choice. If they run the footage, people will be outraged. If they don't, they could be accused of suppressing information. And then there is the hypocrisy of rival networks, who have been running exerpts and pictures of Cho, just like NBC News, and who would have put that video out in a New York minute if they were the ones with the scoop. If I were the news director at NBC, I would probably have voted to air at least part of the footage (though perhaps I would have held off more than the day or so that NBC did...)

Airing the footage had as many drawbacks as could be: it hurt the families, could inspire copycats, and gave the killer what he wanted most: the world's attention. But it also gave us a window into the mind of a deranged soul whom human nature desperately wants to at least comprehend, if possible. And let's face it, it also satisfied the prurient curiosity of people, including myself, who wanted an answer to the question: what kind of person could have done this? It's the same drive that has so many of us scouring the Internet for the derivation of "Ismail Ax." This story can't be sanitized. It shouldn't be. And yet, the families' reaction breaks my heart. I'm SO glad I'm not in TV news anymore...

But here's my beef with the Peacock Network, who I must disclose used to pay me a salary, via the web company it co-owns (I worked for a local affiliate here in South Florida): I don't get how the same network that was too prissy to keep Don Imus on the air because he called some college girls "nappy headed hos," and the same management team, including NBC News chief Steve Capus, that crumbled under the outraged sensibilities of Black employees weren't too delicate to air the final words of a serial killer whose "multimedia manifesto" served as a dagger in the hearts of 32 families who have lost loved ones. Weren't their sensibilities likely to be just a little bit more raw than Al Roker's? And yet, outrage from the employees forces a show with 400,000 daily viewers off the air, but the outrage of these families, and the community at Virginia Tech, just can't trump that fantastic ratings opportunity?

That's about as hypocritical as it gets.

Update: Just heard a clip of Rosie lecturing NBC News on their decision to air the footage (on Scarborough Country.) Talk about pot calling kettle. Rosie is the last person who should be smugly declaring what is and isn't permissable on the air.

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posted by JReid @ 9:10 PM  
Mind games
I suspect that trying to understand the mind of a serial killer is rather like trying to figure out the ingredients in a hot dog. You might be able to figure it out, but you probably don't want to know.

The media, and the psychiatric community is now pouring over the "multimedia manifesto" left behind by Cho Seung Hui, the VTech killer. Online, the hunt is still on for the derivation of the phrase "Ismail Ax," which was scrawled in red ink on one of his arms when he was found dead by suicide after the shooting.


One clue might be the package that was sent to NBC News, probably by Cho, between the first and second shootings. As BlogHero points out, it had an interesting return address:


So could we be reading the phrase backward? He appears to have made this second reference, not to "Ismail Ax" but to "A. Ishmael." I'm sure that will be the next highly googled phrase. Cho made references to "dying like Christ" in his video message.

More on the "manifesto" from NBC News:

It was mailed from Blacksburg at 9:01 a.m. the day of the shooting, minutes before he went on his second shooting rampage at Virginia Tech.

What the nondescript package did contain was a printout of.pdf file titled “axishmiel”, a Cho’s 1,800-word manifesto broken up by the now famous photographs -- 43 total: 29 of them showing Cho with his weapons: the Glock 9mm automatic and the .22 caliber handgun as well as a hunting knife. But two images seemed incongruous: smiling portraits. The more appealing of the two was the first image shown in the manifesto. It was almost as if he wanted to show himself as non-threatening, as a good guy. Of the remaining 14, all but one were of the weapons, the other a photo of a blue sky.
NBC also delves into the timestamps, which say much about just how long this slaughter was planned:
But what was as revealing about the manifesto was the time and date the .pdf file was last modified: 7:24 a.m., April 16, minutes after he had shot and killed his first two victims, and nearly two hours before he went on his second rampage.

Beyond the .pdf file were two other files with time stamps hinting at just how long he had been thinking about the attacks: two Microsoft Word files, and a six-minute .avi file. The Word files were drafts of the two sections of the manifesto, which he had written earlier, one being last modified on April 13 at 3:45 p.m. and on April 15 at 8:22 a.m. The sole .avi file of him reading the manifesto, titled “letter1” was recorded even earlier, at 9:40 a.m. on April 10, a full six days before the massacre. ...
Back to "Ax Ismail," or "Ishmael," I did separate Google searches for Ax and Ishmael, and found one interesting thing. Cho was an english major, having switched from business. Wikipedia has the following on a book entitled "Ishmael," by Daniel Quinn:

The story begins with a newspaper ad: "Teacher seeks pupil, must have an earnest desire to save the world". A nameless character (who is identified in a later book as Alan Lomax) responds to the ad out of nostalgia. He seeks the teacher and finds himself in a room with a gorilla.

To the man's surprise he finds that the gorilla can communicate telepathically. At first baffled by this the man quickly learns the story of how the gorilla came to be this way and he accepts the gorilla, Ishmael, as his teacher. The novel continues from this point as a socratic dialogue between the man and Ishmael as they hash out what Ishmael refers to as "how things came to be this way" for mankind and the environment.

Ishmael begins by telling the man that his life, which began in the wild, was spent mostly in a zoo and a menagerie, and since had been spent in the gazebo of the man that extricated him from physical captivity. He tells his student that it was at the menagerie that he learned about human language and culture and began to think about things that he never would have pondered in the wild. Subsequently, Ishmael tells the man that his subject for this learning experience will be captivity, primarily the captivity of man under a civilizational system that forces him to exploit and destroy the world in order to live.

The narrator has a vague notion that he is living in some sort of captivity and being lied to in some way but he can not explain his feelings.

Ishmael uses the example of Nazi Germany as he attempts to show his student that the people of his culture are in much of the same situation. Either held captive with the mythology of being superior, or " an animal swept up in the stampede" of the captivity of those around them.

Before proceeding Ishmael lays some ground definitions for his student so they can be on the same page as they continue to discuss. He defines:

"Takers" as people often referred to as "civilized." Particularly, the culture born in an Agricultural Revolution that began about 10,000 years ago in the Near East; the culture of Ishmael's pupil "Leavers" as people of all other cultures; sometimes referred to as "primitive."

A "story" as an interrelation between the gods, man, and the Earth, with a beginning, middle, and end. To "enact" is to strive to make a story come true. A "culture" as a people who are enacting a story Ishmael proceeds to tease from his pupil the premises of the story being enacted by the Takers: that they are the pinnacle of evolution (or creation), that the world was made for man, and that man is here to conquer and rule the world. This rule is meant to bring about a paradise, as man increases his mastery of the world, however, he's always screwed it up because he is flawed. Man doesn't know how to live and never will because that knowledge is unobtainable. So, however hard he labors to save the world, he is just going to go on screwing it up.

Ishmael points out to his student that when the Takers decided there is something fundamentally wrong with humans, they took as evidence only their own culture's history- "They were looking at a half of one-percent of the evidence taken from a single culture-- Not a reasonable sample on which to base such a sweeping conclusion."

One more line:
Ishmael makes the point that this story of the Fall of Man, which the Takers have adopted as their own, was in fact developed by Leavers to explain the origin of the Takers. If it were of Taker origin, the story would be of liberating ascent, and instead of being forbidden to Adam, the fruit of the Tree would have been thrust upon him.
BTW, one expert is speculating that Cho was schizophrenic. Could he have internalized some fictional world, and manifest it in rage against the student body at Virginia Tech?

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posted by JReid @ 9:20 AM  
Quick take headlines: Maudlin Thursday
Baghdad faces its deadliest day since the start of the U.S. "surge." Somebody had better tell John McCain before he takes another stroll or says something stupid... The targets of the carnage were Shiits, this days after Moqtada al-Sadr pulled his people out of the Maliki government, after its failure to agree to a timetable on Iraq withdrawal.

Meanwhile, on this side of the world, Alberto Gonzales: It's your day! Gonzo's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee jumps off this afternoon. He's got a lot to answer for ...

Surprise! An anonymous group of Justice Department employees has blown the whistle on the Gonzo shop's political litmus tests for hiring. Unfortunately, this is hardly news coming out of this administration.
A former advisor to Ronald Reagan shreds the Bush administration on spending, adding that, he's not even sure Dubya and his father are blood relatives.

MSNBC takes full advantage of its Cho scoop, even as the chattering classes ask tough questions about whether to broadcast a clearly demented killer's manifesto, giving him the fame he sought.


TV Newser defends the network, and urges other members of the media to do the same. Some VTech family members are upset with the Peacock network. NBC faces the multimedia age.

Meanwhile, could a movie have influenced the VTech killer? Only because he was already sick...

Maybe it's part of the reaction to the massacre, but Florida has finally done something smart on gun control.

Art Teele, who famously killed himself in the lobby of the Miami Herald building, has been posthumously exonerated on at least one charge -- that he threatened a plain clothes police officer whom he thought was threatening his life. This was another case that caused the media to do a good bit of self-examination, not that it changed much that goes on in this 24 hour media environment.

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posted by JReid @ 7:49 AM  
Thank you, America

America sends Sanjaya packing. Sorry Olbermann. You lose the office pool.

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posted by JReid @ 6:04 AM  
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The two hour window
Between the time he killed two fellow Virginia Tech students at around 7:15 a.m. on Monday, and his 9:30 massacre of 30 other students, mass murderer Cho Seung Hui mailed a package to NBC.
NBC News President Steve Capus said the package arrived in New York late Tuesday night and was delivered to NBC headquarters about 11 a.m. Wednesday. The letter carrier noticed that it bore a return address from Blacksburg and alerted NBC security officers.

Cho’s name was not on the package; instead, the return address said it came from “A Ishmael.” Investigators said Cho’s body was found Monday with the words “Ismael Ax” scrawled on his arm.

There was no indication why Cho chose NBC News to receive the package, which was immediately turned over to FBI agents in New York. Capus said NBC News was cooperating with Virginia State Police and the FBI, which is assisting the state police.

The package included an 1,800-word manifesto-like statement in which Cho expresses rage, resentment and a desire to get even. The material is “hard to follow ... disturbing, very disturbing,” Capus said in an interview late Wednesday afternoon.

The material does not include any images of the shootings Monday, but it does contain vague references. And it mentions “martyrs like Eric and Dylan” — apparently a reference to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the teenagers who killed 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., eight years ago this coming Friday.

The material is deeply angry, crying out against unspecified wrongs done to Cho in a diatribe laced with profanity.
I'm not going to post the pictures because I think it just glorifies this sicko, and could inspire other wack jobs. There have already been several scares on at least 10 college campuses, including another scare today at VA Tech and one at the University of Minnesota over the last 48 hours, with the threat of copycats always out there. NBC News has had to make its own tough choices on the pics and video. I mean what do you do? Other nets will be quick to throw stones, but what would they do if they had the scoop? I'll leave that to their consciences.

It's now emerging that Hui was deeply mentally ill, had stalked at least two women on campus, including in one instance, using his MySpace identity "Question Mark," and had been hospitalized on suicide watch in 2005. Poet and professor Nikki Giovanni had put him out of her class at VA Tech due to his behavior. A judge at one point even declared him a danger to himself or others, but he was sentenced only to outpatient treatment. An acquaintance, according to one report, even reported to authorities at the school that he might be suicidal. He told his roommates he had an imaginary girlfriend, and he apparently became obsessed with his first victim, Emily Hilscher, described online as a "cool girl", and may have killed her out of jealousy, rejection or envy.

And yet, he was legally qualified to purchase two handguns, including a semi-automatic Glock, in Virginia.

Wow.

The people of South Korea are reacting to the VTech shootings by a former Korean national with "shock and shame." No worries, SK. This kid lived in Virginia since he was 8. This one's all ours. ...

Related: Arrests at two univeristies today over threatening messages to other students. One at Boston University and another in Colorado.

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posted by JReid @ 11:07 PM  
Ismail Ax
The blogosphere is buzzing with frenzied attempts to ferret out information about Cho Seung Hui, America's latest infamous mass murderer. Much of the focus currently is on the phrase "Ismail Ax," which Hui scrawled in red ink on his forearm sometime before he committed suicide by slaughter at Virginia Tech. That phrase is now a hit on Technorati, and I'm sure on Yahoo! and Google, too. News organizations are scrambling, too, even posting Facebook and MySpace pages trolling for information from anyone who might have known Hui. (The Chicago Tribune appears to have the hot hand at the moment...)

Surprise, surprise, the extremists on the right are taking this case to another (lower) level:
Right-wing reaction to the shootings: The National Review’s John Derbyshire asks, “[W]hy didn’t anyone rush the guy? It’s not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness’ sake–one of them reportedly a .22.” Right-wing pundit Debbie Schlussel speculated that Cho
Seung-Hui, “who had been identified at that point only as a man of Asian descent, might be a ‘Paki’ Muslim and part of ‘a coordinated terrorist attack.’”

Look, Debbie, I made an internal pledge never to mention you again on this blog, because, frankly, I think you're a blithering idiot, and I like to comfort myself with the notion that no one with any sense actually listens to you, but that comment just begs for a response. First of all, dear, Hui was a naturalized American citizen permanent resident who had been in this country for 15 years. He went to high school in the red state of Virginia (Centreville). If he learned how to be an Islamofascist terrorist, he learned it there, not in "Paki"stan. And by the way, that little slur is beneath even you. ... Or then again, maybe it's just your speed.

And as for the Derbyshires and Nathaniel Blakes of the right ring world, I picture you sitting there in your bow ties and specs, probably about 120 pounds soaking wet and with the only fight experience in your life being the several times a week you were beaten up in elementary school for your lunch money, and can't help but snicker at the idea that you are calling out the men of Virginia Tech.

Meanwhile, Europe takes a piece out of America's hide (sorry, Charlton Heston. They don't like you. They really don't like you.)

Also:

Eight years after Columbine, a familiar profile of a killer: angry, alone, depressed. Even his roommates didn't know him.

And Hui's parents are hospitalized, suffering from shock. But reports that they had attempted suicide are apparently untrue.

The gun shop owner feels badly. Well, I'm thinking that a clearly troubled 23-year-old. who would have had difficulty renting a car, should have gotten something more than an instant background check.

Barack Obama goes way, way, way out on a limb ... (Don Imus must be saying "damn! I thought this was going to be my week off!"

An Asian student at VTech goes online to clear his name.

And none other than The Smoking Gun, has Hui's writings.

Related: Ten states see campus threats. All of the schools involve respond with a novel idea: lockdowns.

And Tom Tancredo disputes the "worst school massacre" meme. We had a couple of callers to the morning show yesterday who angrily contested the "worst massacre in U.S. history" too, saying that massacres of Black residents in Oklahoma and Rosewood, Florida were worse. Question: does that really matter? The VTech massacre was bad, man, can we all agree on that?

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posted by JReid @ 6:48 AM  
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
VA Gunman unmasked
Who is Cho Seung-Hui? A 23-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen, originally from South Korea. A student who lived in the dorms at Virginia Tech. And a cold blooded mass murderer.

Update: conspiracy theories are already starting to proliferate online, including the Second Gunman Theory ... and on our air this morning, the wacked out "this was a CIA black ops" theory. Seriously. Someone called in and said that.

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posted by JReid @ 11:30 AM  
Crazytown
Virginia Tech becomes the scene of carnage as a gunman, who apparently was a student at the university, shoots two people (apparently, his estranged girlfriend and a student advisor) in a dorm, and then goes berserk, two hours later, killing 30 people across campus at Norris Hall, where students were attending class. The gunman then shot himself.

This is a story of immense tragedy, but it also contains elements of true heroism, such as 75-year-old Liviu Librescu, an Israeli immigrant by way of Romania, who shielded students with his own body, giving students time to escape out a window in Norris Hall before he was fatally shot himself.

There are also stories of apparent incompetence. The shootings began sometime around 7:20, when the gunman, who has been identified only as a Chinese immigrant in his early twenties, shot and killed the girlfriend he was apparently quarreling with, along with 22-year-old Ryan Clark, a student and apparent dorm advisor who tried to break up the argument. The gunman waited two hours before making his way across campus to the classrooms at Norris Hall, where he chained the doors shut and systematically murdered 30 people, according to one report, lining some students up against a wall and executing them. Pannicked students scoured the Internet for information after getting emails from the campus administration that a gunman was loose on campus. Some jumped out of windows to escape. Others played dead. The police weren't called until 9:30, two hours after campus police responded to the dorm shootings.
I can't help but wonder where he got the two guns he used. Probably with ease at a local gun store, eh? (Time to turn America's college and high school campuses into gun free zones, wouldn't you say? And increased security and a better warning system would be nice...)

The shooting has put off Alberto Gonzales' turn in the hot seat, and President Bush will attend VTech's convocation today.

And on the campus, students are reacting with fury to the university's lack of action after the initial shootings, including the failure to make a public address system announcement that a gunman was on the loose:

"I think the university has blood on their hands because of their lack of action
after the first incident," said Billy Bason, 18.
That sentiment is all over the Internet this morning ...

Update: ABC News is reporting that the gunman has been identified as "Seung Hui Cho, a permanent resident of the United States, a Korean national and a Virginia Tech student ..."

The student left a "disturbing note" before killing two people in a dorm room, returning to his own room to re-arm and entering a classroom building on the other side of campus to continue his rampage, sources said.

Cho's identitiy has been confirmed with a positive fingerprint match on the guns used in the rampage and with immigration materials. It is believed that he was the shooter in both incidents yesterday. Sources say Cho was carrying a backpack that contained receipts for a March purchase of a Glock 9 mm pistol, sources said. Witnesses had also told authorities that the shooter was carrying a backpack. Sections of chain similar to those used to lock the main doors at Norris Hall, the site of the second shooting that left 31 dead, were found inside a Virginia Tech dormitory, sources confirmed to ABC News.
I wonder when the beef began between Cho and his girlfriend. I wonder if it correllates with when he bought the gun... Also, he's not Chinese, he's Korean...

Update 2: Hours after the massacre at Va Tech, a bomb scare triggers an evacuation at the University of Tennessee.

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posted by JReid @ 7:00 AM  
Monday, April 16, 2007
'Oh, HELL no' would have sufficed...
One of the generals who turned down the War Czar job 'splains himself in the Washington Post.
The day-to-day work of the White House implementation manager overseeing Iraq and Afghanistan would require a great deal of emotional and intellectual energy resolving critical resource issues in a bureaucracy that, to date, has not functioned well. Activities such as the current surge operations should fit into an overall strategic framework. There has to be linkage between short-term operations and strategic objectives that represent long-term U.S. and regional interests, such as assured access to energy resources and support for stable, Western-oriented countries. These interests will require a serious dialogue and partnership with countries that live in an increasingly dangerous neighborhood. We cannot "shorthand" this issue with concepts such as the "democratization of the region" or the constant refrain by a small but powerful group that we are going to "win," even as "victory" is not defined or is frequently redefined.

It would have been a great honor to serve this nation again. But after thoughtful discussions with people both in and outside of this administration, I concluded that the current Washington decision-making process lacks a linkage to a broader view of the region and how the parts fit together strategically. We got it right during the early days of Afghanistan -- and then lost focus. We have never gotten it right in Iraq. For these reasons, I asked not to be considered for this important White House position. These huge shortcomings are not going to be resolved by the assignment of an additional individual to the White House staff. They need to be addressed before an implementation manager is brought on board.
General, you had me at "no, thank you."

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posted by JReid @ 9:54 AM  
Hypocrizzles on the dizzle
Two people who should never, ever, ever, ever say another word about Imusgate: Snoop d-o-double-jizzle and Bob "BET" Jizzle. Read on, if you have a strong stomach...

Fresh from his plea of no contest to gun charges, Snoop Dogg has added his two cents to the Imus debate, stating that the broadcasting legend should indeed have his job yanked for calling the Rutgers University basketball team “nappy headed hoes.”

The rapper has referred to women as “b**ches” and “hoes” in his music since his first album, “Doggystyle,” in 1993. But the Long Beach MC says there’s a difference between the sexist terms used in hip hop and the way Imus said it last Wednesday during his broadcast.

"It's a completely different scenario. (Rappers) are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports,” said Snoop, according to the Web site Female First. "We're talking about hoes that's in the 'hood that ain't doing s**t, that's trying to get a n**ga for his money. These are two separate things.”

"First of all, we ain't no old-ass white men that sit up on MSNBC going hard on black girls,” he continued. "We are rappers that have these songs coming from our minds and our souls that are relevant to what we feel. I will not let them muthaf**kas say we are in the same league as him. Kick him off the air forever."

Ugh ... wait, wait, there's more...

Meanwhile, BET has been accused of perpetuating the use of “ho” by airing rap videos that contain lyrics and images that are brutally misogynistic. The network’s founder, Robert Johnson, was a guest on MSNBC Thursday in the space that had been occupied by “Imus in the Morning” just 24 hours earlier - before the cable channel canceled the radio simulcast late Wednesday.

David Gregory asked Johnson via phone: “You are the founder of Black Entertainment Television, which over the years, has been a platform for hip hop artists and videos – particularly late at night, which are graphic, which feature this kind of language – the word ho, the b-word, the n-word – that sexualize women, black women, white women. You provided that platform. Do you think there’s something different about that in this case?

Johnson responded: “I absolutely do. As I said David, when you look at artistic expression, you look at creative freedom, it’s coming from artists who are expressing their particular content. …And for the record, I think if you call anybody in the record industry, they will tell you that as the founder of BET and the person responsible for putting on music videos, I absolutely encouraged every artist and every record label to tone down the sexuality, tone down the misogynistic lyrics, to provide content that was appealing to everybody. But as I said earlier, in this kind of debate, if it’s going to have any traction in all, we’ve got to recognize artistic freedom. We’ve got to recognize creative expression. …I make a clear distinction between a comedian saying something in a comedy platform, an artist saying something in an artistic platform, versus a political commentator talking to the power elite of this nation and feeling because he engages with the power elite, he can say things against a disadvantaged class with impunity.”

Here's a thought. Why don't the both of you go away, and never speak publicly about this subject again.

Meanwhile, Rev. Jesse Jackson has been high fiving all over the place about having ousted Imus. He and Reverend Al Sharpton have also been fielding death threats. Sharpton was supposed to be here in South Florida over the weekend to lead a march by groundskeepers and janitors at Nova Southeastern University, who have been the victims of what looks like a major league case of union busting. He was a no-show, and we heard that death threats may have played a part (although the official reason for the cancellation was scheduling conflicts.)

Gwen Ifill is taking a bit of the school marm route, appearing on the Sunday chat shows to tisk tisk her fellow reporters for not committing to never, ever speak to Don Imus on the air again. This story is thick with hypocrisy, and the moralizing and high horsedness on the part of some, by no means all, African-American pundits is starting to become grating.

And then there is the potential for Imusgate snowballing into the tit-for-tat silencing of voices that cause discomfort. From Frank Rich's recent NYT column:

What Imus said about the Rutgers team landed differently, not least because his slur was aimed at young women who had no standing in the world of celebrity, and who had done nothing in public except behave as exemplary student athletes. The spectacle of a media star verbally assaulting them, and with a creepy, dismissive laugh, as if the whole thing were merely a disposable joke, was ugly. You couldn’t watch it without feeling that some kind of crime had been committed. That was true even before the world met his victims. So while I still don’t know whether Imus is a bigot, there was an inhuman contempt in the moment that sounded like hate to me. You can see it and hear it in the video clip in a way that isn’t conveyed by his words alone.

Does that mean he should be silenced? The Rutgers team pointedly never asked for that, and I don’t think the punishment fits the crime. First, as a longtime Imus listener rather than someone who tuned in for the first time last week, I heard not only hate in his wisecrack but also honesty in his repeated vows to learn from it. Second, as a free-speech near-absolutist, I don’t believe that even Mel Gibson, to me an unambiguous anti-Semite, should be deprived of his right to say whatever the hell he wants to say. The answer to his free speech is more free speech - mine and yours. Let Bill O’Reilly talk about “wetbacks” or Rush Limbaugh accuse Michael J. Fox of exaggerating his Parkinson’s symptoms, and let the rest of us answer back.

Liberals are kidding themselves if they think the Imus firing won’t have a potentially chilling effect on comics who push the line. Let’s not forget that Bill Maher, an Imus defender last week, was dropped by FedEx, Sears, ABC affiliates and eventually ABC itself after he broke the P.C. code of 9/11. Conservatives are kidding themselves if they think the Imus execution won’t impede Ann Coulter’s nasty invective on the public airwaves. As Al Franken pointed out to Larry King on Wednesday night, CNN harbors Glenn Beck, who has insinuated that the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, is a terrorist (and who has also declared that “faggot” is nothing more than “a naughty name“). Will Time Warner and its advertisers be called to account? Already in the Imus aftermath, the born-again blogger Tom DeLay has called for the firing of Rosie O’Donnell because of her “hateful” views on Chinese-Americans, conservative Christians and President Bush.

If that happens, then Don Imus, who is already rich, near retirement age, and thus set for life, won't be the only loser.

Rich makes another great point about the "free speech" argument, the "let's talk about race" platitudes, and about the perennially identity challenged MSNBC:

corporations, whether television or radio networks or movie studios or commercial sponsors, are free to edit or cancel any content. No one has an inalienable right to be broadcast or published or given a movie or music contract. Whether MSNBC and CBS acted out of genuine principle or economic necessity is a debate already raging. Just as Imus’s show defied easy political definition - he has both kissed up to Dick Cheney as a guest and called him a war criminal - so does the chatter about what happened over the past week. MSNBC, forever unsure of its identity, seems to have found a new calling by turning that debate into a running series, and I say, go for it.

The biggest cliché of the debate so far is the constant reiteration that this will be a moment for a national “conversation” about race and sex and culture. Do people really want to have this conversation, or just talk about having it? If they really want to, it means we have to ask ourselves why this debacle has given permission to talking heads on television to repeat Imus’s offensive words so insistently that cable news could hardly take time out to note the shocking bombing in the Baghdad Green Zone. Some even upped the ante: Donna Brazile managed to drag “jigaboo” into Wolf Blitzer’s sedate “Situation Room” on CNN.

If we really want to have this conversation, it also means we have to have a nonposturing talk about hip-hop lyrics, “Borat,” “South Park” and maybe Larry David, too. As James Poniewozik pointed out in his smart cover article for Time last week, an important question emerged from an Imus on-air soliloquy as he tried to defend himself: “This phrase that I use, it originated in the black community. That didn’t give me a right to use it, but that’s where it originated. Who calls who that and why? We need to know that. I need to know that.”

My 22-year-old son, a humor writer who finds Imus an anachronistic and unfunny throwback to the racial-insult humor of the Frank Sinatra-Sammy Davis Jr. Rat Pack ilk, raises a complementary issue. He argues that when Sacha Baron Cohen makes fun of Jews and gays, he can do so because he’s not doing it as himself but as a fictional character. But try telling that to the Anti-Defamation League, which criticized Mr. Baron Cohen, an observant Jew, for making sport of a real country (Kazakhstan) and worried that the “Borat” audience “may not always be sophisticated enough to get the joke, and that some may even find it reinforcing their bigotry.”

So if we really want to have this national “conversation” about race and culture and all the rest of it that everyone keeps telling us that this incident has prompted, let’s get it on, no holds barred. And the fewer moralizing pundits and politicians, the better. ...

Great points.

At the end of the day, I remain a libertarian when it comes to speech. As Rich said, there's no constitutional right to have a radio show, and Imus suffered the vicissitudes of advertisers and shareholders, even if that meant that his considerable audience didn't have their views taken into account. But if there is a demand for what he does, he'll come back. And if not, some other peddler of vulgarity will take his place. And that's the way it's supposed to work. The last thing we need is some team of reverendly and media schoolmarms becoming the gate keepers of what can and connot be on the air. Because believe me, if the right has its way, it won't just be racially offensive speech that goes down the chute, it will be inconvenient political speech too. As Scott Long at the Juice Blog puts it:

Those that are joyous of [Imus'] downfall should be really careful about thinking that the next few targets will be as quick and easy, as the backlash will get stronger when they go after the next groups on their list.
Like, maybe, the violent, misogynistic strains of hip-hop, perhaps?

Don Imus is a dinosaur, who apprently didn't see the ice age coming. But he has spawned a generation of foul talking smart mouths who are now the core of talk radio. The only difference with Imus is that he became politically important and he sold tons of books for people, sort of like a demonic version of Oprah.

I would love to see the hip-hop community, the comedy community, et. al. clean up their act and lay off the Black jokes. But I want to seem them do it because they get that the world has changed, rather than because they're being forced to do it.

And by the way, questions over whether the Imus death penalty was, in fact, overkill, aren't just being asked by white people:

I know that I personally don't carry the weight of black America on my shoulders, since every racist comment (vs. blacks) is not directed at me - similar to the way white citizens don't carry the burden of history on their shoulders and an insurmountable sense of guilt.

The Imus situation would be very different if he blatantly said "black women are nappy-headed hos who deserve to die" (sounds remotely Chappelle-esque), and in that instance of course Sharpton would be warranted in attacking Imus. The Rutgers incident is solely between the women of the Rutgers basketball team and Imus - he apologized and they accepted. Granted, he only apologized once the media firestorm began, but at least he apologized to whom he insulted.

In order to be successful in life, you have to be comfortable with yourself. I know that people's racist comments have only hurt me when clearly directed at me (far beyond stereotypes and generalizations), and the Imus situation seems like another case of an individual's commentary affecting more than his intended "target" thanks to the media exacerbating commentary that I never would have even heard in the first place.
Well... she does have a point...

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posted by JReid @ 7:32 AM  
Friday, April 13, 2007
My troublesome doubts
The "I'm sick of the Imus story rant" Part One:

The question of whether hip-hop culture, and its characterization of women, is as damaging -- if not more so -- than Don Imus' petty tirade against the Rutgers womens' basketball team, is now center stage. With Imus gone, the white folks whom Blacks would like to see finally "get it" on the subject of why racial insults are so hurtful, are in reality saying "are you freaking KIDDING me??? The guy gets fired for some stupid comment??? Give me a break!" Many are also crying hypocrisy, since the Black community that has declared itself so mortally wounded by a geriatric misanthrope with a microphone and a really poor imitation of "cool", routinely tolerates the debasement of African-American women in music, films, comedy, magazines, and on and on.

I am among a very small minority of Black folk who are not interested in doing a victory dance over Imus' ouster. I'm not exactly crying over his firing, either, mind you. People get fired in talk radio all the time for saying or doing stupid things that get their stations or networks in hot water. Imus must live by the same rules. I also think the National Association of Black Journalists, and its vocal membership, including people like Gwen Ifill and Al Roker, had every right to press their case with NBC and CBS News. If I were still working at NBC, I would have been in those meetings saying exactly the same thing -- namely, that as a journalist, I had no interest in working under the same roof with a non-journalist shock jock who feels free to spew that kind of vitriol against a bunch of college girls. I would have wanted MSNBC to do something, quickly! ... before we turn into Fox News! I in fact, am fully in support of the NBC cable network's cancellation of his simulcast. What was good for Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh, who were canned by, or resigned from, respectively, MSNBC and ESPN after going over the line of taste, is certainly good for Imus. Hell, I'm for pulling the equally race-baiting Glenn Beck off of CNN Headline News, after his slaps at Keith Ellison and others. But the yanking of Imus' show from CBS is, in my opinion, another matter. That was not about punishing him for crossing the line. That was about shutting him up entirely, or proving that "we" could "get him." Somehow, I'm just feeling kind of queasy about that.

I know I'm going to get slammed for saying this, but I think the vehemence of many in my community to "get Imus" lacked a certain, how shall I say, sense of the larger picture. Okay, so Imus is gone. Now what? Do we debate the cultural setting that made him feel comfortable aping what he clearly thought was hip, Black slang as a way of denegrating the looks of a bunch of girl athletes? Do we ask where a geriatric white man gets the term "nappy headed ho," if not from Black slang? Do we ask whether BET is broadcasting far worse denigrations of Black women every freaking day? While we're at it, should we seek the firing of Bob Johnson, for abusing our sensibilities with "butt naked" videos for 20 years? What about the other shock jocks? Do we fire them too? Do Asians get pumped up to fire Rosie O'Donnell for disparaging them on the public airwaves? Will there be anybody left to fire when we're through? Would Imus, thoroughly cowed, have been more useful on the air, forced to confront the issue of race seriously, rather than as a punchline? Like the question about the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop, the world will never know.

And I'm really growing weary of watching television personalities of the Caucasian persuasion doing the obligatory hang-dog look and "Imus' comments were racist and wrong" tagger before launching into whatever it is they really want to say. I just don't buy that most white people really "get" what it is Black folks are so riled up about. Some do, and are equally riled (Keith Olbermann comes to mind...) but most of them are uber-liberal and reacting to a very general sence of outrage over everything that smacks of an 'ism. More generally, I happen to believe that most white people are embarassed and disgusted by the idea of racism and don't want to be associatd with it, and thus, don't want Imus hanging around stinking up the joint. That said, I think that if you promised never to tell the P.C. police on them, most white people also think Imus was the victim of a bunch of high horse Christians who don't happen to quite believe in forgiveness, and the mob that followed them to church...

I think the more sincere white talking heads on the tubie are those like Craig Crawford, David Gregory and Joe Scarborough, who, after doing the obligatory "Imus' comments were racist and wrong" mantra, actually admit to being baffled as to why a chastened Imus could not have been allowed to remain in his job after serving his two week banishment and perhaps giving a healthy donation to a Title IX charity, and why there had to be a jihad against his very employment in this world. Or those like Bill Maher and Pat Buchanan who are calling the Imus flap "ridiculous" and overblown and an attack on free speech. Call me cynical, but I suspect that the Imus flap won't bring about better healing and racial understanding. It will touch off a cross current of wars against liberal talkers, conservative talkers, unacceptable white talkers, unacceptable black talkers, and possibly, a renewed sense of terror over the existence of Youtube. At least until some bubbly starlet strokes out in rehab, adopts a Malawian child or wins American Idol...

The "I'm sick of the Imus story rant" Part Two:

My sister and I just had a long telephone conversation about this, which is why I'm riled up enough to blather on about it. After talking with her for nearly an hour, (I feel the need to reveal that she's an actress, and wears her hair natural, which makes for a double dose of adventure in her life...) I finally hit on what's really bugging me about this whole exercise. I keep wondering if it's at all helpful to see those Rutgers girls paraded across the national consciousness as victims, so delicate in constitution that they were ready to crumble upon hearing, second hand, that some old geezer called them a name? (What ever happened to "your MAMAs a nappy headed ho!?" Okay, maybe that wouldn't have sounded as good in that one hour presser...) And then, to have those same, "pretend outraged-but not quite getting why they're supposed to be" white commentators, not to mention Mrs. Imus, declare breathlessly -- and daily -- that after all, the girls really, really ARE pretty, aren't they? Just look at their perms! Sorry, but somebody please pass the air sickness bag. These girls are powerful, tough athletic and academic stars. They don't need a weeping nation to approve of their fresh new perms, and white people to tell them they're really so very beautiful, do they? Have we gotten that soft? Is this the same community that survived slavery, lynching and Jim Crow? (Okay, sorry, I guess that was the savvy P.R. way to handle the situation, and I applaud Rutgers for their strategery ... oh, and Oprah was a nice touch -- beyond that, the girls have been hermetically sealed from media...) To illustrate my point, Condi Rice has said she's glad Imus was fired for his "disgusting" remarks. But then she said this:


Asked how she handled racist, sexist comments directed her way, Rice laughed and
replied: "I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself. And I really don't care because, you know, I'm a mature woman."

Exactly, Condi. Shouldn't we be encouraging these girls to be as tough as you are?

If we're going to have a conversation about assaults on the femininity of Black women -- something which goes back, not to Don Imus, but to the very formation of this country -- let's have that conversation. Don Imus was taunting those girls because in his mind (just like his buddy Stu's reduction of the Williams sisters to "animals") tall, athletic, dark skinned women aren't really women, and definitely aren't feminine or attractive. You really need to look as much like a white woman as possible if you want to make it around here, dear... We could have had that conversation with Imus in his chair. I really woudn't have cared. But that conversation would have had to include a whole lot of Black men, too.

Meanwhile, the possibility that the jihad will turn next on the hip-hop nation has riled up the MTV generation. Russell Simmons released this statement today, after Snoop Dogg and other artists started getting calls from media on whether Don Imus was, in fact, pimping their ho's. Said Simmons (and his Hip Hop Summit Action Network partner Dr. Ben Chavis). I've put the glaring ironies in bold italics...:

"Hip-Hop is a worldwide cultural phenomena that transcends race and doesn't engage in racial slurs. Don Imus' racially-motivated diatribe toward the Rutgers' women's basketball team was in no way connected to hip-hop culture. As Chairman and President of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN), respectively, we are concerned by the false comparisons some in the media are making between Don Imus and hip-hop. We want to clarify what we feel very strongly is an obvious difference between the two.

"HSAN believes in freedom of artistic expression. We also believe, with that freedom, comes responsibility. Don Imus is not a hip-hop artist or a poet. Hip-hop artists rap about what they see, hear and feel around them, their experience of the world. Like the artists throughout history, their messages are a mirror of what is right and wrong with society. Sometimes their observations or the way in which they choose to express their art may be uncomfortable for some to hear, but our job is not to silence or censor that expression. Our job is to be an inclusive voice for the hip-hop community and to help create an environment that encourages the positive growth of hip-hop. Language can be a powerful tool. That is why one's intention, when using the power of language, should be made clear. Comparing Don Imus' language with hip-hop artists' poetic expression is misguided and inaccurate and feeds into a mindset that can be a catalyst for unwarranted, rampant censorship."
Pardon? Are these artists seeing THAT many bitches, tricks and ho's around them?

Damn, the streets are tough! And how's this for poetic expression (editorial on: the pic above is of Snoop, and please don't post a comment pointing out that the lyrics below are not his... they're from Ludacris, and I know he has a song out about runaways, k? editorial off.):


Shake your money maker
Like somebody's bout to pay ya
Don't worry about them haters
Keep your nose up in the air

You know I got it
If you wanna come get it
Stand next to this money
Like - ey ey

[Verse 1]
Shake, shake, shake your money maker
Like you were shaking it for some paper
It took your momma 9 months to make ya
Might as well shake what your momma gave ya
You, you lookin good in them jeans
I bet you'd look even beter with me in between
I keep my mind on my money - money on my mind
But you's a hell of a distraction when you shake your behind
I got *** on my right side pourin' some cups
My whole hood is to my left and they ain't givin a fuck
So feel free to get loose and get carried away
So by tomorrow you forgot what you where saying today
But don't forget about this feeling that I am making you get
And all the calories you burn from me making you sweat
The mile highpoints you earn when we taking my jet and
How everywhere you turn I'll be making you wet

... [Verse 2]
Switch, switch, switch it from right to left
And switch it till you running right out of breath
And take a break until you ready again
And you can invite over as many friends as
You want to but I really want you and just
[ these lyrics found on http://www.completealbumlyrics.com ]
Be thankfull that Pharrel gave you something to bump to
Luda - I'm at the top of my game
You want my hands from your bottom to the top of your frame
And I - just wanna take a little right on your curves
And get erotic giving your body just what it deserves and
Let me give you some swimming lessons on the penis
Backstroke, breaststroke, stroke of a genius
Yepp call me the renissance man get up and
I stay harder then a cinderblock man
Hey I;m just a bedroom gangster
And I've been meaning to tell that I really mus thank ya when you

[Chorus]
Shake your money maker
Like somebody's bout to pay ya
I see you on my radar
Don't you act like you're a faker

She...

[Luda]
You know I got it
If you wanna come get it
Stand next to this money
Like - ey ey


Yep. Pure poetry, bitches. And now that CBS has purged itself of Donald Imus, they can get back to squeezing big bucks out of their Viacom unit's hit VH1 spin-offs of "The Flavor of Love"...


Now, keeping it real, I blame myself along with everyone else. I happen to like the above song. Great track. And I love and listen to hip-hop -- have done for most of my life at this point. And I know that there are still great artists out there putting out music with real lyrics, and no bullshit. But there's also a pervasive culture of degradation, and we can't run away from it, just as the majority culture has to deal with its drunk and disorderly starlets, Girls Gone Wild sluttiness and promiscuity cults, and various other cultural ills we all share. But denying that there's any connection between the culture we create and the culture others absorb, when we share this county in increasingly close quarters, is just damned disengenuous.


How much hypocrisy can you fit into one story???

Related: The Times Alan Davieson has some 'advice for whitey...'


Also related: The Hatemongers over at Wizbang ... no, that's really their name ... also are tired of the hang dog cable news white people ... and they remember the forgotten victims on the Tennessee women's basketball team (talk about having your 15 minutes stolen...)



The University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers ... the ones who actually won the tournament...

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posted by JReid @ 7:52 PM  
Anatomy of a takedown
The Wall Street Journal gives all the gory details of the step by step disintegration of the Imus franchise.

Meanwhile, Pat Buchanan assails what he calls the hypocrites and charlatans who orchestrated the take-down.

Tom Delay (who has about zero credibility and really shouldn't be talking in public anymore) says they got Imus, now, let's get Rosie. Now, I can't stand Rosie, let's stipulate to that. If the righties are successful on this one. That said, the Imus take-down might be this year's impeachment, starting a never ending war of political tit for tat. Here we go!

The girls, by the way, have accepted the Imus apology, which came in person in a meeting just after he learned of his firing by CBS. What the statement that they're "working on forgiving him" means, is puzzling, and a little saccharine. I blame the university and their spokespeople for that one, not the girls.

Oh, and wanna buy a "nappy headed ho" T-shirt, teddy bear or infant bodysuit for your baby? No, seriously...

Unbe-freaking-lievable...

Update: Condoleezza Rice weighs in.

And next stop, hip-hop? The debate begins, Snoop plays the ass, and after demanding the head of Don Imus, Reverend Al will settle for dialogue with hip-hop MCs...

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posted by JReid @ 5:41 PM  
The curse of Don Imus
New Jersey Governor John Corzine was seriously injured in a car accident on the way to the meeting between the unemployed Don Imus and the Rutgers girls.

But on the up-side, looks like Imus' wife has a brand new bag...

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posted by JReid @ 9:55 AM  
Wanna be the War Czar? (Or, take my commander and chief job, please!)
The White House must be getting desperate ... maybe they can still rehabilitate Bernie Kerik, because they're not going to be able to get a real, live general to take this gig:
The White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, but it has had trouble finding anyone able and willing to take the job, according to people close to the situation.

At least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks have declined to be considered for the position, the sources said, underscoring the administration's difficulty in enlisting its top recruits to join the team after five years of warfare that have taxed the United States and its military.

"The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq. "So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks,' " he said. ...
Ouch! Hang on ... isn't the person in charge of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with the abiilty to give direction to the Pentagon, State Department and other agencies ... the president of the United States/commander in chief? I confuse...

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posted by JReid @ 6:16 AM  
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Could Goodling get immunity?
God, what a relief to be blogging about something other than Don Imus!!!

Editorial off...

NBC's Mike Viqueira is reporting that the House Judiciary Committee is considering offering immunity to Monica Goodling in exchange for her testimony in the Gonzogate affair. This, along with the skyrocketing number of missing emails raises the stakes. So does this:

On March 26, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) wrote a letter to White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten demanding “all contracts, subcontracts, and task orders between MZM, Inc. … and the Executive Office of the President.”

As ThinkProgress has reported, there is good reason to believe fired U.S. attorney Carol Lam was targeting the White House’s connections to MZM contractor Mitchell Wade, who pled guilty to paying more than $1 million in bribes to former Rep. Duke Cunningham. Despite no record of having ever received a federal contract, Wade’s firm received a $140,000 contract in 2002 to provide a system to screen the President’s mail.

In his letter, Waxman requested that the White House provide documents relating to the White House-MZM contracts as soon as possible, but in no case later than Friday, April 6. But the North County Times reports Waxman has yet to receive the information he requested.

Uh-oh...

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posted by JReid @ 9:07 PM  
Quick take headlines
Baghdad's Green Zone, safe? Oh go on!

The D.A. in the Duke rape case has cleared the three lacrosse players and apologized to them. Now, particularly in the wake of the Imus imbroglio, many on the right are demanding apologies from the likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and going after the accuser with guns blazing...
In a surprising development, a now not running for re-election Mark Nifong apologizes, too ...

Bring on the lawsuits...

Al Franken calls out CNN and asks, can we fire Glenn Beck, too?

Surprise! The Bush administration's obsession with voter fraud ... is a fraud...

Oh, and one American Idol note: "thank you, America. Thank you very, very much."

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posted by JReid @ 8:51 PM  
The firing line
Oh, you thought Don Imus was the only prime candidate for unemployment 'round here? Well just try Alberto Gonzales, who now has to contend with some strangely missing emails ... and Paul Wolfowitz, who apparently is too stupid to just get someone else to hire his girlfriend... Now here's the fun part: I'll just let you guess which of the two Bush cronies this statement applies to:
The White House, however, expressed confidence in the embattled bank president.
Oh, OK I'll just tell you:
"Of course President Wolfowitz has our full confidence," said White House spokesman Tony Fratto. "His leadership is helping the bank accomplish its mission of raising living standards for poor people throughout the world. In dealing with this issue, he has taken full responsibility and is working with the executive board to resolve it."
I guess that means Old Wolfie is toast.

Back to those missing emails. The NY Times reports:
WASHINGTON, April 12 —The White House said today that it might be missing e-mails relating to the firing of eight United States attorneys, as lawmakers on Capitol Hill gave themselves the authority to subpoena more government documents and testimony linked to the controversy.

“It can’t be ruled out,” Scott Stanzel, the deputy White House press secretary, told reporters this morning when asked if some of the missing e-mails included those related to the dismissals.

At the same time, the Senate Judiciary Committee empowered its chairman, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, to serve subpoenas for documents that may explain the firings, and to compel testimony from Scott Jennings, a deputy political director in the White House whose e-mails, on a Republican National Committee account, have set off a separate inquiry into the use of political e-mail accounts for official government business.

On the Senate floor, Mr. Leahy was skeptical that the e-mails are indeed missing. “You can’t erase e-mails, not today,” he said. “They’ve gone through too many servers.”

Mr. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who just turned 67, is considered one of the more computer-savvy members of Congress, despite having grown up in the era of typewriters.
Mr. Nixon? Meet Mr. Leahy.

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posted by JReid @ 8:34 PM  
Shocker jock

How many times can I be wrong on one story? CBS has fired Don Imus. Wow. You can look at this one of two ways: either its a victory for decency, or an example of extreme corporate quizzling. It could also be proof that the broadcast networks, both on television and radio, as well as their free cable incarnations, are far too timid to play the game the way a coarsening society has configured it. That could mean big bucks for paid media, which could mean XM will be to radio what HBO and Showtime are to television.

(Or it could mean far less: one old misanthropic bully (and goes down, heads back to ranch, curses the world...) I assume he'll be taking his even more racist executive producer with him...

At the end of the day, it's clear that a right to free speech is not an entitlement to a seven figure job on the radio. Imus can still exercise his rights, wherever he's able to find employment (I'm still betting on XM, but then again, I'm not a good predictor on this story...) but I do think that the result of his firing won't be a giant Kum-ba-ya over the American airwaves, with decency reigning over rancor. It will be a "they got Imus, now we'll get them" game of gotcha that could reignite the red-blue culture wars. From now on, I'm going to operate on the assumption that Radio One is being watched closely, with some angry I-man fans just waiting for somebody to slip up... That, and a couple of Black folk will get temporary pundit gigs on MSNBC. ... hey, that reminds me, I need to get my bio package updated...

One question does still hang out there: will there still be a meeting between Imus and the Rutgers girls? And will he take the road of conciliation, or revenge? We shall see...

Update: Question answered. Imus is reportedly meeting with the Rutgers girls at the governor's mansion in New Jersey. That according to NBC News. Classy move, Imus. And I don't think anyone disagrees that these young women have come out of this tragedy as role models of the first order. Great group of young women. We should all be proud of them.

Meanwhile, as we begin choosing winners and losers here, count Rutgers women's basketball, and the university itself, among the winners. They'll be getting a Hillary audience on Monday. Can a Barack visitation be far behind.

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posted by JReid @ 5:50 PM  
Imus falling
So his MSNBC simulcast is gone, his CBS show is hanging by a thread, but hey, Imus still has his charities. The annual telethon went on as planned today, sans TV. And from what Drudge is reporting (though his reporting is a bit dubious these days,) he's getting on with some attitude on the air, saying "the bastards" got him, but they "didn't catch him asleep," whatever that means... Imus is said to be very upset about the goings on, particularly the fact that NBC didn't give him a chance to have his meeting with the Rutgers girls. That's the market, Don. They lose money, you lose gig... Here's the transcript, according to Drudge:
Patrick Gavin with FISHBOWLDC reports on Imus's radio show this am...

Barely 12 hours after being fired from MSNBC...

6:12 AM: On Imus' radio program (no longer simulcast on MSNBC) this morning, Chris Carlin, who covers sports for the program, discussed yesterday's dismissal of charges against the Duke lacrosse players.

(rough transcript)


DON IMUS: When will Al Sharpton be apologizing to them?

(LAUGHTER)

CARLIN: I'm unaware of such a press conference.

IMUS: I'll be darned...


UPDATE 6:28 AM: After a station break, Imus came back to discuss MSNBC's decision. He said he was recently chatted with "another big time broadcasting executive" who was "complaining that [MSNBC] had cancelled the simulcast twelve hours before we were getting ready to conduct this radio-thon for these three charities."

Imus: "My position on all of this is not whining about the hideously hypocritical coverage from the newspapers -- from everybody -- or the lack of support, say, from people like Harold Ford, Jr. who I had my life threatened over supporting and all these kind of things. It all began, and it doesn't make any difference -- like [James] Carville said -- stop talking about the context, it doesn't make any difference. If I hadn't have said it I wouldn't be here. So let's stop whining about it...You gotta stop complaining. I said a stupid, idiotic thing that desperately hurt these kids. I'm going to apologize but we gotta move on."

UPDATE 7:37 am. IMUS: "The hypocrisy is absurd...Everybody knows what the deal is. And this is not over. This story does not end here."

Meanwhile, the Rutgers girls are Oprah bound today, and 37 percent of nearly 180,000 respondents to an MSNBC online poll say the I-man shouldn't have been fired -- he's a shock jock, after all.

Rosie O'Donnell is looking over her shoulder for the thought police.

In the public debate, I think that today, the question now officially turns from racial insensitivity to the policing of thought vs. free speech. Time asks the question this way: "who can say what?"

Drudge claims Sharpton puts it this way:
'It is our feeling that this is only the beginning. We must have a broad discussion on what is permitted and not permitted in terms of the airwaves'...
More from the TIME article:
our culture has experienced an almost psychotic outburst of -isms in the past year. Michael Richards and "nigger." Isaiah Washington and "faggot." Senator George Allen and "macaca." Mel Gibson and "f__ing Jews."

But we also live in a culture in which racially and sexually edgy material is often—legitimately—considered brilliant comment, even art. Last year's most critically praised comedy, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, won Sacha Baron Cohen a Golden Globe for playing a Kazakh journalist who calls Alan Keyes a "genuine chocolate face" and asks a gun-shop owner to suggest a good piece for killing a Jew. Quentin Tarantino has made a career borrowing tropes from blaxploitation movies. In the critics-favorite sitcom The Sarah Silverman Program, the star sleeps with God, who is African American and who she assumes is "God's black friend." And the current season of South Park opened with an episode about a Michael Richards-esque controversy erupting when a character blurts the word niggers on Wheel of Fortune. (He answers a puzzle—N-GGERS—for which the clue is "People who annoy you"; the correct answer is "naggers.") ...

...Imus crossed a line, boorishly, creepily, paleolithically. But where is that line nowadays? In a way, the question is an outgrowth of something healthy in our society: the assumption that there is a diverse audience that is willing to talk about previously taboo social distinctions more openly, frankly and daringly than before. It used to be assumed that people were free to joke about their own kind (with some license for black comedians to talk about how white people dance). Crossing those lines was the province of the occasional "socially conscious artist," like Dick Gregory or Lenny Bruce, who was explicit about his goals: in Bruce's words, to repeat "'niggerniggernigger' until the word [didn't] mean anything anymore."

Now, however, we live in a mash-up world, where people—especially young people—feel free to borrow one another's cultural signifiers. In a now classic episode of Chappelle's Show, comic Dave Chappelle plays a blind, black white supremacist who inadvertently calls a carload of rap-listening white boys "niggers." The kids' reaction: "Did he just call us niggers? Awesome!" The country is, at least, more pop-culturally integrated—one nation under Jessica Alba, J. Lo and Harold & Kumar—and with that comes greater comfort in talking about differences.

But that's a harder attitude for older people—who grew up with more cultural and actual segregation—to accept or to mimic. Part of the problem with Imus' joke was that it was so tone-deaf. "That's some rough girls from Rutgers," he said. "Man, they got tattoos ... That's some nappy-headed hos there." The joke played badly in every community, raising memories of beauty bias (against darker skin and kinkier hair) that dates back to slavery. Tracy Riley, 37, of Des Moines, Iowa, who is of mixed race, said the incident was among her four kids' first exposures to overt racism. "Our kids don't see color the way we do," she said. "They don't see it as much. 'You're my friend or not, but it's not about race.'"
And then there's this idiot from Pennsylvania. How stupid do you have to be to get yourself fired from your radio show for mimicking Imus AFTER he got canned?

And should Imus lose his job at CBS, something I still doubt will happen -- I guess I'm just an iconoclast -- and he doesn't choose to take $100 million to go to satellite radio, I'm thinking his next gig might be prime minister of England...

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posted by JReid @ 11:50 AM  
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Imus circling the drain?
The Don Imus horror show continues to escalate in drama, with MSNBC making the decision to drop the shock jock's simulcast today. Imus reportedly saw it coming. Having worked for an NBC affiliate, I can't say I'm surprised that the company whose execs throw around the phrase "six sigma" brought the hammer down hard. NBC doesn't play with its corporate image (remember the time they hired that psycho Michael Savage to host a show? No, you probably don't. It didn't last long ...)

It seems that the final straw for NBC management was when employees, Black and white (including Keith Olbermann) voiced loud objections to sharing the network, and their credibility, with the "I-man." But I would think the advertisers jumping ship had something to do with it, too.

NBC News President Steve Capus said he made the decision after reading thousands of e-mails and having countless discussions with NBC workers and the public, but he denied the potential loss of advertising dollars had anything to do with it.
Capus has been all over T.V. talking about the decision, and he looks more pained each time... After all that has gone on, I have to say that at this point I think MSNBC did the right thing. They couldn't force their news staff to share the stage with that program any longer. I haven't been on the "fire Imus" band wagon, but from NBC's perspective, his show probably wasn't worth the trouble. They're supposed to be a news outfit, after all.

Meanwhile, Imus has been shedding advertisers, and friends (I actually called in to the Sid Rosenberg show today, after listening to as much of it as I could stomach. He was distancing himself from the Imus comments, and I felt compelled to remind him that he was very much a part of the parade. He brushed off my reminder of his Venus and Serena "National Geographic" slurs, which he said forced his firing and "public humiliation" six years ago, before adding, "so what?") with even white commentators who you can tell really think this is overblown take pains to separate themselves from the remarks. Even Craig Crawford has capitulated, though Joe Scarborough is refusing to back down, along with resident iconoclast Bill Maher.

Meanwhile, righties are having a field day reprinting the lyrics of popular songs that use the n-word, and that liberally use the terms "bitches" and "hos" -- not to mention promoting violence.

It seems that Imus will continue to be roasted on a spit. But if you think this will somehow heal the country or the world, don't count on it. This will polarize us even more, as many whites foam at the very sight or mention of Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, who will be accused of hounding an old geezer out of his gainful employment, if it goes that far for Imus with CBS radio, and Blacks continue to seethe with rage over the comments, that apparently were simply the last straw from a show that had numerous violations in the past. One wonders whether anyone will take up my question (shared by Keith Olbermann) of when it will be Neil Boortz, Bill Bennett, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, John Gibson or Glenn Beck's turn on the spit. If they are given a free pass, what, then, has been the piont? Likewise with the hip hop nation, which can continue to fulminate about bitches and ho's with impunity, right?

If we're looking at the culture, shouldn't we actually look at the culture? Or are we just sating ourselves with Don Imus this week, only to move on to somethng else the next? I think we all agree that Don Imus is a bully and an ass.

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posted by JReid @ 11:04 PM  
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Imus problem turning into a 'gate'?
Members of the Rutgers women's basketball team at a press conference Tuesday

Late breaking news on Imusgate: Keith Olbermann reported tonight on Countdown that Staples, Bigelow Tea, Procter and Gamble and several unnamed clients of major advertising carrier Carat USA have pulled out of the Imus in the Morning show broadcast on MSNBC...

The worm has turned... I'm ready to admit I was wrong about this thing going away. This guy is in trouble...

More on the backlash here.

I rarely go into the personal on this blog, but I have to admit that I am truly torn on this issue. As I said in my now revised initial post on the issue, my first reaction to the Imus story was that it was another case of an old white geezer trying to be funny by tagging along on what he thought was "cool" Black slang and failing miserably. I have occasionally listened to Imus, and while I don't find him objectionable in the way I do Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or Michael Savage, I tend to turn the dial as soon as his executive producer, Bernard McGuirk, or his, in my opinion, viciously racist occasional sports guy Sid Rosenberg (who has his own show here in Miami on 790 The Ticket) gets going. Imus strikes me as a generally harmless old crank, and his comments were offensive, rude, and yeah, racist, but again, my initial reaction was, f^^ him. Why give him more power or influence than his words deserve? He was going after those girls because they are big female basketball players and not "attractive" in his opinion. He should apologize, take his suspension, aand get bent...

And in a way, I guess I'm frustrated that so often, African-Americans get all fired up about issues like this, but can't be brought to life on such weighy issues as the violence in many of our communities (particularly in Miami right now), the degradation of voting rights, not to mention our women, within our own comedy, movies and music, etc. Clearly, there are much bigger fish to fry in this country than one stupid old radio guy.

At the same time ...

Don Imus clearly played the bully here, going after a team full of outstanding young women who were not his typical political or public targets. These girls didn't deserve to be slimed that way, in a way that was clearly meant to be mean, based on their looks. And the basis for his and his co-host's negative assessment of their looks really was, at base, racist -- because they are big, dark skinned and their hair isn't blowing in the wind. Imus touched a racial third rail, and he deserves the opprobrium he's getting. I feel great sympathy for these girls and their families, and I think Imus' back tracking today, and his new sense of self riteousness, makes him look even more like a jerk.

What has really been extraordinary to watch is the vast difference between how white and black people have reacted to this story. Almost to a man, white commentators (with the exception of opportunist hacks like Limbaugh and the people at Fox News) have said that Imus is a "good guy" who made a mistake and we should all move on since he has apologized. That includes people I respect, like Bill Maher and Craig Crawford. And almost to a person, whites have responded to Imus' behavior by lashing out at Al Sharpton and -- surprise -- the Tawanna Brawley incident. Blacks meanwhile, including most of the callers to our radio show, are livid. The disparity says all you need to know about race in America. We live in very different words.

And right now, I am torn between actually feeling guilty about not being personally insulted by his remarks, and wondering if it's because I simply don't care what white people think, or whether I'm just frustrated that we are spending too much time on this issue, when there's a war on that's killing U.S. troops, the Bush administration is running roughshod over the constitution, poverty and violence continue to increase across this country, and only half of Black kids are graduating from high school, and no one seems to care enough to call for a march.

Does Imus deserve to be fired? I guess when you put it in the context of those ten young girls, and how much these comments humiliated them: sure. Especially since so many other radio and television personalities have lost jobs under similar circumstances. I definitely think his producer should be canned. But at the same time, I can only predict that if he were to be fired, Imus would simply wind up on another network or on XM in a blink. And very little would change. White people just don't approach the issue of race in the same way that Black people do. Whites will invariably call this issue overblown, and will continue to fire off these kind of remarks when 'we' are not around. Black people see this as nuclear, whites simply don't. We're so far apart on our conceptions of issues like this that it's almost impossible to have a single conversation with both groups simultaneously on this issue. Hell, it's almost impossible for me to have a conversation with myself about it at this stage...

So again, I'm torn. If I don't give a damn whether Imus stays or goes, does that make me an insensitive person? Or am I just not willing to elevate the guy to such a high status in my life, or the lives of Black people? Damned if I know...

Okay, that's enough emoting. Back to the news:

The presidential candidates are weighing in...

Not surprisingly, the racially divisive Rudy Giuliani says he'll still be a guest on Imus. BTW he also said that flying the confederate flag is a "states rights" issue... nice.

Baghdad John is defending Imus, too and says he'll still appear...

Mike Huckabee says Imus is still OK with him...

This is fascinating. Imus is generally considered not too friendly to Republicans, and now that he's tagged as a racist, the GOPers are rallying around him.

So far, Romney and Obama are non-commital about appearing again (Romney's people used the "he hasn't been invited back' line...) Hillary condems the remarks but hasn't said whether she'll be on the show again, and Edwards, Biden et.al were out of town on Easter holiday.

Meanwhile, Earl Ofari Hutchinson is much more articulate on the subject than I.

And only Fox News would want to know what Ann Coulter thinks...

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posted by JReid @ 9:26 PM  
Clever little bastards...
This year's crop of American Idol contestants is different from previous years, in that they have reached new levels of cunning...

Misplaced beauty pageant contestant Haley Scarnato was called on the carpet by Simon, literally minutes after my husband and I tagged her strategy -- which is, in Simon's words, to wear as little in the way of clothing as possible to make up for her lack of vocal talent relative to the other singers. Bingo.

Blake Lewis, who just might win the whole thing, has staked out the "cool contestant who is signable right now" territory so completely, he's left little room for Chris Richardson to survive for too much longer.

Teeniebopper (and professional plus size model) Jordin Sparks' strategy: sell cute, sell bubblegum, woo Nickelodeon just in case you don't win...

Chris Richardson's schtick: get ... signed ... by ... P. Diddy.

I actually don't think Lakesha and Melinda have a strategy, per se. Both are under the perhaps naive impression that their clearly superior vocal talent IS their strategy. We shall see. I think it's probably truer for Melinda than Lakesha, though both are extremely talented. But Lakesha's personal story gives her a good shot at staying in this thing for a long time...

My man Phil Stacey doesn't have a strategy either, though in my opinion he has the best natural voice of any of the guys. Unfortunately, my Florida brother isn't going to make it... he's just not contemporary, or serious enough, for this competition... (had she not been given the boot, Gina Glocksen would have also earned points for her consistent portrayal of the patented Rocker Chick...)

And then there's Sanjaya, who probably is the smartest, most diabolically cunning contestant I've ever seen at work in this series (Randy called it tonight, but I swear my husband and I had JUST said that, too...!) Sanjaya knows who his audience is. He has embraced who HE is. He's the stealth "joke" candidate whose ace in the hole is his superior marketing -- The Hair (which is at this point more anticipated each week than anyone's singing, including the fabulous Melinda's...) the come hither looks into the camera (and you thought he was a weepy, naive teenager...) and the slightly cocky demeanor with the judges. He is selling exactly the pheromones that pre-teen girls are buying, and he knows exactly what he's doing. I mean, you don't think that mustache and goatee just got there by accident this week, do you??? For gods sake, he's got something only people like Sting, Hillary, Rudy and Cher can boast: one name only name recognition.

Besides... and this is painful to admit ... he really didn't sound half bad today.

In fact, Haley Scarnato has so far surpassed him in annoying unacceptability that I actually would pay money to watch him perform if God would only like me enough to get that irritating little pop tart off my television screen...

Sorry, hope that didn't come out too mean. ... I think it's all this Imus controversy. It's making me crabby...


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posted by JReid @ 9:05 PM  
Conyers drops the hammer
The House judiciary committee chairman issues subpoenas to the office of the attorney general...

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posted by JReid @ 5:59 PM  
When you've lost Al Roker...
NBC's goofball weather man brings down the hammer on Don Imus for picking on those Rutgers girls.

I, for one, am really tired of the diatribes, the “humor” at others’ expense, the cruelty that passes for “funny”. Don Imus isn’t the only one doing this, but today he’s the one in the hot seat.

What he said was vile and disgusting. It denigrated an entire team and by extension, a community and its pride in a group that had excelled.

...The “I’m a good person who said a bad thing” apology doesn’t cut it. At least he didn’t try to weasel out of this by hiding behind alcohol or drug abuse. Still, he said it and a two-week suspension doesn’t cut it. It is, at best, a slap on the wrist. A vacation. Nothing.

The general manager of Cartoon Network resigned after a publicity stunt went wrong and caused a panic in Boston. He did the right thing. Don Imus should do the right thing and resign. Not talk about taking a two-week suspension with dignity. I don’t think Don Imus gets it.
Roker makes the very valid point that if Imus must go, so should the continually offensive Bernard McGuirk, his executive producer and sidekick, who egged Imus on and participated in the conversation. In fact, a transcript of the now infamous broadcast makes it clear that there were three -- not one -- people involved in insulting the Rutgers women (in my opinion, as a slap against their looks with clarly racial undertones):
IMUS: That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and --

McGUIRK: Some hard-core hos.

IMUS: That's some nappy-headed hos there. I'm gonna tell you that now, man, that's some -- woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like -- kinda like -- I don't know.

McGUIRK: A Spike Lee thing.

IMUS: Yeah.

McGUIRK: The Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes -- that movie that he had.

IMUS: Yeah, it was a tough --

McCORD: Do The Right Thing.

McGUIRK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

IMUS: I don't know if I'd have wanted to beat Rutgers or not, but they did, right?

ROSENBERG: It was a tough watch. The more I look at Rutgers, they look exactly like the Toronto Raptors.

IMUS: Well, I guess, yeah.

RUFFINO: Only tougher.

McGUIRK: The [Memphis] Grizzlies would be more appropriate.
McGuirk was the instigator of the "hos" line, and Rosenberg, true to form, took it to new depths. So where are the calls for McGuirk's job, and for the head of the eternally racist Rosenberg (famous for calling the tennis phenom Williams sisters "animals," who would stand a better chance of posing on the cover of National Geographic than Playboy, and then joking about his past slurs when Serena was called a nigger at a recent match in Florida) to be thrown off his show on South Florida's 790 The Ticket?) Fair is fair. If Imus should be canned, so should they.

That said, let me go on record as saying that I agree with all of those who are calling Imus' comments stupid and offensive. This was a crochety old geezer and serial bully attempting, and failing, to be funny by picking on a bunch of young girls who are doing what we, as a society, have admonished them to do: go to school, get good grades, and pursue positive activites. It was also symptomatic of the out of control insult culture we have developed in the popular media. Not to mention the equally out of control vogue of degrading women and demeaning Blacks as so many niggers, hos and gangstas... (a vogue Black folk created ourselves...) We should take steps to change those things if we don't like them, but I seriously doubt Imus will get the axe. Getting driven onto XM? Perhaps. Marginalized by some mainstream pols? Very likely. But finished as a radio host? I doubt it.

What is clear is that Imus owes those young woman a serious apology. They should get it, and then we should move on. There are bigger battles to fight...


Meanwhile, the Rutgers team got their chance to speak out today, for about an hour long presser. They've also agreed to meet with Imus and consider accepting his apology, although some of them are preemptively raising doubts that such acceptance is at hand. And, probably to Imus' chagrin, the story has gone global.

Sidebar: I think that while folks are on a roll, they should also demand the resignations of other racist radio and television personalities, including Bill "kill all the Black babies" Bennett, Rush the "ho" Limbaugh, Neil "ghetto slut" Boortz, Glenn "prove to me you're not a terrorist" Beck, psychotic Michael Savage and others... why stop with Imus?

Update: Gwen Ifill weighs in and slams the I-man.
Update: Imus slaps back...
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posted by JReid @ 3:15 PM  
KFC vs. America
Kentucky Fried Chicken has stepped over the line. They have reached out to align their all-American product with the bain of American cultural existence: Sanjaya Malakar. When the offer of a lifetime of free chicken bowls failed to woo the talentless wonder of American Idol, KFC sweetened the deal.
Here is the text of the horror:

April 9, 2007


An open letter to Sanjaya Malakar:


Congratulations on surviving yet another tough elimination.

Last week, Kentucky Fried Chicken® offered you a free lifetime supply of KFC Famous Bowls® if you donned a bowl hairdo. You chose instead to wow the judges with a slicked-back do, a white tuxedo and your trademark showmanship.

The judges and critics may think you're a long shot for a recording contract, but at KFC, we think you're a real "original." And as the experts in Original Recipe® Chicken, we know an original when we see one! In fact, today, I would like to sweeten our tasty offer by serving you up your very first recording deal.

If you sport a bowlcut hairdo in a nationally televised performance, KFC will grant you a free lifetime supply of KFC Famous Bowls and a charitable donation in your name - plus $5,000 in cash and your own starring role in our next KFC Famous Bowls advertisement.

Now, that's an offer almost as juicy as our KFC world famous chicken and a deal that could help provide young people with much needed college scholarships via our Colonel's Scholars charity.

Win or lose, we're confident that KFC's deal will help turn millions of viewers around the globe into "fanjayas."

Your Fan,

Gregg Dedrick
President of KFC

We'll find out tonight if Sajaya, and and his hair, took the bait.

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posted by JReid @ 8:30 AM  
Monday, April 09, 2007
Dear former hostages, please stop talking
It's hard to maintain sympathy for the Britons formerly held captive in Iran when they just, won't shut ... the living hell ... up...

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posted by JReid @ 8:19 PM  
Four years on
Four years ago today, this was the headline in the decidedly non-"loyal Bushie" BBC News:

Saddam's symbol tumbles down

There have been jubilant scenes in Baghdad's main square as crowds of Iraqis gathered to celebrate after US tanks rolled into the heart of the city.
Elated Baghdadis in al-Fardus Square, in front of the Palestine Hotel, greeted the American forces with cries of support and bunches of flowers.

In an unprecedented show of disdain for Saddam Hussein a group of men scaled the statue of the Iraqi of the leader which dominates the square, securing a noose around its neck in an attempt to pull it down.

The metal plaque at the base of the statue was torn off and the statue's marble plinth attacked with a sledge hammer before US troops joined in the effort, using an armoured vehicle to pull the figure down. ...
The "demonstrators" and statue defacers were mostly unemployed Shiite men, who had been milling around Firdus Square when the U.S. troops took the city, according to press reports. Of course, it later turned out the entire statue toppling was a very well orchestrated hoax, but then, we are talking about the Bush administration...

Four years later, today's headline on the Beeb reads as follows:


Iraqi Shias protest in holy city

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Shias have demonstrated in the holy city of Najaf, calling for US-led troops to leave Iraq.
The protesters were responding to an appeal by cleric Moqtada Sadr, who branded US forces "your arch enemy" in a statement.

The demonstration marks four years since US troops entered Baghdad and ended the rule of Saddam Hussein.

Baghdad has been placed under curfew for the duration of the anniversary.

A 24-hour ban on movement by all vehicles, for fear of car bomb attacks, began in the city at 0500 (0100 GMT) on Monday, where four years ago a giant statue of Saddam Hussein was torn down, symbolising the fall of his regime. ...
So, what is the Bush administration's response to the, er, spectacle?

Spokesman Col Steven Boylan said: "This is the right to assemble, the right to free speech - they didn't have that under the former regime."
Riiiight...

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posted by JReid @ 8:04 PM  
Imus in the mourning

So much news, so little blogtime...



Don Imus has been cowed ... for now ... he'll do the required audience with Rev. Al this afternoon (you can here it here... plug for my station...) and he says "hey, I'm a good person, 'dem butch-ass hos from Rutgers not withstanding...)



...wonder if he'll fire that racist asshole Sid Rosenberg again... or if The Ticket will...



By the way, sorry, but Imus -- who, by the way, looks suspiciously like a nappy-headed ho himself -- was putting the girls down for their looks (vs. the Tennessee women) not their race. ... He just put it in the way white men probably talk when they're in "unmixed company." Unfortunately for him, "unmixed company" included MSNBC's airwaves, and a national radio audience. Suspend the guy for a day or two and be done with it.



[Caveat on! the problem of course is that what underlies comments like Imus' is the notion that Black women who are athletic, who are dark skinned, who don't look like Beyonce, aren't so feminine (let alone woman basketball players, who take no end of abuse from male sports fans...) That it itself was racist, sexist, and probably a lot homophobic too, and I definitely will walk back from my initial reaction to this, which was basically, who cares what the old geezer has to say? He sure as hell wasn't referring to me! The power disparity between Imus and his victims changes this from satire to bullying, and racial bullying at that. I'm grown up enough to admit that my initial reaction didn't take that aspect seriously enough... so I was wrong. There, I said it... caveat off!]







Oh, okay, Imus is still freaking apologizing. God, please somebody give this guy a drink...

Update:
Imus did the contrition thing on Rev. Sharpton's show on our syndicated network this afternoon. At this stage, one wonders whether he did the entire broadcast on his knees.

Update 2: MSNBC has suspended the simulcast of Imus' morning show for two weeks, and CBS Radio has followed suit with the radio broadcast. (I called for the same thing, but I said two days. Well, I guess I'm just easy going...)



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posted by JReid @ 9:46 AM  
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Goodbye, Goodling, see you in at the hearings!
Monica Goodling, pictured with Karl Rove

Another story I didn't get a chance to put up yesterday: The surprise unsurprising resignation Friday of former Alberto Gonzales aide Monica Goodling, the Messiah Bible college and Pat Robertson-founded law school alum and apparent firing queen of Gonzogate, who had asserted that she would refuse to testify before the House and Senate judiciary committees and would instead assert her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination (something about which many lawyers are quite dubious...) making her the first Justice Department official in the history of the body to do so and remain employed.

Goodling, who was the Justice Department's White House liaison, becomes the third administration official to resign over the firings of the Gonzales 8, Karl Rove look-alike Kyle Sampson and former director of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys Michael Battle having gone before. Goodling's abrupt resignation, no reason given, won't get her off the hook. John Conyers has indicated he still intends to call her before the House Judiciary Committee, as early as next week. Ditto for Pat Leahy on the Senate side. As some legal analysts have said on cable-chat, the committees should call Ms. Goodling before them, and make her take the Fifth on television. Or as others have suggested, subpoena her, and throw her in jail for contempt of Congress if she refuses to appear. Running away from your job won't get you off the hot seat, dear.


Meanwhile, the Muckrakers take a peek into what an actual "loyal Bushie" in the U.S. Attorneys office looks like...

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posted by JReid @ 3:30 PM  
Brits to Yanks: butt out!
The Guardian breaks the story this morning that the Bush administration offered to help free the 15 British military captives from Iran via military intervention, but the offer received a rather chilly response from the Brits, who apparently have cooled on the notion of joint military adventures with their American cousins, in favor of diplomacy with their Asiatic neighbors.

The US offered to take military action on behalf of the 15 British sailors and marines held by Iran, including buzzing Iranian Revolutionary Guard positions with warplanes, the Guardian has learned.

In the first few days after the captives were seized and British diplomats were getting no news from Tehran on their whereabouts, Pentagon officials asked their British counterparts: what do you want us to do? They offered a series of military options, a list which remains top secret given the mounting risk of war between the US and Iran. But one of the options was for US combat aircraft to mount aggressive patrols over Iranian Revolutionary Guard bases in Iran, to underline the seriousness of the situation.

The British declined the offer and said the US could calm the situation by staying out of it. London also asked the US to tone down military exercises that were already under way in the Gulf. Three days before the capture of the 15 Britons , a second carrier group arrived having been ordered there by president George Bush in January. The aim was to add to pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme and alleged operations inside Iraq against coalition forces.
At the request of the British, the two US carrier groups, totalling 40 ships plus aircraft, modified their exercises to make them less confrontational.

The British government also asked the US administration from Mr Bush down to be cautious in its use of rhetoric, which was relatively restrained throughout.

The incident was a reminder of how inflammatory the situation in the Gulf is. According to some US and British officers, there is already a proxy war under way between their forces and elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. ...

This comes as Tehran accuses the U.S. and Britain of using proxy guerilla fighters from the "Stans" -- including Pakistan -- to encroach upon Iranian positions.

This quote from the story sums it up nicely (although "nice" might not be the appropriate word...)

A senior Iranian source with close ties to the Revolutionary Guard, told the Guardian: "If this had been between Iranian and American soldiers it could have been the beginning of an accidental war."
If you consider such things "accidental"...

More interesting nuggets from the Guardian piece include the fact that the decision to grab the sailors was apprently made locally, by the Iranian commander in charge of that Gulf region, after three alleged previous incursions over the Iraq/Iran line in the Shat al-Arab waterway, long disputed between the two countries. The Guardian writes that the situation took so long to disentangle because of the hydra headed nature of the Iranian government, whose various pieces were scattered around the country due to a major holiday (their version of New Year's). More from the article:
"Nobody who counted was answering the phone," said one senior British official. "By the time the Iranian leaders got back from the holiday [on Tuesday] the phone was ringing off the hook, including from people they didn't expect, calling on them to release the captives quickly."

Among those unexpected callers were their closest allies, the Syrians, as well as leaders from far-flung states with no direct stake in the Gulf. Even the Colombian government issued a protest.

Another surprise intervention came from the Vatican. Hours before Wednesday's release, a letter from Pope Benedict was handed to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It said the Pope was confident that men of goodwill could find a solution. He asked the supreme leader to do what he could to ensure that the British sailors and marines were reunited with their families in time for Easter. It would, he said, be a significant religious gesture of goodwill from the Iranian people.

What impact the Pope's message had is impossible to assess. But some of its language was reflected at the press conference at which the release of the 15 Britons was announced. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the decision to "forgive" the sailors and marines had been taken "on the occasion of the birthday of the great prophet [Muhammad] ... and for the occasion of the passing of Christ".

The Iraqi government also played a critical role, pushing for consular access to five Iranians who had been arrested by US forces in Irbil and had been in custody since January, and helping organise the mysterious release of an Iranian diplomat who had been in captivity since February.

In the first days of the crisis, Iraqi officials also helped the British to identify the exact boundaries of Iraqi waters, the Guardian has learned, suggesting the British were not as certain of their case as they had publicly claimed. ...
Read the entire article here.

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posted by JReid @ 3:12 PM  
The adventures of Baghdad John, continued ... when a stroll isn't exactly a stroll
Okay, so maybe it wasn't exactly a pleasant stroll through that Baghdad market ... Baghdad John McCain "clarifies" his remarks about just how safe it is in Iraq:

(CBS) Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., says he misspoke in comments he made about security in Baghdad and acknowledged that heavily armed troops and helicopter gunships accompanied him when he visited a market there. ...
Apparently, McCain took his stroll along with that heavy guard, and a crew from 60 Minutes. Apprently it was meant to be the centerpiece of a free media coup for the McCain presidential campaign, the way that horrid Katie Couric interrogation of the Edwardses boosted John Edwards' prospects for the Democratic nomination. It didn't quite work out that way, which McCain acknowledge in an interview to be aired on 60 Minutes tomorrow:

... "Of course I am going to misspeak and I've done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future," says McCain. "I regret that when I divert attention to something I said from my message, but you know, that's just life," he tells Pelley, adding, "I'm happy, frankly, with the way I operate, otherwise it would be a lot less fun."
Well isn't that nice...

He continues to maintain that the president's surge policy has improved safety in Baghdad. "I can understand why [the Army] would provide me with that security, but I can tell you that if it had been two months ago and I'd asked to do it, they would have said, 'Under no circumstances whatsoever.' I view that as a sign of progress," says McCain.
You can watch the full interview for yourself tomorrow, including full video of the now infamous "stroll..."

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posted by JReid @ 2:29 PM  
While you were out
I took a couple days off blogging to deal with "other issues" (you just ponder that one for a minute... cause I'm not giving details...) Strangely enough, the political universe didn't shift that much since Wednesday :)

So what's new in the world as of today?

Fred Thompson is getting serious about maybe, possibly running for president, while Rudy Giuliani is still catching softballs, even from the blog press... (Roger Simon of Politico apparently didn't find the time to ask the former New York mayor about his caustic relatioonship with firefighters, his cozy relationship with probable felon Bernie Kerik, his problems with "the race issue" in New York City, or his poor decisionmaking on security prior to 9/11 (who moved the logistics and communication nerve centers of the city into the WTC before the attacks? Why Rudy, of course! But don't hold your breath waiting for the media to ask him about it. They're too busy chasing stories about his Cruella de Ville wife and his bad management of his marriage to Donna Hanover ... SIDEBAR: I got it on good authority from a prominent person who knows Rudy very well that Donna doesn't just resent Rudy, she HATES him, and so does his son. The person I spoke with talked to Donna recently and got it straight from the jilted spouse's mouth. ... but I digress...)

John Edwards has pulled out of the Fox News debate to be put on by the Congressional Black Caucus. And now many are wondering, what the hell is the CBC doing partnering with the Faux News network anyway?

Clinton-hating TIME columnist Joe Klein calls Bush "unfit to lead" and the head of "one of this nation's worst administrations" but says talk of impeaching him is "a bit nutso..."

An Iranian diplomat freed -- quite coincidentally, I'm sure -- around the same time the Iranians freed 15 British military personnel is now claiming torture at the hands of the CIA...

Meanwhile, the now freed Royal Naval and Marine personnel are talking about their ordeal, including being blindfolded, tied up, and threatened with execution. The group explained that in their determination, "fighting back was not an option." Seems like a reasonable enough explanation to me, but then again, I've never worn the uniform.

And now for a completely different view, from Col. Jack Jacobs, who slams the Britons for clearly making their top priority "going home," rather than preserving their honor as military men and women... Whatever your opinion of the Royal Navy/Marines, I think it's clear that in the propaganda war between Iran and Great Britain, Iran won this one, just as Hezbollah beat Israel over their captured soldiers, and Hamas did the same (neither group has returned the Israelis, despite a reign of military horror by the Israeli military...) I feel badly for the Brits, they are young, and clearly they weren't in this for an ideological fight. I tend to wince at chickenhawk winger slaps at them, and brash statements about what the Limbaughs, Hannities and Savages of the world claim they would have done in their place (cower and beg are my best guesses). These guys did what they had to do to get home. But I can understand why a guy like Jack Jacobs -- a hero and Medal of Honor winner -- would feel the way he does.
Final note, it must really cheese off the Brits to recall stories such as this one:

June 13, 2004 - ... Last week, a U.S.-led coalition in Iraq rescued three Italian hostages - Salvatore Stefio, Umberto Cupertino and Maurizio Agliana - who since April 12 had been held captive by terrorists calling themselves the Green Brigade. When the Italians returned home, they said they had joked with one another to ease the tension and quell their fears. Although they told reporters they had not been physically abused, their lives were constantly threatened. Only after the rescue did the former hostages discover that their captors had murdered their friend, a fourth hostage Fabrizio Quattrocchi. Just before the terrorists shot and killed Quattrocchi, he tried to pull off his hood and yelled, "This is how an Italian dies." He was buried in his home city of Genoa on May 29. Dying with dignity - and honor - is brave.
But that said, if you were in the place of the 15, what would YOU have done? In all honesty??? And before you wingers get too giddy, let's also recall that there have been Americans in this situation, too, both military and civilian. And in some cases, they too have chosen to comply... It is a basic human instinct to want to live. When one can force oneself to deny that basic instinct, we either call it bravery, or stupidity (recall that suicide bombers also deny that instinct.) I don't personally fault these guys, because in their shoes, I really don't know what I would do.
Meanwhile, the WaPo's Kathleen Parker ponders Iran's humiliation of the West, and wonders why Britain and other Western powers, including the U.S. make our women so vulnerable to degradation and capture in the military.

Here's one I completely missed: Geraldo vs. O'Reilly, the grudge match... Scroll down and watch the video ... the REAL comedy here is the segway that the ladies of Good Morning America manage to makde after the Fox News scream-fest was over. Trust me, it's worth listening until the end...

Unemployed former U.N. Ambassador (sans Senate confirmation) John Bolton snaps at the Saudi King for criticizing his pet project in Iraq.

Bafflingly still employed U.S. vice president Dick Cheney continues to take up residence in LaLa Land over the issue of the late Saddam Hussein's supposed ties to al-Qaida, despite the rheems of evidence, from the intelligence services of his own government, that there were no such links. Of course, you can say just about anything to Rush Limbaugh ... what the hell does he know...

Don Imus has apologized for his "nappy headed hos" remark about the Rutgers women's basketball team. On his April 4 program, Imus, his executive producer Bernard McGuirk and sportscaster Sid Rosenberg got into a stupid discussion about the teams that delved into the supposed manishness of the Rutgers girls (apparently Rosenberg feels they favor the Toronto Raptors). It quickly devolved from there. Imus did not, however, take back the comments on the same program which called the Tennessee women "cute..."

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posted by JReid @ 1:48 PM  
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
The Global War on ... Bush's Middle East policy
Today, speaking to strangely and very obviously NOT applauding troops at Fort Irwin, California, President Bush said something about Iraq and the war on terror that I guess I should consider important, since he's the president, but, hey, there you go ... it's George W. Bush talking ... c'mon...

Meanwhile, over at the House of Representatives, the Armed Services Committee declares that there really is no "global war on terror" ... duh... oh, and the "long war...?" That's history, too.

And while Dubya is boring the props troops, Mother heads over to Syria with a small Congressional delegation, and extracts something out of Bashar al Assad that Condi Rice can only dream of: DIPLOMACY!

And as if to shine a humongous spotlight on the primacy of talk over warmongering, Britain talks its way out of the nascent Royal Naval "detainee" crisis, producing this happy, and rather stylish, in a strictly Iranian sense ... photo:

Mr. Ahmadinejad even got in a dramatic flourish, pinning a medal on the Revolutionary Guard general who orchestrated the capture, and then announcing that he was releasing the 15 "as a little Easter-time gift to the British people." Then, the Brits were marched out in their new, comfy Iran suits and even got a personal greeting from His Persian Shortness, as they appeared, thanking their former captors, on Iranian TV. Huzaa!! Oh, and check out this Ahmadinejad gem:

"I'm asking Mr Blair to not put these 15 personnel on trial because they admitted they came to Iranian territorial water," he added, referring to taped "confessions" made by the British sailors and marines.
Riiight... Oh, and the U.S. released this guy...
Release Seen Tied To Iran Crisis

An Iranian "diplomat" detained by U.S. forces in Iraq was freed in an apparent effort to help secure the release of 15 British sailors captured by Iran. While Britain has repeatedly asserted it won't negotiate with Tehran, diplomatic sources said the crisis appears likely to be resolved soon. "The next 48 hours will be fairly critical," U.K. PM Tony Blair said, offering no details. [Source: Investor's Business Daily, April 3, 2007]
Now that's what I call coincidental!

So Iran managed to turn around a sure loser of an issue into a relative win -- giving Britain back its sailors and Marines, and snatching away the neocon's cassis belli.

And last but not least, remember that charming little Baghdad market where our friend Baghdad John took a lil' stroll the other day, along with 100 of his closest military friends, their Blackhawk helicopters and helicopter gunships? Well ... it was bombed yesterday, killing 14 school children and adults. Guess they didn't have THEIR flack jackets and security phalanx. So having put U.S. military personnel in danger, not to mention himself, by insisting on his ridiculous stunt, it appears McCain also endangered Iraqis. Yep, that's presidential material...

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posted by JReid @ 8:16 PM  
$25 million ... 100,000 donors
Barack Obama makes that suspense well worth it. Hillary? Do you hear that knock at the door?
Sen. Barack Obama raised at least $25 million dollars during the first quarter for his presidential campaign, a total surprisingly close to the $26 million collected by his chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Obama actually may have raised more for the primary campaign than the former first lady, but that cannot be definitively known because the Clinton campaign has refused to say how much of its total is designated for the primary election versus the general election. ...
Wow...

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posted by JReid @ 11:22 AM  
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Smearing Michael Ware
The right has a pattern that they automatically fall into when they're down: first, they find a way to deflect their own negative press by blaming it, not on their own actions, not on the vicissitudes of fate, but on ... well ... the press. Then they attempt to hang the reporters for reporting facts that they never actually getting around to disputing. Then, finally, when whatever charges they're making turn out to be bogus, they scare up some secondary supposed wrong and hang their pitiful little hats on that.

Such is the case with Michael Ware, about whom the Drudge Report blared the headline: REPORTER HECKLES MCCAIN! "Heckles"? A reporter? Ware's supposed infraction was that he hurled insults at McCain during the Senator's Green Zone press conference, which followed his little stroll through a Baghdad market about 3 minutes away (surrounded by a phalanx of 100 heavily armed troops, a couple Blackhawk helicopters and three airborne gunships...) McCain was attempting to make the point that Baghdad is far safer since the surge began. Once the Drudge headline broke, the right went ballistic, accusing Ware of violating his oath of independence as a journalist, and of being a tool of the Defeatocrats. (The Young Turks call it what it is: character assassination.)

Well ... a funny thing happened on the way to the hanging ... Michael Ware fought back, going on CNN and asserting that not only did he not heckle McCain, he didn't even get a chance to ask a question. And then he said three little words that made all the difference: play ... the ... tape.

So some enterprising bloggers did. And guess what? No heckling. Not a sound from Ware or anybody else while McCain was blathering on about his market stroll.

So what does the right do?

Bitch and moan about what Ware said on CNN, long after the presser... So what did Ware say about McCain and his delegation?

"Essentially they're here to view the impact of the surge on the Baghdad security plan and essentially to sell its merits to say that, yes, it is having an impact and to take that message home to an American people desperate to hear signs of progress..."
By the way, the link above is to Powerline's Paul Miringoff's rant that Ware was lying about how great the surge is going -- which by the way is really, really great! -- because he "holds a grudge" because McCain disagreed with his Iraq assessment on CNN. Problem is, it was Ware who disagreed with McCain's assessment, not the other way around, McCain having given Wolf Blitzer his assessment of the desirability of a pleasant Baghdad stroll before Ware was called upon by Blitzer to respond. ... I refer you to comment #15 on Miringoff's post:

15. I am sure, John McCain with his few days visit can analyze the situation much better than a reporter who has been observing the situation there for years, even stared death in the face. Mirengoff, did you pass the bar?
Ha! Other righties are echoing the same "bias line," including the usual suspects at Wizbang. I'm still waiting for Drudge's retraction of the original non-story...

And as for Ware's statement on the McCain's trip, what I have to say about that is ... duh... McCain's political fortunes are now bound up tightly with the Bush policy in Iraq. The surge has to succeed in order for his presidential candidacy to succeed. So yes, he's there to support the policy and make the surge look good, so that Americans will support it. So what was wrong with what Ware said?

Who the hell knows.

And as if things weren't dire enough for the winger nation, their blogger faithful will have to take on a new target: the Iraqi merchants from that lil' ole bazaar. They're taking their turns paddling Baghdad John, too...

"What are they talking about?" Ali Jassim Faiyad, the owner of an electrical appliances shop in the market, said Monday. "The security procedures were abnormal!"

The delegation arrived at the market, which is called Shorja, on Sunday with more than 100 soldiers in armored Humvees - the equivalent of an entire company - and attack helicopters circled overhead, a senior American military official in Baghdad said. The soldiers redirected traffic from the area and restricted access to the Americans, witnesses said, and sharpshooters were posted on the roofs. The congressmen wore bulletproof vests throughout their hourlong visit.

"They paralyzed the market when they came," Mr. Faiyad said during an interview in his shop on Monday. "This was only for the media."

What say you now, Johnnie?

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posted by JReid @ 6:49 AM  
Monday, April 02, 2007
Jesus H. Obama!
It's the case of the Obama Jesus. And it's got the religious wingnuts hopping mad...

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posted by JReid @ 8:18 PM  
Rethinking Romney
(Picture courtesy of the The Economist)

It was a given that Hillary was going to raise more money than God ... but who knew Mitt Romney was such a pistol? Romney didn't just win the GOP money primary, he whipped its tail, raising a surprise $23 million -- just $3 million shy of Hillary's mark -- to demolish the Republican field. Rudy "Third Time's the Charm" Giuliani took in around $15 million (he's out there boasting that he can raise $100 million -- and he's telling the media to "lay off his third / hussy/dog-harming wife!", and poor, addled John McCain, who has self-immolated over Iraq, took in just $12.5 million. Meanwhile, a new poll shows that a non-candidate/television actor/former Senator, Fred Thompson, goes from zero to third place among Republican voters, sucking most of his 12% polling numbers from Rudy, who's now down in the 30s, after hovering around 44 percent in USAT/Gallup. The caveat with Romney is that he was an investment banker at one point in his life, and made a lot of big money contacts as head of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and as Chris Matthews just pointed out on Hardball, when you marry Romney's fundraising to his low poll numbers, you get one hell of a high per capita rate (meaning Romney is the candidate of the very rich, and not much more...)

What gives?

There clearly is no Republican front runner right now, and a lot of dissatisfaction is in evidence on the right side of the dial. That leads me to believe that Thompson, despite a stunning lack of substance that even some RedStaters have noticed, as evidenced in this surprisingly lucid post (once you look past the strained attempt not to call Dubya a failed president), could still emerge as a front runner in this rather pitiable field.

On the Dem side, Bill Richardson did better than expected at $6 million, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden should just hang it up, and Edwards did pretty well. The big question is how much did Barack Obama raise, which we'll find out probably tomorrow. The Hillary people are already trying to raise expectations, putting out the buzz that Barack's haul could be as much as $21 million. We'll see.

Meanwhile, here are the latest poll numbers from Florida:


THE NUMBERS - DEMOCRATS

Hillary Clinton 36 percent
Al Gore, 16 percent
Barack Obama 13 percent
John Edwards 11 percent
(all other candidates below 5 percent)

THE NUMBERS - REPUBLICANS

Rudy Giuliani 35 percent
John McCain 15
percent
Newt Gingrich 11 percent
Fred Thompson 6 percent
Mitt Romney 5 percent

Source: Quinnipiac

Hillary and Giuliani are in roughly the same position, while poor Baghdad John is in the shitter, with Newt Gingrich, of all people, trailing him by just 4 percentage points. The Al Gore number is interesting, as Dems still haven't let go of their Gore nostalgia. I maintain that if he ran, he couldn't win, but that's just me. Once Dem voters finally get over it (rent his climate change movie and call it a day, folks...) I think Hillary will put some distance between herself and her competitors, with Obama ticking up a little, too.

RealClearPolitics has more specifics on the GOP polling.


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posted by JReid @ 7:40 PM  
Sunday, April 01, 2007
The adventures of Baghdad John (and his good friend, Baghdad Lindsey!)
John McCain finally gets to take his Baghdad stroll, 3 minutes from the Green Zone in a crowded market, surrounded by “100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead.” ... and all the sweet, tasty dates his little John McCain heart could want! Goody! It's all waiting for you, RedState!!!

Oooh, and look at the bargains Lindsey got! Five rugs ... just five bucks...!

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posted by JReid @ 9:04 PM  
Anti -British and anti-American protests rocked Iran this weekend, as the public tension continued to heat up over the fates of those 15 Royal Naval and Marine personnel seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards on March 23rd and subsequently paraded on television. Meanwhile, word from Fareed Zakaria on "MTP" today was that behind the scenes, the Brits and Iranians have dramatically lowered the temperature, and are engaged in talks to resolve the conflict, which appears more and more to be a calculated error on the part of the Revolutionary guards, but one in which the Mullahs have now put down stakes. Meanwhile, the Times of London reports that the fate of the detainees, whom President Bush officially called "hostages" this week -- probably much to the chagrin of his former BFF Tony Blair -- may rest on a clash between two generals within the Revolutionary Guards over whether to let the prisoners go free, or put them on trial.

It now appears that Iran is ratcheting up the rhetoric while the Brits are cooling it down, even expressing "regret" for the incident via the foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett (which drew an immediate public snub from Tehran, though who knows what's being said behind the scenes.) Is that a sign that Britain thinks it can get its soldiers back through diplomacy? Or is this Britain's way of walking away from a Bushian opportunity to let the neocons unleash the bombers? Time will tell...

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posted by JReid @ 12:40 PM  
A fascinating flashback
Republicans who are down in the dumps about their president, who appears to have drifted as far from what they thought he was (a second Reagan) as he possibly could, should think back to what their kind actually felt about Reagan at about this same point in his presidency. Just stumbled on this fascinating article from TIME Magazine, dateline September 14, 1987 -- just about a year before the 1988 election:

No Right-On for Reagan
Monday, Sep. 14, 1987
By GEORGE J. CHURCH

If anyone can mollify hard-line conservatives, it should be their idol, Ronald Reagan. That is what Chief of Staff Howard Baker thought when a handful of right-wingers who had been invited to the White House began leveling accusations that the Administration was selling out the contras in Nicaragua. Baker had arranged for the President to drop by and explain in person that his tentative backing for a Central American peace plan implied no lessening of U.S. support for the Nicaraguan rebels. But this time his remarks were greeted only with cold silence; visibly irritated, Reagan shrugged and walked away. Said Burton Pines, vice president of the Heritage Foundation and one of the visitors: "People who have been around the President say that was probably the most chilling reception he had ever had from his supporters."

It was certainly not the first time Reagan had disappointed his bedrock constituency. Throughout his presidency, staunch conservatives have sporadically complained that Reagan in action has never matched the ideological oratory that so thrills them on the stump. But as the silent tableau in the Roosevelt Room indicated, their dissatisfaction is plumbing new depths, which could make trouble not only for Reagan but also for the Republican aspirants to succeed him.

In the past, some of the conservatives' loudest complaints have focused on Reagan's failure to push hard on such social issues as abortion and school prayer. The President's nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court has stilled some, but not all, of the gripes about domestic policy; conservatives now grumble that Reagan is abandoning his "economic bill of rights" and promoting a leftish, catastrophic health-insurance scheme. But, says Paul Weyrich, head of the conservative group called the Free Congress Foundation, "the real feelings are on foreign policy issues." [Emphasis added]

To moderates, Reagan's tentative endorsement of the peace plan signed in August by five Central American Presidents may have seemed grudging and tepid. But to the right it sounded like the crack of doom for any effort to save Nicaragua from Communism. Some conservatives are also aghast at what they view as the Administration's headlong rush into a missile treaty with the Soviets, and in particular by its retreat from strict verification demands. Says Patrick Buchanan, once Reagan's communications director: "We are better off with 574 missiles that can land on the Soviet Union than we are with a damn treaty."

The right still cannot bring itself to criticize Reagan directly. Conservatives will not accept the thought that the President, running for his place in the history books, is no longer absolutely wedded to their ideological agenda. Instead, they complain that the Administration more than ever is filled with mushy compromisers who will not let Reagan be Reagan. There is also suspicion about creeping "Nancyism," the First Lady's supposed efforts to have her husband become known as a peacemaker. ...

... The deepest reason for the ultra-conservatives' dismay may be a fear that time is running out. With only 17 months of his term remaining, Reagan in their eyes has yet to effect any permanent change in the nation's direction; Weyrich expresses a worry that "almost everything that President Reagan has accomplished can be swiftly undone by a single session of a heavily Democratic Congress." Even if a Republican successor is elected, the hard right cannot be sure that he will be able, or for that matter want, to carry the so-called Reagan Revolution to fruition. Its hero, Congressman Jack Kemp, ran fourth among Republicans in the latest Yankelovich poll for TIME. The leaders, Vice President George Bush and Senator Robert Dole, have never won the full trust of movement conservatives. ...
Sure explodes the myth of the Reagan of right wing hero worship, including in a much more recent edition of TIME, doesn't it? Reagan actually was a disappointment in many ways to conservatives (he also was a former Democrat... and a Hollywood guy...) so one wonders where all the Reagan nostalgia comes from... So in the recent, "Reagan Wept" edition of TIME, Karen Tumulty writes:

...everything that Reagan said in 1985 about "the other side" could easily apply to the conservatives of 2007. They are handcuffed to a political party that looks unsettlingly like the Democrats did in the 1980s, one that is more a collection of interest groups than ideas, recognizable more by its campaign tactics than its philosophy. The principles that propelled the movement have either run their course, or run aground, or been abandoned by Reagan's legatees. Government is not only bigger and more expensive than it was when George W. Bush took office, but its reach is also longer, thanks to the broad new powers it has claimed as necessary to protect the homeland. It's true that Reagan didn't live up to everything he promised: he campaigned on smaller government, fiscal discipline and religious values, while his presidency brought us a larger government and a soaring deficit. But Bush's apostasies are more extravagant by just about any measure you pick.

Set adrift as it is, the right understandably feels anxious as it contemplates who will carry Reagan's mantle into November 2008. "We're in the political equivalent of a world without the law of gravity," says Republican strategist Ralph Reed. "Nothing we have known in the past seems relevant." At the top of the Republican field in the latest TIME poll is the pro-choice, pro-gay-rights former mayor of liberal New York City. Giuliani's lead is as much as 19 points over onetime front runner McCain. But neither Republican manages better than a statistical tie in a hypothetical matchup against the two leading Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

And meanwhile, the conservative movement has not only lost its moorings in Washington, it appears to be losing the public, too.

What a difference a generation makes.

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posted by JReid @ 12:17 PM  
A recent Pew poll shows how party idenfication has shifted away from the Republicans, with 50 percent of respondents self-identifying as Democrats versus 35 percent self-identified Republicans, when the two parties were dead even just five years ago.
Addressing the issue, Andrew Sullivan just described it as "cultural death" to be a young Republican now, because he says, the party is identified as the "mean party," the "nasty party," the party that divides people, etc (he says he was a young conservative back when it was cool...) And then the other panelists on the "Chris Matthews Show" added, they're also seen as the incompetent party. Not a good look. More on the Pew poll here. The poll also shows Americans becoming less religious, less culturally conservative, and less certain that "peace through military strength" is a viable proposition. In other words, the culture wars, broadly defined, have in some was blown over, after tremendous heat. Ironically, it was a Republican presidency that appears to have broken the dam, in favor of Democrats, and a more liberal, "European" view of the world on the part of a growing number of Americans.

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posted by JReid @ 11:49 AM  
Poor Orrin Hatch
Apparently, he was the only GOPer willing to play the president's bag man on Gonzalesgate. He's on Meet the Press right now embarrassing himself, trying to carry the administration's water, and being picked clean by Pat Leahy. (Hatch even did his best fulmination, going after Carol Lam as failing to do her job in southern California, and then when it got really hot, Hatch played the race card, pointing out that Gonzales is "the first Hispanic attorney general of the United States." And when confronted with his own intervention to stymie the firing of a U.S. attorney in his home state, (a man named Warren) he seemed frankly flabbergasted. It was a near Pat Roberts performance for Hatch, who comes off as an unexpurgated hack and White House shill.

Unfortunately, Tim Russert continues to lose my respect, by his glaring failure to point out to the audience that Kyle Sampson, the doughy Karl Rove lookalike whose testimony last week made it plain that Alberto Gonzales lied in his March 13 press conference when he said he played no role in the firings, used to work for Hatch.

It's a shame that a sitting United States Senator would sell himself so cheap (hell, these guys don't even get paid to do the Sunday chat shows.) It's an even greater shame that someone in Russert's position would play such a Senator's enabler.

Then came a wierd moment when Russert asked Hatch if the president came to him and asked him to replace Gonzales as attorney general, would he do it. Hatch aw shucks'd it pretty well, but clearly, he would make a perfect replacement, in that he would be as much the president's water boy as Gonzales ever was. In other words, there wouldn't be a dime's worth of difference between Alberto and Orrin.

Back to reality, Pat Leahy had the line of the morning, when he responded to one of Hatch's shill sessions by stating that it seems Orrin remembers what day today is. (April fools!) But on the subject of Hatch as the next A.G., Leahy did that line one better, and gave an interesting window into Orrin's possible motivation for playing hand puppet to the White House this morning:

RUSSERT: Would Senator Hatch be an acceptible replacement for Mr. Gonzales?

LEAHY: The rumor on the Hill this week is that he was actively running for it ... but I'm gonna have to leave that to him...
Fascinating...

Meanwhile, on the other end of the dial, Mitch McConnell proves he can't even make the okey dokey dance look good on Fox ...

And the WaPo goes inside the minds of White House attorney general pickers...

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posted by JReid @ 10:21 AM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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