Friday, June 11, 2004

1, 2, 3, What Was Bush Fighting For?

Spencer Ackerman catches Bush at his best.

The Prez: "I really never thought I'd be sitting next to an Iraqi President of a free country a year and a half ago."

What? Wasn't this Operation Iraqi Freedom?

Bush a year and a half ago, via Ackerman:
Should we be forced into action, there will be serious consequences for the Iraqi people--and that's freedom, freedom from oppression. Freedom from oppression, freedom from torture, freedom from murder, freedom to realize your God-given talents.
Free room, free food, free swimming pool, free HBO... ooh! Free Willy! Anything but a free Iraqi country, apparently.

Also, the content of this message behooves me to link to the best Onion article -- ever.

- Marc
Bush Administration Makes Up Its Good News, Part II

Earlier today I noted an appalling, not-so-startling State Department admission: Data indicating a decrease in terror last year was, well, wrong.

With one of Bob Somberby's patented low, mordant chuckles, I wondered if jobs numbers were fudged, too.

While I'm no longer in the ranks of the unemployed, it turns out the jobs numbers are, indeed, suspect.

The folks at our national Minitrue told us we added 248,000 nonfarm jobs last month. Not so fast.

Are those numbers correct? The Labor Department doesn't know:
[Labor department economist Tom Nardone] said "people are free to think whatever they want" about the technique of compiling data, and added that the Labor Department will know this time next year whether the figure is accurate.
I feel like I'm living in a dystopian novel. And from the ones I've read, I don't like how those books usually end.

- Marc
Missing the Point?

A University of Chicago engineer compiles a database of words used in positive Pitchfork reviews. After finding the secret formula, he then tries to record songs to fit the critics' specs.

Most telling quote:
When the Pitchfork reviewers write about a record they don't like, they're more likely to mention two things:

1. words referencing consumerism and business, and
2. words insulting the intelligence of the musicians or listeners.
Et tu, Pitchfork?

The whole idea is pretty novel and hilarious, and the dude obviously knows what he's doing. But something tells me you don't pad your indie cred by admitting your songs are formulaic. And yet... the music ain't half bad. (Thanks to Steve for the tip.)

Update: The study may have come upon the major reason I so often disagree with Pitchfork:

I don't understand why the word "lyrics" gets such a low wordscore (-3141.48). I have a few theories as to why this might be, but I really don't have it figured out. Do Pitchfork critics prefer lyrics that they don't have to talk about, i.e. lyrics that aren't a large part of the music?
Lyrics matter to me. Image matters to Pitchfork.

- Marc
Bush Administration Makes Up Its Good News

Really, is this even a surprise anymore?

AP reports:
The State Department acknowledged Thursday that it was wrong in reporting that terrorism declined worldwide last year, a finding the Bush administration had pointed to as evidence of its success in countering terror.
But oh yeah, those economic numbers that have been coming in? You can trust those!

- Marc

Thursday, June 10, 2004

A Unique Position to Confirm or Disconfirm

Whopundit hasn't been able to confirm whether Bill O'Reilly regularly enjoys giving oral pleasure to pet goats.

From his no-spin zone, via the Howler:

O'REILLY: But when we come back, I want to talk about Bill Clinton apparently is miffed that he wasn't invited to speak, but he did speak at the Richard Nixon funeral.


MALKIN: as you mentioned before the break, of course, Clinton is livid that he is not in the spotlight at this point.

O'REILLY: We haven't been able to confirm that, though. I want to be absolutely fair. And that has been my mantra ever since the presidential race began. I want to be absolutely fair. We haven't been able to confirm that former President Clinton is angry he wasn't invited to participate here. So I will tell you it has been reported.
In the interest of being fair and balanced, I'd like to point out it also has been reported George H. W. Bush believes Rev. Moon is the Messiah. George wouldn't return my calls. But it has been reported.

- Marc
That Ain't Constitutional, Bee-yotch

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart is no lawyer, but he wonders why John Ashcroft didn't invoke something -- executive privilege, writ of douchebaggery... -- in his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Best line: "This is what it's come to: We need to have an administration official state our position on torturing people." (Via Atrios)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming of hagiographical, self-serving Ronald Reagan tributes.

- Marc

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Playing Politics With 'Playing Politics'

Bush is against playing politics. I know because he accuses others of doing it all the time. Republicans were incensed with Democrats "politicizing" the late Sen. Paul Wellstone's memorial.

Well, what do you call this? (Via Joshua Micah Marshall)

- Marc
Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before

Steve Gozdecki does us the favor of plumbing the depths of the Drudge Report.

It seems everyone's favorite mud-flinger linked to a Manchester Online article in which Morrissey's big mouth strikes, well, again.

Quoth Moz: "Bush should have died, not Reagan."

Apparently we're all supposed to be shocked. But this is a typical Moz publicity ploy. Steve explains:

Level-headed viewers may recall that Mr. Morrissey had similar things to say after a failed IRA bombing plot against Maggie Thatcher. It's all part of his shtick -- and no crueler than half the things that come out of Sean Hannity's lying yap.
For fun, enjoy the Drudge-inspired comments section (or check Steve's site for the greatest hits).

Drudge readers: For controversial Morrissey lyrics you'll actually agree with, click here.

"Life is hard enough when you belong here," the famously enigmatic singer once proclaimed, a la Pat Buchanan, Pete Wilson or Adolf Hitler. So is he a fascist or a "communist"? We don't know. Maybe he's just an entertainer. Get over it.

- Marc

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Flunking History (or Getting a Gentleman's C)

President Bush, today: "Ronald Reagan will go down in history as a great American President because he had a core set of principles from which he would not deviate."

Paul Krugman, today: "Ronald Reagan does hold a special place in the annals of tax policy, and not just as the patron saint of tax cuts. To his credit, he was more pragmatic and responsible than that; he followed his huge 1981 tax cut with two large tax increases. In fact, no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people. This is not a criticism: the tale of those increases tells you a lot about what was right with President Reagan's leadership, and what's wrong with the leadership of George W. Bush."

That's Bush in a nutshell: "steady leadership in times of change."

On the economy, Bush believes in tax cuts when the economy is strong -- and when it's foundering. Bush believed in attacking Iraq -- even though that nation posed no "imminent threat" and though the currente quagmire has only given terrorists further recruitment material. As Richard Clarke inimitably put it:
It was as if Usama bin Laden, hidden in some high mountain redoubt, were engaging in long range mind control of George Bush, chanting 'invade Iraq, you must invade Iraq.'
Yes, Bush has a "core set of principles" from which he will not deviate -- even if it means failing at every task that matters. It's revealing that what he mistakenly sees as Reagan's greatest asset is his own worst weakness.

- Marc

Monday, June 07, 2004

Does Anyone Else Find This Gross?

I wouldn't want to see the corpses of people I actually know, let alone of nonagenarian actor/politicians.

Give the dead their due. But living conservatives are as creepy as the Lenin worshippers in Communist Russia.

Let's elevate the discourse here: Icky-poo.

Update: I was just watching ABC News, and it looks like the coffin is draped with an American flag -- I had been picturing an open coffin with a painstakingly preserved corpse. Also, alert reader J. Scott pointed out that Johnson and Kennedy were displayed in the same manner.

I apologize for my confusion; I certainly don't think a flag-draped casket is "gross."

Serves me right for trying to pick on something trivial amidst all the somber Reagan encomia and liberal rebuttals. How does our press corps do it?

- Marc
Safire Proposes Another Bush Flip-Flop

William Safire really knows the value of steady leadership in times of change.

Safire is only the latest performer in the continuing political circus following the death of Ronald Reagan. But it seems to me he's suggesting that President Bush should change his mind on the stem-cell issue due to political expediency.

Now, I happen to think Bush made the wrong decision about stem-cell research in 2001, but this sounds a lot like the sort of flip-flop of which Republicans have accused every Democratic presidential contender since Clinton:

[I]f public opinion, already trending toward the rights of the afflicted, can be affected by the association of the warmly remembered Reagan name with a federal impetus to stem-cell research and rigorous cloning control, I say it's a good thing. If such regulatory legislation passed by Congress included a Reagan Biomedical Research Initiative at N.I.H, President Bush should feel comfortable in signing it.
Unless President Kerry signs it instead.

- Marc

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