Monday, January 31, 2005

More on Iraq's election

For more depth than the cheerleading found on most cable TV news outlets, try here or here at media critic Eric Alterman's site. It includes a contribution from one of our favorite writers, Charles Pierce, who is a regular on the NPR program "Wait, Wait -- Don't Tell Me."
Pierce writes:
You do not own their courage.
The people who stood in line Sunday did not stand in line to make Americans feel good about themselves.
You do not own their courage.
They did not stand in line to justify lies about Saddam and al-Qaeda, so you don't own their courage, Stephen Hayes. They did not stand in line to justify lies about weapons of mass destruction, or to justify the artful dodginess of Ahmad Chalabi, so you don't own their courage, Judith Miller. They did not stand in line to provide pretty pictures for vapid suits to fawn over, so you don't own their courage, Howard Fineman, and neither do you, Chris Matthews.
You do not own their courage.
They did not stand in line in order to justify the dereliction of a kept press. They did not stand in line to make right the wrongs born out of laziness, cowardice, and the easy acceptance of casual lying. They did not stand in line for anyone's grand designs. They did not stand in line to play pawns in anyone's great game, so you don't own their courage, you guys in the PNAC gallery.
You do not own their courage.
They did not stand in line to provide American dilettantes with easy rhetorical weapons, so you don't own their courage, Glenn Reynolds, with your cornpone McCarran act out of the bowels of a great university that deserves a helluva lot better than your sorry hide. They did not stand in line to be the instruments of tawdry vilification and triumphal hooting from bloghound commandos. They did not stand in line to become useful cudgels for cheap American political thuggery, so you don't own their courage, Freeper Nation.
You do not own their courage.
They did not stand in line to justify a thousand mistakes that have led to more than a thousand American bodies. They did not stand in line for the purpose of being a national hypnotic for a nation not even their own. They did not stand in line for being the last casus belli standing. They did not stand in line on behalf of people's book deals, TV spots, honorarium checks, or tinpot celebrity. They did not stand in line to be anyone's talking points.
You do not own their courage.
We all should remember that.

Well said.

Olbermann on the money

MSNBC host Keith Olbermann is going wild over on his blog with SpongeBob-Dobson mania. The host of "Countdown" recounts his experiences ever since being smacked down by Focus on the Family.
Many of the complaints, says Olbermann, are of the nonsensical ranting variety. He writes,
The best of them was not a misspelling but a Freudian slip of biblical proportions. A correspondent, unhappy that I did not simply agree with her fire-and-brimstone forecast for me, wrote “I showed respect even though I disagreed with you and yet you have the audacity to call me intelligent.”
Well, you have me there, Ma’am. My mistake.

And so it goes.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Boss Dobson responds

Religious demagogue James Dobson cries foul for his treatment in the media since the whole SpongeBob and gay-friendly video episode blew up in his face.

In a letter to his supporters, Dobson whines that his remarks have been blown out of context by the nasty media.

This is rich coming from someone who frequently traffics in half-truths and gross distortions. For an example, check out his Oct. 14 comments regarding John Kerry while appearing on Fox News with Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes:

I started to say before the break, Sean, I wanted to give you something to think about in the midnight hours, because I woke up this morning at 4:00 in the morning thinking about this.
Let's suppose that John Kerry squeaks out a victory. And then, he's able to make two to four Supreme Court appointees. And Senator Clinton looks at that situation, and she sees the possibility of eight years of waiting, and she'll be eight years older. And anything could happen in eight years.
And President Kerry then appoints her as chief justice of the Supreme Court. And she would have the opportunity to virtually rewrite the Constitution with the rest of her life. That keeps me up at night.

Cute, huh? Was anyone seriously contemplating Hillary Clinton as a Supreme Court justice? Nope, but Dobson practices in this sort of language that just scares the pants off his followers.

Sen. Clinton seems to be a particular obsession, as evidenced by Focus on the Family "news" story.

For an example closer to home, consider his jihad against "judicial tyranny" surrounding the Roy Moore case.
Ah yes, check out the "tyrants" on the Court of the Judiciary who found that no judge is above the law. These are hardly tyrants. Wonder if their faces shock Dobson out of his slumber?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Smart like a sponge

Is cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants really gay-friendly? Yes, says rightwinger James Dobson. Dobson and his Focus on the Family are attacking SpongeBob's participation in a tolerance video. That's nothing, they also see gay-conspiracy in an anti-bullying campaign.
Do believe people like Dobson and his ilk really hold to this silliness about gay-friendly cartoons? Or does Focus realize that anytime it can get the NY Times and other "elite media types," as they would put it, to make sport of them, it can only help in the fundraising deptartment?
"Look!," their fundraising appeals will say. "The evil, liberal New York Times and other members of radicial leftwing media hate us. We must be doing something right. Please send us more money so we can combat these forces of evil!"

Imagine that

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, in speaking from the floor of the Senate during the Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State confirmation debate, made quite a speech this morning. She supports Rice and in her defense of Rice's role in the mistakes regarding Iraq, Sen. Hutchison said that nobody could have conceived of the type of enemy we would face in postwar Iraq. Who could imagine that these people would blow themselves up?
Crazed fundamentalists strapping explosives to themselves and blowing themselves up. Just imagine that.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Approval (?) ratings

An ABC News/Washington Post poll finds President Bush's polling numbers are weak.
Salon digs deeper than just bad low approval ratings:
The Post, though, offers no historical context. If the paper had, it would have cast Bush's current standing in an even more negative light. The facts are that upon easily winning reelection in 1972, Nixon enjoyed a 59 percent approval rating, according to Gallup. The reason Nixon's rating quickly nose-dived to 51 percent in Gallup's Jan. 12-15 survey was that the poll came on the heels of Nixon's controversial decision to bomb North Vietnamese population centers, such as Hanoi and Haiphong, without pause from Dec. 18 to Dec. 30. Otherwise known as the Christmas Bombing, the raids killed an estimated 1,600 civilians; 70 U.S. airmen were either captured or killed. The bombing was condemned worldwide, and for an American public fed up with nearly a decade of war in Vietnam, it sparked a new round of street protests as well as knocking Nixon's approval ratings down nearly 10 points in one month. Yet even against that stark backdrop, Nixon's rating was just one point below Bush's current standing, despite the fact that Bush -- unlike Nixon -- has made no bold or controversial initiatives since November.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

E-mail fictions

A e-mail came over the transom this past weekend that is instructive as to the gulf that divides this nation.
The subject of the e-mail was "The Omission From the New W.W.II Memorial." The e-mail's theme, which is one of a genre that intends to scare the Christian right that it is under attack from within. In this message, we're to believe that FDR's reference to God was scrubbed from the memorial because of zealous censors.
We typically trash this kind of easily debunkable junk, but this time we responded to the sender, who shall remain anonymous. A
link from shot down the message's central claim.
That should have ended this little episode, but no. Our e-mailer had a response,
How can you say that the words were not omitted when they are not present on the wall? The sentence containing those words was omitted; consequently that phrase was omitted. ... We cannot allow the revisionist of history to make such a change.

Of course, the omission is not in doubt. What's in doubt is sequence of Roosevelt's comments.
I responded:
Under your reasoning, they "omitted" a heck of a lot more than four words from the speech. What the snopes story points out is that there are two quotes in the FDR speech that express similar sentiments about absolute victory and total triumph. Only one of those quotes ends with the phrase, "so help us God." It is NOT that quote, however, that is inscribed on the wall. It is the other one. They had room for one short quote. Otherwise, it would have had 200 words. The e-mail you sent out claims that the inscriptions omits the end of the sentence, removing a reference to God. That reference is two large paragraphs away.
The original false story comes from the Washington Times, which is owned by a man, Sun yung Moon, who claims to be the messiah. And that's no urban legend. Read here.

We heard back once more, "I will not argue the omission with you any more; yet I do believe that the phrase should have been a part of the inscription."
Is this what it comes down to? The facts don't matter. The bogus story that is debunked by credible sources doesn't matter. God should have been on that monument and any anecdote, even one based on a faulty remembrance, is OK. Sad.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Columnist payola

Are you now or have you ever been ...
Armstrong Williams is catching flak for taking nearly a quarter-mil to shill for the White House in his columns and talk-radio program.
Over at The American Prospect, they have a nifty idea. Namely, offering an oath for right-wing pundits to take clear their name from this "pay for play" scandal. Here's their suggestion:
I swear that I have never taken money -- neither directly nor indirectly -- from any political campaign or government agency -- whether federal, state, or local -- in exchange for any service performed in my job as a journalist (or commentator, or blogger, or whatever you think I should be called).

The word is that Freedom of Information requests have already been launched by various ambitious Beltway reporters. Time is running short for members of the vast rightwing conspiracy.

Riley's bugged

Gov. Bob Riley, speaking at yesterday's annual PARCA (Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama) luncheon in Birmingham, was dispensing medical truths.
Riley said he had received a flu shot last week, and wanted to report that it worked. "I've got the flu," he deadpanned.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Lost cause in the South?

The LA Times' Ronald Brownstein writes:
Across the 11 states of the old Confederacy, plus Kentucky and Oklahoma, whites constitute a majority of the population in 1,154 counties. Kerry won 90 of them.
By contrast, Bill Clinton won 510 white-majority counties in the South eight years ago.

The Calhoun County Sheriffs Department Web site has local precinct results. Here are a few of note:
Oxford Elementary School
Bush 79.89%
Kerry 19.09%
White Plain High School
Bush 81.78%
Kerry 17.26%
Coosa Valley Saddle Club
Bush 80.09%
Kerry 19.44%
Friendship Community Center
Bush 81.53%
Kerry 17.53%
Anniston -- First Presbyterian
Kerry 51.02%
Bush 47.63%
Alexandria – Civitan Club Center
Bush 76.49%
Kerry 22.89%
Jacksonville -- Westside Baptist
Kerry 58.40%
Bush 40.38%
Hobson City – City Hall
Kerry 92.33%
Bush 7.67%
More county results here. For results from the state click here.
Expanding the circle one more time, the best Web site for national presidential results, including historical votes, is Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections.

Moral values and politics: What are yours?

The post-election period has witnessed the rise of “moral values” voters as the symbol for President Bush’s reelection this November.
As Bush prepares for his second term, we’d like to hear first-hand from our readers. What are your moral values? And, more importantly, how do they inform your political preferences?
Let us know in 200 words or less. Remember to include your name, city of residence and phone number. (The phone number won’t be published; it’s for confirmation purposes only.)
Click here to send us your thoughts.