Bye bye, brave Freedom Fries

Diplomacy in action!

NYT: Diplomacy, Served With French Fries

'The friendliest gesture during the dinner given by President Bush here was not political or personal, but culinary. After the lobster risotto with truffle sauce and alongside the filet of beef with bordelaise sauce was a side dish of potatoes. Mr. Bush announced that they were "French fries," one participant said. No longer would thin slices of potatoes cooked in oil be "freedom fries."'


I'm Giving You One More Chance

How generous.The only way I can read this is: "You disagreed on the need for war, but that's long-gone. Now, you should focus on helping me mop up the mess of my war, which you opposed." In what way could this constitute a high-minded call for help? It's much more if "I was right, you were wrong. Now put all bickering aside and help out." With very little of "We need your help." Atypical, right? Right.

SFGate: Bush Seeks More NATO Support on Iraq

President Bush is pressing his agenda for a refurbished trans-Atlantic alliance at back-to-back summits with NATO and the European Union. He's looking for a commitment on more training aid for postwar Iraq and is expected to argue his case for increasing pressure on Iran to end its nuclear ambitions.

NATO's 26 members are expected to announce they all will participate in a modest program to train Iraq's military.

Despite differences over the war, "all nations now have an interest in the success of a free and democratic Iraq," Bush said ahead of Tuesday's sessions.


Hang On To Your Ego

Looks like it's worked pretty well so far!

NYTimes: In Secretly Taped Conversations, Glimpses of the Future President
Mr. Bush also regularly gripes about the barbs of the press and his rivals. And he is cocky at times. "It's me versus the world," he told Mr. Wead. "The good news is, the world is on my side. Or more than half of it."
Mr. Bush knew that his own religious faith could be an asset with conservative Christian voters, and his personal devotion was often evident in the taped conversations. When Mr. Wead warned him that "power corrupts," for example, Mr. Bush told him not to worry: "I have got a great wife. And I read the Bible daily. The Bible is pretty good about keeping your ego in check."


You'll Defend Anything!

I loved this little nugget from the Hardball segment on "Jeff Gannon" last night (bolded below); if Matthews wasn't just kidding, would it be funny or sad? Aren't the talking heads on talk/news shows there to do exactly that, to vigorously attack or defend anything? It's painful to watch, but we keep doing it. And so do they.

MSNBC - 'Harball with Chris Matthews' for Feb. 17:

"MATTHEWS: Sure. Well, teeing up all those softball questions for McClellan. And I don't know. We couldn't get anybody from HotMilitaryStud.com, so we got Pat Buchanan here.
MATTHEWS: I am going to ask you, what is this connection?
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I had to moonlight as well in the early years, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I was a Capitol Cop, but I wasn't Dirk Diggler. This guy is, what is the story here? You're here, you'll defend anything, right?
BUCHANAN: Well, I was prepared to defend, but, as a matter of fact, I think the White House handled itself fairly well.
I had assumed he had a White House pass. When you get a White House pass...
MATTHEWS: Under a different name.
BUCHANAN: Well, no, here's the thing.
With a White House pass, here's what you get it for. They give White House passes on a priority list. The ones that go to the briefing every single day, got to have them, because you don't want to be calling in every day. And eventually they will run down and they get them. Then The New York Times and other bureaus, they get a set number. I remember NPR had four or five. And they called for one for Daniel Schorr when he went there. We said no. We're not going to give you another. You can...
MATTHEWS: Did you have any ringers in the Nixon White House or Reagan White House, anybody you planted in the White House press room?
BUCHANAN: There were people, reporters and columnists and others, who were deeply devoted to Nixon, who, and they're people who we would go to and say, look, the president has got something to say on this issue.

Not Exactly the Other Shoe Bomb Dropping

Protester Throws Shoe at Richard Perle: "Howard Dean, the newly minted leader of the Democratic Party, and former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle made clear their opposing views on the war in Iraq during a debate marred by a protester who tossed a shoe at Perle.
Perle had just started his comments Thursday when a protester threw a shoe at him before being dragged away, screaming, 'Liar! Liar!'"
Perle said the war in Iraq was justified based on the intelligence available at the time. "Sometimes the things we have to do are objectionable to others," he said.
Perle was forced by one of the questioners to recast a comment he made on Sept. 22, 2003, in which he predicted that within one year, there would be "a grand square in Baghdad named for President Bush."

"I'd be a fool not to recognize that it did not happen on the schedule I had in mind," Perle said, adding that he did not deny that the administration had made mistakes in Iraq.

But, Perle added, "I will be surprised, yet again, if we do not see a square in Baghdad named after this president." He did not specify a time."

Maybe he should call Chalabi?


In Which the Headline and the Story Utterly Disagree

The New York Times > AP > National > Bush May Raise Payroll Tax Cap to Pay for Social Security: "President Bush is not ruling out raising taxes on people who earn more than $90,000 as a way to help fix Social Security's finances.Asked directly, Bush said he would not bar raising the $90,000 cap, although he does not want to see the payroll tax rate go up.
``The one thing I'm not open-minded about is raising the payroll tax rate. And all the other issues go on the table,'' Bush said in the interview, according to an account in Wednesday's New Haven (Conn.) Register.
White House spokesman Trent Duffy said raising the cap on Social Security taxes is just one option among many being advocated.
``Just because he said it was an option doesn't mean he embraced it,'' Duffy added."

Who's Next?

Perhaps we'll invade Iran and Syria at the same time? It'd be the ultimate in freedom-spreading.

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Rice Sees Tensions With Syria Growing After Assassination: "WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signaled today that the recall of the United States ambassador to Syria might be just the start of a long, deep chill between Washington and Damascus.
The assassination of the former prime minister of Lebanon, a deed that the Bush administration has linked to Syria at least indirectly, was the latest incident in a rocky relationship between the United States and Syria, Ms. Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
There has been no word on whether Syria will recall its ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha. "


Honk if you hate queers!

Ah, Virginia! This AND the anti-thong legislation in the same week? I think I may have to consider moving into your welcoming arms.

TimesDispatch.com | No harmony on marriage plates: "With only a week left to act on all legislation introduced by their respective members, the House and Senate yesterday argued over matters ranging from "traditional marriage" license plates to state budget procedures.
The House of Delegates squabbled before tentatively endorsing the special state plates that would include the capital-letter words 'TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE,' as well as a symbol, two interlocked golden wedding bands over a red heart."


Or, well, uh, I used to report news. Until recently, I mean.

James Guckert or "Jeff Gannon" stops "reporting" his stories from the WH. Terribly sad. Listen to the whole thing. Y'know, he would've kept reporting under his 'real' name until he realized that people were angry at him and had ferreted out his pseudonym, and allegedly started offering 'death threats' etc. Which validated his raison d'astroturf! 700k people received his 'indie' perspective, daily!'! Poor guy! Out of fear for his life he wisely declines to disclose his actual identity. Out of a desire to not-fluff his journalism, I mean.

Why use a pseudonym?
Gannon: "I'm not even going to acknowledge that it's controversial...well, there're many people in this business who do that....there are reasons to do such a thing..."
Q: "So, i'm asking yours..."
Gannon: "Well i'm not even going to acknowledge...these are reasons that someone would do it and it's not reasons to hide anything, it would probably be a commercial consideration...it has it doesn't have great commercial appeal, and if it could be more (*that way*) then so much more the better."

Vanity and disingenuity, all in the same package.

Conservative Reporter Resigns Amid Controversy (Requires RealMedia plugin)

All Things Considered, February 9, 2005 ยท A reporter for the conservative news site TalonNews.com resigns. The reporter, who went by the pseudonym Jeff Gannon, drew critical attention at President Bush's Jan. 26 press conference when he referred in question to Democrats "who seem to have divorced themselves from reality" on the issue of retooling Social Security.

Liberal bloggers have disclosed that Gannon, who has little previous journalism experience, was easily granted a coveted White House press pass -- even though he did not work for a traditional or established news organization. He also routinely asked "softball" questions at press conferences. There are also allegations that Gannon is linked to Web sites with homoerotic themes.

Gannon spoke with NPR's David Folkenflik the day before he resigned. He says he is open about his conservative point of view, but that he is just as valid a journalist as other reporters in the White House press corps


Yeah, somehow I doubt it.

But we'll see.

U.S. 'in for a shock' / In early election results, Shiite cleric's alliance trouncing Washington's favorite: "Baghdad -- Partial results from Sunday's election suggest that U.S.-backed Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's coalition is being roundly defeated by a list with the backing of Iraq's senior Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al- Sistani, diminishing Allawi's chances of retaining his post in the next government. "

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