Flush twice... it's a long way to Sally Quinn's place!
Dec. 19, 2004 (apj.us) -- The e-mail hit my box at about 6:30AM this morning. The subject header read, "TIME Embargo Until 8 AM EST: TIME Names President George W. Bush 2004 Person of the Year."
Naturally, half a dozen message boards and bloggers posted the information within minutes. And the decision was no surprise -- after all, the fella did manage to steal his second presidential election in a row, and that's certainly quite the achievement.
What was a surprise was TIME's decision to name the marginal, fact-challenged confederate-right-wing propaganda blog PowerLine as "Blog of the Year." The press release made much of the deceptive blog's role in the attempted teardown of Dan Rather over two documents used peripherally in a 60 Minutes piece about the young Idiot Prince's failure to fulfill his National Guard obligation, two documents which CBS had not quite properly vetted -- but failed to point out that the claims that the documents are fraudulent, a claim flogged by Powerline itself, have been debunked -- and that an "expert" posting to Powerline under the name Buckhead was just plain pulling stuff out of his butt in an effort to "prove" the documents were forged. "Buckhead" turned out to be a right-wing lawyer named MacDougald from the Atlanta area -- and frankly, his posting of "facts" that he had failed to vet or just plain made up should be cause for the Georgia Bar Association to consider revoking his law license.
Well, at least when those journalistic geniuses at TIME make a bad judgment call, they at least make a massively bad call.
And speaking of scams of the year, here's part one of our look at this Sunday's political talk travesties...
-- Jane Grice
Eat The Press
Tim Russert, tired from shopping for his muckraker journalist wife "The Orth," held two meets this morning, one examining the goings-on in "Mess-O-Potamia" (thanks, Jon Stewart, The Daily Show and Comedy Central) -- and the other on the Washington scene, including the fallout regarding the almost-ex-former Secretary of Homeland Security Bernard Kerik non-appointment, Rudy Giuliani's chances for President NOW, and some other tidbits including the appearance of creepy Bob Novak(ula) and Tim's failure -- AGAIN -- to confront Novak about his source at the White House that urged him -- as an alleged co-conspirator -- to OUT CIA agent Valerie Plame in an attempt to embarrass her husband who blew the whistle on Bush. (Remember that? "There is no yellowcake, George!")
The first panel -- balanced of course between Republican Senators Dick Lugar (a stealth anti-Bushite) and John Warner (still smarting over his loss of Liz Taylor), and Democratic Senators Carl Levin (Yoda look-alike) and Joe Biden (whose hair transplant is looking better these days) looked over the Iraqi political landscape. It didn't look good to all of them -- but of course the GOPers thought is might be rescued. Warner said he believes that we have no "raw material" over there by way of trained Iraqi police and armed forces to insure the upcoming (non-) election. He talked about Iraqis trained, then "deserting" - but the way he pronounced it, we couldn't help but think that he must be thinking, "Well, they are desert dwellers, no?" Carl Levin kept grumbling about Sunni Arabs and how they had to be brought into the fold -- to participate in the elections. "We must reach out.... We must have leadership among them"
WE don't. Gee, that was impressive -- not.
Biden called the US training program of Iraqis "a joke" -- and repeated that a high level officer whispered in his ear (actually screamed under the blades of helicopter) that we do not have enough soldiers on the ground in Iraq to hold things together. Biden claimed that Bush is paying no attention to the realities of Iraqi "police" who simply run away and sell what little equipment we might give them. Biden said he wants the general Iraqi population to believe they will backed up while they try to vote for -- what is it now -- about seven million candidates that no one has ever heard of? (That's another pipe dream.) Biden seems to think that French and German trainers -- training Iraqis out of country -- would do the trick, but that Bush isn't having it.
I think that once these trainees got out of Iraq, they would never go back from those two western European relative Edens. What do you think?
Then Biden said something that shredded the façade from Bush's charade: "The REAL election will take place a year from now." Yes, he was sort of signaling that this upcoming election is a joke anyway -- which is, of course, true -- and merely an excuse, Bush hopes, to simply withdraw from Iraq after the bloodbath.
We shall see.
Senator Lugar wisely pointed out the "insurgents" are the problem Well, duh! He thinks that if we support Bush for his "training" effort, all will be fine.
Russert brought up the draft. You would think the earth swallowed Timmy boy as Warner nearly yelled, "We are NOT gonna have a draft!" Warner added that we are seeing a "drop-off" in National Guard enrollment (drop-off? how about calamity?), but his answer is to offer them health care and bonuses.
Sounds like a Senior Citizen's program. In short, Warner thinks we can bribe the dumbest to join the reserves and get shipped to Baghdad.
Levin turned attention back to the Sunnis, and everyone yawned. He remarked, also, that we have added 40,000 new troops to the regular armed forces. More fodder for Iraq.
Senator Biden began to attack Secretary of War -- I mean Defense -- Rumsfeld, but without mentioning Rummy's name. He tells of wives writing him to get "fabric" for helicopter seats. Huh? That's kind of reaching, isn't it -- what kind of fabric we want to know -- cotton or polyester? But Biden came through and said that Bush lied all through the campaign and now that he is re-elected instead of keeping troops at the level he promised -- BANG -- he drops in another 12,000! Yes, Biden said Bang.
Tim Russert reminded the group that Rumsfeld is under attack.
Lugar said Rummy should be held accountable -- but he should stay in office. Hmmm. Deep thinking. Hold him accountable for more than 1,000 dead soldiers and 11,000 seriously injured -- but then leave him in his seat?
Warner claims he did not tell Bob Novak, "I am fed up with Rumsfeld," and now claims to have confidence in his ability -- "We should not change now," or some such.
Levin attacked the president with a "The buck stops here" remark. He is also tired of Rumsfeld "passing the buck."
Biden surprisingly jumped on Rummy -- "I'm tired of talking about Rumsfeld" (translation: why the debate? Sack the incompetent!) -- and added that he is simply arrogant and not acknowledging his mistakes.
Warner: "They've made mistakes -- but they are learning."
Then Russert finally latched onto a meaningful topic -- that Iraq will, through these so-called democratic elections, become a client state of Iran -- and that all the death and destruction will leave Iraq as more of an enemy to be dealt with than it was under Saddam Hussein.
And Russert is right about that. Iran is quietly and noisily making certain that Iraq will become another religious state. Worse, there is nothing we can do to stop this -- and of course Bush and his posse will claim they could never have anticipated this. Right. There was no sign that Muslim clerics would seize the power they were denied under Saddam? The truth is, of course, that Bush never cared. He was just carrying out orders. Oil is now moving around between 100 and 150% of normal price.
Lugar admitted that we might find Iraq becoming a "religious democracy" and that this "might" disappoint some Americans -- but that Iraq and Iran are "separate" entities. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha -- dream on, Dick.
Biden added wisely, "This is NOT going to be a democracy," but also said that Iraq might "lean" toward close ties to Iran, but not become a theocracy.
No one talked of the looming truth -- that Iran could attack Iraq in the future -- and that would be the end.
Levin moans, "This election must succeed to avoid a disintegration and total collapse...."
But is won't.
So that's the end of the story.
Kofi Annan's recent trouble with the smallest minds in the Senate came up briefly with no takers. Then a short discussion of the Ukraine ensued where every one agreed that opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned, and that he will win the next election. Senator Lugar announced that Mr. Putin does not have the ability to fix the election (as he tried to do this last time.) We shall see. It seems that the Ukraine will look both "east and west" -- and that was that.
Russert talked of TIME Magazine choosing George W. Bush "Man of the Year."
So what? Who really cares what TIME thinks about anything?
But the Senators all offered President Bush advice on how to handle his next four years -- and with greater than expected respect from the Democrats. Biden said that Bush should "talk to other people" and back away from ideologues. (Fat chance.) Warner offered that 9/11 was his finest hour -- and that now he should "mature and grow." (Love that term, "mature" -- was Warner suggesting that Bush is simply a spoiled teenaged brat?) Levin said he wants Bush to be more "graceful." (Chuckle -- a typical comment from "Yoda.") Lugar wants Bush to "reach out."
John Harwood of the Wall Street Journal, who was on the panel that followed the four senators, suggested that Karl Rove should have been TIME's Man of the Year. Right on.
The next panel featured Harwood and Bob Novak waxing eloquent about nothing. The talk was about Bill Kristol's op ed piece in the Washington Post saying Rumsfeld should go -- and now. Novak had the gall to say that Rumsfeld was "cautious" about going to war with Iraq (ha, ha, hahaha!) -- and that Kristol -- one of the most level-headed of the Neocons -- was the warmonger. Geez -- what a contest! The winner? Rumsfeld.
All agree that former police commissioner Bernard Kerik not only humiliated himself, but also ruined Rudy Giuliani's chances at the presidency in 2008.
But that's not true -- Rudy could never hope to get the GOP nomination because Rudy, at heart, is a "New Democrat," so his chances were over anyway. The real loser here is the White House and specifically Alberto Gonzalez, who did such an incompetent of vetting Bernie when even local village newspapers knew he was too "dirty" to take the post as Secretary of Homeland Security.
A few minutes were spent on "Culture Wars." Well, not really. The real topic was whether the Democratic Party was now going to bend for it on such issues as abortion on demand and try to lure pro-life voters to the Party. Harwood wisely said that he felt this was impossible but that perhaps the Democrats might agree to accept "parental notification" which is only one point of the poison trident pushed by Bush and his anti-Roe-v-Wade cadre of nincompoop theocrats.
All agreed that Howard Dean does not have a chance in hell to become the new Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He's far too liberal -- or so they think. But none had an idea of who might take the chair. There was nothing enlightening here except the realization that the DNC is in big trouble without any talent to turn to fill the shoes of Terry McAuliffe.
I will offer this recommendation: Esther Coopersmith, the Grande Dame of Washington Democrat, Republican, and all other society.
She'd be the best choice by far.
-- Jeff Koopersmith
Let's Tweak (the News, That Is)
"Boy George" Stephanopoulos began the festivities by bubbling over at the news that Gutless Wonder Boy has once again been named Person of the Year by TIME Magazine, which touted his "ten-gallon hat leadership style," apparently meaning "Blast em first, and let God sort 'em out." He had a discussion with Jim Kelley of TIME, who noted that other choices were Mel Gibson and Michael Moore for making movies with huge responses, and Gutless and Karl Rove as a unit, which would have gotten by if it hadn't looked like Rove was playing Edgar Bergen and Gutless was Mortimer Snerd. Kelley thought it would have been "demeaning" to make Gutless share. Boy George could have pointed out that it would also have been honest, but missed the moment. Some rather chilling comments:
Boy George pointed out that FDR had made the cover three times during his presidency and asked Kelley what it would take for Gutless to match it. Kelley said immediately "Another war".
I can hear Gutless licking his chops from here.
Kelley also pointed out that Gutless' approval rating has gone to below 50%, the only time this has ever happened with a newly reelected President, and he also noted that Hitler was also Person of the Year back in the pre-PC days when it was "Man of the Year."
This allowed Boy to segue gracefully into an interview with the appropriately named double dealer, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. Andy assured us that the president was way too focused on protecting the people of the United States to even remotely care about the cover of TIME Magazine (but I bet he'd be singing a different song if, say, Hillary Clinton had been named). Karl Rove is a superstar in his own right.
Andy Card's word of the day was "spectacular". Gutless has achieved "spectacular" things. Rummy is doing a "spectacular" job. The FDA has released some "spectacular" drugs.
NOTE TO ANDY CARD: Just because something becomes a spectacle, it does not follow that it was spectacular. Using your lexicon, Osama bin Laden provided a spectacular opening of, the Gutless Presidency.
Meanwhile, back on the spectacular farm, Gutless has become the great liberator, has masterfully recreated Social Security, Medicare, and the Tax Code, and has won the war in Iraq, all of this giving him the ingredients to be named person of the year. Can I hear an amen?
Even Boy George couldn't let that go without a question. He asked Card how he could possibly call the war "won" in the face of the insurgency, and mentioned that today alone at least 44 people have died because of suicide bombers. Card pooh-poohed Boy's lack of vision, pointing out that "...the insurgents aren't terrorizing all of the people all of the time" (am I the only one who sees the irony in plagiarizing P.T. Barnum?), and "the war is won, but the battle for democracy is long and difficult". Duh.
Mindful of the fact that I still had one meaningful segment to cover, I managed to avoid throwing something large and heavy at the television as Card sang the praises of Rumsfeld who, apart from doing a spectacular job, has provided "perfect" leadership as the civilian leader of a war in Afghanistan and Iraq, although I did have to shift position a bit as Funk and Wagnalls rolled in their graves. Card insists that the flap over Rummy is entirely overstated by the biased media, and any time you reform the military you create controversy. Apparently sending unprotected troops into harm's way is now defined as "reforming the military" as opposed to "murderous stupidity". Go figure.
Today's entry (http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/4/11/23951/8497):
Go with what you have
Card went on to inform Boy that Rummy has and always has had a good relationship with Congress, the occasional disgruntled Republican to the contrary. Rummy is looking forward to working with congress this coming year, and everything will be fine as long as the opponents drink their Kool-Aid.
Oh, and of course Rummy will from this point on personally sign all his letters of condolence that go to families who have lost loved ones in the war, instead of having them autosigned. There, in brilliant neon lights, was Boy George's opportunity to ask if there were just too many of them for him to sign, but again, a missed moment.
I'm telling you, I gotta get a TV show.
Boy worked in the snicker at Bernie "I quit! Fuhgedaboudit!" Kerik and the absolute gullibility of Gutless. Card broke into a sweat as he explained that Bernie just wasn't aware of the glare of attention that covered the vetting process. This does not bode well for Alberto Gonzales' tenure as Attorney General, since it was his responsibility to find the tootsie roll in the punch bowl and he didn't notice it until after all the guests had had a glass or two. The story keeps getting better and better, it will be interesting to see what happens the next time Judith Regan appears on FAUX. Anyway, Card said, it's over. Ve haff VAYS to change the subject.
Well, that was okay with Boy, who wanted to ask about Gutless' specific points for reforming ("spectacularly," no doubt) Social Security. Card doggedly kept repeating that it was time for an open debate, all points should be discussed, it will be an open debate, and, shades of Kissinger, apparently Gutless has a secret plan. Anyway, let's have an open debate. Gotta go, see ya, bye.
Finally, a station break. Don't know what happened on the national feed, but locally we had a plug for Christy Todd Whitman's new book, in which she implores the moderates of the Republican Party to take it back from the likes of the Irish Afghan Hound, Anne O'Rexic Coulter and Jabba the Hutt Falwell. Hey, if it got play for Move On, she can try too.
In an interesting change of topic, we plunged into the Celebrex/Vioxx/FDA issue, with the CEO and President of Pfizer, Dr. Hank McKinnell, and the FDA whistle-blower, Dr. David Graham. Now, this is one of the rare issues that I can see from both sides. I work for a medical doctor, although he functions more as an expert witness (his specialty is addiction medicine), and I know the medical field's impatience with the snail's pace at which the agency appears to act. Families who believe a new medication will be the answer to their prayers and the doctors who agree have a personal motive at heart. Medical corporations have a profit motive as much as they have an interest in providing a service. And the naysayers have the burning desire to prevent another thalidomide disaster, to insure that a product is as safe as possible and to be seen as medical geniuses.
Boy began with the information that Dr. Lester Crawford, who is the head of the FDA, has expressed concerns about Celebrex and is suggesting that doctors might wish to look at other options for their patients. Graham said that this was more than he had done for Vioxx, and McKinnell said that there had been many tests done and that Celebrex was safer than Vioxx and safer than no treatment at all. Yesterday on several programs McKinnell was reported as saying that he took Celebrex himself. He did not repeat that claim today, nor was he asked about it.
This segment was basically several minutes of "Is NOT!" "Is TOO!" with neither guest a clear winner. McKinnell pointed out that the findings were made during a sampling which looked at Celebrex as a cancer medication, not a pain medication, and Graham's main theme was that the FDA really doesn't have a wide basis for examination until AFTER the drug was on the market. McKinnell got the final word, that Charles Grassley's suggestion of a 911-styke commission to examine drug sampling procedures sucked. The station break was the Dell Boys opening their presents with obscene glee.
The panel discussion this week consisted of Boy, Fareed Zakaria (whom I now immediately recognize), George the Disgruntled and Richard Perle, apparently there to disagree with anything said by the others. Topic: Should Rummy leave?
Fareed began with the bad news, good news scenario: The bad news is that everyone in America except one person thinks Rummy needs to go. The good news is that Rummy's fan is Gutless. He listed bad decision after bad decision, stating that at least some of them were predictable, and stated with some heat that he found it ridiculous that the Gutless Administration is screaming for Kofi Annan's head and the accountability of the United Nations while they themselves have been involved in much more serious wrongdoings with absolutely nobody held accountable.
George Will muttered that he thought Rummy should have quit after the Abu Ghraib mess became public, but that moment had passed. However, he still thought that Rummy had failed utterly to secure the peace and should go.
Fareed said that this was the first time in history that the entire conduct of a war had been handed to the Pentagon, that Paul Bremer apparently answered to nobody and that Rumsfeld had been tasked with managing post-war Iraq and failed.
Perle said that Rummy received a standing ovation from the troops after "that" press conference, and claimed that these complaints were engineered by nasty old John McCain and Charles Hagel (ahem, Mister Perle: both are combat veterans), and that this small group of complainers got entirely too much press because, because, because - hah, because every time Rummy asked if the generals needed more troops they said no.
Fareed said that the more troops issue was a game, because the one general (Shinseki) who told Rummy that more troops were needed was cashiered out the service. Perle blustered that Shinseki had announced his retirement before, so he was just retired (albeit several months earlier than announced, Dickie), so that didn't count. Fareed persisted, noting that not one Pentagon official attended Shinseki's retirement and that clearly he was wanted out.
Perle dismissed Fareed, telling him that he, Perle, didn't accept any of Fareed's premises and, parroting Card the Spectacular, said that we had won the war and were now on the long road to democracy. Perle's main contention was that not only should Rumsfeld stay through Iraqi elections, he should stay through the second term.
On the subject of the election, Big George reminded the panel of the elections in El Salvador, and how while gun battles were going on yards away, the El Salvadorans remained in long lines to vote because voting was so important to them. He said that the test of the Iraqi elections would be if the same scenes emerged. Zakaria said that the elections would provide more legitimacy to the Iraqi government than a commission appointed by the United States, and that the Sunnis must be encouraged to vote, since their refusals would render the election pointless. Perle, whose belligerence was mostly directed at Zakaria, said that the battle is not with the Sunnis, but with the Baathists who want to reestablish control. This was so laughable that even Big George snorted, announcing that the insurgency enjoys local support, and they are far from longtime Baathists.
Fareed, finally becoming a little testy, said that he had just returned from the Middle East, Iraq in particular, and said that the United States policy was basically one of infecting Iraq with democracy, which would then spread to the neighboring countries. He said that Syria, Egypt, and the other nations in the area saw democracy as a direct threat to their regimes, and asked Perle how the administration could possible be shocked that their policies were seen as such. Fareed said that when he personally asked commanders in the field how the neighbors could be persuaded to go along with the American agenda he was told time after time that the neighboring countries' attitudes were irrelevant, who cared what they thought, and they had better stay out of America's way. Perle agreed that this was a good idea.
Big George, exasperated, said that the only redeeming feature of Saddam's regime was that it was secular, and that the US should be prepared for the Shia majority to install a government potentially anti-US and allied with Iran. Perle, of course, disagreed, saying that Iran had been kidnapped by a small band of fanatics and that the Iranian majority did not agree. George pointed out that the support of the Grand Ayatollah was worthless if he could not control the fanatics on the loose, and Perle, with the conviction of a True Believer, said that America would prevail.
That was it. There was a segment devoted to the Kenyan woman who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari Maathai. Nice lady, but I outgrew tree-hugging fifteen years ago. Of course, if you are planting trees you can't fight anyone, hence the award, I guess. Johnny Appleseed was way ahead of his time.
So, there you have it.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Copacetic Kwanzaa and Spectacular Solstice to one and all. Stay tuned, Boys and Girls. Interesting Inaugural coming up.
-- Sherrie G