Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Kerry: “I Apologize to No One for My Criticism of the President”

John Kerry hit back ard and furiously today on the attacks from the right wing on his statement criticizing Bush yesterday at a Phil Angelides rally on eduction reform in Pasadena, CA. All of the MSM news outlets are abuzz with this as well as the blogopshere - left and right.

Kerry: “If anyone owes our troops in the fields an apology, it is the President”

SENATOR KERRY: Let me make it crystal clear, as crystal clear as I know how: I apologize to no one for my criticism of the president and of his broken policy.

If anyone owes our troops in the fields an apology, it is the President and his failed team and a Republican majority in the Congress that has been willing to stamp — rubber-stamp policies that have done injury to our troops and to their families.

My statement yesterday — and the White House knows this full well — was a botched joke about the president and the president’s people, not about the troops.

The White House’s attempt to distort my true statement is a remarkable testament to their abject failure in making America safe.

It’s a stunning statement about their willingness to reduce anything in America to raw politics. It’s their willingness to distort, their willingness to mislead Americans, their willingness to exploit the troops, as they have so many times at backdrops, at so many speeches at which they have not told the American people the truth.

I’m not going to stand for it.

What our troops deserve is a winning strategy. And what they deserve is leadership that is up to the sacrifice that they’re making.

Sadly, this is the best that this administration can do in a month when we have lost 100 young men and women who have given their lives for a failed policy.

Over half the names on the Vietnam wall were put there after our leaders knew that our policy was wrong. And it was wrong that leaders were quiet then, and I’m not going to be quiet now.

This is a textbook Republican campaign strategy: Try to change the topic; try to make someone else the issue; try to make something else said the issue, not the policy, not their responsibility.

Well, everybody knows it’s not working this time, and I’m not going to stand around and let it work. If anyone thinks that a veteran, someone like me, who’s been fighting my entire career to provide for veterans, to fight for their benefits, to help honor what their service is, if anybody thinks that a veteran would somehow criticize more than 140,000 troops serving in Iraq and not the president and his people who put them there, they’re crazy.

It’s just wrong. This is a classic GOP textbook Republican campaign tactic.

I’m sick and tired of a bunch of despicable Republicans who will not debate real policy, who won’t take responsibility for their own mistakes, standing up and trying to make other people the butt of those mistakes.

I’m sick and tired of a whole bunch of Republican attacks, most of which come from people who never wore the uniform and never had the courage to stand up and go to war themselves.

Enough is enough. We’re not going to stand for this. This policy is broken. And this president and his administration didn’t do their homework. They didn’t study what would happen in Iraq. They didn’t study and listen to the people who were the experts and would have told them.

And they know that’s what I was talking about yesterday. I’m not going to be lectured by a White House or by the likes of Rush Limbaugh who’s taking a day off from mimicking and attacking Michael J. Fox, who’s now going to try to attack me and lie about me and distort me.

No way. It disgusts me that a bunch of these Republican hacks who’ve never worn the uniform of our country are willing to lie about those who did.

It’s over.

This administration has given us a Katrina foreign policy: mistake upon mistake upon mistake; unwilling to give our troops the armor that they need; unwilling to have enough troops in place; unwilling to give them the Humvees that they deserve to protect them; unwilling to have a coalition that is adequate to be able to defend our interests.

Our own intelligence agency has told us they’re creating more terrorists, not less. They’re making us less safe, not more.

I think Americans are sick and tired of this game. These Republicans are afraid to stand up and debate a real veteran on this topic. And they’re afraid to debate — you know, they want to debate straw men because they’re afraid to debate real men.

Well, we’re going to have a real debate in this country about this policy. The bottom line is: These Republicans want to distort this policy. And, this time, it won’t work because we are going to stay in their face with the truth.

And no Democrat is going to be bullied by these people, by these kinds of attacks that have no place in Aerican politics. It’s time to set our policy correct.

They have a stand-still-and-lose policy in Iraq and they have a cut-and-run policy in Afghanistan. And the fact is, our troops, who have served heroically, who deserve better, deserve leadership that is up to their sacrifice, period.

QUESTION: Senator, John McCain said that you owe an apology to the many thousands of Americans serving in Iraq, who answered this country’s call because they are patriots.

To those people who didn’t get your joke, who may have misinterpreted you as saying the undereducated are cannon fodder, what do you say?

KERRY: I never said that, and John McCain knows I’ve never said that and John McCain knows I wouldn’t say that.

And John McCain ought to ask for an apology from Donald Rumsfeld for making the mistakes he’s made. John McCain ought to ask for an apology from this administration for not sending in enough troops.

He ought to ask for an apology for putting our troops on the line with a policy that doesn’t have an adequate coalition, that doesn’t have adequate diplomacy, where we don’t have a strategy to win.

And what we need is to debate the real issues, not these phony, sideline issues that are part of the politics. Americans are tired — sick and tired of this kind of politics.

They know my true feelings. They know I fought to provide additional money for veterans. They know I fought to provide money for combat for veterans. They know I’ve fought to put money for V.A. They know I’ve honored those veterans.

They know that this is the finest military — and I’ve said it 100,000 times — that we’ve ever had. They know precisely what I was saying.

And they’re trying to turn this because they have a bankrupt policy and they can’t defend it to the nation and they can’t defend it to the world.

KERRY: And I’m not going to stand for this anymore; period. That’s the apology that people ought to get.

QUESTION: Do you need to go to joke school?

KERRY: Sure.

QUESTION: Senator, do you regret saying the remark? And what were you trying to say?

KERRY: Very simple: that those who didn’t study it properly, those who made the decisions, they got us into Iraq. Very simple.

The fact is they know that. The administration knows that. And they’re simply trying to distort this. They’re trying to play a game.

And, again, I’m not going to stand for it. This is the kind of thing that makes Americans sick. People know — I mean, there ought to be some level of honor and trust in this process.

I have fought a lifetime on behalf of veterans. We have the finest young men and women serving us in the United States military that we’ve ever had, and I’m proud of that.

But this administration has let them down, and that was clearly a remark directed at this administration. They understand it. They want to distort it. It’s a classic Republican playbook. They want to change the topic.

We’re not going to let them change the topic. The topic is their failed policy in Iraq. The topic is that they don’t have a strategy, they don’t have a way to be able to win.

You got Dick Cheney saying everything’s just terrific in Iraq only a week ago. John McCain ought to ask for an apology from Dick Cheney for misleading America. He ought to ask for an apology from the president for lying about the nuclear program in Africa. He ought to ask for an apology for once again a week ago referring to Al Qaida as being the central problem in Iraq, when Al Qaida is not the central problem.

Enough is enough. I’m not going to stand for these people trying to shift the topic and make it politics. America deserves a real discussion about real policy. And that’s what this election is going to be about next Tuesday.

One more question, then I got to run.


KERRY: Let me tell you something: I’m not going to give them one ounce of daylight to spread one of their lies and to play this game ever, ever again. That is a lesson I learned deep and hard.

And I’ll tell you: I will stand up anywhere across this country and take these guys on. This is dishonoring not just the troops themselves by pointing the finger at the troops, it’s abusing the troops. They’re using the troops. They’re trying to make the troops into the target here. I didn’t do that, and they know that.

KERRY: And for them to suggest that somebody who served their country, as I did, and has a record like I have in the United States Congress of standing up and fighting for the troops would ever, ever insult the troops is an insult in and of itself.

And they owe us an apology for even daring to use the White House to stand up and make this an issue again. Shame on them. Shame on them.

And may the American people take that shame to the polls with them next Tuesday.

Thank you all.

QUESTION: What do you say to the men and women fighting in Iraq if they hear this in passing, that may be confused on the issue, sir?

KERRY: They will hear what I just said. I honor their service, and I always have.

Video of this can be seen HERE

ABC memo reveals Air America advertiser blacklist

An internal ABC Radio Networks memo obtained by Media Matters for America, originally from a listener to The Peter B. Collins Show, indicates that nearly 100 ABC advertisers insist that their commercials be blacked out on Air America Radio affiliates. According to the memo, the adverstisers insist that "NONE of their commercials air during AIR AMERICA programming." Among the advertisers listed are Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, Federal Express, General Electric, McDonald's, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and the U.S. Navy.

The memo can be viewed

Resistance to Deadlines for Iraq is Weakening

More U.S. officers doubt insurgents would gain, and believe that Baghdad must be pushed.

WASHINGTON -- Growing numbers of American military officers have begun to privately question a key tenet of U.S. strategy in Iraq — that setting a hard deadline for troop reductions would strengthen the insurgency and undermine efforts to create a stable state.


"It's basic counterinsurgency," said a military officer who has served in Baghdad and did not want to publicly disagree with the president's stated policy. "You have to have a trusted, capable government."

Some in the military argue that publicizing a timetable for reducing forces is far less damaging to a counterinsurgency campaign than the administration has suggested....

"The Powell Doctrine is all about overwhelming numbers of troops with specific missions, with specified end-states, for specified durations with — go figure — an exit strategy," said the officer who has served in Baghdad. "To not mention this stuff is actually counter to the contemporary military mind-set."

Iraqi PM lifts Sadr City cordon


Iraq's prime minister has ordered the lifting of all US and Iraqi military checkpoints around the Shia stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad.
US forces put a security cordon around the area recently as they carried out searches for an abducted soldier.

The week-long restrictions, checks and searches caused increasing resentment in the densely-populated suburb.

The announcement came shortly after radical Shia cleric, Moqtada Sadr, called a general strike in protest.

The district is largely controlled by the Mehdi Army, a militia led by Moqtada Sadr.

Nouri Maliki, the prime minister, said he was lifting the measures to allow traffic to flow around the city in his "capacity as commander in chief of the armed forces".

A US military spokesman said that he was not aware of the order but told the AFP news agency that any concerns of the prime minister would be addressed "at the highest command levels".

But the BBC's correspondent in Baghdad, Hugh Sykes, says that the US has not said whether or not it will obey the Iraqi prime minister's order.

The area has seen brief clashes between US forces and the Mehdi Army since the blockade was imposed.

The BBC's regional analyst, Roger Hardy, says the announcement reveals the increasing tension between the Baghdad government and the US administration. ......

Media Matters Latest, October 31, 2006

NY Times' Brooks lauded Santorum's anti-poverty work, ignored his charity-related controversies
In a recent column, David Brooks wrote that if Sen. Rick Santorum loses his Pennsylvania Senate seat, it's "probably good news in Pennsylvania's bobo suburbs" but "certainly bad for poor people around the world." Brooks, however, did not mention the controversy surrounding Santorum's own charity, or his attacks on prominent international humanitarian groups. Read more

Still criticizing Vote Vets ad, FactCheck.org's Jackson falsely claimed, "There has never been a vote on body armour"
An October 30 BBC News online article reported that FactCheck.org director Brooks Jackson was "particularly irritated" by a recent television advertisement criticizing Sen. George F. Allen (R-VA). The ad in question -- produced by the newly formed group Vote Vets -- asserts that Allen voted against a Democratic amendment that would have increased U.S. National Guard funding for modern body armor. "There has never been a vote on body armour," Jackson told the BBC, echoing a September 20 FactCheck analysis of the ad he co-wrote with FactCheck researcher Justin Bank, in which they deemed the Vote Vets ad "false." The BBC further quoted Jackson stating that the April 2003 amendment -- sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) -- "did not include a word about body armour, and not a word was said about body armour during the debate." Read more

Following ABC's lead, NBC cast campaign "dirty tricks" as bipartisan but cited only GOP example
Several days after ABC's Nightline ran a report on the ad wars of the 2006 elections, claiming, without providing any examples of Democratic-sponsored attack ads, that "both sides are playing a serious game of hardball" with "mudslinging" attack ads hitting "below the belt," NBC News followed its lead, airing a report on "dirty tricks" in political campaigns without any examples of "dirty tricks" by Democrats. Read more

Barone: Democrats want to "hang up the phone and go to court" rather than intercept terrorist phone calls
On Fox News Sunday, Michael Barone falsely claimed that Democrats would prefer to "hang up the phone and go to court," rather than "listening to what ... terrorists are plotting." In fact, Democrats -- and numerous Republicans and conservatives -- have said nothing of the sort, pointing to a provision in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which the Bush administration has apparently violated, that allows the government to undertake surveillance in emergency situations for up to 72 hours before obtaining a warrant. Read more

Russert listed Steele's contradictory comments on Iraq, then failed to challenge him on them; AP ignored his shifting positions entirely
During a debate between Maryland Senate candidates, Tim Russert read conflicting comments about the war in Iraq made by GOP candidate Michael Steele, but he failed to prompt Steele to explain the contradictory statements. An Associated Press story about the debate did not note the conflicting comments that Russert read, nor did it mention Steele's assertion that he believes the war has been "worth it." Read more

Hannity cried "media bias" for delay in reporting Allen's Webb novel accusations, but sang a different tune on Foley scandal
Sean Hannity suggested that major media outlets were "bias[ed]" against Republicans in choosing not to report that Sen. George Allen's campaign had identified what it called "simply disturbing" portions of novels written by James Webb, "until 11 days out" from the midterm elections. But when discussing a story that could hurt Republicans instead of Democrats, the Mark Foley scandal, Hannity suggested that the purported withholding of the disclosure until closer to the election had the opposite effect. Read more

NY Times: Pelosi favors "schools without prayer and death with taxes"
In a New York Times profile of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Jennifer Steinhauer described her as favoring "schools without prayer and death with taxes." In fact, Pelosi has never stated that students should not be allowed to pray in school. Rather, she has voted against federal legislation mandating times of prayer during the school day; as for the estate tax, Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues in Congress have noted that it currently affects only the wealthiest Americans. Read more

Olbermann named Dennis Miller "Worst Person in the World" for rant against Pelosi
On the October 27 edition of MSNBC's Countdown, host Keith Olbermann named "ex-comedian" and Fox News contributor Dennis Miller the recipient of his nightly "Worst Person in the World" award for asserting, as Media Matters for America documented, that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) is "intellectually ... not up to the task" of assuming the position of speaker in the event that Democrats gain enough seats in the midterm elections to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives. As Media Matters has previously noted, other conservative media figures have also attacked Pelosi in recent weeks on the assumption that she will be elected speaker if the Democrats take control of the House. Read more

ABC's Halperin: Conservatives no longer letting "liberal entertainers" like Michael J. Fox "have a free ride"
During a report on the October 29 edition of ABC's World News Sunday about the controversy surrounding nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh's recent attacks on actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, ABC News political director Mark Halperin claimed that "[i]n the past, conservatives let liberal entertainers kind of have a free ride," but now "they're saying, under George W. Bush, if you get involved in politics, we're going to come after you and the Democrats you're supporting." As Media Matters for America has documented, Fox is campaigning for candidates who support embryonic stem cell research; in 2004, he appeared in a campaign ad for Republican Sen. Arlen Specter (PA). Read more

Despite McCain's many hedges, Borger asserted that "[n]o one would accuse McCain of equivocating on anything"
In her U.S. News & World Report column, Gloria Borger asserted that "[n]o one would accuse [Sen. John] McCain [R-AZ] of equivocating on anything." But McCain has done just that on a variety of issues, including tax cuts for the wealthy, abortion, teaching intelligent design to public school students, and the Confederate flag. Read more

Fox's Banderas: "I dare Media Matters to tune in"
On the October 29 edition of Fox News' Studio B Weekend, Fox News anchor Julie Banderas "dare[d] Media Matters [for America] to tune in at 5 o'clock to watch" her "talking about [actor] Michael J. Fox and [nationally syndicated radio host] Rush Limbaugh." Banderas issued the "dare" as a way to "test the left," saying that "the left blogs love to bash Fox because we're fair and balanced." "Dare you," Banderas added and then looked straight into the camera and repeated, "I dare you -- tune in at 5." Read more

Limbaugh claimed "there's a basis" for RNC ad critics have deemed racist: "Harold Ford has dated a white woman"
On the October 30 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed that "there's a basis" for a controversial Republican National Committee (RNC) ad against Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Harold Ford Jr. that critics -- including Republicans -- have deemed racist; according to Limbaugh, that "basis" is that "Harold Ford has dated a white woman." Read more

CNN's Beck, Fox's Angle misleadingly claimed Bush "was the first president to ever actually give federal funding to stem cell research"
CNN's Glenn Beck and Fox News' Jim Angle repeated the misleading claim that President Bush was "the first" president to allow funding for human embryonic stem cell research, even though the Clinton administration drafted guidelines to fund embryonic stem cell research, but those rules had yet to take effect when he left office and were suspended by the Bush administration in favor of its own, stricter set of rules. Read more

CNN's "Broken Government" special on executive power filled with broken claims of its own
The October 26 edition of CNN's weeklong series "Broken Government," hosted by CNN national correspondent John King, contained a series of falsehoods and discredited claims, including that President Bush gave an order for the Pentagon to shoot down unaccounted-for commercial airplanes on the morning of September 11, 2001; that the interrogation of Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah led to "the capture of 9-11 planners Ramzi Binalshibh and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed"; and that actions by Republican senators, including the negotiation of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, represented a "Republican revolt" against Bush's assertions of executive power. Further, King uncritically reported claims by former Sen. Alan K. Simpson (R-WY) suggesting that the Bush administration's antiterrorism policies have prevented further attacks on U.S. soil, but King made no mention of significant evidence that other factors may have contributed to the fact that terrorists have not attacked here since 2001 or of reports that the administration's antiterrorism efforts have ensnared numerous individuals with no apparent connection to terrorists. Read more

CNN's Miles O'Brien mocked those speculating that Saddam verdict's timing may be political
During a segment with John Mercurio, senior editor of National Journal's The Hotline, on the October 30 edition of CNN's American Morning, co-host Miles O'Brien claimed that he received "a lot of emails over the weekend from the 'grassy knoll' set, and they're saying essentially that somehow the White House is going to try to engineer it so that the verdict on the Saddam Hussein trial will occur on the eve of the election, or the Sunday before, and perhaps tilt the election one way or another." O'Brien further dismissed such speculation as "the conspiracy-theory component" of the story and asked Mercurio simply to comment on the potential political effect of the verdict, the announcement of which was reportedly rescheduled from October 16 to November 5 -- two days before the midterm elections. While it cannot be said one way or the other whether the Bush administration had a hand in changing the timing of the verdict's announcement, O'Brien, in mocking such considerations as a "conspiracy theory" from "the 'grassy knoll' set," completely disregarded the facts that might lend credence to such speculation -- the Bush administration's high degree of influence over the Iraqi tribunal trying Saddam, and the administration's history of manipulating the timing of actions related to national security for political advantage. Read more

CNN's Koch falsely reported poll shows "neck and neck" race to fill DeLay's seat, but Democrat is favored
On the October 30 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, correspondent Kathleen Koch misrepresented the results of a Houston Chronicle/KHOU-TV poll, conducted October 23-25 by Zogby International, falsely claiming that the poll shows Republican write-in candidate Shelley Sekula-Gibbs is "neck and neck, tied actually" with Democrat Nick Lampson in the race to fill former House Republican Leader Tom DeLay's (R-TX) open seat. In fact, the poll shows Lampson ahead of Sekula-Gibbs by eight percentage points: Lampson is currently favored by 36 percent of likely voters in the 22nd Congressional District, while Sekula-Gibbs is supported by 28 percent. A total of 35 percent of respondents support all write-in candidates combined; Koch falsely attributed support for all write-in candidates to Sekula-Gibbs. Read more

Democratic Party Congresswoman Has No-Fly List Troubles

SANTA ANA, Calif. - A California congresswoman said she was briefly denied access to a United Airlines flight last week because her name appeared on a "no fly list" set up after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a Democrat who has been a critic of the no-fly list, said her staff had booked her a one-way ticket from Boise, Idaho, to Cincinnati through Denver. But they were prevented from printing her boarding pass online and at an airport kiosk.

Sanchez said she was instructed to check in with a United employee, who told her she was on the terrorist watch list. The employee asked her for identification, Sanchez said.

"I handed over my congressional ID and he started laughing and said, 'I'm going to need an ID that has your birthday on it,'" Sanchez said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

The employee used Sanchez's birth date to determine she was not the same Loretta Sanchez on the list, and she was able to board her flight, she said.

Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Jennifer Peppin said that for security reasons she couldn't confirm that the name was on the list. But she said that name mix-ups do occur.

"Generally what happens is people have a name that is very similar to someone who is on the no-fly list. It's the airlines' responsibility to do further checking," Peppin said.

Sanchez is favored to win a sixth term representing the 47th Congressional District, about 30 miles south of Los Angeles. The district includes many of the 24,000 Arab Americans who live in Orange County.

Sanchez said that she has fought to get some of her constituents' names off the no-fly list and that doing so can take up to six months.

"When they want to, TSA can make sure that you don't have that identification problem," she said. "Sometimes it's taken us months to get these people off the lists so they can travel in a normal way. I can't have to worry about that."

3rd Marine to Plead Guilty in Iraq Killing

SAN DIEGO - Another Marine charged with kidnapping and murdering an Iraqi man has agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges, his attorney said Monday.

Thomas Watt, attorney for Lance Cpl. Tyler A. Jackson, declined to discuss details of the agreement but confirmed that a deal has been reached and that his client is due in court next week to plead guilty to some charges.

Jackson, 23, of Tracy, is charged with murder, kidnapping, conspiracy, housebreaking and larceny. He is the third service member to have made a plea deal in the case, in which seven Camp Pendleton-based Marines and a Navy corpsman were charged with murdering 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad.

Last week, another Marine who faced charges similar to Jackson's, Pfc. John Jodka III, pleaded guilty to assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice. The first to make a deal was Petty Officer 3rd Class Melson J. Bacos, the Navy corpsman on patrol with the Marines. He pleaded guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy.

A Marine Corps spokeswoman, Capt. Amy Malugani, declined to comment on Jackson's case.

At their courts-martial, Jodka and Bacos testified about the death. In return, prosecutors dropped murder and other charges against them. Bacos was sentenced to one year in prison; Jodka's sentencing is set for Nov. 15.

Bacos said the squad entered the Iraqi town of Hamdania on April 26 while searching for a known insurgent who had been captured three times, then released. The group approached a house where the insurgent was believed to be hiding, but when someone inside woke up, the Marines instead went to another home and grabbed Awad, Bacos said.

The squad took Awad to a roadside hole and shot him before planting a shovel and AK-47 with him to make it appear he was an insurgent planting a bomb, Bacos said. Jodka said he and other Marines shot at Awad.

Both Jodka and Bacos singled out their squad leader, Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins, as hatching a plan to kidnap an insurgent. Hutchins' attorney, Rich Brannon, has said he did not believe Hutchins did anything wrong.

Gary D. Solis, a former Marine Corps prosecutor and judge advocate who teaches the law of war at Georgetown University Law Center, said he was surprised the prosecution struck another deal. ....

Monday, October 30, 2006

Lobbyists Won't Like What Pelosi Has in Mind



If Democrats gain the 15 seats they need to win control of the House -- and most analysts think they will -- one of the first things the new House will do is restrict or end outright a slew of lobbying practices.

In a little-publicized statement, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House Democratic leader, has promised to change the chamber's rules to reflect the provisions of her not-so-modestly-named Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2006. The months-old measure would, among other things, prohibit House members from accepting gifts and travel from lobbyists or from organizations that employ lobbyists.

The Pelosi bill includes changes not only to House rules but also to federal laws. Any changes in law would have to be approved by the Senate and the president before they could take effect. But the House can alter its own rules anytime, and that's precisely what Pelosi proposes to do as the House's first official act next year -- after it selects her as speaker....


The biggest change proposed by Pelosi would be the ban on gifts and travel. Pelosi would prohibit House members and their staff from using corporate jets for travel taken as part of their official duties. She would also prevent them from taking anything of value from lobbyists, including meals, tickets and entertainment.

The ban would apply not just to lobbyists' gifts but also to gifts from nongovernmental groups that hire lobbyists. House members and their aides would also be barred from accepting transportation or lodging for any trips that are funded, arranged, requested, planned or even attended by lobbyists.

These are all reactions to the Jack Abramoff scandal....

Media Matters Latest, October 30, 2006

On This Week, Will misrepresented Mehlman's views on controversial RNC ad, ignored contrary evidence in asserting "objectively good" economy
George F. Will falsely claimed that Republican National Committee chairman (RNC) Ken Mehlman "was appalled" by a controversial RNC ad attacking Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. that critics have characterized as racist. In fact, Mehlman has repeatedly defended the ad as "fair." Will also asserted that the economy "is just objectively good," joined by Time's Jay Carney, who asserted that real wages have been "coming up a little bit lately"; in fact, even though productivity has expanded by 14 percent since November 2001, real hourly wages have remained largely unchanged. Read more

Newsweek cited '04 bin Laden video, but omitted part of the story of that "October surprise"
A Newsweek article by Mark Hosenball wondered whether "Osama bin Laden [is] going to weigh in on the midterm elections," citing a bin Laden tape released before the 2004 presidential election. But in citing reports that bin Laden wants to be "relevant" to the U.S. electoral process, Hosenball told only part of the story, ignoring evidence that bin Laden's 2004 videotape was intended to assist in the re-election of President Bush. Read more

CNN reports accusation of political timing of Saddam Hussein verdict, without noting administration's pattern and practice
CNN reported a claim by Saddam Hussein's lawyer that the release of the verdict in his trial on charges of crimes against humanity two days before U.S. congressional midterm elections is timed to influence that vote, but CNN did not provide evidence that might lend credence to such an accusation: If true, this would be far from the first time that the Bush administration has timed an Iraq- or national security-related event for political advantage. Read more

In claiming that Dems risk exacerbating "image as soft on national defense," NY Times' Kirkpatrick falsely suggested only Dem base favors withdrawal
In an October 29 article, New York Times reporter David D. Kirkpatrick suggested that congressional Democrats could exacerbate the "party's image as soft on national defense" by "[p]leasing the party's 'bring 'em home' base" and calling for a timetable to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. But Kirkpatrick's assertion about the "party's 'bring 'em home' base" rests on a falsehood. Contrary to his suggestion, it is not just the base of the Democratic Party that is calling for troop withdrawal from Iraq -- it is a majority of the country, as indicated by recent polling. Kirkpatrick even mentioned a USA Today/Gallup poll (subscription required) that shows the public supports withdrawal, but cited it for a different point -- that "more than 80 percent of the public expects Democrats to set a timetable for a withdrawal from Iraq if they take control of Congress." Read more

Pakistan madrassa raid 'kills 80'


At least 80 militants have been killed in an air strike by Pakistani forces on a madrassa (religious school) used as a militant training camp, the army says.
The army said the madrassa in the tribal area of Bajaur bordering Afghanistan was destroyed by helicopter gunships early on Monday.

One eyewitness told the BBC that 70-80 students were inside. A leading local politician says the dead were innocent.

Pakistan has deployed nearly 80,000 troops along the border.

They are there to hunt militants who sought refuge in the rugged tribal terrain after the ousting of the Taleban in Afghanistan in late 2001.

President Pervez Musharraf has pledged to reform madrassas after many were criticised for supporting Islamic militancy.

Monday's attack took place near Khar, the main town in Bajaur.

The leader of the madrassa, radical cleric Maulana Liaqat Ullah Hussain, was among the dead. He was a prominent member of a group of pro-Taleban tribal clerics, the BBC's Rahimullah Yusufzai in Peshawar says.

"We received confirmed intelligence reports that 70-80 militants were hiding in a madrassa used as a terrorist training facility, which was destroyed by an army strike, led by helicopters," army spokesman Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan told the Associated Press news agency.

Mike Malloy Back on the Air... Tonight


We are thrilled to announce that Mike will return to the airwaves Monday October 30th at 9PM ET, on the Nova M Radio Network!

Click the "Listen" link on the left of this page for information about live Internet streaming, podcasting, and archives. We will soon announce how satellite radio listeners can hear the program. We'll also post a list of affiliated radio stations in the very near future.

If you want to hear the Malloy show in your city, by all means contact your local station and ask for it!

See you on the radio, Truthseekers! "


"Beginning Monday October 30, 2006 LISTEN LIVE at 9 PM ET to the Mike Malloy Show on Nova M Radio!
http://www.novamradio.com/ !

Listen Live at 9PM ET!

Call the program LIVE 9PM - midnight ET 800-989-1480 (its toll free!)

Satellite radio and affiliated radio station information will be announced here soon!"



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PAUL KRUGMAN: Bursting Bubble Blues

Here are the five stages of housing grief:

1. Housing bubble? What housing bubble? “A national severe price distortion [in housing] seems most unlikely in the United States.” (Alan Greenspan, October 2004)

2. “There’s a little froth in this market,” but “we don’t perceive that there is a national bubble.” (Alan Greenspan, May 2005)

3. Housing is slumping, but “despite what you hear from some of the Eeyores in the analytical community, a recession is not visible on the horizon.” (Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, August 2006)

4. Well, that was a lousy quarter, but “I feel good about the U.S. economy, I really do.” (Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, last Friday)

5. Insert expletive here.

We’ve now reached stage 4. Will we move on to stage 5?

Over the last few years, most good U.S. economic news has been the result of soaring home prices. Spending on new houses created jobs and poured cash into the economy. Consumers borrowed against the rising values of existing homes and went on a buying spree, spending more than they earned for the first time since the great depression.

But the housing boom became a bubble, fueled by a surge of irresponsible bank lending, which continues even now. (Yesterday’s Denver Post tells of a runaway prisoner who managed to borrow enough to buy three expensive houses while on the lam, then bought two more while in prison.) The question now is how much pain the bursting bubble will inflict.

Last week’s report on G.D.P. showed the first signs of serious economic damage. According to the “advance” estimates (which are often subject to major revisions), growth in the third quarter of 2006 slowed to its worst level since early 2003. A plunge in spending on residential construction, which fell at an annual rate of 17 percent, was the main culprit. But was that just a temporary setback, or the beginning of something much worse?

Some say the worst is already over. Mr. Greenspan, who’s been an optimist all the way, now argues that the latest data on new-home sales and mortgage applications suggest that housing has already bottomed out. Business investment is still growing briskly, and so far consumers haven’t cut their spending. So maybe this is as bad as it gets.

But I think the pessimists have a stronger case. There’s a lot of evidence that home prices, although they’ve started to decline, are still way out of line. Spending on home construction remains abnormally high as a percentage of G.D.P., because banks are still lending freely in spite of rapidly rising foreclosure rates.

This means that home sales probably still have a long way to fall. And you don’t want to make too much of the fact that some housing indicators have turned up; those indicators tend to bounce around a lot from month to month.

Moreover, much of the good news in the latest economic report is unsustainable at best, suspect at worst. Almost half of last quarter’s estimated growth was the result of a reported surge in automobile output, which some observers think was a statistical illusion, not something that really happened.

So this is probably just the beginning. How bad can it get? Well, you don’t have to go far to find grim forecasts: Merrill Lynch predicts that the unemployment rate will rise from 4.6 percent now to 5.8 percent by the end of next year.

In case you’re wondering, I don’t blame the Bush administration for the latest bad economic numbers. If anyone is to blame for the current situation, it’s Mr. Greenspan, who pooh-poohed warnings about an emerging bubble and did nothing to crack down on irresponsible lending.

Still, the bad news will have political consequences. The Bush administration has been trying to shift attention away from the disaster in Iraq to an allegedly booming economy. That strategy wasn’t working too well even when the headline numbers were good, because it never felt like a boom to most Americans. But now even the headline numbers have turned lousy.

And if that hurts the G.O.P. in next week’s election, well, there’s a certain poetic justice involved. The administration tried to claim undeserved credit for the positive effects of the housing boom, so why shouldn’t it receive some blame for the negative effects of the housing bust?

BOB HERBERT: The System’s Broken

Greencastle, Ind.

The middle-aged woman filling her gas tank on a day of endless rain laughed when a reporter asked her about the coming elections. “Politics,” she said, “are for silly people. Those ads come on television and I reach for the remote.”

I asked if she was planning to vote on Nov. 7.

“No,” she said. “That stuff really turns me off.”

If you pay close attention to the news and then go out and talk to ordinary people, it’s hard not to come away with the feeling that the system of politics and government in the U.S. is broken. I spent the past week talking to residents in Chicago, southern Michigan and Indiana. No one was happy about the direction the country has taken, but not even the most faithful voters were confident that their ballot would make any substantial difference.

“I vote,” said Angela Buehl, who lives in a suburb of Indianapolis, “but I don’t think anybody in Washington is listening to me.” She mimicked talking into a telephone: “Hello ... Hello ...?”

The politicians, special interests and the media are in a state of high excitement over next week’s midterm elections. They are addicted to the blood sport of politics, and this is a championship encounter. But that excitement contrasts with what seems to be an increasing sense of disenchantment and unease that ordinary Americans are feeling when it comes to national politics and government. For far too many of them, the government in Washington is remote, unresponsive and ineffective.

Voters and nonvoters alike expressed frustration with the fact that we are stuck in a war in Iraq that hardly anyone still supports but no one in government knows how to end.

Several people mentioned that their families were struggling financially at a time when the stock market had soared to all-time highs and the Bush administration was crowing about how well the economy was doing.

Nearly all said they were repelled by the relentless barrage of tasteless and idiotic campaign commercials. “Talk to me,” said a woman in Mishawaka, Ind. “Don’t assume I’m an imbecile.”

A pair of front-page articles in The Times last week showed the stark contrast in the way that insiders and outsiders view the off-year elections. Corporations, reacting to the possibility that the Republicans might lose control of one or both houses of Congress, are hedging their bets by pumping up campaign donations to Democratic candidates. One way or another, they will be in the loop. That story ran on Saturday.

A day earlier, The Times reported on Democratic concerns that black voters, disillusioned by voter suppression efforts and a pervasive belief that their votes will not be properly counted, may not turn out in the numbers that the party was hoping for.

The system is broken. Most politicians would rather sacrifice their first born than tell voters the honest truth about tough issues. Big money and gerrymandering have placed government out of the reach of most Americans. While some changes in the House are expected this year, the Brookings Institution and the Cato Institute tell us (in a joint report) that since 1998, House incumbents have won more than 98 percent of their re-election races.

Millions of thoughtful Americans have become so estranged from the political process that they’ve tuned out entirely. Voters hungry for a serious discussion of complex issues are fed a steady diet of ideological talking heads hurling insults in one- or two-minute television segments.

DePauw University held a two-day conference last week on issues confronting the U.S. I was struck by the extent to which the people who attended the forums were interested in seeking out practical, nonpartisan, nonideological solutions to the wide range of problems discussed.

The frustration with the current state of government and politics was palpable. One man, Ned Lamkin, asked me if it wouldn’t be a good idea to create some sort of national forum for a serious extended discussion of ways to fix, or at least improve, the system. He’s on to something. Among other things, I’d love to see a nonpartisan series of high-profile, nationally televised town hall meetings that would explore ways of making government and politics fairer, more open and more responsive to the will of the people.

American-style democracy needs to be energized, revitalized. The people currently in charge are not up to the task. It’s time to bring the intelligence, creativity and energy of the broader population into the quest for constructive change.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots, No. 266

October 30, 2006 - Halloweenies Edition

Here we are - the penultimate Top 10 before the 2006 mid-term elections and the day before Halloween, no less. With just over a week to go, things are getting increasingly scary for Republicans - and it's showing. Rush Limbaugh (1) proves he's a boil on the ass of humanity, Dick Cheney (2) admits to waterboarding, and George Allen's (3) "gotcha" falls flat. Elsewhere, Barbara Cubin (5) gets slap-happy, Jean Schmidt (6) blows her top, and the RNC (8) cooks up a delicious recipe of race-baiting with a dash of porn. Plus we have a new Conservative Morals & Values Update.

Media Matters Latest, October 29, 2006

NY Times suggested Republican strategist fired by Wal-Mart no longer works for Sen. McCain -- one day after reporting that he does
In an October 28 article on Wal-Mart's decision to fire GOP strategist Terry Nelson, reportedly for his involvement in producing a controversial advertisement attacking Senate candidate Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN), The New York Times reported that Nelson "has worked for various Republican leaders, including President Bush and Senator John McCain of Arizona." In reporting that Nelson "has worked" for McCain, the Times obscured the fact that Nelson currentlyworks for McCain -- according to the Times the previous day. Read more

Wash. Post didn't think Webb novel story was newsworthy until Internet gossip Drudge promoted it

A Washington Post story on Sen. George Allen's accusations that James Webb's novels include "inappropriate sex scenes and demeaning descriptions of women" contained an acknowledgment that the newspaper decided to report the story only after Matt Drudge had highlighted it on his website. Read more

NY Times failed to inform readers who GOP consultant LaCivita really is
In an article about Sen. George Allen's attack on James Webb's novels, The New York Times quoted Chris LaCivita and identified him simply as "a consultant for the Allen campaign." In doing so, the Times ignored LaCivita's connections to several controversial Republican front groups, including Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth. Read more

Frank Rich:Dying to Save the G.O.P. Congress

If you happened to be up around dawn on Tuesday, you could witness the death rattle of our adventure in Iraq live on CNN.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador, and Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the American commander, were making new promises from the bunker of the Green Zone, inspiring about as much confidence as Jackie Gleason and Art Carney hatching a get-rich-quick scheme to sell a kitchen gadget on “The Honeymooners.”

“Success in Iraq is possible and can be achieved on a realistic timetable,” said Mr. Khalilzad. Iraq can be “in a very good place in 12 months,” said General Casey. Even a child could see how much was wrong with this picture.

If there really is light at the end of the tunnel, why after three and a half years can’t we yet guarantee light in Baghdad?

Symbolically enough, television transmission of the Khalilzad-Casey press conference was interrupted by another of the city’s daily power failures.

If Iraq’s leaders had signed on to the 12-month plan of “benchmarks” the Americans advertised, why were those leaders nowhere in sight?

We found out one day later, when the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, mocked the very idea of an America-imposed timetable.

“I am positive that this is not the official policy of the American government, but rather a result of the ongoing election campaign,” he said, adding dismissively, “And that does not concern us much.”

Give the Iraqi leader credit for a Borat-like candor that almost every American in this sorry tale lacks.

Of course all the White House’s latest jabberwocky about “benchmarks” and “milestones” and “timetables” (never to be confused with those Defeatocrats’ “timelines”) is nothing more than an election-year P.R. strategy, as is the laughable banishment of “stay the course.”

There is no new American plan to counter the apocalypse now playing out in Iraq, only new packaging to pacify American voters between now and Nov. 7.

And recycled packaging at that: President Bush had last announced that he and Mr. Maliki were developing “benchmarks” to “measure progress” in Iraq back in June.

As Richard Holbrooke, the broker of the Bosnia peace accords, has observed, the only real choice left for the president now is either “escalation or disengagement.” But there are no troops, let alone money or national will, for escalation.

Disengagement within a year, however, is favored by 54 percent of Americans and, more important, 71 percent of Iraqis. After Election Day, adults in Washington will step in, bow to the obvious and pull the plug.

The current administration strategy — praying for a miracle — is not an option. The current panacea favored by anxious Republican Congressional candidates — firing Donald Rumsfeld — is too little, too late.

The adults in charge of disengagement will include the Bush family consigliere, James Baker, whose bipartisan Iraq Study Group will present its findings after the election, and John Warner, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, who has promised a re-evaluation of Iraq policy within roughly the same time frame.

Democrats will have a role in direct proportion to the clout they gain in the midterms.

One way or another the various long-shot exit scenarios being debated in the capital will be sorted out: federalism and partition; reaching out somehow for help from Iran and Syria; replacing Mr. Maliki with a Saddam-lite strongman.

There will be some kind of timeline, or whatever you want to call it, with enforced benchmarks, or whatever you want to call them, for phased withdrawal.

(Read “Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now” by George McGovern and William R. Polk for a particularly persuasive blueprint.)

In any event, the timeline will end no later than Inauguration Day 2009.

In keeping with the political cynicism that gave birth to this war and has recklessly prolonged it, the only ones being kept in the dark about this inevitable denouement are our fighting men and women.

They remain trapped, dying in accelerating numbers in a civil war that is now killing so many Iraqi civilians that Mr. Maliki this month ordered his health ministry to stop releasing any figures.

Our troops are held hostage by the White House’s political imperatives as much as they are by the violence.

Desperate to maintain the election-year P.R. ruse that an undefined “victory” is still within reach, Mr. Bush went so far at Wednesday’s press conference as to say that “absolutely, we’re winning” in Iraq.

He explained his rationale to George Stephanopoulos last weekend, when he asserted that the number of casualties was the enemy’s definition of success or failure, not his.

“I define success or failure as to whether or not the Iraqis will be able to defend themselves,” the president said, and “as to whether the unity government” is making the “difficult decisions necessary to unite the country.”

Unfortunately, the war is a calamity by both of those definitions as well. The American command’s call for a mere 3,000 more Iraqi troops to help defend Baghdad has gone unanswered.

As we’ve learned from Operation Together Forward, when Iraqis do stand up, violence goes up. And when American and British troops stand down, murderous sectarian militias, some of them allied with that “unity” government, fill the vacuum, taking over entire cities like Amara and Balad in broad daylight.

As for those “difficult decisions” Mr. Bush regards as so essential, the Iraqi government’s policy is cut and run.

Mr. Maliki is not cracking down on rampaging militias but running interference for their kingpin, Moktada al-Sadr. Mr. Maliki treats this radical anti-American Shiite cleric, his political ally, with far more deference than he shows the American president.

The ultimate chutzpah is that Mr. Bush, the man who sold us Saddam’s imminent mushroom clouds and “Mission Accomplished,” is trivializing the chaos in Iraq as propaganda.

The enemy’s “sophisticated” strategy, he said in last weekend’s radio address, is to distribute “images of violence” to television networks, Web sites and journalists to “demoralize our country.”

This is a morally repugnant argument. The “images of violence” from Iraq are not fake — like, say, the fiction our government manufactured about the friendly-fire death of Pat Tillman or the upbeat news stories the Pentagon spends millions of dollars planting in Iraqi newspapers today.

These images of violence are real. Americans really are dying at the fastest pace in at least a year, and Iraqis in the greatest numbers to date.

To imply that this carnage is magnified by the news media, whether the American press or Al Jazeera, is to belittle the gravity of the escalated bloodshed and to duck accountability for the mismanagement of the war.

Mr. Bush’s logic is reminiscent of Jeffrey Skilling’s obtuse view of his innocence in the Enron scandal, though at least Mr. Skilling has been held accountable for the wreckage of lives on his watch.

It is also wrong to liken what’s going on now, as Mr. Bush has, to the Tet offensive. That sloppy Vietnam analogy was first made by Mr. Rumsfeld in June 2004 to try to explain away the explosive rise in the war’s violence at that time.

It made a little more sense then, since both the administration and the American public were still being startled by the persistence of the Iraq insurgency, much as the Johnson administration and Walter Cronkite were by the Viet Cong’s tenacity in 1968.

Before Tet, as Stanley Karnow’s history, “Vietnam,” reminds us, public approval of L.B.J.’s conduct of the war still stood at 40 percent, yet to hit rock bottom.

Where we are in Iraq today is not 1968 but 1971, after the bottom had fallen out, Johnson had abdicated and America had completely turned on Vietnam.

At that point, approval of Richard Nixon’s handling of the war was at 34 percent, comparable to Mr. Bush’s current 30.

The percentage of Americans who thought the Vietnam War was “morally wrong” stood at 51, comparable to the 58 percent who now think the Iraq war was a mistake.

Many other Vietnam developments in 1971 have their counterparts in 2006: the leaking of classified Pentagon reports revealing inept and duplicitous war policy, White House demonization of the press, the joining of moderate Republican senators with Democrats to press for a specific date for American withdrawal.

That’s why it seemed particularly absurd when, in his interview with Mr. Stephanopoulos last weekend, Mr. Bush said that “the fundamental question” Americans must answer is “should we stay?” They’ve been answering that question loud and clear for more than a year now.

What we should be thinking about instead are our obligations to those who are doing the staying.

Kevin Tillman, who served with his brother in Iraq and Afghanistan, observed in an angry online essay this month:

“Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a 5-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet.”

If we really support the troops, we’ll move past Mr. Bush’s “fundamental question” to one from 1971 posed by a 27-year-old Vietnam veteran, John Kerry, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Government Accountability Office Chief Warns Economic Disaster Looms

AUSTIN, Texas - David M. Walker sure talks like he's running for office. "This is about the future of our country, our kids and grandkids," the comptroller general of the United States warns a packed hall at Austin's historic Driskill Hotel. "We the people have to rise up to make sure things get changed."

But Walker doesn't want, or need, your vote this November. He already has a job as head of the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress that audits and evaluates the performance of the federal government.

Basically, that makes Walker the nation's accountant-in-chief. And the accountant-in-chief's professional opinion is that the American public needs to tell Washington it's time to steer the nation off the path to financial ruin.

From the hustings and the airwaves this campaign season, America's political class can be heard debating Capitol Hill sex scandals, the wisdom of the war in Iraq and which party is tougher on terror. Democrats and Republicans talk of cutting taxes to make life easier for the American people.

What they don't talk about is a dirty little secret everyone in Washington knows, or at least should. The vast majority of economists and budget analysts agree: The ship of state is on a disastrous course, and will founder on the reefs of economic disaster if nothing is done to correct it.

There's a good reason politicians don't like to talk about the nation's long-term fiscal prospects. The subject is short on political theatrics and long on complicated economics, scary graphs and very big numbers. It reveals serious problems and offers no easy solutions. Anybody who wanted to deal with it seriously would have to talk about raising taxes and cutting benefits, nasty nostrums that might doom any candidate who prescribed them.

"There's no sexiness to it," laments Leita Hart-Fanta, an accountant who has just heard Walker's pitch. She suggests recruiting a trusted celebrity - maybe Oprah - to sell fiscal responsibility to the American people......

Hastert Office Blocked Corruption Probe

Two former House committee investigators who were examining Capitol Hill security upgrades said a senior aide to Speaker J. Dennis Hastert hindered their efforts before they were abruptly ordered to stop their probe last year. The former Appropriations Committee investigators said Ted Van Der Meid, Hastert’s chief counsel, resisted from the start the inquiry, which began with concerns about mismanagement of a secret security office and later probed allegations of bid-rigging and kickbacks from contractors to a Defense Department employee. More

Calif. Vet Slams GOP Congressional Foe

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A Democratic Vietnam veteran running for Congress lashed out at his Republican opponent Friday after a series of Republican-financed attacks questioning his support for U.S. troops.

In a rare display of anger, retired Air Force Maj. Charlie Brown called Republican Rep. John Doolittle a coward who is "hiding behind the flag" and slammed him for failing to serve in Vietnam.

"While I was being shot at in Vietnam, John Doolittle was practicing his tennis game at (the University of California) Santa Cruz," Brown said during a news conference as he was surrounded by fellow veterans.

Brown, 56, left the Air Force in 1998 after 26 years of service. His wife, Jan, also served in the Air Force as a nurse and his son, Jeff, is an Air Force captain who will begin his fourth tour of duty in Iraq in December.

Doolittle campaign spokesman Richard Robinson said the campaign was "thrilled" Brown decided to bring attention to such issues.

"He is not who he says he is," Robinson said. "He says he is supportive of our troops, but he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with left-wing activists at a rally sponsored by (the women's peace and social justice group) Code Pink. We think it's important for the public to know that."

Robinson did not directly address Brown's claims about Doolittle's military service record.

In his first bid for public office, Brown has given Doolittle, 55, his toughest challenge since Doolittle was first elected in 1990. But the Democrat faces a struggle in the 4th Congressional District, which stretches from Sacramento to the Oregon border. Republicans hold a 48 percent to 30 percent registration edge over Democrats.

Media Matters Latest, October 28, 2006

NY Times falsely reported that McCain denounced controversial Tennessee attack ad
An October 27 New York Times article reported that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was among those offering "denunciations" of a controversial Republican National Committee (RNC) advertisement featuring a scantily clad actress posing as someone who "met" Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Harold Ford Jr. "at the Playboy party." In fact, the Times article went on to quote a McCain spokesman saying simply: "We're pleased that the ad has been pulled down" -- a statement that in no way constitutes a "denunciation" of the ad's content. Read more

Limbaugh "apologize[d]" for being "wrong" that Michael J. Fox "didn't take his medication," then suggested Fox over-medicated himself "so you would really, really hate Republicans"
During the October 26 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh "apologize[d]" for being "wrong" in "speculat[ing]" that actor Michael J. Fox either "didn't take his medication or he was acting" in a recent campaign advertisement for Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill, but then immediately returned to attacking Fox by baselessly accusing him of intentionally taking too much medication to induce the tremors visible in the ad. Highlighting an October 25 interview Fox gave on NBC's Access Hollywood, during which, Limbaugh stated, Fox "himself said he took too much medication" before shooting the McCaskill ad, Limbaugh declared: "He didn't do that when he goes on Boston Legal, but it happened for the taping of this ad; and I think the reason for that is so you would really, really hate Republicans." In fact, while Fox acknowledged on Access Hollywood that his tremors were a result of having taken "too much medication," he did not say he had intentionally done so. Indeed, after Limbaugh's remark, Fox appeared on the October 26 edition of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and confirmed that the tremors he had experienced during the taping of the ad occurred because it is difficult to "calculate" the correct dosage of medication and, "[s]ometimes, it kicks in too hard." Read more

Carlson praised Kinky Friedman, denounced Ford Jr., over religion-themed ads
While discussing a new campaign ad by Rep. Harold Ford Jr., in which Ford appears in a church, Tucker Carlson criticized Ford for "drag[ging] religion into the political arena." He added that "it's wrong, it's immoral, indeed, Democrats have argued, to imply that God's on your side." But Carlson praised an ad by Kinky Friedman, in which Friedman "quot[ed] Jesus from the Gospel of John." Carlson said, "I'm for it." Read more

Bennett, Christie revived dubious claim that Steele "had Oreos thrown at him" to defend RNC ad former Sec. Cohen called "overt[ly] racist"
Responding to criticism of an RNC ad attacking Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Harold Ford Jr. -- an ad described by former Republican senator and Secretary of Defense William Cohen as "overt[ly] racist" -- CNN political analyst Bill Bennett and Ron Christie, former special assistant to President Bush, revived the dubious claim that, in 2002, Maryland Senate candidate and lieutenant governor Michael Steele (R), who is an African-American, "had Oreos thrown at him" by Democrats as a racial insult. In fact, there is significant evidence that calls into question the Oreo cookie claims. Read more

Dennis Miller's "Real Free Speech": Nancy Pelosi a "nimrod" who is "intellectually ... not up to the task" of being speaker
In his October 26 "Real Free Speech" commentary, a recurring weekly segment on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, "comedian" and Fox News contributor Dennis Miller attacked House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), calling her "intellectually ... not up to the task" of assuming the position of speaker of the House in the event that Democrats gain enough seats in the midterm elections to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Miller further assailed Pelosi as a "nimrod," "a C-minus, D-plus applicant ... who no doubt would have been drummed out of the Mary Kay corps after an initial four-week evaluation period." He also accused Pelosi of "regurgitating the Democratic talking points that she had to learn phonetically because the word 'grasp' is not even vaguely in her vocabulary." Read more

Coulter misstated midterm election history, declared Democrats will "go away as a party" if they don't achieve what would be historic gains in House
On Fox News, Ann Coulter asserted that Democrats "ought to be picking up 60 or 70 seats" in the House of Representatives in this November's midterm elections or "they may as well go away as a party." Coulter based her assertion about Democratic gains on her false claim that "[t]he average of the midterm election pickup since World War II is about 40 seats." In fact, since World War II, the average gain in the House after a midterm election has been about 25 seats. Read more

NY Times falsely suggested Lieberman isn't invited to fourth debate; in fact, he refused to participate
In an October 27 article, New York Times reporter Nicholas Confessore falsely suggested that Connecticut Democratic Senate candidate Ned Lamont and Republican candidate Alan Schlesinger are meeting in a debate next week from which incumbent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, who is running as the representative of his own party, was excluded. In fact, Lieberman was invited but has refused to appear at the debate -- despite reportedly "call[ing] for more debates" during the last one. Read more

CNN's Mary Snow falsely characterized debate over campaign ad as "he said, she said"
On the October 26 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, correspondent Mary Snow uncritically reported a claim in an advertisement by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) that Democrat Michael Arcuri, who is running to replace retiring Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), "billed taxpayers for a call to a phone sex hotline." Snow then stated, "Arcuri says the number was on a phone bill because an aide called a sex hotline by mistake that had similar digits to a government office," but she failed to point out that Arcuri has released records that back up his claim and that Arcuri's Republican opponent has denounced the ad. Read more

Self-identified non-partisan Beck: Democrats taking control of Congress "sounds scary"
After previous attempts to cast himself as nonpartisan, Glenn Beck claimed on the October 26 edition of his CNN Headline News program that "[t]he reason that I mostly vote Republican is because it's been the party that most reflects my values, or has been in the past." Later in the program, Beck added that "it sounds scary, but it looks like the Democrats stand a decent chance of taking control" of Congress. Read more

National Review's Spruiell attacked Olbermann for saying "Mr. Bush" -- how does he feel about his boss writing it?
National Review media writer Stephen Spruiell asserted that Keith Olbermann's "insistence on calling the president 'Mr. Bush' instead of 'President Bush' is his way of saying that Bush holds office illegitimately." Given that Spruiell purports to have determined why Olbermann refers to the president as "Mr. Bush," Media Matters for America wonders if he has determined why National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr. also refers to the president in the same manner. Read more

MSNBC's Buchanan claimed RNC ad isn't "racist" because "Ford is a guy that likes Playboy bunnies. Almost all of them are white"
On the October 26 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan argued "I don't take" a Republican National Committee (RNC) ad against Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr. "as racist at all," because "Harold Ford is a guy that likes Playboy bunnies. Almost all of them are white." As Media Matters for America has noted, the ad, which was released October 20, features a scantily clad white woman posing as someone who "met" Ford "at the Playboy party" who, looks into the camera, purporting to address Ford, an African-American, asking him to "call" her. As the Los Angeles Times noted, "Critics said the ad ... plays on fears of interracial relationships to scare some white voters in rural Tennessee." Former Republican senator and Secretary of Defense William Cohen, on the October 23 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, said the ad made "a very serious appeal to a racist sentiment," and NAACP Washington Bureau chairman Hilary O. Shelton also has denounced the advertisement. Read more

NY Times' Healy falsely suggested that Sen. Clinton shifted position on gay marriage, then corrected himself; MSNBC followed suit
The New York Times' Patrick Healy reported that Sen. Hillary Clinton had said she "would support a gay marriage law in New York" and suggested that she had changed her position from her previous opposition to same-sex marriage -- an account that MSNBC's Chris Jansing echoed. Healy later amended his report to say that Clinton had said she "would not stand against a gay marriage law" and appeared on MSNBC to "correct the record." But he failed to acknowledge that his own flawed original reporting may have led to MSNBC's inaccurate report. Read more

Friday, October 27, 2006

MAUREEN DOWD: ‘Brothels, Sex Kittens, Pedophilia?’

Republicans panicking is not a pretty sight.

Candidates around the country have been race-baiting, gay-baiting, Michael J. Fox-baiting and Hispanic-baiting. But now it has come to this: Republicans are novel-baiting.

Still trying to recover his balance, after slipping on a macaca and admitting he was a Jewish bubba, one criticized for using racist language, displaying a Confederate flag at home and keeping a hangman’s noose at his old law office, Senator George Allen of Virginia unleashed a vicious attack on Jim Webb Thursday night. He called him a fiction writer.

Senator Macacawitz, as he is now known in Washington, sent the cyber- gossip Matt Drudge a press release called “Webb’s Weird World.” It featured racy quotes from his rival’s novels and the contention that they were “very disturbing for a candidate hoping to represent the families of Virginians.” It said Mr. Webb’s novels about the military and war portrayed women as “servile, subordinate, inept, incompetent, promiscuous, perverted, or some combination of these.”

Excerpts from Webb novels included passages in which a man performs a sexual act on his son; a “naked young stripper” performs a sexual act on a banana, and male guards at a Vietnamese prison camp perform a sexual act on each other.

“There is nothing that’s been in any of my novels that, in my view, hasn’t been either illuminating surroundings or defining a character or moving a plot,” Mr. Webb said on Washington Post radio yesterday.

Mr. Webb, a 60-year-old former Republican and Vietnam vet who was President Reagan’s secretary of the Navy, was already defending himself for a 1979 magazine article called “Women Can’t Fight,” in which he called a Naval Academy dorm a “horny woman’s dream.”

He bridled at the latest attack, snapping, “You ought to read what George Allen’s sister wrote about him if you want to read about attitudes toward females.” Mr. Allen’s younger sister, Jennifer, wrote a memoir in which she described her brother pulling a Michael Jackson and dangling her over a railing at Niagara Falls, and slamming a pool cue against her boyfriend’s head. (She later said the pool-cue story was a joke, calling the book a novelization of the past.)

So the Old Dominion race now comes down to one guy denying he’s a racist and the other denying he’s a sexist, and the supposed sexist attacking the supposed racist as a sexist. Webb’s campaign sent out a press release yesterday noting that Mr. Allen nearly joined a males-only country club in the ’90s, when he was Virginia’s governor, and opposed co-education at the Virginia Military Institute.

Women make up half of all Virginia voters, so it’s a good bet they will determine who wins the race between two candidates who “exude machismo,” as The Washington Post put it: “James Webb, the marine firing his M50 antitank rifles in the jungles of Vietnam, and George Allen, the tobacco-chewing cowboy who as governor once stirred G.O.P. delegates with this line about Democrats: ‘Let’s enjoy knocking their soft teeth down their whining throats.’ ”

The Republicans’ usual trick — having Dick Cheney terrify women into thinking that terrorists will kill their children if they vote for girly Democrats — isn’t flying this year, so now the G.O.P. is resorting to more personal, and goofy, attacks.

Senator Allen may be able to hurt Mr. Webb, especially if he prints up all the steamy quotes on fliers and puts them on the windshields of Virginia churchgoers on Sunday.

Gary Hart, who used to write novels with another former senator, William Cohen, once told me that politicians are suspicious of other pols who read novels, much less write them. “They thought I was strange,” he said, “because I was caught reading Tolstoy and Kierkegaard.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fought back yesterday by putting out excerpts from G.O.P. pulp fiction. “Brothels, sex kittens, pedophilia?” they began their sampling of Republican scribblers, including Lynne Cheney, Newt Gingrich and Scooter Libby.

The Democrats also turned up a romance novel by Susan Combs, a Republican candidate for Texas comptroller. Ms. Combs wrote “A Perfect Match” about “a freckle-faced brunette,” a cryptologist from the National Security Agency who falls for her “gray-eyed bodyguard” with his “powerful, strong arms” and his erotic pistol-cleaning technique. She desired him to “fill the aching void at her center” where a “deep heaviness throbbed in her belly.”

It’s what the Democrats’ candidate, Jim Webb, would diplomatically call “a horny woman’s dream.”

Washington TIMES: George Allen is an opportunistic philistine.

Washington Times

George Allen is an opportunistic philistine.

What other conclusion to draw from the senator's outrageous
cherry-picking of "underage sex scenes" in his opponent James Webb's novels?

Just imagine the "war room" scenario: of campaign underlings combing Webb's books for naughty bits; of the "gotcha" smiles that lit up said underlings' faces as they informed their boss they had yet more ammo with which to outflank Webb from the left.

At first, Allen's aggressive push to peel off women from Webb's base of support -- which began with the unearthing of an article Webb had written that was argued (perfectly justifiably) against allowing women in combat -- was tolerable in a certain tactical sense.

This latest salvo would be silly, if it weren't so demeaning -- not to women, as Allen would very much like us to believe of Webb's fiction writing, but rather to the basic idea of narrative art.

This is an even cruder variation of the literal-minded smear that attached to
Vladimir Nabokov after he published his brilliant "Lolita." Some readers refused to accept that someone who wrote in a fictional context about pedophilia did not approve of pedophilia -- or, worse, was a pedophile himself.

If, today, anyone is scandalized by what Webb wrote, that's their right -- and their folly.

Earlier this week I floated the scenario that if he wins Nov. 7, Allen might come out of the race an even stronger, steelier contender for the 2008 presidential nomination. This may or may not eventually prove true.

What I know for sure is that is I can't now vote for Allen in good conscience.