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February 25, 2005

Be deliberately obtuse

That's one of the key rules if you want to Argue Like a Conservative™. For instance, the thesis of this column by Hendrik Hertzberg couldn't be more clear:

One might imagine that all of this had the makings of an old-fashioned, months-long, television-friendly Washington scandal—not as important, obviously, as, say, the Iran-contra affair of the nineteen-eighties, but more so than, say, the flap about the dismissal of several employees of the White House travel office in 1993. One would probably be wrong. The non-Fox cable news outlets began to pick up on it last week; msnbc even assayed a special logo, “Gannongate.” A better name for it, though, would be “Nothinggate,” because nothing is what is likely to come of it. What all the memorable scandals of the past thirty years—real and fake alike, from Watergate to the Clinton impeachment—have had in common is that the opposition party controlled at least one house of Congress, which gave it the power to hold hearings and issue subpoenas. If Bush ends up having an easier time of it in his second term than any of his two-term predecessors since F.D.R., it won’t be because the scandals aren’t there. It’ll be because the tools to excavate them are under lock and key.

However, in order to Argue Like a Conservative™, you have to ignore Hertzberg's obvious point and focus solely upon his coinage of the word "Nothinggate", as if that coinage settles the matter: "See! Even liberal Rik Hertzberg thinks this is a big 'Nothinggate'!"


Oh, and one more thing that's been bugging me: why do so many rightwingers seem to think that being gay is exactly the same thing as being a gay prostitute--i.e., bringing up G/G's sordid past is somehow anti-gay? Doesn't that say more about how the righties view gay people than anything else?

G/G's back!

And somewhere, Republican strategists are cringing.


February 23, 2005

The plot thickens

Another G/G update at Salon:

Just how blatantly the White House press office looked the other way in regard to Guckert and his dubious status as a legitimate reporter comes into stark relief when examining his attempt to secure a similar press pass to cover Capitol Hill. Guckert submitted his application in December 2003 to the Standing Committee of Correspondents, a press group in charge of handing out credentials. In April 2004, the committee denied Guckert's request. Writing to Guckert, committee chairman Jim Drinkard outlined three clear deficiencies in Guckert's application:

1) "Committee guidelines require that on-line publications 'must charge a market rate fee for subscription or access, or carry paid advertising at current market rates.' You have not demonstrated to the committee's satisfaction that Talon News has any paid subscribers, that paid client newspapers publish Talon News stories, or that it is supported by advertising."

2) "The application for accreditation to the press galleries states that 'members of the press shall not engage in lobbying or paid advertising, publicity, promotion, work for any individual, political party, corporation, organization, or agency of the Federal Government.' Talon News has not demonstrated to the satisfaction of the committee that there is a separation from GOPUSA."

3) "Gallery rules and the application state that the principal income of correspondents must be obtained from news correspondence intended for publication in newspapers or news services. The committee feels that paying a single reporter a 'stipend' does not meet the intent of the rule."

Also, you've probably seen this elsewhere but it seems quite significant: what exactly is Jeff Gannon's connection to Rathergate?

Gannon bragged about passing a scoop on who obtained the troubled Bush National Guard memos to Fox News’ Sean Hannity on the conservative forum Free Republic.

“Mary Mapes is DEFINITELY [sic] behind the story,” Gannon wrote in Free Republic on Sept. 10, 2004. “This is who I told Sean Hannity got the documents. She also obtained the Abu Ghraib photos.”

“I got the scoop and passed it to Hannity,” Gannon added. “Look for my detailed story on Monday at Talon News. There is much more to this story. Mary Mapes is just the beginning.”

That story–that CBS producer Mary Mapes was the source of the troubled Bush Guard documents–shredded the credibility of anchor Dan Rather and killed any chance the facts that Bush had failed to adequately perform his duties as a member of the Texas Air National Guard would be taken seriously.

I suspected from the start that the whole CBS memo fiasco was a setup, and it seems increasingly likely that this was in fact the case.


February 22, 2005

Mr. Language Man

I understand the etymology of "wingnut"--it's obviously a diminutive of "right wing nut," but works as an effective piece of slang because it also repurposes a common noun.

But what, in god's name, is a "moonbat"? Let alone an "asshat"? I suppose the former must somehow vaguely have something to do with people being "batty," but as for the latter, well, I'm just stumped. "Asshat"? Do rightwingers just sit around combining words at random to create new derogatory terms? "You, sir, are a real testicle-antennae! And you, over there--you're a digestive-tract-picture-frame!"

I would spend more time thinking up funnier examples if this were for a cartoon, but you get the idea.

...okay, judging from first reader responses, "asshat" is a sort of illiterate and/or inarticulate attempt to suggest that your head is up your ass. I guess I missed it because it's so clumsy--if you "are" an asshat, doesn't that mean that someone else should be wearing you? Therefore isn't someone else's head up your--

--oh, never mind.

...and as for "moonbat"--sorry, that's just stupid. The sort of thing that's created by people who have heard of humor, but have no firsthand familiarity with it.

Further updates: various readers insist that "asshat" originated as a non-partisan slur, though the righties have clearly made it their own these past few years. And my friend Greg Saunders had some similar thoughts last year--and came up with two lists of random words so you can mix-and-match your own utterly meaningless right-wing insults. "Turd burglar", anyone?


February 21, 2005

Oil for money

As Bob says, it's like a new Watergate every day with these people:

The Treasury Department provided assurances that the United States would not obstruct two companies' plans to import millions of barrels of oil from Iraq in March 2003 in violation of U.N. sanctions, according to an e-mail from one of the companies.

Diplomats and oil brokers have recently said that the United States had long turned a blind eye to illicit shipments of Iraqi oil by its allies Jordan and Turkey. The United States acknowledged this week that it had acquiesced in the trade to ensure that crucial allies would not suffer economic hardships.

Sen. Carl M. Levin (Mich.) released e-mail showing that the U.S. government abetted illicit oil sales by Saddam Hussein's government for the benefit of such key allies as Jordan and Turkey.

But the e-mail, along with others released this week by Sen. Carl M. Levin (Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Governmental Affairs panel's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, provides evidence that the Bush administration directly abetted Jordan's efforts to build up its strategic reserves with smuggled Iraqi oil in the weeks before the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003.

The illicit oil exports took place outside the Iraq oil-for-food program, which the United Nations administered from 1996 to 2003. While allegations of corruption and mismanagement in that program are under investigation by five congressional committees, the Justice Department and a U.N.-appointed panel, the illicit oil exports outside the program have received less scrutiny. According to investigators, Iraq received more revenue from those exports than from the alleged oil-for-food kickbacks.

Story here.

Ha, ha

Ann "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building" Coulter disses Ted Rall for--I kid you not--"(just doing) things to upset people so his name will get in the paper."

A perfect example of the technique described in the final panel of this week's cartoon.

You dumb shit, he didn't get access using a fake name, he used his real name. You lefties' concern for White House security is really touching, but you know what, you stupid asshole, I think the Secret Service has it covered. Go crawl back into your hole, you stupid left-wing shithead. And don't bother us anymore. You have to have an IQ over 50 to correspond with us. You don't qualify, you stupid shit.

That's how the guys who write Time magazine's "Blog of the Year" respond to some fairly mild criticism from another blogger.

(Via Atrios.)

The lion in winter

This sucks:

Hunter S. Thompson, a renegade journalist whose “gonzo” style threw out any pretense at objectivity and established the hard-living writer as a counter-culture icon, fatally shot himself at his Colorado home on Sunday night, police said. He was 67.

Thompson’s son, Juan, released a statement saying he had found his father dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head at the writer’s Owl Creek farm near Aspen.



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