Saturday, April 29, 2006

Watergate II or Hookergate?

Editor&Publisher asks a legit question:

It's almost too-perfect for the press: a Washington, D.C. sex scandal involving congressmen, lobbyists, poker and prostitutes, partly centered on, you guessed it, the Watergate complex.
So will it be called Watergate II or Hookergate? How high, or low, will it go? In any case, guess who is hitting it hard--The Washington Post, after allowing the Wall Street Journal, and then the San Diego Union-Tribune, to own it.
The Post's first big story, by Jo Becker and Charles Babcock, opened on Saturday: "Federal authorities are investigating allegations that a California defense contractor arranged for a Washington area limousine company to provide prostitutes to convicted former congressman Randy 'Duke' Cunningham (R-Calif.) and possibly other lawmakers, sources familiar with the probe said yesterday."
Investigators have contacted Washington-area escort services, two hotels and a limousine company in recent weeks, one official said.
The news media are a-buzzin' – WaPo, MSNBC (picking up WaPo's story), CBSNews – and I'm certain more will follow this juicy story. D.C. sex scandals draw a lot of eyeballs especially since the GOP has been so hot (a hunk of burning love hot!) to position itself as the "family values" party. Boy, was that a big lie.

E&P also reports:
The wider picture, involving possibly other congressmen involved with prostitutes, emerged Thursday in an appearance by Calbreath of The Union-Tribune on MSNBC's Joe Scarborough show, in which he suggested that as many as six lawmakers could eventually be named. The Union-Tribune earlier this month won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the Cunningham case.
Then Calbreath reported in Friday's paper: "Federal prosecutors are reviewing records of two Washington, D.C., hotels where Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes rented suites as part of their investigation into whether prostitutes were involved as he tried to curry favor with lawmakers and CIA officials." Two sources said "they were present on several occasions when Shirlington Limousine & Transportation Service of northern Virginia brought prostitutes to the suite. They say they did not see lawmakers in the suites on those occasions, though both had heard rumors of congressmen bringing women to the rooms."
On MSNBC, Calbreath said "the rumor mill is alive with names. The rumor mill is alive with at least half dozen names. Congressman Cunningham in today’s story in the Wall Street Journal that is really the first solid confirmation we have gotten of an eyewitness report."
Will the current batch of Washington Republicans go down as the most brazenly corrupt (and incompetent, it's hard to choose just one) government in U.S. history? They could ace it. Corruption and incompetence are two advantages in which I give Republicans my complete and utter confidence in beating Democrats.

UPDATE: I don't know what happened to the MSNBC story, now a broken link. I searched for a replacement link on MSNBC but no dice. However, besides the E&P story, ThinkProgress has video of Scarborough and Calbreath with excerpts from the transcript.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Remember Craig Spence, the other GOP prostitution ring?

From the party that unmercilessly dogged Clinton about blow jobs, comes the news that Republicans can't keep theirs in their pants in a big way, not that size matters, right? We knew Republicans were a bit kinky as Jack Ryan demonstrated his predilection for sex clubs, one "with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling." But yesterday and today the Left Blogosphere began burning up with another GOP lobbyist sex scandal.

Daily Kos headlined, Republicans Involved In Lobbyist Sex Scandal At The Watergate Hotel?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that there is enough evidence of a lobbyist-sponsored prostitution ring that investigators are scurrying across D.C., trying to figure out exactly which lawmakers were involved: In recent weeks, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have fanned out across Washington, interviewing women from escort services, potential witnesses and others who may have been involved in the arrangement.
Daily Kos has gracious plenty of links with an amazing story from Harper's blog and lots more GOP naughtiness so click the link if you can stomach the hypocrisy of the "family values" party.

Billmon elaborates on the San Diego Union Tribune story with a CIA angle that may ensnare Porter Goss as did Laura Rozen and Daily Kos.

What is it about GOP lobbyists, Republican politicians, and sex, sex, sex? I said earlier this reminds me of another GOP lobbyist sex scandal because when the beloved GOP President Reagan and later Bush I were in power, a Republican lobbyist Craig Spence ran a prostie ring that made headlines. From Rigorous Intuition in February 2005:
Spence was a conservative lobbyist during the Reagan-Bush years. The New York Times called him "Washington's ultimate power broker." He was also running a gay prostitution ring which employed adolescent boys. As perks of the job, he treated his boys to after-hour tours of the White House. In The Washington Times of August 9, 1989, Spence "hinted the tours were arranged by top level" persons, including Vice President Bush's National Security Advisor Donald Gregg, whose name also figures prominently in the October Surprise story. The paper added that "Spence, according to friends, was also carrying out homosexual blackmail operations for the CIA."
David McGowan writes that one of the White House tours "occurred just after Spence stopped by the Nightline studio to see his friend, Ted Koppel. Spence reportedly introduced Koppel to a 15-year-old boy, whom Koppel later claimed Spence had introduced as his son. Koppel though had been a close friend for over 20 years and surely knew that Spence did not have a teenage son."
Any wonder why this scandal - a sex scandal, even - died one of the quickest and quietest of deaths? Only briefly, and not everywhere, was it was front page news. As when it broke, on June 29, 1989:
Among the clients identified in hundreds of credit-card vouchers obtained by The Washington Times - and identified by male prostitutes and escort operators - are government officials, locally based US military officers, businessmen, lawyers, bankers, congressional aides, media representatives and other professionals.
Mr. Spence's influence appeared unlimited, aptly demonstrated by his ability to arrange midnight tours of the White House, according to three persons who said they took part in those tours.
After arriving in Washington in the late 1970s, Mr. Spence was hosting parties during the early Reagan years attended by, among others, journalists Eric Sevareid, Ted Koppel and William Safire; former CIA Director William Casey; the late John Mitchell, attorney general in the Nixon administration; conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly; Ambassador James Lilley; and Gen. Alfred M. Gray, the commandant of the Marine Corps.
According to many current and former friends, Mr. Spence was a dangerous friend to cultivate. Several former associates said his house on Wyoming Avenue was bugged and had a secret two-way mirror, and that he attempted to ensnare visitors into compromising sexual encounters that he could then use as leverage.
Several friends said Mr. Spence bragged that U.S. military personnel, for whom he had built a gymnasium in El Salvador, had smuggled cocaine back to him when they returned to the United States.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials said this week they had no evidence of any such operation.
[An acquaintance] described Mr. Spence as "strange," saying that he often boasted that he was working for the CIA and on one occasion said he was going to disappear for awhile "because he had an important CIA assignment."
According to the businessman, Mr. Spence told him that the CIA might "doublecross him," however, and kill him instead "and then to make it look like a suicide."
It should probably be noted here that it wasn't until November of that year that Spence's body was found in a Boston hotel room, his death ruled a suicide.

Sheesh, with all the pedophiles (h/t Taylor Marsh) in the GOP, who knows how deep into the heart of GOP darkness this latest sex scandal goes?

How does Jeff Gannon fit into the prostie ring picture if at all? I dunno yet but stay tuned. The Left is digging into the GOP dirt. I've long thought Jeff-Jim was a honey pot because who the hell in the GL community knows who he is? C'mon, we gays know who's gay even the closet cases but Jeff-Jim seems to be outside of the community. Odd, very odd. Jeff-Jim's military stud drag via his escort site that John Aravosis at AmericaBlog outed makes me wonder.

UPDATE: I just came across more info on the Craig Spence prostie ring while digging in Billmon's archive from February 2005 when the story broke about Jeff Gannon.

UPDATE 2: To make my position perfectly clear, I have nothing against gays (I'm gay) or gay escorts and adult consensual sex. It's the Republicans. It's the hypocrisy, stupid.

UPDATE 3: Boys will be boys and evidently Republican Duke Cunningham's had a few... besides getting bribes for defense contracts. Busy, busy. Digby has the details.

Rabbi to Falwell: gays deserve equality

Oy! The truth makes my heart sing. Rabbi Eric Yoffie speaks out at Liberty University:

"Gay Americans pose no threat to their friends, neighbors, or coworkers, and when two people make a lifelong commitment to each other, we believe it is wrong to deny them the legal guarantees that protect them and their children and benefit the broader society," Rabbi Eric Yoffie said to shocked murmurs, scattered hisses, and boos at the packed campus stadium in Lynchburg, Va.
...he also laid out Reform Judaism's fundaments, including church-state separation, a woman's right to be the ultimate arbiter about whether to have an abortion, and legal protections for gay couples. Falwell said Yoffie's tone was as important as his message.
Courtesy The Advocate.

Rove's splashing in the tank

Being a working artist means I miss reading my favorite bloggers and journalists on a regular basis and I overlooked attribution to Jane Hamsher for originally scooping the Viveca Novak story back in December at HuffPost. Sorry, Jane, I love ya but life happens.

With that said, Jane examines two theories on what Viveca Novak has to do with Karl Rove. I agree with Jane: MSNBC David Shuster's report seems more real. The second account from WaPo's VandeHei reeks of Luskin fishy spiel.

After absorbing vintage Plame reading from Hullabaloo and Jane, I can't say what appears to me to be reality better than Digby's primer:

The Rove version of events seems to be that Rove heard about Plame from "someone outside the white house" whose identity he can't remember. Although he lied about it to the FBI, he admitted to the Grand Jury that he confirmed that Plame was CIA to Bob Novak and that Novak told him that he was going to write a story about it. But he also said that it wasn't until July 10th or 11th, when he happened to be chattering in the office to Libby about this Novak call, that he really learned about Plame. He then spoke to Matt Cooper (on the morning of the 11th) spilled the beans about Plame, shot off an e-mail to Hadley saying that he "didn't take the bait" --- and then forgot all about that Cooper conversation and the e-mail.
He didn't remember talking to Cooper when, just a week after the conversation, all hell broke loose in Washington when Novak's column came out and it was revealed that Plame was an NOC.
He didn't remember when he was asked to search for any documentation about Wilson and he didn't find that e-mail to Hadley either.
He didn't remember the conversation with Cooper when the FBI talked to him and he didn't remember it when he first testified before the Grand Jury.
It wasn't until the following spring when Viveca Novak "pushed back" Bob Luskin, revealing that she knew Rove was Cooper's source and Luskin then fortuitously "found" the missing e-mail, that Rove apparently remembered the conversation.
Oddly, throughout this time he apparently did remember the Novak confirmation. And it would seem (although we don't know this) that he remembered the Libby conversation from the beginning while completely forgetting he talked to Cooper or wrote an e-mail to Hadley on the very same day.
After the miracle e-mail appears, Rove testifies to the GJ in October of 2004 about his conversation with Cooper. He has no reason to worry about what Cooper might say because even though he issued a "waiver", Cooper is refusing to testify and he and TIME are fighting all attempts to get them to cooperate.
At this point, it appears that all anyone knows is "gossip" that Cooper and Rove spoke. Rove says the Plame matter was a passing reference in a conversation about welfare reform.
But TIME, surprisingly, gives up the notes the next summer when the Supreme Court refuses to take the appeal and Cooper's lawyer finds a way to get Rove to release Cooper from his promise on the day he is slated to go to jail. Unfortunately for Rove, Cooper testifies (and his notes confirm) that Rove never mentioned welfare reform and spoke at greater length and in much greater detail about Plame than he had testified to earlier.
Again, it seems that Rove has not been completely forthcoming with the prosecutor.
Fitzgerald apparently did not buy the convenient Hadley e-mail memory restoration business. (He may have been convinced that other aspects of Rove's story don't add up either.) He was ready to indict. It is supposedly at this point that Luskin comes forward with yet another piece of previously undisclosed information --- reporter Viveca Novak is the one who set him on the trail of the Hadley e-mail back in the first part of 2004, long before Karl could have known that Cooper was on the hot seat. How this is supposed to exonerate Rove, we still don't know.
Digby provides more worthy of a click on Luskin's spin and Viveca Novak that I highly recommend.

Conditional upon the two Novaks' testimony, Viveca and Bob (no relationship), Rove may be charged (as was Libby) with perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice. Karl's trip No. 5 to the witness stand might have helped Fitz to reel in a few more details in determining what charges to prosecute. Who knows? A conspiracy charge could pop up in the future. Depends on the Novaks, what documents Fitz has gathered, other key testimony (for example, Susan Ralston, Rove's aide) and whether Libby will eventually flip.

After U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton rejected a motion by Libby to dismiss charges yesterday, Scooter might turn on Rove and maybe the Veep Creep himself for a reduced sentence. If Democrats win back either the House or Senate this fall, I suspect the red-hot frying pan of subpoena power could motivate Libby to cooperate. And Rove? He's too much of a sociopath to ever admit he did anything wrong and could probably pass a polygraph lying through his pearly whites.

I'm fairly confident Fitz will land ol' shark breath and we can fire up the barbie in two to three weeks after lawyers in the Special Counsel's office finish scrutinizing transcripts of Rove's voluminous inventions. The real question... will a Fitzmas feast follow with a few more whoppers in the net? Maybe... next year. I could be wrong but I am certainly entertained.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Abracadabra FEMA

When Republicans break something, they break it real good... so good that they have to scrap it. Fools in Washington think they can sprinkle fairy dust on FEMA, change its name, and... Poof! Make it work again. I want some of that mojo so I can turn Lieberman into a real Democrat. And, oh! Remove Chertoff's spell to reveal that he is indeed the frog he is. Yeah, I know... not a hobbit's chance in hell as long as Bush has the ring.

Reeling in Rove

I checked the transcript to make sure I had heard John King correctly about Viveca, Luskin, and retrieval of Karl's emails, and yes, King did say what I thought he said only the "emails," a typo on my part, is singular. To recap:

...the Rove camp says that is why he's back before the grand jury. It's a very complicated matter, but Karl Rove first went before the grand jury in 2004 and he said that he had spoken to Bob Novak, the columnist Bob Novak. He did not mention that he had spoken in July 2003 to Matt Cooper of "Time" magazine.
Now months later, Karl Rove went back to the prosecutor with an e-mail and said, "I forgot about the conversation, it was an oversight, it was inadvertent. But I did speak to Matt Cooper about this." Now how did Karl Rove find out about that? Their version of events is that Viveca Novak, the "Time" reporter was having drinks with Karl Rove's lawyer.
And he said, Bob Luskin, the lawyer, that Rove was never a source for Matt Cooper. And she said, "Are you sure about that? That's not what people at 'Time' say." And that triggered Luskin to then order this exhaustive search of Karl Rove's e-mail and then they say they found this e-mail about the conversation with Cooper. That is their version of events, which they say supports that this was an innocent oversight, that Karl Rove forgot when he first testified.
They say they hope now answering questions about Viveca Novak's account -- she talked to prosecutors in December, will clear all this up. Again, it's hard to get information on this because it is so secretive and so sensitive but Karl Rove's camp hoping that this is the ultimate resolution.
The ultimate resolution? Ho, that's wishful thinking. I'm also highly suspicious of Luskin's version of Viveca and the email tale because he's paid to represent Turd Blossom in the best light possible. Positioning Karl as shucky-durn, he's innocent, well, that's a stretch in the rough-and-tumble hardball political world that Rove stalks and plunders. A Suskind account of how Rove deals with folks who piss him off in his own party goes something like this... "We will fuck him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever fucked him!" Yeah, that sounds more like the enfant terrible--the real Bush's Brain--not the, "Darn, I forgot" innocent that Luskin would lead us to believe. We know Karl lies. He did to Scotty McClellan about his involvement in the Plame case. And Luskin? He's parsing his words carefully to varnish the truth with a whole lot of sugar and spice to make Turd Blossom smell nice.

Rove last testified on Oct. 14, 2005. Gail Sherman at The New York Observer posted a few weeks ago some of the same details previously published in December 2005:
[Viveca] Novak was brought in to talk to special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald in November, after the prosecutor learned that she had discussed the Plame leak with Karl Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin. In those discussions [between January and May 2004], Novak had told Luskin that Rove was a source for Time's Matt Cooper--a connection that the lawyer had previously not known."
Novak did not alert Time editors to her involvement in the investigation for 10 days, until Fitzgerald called her back to testify under oath. "Nobody was happy about it, least of all me," Novak wrote for Time in December. That was her last Time byline.
I won't get into the hasty departure of Viveca from Time. Keeping up with the can of tangled worms that Plamegate has become has gotten complicated enough without speculating on Viveca's "retirement." Jane Hamsher already explored her husband's cozy ties to his new job at the FEC and the Administration. So what's the real versus the spiel on Rove?

Larry O'Donnell at HuffPost says the WHPC buzz is, "Rove asked to return to the grand jury." That's contrary to a statement from Luskin that says:
"He testified voluntarily and unconditionally at the request of special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to explore a matter raised since Mr. Rove's last appearance in October of 2005."
Given the propagandizing nature of this WH, I'd guess Luskin has delivered 100% spiel. The difference between being asked and asking to return to the GJ, as O'Donnell pointed out, is an indictment. Hmmm, yeah, all the recent splashing in the WH tank says to me that one big fish is about to flop out.

UPDATE: Source for the timing of the conversation between Luskin and Viveca Novak came from Joe Conason at Salon.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Karl Rove, baked potato

When the WH announced on April 19 that Karl Rove was stepping down as Bush's chief policy advisor, I felt that the move was in defense and Fitz was closing in on an indictment of Bush's Brain. Today, courtesy Christy at FDL, who provided news that Fitz was headed back to the GJ with an update that Rove would testify again for the fifth time, I found a Scripps-Howard article from yesterday. Martin Schram summed up my intuitions in this graf:

That's why it begins to seem likely that someone (it could have been Bush, or Bolten or even Rove himself) came up with this smart stroke of potential crisis management _ the one and only way to get out in front of what could be the next bad wave of news. Separate Rove from all policy. Then, if the indictment comes and he must resign, it can be said to have no effect at all on White House policy. And of course, if no indictment comes, well, Rove can still be the dominator in the wings, shaping all policies foreign and domestic _ without portfolio, but with his uninterrupted, Bush-bestowed clout. Just as he was during the first four years of the Bush presidency.
Interesting point Schram makes about how the media reported that Rove "surrendered" his policy duties. Could that be foreshadowing? Fresh faces in the WH tell me that Bush wants to make his WH look renewed for a reason. After following the preznit for six years, I've observed Bush to be stubborn to a fault and a control freak about loyalty. I doubt staff changes were implemented just to overhaul his tanking approval ratings. I smell a baking potato almost ready to take out of the oven.

John King of CNN reported that Rove testified for three hours today at the request of Special Counsel. AP pegs it at almost four hours. Whew! I figure Fitz must be contemplating what charges to indict Rove on. King also said that Viveca Novak of Time Magazine had tipped off Rove's attorney, Luskin, to the fact that folks at Time knew that Rove had talked to Matt Cooper, something Karl had "forgot." Viveca's tip led Luskin to the retrieval of Karl's emails, so said the attorney. We'll see how that excuse flies with Fitz.

Jane Hamsher provides a history of Rove's GJ testimony. More later...

Pitching Snowballs, the WH press secretary

Via RawStory, Tony Snow, the new WH press secretary, reminds us why he's perfectly-suited to shill for the Bush Administration:

"Here is the unmentionable secret. Racism is not that big of a deal anymore. No sensible person supports it. Nobody of importance preaches it. It's rapidly and thankfully becoming an ugly memory..."
--Tony, Snow, Fox News Sunday, Oct. 5, 2003
Faux News, the Republican propaganda network, trained Snow well--completely and certifiably clueless. Pitching Snowballs, Tony will fit in just fine in Bush's WH.

Introducing his new press secretary, Bush remarked:
My job is to make decisions. And [Tony Snow's] job is to help explain those decisions to the press corps and the American people.
He understands like I understand that the press is vital to our democracy.
As a professional journalist, Tony Snow understands the importance of the relationship between government and those whose job it is to cover the government.
Bush translation: Tony is good at convincing people that he's telling the truth. Propaganda is vital to winning elections. That way my buddies and I can stay in power and legally loot the treasury. Welcome aboard, Snowball.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Hello, my name is Becki Jayne. I'm a Plame-aholic. My recovery has been sponsored by one, Patrick Fitzgerald, also known as Fitz, who has worked diligently for truth and justice--Fitzmas--the antidote for Plame-aholics like me.

I have a back-up sponsor oddly enough in the WH. Yes, ironically the George W. Bush WH may be key to Fitzmas; the same Administration whose senior staffers, the Veep Creep, and perhaps the preznit in 2003 had manufactured the smear campaign against Wilson and leaked the identity of a CIA operative, Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. David Corn explains how. John Aravosis predicts, well kinda. Jane Hamsher anticipates.

I'm taking it one day at a time.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Gay Advocate comes a-knockin'

Due to the fine efforts of Kitt Cherry at, the upcoming print and online editions of The Advocate will feature a controversial oil painting, "The Crucifixion of Christ," by (*cough*) someone I just happen (*cough*) to know well. Was that subtle enough?

I dunno yet what The Advocate will write, maybe short and sweet, but editorial interest was jogged by Kitt's news release. Daniel Kusner of the DallasVoice, who actually recognized the appropriated Dali foreshortening, befittingly scribed a DaVinci Code and Easter lede describing Kitt's website as "Heaven Sent." When GayWired picked up the story, a network of GL publishers from the US to South Africa and Australia ran the headline, "Web Site Courts Controversy with Gay Jesus on the Cross." A clip from the Provincetown Edge:

A sign saying "faggot" hangs on the cross above Christ at, the first website to focus on the queer Christ.
"Every time a gay gets bashed, Jesus is crucified again," said Kittredge Cherry, lesbian author and founder of the new website. "The anti-gay movement uses religion to justify discrimination, so even atheists can see the value in uprooting homophobia from Christian tradition."
Artists who dare to put the Easter story in a queer context have had their work destroyed - if they can find a way to exhibit it at all. Now these powerful images are available for all to see at
A high-tech slide show takes visitors through the Easter story from a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender viewpoint at It includes the following:
•The crucified Christ is labeled "faggot" in a painting by Becki Jayne Harrelson.
•The female Christ dies on the cross while her purse is looted by the Pope, a businessman and a terrorist in a work by Sandra Yagi.
•The dead Christ is revived by a female Holy Spirit in Harrelson’s "Resurrection."
•The risen Christ approaches hand-in-hand with his male lover in "Jesus Rises" by F. Douglas Blanchard.
"The Easter story is important for LGBT people. It tells us that God suffers with us, and it offers the promise of rebirth and redemption," Cherry explained.
A recent review of by online magazine called the site "a rather heavenly idea."
Ahhhh, how divine! Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Disappointing. They backed away. Too far past Easter.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Coming out for gays

How can the Democratic Party, a champion of civil rights, go limp on gay equality? Wait a minute!

Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold expressed his unequivocal support for marriage equality in early April after being asked about it at one of the Democrat’s regular listening sessions in his home state. Back in Washington on April 4, he released a statement arguing that the government should offer gay couples the same marriage rights as straight couples, but that churches and other religious institutions shouldn’t be required to marry gays. A constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions is on the Wisconsin ballot this year, providing Feingold with a good opportunity to clarify his position. Feingold isn’t the first U.S. senator to come out for full marriage equality—he joins Republican Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Democrats Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Ron Wyden of Oregon—but he is the first major contender for president to do so.
Coming out! Watch it. A hot plate of spine!

Meanwhile, the AmTaliban issues a fatwah. (h/t Pam Spaulding)

Monday, April 17, 2006

FDL Bigotsphere Series

The all-star team at Late Night FireDogLake served up another installment last evening in the education of CNN's Wolf Blitzer on the right-wing bigotsphere.

Applause for the patient and valiant work of Late Night FDLers. Worth a shout out for the series as of this date. Jane and Christy started the ball rolling with a Blitzer’s Bigot Barbecue Contest and Late Night FDLers held their noses to purloin the porcine examples one by one:

Dear Wolfie: Can You Tell the Difference Yet? By Pachacutec
Right Wing Racism: Steve Sailer by Armando
Educating Wolfie by Pam Spaulding
Let's Go Real Far Right by Matt Stoller
Tramsmitting Extremism by David Neiwert
The Fork in the Road -- The Right and Race Online by Steve Gilliard
A Thin Candy-Coat of Legitimacy by TBogg
What Lies Beneath by Matt O.
Breaking The Code by Digby
Racist Crusaders Advocate Holy War: The Connection Between Racism, RedState, and the War on Terror by Red Dan
Principia Wingnuttia by Gavin M.
Fear and Loathing in the Nuttersphere by Kevin K.
See If You Can Figure Out What Malkin Is Saying by Christy Hardin Smith
A Trip to the Bigot Buffet by SZ
Hey, Pach. Try carrots and sticks next time. By jove, then Wolfie might get it.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Vengeance is mine, says WaPo

Adapted from The Wizard of Oz, 1939

Billmon shares pithy insights into the front-page placement of a WaPo Easter Saturday story about left-wing blog rage starring angry Maryscott O'Connor of My Left Wing, with a supporting cast, Rude Pundit, Daily Kos, Smirking Chimp, and a brief appearance by Eschaton. Not flattering. What merits the spot on prime newsprint real estate? Short version: vendetta:

At first I thought this was just the SCLM being the SCLM – and Karl Rove thanks you for your support. But on reflection I realized that the genesis of this particularly smear job isn't politics, it's payback. The Post is getting even with Left Blogistan for the take down of Baby Ben, for the impudent e-mails about the omsbudswoman from hell, for the passionate defense of Dan Froomkin, for the outrage over the Post's editorial defense of the sliming of Joe Wilson, etc. etc.
In other words, the liberal bloggers who dragged the Google swamp for the evidence of Baby Ben's journalistic offenses not only cost a few brownie points with the White House, they humiliated the editors in front of all their friends. And by God, they're going to pay, dammit! Do you hear me? Pay!
....the great and mighty Washington Post is apparently scared of its shadow. It's not that the kind of left-wing anger the Post describes isn't out there in – it's certainly inside me – but what the Post reporter doesn't seem to recognize (he wasn't supposed to) is the difference between the anger of those who have absolutely no power, who have only their words as weapons, and the anger of those who wield considerable influence over the party in complete control of the most powerful government in the world.
In the Post article, Maryscott says at least one thing that is both true and wise, which is that her rage and her blogging are both "born of powerlessness." ...If power corrupts, so does powerlessness. It can lead to fatalism, apathy and irresponsibility – or to paranoia, rage and a willingness to believe [every] loopy conspiracy theory that comes down the pike.
The difference, I think, between left and right is that the right has no rational justification to feel any of these things, and yet many, if not most, conservatives continue to wallow in the mindset of a besieged minority.
I agree with Billmon on the corruption of power and its polar opposite but doesn't powerlessness and/or fear of the loss of power also drive the Hyperbolemobile into high gear?

Conservatives resist change. Traditions keep a rolling. I can see how they could still feel downtrodden having yet to get over their victimology and move on. The reaction isn't reality-based or justified but hissy fits don't necessarily occur rationally and as politely as cartoon Chip and Dale when they amiably disagree. Call it phantom pain, the ghost of a powerless past, or a viral legacy. They're our wingnuts.

Eric Hoffer wrote of powerlessness in The Ordeal Of Change, how mass movements ignite after feelings of disenfranchisement and alienation accumulate:
...the difficulty of dealing with drastic change tends to produce those extreme attitudes in the individual that often result in the rise of mass movements and other generally destructive activities in the world.
Small things appear bigger than they really are, and boom. Fear and frustrated anger beget hyperactivity--positive and negative. However, losing the 2000 election on a court decision wound folks up and with six years of voter fraud and suppression, the Vampire Congress, Katrina, Iraq, gasoline price increases, Plamegate, outsourcing, and just unadulterated incompetent, malicious neocon evil-doing, out-of-power liberals inclined to fix things have to find a catharsis. The instantaneous medium of the Internet works well. The reconciling factor with Maryscott and company is they can do some good for others in the process. Paydirt. In time the rage will pass. If folks were more like Chip and Dale, be very worried.

Newspapers, however, have had their business cannibalized by other media since radio, more aggressively with TV, and the Internet has scorched it. Employment classifieds and classifieds in general have traditionally been newspapers' bread-and-butter, as much as 30-40% of ad revenues, now crumbs with online job sites and auctions. Pressure was already high to retain eyeballs. Major and national dailies have been gushing a steady stream of subscriber losses and readers to the sexier, flashier Internet especially when 9/11 piqued the desire for immediacy. Rising popularity of the blogosphere, its watchdog tendency, the unmerciful deconstruction of what media publish versus the lack of interactivity of passive news reading and Billmon's point about them being afraid of "their shadow" seems apropos. Panic may well stalk the halls of newsrooms across America.

No one behaves their best when fear takes hold. Remember the rush to invade Iraq. Without fear-mongering, it wouldn't have happened. Fear incites the worst of human behavior and makes us prone to treachery. Ever notice how people hate the loss of control? Makes 'em feel vulnerable, dependent, and mad because of fear.

In the battle to control spin and apply a tourniquet to seepage and prestige, the heat's just starting to rise. Watch your back.

Fateful faithful: "American Theocracy"

Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
....Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

Onward, Christian Soldiers, lyrics by Sabine Baring-Gould

The erosion of democracy by faith-based politics has been confirmed by one of the GOP's expert strategist, Kevin Phillips, the Republican who wrote the 1969 prophetic book, The Emerging Republican Majority.

In Theocon and Theocrats at The Nation, borrowing from his latest release, American Theocracy, Phillips asks how dangerous has the influence of Christian evangelicals become? Aren't liberals hand-wringing over the Christian Taliban, a contradiction in light of lax morality and growing secularism? His answer is no.

Phillips places a good deal of the burden on Bush's Washington: elected leader who believes himself in some way to be speaking for God; a ruling party that represents religious true believers and seeks to mobilize the nation's churches; the conviction of many rank-and-file Republicans that government should be guided by religion and religious leaders; and White House implementation of domestic and international political agendas that seem to be driven by religious motivations and biblical worldviews.

He writes about how "a theocratic trend fell into place in the late 1980s and '90s" from state (example: Texas GOP platform) and regional to national; presidential candidates who sprung from or catered to born-agains and proselytized the theocratization of the GOP culminating with "Jesus is My Hero" George W. Bush.

Toss in Clinton-hating, the Left Behind crowd, a post-modern Crusade against evil-doers, and I can take off my tinfoil hat now. The Dominionists have landed:

This metamorphosis gained further momentum after September 11, 2001, when the younger Bush responded to the terrorist attacks by declaring the start of a war between good and evil, speaking in a relentlessly religious idiom that several biblical scholars have described as double-coding--only mildly religious on the surface, but beneath that full of allusions to biblical passages and Christian hymns. They, too, suggested that Bush cast himself as a prophet of sorts--one who spoke for God.


The upshot of this escalating religiosity on the part of the Republican national leadership has been an escalating and parallel religiosity on the part of the Republican rank and file. Those voting Republican for President since 1988 have become increasingly religious in motivation. After 9/11 pro-Bush preachers described Bush as God's chosen man while hinting that Saddam Hussein, whose Iraq was the biblical "New Babylon" of fundamentalist preacher Tim LaHaye's eerie Left Behind series, was the Antichrist or at least the forerunner of the Evil One. In 2004 a further wave of evangelical, fundamentalist and Pentecostal turnout helped to cement the Republican transformation, even as moderate mainline Protestants shuddered and turned in a small Democratic trend between 2000 and 2004.


A majority of Americans take the Bible literally in many dimensions, including subjects ranging from the creation and Noah's Ark to the Book of Revelation. Within the ranks of Republican voters, the ratios are lopsided. For example, in 1999 a national poll by Newsweek revealed that 40 percent of American Christians believed in Armageddon and virtually as many thought the Antichrist was already alive. Because such believers were most numerous in the Republican electorate, I would calculate that roughly 55 percent of Bush 2004 voters believed in Armageddon--and it could be higher.

Such voters are especially prone to theocratic views, and foreign policy is by no means immune. In 2004 a survey by the Pew Center found that 55 percent of white evangelical Protestants consider "following religious principles" to be a top priority for foreign policy. Only a quarter of Catholics and mainline Protestants agreed, but given the makeup of the Bush coalition, I would guess that about half its voters would favor that position. This explains both why so many of Bush's core supporters cheered the first-stage US involvement in Iraq--and why Bush bungled things in the Holy Land so badly.


First and foremost are the issues involving birth, life, death, sex, health, medicine, marriage and the role of the family--high-octane subject matter since the 1970s. These are areas where perceived immorality most excites stick-to-Scripture advocates and the religious right. Closely related is the commitment by the Bush White House and the religious right to reduce the current separation between church and state.

...The institute's director, Roman Catholic Father Robert Sirico, contends that left-tilting environmentalism is idolatrous in its substitution of nature for God, giving the Christian environmental movement a "perhaps-unconscious pagan nature."

Then there is the subject matter of business, economics and wealth, in which the tendency of the Christian right is to oppose regulation and justify wealth and relative laissez-faire, tipping its hat to the upper-income and corporate portions of the Republican coalition. Christian Reconstructionists go even further, abandoning most economic regulation in order to prepare the moral framework for God's return.

Go read the rest. It's a long piece and I'm verklept at the potentiality of an American church-run state. The only speck of optimism I saw in Phillips' analysis speaks of "[t]hree prominent Republicans [who] have staked out the boundaries," perhaps the fracturing within the party between conservatives and the theocons. Phillips wraps up with a quote from Christopher Shays, R-CT, who laments that "the Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy." OMG.

A fascinating read if not for the nightmarish consequences of a self-fulfilling Armageddon and the short-term economic challenges zero-planning for our nation's future on... Everything! But. Theocracy.

According to Vico, "a republic progresses from Chaos to Theocracy, then to Aristocracy, and finally on to Democracy." (h/t to Gore Vidal). We're headed two steps backward toward papal rule. What an Easter Sunday.

Joke Klein left jabs

Joe Klein, who's grown into the Joke as Time Magazine's "most liberal columnist," took the opportunity at a breakfast book party to beat up on Democrats. On their chances of winning mid-term elections, Klein hit below the belt:

Well they won't if their message is that they hate America--which is what has been the message of the liberal wing of the party for the past twenty years.
Whoa. Them's fighting words. Naturally, left-leaning Eric Alterman, one of the attendees at the Tina Brown soireƩ, gloved up to conspicuously put Joke on the ropes while grazing Klein's not-so liberal glass jaw. Round one.

Joke then defended his position with a bitch slap to the faces of liberals and Democrats:
There is a crucial difference between liberals and leftists, especially on foreign policy--even though Republicans (and leftist-wingers) have successfully conflated the two over the past few decades. The default position of leftists like, say, Michael Moore and many writers at The Nation, is that America is essentially a malignant, imperialistic force in the world and the use of American military power is almost always wrong.
No, Joke, leftists don't think use of force is almost always wrong--unless he means a slim minority such as Quakers. What about invading countries that don't pose grave national security threats over more pressing challenges: port security, Afghanistan, and catching Osama? That's wrong but Klein forgets that 9/11 changed everything (heh) and he conveniently ignored how resolutely we all stood together to oust the Taliban; a vote of 98 to 0 senators and 420 to 1 congressional reps authorized the Afghanistan offensive. An overwhelming majority of Democrats and self-identified liberals--84%--favored "military action" after 9/11, including 75% if it meant "going to war with a nation that is harboring those responsible." Joke tries to dismiss the effects of the Right's megaphone in transforming "liberal" into a dirty word; a quest that began decades ago hastened by the ascendency of Reagan-Bush, GOP pandering to evangelicals, shrieking radio troglodytes, and SCLM cheering for the red-state corner. Illegal war-hating liberals and leftists? Ah, they get what they deserve in Joke's world even if the fight's been rigged.

Alterman, named in Klein's backhanded liberal attack, smacked him squarely on the nose:
"Michael Moore and many writers at The Nation" are not a "wing" of the Democratic Party: They are not even in the Democratic Party, as far as I know. (I also don't accept that they "hate America," well, except Alexander Cockburn.) I know Moore was a vocal supporter of Ralph Nader in 2000 as were the people at The Nation to whom--I assume--Klein refers. When one speaks of the "left wing" of the party--that is, people who are running for office which was the clear context of the discussion--one is clearly referring to the likes of Ted Kennedy, Russell Feingold, Barney Frank, and the late Paul Wellstone. Those are the people whom everyone at the assembled breakfast understood Klein to be smearing, as he has done repeatedly in Time and elsewhere.
Jane Smiley piled on and banged the Joke up pretty good. Get out the smelling salts:
I'd like to know, what is an "America-hater"? How come the words "America-hater" always come up when we're talking about people on the left and never come up when we're talking about, say, that percentage of the US population who believes that the world is going to end and they are going to be "raptured up", leaving those Americans who disagree with them behind to suffer indescribable torments on, I suppose, American soil?
Or how about this--was Martin Luther King "an America-hater" like Michael Moore, because he recognized that the US was a two-track nation, with an opportunity track for white people and a dead-end track for black people, and he wanted to change it? Was Woody Guthrie an "America-hater" because he wrote songs like "Deportee" and "This Land is Your Land" and my favorite, "Do Re Me"? Do you qualify as an America-hater if, as I did, you wept at the election of Ronald Reagan, because you knew that the take-over of the government by the corporations was imminent? And speaking of that, why don't you refer to companies who don't pay their corporate income taxes as "America-haters"? Isn't a person who maintains that "Capital" has to be free to move around the world, and can't be kept in America an "America-hater"? And with regard to taxes--there are lots of people on the right in America who hate to pay taxes, who have made a political movement out of not wanting to pay taxes, who gutted the enforcement branch of the IRS in the nineties (I'm talking about Gingrich and his cronies). I think people, especially rich people, who aren't willing to pay taxes ("Club for Growth") hate America, don't you? Let's talk about The Nation magazine. You are willing to specifically designate the writers of The Nation as "America-haters". I read every issue of The Nation. Many times those writers do deplore things that are happening in America, like the rise of the anti-choice movement or the loss of American influence for good in the world because of a failed, misconceived, and tragic war in Iraq, or the closing of the separation between the church and state in America, but does wanting America to do the right thing and avoid the wrong thing qualify as "America-hating"?
Whew. Smiley has a mean right hook. More pummeling here. I also jumped in at HuffPost in the late rounds. By then the pile-on had caused a very long delay in comments posting. Mine ended up on six of eight pages. A clip:
The insane misperception that Republicans have the edge on foreign policy comes out of the mouths of GOP apparatchiks and media snoutlets. Democrats can't get traction on national security when so-called journalists and pundits quake over losing some insider connection at the White House or the Hill and malign liberals with jibber jabber or bury the truth. Look in the mirror, Joe. You jockeying for a job at Fox News?
Since the neoconservatives have grabbed the levers of power, some Americans have joined you in jumping the shark or succumbed to propaganda and Republican misguidance. Others of us who dearly love our country fight to return her to glory as a champion of democracy. We can elicit respect in the world while carrying "a big stick." It's hard work that requires smart heads but liberals are up to that task. Republicans? I don't think so. They're busy parceling off America to the highest bidder. It is time for responsible adults [to lead]. If you think criticism, even an acid bath of rhetoric toward U.S. foreign policy under hawkish neoconning imperialism is hatred for America, you, sir, have some maturing and soul-searching to do.
How much longer can Time afford to keep Joke the Lefty Loser in the fight? Maybe the editors don't care.

UPDATE: The inconquerable Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake lifts Klein off his toes with a righteous body-jarring blow over his Newtie idol worship. FDL also provides us with a handy list of other sluggers who knocked Joke out over his forked-tongue diatribe at HuffPost.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


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