Thursday, February 16, 2006

Chicago To RNC: Thanks, But We're Going To Have To Pass...

Of the 31 cities chosen to submit bids to the RNC for hosting their 2008 Republican National Convention, Chicago, Ill. Mayor Richard Daley said that they were going to pass, preferring to focus on a campaign to host the 2016 Olympic Games, according to spokeswoman Jackie Heard.

The RNC announced the 31 cities Wednesday, February 15th, in a news release that has been posted on their website.

According to the release, the other cities asked were Anaheim, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Tampa.

Chicago hosted the Democratic National Convention in 1996. The last time the city hosted the Republicans was in 1960, when then Vice President Richard Nixon got the nomination for president, only to lose to John F. Kennedy.

One cannot help but wonder whether Daley is not just concerned about the 2016 Olympics.

With the ongoing scandals connected to the White House administration (the NSA, Plamegate, misinformation that led to the war in Iraq, Katrina, etc.) and Republicans in Congress (Abramoff, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, etc.), accepting the offer could be viewed as lining up with the political party whose overall control of the federal government has left the country with a majority of citizens feeling they have been pushed aside. Polls show that the president's current job rating has slipped back from the small "bump" he got after his State of the Union address. So, it's not inconceiveable that Daley, a Democrat, is essentially trying to keep his city's distance from the ongoing negativity surrounding the Republican party.

And really, who can blame the guy?


Oh, The Irony...

Man Shot After Laughing At Vice President Cheney.

Guns don't shoot smart-asses. Smart-asses get shot by their girlfriends.


Cheney Comes Out Of Hiding; Everybody Laughs

In an attempt to diffuse complaints about the handling of the hunting accident where he shot a 78-year old man in the face over the weekend, Vice President Big Dick Cheney came out of his hole - a hidden bunker somewhere deep below Wyoming - and made his first public appearance since the incident.

Deciding to forego a situation where he might have to answer legitimate questions asked by an impartial press pool, Cheney did not hold a press conference at the White House, as many believed he would. Instead, he went to Fox News and answered softball questions lobbed at him by Brit Hume. (A transcript of the entire interview can be read here, courtesy of A Windows Media file of the interview can be viewed here, courtesy of

Among the hard-hitting questions asked by Hume:
  • Q Mr. Vice President, how is Mr. Whittington?

  • Q How did you feel when you heard about [the heart attack Whittington suffered due to a pellet that had entered his body near his heart]?

  • Q How long have you known him?

  • Q What was he wearing?

  • Q And you -- and I take it, you missed the bird.
Tough questions, to be sure. But then Hume got down to grilling Cheney about the slow release of information after the shooting.

Q Well, what -- you must have recognized, though, with all your experience in Washington, that this was going to be a big story.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, true, it was unprecedented. I've been in the business for a long time and never seen a situation quite like this. We've had experiences where the President has been shot; we've never had a situation where the Vice President shot somebody.

Q Not since Aaron Burr.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Not since Aaron Burr --

Q Different circumstances.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Different circumstances.

Q Well, did it occur to you that sooner was -- I mean, the one thing that we've all kind of learned over the last several decades is that if something like this happens, as a rule sooner is better.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, if it's accurate. If it's accurate. And this is a complicated story.

A "complicated story"? What's so complicated about it? You shot a 78-year old man in the face because you apparently thought he was a quail.

The Vice President, however, had a more detailed explanation as to why he believed the story had to hold.

Q But there were some things you knew. I mean, you knew the man had been shot, you knew he was injured, you knew he was in the hospital, and you knew you'd shot him.


Q And you knew certainly by sometime that evening that the relevant members of his family had been called. I realize you didn't know the outcome, and you could argue that you don't know the outcome today, really, finally.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: As we saw, if we'd put out a report Saturday night on what we heard then -- one report came in that said, superficial injuries. If we'd gone with a statement at that point, we'd have been wrong. And it was also important, I thought, to get the story out as accurately as possible, and this is a complicated story that, frankly, most reporters would never have dealt with before, so --

Hume interrupted his answer to ask about whether he had spoken to the White House up to that point about what had happened. Cheney said he had not.

Scrolling back through the transcript, I also came upon this item:

Q Was anybody drinking in this party?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: No. You don't hunt with people who drink. That's not a good idea. We had --

Q So he wasn't, and you weren't?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Correct. We'd taken a break at lunch -- go down under an old -- ancient oak tree there on the place, and have a barbecue. I had a beer at lunch. After lunch we take a break, go back to ranch headquarters. Then we took about an hour-long tour of ranch, with a ranch hand driving the vehicle, looking at game. We didn't go back into the field to hunt quail until about, oh, sometime after 3:00 p.m. (My emphasis.)

Wait a minute. You were not drinking in your initial response, but then, in your follow-up, you say you had a beer at lunch. What's wrong here? Admittedly, one beer probably isn't enough to send even Dick Cheney off on a drunken rampage, shooting innocent bystanders. But something here just doesn't ring true... Perhaps it's because of this quote from Katherine Armstrong, as originally reported on MSNBC yesterday:

Armstrong also told NBC News that she does not believe alcohol was involved in the accident. She says she believes no one that day was drinking, although she says there may have been beer available during a picnic lunch that preceded the incident. “There may be a beer or two in there,” she said, “but remember not everyone in the party was shooting.”

The above paragraph was removed from the MSNBC website later in the day, with nothing in its place. (A screenshot of the original posting can be seen here, at Crooks And Liars.) Today, it was replaced with a minor addition:
In a recorded, on-the-record phone call with NBC News, Armstrong said that beer may have been available at lunch that day. "If someone wants to help themselves to a beer," she said, "they may, but I did not see anyone do that," Armstrong says. She says she was not sure if there were beers in the coolers but wasn't ready to rule it out: "There may be a beer or two in there, but remember not everyone in the party was shooting," she told NBC News.
And, of course, there are still the questions about how close Cheney was standing to Whittington when he shot him. Cheney stands by his statement of "about 30 yards," but some people, including many avid hunters, have pointed out that the spread of the pellets would have been much further apart than they are.

Also, a new article published on the Washington Post's website quotes Kenedy County Sheriff Ramon Salinas III and Chief Deputy Gilbert San Miguel Jr. as saying Whittington "had been standing in the bed of a dried pond, several feet downhill from where Cheney and another hunter, Pamela Pitzer Willeford, the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, were standing as they were shooting quail."

So, to summarize: Dick Cheney had been drinking, was more than likely standing closer than 30 yards away from Whittington, and he doesn't regret handling it the way he did. Way to win over the people, Dick.


In related news, I was listening to Randi Rhodes this afternoon, and she brought up a good point about all of this stuff. Where are gun advocate (and self-proclaimed "Motor City Madman") Ted Nugent and the NRA? Nugent, who is usually so vocal about his right to carry arms and shoot animals with them, has been strangely silent over these matters. (In fairness to Nugent, although I don't hunt, I respect the fact that he eats what he shoots. He's not one of those "sport" hunters, a breed of person I despise.)

As for the NRA, they apparently have decided to pretend that the whole thing hasn't happened. here's a listing of the "Headlines" from their website, from Staruday to today:

  • NRA Collegiate Pistol Championships Set for Fort Benning, Georgia - 2/16/2006

  • Dowagiac, MI Police Department Wins Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program Mascot Costume - 2/14/2006

  • Exclusive Avis Benefits for NRA Members: Rent 5 days and get a free 2-day weekend rental - 2/14/2006

  • Olympic Biathlon Coverage - 2/11/2006
Apparently, both Nugent and the NRA want to distance themselves as far away as possible from the Vice President.


I was over at Newshounds yesterday and spotted a post by Bronxboy, another member of the site, pointing out a blog by Representative Stacey Campfield (R-TN) with the following post:
Dead eye Dick Cheney

Our VP is now clearly pro gun and anti lawyer .I say not a bad start.

I am taking up a collection to send a few democrats off on a hunting trip...

I hear some of them are saving up to give me a personal driving lesson.... from Ted Kennedy.

posted by TheRep @ 8:03 PM
Shortly after I left a comment pointing out the tastelessness of the post - not so much the jab at Cheney as the cheap shot at Senator Kennedy (over something that happened 40 years ago, no less!) - Campfield added this to his post:
UPDATE: You can stop the hate spam to me I was quoting Democrat Jere Hargrove from the house floor yesterday. If you want you can send him an E mail. Any one? Any one at all????
Well, yes, actually. I contacted Representative Hargrove's office via e-mail as soon as I saw this addition Wednesday morning. When I got home around 5:00, I found a response from his office in my e-mail box.
Hello Mr. Springer,
Thanks for your email. Rep. Hargrove would like to speak with you personally to clear up several misunderstandings at this blog...could you give us your phone number? Thanks!

Pamela Laub, CPS
Executive Assistant,
Representative Jere Hargrove
I thought it was rather nice of them to get back to me so quickly, as well as offering me an opportunity to speak to Representative Hargrove himself. I haven't spoken to him yet, but when he calls, I will certainly post what he had to say.


Now, as I said, I wasn't too offended or irritated by the poke at Cheney. Right now, he's fair game, as far as I'm concerned. Apparently, the late night TV shows feel the same way. Here are just a few sample clips from the vast ocean of Cheney jokes:
There are plenty more, but these are, in my opinion, among the best.

Anyway, that about wraps it up for this one. Coming up tomorrow: How Ann "The Man" Coulter might be facing a $5000 fine and up to 5 years in prison!

Stay tuned!

All the best,

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cheney Shooting Victim Suffers Mild Heart Attack; White House and Jeb Bush Make Jokes

Harry Whittington, 78, who was accidentally shot by Vice President Big Dick Cheney on Saturday, suffered a mild heart attack after a pellet from the bird shot that had entered his body migrated into his heart, according to numerous news sources, causing arterial fibrillation. A cardiac catheterization was performed at around 10:00 AM this morning, and Mr. Whittington is believed to be in stable condition.

Meanwhile, at the noon White House press conference on Tuesday, Press Secretary Scotty McClellan, who had been informed of Whittington's heart attack, told the press there was nothing new to report from the previous day. He also made a point to mention his bright orange tie (scroll to the bottom of the article in the link), as well as the colors worn by the White House's guests, the University of Texas Longhorns, telling the press pool that "[t]he orange that they're wearing is not because they're concerned that the vice president may be there. That's why I'm wearing it."

The press conference then turned ugly for the second day in a row when McClellan refused to clarify his answers from the day before:

MR. MCCLELLAN: Again, that's what I've -- I indicated to you yesterday what our views were, and we went through this --

Q I don't recall you sharing the president's view.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Yeah. But can I finish responding? I am glad to answer your questions. I was very respectful --

Q You didn't answer that question --

MR. MCCLELLAN: I was very respectful and responsive to you all --

Q The vice president basically decided on his own to not disclose this, which is at odds with how you do business and how the president does business. Right?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I don't want to make this about anything other than what it is. It is what it is, David. I was very respectful and responsive to your questions yesterday. I provided you the information I knew, based on the facts that were available.

Q (Off mike) -- haven't answered --

MR. MCCLELLAN: And we've been through this pretty thoroughly and I'm just not --

Q Just one final question.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Wait! Wait! I'm just not going to go back through it again. I'd appreciate if you'd let me respond fully before you jump in.

Q All right. But hold on a second, I've got one last question --


Q Now wait a second!

MR. MCCLELLAN: -- other people in this room have questions and we've got an event coming up.

Meanwhile, in Florida, Governor Jeb Bush, the President's brother, "slapped an orange sticker on his chest from the Florida Farm Bureau that read, 'No Farmers, No Food,' and referred to the shooting," according to the same New Your Times article linked above. Governor Bush then said, "I'm a little concerned that Dick Cheney is going to walk in."

While many are wondering why Cheney and the White House took so long to inform the national press about the shooting, as well as why they held off the information about Whittington's heart attack, various bloggers are wondering about more sinister items that appear to have occurred.

For instance, blogger Taylor Marsh noted that the Austin American-Statesman changed its story that Whittington had initially been hit by 200 pellets of birdshot to say that he had only been hit by 100. This may seem like no big deal, but Marsh thinks it is part of the White House's new story line. ReddHedd over at firedoglake went even further, questioning the entire story from Cheney and Katherine Armstrong, the owner of the ranch.

And it's not just the bloggers. Whittington's friends are starting to ask questions, according to writer:
The official story is that the blast from the vice president's shotgun hit Whittington at a distance of 30 yards. Hunters at the Vaughn Building [the headquarters of Harry Whittington] are skeptical. The hunt took place on a cold, windy afternoon. Whittington and his fellow hunters were probably wearing warm clothing—say, a jacket and a flannel shirt. Cheney was using a 28-gauge shotgun, a smaller-diameter firearm with pellets smaller than BBs. Whittington's friends question whether the pellets could have penetrated his layers of clothing and skin at that range. Yet two pellets lodged against his larynx, another was in his liver, and another migrated into the heart muscle, causing the heart attack. The pattern of wounds was between the lower chest and the forehead, a pretty tight zone for shot of 30 yards. If the range was considerably less than 30 yards, then it is likely that Whittington's injuries were worse than the initial statement by Katherine Armstrong indicated. (The blast "knocked him silly," but "he was fine.")
So many questions. And with each "answer" the White House provides, they only cause more questions to arise.

More on this as it developes.

All the best,

Monday, February 13, 2006

Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet... I'm Hunting Wawyers...

Thanks to Dee at Newshounds for the link!

Saturday, while on a quail hunting trip in Corpus Christi, Texas, Vice President "Big Dick" Cheney shot one of his fellow hunters, a lawyer named Harry Whittington, 78.
Image Courtesy of
Cheney was out hunting with Whittington and another unidentified man when a covey of quail took flight. Whittington shot one of the birds and had gone to retrieve it.

While Whittington was behind the other two hunters, another covey took flight, Cheney followed one with his gun, and fired, hitting Whittington in the face, neck and chest. This is NOT how it's supposed to work.

Let me say that one more time: Cheney, who had a valid non-resident hunting license but not an "upland game bird stamp," shot Whittington, who was wearing a blaze orange cap and vest and was outside of the hunting line, according to the report submitted to the Texas Parks and Wildlife by the Kenedy County sheriff's department.

Hey, what do you want from a guy who got five deferments from the draft?

Cheney's medical team, which apparently follows him wherever he goes, rushed to help Whittington, treating the wounds and getting him to a hospital.

Meanwhile, the owner of the ranch, Katherine Armstrong, contacted the Corpus Christi Caller-Times about the incident, according to White House spokesmonkey Scott McClellan. (More on this in a moment.) Afterwards, Armstrong spoke to Cheney, telling him that she thought it would be a major story by Sunday, and she felt comfortable going to a local paper about it. “And he said ‘you go ahead and do whatever you are comfortable doing,’ ” according to Armstrong.

The White House was informed of a hunting accident at around 7:00 PM Saturday night, according to McClellan, but did not alert the press corps immediately. Or even later that evening. In fact, he didn't let the press corps know until about 22 hours later. This led to a bit of hostility in the White House press room, and while McClellan tried to bob and weave, going back over and over to the lame explanation that they "wanted to make sure Whittington was getting the proper medical care" and were "waiting for all of the information to come in" so they could clarify what was going on, it was a bit like watching that Urkel guy trying to box with Mike Tyson. A straight-ahead question would be asked, such as, "Scott, why did it take almost 24 hours for you to tell us about this?" And then McClellan would either refer them to the Vice President's press office or try to lay the blame on Armstrong, saying that the press office had decided to let her handle going to the press.

The Vice President's press office did, however, confirm the incident to any journalists who contacted them for information. However, it appears from the transcript of the press conference that they were not forthcoming as to why it took 22 hours to say anything, let alone contact the press themselves.

Now, a lot of this story is pretty questionable. First, why did Cheney go outside of the hunting area? And even more importantly, why didn't he recognize the BRIGHT ORANGE that Whittington was wearing? I've never seen any bright orange quail before.

Moving on, why exactly did the Vice President's press office not release some sort of information, rather than just letting a local Corpus Christi paper carry the story? And why can nobody int he White House offer any realistic explanation as to why it took so long for anyone to say anything about the incident?

Before everyone starts insisting that I'm some kind of conspiracy theorist, let me state for the record that I do not believe for one second that Cheney actually meant to shoot Whittington. If for no other reason than because Cheney doesn't have the testicular fortitude to do something like that himself. If he really wanted to have Whittington shot, he'd have had some goons do it. That's more his style.Image courtesy of

As to why it took so long for the White House to issue some kind of statement or hold a press conference, I think it's because, in light of all the problems that the administration is having right now, the last thing they needed was for word to get out that the Vice President had gone out and shot some guy, accidental or not.

Of course, I also believe that if it had got out earlier, Fox would probably have all of their hosts shouting about how Whittington had accosted Cheney and it was self-defense. And, of course, Bill O'Reilly would claim that Whittington was a far-left radical who was trying to overthrow the government.

I think the White House and Cheney need to present a more realistic answer to why it took so long. Making sure Whittington got proper medical care is all well and good, but they were in Corpus Christi. This isn't the middle of the Sahara, for crying out loud. They have hospitals and doctors right in the city! And I'd be willing to bet that it wasn't almost a full day away from the ranch where all of this happened.

Of course, dodging questions and not telling the truth is par for the course with this administration, so I can't imagine why I'm surprised.

(Incidentally, while the whole thing has been written off by the sheriff's department as "no more than a hunting accident," thereby letting Big Dick off the hook, he did get a citation for not having the proper bird stamp for his license. No word on whether Dubya will issue a pardon for him.)

All the best,

(Author's Note: The photos in this post are screenshots lifted from an absolutely hilarious Flash cartoon about Cheney's duck hunting expedition with Supreme Court Judge Scalia. The cartoon can be viewed in its entirety at