Archive for the 'Propaganda' Category

Those Changing Mavericks of Maverick Change

maverickMcCain and Palin, “the original mavericks,” as they’re described in the video below, (I know McCain is ancient, but Palin’s younger than I am. How is she one of the “original” mavericks?) have now announced that “change is coming.” That’s right — they’re not just mavericks. They’re mavericks of change. You betcha.

I was watching MSNBC today, and they had a couple of those dueling pundits (or as Palin calls them, “pundints”) segments. The big stumper question they hit the democrats with, after pointing out how McCain and Palin had ostensibly taken that tough as nails maverick stance and bucked the established powers that be in their party, was “What examples can you give us of Obama and Biden openly disagreeing with the rest of the Democratic party?”

What bullshit.

First of all, how many of the examples of McCain or Palin being “mavericks” — really standing up to their party — are true? Of those positions, how many do they still hold? Standing up to your party and then changing your mind and agreeing with the bosses doesn’t count as maverick in my book.

Mavericks, my ass.

And they don’t really talk about what they’re going to change. They just say “change is coming.”

Considering the fact that Republicans have been in power for almost eight years now, and that for all but about a year and a half that power was absolute, “change” is represented by the other party. Who says you have to be a maverick Democrat to represent change?

So when someone points out that McCain has voted with Bush 90% of the time, and the counter argument to that is that Obama voted with the rest of the Democratic party about 90% of the time, the proper response should be that that represents voting against Bush well over half of the time.

And that represents change, whether Obama chooses to strap on a six-shooter, hop on his horse and call himself a “maverick” or not.

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Buzz Words

NosferatuI remember a day more than twenty years ago, back when I was a teaching assistant in a course on European cinema at a huge state university deep in the land of white bread and mayonnaise. The professor was lecturing on FW Murnau’s Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens.

I’m just paraphrasing here, but this is basically what he said:

Don’t think of the vampire as a literal monster who can turn into a bat and who sucks blood from his victims. Instead, think of the foreigner, the other, the stranger, the alien, the carrier of unfamiliar diseases and strange customs… the Jew.

I watched him make this statement, and saw that he was making an effort to look out over the entire lecture hall, but that as hard as he tried, by the time he got to the end of it, his eyes were focused right… on… me. All I could do was smile right back at him, and that was enough to jar him into averting his gaze.

I was reminded of that incident while watching the Republican convention last night. The major speakers didn’t bother with even a sliver of subtlety. They polished up their old culture war buzz words and held them up like they were eternal truths.

Mitt Romney jumped all over the “eastern elites,” and proclaimed that the sun was getting ready to rise in the west. He left out the fact that he holds two post-graduate degrees from Harvard University, that he’s a leader of the eastern financial elite, that he has homes in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in addition to Utah (and maybe a few places I’m not aware of), that he claimed in 1982 to be a moderate who hadn’t supported Reagan-Bush, and that his own father was born in Mexico because his family had lived there in exile for a few generations due to the fact that a major tenet of their religious beliefs was deemed alien, immoral, and illegal in the US.

Mike Huckabee warned us of “European ideas,” leaving out the fact that this nation was founded by idealists who hoped to build a nation based on the ideas of a couple of European philosophers.

And Rudy Giuliani, life-long New Yorker, adulterer and three-time groom, multi-millionaire orator and security consultant to folks like Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani, a supporter of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, further warned us that those bi-coastal elites — Hollywood and the East coast media — just don’t understand the real America.

And every time they mentioned the media, Europe, or Hollywood, I’d look in their faces and see that professor (who grew up in Los Angeles, by the way) who just couldn’t keep his eyes off the one Jew in the room when he talked about the Other.

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Doubleplus Ungood

My last post made reference to this advert from the McCain campaign:

The claim that Obama went to the gym rather than visiting wounded military personnel, was, of course, utter crap. Was it a lie? You could say so, but it was more a matter of implication than falsehood. That is, it implied that Obama decided that, since they wouldn’t let him bring in cameras and use the troops as campaign props, he decided it wasn’t worth his while to visit them at all. Had they come out and said that in the ad, it would have been a lie, but instead, all they did was imply it.

But now it’s come out that, whether Obama had made the visit or not, the McCain camp was ready to attack him for whichever choice he made:

What the McCain campaign doesn’t want people to know, according to one GOP strategist I spoke with over the weekend, is that they had an ad script ready to go if Obama had visited the wounded troops saying that Obama was…wait for it…using wounded troops as campaign props. So, no matter which way Obama turned, McCain had an Obama bashing ad ready to launch. I guess that’s political hardball. But another word for it is the one word that most politicians are loathe to use about their opponents—a lie.

That’s inexcusable.

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Kristol Klarity

Bill KristolI’ve written about this weasel before. I guess I find it amusingly ironic that someone with the name “Kristol” would see it as his duty to muddy issues — to make them anything but crystal clear.

Let’s look at the weasel’s latest spray of piss in the Times. Billy boy writes…

Obama was explaining his trouble winning over small-town, working-class voters: “It’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

“It’s not surprising then that they get bitter…” Does that clause seem a little odd to you? What’s the “then” for? Ah, of course. Rule #1 in the mudslinger’s handbook: if you’re going to quote your target, be sure to take it out of context. So maybe we should look at the full quote:

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

There’s your “then.” Whether you agree with the statement or not, at least you understand the history that Obama is blaming for the situation. I can see why his opponents and their supporters would jump all over this. It’s incredibly easy to grab that last sentence and claim it’s equivalent to something like, “I need to find a way to tell these simple-minded rednecks that I can help them.”

But you need to think about the source. If I had said this (if I were stupid enough to try to run for elective office), it would be pretty safe to conclude that I meant it the way people are describing it. But that’s because I’m an atheist, I would support an effort to rewrite the second amendment to make it clear that it’s not about private ownership of guns, I feel thoroughly alienated when I’m in the Midwest (and I felt that way for the year and a half that I lived there), and frankly, I’m not particularly patriotic. I don’t personally think of myself as an elitist, but that’s just my opinion. But if I were a politician and I said something like that, I think it’s fair to say that my opponents would be justified in saying about me what they’re saying about Obama.

I’m not Obama. I didn’t lose my father when I was a baby. I didn’t lose my mother when I was a teenager. I wasn’t raised by my grandparents. I didn’t go to school on scholarships. For the most part, my parents paid my way. And I’m not a Christian. He is.

When the weasel compares Obama to Marx, he knows that it’s not applicable.

…[I]t’s one thing for a German thinker to assert that “religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature.” It’s another thing for an American presidential candidate to claim that we “cling to … religion” out of economic frustration.

And it’s a particularly odd claim for Barack Obama to make. After all, in his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, he emphasized with pride that blue-state Americans, too, “worship an awesome God.”

What’s more, he’s written eloquently in his memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” of his own religious awakening upon hearing the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s “Audacity of Hope” sermon, and of the complexity of his religious commitment. You’d think he’d do other believers the courtesy of assuming they’ve also thought about their religious beliefs.

I agree. It doesn’t make sense. If I’d said it, no problem, because you’re not going to find a record of me saying the opposite. If Obama says it, considering his history, you can conclude that either his apparent respect for religion for the past twenty years has been an attempt to fool people, you can conclude that, for some reason, he wasn’t being honest to the people he was speaking with that day, or you can conclude that what Obama’s quoted as saying in California has some meaning other than the easily attacked “elitist” interpretation. See, weasel? More than one easy conclusion, and the one that you, your pals at Fox, McCain and Clinton have chosen, it seems to me, is the one that makes the least sense. Why would a religious person believe that religion is the opiate of the masses?

But whatever you choose to believe, don’t you have to wonder what Obama’s point was in making the statement in question? What does it mean that these people who didn’t experience much if any of the growth of the national economy during good times, and who’ve borne the brunt of bad economic periods more than most others happen to put a lot of reliance in (that is, “cling to”) the elements of their lives about which they feel most secure?

It’s pretty simple, if you ask me. They’re the Reagan Democrats. They’re a big part of the people who’ve been targeted for decades by operatives like Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. And what strategy was used on those people? Take the aspects of their lives that these people rely on, and scare them into thinking that your political opponents plan to take them away. Make them believe they’re going to lose their guns, that there’s a plot to seriously weaken their religious freedoms, or that their bitterness is the fault of someone other than the government that’s ignored them and the corporations that used them and then threw them away. In other words, they’re the people who receive nothing more than pandering and lip service from most politicians, who play on their fears to turn them into single-issue voters.

With that in mind, look at how Obama’s opponents and detractors have responded to what he said: they’ve denied that there’s any truth in his statement, and they’ve told the people he spoke of that they’re not bitter at all; that they’re proud, godly people with strong traditions. That is to say, they’ve pandered to them and blamed their troubles on someone else. Clinton in particular has tried to get their votes (most of which she already had) by pretending to be one of them and convincing them that people like Obama (the “elite”) are the enemy. She’s giving them one issue to override any other issue they may have been considering, hoping it will scare them enough to get them to vote for the alternative to the enemy she’s pointed out to them. And who is that alternative?

Atwater would be proud.

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Kristol Meth

Bill KristolJust look at that weasel. Would you trust a word that slithered out of his mouth? Could there possibly be a smarmier smile in the world? That’s the same smile he displays on Fox when he’s saying utterly amoral, uncaring things about people whose lives mean nothing to him unless they serve to offer power or profit. This is the founder of the Project for a New American Century, for fuck’s sake — the people who a decade ago planned and promoted preemptively taking out Saddam Hussein as part of a plan to recreate the Middle East and further establish the US as the preeminent power in the world. That sure worked out well.

I don’t know why the New York Fucking Times hired Kristol to write a column. I guess David Brooks wasn’t enough of a right wing water carrying weasel to make them feel like their Op Ed section was sufficiently balanced. But I’m hoping that they’ll eventually come to the conclusion that any paper that carries Kristol’s propagandistic claptrap is a right wing paper. There’s no such thing as balance when it comes to this weasel.

Did you see the crap he spewed into today’s paper?

Last October, a reporter asked Barack Obama why he had stopped wearing the American flag lapel pin that he, like many other public officials, had been sporting since soon after Sept. 11. Obama could have responded that his new-found fashion minimalism was no big deal. What matters, obviously, is what you believe and do, not what you wear.

But Obama chose to present his flag-pin removal as a principled gesture. “You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest.”

Leave aside the claim that “speaking out on issues” constitutes true patriotism. What’s striking is that Obama couldn’t resist a grandiose explanation. Obama’s unnecessary and imprudent statement impugns the sincerity or intelligence of those vulgar sorts who still choose to wear a flag pin. But moral vanity prevailed. He wanted to explain that he was too good — too patriotic! — to wear a flag pin on his chest.

Fuck you. Let’s go through his many salient points.

  • Obama was asked why he wasn’t wearing the pin. It’s not as if he announced it himself.
  • Yes, he could have said that it was no big deal — that it was just a fashion choice. But apparently, that would have been a lie. Besides, I have to wonder how the right wing propagandists would have responded to him treating Old Glory like it was nothing but a fashion statement.
  • Why should we leave aside the idea that speaking out on issues is a sign or a form of patriotism? That was Obama’s whole point. He was asked why he didn’t wear the pin, and he said that, in his opinion (note that he said “I think”), wearing the pin had lost the meaning it was intended to carry, and that he saw patriotism as something you speak and act on rather than wear a symbol of. If you want to leave that aside, then there’s nothing worth discussing.
  • Ah, but the weasel finds something else worthy of discussion: that Obama’s answer to the question was “grandiose”. What was that quote again?

    You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest.

    That’s grandiose? Were there trumpets playing behind him? Did the people who heard him bow down in obeisance of his glorious pronouncement? Maybe somebody put an ermine cape over his shoulders and scattered rose petals at his feet. I don’t know. The words alone certainly don’t seem grandiose to me.

  • Was he saying something about the people who choose to wear the pin? Not really. It seems to me he was saying that, if one wishes to demonstrate one’s patriotism, wearing a flag pin no longer accomplishes that because its meaning has been so diluted. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to wear the pin; it just doesn’t, in his opinion, say as much as actual words and deeds. Personally, I think the vast majority of the people who wear the pin do so out of a shallow desire to be seen as patriotic, whether they are or not, because they don’t want to have to actually prove their love of country. But that’s my opinion, not Obama’s.

The weasel goes on to quote Michelle Obama:

“Barack Obama is the only person in this race who understands that, that before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation.”

But they can be repaired. Indeed, she had said a couple of weeks before, in Los Angeles: “Barack Obama … is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.”

So we don’t have to work to improve our souls. Our broken souls can be fixed — by our voting for Barack Obama. We don’t have to fight or sacrifice to help our country. Our uninvolved and uninformed lives can be changed — by our choosing Barack Obama. America can become a nation to be proud of — by letting ourselves be led by Barack Obama.

Fuck you, weasel. That has got to be the most ineffective effort at twisting someone’s words I’ve ever seen. She’s telling people that for the change Obama talks about to happen, we all have to work. We have to shed our cynicism, put down our divisions, come out of our isolation, move out of our comfort zones, push ourselves to be better and engage. The point was that we need to be involved, informed, and active. Weasel somehow wants us to take that to mean that she’s claiming we can all lay back and do nothing, and Saint Barack will take care of everything. Does he think the readers of the Times are at a second-grade level in reading comprehension? Does he think that starting to read one sentence requires us to clear the previous ones from our minds?

Fucking lying weasel.

By the way, CNN had a piece yesterday that included Obama’s response to some of the lies that people (and the weasel) are trying to spread about him.

Asked how he would fight the image of being unpatriotic, Obama said, “There’s always some nonsense going on in general elections. Right? If it wasn’t this, it would be something else. If you recall, first it was my name. Right? That was a problem. And then there was the Muslim e-mail thing and that hasn’t worked out so well, and now it’s the patriotism thing.

“The way I will respond to it is with the truth: that I owe everything I am to this country,” he said.

About not wearing an American flag lapel pin, Obama said Republicans have no lock on patriotism.

“A party that presided over a war in which our troops did not get the body armor they needed, or were sending troops over who were untrained because of poor planning, or are not fulfilling the veterans’ benefits that these troops need when they come home, or are undermining our Constitution with warrantless wiretaps that are unnecessary?

“That is a debate I am very happy to have. We’ll see what the American people think is the true definition of patriotism.”

OK, weasel? Now shut the fuck up.

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Killin’ Terrist Comix

I never got into comic books as a kid. I bought a dozen or so issues of Heavy Metal in my teens, but that’s different: it was French, it was arty, and it had bare breasts. When I was about 10 my maternal grandfather gave me a Flash Gordon (king of impossible) comic, and while it didn’t thrill me, I still had it somewhere in my desk when I was in high school — probably because of my father’s story of owning the original Superman, which his mother threw away while he was in college. Oops. Of course, if that hadn’t happened to thousands of guys his age, the remaining ones wouldn’t be so valuable. I’m actually not so sure that story’s true, anyway, as my father would have been three years old when the comic came out.

Then there are graphic novels and underground stuff. I’ve got Maus and a couple of issues of Raw, and my little brother, during his dead head days, had lots of issues of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and similarly themed hippie crap.

comic book frame

I’ve never seen anything like this, though. Northrup Grumman have put out a series of comic books promoting advanced weapons systems. In this one, the Murcans stop the evil terrorists by bombing the bejeesus out of their hidden camp through the use of (hurrah!) Nothrup Grumman technology.

I guess you can’t make a lot of judgments about propaganda. It’s propaganda, so of course it’s not likely to employ a lot of subtlety. But look at the frame I’ve got here. Bad Swarthy Arabian Fellow #2 says, “Those Americans have foiled our evil plan to rule the world.” Are they kidding? Using the word “foiled,” as in “Curses! Foiled again!” is bad enough, but “our evil plan”? That’s just astonishingly stupid. Even if we think these people are evil, and I know many of us do, only simpletons like Bush think that they think they’re evil.

Stephen Trimble, the original poster, writes,

I am withholding judgment, except to just wonder aloud who they think is the target audience for this (… surely not the Pentagon’s weapons buyers, right?)?

Nope. This was written for people who are stupid enough to believe that somebody like Mussolini would wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and exclaim, “Good morning, you beautiful evil-doer!

Tip o’ the hat to the fine folks at Boing Boing.

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Kudos to Nike

As I’m sure you already know, Nike has decided to hold back on releasing its latest Michael Vick product line because of the football player’s alleged involvement in a dog fighting network. The company put out the following press release on July 19:

Nike is concerned by the serious and highly disturbing allegations made against Michael Vick and we consider any cruelty to animals inhumane and abhorrent. We do believe that Michael Vick should be afforded the same due process as any citizen, therefore, we have not terminated our relationship. We have however made the decision to suspend the release of the Zoom Vick V and related marketing communications. Nike will continue to monitor the situation closely and have no further comment at this time.

Poster for film SweatThey’ve certainly done the right thing, both from a humanitarian and a marketing perspective. Just think of the damage it would inflict on their reputation if they just callously ignored these accusations of almost unbelievable cruelty. It was right for them to respond to the situation as quickly as they have and to make it clear that they abhor this kind of inhumane treatment. I think they deserve to be lauded for this.

If they just decided that human children deserve treatment as humane as dogs do, I might even consider spending money on some of their products.

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Michael Moore vs. Wolf Blitzer

Michael MooreThis time it’s personal.

Michael Moore was on CNN during the 5-6 pm (Eastern) hour today for a live interview conducted by Wolf Blitzer. The interview was preceded by a report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, which attempted to fact check Moore’s film Sicko. After the report ran, they went live for the interview, and Moore proceeded to slam Blitzer, Gupta, CNN, and the mainstream media. He accused them of being water carriers for their sponsors, including the pharmaceutical and health care industries, of refusing to ask tough questions of the powerful, of cowardice, dishonesty… it was beautiful.

It ran long (Jack Cafferty complained that they’d dug into his time), but Blitzer was barely able to get a word in edgewise. The best he could do was defend Gupta as a doctor and a journalist, and admit that CNN is a business and has to make money.

Blitzer offered to continue the interview on tape, but Moore insisted that he would only do it live because he didn’t want to be edited against his will. Blitzer replied that he’d play the whole thing, uncut. I don’t know if Moore agreed to that or not.

If I can get my hands on a video of the interview, I’ll post it here. Moore says he’s going to answer all of Gupta’s points on his site, so maybe he’ll upload the interview too.

Update: Blitzer just did a tease for the 7:00 hour, and he says he’s going to have the first part of the interview and the second tomorrow, so hopefully that means they’ll show all of the stuff that was live earlier today and more — uncut — tomorrow. I wish I had a DVR.

Update to update: today’s interview is up at YouTube. It’s non-embeddable, so you’ll have to go way over there to see it. Thanks, Mike.

OK, one more update: Moore, as promised, has published a blow by blow response to Gupta’s report on his site, closing with the following:

CNN: “But no matter how much Moore fudged the facts, and he did fudge some facts…”

This is libel. There is not a single fact that is “fudged” in the film. No one has proven a single fact in the film wrong. We expect CNN to correct their mistakes on the air and to apologize to their viewers.

We shall see…

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Maybe Huckabee Has a Point

Mike HuckabeeAh, that Mike Huckabee. I could make fun of his name, I suppose, asking if America “hearts” him, or suggesting that his name puts me in mind of Twiki, the cute little sidekick robot voiced by Mel Blanc on the horrible Buck Rogers TV series. Can’t you just hear him habitually mumbling “huckabee huckabee huckabee huckabee huckabee huckabee huckabee” instead of his usual “bidibidibidibidibidibidi”?

But I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to point out something he said when interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on Sunday:

BLITZER: Let’s talk a little bit about what the former secretary of state General Colin Powell said earlier today on “Meet the Press” when asked about the status of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, whether suspected terrorists should be housed there. Listen to what General Powell said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL: If it was up to me, I would close Guantanamo. Not tomorrow, but this afternoon. Every morning I pick up a paper and some authoritarian figure, some person somewhere is using Guantanamo to hide their own misdeeds. And so essentially, we have shaken the belief that the world had in America’s justice system by keeping a place like Guantanamo open.
(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Governor Huckabee, you agree with Secretary Powell?

HUCKABEE: I know it’s become a symbol of what’s wrong. I visited Guantanamo just about a year ago. My sense was, because I visited every single prison in the Arkansas prison system, and I can tell you most of our prisoners would love to be in a facility more like Guantanamo and less like the state prisons that people are in in the United States.

It’s more symbolic than it is a substantive issue, because people perceive of mistreatment when, in fact, there are extraordinary means being taken to make sure these detainees are being given, really, every consideration.

BLITZER: But the argument isn’t so much the physical condition as to the legal system that they face. These suspected terrorists, these detainees are being held, by and large, without charges, without any evidence. They’re just being kept there indefinitely. And that’s causing a smear on the U.S. reputation.

HUCKABEE: I understand that. But I’ll tell you, if we let somebody out and it turns out that they come and fly an airliner into one of our skyscrapers, we’re going to be asking, how come we didn’t stop them? We had them detained.

There’s not a perfect solution. The perfect solution is to get people to quit being terrorists. And that’s not something we can easily control. If we’re going to make a mistake right now, let’s make it on the side of protecting the American people. That’s the number one role and responsibility that an American president has right now.

It’s an interesting thought. Maybe we really should make some mistakes, erring on the side of protecting the American people. I don’t personally think Huckabee is an Islamofascistoanarchotheocratic terrorist, but frankly, I’ve never even met the guy, so I’m in no position to vouch for him. Assuming he really is on our side, I’m sure he’d understand if we mistook him for an evildoer and sent him away to Gitmo for an unspecified period of time. Besides, he sounds like he’d like it there more than an Arkansas state penitentiary, so we’d actually be cutting him a break. If he doesn’t go along with the plan, it may be an indication that he’s not on our side, which would mean that in our effort to err on the side of safety, we got lucky.

It’s a win-win.

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Just in Case You Haven’t Heard

Marty Kaplan posted the following at the HuffPo today:

This week, the Iraqi parliament “passed a binding resolution that will guarantee lawmakers an opportunity to block the extension of the U.N. mandate under which coalition troops now remain in Iraq when it comes up for renewal in December.” But if you didn’t read that in an exclusive alternet.org story by Raed Jarrar and Joshua Holland, or if you didn’t get an email from a friend (as I did) saying, Didja see this?, you might not know that a majority of Iraqi lawmakers has now fashioned a two-by-four to thump President Bush on the head and end our occupation. But no doubt you would know about the girl locked in a tiny room in Connecticut.

This week, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s top political adviser said “he doubts the prime minister will be able to win passage of key legislation ardently sought by U.S. officials, including a law governing the oil industry and one that would allow more Sunni Arabs to gain government jobs.” But if you didn’t read that in Ned Parker’s exclusive story in the Los Angeles Times, you might not now know that even the Iraqi government has given up on meeting crucial political benchmarks by September. But surely you’d be thoroughly familiar with the anorexia plague stalking starlets.

And as for military benchmarks, a few days ago al-Maliki said, “I have to watch the army, because those still loyal to the previous regime may start planning coups. Those people don’t believe in democracy, and for that reason we are monitoring the status of the army very closely.” A military coup – by the army we’re training! But if you didn’t see Lara Logan’s exclusive interview with al-Maliki on the cellar-rated CBS Evening News, or watch the clip online, you wouldn’t know how close our “freedom agenda” is to becoming a Musharaf-style “democracy.” But you’d definitely know that the TB guy’s bride is a hottie.

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