Friday, January 07, 2005

Bill Frist's Vacation Photos

From an AP report on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's trip to Sri Lanka:

Just before his helicopter lifted off, Frist and aides took snapshots of each other near a pile of tsunami debris.

"Get some devastation in the back," Frist told a photographer.
Ugh! So much worse than President Flightsuit. Even if I don't like Bush's political response to it, I at least get the impression that he actually cares about human suffering.

posted by Scott | 1/07/2005 | |

Bush Administration Used Tax Dollars To Buy Journalist For Propaganda

Boy, where have we seen that headline before? Oh yeah! I remember now... They've done this before, spending $44,000 to produce conservative videos shown during presented as syndicated news items during news shows on television stations around the country.

Back then, the non-partisan General Accounting Office ruled that the administration's use of taxpayer funds to promote one of Bush's programs was illegal and constituted propaganda. One would think they'd learned a lesson -- don't hire any more fake journalists to promote their policies and present it as news. In a way, they did learn that lesson.

Now, they're spending over twenty times more in taxpayer money to hire a real journalist to promote their policies. Genius!!!

As part of a one million dollar public relations blitz to promote Republican education policies, African-American pundit Armstrong Williams was paid $240,000 -- that's two hundred and forty taxpayer dollars -- to speak out in favor of the President's education platform on not only his own syndicated radio and television shows, but also in appearances on other African-American-focused shows.

In his own defense, Williams says, "I wanted to do it because it's something I believe in." On his website, Williams calls Bush's NCLB "the best legislation that has been put forth in the last twenty years to raise the academic standards of inner city and urban schools." So essentially, Williams is admitting that the almost quarter of a million dollars in taxpayer money he pocketed to speak out was unnecessary. Either that, or his publicly-expressed opinion can be bought for the right price.

Exactly how corrupt is the Republican leadership in this country? And exactly how much more corrupt do they have to get before voters -- and even Republican lawmakers -- have had enough?

UPDATE: Even National Review right-winger Jonah Goldberg is grossed out by this. From Kos:

Jonah Goldberg: "I think Armstrong Williams should give the money back. I think he should probably be ashamed of himself for taking it. I think the White House really screwed up ... all I can say is that if Bill Clinton had gotten caught giving Joe Conason a quarter of a million dollars to be flogging their policies, guys like me would have smoke coming out of our ears, and The Right would go crazy." [CNN, IP, 1/7/05]
Wow! Quite an impressive display of intellectual honesty.

posted by Scott | 1/07/2005 | |

Simon Rosenberg For DNC Chair

Just thought I'd take a moment to reaffirm once again my support for Simon Rosenberg to lead the Democratic National Committee. He's a moderate, a reformer, media-savvy, forward looking, and an effective manager -- exactly what we need leading the Democratic Party in the years to come.

Check out for more information.

posted by Scott | 1/07/2005 | |

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

What In The Hell Is Wrong With Tom DeLay?

You know, I can't claim to know what goes on in Tom DeLay's head. In fact, that's something I'm actually rather glad to be able to say.

At this morning's 109th Congressional Prayer Service, Tom DeLay stepped up to the podium and decided to read this timely little piece of the Bible:

A reading of the Gospel, in Matthew 7:21 through 27.

Not every one who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven; but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?"

Then I will declare to them solemnly, "I never knew you: depart from me, you evil doers."

Everyone who listens to these words of mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man, who built his house on a rock:

The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, and buffeted the house, but it did not collapse; it has been set solidly on rock.

And everyone who listens to these words of mine, but does not act on them, will be like a fool who built his house on sand:

The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, and buffeted the house, and it collapsed and was completely ruined.
And this was apropos of... what, exactly?

I know what it sounds like DeLay is referring to. A Christian nation is like a house built on a rock -- solid. A non-Christian nation is foolish, built on a foundation of sand. That's rhetoric I don't agree with one iota, but still just metaphoric rhetoric. But in the aftermath of the recent Indian Ocean tsunami, with so many houses collapsed and completely ruined when the floods came, in a largely non-Christian part of the world, it's rhetoric that is completely unacceptable. Tom DeLay is either blindingly stupid or heartlessly cruel. Either way, he should be ashamed of himself.

I'm posting an MP3 of DeLay's Bible reading below for your reference:

Right-click and save this audio file

(Credit: AmCop picked this up and Atrios ran with it.)

UPDATE: Since people are still reading, linking to, and talking about this piece, I think this might be helpful. It seems quite a few of you, some of whom are not actually aware of who Tom DeLay is, believe that DeLay was criticizing the Bush administration for not being truly Christian. I'm not going to get into it, but he just wasn't. A) He's not that deep of a thinker. B) He doesn't criticize the Bush administration.

To back that up, here's an excerpt from an April 2002 Washington Post article titled "DeLay Criticized for 'Only Christianity' Remarks", thanks to reader/fellow blogger Blog Gently:

House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) told evangelical Christians last week that only Christianity offers a reasonable answer to basic questions about the purpose of life.

Speaking to about 300 people at the First Baptist Church of Pearland, Tex., on April 12, DeLay said that God is using him to promote "a biblical worldview" in American politics, and that he pursued Bill Clinton's impeachment in part because the Democratic president held "the wrong worldview."

"Ladies and gentlemen, Christianity offers the only viable, reasonable, definitive answer to the questions of 'Where did I come from?' 'Why am I here?' 'Where am I going?' 'Does life have any meaningful purpose?' " DeLay said. "Only Christianity offers a way to understand that physical and moral border. Only Christianity offers a comprehensive worldview that covers all areas of life and thought, every aspect of creation. Only Christianity offers a way to live in response to the realities that we find in this world -- only Christianity."
I think that should clear up any confusion.

posted by Scott | 1/05/2005 | |

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Honoring Service: GOP-Style

The chair of Bush's Inaugural Committee, Texas socialite and oil industry consultant Jeanne L. Phillips, sat down to answer some questions for this weekend's edition of The New York Times Magazine. We pick up with her discussing the work she's done with a number of wealthy industrialists...

I imagine such contacts prove useful when you are raising money for the inauguration. You are asking underwriters for $250,000 a pop.

We are raising the funds so that parade tickets stay at a price that anyone can afford. We need underwriters to help us.

I hear one of the balls will be reserved for troops who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Yes, the Commander-in-Chief Ball. That is new. It will be about 2,000 servicemen and their guests. And that should be a really fun event for them.

As an alternative way of honoring them, did you or the president ever discuss canceling the nine balls and using the $40 million inaugural budget to purchase better equipment for the troops?

I think we felt like we would have a traditional set of events and we would focus on honoring the people who are serving our country right now -- not just the people in the armed forces, but also the community volunteers, the firemen, the policemen, the teachers, the people who serve at, you know, the -- well, it's called the StewPot in Dallas, people who work with the homeless.

How do any of them benefit from the inaugural balls?

I'm not sure that they do benefit from them.

Then how, exactly, are you honoring them?

Honoring service is what our theme is about.

It's not really about honoring service, silly! It's just a theme! Just like my son Biff's birthday party last year. It wasn't really about going to war in the desert -- heavens, I'd never send him there! -- it was just a theme!

Absolutely repulsive.

A few more random thoughts on this...

1) Those parade tickets "that anyone can afford" are going for up to $125 per person. So a good ol' Bush supportin' red state family of four would have to pay $500 to see their President walk down the street. Pretty affordable...

2) "...the people who serve at, you know, the -- well, it's called the StewPot in Dallas, people who work with the homeless."

It's called a soup kitchen, you right-wing elitist.

Bonus random thought...

3) More evidence of that liberal media? The follow-up question to "Honoring service is what our theme is about."

Do you think President Bush and the first lady like to dance?

And with that, I must excuse myself. I think I got a little throw up on my keyboard.

posted by Scott | 1/04/2005 | |

Feingold In 2008?

U.S. News & World Report's 'Washington Whispers' is reporting that maverick Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold has been testing the national political waters.

Fresh face, new voice
Keep a lookout for Sen. Russ Feingold, the second half of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance duo, who just won a third term from Wisconsin voters. He's on a nationwide mission to test out his progressive message that's liberal on some issues, like universal healthcare, and conservative on others, like the deficit. Fans think he can bridge the blue-state-red-state divide, making him not just a voice for a changing Democratic Party but a possible '08 presidential candidate. He's not the only one: Republicans are keeping an eye on Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who's on his own message tour.
Now, to be totally honest, a lot of politicians go on this kind of "nationwide mission" to test their messages. Most of them don't amount to anything. But with the current clamor for reform within the Democratic Party, Feingold's maverick status makes him a real standout candidate. I would warn, however, that he is a Senator, which is not the best launching pad for Presidents (see also: Kerry, Dole, and McGovern).

On a secondary note, how does Romney think he's going to run for the GOP nomination after that party just made bashing the state of Massachusetts one of their most prominent messages of the last Presidential campaign?

(Credit to Kos for pulling this out of the morass that is U.S. News.)

posted by Scott | 1/04/2005 | |

Great Minds...

Or maybe it's just that no one could muster up any originality this New Year. Or perhaps the story is just that obvious. Either way, here's four New Year editorial cartoons I came across recently.

Rob Rogers, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - 12/26

Jeff Stahler, The Columbus Dispatch - 12/31

Steve Benson, Arizona Republic - 12/26

Pat Oliphant, Universal Press Syndicate - 12/29

I know this is the typical theme for the New Year, but still...

posted by Scott | 1/04/2005 | |

Andrew Sullivan Is A Jerk

From Andrew Sullivan...

QUOTE FOR THE DAY I: "I'd much rather be doing this than figthing a war," - helicopter pilot Lt. Cmdr. William Whitsitt, helping the survivors of the south Asian tsunami. Earth to Whitsitt: you're a soldier.
Earth to Sullivan: Whitsitt's also a human being, and as such, is likely to prefer helping people to mowing them down.

But just for context, let's see what Whitsitt says he prefers to fighting a war.

The Pentagon also has decided to send the USNS Mercy, a 1,000-bed hospital ship based at San Diego, to join the relief effort, two officials said Monday on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. helicopters carried about 60 survivors -- including two pregnant women and some so weak they could neither walk nor talk -- to the Banda Aceh hospital after the American military got permission from Jakarta to pick up those in bad shape. Many had had little food or water for eight days, and they suffered from ailments including pneumonia, broken bones, infected wounds, tetanus and trauma.

Several also were brought to the USS Abraham Lincoln on stretchers.

"I'd much rather be doing this than fighting a war," said helicopter pilot Lt. Cmdr. William Whitsitt of Great Falls, Mont.
Man, what a hippie peacenik that guy must be!


posted by Scott | 1/04/2005 | |

The New, Unimproved, Spineless Media

Adam McKay, the former head writer of Saturday Night Live, on his former place of employment...

Mr. McKay added that post-9/11 patriotism, along with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, had made "S.N.L." reluctant to take hard shots at President Bush, an unwillingness that he feels persists at the show today. "In the name of political fairness or some odd sense of patriotism, Lorne has laid off the president for the last couple of years, and I don't agree with that move," he said. Instead, both writers said, "S.N.L." has relied on pop-culture skits, which, while occasionally caustic, never really run the risk of offending anyone.
(For what it's worth, McKay collaborated with Will Ferrell on the hilarious White House West spot for America Coming Together as well as the equally hilarious 'Anchorman'.)

Meanwhile, over at CBS...

According to a Broadcasting & Cable source in Washington, D.C., CBS News president Andrew Heyward, along with Washington bureau chief Janet Leissner, recently met with White House communications director Dan Bartlett, in part to repair chilly relations with the Bush administration.
Heyward was "working overtime to convince Bartlett that neither CBS News nor Rather had a vendetta against the White House," our source says, "and from here on out would do everything it could to be fair and balanced." CBS declined to comment.
(For what it's worth, I picked this up from Atrios.)

It's official. All claims and/or complaints of a 'liberal media' will now go ignored, save for the possible hysterical laughter that may ensue at the absurdity of the thought.

posted by Scott | 1/04/2005 | |

Monday, January 03, 2005

On This Weekend's Losses

Both the Democratic Party and America in general could use a lot more Shirley Chisholms and Bob Matsuis.

Just a sad, but hopeful observation for the new year.

posted by Scott | 1/03/2005 | |
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