Monthly Archives: February 2005

Why I Need To Read More

These are the 110 most banned books.  The ones I have read (or mostly read) are in bold; the ones I have read excerpts of are in italics.

#1 The Bible
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
#4 The Koran
#5 Arabian Nights (any number of doubtless-abridged versions)
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
#7 Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (all four books)
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
#11 The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne
#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
#23 Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
#29 Candide by Voltaire
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Das Capital by Karl Marx
#37 Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
#43 Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys
#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’ Nest
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X (Alex Haley, too)
#57 Color Purple by Alice Walker
#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
#77 Red Pony by John Steinbeck
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brow
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
#102 Emile Jean by Jacques Rousseau
#103 Nana by Emile Zola
#104 Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
#108 Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Oscar Night

For the first time in many many many many many years, I really didn’t give a shit.  I hadn’t seen most of the movies, except "Sideways" which was nice.

I’m glad Morgan Freeman won.  That was nice.

But here’s the thing: does Chris Rock suck bigtime or what?

The Hidden Cost

A side of the Iraqi War that you rarely read about:

Jesus Bocanegra was an Army infantry scout for units that pursued Saddam Hussein in his hometown of Tikrit. After he returned home to McAllen, Texas, it took him six months to find a job.

He was diagnosed with PTSD and is waiting for the VA to process his disability claim. He goes to the local Vet Center but is unable to relate to the Vietnam-era counselors.

“I had real bad flashbacks. I couldn’t control them,” Bocanegra, 23, says. “I saw the murder of children, women. It was just horrible for anyone to experience.”

Bocanegra recalls calling in Apache helicopter strikes on a house by the Tigris River where he had seen crates of enemy ammunition carried in. When the gunfire ended, there was silence.

But then children’s cries and screams drifted from the destroyed home, he says. “I didn’t know there were kids there,” he says. “Those screams are the most horrible thing you can hear.”

At home in the Rio Grande Valley, on the Mexico border, he says young people have no concept of what he’s experienced. His readjustment has been difficult: His friends threw a homecoming party for him, and he got arrested for drunken driving on the way home.

“The Army is the gateway to get away from poverty here,” Bocanegra says. “You go to the Army and expect to be better off, but the best job you can get (back home) is flipping burgers. … What am I supposed to do now? How are you going to live?”

Read more here.

Uncle Bucky Cashes In

From the LA Times:

The Iraq war helped bring record earnings to St. Louis-based defense contractor Engineered Support Systems Inc., and new financial data show that the firm’s war-related profits have trickled down to a familiar family name — Bush.

William H.T. "Bucky" Bush, uncle of the president and youngest brother of former President George H.W. Bush, cashed in ESSI stock options last month with a net value of nearly half a million dollars.

"Uncle Bucky," as he is known to the president, is on the board of the company, which supplies armor and other materials to U.S. troops. The company’s stock prices have soared to record heights since before the invasion, benefiting in part from contracts to rapidly refit fleets of military vehicles with extra armor.

So, let’s see. Thousands of parents have to spend money so that their kids — National Guardsmen heading for Iraq — have the proper armor for combat, while Bucky Bush gets a little dividend. Nice.

More on the F-word

A little over a week ago, I wrote a post about the F-word ("fascism") being used to describe the Bush Administration by a prominent conservative magazine.

Was it just mudflinging . . . or is there something to the notion that we are heading into a fascist era?

This flash animation makes a compelling argument that we are indeed seeing the earmarks of a fascist state.

From the Producers of “The Swift Boat Veterans for *cough* Truth *cough*”…

… comes the latest in surreal conservative propaganda. And it is a doosy.

AARP: Anti-military. Pro Gay. Therefore, we should privatize social security.

This is a copy of the the ad being run by USANext, the conservative alternative to AARP (when you click the actual ad, you are taken to USANext‘s home page). 2

There’s no article or argument as to WHY the AARP is supposedly anti-military or pro-gay. They just . . . um . . . ARE . . . I guess.

Meanwhile get the scoop on USANext here.

I have no problem with there being an alternative to the AARP (although I’m not inclined to think of the AARP as anti-military, pro-gay), but really — a front for the pharma industry? How stupid do conservatives think our senior citizens are?

Disconcerting News

WASHINGTON – The Earth may be on the brink of a worldwide epidemic from a bird flu virus that may mutate to become as deadly and infectious as viruses that killed millions during three influenza pandemics of the 20th century, a federal health official said Monday.


"The science here is all alerting us that we have a great deal to be concerned about," she said.

The CDC chief said her agency is getting ready for a possible pandemic next year.

Read the whole thing.

Bush’s “Schtick”

Gotta love it. From the NY Times article on the newly-discovered Bush tapes:

He refused to answer reporters’ questions about his past behavior, he said, even though it might cost him the election. Defending his approach, Mr. Bush said: "I wouldn’t answer the marijuana questions. You know why? Because I don’t want some little kid doing what I tried."

Isn’t that the height of arrogance? Does Bush actually think that kids will try marijuana because HE did it? Like . . . of ALL the people that kids want to emulate, he’s #1?!?

He mocked Vice President Al Gore for acknowledging marijuana use. "Baby boomers have got to grow up and say, yeah, I may have done drugs, but instead of admitting it, say to kids, don’t do them," he said…

Because "just say no" worked so well in the 1980’s, I guess.

Anyway, instead of that message being sent, the message received is "It’s okay to do drugs, just so long as you don’t admit to doing them, so you can then tell others how bad drugs are."

When Mr. Wead warned that he had heard reporters talking about Mr. Bush’s "immature" past, Mr. Bush said, "That’s part of my schtick, which is, look, we have all made mistakes."

Schtick?!? That’s Yiddish for "gimmick", isn’t it? Here’s a nice example of more schtick . . .

Preparing to meet Christian leaders in September 1998, Mr. Bush told Mr. Wead, "As you said, there are some code words. There are some proper ways to say things, and some improper ways."

So . . . a man of principle? Or a class-A panderer relying on gimmicks and proper wordsmithing? You be the judge.

Hypocrisy of the Right – Part III

From the comments at Body and Soul via Sisyphus Shrugged:

See, me, I’m fine with his being gay. Hell, I’m fine with him being a prostitute, if that’s what he needs to do to live.

What I want to see, and what thankfully I am seeing, is all of the right-wing pundits roaring anathema on left-wing blogs because by not recognizing that bringing up Jeff Gannon’s business (which, you know, he did advertise all over the internet) the left is showing hypocrisy and homophobia and not letting him have the privacy which he has every right to. Anyone who wouldn’t just tactfully not mention Jeff Gannon’s sideline is a gay-hating ignorant bad person.

I’m sure it comes as quite a shock to the twenty-something percent of the voters who came out and supported their guy because he was going to put it to all those terrible gay people that their opinion makers think so little of them.

The right has for years justified taking children away from gay women with nine to five jobs and not letting gay men adopt by trotting out the same footage of the mardi gras style parades in San Francisco and saying see? These people are freaks. You can’t let these people think they’re as good as we are. Society is going to fall down and go boom if we don’t put these people in their place.

Well then, fine. Y’all go ahead and explain to me why a woman who’s a good mother and a responsible citizen has lost her right to raise her children because and only because she loves another woman but Jeff Gannon, who peddles his ass to other men, is above reproach because

Because what?

What I don’t like about Jeff Gannon is his politics and his dishonesty. What the right is in an uproar about is what he does with his genitals behind closed doors.

Fine. Tell all the nice values voters why that’s something we shouldn’t penalize a person for. It’s an open book test. You can copy stuff off of every liberal blog in town.

Hypocrisy of the Right – Part II

Eason Jordon believed that U.S. soldiers were targetting journalists. Ann "It’s Time for the New McCarthyism" Coulter wants U.S. soldiers to target journalists.

Eason Jordon’s statement is made in a closed-door symposium with relatively few listeners. He retracts it almost immediately.

Ann Coulter’s statement was made on national television to untold millions of listeners. She never retracts it.

Eason Jordon is compelled to resign as a result of his statement.

Ann Coulter gets booked on television, and gets asked back, as a result of her statement.

Right Wing blogosphere reaction to Eason Jordon: Pack mentality, and blood-revenge.

Right Wing blogosphere reaction to Ann Coulter: [crickets, a sagebrush blows in the wind, a dog barks in the distant, more crickets]

I’m just sayin’ . . .

Hypocrisy of the Right – Part I

If the Clinton Adminstration had done something like this . . .

U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers are conducting secret talks with Iraq’s Sunni insurgents on ways to end fighting there, Time magazine reported yesterday, citing Pentagon and other sources.

… the right wingers would run the word "appeaser" into the ground.

But it is Bush, so they don’t. Hypocrisy of the right.

Of course, what you THINK is happening isn’t ACTUALLY happening, according to the Bush Administration:

The Bush administration has said it would not negotiate with Iraqi fighters and there is no authorized dialogue, but the United States is having "back-channel" communications with certain insurgents, unidentified Washington and Iraqi sources told the magazine.

I guess that’s why the right wing blogosphere isn’t calling Bush an "appeaser". Because Bush isn’t "officially" negotiating with terrorists. He’s only unofficially negotiating with terrorists, and that’s okay.

Camilla Banned From White House


George Bush has banned Camilla Parker Bowles from the White House – because she is a divorcee.

The unprecedented snub has effectively sabotaged Charles’s plan to take his bride on a Royal tour of America later this year.


A divorcee? Never!

A gay hooker, on the other hand . . .

We Told You So (Again)

And yet again:

The insurgency in Iraq continues to baffle the U.S. military and intelligence communities, and the U.S. occupation has become a potent recruiting tool for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, top U.S. national security officials told Congress yesterday.

"Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists," CIA Director Porter J. Goss told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.


Meanwhile, new CIA Director Porter Goss told the Senate Intelligence Committee the Iraq war was giving terrorists experience and contacts for future attacks, and FBI Director Robert Mueller expressed worry that a sleeper operative in the U.S. may have been in place for years, awaiting orders for an attack.

Sleep tight, kiddies.

Mmmmmm. What will the winger response be:

  1. "You aren’t going to trust U.S. intelligence, are you?"
  2. "What are you saying? Are you saying that you love Islamofascists? Well, the why don’t you go join them since you obviously love them so much?" (followed by the K-I-S-S-I-N-G "up in a tree" song)
  3. "WaPo lies. The truth resides at Powerline and Free Republic."
  4. "Look! Over there! A professor I never heard of said something really BAD! And Oliver Willis is fat!"
  5. "It’s Clinton’s fault."

Bat Boy the Musical the Movie

Word comes from our dear friend Miss Emily Mark — who apparently doesn’t have a website yet (*ahem!*) — that they are making Bat Boy into a movie.  She don’t lie.  We have a special affinity for that show.

John Landis is slated to direct.  No word on casting yet.  But if you are out there Mr Landis, may I recommend Ms. Mark?   She’s really good, and not doing much at the moment . . .

Kill the Wabbit, kill the wabbit . . .

Somebody asked me if this — a guy threatening to kill a bunny unless he receives $50,000 — is legal. It sounds like it oughta be illegal, doesn’t it? But I racked my legal brain and, off the top of my head, I couldn’t find any reason why it is against the law. Unless of course, he doesn’t meet his goal and doesn’t kill the rabbit . . . in which case he may have committed fraud.

Life Imitates Python

An indignant Israeli is suing a pet shop that he says sold him a dying parrot, reports the Ma’ariv newspaper. Itzik Simowitz of the southern city of Beersheba contends the shop cheated him because the Galerita-type cockatoo not only failed to utter a word when he got it home, but was also extremely ill. Mr. Simowitz adds that the shop owner assured him the parrot was not ill but merely needed time to adjust to its new environment.

(Source) Or pinin’ for the fjords, perhaps.

Recycled Nuclear Photos

This might be tough to follow. But here goes . . .

Yesterday, an eagle-eyed blogger realized that CNN was using the same photo in two different stories. One story, from February 9, was about Iran‘s purported nuclear program; the other story, from February 12, was about North Korea‘s purported nuclear program. But . . . both stories carried the same satellite photo of the same nuclear plant, although one was supposedly in North Korea and the other was supposedly in Iran.

A few hours later, CNN corrected the error by changing the photo in the North Korea story (with no explanation of how it happened). No biggie.

Now, someone discovered that it has happened BEFORE.

This time, it is not on the CNN website, but on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website, in a story from March 2004.

Keep in mind, RFE/RL is a United States government sponsored service and website.

Once again, the story was about a North Korea nuclear program, but it had the same photo of the nuclear plant in Iran. And, to make things worse, the photo was titled Iraq.jpg.

Now, sloppy journalism is one thing. But the same mistake committed by two different news organizations 11 months apart?

Get the details here, and you too might be asking, "WTF"?

No Empirical Reality

Paid-off pundits to fake newsmen — where does it end? Frank Rich says it goes deeper:

When the Bush administration isn’t using taxpayers’ money to buy its own fake news, it does everything it can to shut out and pillory real reporters who might tell Americans what is happening in what is, at least in theory, their own government. Paul Farhi of The Washington Post discovered that even at an inaugural ball he was assigned "minders" – attractive women who wouldn’t give him their full names – to let the revelers know that Big Brother was watching should they be tempted to say anything remotely off message.

Then, the final nail . . .

Conservatives, who supposedly deplore post-modernism, are now welcoming in a brave new world in which it’s a given that there can be no empirical reality in news, only the reality you want to hear (or they want you to hear).

Yeah, I’ve noticed.

More Iraqi Civilian Abuses


There are new allegations that heavily armed private security contractors in Iraq are brutalizing Iraqi civilians. In an exclusive interview, four former security contractors told NBC News that they watched as innocent Iraqi civilians were fired upon, and one crushed by a truck. The contractors worked for an American company paid by U.S. taxpayers. The Army is looking into the allegations.

The four men are all retired military veterans: Capt. Bill Craun, Army Rangers; Sgt. Jim Errante, military police; Cpl. Ernest Colling, U.S. Army; and Will Hough, U.S. Marines. All went to Iraq months ago as private security contractors

The story describes three separate incidents involving brutalization of civilians, and the reactions from the contractors who witnessed those incidents.

Two of the men — Craun and Colling — say they quit immediately.

Craun, in an e-mail two days later to a friend at the Pentagon, wrote: "I didn’t want any part of an organization that deliberately murders children and innocent civilians."

Errante says he also quit after witnessing wild, indiscriminate shootings on two other missions.

"I said I didn’t want to be a witness to any of these, what could be classified as a war crime," says Errante.

Once back in the U.S., Craun — recipient of the Bronze Star — took the allegations to Army criminal investigators.

But, on the positive side, maybe some of those brutalized Iraqi civilians got to vote a few weeks ago, so it was probably worth it.

By the way, one wonders if these incidents would have ever come to light if it wasn’t for these four men with a conscience.

All Together Now . . . “WHAT Liberal Media?!?”

Joe Conason raises a good, and retrospectively obvious, point in this column: If the mainstream media is "liberal" and loves stories about sex, then why isn’t it jumping all over the Gannon-as-male-prostitute story?

Imagine the media explosion if a male escort had been discovered operating as a correspondent in the Clinton White House. Imagine that he was paid by an outfit owned by Arkansas Democrats and had been trained in journalism by James Carville. Imagine that this gentleman had been cultivated and called upon by Mike McCurry or Joe Lockhart—or by President Clinton himself. Imagine that this "journalist" had smeared a Republican Presidential candidate and had previously claimed access to classified documents in a national-security scandal.

Then imagine the constant screaming on radio, on television, on Capitol Hill, in the Washington press corps—and listen to the placid mumbling of the "liberal" media now.

Yup. Exactly.

P.S. Conason adds a little trivia into the mix, too. You remember those little "purple heart" bandaids passed out and worn at the Republican National Convention? That was done by a Republican dirty trickster named Morton Blackwell. Morton Blackwell also founded the "Leadership Institute" where Gannon/Guckert received his "training" as a "journalist".

P.P.S. If Talon News was formed in April 2003, and Gannon/Guckert claims to have had his first White House press conference just a few weeks after (Source), then how come he was boasting on this site about asking a question in a news conference that occured on February 28, 2003?? Who is his White House benefactor?

Who Is This Man?


This American won the Nobel Peace Prize and saved billions — not millions, but billions — of lives. Yet . . .

…take a quick poll among your friends and see how many people can tell you who Norman Borlaug is and then see if the same people know who Ashlee Simpson is.

Then come back and try to convince me why society isn’t doomed.

— Quote from Chris at Cynical-C. Well said, Chris.

So that’s your assignment: give a nod to Norman Borlaug.

Bush To Churches and the Poor: Fuck You!

Remember all those times when Bush was eager to show what a compassionate conservative he was? You know, with all his faith-based initiatives to help churches and others assist the poor and needy?

Turns out it was . . . (imagine my surprise) . . . a bunch of PR bullshit.

In fact, one guy says that the Bush White House "never really wanted the ‘poor people stuff.’"

Who is saying that? David Kuo, deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives for Bush’s first term, that’s who.

Who Told The Truth: Clarke or Condi?

"The unraveling of Richard Clarke is proceeding nicely," boasted a winger blogger with whom I sometimes lock horns on group blog known as  That was in March 2004.

At that time, the right-wing blogosphere journalistic community was seeking to destroy the credibility give a fair and objective assessment of Richard Clarke, who was appearing before the committee looking into 9/11 and intelligence failures.

Some other quotes typical of the right-wing blogosphere at the time:

"… Clarke seemed to be oblivious to the gathering threat of al Qaeda…"

"…all evidence suggests that [Clarke] was busy chasing the windmill of cyber-terrorism at the time he claimed he was promoting the al Qaeda threat…"

"…it is not like as if he recommended any action that would have prevented 9-11, seeing that the Bush administration had enacted all his recommendations prior to 9-11…"

Oblivious to the gathering threat of al Qaeda? Chasing the windmill of cyber-terrorism?

Nope.  Read the truth here. Or just read Clarke’s now-declassified memo (PDF format) for yourself.

Was Clarke "oblivious to the gathering threat of al Qaeda?"  Hardly.

More importantly, as you read the Clarke memo to Condi Rice, keep in mind this quote from Condi Rice from March 22, 2004: "No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration." (Source) and see for yourself how it is an out-an-out lie.

The MSM That the Right Wing is Hyperventilating Over

Courtesy of The Left Coaster comes these words from Chicago Trib’s Jim Warren:

The three journalists discussed troubling pressures that affect the ability of news organizations to report the truth. A major one is that with consolidation of news organizations into conglomerates like Time Warner, news outlets have numerous conflicts between their business interests and their reporting.

While NBC reports on the U.S. occupation of Iraq, its parent company, General Electric, has a half-billion dollar contract with the U.S. government to provide power generation in Iraq.

Warren said relatively smaller news companies like the Tribune, whose holdings include the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, probably have only one way to grow and catch up to companies like Time Warner and Viacom, and that’s to merge with other players.

In addition, the panelists said, the media are facing a blizzard of lies and propaganda from corporations and the government. But journalists at mainstream news organizations don’t feel free, under the conventions of “fair and balanced” journalism, to call a lie a lie, Hall said.

“Too many of us have become too passive,” Warren said. Journalists are scared of angering administration sources and losing access to Washington officials, which he mocked as “access to get lied to.”


A Guy With A Conscience

The guy who started the ball rolling on Eason Jordon is apparently having second thoughts:

Mr. Abovitz, who started it all, said he hoped bloggers could develop loftier goals than destroying people’s careers. "If you’re going to do this open-source journalism, it should have a higher purpose," he said. "At times it did seem like an angry mob, and an angry mob using high technology, that’s not good."

Source Note: David Gergen agrees.

Jeff Gannon: Available for $1,200/weekend and $200/hour?

"Well, several years ago, before I came to Washington, I had registered various domain names for a private client. I was doing Web site development. Those sites were never hosted. There’s — nothing ever went up on them. And the client went on to do something else."

Jeff Gannon to Wolf Blitzer, CNN, 2/10/05

AmericaBlog calls bullshit. The details are too ookey to spell out on this site, but you can read all about it (and view the new beefcake pictures, if you are so inclined) here.

For the relevance-impaired, the significance of the latest revelations — if true (I’m not convinced yet) — aren’t about Gannon. He’s merely a footnote at this point.

The story is how did a $1,200/weekend hooker get credentialed to be a part of the White House press corps to ask softball questions to the President of the United States? And how does he get apparent access to CIA documents? If nothing else, this is a concern from a homeland security standpoint. Is the White House that stupid?

FUN FACT UPDATE: Believe it or not, this is not the first security-scandal-involving-gay-prostitutes to hit the White House.

F-Word Used To Describe The Bush Administration

The F-word in question? "Fascism".

And who is saying it? Conservatives. Specifically, The American Conservative magazine.

Here is the money paragraph:

And yet the very fact that the f-word can be seriously raised in an American context is evidence enough that we have moved into a new period. The invasion of Iraq has put the possibility of the end to American democracy on the table and has empowered groups on the Right that would acquiesce to and in some cases welcome the suppression of core American freedoms. That would be the titanic irony of course, the mother of them all—that a war initiated under the pretense of spreading democracy would lead to its destruction in one of its very birthplaces. But as historians know, history is full of ironies.

Frankly, I think this goes too far. Bad as the Bush Administration has been, I don’t think they have led us to the end of American democracy. No, they have merely walked us a few steps in that direction. Anyway, for an interesting perspective — one you may not have entertained before — read the whole thing.

More Lies and/or Incompetence

Condi Rice to the 9/11 Committee (quote):

"I was in a press conference to try and describe the August 6th memo [the one entitled "Bin Laden Determined To Strike U.S." – KRA], which I’ve talked about here in my opening remarks and which I talked about with you in the private session.

And I said, at one point, that this was a historical memo, that it was — it was not based on new threat information. And I said, No one could have imagined them taking a plane, slamming it into the Pentagon — I’m paraphrasing now — into the World Trade Center, using planes as a missile."

No one could have imagined? Speak for yourself, Condi.

According to a recently-released report from the 9/11 Commission, the FAA "had indeed considered the possibility that terrorists would hijack a plane and use it as a weapon." In fact, in 2001, the FAA distributed a CD-ROM presentation to airlines and airports that cited the possibility of a suicide hijacking.

So when Condi says "no one could have imagined . . .", she must have been referring to her own inabilities, inexperience, and/or disinterest. Or she was lying.

Anyway, it has now been revealed that "in the months before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal aviation officials reviewed dozens of intelligence reports that warned about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda". Read all about it.

Bonus outrage: This report was completed five months ago, but the Bush Administration suppressed it until now. Anybody want to guess why? What was going on in the country five months ago?


P.S.: In a "related" story, Iraqis got to vote last month.

Questions About Gannon Put To White House

UPDATE: We are informed here that nobody gets a White House pass, press or otherwise, by using an alias. "Therefore, if Gannon was using an alias, White House staff had to be involved in maintaining his cover."

For those who don’t "get" the issue about Gannon (posted here), I think this letter from the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Rules (Rep. Louise Slaughter), to President Bush, gets it right:

Dear Mr. President:

In light of the mounting evidence that your Administration has, on several occasions, paid members of the media to advocate in favor of Administration policies, I feel compelled to ask you to address a matter brought to my attention by the Niagara Falls Reporter (article attached), a local newspaper in my district, regarding James "JD" Guckert (AKA Jeff Gannon) of Talon News.

According to several credible reports, "Mr. Gannon" has been repeatedly credentialed as a member of the White House press corps by your office and has been regularly called upon in White House press briefings by your Press Secretary Scott McClellan, despite the fact evidence shows that "Mr. Gannon" is a Republican political operative, uses a false name, has phony or questionable journalistic credentials, is known for plagiarizing much of the "news" he reports, and according to several web reports, may have ties to the promotion of the prostitution of military personnel.

Several weeks ago when it was revealed that radio/TV host Armstrong Williams had received payment from your Administration in exchange for his vocal support of the ‘No Child Left Behind’ initiative, I was stunned. For years now I have been leading the fight in Congress for fairness and accountability in the media; the Williams revelation only underscored the need for a media that has integrity, is balanced and expresses the local interests and concerns of its consumers.

Since that time, two more members of the media have been found to have received money from your Administration in exchange for their vocal, yet undisclosed support of Administration policies.

And just this morning we have learned that "Mr. Gannon" has resigned his post at the, so called, Talon News amid growing concerns over his controversial background and falsified qualifications. In fact, it appears that "Mr. Gannon’s" presence in the White House press corps was merely as a tool of propaganda for your Administration.

Mr. President, I am sure we both agree the White House Press Corps is an honored institution in America that should be beyond the scope of partisan meddling, and that a free and independent media is the cornerstone of our success as a democracy. Likewise, I am sure we can both agree the American people have the right to expect that journalists who question their President everyday are experienced, independent, and perhaps most importantly, unbiased in their approach.

I was already concerned about what appears to be an organized campaign to mask partisan propaganda as legitimate news by your Administration. That we have now learned this same type of deception is occurring inside the White House briefing room itself is even more disturbing.

That is why I am asking you to please explain to the Congress and to the American people how and why the individual known as "Mr. Gannon" was repeatedly cleared by your staff to join the legitimate White House press corps?

Mr. President, your Administration has driven the so-called "values" debate in this country. But the most important value for those of us in public service should always be honesty and integrity, particularly when considering the manner in which we conduct our affairs of state.

I would appreciate your prompt response on this matter.



Louise M. Slaughter

Emphases are mine.

Rose Colored Glasses Beyond Belief

This is a true exchange. It happened in Omaha last Friday, when Bush was taking his dog-and-pony show on the road:

THE PRESIDENT: Good. Okay, Mary, tell us about yourself.

MS. MORNIN: Okay, I’m a divorced, single mother with three grown, adult children. I have one child, Robbie, who is mentally challenged, and I have two daughters.

THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic. First of all, you’ve got the hardest job in America, being a single mom.

MS. MORNIN: Thank you. (Applause.)

Yes. Harder, I would think, because one of her children is handicapped. This woman has one hell of a tough row to hoe.

Moments later, with the same woman . . .

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but nevertheless, there’s a certain comfort to know that the promises made will be kept by the government.


THE PRESIDENT: And so thank you for asking that. You don’t have to worry.

MS. MORNIN: That’s good, because I work three jobs and I feel like I contribute.

THE PRESIDENT: You work three jobs?

MS. MORNIN: Three jobs, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Uniquely American, isn’t it? I mean, that is fantastic that you’re doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)

Only an elitist, Kennebunkport-raised, never-earned-a-decent-living-in-his-life snob would respond in such a way.

Here’s the thing, Mr. Preznit. When somebody has to work two or three jobs to make ends meet, it is not because we Americans have that yes-we-can spirit.

This woman is struggling — she has a handicapped child. It’s not "fantastic" that she has to work three jobs; it is tragic. Don’t wave a flag in her face — help her!

The Saga of Jeff Gannon (Abridged)

Jgw UPDATE (Chapter Seven): He can’t stand the heat, so he wisely gets out of the kitchen. White House will have to find a new lackey.

Chapter One: Who is Jeff Gannon?

With all this talk about media bias, nobody can beat Jeff Gannon. He is a member of the White House press pool. This is the kind of question he asks (this particular one was asked by Gannon to George Bush on January 26, 2005):

Thank you. Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. Harry Reid was talking about soup lines, and Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet, in the same breath, they say that Social Security is rock-solid and there’s no crisis there. How are you going to work — you said you’re going to reach out to these people — how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?

(Emphasis added). Pretty biased, huh?

Chapter Two: Yeah, but who IS Jeff Gannon?

He works with Talon News, an openly biased "media" outlet. In fact, he is their Washington Bureau Chief. He is also a contributor to the Free Republic. And he has a radio talk show. Hell, you can read about him at his aptly-named blog:

Chapter Three: What Are His Journalism Credientials as the Washington Bureau Chief of a News Service?

Good question. Since the recent controversy started (more on that below the fold), his Talon News bio has been delated, but it still exists here at GOPUSA. In a nutshell, this nutshell obtained a B.S. degree in Education from the Pennsylvania State University System, and attended the Leadership Institute Broadcast School of Journalism. What the bio doesn’t tell you is that the "Leadership Institute Broadcast School of Journalism" is a two-day right-wing seminar about journalism. That’s what qualifies him to get a press pass to the White House.

Chapter Four: Why Are You Telling Me This? Is There A Point?

Yes. Jeff Gannon isn’t his real name.

Chapter Five: So (Again) Who IS Jeff Gannon?

Here’s where the story gets interesting. The folks at Daily Kos have tracked down his true identity. It’s not too hard really. His GOPUSA bio says that he authors the website found at Unfortunately, much of what he authored has been removed, but some of it has been discovered and cached. Like this. Yeah . . . he’s not biased.

Anyway, Atrios among others was able to I.D. Jeff Gannon as James D. "JD" Guckert. James Guckert is the owner of several websites, including So that appears to be our boy.

Chapter Six: What About Sex? Is There Any Sex in this "Saga"?

Sure. The digging on Guckert aka Gannon has turned up some interesting facts. Here is his AOL homepage, containing this picture:


And aside from, what are some other websites associated with him? There is a full list here, but some of them are, well, odd for a conservative Republican.


Don’t bother looking for them. They are websites registered to him or his pseudonyms.

M4M? For those who don’t know, M4M is gay-web parlance (I’m guessing it means "men for men", but I don’t know for sure).

Remember, this is the guy in the White House press pool that the White House has handpicked to give them softball questions.

Jeff (or whatever the hell your name is), your days appear to be done.

This is an amusing and ongoing story about the hypocrisy and seemy underbelly of some conservatives. No, Roy Cohn ain’t dead, kids. If you want to read about it in more detail, go here.

Vote or Starve

Some Iraqis are alleging that they were told . . . well . . . let’s listen to their words:

”Two of the food dealers I know told me personally that our food rations would be withheld if we did not vote,” said Saeed Jodhet, a 21-year-old engineering student who voted in the Hay al-Jihad district of Baghdad.

I’m not sure what to make of this. It is, at this point, largely anecdotal, but keep an eye on this.

Meanwhile, while some conservatives have reported that 72% of eligible Iraqis voted, that number has been quietly downgraded to 60%. Still a great number, so there is still plenty to crow about. But again, one wonders how many on the right will still use the larger inaccurate number.

Here’s the full story —

IRAQ: Some Just Voted for Food

Dahr Jamail

BAGHDAD, Jan 31 (IPS) – Voting in Baghdad was linked with receipt of food rations, several voters said after the Sunday poll.

Many Iraqis said Monday that their names were marked on a list provided by the government agency that provides monthly food rations before they were allowed to vote.

"I went to the voting centre and gave my name and district where I lived to a man," said Wassif Hamsa, a 32-year-old journalist who lives in the predominantly Shia area Janila in Baghdad. ”This man then sent me to the person who distributed my monthly food ration.”

Mohammed Ra’ad, an engineering student who lives in the Baya’a district of the capital city reported a similar experience.

Ra’ad, 23, said he saw the man who distributed monthly food rations in his district at his polling station. ”The food dealer, who I know personally of course, took my name and those of my family who were voting,” he said. ”Only then did I get my ballot and was allowed to vote.”

”Two of the food dealers I know told me personally that our food rations would be withheld if we did not vote,” said Saeed Jodhet, a 21-year-old engineering student who voted in the Hay al-Jihad district of Baghdad.

There has been no official indication that Iraqis who did not vote would not receive their monthly food rations.

Many Iraqis had expressed fears before the election that their monthly food rations would be cut if they did not vote. They said they had to sign voter registration forms in order to pick up their food supplies.

Their experiences on the day of polling have underscored many of their concerns about questionable methods used by the U.S.-backed Iraqi interim government to increase voter turnout.

Just days before the election, 52 year-old Amin Hajar who owns an auto garage in central Baghdad had said: ”I’ll vote because I can’t afford to have my food ration cut…if that happened, me and my family would starve to death.”

Hajar told IPS that when he picked up his monthly food ration recently, he was forced to sign a form stating that he had picked up his voter registration. He had feared that the government would use this information to track those who did not vote.

Calls to the Independent Electoral Commission for Iraq (IECI) and to the Ministry of Trade, which is responsible for the distribution of the monthly food ration, were not returned.

Other questions have arisen over methods to persuade people to vote. U.S. troops tried to coax voters in Ramadi, capital city of the al-Anbar province west of Baghdad to come out to vote, AP reported.

IECI officials have meanwhile ‘downgraded’ their earlier estimate of voter turnout.

IECI spokesman Farid Ayar had declared a 72 percent turnout earlier, a figure given also by the Bush Administration.

But at a press conference Ayar backtracked on his earlier figure, saying the turnout would be nearer 60 percent of registered voters.

The earlier figure of 72 percent, he said, was ”only guessing” and ”just an estimate” that had been based on ”very rough, word of mouth estimates gathered informally from the field.” He added that it will be some time before the IECI can issue accurate figures on the turnout.

”Percentages and numbers come only after counting and will be announced when it’s over,” he said. ”It is too soon to say that those were the official numbers.”

Where there was a large turnout, the motivation behind the voting and the processes both appeared questionable. The Kurds up north were voting for autonomy, if not independence. In the south and elsewhere Shias were competing with Kurds for a bigger say in the 275-member national assembly.

In some places like Mosul the turnout was heavier than expected. But many of the voters came from outside, and identity checks on voters appeared lax. Others spoke of vote-buying bids.

The Bush Administration has lauded the success of the Iraq election, but doubtful voting practices and claims about voter turnout are both mired in controversy.

Election violence too was being seen differently across the political spectrum.

More than 30 Iraqis, a U.S. soldier, and at least 10 British troops died Sunday. Hundreds of Iraqis were also wounded in attacks across Baghdad, in Baquba 50km northeast of the capital as well as in the northern cities Mosul and Kirkuk.

The British troops were on board a C-130 transport plane that crashed near Balad city just northwest of Baghdad. The British military has yet to reveal the cause of the crash.

Despite unprecedented security measures in which 300,000 U.S. and Iraqi security forces were brought in to curb the violence, nine suicide bombers and frequent mortar attacks took a heavy toll in the capital city, while strings of attacks were reported around the rest of the country.

As U..S. President George W. Bush saw it, ”some Iraqis were killed while exercising their rights as citizens.”