Friday, July 02, 2004


This is not fun, Paul

I caught the tail end of "Crossfire" today on CNN. It's not a program I would recommend. Except for channel-surfing, I would have missed it. Nevertheless, it was a fine moment--better than the transcript.

You know what? Liberals really are developing a backbone. If it's "something goin' around," it hasn't infected the Democrats in Congress yet--probably because most of them aren't all that liberal. But who knows when a gathering wind will puff out their sails?

Bob Novak, now best known for being the "journalist" who outed CIA operative Valerie Plame, was alone on camera with his co-host Paul Begala, former counselor to President Clinton. Here's the "rush" transcript [italics are mine].

NOVAK: All right. Readers -- readers of the left wing magazine, "The Nation," might be a little shocked when they see the back page of the current issue. Even the most fanatical Bush haters might be shocked.

Yes, the drawing shows George W. Bush eating a headless child. This is inspired by a 19th century work by Francisco Goya, Saturn Devouring his Children, aimed against the Spanish monarchy.

Sitting at this table, I know how emotional and relentless and mindless is the hatred directed against George W. Bush. But in the spirit of patriotism, this Fourth of July weekend, I wonder, Paul, if you can join me in deploring this treatment of any president of the United States as over the line and unacceptable?

BEGALA: In the spirit of patriotism, let me support the first amendment, which says the nation shouldn't be censored by right- wingers. And let me ask you, Mr. Novak, with your new self-founded -- newfounded self-righteousness, are you going to retract the statement you said last week on "Meet the Press," where you implied that President Clinton was involved in people's deaths over Whitewater? That's the most outrageous things I've heard said about an American president.

NOVAK: I didn't say he was engaging -- and you're lying.

BEGALA: I'll read your words.

NOVAK: And when I said that...

BEGALA: "I don't believe that the Whitewater case was ever fully investigated. People died, and I believe Bill Clinton beat the rap on Whitewater."

NOVAK: Well, I didn't say he was involved with the thing.

BEGALA: You said...

NOVAK: You...

BEGALA: ... he beat the rap and people died. Who died? Who died in Whitewater?

NOVAK: McDougal died, and...

BEGALA: He died in prison of a heart attack.

NOVAK: Well, people died (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But just a minute. You can't -- you can't say -- go on national television and accuse me of something I didn't say.

BEGALA: I read your words.

NOVAK: I did not say that, and that is a lie. And I...

BEGALA: These are your words, Mr. Novak. I read them.

NOVAK: And I'm ashamed of you for going on the air and saying that.

BEGALA: I got this from the transcript. This is the transcript from "Meet the Press", Bob.

NOVAK: That's an outrage. And it is...

BEGALA: It is an outrage. You owe Mr. Clinton an apology.

NOVAK: ... an absolute outrage because I did not say that he was responsible for those deaths. And this is not fun, Paul.

Begala's charge was that Novak implied Clinton's involvement in certain deaths. Novak's pathetic defense is that he did not say that Clinton was "responsible" for those deaths, which is not to respond to the charge. [I will update this post if a better transcript becomes available.]

What's that whooshing sound?

I’m working on several posts considerably more serious than this one, but in the meanwhile, a little comic relief is in order. This story was carried by any number of outlets over a week ago, but I hope to bring you some fresh details.

We’re quite familiar by now with tales of inebriated or drug-besotted judges, but Judge Donald Thompson, a district judge in Oklahoma, sought a more natural remedy to the stresses of office. And the state attorney general, far from welcoming a method that would leave the judge's mind clear, filed a petition for the judge’s removal. His complaint?

Judge Thompson violated ... [the code of judicial ethics] by his repeated use of a device known as a penis pump during non-jury and jury trials in his courtroom and in the presence of court employees while serving in his capacity as district judge. He also violated these Canons by placing himself in a position where his court reporter viewed his penis on a number of occasions while he was serving in his capacity as district judge.

Well, Oklahoma is a “red” state, and if there’s one thing that red-staters just can’t stand it’s moral turpitude. So the course of this affair is a little puzzling.

Going back almost four years, Lisa Foster, the judge’s court reporter,

started hearing a noise that “sounded like a blood pressure cuff being pumped up.”... Three or four months later she noticed a space she had not noticed before where she could see between the judge’s drawer and a door on his desk. Over the course of time, from where she sat in her court reporter chair, Lisa Foster saw Judge Thompson place a penis pump on his penis “maybe ten” times during either a non-jury or a jury trial and operate the pump.

Ms. Foster saw Judge Thompson masturbate on a number of occasions and during the course of her employment, saw his penis fifteen to twenty times. On one occasion, Ms. Foster say Judge Thompson holding his penis up and shaving underneath it with a disposable razor while on the bench.

During a trial in August of 2003,

The sound of Judge Thompson using the penis pump during trial was heard by a number of witnesses including Chief James Isaac Wall, Jr. of the Sapulpa Police Department ... who testified that the noise sound[ed] “like air being pumped or released” similar to a blood pressure cuff.

Sergeant Michael Reed ... was testifying as a witness ... and heard a “ch-ch” sound like air coming from an air pump. He turned in his chair and saw ... Judge Thompson in his chair with his elbows on his knees. He noticed a white plastic-looking device in the judge’s right hand and saw his hand moving up and down. A section of a tube disappeared between the judge’s legs, underneath his robe.

Even the jury was puzzled—

A juror commented to Ms. Foster during the ... trial that she heard a “popping” sound and asked what that sound was. Another juror said the noise sounded like “sh, sh.” Ms. Foster confronted Respondent Judge about the noise and he replied, “I don’t know what they’re talking about. Do you?” Judge Thompson asked Ms. Foster to let him know if the jurors heard the sound again or if she heard it.

But there were other indications that the judge was up to a little more than cogitation--

The cleaning responsibility [for the trash can under the bench] later fell to Judge Thompson’s secretary, Zelma Hindman, who testified that she found semen in the trash can on more than one occasion.
There were times when Ms. Hindman would hear ... the pump in his office.

The judge, however, did not neglect his personal hygiene.

... [h]is court reporter could see his penis, both erect and non-erect, from fifteen to twenty times, including seeing him masterbuate and lift his penis and shave underneath with a razor.

If all these allegations are true, how could it have continued for so long? Only one news report yields a clue. At a news conference “in which reporters weren’t allowed to ask questions,”

Hindman said working as Thompson's secretary-bailiff was ''probably the best job I've ever had.''
''I was afraid if I said anything I would get fired,'' Hindman said. ''It's hard to talk about something like that.''

You have to go to South Africa’s Independent Online to learn these details of the rebuttal:

The judge flatly denies the charges made in the petition, his lawyer, Clark Brewster, said on Thursday. He said the judge received a penis pump for his 50th birthday as a gag gift, which became a source of a running joke in the courthouse.

"The allegations are bizarre and preposterous," Brewster said. "Recently, some members of local law enforcement that are upset with a number of his rulings, used this situation to embarrass and attack him."

Chicago Pride adds this:
Thompson has a reputation for being a tough law and order judge, strong on family morals. He once tried to send a man to prison for life for spitting on a police officer. Thompson served six years in the state House of Representatives starting in 1975.

And the Best Headline Award goes to—(drum roll)—FOX NEWS

Oklahoma Wants Accused Judge Yanked

Thursday, July 01, 2004


Tucker Carlson - What we're losing

PBS, our so-called “unbiased” television news source, has given Tucker Carlson a 30-minute right-wing rant fest on Friday evenings. It’s all a part of reining in and “balancing” the explosion of information about government and corporate misdeeds that Bill Moyers’ “Now” has put forth on those same Friday evenings. Moyers, sadly, is retiring after the November election, and “Now” will be cut to a half hour.

Just in case you thought cronyism and nepotism were not part of the PBS line-up, let me point out that Tucker Carlson’s dad Richard was president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) from 1992-1997. The CPB distributes federal funds to the local public television licensees and provides the bulk of the funds for program production.

With a photo of Tucker wearing his trademark khakis and bowtie, looking for all the world as if he’s just stepped out of a Young Republicans meeting where they’ve just laid plans for a racist cookie sale, PBS, under the heading “Fearless Television,” describes Carlson’s show as
... a one-on-one interview with a newsmaker from the realms of politics, academe, letters and culture. Joined by contributors from across the political spectrum, Carlson's discussions bring together stimulating, thoughtful observers of the American scene. Moreover, each episode opens with Carlson's commentary on an issue that particularly piques his interest that week and concludes with a conversation with a noted author or social thinker. [Italics mine]

In other words, unless one of the “thoughtful observers” shits on camera, there’s no news here.

Carlson’s show is called “Tucker Carlson Unfiltered.” Well, here’s a filtered version of Tucker, attempting some Clinton-bashing while speaking with former Clinton prosecutor Ken Starr.
Carlson: Clinton’s book is out and he reserves his harshest words for Ken Starr. He said your investigation was an abuse of power and for him the battle was “a badge of honor.” What do you make of that?

Starr: I think he has strong feelings about it.

Carlson: Can you boil it down for us.
What did Bill Clinton do wrong?
What laws did he break?

Starr: Read the referral, Tucker. It had something to do with the integrity of the justice system.

Carlson: Do you regret your role in that investigation?
Do you regret anything you did during that investigation?

Starr: We might have “shaped” it differently, but I enjoyed the people I met.

Carlson: Clinton said he got so angry when he got to the part about you that he had to go for a four-hour walk.

Starr: I regret it, but I understand it.

Carlson: Are you going to read the book?

Starr: Yes. But I don’t feel that way [whatever that means].
Carlson: Almost six years after you delivered your report to the House of Representatives, Bill Clinton is rich, he is thin, he appears to be happy, his approval rating is rising.
He is winning his way back into the affections of America.1
His wife is a senator.
You are not going to be on the supreme court.
You were talked about as a likely nominee under the republican administration.
Do you feel frustration?
It seems Clinton won.
Starr: I don’t see it that I way. I did my duty.
Carlson: Why not write a book about the investigation and the Clinton years.
What precisely did Clinton do wrong.
Boil it down.
You didn't boil it down.
It is not so clear what Clinton did wrong.
He lied about sex.
Maybe you should write a book and explain.
Starr: I don't want to reduce it to a bumper sticker. The facts are there.

Carlson: What will Clinton's legacy be?

Starr: I think it will be a mixed legacy. We all make mistakes.

Carlson: He is smart but he is a liar?

Starr: I'm not going get into characterization.

Carlson: You are next month leaving and going to Pepperdine law school.
You will be the dean.

Starr: I'm so glad you mentioned that.
Carlson: Are you glad you’re leaving Washington?

Starr: No.

Carlson: If you were called to government service in the future would you go?

Starr: I have never said no, but I might if I was asked to be an independent council again.

Carlson: Hopefully you will write a book.
Thanks for joining us.

Well, wasn’t that enlightening?

This is the kind of crap that CPB is sponsoring with your dollars.

Drop them a line from time to time. They run their mail online at And if you write, send me a copy. I'll be happy to publish good rants to the media.

Oh, and don't forget to write your local PBS station--especially if you're a member.


1Clinton never lost the affection of Americans, and Carlson knows it. As Joe Strupp said over at Editor and Publisher, "let's not forget ... that the often-mocked Bill Clinton ... left office with approval ratings that beat Reagan's (and no federal budget deficit, to boot)."

Gallup News Service wrote, "What we do know is that he [Clinton] left office with a relatively high average job approval rating, and that his image, to this day remains polarized. Enough Americans still like Clinton, however, to ensure that he retains a place on Gallup Poll's annual list of most admired men, and that he is fourth on the list when Americans are asked to name the greatest president of all time."

Carlson is a lying twit. [back]

Wednesday, June 30, 2004


Rat watch II

The plum assignment of the landed aristocracy in America is up for grabs. William S. Farish, the U.S. ambassador to Britain, has announced his decision to resign effective July 10. Much like the CIA’s George Tenet, he is leaving the post to turn his attention to “family and business.”

Ambassador Farish began his career as a stockbroker, then moved on to gas and oil before

Ambassador Farish

settling down on a 2,000-acre stud farm. He became chairman of Churchill Downs, the sponsor of the Kentucky Derby, before ascending to his post as ambassador.

His selection to the post seems to have been predicated on three qualities that stand over and above an undoubted plenitude of abilities. He’s obscenely rich; he’s a Bush supporter;1 and he has serviced—and continues to service—the Queen’s mares.

Perhaps having in mind the Queen’s horses, he noted in his resignation announcement that Americans and Britains "share a lot of cultural DNA."

For all his accomplishments, Ambassador Farish never lost the common touch. The BBC reports his observation that

[T]he British people see President Bush "as a plain-spoken man of principle who says what he believes"

Ambassador Farish made some 30-odd declarations during his three-year tenure and planted a rose bush. Those speeches and writings that were not associated with 9/11 were either in defense of the policies of George Bush or toward the promotion of business and globalization.

This past March, defending the President against the vicious attacks of Richard Clarke, he wrote in The Independent,

Can anyone give credence to the suggestion that President Bush didn't take seriously the threat of terrorism? Groucho Marx was once quoted as saying, "Who are you going to believe? Me or your own eyes?" A glance at President Bush's statements, and his actions, clearly demonstrate that he has given more attention to the threat of terrorism - and done more to defeat it - than any other president.

While some have questioned the wisdom of alluding to the Groucho Marx quote, Ambassador Farish stands by his statement.

Ambassador Farish took his role as representative of the United States Chamber of Commerce very seriously. As he noted to the Pilgrim’s Society,

Years of building up and running my own companies had prepared me to represent the interests of American businesses; to help them and their British counterparts do more business together, and to deal with the complexities of our economic relationship.

Speaking on globalization to the Institute of Directors Annual Convention, he remarked on its benefit to the Chinese.

In 1968, almost 80 percent of the shoes Americans bought were made in America. Thirty years later, the home-made proportion was just over 7 percent. These days, most of the shoes bought in America are made in China. Those three decades brought a lot of pain to American shoe-workers. More than 100 factories closed between 1978 and 1998 alone.

Today, those Americans may be working in retail2 or service jobs.3 And in China, income levels have been rising. Ask the shoe-makers in China if they would prefer to turn back the clock. Or if they would prefer to continue looking forward, to a day when their children might move out of manufacturing into a desk job.

On the economy he said,

The past two years have been full of shocks to American business, from the demise of the dot-com fantasy, to terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, to revelations of corporate fraud. Add all that to a slowdown that had already begun when President Bush took office, and we find ourselves living in unpredictable times.

It was to everyone's relief when they realized the slowdown “had already begun when President Bush took office.”

Concerning Enron and other scandals of the business community, he urged corporations to be cautious about being too cautious—

The heightened scrutiny of corporate practices has made an already risk-averse business community even more cautious - and that's bad for the economy. We must be careful, in the public and private sectors, to avoid over-reaction.
Corporate leaders, faced with gloomy forecasts, irate investors, and TV pictures of counterparts being led away in handcuffs, must avoid going into retreat mode.

But he reassured everyone at the gathering when he said,

We all know that the bad apples account for only a tiny minority of the business population. Most members of the business community are ethical pillars of their own and the global communities. Most have nothing to fear from laws that require transparency and fair treatment.

Ambassador Farish leaves Britain with a moist eye and a cherished memory—

I got a privilege in November last given to an American Ambassador in 1918: giving up my home so the President could host the British sovereign as part of a State visit. The evening was capped-off with West End singers almost blowing the windows out of my dining room with an extraordinary selection of Andrew Lloyd Webber's show tunes. But it was also punctuated by the family dog barking as the President began his toast.

Overall, a more representative representative will be hard to find, and we know that the British will miss him very much.

But speaking of replacements, it is believed that President Bush will make a temporary appointment to fill the vacancy. It is not yet clear who will be appointed, but Paul Bremer, lately of Iraq, is looking for work. The appointment of Paul Bremer to the British ambassadorship will surely heighten the regard in which the United States is held by the British people.


1 I simply cannot write this phrase without envisioning a Presidential truss [back]

2 Wal-Mart [back]

3 McDonalds [back]


Problem solved -- I hope

Eight hours and many curses later, I've got the Haloscan comments working. Now I'll try to get some writing done.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


We are experiencing technical difficulties . . .

I'm trying to switch to Haloscan comments, so far without success. We hope that comments will be back up tomorrow.

Welcome to America

Just wanted to welcome all my visitors from the UK and Ireland. Sorry our house is in such a mess. We're trying to clean it up, but this may take awhile.

Job opportunities on the rise in New York City

With the Republican convention in NYC coming up in August, the smell of money is beginning to perfume the air. According to the city’s official tourism website, the convention “is expected to generate over $250 million in economic activity and put New York City firmly at the center of the world’s stage.” I believe they’re being too modest.
Agencies are flying in extra call girls from around the globe to meet the expected demand during the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 gathering at Madison Square Garden.

"We have girls from London, Seattle, California, all coming in for that week," said a madam at a Manhattan escort service. "It's the week everyone wants to work."

Previous Republican conventions have been a vital windfall for the sex-worker industry.

At the 1996 Republican convention in San Diego, an escort service in search of delegate dollars changed its name to GOP: Good Old-Fashioned Pleasure.

Of course, in keeping with Republican values, opportunities will only be afforded to “upscale” workers making $500 an hour or more.

"I get depressed whenever there's a big political convention because I know the street girls are going to be hassled, arrested and treated like criminals," Quan [author of Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl] said. "All in the name of 'cleaning up' our city for these people from out of town."

Many of you will be familiar with the attempt last November by Tom Delay, Republican majority leader in the House, to set up a yacht at the convention that would have benefited his charity Celebrations for Children, Inc. Unfortunately for the little tykes, Delay had to call off the plan, supposedly in the face of charges that he was trying to skirt the campaign finance laws.

But I have it on good authority that the real reason the plan was abandoned was the logistical problems that the yacht would have presented the prostitutes and their would-be clients. Many of the girls said they couldn’t swim. When a modest boat was offered, they huffed that a dinghy was beneath their dignity. Delay felt that a helicopter was out of the question, since that would be the only way his conventioneers could get off the ship, once the protests got going.

The convention schedule, released yesterday, carefully takes into account the needs of the Republican conventioneers, who are known for their devotion to church and family. Arriving on Monday, they will be released the following Saturday, which will allow time to make it back home for Confession (if need be) and Sunday services.

Monday, June 28, 2004


Freedom fries again?

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to eating French fries—now that Bush says that Chirac is a buddy again—comes this, under the “winning hearts and minds” category.
In a telephone poll of 500 [Canadian] teens aged 14 to 18, more than 40 per cent of respondents saw the U.S. as an evil global force. Among French-Canadians, that number jumped to 64 per cent.
That’s almost two out of three French-speaking teenyboppers. As Dick Cheney would say, Allez vous faire foutre! So I’m ordering freedom fries from now on. But wait—aren’t those Canadian potatoes in that fryer?

Thinking of a little contest . . .

I'm thinking of starting a little contest—The Rat Catcher—to see who’s the best at predicting resignations from the Rat’s Nest. The person who catches the most rats will win the Golden Nipple award, in honor of Janis Jackson’s revelation.1

Of course, we can’t have a contest without rules, or where would we be? So I’ll try to come up with some rules, but if you can think of any good rules, send them in.


1 You can laugh all you want, but many of us were glad she did it. You can’t imagine how many men were astonished to learn what that bulge was in women’s shirts. Now we know. I even know some women who were astonished. The only people who didn’t seem surprised were the children. Is this something they're teaching in the schools, like New Math? [back]

Sunday, June 27, 2004


The L.A. Times gives 'em hell -- sort of

The LA Times wrote what we call a “blunt” editorial today. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version:
In its scale and intent, President Bush's war against Iraq was something new and radical: a premeditated decision to invade, occupy and topple the government of a country that was no imminent threat to the United States.... It was the dispatch of more than 100,000 U.S. troops to implement Bush's post-Sept. 11 doctrine of preemption, one whose dangers President John Quincy Adams understood when he said the United States "goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy."
The current president outlined a far more aggressive policy . . . declaring that in the war on terror "we must take the battle to the enemy" and confront threats before they emerge. The Iraq war was intended as a monument to his new Bush Doctrine.... It now stands as a monument to folly.
Residents of the Middle East see the U.S. not as a friend but as an imperial power bent on securing a
guaranteed oil supply and a base for U.S. forces. Much of the rest of the world sees a bully.
All the main justifications for the invasion offered beforehand by the Bush administration and its supporters — weapons of mass destruction, close ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq, a chance to make Baghdad a fountain of democracy that would spread through the region — turned out to be baseless.
The U.S. is also poorer after the war, in lives lost, billions spent and terrorists given new fuel for their rage. The initial fighting was easy; the occupation has been a disaster, with Pentagon civilians arrogantly ignoring expert advice on the difficulty of the task and necessary steps for success.
A year later, more than 90% of Iraqis want the U.S. to leave their country. The president boasted in July that if Iraqi resistance fighters thought they could attack U.S. forces, "bring them on." Since then, more than 400 personnel have been killed by hostile fire.

A Litany of Costly Errors

The missteps have been many: listening to Iraqi exiles like Ahmad Chalabi who insisted that their countrymen would welcome invaders; using too few troops, which led to a continuing crime wave and later to kidnappings and full-blown terror attacks. Disbanding the Iraqi army worsened the nation's unemployment problem and left millions of former soldiers unhappy — men with weapons. Keeping the United Nations at arm's length made it harder to regain assistance when the need was dire.

It will take years for widely felt hostility to ebb, in Iraq and other countries. The consequences of arrogance, accompanied by certitude that the world's most powerful military can cure all ills, should be burned into Americans' memory banks.

Preemption is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster. The U.S. needs better intelligence before it acts in the future. It needs to listen to friendly nations. It needs humility.

As brazen as this editorial may seem by the standards of American media, it is really quite “restrained.” Nowhere does it mention that executing the doctrine of preemption is a war crime. And it is important for it to be understood as such, as much or more than that the abuse of prisoners is a war crime.

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