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Is it Time for the Fred Thompson Death Watch?

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 7:12 PM EST

fred_thompson_frowny_face.jpg It's not just audiences in Iowa that are failing to connect with Fred Thompson. His supporters in the House of Representatives aren't impressed with the former Tennessee senator, either, and they're voicing their discontent in hilarious fashion.

Several House Republicans who endorsed Fred Thompson for president now say that they are frustrated with what they view as an apathetic campaign...
"I think he's kind of done a belly flop," said an estranged Thompson backer who indicated he will not pull his public support before the "Super Tuesday" primaries. "We'll just wait till after Feb. 5 because I think he's going to get beat."
The disaffected members of team Thompson say that he has failed to put to rest whispers that he is unwilling to campaign hard enough to win the presidency.
"He seems to be perpetuating it instead of defeating it," another dissatisfied Thompson backer told CQ Politics. "I can't see me bailing on him, but there's some frustration."...
Some of Thompson's endorsers say they aren't lifting a finger.
"I've kind of pulled back. I'm not not supporting him, but I'm not doing anything," said a third lawmaker.

As Christopher Orr adds over at The Plank, with friends like these...

Update: One fun detail I've noticed about Fred Thompson, after the jump.

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Maureen Dowd Rehashes the "Presidential Candidate X is a Wuss" Construct

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 6:38 PM EST

Maureen Dowd makes me lose faith in journalism. Apparently, I work in a field in which writing pseudo-intellectual gender- and machismo-based nonsense that isn't particularly funny, witty, or amusing, and which includes no actual reporting, doesn't get you fired. It gets you eight more years in the most hallowed space the industry offers.

Maureen Dowd helped sink Al Gore's presidential chances in 1999 by writing crap like this:

Al Gore is so feminized and diversified and ecologically correct that he's practically lactating.

And how she's writing crap like this:

The debate dominatrix knows how to rattle Obambi.
Mistress Hillary started disciplining her fellow senator last winter, after he began exploring a presidential bid. When he winked at her, took her elbow and tried to say hello on the Senate floor, she did not melt, as many women do. She brushed him off... She has continued to flick the whip in debates. She usually ignores Obama and John Edwards backstage, preferring to chat with the so-called second-tier candidates. And she often looks so unapproachable while they're setting up on stage that Obama seems hesitant to be the first to say hi.

I'm still going. I can't help myself. There's so much here that makes me cringe. Now Dowd introduces the "real man" character. As Al Gore was busy lactating in the 2000 race, George W. Bush was the hot shot with two mini-kegs swinging between his legs. And guess who wins the Down body language tests that Obama fails?

Other guys, like Rudy, wouldn't even be looking for a chance to greet Hillary, as Obama always does. Other guys, like Rudy, wouldn't care if she iced them.

After selectively citing a bunch potshots that Rudy has taken at Hillary, which, in truth, mirror the ones that supposedly weak-kneed Obama and Edwards have taken, Dowd ends with this:

Hillary has her work cut out for her. Rudy will not be so easy to spank.

And... vom.

PS — I know this isn't the worst Maureen Dowd article of the last eight years. Or even the last year. Or month. But it is part of one of the worst op-ed days in NYT history. Tom Friedman is suggesting an Obama-Cheney ticket for chrissakes.

No Thanksgiving Surprises for Bush This Year

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 4:09 PM EST

John_R._Bolton.pngWhen President Bush has failed to win political support for unpopular appointees to various government and judicial posts, he has waited until Congress was out of session and installed these folks as "recess appointments" that don't need Senate confirmation. The maneuver doesn't ensure permanence, but the appointees can stay in office long enough to do some damage. People like Sam Fox, who donated lots of money to Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, for instance, and the ill-tempered conservative John Bolton both snuck into ambassadorial suites while members of Congress were back home glad-handing constituents.

This week, though, the Senate has decided to hold just enough pro forma sessions to prevent an official congressional recess for Thanksgiving. They won't be doing much but sitting around twiddling their thumbs and talking to the C-Span cameras, but their presence in D.C. will prevent Bush from putting people in high places without first getting the Senate's stamp of approval.

Edwards Slams HRC on Iraq: Justifiable (Political) War or Desperate Act?

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 1:09 PM EST

I don't fancy taking Hillary Clinton's side against John Edwards, especially when it concerns the Iraq war. But the former North Carolina senator is trying too darn hard to pick a fight with the junior senator from New York on Iraq. Yesterday, at a town hall meeting in Reno, Nevada, Edwards said that Clinton's unwillingness to announce a timetable for removing troops from Iraq is tantamount to "continuing the war."

That's not so. It's true that Edwards has been more specific than Clinton in calling for a troop withdrawal. He has vowed that he would, if elected president, immediately pull out 40,000 to 50,000 U.S. troops and fully withdraw US. forces from Iraq within ten months. (Barack Obama has said he would remove one to two brigades a month; there are about 20 combat brigades in Iraq.) Clinton's position regarding withdrawal, according to her website, is this:

Starting Phased Redeployment within Hillary's First Days in Office: The most important part of Hillary's plan [to end the Iraq war] is the first: to end our military engagement in Iraq's civil war and immediately start bringing our troops home. As president, one of Hillary's first official actions would be to convene the Joint Chiefs of Staff, her Secretary of Defense, and her National Security Council. She would direct them to draw up a clear, viable plan to bring our troops home starting with the first 60 days of her Administration. She would also direct the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to prepare a comprehensive plan to provide the highest quality health care and benefits to every service member -- including every member of the National Guard and Reserves -- and their families.

Clinton promises she will bring the war to a conclusion. Edwards and others may have good reason to doubt she is sincere or committed to this position, given her earlier support for the war, which continued after the invasion. After all, she did come late (later than Edwards) to the withdrawal position. Yet Edwards is attempting to transform their present differences--offering a timetable now for removing troops versus vowing to create quickly a viable withdrawal plan for removing troops--into a foundational battle. Edwards said in Reno,

She says that she will end the war, but she also says she will continue combat missions in Iraq and keep combat troops stationed in Iraq. From my perspective, that's not ending the war. That's continuing the war. In fact, it's continuing the occupation. So we have really different views about that.

Maintaining troops in Iraq for training purposes or for combating the remnants of the local al Qaeda franchise--wise or not--would not be continuing the occupation. In fact, Edwards has not said that he would pull out every single soldier.

Push Polls Add Mud to New Hampshire GOP Primary

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 11:59 AM EST

Did you know that Mitt Romney spent the years of the Vietnam War trying to persuade the French to give up wine and convert to Mormonism? If you live in New Hampshire, you probably do now. The New Hampshire attorney general is investigating reports that someone has launched an illegal "push poll" in the state, using phone calls to spread negative information about Romney without identifying the campaign or entity behind the calls. The fake "poll," which raised issues about Romney's Mormonism, also included positive questions about John McCain, making it appear as though the calls came from the McCain camp and thus, that McCain was engaging in dirty politics.

McCain, who was the victim of push polls in his race against George W. Bush in 2000 in South Carolina, has adamantly disavowed any role in the calls. So has Rudy Giuliani, who would stand to be the biggest beneficiary of the mudslinging between Romney and McCain. However, the calls in New Hampshire were made by a Utah-based operation called Western Wats, which has previously been linked to the Tarrance Group, a GOP polling firm that works for Giuliani. The push poll certainly makes for a nice distraction from say, the Kerik indictment, but of course, that's just a coincidence.

Police Reservists Bring the War Home

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 11:38 AM EST

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken an unprecedented number of National Guard reservists and put them into active combat overseas. Many of those reservists were police officers before they were deployed. Now that some of them are finally coming home, they are have a difficult time making the transition from street combat to beat patrols in their old jobs, reports USA Today.

In March, for instance, an Austin, Texas police officer who had recently returned from Iraq fired his gun into the parking lot of a crowded shopping center while chasing an unarmed suspect. A bullet from his gun hit a parked van, narrowly missing two children who were sitting inside. The officer was reportedly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder that had gone undiagnosed.

The Austin episode was one of a string of close calls police departments have observed among officers recently returning from Iraq. A few big-city police departments are creating "re-entry" programs for returned vets to help prevent such incidents in the future, but most aren't, meaning that some of the cops coming back from the Middle East may be ticking time-bombs. So much for the Iraq war making Americans safer at home...

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Sexual Hypocrisy Complaint: "Fox News Porn"

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 11:33 AM EST

Robert Greenwald, the man behind the film "Outfoxed," has produced a montage of some of the sexually explicit footage that Fox News has shown while promoting a "family values" agenda:

If you didn't know that Fox News uses sex to get you to keep watching, you haven't been paying attention. I'm reminded of a great Slate slide show by Jack Shafer about "TV's Aryan Sisterhood." The last slide is a discussion of "what people inside the industry call 'Fox lips.'":

They are worn by Fox's Laurie Dhue, Fox's Gretchen Carlson, and MSNBC's Rita Cosby, three top blondes. Achieved in the makeup room in a procedure that sounds one step this side of cosmetic surgery, I'm told that powder, pencil, and paint can turn even the weakest mouth into a juicy vagina dentata.

Now that's family values.

Via Larry Lessig.

DC Bureau Chief David Corn on WPR Right Now

| Mon Nov. 19, 2007 11:29 AM EST

Listen to Mother Jones' Washington Bureau Chief David Corn on Wisconsin Public Radio right now here!

Update: The segment with David is over, but you can listen to an archived version later today on the website for the Kathleen Dunn show.

There Are No Popularly Elected Presidents in American History. Just Candidates Mike Huckabee Chose Not to Beat

| Sun Nov. 18, 2007 9:35 PM EST

Hi folks. I want to interrupt your weekends for just a moment to bring you the greatest political advertisement of all time.

Better than this. Heck, better than this. And, uh, if you don't know what is going on, google "Chuck Norris Facts." Or go here. Oh, and FYI — The reason why we didn't find WMDs in Iraq? Chuck Norris lives in Oklahoma.

The Amir Taheri Story

| Sun Nov. 18, 2007 7:26 PM EST

Amir Taheri is one of the strangest ingredients in America's media soup. There may not be anyone else who simply makes things up as regularly as he does, with so few consequences.

If you're already familiar with Taheri's accomplishments, you might want to skip to #5 below, which details his latest misdeeds. Otherwise, start at the beginning.

1. Taheri, who was once editor of a strongly pro-Shah Iranian newspaper during the seventies, left the country after the revolution. Strongly opposed to Iran's current government, he wrote a 1989 book called Nest of Spies: America's Journey to Disaster in Iran. Shaul Bakhash, a specialist in mideast history at George Mason University, reviewed the book for the New Republic and discovered important sections had been fabricated.

2. In 2006, Taheri claimed the Iranian parliament had passed a law requiring Jews and other minorities to wear special badges in public. The story was picked up all over the world, most prominently by the New York Post, the Drudge Report, and Canada's National Post. It turned out to be false.