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Pundit Pap
for Sunday, May 7, 2006
Porter Loss
by the Pundit Pap Team: Gene G | Xan | Chicago Dyke

May 7, 2006 (correntewire.com / apj.us)—Is it just us, or is it about the third weekend in a row when the big news has hit just before AND after the "end" of the weekly news cycle?

So what atrocities would we witness? Well, for starters, the incestuous Sunday "press" sewing circle just had to talk about Patrick Kennedy's decision to reenter drug rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic following an early-morning car accident outside the House offices on Monday, giving this ever-so-pressing story the rigorous attention they failed to give Rush Limbaugh. Naturally, they couldn't help but suggest that they don't want to believe that Kennedy was not drinking.

And Tim Russert wasted valuable time by inviting that "other" comedian who attended last Saturday's Whorehouse Press Corpse Dinner, Steve Bridges, to reprise his uncanny Bush impersonation. It was a major and passive dissing of Stephen Colbert, who basically called Tim Russert and the entire Washington "press" corps on their lily-livered lapdoggery.

Here's the scoop...

—GG

 

ABC ThisWeek
by Xan

Guests: Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Has-been), Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, outgoing White House press secretary Scott McClellan

My my, this week's ThisWeek just got better as the hour went on.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Paleolith-GA), of all people, agreed with Sen. Diane Feinstein that it was Very Disturbing that the proposed new head of the CIA, Air Force General Michael Hayden, was, well, a military guy. The CIA was designed at the time of its creation to be a civilian agency. The military has its own intelligence operations (most of which Hayden has headed, in fact, at one time or another). For the full ABC version of the story go here, but the great quote came from) Chambliss:

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) complimented Hayden as "a class individual" but voiced concerns as well. "I think that he is part of the military today is the problem…putting (on) a pinstripesuit instead of a military suit, (it) doesn't make much difference," he said during an exclusive Sunday morning interview on "This Week."

Looks to me like that's the excuse they're going to use to sink him, which is a damn shame because that allows them to avoid talking about the whole "Terrorist" Domestic Wiretapping program.

Xan Prediction: Hayden will either not be formally proposed, or will withdraw his name on some plausible excuse ("current job too important" or some such crap.) Note that everything has been phrased in terms of "Front runner for the job" since Goss' resignation was announced; this will allow face saving claims that "We never meant to nominate him in the first place, that was just the press talking." That's my guess anyway.

Other most interesting part of the show was the Dean/DeLay segment. DeLay is still trying to flog the "It's not a Republican culture of corruption, it's a bipartisan one," but it was funny--the longer the interview went on, the more his shoulders slumped and his head tilted over sideways. Almost identical to the posture Bush takes on when he's flogging the current string of lies yet again and can tell that nobody's buying it. It's a "Please, please, don't hit me, can't you just love me like you used to?" pose. They're reduced to begging for a pity fuck for chrissakes.

[Editor's note: Steph didn't bother to bring up the afore-mentioned AP story that reveals -- through newly-released e-mails -- that DeLay KNEW Abramoff was paying for overseas junkets. As Atrios is fond of saying, "Oh, my...".]

Ahem--but then we get to Dr. Dean, and oh MY did he kick ass. He took the first pitch--whatever the hell the question was, something about "Can the Dems really take back the Congress this fall?" and smacked that sucker out of the park.

Dean spelled out the Four Point Plan:

And then he REALLY laid into the CIA/Hayden spin: The CIA was not "broken when Goss got there," it was, he said, full of professionals, who knew their jobs, who were doing their jobs, which was being ignored by the Bush White House. [I swear I heard cheering from every CIA household in the land all the way here in west Tennessee. Good job Dr. D. This is a group you want to be your friends.]

But then came the kicker: George S asked about the "corruption problem" and cited the case of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA). The question: if he is indicted, should he resign?

The answer from Howard Dean: "Yes."

That was it. One word. No qualification, no equivocation.

If he's indicted, said Dean, he should resign from the House.

I thought Stephanopoulos was going to orgasm or sh!t himself on the spot.

One other funny bit: George Steph could not keep himself from referring to the House Democratic Leader as "Speaker Pelosi." Must have done it three times by accident, and then drew attention to this again by apologizing for it. This let Dean give a canary-that-ate-the-cat grin and refer to "Future Speaker Pelosi." Nice. Very nice indeed.

Not so nice: the list of dead soldiers this week was 18, and all deaths were from Iraq. No mention of the 10 dead in the chopper crash in Afghanistan.

On which (off) topic, does anybody else find it odd that they are so quick to assure the public after these crashes that they were "not believed caused by enemy fire"? Okay, if it wasn't shot down then it just fucking FELL down, and guys, I hate to tell you, but I don't find that any great whacking reassurance, okay? These machines are wearing out, between the sand and the altitude and too many hours in the air. Aside from the dead these suckers are going to cost a ton to replace.

 

Press the Meat, Part I
by Chicago Dyke

Tim Russert Interviews House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA8)

And let me say this: it's almost 12:30 and I'm only half way thru translating my notes.

I'm almost angry, as it's a beautiful day and there is just so much crap packed into that half hour of unreality that I'm forced to do all this writing. People enjoy watching this shit? I'd rather have teeth pulled.

Turned on the toob. First image, Chris Matthews talking about Darfur, pics of naked black people and stick figure children, followed by stock shots of angry black mobs from unknown provenance.

He ended with a rather confused plea for someone to do something, UN, NATO, African Union.

MTP: stirring music! Election graphic, images of Nancy in white and red. Balz and Purdum.

I see it's still the case that only white people, and only one woman, have anything important to tell me this morning. Just as I was so glad to see a white man teaching me about Africa previously.

Nancy, nice suit-serious, sober. Goss out.

Nancy: intel community is in disarray.

Oh, this is so canned. It's completely obvious she has a prepared set of remarks that she will insert into the conversation no matter what she's asked.

Nancy: Bush not managed intel community well. CIA demoralized power struggle b/w DoD and rest of intel communities. We need competent…nonpartisan intel and leadership use of intel. Propping up Goss/Negroponte feud as source of Goss' outing.

I think now she's saying that Goss didn't have any hookers. I missed Tim's question but she seems to be really stressing that Goss isn't involved in that.

Tim: How is Negroponte doing?
Nancy: Withhold his funding should be an option if Negroponte can't keep track of funds.
Tim: Hayden?
Nancy: Serious concerns over his role in surveillance. Power struggle again. I don't see 4 star in charge of CIA, musical chairs, too close to the prez

Jesus, she's copping out. She can't even say senators shouldn't vote for Hayden.

This is the Democrats' progressive firebrand? It's all just a game to her, and it's so obvious she's not speaking about anything that has to do with the reality of her world. Instead, it's all mealy-mouthed, prepackaged sound bites. No critique, no substance, and total avoidance of significant crimes and hookers.

Nancy: I wouldn't end the surveillance program, I'd do it under the law, 72 hours, doesn't believe it's too much. Hire more people, AG if you have time issues.

Administration held 1000s of briefings: not! Congress kept in dark about surveillance program.

Tim: Intercept phone calls?
Nancy: FISA allows it, but only under the law.

Notice how we've completely accepted that surveillance is a good thing. Americans, phone calls (the internet not mentioned I note) whatever-it's all good. Big Brother and his Bitch Nancy know what's best, because they're under the law.

Asking her now about withdrawal, her 04, 05 and current position.

Nancy: Murtha says withdraw, he's a 35 year vet. Praising troops, just got back from ME, they deserve better plan. Pointing out USA Today mischaracterized her 05 position.

So she can do it, she just chooses not to most of the time.

Note to Nancy: selectively pointing out some lies when the entire ball of shit is made of lies isn't exactly aggressive. Get an intern with a computer and read a blog, we've done all the work for you. We won't mind if you don't credit us. The Press is not your friend. Stop making nice with them.

Going with Murtha again.

Tim: End of year withdrawal
Nancy: 2006 Significant transition in Iraq, give Iraqis security burden. Make whole effort worthy of US troop sacrifice.
Tim: Is it secure stable hotbed for terrorism.
Nancy: Expert advice says….did not finish thought. President needs a plan, not a stay the course and let next prez clean up mess.
Tim: Quoting Hoyer (D-MD) saying we can't withdraw.
Nancy: That was six months ago, now all Dems are on board with significant transition, keeps repeating that. Emphasizing troops losses. It's a trillion dollar war if it ended today.

Does she ever wonder about that $2 trillion the Pentagon recently admitted it can't find? Or who has received the trillion spent in Iraq? Not so much, from what I see here. It's as if she doesn't think we would know or care about names like Halliburton. Talk about dumbing down.

Nancy: Not cut our losses, it's we need a new plan. Any plan. Rummy says we negotiate with Iraqi government, but Bush says no DC influence in that decision/timing…she's lost me. Back to better plan.

Gas.

Tim: (puke) Quoting the Moustache of Understanding on gas policy that lifts tax. Ooh, Tom was angry. Timmeh mention Brazilian sugar gas! What is Dem plan?
Nancy: it's both national security and economic issue. Ten year independence plan. send energy dollars to Midwest not Middle East (nice)!
Tim: Roll back tax cut?
Nancy: Floundering on tax, talking about energy subsidies to oil companies (I think)
Tim: Roll back tax cut?

Pretty clear who Timmeh's masters are. The super rich will crush you, woman. Don't even think about it or they'll send me and all my kind to recreate you in the minds of Americans as the worst thing since Hitler.

Nancy: End the war to save money.

Still not answering the question. Good for her.

Nancy: We have a goal, timetable. 50B year spent protecting sea lanes in Middle East, let's spend it on subsidizing energy independence. Let's not talk about tax cuts even though I'm against them myself. We've got it in writing, will show people in rural areas.

This is my number one problem with the Democrats. Show people in the Midwest? Exactly how? That is, are they going to mail detailed plans with specific actions and benefits to farmers and farm workers? No? So I suppose she thinks that our media will cover the plan accurately, in detail, and prominently? Because I sure am missing that coverage in the papers I read. Wake the f@#k up, Nancy. If Democrats can't create alternative ways to disseminate information to people, and at the same time convince them of the flaws in the media, they are lost. Which pretty much sums up the last 6 years, and why should I think it's going to change? Sorry, back to the show.

Tim: Congressional approval numbers. 65% disapprove. People are tired of fighting, do nothing, corruption.
Nancy: it's always been that way, when they don't like Congress, that means all of us

So polls don't matter, Nancy? Or only some of the time? Or do you think that people should be happy with how well you've done these last few years? You're all such fighters,' I can't believe everyone doesn't just love you.

Tim: Balance the budget?
Nancy: We did it before! Clinton!
Tim: Increase in spending?
Nancy: Pay as you go, I promise no deficit spending. Clinton gave us four surplus budgets. Bush: 9 trillion in debt. We could've been debt free by 08 had Bush followed Clinton. Reversal of roles. We're now the new fiscal conservatives, no deficit spending.

Again, I'm getting a little testy. Under five minutes, probably less than three, of budget discussion with exactly no relevant figures other than Bush's debt numbers. Sound biting again, and exactly why most Americans couldn't tell you the first thing about what the budget actually looks like and where the money is actually coming from and going to. The schools don't teach economics and real math, and the press doesn't report on economic details and numbers. It's all play money to the cronies, when in fact it is squeezed out of us all in tears and blood. Does anyone doubt that there is enough money to solve all our national priorities, but that for decades now, that information is kept away from the masses by the totally obvious use of sound bite discourse? It's sickening.

Tim: Will there be investigation? I looked at the Conyers website, he's talking about impeachment !
Nancy: We won't let that nasty black man ask good white folks any tough questions. Blah blah oversight responsibility of Congress, bullshit, hypocrisy I don't see us going to a place of impeachment. You don't know all the facts and where they'll take you. I'm the leader, Conyers just has a website.

Boiling blood right now. Just shut it all down Nancy, put those naggers in their place. How dare they think (dissertation on Bush crimes) worthy of impeachment, when we all know it's really Blow Jobs that brought this nation down. For fuck's sake what a waste of space she is.

Tim: Payback if take back control?
Nancy: No, no, we're going to show the American people the cost of the corruption Medicare, gas, how did we get here? It's worth scrutiny. Investigation isn't impeachment, it's checks and balances.

Meanwhile, Bush announces that he isn't going to pay attention to laws he doesn't like. Checked or balanced in Congress? Of course not.

Tim: Some BS USA today article on Dem corruption…Dems who are rich and didn't disclose some paperwork! McKinney roughing up a policeman, Kennedy doing something bad
Nancy: Two different things. Some unethical Dems. Repubs never investigate themselves, we do. Corruption, cronyism, incompetence. Gas, Katrina, impact on American people. One Dem different than a whole system (Rethug gave)
Tim: Abramoff gave money to the Dems! going on about it. Connecting him to Reid.

Oh that's clever: shows graphic for Overall lobbying funds, which of course isn't just Abramoff and has nothing to do with his individual case or the long list of Republicans involved. Of course, the viewer is left with the impression (visually impressed and thus stronger than the spoken words of the show) that they're all crooks.

Nancy: Perhaps a woman to clean up the WH
Tim: Will you ban lobbying contributions
Nancy: Public funding break the cycle completely
Tim: Who's going to pay for all that?

Fascinating. And thus we see the true face of Satan revealed. Who is going to pay me? Timmeh is asking. Indeed, without the crony carnival of corruption in the Beltway, how will any of our fine pundits put food on their families? Never mind the death of democracy, the incestuous nature of the press/lobbying/politician relationship, never mind that people care about reality more than TV when they can't afford gas and food and don't have a job…The Beltway Bubble must be maintained, even if the whole nation is bankrupted and its heritage destroyed forever. Those are Timmeh's priorities.

Nancy: Break the link and revolving door. Contributions not the only thing, jobs, access, unhealthy symbiotic relationship. Ban all gifts, travel, 2 year ban on lobbying after Congress. We must do these things. We'll pass honest leadership bill.

Watch this deft maneuver in which he totally undermines her previous point.

Tim: you guaranteed a Kerry win (mocking her)
Nancy: (looks surprised and angry) Babble babble increase minimum wage, lower education costs in college.
Tim: All this no increase of deficit?

I didn't quite catch if there was more, but then their time together was over and the love began in earnest. Big smiles to each other, scary big, like they just had angry sex. I'm not sure what to make of that.

I'm going outside now, I'll tell you about the three stooges, I mean the impersonator and the two newspaper editors later.

 

FOX News [sic] Sunday
by Leah

Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Joe Biden (DINO-DE), Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI3) and Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner

This Sunday's headline story: Porter Goss's short goodbye.

The major insights produced by the ensuing discussion, first between FOX News Sunday host Chris Wallace and, appearing alone, Peter Hoekstra (Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee) and then among the round-tablers, were two:

  1. There is a real mystery about what this shakeup is all about, in part, because pundits understand very little about “intelligence" and how it is gathered and put to work, nor have said pundits been paying much attention to what Goss has been doing at the CIA; and
  2. Brit Hume and William Kristol are the essence of wingnuttism—smarter than your average wingnut, perhaps, but their pure bodily fluids embody its central essence.

Hoekstra shed very little light on Goss's presidential invitation to leave the directorship of the CIA, but what Goss was doing while there, Pete approved of; Goss went to the CIA to shake things up, the CIA needed shaking up, and let's not forgot their previous failures (a clear reference made more than once to the fact that 9/11 was completely the fault of the intelligence community, who kept all that information about Al Qaeda planning something big away from Condi, deep in the bowels of the agency), and yes, Goss may have provoked discomfort, but hey, that's what he was sent there to do.

But most of the interview revolved around Hoekstra's opposition to General Michael Hayden. I was never clear on the reasons Hoekstra objects, but his main point seemed to be that Hayden was wrong because of his military connection, and there was also the matter of Hayden's potentially split loyalty to Rumsfeld, instead of the total loyalty he owed to… well, Hoekstra implied Negroponte, but one had the feeling that he meant the President.

Hoekstra agreed that Goss had been forced out, but wasn't all that concerned—the agency is going through a period of transition, there are others that can carry on Goss's work—but Hayden ain't the guy.

Hoekstra approves of separating analysis from CIA control; Goss's, and apparently the President's, view of the agency is that it needs to be action oriented, lean, and mean—not bureaucratic.

Can anyone say “covert action," “black ops," or psycho “psy ops?"

No one on this morning's FOX News Sunday could.

Biden and Specter were up next; again, Wallace met with something a tad unexpected. Biden was asked first how he responds to rumors that the administration would look forward to a fight on Hayden's nomination, so that Democrats could be portrayed, once again, as weak on national security. Biden took a pass, wisely, I think, echoing a bit of what Hoekstra had said: Biden did introduce the NSA problem, but then a startled Wallace watched as Specter ran with that issue.

Yes, the confirmation hearings will be an appropriate occasion for Senators to find out about what is going on with the NSA; Specter seemed as much in the dark about the program as he was when the Times published its story—or is Specter not included in the gang of eight?

Next, Biden got a loaded question on immigration; will the Democrats no longer block a vote on a bill, especially one that includes guest workers, and a path to citizenship.

Biden did okay—not great, mind you, but he was clear that Democrats felt whenever they'd voted for a Senate version of anything, in conference, the Republicans, Senate and House, threw out what Democrats had agreed to; in other words, they got rolled, consistently rolled. On immigration, since Specter and Biden will be on the conference committee, Biden thinks they're heading for a vote on the McCain/Kennedy version of immigration reform.

The Judges issue was next—Biden wouldn't commit one way or t'other on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, although one got the impression that he didn't see himself joining a filibuster on that one, depending on what develops during the hearing.

Yeah, Biden still doesn't get it—that Democrats need to free themselves from that damn agreement, and risk Frist pushing the nuclear button, and they need to do it now, before there is a next vacancy on the Supreme Court. Thrash it out now, then make an issue of Bush being handed yet more power by the Republican Senate.

Democrats need to believe that a majority of Americans won't want to give Bush that kind of power, no matter how many wedge issues the right dredges up about a judiciary out of control. Who looks more out of control these days—a presidency that claims the power to decide which laws it needs to implement and/or obey, a Congress which refuses to do any kind of oversight of that administration, or a state court system which handed down the Schiavo decision, and a federal system that still, although less and less, protects the right to privacy from government intrusion into one's personal life?

Biden did swear his unalterable opposition to Judge Terrence Boyle, and said he would join a filibuster, if necessary.

For his part, Specter showed once again that even though he's trying to keep one foot on dry ground, he is otherwise totally in the tank for Bush, i.e., that disagreeing with a Judge's judicial philosophy isn't a good enough reason to filibuster, because the President has a right to choose judges who agree with his judicial philosophy—an attitude, need I add, that was notably absent during Clinton's two terms as President. Oh well.

Now the fun part—the roundtable: Brit, Mara Liasson, Bill, and Juan Williams.

The Goss story was first—Brit declared it a "regular" mess, everyone agreed. Brit laid it out clearly—yes, the CIA was full of folks disloyal to the President and Goss was sent there to get rid of them. The outstanding question, according to Hume: was Goss succeeding?

The always incurious Mara stuck to the approved facts, noting that Goss was given a contradictory mandate—to raise morale, even while he was purging the agency.

Bill Kristol was furious: Goss was doing exactly what he'd been sent to the CIA to do; get rid of any of those “softies" disloyal to Bush's tough vision of what is required by the WOT, and what's Goss's thanks? He gets fired. That sends a terrible message to other like-minded purgers within the bureaucracy, and also, presumably, to wayward civil servants disloyal to Kristol's... strike that (or not), Bush's vision of how the CIA ought to operate. Worse yet, since Goss wasn't finished with the purge, the CIA will now turn into a version of the State Department, a multitude of marshmallows reluctant to turn to war as a first option. (Take this as the gist of his remark, not a transcript, although Bill did remind us that Negroponte is a State Department guy.)

My impression: Kristol had Iran in mind. Two Sundays ago I heard him say, with no hesitation, that Bush could not leave office with the current Iranian regime still in power.

Brit's view differed from Kristol only in that Brit was less sure that Goss was blameless, and thus, the demand for his resignation might be a sign of strength and a new opportunity for Bush to put someone in charge who will handle this transitional phase and complete Goss's work better than he could.

Wallace had read Jane Harmon's quote that in the last 18 months, 300 years of experience had been pushed or had walked of its own accord out the door of the CIA, to which Hoekstra had said, basically, “Good riddance," and it was Kristol clear that Brit feels the same way. As to Negroponte, Brit questioned his “softie" status; I believe there are some folks in Central America who would agree.

Juan was a bit more lively today—turf wars, smurf wars; it's ridiculous to view the CIA as a rogue agency, requiring purging; Goss had demoralized the whole agency without making it more effective.

That was the closest anyone got to discussing the actual security of this country, and what might be happening to it while this “transitional phase" is accomplished. I sometimes wonder if Republicans are really all that serious about national security.

Final topic, what with Patrick Kennedy, and the two other Democratic congressman who've been accused of corruption, which party has the edge in the corruption department, by which I wasn't sure if Wallace meant, who is more or less corrupt.

The responses were all predictable, other than Juan's irritation that Kennedy was included in the grouping—yes, this makes it more difficult for the Democrats to make an issue out of the culture of corruption, and though the lobbying reform act the Repubs passed this week was a bit weaker than promised, (Brit talking here), politically it provides cover for them, and neutralizes the issue, so that Repubs took a step away from Delay and Abramoff. Yes, voters are disgusted with all of Washington, Democrat's living in a glass house and all that…

I should mention at this point that no one mentioned hookers, the Watergate, poker games, Goss bringing his legislative staff with him to the CIA, or any such related matters; I guess they cared too much about our national security to bring up such irrelevancies.

The most notable moment of the whole show, for me anyway, was Bill Kristol's stunningly oily framing of the corruption issue: He hasn't been paying attention because Republicans have such boring, unsexy scandals; after all, the big scandal around Abramoff and Delay was a golf outing and golf is not sexy; scandals have to be about sex and money to be interesting; you could sense that Kristol was dying to mention Bill Clinton's name, but then Duke Cunningham got mentioned by someone, and Kristol good-naturedly avowed that he might get interested now.

You got to give it to these neo-cons; they've got some crust, yes?

Democrats beware: you need to work much harder in defining what the issue of corruption is all about, and you better start NOW.

 

Universally acclaimed as boldly shrill members of the reality-based community, the Bloggers of Corrente can be reached off the record, on the Q.T., and very hush hush at their highly fortified headquarters, The Mighty Corrente Building.



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