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Gutless journalists, leaky Republicans, and the fate of the free world. It's all here, folks.


GRAB BAG Liberal media, my pink ass NPR’s Juan Williams had a very special guest this week in the increasingly smug personage of GOP puppet master Karl Rove. In the interview Rove justified his stand against same-sex partnerships claiming that marriage, as defined by the holy union of a man and a woman, has a cultural history stretching back at least 5000 years. Well, well, well. So does slavery. So does treating fully-grown women like property. By the golden Rovian standard faddish slogans like “Liberty and justice for all” must be trivial--or at least lacking in gravitas-- due to their shiny newness. If we take Rove at his word then tradition is not merely a reasonable substitute for justice, it is the Logos. But all this is beside the point. Did Juan Williams, who works for an institution frequently criticized for its excessive liberality, call Rove on his bullshit? He did not. Williams gobbled Karl’s pernicious spew and, happy as an old goat in a room full of anthropomorphic sex toys, moved right along to the next talking point. Objective journalism has been out of fashion for a long time now. The best you can hope for is neutrality, and that’s exactly what William’s provided. The difference between objective and neutral reporting? It’s difference between a journalist and a stenographer and Williams was taking damn fine dictation. I can’t be mad at Rove for championing a 5000-year-old tradition of cultural oppression. Pandering to the basest elements of the lowest common denominator has always been one of this mighty kingmaker’s strongest suits. But Williams’ performance was revolting. The Smell of Fear Or: The real scoop on the real poop A question to Democrats: Does the Sandy Berger scandal have you shaking in your shoes? Did you recoil in horror when President Bush called Berger’s mishandling of classified documents “serious” and vowed that justice would be done? Did you have to take a valium upon reading Speaker Hastert’s litany of damning questions: "How could President Clinton's former National Security Advisor be so cavalier?” “Was Mr. Berger trying to cover-up key facts?” and best of all, "Whose hands did [the documents] fall into?” Did you have to take to your bed when Tucker the fucker Carlson proclaimed, “There is nothing random about the documents [Berger] took. [He] stripped the files of every single copy of a single memo which detailed the Clinton administration's response to the Y2K terror threat”? Well don’t worry. Get out of bed. Be happy as a hog in slops. Carlson’s comments appear to be an outright fabrication as several 9/11 commissioners are already on the record saying that Berger’s actions in no way obstructed their access to information. Leaks at all levels, which are mostly at odds with all the reportage, suggest that Berger’s actions were more stupid than serious. As for Hastert, he’s the partisan hack who tried his damndest to block a two-month extension requested by the 9/11 commission in order to complete their work. So if anybody really tried to monkey wrench the report it was Hastert. And what about Bush? Well, he’s on his way to being cooked. Yeah, the polls have him in a statistical dead heat with Kerry, but that’s nothing to brag about. History shows that when an incumbent’s popularity numbers dip below 50, undecided voters tend to go with the other guy. And in spite of the media spin on the 9/11 commission’s report (“it blames neither Clinton nor Bush, that is all you need to know”) chapter 8 (ominously titled “Blinking Red) shows how Condi Rice, John Ashcroft, and President Bush were far less concerned with making terrorism key a priority than they’d like us all to believe. It’s a tragedy of bungled jobs and bad judgment. It’s a hard-boiled, and harder learned object lesson for the incurious. Some have suggested that the months-old Berger investigation was leaked, not by Republicans hoping to deflect attention from the 9/11 Report, but by Democrats. Tin-foil hat-wearing Repubs have even floated Hillary Clinton as a likely suspect (on CNN of all places) suggesting that “Bergergate” will somehow ruin John Kerry’s chances of election, opening the door for a last minute replacement. Enter Mrs. Clenis. That, of course, is pure manure, and it should be embarrassing to the right. But it could very well be that a well-intentioned Dem spilled the beans figuring that it’s better for the story to break now than in mid-October. That take has legs, but just barely. The timing--in concert with the 9/11 Report, and on the eve of the Democratic National Convention--is just too perfect. This leak’s got Karl Rove’s peculiar stink all over it. But who leaked what to whom, when, and even why is entirely irrelevant. All the shrill anti-Bergerisms don’t add up to much. Not at the moment anyway. It’s the barking of a wounded, cornered coyote, watching the hunter’s scope come level. That poopy smell coming out of Washington isn’t the Potomac. And only the poor, shit-scrubbing slobs in the White House laundry corps know the whole truth. Power Failure Or: Give up; throw down your arms, hail Caesar! A vote creates the illusion of power, an election the illusion of Democracy. Free elections are meaningless in a society where too much information is withheld and too many facts are manipulated to fit the preordained agenda of an occupying power. And when it comes to keeping secrets, denying the public record, dodging transparency at all costs and generally behaving like an occupying power, President George W. Bush never kicks it at the ranch. Bush fought the creation of the 9/11 commission, and when he lost that battle he refused to testify before the whole commission, and when he lost that battle he refused to testify alone, or under oath, or if anyone was recording the historic event. If the American people ever discover what the president had to say about the greatest security failure in U.S. history, the defining moment of his presidency, and the cornerstone of his reelection campaign, it will be after the November elections have fallen irretrievably into the black hole of history. Bush has stood shoulder to shoulder with Vice President Dick Cheney in refusing to dish on the Veep’s energy task force and its cozy relationship with the staggeringly corrupt Enron Cooperation. Sure, Enron, a major contributor to the Bush campaign, was feasting at the DOEs table. And sure Enron was rigging prices, facilitating at least one for-profit energy crisis, and robbing investors and employees blind. But, as our Vice President might well say, fuck that noise. Our peerless leaders, who are no strangers to no-bid cronyism, tell us everything is on the up and up. And we take their word. The only option, according to the windy right-leaning rhetoric of the day, is treason. And let’s not forget about all the juicy, if largely irrelevant tabloid fodder: Bush’s cocaine use, the booze, the possible arrests, alleged stints in rehab, the string of failed businesses, his relationship with the bin Laden family, and the Saudi royals. And, of course, there’s the whole AWOL thing. Is it all coincidence that Bush’s public record is awash with black smudges and blatant revision? Is he that unlucky? Is he that corrupt? And what about Valerie Plame, the outed spook? What about the false WMD claims? What about the torture memos? What about child sodomy in Iraqi prisons? What about Richard S. Foster, that poor guy in Treasury who had to keep mum about the real cost of President Bush’s fraudulently priced Medicare package or lose his job. Who else has been threatened, and regarding what? When will the president stop blowing smoke about tyrannizing things like democracy, and freedom, and God, and address head on the numerous scandals nipping at his infallible, red, white, and blue spurs? Because when you wrap yourself up in the flag while waging a war on accountability, and government transparency you don’t represent democracy. You mock it. I’d never go so far as to say that President George W. Bush hates freedom as it applies to the Democratic process. But whether he’s aware of it or not, he certainly holds the principle in low esteem, far beneath his personal ambitions. He only wants you to know what he wants you to know, and when he wants you to know it. And that’s not how freedom works. It’s the standard set by despots, not Democracies. Of course the Bushistas get their panties in a wad whenever someone tries to brand them as a bunch of Brownshirts. Whether they choose to admit it or not this “for-us-or-with bin Laden” administration has been shopping around for a new pair of steel-toed jackboots since the beginning, and some of the footwear has come dangerously close to fitting.

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