Friday, March 31, 2006

Hillary Clinton, Tony Rudy & Marijuana

Couldn't resist the title...sorry....the only connection between the trio is that I currently have three articles running at Raw Story.

From Conservative Dem to fight Hillary for Senate seat:

A conservative Democrat has decided to take on Hillary Clinton in the New York primary for her Senate seat, RAW STORY has found.

Mark Greenstein, a 42-year-old businessman is aiming to "take a stand against 'sellout' liberals" by facing off against the freshman Senator and former first lady.


At this moment, the Endorsements page at the Greenstein for Senate Web site doesn't list any endorsees at all. A WHOIS search at NetworkSolutions indicates that the site's domain name was purchased last November.

Greenstein's campaign site includes a comparison between the Democrats which labels Senator Clinton as a "leftist Democrat."

Hillary Clinton "[p]refers wasteful regulation that hurts private enterprise," and "[h]olds stay-at-home-moms with disdain, giving scorn to a choice that most women find more fulfilling than corporate work," according to the Web site.

From Did convicted ex-DeLay aide write Amazon review attacking campaign finance reform? about the athletic Tony C. Rudy:

A book review at attacking campaign finance reform written nearly five years ago bears the same name as an ex-aide to Congressman Tom DeLay (TX-Rep) who pled guilty to conspiracy earlier today for his work with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, RAW STORY has learned.

The review is attached to "Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform," a book written by former FEC Chair Bradley A. Smith, and was submitted on June 11, 2001.

"We live in a strange age where advocates for free speech like Bradley Smith are cruxified [sic] in the newspaper and those who call for government regulations of speech are lauded," states the review credited to Tony Rudy. "In this important work, Smith points out the this hypocrisy and others dealing with America's number one feel good issue -- campaign finance reform."

From Ohio set to pass zero tolerance 'drugged driving' law:

After approval by the State Senate and House, a bill that bans "drugged driving" is set to become law in Ohio, RAW STORY has found.

Activists groups that focus on the decriminalization of marijuana are outraged that the almost-certain-to-become law will also target individuals found with trace amounts of tetra-hydro cannabinol or THC - the active ingredient in the drug - still in their system, even if they weren't "drugged" at the time. Marijuana can remain in a user's system for up to weeks afterward.

According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law (NORML), Ohio will soon be joining Nevada and Indiana as "zero tolerance" states that handout DUIDs (driving under the influence of drugs) to motorists for detectable trace amounts of THC.

Who knows?

All three might actually be related. As both Rudy and Greenstein seem to be a little bit out there.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Red Scorpion's Jack Abramoff sentenced

Convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff received the shortest sentence attainable: five years and ten months in prison.

Earlier this week, Abramoff's lawyers submitted a 62-page memorandum in aid of sentencing in an attempt to fight back against the "caricature" foisted upon him by the media that "has distorted a lifetime of accomplishments beyond recognition."

At Raw Story I have an article, Abramoff ashamed of own film, based on a section of the memorandum:

According to a biography of Jack Abramoff crafted by his lawyers in an appeal for leniency, "Hollywood politics" triumphed over his pious attempts to keep offensive language out of an action film he produced in the late eighties, RAW STORY has found.

But left unmentioned in the appeal is any hint that the film was shot in South African-occupied Namibia during apartheid, and may have even been partly funded by the South African military.


But apartheid isn't the only thing left out of Abramoff's behind-the-scenes story about the making of "Red Scorpion."

According to Abramoff's plea, he "accepted the rabbinic decree that, because there were still vendors to be paid from the production, he should do nothing to impair its commercial viability and must not publicly protest or remove his name."

Last August, the Salon news site reported that "a lot of people didn't get paid" for their work on the film.

Also, Slate has obtained emails written to and from Amy Ridenour, associate and long-time friend of Jack's and president of the conservative think tank National Center for Public Policy Research, which indicate that she did indeed write articles to help multiple Abramoff clients, as we reported at Raw Story a few weeks ago.

In one email written to Jack on March 2, 1999, Amy wrote, "I am open also to a Pitney-Bowes op/ed-like piece on the CNMI, as you mentioned in your note, if a good angle is there."

From our first article on this angle at Raw Story, John Byrne and I reported:

In a series of editorials between 1999 and 2001, National Center for Public Policy Research president Amy Ridenour went to bat for the Commonwealth of the Marianas Islands, a small U.S. territory in the Pacific. Her releases bemoaned efforts to expand federal immigration laws to the island, defended the islands' meager wages and attacked Clinton Administration attempts to tighten labor laws.

Slate didn't link to our articles...perhaps they never heard of the Associated Press: Associated Press says they based article on Raw Story report but refuses to credit or correct by John Byrne and Now "We Credit Blogs we Know" - AP Part II by Larisa Alexandrovna have more on that (and I plan to expand on this very soon).


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Original Serial Right Wing Plagiarist

(Talon News: Propaganda & Plagiarism and You've Been Plagiarized! are two articles that I toiled over with Susan G. and the ePluribus crew a year ago...which after a long delay...are finally online for all to read.)

"Conservative blogger getting Gannonized," wrote Jeff Gannon at his eponymous blog a week ago about Ben Domenech shortly after he was hired by the Washington Post Website to blog about "Red America" which caused a semi-furor.

A couple days later, Domenech ended up resigning after it was proven by numerous liberal bloggers and websites that he had plagiarized many times in the past.

A year ago I uncovered widespread plagiarism by Jeff Gannon and most of his colleagues at Talon News, a "news Website" affilliated with, a conservative activist website run by Republican operatives in Texas.

But not one newspaper, magazine or cable news show ever reported it.

Talon News shut down, but is still kicking, and they did a major upgrade to their Website not long ago that makes it look less business may be booming for Bobby Eberle, with all the publicity he received last year (plus he's running for Vice President of the Texas GOP).

I doubt things will change now. Nobody in the media cared last year.

And Joe Strupp and company at Editor & Publisher basically told me to go fly a kite. They refused to report it once. Even though I wrote them countless times...yet they covered Jeff Gannon ad infinitum...I even complained about their ducking of the plagiarism in a letter published at Romenesko.

Ben Domenech forced to resign as a blogger, and freakin' Jeff Gannon's writing for the Washington Blade.

Well...what can I say?


My voice is sore for doing all I could to get this out last year...and man was that one would listen to me because I was just a lowly, unknown blogger at the time with no A-list blogger friends.

Anyway...this is for my buddy, Jeff Gannon, though it's not as pretty a presentation as ePluribus' Merle put together at the Web site (PDF file link...but damn worth checking out cause you've never seen plagiarized proof so lovingly captured before: link)...this is an exclusive Jeff Gannon plagiarized copy and paste job that I've never published before:

New Jeff Gannon Plagiarism

Jeff Gannon’s “Alabama Chief Justice Won’t Bow on Ten Commandments Monument” -- published by Talon News on August 15th, 2003 (link or link) – was plagiarized from three Associated Press articles and a Fox News story drawn from one of the A.P. stories:

“Alabama chief justice says he won't remove Ten Commandments monument” by Bob Johnson, The Associated Press, August 14, 2003 (link).

“City Council votes to rehang Ten Commandments plaque” The Associated Press, August 14, 2003 (link).

“County Council backs Ten Commandments monument” The Associated Press, August 14, 2003 (link).

“Alabama's Chief Justice Refuses to Remove Ten Commandments” Fox News' Jonathan Serrie and The Associated Press contributed to this report, August 15, 2003 (link).

(Note: A.P. refers to Bob Johnson story and A.P. (2) and A.P. (3) to the other two articles)

Gannon: “Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore defiantly declared Thursday that he has no intention of removing a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state judicial building. He will instead file papers taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Fox: “Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore stood firm Thursday, saying he has no intention of removing a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state judicial building, and will file papers taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Gannon: “Moore said he plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to stop a federal judge from enforcing an order to remove the monument.”

AP : “Moore said he plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to stop a federal judge from enforcing an order to remove the monument.”

Gannon: “Attorneys who sued to remove the monument filed a judicial ethics complaint Thursday against Moore for disobeying Thompson's order. Richard Cohen, a lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center that joined the lawsuit, said it was a sad day for the state to have a public official saying he would defy a court order.”

AP: “Attorneys who sued to remove the monument filed a judicial ethics complaint Thursday against Moore for disobeying the order. A lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which joined the lawsuit, said it was a sad day for the state to have a public official saying he would defy a court order.”

Gannon: “Moore's argument was likened to the claims of segregationists such as Alabama's Gov. George C. Wallace in the 1960s.”

A.P.: “…his argument echoed state's rights claims of segregationists such as Alabama's Gov. George C. Wallace in the 1960s.”

Gannon: “Moore pledged to ask the Supreme Court to overrule Thompson. He accused Thompson of a "callous disregard for the people of Alabama" and their tax dollars. The promised fines would add to the approximately $125 million the state has already spent defending the monument's place in the building's rotunda. Moore indicated that the state is spending $25,000 a day of taxpayers' money on the case.

Fox: “Moore pledged to ask the Supreme Court to overrule Thompson and said the promised fines would add to the approximate $125 million the state has already spent defending the monument's place. The state is spending $25,000 a day of taxpayers' money on the case, Moore said.”

Gannon: “In Pennsylvania on Wednesday, a federal appeals court refused to reconsider a ruling that allowed a decades-old Ten Commandments plaque to remain on the facade of a courthouse in suburban Philadelphia.”

AP: “In Pennsylvania on Wednesday, a federal appeals court refused to reconsider a ruling that allowed a decades-old Ten Commandments plaque to remain on the facade of a courthouse in suburban Philadelphia.”

Gannon: “After a year of debate, the city council of Altoona, PA reversed course and voted to rehang a Ten Commandments plaque in its city hall, where it hung for 75 years.

A.P. (2): “After a year of debate, the City Council has reversed course and voted to rehang a Ten Commandments plaque in City Hall… where it hung for 75 years.” Gannon: “Councilman Wayne Hippo introduced the amendment, saying that a ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia and a subsequent ruling in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh reinforced the notion that the Ten Commandments were not necessarily a religious display.”

A.P. (2): “Councilman Wayne Hippo introduced the amendment, saying that a ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia and a subsequent ruling in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh reinforced the notion that the Ten Commandments were not necessarily a religious display.”

Gannon: “The Snohomish County Council of Washington state has given its unanimous support for the town of Everett's Ten Commandments monument, the subject of a federal lawsuit. In a 5-0 vote County Council members passed a resolution supporting the city's efforts to keep the 6-foot-tall granite monument bearing the Ten Commandments.”

A.P. (3): “The Snohomish City Council has given its unanimous support for Everett's Ten Commandments monument, the subject of a federal lawsuit In a 5-0 vote Wednesday, County Council members passed a resolution supporting the city's efforts to keep the 6-tall granite monument bearing the Ten Commandments.”

Gannon: “Last month, a Washington, DC-based group sued the city of Everett for refusing to remove the monument from city property.”

A.P. (3): “Last month, a Washington, D.C.-based group sued the city of Everett for refusing to remove the monument from city property.”

(Thanks to everyone at everyone at ePluribus, past and present, with special thanks to Susan G., NY Bri, Ryan Fenno, and Charlie Wilson who worked on the articles with me, and Raw Story's John Byrne, who finally helped me get the news out in the blogosphere last year - plus he's the coolest boss I've ever had)

(There's diaries at these sites about the articles: Daily Kos, Booman Tribune, My Left Wing, and ePluribus community so go and recommend if you'd like.)


whoops....i guess business ain't booming at don't usually trust Alexa...but check out this comparison of traffic over last two years between and raw story (and note the change in early 2005 after Propagannon broke out...though, of course, most of the big work on Gannon was done at Daily Kos by Susan G. and company and at Americablog - as well as here - Raw Story did it's share, too, with and without me):


Monday, March 27, 2006

More 'When Did Bush Decide On War?'

There it is.

Front page of The New York Times.

From "Bush Was Set on Path to War, Memo by British Adviser Says," by Don Van Natta Jr.:

In the weeks before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second U.N. resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made it clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

But what did President Bush just say less than a week ago?

From the transcript of Bush's March 21, 2006 press conference:

Q: I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet -- your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth -- what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil -- quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?

THE PRESIDENT: I think your premise -- in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist -- is that -- I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect --

Of course the Q is Helen Thomas, and video of Thomas discussing this exchange can be seen at Brad Blog.

More from the President that day:

THE PRESIDENT: I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council; that's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences --

But as I wrote at Raw Story:

The New York Times reports that a secret memo from January 2003 reveals that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair agreed to invade Iraq even without U.N. backing...


The article, written by Don Van Natta Jr., addresses the Jan. 31, 2003 memorandum which was leaked to a British author and referenced in February of this year. The New York Times was able to obtain a copy of the secret memo, and confirms most of the reports.


Van Natta's article contains many quotations from the memo that haven't been previously disclosed, and refers to it as "striking in its characterization of frank, almost casual, conversation by Bush and Blair about the most serious subjects."

Bush expected Iraq's army to "fold very quickly," and also told the Prime Minister that he thought the Republican Guard would be "decimated by the bombing."

"As for the future government of Iraq, people would find it very odd if we handed it over to another dictator," Blair is quoted as saying.

Other noteworthy parts from Van Natta's article:

The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Blair agreed with that assessment.

The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a U.S. surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Saddam.

These proposals were first reported last month in the British press, but the memo does not make clear whether they reflected Bush's extemporaneous suggestions or whether they were elements of the government's plan.

This is ludicrous: "Bush's extemporaneous suggestions."

Is there any precedent for a U.S. President to meet with a Prime Minister and riff, offer ad-libs and brainstorm? Does anyone at The New York Times actually believe that there's any chance in hell that Bush came up with those ideas all by his lonesome?

I'm not suggesting that just cause Bush said it that that means there was a government plan. Just that I've seen little evidence of Bush ever formulating policy off of the top of his head without input from a team of advisers and co-presidents.

It's too bad the Times didn't see fit to print the exact line dealing with assassination. It's too bad the memo's author didn't mention Blair's response either.

This was President Bush on February 18, 2003 speaking to the press after the swearing in of Bill Donaldson as the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. What do you make of the fact that millions of people across the globe have taken to the streets to protest your approach to Iraq? And if you decide to go to war, how do you wage a campaign in the face of such stiff opposition?

THE PRESIDENT: Two points, one is that democracy is a beautiful thing, and that people are allowed to express their opinion. I welcome people's right to say what they believe. Secondly, evidently some of the world don't view Saddam Hussein as a risk to peace. I respectfully disagree. Saddam Hussein has gassed his own people. Saddam Hussein has got weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein has made -- defied the United Nations. Saddam Hussein is providing links to terrorists. Saddam Hussein is a threat to America. And we will deal with him.

You know, I -- war is my last choice. But the risk of doing nothing is even a worst option as far as I'm concerned. I owe it to the American people to secure this country. I will do so.

Q Have you decided how to do so yet?


Q Have you decided how you're going to deal with him yet?

THE PRESIDENT: Hopefully, Saddam Hussein will disarm.

Q Mr. President --

THE PRESIDENT: If he chooses not to disarm, as I have been saying for a long time, Ron, we'll lead a coalition of the willing to disarm him.

According to the Times, on the secret January 2003 memo:

"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."

Also from the February 18, 2003 press conference (by the way, this is the same press conference when Bush quipped that dwelling on the "size of protest, it's like deciding, well, I'm going to decide policy based upon a focus group"):

Q Should a second resolution on Iraq include a deadline? And how are you going to get around the opposition from France, Russia and China?

THE PRESIDENT: We're working with our friends. As I said, a second resolution would be useful. We don't need a second resolution. It's clear this guy could even care less about the first resolution. He's in total defiance of 1441. But we want to work with our friends and allies to see if we can get a second resolution. That's what we're doing right now.

Q With a deadline?

THE PRESIDENT: We're working with our friends and allies right now to -- how best to get a resolution out of the United Nations. As I say, it would be helpful to get one out. It's not necessary, as far as I'm concerned.

From Van Natta's article:

Although the United States and Britain aggressively sought a second United Nations resolution against Iraq — which they failed to obtain — the president said repeatedly that he did not believe he needed it for an invasion.


Mr. Bush agreed that the two countries should attempt to get a second resolution, but he added that time was running out. "The U.S. would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would twist arms and even threaten," Mr. Bush was paraphrased in the memo as saying.

The document added, "But he had to say that if we ultimately failed, military action would follow anyway."

Excerpts from the transcript of President Bush's March 6, 2003 press conference (four days before the "pencilled in" date for the start of the war according to the memo and thirteen days before the official launch of the invasion, not including the "spikes of activity"):

THE PRESIDENT - In the event of conflict, America also accepts our responsibility to protect innocent lives in every way possible.


THE PRESIDENT - Across the world and in every part of America, people of goodwill are hoping and praying for peace. Our goal is peace -- for our nation, for our friends and allies, for the people of the Middle East.


THE PRESIDENT - Well, we're still in the final stages of diplomacy. I'm spending a lot of time on the phone, talking to fellow leaders about the need for the United Nations Security Council to state the facts, which is Saddam Hussein hasn't disarmed.


THE PRESIDENT - We, of course, are consulting with our allies at the United Nations. But I meant what I said, this is the last phase of diplomacy.


THE PRESIDENT - I'm hopeful that he does disarm. But, in the name of peace and the security of our people, if he won't do so voluntarily, we will disarm him. And other nations will join him -- join us in disarming him.

And that creates a certain sense of anxiety; I understand that. Nobody likes war. The only thing I can do is assure the loved ones of those who wear our uniform that if we have to go to war, if war is upon us because Saddam Hussein has made that choice, we will have the best equipment available for our troops, the best plan available for victory, and we will respect innocent life in Iraq.


THE PRESIDENT - I take the threat seriously, and I'll deal with the threat. I hope it can be done peacefully.


THE PRESIDENT - And I think you'll see when it's all said and done, if we have to use force, a lot of nations will be with us.

THE PRESIDENT - Well, I hope we don't have to go to war, but if we go to war, we will disarm Iraq. And if we go to war, there will be a regime change.

Most damning from that same conference:

THE PRESIDENT - I've not made up our mind about military action. Hopefully, this can be done peacefully. Hopefully, that as a result of the pressure that we have placed -- and others have placed -- that Saddam will disarm and/or leave the country.

The Times makes brief mention of the DSM in the article:

The January 2003 memo is the latest in a series of secret memos produced by top aides to Mr. Blair that summarize private discussions between the president and the prime minister. Another group of British memos, including the so-called Downing Street memo written in July 2002, showed that some senior British officials had been concerned that the United States was determined to invade Iraq, and that the "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" by the Bush administration to fit its desire to go to war.

This is Bush from June of 2005 at a press conference he held with Tony Blair where he was asked about the Downing Street memo from July of 2002 (transcript):

THE PRESIDENT - And somebody said, well, you know, we had made up our mind to go to use military force to deal with Saddam. There's nothing farther from the truth.

(Hat tip to Democratic Underground peeps who provided information in this thread that helped with my research)


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Spinning Howard Kurtz

According to some liberal bloggers, Howard Kurtz, media critic and reporter for the Washington Post, is a shiller for GOP talking points.

To some liberal bloggers, Kurtz is running around the media telling everyone that the coverage of the war is too negative I guess because Karl Rove told him to (or told his wife to tell him).

This is a transcript from an interview Kurtz did with CNN's Wolf Blitzer...the excerpts you won't read or hear about at some other liberal blogs...because they don't fit in with the meme that Howie's nothing but a right wing hack:

BLITZER: We're joined now by Howard Kurtz of CNN's "Reliable Sources," and "The Washington Post." He's joining us from the newsroom of "The Washington Post."

Howie, is it true, based on your observation of the news media, as the president, the vice president continue to maintain that the negative -- all of our mainstream media reporting has tended to be on the negative?

HOWARD KURTZ, CNN'S RELIABLE SOURCES: Well, certainly not all of it, Wolf, and I don't agree with that woman in West Virginia who said that journalists are doing this because they don't agree with the Bush policy.

But I've look very carefully in recent weeks from the time of those mosque bombings through the third year anniversary stories of the U.S.-led invasion, and the tone of a whole lot of this coverage has been negative, has been downbeat, has been pessimistic, in part that's because a lot of the news out of Iraq has not been good. But I think we may be reaching kind of a tipping point here that we saw in Vietnam where the press coverage seems to tilt against this war effort.

BLITZER: So you've seen a change in recent weeks? Is that what you're saying?

KURTZ: Absolutely compared to say a year ago or two years ago. I think it's not unconnected to the public opinion polls. I think journalists are finding it easier to ask aggressive questions of President Bush, to frame the stories more negatively in terms of the American presence there because they know a majority of the country now questions or disagrees with that war effort.

I do think, however, that a lot of journalists make an effort to talk to ordinary Iraqis and to report on signs of progress. But, let's face it, in our business, the car bombing, the suicide attack, the attack on a police station, those tend to be top of the newscast, top of the front page kinds of stories. The other reconstruction efforts are less dramatic and tend to get pushed back.

BLITZER: It's the same basically covering any story. Here in Washington, D.C., if there's a major incident, let's say a shooting incident, whatever. We don't report, you know what, 99.99 percent of the kids went to school today, businesses were open, things were flourishing. But if there's a horrible shooting incident, we're going to report that in local media as well.

KURTZ: There certainly is a bad news bias in that sense. We cover plane crashes. We don't cover safe plane landings.

But the additional complicating factor here, Wolf, as I know you know, is that it's very dangerous for journalists in Baghdad. We've seen that with some of the deaths and injuries of journalists there. Most recently ABC's Bob Woodruff. And so journalists are frustrated that they can't tell more of the story of ordinary Iraqis and what they think about the U.S. presence there because they have to curtail their travels or travel with security details.

So when you add that to the natural tendency to play up violence, the dramatic pictures that television, of course, loves, I do think we are seeing more negative coverage now. And, obviously, it's in the political self-interest of George Bush and Dick Cheney to highlight that because they are trying to make the case that things are not as bad as they seem in Iraq and the media are a handy target.

BLITZER: Very briefly, is there any sign of a backlash against the mainstream media because of our coverage of what's happening in Iraq?

KURTZ: Yes, among conservatives, among military family members and others. A lot of people, as we saw that woman from West Virginia, blaming us for the situation there.

I fail to recognize one GOP talking point expressed in that interview by Howard Kurtz.

Is the coverage of the war in Iraq negative?

Yes. It should be. It's a freaking war, fercrissakes.

Kurtz is just trying to get to the reasons why.

Last December, in a post called Ganging Up on Kurtz, I wrote Kurtz is "mercilessly attacked cause he didn't write the article like a typical "liberal" blogger would...with an ample supply of venom or rage or namecalling or obscenities or snark."

"It's ridiculous that anyone in our media is entertaining the notion seriously the charge that they're underreporting all the great stuff that's happening in Iraq," Atrios writes.

I don't get this.

Should the media ignore the attacks on the press by the Bush Administration about the "bad press" in Iraq?

Or should they only cover these attacks by calling them stupid?

Kurtz certainly doesn't seem to agree with the conservative meme on this. His conclusions are not the same as his questions. Kurtz has a responsibility to reach both sides of his audience: right and left. So Kurtz has to sometimes ask questions on the other sides behalf (why is that so difficult for some liberal bloggers to understand?).

Excerpts from Kurtz' Reliable Sources show from CNN:

WILLIAM BENNETT: I understand. And they should be prudent. They shouldn't get themselves blown up. And that's obviously a sensible concern. John Burns of "The New York Times" says that the reporters are under-reporting the good news. He says we're guilty, absolutely guilty.

You were asked the other day -- you're a fair-minded guy -- and you said it's negative, of course it's negative. You're just seeing exactly what the American people are seeing.

KURTZ: Why it's negative. I don't believe it's negative because journalists are trying deliberately to paint a negative picture of this war.


KURTZ: Isn't it absolutely natural, Bill Bennett, for stories about schools and health clinics and rebuilding to be overshadowed by all of the suicide attacks that kills 20 people or a roadside bomb that kills 10 U.S. soldiers? Isn't that by definition news?

BENNETT: Yes and no. This analogy that's made in local news, well, you know, if there's -- if there's a fire we cover that, not if there's peace, if the question is, are things working in Iraq -- you know, the question is, you know, should we get rid of the police department or fire department in Washington? Are things working in Iraq? How about giving some at least equal time to the notion that thing are working? Because that is really the question.

If Howie were a shill would he ask "are there times when you want to report on something the military has done, perhaps something more positively, and you don't get much help from the Pentagon?" or "[t]he White House and the P.R. blitz that I referred to earlier in the show, are they trying to make the media an issue to deflect attention from the war itself?"

On the other hand...

My fellow bloggers on the left may be correct when it comes to the ombudsman of the Washington Post.

This latest column by Deborah Howell is outrageous: The Post and the Whole Picture in Iraq.

Howell starts her column off with these two paragraphs:

The third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq provides an opportunity to look at The Post's war reporting, which has brought a steady trickle of complaints that the coverage focuses too much on violence.

It's understandable that military and civilian readers, especially those with family members in Iraq, hunger for positive stories. The Post has done many such stories, but they are overshadowed in readers' minds by the more spectacular articles and images of violence from the insurgency.

Howell never even mentions how readers on the left feel about the Iraq coverage. Howell never even mentions that the Post apologized to its readers for its subpar coverage of the build-up to the war in Iraq. Howell pretends that only conservatives read the Washington Post and complain about its war coverage.

To be fair, Howell doesn't necessarily agree with the meme and defends the coverage of Washington Post reporters in Iraq (as well as other media organizations). And her broader article built off the column is a worthwhile read.

In this lengthy article, Howell also touches upon the Bill Roggio controversy that I wrote about a few months back for Raw Story, Washington Post ombud says paper will answer complaints about putting blogger in propaganda story, and we have exchanged a few emails on the topic (though there really isn't much to quote from that segment...nothing all that new or newsworthy...and I kind of think Howell missed a chance to show that it wasn't just right-leaning readers that were upset about the Roggio hit she kind of writes isn't even quoting from the military blogger himself...though Roggio seems pleased with it...UPDATE: on second read the Roggio part was much better than I first thought...and I was wrong...Roggio was quoted once).

I've had a different experience with the Washington Post ombudsman than other liberal bloggers have had.

Even though I live in New York City, and used to subscribe to The New York Times, I have never gotten a personal response from the Times ombudsman Byron Calame (or original ombud Daniel Okrent). On the other hand, Howell has always responded rather quickly to my emails, and I've never even been to Washington D.C..

But though she's been cool to me...and I think much of the anger against her on the Internet has been over the top - and a portion of it very offensive - I'd still have to say that I don't think she's done a very good job as Washington Post ombudsman.

The ombudsman should represent all the readers, and for Howell to write hundreds and hundreds of words on media coverage of Iraq, yet not even mention critics from the left, shows and proves that she does not.

Fuck adding a liberal blogger to the .com site, The Washington Post needs to recognize that their ombudsman situation might just be the most pressing problem in that paper.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

Bush Meets With Shadow Government

In March of 2002, The Washington Post reported that the "Shadow Government Is at Work in Secret."

From the article written by Barton Gellman and Susan Schmidt:

President Bush has dispatched a shadow government of about 100 senior civilian managers to live and work secretly outside Washington, activating for the first time long-standing plans to ensure survival of federal rule after catastrophic attack on the nation's capital.


The Washington Post agreed to a White House request not to name any of those deployed or identify the two principal locations of the shadow government.

Only the executive branch is represented in the full-time shadow administration. The other branches of constitutional government, Congress and the judiciary, have separate continuity plans but do not maintain a 24-hour presence in fortified facilities.

Finally, four years later, the Associated Press provides photographic evidence of President Bush meeting with his shadow government:


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Charlie Sheen digs Alex Jones

From my article at Raw Story, Controversial Charlie Sheen 9/11 interview begins to attract media attention:

An interview with actor Charlie Sheen regarding his controversial views on 9/11 has started to garner some mainstream media attention, RAW STORY has found.

On Monday, Sheen, star of the CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men" and the multiple Oscar-winning film Platoon, talked with GCN Radio Network's "The Alex Jones Show," and explained why he had trouble believing the "official 9/11 story" advanced by the Bush Administration and the 9/11 Commission.

"It's like they want to pigeonhole all of us into conspiracy nutbags when we're not debating things that are related to UFO's bringing down the towers or Building 7 or the Pentagon and so its feels like there's things in there that we’re not the conspiracy theorists on this particular issue," said Sheen. "It seems to me like 19 amateurs with box cutters taking over four commercial airliners and hitting 75 percent of their targets: that feels like a conspiracy theory."


Many outlets may be shying away from the interview due to fear of being associated with the controversial Alex Jones, who has written extensively about a purported plot by several governments to compose a "New World Order." According to Wikipedia, Jones rejects being labelled a "conspiracy theorist" and prefers to be known as an "independent investigative journalist."

"Let me say that I've been a fan of yours for a long time," Sheen told Jones in the interview. "I've been a fan of your documentaries. Your research is tireless and it's interesting because a lot of these guys you sort of look behind their notes and you start to discover their inconsistencies in a lot of the claims they are making which torpedoes the credibility of most of their substance, but with you that is not the case."

Did I ever tell you about the time I ran into Alex Jones at a Burger King in New York City during the Republican National Convention?

It was close to midnight on the last night of the convention, not long after Bush's speech, and I had just left the front of a crowd of thousands who were lined up to protest outside Madison Square Garden. Dying of thirst, exhausted, and exhilarated from an interview I gave to Japanese television - another story - I fought through the tightly packed crowd penned in by the largest police force probably ever assembled in this country, and stumbled into a nearby BK and said, "Hey, you're Alex Jones."

Jones was cool and friendly in person. I mentioned something about how much I enjoyed his part in Richard Linklater's animated film "Waking Life." I think he may have been eating a fish sandwich, if you're interested.

(Longtime readers may remember I posted a photo of Jones at this blog that I took near ground zero during the 2004 RNC...but the photo link of these days I'll upload all of the photos I took then...there were many great ones I never posted)

The rest of my article on Sheen is at Raw Story at this link.

Something I should have made hey-hay of more in my article:

The Sheen story ran at a few conservative Websites on Wednesday including Human Events Online and Red State, referring to Jones' radio show as "left wing" or "liberal."

Here's Paul Joseph Watson on that partisan attempt to attack the left (link):

Alex Jones a liberal? That one's going to keep us laughing all through until next winter! Alex Jones cut his teeth bashing Bill Clinton and in his youth even campaigned for Republicans before waking up to the false left-right paradigm. Within 10 seconds of meeting Alex Jones anyone would know that he is not a liberal. But in the upside down world of neo-cons and neo-libs, where the drumbeat of state worship has flipped them over so many times that they aren't even sure of their own phony political labels, Alex Jones is a liberal.

If George W. Bush, an assault weapons ban supporting, amnesty loving, abortion supporting, biggest spender on federal government ever, faux cowboy from Kennebunkport Maine is a conservative then I guess we're all Hollywood liberals. In truth both Alex Jones and Charlie Sheen are real conservatives, adhering to the legacy of the founding fathers who advocated constant vigilance of government.

(I see Prison Planet posted my article: link. Alex, you should know better than to print full articles instead of just excerpts....kind of uncool...)


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Ex-FBI whistleblower tells judge 'go blow'

From my article at Raw Story, Former FBI whistleblower files against judge in Libby trial over secrecy issues:

Former FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds filed a motion asking for the recusal of the judge assigned to her case because of his alleged "bias to secrecy," RAW STORY has learned.


The motion, filed in federal court on Tuesday, requests the recusal of Judge Reggie Walton from her pending case filed under the Federal Tort Claim Act. Walton is also currently hearing the perjury case involving I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, who is suspected of leaking the name of former CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame Wilson to the media.

Edmonds' motion for recusal is partially based on Judge Walton’s financial disclosure statement for 2003, which is almost completely redacted save for the date of the filing and the judge's name (pdf link). According to Edmonds, this redacted statement "appears to be in violation of the Ethics in Government Act." The Act requires judges and other high-level judicial branch officials to file annual financial disclosure reports as a check on potential conflicts of interest.


Edmonds also cites news websites and bloggers in her motion who have attacked the assignment of Judge Walton to both the Edmonds and Libby cases.

More at Raw Story.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Washington Post Woodshed

UPDATED Sunday, March 26

With John Burns out of Baghdad and Judith Miller sent off to pasture, The New York Times has now ceded its throne to The Washington Post.

Not the reportorial throne; WaPo's owned that for a bit and has been sitting snug there.

And not the editorial throne; even behind the wall the Times still has the big names.

I'm talking the Page Six throne.

It seems like there's an awful lot of people at the Washington Post that don't like one another.

Editor & Publisher reports about the "firestorm" which has erupted in the blogosphere over the Post's hiring of conservative blogger Ben Domenech, co-founder of RedState (which hopefully will soon be followed by the hiring of an equally partisan blogger from the left - Froomkin doesn't count) but it's the words of one WaPo reporter about another that really struck me.

Washington Post National Political Reporter Tom Edsall thinks that Washington Post National Political Reporter Dana Milbank has no vision, thrives on ridicule, and tends to crawl on his belly and slither all around the office.

Unless he's joking.

Milbank excerpts from Edsall's discussion at WaPo:

Tom Edsall: The hiring of Ben Domenech of RedState has provoked a firestorm, if the volume of questions this morning is any measure. One theory in the newsroom is that he was hired at the behest of Dana Milbank.

More seriously, I am told that this is part of the Post's web operation's efforts to provide diverse views. These decisions are, unfortunately, above my paygrade, much as I would love to have the power to hire and fire.


Tom Edsall: The idea of trying to balance Dana Milbank poses some very interesting questions that I would love to explore, but my suggestions (hire someone with vision, who does not thrive on ridicule) would take too much space. Many of us do believe Dana is rabid.


Dale City, Va.: Why does the Post feel a need to "balance" Dana? First off I don't consider Dana liberal, just irreverent. I suspect he will use the same tone regardless of the politics of those in charge. Also, the right has many, many places where only the right gets a hearing or is the main voice, like the Washington Times or Clear Channel. "Balance" has nearly destroyed the media. Just spouting two sides because there are 2 sides with no regard for which is correct is a bigger problem than a lack of Bush views.

Tom Edsall: As I suggested, there probably is nothing human, at least, that could balance Dana. I have suggested a close examination of various reptiles, and it may be that we need to go to the Galapagos Islands to find something appropriate.

Washington, D.C.: "Many of us do believe Dana is rabid" Can you explain what you mean by 'rabid'? And who is 'many of us'?

Tom Edsall: Dana provokes levity.

It is hard to tell what Tom's serious about and not.

But if that last line is a jab. That Milbank can't be taken seriously. And that his very name conjures up hilarity. Then there is a problem.

One thing's for sure, though. Milbank didn't provoke anything this time. Edsall brought up his name in the first place before any of the commenters did.

How does Tom Edsall acting like an ass differ from Dana Milbank acting like an ass?

And anyone that thinks that Dana Milbank is slanted to the left has only cherrypicked his regular column, Washington Sketch, which manages to piss off both sides a helluva lot.

Now I've attacked Dana Milbank in the past.

And so have other more partisan bloggers from the left like firedoglake's Jane Hamsher and Bob Fertik from

And...yeah...he was a clown on Olbermann's doubt.

But he's done some fine reporting...such as here ...and anaylsis...such as here.

For a Skull and Bones man, Wilbank has done some especially good stuff, for sure.

Especially this from October of 2002, during the spikes of activity but before the invasion of Iraq:

President Bush, speaking to the nation this month about the need to challenge Saddam Hussein, warned that Iraq has a growing fleet of unmanned aircraft that could be used "for missions targeting the United States."

Last month, asked if there were new and conclusive evidence of Hussein's nuclear weapons capabilities, Bush cited a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency saying the Iraqis were "six months away from developing a weapon." And last week, the president said objections by a labor union to having customs officials wear radiation detectors has the potential to delay the policy "for a long period of time."

All three assertions were powerful arguments for the actions Bush sought. And all three statements were dubious, if not wrong. Further information revealed that the aircraft lack the range to reach the United States; there was no such report by the IAEA; and the customs dispute over the detectors was resolved long ago.

As Bush leads the nation toward a confrontation with Iraq and his party into battle in midterm elections, his rhetoric has taken some flights of fancy in recent weeks. Statements on subjects ranging from the economy to Iraq suggest that a president who won election underscoring Al Gore's knack for distortions and exaggerations has been guilty of a few himself.

Anyway...if Milbank gets sent to the woodshed again or worse...I'm sure he'll do just fine.

At least he has work to be proud of.

Who the fuck is Tom Edsall?

(I have brought up Edsall at least once at this blog, though not in a good way.)


Dana Milbank was asked about Edsall during an online discussion on Friday and poked back at him. It's still hard to tell whether or not Milbank and Edsall have a serious beef with one another:

Cache Valley, Utah: Hello Dana -

I love your work and your chats here at are laugh-out-loud funny and very informative. My question is: did you know that one of your fellow reporters, Tom Edsall, called you all sorts of rude names - he had the audacity to call you rabid - during his chat here earlier this week? What's up with that? Is he just jealous or what? You want for us to take him out back to the wood shed? Just say the word...or maybe we could make him pretend to be Jim Brady and deal with the new brouhaha over that plagiarizing Domenech blogger-type person recently hired by Herr Brady. Anyway, you're great and Edsall is a back-stabbing coward and should apologize immediately.

Dana Milbank: Edsall is an acquired taste. He was, I believe, attempting to be funny, although with Edsall you can never be sure. That said, I am rabid.


Boston, Mass.: I have to agree with your assessment that Domenech lacks stature. Of course, I'd consider a serial plagiarist who can't even spellcheck his work for The Post lacking a little more than "stature".

Dana Milbank: Now, now, Edsall has his problems, but there's no need to call him a serial plagiarist who can't even spellcheck.


Dazed, Confused, and Plagiarizing: Do Washington Post and employees share the same office complex? Which employees are given better bagels?

Dana Milbank: Excellent question. The people work in Arlington. The ink-stained wretches are on 15th Street. They get bagels and massages. We have Edsall.

Since Milbank included Edsall's email address four different times in the discussion I get the feeling that this isn't just fun-'n-games.

As for my "Who the fuck is Tom Edsall?"

My apologies to Mr. Edsall who has done some fine work, just not as famously.

Here's a link to an awesome Abramoff-related article Edsall wrote on the Heritage Foundation, and how it "changed its assessment" of former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad "at the same time a Hong Kong consulting firm co-founded by Edwin J. Feulner, Heritage's president, began representing Malaysian business interests."


Brad DeLong left this comment on the Haloscan thread:

Edsall and Milbank are trying to be funny. They are good friends--or say they are...

They've also worked together before. Here's a link to a story they shared a byline from in 2004: "Bush-Cheney Lawyer Advised Anti-Kerry Vets."

So I guess they're just joshing.

Did Edsall go to Yale?


Sunday, March 19, 2006

Iraq War Year 4

Headlines from Raw Story say it all:

· Deaths continue as Iraq war enters year 4

· Marking anniversary, Bush never says 'war'

· Rumsfeld: Pullout like giving in to Nazis

· Ex-NSA Brzezinski: That's 'absolutely crazy'


Friday, March 17, 2006

Link to us, you anti-military scum

An e-mail

Subject: Can we get US Central Command linked on your blog?

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2006 13:30:31 -0500

From: "Flowers, SPC Claude W. (USA)"



I was checking out your blog and wanted to let you know that the US Central Command website,, features news, photos, audio and video from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. You’re welcome to use any materials you find on our site. If you’d like to receive the weekly electronic newsletter and monthly Coalition Bulletin, just let me know. I realize your site’s editorial slant is anti-military but hope the CENTCOM webpage might be a helpful resource regardless.

If you could add a link to CENTCOM, that’d be appreciated (I’m trying to spread the word about our website).


SPC C. Flowers

CENTCOM Public Affairs

My response

Dear SPC Flowers,

The editorial slant of my blog - and my philosophy - is anti-war.

As yours should be, too.

I would suggest that since you're trying to reach out to people on the left you make damn sure not to insult them...because I am certainly not anti-military.

I link to centcom,, or other sites when it's appropriate...but I see no need to permalink to them.

If you want to exchange links with my blog and link to me at centcom then I'll reconsider. Because that's how the blogosphere works: link to me and I'll link to you.


Ron Brynaert


SPC Flowers responded pretty quick and said, "No insult intended; Thanks for the clarification."

"No problem," I answered. "But I'd suggest not using that term anti-military when you contact liberal, progressive or Democratic blogs. Certainly some on the left can be characterized as that...but most of us take that (or anti-troop) as an insult."


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

What the fuck is so funny, Rumsfeld?

As Iraq edges closer to open civil warfare, these last few days Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld can be seen yukking it up.

What the fuck is so funny?

Rumsfeld Hints at Troop Increase During Pilgrimage Surge?

"We move troops in and out depending on events, like we did for the referendum, the election," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "General Casey may decide he wants to bulk up slightly for the pilgrimage." Mr. Rumsfeld did not specify which holiday or pilgrimage was prompting the security concern.


Poll: Just 29% say U.S. winning Iraq war?

Just 15% of Americans reported to pollsters that they believe it is "very likely" that the U.S. will succeed in Iraq. Fully 54% believe that there will "never" be a stable democracy in Iraq--up from 31% in 2003.


The Abu Ghraib files?

279 photographs and 19 videos from the Army's internal investigation record a harrowing three months of detainee abuse inside the notorious prison -- and make clear that many of those responsible have yet to be held accountable.

Fuck that.

I bet it's this:

Donald Rumsfeld makes $5m killing on bird flu drug:

Donald Rumsfeld has made a killing out of bird flu. The US Defence Secretary has made more than $5m (£2.9m) in capital gains from selling shares in the biotechnology firm that discovered and developed Tamiflu, the drug being bought in massive amounts by Governments to treat a possible human pandemic of the disease.

The world is Donald Rumsfeld's fucking oyster. Fuck it if the rest of us don't get the joke.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Plame, Iran, Michael Smith & Censure

Larry C. Johnson at his blog, No Quarter, responding to John Crewdson's Chicago Tribune article on googling CIA agents:

"There is no such thing as ironclad cover. Whether Valerie Plame's cover was thin or deep, the basic fact remains--she was an undercover intelligence officer and expected senior government officials to protect this secret. Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and Dick Cheney, who learned that she was a CIA officer, were obligated to protect that secret. Instead, they betrayed Valerie and helped destroy an intelligence network that was devoted to trying to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That's the real story that true Americans should be fretting over."

RAW STORY's Larisa Alexandrovna suggests that Larry Johnson deserves lots of linkage for his go for it if you got a blog.

Larisa, of course, broke this on February 13th: Outed CIA officer was working on Iran, intelligence sources say.

The unmasking of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson by White House officials in 2003 caused significant damage to U.S. national security and its ability to counter nuclear proliferation abroad, RAW STORY has learned.

According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran.

Speaking under strict confidentiality, intelligence officials revealed heretofore unreported elements of Plame's work. Their accounts suggest that Plame's outing was more serious than has previously been reported and carries grave implications for U.S. national security and its ability to monitor Iran's burgeoning nuclear program.

I got tagged by Larisa at Lukery's wotisitgood4 blog a few days ago so this will do until I get to that. Larisa also tagged Brad Friedman, Mia Culpa, and the British reporter who broke the Downing Street Memo (memos) story who is now also blogging, Michael Smith. Illustrious company.

Speaking of Michael Smith. His latest article at the Sunday Times is Revealed: UK develops secret nuclear warhead:

Britain has been secretly designing a new nuclear warhead in conjunction with the Americans, provoking a legal row over the proliferation of nuclear weapons.


Developing a new weapon would also, according to expert advice from Cherie Booth’s Matrix chambers, be a material breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The office of Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, refused to comment on whether it had been asked for legal advice by No 10.

Finally, here's a transcript of Senator Russ Feingold's remarks on the introduction of his resolution to censure President George W. Bush:

Mr. President, when the President of the United States breaks the law, he must be held accountable.


The President authorized an illegal program to spy on American citizens on American soil, and then misled Congress and the public about the existence and legality of that program. It is up to this body to reaffirm the rule of law by condemning the President’s actions.

All of us in this body took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and bear true allegiance to the same. Fulfilling that oath requires us to speak clearly and forcefully when the President violates the law. This resolution allows us to send a clear message that the President’s conduct was wrong.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Did Amy Ridenour push Stoli Vodka for Abramoff?

More on National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) president Amy Ridenour and her "work" while convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff served on her board of directors.

From Series of editorials supporting Abramoff clients suggests collusions between lobbyist and nonprofit" by John Byrne, Ron Brynaert and Muriel Kane at Raw Story:

But in addition to editorials favoring the Marianas and the Malaysian prime minister, RAW STORY has uncovered four other Abramoff clients that the conservative thinktank supported in articles and newsletters: Magazine Publishers of America, Channel One, Pitney Bowes and Stoli Vodka.

The obscure nature of the clients and the unlikelihood that Ridenour would write editorials supporting six of Abramoff’s clients while claiming to know nothing of the nature of his lobbying work raises questions of how much Ridenour actually knew and whether the group received donations in exchange for supporting Abramoff.


Perhaps the most glaring of Ridenour’s efforts to aid Abramoff’s clients was her crusade for Stoli Spirits Limited, the makers of Stoli vodka. In 2002, SPI Spirits paid $200,000 to Abramoff’s second firm, Greenberg Traurig, to lobby Congress on “trade with Russia and intellectual property rights.”

In May 2002, Ridenour admonished Russian bureaucrats who “have demonstrated a troubling tendency to use Soviet-style tactics when dealing with private companies,” including against SPI Spirits.

Abramoff’s client apparently appreciated Ridenour’s article, since a copy of it is published in the ‘Press Center’ at the Stoli Website.


Ridenour’s article also bears a strong resemblance to language used by Greenberg Traurig’s Richard A. Edlin during his testimony before the Subcommittee on Trade of the House Committee on Ways and Means in April 2002. Edlin was also U.S. Counsel for SPI Spirits.

More at Raw Story.

Note to regular readers: yep...along with other things...this story involves another right-leaning pundit who may be guily of the "p" word (or something close to it). But unlike Ann Coulter or Jeff Gannon or any of the others I've busted...this one goes beyond just theft of intellectual property.

Basically...we have the president of a non-profit non-partisan think tank who wrote a piece helpful to a client of a lobbyist who sat on her board of directors using similiar language to a statement by the lobbyist's partner and counsel for the client and the client then posted the article at their Website.

That warrants an inquiry...I do believe.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Media Matters, what about Bob?

I can't resist.

Media Matters has an article entitled "Reuters ignored Abramoff's claim of ties to Bush, Rove, McCain," credited to S.S.M.

By contrast, a March 8 Associated Press article reported that Abramoff "says President Bush knew him well enough to joke with him about weightlifting." The AP article also noted that, according to Vanity Fair, "Rove's relationship with Abramoff was deeper" than the White House has previously acknowledged, and that "Rove dined several times at Abramoff's former restaurant in Washington, Signatures, and was Abramoff's guest in the owner's box of the NCAA basketball playoffs a few years ago, sitting for much of the game at Abramoff's side." A separate March 8 AP article was devoted entirely to Abramoff's claim that McCain "deliberately humiliated him."

Perhaps Media Matters should write a follow-up article and call it "Associated Press ignored Abramoff's claim of ties to DeLay, Mehlman, and Burns."

Perhaps it can include the following paragraph:

By contrast, a March 8 Reuters article reported that Abramoff "said he did not spend much time lobbying DeLay because he knew that the Texas Republican would support his issues, but they talked about other subjects." The Reuters article also noted that, according to Vanity Fair, "Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman ate dinner at Abramoff's house and forced a Democratic appointee out of the State Department for him." Finally, Reuters included Abramoff's quote about his relationship with Montana Republican Sen. Conrad Burns, who was "especially cooperative. Every appropriation we wanted we got."

What's my point?

My point is what is Media Matters' point?

There wasn't any "conservative misinformation" in the Reuters article.

S.S.M. wrote that Reuters "ignored" and "made no mention of Abramoff's claims of ties to Bush, Rove, and McCain."

But, arguably (of course), the parts about Bush, Rove and McCain are not especially important, and don't even allude to anything remotely illegal or even unethical (again, arguably, of course).

However, unarguably (if there ever really is such a word), the parts about DeLay and Burns are damning, and maybe a little bit of both: illegal and unethical. And the Mehlman bit is kind of new.

That doesn't mean that I think the Associated Press "ignored" and "made no mention" of Abramoff's claims of ties to DeLay, Burns and Mehlman.

And it doesn't mean that I think Media Matters "ignored" and "made no mention" of the fact that Reuters didn't ignore and made sure to mention Abramoff's claims of ties to DeLay, Burns and Mehlman even though Associated Press did.

What I mean is that you can't always tell why a news article leaves something out, and you can sometimes look pretty damn stupid when you jump the gun.

Perhaps Reuters meant to do something else when they wrote that article. Something else than what the Associated Press had already widely reported from the Vanity Fair piece.

But I guess that's not as sexy an assumption.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Amy Ridenour vs. Raw Story

Amy Ridenour, President of National Center for Public Policy Research, the conservative (non-partisan...yeah...right) nonprofit where fallen lobbyist Jack Abramoff formally served as director decided to threaten Raw Story last week.

That just made us dig deeper.

Washington nonprofit where Abramoff was director wrote articles favoring Abramoff clients, by John Byrne (and yours truly), is the first one out the gate.

The Washington nonprofit whose president appeared before a Senate committee as a victim of fallen lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s congressional bribery net wrote repeated articles that aligned with the positions of the lobbyist’s clients, suggesting possible coordination between the lobbyist and the group in violation of federal law.

In a series of editorials between 1999 and 2001, National Center for Public Policy Research president Amy Ridenour went to bat for the Commonwealth of the Marianas Islands, a small U.S. territory in the Pacific. Her releases bemoaned efforts to expand federal immigration laws to the island, defended the islands' meager wages and attacked Clinton Administration attempts to tighten labor laws.

I know everyone's busying themselves with the Vanity Fair article about Abramoff (pdf link)...but we've got some great stuff ourselves at Raw go check it out...with more to come very soon.


Monday, March 06, 2006

From the makers of 'Little Fallujah'

John Byrne and I have an article at Raw Story, Bechtel contractor, based in Dubai, gets lucrative U.S. security contracts, which is about a firm called the Olive Group.

This same firm, which earned over a hundred million dollars last year for - among other things - training Iraqis for port security in Iraq and providing security in Louisiana and Mississippi for post-Katrina contractors, purchased an urban-combat training facility called the Tactical Explosive Entry School in Arkansas, renaming it the Olive Security Training Center.

As Mark Minton reported for the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on February 19th, Battlescape shoots for profit:

Surrounded by cotton, rice and soybean fields, an exotic oasis is rising in east Arkansas: nine square blocks of downtown Fallujah.

Builders have begun moving dirt for a streetscape modeled after the war-ravaged city in Iraq, complete with a bazaar, a traffic circle, office buildings and a school, all in Middle Eastern architectural styles.

This Little Fallujah will even include the bomb blasts and flying bullets.

“We’ve got to give them what they’re going to experience overseas — there’s no pretending,” said Alan Brosnan, the former New Zealand Army assaultgroup commander who is overseeing the transformation of a 700-acre patch of Delta farmland into a training ground for modern urban warfare.

Olive Group, a British firm that supplies personnel and combat training for armies and corporations in the world’s scariest hot spots, plans to open the first three blocks of its mock city this summer.

Here's the money quote from that article:

“One of the reasons we came to the States is to diversify, and not be reliant on Iraq as a source of funding, because — let’s face it — eventually that has to go away,” said Mike Smith, senior vice president in Olive’s new Washington office.

But this one's good too:

Laing said most urban warfare training sites around the country are outdated, however, and the number of soldiers needing the training is still high. He said Olive also hopes its expansion of the Marion training center will build more business with police agencies and attract a corporate clientele that it hasn’t had before.

Read more at Raw Story.

(Hat tip to Libby Shaw for emailing R.S. a tip about Olive)


Friday, March 03, 2006

Cunningham 'crashed and burned'

Believe it or not.

Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, sentenced to 8 years, 4 months in prison for taking $2.4 million in bribes in return for unduly influencing the awarding of Defense Department contracts, was once the "inspiration" for the '80s Tom Cruise movie "Top Gun."

And he sured did cash in on that connection.

Cunningham has a Website called Top Gun Enterprises Inc. at which he used to hawk an autobiogaphy called "Fox Two," a 35 minute VHS video called "TOP GUN The Story Behind The Story," and the Randy "Duke" Cunningham Fighter Ace Buck Knife.

Continued at Raw Story.

(and off-topic - but just as hilarious - Raw Story has been threatened by one of Jack Abramoff's buddies: Amy Ridenour can kiss my ass - not really the title...but it works for me)


It seems like the Associated Press has added a clarification to their couple day old "Bush knew the levees were breached story" late Friday night. I'll post more about that later but I just wanted to point out that in my last post I noted that right wing blogs that were critical of the story had a right to be...but that Captain Ed is still either completely retarded or was deliberately lying when he pointed to partial transcripts as evidence.

It appears that one of the writers of the A.P. article once may have worked for 60 Minutes II as a producer (it's what many of the right leaning blogs have been reporting and it seems likely to me). What the fuck is going on?

If the word breach wasn't used in any of the tapes then they shouldn't have used it against Bush.


...and I guess I should add redaction

Removed last two sentences cause I wrote it in a hurry late last night, stupidly mixed up a governor with a senator, and I'm working on a further post on this. Meanwhile. Aside from Drudge, this USAToday blog is one of the few places to read the A.P. clarification.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Partial and Whole Wingnuts

Yesterday, Powerline assumed the position of Bush apologist and MSM Rollbacker in defending against the Associated Press report that Bush was informed of the breaching of the levees in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina hit:

The AP article is fatally compromised by its factual errors, and adds nothing to our understanding of the issues surrounding Hurricane Katrina. It also raises an important point about the leaks that form the basis for many news stories these days. The AP took what appears to have been a substantial quantity of leaked material, and turned it into a brief against the Bush administration. Whether the documents themselves contain anything noteworthy, and whether, on balance, they support the AP's tendentious interpretation, is impossible to tell. In view of the fact that no one trusts the AP, the New York Times and other news outlets who make use of leaked documents and other materials to report on them objectively, here is a modest proposal: let us see them. If the AP will release the leaked materials, the rest of us will quickly figure out what significance, if any, they have.

Fair enough.

We have a blogosphere full of lefties that believe the media is lying when they report about Democrats being linked to the Abramoff lobbying scandal. So it's not a shock to see the same kind of incredulity on the right.

But there's a certain right wing Captain and crew who are either completely retarded or just like to lie.

Excerpts from today's Captain Quarters:

For those who want to see the transcripts themselves of the video conferences, the New York Times has them for the August 28th and August 29th briefings. The transcript for the 29th makes one garbled mention of the levees around New Orleans (page 6).


The transcript from the August 28th meeting talked more about levees, but in the same vein, and this time no one mentions the word "breach".


Again, the entire briefing that related to levees only focused on the effects of the wind on Lake Pontchartrain and its effect in pushing water over the top of the levees. Mayfield never even addressed the possibility of breaches in the levee walls. And in fact, the storm track shifted eastward in the final hours before Katrina hit, which eliminated much of the predicate for even the worries Mayfield expresses in this transcript.

The media got it wrong yet again on Katrina. The notion that the experts warned of levee breaches is nothing more than a hack job initiated by the AP and continued by the rest of the Exempt Media even after the source material has proven it false.

Captain Ed, you cretin. What part of "partial transcripts" don't you understand?

The transcripts for August 28th and August 29th are not "entire briefings." Aside from the fact that the New York Times article that accompanies the transcripts notes that these are only "Partial Transcripts of the Video Conferences," the html code for the pdf links both say "partia" at the end.

It's certainly fair to knock the A.P. for not showing everything. But it's more than disgenuous to pretend that the "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Reuters pulls a Homer on 1st Amendment

Earlier today, a Reuters article which referred to a poll that showed Americans knew more about the Simpsons cartoon than the 1st Amendment also showed that the news agency was equally as clueless.

Originally, Americans' answer to what are your rights? 'D'oh' contained this line:

Some participants displayed comical ignorance such as the 38 percent who believed the right to self-incrimination -- "taking the 5th" in lawyer lingo -- was granted by the First Amendment rather than the Fifth.

Comical indeed.

Corrected version including note:

(Please read in ninth paragraph...the right not to incriminate yourself...instead of...the right to self-incrimination....)

Some participants displayed comical ignorance such as the 38 percent who believed the right not to incriminate yourself -- "taking the 5th" in lawyer lingo -- was granted by the First Amendment rather than the Fifth.

Silly Reuters, Americans don't need no stinkin' Constitution to allow them to self-incriminate themselves.

Just ask this guy.


Impeach Bush

From the Associated Press article, Tape: Bush, Chertoff Warned Before Katrina, written by Margaret Ebrahim and John Solomon:

In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, risk lives in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage of the briefings.

Bush didn't ask a single question during the final government-wide briefing the day before Katrina struck on Aug. 29 but assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."

Six days of footage and transcripts obtained by The Associated Press show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.

The kicker is the last paragraph:

Bush declared four days after the storm, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" that gushed deadly flood waters into New Orleans. But the transcripts and video show there was plenty of talk about that possibility — and Bush was worried too.

This is inexcusable.

This is indefensible.

This is unspinnable.

This is impeachable.

(UPDATE: Associated Press Video .)


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