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Sunday, June 3, 2001 -- NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (APJP) -- The Sunday political talk-fests made the cowardly suicide bombing outside a Tel Aviv disco their hot story -- but also used it as a vehicle to criticize "Bush-olationism."
That's right -- the incestuous line-up of Beltway "experts" was far more critical than usual of Dick Cheney, Andy Card, Karl Rove and their smirking marionette.
And there's a good reason: a source at one of the cable news operations told our own Morrie Friendly late on Friday that the Washington press gang-bang is not at all happy with Ari Fleischer's ill-considered comment concerning coverage of Jenna "Anheuser" Bush's bad behavior this week -- and the fact that this "third strike" on her part could land her in the Texas hoosegow.
Fleischer's exact words, as published in the Washington Post and other news outlets, were as follows: "I would urge all of you to very carefully think through how much you want to pursue this... I understand that there's a question of law. I've never called anybody or suggested to anybody that the coverage today is in any way inappropriate. But to go beyond that I would urge you to be very careful because any reaction of the parents is parental; it is not governmental. It is family. It's private and the American people respect that."
As Morrie's colleague put it: "In other words, 'play it down, don't analyze the story, don't relate it to any political or policy decisions made by George now or when he was governor, don't even think of making mention of George's parenting skills or we'll consider you an enemy -- you're better off just shutting the hell up.' Someone should remind Ari that he doesn't work for Josef Stalin -- and that words mean things."
Here's what we saw.
Hints of judiciary feuding in the Senate, substance-free pap about Jenna
It's been a while since we have checked in on the "Scam and Cooky Show".
Can you blame us? Today's episode proved that it remains the most boring and incoherent Sunday spin show.
The first order of business on This Weak was an update of events in the wake of that brutal attack on Israeli kids by a jihad-crazed suicide bomber in Tel Aviv. The first two guests, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) denounced the carnage and expressed their sympathies before turning to the late-breaking political "red meat" story of the week: John McCain's big meeting with Tom Daschle. Orrin said he doesn't see McCain switching parties, but after Schumer talked about McCain's common interests with Democrats, he predicted that McCain would go independent or Democrat! Cokie Roberts, to our surprise, then slammed a comment by one of the Senate's GOP leaders about Jim Jeffords "undermin[ing] democracy" by becoming an independent, and Orrin tried to back away from that rhetoric as he claimed that the GOP "bent over backwards" to keep Jeffords.
Right -- after months of kicking him in the butt for putting his constituents above the neo-Confederate agenda that the GOP has been attempting to stuff down the throats of decent Americans.
There was some pap about judicial nominations. Orrin was "concerned" about a "slowdown" -- which is completely hypocritical for him to say, especially since as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Orrin used every tactic available to hobble Bill Clinton's nominees. Schumer said that the "vetting process" will move forward -- and that the American Bar Association will be in on the vetting.
We loved it. Orrin bristled, but admitted that he "listened" to the ABA. What a riot -- take THAT, Teddy Olson and all you other Federalist Society Neo-Nazis! Orrin grumbled some more about hearings and holdovers, and said that 377 judges (far LESS than the system needs) had been "processed" under Clinton.
Cokie then turned to "many problems with the FBI recently." Schumer, who described himself as a big FBI supporter (and he is), said there would be hearings into the McVeigh document debacle, including a blue ribbon panel. Orrin made excuses for his buddy and outgoing FBI boss Louis Freeh, claiming he inherited a lot of problems.
Oh, so THAT'S it, Orrin -- Freeh couldn't delegate solutions to these problems to others.
Cokie ran some names past Schumer -- including that of George Terwilliger. Schumer said he's looking for management experience.
Sam Donaldson was next -- asking where "the line should be drawn" on the privacy of families of public figures (i.e. First Underage Lush Jenna Bush).
Oh, please, Sam -- we didn't see you drawing the line when Gennifer Flowers or Juanita Broaddrick both LIED about Bill Clinton, yet you so smugly jumped on those rumor bandwagons in the hope that something, anything would stick to Clinton. We didn't see you draw the line when lawyers for Bill Clinton tore through Paula Jones's fraudulent claims like a force 5 twister through an Arkansas trailer park . You were eager to play up every ugly rumor surrounding the Clinton family -- and suddenly a line should be drawn?
Even in the backgrounder, Jackie "Clinton Basherette" Judd had to concede that at the very least Jenna Bush's crimes are "a matter of curiosity" and that the Bush Klan can't control the media reportage.
Note that latter comment -- which may be perceived as both "oh, that liberal media again" and "Ari Fleischer will NOT dictate OUR coverage."
The segment was meaningless -- with psychologist Bob Butterworth and overrated author Mike Beschloss droning on at inordinate length about the problems of modern families. Funny how they're forgiving of CRIMES committed by "kids of high-profile adults" but just wouldn't let go of Bill Clinton's naughty but consensual and NON-illegal conduct. Butterworth did nothing but yammer about all the pressure high-profile kids are under and claimed that their "rebellion" is a "cry out for help." Beschloss said that the Smirk team's "minimizing attention" to the present problems may not meet with success. May not? When the Neofascist New York Post runs the headline "JENNA AND TONIC" you have to throw the idea of "minimizing attention" out the window. Sam mentioned Grandma Bush's having alluded to Jenna -- BUT DIDN'T SAY THAT SHE'D EMBARRASSED SMIRK with her hilarious, withering comment that her son is now getting a good taste of what she had to put up with when Dumb-Yuh was Jenna's age.
Sam succeeded in completely avoiding mention of the substance of Jenna's dilemma -- she may face JAIL under Texas statutes signed into law by her imbecile Daddy.
Cokie then introduced a segment on "The New Frontier" -- the changing ethnic face of politics in America. George "Judas" Stephanopoulos was out in California reporting on the growing clout of Hispanic voters. The focus was on Tuesday's mayoral race in Los Angeles in which Republican City Attorney James Hahn faces off against Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa. Steph did not back off from the undercurrent of racial tension in the race (including Hahn's law-and-order commercials), making a comparison to the Tom Bradley-Sam Yorty race of the early 1970s.
What Steph failed to discuss was the national attention this race is garnering from the big political parties, especially given the number of U.S. House seats from California that could change hands next November.
The round table spun the most boring spin of the week. Sam brought up the McCain-Daschle Weekend; George "Migraine Boy" Will said that McCain would not change parties; Linda Douglass said JJ and Tom are old friends; Cokie spelled out facts and assumptions about the two and parsed McCain's "no cause to" words about leaving the GOP; Douglass added the words "unless [Smirk] vetoes campaign finance reform."
We'll see. We doubt it.
Will said that Democrats can control the flow of legislation to the floor, then WRONGLY said that filibusters are used promiscuously. What a joke. Linda said that the GOP "loves" being able to blame Democrats -- and Sam essentially said, "Yeah, sure, they LOVE losing the Senate." Linda talked about Lott's "declaration of war" and said that Daschle may fire back by exposing Lott as a "bipartisanship" hypocrite if you look at the standards being pushed by the bogus POTUS.
Talk turned to the Middle East. Cokie, WITHOUT NAMING SHRUB, said "We have to get more involved." Linda did say the administration has to get more proactive. Will, like an idiot, said it's not our problem.
Tell you what, George -- why don't you run that utterly STUPID assertion by the families of those who died in our African embassies or the World Trade Center when fringe-Islamic crazies killed OUR citizens? You sound like even more of a dimwit than Usurper Boy.
Sam turned to drunk Jenna -- and then played a video clip of Granny Barbara dissing her own son! Sam admitted that the press was walking on eggshells -- then essentially said the White House is growling "Don'tcha DARE report on this!" Linda wonders about putting kids in jail for drinking -- and Sam pointed out that Smirk signed the law that could put Jenna in jail. Will claimed that it's all out of proportion because it's the daughter of the guy in the White House.
None of these cowards addressed the hypocrisy of Smirk peddling himself as Mr. Family Values, Mr. Rule of Law, Mr. Take Responsibility For Your Actions -- while Ari Fleischer is DICTATING to the press what they can and CANNOT cover when an out-of-control kid breaks the law and exposes the lack of values in her family. Cokie LIED when he said that Little George NEVER used his girls on the campaign.
George Will was given the last segment to wring his hands over the decline of both Western civilization and investment portfolio values because businessmen refuse to wear neckties. Even Brooks Brothers, he stressed, is pushing casual wear. O tempora! O mores!
Oh, brother! As John "Heritage Foundation" Stossel would say, "Give me a break!"
-- Morrie Friendly
The Capitol Gong Show!
The Gang addresses teen drinking -- Conservatives are all for it!
Oops, wrong show.
First up was the sock puppet's trip to California. A clip of him addressing some group was shown.
Did anyone else notice the woman seated on the dais to the Chimp's right? She had short, short pure white hair and a strange Nehru jacket thing on, and looked vaguely alien. My first thought was that in their effort to be "inclusive", the Repugs must now be courting the Heaven's Gate vote! Why not? They already attract most other groups that are bound together by irrational beliefs, such as the NRA, racist thugs, et al.
Then, it was on to the grudge match between Gray Davis and the stupidest "president" in history. The press would love a war between these two -- and frankly, so would I. However, the pundit line on this one is that Davis' future aspirations will be "doomed" by the California energy crunch. That would be a shame, in my estimation, and we can only hope that Davis is able to inflict some serious wounds on our dim-bulb "leader" before going down.
Then they showed clips from the latest insult to all our intelligence: Bush's nauseating photo op in Sequoia National Park. With Gale "Drink Your Arsenic" Norton at his side, grinning at him like a Stepford wife, he spouted some absolutely meaningless and maddening drivel about how his administration will "adopt a new spirit of respect and cooperation, because in the end, that is the better way to protect the environment we all share. A new environmentalism for the 21st century."
Boy! You can't fault him for not being specific. What an incredibly slimy puppet he is. I wouldn't be surprised to see a string hanging out of his back, one that his handlers pull to make him spout all this moronic and meaningless crap. And that's all he EVER says: basically NOTHING, while sounding benign.
And I don't know about you, but there's something rather sinister about the phrase "new environmentalism" when it comes from his mouth. We need to heed Molly Ivins' warning, which is: with Bush, what you see and hear is NOT what you get!
Novak, heaping high praise on the Chimp, said that Bush "survived" the trip. Margaret observed that there's enough blame to go around, but Davis happens to be up for re-election first, so that's a bummer for him.
I had to let out a hearty "Here, here!" when Hunt correctly assessed the puppet's appearance in California as a "quasi-disaster for Bush", emphasizing that the dunce had "absolutely nothing to say." No kidding!
Hunt also holds Davis close to blameless on this, citing that no power plants were built for 12 years before his term, and now they have 10 under construction and 4 more on the way, and that the state is number one in conservation.
Then the fearless Mark Shields said that he'd talked to some Dem operatives in California, and that right now, Michael Dukakis could beat Bush there!
During the break, I was treated to smooth propaganda from Bristol-Myers-Squibb, followed by that same ludicrous coal industry commercial from the deceptive "cleanenergy.org" that's been in heavy rotation, and the acid-trip-inspired Dennis Hopper commercial for Broadwing Communication.
The Capitol Gong Show then took on to the Supreme Fools ruling that Casey Martin can legally ride in a cart during PGA events.
Hunt: Carts are allowed in Senior Tour, College Golf, and other competitions. Every time civil rights are applied or confirmed, he said, there are always pessimists that cry gloom and doom. And sure enough, they tossed it to the Prince of Darkness next.
What does Novakula think of the Supreme Court ruling? Everyone wants to know THAT, right?
The mean-spirited bloodsucker called Martin a "mediocre" golfer and said the ADA was never meant to apply to this. So now the hard right wing has extended their tactic of hurling slurs and slander toward figures involved in cases whose results they don't like! What scum! Nice try, but it sure doesn't change anything to demean Casey Martin at this stage.
As usual, Count Bob also made illogical comparisons to a pitcher with poor sight being able to stand closer to the plate…, which is a completely different circumstance. Then he blustered about his heroes, Tony the Organ Grinder Scalia and his trained monkey "Slappy" Thomas, being the ones that "always get it right" according to the constitution, followed by another dose of that ridiculous conservative lie about "judge-written legislation" being "outrageous."
Carlson: Scalia says "rules are rules" -- then what the hell is the Supreme Court FOR, if not interpreting rules? She also made the very good case that the PGA could have saved itself a hell of a lot of trouble if it had just let the guy use a cart in the first place, that all of the conservatives' dire and way-out scenarios won't happen, and that any time civil rights are affirmed, it's a good thing (with this court, that's more true than ever)!
O'Beirne blamed Congress and says the ADA is a bad bill. She used the goofy argument that the court interpreted what golf "IS." The problem with her argument is that they didn't.
Hunt: The ruling doesn't fundamentally change the game whatsoever.
In another fit of bile, Novak again referred to Martin as "this poor fellow, who isn't a very good golfer anyway…", and continued to mention that Martin had lost his tour card (as if that has ANYTHING to do with his case) and then went on to suggest that he was just looking to subtract some strokes from his game by being allows to ride a cart. What an A-hole!
But then, His Darkness-ship found himself caught in what is becoming more and more frequent among conservatives: blatant schizophrenic statements in which their lock-step desire to defend every single thing any conservative does puts them on both sides at once.
So Novak then described the Supreme Thieves as "this arrogant court", then quickly added: "which is the best court we've had." Hmmm. I guess arrogance = great justice. That seems to be a logical inference from what he said. He then whined about them "interfering" in anything they want to, including sports, but somehow forgot to mention the teeny little point that they had absolutely NO right or justification for interfering in the election process -- and by doing so, stealing the choice of president from the people and giving it to themselves!
Finally, the panel turned to the question on everyone's lips: How can we get those drunken Bush offspring off our streets? I thought, "This oughta be good."
A clip of Ari "Li'l Goebbels" Fleisher saying it's a private matter was shown.
In what has become a simply stunning example of how things have been stood on their head since the Clinton Administration, this story has been turned inside out and upside down. Had Chelsea been found to have even walked past a tavern, there would have been a guaranteed non-stop 24-hour-a-day media blizzard of damning headlines and rampant psychological speculation about what horrid and permissive parents the Clintons are, and by extension, how this clearly proves the moral bankruptcy and evil of all things liberal. But in the case of party-hearty Jenna, the right has succeeded brilliantly in deflecting all blame from the drunken daughters -- or the Bush parents themselves!
Rather than discuss the stark hypocrisy apparent from Bush's being a drunk until age 40 (at least) and covering up and lying regarding his DUI (which he blamed on his desire to not give his daughters a bad example), we were told that the press should now leave the Bush clan out of the mess entirely.
After eight years of the right holding Clinton to a more than saintly moral standard, we are now told that the issue here isn't the Bush's daughters being lushes in training; rather than questioning the goings-on in the Bush family, the issue is now turned on its head and the question changed to: "Are the drinking laws too strict?"
This simply floors me! How outrageous is that? For 8 years, we heard how the LAW was the most sacred thing in the entire universe, to hear the Clinton haters tell it. It didn't matter if lying about a "hummer" to keep it from your wife and child is almost universally understood, if not accepted; they told us that it was still AGAINST THE LAW, HE BROKE THE LAW, THE RULE OF LAW, THE RULE OF LAW, ad nauseam and then some!
And now in one fell swoop, it's the LAW that's questioned when a Bush violates it.
On top of that, we are now witness to the spectacle of conservatives arguing FOR laxity and looking the other way when kids get drunk on their ass and risk killing themselves or others! Yet they're dead set against even decriminalizing medical marijuana!
I think Kate's comments are so bizarre and blatantly whorish for the Bushes that they stand on their own: she said, "I think the real story here is our ridiculous laws on drinking, the 21-year-old drinking standard. If people really viewed a 19-year-old drinking a beer or even a margarita as a real criminal offense, there wouldn't be the kind of sympathy that the daughters and the family have received because of this.
"And if it weren't a crime at all, no one would pay any attention, so at root here is our view of kids drinking, where typically college students drink, and everybody sort of winks, and turns their back on it, and then act as though there's some kind of major problem when they get caught."
Well, Kate, if it's not a "major problem" then why are alcohol arrests the cause of millions and millions of dollars in fines and legal fees being paid, lost jobs, future prospects diminished, and family trauma each year?
And if this is something worthy of a wink and a shrug, since "typically college students drink", then why isn't pot treated the same way, you raving hypocrite??
And now it's our 21-year-old drinking age that's a problem?? Then why are conservatives the ones that are pushing every draconian anti-drinking law they can dream up through state legislatures all over the country?
Novak continued with this surreal tangent, saying teenagers have been drinking since the beginning of time, and that "every man, boy and girl in college drinks, and nobody worries about it" Wow! That will come as great news to all the kids that have paid heavily for alcohol offenses and to college administrators that are constantly struggling with the problems that alcohol abuse plagues them with. Bob thinks the 21-year-old limit is ridiculous law, and ended by saying that everyone is "too excited about teenage drinking!!"
Thousands of teens are killed and maimed every year, but we're too excited about it? Tell that to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Bob.
I for one do happen to think that many alcohol laws are way off base and more strict and destructive than need be -- but to hear this kind of reasoning from Kate and Novakula should be enough to enrage anyone.
At least Hunt got it right, saying that teen drinking IS a serious problem. Bush's hypocrisy is the reason this story has legs.
A Capitol Gong Show Classic: we saw Novak blame embassy bombing on "too many embassies"
Hunt: Novak is nuts.
Novak said the Cold War is OVER! We don't need these embassies!
It's OVER? Then why Star Wars? Why all the rest of Dr. Strange-Feld's retro policies? Bob, you better get hip to Bush's "golden oldie" administration.
After the clip was shown, Novak again called for the elimination of embassies. All viewers could do was drink in the breathtaking lunacy. Here it was in one of its most pure forms. Hey, Bob, why not get rid of all embassies? Why not just pull up all our drawbridges, plunder our treasury building on some fool's dream of a missile shield in space, forget importing oil and drill anywhere and everywhere, increase defense spending until our military is 500 times larger than any other on earth, build a solid wall against immigration for anyone that's not from the "approved" countries, and just go it alone?
Who needs the rest of the earth?
Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico was then a guest.
Johnson is the most prominent elected official advocating a change to a sane drug policy in the country. He's also a fitness buff that has run three triathlons and doesn't drink, smoke, or do drugs himself. But he realizes the folly of our current drug policies.
What about the DEA saying that tough policies have reduced drug use? Holland's use is a fraction of the US's per capita and they have very liberal drug laws.
Johnson pointed out that we can't eliminate drugs from our society. Hell, we can't even eliminate drugs from our PRISONS, so to attempt to eliminate drug use in society is doomed. He made the case that rather than criminalize drugs, it makes sense to criminalize behavior. In other words, make drugs much like alcohol (then we can wink at it, right Kate?).
Carlson: If it can't be legalized, at least lower the penalties, realizes that it's ridiculous to throw so many people in jail for relatively minor drug offenses, and again cites the fact that we can't even keep drugs out of prisons!
O'Beirne, to avoid being too obviously hypocritical, actually said Governor Johnson deserves credit for raising the issue, and then, in one of the rare instances of clear thinking, actually said that we need to take a long look at incarcerating non-violent drug offenders.
Next up, a subject on everyone's lips: the British Elections.
T.R. Reid from the formerly respectable Washington Post managed to get booked.
T.R. Reid (despite his starting out by observing that in Britain at least, the candidate who gets the most votes wins) is, to use British slang terms, a wanker and a stupid git. He seemed shocked, SHOCKED, at the "amazing" amount of "Bush bashing" going on in England and Europe, and attributes it to them "being jealous of America." My drink just about came out of my nose on that one. Sure T.R., it's jealousy. It sounds like what every mother tells their little darlings in an attempt to soothe their feelings when they get pushed around for being an obnoxious dork. "They're just jealous, dear." Horse hockey, Reid.
Reid is a blatantly conservative idiot, bitterly mocking liberal candidates in the U.K. election. He then, without realizing it, made the case for WHY Bush and his policies are recognized as a unmitigated disaster by the rest of the world by pointing out that even the most conservative candidates in the U.K. election are far to the left of Bush, advocating a minuscule tax cut, and other such diluted versions of Bush policies. He points out, as if incredulous, that candidates that advocate raising taxes and providing more services are actually doing quite well. He's just perplexed and baffled by this. He just can't figure it out, so he mocks them instead. What a shallow jerk.
It's supremely annoying when these pundits/journalists are so thick that they approach all matters with a rock solid assumption that Bush's (and America's) policies are correct without question. They deride and sneer at anything that's different, and exhibit the same mocking arrogance and brain-dead self-righteousness that they use to avoid the realization that they are DEAD WRONG on these issues. It's a stark proof that conservatives are living in a state of denial.
It's as if this jerk Reid thought the successful liberal government in England are just a bunch of laughable morons and he just can't fathom how it could possibly be popular or work. Why, he says, there's a conservative candidate that actually wants a total ban on guns, and government-provided educational subsidies (horrors!).
He also proved how the conservative mainstream media are also carrying the Chimp's water in Europe by mocking and deriding anything that doesn't dovetail with Dim Son's policies.
No wonder they hate us there. I would too! The "Ugly American" is certainly getting uglier.
-- Dash Riprock
Low-key dementia from Mad Pope John
McLaugh-In was both more low-key AND loonier than usual this week -- a demented speculative wonk-fest if ever there was one. It was clearly taped before all hell broke out in the Middle East, which most certainly would have been Issue One.
Instead, the key ultra-premature question: Can Bush reclaim the Senate next year? Good grief -- John is already checking the tea leaves and chicken entrails, looking to 2002 for GOP salvation when 34 Senators are up for reelection: 20 GOPers and 14 Dems. John bellowed that Republicans are more exposed; Michael Barone claimed that none of the GOPers are in dangerous terrain -- but that's an overly optimistic assessment. Barone said the nation "wants consensus."
Barone, what the nation wants is a legitimate POTUS. His Fraudulence Mr. Bush ain't it -- and that's the consensus.
Eleanor Clift made Barone a laughingstock by citing both vulnerable GOPers and a restless electorate.
John "cued" Tony by claiming that the GOP won last time with this set of Senators by 20 to 14, and Tony essentially gave him a "yes sir." Larry O'Donnell said that El Smirko has delivered on the tax cut -- so where are the other GOP issues? Moreover, Jeffords' independence does not necessarily hurt Dumb-Yuh. Barone thinks that Little George should position himself as a champion of bipartisanship -- and Eleanor pointed out that Chimp-Boy can't even get consensus in his parties, and now Dems have the hot-button issues (i.e. The Agenda). Tony thinks that carefully-crafted "do-nothing" charges will work for George -- but the truth is, the very same strategy will work for Daschle and the Dems. Larry said legislators can do little about energy pricing.
He is wrong -- hearings by legislators can do than legislation to shape public opinion -- and prompt some sort of action.
Issue two: safe seats in 2002! McLaugh-In picked 11 GOPers and 6 Dems as safe. John also picks six GOP "must-watches" and 4 Dems. Larry said that Max Baucus (D-MT) is vulnerable, but has supported his constituents. John thinks Baucus should become a Republican, and even Barone chimed in, "That's a pipe dream... that's one of the daffiest things you've said in a long time!" When even Barone says that Mad Pope John has gone off the deep end, you've gotta love it! John asked why there was no mention of historic losses in Congress for the party in the White House. Tony said something goofy about "sharing the responsibility." John declared Helms, Tim Hutchinson and Bob Smith vulnerable -- but which is the most vulnerable? Tony said Smith would lose in the primary to John Sununu -- who will win in New Hampshire. Larry said Helms is "seriously vulnerable." John said Carnahan, Harkin and Torricelli are vulnerable; Eleanor said Harkin is not as vulnerable as he seems; Torricelli, said Larry, is being hammered by federal investigations.
Issue three: air traffic nears gridlock. John blustered about volume having overtaken infrastructure and air traffic out of control. The answer? Well, what else would you expect from John? Privatize air traffic control!
Let me guess, John -- give it to General Electric, so they can screw it up the way they did other "non-core" businesses they took over!
Eleanor said that privatizing air safety is unsafe -- since profit is the motive of corporations. Larry said that the "privatized" air traffic control systems in other nations are in fact government-run and not-for-profit.
Final premature prediction: "Based on the political dynamic today, would the Democrats retain the Senate in 2002 or would the Republicans get it back?"
Mike: The GOP will gain one seat and get it back -- with an error margin of plus or minus three seats.
Eleanor: The Democrats will gain one or maybe two seats.
Larry: Democrats will hold it at 51 with Max Baucus as chairman of finance (he'll win).
John: Democrats would retain control of the Senate if today's scenario sticks, but that doesn't mean it will happen in 2002!
-- Dave "Doctor" Gonzo
Beat the Press!
"Shock turns to anger" -- but is it the GOP over Jeffords, or the pundits over their lack of influence?
Tim Russert began Meet the Press by introducing the top issues of the week: Middle East madness and "shock turn[ing] to anger" over Jeffords bitch-slapping the Confederate GOP.
Tim first turned to NBC reporter Martin Fletcher in Israel, asking him over and over about whether and how Israel would retaliate against Palestinians. Tim sure sounded liek he wants blood -- and lots of it.
Colin Powell was guest one, and his message to Arafat was the first order of business: get the situation under control. Of course, extremist Jew-haters are completely out of Arafat's control; add to that the fact that Arafat is not in good health and there's a struggle for power within the Palestinian Authority, and Powell can do little more than try to help Arafat by saying he should take control.
We doubt that religiously insane suicide bombers are listening to Arafat or Powell. And even Powell had to admit that Arafat does not have control over every Palestinian -- but he does feel that Arafat's use of the bully pulpit "carries enormous weight." Powell said he spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Arial Sharon, who is trying to give the Palestinians time to react and get control of the situation. There is, Powell said, the danger that the situation may push both sides into a violent abyss. Tim said that Israel may use American-made fighters; Powell said he hopes Israel will act with restraint.
Then Tim attacked Smirk -- USING CLINTON! This was a near-amazing turn of events; Tim, who seems to have a pathological hatred of The Big Dog, was being courtly and cordial to Powell, but essentially praised Clinton for staying engaged up to the last day, then said that Uncurious George was not engaged. Powell became defensive, saying that "we have been deeply engaged" since Usurper Boy took over. Powell sounded a little angry -- and we can't blame him. But the truth is, Powell has been the ONLY member of the Texas Dauphin's court that has remained engaged in anything resembling diplomacy -- and has been stymied by the isolationist Neanderthals who occupy the West Wing, the EOB and the Defense Department.
Tim then praised Powell for "saving" Kuwait -- a nasty, repressive, crooked little Emirate if there ever was one -- then quoted a Kuwaiti official who praised the suicide bomber -- which only reinforces their reputation as nasty, repressive, and crooked among people with half a brain. Powell quite forcefully denounced it -- with enough vehemence that we wonder if he's beginning to wish that the U.S. had sided with Saddam instead of the Kuwaiti oligarchs.
And speaking of Saddam, Tim mentioned that Saddam has stepped up attempts to down American jets enforcing the "no-fly zone" over Iraq -- five times more than he did last year! Powell said that if he shoots down our planes, he'll pay a price -- but did not specify what it was. Powell also said that with sanctions first "falling apart" but then being modified to help Iraqis, he wonders why they're so angry.
Well, Colin, ask Saddam. He got screwed over by a fellow oilman -- Bush Daddy, whose son is America's CEO following a hostile takeover. This is about oil, money, trade, Kuwaitis stealing Iraqi oil, and a little personal score among businessmen. There are no good guys in this protracted feud -- only losers, such as malnourished Iraqi kids, Kurds, and neighboring countries.
Tim mentioned that Iraq is cutting off oil shipments to its neighbors. Powell rattled his saber a bit.
Tim then turned to the spy plane in China -- which the Chinese now demand be disassembled and shipped out on a Russian plane. Imagine, Tim said, the outcry by GOPers if this happened when Clinton were president.
Oh, yeah, Tim, we can imagine it -- you'd be the FIRST to imply that Clinton was a sellout and a traitor who was intentionally weak on those goddamn Commies so he could get a few thousand in campaign donations.
Powell said the Russian plane was in fact the best-equipped to fly the disassembled planes out.
There was some back-and-forth pap about Powell's trip to Africa and the AIDS plague destroying the continent. Powell himself called it a danger to national security.
Well, Colin, why don't we hear Dubya saying that?
Tim asked if the missile defense scam is dead. Powell said, "Let the games begin." He said there would be a missile defense. We're ready to bet that Powell is 100% wrong. Who needs to attack America with nukes on missiles when anthrax is cheaper, and easier to make and disperse?
Tim asked about differences within Team Smirk on diplomacy and policy -- and Jim Hoagland's withering Post piece on Powell's "weakness." Powell said that he meets regularly with the Prez and is putting forward his (read: Cheney's) agenda. He also played down differences between himself and Donald "Dr. Strangelove" Rumsfeld: "Surprise, surprise, surprise: there are differences."
No kidding, Colin -- the problems are the MAGNITUDE of the differences and Strange-Feld's bizarre views scaring the bejeezus out of the rest of the planet.
The next guests were Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Don "Nobody" Nickles (R-Dixie). Dodd said Team Snippy should have been more engaged -- and now needs to be fully engaged. He said he did not want to be too critical -- but he was. Nickles, sock puppet of Trent Lott that he is, praised the bogus POTUS and Powell. Tim ran footage of Lott saying that he did not believe that Jeffords would bolt the GOP. "Was your party just tone-deaf?" Nickles, sounding both intellectually and politically weak, said it was just time to move on.
That's right, Don -- time for you and your pals to move into smaller quarters and out to the back bench.
Nickles talked about coalitions and bipartisanship -- as if Dems are in the mood to kowtow to right-wing morons like Nickles who are just plain out of step with the nation's mainstream. Dodd said he was not surprised at Jeffords' move -- and Lott was clearly trying to stop the inevitable. "We will be setting the tone, SETTING THE AGENDA on the committees." Dodd talked about a Patient's Bill of Rights, Prescription Benefits, an increase in the minimum wage, and an "energy policy."
Tim then brought up Lott's whiny outburst to the press about Jeffords being "anti-democracy" and a memo to his fellow GOPers about "the will of the people." Nickles talked bipartisanship again -- and said there would be an orderly transfer of power, but Dems will have to listen to GOPers.
Listen to this, Nickles: GORE WON THE VOTE. The will of the people was the GORE agenda, not the Big Oil Scam Steamroller. Got that, you pseudo-Confederate sore loser-man?
Dodd was asked about the McCain-Daschle summit. Dodd said he'd played golf with Nickles -- and Don's welcome to join the Dems (don't count on it, Chris)! Dodd said that the Americans HAVE spoken on the agenda -- and support Democrats. Tim asked: would you like to see McCain join the party? Yes, said Dodd. Tim then asked the Dumb Question of the Week: could you like to see him run as the Democratic presidential nominee? We were laughing so hard we didn't hear Dodd's answer; meanwhile, Nickles says he takes McCain at his word that he won't leave the party -- in other words, if he does, Nickles will say McCain's a big fat liar (bwaaaaaaahh).
Then Tim put the smackdown on the Great Smirk Tax Rebate, mentioning that 32 million people won't get rebates -- including one-third of Oklahomans. The data was from Citizens for Tax Justice. Nickles STUPIDLY said that he doesn't find them "reliable." Why, Don-Bob? Because they don't get their spin from the Heritage Foundation or Citizens for Tax Reform? One-third of YOUR constituents who PAID taxes are getting NOTHING back. NOTHING. Bill Gates, the Wyly and Bass brothers and Jack Welch all get millions in cuts. Families struggling to get by get barely enough to cover padded gas and energy prices -- IF they get anything at all! Dodd said that the tax cut destroys needed programs. Nickles talked percentages and retroactivity.
It was great -- Nickles, who helped nickel-and-dime his own constituents, had to deflect because he knows the GOP has created a Tax Cut Frankenstein that will be used by the Dems to show how working families got ripped off. Look for taxes to be the winning issue in 2002 -- for Democrats!
Dodd dissed Rumsfeldian missile defense -- but said that it's worth spending money wisely on research.
Tim asked Nickles if "patriot" thug Tim "Kill the Children" McVeigh should get a stay of execution. Nickles said that he doesn't want McVeigh to get a new trial (even if he's legally entitled to one, we guess -- so much for "rule of law" Republicans).
The final segment was a maudlin, morbid interview with two reporters who interviewed Tim McVeigh for an opportunistic book. The spin: McVeigh has changed his death wish. McVeigh told the two that he welcomed death -- but one of the authors speculated that he's "curious" to see how far he can go in challenging the government. The other said that McVeigh was making a statement about illegal conduct by federal agents and prosecutors by bombing the Murrah Building. Nothing interesting or worthwhile was said.
--Dave "Doctor" Gonzo
"Pundits in training"
Take 5 -- or, as we call it, "Fab Five" -- is part of CNN's effort to re-jigger their image by putting a "cutting edge" on the political talk show format, featuring a of quintet young writers and various political hangers-on, all apparently in their mid 30's. We're talking the "wired" generation of Internet-era journalists -- but with the sole exception of Jake Tapper from salon.com, one of the two permanent hosts, the rest of the guests generally display a pretty breathtaking ignorance of issues, stunning vanity, and a seeming obsession with conjuring up witty repartee and notable quips. Like most yuppies, they seem to be celebrating themselves more than anything else - and, worse yet, seem very impressed with themselves.
The show's attempted tone, aided and abetted by a regulation "hip" set complete with vividly colored chairs, is that of five with-it, smart, young insiders sitting around drinking their lattes and shooting the breeze about political topics. As a constant throughout the show, there is plenty of nervous and too-frequent laughing and giggling. See, politics is fun!!!! Wheeee! Of course, in keeping with the "new generation" image the show attempts, the wearing of neckties is apparently forbidden (George Will, take note).
Now, this would all be great if your idea of a good time is to sit in some trendy coffee or cigar bar and listen to self-important yuppies bray their cock-sure opinions on everything as if they were the second coming of the Algonquin Roundtable.
Personally, I think most people try to avoid getting in that situation.
The regular hosts are Jake Tapper from Salon and Michelle Cottle of New Republic. Regular panelist Robert George of the New York Post was joined by Jay Carney from Time and Terry Neil, formerly with Washington Post, now media consultant with the Burson-Marsteller PR firm.
First, they tackled the rumors of McCain's possible defection.
Robert George led off. This guy is embarrassing. He's inarticulate, his views are mundane and routinely wrong, and -- on top of all that -- he's developed a stutter of truly Porky Piggish proportions that seems to only get worse with each passing week. Perhaps this is due to his realizing deep down that he's in way over his head. He's just painful to watch and listen to.
I'm sure he's probably a great guy, but for the love of Pete, someone please tell him to get the hell off TV! If you feel I'm perhaps being a little rough on the guy, I invite you to tune in and judge for yourself. It airs on Saturdays on CNN, check your listings.
And why would anyone put someone like this on the tube to begin with? I'd hazard a guess the fact that he occupies the rare territory of being a right-wing black probably accounts for much of it. They're like gold these days -- being a black conservative shill is probably the hottest career track on earth! Are you black? Conservative? Do you have a detectable pulse? You're in! Heck, he's even achieved "regular panelist" status, despite his woeful contribution to the show.
He basically said nothing, but repeated it several times.
Carney then said that McCain is going to be a real pain in Smirky's behind -- and we certainly hope so!
Neil suggested that there was "some major strategy" going on in the McCain camp.
Carney said that Bush can't even get attention when he wants it, and Cottle then said that was Bush's fault for treating the press like dogs. Keep it up, Smirk!
Why is the AIDS crisis getting worse, especially among blacks?
Neil seemed informed and made some cogent remarks on this topic, but suggested that the reason AIDS is spreading among blacks is that so many of them are in prison, where the incidence of AIDS is high, and then they come out and spread it to other blacks. Possible, but a little shaky.
Carney made the correct observation that when it was affecting whites, it was a crisis, but now that it's become "ghettoized" interest will fall.
Cottle also pointed out that those at risk have begun to think that since there are now treatments, they can be more lax with safe sex practices.
Next, a topic no doubt missed on other shows: the funky Pope's plans to release a CD of prayers read by the likes of legendary Aerosmith lead man Steven Tyler and midriff sensation Britney Spears, among others.
George didn't think it was appropriate. Carney did. Zzzzzzzzzz.
After the break, Tapper said, "Hey, check out our website!" in keeping with the "wired" aspect of the show.
Then - it was onward to the raging controversy over the Casey Martin decision.
George then said, and I'm not making this up, "I think the Supreme Court should have taken a mulligan on this one," which elicited groans from the other panelists and a wince from me. Robert -- babe! You're trying too hard! But that epitomizes the show -- deep on flash, shallow on substance.
Here's where I made a stunning observation -- prepare yourself dear reader, for this may come as quite a shock.
On the "Capital Gong Show," Margaret Carlson had said that Sandra Day O'Connor, who wrote the opinion, has a hole in one to her credit, and SHE agrees he should ride.
Now, Michelle Cottle says that Justice Stevens is an avid golfer and even has scored a hole in one, and he's the one that wrote the opinion agreeing Martin should ride.
Yes, as hard as it may be to believe, it appears at least one of our trusted pundettes GOT THEIR FACTS WRONG. This no doubt shakes you to the core, as it did me. I'm sorry to have had to be the one to break it to you.
This demands further information to see just who the guilty party is. I'll report my findings at a later time.
-- Dash Riprock
Morrie Friendly is a political consultant, retired advisor to GOP officials, and golf hustler who lives in the Beltway suburbs.
Dave "Doctor" Gonzo quit his job as a disgruntled entertainment industry executive to become a disgruntled political commentator.
Dash Riprock welcomes your comments, kudos, or withering damnation at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also accepts donations to his non-profit “It’s great to have food to eat” fund.
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