Thursday, June 23, 2005

David Gregory: A Breath of Fresh Air

All this week, NBC White House correspondent David Gregory has been guest hosting Hardball in place of Chris Matthews...and what a difference a host makes. It's almost an entirely different show. I no longer feel like taking a shower after watching it -- I actually feel as though I just learned something and that I just saw a real debate. (For those who would chide my disgust with Chris Matthews claiming he's a typical media liberal, you should know that he recently admitted to having voted for Bush "at least once.")

Last night's episode was interesting. The marquis debate of the night was between Bob Schrum, Democratic strategist (he ran Kerry's and Gore's campaigns, a real winner) vs. David Frum, former Bush speechwriter (he wrote "axis of evil.") During the debate, I of course sided with Schrum, but was most impressed by Gregory's evenhanded moderation of the debate. He would ask biased leading questions but to both guests. And while I would have liked Gregory to call Frum out on what was clearly his intention: to define those that are anti-war as "crazy" or "hysterical," what transpired was a rare unraveling of the conservative's talking points.

At one point, when talking about the Guantanamo Bay detention center, Frum was demonizing Richard Durbin (D-IL) who last week likened the treatment of prisoners there to that of oppressive regimes such as the Nazis or Russians. It was a salient point put in a manner that unfortunately allowed Republicans to liken Durbin to a traitor who is against the troops when that couldn't be further from the truth. Frum continued the anti-Durbin rhetoric:

It is a sign to which this anti-war craziness that is boiling on the fringe of the Democratic Party has infiltrated the minds of people like him.

Anti-war = crazy and fringe. Ya know, 60% of the American people are crayyyzee.

In the midst of this spinning, he managed to let his guard down because when confronted about the Guantanamo detainees, Frum inadvertently told the truth and poked a hole in one of Bush's premier first term talking points: that the Iraq War is a central front in the global war on terror. Frum said:

The Guantanamo detainees are not from Iraq. It has got nothing to do with the Iraq war. It's got to do with the war in Afghanistan and the global war on terror, which people like Dick Durbin say they support.

Whoopsie. A rare slip by the usually robotically on-message conservatives.

But the thing that truly made last night's Hardball notable was the appearance of a true anti-war voice given the time and the deference to speak her mind. In the final segment of the show, two mothers of soldiers appeared, one whose son was wounded in Iraq and one whose son was killed. The latter, Cindy Sheehan, has been a vocal anti-war activist ever since her son died and was part of the panel at John Conyers's Downing Street Memo hearing last week. Here she was on Hardball expressing true anti-war rhetoric, rhetoric that is virtually banned by the mainstream media. It was truly startling to hear these things emanating out of my television without her being cut off or argued into silence. She spoke calmly, sympathetically and intelligently. This exchange was particularly moving:

GREGORY: Cindy, do you still believe in it?
SHEEHAN: Do I still believe in the war? Is that what you just asked me?
GREGORY: Yes. That's my—that's my question.
SHEEHAN: I never—I never believed in the war. I never believed that Iraq was a threat to the United States. I didn't see why we were rushing to invade a country that posed no threat, was no danger to the United States. My son didn't believe in the war. My entire family don't believe. We didn't believe in it then and we certainly don't believe in it now, with all the proof that has come out about the lies and betrayals that our government led us into this war. And the newest thing is the Downing Street memo that just confirms what we already suspected, that this administration wanted to invade Iraq at all costs. And they would even fit the intelligence around that, around the policy of invading Iraq.

And Cindy did what Gregory didn't: she called Frum out on his attempt to marginalize those that oppose the war:

SHEEHAN: ....And I don't really like being called an anti-war crazy, like your previous—previous guest did. I think everybody should be against war, especially wars that have no basis in reality.

And the last word of the entire program went to Cindy:

SHEEHAN: This war, nobody should have been there in the first place. Not one person should be killed. And I don't believe that we support our government when they're wrong...We try and fight and make it better and make it a better place. And we need to keep pressure on the administration. They don't support the troops. You know, my son was killed doing a job he was not trained for. He was not wearing the proper body armor. He was not in an armored vehicle. And he was killed in a political mess, a political mess that our leadership made. That's not supporting the troops, as far as I'm concerned.

They have to pay for their own laundry when they're over there. They're getting killed guarding mercenaries who make $1,000 a day, when they barely bring home $2,000 a month. They're losing their homes here in America. They're not being supported by their government. I think the only way we can support our troops who are only there doing their jobs and doing the best they can to stay alive and doing their duties is to bring them home, because it is a lie.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Denzel Washington {GASP!} Supports The Troops

Denzel Washington recently visited the troops at Brook Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio,Texas to little to no fanfare (the only story I could find was an outdated link to a local paper.) The forwarded e-mail I received from my conservative uncle on the subject tells the story:

BAMC is where soldiers that have been evacuated from Germany come to be hospitalized in the States, especially burn victims. They have buildings there called Fisher Houses. The Fisher House is a hotel where soldiers' families can stay, for little or no charge, while their soldier is staying in the hospital. BAMC has quite a few of these houses on base but as you can imagine, they are almost completely filled most of the time.

While Denzel Washington was visiting BAMC, they gave him a tour of one of the Fisher Houses. He asked how much one of them would cost to build. He took his check book out and wrote a check for the full amount right there on the spot. The soldiers overseas were amazed to hear this story and want to get the word out to the American public, because it warmed their hearts to hear it.
After a series of attached photos, there is a caption:

A true American and friend to all in uniform!

Sound too good to be true? Maybe it is. Snopes deconstructs the urban legend aspect to the story HERE.

OK, so maybe he didn't whip out his checkbook right then and there but the gist of it is still a great story, one that's gone unreported in the media. I'm glad this got to my uncle whose instinct it is to think Hollywood hates the administration, hates the war and by extension hates the troops. It chips away a little bit at the generality that is unfortunately reinforced by the media when they report on Sean Penn's inevitably ill-fated trips abroad or Alec Baldwin or Susan Sarandon's controversial activism that usually ends up sounding radical once the media gets through with it. This idea that lack of support of the administration or the war by definition equals lack of support for the troops is outrageous and has been a frustration of us all since this war began.

Why doesn't the media do more to undo this canard? Why doesn't the media pick up on Denzel Washington's simple act of kindness? Why is it a surprise to anyone that Michael Moore's website has the most comprehensive list of links to actually support the troops that I've ever seen. Yes, people, there is more you can do for the soldiers beyond driving around with a magnet on your car.

The fact is that portraying any celebrity as pro-soldier would shatter the narrative they love to perpetuate and add a level of complexity to the issue that is beyond them. Some of the media's greatest hits: Al Gore was an exaggerator, John Kerry was aloof and George Bush is a strong leader. The fact is that Denzel Washington's actual politics are irrelevant. The story of his expressing support for the military is symbolic of "Hollywood" expressing support for the military and it would be refreshing if the mainstream media would acknowledge it.

Denzel Washington Visits Troops at Brook Army Medical Center

Quote Unquote Progress

A Reuters headline writer got a little sassy today, unable to use the term "progress" when referring to Iraq without surrounding it with quotes:

Troops To Stay In Iraq Despite "Progress"

The content of the article continues the tough talk about the war and the administration, including words that conservatives would say prove it's just the liberal media reporting bad news, and the rest of us would just call telling the truth (aka the media doing its job):

With his popularity falling amid mounting casualties, Bush is spending the next few weeks defending the U.S.-led war and plans to mark next Tuesday's anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty with a speech.

Since the United States formally turned over sovereignty to Iraq on June 28, 2004, more than 860 U.S. troops have been killed.Vines said, "Since that time, there's been significant progress throughout the country."

More than 1,720 U.S. troops have died in Iraq and with 80 deaths, May was the deadliest month for American forces since January, and June is on pace to match May. The continued deployment of roughly 135,000 U.S. troops in Iraq also is putting strains on the U.S. military and the U.S. Army has fallen far behind in its recruiting.

As of right now, the story is on Yahoo's main page. I wonder how quickly the headline will change and it will be relegated to the dungeon of Yahoo News.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Spoke Too Soon

My optimism about the mainstream media's reaction to Congressman Conyers's DSM hearing yesterday may have been a bit premature. The Washington Post's only coverage of the event is a snarky piece by Dana Millbank. I won't dignify it with an excerpt. In a letter to the writer, the editor and the ombudsman of The Post, Congressman Conyers responds:

The article begins with an especially mean and nasty tone, claiming that House Democrats "pretended" a small conference was the Judiciary Committee hearing room and deriding the decor of the room. Milbank fails to share with his readers one essential fact: the reason the hearing was held in that room, an important piece of context. Despite the fact that a number of other suitable rooms were available in the Capitol and House office buildings, Republicans declined my request for each and every one of them. Milbank could have written about the perseverance of many of my colleagues in the face of such adverse circumstances, but declined to do so. Milbank also ignores the critical fact picked up by the AP, CNN and other newsletters that at the very moment the hearing was scheduled to begin, the Republican Leadership scheduled an almost unprecedented number of 11 consecutive floor votes, making it next to impossible for most Members to participate in the first hour and one half of the hearing.

The fact that I and my fellow Democrats had to stuff a hearing into a room the size of a large closet to hold a hearing on an important issue shouldn't make us the object of ridicule. In my opinion, the ridicule should be placed in two places: first, at the feet of Republicans who are so afraid to discuss ideas and facts that they try to sabotage our efforts to do so; and second, on Dana Milbank and the Washington Post, who do not feel the need to give serious coverage on a serious hearing about a serious matter-whether more than 1700 Americans have died because of a deliberate lie. Milbank may disagree, but the Post certainly owed its readers some coverage of that viewpoint.

For real journalism on the subject of the hearing check out The New York Times.

Fox News Miscellani

Air America this morning reported that FoxNews's Carl Cameron said that Walter Jones and Ron Paul, the two Republican Congressmen who co-sponsored bi-partisan legislation demanding an Iraq pull-out schedule, are "considered by many to be eccentric." I thought Sean Hannity's attack of Christians who are against the war on his show was pathetic but now weasely Cameron is slandering Republicans who don't toe the party line.

John Conyers's hearing on the Downing Street Minutes yesterday was a huge success. Know how I know? Because it's gotten mainstream media outlets talking about the prospect of a Congressional inquiry into the manipulation of the lead-up to the Iraq War, including CNN, one of whose anchors actually uttered the phrase "this story is really heating up." Democracy Now reports that, while the hearing was covered live on only C-SPAN 3, all cable news outlets had cameras at the hearing...except Fox News.

And finally, Fox News has reportedly hired retired four star general and former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark to be a military and foreign affairs commentator. Leading up to and during the initial invasion of Iraq (prior to his announcing his candidacy), Clark was often seen on CNN offering compelling and informative commentary about the war on CNN. Unfortunately, he could never translate the ease he has on television talking about such matters to the campaign trail. It's interesting that Fox News has now picked him up. It may be a mutually beneficial relationship, perhaps serving to moderate each other's reputation, but it certainly seems like a better deal for Clark. I can only assume he will use the opportunity to counter the myth that the Democratic party is anti-military and promote the virtues of the Democratic Party's policy of international cooperation. Since he's signing on as an expert, he'll be the go-to guy on certain matters for anchors, not someone to argue with or cut down. One wonders what Fox News is thinking since all signs are pointing to another run for General Clark in 2008. Go Wes Go!

The Exception Should Be The Rule

The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.
Dick Cheney spouted this latest of his numerous wrongheaded optimistic projections about Iraq on Larry King two weeks ago. Since then the violence in Iraq has continued unabated and we've even begun a new counterinsurgency attack, project Spear, after insurgents captured Ramadi...a freakin' city.

ABC correspondent Terry Moran called the administration out on the dissonance between the reality on the ground and the Vice President's rhetoric in the daily press briefing yesterday. Poor poor Scotty McClellan.

Q Scott, is the insurgency in Iraq in its 'last throes'?
McCLELLAN: Terry, you have a desperate group of terrorists in Iraq that are doing everything they can to try to derail the transition to democracy. The Iraqi people have made it clear that they want a free and democratic and peaceful future. And that's why we're doing everything we can, along with other countries, to support the Iraqi people as they move forward….
Q But the insurgency is in its last throes?
McCLELLAN: The Vice President talked about that the other day -- you have a desperate group of terrorists who recognize how high the stakes are in Iraq. A free Iraq will be a significant blow to their ambitions.
Q But they're killing more Americans, they're killing more Iraqis. That's the last throes?
McCLELLAN: Innocent -- I say innocent civilians. And it doesn't take a lot of people to cause mass damage when you're willing to strap a bomb onto yourself, get in a car and go and attack innocent civilians. That's the kind of people that we're dealing with. That's what I say when we're talking about a determined enemy.
Q Right. What is the evidence that the insurgency is in its last throes?
McCLELLAN: I think I just explained to you the desperation of terrorists and their tactics.
Q What's the evidence on the ground that it's being extinguished?
McCLELLAN: Terry, we're making great progress to defeat the terrorist and regime elements. You're seeing Iraqis now playing more of a role in addressing the security threats that they face. They're working side by side with our coalition forces. They're working on their own. There are a lot of special forces in Iraq that are taking the battle to the enemy in Iraq. And so this is a period when they are in a desperate mode.
Q Well, I'm just wondering what the metric is for measuring the defeat of the insurgency.
McCLELLAN: Well, you can go back and look at the Vice President's remarks. I think he talked about it.
Q Yes. Is there any idea how long a 'last throe' lasts for?
McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Steve....

Thank you, Terry Moran. This shit should be the rule, not the exception. It's their fucking job.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


It always amazes me that people are willing to shove huge amounts of money out the door [to pay for wars], but are often unwilling to provide tiny amounts to prevent them.
So said Representative David Obey (D-Wis.) upon the approval of a spending bill in the GOP-led appropriations sub-committee of which he is a member. The bill, heading to the full House Appropriations Committee for approval, allots $20.27 billion for foreign aid to poor nations. This is a full $2 billion less than President Bush requested and is dwarfed by the proposed military budget of $350 billion.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Jon Stewart on Michael Jackson

As everyone knows, Michael Jackson was acquitted of all 10 charges in his child molestation case on Monday. Thus ends the trial that Neil Cavuto of Fox News has suggested is responsible for thwarting Bush's Social Security plan. In an interview with the President, Cavuto said:
But in the meantime, the news channels then hear what you're saying, and then later on, we have this Michael Jackson update. I mean, his trial and his ongoing saga has gripped the nation for the past four-and-a-half, five months as you've been on this campaign...Do you think that the focus on Michael Jackson has hurt you?
I was looking forward to Jon Stewart's wrap-up of the acquittal and indeed he delivered, especially his criticism of the media's coverage of it. Check out the video thanks to Crooks & Liars.

Truly classic.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

What The Democratic Party Stands For

On Blog For America, Howard Dean breaks down what his Democratic Party stands for and how we're going to win in 2006 and beyond:
We have a chance to run a lot of right wingers out of office in 2006 by standing up for honesty in government, and against the culture of corruption which the Republican Party has brought to Washington. We can make changes by standing up for election reform and campaign finance reform. By standing up for health care reform, education reform. By speaking out for a balanced budget and jobs for America. By being clear that we will have a foreign policy based on co-operation and honesty with the American people. By making the Republican Party accountable for the incredible damage they have done to the global environment. And by getting George Bush and Tom De Lay out of our personal lives!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Howard Dean - Still On A Tear

After his controversial remarks about Republicans over the past couple of weeks and being criticized by elected Democratic officials galore, DNC Chair Howard Dean was scolded by Dick Cheney over the weekend in an interview on Fox News:

I think Howard Dean's over the top. I've never been able to understand his appeal. Maybe his mother loved him, but I've never met anybody who does...So far, I think he's probably helped us more than he has them. That's not the kind of individual you want to have representing your political party.
Now, Dick, what did we say about bringing people's mothers into it?

When asked to respond to this attack, Dean's response was short, sweet and more than I could have hoped for:

My view is FOX News is a propaganda outlet for the Republican Party and I don't comment on FOX News.
Haha. Just for that give the DNC some love and let the DNC and all Democratic officials know that Howard Dean does speak for you.

Friday, June 10, 2005

"Stuff Happens" - A Review

On April 11, 2003, when asked to comment on the widespread looting of Baghdad, Donald Rumsfeld said:
Stuff happens…and it’s untidy, and freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.

This quote was the inspiration for the title of David Hare’s new history play about the run-up to the Iraq War. After premiering at the National Theatre in London last year, Stuff Happens is currently playing at The Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles until July 17. As of now, it is the only planned US production. I saw it on Tuesday and found it an extremely eloquent, disturbing and at times thrilling theatrical experience. If you can get to the LA area, you have to check it out. For performance dates and tickets go here.

What makes Rumsfeld’s quote so maddening, of course, is the passive voice he employs – with these two words he seeks to render himself and the administration completely unaccountable for anything bad that would ultimately happen as a result of the invasion of Iraq (a lack of accountability that would come to be a trademark of the Bush presidency) – hey, don’t blame us, stuff just happens. In the hands of David Hare, the phrase is meant to be an ironic comment on just how actively the Bush administration pursued and got their war in Iraq.

With a combination of real life transcripts and imagined dialogue based on extensive research, Hare compellingly dramatizes the chronology of behind the scenes machinations and strategies employed by the administration to lead us into war. While all major players are present, from Dominique deVillepin to Jack Straw to Wolfie to W, the meatiest roles are Colin Powell and Tony Blair. In David Hare’s hands, they are tragic figures, taken in by the Neocons despite their good intentions, in Tony Blair’s case, to affect change in the world for the better and in Powell’s case, to avoid war at all costs (to BushCo, Blair’s idealism and Powell’s loyalty to other nations are stumbling blocks in their path.) But the play does not let them off the hook – they are complicit in their own ways, but they’re the closest things we have to heroes to root for. In fact, Colin Powell is a full on antagonist to Bush, Rummy & Cheney, getting to deliver lines such as “Do you know what I hear? I hear things like the reason the Americans are so sure Iraq has WMDs is that they still have the receipts!” And in one particularly exasperated moment, Powell even calls Bush Co a bunch of “right wing wackos.” Cue applause.

Just as the portrayal of Powell’s relationship with the rest of the administration seems to be a heightened version of what we’ve come to accept as conventional wisdom – i.e. he was the lone moderate voice – so the portrayals of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are exaggerated versions of our worst impressions of them: Bush a dim puppet, Cheney a cranky warmonger, Rumsfeld a manic megalomaniac; but ultimately, Hare accomplishes something more interesting. By tracing these characters’ real words and their imagined private meetings, he fills in the gaps for us, he answers the question “how the fuck could this have happened” and he makes us understand why it happened. In the tradition of the best villains, Hare gives this triumvirate their own internal motivations and, despite the caricatured performances, actually succeeds in making them more human.

Special notice should go to Lorraine Toussaint as Condolleezza Rice, portrayed here as charming, intelligent and pragmatic but most definitely Bush’s puppet master. And Stephen Spinella steals every scene he is in as Dominique De Villepin, then France’s Foreign Minister, who delicately (and sometimes not so delicately) dances with Colin Powell at the UN.

Another feature of the play is a series of monologues by various anonymous characters such as an American professor who compellingly argues the case for war, a Palestinian student who wonders how it came to pass that the victims became the problem in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and an Iraqi who draws a parallel between Iraqis and the US saying we get the leaders we deserve. These “viewpoints” remove us temporarily from the action to give voice to everymen and women affected by the events dramatized.

I must say perhaps the most startling moment for me was the end. Not the last line of the play but literally the end, after the last word was spoken. The actors came out for their curtain call and they were no longer in character; but these were no ordinary characters the actors had portrayed, these were the antagonists of my daily life, these were the people I worked so hard last year to fire, the very people that wage a daily assault on my values. My first instinct was to refuse them applause. Fuck ‘em, I thought to myself. These characters had become so real for me over the course of the previous 3 hours that for a moment I couldn’t separate them from the real versions I see on my TV on any given day.

While the meeting that the Downing Street Minutes documents is not dramatized in Stuff Happens, it is there in spirit in virtually every scene. This play may have been first produced last September, but it is as timely now as if it were written yesterday. With the recent release of the DSM and the death toll in Iraq rising every day, Stuff Happens is a stark reminder of just how tragic Bush’s reign has been.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Bush And Blair Questioned On Downing St. Memo

Salon's War Room breaks it down for us:

Boldly stepping where no other Washington reporter has dared to go, [Steve Holland], the Reuters correspondent actually asked the president Tuesday about the July 2002 Downing Street memo. At a joint George W. Bush-Tony Blair press briefing, Holland asked: "On Iraq, the so-called Downing Street memo from July 2002 says intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy of removing Saddam through military action. Is this an accurate reflection of what happened? Could both of you respond?"

Blair answered first. Despite the memo's statement to the contrary -- and without offering any explanation for the contradiction -- Blair said, "No, the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all." He then turned to the memo's conclusion that Bush had already decided to use military force to depose Saddam Hussein. Again without explaining how the memo got it wrong -- assuming, for the sake of argument, that it did -- Blair insisted that he and Bush worked until the very end to find a way to avert war. "As it happened, we weren't able to do that because -- as I think was very clear -- there was no way that Saddam Hussein was ever going to change the way that he worked, or the way that he acted."

Bush took to the microphone next. He said nothing whatsoever about the core charge of the memo -- that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed" around Bush's decision to go to war. He did, however, deny that he had decided to use military force against Saddam Hussein as early as the memo said he did. "There's nothing farther from the truth," Bush said.

Along the way, Bush did what the Bush administration always does: He blamed the messenger. Bush complained that the memo had been "dropped" into the British press in the final days of Blair's re-election campaign: "Well, I -- you know, I read kind of the characterizations of the memo, particularly when they dropped it out in the middle of his race," Bush said. "I'm not sure who 'they dropped it out' is, but -- I'm not suggesting that you all dropped it out there."

Members of the White House press corps laughed, and for good reason: The idea that the White House press corps would have covered the Downing Street memo in any serious way apparently strikes everyone concerned as just hilarious.

Harlan McCraney - Bush Speechalist

Check out this short film starring Andy Dick as President Bush's "speechalist" Harlan McCraney.


The Tao of Dean

Lately, Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has been getting into some hot water for comments he's been making about Republicans.

Last Thursday, when discussing the travesty that in last year's election people had to wait in line for up to 8 hours to vote, Dean said:

Well, Republicans, I guess, can do that because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives.
Then on Monday, Dean said Republicans are:

...not very friendly to different kinds of people, they are a pretty monolithic party ... it's pretty much a white, Christian party.

At first my reaction was "what the hell is he doing!?!?" but when I looked at it more closely, it became clear to me that these aren't gaffes. He knows exactly what he's doing.

As a result of his presidential campaign, Dean has a reputation perpetuated in the media for being extremely liberal, as unfounded as that may be. So Dean is merely playing to type, essentially fulfilling the role that's been written for him by Republicans and the media. It has the added bonus of riling up the Democratic base because he's expressing what many Democrats think about the Republican Party but might not want to say. The reason Dean can do this with impunity is that he is not an elected official, but merely the fundraising cheerleading head of the DNC. And what Dean's antics allow actual elected Democrats to do is condemn his words, thus appearing more moderate and mainstream:
Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Tuesday that Dean is doing a good job, but is not the party's spokesman.

Last weekend, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., and 2004 vice presidential candidate John Edwards criticized Dean for his recent remarks, saying he doesn't speak for them.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, talking with reporters today, said she did not agree with the statement Dean made about the Republican Party.

In addition, by using provocative language, Dean is forced to respond to the comments where, not only does he not back down from them, thus presenting himself, and by extension Democrats, as having a spine, but in so doing he gets his true message about the Democratic Party through the media filter.

Cases in point, after Thursday's remarks, Dean's response was reported as follows:
"The point I was making is clear: Republican policies have declared war on hardworking Americans," Dean said Friday. "I will continue to criticize Republican leaders and their policies, and the Democratic Party will continue to offer constructive alternatives."

And after his Monday remarks:

Dean noted that he, too, is a white Christian. But he said the GOP is too narrow in its scope and the Democratic Party is far more diverse.


Challenged on that during the NBC interview, Dean said "unfortunately, by and large it is. And they have the agenda of the conservative Christians."

"This is a diversion from the issues that really matter: Social Security, and adequate job opportunity, strong public schools, a strong defense," Dean said.

I gave the DNC $25 recently even though I was determined not to after getting pretty much nothing for my money last year. But after Dean's strong unapologetic appearance on Meet The Press a few weeks ago, I was happy to give again and told the solicitor as much.

Thanks, Chairman Dean.

Friday, June 03, 2005

In Search of a 21st Century Deep Throat

On one level I'm somewhat ambivalent about the revelation that Mark Felt is the famed Deep Throat of Watergate fame. And I don't mind saying I'm growing a bit weary of the coverage of it. Having not experienced Watergate (although my mother is fond of relating that, as a toddler, my favorite TV shows were Sesame Street and the Watergate hearings) I guess there's a sort of feeling of its not really relating to my life. But ex-presidential candidate George McGovern (he lost to Richard Nixon in fact) came out swinging yesterday with his thesis of why this story may be more pertinent today that it seems:

I wish there were somebody of the Deep Throat time in this administration who is aware of what's going on....We need someone like that who is highly placed to tell us what's really going on. We know that we were misled on Iraq...

This war in Iraq, in my opinion is worse than anything Nixon did. I think Nixon deserved to be expelled from office in view of the cover-up that he carried on and the laws that he violated.

But we have an administration in power now that led us to a war that is internationally illegal; it's a war that we are fighting with a country that has no threat to us that has nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks.

Frank Rich

Frank Rich's column in each Sunday's New York Times is truly a must-read. He can always be relied upon to identify the point of impact where politics and culture collide. In last Sunday's column, Rich draws a parallel between the failure of New York City to finalize a World Trade Center memorial with the "empty hole" that has become the so-called War on Terror that was launched as a result of the attack at that very site.
Bothered as New Yorkers may be by what Charles Schumer has termed the "culture of inertia" surrounding ground zero, that stagnation may accurately reflect most of America's view about the war on terror that began with the slaughter of more than 2,700 at the World Trade Center almost four years ago. Though the vacant site is a poor memorial for those who died there, it's an all too apt symbol for a war on which the country is turning its back.

Indeed a majority of Americans now believe the war in Iraq was not worth the cost, either in dollars or in human lives. But the polls are just one indication of the growing war fatigue.
Take a look at any recent poll you choose - NBC/Wall Street Journal, Harris, CNN/Gallup/USA Today - and you find comparable figures of rising majority disapproval of the war. Or ignore the polls and look at those voting with their feet: the Army has missed its recruiting goals three months in a row, and the Marines every month since January, despite reports of scandalous ethical violations including the forging of high-school diplomas and the hoodwinking of the mentally ill by unscrupulous recruiters. Speaking bitterly about the Army's strenuous effort to cover up his son's death by friendly fire, Pat Tillman's father crystallized the crisis in an interview with The Washington Post last week: "They realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about this death got out. They blew up their poster boy."

It's a shame that one needs to turn to the OpEd page to read what should be covered on the front page, but Rich's column is full of mentions of such underreported stories as the Pentagon's lies regarding Tillman's death. We'll let Rich close us out with a few more:
Such lassitude about the day that was supposed to change everything is visible everywhere. Tom Ridge, now retired as homeland security czar, recently went on "The Daily Show" and joined in the yuks about the color-coded alerts. (He also told USA Today last month that orange alerts were sometimes ordered by the administration - as election year approached, anyway - on flimsy grounds and over his objections.) In February, the Office of Management and Budget found that "only four of the 33 homeland security programs it examined were 'effective,' " according to The Washington Post. The prospect of nuclear terrorism remains minimally addressed; instead we must take heart from Kiefer Sutherland's ability to thwart a nuclear missile hurling toward Los Angeles in the season finale of "24." The penetration of the capital's most restricted air space by that errant Cessna - though deemed a "red alert" - was considered such a nonurgent event by the Secret Service that it didn't bother to tell the president, bicycling in Maryland, until after the coast was clear.