Thursday, March 31, 2005

Bush Resigns, Admits to Stealing Election

Associated Press

April 1, 2005

WASHINGTON -- In a stunning turn of events, President George W. Bush has resigned the office of President, effectively immediately. He is only the second president to leave office voluntarily, and the first to resign since Richard Nixon vacated the post on August 8, 1974.

His resignation comes amidst revelations that the Republicans actually lost the November election by more than 5 million votes.

“Yep, we stole it,” the President remarked. “Both times. Frankly, we’re kind of amazed it took you this long to find out.”

Before he resigned, President Bush issued a series of sweeping executive orders that nullified the Patriot Act, restored the protected status of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and affirmed support for the Kyoto treaty on global warming.

In a brief farewell address, Bush informed the richest 1 percent of America that the country was in debt up to its eyeballs and they’d have to pay back all those tax cuts. He apologized for lying about weapons of mass destruction, making America the laughingstock of the industrialized world, and allowing a small cadre of fundamentalist bigots to set policy for the entire country.

“You know, I’m not even that religious,” the former president said, smoking a Pall Mall and tipping back a high ball. “Oooh doggie, it feels good to be a civilian again.”

Vice President Dick Cheney did not attend the press conference. He was last seen heading for the Badlands of western Wyoming, where he is believed to be holed up with a small group of former Enron employees and a large cache of ammunition.

In a brief ceremony on the White House lawn, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry was sworn in as chief executive. He pledged to drone on in a relentless monotone until people got sick of listening to him.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Schindlers Turn to Cochran for Help

Associated Press

March 30, 2005

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. -- In a last ditch effort to save their daughter, Bob and Mary Schindler have hired famed defense attorney Johnny Cochran to plead for Terri Schiavo’s life before the Supreme Court.

The Schindlers seemed unfazed by the news that Cochran had died two days earlier of an inoperable brain tumor.

“No one understands the sanctity of life better than the recently deceased,” Bob Schindler declared in a written statement. “We’re pleased and honored to have such a distinguished barrister on our side.”

Cochran first rose to national prominence in the OJ Simpson trial, where he proved that with enough money and some clever rhymes even an obviously guilty man can be acquitted.

Experts in the direct mail industry praised the move.

“With Cochran’s name recognition, we’ll be able to raise our response rates by 2 or 3 percent,” said one marketer who declined to be named. “That will bring our fundraising capabilities to a whole new level.”

Schindler said Cochran had already been hooked up to a feeding tube, respirator, defibrillator, and dialysis machine, and had begun to show signs of rallying.

When asked for comment, a subdued Cochran was reported to mutter, “If she breathes, they must reprieve.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Behind Enemy Lines

Some people procrastinate by online shopping or obsessively checking their email. Me, I troll right-wing blogs. At least, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last couple of days. This was not my original intention. I was actually chasing down links from Google News about Tom Delay’s family decision to pull the plug on his comatose dad. (A position I wholly support—I’d pull the plug on my father too, and he’s not even in a coma.) Which is how I ended up on, where there were many posts about Delay+Schiavo, most of them of the ‘he’s bad PR for us’ variety.

After a half hour of trolling, I felt an overpowering urge for an acid dip. Remember that scene in the movie Silkwood where the guys in hazmat suits scrub down Meryl Streep after she’s been exposed to radioactive waste? That’s what I needed.

Still, I couldn’t help myself. I signed up for the site and posted my “I’m Brain Dead and I Vote” blog entry on Redstate, only I changed the title to “New Revelations In Schiavo Case.” It appeared almost immediately as a link on the site’s home page. About one minute later I got a comment which read, simply, “Have you no shame?”

I responded: “Glad you asked. ‘Have you no shame?’ is precisely the question I would put to Tom Delay, Bill Frist, George W. Bush, and anyone else who has made political hay out of a family’s tragedy.”

Within two hours my post had been pulled from the site and I could no longer log back in. So that was the first time I got banned from

Not to be deterred, I created a new identity and posted my “Bushes Battle Over Bulge” story under the title “New Battle Brewing Over Right to Life”. That led to banishment number two.

It turned into a kind of sport. Just how quickly could I be banned? So I created a third identity and posted the following:

A Survey

Hi, I’m taking an informal survey and I was hoping to get your help. It’s really short—just a single question.

Tom Delay’s strong public stance in the Schiavo case (coupled with his own family’s willingness to pull the plug) is an example of:

a) raging, over-the-top hypocrisy
b) a gross violation of the basic precepts of federalism
c) a mind-bendingly stupid political maneuver
d) brain-dead pandering to the religious right
e) Republicanism at its finest

I then posted two more entries. As of this moment, some 12 hours later, all three posts are live. One has inspired a lively discussion about the future of the Republican party. Nobody seems to have noticed that the last two posts were excerpts from’s own mission statement.

For the record, here are Redstate’s rules on appropriate posts:

“Banning for ideological reasons will take place only in the cases of fundamentally anti-American ideologies. Nazis, Islamists, Communists and racists are unwelcome at Any other person of basic good sense and goodwill, regardless of party, is welcome to participate and hopefully come around to the ideals of Republicanism.”

Hmm. Doesn’t look like I broke any of those rules. And it seems they want to convert me from my evil liberal ways. Fair enough, I could use a little vacation from rational thought. Cheaper than a lobotomy.

But then I read further. This post had an addendum, dated two days later (all italics are in the original):

“A little clarification is in order. Pursuant to the Mission Statement, this site is explicitly meant to serve as a conservative and Republican community. Postings, comments, etc., contrary to this purpose fall under the rubric of "disruptive behavior" and will result in banning. You may or may not get a warning -- it depends on how harried the moderators are. If you are coming from a non-conservative, non-Republican context, you are still welcome here, but you must respect the site's stated purpose.”

Ah yes, the old ‘disruptive behavior’ trick—and I fell for it. Apparently the conversion process wasn’t going as well as they’d hoped, so they decided to make blog posters sign a loyalty oath. Besides, who needs that musty old 1st Amendment? It just gets in the way of the right to bear arms, the only amendment that really counts.

About a month after the original rules appeared, it apparently occurred to someone that banning “Islamists” might be considered a little racist (those of you who were paying attention will remember that racism is against Redstate’s rules). So they posted this “clarification”:

“There is confusion over the term "Islamist," and we owe it to readers to clarify. First and foremost, we do not mean to bar Muslims per se. Rather, we mean the folks adhering to the violent and oppressive manifestations of the ideology described by that most neutral of sources, Wikipedia.

Actually, the Wikipedia definition draws a careful distinction between terrorists and other Islamists who seek to install a fundamentalist state through the political process—not unlike Bush Republicans. But what Redstate really meant by not barring ‘Muslims per se’ was not barring Republican Muslims. All two of them. Any other Muslims should just pack their prayer rugs and get ready to be shipped to Guantanamo or Syria.

Hey it’s their blog, they can do what they want. What’s interesting to me is how many Redstaters seem to be just as disgusted with the Bushzis as I am, though their reasons are quite different. Maybe there is hope for us yet. Or maybe they’re just longing for someone even worse.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

I’m Brain Dead and I Vote

Associated Press

March 25, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The Republicans’ all-out-effort to save Terri Schiavo may have been driven as much by electoral politics as by a valiant attempt to save one woman’s life, sources speculate.

A CNN/Gallup poll of the more than 30,000 Americans diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state has revealed that over 97% of them voted for Bush- Cheney in 2004.

According to Federal Election Commission records, the RNC spent more than $4.1 million in get-out-the-vote efforts aimed at coma victims, largely on rental fees for ambulances, gurneys, and wheelchairs, as well as notary fees for durable powers-of-attorney.

Many brain-dead Bush supporters were brought out of their hospital beds to attend GOP rallies in the key swing states of Ohio and Florida.

“The hardest part was getting them to sign loyalty oaths,” said one Bush volunteer. “We had to duct tape the pens to their hands and trace the letters for them.”

RNC chairman Ken Mehlman says the party is willing to go all out to keep these people alive through the mid-term elections in 2006, if not the next presidential contest in 2008.

Terri Schiavo was just the beginning,” Mehlman said. “We are fully prepared to pass 30,000 new laws to protect these brave Americans’ right to vote—and to live, of course.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Let Us Now Praise Old Jewish Men

This just kills me.

Jeff (Jim) Gannon (Guckert), apparently starved for media attention despite his claims of persecution at the hands of liberal bloggers, deigned to grant an interview to the New York Times a couple of days ago. It is not to be missed.

Here’s my favorite part:

NY Times: Scott McClellan, the press secretary to President Bush, called on you and allowed you to ask questions on a nearly daily basis. What, exactly, is your relationship with him?

I was just another guy in the press room. Did I try to curry favor with him? Sure. When he got married, I left a wedding card for him in the press office. People are saying this proves there is some link. But as Einstein said, "Sometimes a wedding card is just a wedding card.''

NY Times: You mean like "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar''? That wasn't Einstein. That was Freud.

Oh, Freud. O.K. I got my old Jewish men confused.

NY Times: You should learn the difference between them if you want to work in journalism.

Damn straight. God knows we need more male prostitutes in the journalism racket, if only to balance out raging sluts like Ann Coulter and Maggie Gallagher.

So to help Jeff (Jim) out, here’s my Pocket Guide to Old Jewish Men:

Moses: Robes, long beard, messianic complex. Tended to get lost for 40 years at a stretch. Last seen carrying two stone tablets toward a burning bush. Looks a lot like Charlton Heston. Not to be confused with Moses Malone, who averaged 21 points per game in a 20-year NBA career.

Jesus H. Christ: Not old by today’s standards, but back then 33 was pushing it. Messianic complex. Tended to bleed in strange places. Continues to be a big hit with Christian Caucasians, though he was neither. Looks only slightly like Charlton Heston.

Bob Dylan: Actual name, Robert Zimmerman. Singer. Wears eyeliner. Messianic complex. Can’t really carry a tune, but plays a mean harmonica. Doesn’t look a thing like Charlton Heston.

All other Old Jewish Men are pretty much a variation on one of these three, so if you memorize this trio you’re all set. Bet you didn’t realize being a journalist could be so easy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Bushes Battle Over Bulge

March 22, 2005

Associated Press

WASHINGTON, DC -- As Terri Schiavo waits for a Federal judge to decide her fate, a far more intense battle over the right-to-life is brewing inside the Oval Office. The First Family and presidential advisors are engaged in a fierce disagreement over whether to remove the tube that feeds President Bush’s brain.

In a startling revelation, Texas Monthly has reported that then-Citizen Bush suffered a severe stroke in 1993 caused by alcohol poisoning. In a radical life-saving procedure, neurosurgeons at the University of Texas Medical Center inserted a tube at the base of Mr. Bush’s skull. A wire inside the tube feeds minute amounts of electrical current to his cerebellum, controlling essential motor functions.

The device was first spotted in public at a presidential debate in October 2004. The mysterious bulge on President Bush’s back was variously dismissed as bad tailoring, a bullet-proof vest, or a colostomy bag that had shifted during a flight on Air Force One.

First Lady Laura Bush believes that removing the tube could help the President lead a more normal life. In private, Mrs. Bush has remarked that her husband cannot go to the bathroom without consulting Karl Rove. Bush’s political advisors insist on their right to control the destiny of the man they rescued from a failed business career to become the most powerful human on the planet.

A senior White House official, speaking on conditions of anonymity, declared that right-to-life issues were crucial to the success of the second Bush Administration.

“This is more important than the insurgency in Iraq, the growth of the Federal deficit, taxpayer-funded propaganda, the scavenging of natural preserves for oil, and the attempt to kill Social Security,” the official said. “Fortunately for us, nobody is paying attention to any of that.”

Monday, March 21, 2005

A Republican Guide to the Sanctity of Life

After an extraordinary late-night Congressional session, President George W. Bush signed a bill allowing Federal judges to review Terri Schiavo's right-to-life case.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) insisted that individuals can continue to lead vibrant, productive lives after entering a persistent vegetative state. He cited the example of Senator Strom Thurmond, who entered a vegetative state in 1978 but continued to serve another 25 years in Congress.

"Among the God-given gifts protected by the Constitution, no right is more sacred than the right to life," declared Sensenbrenner. "In our deeds and public actions, we must build a culture of life that welcomes and defends all human life."

In a news conference following the vote, Republican Party officials explained that while all life is sacred, some lives are more sacred than others. The precise amount of sanctity each life contains depends on a complex formula involving religious affiliation, lifestyle choices, and voter registration records. To eliminate confusion, the RNC has issued a chart:

MORE SACRED: Unborn Babies
LESS SACRED: Welfare Babies

MORE SACRED: Occupants of terminal wards in hospitals
LESS SACRED: Occupants of death row

MORE SACRED: Innocent civilians tortured, maimed, or killed by Saddam Hussein
LESS SACRED: Innocent civilians tortured, maimed, or killed by Americans

MORE SACRED: Insurance and pharmaceutical executives
LESS SACRED: Victims of Asbestos, Dioxin, Vioxx, and other deadly chemicals

MORE SACRED: Americans with annual incomes in excess of $1 million a year
LESS SACRED: George Soros

MORE SACRED: Christians

The RNC plans to reproduce the chart on laminated 3-by-5-inch cards and distribute them to police, US occupation forces, and the handful of Federal judges who haven't been appointed by Republican administrations.

"There are bigger issues at stake than merely Terri Schiavo's life," said a party spokesperson. "We're talking about the political lives of Republican representatives all over the country. We cannot allow someone's personal tragedy or our traditional support for a smaller Federal government stand in the way of scoring political points."

Friday, March 18, 2005

White House Creates New Agency

March 18, 2005

Associated Press

WASHINGTON: In what it dubbed as a cost-cutting move, designed to keep our economy moving forward while winning the war on terrorism, the White House has announced plans to dismantle the Department of Education and replace with it a new, more streamlined organization. The reorganized agency will come under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security and be known under a new name, the Ministry of Propaganda.

President Bush has nominated leggy right-wing columnist Ann Coulter to head up the new agency.

Officials from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office immediately condemned the move. “This is a flagrant violation of Federal statutes prohibiting the dissemination of propaganda,” said David Walker, GAO comptroller.

Following Walker’s remarks, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a statement describing the GAO as a “quaint institution created by liberals out of touch with the mainstream,” and declaring that it had “outlived its usefulness.” If contacted by the GAO, Federal employees have been instructed to “tell them to kiss our lily-white asses.”

Later the same day Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s office issued a clarification, declaring that GAO officials were also entitled to kiss her coffee-with-a-dollop-of-cream ass.

To address public concerns over the new agency, the White House also announced the creation of an Office of Citizen Complaints. President Bush has appointed Florida citizen Terri Schiavo to be its first director. Administration officials stated that Ms. Schiavo would continue to serve in this capacity regardless of whether her feeding tube has been removed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Forgive Me Father, For I Have Sinned

In a surprising turn of events, it seems I am in the running for a Federal judgeship. I’m still not sure how it happened, but apparently the Bush administration has finally scraped the bottom of the cracker barrel. Every remaining backwoods yokel, closet segregationist, fossil fuels lobbyist, and right-wing troglodyte is too busy hosting a radio talk show.

So that leaves me. I’m not really worried about the confirmation hearings. I know I’ve got Dick “Nuclear Option” Cheney watching my back. It’s the blogs I’m worried about. Though I’ve lead a relatively clean life with few indiscretions, facing the blogosphere is like jumping into a swimming pool full of piranhas with pork chops in your pockets.

The only thing to do is launch a pre-emptive strike and admit my sins before I’m pilloried by the pajamadeen. So here they are:

  • I have stockpiled enough prescriptions for OxyContin to supply a small chain of pharmacies. I know 12,000 scrips over four months sounds like a lot, but if you had my back problems you’d understand.

  • I have required female employees to demonstrate their ability to handle a loofah in extremely slippery conditions. How can you expect someone to achieve excellence if they can’t properly exfoliate?

  • I lost $8 million playing blackjack while writing best-selling books about moral virtues. Like the virtue of doubling down when the dealer’s showing a deuce and you’ve got paint in the pocket. Someone’s got to teach these values to our kids.

  • I divorced my wife while she lay in a hospital being treated for cancer, then dumped my second wife after she’d been diagnosed with MS. Both times I immediately took up with a much younger woman whom I’d been banging on the side. Well, OK, I didn’t actually do this. But it sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

  • I lied to get my country into a war that has cost thousands of lives and will likely never end; allowed my good friends and former business partners to make billions in war profits; and instructed my minions to lock up, detain, and torture innocent people in the name of freedom. Is this a great country, or what?

But I am happy to say that this is all behind me now. I have accepted Jesus as my personal savior. I am born again. And I shall be honored to sit in judgment upon my fellow man. Thank God for Family Values!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Blogs For Sale

First came the news that the John Thune campaign paid thousands of dollars to South Dakota bloggers to smear Tom Daschle, in an effort to influence local news coverage. (It worked.) Now Online Journalism Review reports that ordinary bloggers are being paid to place product advertisements directly inside their blogs:

A company called Marqui paid a select group of bloggers to mention it once per week. One payee, Jack Bogdanski, does it like so: "It's time for our weekly Marqui post. Marqui is the software company that's paying me and some others to mention them and link to their product demo once a week on our blogs. For that, they pay us good money. And we can say whatever we want about them." Some pundits call into question the ethics of the arrangement while the bloggers bristle at the suggestion of paid influence as they pocket the $800 a month.”

Personally, I am outraged. I think bloggers who’d take payment for subliminal product advertisements need medication…. like PROLAXA™. With PROLAXA™ all those nasty ethical conflicts melt away, along with much of your short-term memory. I should know, because I use PROLAXA™ every day.

(Not intended for use by children or adults. Prolonged use may result in headaches, dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, incontinence, suicide, or spontaneous combustion. If any of these symptoms appear, please consult your physician.)

But the worst abuse of blogger payments is in the political arena. The Viciously Offensive Tactic of Eviscerating a candidate for pay is the work of Hateful, Ignorant Lilly-Livered Antisocial Republican Yahoos. What’s even worse is when bloggers hide subliminal messages disguised as Web hyperlinks. I really hate that.

Sure, blogging is hard work--all those minutes spent slaving over a hot keyboard, typing and linking. I can understand the desire to cash in. But if you’re going to be for sale, be upfront about it. Put on your leather thong and your fishnet stockings and stand on a street corner like any other whore. I know it works for me (900-WITLIST; rates negotiable, discretion assured).

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Think Stupid

Today I'm taking a break from torture, journalist prostitutes, and self-righteous racists to put on my geek hat for a spell.

Apple is suing three rumor sites -- O'Grady's PowerPage, Apple Insider, and Think Secret -- alleging that these sites have harmed the company by revealing trade secrets to the public.
PowerPage and Apple Insider published rumors about Asteroid, a possible Apple product for musicians. Think Secret published news of Apple's new 'headless' Mac two weeks prior to its announcement last January at MacWorld; the site also revealed news of the iPod before it appeared.

For these crimes, Apple has hauled the sites into court and is trying to force them to reveal where they got this information. The sites, which are run on a shoestring (Think Secret's staff consists of one person, Nicholas Ciarelli, a 19-year-old Harvard freshman), are hoping to rely on the slim privilege accorded (some) journalists that protects them from revealing their sources.

It's a nasty bit of business, very much like the Judith Miller-Matt Cooper fiasco in the Valerie Plame affair. Apple has gotten slapped around in the press for it, and rightly so.

The questions I'd like to ask are: What secrets? Secret from whom? And what grave damage has befallen Apple as a result of these disclosures?

It's not like these sites are publishing the secret formula for Flubber. There are no blueprints being divulged; no one's taking Apple prototypes apart piece by piece and publishing photos of every circuit board, the way some Palm-obsessed sites have done. There's no information being released that would give any advantage to Apple's competitors.

A product manager from a company that makes portable music players once told me quite matter of factly about what the new iPod was going to look like, three months before Apple announced it. It wasn't like he was sharing some big secret. He knew about it because he was in the same business. There are exactly two companies that make hard drives small enough to fit into MP3 players, and everybody uses them. You want them to build you a million drives, they need a little notice. So the word gets out. It's no secret.

Yet, Apple cultivates a culture of secrecy. It is one of the rare companies in the tech field that does not disclose products to journalists before they're announced to the public. Most firms will make you sign Non-Disclosure Agreements where you agree to embargo the information until a certain day and time. It's the only way long-lead monthly magazines can compete with weeklies, dailies, and the Internet. Not Apple. They're above all that. They're a total pain in the ass about it.

Last fall I wrote a blurb about one of their notebooks that I knew was overdue for an upgrade. I must have asked their PR droids four times if and when the upgrade was coming -- sorry, can't help you. Then Apple announced the new iBook, the day my story about the old one hit the newsstands.

What does this have to do with the lawsuits? Everything. These rumor sites exist precisely because Apple shrouds its products in secrecy. Do you see a DellSecrets Web site? GatewayInsider? HP PowerPage? No. Because a) there are plenty of places where you can get information about these companies, and b) they're dull as dirt.

And guess what? Because the only information about upcoming Apple products is coming from places like Think Secret and Apple Insider, anything they publish becomes news. If Apple churned out a press release about their new ButtPod ("trims inches from your heinie as you surf the Net") they'd get decent coverage in the trade press and some of the newspaper tech columns. When word of the ButtPod starts swirling around the rumor sites, however, it's front page news. It gets a lot more play, generates a lot more buzz. In other words, it serves Apple's purposes to let this news leak out from rumor sites. When you command only 3% of the market for personal computers, you need all the buzz you can get.

Yet Apple is trying to intimidate these sites into silence -- telling them to either shut up or get shut down. It's also trying to intimidate the leakers, who are most likely beta testers or other folks not employed by Apple Inc. It's an incredibly short-sighted strategy that will hurt them in the long run, yet they plod ahead, tossing lawyers like hand grenades at their most rabid fans.

It inspires a new advertising slogan. "Apple: The New RIAA." Kinda catchy, don't you think?

Monday, March 07, 2005

White House Clarifies Torture Policies

Today the White House clarified its stance on rendition, the practice in which the Central Intelligence Agency deported suspected terrorists to nations known to have engaged in torture.

“We did not hand over suspects to foreign nations to be tortured,” said White House spokesperson Scott McClellan. “And if we did, they certainly deserved it.”

McClelland’s statement followed a report in the New York Times, which alleged the CIA has been exporting terror suspects to Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria, all of which are well known for their torture of prisoners and political dissidents.

“We do not condone torture, though we do practice it,” he added. “But only when we feel it is absolutely necessary to help us win the war on terror, or when our boys in the field need to blow off a little steam.”

McClelland then corrected himself. “I meant to say ‘our young men and women.’ I mean no disrespect to the valiant women who serve in our armed forces, many of whom are asked to don elaborate dominatrix uniforms while humiliating terror suspects.”

For the first time, the White House clarified what constitutes a terror suspect. Though McClelland said the rules were quite complex, they did generally include frequent purchasers of Pita Pocket sandwiches and anyone wearing traditional Arab dress, which may also include individuals wearing a bath towel at the time of their arrest.

McClelland stressed, however, that the agency took extreme care to ensure that the list of suspects did not mistakenly include members of the Saudi royal family or anyone associated with the Carlyle Group.

In an effort to lighten the mood, McClellan ended the brief press conference with a song. “Now I’d like to practice my rendition of ‘Midnight at the Oasis,’ said McClellan, turning to a karaoke machine and cranking up Maria Muldaur’s 1974 hit.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The War on Journalists

What follows is an amateurish rant. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Eason Jordan resigned from his job as CNN’s chief news executive because he (apparently) said that the US military was targeting journalists. Shock and cries of moral outrage followed his statement. (Though, interestingly, shock and moral outrage did not follow the actual deaths of a dozen journalists in Iraq.)

The problem is, Jordan was right. Metaphorically if not literally, journalists are in the crosshairs of the Bush administration. Nearly every day we find new examples of the Bushzi’s strategy to manipulate, intimidate, bribe, slander, and, when necessary, kill members of the media. Let’s take a gander at some of the more egregious examples.

Criminal prosecution: Reporters Matt Cooper (Time) and Judith Miller (NY Times) may be wearing orange jumpsuits for the next 18 months because they refuse to name the Bush officials who leaked the news Valerie Plame was a spook. Meanwhile, Bush-friendly Robert Novak—the one person in this whole mess that we know got handed the leak--continues to be a free man, seemingly untouched by any investigation. If he has spilled the beans, why prosecute Cooper & Miller? If he hasn’t, why isn’t Novak facing jail time? This investigation has been turned 180 degrees; the targets are unfriendly reporters, not the officials who may have committed a felony by revealing the name of an active CIA agent.

Let’s not forget that this whole affair started as a newspaper article. The Valerie Plame outing was retribution for an op-ed, written by her husband Joseph Wilson and published in the New York Times, that accused the Bushzis of using a false nuclear threat to sell the war in Iraq.

Punish the wicked: So now the Bush proxies and right-wing bloglodytes are attacking Helen Thomas--and not just the “old Arab” slur by that sack of offal with legs. In the topsy-turvy dog-shit-is-caviar world of the Republicans, Jeff “Bulldog” Gannon’s sycophantic ass kissing is somehow justified by Helen Thomas’s hard-nosed questions. Never mind that she’s been asking tough questions of all presidents, including Democrats, since the early 1960s. Never mind that the woman has never lobbed up a big fat juicy one in her entire career. In the bloglodyte spin, they’re all ‘partisan’.

Meanwhile, they’re trying to paint Maureen Dowd as a drunk. You can see it creep though the blogs like well-orchestrated whispering campaign. This is the script. What’s next--Frank Rich, child molester? Michael Moore, closet vegetarian?

Reward the faithful: We all know there’s more than one whore in the White House press corps. The payments to Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher, and Michael McManus make up a tiny fraction of the $250 million of taxpayer money the Bushzis shelled out for PR during their first four years. This ‘coalition of the shilling’ has benefitted handsomely from lip-synching to W’s tune (Ashlee Simpson could take lessons). Who else has been a good little reporter this year? I’ll bet Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly find something nice under the tree next Xmas.

About those bullets: Jordan was hardly the first journalist to levy the charge that the US military was taking potshots at reporters. On April 8, 2003, US forces fired a rocket into Al Jazeera headquarters, killing one reporter. Later that day a US tank fired a shell at the Palestine Hotel, killing two Reuters cameramen. Scores of witnesses refute the US claim that they were receiving enemy fire from both locations. There are other examples.

Intentional? No one will ever be able to prove that somebody said ‘let’s kill a few reporters.’ But the message is clear: If you report anything we don’t want the world to see, the world may not be seeing much of you before long.

This is not just a war on journalists. It’s a war on any system where facts outweigh faith. It’s a war on dissent. It’s a war on speech. It’s a war on all of us.

Free Speech: Use it or Lose It.

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