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Protest Guerriers
Explain to me why I should care about these pussies?

Kobrin, accompanied by a dozen members of the conservative group ProtestWarrior, crashed a rally of hundreds of anti-Bush demonstrators at Meridian Park in Washington, D.C. Holding aloft signs that read “Say no to war unless a Democrat is president” and “Not to brag, but Bush won, so shove it!” they had set off earlier on inauguration morning in search of their opposites.

The ProtestWarrior contingent didn’t have to search for very long; the party came to them.

“You can go a [expletive] half-mile away and stand on the first street corner you see!” shouted a self-described anarchist, dressed all in black with a bandana covering his face. As they taunted and threatened and liberally profaned Kobrin and the rest of the group, a member of the D.C. Anti-War Network (DAWN) — the official organizers of the rally — tried to break it up.

“Your purpose is to instigate people. You’re going to have to leave!” shouted the “marshal,” DAWN’s term for their ad hoc security force.

“We’re staying here,” Kobrin replied.

Then he went down under a hail of black boots. Once the marshals pulled the anarchists away, ProtestWarrior sued for peace and made for the exit. Their chant of “Four more years!” was answered by the anarchists’ reply: “Wah wah wah!”

It wasn’t much of a contest. ProtestWarrior’s contingent numbered 13, the other side in the hundreds. If they won any hearts and minds, no one said so.

“I expected it, but I didn’t expect to be kicked in the back,” Kobrin said later. His boyish, twentysomething face wore a wry smile and he stood upright, but conceded that he was in some pain.

First of all, since I also hate anarchists, I can say that “Say no to war unless a Democrat is president” is a horrible slogan. These people avowedly planned to protest if Kerry won. They’re not Democrats – they’re barely Naderites. They’re fucking wackjobs.

Second, getting beaten up by some crunchy-granola lefties and waiting for cops to rescue you? How French. Think “Germans” for lefties and “Americans” for cops and “invaded” for “beaten up.”

Third, what kind of nutsoid fascist slogan is “Bush won, so shove it?” Remind me to laugh when one of these dumbasses says we need to bring freedom to some country or another. These guys and the poll thugs from the Ukraine election are kissin’ cousins.

Fourth – I am obviously skeptical of people who say “if you support Bush, why don’t you join the army?” Usually, that’s an asinine bit of logic.

But a bunch of healthy twentysomethings who support the Iraq war and call themselves “warriors”? Put up or shut up, fuckos!

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Democrats and tar babies
I’ve been thinking of the classic Br’er rabbit story a lot recently. Here’s the ending, if you’re not familiar.

Then Brer Rabbit started talking mighty humble.

“I don’t care what you do with me, Brer Fox, says he, “Just so you don’t fling me in that briar patch. Roast me, Brer Fox, says he, “But don’t fling me in that briar patch.”

“It’s so much trouble to kindle a fire,” says Brer Fox, says he, “that I expect I’d better hang you,” says he.

“Hang me just as high as you please, Brer Fox, says Brer Rabbit, says he, “but for the Lord’s sake, don’t fling me in that briar patch,” says he.

“I don’t have any string, ” says Brer Fox, says he, “Now I expect I had better drown you, ” says he.

“Drown me just as deep as you please, Brer Fox,” says Brer Rabbit, says he, “But please do not fling me in that briar patch, ” says he.

“There’s no water near here,” says Brer Fox, says he, “And now I reckon I’d better skin you,” says he.

“Skin me Brer Fox,” says he. “Snatch out my eyeballs, tear out my ears by the roots,” says he, “But please, Brer Fox, don’t fling me in that briar patch, ” says he.

Of course, Brer Fox wanted to get Brer Rabbit as bad as he could, so he caught him by the behind legs and slung him right in the middle of the briar patch. There was a considerable flutter when Brer Rabbit struck the bushes, and Brer Fox hung around to see what was going to happen.

By and by he heard someone call his name and ‘way up on the hill he saw Brer Rabbit sitting cross-legged on a chinquapin log combing the tar pitch out of his hair with a chip. Then Brer Fox knew he had been tricked.

Brer Rabbit hollered out, “Born and bred in the briar patch. I was born and bred in the briar patch!” And with that he skipped out just as lively as a cricket in the embers of a fire.

I think of this when I hear right-wing blogs and pundits inveigh on the actions of Democrats. Now, I don’t listen to this a lot – I hit a ceiling on election night and I haven’t dared to rise back up to it. But occasionally I’ll read Powerline or Instapundit or I’ll watch Sean Hannity jut his chin for a few minutes. And they have advice which boils down to:
– if the Democrats choose Howard Dean as DNC chair, they’re doomed!
– if the Democrats muck with process, i.e. inauguration protests or Senate filibusters, they’re doomed!

The question arises: Why would Glenn Reynolds or John Hinderaker or Sean Hannity dispense meaningful advice to Democrats? Do they want them to win elections? Well, God no.

If they want Democrats to lose elections, how would they want them to behave? Obviously, docile.

This whole “the Democrats better not cross -that- line, or they’ll lose votes” stuff just reeks of bunk. I mean, there is a legitimate case to be made for wanting two strong parties in competition. The worst democracy of last century was probably the Conservative-Labour coalition in Britain, in the 1930s, in which the Tories were so dominant that they took a shiftless approach to everything including the rise of fascism.

But somehow I don’t think that’s why these folks are pleading for Democrats to calm down and reject combativeness. I think they’re saying, “please don’t throw us in the briar patch!”

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At the movies
Three days, three slices o’ celluloid.

“Control Room”
From the maker of the funniest documentary of recent years, “Startup.com,” comes this startingly good look at Al-Jazeera. Why was I startled? I have no idea – even on paper, the story of a scrappy Arab news network covering the 2003 invasion of Iraq sounds pretty exciting. Maybe seeing this DVD at kiosks in DC’s snootier film houses convinced me it would be dry. But I have to revise my opinion of snooty film houses. This isn’t just a good documentary – it’s exciting.

It starts in March 2003, as Al-Jazeera staff are dumbfoundedly broadcasting Pres. Bush’s address giving Saddam Hussein and his family 48 hours to surrender or expect war. We see the usual central casting Arabs angrily calling “bullshit” at this speech. But then we see smart, British-accented, media-savvy Arabs at the TV station saying the same thing, as well as worrying about how their fellow Arabs will react to this.

That sets the template of the whole movie. In about 1/3 of the footage, we see the pessimist’s history of the Iraq war (including a lot of film and interviews used in “Fahrenheit 9/11”). In the rest we see Al Jazeera reporters joking around, buddying up with American reporters, and really gaining the respect of the main Centcom flack. This flack, by the way, is one of the wonders of the movie – he knows the boilerplate he’s supposed to deliver to reporters, but he’s ready and willing to dish about how American policy has to change eventually. Like me circa 3/03, he seems to be supporting the war because, well, if it DOES work, we can concentrate on other things to win the Arab world over.

There’s also a sad and terrifying sequence about the 4/09/03 toppling of the Saddam statue in central Baghdad – the image that led newscasts and newspapers the next day – that quite nearly proves the whole thing was staged. This isn’t a conspiracy theory any longer. It’s pathetic to remember how everyone bought the story when it came out, but it’s hopeful to see this movie and think such an easy suckering might not happen again.

“The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou”
Thank God for three months of pissy, negative reviews. My expectations for this movie were knocked down many pegs, and when I finally got around to seeing it, I was expecting a two star mess. Fortunately, the critics had conspired to be stupid and hand me a delightful four-star fantasy. Of the four Wes Anderson films, I’d say this is second best.

Why is it better than “The Royal Tenenbaums” or “Bottle Rocket”? Anderson has returned to the smaller, craftier storytelling of “Rushmore.” Instead of giving us a a dozen quirky characters to follow, he gives us a protagonist (Steve/Max in Rushmore), a familial sidekick who loves the same woman (Ned/Blume), an oblique love interest (Jane/Rosemary), and a strangely loyal henchman (Klaus/Dirk). The rest of the strange cast, like the strange plot, unfold lazily and naturally around a wonderfully unhinged story.

“Resident Evil: Apocalypse”
What a piece of shit. Some bright guy decided that the success of the “Resident Evil” games and the first “Resident Evil” film (2.75 stars, at least) was not due to the presence of zombies. Nor was it the result of a woman jump-kicking a zombie dog in the face. No – it was the fact that said zombies had been created by a bumbling evil corportation.

I know what you’re thinking – Awhuh? But it’s true. Most of the plot and exposition of this movie concerns the Umbrella Corporation, “the most powerful commercial entity in the world,” and how it’s successfully covering up the scandal of resurrected zombies overrunning a fake city.

Jesus Christ. The last movie ended with a hot woman cocking a 12-gauge in a zombie-ridden city block. That’s a 3-star movie, right there. How these people screwed that up I’ll never know.

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The Kos hoax
It looks like the “Kos payola” story is a hoax that could end with an embarrassing WSJ retraction. Here’s former Dean official Laura Gross.

So I got a call Thursday from the Jeanne Cummings, The Wall Street Journal reporter who covered the Dean campaign. By all accounts, she did a fine job — covered all aspects of the campaign, even met the Web team and wrote a long story on their work. She was calling, she said, on behalf of some of her paper’s reporters in Boston who were looking into a story about the campaign and the blogs.

She said she thought she knew what was going on, and we talked “on background” so she could “just clear things up once and for all” — that is, not for attribution. By the end of the conversation she had confirmed what she thought — that there was no news, that this was what she called a “dead story” — and said that she didn’t think there would be any article at all, much less one that mentioned Dean. She said that if for some reason she needed a quote she’d call me back.

Next thing I know there appears in the WSJ an article so sloppy and so inaccurate that I spent the morning trying to track Jeanne down to find out what happened. She called me back at 10:30 a.m. — and actually apologized for the article (written by two colleagues). She said that she wouldn’t work with those reporters in the same capacity again, would only give them on-the-record quotes and assured me that she had notified her editors.

Jeanne’s colleagues committed a journalistic no-no: they took her background conversation with me and made up a quote from “a Dean spokeswoman”. Their fake quote had this spokeswoman apparently admitting that the bloggers were paid for promoting the campaign. They completely mischaracterized our conversation — and Jeanne was rightly upset about it. I was, and am, too.

If this is true, two Wall Street Journal reporters published an innacurate story based on a colleague’s notes. For comment, I defer to Hugh Hewitt, author of the new book “Blog.”

Journalists can no longer stage hit-and-run attacks and expect to leave the scene quietly with no accountability. …
This is all of the Big Media’s problem as 2005 opens: They aren’t trusted. And with good reason. It will take a long time for them to get that trust back.

Damn right. I expect Hugh Hewitt to be among the first people to demand explanations – and disclosure – from the WSJ reporters. I expect Instapundit to be next. Then I expect Jeff Jarvis, who accused the bloggers of “sniping and snarking and bitchslapping,” to apologize.

I also believe in Santa Claus.

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“Kosscam”
Yes, another post about Daily Kos. I’m sorry, but I have to call Hugh Hewitt on his intellectual flatulence. Hewitt posts this:

[Bill O’Reilly] led with a question about Kosscam, and of course there isn’t any denying the problem of non-disclosed conflicts of interest among bloggers, and of anonymous attacks.

This is a sneaky lie. “Kosscam” had nothing to do with “non-disclosed conflicts of interests among bloggers.” It had everything to do with a disclosed conflict of interest. To wit, here is an article from the San Francisco Chronicle of Jan 15., 2004.

Daily Kos is a political Web log, or “blog,” an online diary where diarists can post anything they want. The political blogosphere is divided into right and left halves, and this one is on the liberal side. It’s run by a man who is a paid consultant for Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean, although he will accept any Democrat instead of President Bush.

This appeared – I repeat – in January 2004. That was a full year ago.

Honestly, when the man lies about a thing like this, how can you trust Hugh Hewitt? I wouldn’t read his “Blog” book if you stapled it to my hands.

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Anyway
The post I’d been working on wasn’t terribly vital – I was just remarking at how many bloggers were throwing logic and standards out the window to attack DailyKos. Basically, a former Dean campaign honcho blogged about the Dean campaign haven giving Kos money in the hopes he’d continue pumping up Dean. The Wall Street Journal thought this worthy of a full story (by three reporters!), even though
– Kos dislosed the campaign payment on his blog.
– the relationship started in June 2003 and ended four months later.
– it’s about the fucking HOWARD DEAN campaign that ended in humiliation 11 months ago.
Nonetheless, Instapundit and LGF are stroking their chins, very concerned, about this. The dumbest comment by far comes from Patrick Hynes at the AmSpec.

This mini-scandal is, probably, the blog equivalent of Rathergate or the Williams scandal.

If Rathergate was the story of an anchorman who went on the air, said “I disclose that I am doing consulting work for John Kerry,” then made up bullshit about George Bush, then, yes! It would be the same thing. The real scandal of blogdom was the “Daschle v. Thune” incident, for which I refer to that notorious left-wing blog Powerline (quoting CBS).

The two leading South Dakota blogs – websites full of informal analysis, opinions and links – were authored by paid advisers to Thune’s campaign.

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader and the National Journal first cited Federal Election Commission documents showing that Jon Lauck, of Daschle v Thune, and Jason Van Beek, of South Dakota Politics, were advisers to the Thune campaign.

The documents, also obtained by CBS News, show that in June and October the Thune campaign paid Lauck $27,000 and Van Beek $8,000. Lauck had also worked on Thune’s 2002 congressional race.

Both blogs favored Thune, but neither gave any disclaimer during the election that the authors were on the payroll of the Republican candidate.

Anyway, my point is that Kos, no matter what you think of him, had a financial relationship with a campaign more than a year ago, and disclosed it immediately. Note to Hugh Hewitt, Patrick Hynes, and (eventually, I’m sure) James Taranto – slander isn’t cool.

UPDATE: Boy, that Patrick Hynes column is a disgrace. Hynes rhetorically demands to know if Kos was being paid by Dean when he made stupid comments about murdered contract workers in Fallujah, and when Kos said John Kerry and his campaign team “should be lined up and shot.” But the first comment was made in April 2004 and the second in December 2004. Kos’s relationship ran from June to October 2003 – and Dean pulled out of the race in February 2004.

Either Hynes didn’t check this – which is hard to believe, since that Kerry quote was made one month ago – or he deliberately misrepresented information to imply scandal. Whatever the case, he should apologize to Kos.