Filtered news 5/3

Great Moments in Presidential Greatness!

George Washington: "I have no other view than to promote the public good, and am unambitious of honors not founded in the approbation of my Country."

Abraham Lincoln: "With malice toward none, and with charity for all..."

Franklin Roosevelt: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

George W. Bush: "!!"


Why isn't this our priority? CBS News reports on a new study showing that “despite billions of dollars in government spending, more than one in four children still don’t have full-time health care — .” Read the full story .

During the 2004 election, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) explained that success against terrorism will occur when terrorist acts, such as those in Iraq, are reduced to the level that “.” Kerry explained gains can be made against terrorism when “it isn’t threatening people’s lives every day, and fundamentally, it’s something that you continue to fight, but it’s not threatening the fabric of your life.”

For laying out an honest assessment of his counterterrorism approach, Kerry was mercilessly attacked by :

BUSH: Just this weekend we saw new evidence that the Senator fundamentally misunderstands the war against terror. … Our goal is not to reduce terror to some acceptable level of nuisance. Our goal is to defeat terror by staying on the offensive, destroying the networks, and spreading freedom and liberty. []

CHENEY: Nor can we think of our goal in this war in the way Senator Kerry described it yesterday in The New York Times. Quote: “We have to get back to the place,” he said, where terrorism is “a nuisance,” sort of like - and these are his comparisons — sort of like gambling and prostitution. This is naive and dangerous. []

GIULIANI: “In a conference call with reporters arranged by the Bush campaign, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, mocked Mr. Kerry for comparing terrorism to gambling and prostitution. ‘The idea that you can have an acceptable level of terrorism is frightening,’ Mr. Giuliani said.” [NYT, ]

But today in his remarks on Iraq, President Bush — without saying so explicitly — embraced Kerry’s definition of success against terrorism. “Success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives.”

So what's the next step for Congressional Dems on Iraq? from a savvy House Democratic aide we know on the pros and cons of the possible Dem strategies.

Iraq war veteran and VoteVets chairman Jon Soltz . (Background .)

Warden Jesus. The Washington Post says up to six federal prisons---in a move legal scholars say is unconstitutional---are going to start preparing inmates for their release by making them sit through . As soon as they learn how to walk across the moat, they're free to go.

Men with good taste. Senator Chris Dodd climbs a notch on my presidential ladder for a very good reason: he tells Newsday that his favorite meal is . Toss in a couple porterhouse steaks and you've got yourself a convert. Bill Richardson, your favorite food to cook is "diet milkshake"? If you ever plan to invite me over for dinner, I'm busy that night.

Truth in advertising. Got a fundraising letter from the Al Franken campaign Tuesday. The greeting: "Dear Person I'm Asking for Money." Oh, you had me at "Dear."

Only Republicans need apply. The Justice Department inspector general whether Monica Goodling was considering political affiliation when hiring entry-level assistant U.S. attorneys across the country.

Paul, it's long past time to retire On his News and Comment radio show this morning, ABC Radio Networks host said “the media should put a stop” to labeling “women and children” killed in war as “civilians.” He said, “It was civilians, for goodness sake, who decapitated New York City.” Dictionaries a civilian as “one not on active duty in the armed services or not on a police or firefighting force.” Harvey disagrees. According to him, “Since the invention of the aerial bomb five wars ago, there have been no civilians.” In other words, innocent people who are killed in war are military combatants because they are victims of a military attack.

Paul Harvey News describes itself as “the , consisting of over 1200 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network stations that broadcast around the world, and 300 newspapers.” President Bush gave Harvey the in 2005.

This isn’t the first time Harvey has callously wished for more viciousness in American war fighting. In 2005, he said the United States should use nuclear weapons in Afghanistan and Iraq. After recalling the use of atomic bombs during World War II, Harvey lamented that “we sent men with rifles into Afghanistan and Iraq and .”

He then warned of the dangers of “civiliz[ing]” ourselves too much that we won’t use weapons of mass destruction:

We didn’t come this far because we’re made of sugar candy. Once upon a time, we elbowed our way onto and across this continent by giving smallpox-infected blankets to Native Americans. That was biological warfare. And we used every other weapon we could get our hands on to grab this land from whomever.

And we grew prosperous. And yes, we greased the skids with the sweat of slaves. So it goes with most great nation-states, which — feeling guilty about their savage pasts — eventually civilize themselves out of business and wind up invaded and ultimately dominated by the lean, hungry up-and-coming who are not made of sugar candy.

Losing our slightly batty neighbor. Actor Tom Poston---best known as George Utley on Newhart---is dead at 85. Dammit. .

M*A*S*H Bush style has a wonderful slideshow up that we would never see in any American press.

I can't believe it's over. "The Stephanie Miller Show" had its final run on MSNBC this morning and she went out with bang. This interview with Maxine Waters (D-CA) should be required viewing for every American. It's all about framing the issues and few people do it better than Congresswoman Waters. Watching these women shred the Bush rhetoric on Iraq and the money for the troops is truly a thing of beauty. | | Remember, if you liked Stephanie's show and want to see more to General Manager Dan Abrams and VP Bill Wolff at MSNBC and let them know. Thanks for giving us a reason to tune into MSNBC in the mornings, Stephanie. Good luck, Mama!

The Democrats promised to conduct oversight when they took control of Congress and boy, are they delivering. On Monday, the Senate Oversight Committee held a hearing dealing with Halliburton and their exploitation of a loophole in U.S. law that allowed the company to use in order to do business with terrorist states - namely, Iran. This clip shows Democratic Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) grilling Sherry Williams, V.P. and Corporate Secretary for Halliburton about the company's deplorable ethics and questionable practices. | | Vice President Cheney continues to recieve his hefty pension from Halliburton, all the while knowing that that money is being earned with the blood of American soldiers. These people have no morals and no conscience. It's all about the almighty dollar, screw the troops and screw the American people. They're going to get thiers no matter where the money comes from and how many people have to die to get it. This by any means, but getting these scumbags in front of Congress and forcing them to answer for their disgusting business practices is, and it's about time. Enjoy the show…

Holy crap Breaching the through illegal immigration…A look at that other …A massive rally in support …We reported this a while back but nobody does it hearts L. Ron Hubbard…Southern Baptist seminary president says Romney's Mormonism for evangelical voters… on hate crimes…Christopher Hitchens , but not God…True believers ready …Just a matter of days until the …Get out your crayons, the Institute for has put out a call for scholarly papers…

Keith takes a critical look back at all the "progress" Bush has cited over the past four years. If the "mission" was "bringing democracy to the people of Iraq," haven't we already "accomplished" that? | |

Or what's left of them Senate Rove emails on US Attorney Purge. Paul Kiel notes: “Since the subpoena is to the Justice Department and not to the White House, it .”

The American front on the "War on Terror" has taken some interesting turns this week, especially if you're the trainwreck that is Debbie Schlussel, who you may remember sees . Knowing that to most of us, a grasp on reality is important, . Yet, as petrified as Debbie is over a couple of teenagers with cherry bombs, she remains blithely indifferent to the or worse, . Obviously, for Debbie, the amount of melanin she suspects is in your skin dictates whether it's considered terrorist activities. Sadly, Cliff Schecter suspects that Michael Chertoff may actually be getting his Homeland Security ideas from the same shallow pool as Schlussel. Yes, i

Army: You can kill and die for the Constitution, but you can't use it “The U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to , without first clearing the content with a superior officer, Wired News has learned. The directive, issued April 19, is the sharpest restriction on troops’ online activities since the start of the Iraq war. And it could mean the end of military blogs, observers say.”

John Mellencamp is an authentic, all-American voice from the heartland. He never did move to L.A.; still lives with his family in his native Indiana. It's an old story that John's views aren't often in sync with the Bush Regime's. But one thing is clear: even if Mellencamp doesn't support the occupation of Iraq, he certainly supports the troops. A few nights ago, in the tradition of Bob Hope– and on the same cramped stage at Walter Reed Hospital where Hope played– John sang 14 of his most beloved songs for 200 wounded vets and their families. The .

Bush wouldn't be manipulating the media, would he? :

Facing a mountain of bad news, the Bush administration needed some good news heading into this weekend. Its "AIDS czar" abruptly resigned after admitting . Two were released in the widening U.S. attorneys purge case. to discuss Iraq War intelligence, and the President earned a in a new poll.

The administration got its good news: . But when Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, who is believed to have planned the July 7, 2005, subway attacks in London, was captured — sometime last fall — raises questions about whether the timing of the story's release was guided by newsworthiness or an effort to combat an unflattering news cycle.

Remember that great ? It would be interesting to see a similar correlation study done here.

Hey immigration nuts! Check it out: The Los Angeles Times describes yesterday’s immigration rallies as “a sea of U.S. flags, waved cheerfully by people asking to join a country conflicted about their welcome. Other than a Fourth of July on the Washington Mall, it’s hard to think of a .”

Meanwhile, here's how the "natives" acted: CNN reported a disturbing account from an immigration rally in Los Angeles yesterday:

It was a dramatic and chaotic end to what was otherwise a peaceful day here in Los Angeles. … Police started to move and disperse the crowd and fired rubber bullets, dozens of rubber bullets, into the crowd. People went running and fleeing, trying to get out of their way, and there really was, there didn’t seem to be any warning. Police just took ground and moved forward and started firing on this crowd. … There were a lot of children and families at the rally, in the crowd, and I’ve got to tell you, there really wasn’t a lot of warning.

Working for the DC madam Ben Smith has the to work for Pamela Martin's service:

  1. Minimum age 23 (no maximum)
  2. Weight proportionate to height
  3. Two or more years of college education
  4. Must hold a day job or attend school regularly
  5. Must own or have access to an automobile
  6. Must have a cellular or car telephone

Now how's that for -- two years' college to be a hooker?

Don't miss it: Rudy Giuliani's about ... ferrets. Yes, Ferrets. Quoted in full.

Neocon media . Last Thursday evening, he proved it. (I'm proud to say that I thought Williams was a knob long before it was popular to think so!--RK)

Funny with a bite On February 12, Stephen cited the Pentagon Inspector General's report and that Doug Feith was guilty of manipulating intelligence about Iraq. After NPR replayed a sound clip from the "The Report", Feith — who Tommy Franks "the [expletive] stupidest guy on the face of the earth" — complained to NPR and was issued a correction. Being the big man that he is, Stephen apologized last night…for the sloppy research of his interns. | | "I'm sorry. Feith is right. I did say "manipulated" when I should have said quote "produced alternative intelligence assessments" in a manner that was quote "inappropriate." HUGE DIFFERENCE!"

Fred Thompson is a joke Thompson is a guy whose political record in the Senate was a big zero; whose only real claim to fame is being a character actor on TV and in films; who has done nothing to distinguish himself this year except deliver a few vaguely Reaganesque pastiches in a nice baritone; who is apparently not Christian enough for James Dobson's taste; who has no known issues that he really cares deeply about; and whose most famous quality is his laziness. That sure doesn't sound like the resume of a guy who's going to rescue the Republican Party to me. The fact that so many people are talking him up seems like it says more about the suicidally desperate state of the GOP than it does about the actual presidential prospects of Fred Thompson.

The joke continues.... Last night on Hannity & Colmes, former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) claimed that congressional leaders are “adhering, to the extent they can, to the most left-wing element of their base. You know, and those folks are running the Democratic Party. And they’re taking extremist positions and doing extremist things.” He added: “Harry Reid is doing things that I think the American people are going to reject.”

Thompson has been out of politics for some time and apparently hasn’t been following U.S. public opinion very closely. A few things he should note:

favor setting a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq sometime in 2008
– By a , the public favors Congress over Bush in having the final say on troop levels
– The public’s fear is not that Congress will go too far (31 percent), but rather, that Bush won’t make enough changes ()

In the interview, Thompson also said war critics are “as near to investing in defeat of their own country as anything I’ve ever seen.” Maybe Thompson hasn’t been paying attention to the Iraq war either. Bush’s management over the entire Iraq adventure has been an investment in one failure after another, and has forced Congress to demand accountability and change course. But Thompson was too busy criticizing war critics to note any of Bush’s failures.

Domestic spying The Bush administration wants to change the rules that govern domestic spying, but oddly enough,

With little apparent success, they portrayed the administration bill as merely an adjustment to technological changes wrought by cellphones, e-mail and the Internet since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was enacted in the 1970s.

....But Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) responded, "We look through the lens of the past to judge how much we can trust you."

....[Sen. John] Rockefeller pressed a demand for documents and was joined by vice chair Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-Mo.). "There is simply no excuse for not providing to this committee all the legal opinions on the president's program," Rockefeller said.

I'd say their skepticism is well founded. Remember Bush's promise last January to put the NSA's domestic wiretapping program under control of the FISA court? During the same hearing, "The president's authority under Article II is in the Constitution," Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell told Russ Feingold. "So if the president chose to exercise Article II authority, that would be the president's call."

Translation: the president's promise to Congress is meaningless. Glad we got that cleared up.

Neocon media Some days it's really

However this ends up playing out, backing down when the polls are with you and everyone hates Bush and the war makes you the people on the teevee keep saying you are. Meanwhile,

Oh surprise, surprise. After Carol Lam was fired last December, she had a conversation with DOJ official Michael Elston. When Lam asked to be able to stay on briefly to oversee certain key cases. Elston told her she had to be gone in and that the order for her firing was "coming from the very highest levels of the government."

'Very highest levels of the government'. I don't think Monica Goodling or Kyle Sampson count in that category, do they?

Also of interest, given the DOJ's cover story for Lam's firing, Lam called Deputy AG McNulty and asked why she was being fired. According to Lam: "He responded that he wanted some time to think about how to answer that question because he didn’t want to give me an answer 'that would lead' me down the wrong route. He added that he knew I had personally taken on a long trial and he had great respect for me. Mr. McNulty never responded to my question."

I guess no one had clued McNulty in on the 'immigration enforcement' talking points.

Dribbling while black Alan Schwartz :

A coming paper by a University of Pennsylvania professor and a Cornell University graduate student says that, during the 13 seasons from 1991 through 2004, white referees called fouls at a greater rate against black players than against white players.


O’Reilly, 2/27/06: “” Oops: A new by Indiana University media researchers finds that Fox News host Bill O’Reilly calls “a person or a group a derogatory name once every 6.8 seconds, on average, or nearly nine times every minute during the editorials that open his program each night.”

The study documented six months worth, or 115 episodes, of O’Reilly’s “Talking Points Memo” editorials “using propaganda analysis techniques made popular after World War I.” Researchers found that O’Reilly “was prone to inject fear into his commentaries and quick to resort to name-calling. He also frequently assigned roles or attributes — such as ‘villians’ or downright ‘evil’ — to people and groups.

Some findings from the study:

– Fear was used in more than half (52.4 percent) of the commentaries, and O’Reilly almost never offered a resolution to the threat. For example, in a commentary on “left-wing” media unfairly criticizing Attorney Gen. Alberto Gonzales for his role in the Abu Ghraib scandal, O’Reilly considered this an example of America “slowly losing freedom and core values,” and added, “So what can be done? Unfortunately, not much.”

– The researchers identified 22 groups of people that O’Reilly referenced in his commentaries, and while all 22 were described by O’Reilly as bad at some point, the people and groups most frequently labeled bad were the political left — Americans as a group and the media (except those media considered by O’Reilly to be on the right).

– Left-leaning media (21.6 percent) made up the largest portion of bad people/groups, and media without a clear political leaning was the second largest (12.2 percent). When it came to evil people and groups, illegal aliens (26.8 percent) and terrorists (21.4 percent) were the largest groups.

The techniques used by Indiana University researchers to study O’Reilly were also “used during the late 1930s to study another prominent voice in a war-era, Father Charles Coughlin. His sermons evolved into a darker message of anti-Semitism and fascism, and he became a defender of Hitler and Mussolini.” The researchers note, “O’Reilly is a .”

Cheers to Diane Feinstein. For introducing a bill to the shame of our nation---the torture prison at Guantanamo. When they auction off the surplus torture devices, I call dibs on that curly black thing with the wires coming out of it. Next time my teenage daughter's boyfriend comes over....

Fooling us again. After promising to adhere to the 1978 FISA law earlier this year, the Bush administration has changed its mind and says they'll wiretap your ass without a warrant . Fumes Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: "Where’s the transparency as to the presidential authorizations for this closed program?" Same place as all those weapons of mass destruction, we 'spect.

Cat's out of the bag DOJ official to fired US Attorney Bud Cummins: circumventing the senate was the "."

Here's a first look at a being aired by John Edwards demanding that Congress continue standing up to the White House on Iraq. It's a . I like the idea of real people looking into the camera and saying, basically, "Screw the jerk in the White House who got us into this're right, Democrats, and we've got your back." And the free Spiderman 3 collectors cup tie-in is marketing genius.

Neocon media Meet the New Note

Corruption watch New US Attorney Purge revelations just out at The House Judiciary Committee has just released its correspondence with the fired US Attorneys. And we've got the documents and new revelations they contain. First up, Deputy AG McNulty told the Senat Judiciary Committee that Nevada USA Daniel Bogden had been let go for "performance related" reasons. But McNulty in a phone call in December. More revelations coming

Summer book reading? Not! Jeff Gerth is on Hillary Clinton? ? This promises to be as much fun as getting shot in the face.

Breaking news! I'm Veronica Helmet-Hair in Washington. We interrupt this broadcast for a breaking news bombshell that you wouldn't guess in a million or even a gajillion years. Apparently Black and Hispanic motorists are . We'll have breaking updates---with their own theme music---every two minutes throughout the day as this story unfolds. I can't wait to see how it ends!!!

An acceptable level of violence? It used to be that George W. Bush defined success in Iraq as a country that could sustain itself, govern itself and defend itself. , Bush lowered the bar:

Either we'll succeed, or we won't succeed. And the definition of success as I described is sectarian violence down. Success is not, no violence. There are parts of our own country that have got a certain level of violence to it. But success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives. And that's what we're trying to achieve.

So, what does mean?

Q How do you define an acceptable level of violence? I mean, how can that possibly be defined?

MR. SNOW: That's a very good question. I don't have an answer.

Another well thought out Bush policy.

Molly Ivins Moment:

"Sunday-morning chatter announced in horror: ‘People may think the rich can buy their way out of the justice system.’ No sh*t. Been going to Texas prisons for a long time. Seen nobody rich on Death Row yet. . . . Wake me when impending egalitarianism is a problem. In the meantime, oligarchy is eating our ass, our dreams, our country, our heritage, our democracy, our justice, and our tax code."

Once again, Feingold stands alone and correct Words for the :

The ink on the President's veto is barely dry, and already, a lot of Washington insiders - including some Democrats -- are saying Congress should just give in to the President. Never mind how hard people have pushed to bring Congress to this point, when we are finally standing up to the President's disastrous Iraq policy -- they want to give up on the binding language in the bill requiring the President to begin redeploying troops from Iraq. But that's just letting the President have his way all over again. That's the kind of thinking that got us into this war in the first place, and it's not going to cut it anymore.

We can't keep giving in to this Administration on Iraq. Every time the Administration gets its way, it means that our troops will remain stuck in the middle of Iraq's civil war, and our national security will continue to be undermined. With so many Americans demanding that our involvement in this war come to an end, backing down is not the answer. No one else should die in Iraq to give political comfort to dealmakers in Washington....

The next step to ending the war isn't to give in, but to step up the pressure on the President. I'm pleased to be working with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on a bill to end our open-ended military commitment in Iraq. Now that the President has rejected the will of the American people with this veto, our bill, or some other proposal to end funding for a failed policy, should be the next step to end the war.

Feingold is absolutely correct. The Democratic Congress must hang tough, particularly to the deadline set in Feingold-Reid--the deadline recommended by the Iraq Study Group--for a withdrawal of troops by March 31, 2008. Bush is holding all of America, but most particularly the troops, hostage to his whim, to his failure. Congress cannot let him have his way.

screwing your friends. How inept is this administration? So inept that it couldn’t even figure out how to :

Allies offered $854 million in cash and in oil that was to be sold for cash. But only $40 million has been used so far for disaster victims or reconstruction, according to U.S. officials and contractors. Most of the aid went uncollected, including $400 million worth of oil. Some offers were withdrawn or redirected to private groups such as the Red Cross. The rest has been delayed by red tape and bureaucratic limits on how it can be spent.

Let me repeat that: the party of big money and big oil couldn’t figure out how to accept free money and free oil. My only guess is they were chewing bubble gum at the same time.

Muttering morons. This is what UPI's Martin Walker said while sitting on the "liberal" side of the panel on The McLaughlin Group last weekend. The subject was the funding bill for Iraq and how Dick Cheney and Harry Reid were trading verbal jabs:

"What we saw were the two least-acceptable faces of the two sides of this argument. Cheney is no longer particularly credible or particularly solid debater over his own case. [Harry] Reid, I think, well, we're already hearing mutterings in the Democratic party about how much longer he's going to be the leader."

Oh really? Let's see: All of the Democratic Senate members (plus Joe Lieberman of the Lieberman for Lieberman party) signed a letter in the Washington Post last week in response to similar wankery from columnist David Broder. There has been no widespread criticism from House members or other leading Democratic leaders, and public polling shows Reid with considerably more support than the previous Senate Majority Leader, Republican Bill Frist. Further, to lump Dick Cheney's six-year history as a liar, attacker and smearer with Harry Reid's exemplary record is intellectually dishonest. So other than having his head so far up his ass he could become a polyp farmer, Walker is absolutely, um, batshit crazy.

On Monday, the Commission charged with investigating Israel's military campaign against Lebanon last summer to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Last night on "The Daily Show," Jon broke down the contents of the report and noticed some staggering parallels between the conduct of Olmert and Bush. | | On a more serious note, Glenn yesterday:

All of this underscores a fundamental difference between Israel and the right-wing faction in the U.S. For Israel — whatever else you might think about its policies and government — war is an extremely serious matter. They don't send other people's children off to fight the wars they cheer on; their own children fight the wars. During the invasion of Lebanon, missiles continuously landed deep in Israeli territory, killing killing or wounding hundreds and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes or live in bomb shelters. -16863">
(Read the rest of this story…)

Good reading Three years ago this week Paul Rieckhoff, fresh from duty in Iraq as a 1st Lieutenant in the National Guard, made headlines when he with President Bush in a battle of Saturday morning radio addresses. Since then, as founder of , he's appeared countless times on TV and radio shows, speaking out against often-shoddy treatment of our troops while telling their stories of heroism and dedication under extreme circumstances.

In his book Chasing Ghosts (out this week ), Paul says this about the role of humor in a hellhole:

I have this belief that even, or maybe especially, in times of horror and unbearable psychological stress, humans have an innate need to relieve some of the constant pressure through humor. Anybody who's lived in a war zone or survived a concentration camp will tell you this. It's bizarre what strikes you as funny in these nightmarish environments.

Recently I asked Paul to talk a little bit more about humor as it relates to Iraq...

Do the brass understand the role of humor when the troops are deployed? Do they do anything to encourage it?
I think the good leaders do. They understand that humor is a key part of military life. It helps you get through the cold nights, the long patrols and all the holidays away from home. While I don’t think General Patraeus will be doing stand up anytime soon, I’ll bet there are more than a few surge jokes bouncing around his command right now. USO show attendance is encouraged, which usually features a few comedians. Al Franken goes to Iraq all the time and he deserves a ton of credit for it. Al may very well have been to Iraq more times than his 2008 Minnesota Senate opponent, Norm Coleman.

American soldiers in Iraq would provide a lifetime of material for a stand up comic. My friend, who has written a ton of funny stuff about being in Iraq and the Army. He is another guy who should get some thanks and credit for bravely doing shows in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Did you see a difference in soldiers who had a sense of humor during deployment versus those who didn't...that is, did the humorless seem to crack under the strain more often?
Definitely. Humor keeps you loose. It helps you relax---even if only for a moment---and find something good in every day. Making Iraqi kids laugh could keep you sane. There are many stories of POWs and other folks in terrible situations relying on humor to help keep themselves together. Kurt Vonnegut is a great example---he survived the bombing of Dresden as a POW in World War Two and sometimes talked about the black humor he had to develop to get through it.

How about the Iraqis you were in contact they react to humor differently than we do? Do they find things funny that we wouldn't?
I was initially surprised by how funny the Iraqi people were. They are always cracking jokes and keeping things light. I am sure the collective sense of humor developed in part as a coping mechanism to help deal with the dark days under Saddam.

They are much better at laughing at themselves then we are. And they seem to take themselves much less seriously---which is a good thing. Well they found us pretty damn funny in general. All our gear, our chewing tobacco, our music. My interpreter would always rip on me for trying to quit smoking. "Oh Rieckhoff, you Americans think you are going to live forever!" he would say.

Along with Fiasco and Imperial Life in the Emerald City, I consider Chasing Ghosts one of the three most important books on the Iraq experience. The first two explore the botched planning and execution of the occupation with a wide-angle lens. Paul describes the mayhem, the Catch-22s and, yes, the moments of black humor close-up...from the perspective of the proverbial "boots on the ground." It's a great read and I .

The Republic party's first presidential debate between filthy-rich (or is that filthy, rich) white men in the reddest of red states---California. Some serious advice for our noble opposition, free of charge:

Rudy Giuliani: Tonight you have an opportunity to put the behind you and increase your lead over the rest of the pack by demonstrating your take-charge persona. Let's face it: fear is your hammer and 9/11 is your nail, so you might as well go all the way with it. Here's your game plan: whenever moderator Chris Matthews asks hollers a question, pull out your , put it over your face, and run around the stage as you shout your answer. For dramatic effect, cough a lot and yell "look out!" If the audience stampedes for the exits, you win. Also: If you plan to wear pearls, be discreet. And compare yourself to Reagan.

John McCain: What are we going to do with you, John? You've morphed from fiery maverick to doddering old man faster than it takes a gnat to reach puberty. But you have one ace up your sleeve: your for George W. Bush. Tonight I want you to emulate the president's positions right down the line, from Iraq to Social Security privatization to disaster management to environmental policy to feeding tube removal...everything. You'll instantly endear yourself to the 25 percent of Americans who still think "43" walks on water. Make sure you leave the 'g' off your verbs ("fightin' evildoers" "turnin' corners" "decidin' decisions"). Don't forget to "Squint and hunch." And if none of that works, compare yourself to Reagan.

Mitt Romney: Look at you---all polished and fine with that Gleem™ smile and those hundred-dollar argyle socks and all those on the issues. Tonight you need to bury the real Mitt Romney and rely on striking visual aids to show that you've truly become a Stepford Conservative. 1) Pull out a test tube full of human blastocysts and wave around a pistol while threatening to shoot any "varmint" between the eyes who tries to "murder" them for medical research (don't worry---no one on your team will catch the irony). 2) Brandish a same-sex marriage certificate signed by "Beelzebub" as proof that gays are here to destroy the American way of life. 3) Hold up a King James Bible and proclaim---in a southern drawl---"I have been saved from my wicked polygamy ways!" Also: compare yourself to Reagan.

Fred Thompson: You just sit back in your La-Z-Boy at home with a brat, a beer, and your lovely ( lovely) young wife on your lap while you point at your TV screen and laugh your head off.

The Rest: There's only one thing you can do to have any chance of connecting with anyone who might even consider voting for you: turn into Ronald Reagan.

And one last piece of advice for the entire field: Don't be yourself. You'll only scare the children.

Hypocrisy watch Word of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) bipartisan delegation to Syria was first made public on March 30 during a State Department press briefing. Spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters, “In our view, to have those sort of high-profile visitors to Syria… [W]e don’t think it would be appropriate for high-level visitors, even those from the Congress, to pay a visit to Syria right now.” Apparently, one month later, to meet with Syrian officials:

A senior Iraqi official and a senior Arab diplomat say Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will meet Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem in Egypt on Thursday or Friday.

It would be Rice’s first meeting with a Syrian foreign minister since she took over at the State Department in 2005, adding potentially significant bilateral talks to a regional session meant to help stabilize Iraq.

As Carpetbagger notes, “Literally just one month ago, the Bush administration said U.S. officials with the Syrian government.” Vice President Cheney called Pelosi’s effort “.” President Bush said Pelosi’s delegation was “.” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino suggested Pelosi was visiting to “” with Syria’s prime minister.

The supreme irony: two weeks ago, President Bush reportedly pulled Pelosi aside after a meeting and “told her he did not criticize her recent trip to Syria.” Bush told Pelosi “in an unsolicited comment that .”

American Injustice Just five days before last November’s elections, was the lead editorial from the Wall Street Journal:

So, less than a week before the midterm elections, four workers from Acorn, the liberal activist group that has registered millions of voters, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for submitting false voter registration forms to the Kansas City, Missouri, election board…. We wish this were an aberration, but allegations of fraud have tainted Acorn voter drives across the country. Acorn workers have been convicted in Wisconsin and Colorado, and investigations are still under way in Ohio, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

The good news for anyone who cares about voter integrity is that the Justice Department finally seems poised to connect these dots instead of dismissing such revelations as the work of a few yahoos. After the federal indictments were handed up in Kansas City this week, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement that “This national investigation is very much ongoing.”

It sounded like a serious voter-fraud crisis. After all, the Justice Department has a long-standing policy of avoiding election law prosecutions immediately before voters head to the polls, so for these indictments to come down with less than a week before the midterms, there had to be some serious wrongdoing. And if so, it made some sense for the right-wing WSJ editorial page to gloat about it.

What we didn’t know at the time, however, was the truth. Bradley Schlozman — the former U.S. Attorney for Kansas City and controversial deputy head at the Civil Rights Division — appears to have for maximum political benefit.

Neocon media charts the latest "WTF moment" from the Moonie Times.

Day two of "The Stephanie Miller Show" on MSNBC brought us more great progressive talk and guests. Frank Rich of the New York Times joined Stephanie in discussing his article which deals with the run up to the invasion of Iraq and how the press, including the Times, gave the President a free pass. Rich makes a stunning revelation that the New York Times recently made the decision to stop attending events such as the White House Correspondent's dinner. As you may recall, at this year's WHCA dinner the President decided to forgo the tradional humorous speech, invoking the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech. Here's what Frank had to say about that: | |

Rich: "It was ok last year when Stephen Colbert was there to do - as people are - American troops are dying in Iraq, to yuck it up with a Bush impersonator, but Virginia Tech which is death that he cannot be held responsible for, uh - he's going to milk for the second time in a week for PR purposes and the press sits there, you know as sort of dress extras in a movie scene."

Who is to blame for VA-Tech tragedy?

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May 3, 2007 - 9:40am