Archive for the ‘Republicans’ Category

Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-OH)

Rest in peace.  My condolences to his wife and family. 

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In yet another exercise in political suicide, the Republicans seem to be conceding the Hispanic vote to the Dems this election cycle.  With the exception of John McCain, all of the Republican candidates are encountering “scheduling” conflicts on the date of the Spanish language Univision debate. 

 Here’s Kos

What’s obviously happening is that they don’t want to piss off the xenophobic nativist Right, where “speaking Spanish” equals the collapse of Western civilization. But as Rove has always known, the Latino vote growing in size and influence, and if it becomes a reliable Democratic constituency (like African American and Jewish voters), the GOP is screwed for generations.

So as a partisan Latino Democrat, I say to the GOP — thanks! Your actions speak louder to my community than my words ever would.

I get the strategy of appealing to the “nativist” vote but seriously where else are the “nativists” going to go? 

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CBS13 Sacremento in covering the Larry Craig gay sex scandal actually roleplays how to solicit gay sex in a public bathroom.  Hilarious.  God bless local news. 

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Okay, I doubt the veracity of all of these stories, but Glenn Kessler has written a book about Condoleeza Rice, and this New York Daily News write-up of it is either hilarious or deeply disturbing; I’m still out on which.

One thing we learn? Bush apparently refers to Condi as “the most powerful woman in the history of the world.” Being the most powerful woman in the world, however, is still not enough to keep you from getting quarters thrown at your ass:

She does let her hair down. Once at a party Blacker threw, Condi kicked off her shoes and started dancing. Wanting to show his partner how firm Rice’s behind was, Blacker postulated that if he aimed a quarter at her butt, it would bounce right off like a rocket.

“He was right,” says Kessler. “[Rice] didn’t realize what he had done until everyone was laughing hysterically. She was flattered and proud.

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There’s been a ton of Katrina articles the past few days and I wanted to highlight without comment some of the best ones I’ve read. 

Doug Brinkley writes about the feckless rebuilding efforts in New Orleans and what it says about the priorities of the Bush Administration, the local politicians, and the future of the area

Newsweek interviews the doctor who was arrested and hauled before a grand jury (which declined to indict) for her palliative treatment of acutely ill patients at the Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans

Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films has a video up about New Orleans two years later, along with a petition to support Senator Dodd’s Gulf Coast Recovery Bill of 2007

Rick Perlstein has numerous posts up looking back at Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath but here is one about Haley Barbour and his business partners who have sought to cash in on the devastation

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Newsweek has an excellent article on the ongoing hunt for Osama Bin Laden.  If you have no desire to read some of the excellent books on our war in Afghanistan (like Not a Good Day to Die by Sean Naylor or Jawbreaker by Gary Berntsen and Ralph Pezzulo) then this article is a more than decent overview of what’s been happening over there. 

As Attaturk mentions it basically vindicates much of what Senator Kerry was saying back in the 2004 elections before he got swiftboated.  Perhaps as a sort of Pavlovian political training regimen, we should learn to pay more attention to the administration critics who get tarred and feathered by the Republican crazies. 

There’s so much in the article I recommend it to anyone who cares (or professes to care) about the war on terrorism. 

But I can’t resist highlighting this passage which brought back so many memories of ridiculous military bureaucracy (italics added). 

Rice was not optimistic about getting timely permission. Whenever he and his men moved within five kilometers of the safe house, he says, they had to file a request form known as a 5-W, spelling out the who, what, when, where and why of the mission. Permission from headquarters took hours, and if shooting might be involved, it was often denied. To go beyond five kilometers required a CONOP (for “concept of operations”) that was much more elaborate and required approval from two layers in the field, and finally the Joint Special Operations Task Force at Baghram air base near Kabul. To get into a fire fight, the permission of a three-star general was necessary. “That process could take days,” Rice recalled to NEWSWEEK. He often typed forms while sitting on a 55-gallon drum his men had cut in half to make a toilet seat. “We’d be typing in 130-degree heat while we’re crapping away with bacillary dysentery and sometimes the brass at Kandahar or Baghram would kick back and tell you the spelling was incorrect, that you weren’t using the tab to delimit the form correctly.”

But Rice made his request anyway. Days passed with no word. The window closed; the target—whether Mullah Omar or not—moved on. Rice blames risk aversion in career officers, whose promotions require spotless (“zero defect”) records—no mistakes, no bad luck, no “flaps.” The cautious mind-set changed for a time after 9/11, but quickly settled back in. High-tech communication serves to clog, rather than speed the process. With worldwide satellite communications, high-level commanders back at the base or in Washington can second-guess even minor decisions.

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Roll Call reported yesterday that another Republican politician was arrested for lewd behavior in a public bathroom.


I mean this completely un-snarkily. But this summer alone, we’ve had Larry Craig’s grabby hands under bathroom stalls, David Vitter’s diaper shenanigans, Michael Flory’s rape conviction, the chairman of the Young Republicans sexually assaulting a sleeping man, Bob Allen’s public restroom escapades, and possibly others. This summer alone!

It always brings me back to this kid in the no-sex-before-marriage-no-masturbation-grown-30-year-old-men-must-share-bedrooms-so-they-don’t-do-these-things-cult-like-religious-group back home, who took to masturbating in grocery store parking lots. Hating non-procreative sex doesn’t stop people from having non-procreative sex, not even the most rabid hateful proponents of all those who would do otherwise. It just leads to sad, sad things like offering someone $20 to suck your cock in the public restroom stall.

The RNC should really start psychologically screening all candidates. It’s bad when you’ve had a summer full of more and kinkier sex scandals from politicians than from young hollywood.

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In The Political Brain•, Westen mentions that the Republicans are remarkably good at making their values appear to be the values of the majority of Americans when it comes to controversial issues, even though the polls consistently show that the Democratic positions are actually more similar. This is due to two things, Westen says. First, Democrats shy away from “controversial” issues, like abortion, guns, etc. because they are too worried about offending anybody, and by refusing to lay out a coherent, principled Democratic narrative on guns or reproductive rights or the environment or whatever, they allow Republicans to define the Democratic position in the public’s mind for them. Then, in the absence of any counter-narrative from the Dems, voters take Republicans at their word. They fail to realize the extremity of the Republican position on these issues (the official position on the Republican Party is that abortion should be outlawed in ALL circumstances, even those that are life-or-death for the mother, and that there should be absolutely no restrictions on gun purchases) while maintaining an exaggerated belief in the extremity of the Democratic position.

A good examples of this dichotomy, I think, is with birth control. Ninety-eight percent of women of reproductive age have used one or more methods of birth control, generally the pill or condoms. Things used by nearly all American women at some point in their lives cannot, by definition, be radical.

Although the RNC platform lists no specifics about birth control, Bush’s funding of abstinence only programs not just for teens but for low-income women and global health centers belies an administration that is obviously not to keen on condoms or birth control pills. Yet Bush has refused to ever specify his exact position on these. Why? Because it is at odds with all but 2 percent of American women.

And yet the Democrats rarely bring this up (when I say Democrats, I mean party leadership and politicians, as opposed to, say, left-wing bloggers, who bring this up all the time). Afraid of appearing soft on sex, Democrats fail to point out the extremity of the Republican position on contraception while simultaneously failing to put forth their own coherent narrative on the issue, which means Republicans can continue to get away with convincing voters that they represent the “middle class,” the “mainstream,” the “family values” position when it comes to family planning.

An excellent article in the Baltimore Sun today examines the way Mitt Romney and other Repub candidates have been speaking out of both sides of their mouths on birth control:

At National Right to Life’s conference this year, Mitt Romney set out to convince anti-abortion leaders he was their candidate. At the podium, he rattled off his qualifications. To a layman’s ears, it sounded pretty standard for abortion politics. He wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. He supports teaching only abstinence to teens.

But for those trained to hear the subtleties, Mr. Romney was acknowledging something more. He implied an opposition to the birth control pill and a willingness to join in their efforts to scale back access to contraception. There are code phrases to listen for – and for those keeping score, Mr. Romney nailed each one.

One code phrase is: “I fought to define life as beginning at conception rather than at the time of implantation.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines pregnancy as starting at implantation, the first moment a pregnancy can be known. Anti-abortion advocates want pregnancy to start at the unknown moment sperm and egg meet: fertilization. They’d also like you to believe, despite evidence to the contrary, that the birth control pill prevents that fertilized egg from implanting in the womb.

Mr. Romney’s code, deciphered, meant, “I, like you, hope to reclassify the most commonly used forms of contraceptives as abortions.” In fact, he told the crowd, he already had some practice redefining contraception: “I vetoed a so-called emergency contraception bill that gave young girls abortive drugs without prescription or parental consent.”

No matter that emergency contraception has the same mode of action as the birth control pill and every other hormonal method of birth control. To the anti-abortion movement, contraception is the ultimate corruptor. And so this year, the unspoken rule for candidates seeking the support of anti-abortion groups is that they must offer proof they’re anti-contraception too.

Being anti-contraception obviously will not fly with the majority of American voters. But Republican candidates have found a way to make their messages heard and not heard, an anti-contraceptive whistle that only fundies tuned to precisely the right frequency can hear. Yet Democrats being as they are, we are more likely to see Democratic candidates respond to the surface messages here when what they should be doing, every time they are given the opportunity, is pointing out the extremity of the Republican position on contraception.

This is what progressive and feminist bloggers have been saying for years. Most women who take the pill don’t know exactly how it works (many don’t even know that the “periods” had while on the pill aren’t even real), and men have no idea. If you keep letting conservatives associate contraception with abortion in the public’s mind, it is bound to stick on some level. As Westen would say, even if it doesn’t make sense rationally, unless there’s a prevailing counter-narrative to prime the public’s minds, then the neural network associations for both contraception and abortion will become inextricably tied, until activating one network will always activate the other. People are still going to rationally realize that their monthly birth control packs don’t contain 28 little abortions each month, but they may be more likely to be weary of things like the morning after pill, teenagers getting the pill without parental consent, etc.

For now, the candidates vying for the Right to Life endorsement are doing their best to avoid directly answering mainstream voters’ simple questions on the subject, such as, “Do you support couples having access to safe and effective birth control options, including emergency contraception?” Considering that even 80 percent of self-described “pro-life” voters and a majority of Republican voters strongly support contraception, it’s no wonder why.

So what should Democrats do? I don’t know. I’d say make Republicans answer the question.

• I am pretty sure everything I write this week will somehow tie back to this book.

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There were two more stories yesterday and today about executive overreach by the Bush administration. 

The first is about the as-of-yet unknown details of the NSA wiretap program.  The Office of the Vice President has acknowledged now that it is holding key documents about the program and is claiming Congress cannot reach into the Vice President’s office for information because any information existing in the VP’s office is privileged. 

The second story is a new legal claim that the White House and anyone else in the Office of Administration is exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests

There are so many of these stories in so many different policy areas that I think it’s sometimes difficult to understand the big picture.  These articles are giving us short little descriptions of various parts of Bush’s government but there are very few broad looks at what it all means.  In other words, we lose for the forest for the trees. 

Here’s my initial stab at the forest: 

Separation of powers

As advocated in the litigation surrounding Cheney’s energy task force, the Bush administration believes that each branch of government (especially if that branch is the Executive) has its own exclusive sphere, with little or no overlap and little or no oversight.  Congress cannot enforce its own laws.  The Executive Branch has the power to interpret and enforce the laws of Congress as it sees fit, the power to go to war, deploy military resources, and define (and evaluate) its own foreign policy objectives.  It also has the power of appointment of the judiciary, which can be done with or without Senate approval (recess appointments). 

The role of Government

The primary objective of the government is not providing government services.  It is the extension and maintenance of political power.  Appointments are made not with an eye toward efficiency or competence (see FEMA, EPA, Department of Interior, Department of Defense, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, etc.).  Appointments are made with two main objectives in mind – loyalty to the political program and political patronage (there is a difference). 

Appointments serve to carry out political objectives (see U.S. Attorney scandal) and to insulate the President (see AG Gonzales).  They are also made to provide back channels and unofficial information pipelines to key officials in the administration (see the CIA,  and also Doug Feith). 

Approaching government in this way frees up the administration from actually needing to provide the services they talk about.  It only needs to generate enough talking points (whether based on fact or not) to create the impression of services.  Which is one of the reasons why arresting and detaining terrorists was done with an eye toward public relations and not the actual trial which would have required a lot more discretion, investigation, resources, and hard work. 

This approach is also chiefly responsible for the way we got into the Iraq War.  An intel shop was created with a pipeline to Cheney and fed him only the raw intelligence which served to reinforce a pre-existing policy decision. 

The role of regulation

This deserved its own section in my mind, even though it is inherently related to the role of government listed above.  Part of why the Bush Administration made the appointments they made in the regulatory agencies was political patronage and loyalty to the political program. 

But the role of ideology, related to the above, cannot be ignored.  Complete faith in ideology means it is not important to follow up by investigating facts on the ground.  The details are irrelevant.  Patience and faith will be reward by the inevitability assured by ideological belief.  Market forces will correct all errors.  God will make sure the good guys win. 

So the job of government is to weaken controls, to cut taxes, and to let businesses and the market figure it out.  Of course, when ideology conflicts with the Bush Administration political aims, politics wins (see expansion of medicare).  Meaning – the President can redefine the ideology to fit his aims. 

The President and the People

The President has the power to order surveillance on anyone, regardless of reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or whatever.  He has the power to limit the people’s ability to obtain information about his agenda and activities.  He can also prevent people from approaching him or addressing him or even listening to him whenever he appears in a public forum. 

The President also has the authority to detain an individual indefinitely with little or no explanation, access to the courts, or to family members or an attorney.  After the President has detained a person under those conditions and finally gives that person permission to go home, he has the power to silence any dissent or disclosure from that person about the circumstances of his detainment, under penalty of being locked up again. 

The President can also torture people. 

I’m sure there is more to say.  But this has all been pretty depressing.  Let me just end with this. 

Although Bush is a Republican and the Republican party has plenty to answer for in the way this administration has perverted our style of government, this is not representative of the traditional Republican style of governing.  Bush is certainly a product of the neo-conservative movement which found a fertile home in the Republican party since the 1960’s.  But to say that by virtue of their membership in the party, there are no differences between them and everyone else in the party is simplistic (and perhaps opportunistic) ignorance. 

But the Republican party can’t ignore the fact that they provided a happy home for this style of governance.  And benefited from its presence. 

Feel free to add or amend in the comments. 

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My professor told us this story (which I am now going to promptly butcher) about his time on the campaign trail. In 2004, he was going door-to-door campaigning deep in the backwoods of rural Mississippi (or Arkansas, or Louisiana, I forget which, but you get the gist). They were in a particularly poor neighborhood one day, where most of the residents lived in trailers. He approached an especially run-down trailer, with overgrown grass and trash on the front lawn, and knocked on the door. A woman answered, wearing a moo-moo (miu-miu?). “I’ve never honestly seen anyone in a moo-moo before this,” he said. The woman was holding a toddler on her hip; there was a teen girl behind her, holding a baby on her hip; and a few assorted children crouched behind her. Everyone looked ragged, malnourished. He started talking to the lady, and came to the question, “What is the single most important issue to you in the upcoming election?” Obviously, there were a lot of issues that probably concerned this lady’s life — the economy, obviously. Maybe better access to healthcare. Maybe the war in Iraq, since those fighting and dying disporoportiately come from poor families like hers. Maybe better public schools.

She furled up her brow and sneered a bit, my professor said, and answered him with absolute conviction: gay marriage.

My professor was flabbergasted. Gay marriage? “I can guarantee you that there were no gay people even out, let alone getting married, within 200 miles of her,” he said. But there she was, standing here in this trailer home with all these babies on her hips, ready to cast her vote for whatever candidate could assure her that, on his watch, no gays anywhere were going to be threatening her by walking down the aisle.

I’m telling you this co-opted story because it segues nicely into the book I’m currently reading: The Political Brain, by Drew Westen. In fact, Drew tells a very similar story in the book, albeit with less colorful details (hell, as far as I know the hillbilly / gay marriage story is an urban legend, a useful parable for Democratic campaign strategists).

The basic premise of Westen’s book is that all the centuries of political and philosophical theory that attribute human decision-making to things like reason and dispassionate logic is wrong — or not wrong, per se, but just not telling the whole story. Backed by a few decades worth of research and a century or so of evolutionary biology/psychology (Westen is a clinical psychologist), Westen makes the case that emotions play a much stronger role in decision-making, especially political decision-making, then most people would care to realize.

He also looks at the way that, over the past 50 years, Republicans have learned to capitalize on these appeals to emotion, and Democrats (with the exception of Clinton) have largely failed. Now, the whole “Republicans appeal to hearts / Democrats appeal to minds” business is so oft-argued and written about these days as to be practically a cliche, but Westen (himself a Democrat) manages to avoid coming across as hackneyed by virtue of his massive amounts of research and his excellent and often entertaining prose. The man can turn a phrase. Examples:

With the exception of the Clinton years, what has differentiated the Republican candidates and strategists in the last 30 years from their Democratic counterparts is whether they drew their inspiration from the marketing team or the debate team.

When reason and emotion become disconnected, the result is often disaster. Sometimes this disaster may take the form of a neurology patient who … can’t use emotion to stay out of harm’s way. Sometimes it takes the form of a psychopath, a person who experiences little or no remorse, empathy, or concern for others, who may know he is breaking laws or causing others pain, but doesn’t care.

At other times, this disaster may take the form of a Democratic political campaign.

On Gore challenging Bush about Medicare plans during the 2000 debates: “It didn’t help, of course, that the media did their postmodernism routine, turning Gore’s claims about Bush’s Medicare plan and tax cuts, which both turned out to be true, into a he said/she said contest of competing claims to a truth that somehow couldn’t be adjudicated.

The weight of evidence had a small effect. Even when we handcuffed people to the data with titanium cognitive cuffs, they managed, Houdini-like, to free themselves from any constraints of reality thought he power of emotion.

The strongest part of the book, though — or at least my favorite part — is all the examples Westen provides. We all know the conventional wisdom about Democrat vs. Republican political appeals, but it’s easy to imagine the heart/mind business is a bit over-hyped, isn’t that shocking, until confronted with example after example from the past 20 years. Westen provides snippets from political debates and the text of Democrat and Republican campaign ads, and the results are pretty striking. The most egregious example so far, though, probably comes when Westen contrasts commercials put out by the Clinton campaign and the Kerry campaign. He examines the first ad each man put out after being granted the Democratic nomination. While Clinton’s is folksy and accessible … Kerry’s — well, it’s just hard to describe how bad it is without giving the whole transcript. He actually says at one point something along the lines of “I feel public service is important, because having come from privilege, having gone to Yale …” Aghhh! You read that and think, oh my god, did he really say that? In his first introduction to the public at large? In a political arena that had most recently elected a president who’s sex appeal, if you will, rested almost solely in his anti-intellectualism and his ability to paint himself as a good old boy? And Kerry’s first commercial actually uses the words privilege and Yale? What were Kerry’s campaign people possibly thinking? Was Kerry’s entire campaign staff actually secretly made up of Republican operatives?

The transcripts from the Gore/Bush debates are pretty damning as well. I’m slightly too young to remember these debates (okay, okay, I was 17/18 at the time, but … well, wait, why am I trying to defend my young self for not watching the debates? I don’t watch the debates now…). Time and time again, Bush responds with, like, nothing. I mean, what he says is almost nonsensical. Or it’s downright nonsensical. But it’s emotionally resonant nonsense. Powerful nonsense. And then Gore counters with a statistic.

The book isn’t all just he said/he said, either. Westen has done a lot of research himself over the years, and he’s got some pretty fascinating examples of how the partisan brain works. I’m only about 1/3 of the way through so far, though. I’m sure I’ll have more to say as I progress …

(Addendum: classmate Adrienne has pointed out to me that our professor was actually in South Dakota.)

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In response, in part, to my earlier post and to Rick Perlstein (who replies in turn), David Horowitz asks if the left knows who the enemy is

Before I answer in more detail, let me also draw everyone’s attention to something else I posted earlier because a similar theme can be drawn from the Minutemen video which shows one of the Minutemen murdering an illegal immigrant crossing the border (the video has since been taken down from Youtube – if I find it again, I’ll post the link in an update). 

First for those who cannot sit through Mr. Horowitz’s “educational” video about jihadism, let me provide a short summary of what you will find there.  Basically, he highlights some of the major terrorist attacks from around the world in the last thirty years or so with dates and summaries and plotted points on a world map of where they occurred.  Interspersed throughout this data (which is perfectly accurate) are disturbing and graphic photos of dead bodies and the carnage from these attacks. 

Mr. Horowitz also provides quotes from various terrorists and muslims which either call other muslims to arms against Americans or simply state the speaker’s wish to humble or kill Americans (again perfectly accurate and sourced). 

All the while dramatic and over the top music is being played and the film graphics are being used to create discomfort and tension to the listener.  It’s extremely disturbing.  It is meant to be. 

Finally the video closes with pictures of muslims in Los Angeles and Chicago marching and demonstrating in support of Palestine or against the war.  The obvious message is that the jihadists responsible for terrorist attacks around the world are the same ones in Chicago, Los Angeles, Iran, and Palestine.  That they are all a part of a world-wide movement to destroy America. 

It’s the kind of sick paranoid fantasy world which allows Mr. Horowitz to believe he’s a soldier on the frontlines just by blogging and churning out newsletters and op-eds.  Because they’re everywhere.  And they’re trying to kill you and you and you and aren’t I brave for standing up and sticking it in their eye and you better watch out and you better not vote for the lib-ruls because they’re a bunch of fucking hippies and remember how they stabbed us in the back in ‘Nam? 


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Although there are thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims still living in Katrinatowns, real estate investors are buying up and developing luxury condos in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and qualifying for tax breaks and incentives meant for Katrina victims as part of the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005.

With large swaths of the Gulf Coast still in ruins from Hurricane Katrina, rich federal tax breaks designed to spur rebuilding are flowing hundreds of miles inland to investors who are buying up luxury condos near the University of Alabama’s football stadium.

The tax breaks are going to those investors who are buying the condos in order to rent them out.  It was all a part of a plan to spur the development of housing for victims who lost their homes.  The act designated certain areas “GO Zones” which was meant to target the most blighted areas in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.  The only problem is that Tuscaloosa, Alabama is 200 miles from the coast and suffered very little damage. 

 Locals say Tuscaloosa was included in the GO Zone through the efforts of Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, who is from Tuscaloosa, graduated from Alabama and sits on the powerful Appropriations Committee.


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I agree with Dan Balz over at the WaPo that the Republican Iowa Straw Poll is no longer needed or useful (assuming it ever was).  A lot of fake folksiness and rubbing elbows to raise money and give off the illusion of relating to the common man, if you ask me. 

And since Giuliani, McCain, and Fred Thompson didn’t even bother to participate, who really cares that Mitt Romney had the most kids, er, I mean votes?  It means nothing. 

About the only thing of interest is that Huckabee beat Sam Brownback for second place and the honor of being the front runner for craziest motherfucker to run for the Republican nomination. 

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Via Lawyers, Guns, and Money

 People who know me know that I hate the general level of incompetence and sheer stupidity of what passes for journalism nowadays.  I subscribe to the radical belief that articles should be informative, filled with facts, identify sources of information, acknowledge bias when it exists, and unequivocally state when someone is clearly in error (or lying).  In other words, journalists should reach past press releases, make some phone calls, interview people, source the people they interview, and check the facts of comments from their sources.  Never let quotes stand alone without at least some attempt to actually, you know, see if what they say is true. 

Needless to say, I don’t come across this type of reporting very often.  This story about Rudy Giuliani from the Village Voice is an example of the best kind of journalism.  There were one or two minor things I took issue with, which were basically incidental to the story, but it’s all out there for you to read, evaluate, and (gasp!) walk away from better informed. 

My short version of this article?  Rudy G is a pompous, political prick who takes credit for things he had nothing to do with, criticizes things he knows nothing about, believes that the proper role of journalists is to regurgitate his talking points and thinks the American people are too stupid to know when he’s lying. 

I suppose that’s what passes for “presidential” in today’s Republican party. 

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I suppose it’s kind of a cop-out to pick the “dumbest thing I’ve read all day” from the first news article I’ve read this morning, but I just really can’t imagine reading anything more silly today than the quotes in this:

In a 2002 National Review Online op-ed titled “Homer, Conservative Hero,” Deroy Murdock wrote, “Conservatives and libertarians should appreciate ‘The Simpsons’ for regularly showcasing much that they hold dear.”

Namely, the nuclear family, church on Sundays, stay-at-home mothering, community, the individual and maybe even big hair with pearls.

“They’ve had their problems, but they always come back together as a family.

No matter how many dumb things Homer does, Marge always sticks with him,” explained Joe Carter, director of Web communications at the Family Research Council, a conservative Washington-based policy group that “champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue and the wellspring of society.”

FreeRepublic.com, an online community for conservatives, held a discussion in 2003 about whether “The Simpsons” were red or blue. There were more than 200 posts about all the conservative crumbs tossed out in any given episode, like when Maggie attends the “Ayn Rand School for Tots.” They also wondered whether Springfield’s corrupt, womanizing mayor, “Diamond Joe” Quimby, was Ted or John F. Kennedy — either way, he’s a Democrat.

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Alex Massie suggests:

We really need to offer a buy out package to Bush and Cheney. I say $100 million each to end their term early. Totally worth it. It’s about 60 cents per American.

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Republican Sen. David Vitter is so moral. He hates abortions, gay marriage, immigrants and gun control. He was probably this close to assuring his place in heaven right next to Daddy Dobson. But – alas! – he has a soft spot for high-class ladies of the night. Luckily Vitter – who just admitted that he was one of the DC Madam’s clients (admitted being a relative term, considering he pretty much had no choice after she released his name from her phone records) – is quite confident in his absolution for this, though:

“Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling,” he added.

I love that when conservative Christians do something wrong in the public eye they’re always saying “I have received forgiveness from God.” I thought god was mysterious and awesome, eh? How the fuck do you know whether he forgave you or not? But who knows — maybe Republicans have some damn good God Lobbyists. I think the “God forgave me” is a cop out, though, and a condescending one at that. The subtext is always, “How dare you mere mortals/voters judge me! I have made peace with a higher being! How do you know? Uh, because I say so, dammit. Who are you to not accept my apology when God has?”

His wife’s take on all his infedelity?

“I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary,” Wendy Vitter told Newhouse News. “If he does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.”

Ahhh, family values.

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According to Mother Jones open-source politics issue, the median political blog reader is a 43-year-old man with a household income of $80,000 and 75 percent of political blog readers are male.

Seventy-five percent of the total political blogosphere audience is male? Because a good portion of the blogs I frequent are feminist blogs written by women and full of women readers and commenters, I guess I was just sort of surprised by these statistics (do you think they are counting feminist blogs as “political blogs?” or what about “mom blogs” that are partially about parenting but also about social issues and politics?).

I was also sort of surprised by the median age … most blog readers and writers I know are in their 20s. Interesting but not exactly suprising? 98 percent of Daily Kos readers and 87 percent of YouTube users are white.

Blogads has its own stats, which are roughly similar on the gender and age thing. Their stats are also broken down by political blog readers of various partisan persuasions. Of the Democrats who read political blogs, 66 percent were male; of Republicans, 81 percent were male; of Libertarians, 88 percent.

So ….

1. Why aren’t women reading political blogs?

2. OR, are women reading political blogs, but just not the sort that are being lumped into this “political blog” category? (I noticed that in the categories Blogads uses to lump blogs together into “hives” for ad sales, Feministing and Pandagon are both listed under “women’s issues” or something like that, although Pandagon is also listed under “liberal blogs”).

3. Why are libertarian blogs in particular so predominantly male?

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Oh wow — investigative journalism abounding this week. Only this time our writer takes on a much more formidable crowd then some PR execs — a gaggle of ultra-conservatives floating at sea!

Amidst the National Review cruise, Johann Hari encounters a crowd that believes the Iraq war was a resounding success and, above all else, The Muslims Are Coming. If you’re not a TNR subscriber, you can’t read it, but I’ll give you a taste:

The conversation ebbs back to friendly chit-chat. So, you’re a European, one of the Park Avenue ladies says, before offering witty commentaries on the cities she’s visited. Her companion adds, “I went to Paris, and it was so lovely.” Her face darkens: “But then you think–it’s surrounded by Muslims.” The first lady nods: “They’re out there, and they’re coming.” Emboldened, the bearded Floridian wags a finger and says, “Down the line, we’re not going to bail out the French again.” He mimes picking up a phone and shouts into it, “I can’t hear you, Jacques! What’s that? The Muslims are doing what to you? I can’t hear you!”

Julian notes:

I never put much stock in the handwringing of those who fretted that the Internet would fragment information consumption, replacing a “daily we” with a “daily me.” But this is a portrait of a group of people stuck in a truly toxic feedback loop: They’ve managed to successfully isolate themselves from the ordinary signals from the outside world that keep ideology at least loosely tethered to the realm of fact—and the pundits manning the barricades have done such a good job that their own belated attempts to provide a reality check won’t be believed.

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Shorter Giuliani: In lieu of actual policy or ideological conviction, I’ll just name a whole lot of things that a lot of people don’t like and arbitrarily promise to stop them! (and throw in references to terrorist attacks for good measure)

Former New York mayor and presidential hopeful Rudolph Giuliani … said he would make good on 12 promises if he wins his bid for the White House. His 12 ‘commitments’ include promises to end illegal immigration, decrease abortions, cut taxes, prepare for terrorist attacks and increase access to healthcare.

(From WaPo)

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