Thursday, July 22, 2004

Media Matters: O'Reilly still smearing son of 9/11 Victim

"From the July 20, 2004, edition of FOX News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: But who is this guy, really? Well, on this program, Glick said President [George W.] Bush and his father [former President George H.W. Bush] were responsible for his [Glick's] father's death.

He said George W. Bush pulled off a coup to get elected. He implied the U.S.A. itself was a terrorist nation. And he called his father's death at the hands of an Al Qaeda 'alleged assassination.' He said America itself was responsible for the 9-11 attack because it is an imperialistic, aggressive nation. Glick was dismissed from The Factor because he was completely off the wall. Security actually had to take the guy out of the building, he was that out of control."

Click here for complete story.

Actually, O'Reilly seems to be backing off the claim he made with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, that Glick had said that both George Bushes were guilty of "orchestrating" the attacks on 9/11. What O'Reilly says here is more of a "spin" than that outright fabrication.



SouthFlorida.com: Michael Jackson story takes a turn for the bizarre

Us Weekly is vehemently "sticking by" its claim Michael Jackson is to father quadruplets - even though the pop star has denied the allegations.

Yesterday, a statement on Jackson's website Mjjsource.com denied reports an unnamed actress from Florida - who had written to the singer offering her support for his upcoming trial on child molestation charges - had become pregnant with the Thriller star's four children in a surrogacy arrangement.

Click here for complete story.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Ben & Jerry's co-founder inflamed by Bush

The co-founder of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream is on the road, towing a 12-foot-tall effigy of President Bush with fake flames shooting out of the pants.

Ben Cohen believes it is an acceptable way to point out what he calls the president's lies.

Click here for complete story.

Reuters: Linda Rondstadt suddenly hot!

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Pretty much beaming under the flood of publicity she'd been getting in the preceding few days, Linda Ronstadt got a big laugh with the first words out of her mouth: "Seen any good movies lately?" she asked the satisfactory thousands who had come out to hear her sing.

This brought her a standing ovation. Everybody knew she was talking about the furor that ensued when she said a few kind words about Michael Moore and his new movie at a show in Las Vegas and was 86'd by the management, not to mention half that audience.


Click here for complete story.

EXCLUSIVE COMMENTARY! What was Berger thinking?

I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not sure I understand this. According to the article I just read in Reuters, one of the few that wasn't nakedly sensationalistic, Sandy Berger's home and office were searched by the justice department earlier this year. Did he know he was under investigation? And if he did, was he really surprised when the story was leaked at a convenient moment for the Republicans, and played up in the right wing press like a Wagner overture? Jeez Louise, this guy was in the Clinton administration! How could he could he be so blindsided by the ruthlessness of the G.O.P.? If Berger knew, he should have stayed away from the Kerry campaign, and if Kerry knew, he should have been a lot more careful.

There are right-wing websites out there that appear to be printing absolute fabrication, weird-ass theory as unquestioned fact. After months of bad news for Bush, these guys are desperate for a Democratic scandal, and they're working overtime to get their version out in the world ahead of the more prosaic official version. In a piece that was deceptively packaged like a straight news story, the World Net Daily called the Berger story "a blockbuster revelation that may prove to be the most shocking scandal of the Clinton administration." Excuse me? Do we still have a Clinton administration? But you know they had to evoke Clinton's name, as if he was somehow behind the whole thing. I'm waiting for them to drag in Vince Foster.

EXCLUSIVE COMMENTARY: GOP trots out flag amendment in the nick of time!

Recently, the American people have been treated to the slightly confusing spectacle of the Director of Homeland Security announcing the clear possibility of a devestating terrorist attack in America during the next few months, while the President has been on the campaign trail, telling Americans how much safer we all are. To some, Bush's stance may seem disingenuous, or even misleading-- but I don't think that's fair. He probably just doesn't know about the recent threat, that's all. Someone probably put something in his Daily Briefing, but he's a busy guy-- and he's already stated how he hates to ruin his "fresh point of view" by reading a newspaper.

Fortunately, the Republicans in Congress are on the case. This week, they're bringing back the amendment to ban flag desecration. This is urgently needed now, before any American flags are damaged in the upcoming terrorist attack.

But it does beg a few questions. First of all, is there really that much flag buring going on? The only footage I can recall of the flag being burned by Americans was obviously Vietnam era. Secondly, how is it "conservative" to be monkeying with the Constitution on a weekly basis? Finally, if the American flag is a symbol of freedom, doesn't lessening what it stands for do more to demean the American flag than any dumb hippie can ever possibly do with a match and a can of lighter fluid?

Media Matters for America: Ann Coulter scary as ever

In her July 1 column, titled "Saddam In Custody -- Moore, Soros, Dean Still At Large," right-wing pundit Ann Coulter asserted, "[T]he Americanization of Iraq proceeds at an astonishing pace, the Iraqis are taking to freedom like fish to water. ... It's hard to say who's more upset about these developments: the last vestiges of pro-Hussein Baathist resistance in Iraq or John Kerry's campaign manager." Coulter's third paragraph? "The Democrats want Saddam back."



Click here for the complete story.

CNN: Halliburton subpeonaed over Iran ties

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Oil field services company Halliburton Co. received a grand jury subpoena earlier this month seeking information about its Cayman Islands unit, which conducts operations in Iran, the company said Monday.

"In July 2004, Halliburton received from an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas a grand jury subpoena requesting the production of documents. We intend to cooperate with the government's investigation," Halliburton said in a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.


Click here for complete story.

The Guardian: Brits own up to more bad intelligence

Downing Street has admitted to The Observer that repeated claims by Tony Blair that 400,000 bodies had been found in Iraqi mass graves' is untrue, and only about 5,000 corpses have so far been uncovered.

The claims by Blair in November and December of last year, were given widespread credence, quoted by MPs and widely published, including in the introduction to a US government pamphlet on Iraq's mass graves.


Let's pause just a moment to remind ourselves that five thousand corpses is not a good thing... On the other hand, neither is being lied to.

Click here for complete story.

Radio Free Europe: US unlikely to Act on reported Iran link

Speaking with reporters yesterday at the White House, Bush said: "Of course we want to know all the facts. Acting [CIA] Director McLaughlin said there was no direct connection between Iran and the attacks of September the 11th. We will continue to look and see if the Iranians were involved. I have long expressed my concerns about Iran -- after all, it's a totalitarian society."

Bush's statement was one of his toughest remarks on Iran in recent months.


Clike here for complete story.

Monday, July 19, 2004

O'Reilly's Black Box

Last night I followed a link from the Al Franken Show Blog to an internet poll on Bill O'Reilly's site. The question Bill asks those who visit his site: "Who is the most offensive political pundit in the U.S. Today". The choice are as follows: Michael Moore, Stuart Smalley (usually known as Al Franken to those of who don't live in Bill's sad little world), Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and James Carville.

Now, in my opinion, the most offensive political pundit in America is actually Michael Savage-- who wasn't listed, so I went with O'Reilly. I was immediately taken to a page that instructed me to watch Bill's Show, where he will announce the results.

I've been taking bullshit internet polls for four years now, and every single time I entered my response, I was always immediately taken to a page that instantly displayed the current results, but O'Reilly is keeping the results to himself-- to announce when he sees fit. Fortunately, we can trust Bill not to spin the results. It's not like he would actually lie to us.

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Fox News critique goes directly to living rooms

"What people have to realize [is] that going to see 'Fahrenheit 9/11' doesn't mean that you've participated in social change," said Don Hazen, executive director of San Francisco-based progressive news site AlterNet, which co- hosted an early screening of "Outfoxed" Friday in San Francisco; Greenwald is a board member of AlterNet's parent organization, the Independent Media Institute.


Click here for complete story.

I so disagree! The dominance of Republican party politics in America is all about the corporate culture, and nothing is going to influence corporate culture in America more directly than the box office. That's why, when Air America Radio came on the air, the right wing attacks focused not on the quality of its content, but on the idea that it was doomed to failure. When employees at Air America were paid one day late during one pay period, the "story" that they were having problems making payroll was repeated all over, and is still reverberating two months later. When A.A.R. stopped payment on a check to an affiliate whom they claim tried to swindle them, that was reported (misleadingly) as "a bounced check", and repeated often enough that eventually it morphed into a plural: "problems with bounced checks to affiliates." When the ratings came back, and Air America was beating Rush Limbaugh's station in New York-- especially among the coveted 18 to 35 demographic-- O'Reilly first claimed that the Arbitron ratings were a lie personally cooked up by Al Franken (whom, in typical "no-spin" fashion, he compared to Goebbels). When that position became untenable, O'Reilly brought an "expert" onto his show to repeat the "bounced checks" stories one more time, and to explain how Air America's success was a "bump" brought about by all the free positive publicity Air America recieved in the liberal media.

Note the contradiction. Even as he insists that the liberal point of view is doomed to failure in the information marketplace, O'Reilly also likes to insist that the information marketplace is dominated by the liberal point of view! In his owm mind, it probably makes some kind of sense.

Believe it or not, it's a lie. Ever since Air America Radio has gone on the air, I've had a Google news alert in place. This means that just about every time Air America Radio is mentioned on a website, I get an email with a link-- and let me tell you, the coverage of Air America radio, especially before the ratings started coming in, has been starkly, relentlessly, almost monolithically negative. For a while, I was beginning to think I was the only person out there who loved it.

Air America Radio, Fahrenheit 9/11 in the cineplex, and the Outfoxed parties in people's homes are breaking the right-wing corporate stranglehold on the media that the Right has used to create the illusion that liberalism is "not mainstream". This is the myth that President Butch likes to evoke at every stump speech. More Americans voted Democratic than Republican in the last three presidential elections. You'd think that being the majority would at least qualify us for a part of the mainstream.

THE DISPATCH: Obscenity charges dropped against Texas housewife

Webb, a former fifth-grade teacher, started selling erotic toys and other adult products last year. The Passion Parties Inc. consultant hosts what she calls Tupperware-type parties for suburban housewives who feel more comfortable buying marital aids in a private home than at an adult bookstore or on the Internet.

Webb was arrested Nov. 13, about a month after the undercover officers approached her at her husband's business in Burleson, about 10 miles south of Fort Worth, and bought two products. Had she been convicted of violating Texas' obscenity law, she could have been sentenced to a year in jail.


Click here for complete story.

(Texas: It's like a whole 'nother planet!)

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Saving the Henhouse of Democracy

Last night I saw the documentary Outfoxed , a thorough and meticulous deconstruction of how FOX NEWS uses its power to manipulate the news, and deliberately shape the political culture in America. I saw it at one of an estimated 3100 house parties staged across the country by MoveOn.org. I saw most of the movie standing up in a crowded room with no air conditioning, but the party was a great time-- good food, good talk, and people with the good taste to laugh at my Katherine Harris joke. When it was over, I was pleasantly surprised that no one had asked me to make a donation to anything (Other than my time, and my signature to a petition urging legal action against FOX using the sloagan "Fair and Balanced", presumably for false advertising.)

Compared to that other political documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, Outfoxed is certainly less entertaining, but perhaps even more essential. This is a 77 minute seminar in media literacy. Everyone needs to do whatever they have to do to see it. A DVD or VHS copy can be obtained, quite reasonably, here.

The nice thing about owning a copy would be that you could hit the pause button whenever you'd had enough of Bill O'Reilly, or maybe just fast-forward past him if you felt the need. There was a lot of talk last night about boycotts and letter-writing campaigns aimed at the FOX NEWS network-- but if it were up to me, I would have us focus all of our slings and arrows on Bill O'Reilly himself. Outfoxed proves that you can build a persuasive case that Fox News is biased in 77 minutes, but it would only take a minute of film clips to prove conclusively that Bill O'Reilly lies like hell. An organized campaign to pressure FOX NEWS to take O'Reilly off the air by exposing his numerous and well-documented lies could cause Fox a lot embarrassment, because it would force them to defend him, or to not defend him. Would a major news organization actually put itself on record as saying that O'Reilly isn't a habitual liar? It's time to make someone the poster boy for all these shameless blowhards who simply lie at will in the public eye and somehow think that they have impunity because they have the balls to do it. And the best part would be watching him react.

How hard can it be to expose a man who lies outrageously on camera for a living as an outrageous liar? He's Humpty Goddamn Dumpty, and all he needs is a well-timed and well co-ordinated shove.

TIME: 9/11 Commission finds ties between Iran and al Queda

The senior official also told TIME that the report will note that Iranian officials approached the al-Qaeda leadership after the bombing of the USS Cole and proposed a collaborative relationship in future attacks on the U.S., but the offer was turned down by bin Laden because he did not want to alienate his supporters in Saudi Arabia.

The Iran-al Qaeda contacts were discovered and presented to the Commissioners near the end of the bipartisan panel's more than year-long investigation into the sources and origins of the 9/11 attacks. Much of the new information about Iran came from al-Qaeda detainees interrogated by the U.S. government, including captured Yemeni al-Qaeda operative Waleed Mohammed bin Attash, who organized the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, and from as many as 100 separate electronic intelligence intercepts culled by analysts at the NSA. The findings were sent to the White House for review only this week. But Commission members have been hinting for weeks that their report would have some Iran surprises. As the 9/11 Commission's chairman, Thomas Kean, said in June, "We believe....that there were a lot more active contacts, frankly, with Iran and with Pakistan than there were with Iraq."


Click here for complete story

Media Matters: O'Reilly still full of "merde"

This recent assertion marks the third distinct false claim that O'Reilly has made in his attempts to prove that his boycott is making a significant impact on trade between the United States and France. Most recently, in his July 6 letter to the editors of the New York Daily News, O'Reilly wrote, "According to U.S. government figures, in the months following the boycott call, France did $138 million less business with the U.S.A. than it did the previous year." When Media Matters for America debunked this claim, we noted that -- while it was certainly a lie -- it represented a significant retreat from his original April 27 assertion that, as a result of the boycott, France had "lost billions of dollars according to 'The Paris Business Review.'" While using Census trade data to refute that claim, Media Matters for America questioned the existence of any publication called "The Paris Business Review" or something similar. O'Reilly has still declined to address that issue.

Click here for complete story.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

AMERIKANA: Michael Moore hates America!

Coming in Summer 2004! A film by Michael Wilson

"Contrary to its title, Michael Moore Hates America isn’t a hatchet job on the filmmaker. It’s a journey across the nation where we meet celebrities, scholars and average folks alike, and we find out whether the American Dream is still alive! In the process, we’ll look at Michael Moore’s claims about the country, its people, and our way of life."

http://www.michaelmoorehatesamerica.com/

Wow, so he's like... turning the tables? HUH HUH HUH, that's cool, Beavis!

I guess this is supposed to be ironic, but the most ironic thing here is the impression you get that this guy Michael Wilson really wants to be Michael Moore-- except that, presumably, he doesn't hate America. Also, from the picture, he's younger, better looking, and maybe goes to the gym. He sort of looks like Sean Hannity's slightly cooler younger brother. Expect this movie to be as much a slavish imitation as a send-up of Michael Moore's filmmaking.

God told me that this movie is going to suck. He also told me that the critics will lambaste it, and the talking headcases at FOX NEWS will blame its critical failure on the liberal bias of the press. Bill O'Reilly will bring Washington Post film critic Tom Shales onto "The Factor", and then tell him to "SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!!!" before Shales can get a dozen words out about why he hated the movie. Shales will calmly remove his microphone, walk over to O'Reilly, and coldcock the bellicose little prick, breaking his nose. O'Reilly will be so overcome with shock, pain, and humiliation that he will cry on camera like a little girl. FOX NEWS will try to suppress the footage of the sobbing O'Reilly, but within twenty-four hours of appearing on the internet it will be played back on every network and cable news program. (Due to an error in the control room, the television audience will hear Dan Rather's screams of maniacal laughter while the clip is being aired on The CBS Evening News.) O'Reilly will be too ashamed to ever appear in public again-- confounding his critics, who had always considered him to be without shame. O'Reilly will attempt to sue Tom Shalesfor ten million dollars, but Al Franken will appeal to his listeners to contribute to Shales' defense fund, raising enough money to reunite the entire O.J. Simpson "dream team". O'Reilly will eventually settle for 40 thousand dollars, plus court costs. Tom Shales will become a culture hero, America's most influential film critic, and, eventually, a moderate Republican Senator from Rhode Island.

On the other hand, God told Pat Robertson that George Bush would be re-elected in a landslide-- so you may want to consider the source.

AP: Welcome to the tipping point!

WASHINGTON - A majority of Americans now say the United States should have stayed out of Iraq, according to a poll released Friday.

Click here for complete story.

AP: Florida Congresswoman claims 2000 Election "stolen"

WASHINGTON - Think the passions from the 2000 presidential election have cooled? Certainly not in the House, which voted Thursday to strike a Florida representative's words from the record after she said Republicans "stole" that closely fought contest.

The verbal battle broke out after Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., proposed a measure barring any federal official from requesting that the United Nations formally observe the U.S. elections on Nov. 2.

"We welcome America to observe the integrity of our electoral process and we do not ask, though, for the United Nations to come as monitors at our polling stations," Buyer said.

"I come from Florida, where you and others participated in what I call the United States coup d'etat. We need to make sure it doesn't happen again," Brown said. "Over and over again after the election when you stole the election, you came back here and said, 'Get over it.' No, we're not going to get over it. And we want verification from the world."

(If you ask me, this is a classic case of burying the lead. The real story here is G.O.P. efforts to prevent U.N. monitoring. The fact that some Democrats think the 2000 election was rigged is hardly news.)

Click here for complete story.

COMPUTERWORLD: E-Voting apologist blames brouhaha on open source zealots

"It's not about voting machines. It's a religious war about open-source software vs. proprietary software," Miller said in an interview with Computerworld. "If you're a computer scientist and you think that open-source software is the solution to everything because you're a computer scientist and you can spot all flaws, then you hate electronic voting machines. But if you're a person who believes that proprietary software and open-source software can both be reliable, then you don't hate electronic voting machines."

Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, called Miller's characterization "nonsense."

"Every technologist that I have worked with believes that even if we had open-source software, we would still need a paper [audit] trail," said Alexander. "There would be no guarantee that the software that was inspected by the public would be the same software that is running on every machine in every jurisdiction in the country."

Eric Raymond, president of the Open Source Initiative (OSI), a nonprofit organization that promotes standards and criteria for open-source software, said Miller has the issue wrong. "Most [e-voting] critics, including me, aren't focusing on open-source vs. closed-source at all, but rather on the lack of any decent audit trail of votes -- one that can't be corrupted by software. Open-source would be nice for all the real reasons but is less important than the audit trail."

Click here for complete story.

MEDIA MATTERS: John Edwards meets Republican Math

As Media Matters for America previously noted, although National Journal's 2003 vote ratings of senators placed Edwards fourth, that rating was based on only 40 of Edwards's Senate votes during 2003 and is not representative of his more moderate lifetime Senate voting record. In fact, as National Journal congressional reporter Richard E. Cohen pointed out in a July 9 article, Edwards's average National Journal "liberal score" during his five years in the Senate (1999-2003) is 75.7 percent, "a number that puts him in the moderate wing of his party," and is almost 20 points lower than the 2003 rating that Republicans are touting with the help of the conservative media. National Journal's Cohen also noted that in 1999, Edwards's National Journal "liberal score" placed him as the 31st most liberal senator, in 2000, Edwards ranked 19th, in 2001, he ranked 35th, and in 2002, he ranked as the 40th most liberal among all senators -- 15 to 36 spots lower than "the fourth most liberal senator" label that Republicans and the conservative media are pushing. As Cohen wrote, "From 1999 to 2002, Edwards had ranked among the more conservative Democratic senators. In 2002, only 11 of the 50 Senate Democrats voted more conservatively."

Click here for complete story.

Picking up on July 12 where substitute host Mike Gallagher left off on July 8, FOX News Channel co-host Sean Hannity ignored the majority of recent polls when he asserted that "there's no Edwards bounce in the polls." While the majority of recent national polls show Kerry-Edwards '04 leading Bush-Cheney '04 (e.g., a NBC poll, a CBS poll, a Rasmussen Reports poll, a Zogby International poll, and a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll), Hannity cited the only major national poll (Associated Press-Ipsos poll) that placed the Bush-Cheney ticket ahead of Kerry-Edwards.

Click here for complete story.

Friday, July 16, 2004

TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER: Children abused in Iraqi Prisons

Here's a link to a transcript of a German documentary alleging some horrible things about American military prisons in Iraq. I have a hard time beliving it, but people who have seen the documentary in Germany and in other countries are reportedly more convincved. I heard Lizz Winstead say something on "Unfiltered" this morning to the effect of "If this is true, Bush's goose is offically cooked."

And yet, I hope that it isn't true.

Click here.


THE INDEPENDENT: 'Secret Film Shows Iraq Prisoners Sodomized'

Young male prisoners were filmed being sodomized by American soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, according to the journalist who first revealed the abuses there.

Seymour Hersh, who reported on the torture of the prisoners in New Yorker magazine in May, told an audience in San Francisco that "it's worse". But he added that he would reveal the extent of the abuses: "I'm not done reporting on all this," he told a meeting of the American Civil Liberties Union.


Click here for complete story.

LIFE IMITATES BULLSHIT, PART II

Okay, so it looks like The Paris Business Review really exists! Or does it? I suspect that someone else is taking the same joke in a different direction-- only these guys can afford to register a domain-- and they even know French!

"PBR April 31, 2004: We are proud to have been mentioned recently by a misguided American entertainer named Bill O'Reilly, who apparently hosts a television program on a fledgling network called "The Fox News Channel" in the United States. He referenced a recent Paris Business Review article that said France has "lost billions of dollars" because of an American boycott of French products. Of course, that article was meant in jest."

I haven't decided whether to drop the name yet, in spite of the fact that no one else seems to think it's funny. Since no one is actually reading this, that doesn't really matter. A lot depends on whether the "original" Paris Business Review is kept alive by further updates. It may not be a joke after all. I notice that they refer to Bill O'Reilly as "misguided". That kind of understatement strikes me as authentically European.

Anyway, just in case, a hearty bonjour-- and congratulations to our friends accross the ocean at the Paris Business Review. A lot of Americans seem to think that La Belle France is not our true friend, because she opposed the war in Iraq-- but here in the U.S., we have a saying: "Friends don't let friends drive drunk." (I'll bet it sounds better in French.)

I will always think of France as the concerned hostess who tried to take our keys, after we'd had a little too much to drink at the big Globalization Christmas Party, and got an earful of drunken abuse for her troubles. She did it for our own good, and hopefully, we'll appreciate that some day.


REUTERS: Cheney rumors persist

The only Republican of stature to publicly called on Cheney to be dropped was former New York Sen. Alfonse D'Amato who said Bush should use Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain or Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Still, Cheney remains a popular figure to the conservative base, which Bush is counting on to help carry him to victory on Nov. 2.

That has not stopped the whispering, however. The New York Times published a speculative report that Cheney dismissed his personal doctor recently so that he could see a new one who would conveniently tell him in August that his heart problems make him unfit to run.

Click here for complete story.

INDYSTAR: Congressional Dems want U.N. to monitor election

"We are deeply concerned that the right of U.S. citizens to vote in free and fair elections is again in jeopardy," the lawmakers wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

While the request might evoke images of blue-helmeted peacekeepers outside the local library, it won't be granted.

"Generally, the United Nations does not intervene in electoral affairs unless the request comes from a national government or an electoral authority -- not the legislative branch," said U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe

Click here for complete story.

This article is twelve days old; it was originally posted on July 4th.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

THE AL FRANKEN SHOW: Sort of like the young Bill Clinton meeting President Kennedy, only in reverse

The following was painstakingly transcribed by me from the mp3 archives of The Al Franken Show, originally broadcast July 14. The archive can be found at Air America Place. The participants are talk show host Al Franken, his co-host Katherine Lanpher, and two kids from East Lampeter, PA.

Al Franken
And now we're gonna go to East Lampeter, Pennsylvania. We're gonna talk to Ian Long, Adam Stanley, and Brendon McNamara, who are politically active recent high school grads from East Lampeter, and they claim they got a special salute from President Bush, as they held up a protest banner that read "More Trees, Less Bush". Hi guys!

Ian
Ah hey, how's it goin?

Al Franken
Very good. Tell us your story.

Ian
All right, um... we were standing there on the side of the road.

Al Franken
Yes?

Ian
We've got our banner... Adam and I were holding the banner that says "More trees, less Bush".

Al Franken
This is Ian talking?

Ian
Yes, this is Ian... and Brendan's off to the side, and he's got the camera...

Al Franken
Uh-huh.

Ian
And we see the motorcade rollin' through, and we know he was on the second bus, cause we saw him earlier... cause this was on his departure, his way out of where he was campaigning...

Al Franken
Right.

Adam
We were there when he came in, too.

Al Franken
Okay. Gotcha.

Ian
So we knew he was on the second bus, and we're lookin for him, and we see him, and we're all kind of frozen for a second cause, you know, it's the man himself, it's the "W" right there!

Al Franken
Right! (laughs.)

Ian
So he's waving to the people on the other side, it's a lumber company or something, and there's a recognition... like... he sees our banner, and he extends his arm... I thought it was going to be a wave or something, but he instead, gave us the finger.

Al Franken
Flipped you the bird, eh?

Katherine Lanpher (skeptical)
How sure are you?

Al Franken
There was an eyewitness there, right?

Ian
Yeah, we had a guy behind us that saw it.

Al Franken
And he said to you?

Ian
He was like: "I believe you boys just got flipped off by the President of the United States."

Al Franken (Impressed)
What a great... isn't this... this has got to be the biggest event of your life!

Ian
Oh, yeah, so far!

Adam
We were jumpin up and down like freakin football players!

Al Franken
And so, uh, how long did you laugh? Did you laugh for... what?

Ian
Days!

Franken laughs.

Adam
We're still laughing!

Ian
We're still laughing! It was goofy enough to just see him, I mean... seriously! He..

Al Franken
Did he smirk?

Adam
He's there with his little shoulder shake, wavin to the people, all happy... and then he sees our sign!

Ian
He's got that little, that little half smile that he does, so you're not sure what's going on.

Al Franken
So it was more of a confused smile than a smirk?

Ian
I dunno.

Al Franken
A little hard to read?

Ian
It was hard to gauge.

Katherine Lanpher
Do you think this will inspire anyone around you to go out and register?

Ian
It think we're hopin it's swayin some people. Everyone's really excited about it, they think it's really cool that something actually happened in the area.

(And so, a great moment in East Lampeter local history is noted. If anyone wants to take up a collection to erect a statue commemorating the event, be sure and put me down for ten dollars.)

REUTERS: Gitmo detainee alleges torture

"They put me in the interrogation room and used it as a refrigerator. They set the temperature to minus degrees so it was terribly cold and one had to freeze there for many hours -- 12 to 14 hours one had to sit there, chained," he said, adding that he had partially lost the feeling in one foot since then.

Ghezali said he was also deprived of sleep, chained for long periods in painful positions, and exposed to bright flashes of light in a darkened room and loud music and noise.

"They forced me down with chained feet. Then they took away the chains from the hands, pulled the arms under the legs and chained them hard again. I could not move," he said.

After several hours his feet were swollen and his whole body was aching. "The worst was in the back and the legs," he said.

Click here for complete story.

NEW YORK TIMES: Acting intelligence chief says: Don't blame CIA for war

The Senate panel dissected the intelligence behind a National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002. That document included flat assertions that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and was reconstituting its nuclear program, statements that the Senate committee called unfounded and unreasonable.

But to treat the document as a pivotal element in the march to war would be "an oversimplification of the situation,'' Mr. McLaughlin said on CNN, in one of a series of interviews intended to counter the sharp criticism of the agency, adding, "If there wasn't sufficient debate about these issues, it wasn't the fault of the people who prepared this estimate.''


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Okay, so lets recap: in Britain and in the U.S., they're trying to figure out who is to blame for the war, although Bush and Blair are insisting that the war was a good idea. Our government is warning of a huge domestic terror attack that may be brewing, even as Bush is on the campaign trail telling us that we're safer now. After all, the number of terror attacks are down in the world. Oh, wait... they're up! The oversight wasn't intentional. We're just not good at math; we were all English majors in college. Bush's poll numbers just went up in the area of the candidate best able to handle the terrorist threat, no doubt because the subtext of Osama's fiendish plan to disrupt our elections is an implied endorsement for Kerry.

We really have passed through the looking glass. Any day now, the Cheshire Cat's head will be seen floating over Washington.

CHARLESTON GAZETTE: Couple arrested by T-Shirt Police

Police took Nicole and Jeff Rank away in handcuffs from the event, which was billed as a presidential appearance, not a campaign rally. They were wearing T-shirts that read, “Love America, Hate Bush.”

Spectators who wore pro-Bush T-shirts and Bush-Cheney campaign buttons were allowed to stay.

“We weren’t doing anything wrong,” said Jeff Rank. The couple, who said they had tickets just like everybody else, said they simply stood around the Capitol steps with the rest of the spectators.

“We sang the national anthem,” Rank said.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

REUTERS: Gay Marriage Amendment defeated in procedural vote: Civilization promptly collapses.

"We all know what this issue is about," declared Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat. "It's not about how to protect the sanctity of marriage. It's about politics -- an attempt to drive a wedge between one group of citizens and the rest of the country, solely for partisan advantage."

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Bush Allegedly Flips off Kids from Campaign Bus!

I love this story! Heard two of the kids interviewed today on the Franken show, When the archives become available later, I'll transcribe and post an excerpt. There's a rather indistinct photo posted on Wonkette. Unfortunately, it proves nothing.

There's nothing at all about this that is out of character for Bush. I say if three witnesses saw the Prez give the finger to two kids holding up a "MORE TREES, LESS BUSH", sign, that's almost certainly what happened.

FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, TONE IT DOWN A LITTLE, DUDES!

Frequent listeners to Air America Radio will probably know what I mean when I say that nothing sends me lunging for the volume control knob faster than one of those syrupy ads for internet dating service eHarmony.com.

"Before I saw him, I knew he was perfect for me... because of his heart! He loves me... unconditionally! Not only is her heart beautiful... but her outside is beautiful, too!

Congratulations. Really, I'm happy for you. I mean it. I know it's hard to talk about the one you love without resorting to brain-freezing cliches, but if you're aiming at lonely people, you should be aware that at least some of us would rather be led around on a leash by Lynndie English than to be subjected to this kind of discourse, stuff that makes Hallmark look like Mickey Spillane. These ads don't make me want to find "my soulmate". They make me want to slice off my manhood and feed it to the cats.

CNN: McCain calls Same Sex Marriage Amendment "Unrepublican"

"The constitutional amendment we're debating today strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans," McCain said. "It usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them."

Click here for complete story.

I think you could look at this one of two ways. Either McCain is courageously breaking with his party's leadership OR this is part of a co-ordinated GOP campaign to get the Constitutional amendment onto the Senate floor, voted down, and forgotten, ASAP. It's similar statements by Lynne Cheney that make me suspect the latter. It seems to me that a favorite way to soften a GOP candidate's position is to have the candidate's wife publically disagree. Hence, you have Laura Bush describing herself as pro-choice, and back in 2000, Phil Gramm's wife going out on a limb by supporting abortion in cases of rape and incest. You don't think these things happen by accident, do you?

Polls indicate that the constitutional amendment scheme-- while great for energizing Bush's cultural conservative base-- is a big fat loser among the rest of Americans, even those who are uncomfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage. Most significantly, I heard Adam Clymer (the object of Bush's immortal "major league asshole" gaffe, if memory serves) on NPR talking about one poll in particular-- which says that, as a group, swing voters are particularly against the amendment. This puts the R's in a quandry. They can't be seen as backing away from this crazy idea, lest the faithful suspect them of being ideologically impure flip-floppers-- but they also need to get the issue off the table, and fast. And so, even as Osama is said to be planning his next big move, our national attention is focused on a parade of GOP senators playing passionately to the cameras, browbeating us about "the basis of our civilization", which-- for purposes of this discussion-- is marriage, not the constitution. It's going to fail, of course, probably sooner rather than later. I think that's how they're setting it up. After it's over, I don't think you're going to see Bush talking very much at all about The Basis Of Our Civilization.


Belfast Telegraph: Celebrity Cat Fight: Michael Moore vs. Pete Townshend

Moore had wanted to use Townshend's song, 'Won't Get Fooled Again', on the soundtrack to his film which opened in Ireland last weekend. When Townshend refused, Moore accused him of being in favour of the war.

Townshend responds: "I greatly resent being bullied and slurred by him because he didn't get what he wanted from me. It seems that this aspect of his nature is not unlike that of the wilful man at the centre of his documentary."

(Accusing him of being a pedophile is one thing. When you accuse him of being a Bush supporter, you've gone too far!)

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Amerikana: W Ketchup

We're fighting to avoid the obvious "freedom fries" reference. Oops, should have fought harder.

"Choose Heinz and you're supporting Teresa and her husband’s Gulfstream Jet, and liberal causes such as Kerry for President.

When you choose W Ketchup, you also support the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to the children of our brave heroes who have fallen in battle."


Oh, and then we cut combat pay and Veteran's health benefits... Coming soon; Dick Cheney's Dill pickles. Don't like the tart, tangy taste? Well, why don't you just sit on it and rotate?

The website also features a tribute to Ronald Reagan, without mentioning that this was the man who elevated ketchup to its rightful place as a vegetable.


wketchup.com

USA TODAY: Car bomb kills at least eleven near Baghdad

It was the worst attack in the capital since the United States transferred sovereignty to the interim Iraqi government on June 28.

Hours earlier, the Philippines said it had begun withdrawing its troops from Iraq, an apparent bid to placate militants who threatened to kill a Filipino hostage if the tiny contingent was not out by July 20.


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