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The Best Coverage of the 2004 Elections. Period.
America and the rest of the Media should be ashamed.
By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2004 1:48pm PT  

Last night's Daily Show was as good as it has ever been. From top to bottom. The ball was hit out of the park.

Jon Stewart's opening monogolue answered to the continuous "stoned slackers" charge that O'Reilly made during his pompous interview with Stewart last week. Funny story...As it turns out, two different studies rebut O'Reilly's self-serving claims. One shows that Daily Show viewers are actually more educated than O'Reilly viewers. The second study, from the University of Pennsylvania shows that Daily Show viewers are better versed on current events than those who only watch news channels! Hopefully those will be the "stoned slackers" that save this country.

The opening "news story" then was about O'Reilly's (barely hyped) three-day interview with Bush. Amongst the highlights, the segment from O'Reilly's 'Talking Points' where No-Spin Boy lauded Bush for doing the interview:

O'REILLY (on tape): You have to admire his willingness to discuss the issues in a venue like this.

STEWART: You have to respect the President of the United States for doing an interview on the most conservative TV network in the country?!!

...

O'REILLY (on tape): The President did not recieve any of the questions in advance, nor were there any restrictions on what I could ask. Again, that's impressive.

STEWART: No! No it's NOT! It's not impressive!!! It's the least you can do and still qualify as an interview!!!

Yup. That would be the President's JOB! And it should be the MEDIA'S job, as well!

Most of O'Reilly's "not-stoned, not-slackers" apparently bought O'Reilly's "courage" spin and the notion that Bush faced "hardball" questions. Also they failed to notice that O'Reilly didn't press Bush on the several answers on which Bush was obviously prevaricating. Stewart drove it home.

I look forward to O'Reilly's appearance on The Daily on Oct. 7th, I believe. Stewart ripped him a new one last night, so I'll look forward to his response.

Stewart was equally on the money in his critique of Kerry's Diane Sawyer appearance yesterday. Once they release any of the video from last night's show, I'll try and link to it here.

There was much more in the body of the show including an Ed Helms report on how the "reviews" of tonight's debate are already written by the Media days in advance, and an amazing interview with Seymour Hersh, author of Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, detailing the extraordinary missteps, incompetence, and arrogance of the nine or so Neo-Cons who have hijacked virtually every facet of our Government (from the Congress to the Defense Dept. to the White House to the CIA) and the country itself in the bargain. All while Americans have simply stood by and allowed it to happen. He referred to this period, and specific situations like the Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prison atrocities, as something that we will look back on as one of the most "shameful" periods of our history.

Frankly, it made me think of how we now look back at the shame of Japanese internment during WWII or McCarthy's Un-American Activities Committee in historical retrospect. It seems we've done it again. And the only question now is whether Americans will figure that out before or after November 2nd.

A tremendous show. I've said it before, but hands down --- and yes, also shamefully --- The Daily Show has indeed offered the best and most accurate and incisive coverage of "Indecision 2004" anywhere on television. Period.

UPDATE: Video of the Seymore Hersh interview here.

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By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2004 12:26pm PT  

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...And keeping it to just ten was no small order!
By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2004 12:22pm PT  

Just one of Bush's Top Ten Flip-Flops...

On March 19, 2003, Mr. Bush said, “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”

On May 29, 2003, Mr. Bush said, “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories...For those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."

On Sept. 9, 2004, Mr. Bush said, “I recognize we didn't find the stockpiles [of weapons] we all thought were there.”

Read the rest.

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...And keeping it to just ten was no small order!
By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2004 12:21pm PT  

Just one of Bush's Top Ten Flip-Flops...

On March 19, 2003, Mr. Bush said, “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”

On May 29, 2003, Mr. Bush said, “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories...For those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."

On Sept. 9, 2004, Mr. Bush said, “I recognize we didn't find the stockpiles [of weapons] we all thought were there.”

Read the rest.

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By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2004 12:08pm PT  

The Debate exchange that hasn't happened. Yet.

LEHRER: "Mr. President, you stated that Saddam Hussein was a clear threat to the United States because he had WMDs. Now you state that he "could" have developed into a threat. Was your reason for war invalid?"

BUSH: "Ummm...ahhh...well...you're asking if we would be better off today if Saddam were in power? No. I reject that. See, Saddam was a threat. Remember he attacked his neighbors. He killed his own people. He tried to kill my daddy. No. If I have to choose between the word of Hans Blix and the word of a madman, I'll choose the madman any time."

LEHRER: (confused) "Mr. President?"

BUSH: "When you're the president, you don't have to explain what you do. That's the nice thing about being president. It would be easier if this were a dictatorship, I wouldn't even have to campaign. (snickers) But what you're asking is this --- the UN and Saddam are saying that Saddam doesn't have weapons. Am I gonna trust Saddam to lie about his weapons? You bet I am.

(From comments by 'Sage Vanden Heuvel' in reply to "The 5 Stages of Bushism" at The Talent Show.)

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By Brad Friedman on 9/29/2004 10:15pm PT  

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By Brad Friedman on 9/29/2004 8:43pm PT  

"And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is not very damned many. So I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq." -- Dick "Flip-Flopping" Cheney, 1992

(Via Andrew Sullivan)

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Another one from the 'Fool Me Once...' File
By Brad Friedman on 9/29/2004 8:26pm PT  

When you watch the debates tomorrow night, you may want to keep in mind a few of the lies things that Dubya was kidding around about the last time he was trying to trick folks into believing he was "a man of his word".

In the 2000 debates, when oil prices had risen to about $32/barrel, Bush criticized the Clinton/Gore for not solving the problem...

BUSH: What I think the president ought to do is he ought to get on the phone with the OPEC cartel and say we expect you to open your spigots...And the president of the United States must jawbone OPEC members to lower the price.

...

BROWN: Let me follow up by asking what pressures --- specifically what pressures should be brought on OPEC...?

BUSH: Well, we've got good relations with a lot of members of OPEC. If the president does his job, the president will earn capital in the Middle East, and the president should have good standing with those nations. It's important for the president to explain, in clear terms, what high energy prices will not only do to our economy, but what high energy prices will do to the world economy.

It is in the Saudis' best interest for the price of oil to mellow out. It's not only in our country's best interests. It needs to be explained to them, it's in their best interests.

BROWN: Thank you.

BUSH: And I will do so. [emphasis added]

A man of his word? Oil hit $50/barrel yesterday. Still waiting for the jawboning to take effect. Or, in Bush's words, for the President to "do his job."

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By Brad Friedman on 9/29/2004 5:32pm PT  

Are the citizens of Iraq better off with Saddam out of power? Conventional Wisdom offers a "theoretically, yes" to that question. But for the innocent citizens of Iraq, "maybe, maybe not." I keep hearing, from the few still trying to justify this "miscalculation" about all of "Saddam's mass graves". So I did some quick cursory math.

Since Saddam took over Iraq in 1979 through his ouster in 2003, he supposedly killed some 300,000 citizens (according to repeated Administration assertions). That's roughly 13,000 deaths per year.

In the short time since the U.S. invaded Iraq through today, we've killed about 20,000 of it's citizens (not including the 28,000 Iraqi military that the Pentagon reported as killed). That rate then is also roughly 13,000 deaths per year. A few more than Saddam's numbers actually. And if you add the military deaths to it, of course, then Bush seems to out-Saddam Saddam hands down when it comes to filling mass graves with Iraqi citizens.

In theory, of course, those number should go down as time moves on. Even though they are rapidly moving up as we speak. If the CIA's prediction is true, about civil war breaking out in Iraq --- a notion that seems to be well on it's way to reality according to all sources who happen to be in touch with said reality --- that number may not go down any time soon and will be probably continue to increase.

Why did we invade again? I know that Bush has given anywhere from 23 to 27 different justifications for it. But I don't believe any of them seem to be "operable" anymore, other than we invaded because "John Kerry is a flip-flopper". Or something.

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(With 1054 US troops now dead in Iraq. Just by way of reminder.)
By Brad Friedman on 9/29/2004 5:21pm PT  

Has it come to this? Doctored pictures on the world wide web's #1 news website in order to try and defeat and/or smear John Kerry?

Drudge has been running this uncredited photo since last night on his website a with the headline "KERRY ON ORANGE ALERT: SKIN TRANSITION ON EVE OF DEBATE"...

Drudge doesn't supply the source for the original photo and we he's run lifted and doctored photos before, as recently as during the Democratic Convention. However, an examination of other news photos from the same event on September 27th in Spring Green, WI, clearly shows Drudge's photo to be either phony or doctored.

This one is from Reuters...


(original photo source page)

Note the bald man to the right of Kerry is the same many on the left of Kerry in the doctored Drudge photo.

And this one also from Reuters...


(original photo source page)

And this one from AP where though Kerry looks a bit more tan, it's nothing like the one that Drudge is running...


(original photo source page)

Note the woman in red behind Kerry in both this and the doctored Drudge photo.

And just for good measure --- what a world --- here's an AP photo of Bush from September 24 --- undoctored --- but appearing rather orange himself...


(original photo source page)

I can't believe, frankly, with thousands dead, dying, injured, held captive and beheaded in Iraq and the largest budget deficit in the history of mankind in this country that we're wasting our time with this kind of bullshit. Such is the case of the world, I guess, when running against the "Anything to Win" man in the White House and his cronies in the Rightwing Smear Media.

(Special thanks to John Aravosis of the excellent AMERICABlog for posting this item for me over there while we were knocked out over here today!)

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Alan Keyes gets spanked in Illinois
(...and he appears to like it!)
By Brad Friedman on 9/29/2004 5:00pm PT  

The latest poll in the Obama/Keyes senate race is amazing.

In a flat-out rejection of Republican hypocrisy by Illinois voters, Obama is trouncing the gay hating "family values" champ by 51 points amongst likely voters. He currently leads 68% to 17% in the poll that was taken before the news broke of Keyes' having a lesbian daughter, despite having denounced Mary Cheney as a "selfish hedonist" a few weeks ago because she is a gay.

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...Thanks for standing by.
By Brad Friedman on 9/29/2004 4:27pm PT  

Urgh. We got knocked out yesterday at the provider! No explanation other than "it should be back up in 15 minutes". Cut to: 30 hours later...Well, we were planning upgrades shortly anyway to, among other things, better handle all the traffic (via a different provider!). So finally, we went ahead and made the move.

Welcome back. But I apologize in any case for whatever foul-up occurred that drove me nuts, but was out of my control. It was maddening and a horrible time for it to have happened! Thanks for your hanging in there, and for your continued support.

I've got much to catch up on here...stay tuned.

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His Campaign of Smear on America's "Most Watched" News Channel Continues...
By Brad Friedman on 9/28/2004 12:23pm PT  

So I'm watching Hannity & Colmes tonight and Hannity says something a bit surprising as he's "interviewing" Newt Gingrich while attempting (successfully) to smear both Kennedy and Kerry in the same fell swoop.

As he looks down at his notes, so I'm assuming he had time to plan this out, Hannity says to Gingrich about a Ted Kennedy speech today at George Washington University on the failures of Bush's Iraq policy:

HANNITY: Hey actually Ted Kennedy in that speech today (refers to notes) "Those of us who would like to cut and run" --- he actually said that.

...and then he moved on to something else. Hit-and-Run Smear Accomplished.

But was it a smear? Would Fox's bright, shining star and Rush's heir apparent, Sean Hannity, simply out and out lie like that? And risk the same firing that he's called upon CBS to do to Dan Rather? I replayed my video tape, and that's exactly what he had said. But the outrageous charge about Kennedy seemed odd to say the least, so I did some checking on the speech today to find out for sure.

At Senator Ted Kennedy's site, the text of today's speech is linked on the front page, and it contains this passage:

No issue is more important today. The battle against terrorism is a battle we must win. Even those who opposed the war in Iraq understand that we cannot cut and run, that this is an American issue. But to remain silent in the face of mounting failures by this President and this White House is to weaken our security even further, and we cannot let that happen.

Seems pretty clear that Kennedy decidedly did not say what Hannity quoted him quite specifically as having said.

But this is the "Fair & Balanced" network! "America's News Channel of Political Record" as their ads say. Surely Hannity wouldn't make up such a quote and then claim that Kennedy --- and Kerry by extension, who's position Hannity equated with Kennedy's --- actually felt that way, would he?

Perhaps the text on Kennedy's site was the original text as planned, but he veered from the text as it was originally written. So I stopped by Hannity & Colmes site for more information. They didn't have a transcript of tonight's show yet, but they did have a link to what they called "Raw Data: Kennedy Speech on Iraq War" which has a paragraph similar to the one above, but curiously, it's missing the "cut and run" section entirely! Here's what they have:

No issue is more important today. The battle against terrorism is a battle we must win. To remain silent in the face of mounting failures by this president and this White House is to weaken our security even further.

Hmmm...did Fox have a different version of the speech? A transcript they took themselves perhaps during the actual presentation of the speech? Even so, there seemed nothing about "Those of us who would like to cut and run". There was nothing about either cutting or running in Fox News' transcript.

I kept looking, and finally found over at C-Span the video of the actual speech, as given by Ted Kennedy today.

Some of the text did veer slightly from the version on Kennedy's website. A word or two. But nothing like what either Hannity or the Fox News site described. Here's what Kennedy said verbatim (at 4:18 on the tape):

No issue is more important today. The battle against terrorism is a battle that we must win. Even those of us who opposed the Iraq war understand that we cannot cut and run, that this is an American committment. But to remain silent in the face of mounting failures by this President and this White House is to weaken our security even further, and we cannot let that happen.

Are these guys that desperate to win that they'd just make stuff up out of whole cloth? Apparently so. We've been covering here John McCaslin of The Washington Times, the newspaper equivalent of "Fair and Balanced" Fox, who has been doing exactly that. And so does Hannity. Almost every day.

Please remember that this is the man who has been calling for criminal investigations in the CBS document matter, along with the resignation of Dan Rather virtually every day he's been on the air --- on both his radio and TV shows --- since that story originally aired.

Lesson: Sean Hannity will say anything, do anything, smear anybody and lie about anything to keep his man in office. And the good news for him and the America he claims to love? He gets to do it five nights a week on the country's most watched News channel. Period.

As a side note, I also watched Kennedy's Q&A after his speech, just to make sure the phrase that Hannity made up wasn't said there or something. I didn't see it. But I did see Kennedy ironically mention, about the Bush Team and their continued campaign of lies, distortions and smears about Kerry: "You don't expect this to be done at the presidential level. To mis-represent and distort your opponents positions."

Rely on it Senator.

Mr. Hannity, correct the "mistake" and apologize to Sen. Kennedy on the air the way you've insisted that Rather apology to Bush. Set the example, Mr. Hannity.

Please hold him to it, Mr. Colmes.

Sean Hannity - hannity@foxnews.com

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...In one fell policy swoop.
By Brad Friedman on 9/28/2004 1:04am PT  

One of the points in John Kerry's plan for Iraq has been to call on America's allies to "share the burden". However, many of the pundits (from O'Reilly to Maher) have pointed out that it's a swell idea, but it may not be so easy to actually do. If with a new, smarter, less-arrogant, U.S. President. After all, why would France and Germany want to enter this ever increasing morass at this time?

It's a good point, but one which Kerry can dispell in one single policy initiative:

"Hire me, and I'll fire Halliburton"

With billions and billions of dollars worth of contracts then free for the competitive bidding, do you suppose France, Germany and all the others might want a taste of that action?

You bet they would. And all they'd need to do to be allowed into that bidding process is a commitment of troops and/or money for the effort. We could use both.

I know that quite a few Dems in high places read this blog from time to time. Perhaps somehow one of you can get this idea to Kerry before Thursday's foreign policy debate with Bush if he hasn't already thought about it.

Both firing Halliburton (and hey, they can still bid competitively if they want to!) and simply demonstrating how Allies could be brought into the effort in a single policy initiative would be enormously popular with the American people. It would also help win both the election, and the war at the same time.

Pass it on.

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Alan Keyes' Daughter...
By Brad Friedman on 9/27/2004 9:38pm PT  

Yes, she's a lesbian. According to her own blog and that of her girlfriend. They both posted this picture on the internet as I understand it. I saw it at her girlfriend's site who also has a gay.com profile (with more Maya pics).

There's been much handwringing in the leftie blogosphere about this picture, and others from the series, and the idea of publicizing Maya's sexuality at all. She is, after all, a 19 year old girl who can't be blamed for being the daughter of a near-psychotically conservative Republican U.S. Senatorial candidate from Maryland Illinois who recently called Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter a "selfish hedonist" because she was gay. Also, she was not outted by anyone other than herself on her own blog. Her Yahoo ID is "dangerousanjul". Indeed.

I too though, thought long and hard before blogging at all on this, and I believe it was finally this passage from Maya's rather moving blog that moved me to go ahead and jump in here:

my parents and I were seriously not getting along and so we needed some time off from each other; the idea was that after a year of being a wonderful good helping-the-poor type person they would once again like me and therefore be willing to pay for my college I'm not so sure that part of it will work; despite the fact that I'm all about working for global justice THEY don't care about that, THEY only care that I am an evil dyke.

And even if I am a charitable dyke I am still a dyke who KISSES GIRLS and especially with the gay marriage thing going on now that's at the front of their minds. So I think I might get back to find out they still don't like me and I won't have a college to go to.

Basically, this young girl describes having the gift of an education being held hostage from her by her parents because she is gay. I guess that's the "Compassionate Conservativism" we've heard so much about. Or would that be "Family Values"? (See chillinois' excellent chronical of many of today's events for more of those moving passages and other commentary from the 'sphere. The articles at Maya's girlfriend's blog --- who's mother seems to be similarly intolerant/cruel are also an object lesson in shame.)

That Maya has been pointing to her own blog for quite a while via her posts on a Keyes Campaign Message Group strikes me --- for all of my armchair psychiatry --- as a cry for help. Well, if America regains its senses and John Kerry is elected, perhaps as he likes to say "help is on the way".

One may note the suprising number of hard-right Conservatives with homosexuals in their immediate family (prominently Cheney's daughter, Gingrich's sister, now Keyes' daughter) and wonder how it is they manage to justify the hatred --- yes, hatred --- that they perpetuate on a daily basis. Through their words, their deeds, and their passive (and not so passive) tolerance for those that who oppress, deny, belittle, hurt, harm, hate and even advocate the murder of other humans solely on the basis of their sexual identities. All in the name of a few more votes.

Perhaps there is hope in this accidentally ironic thought of Alan Keyes from his recent hateful interview; "In the child, the two [parents] transcend their persons and unite together to become a new individual."

We can only hope.

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