I Haven't Been Posting Much

I haven't been posting much because I am working on a union research contract. We've got John Emerson and Richard and sometimes Thomas, and I'm looking for guest bloggers (any volunteers?) to fill the slack as well.



The word all the wingnuts must use to describe Air America Radio is "boring". On Crossfire yesterday, Tucker Carlson took care of his obligations to the talking points right off the bat. But he wasn't quite ready for Franken's answer. The whole place cracked up, even Bowtie Boy himself.

CARLSON: Al Franken, thanks for joining us.

Like all good liberals I spent a good part of my day listening to your show, "The O'Franken Factor." And I want to read back to you an exchange that took place between you and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

This is your pretty hard-hitting question. You said, quote, "Senator, you went to Iraq and Afghanistan right after Thanksgiving, right?"

"During Thanksgiving," said Mrs. Clinton.

Quote from you, "Tell us about that a bit."

Now here's my question. You're not simply liberal, but you're a partisan Democrat. Doesn't an exchange like this give people the impression that you're not going to be tough on Democrats, that you're essentially part of the establishment? That you're playing for a team and not for an idea? And isn't the result boring?

FRANKEN: I think that you took that out of context, because I said, I think you would have liked this better, because I think you left out, I said "Tell us a little bit about that, bitch."

Everything has changed

Avedon deconstructs:

While Journalistan was roaming around the dictionary after 9/11 declaring that "everything has changed," the administration, more than anyone, was acting like nothing had - nothing had changed even since 1987.

But Journalistan, too, was letting the Bushistas get away with this refusal to understand that terrorism is terrorism. "Everything has changed," apparently meant, "We don't have to make sense anymore." 9/11 didn't mean we could no longer make ICBMs our principal (and maybe only) fear, or that terrorism was independent of individual states, or that 9/11 could happen - oh, no. "Everything has changed" was never meant to apply to the means of warfare that might be used against us or what we understood about the way the world sees us. It didn't apply to anything outside of the purest partisan politics. It only meant that our attitudes toward George W. Bush were supposed to have changed - that suddenly we were supposed to believe he was a great president.

Bush's reputation has taken a hit

An earlier poll made it seem that the Clarke revelations were having no real effect on public opinion. This more recent CBS poll shows the opposite, and I think that the other poll was taken before the news had had time to sink in.

Counter-terrorism is really one of the few things Bush has to sell, and he really needs overwhelming support on this issue if he's going to be reelected.

"The latest CBS News poll, conducted Tuesday through Thursday, shows declines in the president's approval ratings in a number of policy areas, but especially changes in the evaluation of the president's handling of terrorism.

Six in ten Americans are following the hearings closely; 56 percent say the administration is cooperating with the panel. But what the administration is saying does not receives high marks: 59 percent say it is hiding something it knew before Sept. 11, and 11 percent even say it is lying. Only one in four think the administration is telling the entire truth.....

When asked whether Bush administration policies have made the U.S. safer from terrorism, 53 percent say they have – but that is a decline of nine points in two weeks."


I just sent my 2 cents to Air America Radio.

Subject: Two words

Mike Malloy.

OK, more than two words. Randi is great. The "stars" are marginal. You need something hot, talented and radio-competent, and there's only one other (besides Randi) host in the country who can bring what you need.

Do this: Kill the awful (sorry, but I don't know of anyone who can stand it) 7-8 show. Start Janeane at 7:00. Put on Mike for three hours at 10:00.

Are you serious or not?

Jobs in Portland Oregon?

I've been looking for a part-time job for the last while. I'd especially like a job doing writing, internet research or some kind of Democratic political work, but if I don't find that I will take almost anything. I need to earn $500-$1,000 / month one way or another.

Details here.


9/11 survivors' partisan anti-Clarke letter

In an open letter published in the New York Post (story), about forty 9/11 survivors have accused Clarke of profiteering and divisiveness. They accuse of him of partisanship -- a charge for which there is no real evidence -- but then themselves come up with these Republican talking points:

"[N]o one could have known that 19 terrorists already in the United States would hijack domestic aircraft and fly them in to the World Trade Center and Pentagon..... In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, it was President Bush who helped unite America and guide us through that devastating time. Since 9/11, he has taken the fight to the terrorists abroad. He recognizes that America is at war and has made the difficult choices necessary to destroy the terrorists and confront those who harbor them."

In an earlier story about Bush's 9/11 political ads in the Washington Times, one of the Post letter's signers, Rosemary Cain, is quoted as follows: "Anything that memorializes the victims of 9/11 is right and good," said Mrs. Cain, adding that "it angers me that they are flapping over" the imagery in the Bush ads.  "President Bush displayed courage and tenacity. He brought this city together and this country together," she said. "He deserves to be able to speak on September 11th."

In the same Times story, another signer of the Post letter, Ernest Strada (the Republican mayor of Westbury, New York -- and if you read the story, apparently not a very good one) said that he was "really disappointed — appalled — at some elected officials for the attacks on the president for the way he feels about the importance of us remembering" September 11.  "We're not only here to support our son, we're here to support the president and to feel good about ourselves."

Another signer, Frank Siller, donated money from the foundation founded in his brother Stephen's memory to Oliver North's Freedom Alliance.

Another, Arlene Howard, is featured on the White House website since Sept. 14, 2001, when she gave her son's badge to President Bush at a memorial in New York.

Three of the signers, including Boyle and Strada, also show up in this story about 9/11 and Iraq War survivors' ambivalence about President Bush.

Nothing in the letter says anything at all about the truth of what Clarke was saying; it merely calls his motives into question. (This is characteristic of attacks on Clarke). There seems to have been very little real non-partisanship in this open letter decrying Clarke's supposed partisanship (for which there is no real evidence anyway). It looks more as if they, by attacking Clarke, were giving their own partisan support to Bush. My guess is, that with a little more research, we'd find that other signers had their own axes to grind.

P.S. (from comments): If you look at the three stories, Mayor Strada appears in all of them, and he brought along six members of his family to sign the letter. My guess is that this is his baby, though Boyle's position at the top of the signers may mean that he was the one who actually wrote or circulated the letter.

Before someone jumps on me, I should say that Oliver North's foundation seems to be a genuine charitable group, and not explicitly political. But one suspects that someone who donates to an Oliver North charity is on North's wavelength otherwise too.

There's nothing wrong with the letter per se. Except for the claim to be opposing politicization, when the letter is itself political and written to support the politician Bush. And you could add, except for the attack on Clarke's motives. (Republicans love money, but when other people have it, it's sinful). And except for the ungrounded claims about Bush's performance -- the letter addresses none of Clarkes' substantive points. And then, the letter is presumably part of the coordinated effort to disparage the "partisan" activities of Kristin Breitweiser and the other anti-Bush survivors.....

Note that the Newsday editors didn't let Strada's speech pass. What they print has obviously been edited down from a longer canned speech: "I’m appalled at what [other politicians ] are doing to Bush. . . . I’m sure that despite political differences, everyone supported the president at that time. Caught in the frenzy of the political season . . . their memories are cloudy."

Certainly it originally read "I’m appalled at what the politicians are doing to Bush".

More "Under the Radar" Bush Lies

A friend wrote to me about the Kerry campaign's response to something he is hearing. He was reading something from a guy and:
"He claimed that his accountant told him that it was well-known that Kerry was planning to tax rich people, but he defined rich people as anyone making more than $40,000!

This is important. This is what's being stated EVERWHERE. THAT is what I wanted to find a rebuttal to on Kerry's site. Couldn't find it. More important, couldn't find an issue tab called TAXES. It is crucial to be absolutely STRAIGHTFORWARD about these issues. If Kerry is going to be afraid that he'll be Walter Mondale, then he WILL BE Walter Mondale.
So what I get from this is:

1) I wonder if the Kerry campaign KNOWS that the Bush people are circulating "under the radar" the lie that Kerry is talking about people making more then $40,000 when he talks about tax cuts on "the rich." (This corresponds exactly to what I hear on right-wing radio, by the way.)

2) The Kerry campaign should have their finger on this stuff, and have places on their website with information that refutes what the Right is claiming. They don't.

Update -
"I'm saying a little more. I'm saying what you just said. But also I suspect that they don't already have an issues tab called TAXES because they are consciously or unconsciously afraid to even say the word. You and I know that Repugs win on two issues: (alleged) low taxes and keeping the you-know-who down. If you want to beat them you have to say as clearly as you possibly can that you know this and that you are on to them and here's what is good for the country and here's what you're going to do. Be proud of it.

That's the deeper observation, but superficially, yeah, the web site needs to be much more DIRECTLY responsive to the repugs. And that cannot be done with NEWS sections or ANSWERING THEM sections. It needs to be done with top-level, ISSUES tabs. Right at the top of the site. The tabs I want are there, but they are not AGGRO enough."

Air America Radio

Air America Radio is on the air now. Click to listen live online.

Update - Their server appears absolutely swamped. I had it for a while, heard Al Franken's voice, then it went down. Trying to reconnect...

Update - Did you hear Randi Rhodes telling Ralph Nader what she thought? Randi is now my hero forever. This is great.

It's Working

Surprise, surprise, Bush's ads are working. Bush Scores Points By Defining Kerry:
"Since the end of the Democratic primaries, attacks on John F. Kerry by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, backed by millions of dollars in negative ads, have wiped out the narrow lead Kerry enjoyed at the beginning of the month and damaged his public image.

[. . .] A month later, more voters see Kerry as "too liberal," and a solid majority says he is someone who has changed his positions on issues for political reasons -- both charges leveled by the Bush campaign's daily attacks through ads and public statements."
Everyone knew this is what the Bush people would do. Yet I haven't seen the Kerry campaign doing much (in marketing terms) to counter this. If they let Bush "define" him among many voters as "too liberal" and as someone who changes his mind or says what he thinks voters want to hear, it will be very difficult for him to find his way back.

But maybe this is because I am in California, so I don't see the ads or read the papers from the battleground states where things are happening. As it is I just don't see a high degree of consumer marketing awareness -- which is where the tobacco marketers handling the Bush campaign are at.

Update - I just left the following comment to this post talking about Bush's flip-flops over at Angry Bear:
Fine, but this isn't how marketing works. Bush is out there with ads that say Kerry flip-flops. Kerry is not out there with ads that say Bush does. So Bush wins.

It's called "defining." In consumer marketing it's called "branding." Bush is the "low tax, leadership" brand. Can you tell me what the Kerry brand is?

I saw Kerry speak Monday. He was all about issues and positions. But Bush is all about feelings and values. He has simple phrases that he repeats over and over. That is marketing. That is what works. Bush has tobacco marketing people handling his ads. Kerry appears to have 80's Democrat political marketing people handling his campaign.
Bush is the "low tax, leadership" brand. Can you tell me what the Kerry brand is? If not, why not?

Just to cheer everyone up

Kevin Drum has linked to this graph of Bush's 10-poll average approval ratings. It's really beautiful. Since his 9/11 85% rating, his approval has descended to about 48%. There have been two wartime spikes on the way, but after each spike the approval drops again.

The wartime spikes tell us, of course, that Bush will make security his main issue. The only other issues he's got are low taxes and the social issues, and most people have made up their minds about those. The poll also tells us why they will do anything whatever to destroy Clarke, and why, even if they didn't really want to (JOKE!), the republicans would be forced to run a negative campaign. Bush really can't run on his record.

Past experience tells us that poll results don't ultimately mean anything. The Republicans are masters at spreading large amounts of confusion at the last minute, and my belief is that they actually do not want landslides. For them, political capital is something to spend in order to ram their policies through, and if they had 65% approval they would just take that as justification for pushing an unpopular part of their agenda a little bit harder.

But still -- Bush is NOT "a popular President".


Mormons Breaking Law?

At the american street: Are the Mormons sharing lists with the GOP? If so, it would be illegal. Of course, who's gonna do anything about it?

A Joke, Right?

The terms, if the 9/11 Commission falls for the White House's "deal" for Rice to testify:
"Second, the commission must agree in writing that it will not request additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice."
That would include, for example, Bush. And from CNN:
Commissioners said they accepted those terms and would work to schedule a session "promptly."
Suckers. Fell for it completely. What a joke - we're trying to look at what weaknesses in the country led to 9/11, and this is what we get from our own Administration and Commission.


The Band At The Fundraiser

I went to a fundraiser in San Francisco this evening. The band that played consisted of Boz Skaggs, Ray Manzarek (from the Doors), Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart (from the Dead), and Norton Buffalo and Roy Rogers. I first saw The Dead with my mother when I was 13 or 14 at a small free concert in Ann Arbor. My hair started growing. Then I saw them at Woodstock. But I never saw the Doors and have always wanted to see Ray Manzarek perform, so tonite was a big occasion for me!

I didn't know until I looked that up on Google that Norton Buffalo and Roy Rogers are on Blind Pig records! Many years ago I used to hang around at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor! I even drove down to Chicago for a Zappa concert once with the guy who owned the place (and the record company.) Before the concert we were hanging around with the drummer, Terry Bozio, because someone with us knew him. (I wound up sitting behind the bass amp holding it in place through the entire concert because it was sliding around.) After the concert we all went to a party where The Who showed up.

Update - OH YEAH! John Kerry spoke too. He was great. And they raised $3 million!

Kerry's Lead Drops 8 Points

The poll says Bush Support Steady in Wake of Clarke Criticisms: but actually, "He [Bush] is now running even with Sen. John Kerry in a head-to-head match-up among registered voters (47% Kerry- 46% Bush) after trailing Kerry by 52%-43% in mid-March."

Simple messages, repeated over and over. "Kerry will raise your taxes." "Kerry will not protect your children." "Kerry waffles on issues." And one thing I think is a big factor, under the radar smears being circulated over the internet.

Bring It Back To Bush

I'm wondering if all the controversey over Rice refusing to testify isn't just a cover for that fact that Bush also won't? After all, it did happen ON HIS WATCH.

What's So Funny?

Question Mark #34: What's So Funny?


Now It Really Starts

Now the attack on Clarke is really getting started.

In Murdoch's (owner of Fox News) New York Post NYERS: CLARKE'S GAIN, OUR PAIN it's the "9/11 families fuming" at Clarke. Some samples:
"'We believe it inappropriate for [him] to profit from and politicize 9/11 and further divide America by his testimony before the 9/11 commission.'

Retired FDNY firefighter Jim Boyle, who lent his name to the letter, ripped into Clarke, who served as a counterterrorism adviser to the past four presidents.

'Richard Clarke is doing all of this to sell his book,' said Boyle, whose Bravest son, Michael Boyle, died in the WTC. 'What he's doing isn't right. He's trying to make money off our pain. This was all orchestrated to benefit him,' Boyle told The Post.
Retired FDNY Capt. John Vigiano Sr. said he's 'incensed' with Clarke.

'He's all about promoting his book, plain and simple,' said Vigiano Sr., whose sons John, a firefighter, and Joseph, a police officer, died in the WTC attacks. 'It's all about greed. He shouldn't be doing this. He's showing a lack of loyalty to the president. It's awful.'

The blistering letter, signed by more than 36 people who lost loved ones in the WTC, came a day after the Senate's top Republican, Bill Frist, accused Clark of an 'appalling act of profiteering.' "
Wow, signed by more than 36 people!

The whole article is like that - a simple phrase, repeated often. Note, it comes a day after a top Republican used the same phrase. And, in case you don't understand about a simple phrase, repeated over and over, the headline at Drudge Report blares: SOURCES: CLARKE 'TO EARN OVER $1 MILLION FOR BOOK'; CONTRACT: BONUSES ADDED

Something tells me we're going to hear variations on this theme repeated all week. That, and the charge that the Democrats are politicizing 9/11.

Randi Rhodes!

Atrios posted a reminder to listen to Air America when it starts up on Wednesday. This kicked off a big thread of comments about Air America, its schedule, whether it would stream, its staff, etc., etc. Nobody mentioned the best thing about the new network (to me, shockingly!), so I added this comment:

Unless my browser's search missed it, within all these comments nobody has mentioned RANDI RHODES!

I too miss Mike Malloy and I agree that the network should have focused less on BIG NAMES and more on BIG RADIO TALENT. I fear they made a big mistake. We'll see.

But one thing they did absolutely right is give Randi Rhodes a national voice. She is the best left of center radio host going.

So listen to Franken, but BE SURE to listen to Randi after Franken from 3:00-7:00 ET (her old West Palm time slot).

Listen to Randi, dammit!

Richard Clarke: Perjurer?

Frist, Goss and other Republicans are floating the idea that Richard Clarke might have perjured himself. They're working on declassifying sworn testimony given to Congress when Clarke worked for Bush in 2002 (testimony thought to be similiar to that in the unclassified briefing released by Fox) so that they can compare it to the recent sworn testimony he gave to the 9/11 commission.

This administration plays an amazingly creative game with regard to sworn, classified, confidential, secret, and public testimony. Condi is on TV all weekend, but she can't testify to the 9/11 commission publicly or under oath -- she wants to be able to debunk Clarke's public sworn testimony with secret unsworn testimony. Richard Wilson displeased the President, and his wife Valerie Plame's CIA identity was leaked. Paul O'Neill displeased the President, and he was threatened with prosecution for releasing classified documents. Now they want to declassify information selectively to use to discredit Clarke. Bob Woodward got access to reams of classified material to write a sycophantic book, but Bush's 9/10 briefing remains top secret, as do the records of Cheney's energy task force.

I can't see Frist's hysterical rampage coming to anything. Clarke has already admitted that when he worked for Bush, he put the best spin he could on Bush's performance. Paul O'Neill has released documentary evidence showing that he was encouraged to mislead the public about Saudi cooperation in tracing terrorist finances, and we also have recently found out that Bush administration officials instructed their actuary, Rick Foster, to mislead Congress about the cost of Bush's prescription drug plan.

At the least, Clarke will easily be able to escape the perjury charge. Beyond that, he will probably be able to show that the lies he told in 2002 were the ones he was ordered to tell. You have to wonder what Frist was thinking.

Josh Micah Marshall has the story (note Sen. Graham's suggestion that they release everything, and not just the parts that help them).

Frist's speech

Powell doesn't join in
, and Sen Graham supports Clarke. (And was Clarke really under oath before Congress?)

Washington Post


Rick Foster directed to lie about prescription drug costs

Foster II

Briefing released to Fox by Bush Administration

O'Neill coached to lie
(he was NOT pleased with the Saudis, who had scarcely cooperated at all).

O'Neill II

Fake Kerry Pizza Story

Some of you may have seen an internet story attributed to one Hal Cranmer about Kerry being a jerk in Vietnam. (It gets about 300 Google hits). I contacted one of the people whose email address has been attached to the story, and he's pretty sure it's fake. Attempts to contact Cranmer have been unsuccessful so far, though he seems to exist.



Is Condi history?

One of the things going on these days is a battle between the Bush administration and the intelligence pros. Neither one is willing to be the fall guy for the Iraq invasion. Bush tried to stick Tenet with it, and he's been getting flak ever since. It looks now as if Rice is going to be the sacrificial lamb.

Hiring Rice (and Powell) was good politics. Knowing that nice liberals will be hesitant to attack them personally, the Bush administration can use either one to front for them. Republicans know very well that smears and personal insults are effective political tools, and this way they take a valuable weapon out of the Democrats' hands. Thus, whenever there has been bad news, Rice or Powell has been sent out instead of Rumsfeld, Cheney, or Bush.

Now Rice is on the hot seat, though, and it looks like she's being hung out to dry. Various things she's said in the last few days don't make sense, contradicting either other statements of hers or statements by Cheney and others in the administration. She's doing her job all right -- catching flak -- but she shouldn't expect to be thanked for it. Dick, Don, and George will let her twist in the wind awhile longer before they cut her loose.

NOTE: A friend doesn't like to hear people saying that Rice is an affirmative-action token. That's not really what I'm saying, though. I think that Rice is competent enough, but she chose the wrong administration to work for, and I doubt that she has the reptilian infighting skills of Rumsfeld, Perle, and Cheney. It's really no insult to say that -- and besides, she's still young, with her whole future ahead of her.

My guess is that Wolfowitz is next. Yeah, sure, I'm all anti-Semitic and shit.

UPDATE: Frist is now signalling that he wants Rice's testimony. Very possibly he is carrying water for the executive branch. So it looks to me that she'll be taking the fall sooner rather than later.

Some Bush Supporters Want Rice to Testify

SECOND UPDATE: It doesn't seem that I was ahead of the curve at all:

Time Magazine: Is Condi The Problem?


Two of the creepiest Republican operatives accuse Democrats attacking Rice of racism and sexism.

Rice won't testify publicly or under oath, but she's showing up all over the place on TV: