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June 25, 2006 - June 18, 2006

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Another Scoop for the NY Times

ALL THE NEWS. Proving once more that it's still the paper of record, the New York Times today revealed that the U.K.'s top secret agent, James Bond, is currently hiding under the bed of Osama Bin Laden and will shoot him as soon as the Al Qaida leader climbs under the covers this evening at his villa in northern Pakistan. The Times published the story despite urgent appeals by the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense,  the Director of the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and the U.K.'s Minister of Defense to keep the operation secret.

The Times article also revealed that Agent 007 is armed with a Walther PPK, a serrated commando knife, a wire garrotte concealed inside an Oyster Rolex timepiece, and explosive cufflinks. An accomplice, identified by the Times as a young Afghan mercenary named Titti Bountiful, is parked outside Bin Laden's mountaintop estate in a heavily armed 2006 Lotus Elise fighter-jet-submarine to assist the assassin in his escape after the crime. The Lotus is red in color and bears the license number 835691. A photo of the vehicle and its exact location is shown on page A-2 of the Times.

The getaway car

Managing Editor Bill Keller said, in defense of the Times's decision to publish, "We are journalists, and it is therefore our responsibility to inform the public about what's going on. We cannot evade this responsibility by taking sides in any foreign policy matter, even if some of our individual publishing decisions offend the evil Christian imperialists who preside over  the world's most despicable capitalist nations. Phony arguments about so-called 'national security' concerns cannot be permitted to undermine the public's right to know the facts."

Keller also pointed out that the British assassin sent to murder Osama Bin Laden is guilty of numerous homicides and has probably committed acts of torture that would never be sanctioned by the Geneva Conventions. "He also frequently engages in unprotected sex and used to smoke cigarettes," Keller added.

The New York Times is currently the largest selling newspaper in northern Pakistan.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Party of the Future

The Democrat Juggernaut just keeps rolling along.

PSAYINGS.5A.40. There's a nice little article in The Hill today about Rahm Emanuel, the upcoming congressional election campaign, and Howard Dean's strategy for the party as a whole. Despite some differing views, both Emanuel and Dean sound optimistic:

Emanuel has spent much time on the road in the past year, raising money and recruiting candidates... While traversing the country, he has been concerned about fundraising decisions in Washington at the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Emanuel reportedly stormed out of a meeting with DNC Chairman Howard Dean several weeks ago, exasperated that the Republican National Committee (RNC) had banked far greater reserves than its Democratic counterpart.

Asked whether Dean is doing a good job, Emanuel did not directly answer the question.

“We have the resources to do what we need to do to help our candidates,” he said. “The DCCC will stay competitive. ... This will be first cycle since 1994 that DCCC will be at dollar parity with the NRCC.”

At the end of May, the RNC had $43.1 million on hand while the DNC had $10.3 million.

Dean sent an e-mail to supporters yesterday defending his strategy of spending money on party operations in all 50 states rather than hoarding it for congressional races... He referred to a letter from Utah Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Holland Jr. calling the approach the “future of our party here in Utah.”

“‘Win for today’ is not a long-term strategy by itself, and it has left millions of Americans and vast areas of the country without a healthy political dialogue."...

The DCCC chairman acknowledges that he has had a rocky relationship with some colleagues...

“I am impatient, [but] I’m impatient with everybody. ... I push the Blue Dogs as hard as I push the New Democrats as hard as I push the CBC. Either you do or don’t believe this is a historical election.”

He lamented a lack of effort from some of his colleagues.

“I’ve ruffled feathers with a purpose. There’s a sclerosis that’s set in. I’ve ruffled feathers of elder members of caucus with [the] intention of recruiting younger members. I’ve ruffled [feathers of] of New Democrats and Blue Dogs. I’ve ruffled feathers, no doubt about it.”

Dean makes some interesting word choices here. All that talk about feathers. Four mentions by my count. Maybe I shouldn't be reminded of this, but I am. And shouldn't he be a little careful about discussing sclerosis when some of the party's strongest war draft horses are Teddy Kennedy, 74, Robert Byrd, 89, Harry Reid, 67, and John Murtha, 74? Right now, it's Murtha who's carrying the banner for the whole party on opposing Bush's policy in Iraq. Everybody else is diddling around with phantom dates for future withdrawal, while Murtha is proposing real changes, as he did last week on Meet the Press:

When we went to Beirut, I, I said to President Reagan, “Get out.” Now, the other day we were doing a debate, and they said, “Well, Beirut was a different situation. We cut and run.” We didn’t cut and run. President Reagan made the decision to change direction because he knew he couldn’t win it. Even in Somalia, President Clinton made the decision, “We have to, we have to change direction. Even with tax cuts. When we had a tax cut under Reagan, we then had a tax increase because he had to change direction. We need to change direction. We can’t win a war like this.

This guy’s sitting back there criticizing—political criticism, getting paid by the public taxpayer, and he’s saying to us, “We’re, we’re winning this war, and they’re running.” We got to change direction, that’s what we have to do.

Lots of right-wing bloggers have been criticizing Murtha for these remarks, but I have to admit I think they're kind of brilliant. Change of direction is precisely what the Democrats are about, what they are counting on to sweep the country in the fall. And I think Howard Dean had better reconsider his desire for "younger members," because he really needs the older members to lead the preferred change of direction, which is headlong into the past.

In every possible policy area, the unifying principle of the Democrats is nostalgia. Not nostalgia for any one time, mind you, but for a whole range of eras when Democrats were in charge and had ideas of some kind about what to do. Murtha's MTP transcript suggests he's nostalgic for the good old days of post-Vietnam, post-Cold War foreign policy, when any sort of military setback could be immediately solved by unconditional surrender in the field. If only we could go back to the halcyon Clinton years when it was possible to ignore a half dozen terror attacks on the U.S. and its people, assets, and possessions....

Many pundits have oversimplified this kind of Democrat yearning, associating it only with a desire to return to September 10, 2001, but that's not really an adequate explanation. Al Gore, for example, is presently trying to revive his corpse of a political career because he wants to go back to November 2000, when for a few heady weeks he thought the ruthless Clinton political machine could steal an electoral victory for him in Florida. Hillary is looking even farther back. She wants to go back to the national mindset of her husband's first 100 days in office in 1993, when there was an honest-to-goodness chance of selling the American people on a socialized healthcare approach that hadn't worked anywhere in the world, but she dropped the ball then and is desperate for another chance at it because she thinks she knows just how to do it now.

Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, John Dingel, and dozens of other Democrat senators and congressmen want to turn the clock even farther back, to 1974, when the party that controlled both houses of Congress and all the mainstream media managed to drive a Republican president out of office in disgrace. They know they could do it again now if they could just stamp out talk radio and the blogosphere -- and muster a few more votes the old-fashioned way, by writing their own corrupt gerrymanders.

John Kerry has never really left the year 1971, the one moment in his life when he was able to convince himself that he was somehow acting on principle in smearing his fellow combat veterans and hastening the military defeat of his nation in the Vietnam War. If he could go back and just make a few small changes in his conduct then, he's sure that he could have gone on to the presidency.

Teddy Kennedy wants it to be the early sixties again, when his brother was admired like a movie star and the government was gathering up the resources and momentum that empowered Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, MediCare, MedicAid, and hundreds of other ineffective progams that would make it permanently impossible to control the federal budget.

The Congressional Black Caucus wants to go all the way back to the mid-1960s, when their complaints about racism and discrimination evinced real moral authority, not disgraceful whining about racial inequities that are now more their fault than anybody else's.

Pick your Democrat. The future is a closed book to them. They're all aimed squarely at different points in the past. The broken records who can't stop recounting votes from 2000 and 2004, refighting the debates that led to the Iraq War, or resenting their own shameful role in defending the presidency of an amoral lout who lost them control of Congress. The apologists for Stalin, Hiss, and the Rosenbergs who believe, regardless of all the evidence, that Karl Marx was onto something with his hatred of God and capitalism. The New Deal dinosaurs who still think the education crisis can be fixed by pouring more billions down the rathole of the public school system, who still wish FDR had gotten away with packing the Supreme Court so that the traditional foundations of the Constitution could have been done away with in one fell swoop, and who still believe government legislation could cure every ill if only they could raise taxes high enough.

Nostalgia can be fun, and more than that, it can be comforting in times of turmoil, change, and confrontation. Maybe the American people are ready to jump on the Democrat bandwagon this fall. That's their choice. Dean and company certainly hope so. But I hope they understand the real direction they would be choosing -- and recognize just who it is that's really the reactionary force in contemporary American politics.

Come back with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

All Due Respect

Who stepped on the duck?

TRANSCENDENT PLEASURE. The Alzheimer's poster child of the Washington press corps has a new book out criticizing guess who? Oh come on. Guess. Why, that's right. How did you figure it out? The title of Helen Thomas's magnum opus is Watchdogs of Democracy?: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public. Katherine Hamm over at has an interesting quick take on the book that seems more likely to be accurate than the Booklist review quoted at Here's a chunk of the assessment offered by Booklist's Donna Seaman:

Thomas offers a cogent, bracing assessment of the deteriorating state of journalistic ethics. All administrations attempt to "manage the news," Thomas avers, but none prior to the Bush-2 White House has pioneered "methods that steer message management into outright government propaganda." And never before have Washington reporters behaved like lapdogs rather than watchdogs, unwilling to ask obvious questions and demand honest answers. The public is aware of this "incredible lack of courage," a failure Thomas links to the corporate consolidation of media outlets and the focus on profit and entertainment rather than good old muckraking journalism. Thomas is as engaging as she is wise and passionate in this invaluable history of White House reporting, a refresher course on why we must support a responsible, active, and free press.

Washington reporters behaving like lapdogs? Thomas is cogent, engaging, and wise? Yikes. Maybe there's another Washington, DC, on some other planet earth where all this is somehow true.

If not, we respectfully request one of two things: 1) the drugs that somehow lifted Helen's malevolent brain fog long enough to make her "cogent" and "wise" at the keyboard, or 2) the drugs Donna Seaman took before dipping into Helen Thomas's cauldron of senile spleen (scroll down for an illustrative HT moment). We're confident that either course of medication beats ordinary consciousness by a mile.

C.O.D. would be fine. Thank you very much.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


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