A real "Mission Accomplished" moment. Today is the 62nd anniversary of VE Day, commemorating the surrender of the Nazi terrorists during World War II. Of course, if Bush had been in charge, we'd probably still be fighting that war...in Mexico. Corruption watch Alaskan oil execs plead guilty, get set to finger 1,2,3,4,5.... Alaskan state legislators. No great DVDs of recent movies on this week's release schedule. But we're salivating over the "collector's editions" of two classics: The Guns of Navarone and The Caine Mutiny. Today's Must Read: the real, actual, no-getting-around-it deadline for President Bush to show progress in Iraq is September, reports The Washington Post. Really. Neocon media When Lou Dobbs tells Lesley Stahl of "60 Minutes" that he's not a fan of Bush, she questions how he can consider himself to be a "journalist." video_wmv Download (2544) | Play (2782) video_mov Download (923) | Play (1843) In a related story, the Giuliani campaign reportedly complained to NBC about choosing Olbermann's to do the post-debate coverage. I suspect Rudy was a little miffed by Keith's scathing Special Comment. ThinkProgress , MediaMatters and Glenn have more. Nicole: It's frustrating to say the least to have respected members of the media fall for the conservative framing that anything that is not essentially stenography for the current administration equates to bias. Yet Chris Matthews's effusive praise for Giuliani or Romney or Bush would not be considered bias on the other side. There is no one who can credibly call Lou Dobbs a liberal, yet because he openly disagrees with administration policies on a couple of discrete issues, his journalistic integrity is somehow in question. Mother's Day is Peace Day You can go to the site Mother's Day For Peace to send an e-card for your mother with a donation to No More Victims. Worst recall ever. Every single Humvee door in Iraq needs their latches and hinges replaced. Why? Because IED blasts can cause the newly-armored doors to jam, turning an attacked vehicle into an incinerator or coffin (or both). On the bright side, the makers of the new hinges will rake in a ton of money ($284 million!), stimulating our economy and maybe even goosing the stock market. And isn’t that what America's all about.

Angry wonk alert! Two of TPMCafe's distinguished wonks-in-residence Jared Bernstein and Greg Anrig, Jr. take down this morning's Washington Post piece on John Edwards and poverty.

"Our Homeland Security is run by the religiously insane.

These people - who we trust with our lives - have a panic attack

if they get a two-second glance at Janet Jackson's titty."

-- Lewis Black

Tommy performs as I predicted Suppose you're Gov. Thompson and suppose you say something stupid. But I repeat myself. Apologies to Mark Twain for that one (Twain famously wrote "Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself" back in 1891). But seriously Tommy Thompson is not the smoothest talking politician on the Republican ballot this coming winter.

His first foray into foot consumption was two weeks ago with the comment before a Jewish audience, whom he sought to flatter with the literal money-shot quote: "I'm in the private sector and for the first time in my life I'm earning money. You know that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that."

Lordy, does it get any tackier than that? If you answer "no" to that, then you don't know Tommy. He tried immediately to uncircumcise that elephant in the room with a quick apology. A not well worded apology:
"I just want to clarify something because I didn't {by} any means want to infer or imply anything about Jews and finances and things," he said.

"What I was referring to, ladies and gentlemen, is the accomplishments of the Jewish religion. You've been outstanding business people and I compliment you for that."

The good people at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism seemed to accept his apology that night, despite the fact that his apology was now stating that making lots of money in business is not just part of Jewish culture, but actually a part of their religion! You would think he'd learn to weigh his words carefully from then on. But again, you don't know Tommy.

Scene change: one week later, a gathering in California.

And so Thompson's latest flapdoodle flapped up again last week at the Republicans' first presidential candidate forum at the Ronald Reagan Memorial Shrine and Great Pyramid in Giza, California. On May 3rd Thompson seemed to renounce current fair employment law (video here) in the ten-candidate debate with this exchange:

Thompson was asked Thursday night, "If a private employer believes homosexuality is immoral, should he be allowed to fire a gay worker?"

Thompson said he "really, sincerely believe(s) that that is an issue that business people have to make their own determination over whether or not they (gay employees) should be (fired)."

"So the answer is yes?" moderator John Harris asked. "Yes," Thompson replied.

A perfectly understandable mistake! Nine minutes after they closed, Thompson aid Tony Jewell was clarifying that his boss had misunderstood the question. While I'm certain that he's telling the truth, I can't quite fathom exactly what question one could be answering with the statement "business people have to make their own determination over whether or not they should be (fired)" that doesn't entail breaking anti-discrimination law.

But a Tommy Thompson gaffe isn't complete until he screws up the apology, which he gratefully polished off the following night on Real Time with Bill Maher. There, Thompson first blamed his hearing aid for misunderstanding the question, then offered yet another gaffe-enhanced defense of his record on civil rights:

"Bill, help me out. I did not hear the question properly. My hearing aid was not working and I did not hear it and I answered it wrong. There should never be dimstrimination {sic} in the workplace; I've never supported that. In fact, as the governor of the state of Wisconsin, I supported many laws that promoted equality in every group possible; I was able to get the anti-discrimination language removed from the Republican platform. So I've always been there. And I just feel bad. We should not have discrimination in the workplace at all period.

He got WHAT removed? Anti-dimstrimination language? Oh, Tommy, dear Tommy, you're making Joe Biden so happy.

But I can't get too mad at the guy. Tommy's most endearing quality is his completely un-Republican resolve to immediately apologize for whatever wrong thing he has said. Within minutes of any verbal flare-ups, let's call them Tommy-eruptions, he and his staff always seem to have a quick, albeit stupid, retraction ready to go. At this point you have to wonder if they shouldn't just have a form letter pre-composed just waiting for release--a simple fill in the blanks number.

Dear _____{insert name of offended voter group}____,

When I, Governor Tommy Thompson, said that you people _____{insert crass comment here}____, I hope you understand that I didn't literally mean _____{insert careful re-wording of previous crass statement}____. I hope you know that I am deeply committed to the equality and empowerment of all _____{re-insert name of offended voter group}____. I believe in equality, fairness, and respect for all Americans. I simply misspoke, because _____{insert name of convenient scapegoat or, none existing, heartfelt mea culpa for mispeaking}____ caused me to state what I clearly don't believe.

Please understand what I truly feel is _____{insert statement affirming the polar opposite of the offending phrase above}____ and as President I am determined to see that we all can stand together upon such important, bedrock, unmistakeable principles.


Governor Tommy Thompson

PS, _____{insert solicitation for campaign contribution if their last name sounds like they have a lot of money, oh, you know what I mean.}____

There ya go, governor! Never let it be said I wasn't willing to help you out.

Necon media Chris Matthews, overwhelmed by winger talking points, just can't take it anymore. Monica Goodling, apparatchik, prude. Writing on the wall? Wolfowitz aide Kevin Kellems resigns from World Bank. Mitt's position is.... evolving Romney bobs and weaves on whether he believes in evolution. Apparently Romney got in some trouble when he wasn't one of the three candidates at the GOP debate to say he doubted the validity of evolution. The Mitt Saga is really getting funny! If you're a Republican presidential candidate and you're a Mormon, and let's say for argument's sake that your name is something wacky and slightly effete, like maybe "Mitt," you might find yourself having to overcome the nation's not-yet-fully-formed questions about the nature of your religion. For a Republican primary candidate, that can be a sore spot.

So rather than address the problem directly, and open yourself, your candidacy and your religion up to some uncomfortable questioning, here's what you can do: freak everybody out with other stuff.

You may already have heard that Romulan Remulak Romney named L. Ron Hubbard's (yes, Scientology's L. Ron Hubbard -- way to throw 'em of the crazy scent there, Mitt!) Battlefield Earth as his favorite novel.

But when I asked the other day, "What *&%$@#ing planet is Mitt Romney from?" I didn't realize there was an actual answer out there. Romney, you'll recall, had made this crackpot claim:

"In France, for instance, I'm told that marriage is now frequently contracted in seven-year terms where either party may move on when their term is up. How shallow and how different from the Europe of the past."

Ana Marie Cox at Swampland locates the planet:

Via The Plank, where they note that the whole seven-year-contract with option to renew is, in fact, a plot point in a novel by fellow Mormon Orson Scott Card. It's called "The Memory of Earth," and it is a fictionalization of the Book of Mormon set in outer space.

Worst president......ever From his catastrophic war of choice to fiddling while New Orleans drowned, from installing partisan and unqualified lackeys in every possible government position to allowing the poisoning of our food, the Bush administration has failed. Top to bottom. The Democratic Policy Committee has released a new fact sheet on the Bush administration and the economy for middle class Americans. One of the findings? He's worse than Herbert Hoover:

Worst job creation record since Hoover Administration. A growing economy should be good news for those seeking jobs. But over the course of President Bush's term in office, his Administration has the worst overall job creation record since Herbert Hoover more than 70 years ago.

Overall non-farm payroll employment has increased by just 5.2 million since President Bush took office in January 2001 compared with 22.7 million during the Clinton presidency. Overall employment growth has averaged just 70,000 per month under President Bush - much lower than the approximately 150,000 jobs needed each month to keep up with population growth. It was not uncommon to see monthly job gains of 300,000 and even 400,000 during economic expansions under previous Administrations.

Private sector job creation has been especially poor during the Bush presidency, with an average annual job growth rate of only 0.5 percent per year since 2001. Just 3.8 million private sector jobs have been created during the Bush presidency, compared with over 20 million private sector jobs during the Clinton presidency.

The manufacturing sector, often the source of jobs with good pay and benefits, has lost three million jobs since the start of the Bush Administration. Nearly half of the jobs created since 2001 were part-time and freelance positions without benefits. This slow pace of private sector job creation is particularly troubling given that we are so far into the economic recovery.

The middle class squeeze is more like the middle class throttling under this administration.

Speaking out. What do you get when Vietnam vets Oliver Stone and Ron Kovic team up with Iraq war vet Sergeant John Bruhns and MoveOn.org? A simple, direct and strong bring-our-troops-home TV ad. In hindsight I'm glad they ignored my advice and left the animated yodeling C-5 cargo plane on the cutting room floor.

Bringing up baby. All you parents-to-be might want to sit down for this. According to Newsweek, it costs $1.6 million to raise a middle-class kid to adulthood. (I have 6 of them -- the estimate is modest. --RK)

Anonymous superheroes. A new federal shield law is being proposed that prevents journalists from having to reveal the names of anonymous sources who expose government asshattery. Says the ACLU's Caroline Fredrickson:

"From Watergate to the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, revelations of historic consequences are the product of a free and unrestricted press. At a time when those in power hide behind the phrase ‘state secret’ instead of ‘no comment,’ journalists should be commended for continuing to push beyond the hyperbole."

When asked if the president would sign such a bill, a White House spokesperson issued no comment, saying it was a state secret.

To see just how far the GOP has fallen, note these words from Jack Kemp regarding the upcoming vote on representation for D.C. residents:

"This is one of the last chances the Republicans have to be a truly national party."... "I talk to members of Congress about this and they literally walk away, saying the bill is unconstitutional. Unconstitutional? They voted for the Patriot Act!" Kemp says. "A presidential veto on this would consign the Republican Party in perpetuity to 8 to 10 percent of the black vote."

Who knew we'd be nostalgic for Jack Kemp?

"People don't understand how it can be

very distracting when Helen Thomas

asks questions. When you start to answer,

she just keeps talking."

-- Dana Perino, lightweight, Link What Dana means is - when she refuses to answer the question, Helen insists on one.

Tenet’s unmentioned war profiteering. “When [former CIA director George] Tenet hit the talk-show circuit last week to defend his stewardship of the CIA and his role in the run-up to the war, he did not mention that he is a director and advisor to four corporations that earn millions of dollars in revenue from contracts with U.S. intelligence agencies and the Department of Defense. Nor is it ever mentioned in his book. But according to public records, Tenet has received at least $2.3 million from those corporations in stock and other compensation.”

Undercover Black Man: David Horowitz publishes–again–an unrepentant bigot. Anybody surprised?

Cable news filled with white men. Media Matters “analyzed the race/ethnicity and gender of the hosts and guests on the major prime-time cable-news programs” for the weeknights surrounding the Imus controversy. They found that “cable news remains an overwhelmingly white and male preserve.” For all three weeks, MSNBC was the worst offender, as “93 percent of the guests on the network were white the week prior to the controversy, 70 percent were white during the controversy, and 82 percent were white in the post-controversy week.”

Lapses in battlefield ethics YahooNews:

In a survey of U.S. troops in combat in Iraq, less than half of Marines and a little more than half of Army soldiers said they would report a member of their unit for killing or wounding an innocent civilian.

More than 40 percent support the idea of torture in some cases, and 10 percent reported personally abusing Iraqi civilians, the Pentagon said Friday in what it called its first ethics study of troops at the war front. Units exposed to the most combat were chosen for the study, officials said.

"It is disappointing," said analyst John Pike of the Globalsecurity.org think tank. "But anybody who is surprised by it doesn't understand war. … This is about combat stress."

It's got to make you feel really good about those extended tours, doesn't it? But it gets better, once they are home, now some troops have to battle for custody of children.

This is conservatism? The Boston Globe asks What does $456 billion buy? For instance, 14.5 million years at Harvard, or a year of Medicare.

Fred Thompson's red pickup truck Noam Scheiber thinks that before long, everyone will have heard about the phony everyman schtick that Fred Thompson employed during his 1994 Senate campaign:

By the time Fred Thompson decides whether or not to join the presidential fray, you will have heard the story of his red pickup truck at least a dozen times. The truck in question is a 1990 Chevy, which the famed statesman-thespian rented during his maiden Senate campaign in 1994. The idea was that Thompson would dress up in blue jeans and shabby boots and drive himself to campaign events around the state.

Bob Somerby begs to differ:

[W]e'll take a wild guess — no, you won't "hear the story of his red pickup truck at least a dozen times" in the coming weeks. That's because of an obvious fact: As a general matter, the modern press corps recites these tales only when they cut against Dems.

We'll see. But in fact, the red pickup is even phonier than Scheiber and Somerby make it sound. Not only was the truck rented, but Thompson didn't even deign to drive the thing himself. Here is Michelle Cottle describing a Thompson campaign event a couple of years later when he was running for reelection:

Seated in the audience is a childhood friend of mine....My friend stands talking with her colleagues as the senator is driven away by a blond, all-American staffer. A few minutes later, my friend gets into her car to head home. As she pulls up to the stop sign at the parking lot exit, rolling up to the intersection is Senator Thompson, now behind the wheel of a sweet silver luxury sedan. He gives my friend a slight nod as he drives past. Turning onto the main road, my friend passes the school's small, side parking area. Lo and behold: There sits the abandoned red pickup, along with the all-American staffer.

Basically, he just drove the thing the final few hundred feet before each campaign event, and then ditched it for something nicer as soon as he was out of sight of the yokels. Quite a man of the people, no?

Banana Republicans McClatchy digs up two more sources who say that Bradley Schlozman viewed his job as a gateway for hiring Republicans into civil service positions in the Justice Department:

Two former department lawyers told McClatchy Newspapers that Bradley Schlozman, a senior civil rights official, told them in early 2005, after spotting mention of their Republican affiliations on their job applications, to delete those references and resubmit their resumes. Both attorneys were hired.

One of them, Ty Clevenger, said: "He wanted to make it look like it was apolitical."

....Clevenger also recalled once passing on to Schlozman the name of a friend from Stanford as a possible hire. "Schlozman called me up and asked me something to the effect of, 'Is he one of us?'" Clevenger said. "He wanted to know what the guy's partisan credentials were."

And the Boston Globe reports this:

Under Schlozman, the profile of the career attorneys hired by the section underwent a dramatic transformation.

Half of the 14 career lawyers hired under Schlozman were members of the conservative Federalist Society or the Republican National Lawyers Association, up from none among the eight career hires in the previous two years, according to a review of resumes. The average US News & World Report ranking of the law school attended by new career lawyers plunged from 15 to 65.

Just a coincidence, I'm sure.

"Research into Stone Age humans now argues that far from having intercourse

simply to reproduce, they had sex for fun. One thing we know for sure, folks,

and that is this: Stone Age sex toys were cordless."

-- the vulgar Pigboy, trying to be funny

Neocon media smears Edwards A terrible Washington Post article criticizes John Edwards' anti-poverty agenda on the grounds that "Critics Say He Brings Few Fresh Ideas to Signature Issue." Well, um, okay. But as Jared Bernstein argues, the virtue of Edwards' plan isn't that it's fresh it's that it's a good plan. No, Edwards hasn't uncovered the Magical New Idea To End Poverty -- rather he's assembled some old-but-not-implemented good ideas, is pushing for increased efforts on some old-and-effective ideas, etc., all in recognition of the fact that despite some difficulties the country has consistently shown itself capable of significantly reducing poverty whenever we're really cared to try. Recall Jon Chait's "case against new ideas" in this context. What liberals need to do on poverty is win an election in a manner that provides some kind of plausible mandate for implementing anti-poverty policies, and then implement some good policies -- not necessarily the freshest ones.

Old. Tiring. I also don't know what it will take to kill the "bloggers are children" idea. They're wedded to it, and nothing will dissuade them from it.

Unmarried Women I meant to link to Tom Schaller's column from a couple of days ago which points out things people know but pretend not to, namely that the "center" is largely dead, comma, and unmarried women is the population segment where Dems have tremendous opportunities. Maybe someone should figure out where these mythical creatures congregate and convince them to vote.

So this is neoliberalism? To me it's just "contrarianism" gone crazy. Mickey thinks that the media and the right have been insufficiently McCarthyite about the preacher at Obama's church. He's got nothing on Obama per se; it's all smear-by-association, and yet Mickey thinks it important to encourage the media and the right to do more of it. Reels the mind ...

On "Factor" Bill O'Reilly continued his hilariously delusional and debunked attacks on George Soros (complete with spiffy, state of the art graphics). You may want to finish your drinks and extinguish all smoking devices now. video_wmv Download (868) | Play (827) video_mov Download (393) | Play (612) To prove that George Soros is the Ruler of the Universe, O'Reilly references a New York Times article on anti-war groups meeting with Democratic staffers. Of course, Soros isn't mentioned in the article, but Billy is convinced that the evil Soros is at the center of it all. The hysterical rants don't stop there. BillO once again claims that all Democrats, including John Edwards, answer directly to Mr. Soros and that he has the power to ruin entire countries at will. The hits are too numerous to mention so have at it in the comments.

pirro.jpg from the Pirro For Attorney General campaign

Corruption watch It turns out that Jeanine Pirro does have some very interesting crime-related experience:

The saga of Jeanine Pirro is about to take a dramatic new turn, with the disclosure that while serving as district attorney of Westchester, Ms. Pirro was in the habit of secretly recording work-related telephone conversations, and a federal grand jury wants to hear them.[..]

One of the reasons this is of interest is that that Ms. Pirro's successor now is in possession of a tape suggesting Ms. Pirro failed to disclose evidence that could have helped a man whom Ms. Pirro subsequently charged with murder. But the existence of any tapes immediately raises the question of whom Ms. Pirro was talking to over her years in office and what conversations, whether of a political or legal nature, might be recorded in the surviving tapes.

Do you think her buddy, Sean Hannity, will defend this too?

A year ago this month, in his West Point commencement address, President Bush compared himself to Harry Truman. On this, Truman's 123rd birthday, we take this opportunity to replay last year's debate in which the 33rd president mopped the floor with the 43rd:

Bush: I glance at the headlines, just to get kind of a flavor. I rarely read the stories.

Truman: A president either is constantly on top of events or, if he hesitates, events will soon be on top of him.

Bush: Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

Truman: In the circumstances, alarm is justified. The man who isn't alarmed simply doesn't understand the situation---or he is crazy. But alarm is one thing, and hysteria is another. Hysteria impels people to destroy the very thing they are struggling to preserve.

Bush: We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories...for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them. [T]here's theories as to where the weapons went. They could have been destroyed during the war. Saddam and his henchmen could have destroyed them as we entered into Iraq. They could be hidden. They could have been transported to another country, and we'll find out.

Truman: He's one of the few in the history of this country to run for high office talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time and lying out of both sides.

Bush: The FISA law was written in 1978. We're having this discussion in 2006. It's a different world. And FISA is still an important tool. It's an important tool. And we still use that tool. But also...and we...look, I said, look, is it possible to conduct this program under the old law? And people said, it doesn't work in order to be able to do the job we expect us to do.

Truman: It's plain hokum. If you can't convince 'em, confuse 'em. It's an old political trick.

Bush: Because the...all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those...changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be...or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled.

Truman: Why, this fellow don't know any more about politics than a pig knows about Sunday.

Bush: There are some who feel like that if they attack us that we may decide to leave prematurely. They don't understand what they are talking about if that's the case. Let me finish. There are some who feel like that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is bring `em on.

Truman: Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes and perhaps a supporter below.

Score: Bush 0 Truman 6

Happy Birthday, Harry.

Submitted by RKing on