Thursday, May 19, 2005

WH reporter Revolt! Scottie Mc C's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Yesterday was a Very Bad Day for White House Spokesmanatrix Scott McClellan. It wasn't supposed to be that way.

Much to his surprise, the press corps proved to have a gag reflex after all. Scotty McC finally crossed a line, and they remembered that even whipped dogs have teeth.
the feeding frenzy started when early in the Press Conference:

Q: With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it's
appropriate for you, at that podium, speaking with the authority of the
President of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not telling them. I'm saying that we would
encourage them to help --
Q You're pressuring them.

Even more remarkably, the question was asked by a reporter for an American TV Network!
Take a bow Terry Moran of ABC News.

Now I can feel your shock and disbelief so you might want to sit down for this next Part (assuming you blog standing up, which, I must tell you is a terribly odd thing to do):

Q Let me follow up on that. What -- you said that -- what specifically are
you asking Newsweek to do? I mean, to follow up on Terry's question, are you
saying they should write a story? Are you going that far? How else can Newsweek,
you know, satisfy you here? { Must...resist...Jeff Gannon joke....}

Now in the excitement of seeing a reporter actually asking a follow-up question (and one about a question asked by another reporter!) I almost missed the identity of the questioner:

Elisabeth Bumiller of the NY Times.

Yes That Bumiller, the infamous author of the White House Letter. A recurring Puff piece on W, that's so slurpy, its a wonder she doesn't wear a blue dress when writing them
But not yesterday. Yesterday she was the Pit bull of the briefing room. She wanted specifics

Scotty tired to give a vague, but faintly indignant non-answer:

McCLELLAN: -- because of this report. I think Newsweek is going to be in the
best position to determine how to achieve that.
And there are ways that I
pointed out that they can help repair the damage. One way is to point out what
the policies and practices of our United States military are. Our United States
military personnel go out of their way to make sure that the Holy Koran is
treated with care { Holy Koran Batman!, Scotty better hope Dr. Dobbie and his
dominionist pals don't hear him talking like that}-
And Elisabeth wasn't havin none:

Q Are you asking them to write a story about how great the American military
is; is that what you're saying here?
{and just to leave Scotty no wiggle
Q Are you asking them to write a story?
And dear Scotty, seeing
thing veering badly off track tried to recover by launching into one of his
patented Long Answers That Say Absolutely Nothing
MR. McCLELLAN: Elisabeth,
let me finish my sentence. Our military -
Q You've already said what you're
-- I know what -- how it ends.

Or in the vernacular "Scottie if all you are going to do is regurgitate the same bullshit, just save your breath

(She also got the quote yesterday that must have been hardest for WH official to say with a straight face. Speaking to her about the Newsweek Story an anonymous (natch) WH official said

"There's no expectation that they're going to bring down Newsweek, but there is a feeling that there is no check on what you guys do "

Because, if there's one thing the Republicans have proven this week, they are all about them checks and balances aren't they?

Bumiller wasn't the only one getting all up in his grill neither. Blood was in the water and it wasn't going to be pretty. Another reporter apparently remembered that WH press briefings aren't supposed to be a closed book exam:

Q Back on Newsweek. Richard Myers, last Thursday -- I'm going to read you a
quote from him. He said, "It's a judgment of our commander in Afghanistan,
General Eichenberry, that in fact the violence that we saw in Jalalabad was not
necessarily the result of the allegations about disrespect for the Koran."
He said it was "more tied up in the political process and reconciliation
that President Karzai and his cabinet were conducting." And he said that that
was from an after-action report he got that day.
So what has changed between
last Thursday and today, five days later, to make you now think that those --
that that violence was a result of Newsweek?

Ooooh now looky there! The reporter did his homework and came prepared!

Scotty for his part didn't appreciate facts getting in the way of his quivering moral indignation, and tried mightily to make the truth disappear by simply ignoring it :

Well, clearly, the report was used to incite violence by people who oppose
the United States and want to mischaracterize the values and the views of the
United States of America. The protests may have been pre-staged by those who
oppose the United States and who may be opposed to moving forward on freedom and
democracy in the region, but the images that we have seen across our television
screens over the last few days clearly show that this report was used to incite
violence. People lost their lives -
{ See? It those darn enemies of freedom
again! We keep trying to liberate them but they say "no, no I want to be
oppressed, I Hate freedom}
But the reporter wasn't going to let him get away
with that: Behold the power of Facts
Q But may I just follow up, please? He
didn't say "protest," he said -- he used the word very specifically, "violence."
He said the violence, as far as they know from their people on the ground --
which is something that you always say you respect wholeheartedly -- it was not
because of Newsweek.
MR. McCLELLAN: Dana, I guess I'm not looking at it the
same way as you do,....{ see if you hold it upside down read it backwards it
clearly says "the Walrus was Paul"}
Q You don't think there's any way that
perhaps you're looking at it a little bit differently, now that you understand
that the Newsweek report is false?
And When Scotty tried to regain the moral
high ground by denying that again, another Reporter pounced:
Q Scott, to go
back to Dana's question, are you saying that General Myers was wrong, therefore,
that this -- the violence he's talking about? Are you saying he was wrong in his
assessment of what happened in Afghanistan?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, not at all.
In fact, maybe you didn't hear me, but as I said, there are people that are
opposed to the United States that look at every opportunity to try to do damage
to our image in the region, and -- Q Okay - {, Eyes rolling}
Hang on, let me finish
Poor Scotty, he's either got to admit he's a liar or
call his top military commander in the region one. Couldn't happen to a nicer

And then there was the coup de grace a question both logical, brilliant and wickedly pointed (Ken Herman of Cox News tossed the fatal dart>

Q In context of the Newsweek situation, I think we hear the caution you're
giving us about reporting things based on a single anonymous source. What, then,
are we supposed to do with information that this White House gives us under the
conditions that it comes from a single anonymous source?

Boom. Nailed it. Reporters HATE the fact that this WH won't even tell them what time it is without first insisting that the answer be used only on background. Scotty tried to Play Dumb but Ken was having none of it.

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not sure what exactly you're referring to.
Q Frequent briefings by senior administration officials, in which the
ground rules are we can only identify them as a single anonymous source.

And Scotty tried to spin mightily, promising to reduce such background briefings (but ducking the question as why it can't simply eliminate them here and now) And then again lecturing the press about the credibility problems of anonymous sources, yada, yada

But Mr. Herman boiled it all down and exposed Scotty's hypocrisy on this issue

Q With all due respect, though, it sounds like you're saying your single
anonymous sources are okay and everyone else's aren't.

Well. There it is then.

All in all it wasn't a bad day's work for the Corps. Not quite yet to the level of say, Latvian TV, or Dutch High School kids perhaps, but they are making steps in the right direction. With some dedication and good coaching they've got a solid shot at a spot on the JV squad...
What we don't know yet is if the Corps can maintain this newfound courage. I'd be happier if the issue that threw them into open revolt didn't essentially involve protection one of their own. It'd be nice to see the same level of outrage about, say, a hypothetical smoking gun memo , or the routine use of torture by the CIA, or maybe even record deficits and a non-existent social security plan. All in all though, you have to admit it's a start.

I'd like to think that today wasn't so much about protecting turf but of the final straw being laid. I'm hoping that the spectacle of little Scotty openly bullying a major news magazine opened their eyes. Maybe the cognitive dissonance finally got to be too much and the truth began to dawn on them .

When they saw the WH all but giving orders to the press about what to write, maybe they realized their freedoms weren't any more secure than the rest of ours and it was time to do their job before it was to late. That's what I want to think.

Whether I'm proven to be idiotically optimistic or not remains to be seen. But at least for yesterday we had a free and skeptical press again. For however long it lasts, its nice to see.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

My Pet President: its worse than you think

Talk about missing a hanging curveball. The media was handed the Story of the Decade two days ago and none of them seem to care.

Not that the Capitol was under "attack" and our Dear leader was AWOL.; no there's a bigger story by far. As DC-Metro native, using a little simple geography, I think I can clearly prove that W was deliberately cut out of the loop, when it came to dealing with this crisis

WaPo columnist Dan Froomkin Framed the basic story up nicely:

Yesterday, even as a goodly swath of official Washington was running panic-stricken into the streets, President Bush was riding his bike in the country, completely unaware of what was going on.

Aides reportedly decided that since he wasn't personally in danger, he didn't need to know.

But wouldn't the president want to know about a potential terrorist threat serious .

The official White House line yesterday was that "protocols" established post-9/11 were being followed. But what are those protocols? ..Do they really call for the president not to be bothered if he's personally not in danger?

While the offical story is that the crisis was too minor to bother the President, the WH at first certainly didn't react that way. Federal offices, the White house and Congress were evacuated. Laura and a visiting Nancy Reagan were quickly hustled into the WH bunker. VP Cheney on was whisked out of Town in a VERY heavily armed Motorcade.

I spoke to an eyewitness who saw the Motorcade Crossing the Roosevelt bridge. He said that the Last SUV in the group had part of its top removed and some sort of multi-barreled missile launcher was clearly visible sticking out the top (I'm not enough of a military geek as to even hazard a guess). I know that I've never seen an offical motorcade, where the security force had weapons exposed.)

Clearly the situation was edging from Code red to Code Brown. But The one person who didn't swing into action was the guy supposedly in charge. He had better things to do than worry about it.

After the crisis, Press Secretary Scotty McC seemed to know they had a problem. He went from spitting out his usual non-answers and instead tried to cover up the inexplicable moment by, not to put too fine a point on it, Lying his ass off

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President was at an off-site location, and he was informed, and he was informed of the situation that occurred. And obviously, there are protocols in place for that, as well. But the President was being kept well-informed of the situation that was going on.

Q By whom?

MR. McCLELLAN: By his security detail that was traveling with him

but of Course as we all know now, the President wasn't informed until much later, well after all the hard decisions had to be made.

As this timeline shows When the president was told about the indicent at 12:50, the plane was already on the ground and its pilots in custody.

In other words, there was a time when a critical Shoot/Don't Shoot decision for the unknown plane had to be made. Either answer could put lives in danger. Shoot it down and you've not only killed the pilots but the wreckage could cause damage and death on the ground. On the other hand if you don't shoot and it IS attacking... However, at that critical moment, the only thing on the President's mind was which gear to use for the next hill.

And that dear, and patient reader is where the Local knowledge kicks in.

You see, the place where the President was biking is almost in my back yard. The White House seems to want people to have the impression its some sort of remote wilderness area. In reality its nothing of the sort. It a refuge anomalously placed between two mid-sized suburban towns.

Since its only 10 minutes away from my house, I visited it often growing up and I'm intimately familiar with its geography and terrain. And as I thought more and more about the location, something very big clicked into place:

Take a Look at This map

It shows directions from the front of the Wildlife refuge to Ft. Meade, a nearby US Army base, which was a mere 12 miles away by car. But even that doesn't tell the whole story.

Look at it again as a satellite photo now zoom in a bit.

Notice that the northern end of the Refuge (where the President was most likely biking given the abundance of trails in that area> actually borders the southern end of Ft. Meade?

So why is this significant? Well Ft. Meade besides being a US Army base, also houses the National Security Agency

In case you have trouble keeping your intel agencies straight, NSA is the one in charge of SigInt, or electronic intelligence. In other words they are the ones that can eavesdrop on virtually any electronic communication anywhere in the world,( As people following the Bolton nomination now know) and the folks who make sure OUR communications are secure. There would be no better placed to be plugged in during a crisis, except maybe the situation room at the WH.

So let's review. Washington's airspace was being invaded. Jets were being scrambled and defense grid was lit up. Laura and Nancy were rushed to the WH Bunker and, Dick Cheney split town in a motorcade that looked like it was headed to the Baghdad airport. and the city was placed in Full OMFG mode.

While all this is going on GW is less than five minutes away even by bike from the absolute Nerve center of America's entire secure communications and electronic intelligence network. And nobody even bothers to tell him what's going on

There's really no reasonable explanation for this except that his handlers made a deliberate decision to keep him away from the reins of power while the grown-ups handled the crisis. And this isn't the first time its happened

The sheer magnitude and uniqueness of 9/11 obscured the fact that that's exactly what happened on that day too. Dick Cheney, not the president, was the Man in the Situation Room that day, the one who almost had to order a pilot to shoot down an aircraft full of people.

What did George do? Well, we've never really been told, except that he was cooling his heels at an obscure air force base in BFE Nebraska. We've never seen any information that W made a single descision there except to put Cheney in charge.

The pattern is there and its very clear. Anytime there is a crisis that require immediate action and split second decisions, W's minders seem to conspire to keep him as far away from the Big Chair as possible. They know he's not great even when exhaustively prepped for an appearance in front of a friendly crowd. There ain't nobody who wants to see him improvise.

I now believe that at some point in 2000, maybe after the SC primary, Dick Cheney turned to Karl Rove and said "Okay Karl, I was skeptical at first, but I now believe you can get this chimp elected. But you gotta promise me that if the shit ever hits the fan you'll keep him away from all the big red buttons, and let me handle it."

So the real question is, how long until the Media wakes up and recognizes it has a huge blockbuster story?

So far, the only one with even an inkling of the magnitude of this event is Joe Scarborough. He's one of the bad guys but apparently one who has lost the Sith-mind trick of disbelieving his own eyes

I don't get it. All of America is glued to their TV sets . . . you've got people rushing out of government buildings all across Washington, D.C., and you don't notify the president of the United States? For an hour? Until after it's all over? Because, what, you don't want to disturb his bike ride in Maryland? I'm sorry, I just don't get it. . . .

"After I watched '[Fahrenheit] 9/11,' one of the parts that made me the angriest was the part about 'My Pet Goat.' I thought it was a cheap shot. I said, seven, eight, nine minutes, big deal. But here you have an attack going on -- or something most Americans thought was an attack -- for 15, 20, 30 minutes and the president of the United States not notified. Why?"

ahh truth, it can be so brutal no? and it so rarely uses lube. But if a cool-aid drinker like Joe can Spot the Issue; there's hope yet for the rest of the press corps right?

Right? Update [2005-5-13 16:17:46 by Magorn]: Since someone asked here's a brochure from Patuxent in pdf format. On p10 you'll find thier description of the bike trails and on p15 you can find the map of the area.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Vid of Hager bragging about killing Plan B on WH orders uncovered

It very apropos that Dr. Hager's penchant for forced sodomy is coming to the fore right now, since according to videotape of a Sermon he gave last year that was discovered by the WaPo,
"Dr." Hager bragged to an evangelical audience about how he figuratively did to thousands of American women what he so enjoyed literally doing to his wife.

Last Year Hager, was aked by someone to write a "minority report" that blocked the approval of over-the-counter sales of Plan B, the emergency contraceptive that can be used in the first 48 hours after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. (Among its other uses, its become standard treatment for Rape and incest victims).

in a previously unreported public sermon that he was asked to write a memo to the FDA commissioner soon after the panel voted 23 to 4 in favor of over-the-counter sales of the contraceptive, called Plan B. He said he believes his memo played a central role in the rejection of that recommendation.

It very important to note that the FDA's , Medical Advisory Panel is a non-partisan, professionals-only panel made up of scientist and doctors. Reviewing all the evidence on the drug They found overwhelmingly that it was safe and effective and voted for approval.

But To Hager and other evangelicals this drug is Evil because it can be used by women who have filthy dirty consensual sex without facing the punishment god intended (or something like that).

"I argued from a scientific perspective, and God took that information, and he used it through this minority report to influence the decision," Hager said. "Once again, what Satan meant for evil, God turned into good."

Now its important to note here that this guy arguing "from a scientific perspective has also, as a doctor written a book recommending Bible study as a cure for menstrual cramps

Also let's note Dr. Hager was Specifically asked to write this report:

Speaking at the Asbury College chapel in Wilmore, Ky., Hager said, "I was asked to write a minority opinion that was sent to the commissioner of the FDA. For only the second time in five decades, the FDA did not abide by its advisory committee opinion, and the measure was rejected."

and who asked him?

well it seems Dr. Hager has begun a weasel dance around the truth now that he isn't speaking to a friendly audience:

In an e-mail to The Washington Post, Hager said the request for the report came from "outside the agency," but he had previously told two other journalists -- in one case in an e-mail that the recipient saved -- that the request came from an FDA staff member.

Ain't the written record a bitch? Seems our dear and moral Dr. is lying his ass off to somebody

FDA of Course has gone into Full denial mode:

An FDA spokeswoman said yesterday that the agency did not ask Hager to write a report and that Hager sent what she called a "private citizen letter" to Commissioner Mark McClellan. "We don't ask for minority reports and opinions," she said. "I've been advised that nobody from the FDA asked him to write the letter."

Alright, we'll buy that, but then please do be explaining exactly why the Commissioner overruled the Medical advisory panel!. See, until Chimpy's Taliban took over; that's basically never happened. At least not with as strong a recommendation as this drug got:

While the FDA sometimes rejects the recommendations of its expert panels, the Plan B case was highly unusual in that the vote was so lopsided in favor of over-the-counter sales and its own science staff had also strongly favored approval.

It also appears that it was no accident Hager was in place to provide a fig leaf to block approval of this drug. Somebody { Karl Rove} decided to Stack the deck over at FDA long before the Drug was even considered:

In his October sermon, Hager said that White House officials called him in June 2001 and asked him to serve in some capacity -- initially as a candidate for surgeon general and later as a member of two advisory boards. After one month, Hager said, he was called by the White House and asked to resign from those committees and join the FDA's reproductive drugs panel instead because "there are some issues coming up we feel are very critical, and we want you to be on that advisory board."

Well I suppose it could be worse , If he's telling the truth, we barely missed having Dr. "it won't hurt so much when you stop struggling" Hager as Surgeon General......

What Reporters ctully doing their Job sounds like

Well, well, a member of the press finally stood up and asked W and actual hard, informed and relevant question:

Q Mr. President, I can't let you go from here without a question of terrorism.


Q Latest surveys show that the numbers of terrorism are increasing, not decreasing.


Q Why is that?


Q You have made a lot of efforts.

Well check that out. A question that put the president on the spot by forcing him to explain a failing policy!

So which media outlet just got back from OZ with some new-found courage? ABC, NBC? CBS? CNN? MSNBC? FOX (Puh-leez)?

Nope. This exercise in actual journalism was brought to you by Estonian national TV

They've only had a free press for barely more than a decade now, and already they are doing a better job speaking truth to power, than all the American coporate media outlets combined.

And it isn't just the Estonians showing up the American press corps either, here's a question from Latvian TV :

Q The sentiment of anti-Americanism, as I'm sure you know, is quite widespread in Europe, and in my country, as well. Do you think there is any degree of your own fault in the fact that this sentiment is on the rise or --

In other Words "Mr. President are you a big part of the reason so many of your former allies now hate America?"

Its not a question you'll hear dear Wolf Blitzer ask anytime soon. In fact, its not a question any American reporter has had the testicles/ovaries to ask to date.

W's answers in both cases were worthless as far as actually providing thoughful insight. They sounded like they were derived by playing mix and match with random lines from his stump speeches. But that's not the point.

Yes, Bush may have dodged the answers, but at least the questions got asked, and the world could see W's slimy wriggling in real-time. The answer to the terrorism question, though, was notable because it was laugh-out-loud stupid: There are more terrorist attacks because we've been so successful in attacking terrorism.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, that's why. If we weren't trying to find the enemy and bring him to justice, the world would look relatively peaceful.
...And so when you engage the enemy, when you try to bring them to justice, they don't like to be brought to justice. .. so part of the reasons why activity is up is because we're chasing them down...

Q How long it takes to curb, finally?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, that's a good question. However long -- it takes as long as necessary. I just don't know. I don't have a -- I can't give you a timetable...

See that thing at the end ? The Reporter even asked a question, known in the biz as a follow-up question designed to elicit more information when an answer is incomplete or unclear. We should try that once in a while

And apparently it ain't just the Baltic TV boys who actually practice something resembling the journalistic craft.

This question comes from Roundtable with Foreign Print Journalists

Q: Mr. President, a few months ago you mentioned in Brussels the violence in The Netherlands. I presume you referred then to the murder of moviemaker [Theo] van Gogh.


Q: And that murder reminded the Dutch that they have a common interest with you -- with the U.S. in combating terrorism. But some critics argue that tensions in Dutch society and in the world -- between Muslims and non-Muslims -- were not only a result of 9/11, but also a result of the way you responded to 9/11, especially with the Iraq war. What is your answer to those critics?

THAT Virginia, is what a REAL reporter is supposed to sound like. Again, the answer was nothing special; a duck of the essential question and rant about evil-doers and extremists. But the wonder of the thing is that the question was asked at all.

And then there's this incredible moment. A reporter asks the $64,000 question that is at the heart of Bush's foreign policy:

Q: Mr. President, you're often speaking about freedom, and about the march to freedom, and about -- freedom. How do you define freedom?

Inasmuch as George has only used that word approximately 4,968,758 times, in this term alone, as a justification for everything from the War and Taxes to Social Security; you'd think somebody would have asked this one by now.

And you know what? This time the answer was actually informative. Though, it made me wonder if W realizes that by his definition, Freedom has yet to march into America:

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I view freedom as where government doesn't dictate. { like, oh say, a private end of life decision for a brain dead woman? }

Government is responsive to the needs of people. { and the People needed the Bankruptcy bill and the Patriot act how exactly?}

We say "of the people, by the people, and for the people." And a free society is one if the people don't like what is going on, they can get new leaders. { Cough, Florida, Cough, Diebold Cough Cough }

and then there was an absolute showstopper of a question, the one that SHOULD have been the first one asked at every presidential press availability:

Q: Mr. President, ..promoting democracy in the world is a very ambitious goal; and achieve peace, changing the ... But such a far-reaching idealism can also easily lead to moral inconsistencies that risk to undermine your credibility. For instance, how does the way detainees at Guantanamo Bay are being handled, how does that relate to your promotion of democracy and the rule of law?

In other words: "How can you expect the world not to think you are full of shit when you talk about one thing and do the opposite"?

W's answer revealed the utter depths of his Cluelessness. He seems to think that the only problem we have in holding the moral high ground is that those darn Abu Gharib pictures made us look bad. Seriously:

I appreciate that. That, and, for example, the pictures people saw about the prison --...I can understand people being concerned about prison abuse when they see the pictures out of Abu Ghraib, ...I'm realistic enough to know that images on TV have sullied our country's image, at times. And we've just got to continue to spread -- tell people the truth, be open about the mistakes of Abu Ghraib, hold people to account."
{Would it be impolite to note that we've just cleared every officer involved in Abu Gharib except the initial whistleblower?}

The reporter also asked an excellent follow-up about the limits of America's Freedom Doctrine, but Bush's answer was so nonsensical that attempting to read it may cause a sprain of your frontal lobes, so I'm omitting it as a public service.

(oh Okay, but you were warned.....I'll put in just a little protective snark to help :

Q: Would you say -- can I follow up?


Q: You say you are a realistic person, but there's also a problem with the limits. What are the limits of your idealistic policy? Does every autocratic regime, like Iran, just fear -- just to have fear of the American military power?

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, as I said, listen, I think issues ought to be solved diplomatically. My last choice is to commit military power.

{ Unless, say, its an oil-rich country whose ruler "tried to kill your daddy"}

It's a very difficult, hard decision to put people in harm's way.
{ Funny, that's not what you Told Pat Robertsonbefore the invasion}

On the other hand, I do believe people ought to be free. I said in my speech, I'm going to say it again in Europe, that we ought to have a goal to end tyranny. Why should we be content when we know people are living in fear? We should have a goal to end the pandemic of AIDS, as well.

{ WTF? apple, meet orange, orange, meet apple}

In other words, these are big goals. If you don't set big goals, you never achieve big things.
{like that? I got it off a Sucessories poster I have in the oval Office}

And I recognize it's -- I didn't say end tyranny tomorrow, I said, end tyranny over time.
{ and as that fellar Einstein said, Time is infinite, so I'm really off the hook timetable wise}

And in my speeches that I talk about, I always say, we need to work with friends to achieve -- and I believe we can achieve those goals. But I'm also recognizing that -- there's an issue, for example, in -- the idealistic position was to work with the world, the United Nations, France and the United States to get Syria out of Lebanon. But there's a consequence to that -- there will be a vacuum. And now we've got to work, if we get Syria completely out -- and I say, "if," because we're able to measure troops, it's harder to measure intelligence services -- but the statement is, all out -- not halfway out, not partially out, but all out, and meaning it when you say it, by the way.
{--?__! I hsve no words}

But there's a consequence to that, and that consequence is, is that there will be a period of time when the government, a new government is going to have to try to figure out how to make sure there's minority rights. There's a lot of religious groups. And there the world needs to help this new democracy -- I say, "new democracy," a democracy without Syrian influence that basically determined the course of action -- to help that government go forward. That's another role we should play. But if you didn't have an idealistic streak in you, you wouldn't be saying, it's possible to achieve democracy in Lebanon. Yet, I believe a democracy will be achieved in Lebanon, and I know it will serve as an important example in a neighborhood that is desperate for democracy.

{ could have sworn we were talking about Iraq a moment before}

I could keep rolling, because I believe that -- I think you're seeing the beginning of great, historic change. And it's going to be bumpy, it's going to be rocky and it's not going to be easy. I just told you, we have our own government -- here we are, the proponents of democracy, and we, ourselves, were certainly not perfect for many years. And we've still got work to do here at home, don't get me wrong. But I feel passionately about the freedom movement because I truly believe that etched in everybody's soul is the desire to be free, and that there is universality in freedom. And I reject the concept that certain people cannot self-govern, or shouldn't be free because of the nature of their religion or the color of their skin.

{ Can you count the number of times I clenched my jaw and gave you a steely glance while saying things like "hard work and freedom"? Uncle Karl taught me to do that}

And this just in:
It appears that even Dutch high school students are outclassing the American "pros" (from Dan Froomkin's Column in the Wapo yesterday

I wrote in yesterday's column about the tough questions Bush apparently faced from a group of Dutch students. I say "apparently" because the press was ushered out of the room after the first two.

Well, Dutch NOS television caught up with some of the students afterward, and as far as I can tell from this highly amusing and only somewhat helpful automated translation , after the press was ushered out, one student asked Bush if he realizes his policies have frightened moderate Muslims. And another student apparently asked about the detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

Now that's just sad. Why, the last time the President met with an unscreened group of Americans for an unscripted discussion......

well okay, thats never actually happened....

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Signs of Life from the WH press Corps

The Castrati of the White House Press Corps clearly fumbled the ball the other night. They had a shot at the Big man, live on national TV and failed to make him impart anything resembling actual information to anyone.

In other words, a typical day for them. However there are hints the press may have found the file cabinet where they keep their balls; ( or maybe Helen Thomas has just become a testosterone donor )

From yesterday's Press "briefing" with the Scott-bot

Q Scott, I'm confused by something the President said in his press conference the other night where he's talking about Social Security and he says that it spends the money on current retirees and with the money left over, it funds other government programs, and all that's left behind is file cabinets full of IOUs. Those IOUs are U.S. Treasury obligation, and it's the sovereign debt of the United States. Is he saying something about something the U.S. possibly defaulting on those IOUs? Isn't that guaranteed?

see? Now look there. A reporter actually asking a question supported by actual , researched facts!

Now ol' Scotty, he's a pro, he wasn't about to fall into the trap of actually saying anything factual in response:

MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, I think that the President, if you'll recall, went to West Virginia and stood in front of the file cabinet to point out to people what the trust fund really is. I mean, most people when they think of a trust fund, I think you would agree, believe that money is being set aside in account, and that it's their money and that they're going to receive that money back. Well, that's not the case. ..

take THAT regurgitated lump of the president's stump speech you worm!

But then, an odd thing happened. Instead of scuttling dutifully away, the reporter pressed the point!

Q Well, it is the case to the extent that the United States guarantees that it will repay on that. If the United States government, if the President or if any President decides he wasn't going to repay that debt, then, of course, they argue it --

gasp He actually flatly contradicted the press secretary!

Scotty decided he'd better try a a combo Stump Speech/non-sequitur twist:

MR. McCLELLAN: What is happening now under the current Social Security system, as the President has talked about, is a pay-as-you-go system. Money is being paid in to support today's retirees. So that money is not being set aside, it's being spent by the government.

And the President, one thing he has talked about, is the importance of personal accounts...Personal accounts will be something that is your money, it's being set aside, it's real savings. It's not phantom savings.

"cause phantom savings are bad see? They're scary, like ghosts! Ghost savings accounts that will float around rattling their chains and scaring the crap out of old people who will have heart attacks and die! Do we really want a system that scares our seniors to death? Do We?!

But like Night of the Living Dead, this reporter just kept coming. He had yet another follow-up question ready. The he actually tried to use "logic"!

Q Just to follow up, Scott. But even if you have your money in dollar bills, if the United States decides that they aren't going to guarantee that dollar bill, that money is worthless, too -- the same way with U.S. Treasury obligations. People buy them. They used to buy them for 30 years, because they were confident that the U.S. was not going to default on them. And what the President seems to be indicating is that that possibility does exist. What does he mean by that?

At that moment you could sense a great disturbance in the Force as if millions of Currency traders held their breath in terror that the white house was about to massively devalue the US dollar with a stupid answer.

Fortunately, realizing how far out on the limb he really was Scotty retreated with a blizzard of furious non-sequiturs and a lightning fast subject change:

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, it's the difference between real savings and phantom savings. It's what I just explained. Would you agree that a trust fund is where you set aside someone's money, and it's their money, and that they get it back?

Q It's no good unless the person issuing the money --

MR. McCLELLAN: That's not what's happening under the current system.

Q -- is going to -- Brain melting! Must. Continue to think logically!

Q Scott, should North Korea look at Iraq for a lesson on the consequences of not getting right with the international community?

had that failed, Scott was all ready with "now Look here, Chewbacca is a Wookie, yet he lives on Endor..."

Like I said, baby steps but a start. Testicles do not grow back overnight (trust me after that incident with the mousetrap, the bologna and the seven Russian hookers I should know) But with a little practice these boys and girls may actually grow up to ask real hard questions of their elected