Thursday, February 10, 2005

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Meanwhile, Back in the War

The war stories of Colby Buzzell, the young soldier from San Francisco whose blog
MY WAR was one of the most candid pictures to emerge from the conflict in Iraq until the OPSEC censors told him to quit writing about his experiences, are now being published in hard copy.


G.P. Putnam's Sons to Publish U.S. Army Soldier and Blogger Colby Buzzell's War Experiences on the Ground in Iraq

Monday January 31, 2:46 pm ET

According to Esquire Magazine: 'The most extraordinary writing yet produced by a soldier of the Iraq war ...'

NEW YORK, Jan. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- G.P. Putnam's Sons is publishing the personal experiences of twenty-eight-year-old U.S. Army soldier Colby Buzzell. His book, My War, will offer uncensored stories that bring home the chilling realities of war. Buzzell's incisive reportage and brutally honest take on the war were first filed as entries in a web log, My War, that he created as a way to tell the world about what was really happening in Iraq. Buzzell's book will delve further into his personal experiences as a 20-something soldier in the line of fire.

Putnam will publish the book in hardcover in fall 2005, with a paperback edition to be published by Berkley in 2006.

Esquire will publish a chapter in its March issue.

Colby advises his parents not to read it.
note to my parents:
if you guys want to keep whatever positive image (if any) of your son in tact, I wouldn't advize picking up the March issue, nor would I brag about it to the neighbors.
The rest of us, on the other hand, should definitely read it.

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"Jeff Gannon" / James Guckert
in a little tax trouble back in Deleware

You know how those conservatives hate to pay taxes.

Billmon picks up the trail of the fake reporter with a fake name from a fake news organziation, and discovers that James D. Guckert, aka Jeff Gannon, owes a bunch of cash to the State of Deleware from back (1996!) taxes.

Going to be even harder to pay that tax bill now that Mr. Guckert is out of a job. Unless that gay military escort thing is working out for him.

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Quote of the Day

From Brad DeLong:
Paul Krugman likes to say that if the White House were to announce tomorrow that the world is flat, our press is so disfunctional that the leads the following day would read "opinions on shape of earth differ."
There it is.

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"Jeff Gannon" and the Plame Affair

timeline and outstanding narrative over at Kos. The White House not only credentialed a fake reporter with a fake name from a fake news organization to toss softballs at press conferences, they used him to keep their propaganda lines on track when the Plame Affair turned ugly for them.
Jeff Gannon was planted by the administration to disseminate their talking points unfettered by any journalism ethics or investigation shortly after the Iraq war, when the failure to find WMDs was becoming apparent. He became incredibly useful in L'Affaire Plame to continue to push the dual stories that a) Plame's name was already common knowledge and therefore `outing' her was not a crime and b) to continue to help discredit the CIA and Wilson.

Based on the evidence, I believe the 2002 CIA memo was leaked to Gannon when Novak became unusable and when the `mainstream' reporters with CIA contacts were not pushing the WH's preferred story line. They needed cover, and they got it.

And as is evidenced by his remarkable access to Scott McClellan and President Bush in the White House press room, to this day, he was rewarded handsomely...

And it continues as business as usual... until today when he became expendable and `resigned' from Talon News.
Go read your American History. UPDATE: Jusiper points out a comment from Joe in DC at Americablog that raises some interesting legal questions:
How the hell could this Gannon/Guckert scandal happen right in front of the White House Press Corps? Seems to me, attending a White House Press Briefing is unlike most other briefings. You don't just show up.

First, you can't even get into the White House complex without a background check and picture identification. So who got the background check? Gannon or Guckert.

Did he tell the Secret Service his real name? If not, how the hell did the Secret Service let someone using a false name get close to the President. That is kinda scary.

And if Gannon/Guckert used a pseudonym to get press credentials, someone in the White House had to know. Under what name did he pass that background check and get White House press credentials? The White House just doesn't hand those things out. Who approved it? And again, who did they approve it for? Gannon or Guckert. And why did he get the credentials? Just to lob softballs.

There has to be documentation of this. Someone filled out the forms for the White House press credentials. Gannon or Guckert? Someone in the White House knows how it happened.

It's hard to imagine someone in the White House did not know about this scam. Whoever arranged this should be fired immediately. And the Secret Service should start an investigation ASAP.

Besides the pure hypocrisy and the ethical implications, there could be some serious legal ramifications.

Someone in the White House press corps knows the process. Maybe one of them can ask some questions.
Of course, Howie the Putz says that anybody can just walk up to the White House and request a Press Corps Day Pass. I'm sure Duncan Black will be getting his ASAP. But heck, why stop there? Digby, Kos, Susie, Billmon, Matt? Hot Damn! Let's all go get one.

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Somebody Knows What He's Talking About
and somebody's making shit up

Josh Marshall:
First the president's view: "The money -- payroll taxes going into the Social Security are spent. They're spent on benefits and they're spent on government programs. There is no trust."

Second, the Greenspan Commission's
view: "The National Commission believes that the investment procedures followed by the trust funds in the past generally have been proper and appropriate. The monies available have generally been invested in Government obligations at interest rates which are equitable to both the trust funds and the General Fund of the Treasury and have not -- as is sometimes alleged -- been spent for purposes outside the Social Security program."

And another interesting passage: "The National Commission believes that changes in the Social Security program should be made only for programatic reasons, and not for purposes of balancing the budget."
We report. You decide.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

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Super Bowl Censorship
NFL Ordered Fox to not run GoDaddy ad 2nd time

It's a small thing. And yet, it says volumes about the downward spiral of American culture. That's right. I'm talking about a Super Bowl ad.

Besides occasionally being a decent football game, the Super Bowl has developed a reputation as a showcase of commercials. Face it, we hope for a good football game. But we've come to expect really great, memorable commercials during the game.

Boy, was this year's batch of commercials a disappointment. Fully 80% of them fell (flat) somewhere between "WTF was that about?" and "They spent five million bucks on that? Got to be a shit load of ad executives shopping the résumés around come Monday."

There was one notable exception -- the absolutely hilarious ad by GoDaddy. In case you missed it, the ad featured a rather buxom young woman appearing before some sort of broadcast censorship board. The censorship board looks like a cross between the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the Salem Witch Trials.

The young woman is testifying that she wants to be in a commercial. During her testimony a strap on her tank top malfunctions and she spends much of the rest of her testimony trying to, well, keep herself stuffed back in. Meanwhile, the committee members are aghast. One is seen reaching for his oxygen mask.

It was, to say the least, a rolling on the floor laughing my ass off moment!

Now we learn that the NFL ordered Fox to not run the ad a second time. Understandably, GoDaddy is pissed. The company, which sells web hosting and domain names, wants it's money back from Fox.
The Arizona Republic quoted GoDaddy Chief Operating Officer Warren Adelman:
"At the very least we want our money back," he said, noting the company is working to come up with a damages figure to present to Fox. GoDaddy hopes to be able to settle the dispute out of court but will sue, if necessary.

[. . .]

"They repeatedly cut to the (Philadelphia) Eagles cheerleaders, who were more scantily clad than our GoDaddy girl in a T-shirt," Adelman said. He noted that an ad for Tabasco sauce featured a girl in a bikini and asked, "How wholesome is it to go on about the long-lasting benefits of an erectile-dysfunction drug (Cialis)?" Fox says it decided to pull the second ad because it became apparent after the first spot was aired that its content was "very much out of step" with the tenor set by the other ads and programming.
Yes indeed. It was out of step because if was very good. It was ROTFLMAO hilarious.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have used GoDaddy's web hosting and domain name services. I recommend them.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

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Destroying Social Security
is hard work

Looks like Bush learned a new buzz word from some pencil dick in Bolton's office. So armed with terms like "cost drivers" he thinks he knows enough to stand up in front of people and discuss reforming Social Security.

The results were
predictably tragic:

THE PRESIDENT: Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised.

Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

Okay, better? I'll keep working on it.

As Kos says: Bush has no clue what he's talking about.

Four more years of this shit. Don't know if I should laugh or cry. Hat tips to
Duncan and Digby.


Monday, February 07, 2005

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Why Does Bush Hate Veterans?

I've written elsewhere that conservatives don't much care for veterans. We not only remind them that they are, for the most part, chickenhawks, that is, little war mongers who found it too inconvenient to actually serve their country. We are also a thorn in their side when it comes to slashing entitlement programs.

Conservatives love the military when they need someone to fight their dirty little wars of conquest (making the world safe for Haliburton).

But when we come home, scarred and broken, well . . . tough shit, GI. We're going to have to cut money from veterans' programs. After all, the President needs to lower the deficit. And we still have that big war to fight.

So co-pays are going up for your prescriptions. And there's going to be a $250 enrollment fee if you want to go the Veterans' Hospital.

But the President understands your pain. He was in the Texas Air National Guard for a while, you know. At least until going to those weekend drills every month became sort of, you know, inconvenient.

And hey, we really appreciate your service to your country. Honest. But now that you're been discharged, well, don't expect anything from the governemt. I mean, there's a war on, you know -- the global war on terror. Maybe you've heard of it. So we've got to set our priorities accordingly. Consequently there'll be a few cuts to veterans' services (and education, and housing, and law enforcement).

The President has his priorities, you know.


Sunday, February 06, 2005

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"We Say Whatever Karl Rove Says
the polls tell us to say"

Mark Kleiman catches Bush and his lackeys doing the double shuffle on what they are calling their plan to destroy Social Security this week. He quotes from The Progress Report:
PRIVATE LIES: As part of the effort to sell his plan, President Bush, who doesn't like to "fine-tune [his] messages based upon polls," has begun referring only to "personal accounts," because it "polls better than the phrase 'private accounts.'" Yesterday, during "Ask the White House" with Treasury Secretary John Snow, Jim from Colorado Springs took a ThinkProgress reader's advice and asked, "What is the difference between the personal account now proposed by President Bush and private accounts he was talking about a month ago?" Snow responded, "The President has always referred to personal accounts, but some often mischaracterize them as 'private accounts.'" By Snow's analysis, Bush and his top aides have "mischaracterized" the president's plan several times. Here's our favorite, via Talking Points Memo, from a Bush-Cheney '04 rally last September: "I believe younger workers ought to be able to take some of their own money, set aside a personal savings account that will help Social Security fulfill its promise, a private account that they can call their own, a private account they can pass on to the next generation and a private account that Government can't take away."
Kleiman wonders how we're supposed to keep up with an Administration that keeps changing its story:
What's really scary is not so much that we're ruled by such a bunch of shameless liars, but that we're ruled by a bunch of shameless liars who clearly believe -- correctly, to date -- that they can get away with this sort of crap.

So what's an "objective" journalist to do? I suggest what might be called the "Prince principle": refer to "the separate accounts which the White House previously called 'private accounts' but is now calling 'personal accounts'."
I would also recommend referring to Bush as "the former governor of Texas" since calling a dangerous idiot "the President of the United States" certainly besmirches the country I love.

Oh, and in case you missed it, the administration now says that the former governor of Texas' plan to gut Social Security won't do anything to fix the problem:

In a significant shift in his rationale for the accounts, Bush dropped his claim that they would help solve Social Security's fiscal problems — a link he sometimes made during last year's presidential campaign. Instead, he said the individual accounts were desirable because they would be "a better deal," providing workers what he said would be a higher rate of return and "greater security in retirement."

A Bush aide, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity, was more explicit, saying that the individual accounts would do nothing to solve the system's long-term financial problems.

That candid analysis, although widely shared by economists, distressed some Republicans.

"Oh, my God," one GOP political strategist said when he learned of the shift in rhetoric. "The White House has made a lot of Republicans walk the plank on this. Now it sounds as if they are sawing off the board."
No mention of whether the Values Nazis have talked with that GOP strategist about using the Lord's name in vain. Maybe they're too busy burning books.

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A Sacrifice Unshared

Pro-War writer
Jonah Goldberg says his sorry ass isn't in the kill zone in Iraq, because, well, it wouldn't be convenient right now. You know, there's the family, the lost income, and heck, he's in his 30s after all (personal note: I went to Jump School when I was 30, and made my last jump at age 39).

My fellow Army veteran Markos Moulitsas Zúniga provides the
perfect perspective on Goldberg's lame excuse:
Here's the deal -- a war is worth fighting if you would sacrifice everything you hold dear to fight it.

A war is not worth fighting if you'd rather maintain your cushy lifestyle and let others do the dying for you, let other families lose their mothers and fathers and spouses and children.

It's that simple. The 101st Fighting Keyboards and their brethren in the Republican Corporate Media fail this very easy test of the sincerity of their convictions.
Chickenhawks, whether in the Pentagon or writing a blog, simply have no business sending other people's sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, off to fight their dirty little wars of conquest. Goldberg reminds us why the "Chicken" is in Chickenhawk.


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