George Soros demands apology from Dennis Hastert

After Hastert tried to smear Soros as being in the pocket of international drug cartels, Soros has written a letter demanding Hastert apologize. Read the letter, but don’t hold your breath waiting for Hastert’s response

Try to imagine this, the speaker of the house actually saying these words, in an interview with Chris Wallace:

HASTERT: You know, I don’t know where George Soros gets his money. I don’t know where — if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from. And I…

WALLACE: Excuse me?

HASTERT: Well, that’s what he’s been for a number years — George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he’s got a lot of ancillary interests out there.

WALLACE: You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?

HASTERT: I’m saying I don’t know where groups — could be people who support this type of thing. I’m saying we don’t know. The fact is we don’t know where this money comes from.

It seems that just a few years ago this sort of thing would have sparked a tidal wave of outrage, on all sides. But in the Age of bush, it seems it’s okay; it’s just the way things are done. If you have to break some kneecaps for political advantage, it’s fine.

America under bush has become a very ugly place, a smaller and lesser country than it was only four years earlier. And it wasn’t 911 that changed everything — it was bush. This guttersnipe should never have been allowed anywhere near the White House. What a desecration.


Bush will get a good bounce

I’m guessing 3 to 5 points. Arnold is giving a sensational speech. Not a word of it is true, but it’s brilliant. And he’s delivering it with dazzling oratory. All the speakers are remaining relentlessly on-message, and the mood in the hall can only be described as euphoric. It’s working.

Bush may win, I’m resigned to that possibility. It’s definitely still a toss-up, but it looks like their strategy of putting forth the moderate faces of the party who believe in many things in direct opposition to their platform is working. Sure it’s misleading and deceptive, but hell, it’s working and Rove knew it would.

It’s as though they are describing a world in another universe. A world where the economy is soaring and prosperity waits “just around the corner.” A world where there’s no Abu Ghraib, no Guantanamo Bay, no incredibly bloody war raging in Iraq. A world where we’re on the verge of winning the war on terror (whatever that is) and where everyone’s safer because a powerless old dictator is now in prison. A world where good old American know-how, can-do attitude and elbow grease will solve all our woes.

Unfortunately, I know how susceptible some Americans can be to this kind of crap, so I have to face reality. As I said, it’s working.

The best we can do is to jam the air waves with our message, reminding people what’s really going on, reminding them that jazzy slogans and manipulative speeches mean little for Americans on the ground, be they fighting militants in Fallujah or scraping for work in Buffalo. Virtually everything shrub has done has been a calamity, from his No Child Left behind canard to his magnificent tax cuts for those who need them least to his dragging us into the most pitifully unnecessary war since Vietnam. But, he never waivers, he stands firm, he gave a good speech after 911 and he can be folksy and adorable.

911. I hope you all watched the convention last night as the party milked the slaughterfest for every ounce of bathos it was worth. It was the entire theme: bush was brave in the wake of the great attack on America. Funny, how to the best of my recollection he was reading My Pet Goat when told of the attack, and sat there squirming like a frightened child. And then, did our feckless leader go to Washington to set an example of courage? No, he flew away, not to be heard of for the entire day. And then, after doing the right thing, the only thing possible — going to war with Afgahnistan — what did he do? He launched a war based on an old feudal grudge and brought the “war on terror” to a grinding and permanent halt. And we are just as vulnerable today, though our personal freedoms have been compromised and the quality of life in general has been drastically reduced.

Okay, I’ll go listen to Laura tell us how great things are now in Afghanistan (never mind that the Taliban are on the rise and the country’s for all intents and purposes has fallen into civil war).

Remember, don’t let the volume decrease. Jam the airwaves. Remind people of the difference between perception and reality. Don’t let them forget that what bush is doing to Kerry now is exactly what he did to McCain in 2000. And remind them that when McCain asked Kerry to pull an ad he deemed offensive, Kerry promptly did so. McCain asked bush to condemn the SBVFT ad, and bush was silent. Which is the better man, the man of greater integrity and conscience, bush or Kerry? Take away the fireworks and the spectacle, and bush is nothing but a fool, a scared and spoiled kid, with the power to destroy life on earth. If he can pack the Supreme Court with his choices, none of us will be safe for a generation to come. People have to get this.


Shanghai Eye is back with a new name

Don’t miss it. It’s just as good as always.


Making sense out of Vietnam, Kerry and the smear campaign

You’ll find what may be the most level-leaded and rational explanation of the whole ugly mess in an article cited by Joseph Bosco in a wonderful post. I realize that all of us, myself included, are reeling with Swift Boat fatigue, but this is an absolute must-read. A sample:

Put aside the claims that John Kerry doesn’t deserve his Vietnam medals–claims debunked in newspaper after newspaper, claims that, as the Los Angeles Times recently editorialized, “no informed person can seriously believe.” Put aside the question of whether John Kerry was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968, as he has (probably incorrectly) claimed. As Slate’s Fred Kaplan notes, Kerry’s diaries say he was “patrolling near the Cambodian line” on that day. (At least one of his crewmates says it was “very hard to tell.”) Does that distinction really constitute an important campaign issue?

The medals and the Cambodia charges are partisan hack stuff, cynically repeated in service of the greater Republican good. What genuinely upsets conservatives–including conservative veterans–is something different. First, conservatives think it’s hypocritical for Kerry, who denounced the war, to now take credit for having fought in it. As The Wall Street Journal editorialized this week, Kerry has “managed the oxymoronic feat of celebrating both his own war-fighting valor and his antiwar activities when he returned home.” But what’s oxymoronic about that? What Kerry “celebrates” is that he volunteered for Vietnam–and served heroically–when elites (including Bill Clinton, Dan Quayle, and George W. Bush) were finding ways not to go. That’s noble, even if Kerry thinks the war itself was not. And, if Kerry is a hypocrite for having served in a war he opposed, what about Dick Cheney–who avoided serving in a war he supported?

The second thing that genuinely angers conservatives–including some of Kerry’s fellow swift boat captains–is that he called the war immoral. Kerry began his famous 1971 Senate testimony by recounting the recent Winter Soldier Investigation, in which soldiers spoke of atrocities they had committed. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’s latest anti-Kerry ad intersperses his graphic descriptions of those atrocities (without explaining that he was paraphrasing firsthand accounts) with outraged veterans saying his testimony “betrayed us” and “dishonored his country.”

What the ad doesn’t argue, however, is that Kerry’s charges were false. It merely suggests he was unpatriotic for leveling them.

There is much more there, including what to make of the claims Kerry committed “atrocities.” When I say “read the whole thing,” I really, really mean it.


Sullivan on the Swift Boat Vets

As I’ve said before, when the unpredictable conservative pundit is good, he’s the best.

I’ve now gotten many emails defending the honor of the anti-Kerry Swift Boat vets and claiming that they had nothing – nothing – to do with the Bush campaign. Please. Do I think the vets have a right to say what they believe? Of course they do, and 527s are fine with me. Free speech and all that. Am I exercising a double-standard by not worrying about the Kerry-backed 527s? Hardly. I don’t recall my being soft on and all the other hysterical anti-Bush screeds; and their connections to the Kerry campaign are obvious. But there is something different between cheap, ugly shots at presidential policy and quibbling with a man’s war medals. And it is surely naive to believe that the Bush campaign was unaware of this and that their Texas cronies didn’t help finance and produce the ads. If this had never occurred on Bush’s watch before, you might dismiss it. But obviously it is an old tactic he deploys whenever he needs to. I said so in the 2000 campaign, long before I endorsed Bush.

And there are still die-hards who believe this is an “independent” group motivated by altruism to edify us all as to Kerry’s deep character flaws — funded by old Texan buddies of bush/Rove and choreographed by the lady who pulled the same stunt on McCain four years ago. Any comparison with their manipulation of history with the ads of taunting bush’s policies are absurd. As Sullivan says, please


RNC invocation by Sheri Dew

It was originally rumored to be Jerry Falwell. Turns out this lady, a Mormon pastor, is just as bad or worse, considering she’s compared gay marriage to Nazism. This causes Andrew Sullivan to wryly remark:

Look, she has every right to oppose same-sex marriage and every right to feel strongly about it. But comparing well-meaning advocates for including gay people in their own families as the equivalent of Nazis is just, well, sadly typical of what the GOP is fast becoming. Is Dick Cheney the equivalent of a Nazi?



Bush flip flops on the “war on terror”

Two quotes provided by Josh Marshall (go there for the links).

“We have a clear vision on how to win the war on terror and bring peace to the world.”
— George W. Bush
July 30th 2004.

“I don’t think you can win [the war on terror]. But I think you can create conditions so that the — those who use terror as a tool are — less acceptable in parts of the world.”
— George W. Bush
Aug. 29th, 2004.

As Marshall notes, Bush uttered both quotes within one month’s time. Thank God our president is such a “straight shooter” and never changes course.


Two Chinas

Singapore’s Business Times takes a long hard look at what seems to be emerging as China’s greatest crisis, the “two Chinas” phenomenon — increasing wealth, often fueled by corruption, and the appalling misery of those at the bottom. It questions how long the current system in China can survive on the present course, and comes to no optimistic conclusions. A thoroughly depressing article, but one that should be read by everyone.


China bans blood selling

It’s about time.

China has made it illegal to buy and sell blood in an effort to stem the country’s growing AIDS epidemic, the first time the disease has been targeted in a law, state-run media reported Monday.

The legislature’s Standing Committee passed the law, which also requires the government to guarantee funds for infectious disease prevention, during a weekend meeting, the China Daily said. The smaller, Communist party-controlled body handles law-making when the National People’s Congress, the full legislature, is not in session.

The new ruling mandates that governments at various levels should strengthen prevention and control of the disease, the newspaper reported, “the first time that AIDS is specifically targeted in the law.”

The report did not provide any specifics on how that will be done.

Blood selling was the major factor in China’s initial wave of AIDS and still play a large part in the tragedy. It probably should have been banned 20 years ago.


Only in China? Sexually frustrated chimp starts smoking

No time to comment, but article speaks for itself.

Sexual frustration has driven a mild-mannered chimpanzee to take up smoking and spitting, according to China’s Xinhua news agency.

Feili, 13, has turned from a “gentle girl” into a “shrew”, said Liu Bing, the director of her zoo in Zhengzhou, central Henan province.

Mr Liu said Feili’s partner at the zoo was 28 years her senior, and was unable “to meet her sexual demands”.

Feili was not addicted to nicotine, he said, but was just imitating tourists.

However, she does appear to be quite keen on smoking – and has been known to resort to desperate measures to get what she wants.

Xinhua reported that Feili became excited when she saw a visitor light up a cigarette, and grew impatient when they showed no sign of giving it to her.

It quoted one boy visiting the zoo as saying: “Just now a tourist threw a cigarette butt to just outside the cage – she tried to get the butt with a stick.”