I want to laugh. Hilary would be such a lightning rod as to take all focus off of Kerry, and there is just no way to coax fence-sitters with her on the ticket. So what could it all be about, this report from a “top Washington insider?”

Read the language closely. . .

“There are three issues that this campaign will be decided on– national security, health care, and the economy, not necessarily in that order.”

“Kerry believes that no one is better on national security than he is, he served in Vietnam after all, so he has that covered and the suggestion that he needs to strengthen the ticket with someone who has national security credentials is dismissed as foolish.”

The insider continues: “The Democrats feel like health care is the domestic issue. But how to make it the dominant topic of conversation– break through war and terrorism? Hillary Clinton. She catapults it out front with her commission. She tried to provide health care before and the Republicans in congress attacked her and her husband and used a bunch of scandals dirty tricks to stop it, we know they are scandals dirty tricks because the former president book says so. So now you have the number two person on the ticket who is a ‘health care expert’ and what will Republicans do? Attack on health care pointing to her commission saying that it was government medicine. Her response– it wasn’t, and the Republicans are a bunch of dirty tricksters, “Liars and Crooks,” as Kerry calls them, and its been too long and Democrats wont let the Republicans do it to them again. By the way, it puts prescription drugs on the back burner, the republicans health care ace. You will have a fully engaged national debate on health care from now until the election.”

Drudge’s supposed “scoop”

Look at the way the supposed insider couches how Kerry thinks, what the issues are, etcetera. Can there be any doubt when reading here that the supposed insider is antagonistic to Kerry?

This story is a plant, and Drudge, who may as well have the intelligence of a plant, has eaten it up as if it were Miracle Gro. I can’t even give him credit for knowing his base and having the foresight to serve them up the kinds of lies and rumors they’ll love. He’s been spun by some Republican operative who has no clue as to Kerry’s VP selection process is my read.

There’s just no story here, or about as much as when Drudge scooped the world on Kerry’s fictional mistress.

What does this really say? The Republicans are nervous enough to be planting such rumors. Yes, they are very nervous.

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized



I’ve been following the development of an interesting little story for awhile now. It’s starting to get a bit more press. Considering the unknown number of “detainees” being held in the U.S. (and elsewhere) in connection with September 11, 2001 and other alleged terrorist plotting / activity, this just strikes me as sort of curious:

WASHINGTON – Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike are demanding to know why the Bush administration chose to release to Syria a terror suspect when several prosecutors and FBI agents had collected evidence for a possible criminal case.

The circumstances surrounding Nabil al-Marabh’s release, detailed in a recent Associated Press story, are “of deep concern and appear to be a departure from an aggressive, proactive approach to the war on terrorism,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote Tuesday in a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft.

“Al-Marabh was at one time No. 27 on the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) list of Most Wanted Terrorists,” wrote Grassley, who leads the committee that controls federal spending and also is a member of the Judiciary Committee (news – web sites) that oversees the Justice Department (news – web sites). “He appears to have links to a number of terrorists and suspected terrorists in several U.S. cities…”

Now, for all of the misfires the U.S. government has had on terrorist “suspects” here in the U.S., al-Marabh appears to be a genuine bad guy.

This is really odd. We had the guy, at a minimum, under surveillance. He wasn’t going to be doing anything overt here in the U.S. because of his high profile. And then Ashcroft goes ahead and ships him to his sponsor state, Syria.

I don’t get it. Perhaps they implanted a tracking device in his prostate gland or something.

Check it out.

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Am I Being Too Sensitive? Or Just a Petulant Asshole?

We here at ASZ like to think we’re just a small, insignificant zephyr that contributes to the overall velocity of the Left Blogistan wind machine. So, it’s always uplifting to receive confirmation of just how insignificant we truly are – approximately that of a fart in a hurricane. The most recent example of ASZ’s “insignificantness” is demonstrated by contrasting ASZ’s view of Fahrenheit 9/11 to that of the hoity toidy big guy left leaning blogs.

I swear, it’s like the opinion makers in Left Blogistan are apologizing for Michael Moore. Or agreeing more with the “right” than the “left” on overall impressions of the movie. I mean, fuck. What’s up with that? Michael Moore has graciously given the progressive movement in the U.S. an absolutely wonderful tool with which to work. And what are some progressives doing with it?

Throwing it out the friggin’ window or giving the Freepers of the world ammo for their own noise machines. Downplaying or apologizing. Here’s the most recent example – Kevin Drum of Political Animal:

What to say? The argument over the film mostly seems to revolve around whether it’s factually accurate and presents a logical case, a conversation so pointless as to be laughable. I mean, it’s a polemical film from Michael Moore, not a Brookings Institution white paper. It’s like complaining that editorial cartoons are unfair because they don’t portray the nuance of serious policy discussions.

Now, as it happens, I thought Fahrenheit 9/11 was a bit mediocre even as polemic, but the thing that really struck me about the film was the almost poetic parallellism between its own slanders and cheap shots and the slanders and cheap shots of pro-war supporters themselves over the past couple of years. If Moore had done this deliberately, it would have been worthy of Henry James.

Take the first half hour of the film, in which Moore exposes the close relationship between the Bush family and the House of Saud. Sure, it relies mostly on innuendo and imagery, but then again, he never really makes the case anyway. He never flat out says that the Bush family is on the Saudi payroll. Rather, he simply includes “9/11,” “Bush,” and “Saudi Arabia” in as many sentences as possible, thus leaving the distinct impression that George Bush is a bought and paid for subsidiary of the Saudi royal family.

Kevin, did you and I see the same movie? Here’s what I got of out the same scene you’re describing – Mike Moore relied heavily on the input of Craig Unger, author of the bestseller House of Bush, House of Saud. I thought that both Moore and Unger were quite successful in building their case for the connection. There is a connection. That’s all they wanted you to know. Now, if you want to get into it deeper and understand specific connections and favors exchanged between the Bushes and bin Ladens, go buy the goddam book. For goodness sakes, no one could build an airtight case in 15 or 20 minutes, but Moore did a pretty damn good job.

And regarding mediocre even as polemic – when have you seen a better polemic movie – and no, I’m not taking about Shindler’s List or something similar. I’m talking about a populist documentary movie (I’m already tired of the word, “crockumentary”).

Over at Whiskey Bar, the proprietor (Billmon) touched off a shitstorm this past weekend by damning Moore with faint praise, having not even seen the movie. I’ll admit that Billmon actually gives some backhanded compliments to Moore’s “playing†of the media (which Mike does quite well) but Christ, Bill:

For years now, Limbaugh, Coulter and their inferior imitations have been passing off their slanted misreadings, unproven allegations and flimsy lies as factual reporting. When caught out on a lie or a smear, they either ignore the evidence, or – like Limbaugh – retreat into the phony defense of arguing that all they’re doing is expressing a subjective opinion. “I’m just in the entertainment business,” Rush likes to say.

Well, now there’s someone on the left who knows how to play their game, and play it brilliantly. Moore may be an egomaniac, and a huckster showman in the best (or worst) tradition of P.T. Barnum and Walter Winchell, but man, he’s effective. He’s learned to play the mainstream media like a Stradivarius.

Juan Cole over at “Informed Consent”, one of the most progressive, thoughtful blogs around opines:

The Saudi bashing in the Moore film makes no sense…

The story Moore tells about the Turkmenistan gas pipeline project through Afghanistan and Pakistan also makes no sense…

But some of the innuendo about the Saudis and Afghans just seems an attempt to damn by association, and seem to me to be based on faulty logic and inaccurate assertions…

ARRGH! Come ON, guys – we progressives have been given manna from heaven from Michael Moore. Perhaps he’s right when he says, “You can see us coming down the street. You know, ‘Hey! Hi! How’s it going?’ We’ve got that big shit eating grin on our face all the time because our brains aren’t loaded down.” Mike drops this great, big, juicy, liberal wet kiss in our lap in the form of Fahrenheit 9/11, and leading progressive bloggers are tripping all over themselves to find fault with either Moore himself or the movie??

For crap’s sake, build this movie up! “Faulty logic and innacurate assertions”?? Is it just me, or is that supposed to be the exclusive domain of Coulter, Limbaugh, Savage, and Hannity? Mike Moore is on our side! There’s more truth in the worst 5 minutes of Fahrenheit 9/11 than there is in a week’s worth of bloviating by any of the aforementioned neocon megaphones.

So I’m asking the leaders in Left Blogistan: quit back-lighting the minor faults of this celluloid screed against the object of our disaffection, and get onboard the bus. Quit trying to impress people with your ability to discern intellectual nuance. Go ahead and get candy-sticky-stupid-sweet about this movie. Right now, Mike Moore should be reveling in universal praise from opinion makers on the left, not defending himself from negativity on both sides of the aisle. Life’s difficult enough for an instigator when the brickbats are being flung from only one side.

Folks, if I’ve hammered on nothing else since I started this blog, it’s that progressives need to keep “Team Bush” on the defensive from now to until November. We need to be using Fahrenheit 9/11 as a springboard for our own talking points. In the final analysis, the movie hangs together quite well, and it does deliver a very strong central theme. Allow me, as an admittedly insignificant zephyr, to boil Mike Moore’s 120 minute message down to 12 shorts words for you:


And that’s what DOUBLE BURN is all about.

I’ll end my rant with a snippet from Patrick over at Yelladog (check his music out):

The Right is left squalling about this film without having seen it. They do so at peril to their own credibility, especially when those of us that have seen it have found it to be such a pro-American and (in the best possible way) pro-life film.

Now that’s the F9/11 that I saw.

Update, 10/10/04, 10:30PM: Yes, campers, there’s comments below – lots of them. Haloscan just forgets old postings after awhile, and doesn’t log the number of comments for some reason. Check ‘em out. It was quite the lively discussion.

Quick Links to other ASZ F9/11 Postings:


Richard’s F9/11 Review

More Moore

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized


How Thoughtless of Me

I’m reminded that we need to save the children as well as the goats!

Mark Morford at SFGate (The San Francisco Chronicle) : Who Will Save The Children?! Aww, heck. The FCC says curse words now cost $500,000! And your child might just hear one, and explode!

Morford is one of my all-time favorite social and political commentators. I get his bursts of consciousness in e-mail. I’ve been neglecting to read him of late, and have felt less sane as a consequence. His style is not everyone’s cup o’ tea, though. You’ll have to decide for yourself.

Read. ;-)

Tuesday, June 29th, 2004 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized


Goatskin Shield Hired to Protect the Iraq PMO:

Good News for the PMO, Bad News for Goats!

My spin on the spin for today is inspired by Naomi Klein’s piece in The Nation, Shameless in Iraq

Excerpt: “Good news out of Baghdad: the Program Management Office, which oversees the $18.4 billion in US reconstruction funds, has finally set a goal it can meet. Sure, electricity is below prewar levels, streets are rivers of sewage and more Iraqis have been fired than hired. But now the PMO has contracted with British mercenary firm Aegis to protect its employees from “assassination, kidnapping, injury and”–get this–”embarrassment.” I don’t know if Aegis will succeed in protecting PMO employees from violent attack, but embarrassment? I’d say mission already accomplished. The people in charge of rebuilding Iraq can’t be embarrassed, because clearly they have no shame.”

In case you missed it in the above quote, the section of the press release that caught Naomi’s eye (and mine) from the PMO, the Iraq Program Management Office is: “But now the PMO has contracted with British mercenary firm Aegis to protect its employees from “assassination, kidnapping, injury and … embarrassment.”

The word “aegis” is from Greek mythology, by the way … the goatskin shield or breastplate of Zeus or Athena. Athena’s aegis carried at its center the head of Medusa. And we certainly have a multi-snake-headed mess over there in the way of “contractors” “helping”, eh? Check out the PMO link above for the list of sna … um, contractors giving Olympian-like aid to the good people of the PMO.

A rudimentary understanding of human psychology tells us that mentally and emotionally healthy human beings have healthy shame. Being embarrassed for doing something wrong or harmful or stupid comes from healthy shame. It is the internal mechanism that keeps us from committing daily heinous and harmful acts. Our internal “good parent” you might say. Like the governor on an accelerator pedal… People who regularly harm and abuse people and things seem to have an underdeveloped or absent “good parent” inside of them.

Now I always thought it was PR agencies that protected their clients from embarrassment, didn’t you? Since when do mercenary security corporations do it?

Absurdities pile up. That has to be axiomatic on the Happy Planet by now I think. The coincidences, the choosing of names … etc. One of my “heroes” Albert Camus had much to say on the nature of the absurd. He devoted at least three of his larger works to it:

“For Camus, the absurd was not negative, not a synonym for “ridiculous,” but the true state of existence. Accepting the view that life is absurd is to embrace a “realistic” view of life: the absence of universal logic. … One might rephrase Camus’ absurdism as “God? No thanks… I’m on my own.”"

(Scroll down to the section called “The Absurds”)

I salute Camus today, and Naomi too, for noticing the sheer terribleness and silliness of it all. And ask you to think about the poor goats.

Tuesday, June 29th, 2004 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized


Moving On, Moving Forward

Traveling around left blogistan over the past 24 hours, I’m a bit struck by some of the caterwauling I’m reading about the transfer of sovereignty in Iraq. Hey, it was going to happen eventually – they pulled the trigger a few days early, and it appears to (at least initially) have had the intended result. The transfer caught everyone by surprise, and probably at least delayed more mayhem leading up to the original date of June 30.

What’s so bad about that? Nothing.

Listen, if for no other reason than the Iraqi people need to be running their own country (regardless of the number of strings attached), this event should have happened a long time ago. It’s hard to understand how anyone could deny that manifest destiny of Iraq should be in Iraqi hands.

The real work begins now. The problem is, the real work should have begun over a year ago. So by almost any tripe-laden definition of success, the occupation of Iraq has been an abject failure for the United States. We can argue about the reasons for invading Iraq all day long, and never reach successful consensus. What is almost impossible to argue is that the post-invasion planning was inadequate (at best), the “rebuilding process†is and was rife with corruption, and acts committed in the name of occupation were criminal (at worst).

So we turn the page. Where do we go from here? Well, basically nowhere as things now stand. The corruption of the rebuilding process will most certainly continue. Coalition forces are staying put – in fact, it looks like the number of boots on the ground might actually be increasing. And now the Bush administration has a convenient target when things don’t go so well – the interim Iraqi government.

Is the whole thing a net positive for the Bush administration? I don’t think so. Not even close. In the voter’s minds, barring significant bloodshed between now election day, it will end up being a zero-sum event in the voter’s minds back here in the good old U.S. of A.

Let’s strike a deal – I want the Bush administration to be held politically (if not criminally) accountable for the past couple of years as much as anyone on the planet. But let’s save that discussion for tomorrow, or the next day, or day after that.

As far as turnover goes, my good thing / bad thing litmus test will be the impact on the folks like Riverbend and Raed in Iraq. Regardless of my own feelings, does this bring them any closer to some kind of closure and the ability to truly begin piecing their lives back together? Their lives and that of their families have been in (again, at best) holding patterns since March, 2003. That’s what has made their stories so compelling. So to answer the question: will putting Iraqis (provisionally) back in charge of Iraq make things any better than what they dealt with under formal occupation? While it’s really too soon to tell, I think the answer is probably “yes”.

For that, I am eternally grateful that Jerry Bremer and crew have finally hopped their last rides out of Baghdad.

And now, I want MY country back.

Tuesday, June 29th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized


In the Headlines…

Just sayin’.

Tuesday, June 29th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized


ASZ’s “DOUBLE BURN” Campaign

What if “word of mouth” and repeat viewings of Fahrenheit 9/11 literally blew the doors off over July 4 weekend? Right at this moment, it’s hard to say if distribution will expand this week, but given all the sellouts, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the movie hit a lot more screens.

Now, we realize that Spiderman 2 is coming out this weekend, and realistically, there is simply no way that F9/11 beats out S2 at the box office. We may be liberal pollyannas, but we’re not dopes.

But what if F9/11 came in a barnburning second, and made the $22 million box office from this past weekend look like chump change?

ASZ is pleased to roll out the DOUBLE BURN campaign. All you have to do to participate is see Fahrenheit 9/11 this coming Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday (July 2, 3, 4 or 5). The purpose of this campaign is to keep F9/11 in the news by shattering records. Here’s the plan:

  1. Talk up the movie this week to friends, family, and co-workers.
  2. Go see it again yourself. The first time was simply shock and awe. The second time is for critical understanding.
  3. Most importantly, if you run a blog, or have an email list, announce the DOUBLE BURN campaign to everyone you can reach.

Not that Mike Moore needs to get any richer. He’s doing OK. But think “Titanic”. How did “Titanic” break every conceivable record for movie attendance? Word of mouth and repeat viewings.

Let’s make Fahrenheit 9/11 the “Titanic” of documentaries. Why? Simple. There’s no way that the Bush administration and the Republican National Committee can ignore the gate from the opening weekend. A couple of weeks of box office records will get their undivided attention, and send a message in the most clear and undeniable way – that the policies of the Bush administration are morally and politically bankrupt, and that George W. Bush is as unelectable this year as Jack Ryan.

We at ASZ have previously asked you to take action – and this is as easy and cheap as it gets. You don’t have to talk to strangers. You don’t have to canvass for voters. You get to sit in an air-conditioned theatre for 2 hours. Your only commitment is the time and price of admission. And your participation sends an extremely powerful message.

So, what do you say? Are you willing to commit? Are you willing to spread the gospel according to Mike? Let us know – click on the comment link.

See you (again!) at the movies, as we DOUBLE BURN!!

Quick Links to other ASZ F9/11 Postings:

Richard’s F9/11 Review

More Moore

Monday, June 28th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized


More Moore

Karl and the Rovians must be having a group stroke this weekend. There is no credible neocon counterpunch to Fahrenheit 9/11. They can only crank up the Fox News wind machine so much.

It’s a thing of beauty, really.

I spent the afternoon in the big outdoors, and after a nice BBQ, had some time to think. While I’m gushing about F9/11, at the same time, I’m also a bit concerned about the future of this type of “politicing”. OK, we’ve got a certifiable hit at the boxoffice. You know people are paying attention. Some of them belong to, as Bush termed it in F9/11, the Republican elite. They’ve got money. They can make movies, too.

I’m hoping that the whole environment that led to F9/11 is a one time phenomena – extraordinary times require extraordinary measures, etc. etc. But what’s to stop the GOP from backing, after Kerry’s first two or three years, some type of bizzaro F9/11 based on whatever “scandal” they’re going to be cooking up in the coming 24 or 36 months? I guess I’m speaking in terms of the precedence that F9/11 sets in the film industry AND politics.

After ruminating over this a bit, I came to the conclusion that we really have no such worries. Number one, we’ve really been in a confluence of extraordinary circumstances over the past 3 years. That confluence of events (generated by BushCo, for the most part) gave Moore the fertile ground to till. I just don’t foresee such an amazing set of events occurring over the course of my lifetime again, much less the next 3 years. At least I hope not.

And let’s face it – I just don’t see neocons ever being as domestically energized by events, and actually plunking down 10 bucks at the local art theatre to see “The Heinz Chronicles – Following the Billions” (I’m just making that up, but you get my point).

So, for now, let’s just bask in the glow of a master storyteller weaving events of the past 4 years into an artistic, celluloid tapestry. We’ll deal with the future when it comes.

Lastly, here’s a link to some great perspective from around the country (scroll down the page a bit when you get there), and don’t miss ASZ’s take on Fahrenheit 9/11 (below).

Monday, June 28th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized


Today’s New York Times

It is a rare occasion, but it does happen, that the New York Times magazine produces such a focus of fine writing and features that the rest of the paper is made nearly superfluous. Yes, the paper then is worth its full $5.00 price. Those are the kind of days where coffee on the balcony and the leisurely reading of the Times can stretch into the afternoon. Let me recommend the following:

Michael Ignatieff’s “Mirage in the Desert” is a fine essay on the capacity of America for blinding itself to what it does in the name of evil. He mediates his argument through the events of remembering the D-Day warriors, Ronald Reagan, and Abu Ghraib, three of the most pivotal events on our recent newsscape. I am particularly struck by this paragraph, and am searching for the full text of Sorensen’s speech. . .

Theodore Sorensen, who as a young man wrote President Kennedy’s best speeches, gave a commencement speech of his own recently that was not so much an address as a cry of anguish. He remembered a time when you could go overseas and walk down avenues named after Lincoln, Jefferson, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. Hardly anyone is naming streets after Americans in the cities of the world these days. ”What has happened to our country?” Sorensen exclaimed. ”We have been in wars before, without resorting to sexual humiliation as torture, without blocking the Red Cross, without insulting and deceiving our allies and the U.N., without betraying our traditional values, without imitating our adversaries, without blackening our name around the world.”

Ah, the full text of that speech given at the New School, headed no coincidentally by a Democrat, former Senator Bob Kerrey, is HERE.

The issue also includes an interview with Ron Reagan that is powerful as well. The Son Also Rises is a much better interview than those I’ve seen on television, though it is short. I like this shot he takes at Mr. Cheney, the token Dick in the Bush Administration:

How did your mother feel about being ushered to her seat by President Bush?

Well, he did a better job than Dick Cheney did when he came to the rotunda. I felt so bad. Cheney brought my mother up to the casket, so she could pay her respects. She is in her 80′s, and she has glaucoma and has trouble seeing. There were steps, and he left her there. He just stood there, letting her flounder. I don’t think he’s a mindful human being. That’s probably the nicest way I can put it.

I’m headed back to the rest of the Magazine now, then maybe I’ll break out a ballpoint and tackle the puzzle.

Happy Sunday, folks, and don’t forget to floss.

Sunday, June 27th, 2004 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized
Next Page »