Saturday, October 02, 2004

It takes a village to stomp a weasel 

A belated welcome to alert reader Raison de Fem, who has accepted our invitation to become a poster. We all started out as alert readers ourselves and, though I say it, one of the more unique things about Corrente is the way we keep adding good writers.

Goodnight, moon 

When I got back into town, there was somebody holding a "Students for Kerry" sign at the train station. More of that, please!

Bush isn't, well, master of his domain anymore, is he? The debate debacle must really have rattled them. Terrified, cornered rats, snapping at anything.

Interesting that the Partei, if our resident troll is a leading indicator, is starting to push Plan B: The election fraud line (fraud by Democrats, bien sur! Rich, after Florida 2000, eh?). Of course, given what we know about winger projection—they always accuse others of what they themselves are guilty of—Rove's plans for Republican fraud in 2004 must be very well advanced, and being moved to the front burner.

Turtles all the way down 

Unfortunately, I was out of the country for the debate, so all I got to see was a split-screen snippet on CNN.

And boy, did Bush look bad. The smirk, the bemusedly raised eyebrows, the deer-caught-in-the-headlights look, the petulance.... And until I saw him next to Kerry, I didn't realize how short Bush really is. Never send a boy to do a man's job....

Anyhow, it wasn't just me. Others saw what I saw.

I read this in the Herald Trib—which, alas, is starting to suck now that it's 100% owned by the The Times, instead of WaPo having part interest—and thought it summed up how Bush looked, and why he looked the way that he did, really well:

Several analysts said Bush seemed defensive at times.
"He's turtling," said Garrison Nelson, professor of political science at the University of Vermont. "Bush keeps pulling his shoulders up like a turtle," Nelson said.
"He is not happy about this. There is no cheery little smile, no little winks. Kerry is coming out a lot harder than Bush anticipated. Bush is still on message, but the body language - he is really tight, he is pulling his shoulders up and is in a real defensive posture. He's under attack and he hasn't been under attack and he's not used to this and he's not handling it well."
(via International Herald Tribune)

Now we know why His handlers keep Him in the bubble, don't we? (Funny nobody in the Kerry campaign is calling the Republicans on this.)

Turtle, eh? Hmmm.... Hey, Maw! Reach me that firecracker, will ya?

UPDATE The firecracker story is here: "Having a beer with a nut job" (back). I thought everybody knew this one. Guess not! Nasty stuff....

Kerry pulls even 

So, Inerrant Boy's numbers after the Republican National Convention were a dead cat bounce after all.

With a solid majority of voters concluding that John Kerry outperformed George W. Bush in the first presidential debate on Thursday, the president’s lead in the race for the White House has vanished, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll. In the first national telephone poll using a fresh sample, NEWSWEEK found the race now statistically tied among all registered voters, 47 percent of whom say they would vote for Kerry and 45 percent for George W. Bush in a three-way race.

Four weeks ago the Republican ticket, coming out of a successful convention in New York, enjoyed an 11-point lead over Kerry-Edwards with Bush pulling 52 percent of the vote and the challenger just 41 percent.

Among the three-quarters (74 percent) of registered voters who say they watched at least some of Thursday’s debate, 61 percent see Kerry as the clear winner, 19 percent pick Bush as the victor and 16 percent call it a draw.
(via Newsweek)

So, Kerry gave Bush an old-fashioned ass-whuppin'. More of this, please.

NOTE Bush, of course, is more the terrified, cornered rat than ever. So expect the smears and the dirty tricks to increase. And the plans for vote stealing.

UPDATE Who was it who said, "A week is a long time in politics?" Read, now, WaPo: "Poll shows Bush with Solid Lead". Heh.

UPDATE Orcinus tracks the slime these guys were throwing when their "man" was winning. Yes, expect worse.

Bush's debate notes 

Heh (via Pandagon)


Yep. (And keep reading up. Why is it that Republicans feel they can just make shit up? It is because they think they're sent from God, so anything goes?

This is nice work from Josh Marshall. You know, he's been sounding a bit, um, shrill lately. More of that, please.

Little Anecdotes From Hither and Yon 

How you know you've done the job right, or, A Debate Story:

(via dKos)

My 19 year-old (former foster) son, who has never been interested in politics, sat down with me and began silently watching about 10 minutes into it.

About half an hour later he turned to me and said, "Dad, am I able to vote?". I told him he would have to register but that yes, he could vote. I asked who he wanted to vote for, and he said "Kerry's the tall dude, right?". I said yes, and he said, "I'd vote for Kerry".

I asked him why, and he replied, "Because, I can tell if they were both captured by terrorists Kerry would keep telling them to go f*** themselves, and Bush would cry like a baby and tell them anything they wanted to know".

Today we registered him to vote.

-- Proud Dad
I spent Friday on my shift at county Dem headquarters. Last week we were out of yard signs, so of course that's what everybody who stopped by was looking for. This week we have yard signs out the wazoo so people asked for bumper stickers (yeah, we're out, and it's too late in the cycle to get more.)

But more than anything I got the feeling people just wanted to come in to a place where they knew they could find a fellow traveller to whom it was safe to say "Didn't Kerry just kick ass last night?" The change in attitude from the week before just blew me away.

The Titanic is turning. The work is worth it. Hope is on the way.

Looking Back 

This item comes from a long and stunningly depressing guest posting at Juan Cole about the state of higher education in Iraq these days, and how it got to such a miserable state. As you probably guessed, the war was a setback but the Bush Occupation efforts afterwards were the real disaster.

Even for those not into the details of academia, the conclusion of the piece should be read by all:

(via Juan Cole)
Sometimes I think we are, as a community of humane scholars, sleepwalking through the most important crisis of our lifetimes and we will look back on the legal, civil and moral outrages committed in the name of the War on Terror with the same embarrassment we now view the internment of Japanese Americans or the communist Witch Hunts of the 1950s. Elements of the so-called War on Terror and certainly the war in Iraq have been predicated on purposeful misinformation, rank ethnocentrism, bad language skills and poor analysis – the things we college professors are supposed to be good at counteracting and helping students and society overcome. Where have we been? Preparing for the coming civil war in Iraq and making the kinds of commitments to the peoples of the Middle East that the current situation demands can begin to redress that absence.

Keith Watenpaugh
Le Moyne College

Lie Down with Dowds, Get Up with Fleas 

...Or, why I never read, let alone forward, a column by this K-Mart Dorothy Parker. Somerby has the goods on her once again, this time inventing the Kerry "Who among us does not love NASCAR?" quote:

Question: Why do these people still work at the Times? More specifically, why isn’t someone like Maureen Dowd fired? Dowd has a long history of this kind of fakery—please don’t make us run through it here—but she just keeps making a joke of your lives with fake, phony stories about your leaders. And by the way—the Times has now known, for a good chunk of time, that Kerry never uttered this much-maligned “quote.” But so what? No correction has appeared. (The Daily Howler.)

What makes Dowd an A-list whore in the purest sense of the word is that she cultivates johns on both sides of the aisle. Her genius is knowing what each client wants and giving it to them, good, while making them feel like her #1 Sugar. Unfortunately it's only our discourse that gets prostituted. The sooner that decent people realize that her columns are nothing more than handjobs, promiscuously distributed, the sooner we can make serious progress against the disease her pseudo-journalism represents.

As usual Somerby shows how her fellow whores spread this epidemic by covering for their colleagues and ultimately blaming the victim, Kerry. (In my overextended metaphor, it's the john's wife's fault for not being obliging enough in bed.) Read the whole thing, then do the right thing: Stop patronizing whores.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Peasantry Gathers Pitchforks, Torches 

Did anybody hear about this last night? Anything on the viewscreen about it today? I saw zip, nit, nill, null, nothing, nada....this piece ran way below the fold on maybe two papers that I saw. Neither being the NYT or WaPo:

(via Atlanta J-C)
Hundreds of protesters, including some carrying flag-draped coffins, gathered outside the University of Miami campus before Thursday's debate between President Bush and Democratic candidate John Kerry.

Demonstrators carried 76 flag-draped miniature coffins, one for each soldier killed in Iraq this month, in a half-mile parade down U.S. 1 across the street a block from campus.

The protest went quiet as the soldiers' names were read aloud. Pallbearer Carol Klingbeio said she came because of "my conscience, my outrage and my fear for the planet."

Most protesters were Kerry supporters, some with signs reading: "What's to debate? Bush lied, fire him."

But three pro-Bush students crashed the coffin march with a large Bush-Cheney sign.

"We were looking for other Bush supporters, but we couldn't find them," said 21-year-old Loren Baum.

Police presence was heavy, but no protesters were arrested on or off campus, police said.

Earlier, more than 300 people lined U.S. 1 for several blocks, waving pink signs that read, "The next pink slip might be yours."

The students, union members and unemployed workers protesting President Bush's economic policies chanted "Kerry, Kerry, Kerry" and "What do we want? Jobs."

Across the street, about a dozen students and staff held an impromptu rally supporting Bush. Many waved pro-Bush signs, including a bedsheet painted with the message "Cubans for Bush."

About 100 Cuban-Americans, who traditionally support Republicans, were protesting against Bush because of strict restrictions his administration has imposed on travel to Cuba.

"All these people never voted against Republicans before, but this particular issue is of such concern that even the ones who never voted at all want to vote against Bush," said Rosa Garmendia.

This is Florida, people. Look at the numbers, look at the issues, look at the ethnicities, look at the occupations (or lack thereof.) And spread the word, don't let this one get buried in all the hoopla about the debate spin. Take heart. Hope is on the way.

Apres Debate, Le Deluge 

I’m beginning to believe that aWol could say “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” and get wild applause from the pre-screened sycophants, and bobbleheaded nods from the SCLM. Maybe that’ll change after last night, but who knows? I mean, did he really say “That's kind of a pre-September 10th mentality, the hope that somehow resolutions and failed inspections would make this world a more peaceful place. He was hoping we'd turn away. But there was fortunately others beside himself who believed that we ought to take action”?


Anyway, I was sitting at the table handing out campaign literature for a local Dem running for the county commission at the community services fair. Table row—if you’ve ever been to a fair, municipal, organizational, county or tribal or state, you know the setting. The lady at the next table over was handing out literature for a church that I won’t name, but it’s one of those that opens in a big old tin building with lots of fanfare and loud Christian rock music, and soon has a thousand members. And then in two years, it’s gone.

There was nothing separating the tables but a piece of rope and some crepe paper. It was late afternoon, a slow time, and I’d said I’d sit there for a couple of hours. No problem. But the gal at the church table kept pestering me about God. Did I want some literature? Did I believe in God? Finally, she asked me if I didn’t think it was a good idea to have a man in the White House who talks to God.

I bit, damn me.

Depends, I said. Does this guy in the White House also believe that God talks back to him? Well, sure, she said. And I said, well, what if God tells this man to drop nukes on countries he thinks are a threat? Then that’s what he should do, she says. And it’s okay, because--? Well, because God will take care of us, silly. God wouldn’t tell the President to do anything wrong.

I asked her if she was aware that Charles Guiteau alleged he shot President James A. Garfield because God told him to. No, she said, she hadn’t heard that. But, of course, Guiteau had to listen to God, didn’t he? I ask. Well, that wasn’t God talking, then, she said. Because God would never tell anyone to kill a President.

I then confessed that I was a godless socialist who thought sweet, sweet reason should govern public discourse, and, as such, I really couldn’t talk to her any more. She said she would pray for me, and I told her how sorry I was, really, deeply sorry. (Thanks, Xan.)

Which led me to:

Is voting for George Bush better than getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick?

Well, let’s examine results. In a worst case scenario, if you got poked in the eye with a sharp stick, you would lose the vision in that eye. If, however, you voted for Bush, the worst case scenario is that your vote would help put a man in the White House who believes he will get raptured before the nookyoolar holocaust he helps start happens. You can get by with one eye; you can’t live on a radioactive cinder.

Clearly, getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick is better than voting for George Bush.

Is voting for George Bush better than being mauled by a rabid dog?

Again, let’s examine results. You could get stitched up and receive rabies vaccinations if you got mauled by a rabid dog. If, on the other hand, your vote helps put a man in the White House who really believes that God talks to him, and one day God tells him to drop nukes on the “bad people,” and then good old Earth is incinerated, there’d be no stitches or vaccines that could help that.

Cleary, being mauled by a rabid dog is better than voting for George Bush.

To the barricades, me hearties! Arrrggghh. Mother Earth is counting on us.

Dear Glenda the Hood 

From Mathew Chamberlin:
Open letter to the most Honorable Glenda Hood, Florida Secretary of State

Dear Glenda Hood, I write to ask if Florida, in Oughty-five
Will look back on another year of politics and voter fear
Of ballots lost, and voters tossed by vigilante Highway cops
Of Jimmy Baker’s agent men engaged in special voter ops
O if it should! O Sakes alive! I pall to think about the stink.

continues... Finish reading letter to Glenda

Poetic blogging from Mathew Chamberlin. Visit: The Highhat


ABC "news": we just make it up ahead of time 

Hey! Wasn't this a Daily Show skit?
The dolts at ABC apparently posted a debate wrap-up story five or six hours before the debate began. If you visit American Politics Journal you can find a link on their Newswire (right sidebar) to the ABC yarn which was re-posted to a Dem Underground forum at 04:34pm, Thursday Sept, 30, 2004.

See APJ: Boneheads at ABC post AP debate "wrapup" -- 5 hours before debate begins! - Via APJ at link above. Or you can read the DU forum ABC post here (note the past tense used in parts of the story: Link

The ABC story posted to the DU forum reads in part:
CORAL GABLES, Fla. Sept. 30, 2004 — After a deluge of campaign speeches and hostile television ads, President Bush and challenger John Kerry got their chance to face each other directly Thursday night before an audience of tens of millions of voters in a high-stakes debate about terrorism, the Iraq war and the bloody aftermath.

The ABC post has been removed from the ABC website where it apparently originally existed so I copied a line from the Dem Underground re-post (highlighted in yellow above) and ran it through Google just to see what popped up. Below are two Google screen shots taken at 9am Friday, Oct 1, 2004. Each displays search terms clipped from the ABC story posted to the Dem Underground forum.

Note the "18 hours ago" citation. Which means that the ABC post originally appeared sometime around 3pm or 4pm on Thursday.The ABC link in that Google screenshot is identical to the link provided in the DU forum ABC re-post.

A second search of words contained in the ABC story cacked up the same ABC story and link but this time there is also a Detroit Free Press item listed. So I checked out the DFP story (credited to the FREE PRESS NEWS SERVICES) and noticed that some of it's contents are lifted directly from the disappeared ABC story.

For example: The opening paragraph of the ABC piece is repeated exactly in the fifth paragraph of the DFP story. There are other excerpts from the ABC story which also appear in the DFP story. Although, as far as I know, the DFP story wasn't published five or six hours prior to the debate but rather sometime early this morning. But, clearly, some of it's content was obviously written prior to the debate. I dunno what's in those other 2500 related items. I didn't look.

DPF story here: Kerry, Bush spar over Iraq policy October 1, 2004.


Republican sex police throw snit over Michael Moore visit... 

GMU officials fold up like a cheap lawn chair.
GMU cancels speech by director Moore. Creator of 'Fahrenheit 9/11' says he will show up anyway in support of free expression. By Paul Bradley - Times-Dispatch Staff Writer, Oct 1, 2004

FAIRFAX George Mason University officials called off "Fahrenheit 9/11" director Michael Moore's speech scheduled immediately before the election but Moore said he still plans to show up.

GMU officials said yesterday that the university had canceled Moore's planned Oct. 28 appearance on the Fairfax campus, a session for which he was to be paid $35,000.

The planned appearance just five days before the election drew strong protests from a pair of conservative state legislators from Northern Virginia, Del. Richard H. Black, R-Loudoun, and Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William.

Richard H. Black:
RICHMOND — A House panel voted Friday to keep Virginia's law banning oral sex and sodomy between consenting adults, despite arguments that act is unenforceable and discriminates against homosexuals.


This year's measure, which sought to strike the crime from the books for consenting adults acting in private, sparked a heated debate in the committee Friday. The legislation would have kept restrictions on oral sex and sodomy for those under age 18 or those who commit those acts in public. Repealing the ban against sodomy would encourage homosexuality and "unravel the moral fabric of the Commonwealth of Virginia," said Del. Richard H. "Dick" Black, R-Loudoun. - Link

More on Richard H. Black:
RICHMOND — Delegate Richard H. Black, R-Loudoun, has no apologies for sending state senators pink plastic replicas of a fetus last week. [...] Along with the dolls, Black attached a letter on official state letterhead, asking senators, "Would you kill this child?" - Link

Robert G. Marshall:
One of the most outspokenly anti-gay legislators in Virginia, he was the chief patron of HB 751, the so-called "Marriage Affirmation Act", which goes beyond prohibiting same sex marriage and civil unions to void existing private contracts between unmarried partners "which purport to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage".

"A marriage between persons of the same sex is prohibited. Any marriage entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void in all respects in Virginia and any contractual rights created by such marriage shall be void and unenforceable.

Any judge who rules the provisions of this section to be unconstitutional shall be deemed to have committed malfeasance in office and may be subject to impeachment under the provisions of Article IV, § 17 of the Constitution of Virginia."
- Link

More on Robert G. Marshall:
Gays and lesbians have long known that the state's slogan "Virginia is for Lovers" does not apply to them. - Link


Warlords and rosy scenarios - Bush's Afghan fantasyland 

And that's what people are seeing now is happening in Afghanistan. Ten million citizens have registered to vote. It's a phenomenal statistic. They're given a chance to be free, and they will show up at the polls. Forty-one percent of those 10 million are women. - George W. Bush, Presidential Debate, Coral Gables FL, Sept 30, 2004 ~ debate transcript

As a result of the American military," President Bush declared last week, "the Taliban is no longer in existence."

It's unclear whether Mr. Bush misspoke, or whether he really is that clueless. But his claim was in keeping with his re-election strategy, demonstrated once again in last night's debate: a president who has done immense damage to America's position in the world hopes to brazen it out by claiming that failure is success.


Let's talk for a minute about Afghanistan, which administration officials tout as a success story. They rely on the public's ignorance: voters, they believe, don't know that even though the United States promised to provide Afghanistan with both security and aid during its transition to democracy, it broke those promises. It has allowed the country to slide back into warlordism - and allowed the Taliban to make a comeback.

These days, Mr. Bush and other administration officials often talk about the 10.5 million Afghans who have registered to vote in this month's election, citing the figure as proof that democracy is making strides after all. They count on the public not to know, and on reporters not to mention, that the number of people registered considerably exceeds all estimates of the eligible population. What they call evidence of democracy on the march is actually evidence of large-scale electoral fraud.

See: America's Lost Respect, Paul Krugman, October 1, 2004.

Warlords and Washington

Jim Lobe:
WASHINGTON - Insufficient security forces and a lack of election observers, combined with regional warlords backed by the United States, continue to threaten the upcoming presidential election in Afghanistan, says a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).


"Amazingly, because of the inadequate forces, current security plans for the presidential election include the use of deputised warlords of factional forces to guard polling stations -- the very people Afghans say they're most afraid of," the report noted, adding that U.S. officials closely involved with election preparations "appear to be complacent," believing "democracy is now on the horizon."

It adds that continuing human rights abuses are fuelling a pervasive atmosphere of repression and fear in many parts of the country, and that voters in many regions do not appear to understand the ballot or have faith in its secrecy, particularly in the face of pressure from militia factions.

"The warlords are still calling the shots," said Brad Adams, HRW's Asia director. "Many voters in rural areas say the militias have already told them how to vote, and that they're afraid of disobeying them. Activists and political organisers who oppose the warlords fear for their lives," he added in the report.


In addition to these efforts, Washington, which has more than 10,000 U.S. troops in the country, is also trying to prevent Taliban forces and its allies from disrupting the election, especially in the Pashtun regions of the south and southeast, where they have carried out deadly attacks aimed at election workers and officials.

See: US-Backed Warlords Big Threat to Afghan Elections, by Jim Lobe, Sept. 30, 2004.

"The force must be strong enough so that the mission can be accomplished and the exit strategy needs to be well defined." - George W. Bush, criticizing Clinton administration's deployment of military forces, 2000 Bush/Gore debates.


Mexed Missages 

1 oz. rose water
4 oz 80-140 proof alcohol
1 oz. strong tea
1 oz. tintcure of Grains of Paradise
2 tbs. sugar
1/2 c. prune spirit
3 tbs acetic ether
1 tsp. burnt sugar coloring
1/8 tsp. Sanders wood coloring
1 gal tequila

Serves 1 soon-to-be-ex president.

*Except for the first and last ingredients this is an actual recipe from an 1853 book called "Manufacture of Liquors" by Pierre Lacour. He called it "Cognac Brandy" but I have adapted it in response to Dear Leader's desperate struggles with the English language as she is usually spoke.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Your Three Letters 

After the debate tonight, or as far into it as you need to watch to get the quotes you need, start writing a letter giving your thoughts on the Kerry presidency.

Print three copies.

Send one to your local paper. I don't care how rural you are, you almost certainly have a local fishwrapper that prints letters to the editor. Make this one as short and pungent as you can.

You have a state capital, and IT has a newspaper. Send them your second letter. Make this one a little longer and tie in something from the debate that relates to an issue important in your state or region. It can be something Bush said that would have a bad effect, or something Kerry said that would improve matters. Or plug another Dem candidate.

Pick your target for the last one. Send it to the New York Times if you want. Send it to your best friend from school who you haven't seen in years with a "hey, are you voting this year?" personalized addition. Or send it to your mom, she probably wants to hear from you anyway.

We ain't Kos, we ain't Atrios in terms of size. But we have enough readers here that we too can have our own little rapid-reaction force. Send it email if you have to, paper if you can. But let's do it. Make the trolls cry.

Questions That Won't Be Asked This Evening 

Mr. President:

Several news organizations and watch dog groups, like FactCheck and the Washington Post, have analyzed those of your campaign's TV ads that claim to inform the viewer about Senator Kerry's positions on various subjects, Iraq, defense policy, healthcare, and found those ads to be inaccurate, in their use of partial quotations of his words, often taken out of their context, and their distorting use of the Senator's long history of casting votes in the Senate to suggest, for instance, that he didn't support certain weapons system, when in fact, he did. Are you aware that your ads do this? If not, what are we to think about the voiceover in which you say you are aware of the content of a particular ad and have authorized its use? If so, how do you justify the use of these techniques, and are they fair to the American electorate?

Mr. President:

Since the entire point of turning over soverignty to the government of Mr. Alawi was to put an Iraqi face on the occupation until an election could be conducted next January, what was so important about having Mr. Alawi come here, not only to address the UN, but also a joint session of Congress, and to have him at your side for a press conference, expressing ideas that sounded very much like many of your own speeches, when such an extended visit filled with just such activities was bound to make him look less independent of American power and influence than he might otherwise appear to the average Iraqi?

Mr. President:

Why did you wait from January of 2002, when you first articulated the Axis of Evil and began to talk about calling Saddam Hussein to account until September 2002 to do anything concrete, other than to make speeches to articulate the Bush doctrine of preemptive war, if it was true that in dealing with Saddam, "time," as you and the Vice-President both remarked on more than one occasion, was not on our side, but on Saddam's side? Why, in particular, if you truly hoped that inspections could avoid war, did you wait until September to take your case to the UN, and considering the lack of WMD and ties to Al Queada we have since found in Iraq, do you still think that time was on Saddam's side and not on our's?

Mr. President:

On the stump, you often make personally disparaging remarks about Senator Kerry, deliberately seeming to want to hold him up to contempt and derision of a very personal nature? You and the Vice-President have both called him "unfit" to be Commander In Chief, echoing the ads of the Swiftboat Vets For Truth, even though you claim not to believe what they have to say about Senator Kerry's service in Vietnam. Do you consider it Presidential to conduct a campaign using personal derision in this manner, and isn't it a distraction from what the voters say they want, a substantive discussion of the serious issues facing this country?

Mr. President:

Why has your administration not been able as yet, to get the 18 million earmarked for Iraqi construction by the congress into into the hands of Iraqi's themselves on the local level to do the work of repairing infrastructure, and why do you have no such specific plans reading to implement, when it is generally conceded by many with expertise in this area that the dire unemployment through-out Iraq is contributing warm bodies to the insurgency, and souring all Iraqis on the US presence there. Isn't what Iraq needs most a massive public works project, disbersed as widely as possible to smaller, local Iraqi entrepreneurs?

Mr. President:

You have said that Senator Kerry's plan for making affordable health coverage available to more Americans will result in a government takeover in which ordinary Americans will no longer be able to pick their own doctors, and will find their medical treatment under the supervision of bureaucrats. These were the same arguments used against Hillary Clinton's attempt to extend healthcare to all Americans. But what the nineties taught most Amerians was that it was the HMO's who kept people from choosing their own doctors, and the HMO's who relied on bureaucrats to over doctors to control medical costs. Yet, premiums have kept on being more and more expensive. Can you please explain how medical savings accounts will make health insurance more affordable for the great majority of Americans?

About That Debate 

Over the weekend, I happened to catch, from among the previous presidential debates that C-Span has been cablecasting, the first Bush-Gore debate from 2000. At first I thought I couldn't bare to watch it, so I stood for moment, remote in hand, just to make sure there wasn't any reason for revisiting all that anger and outrage.

I knew there was when it felt like I was looking at a totally different debate than the one I remembered.

Where was Gore's stiffness, his odd affect, his hectoring, lecturing tone, where were the sighs and the rolling of the eyes, where was the know-it-all dismissiveness, where was Bush hanging in there sufficiently to eventually be considered the winner on likability, style, presidentiality. Now let me be clear; at the time, I thought Gore not only won, I thought Bush did rather poorly; I've always found Bush's affect to be at least as peculiar as Gore's and I thought he didn't look at all presendential during that first debate. There were even moments of unattractive, fear-provoked gracelessness, and on substance, and it was clear that Bush's positions wouldn't pass even the most casual of fact-checking exercises.

We all know what happened the next day, when the Bush campaign spinners were successful in infecting the discourse with the view of Gore that they'd been promoting through-out the campaign - the serial exaggerator, the man who would do anything to be president, the man who didn't know who he was because he wore different kinds of clothing depending on the event. It worked because the entire SCLM had already, by the first debate, become an echo-chamber for Republican spin. How Gore managed to get half a million more votes than Bush, given the delight with which just about everyone who had access to an inch of print or fifteen minutes of airtime made cruel, demeaning fun of him, says something about how much better a campaign Gore waged than he's ever been given credit for. Even his win in the popular vote was immediately recast, after election day, as a loss, because with such peace and prosperty he shoulda won by a landslide.

Digby has a fascinating post that's relevant here; it features a description of Bush during one of his early debates running for the Republican nomination for governor; the description is almost exactly the one used all those years later to undercut Gore. Once again Rove was projecting onto Bush's opponent the most obvious weaknesses from which Bush himself suffers.

We've all been over this history; most of us know it by heart. But it isn't until you see that first debate again that you realize the full dimensions of the swindle perpetrated on the American electorate in which pretty much the entire SCLM, that same SCLM covering the Kerry/Bush contest four years later, was complicit.

No one has chronicled that outrage as well as has that national treasure, Bob Sommerby; he was at it again in yesterday's Daily Howler, and still is in today's. Read them, and the links he provides to his own contemporaneous coverage of how completely and utterly the SCLM in 2000 flunked the most minimal test of its responsibilities as a free press in a representative democracy. Do it even if you think you already know all there is to know about it, even if you've read everything Bob's written about this. So have I, and reading it again made me realize that the blogisphere, the left half of it anyway, ought to be thinking about what we can do to keep exactly the same thing from happening to John Kerry.

The Kerry coverage hasn't been quite as bad as was Gore's in 2000, but Kerry isn't liked by most of the SCLM, and he's been gored more than once during this campaign. As was Dr. Dean in the primaries, as would any Democrat, no matter what Mickey Kaus pretends to believe about the foolish reasons the Democratic electorate voted overwhelmingly for Kerry in the primaries. So, if they don't like Kerry, do they like Bush? A lot of the SCLM does; we often forget how many card-carrying right wingers are full fledged members - everyone who appears on Fox, which includes such mainstream biggies as Michael Barone, Charles Krauthamer, Jeffrey Birnbaum, Bill Kristol, everyone who writes for the Washington Times, who also often appear on Fox, like Bill Sammon; the NR Cornerites, who have a second home at CNN these days, Kate O'Beirne, Tucker Carlson, god-help-us Jonah Goldberg, Rich Lowry, Stephen Hayes, a whole slew of Republican operatives, like Jack Burnbaum and Cliff May and let's not forget Bob Novak or Bill Schneider; compare the number of writers who appear in The Nation who also appear on any of the three cable news networks compared with The Weekly Standard writers who get airtime such . When John Leo is considered mainstream, when David Brooks is able to pass himself off as a centrist, you know that the discourse has been skewed dramatically to the right.

What motivates that part of the media, Judy, Howard, Chris, Norah, Aaron, Jeff, and on and on, which isn't hardcore right, but manages never to say anything displeasing to that constituent? My guess: careerism and fear.

Whatever the reason, from early this Spring, when Kerry became the putative candidate, he's been "framed" as the electable candidate whom no one likes, as a man with a long history of political opportunism, as a many who has failed to distinguish himself in his public life, yes, a war hero of sorts, but doesn't he brag too much about that, a candidate who should have known better than to marry that Heinz woman, a candidate whose positions may have been grossly distorted by Bush campaign ads to an unprecedented degree, but who clearly brought that on himself by being so vague, changing his mind too often, and just in general being too damned nuanced, not to mention that he comes from the wealthy upper crust, a man who is boring on the stump, glum and essentially unlikable, who can't connect with ordinary Americans, probably because he's a liberal, was most likely lied about by those Swift Vets For Truth guys, but brought that on himself , too, by acting like he was some kind of Audie Murphy in Vietnam, and then basing his entire campaign not on any particular issues, but solely on the four months he spent in Viet Nam, which opened him up to charges that his leadership of the anti-war veteran's movement was treasonous, and if any of these claims could be called slanderous, that's his fault too, for making his fellow Vietnam vets so angry.

Of course all of th above is nonsense, untrue and unfair, as anyone knows who's watched CSpan's coverage of Kerry campaigning, or listened to his speeches, and his interviews with even a modicum of attention, but since clearly that cohort doesn't include the SCLM, the frame of untruths, endlessly repeated, has become, as it did with Gore, more real than the actuality of the candidate himself.

Welcome to America, the world's oldest and greatest democracy.

Here's a little something to help you frame tonights debate; it's a piece of a transcript from yesterday's extended Hardball, in which Richard Holbrooke takes the battle to Chris Matthews and Pat Buchanan:

HOLBROOKE: But I think that the issue here is clear. Iraq is not going as well as the president and his senior advisers have said it is. And the senior advisers are publicly disagreeing with each other and with him. The American public will have to decide whether they want to offer four more years to an administration which has misled them on Iraq from the get-go on weapons of mass destruction, on democracy, dancing in the streets, and is presumably therefore telling them about future events and an equally overtly optimistic rose-colored way.

MATTHEWS: The challenge, it seems to me, faced by your candidate, John Kerry, is that all those things you‘ve said, he said before. And yet, almost half the American people believe that Iraq was involved in an attack on our country on 9/11. The vice president continues to suggest that there was a threat from nuclear weaponry from Saddam Hussein, that it was in fact a connection to al Qaeda. They continue to say that the construction efforts over there are going along well. And they‘re not being reported sufficiently by the American press. In other words, their argument will stand tomorrow night. When will yours begin to sell?

HOLBROOKE: First, I challenge every premise in your question. According to the polling data, over half the public knows the truth, despite the administration misleading it. And the other half has to just learn by listening to reality. And I think your question is frankly not fairly phrased, Chris. The fact is that the administration has been successful in fooling some of the people all of the time and most of the people some of the time...

MATTHEWS: I have fresh information on public opinion. And the opinion is that the president would do a better job in handling the situation in Iraq than your candidate. Isn‘t that a challenge for him tomorrow night?

HOLBROOKE: That is because the president and the administration misled the public on the reality in Iraq. And the public has to look at the reality. Look, it comes down to this. If the president, Donald Rumsfeld and his colleagues and Dick Cheney are right, then NBC News is wrong. Then Fox News is wrong. Then CNN and CBS and ABC are all wrong because you can‘t have it both ways. Even “Newsweek” is wrong if the president is right.

MATTHEWS: Let me to go Pat Buchanan. Pat, take over here with Ambassador Holbrooke. Your questions.

BUCHANAN: Ambassador Holbrooke, it appears to me that the country believes directly that we‘re moving in the wrong direction, it believes that the Iraq war was not worth the cost but it is also prepared to reelect the president of the United States because quite obviously, it feels by almost 2-1 he‘s a stronger, more decisive leader, and we want him to lead the country. How does John Kerry turn that around tomorrow night?

HOLBROOKE: Well, Pat, your question is biased and unfair. The ratios are not 2-1. And its misrepresentation of the facts that has given Bush a slight but significant edge which John Kerry will turn around by making his case. Here we are, talking in the most (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and polemical terms about polls which all of you otherwise say don‘t mean much yet. A margin of error, a difference between the two which can be made up. Why don‘t we talk about the issues, Iraq, the war on terror, homeland security. Pat, I‘ll leave the spin to you and your panel. I‘m not here to spin for John Kerry...

BUCHANAN: Let me ask you this...

HOLBROOKE: Let‘s talk about the issues.

BUCHANAN: In leading the country in the war on terror in Iraq, the nation by an overwhelming majority prefers the president, even though it believes the war has not gone as well as he said it would. And even though he believes a lot of things that aren‘t going well, they still prefer the president. How does Kerry sell himself as the man to replace the president?

HOLBROOKE: It is great being interviewed by you. You can ask the question and then answer it. You don‘t need me. Let‘s talk about the issues. The fact is that this administration has weakened us internationally. We are weaker today than we were three and a half years ago. You yourself know that. You have said that yourself on some of the programs. And the fact also is that not only in Iraq, but all over the world, things are going in the wrong direction for the United States.
The American public will have to decide...

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you.

HOLBROOKE: Will you let me—let me finish, you know. You asked me on the show. If you want to interview yourself, do it on some other time. The issue for the American public is very basic. Do they really four more years of America to be more isolated in the world, to give Vladimir Putin and the Russians to have a blank check for Mr. Abuse of democracy, to ignore most of the major problems in the world. To have our forces, military forces stretched too thin. If they do, if they think Iraq is really going that well, let them give George Bush four more years. The facts are otherwise, and there‘s plenty of time left for the American public to reassess the situation.

There you have it. They don't listen, except to themselves and one another, and they already know the answers to the questions they ask.

Don't expect anything much better tonight. Even if you think that Kerry is doing well.

I see that Atrios is setting up threads for his readers to use for blogging the debate itself, and also suggesting that readers divide up the task of watching the various network/cable responses.

It's the next step that matters. How can all the fine material I know our side of blogovia is going to be producing about what really happened in that debate be put to use in a coordinated way, to influence the course of the debate about he debate as it ensues in the days ahead? I'm not exactly sure. But think about the effect to which the right uses coordination of message with constant reiteration. That doesn't come easily to the left, but maybe if bloggers and readers appoint themselves to look for the best material to support Kerry, and to knock down the Republican spin coming out of our blogs, the most cogent and pithy, there might be some way to feature them on every blog.

Late in the game, I know, except for my usual computer problems this would have been posted yesterday. All thoughts from readers appreciated.

Poor Persecuted Neocons 

Two real good reasons to go read Juan Cole today. First off, he's got an explosive hint that the delays in the Plame case (and others) are not due to Patrick Fitzgerald et al being pokey. He claims inside sources:

(via Juan Cole)

Several high-profile FBI investigations, in which substantial progress have been made, may well have been put on hold by the Bush administration for political reasons. That is, it has been alleged to me that the White House may have leaned on the FBI-- not to drop the investigations but to postpone some key arrests until after the November elections.
Secondly, part of the same piece but worthy of separate mention, he makes a terrific preemptive strike on the meme that's starting to be in circulation--to whit, that to criticize the PNAC/neocon/American Enterprise Institute cabal is to be anti-Semetic. This accusation is, needless to say, a crock, and he calls it what it is: playing the race card:
Warning: The text below will use the word "Neoconservative." In my lexicon, a Neoconservative is a person from a social group that typically voted Democrat before 1968 but now votes Republican.

Some have attempted to argue that the very term "Neoconservative" is a code word for derogatory attitudes toward Jews. This argument is mere special pleading and a playing of the race card, however, insofar as only a tiny percentage of American Jews are Neoconservatives, and only a tiny percentage of Neoconservatives are Jews. The Neoconservative movement is an example of what social scientists call cross-cutting cleavages, which are multiple loyalties and identities typical of complex urban political societies.
He's got a link to a discussion of the "cross-cutting cleavages" thing, which I haven't read yet so will avoid commenting upon except to point out that it would be a terrific slogan for a maker of women's undergarments.

Overheard Over a Banana Crunch 

It was outside the ice cream shop. Fall is in the air now, and before long folks won’t be able to sit outside and eat ice cream around here. The conversation went something like this:

So you’re voting for Kerry, Jim? I saw the sticker on your truck.


Well, I’m voting for Bush.

Why, Al? He's a fuckup.

You don’t switch horses in the middle of the stream, Jim. We’re at war.

Look, Al. You switch horses in the middle of the stream if you tried to keep the damn horse from going into the stream to begin with, and he went anyway, and now has two broken legs, can’t get out, and won't even admit the stream is flooded. Someone offers me a fresh horse in that situation, I’m taking it.


The Cult of the 'W' Makes A Flick 

Oh Jeezis.(i wonder if Leni set up the camera angles):

Frank Rich:
More than any other campaign artifact, it clarifies the hard-knuckles rationale of the president's vote-for-me-or-face-Armageddon re-election message. It transforms the president that the Democrats deride as a "fortunate son" of privilege into a prodigal son with the "moral clarity of an old-fashioned biblical prophet." Its Bush is not merely a sincere man of faith but God's essential and irreplaceable warrior on Earth.


"Faith in the White House" purports to be the product of "independent research," uncoordinated with the Bush-Cheney campaign. But many of its talking heads are official or unofficial administration associates or sycophants. They include the evangelical leader and presidential confidant Ted Haggard (who is also one of Mel Gibson's most fervent P.R. men) and Deal Hudson, an adviser to the Bush-Cheney campaign until August, when he resigned following The National Catholic Reporter's investigation of accusations that he sexually harassed an 18-year-old Fordham student in the 1990's. [...]


"Will George W. Bush be allowed to finish the battle against the forces of evil that threaten our very existence?" Such is the portentous question posed at the film's conclusion by its narrator, the religious broadcaster Janet Parshall, beloved by some for her ecumenical generosity in inviting Jews for Jesus onto her radio show during the High Holidays. Anyone who stands in the way of Mr. Bush completing his godly battle, of course, is a heretic. Facts on the ground in Iraq don't matter. Rational arguments mustered in presidential debates don't matter. Logic of any kind is a nonstarter. The president - who after 9/11 called the war on terrorism a "crusade," until protests forced the White House to backpedal - is divine.

Read the rest: FRANK RICH, Now on DVD: The Passion of the Bush - Published: October 3, 2004

Next. This isn't funny: "College Republicans take a scalp". Via patriotboy

"My voice is out of the classroom. Why? Because I feared for my life," he said. "I really miss teaching - that's where my heart is."

Last June, Steven Helmericks committed treason in his General Sociology class at Colorado State University. One of his student's disagreed with his defeatist assertion that American troops were dying unnecessarily in Iraq and reported Helmericks' thoughtcrime to the CSU branch of the College Republicans. Justice was swift. Death threats came pouring in.

3 Questions for the Pope of Preventative Intelligence:
Question #2:
Your version of Christianity supports and blesses preventive war. What relation is this to the Christianity preached by the pope and by mainstream Protestants who oppose preventive war?

Two more questions here: Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Deep Dark Depression, Excessive Misery 

Now that we've all been suitably impressed, depressed, repressed, suppressed, and practically undressed by the wisdom of the media that can analyze debates that haven't happened yet, and told us in advance what we're All Going to be Talking About on Friday, I just want to say

... I think they're all full of shit. And I ain't the only one. This piece by Linda Feldmann starts out slow but has a real kick at the end. This is just one example of a topic, and a tactic, that are perfect for Kerry. Oh, and it has the added benefit of truth. Bush is good at fending that off, but for the non-koolade drinkers it's wearing really thin.

(via Christian Science Monitor)
Senator Kerry will press his newly focused argument that the Iraq war is a major diversion from the war on terror, and that Bush has in fact made America less safe. As he has done for the past week, Kerry will seek to keep the spotlight on the past 18 months - on the administration's decision to invade Iraq when it did, and on the occupation.

"It's very clear Bush is wagering his whole presidency on his reputation as being an indispensable commander in chief in the war on terror," says Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a centrist Democratic think tank. "It's Kerry's challenge to convince people that it's precisely Bush's mismanagement of security policy that is the main reason to fire him."

Another moment of sizzle could come if Kerry decides to repeat his allegation that a second Bush term could include a return of the draft. At a campaign appearance on Sept. 22 in West Palm Beach, Fla., Kerry said that he couldn't rule that out.

"Given the way he has gone about this war, and given his avoidance of responsibility on North Korea and Iraq and other places, it is possible," Kerry said.

Bush has stated that a reinstatement of the draft is not needed, but Kerry and other Democrats have already planted the seed - a point that, should Kerry or his surrogates choose to focus on it, could help him win back some of the women who have trickled away from his side in recent weeks.

Bush, of course, could use that moment to show resolve, looking intently into the camera and declaring something along the lines of, "Read my lips, no new draft." But it would be a no-lose gambit for Kerry.

"I would be shocked in the debate if [Kerry] doesn't bring it up," says Mr. Ali, the pollster. If Kerry can drive that point home, he adds, "I guarantee he will have a 15-point lead with women who have teenage kids."
I'll tell ya the line I would most like to hear Kerry say and don't expect to: "Mr. Bush says he will do better at protecting America from terrorist attack. I hope that means that the next time he gets a memo saying "Bin Laden Expected to Attack Inside US" he will do something other than go on vacation."

The Game is Rigged 

Boy was Paul Krugman right or what?

The debates haven't even taken place yet and MSNBC has already declared W the winner:

President Bush’s ability to stick to a scripted defense of his policies on Iraq and terrorism should give him an edge over Democratic rival Sen. John Kerry in Thursday’s presidential debate, analysts say.


But analysts say Bush has recently neutralized Iraq as a political liability, through campaign ads and stump speeches that have boiled the issue down to a series of scripted messages about strength and optimism.

“It’s hard to argue with ‘strength is good’ and ‘are you saying you’re not for strength?’,” said Thomas Carothers of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“Kerry has to be able to give an answer that’s almost as short and about as punchy. And that’s hard,” he said.
That's pretty damned appalling, isn't it?

Ah, that liberal media, huh?

And don't you love these "analysts" they talk to?

The fact that Bubble Boy Bush is lying his ass off in his repeated happy talk about Iraq doesn't mean a damned thing to them.

For these analysts and their ilk, it's all about presenting short pre-digested pap soundbites that people with IQs below the triple digits will understand.

Every four years these morons come out of the woodwork and make these pronouncements about the debate. By doing so, they frame the discussion of the debate and the folks in the television media (who, like the "undecided voters," have IQs below the triple digits) will parrot it for the next two days.


Poll News You Can Use, Maybe... 

A Reuters/Decision Quest poll shows that things are more interesting than Gallup would have us believe. The way I see it, this is news we can use in getting out the vote. Cynics just have to get a shot of hope, and the good guys’ target audience is clear. Find these gummint-distrusting, authority-hating, disenfranchised-feeling people and get 'em registered and to the polls! I mean, hey, I'm gummint-distrusting, authority-hating, disenfranchised-feeling myself, so I can actually talk to these Americans!


The nationwide telephone survey of 1,100 adults found 61 percent of Americans had lost faith in leaders and institutions over the past four years. "A significant proportion of people feel disenfranchised," said DecisionQuest Chief Executive Philip Anthony. "It seems that there is an epidemic level of loss of trust here."

No! It can't be!

The study showed politicians received "C" grades on a scale of A-plus, meaning totally trustworthy, to F, meaning totally untrustworthy. President Bush and Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry…both received C grades.


Bush's score resulted from more polarized rankings, with those viewing him as totally trustworthy balanced by others with a diametrically opposing view. Kerry's rankings were more uniformly average.

Yet more evidence of mind control in the Bushco camp? Nothing about blogs, but…

Newspaper and television reporters received a "C" grade for trustworthiness. TV reporters are trusted less now than four years ago by 43.8 percent of Americans, while 39.4 percent said their trust in print reporters had eroded.


A number of major U.S. journalism outlets, including CBS, The New York Times, USA Today and CNN, have been tainted in recent years by flawed and false reporting.

Cause and effect?

When asked about specific factors causing an overall loss of trust, 34.5 percent cited the war in Iraq. The 2000 election controversy in Florida came in second with 16 percent. Other reasons included white-collar crime scandals with 14.4 percent and terrorism with 11.5 percent.

My, my…bad news for aWol…

The poll showed more women, 66 percent, had lost confidence in leaders and institutions, than men, at 55 percent.

Is this evidence that women are smarter than men?

People's views were divided along political and racial lines. Seventy-eight percent of Democrats reported a drop in trust, compared with 39 percent of Republicans. Among blacks, 84 percent said their trust had declined, compared with 57 percent of whites.

Those GOPers—such a trusting lot. And, gee, I wonder why black folks are less trusting of the system? What could have caused that? Wonder how American Muslims score here?

"This lack of trust is manifesting itself in jury verdicts," Anthony said, referring to Americans' growing suspicion of authority.

Now, why would the American people, especially non-whites, be suspicious of authority? If only we can get the right people in the dock answering charges, that trend could change…

(via Poll Shows U.S. Distrust of Politicians 'Epidemic')

Yale: "...downhill since they admitted women."  

Excerpt below from: Judging W's heart, by Jake Tapper Salon, Nov. 2000.
There's also Lynn Novick, a co-producer of Ken Burns' PBS series "Baseball," who had the rare treat of accompanying Bush to a Texas Rangers game in the summer of 1994, before he was elected governor. "He was a very gracious host," Novick says. "He was perfectly pleasant. Until he changed the subject."

Bush mentioned something about Yale University, from which he graduated in 1968. Novick graduated from Yale in 1983, so she brought it up, thinking it would be "like a bonding thing."

"When did you graduate?" Bush asked her, as she recalls. She told him. That's when Bush told her that Yale "went downhill since they admitted women."

"I said, 'Excuse me?'" Novick says. "I thought he was kidding. But he didn't seem to be kidding. I said, 'What do you mean?'"

Bush replied that "something had been lost" when women were fully admitted to Yale in 1969, that fraternities were big when he'd been there, providing a "great camaraderie for the men." But that went out the window when women were allowed in, Bush said.

"He said something like, 'Women changed the social dynamic for the worse,'" she says. "I was so stunned, shocked and insulted, I didn't know what to say."

W is for worm.


CNN/Gallup ~ PR to the people! 

Judy Woodruff ~ bangin' the keys on the whorehouse piano:
Disputes over polling techniques, once the exclusive province of statistic geeks and partisan bloggers, heated up and spilled over to the public domain today.


Anchor Judy Woodruff began by briefly outlining MoveOn's complaint: "[R]ecent polls have shown George W. Bush leading John Kerry and MoveOn.org claims Gallup's polling techniques exaggerate Republican support." Woodruff then gave Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport almost three minutes to respond, uninterrupted, to the charges. Naturally, Newport defended Gallup's methodology, but essentially asked viewers to take it on faith that he knows what he's doing.

End of segment.

With that nifty sign-off, CNN implicitly confirmed a criticism of itself that was leveled in the MoveOn ad: the charge that CNN winds up "acting as unquestioning promotional partners [with Gallup], rather than as critical journalists." For this was not the journalism of a disinterested party with no ax to grind. This was PR. Had it been journalism, it would have gone something like this:

Read on... See: Columbia Journalism Review, CNN Circles the Wagons on Polling.


Bu$hCo's fabulous foray... 

Today's WaPo:
Growing Pessimism on Iraq - Doubts Increase Within U.S. Security Agencies | By Dana Priest and Thomas E. Ricks

A growing number of career professionals within national security agencies believe that the situation in Iraq is much worse, and the path to success much more tenuous, than is being expressed in public by top Bush administration officials, according to former and current government officials and assessments over the past year by intelligence officials at the CIA and the departments of State and Defense.

While President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others have delivered optimistic public appraisals, officials who fight the Iraqi insurgency and study it at the CIA and the State Department and within the Army officer corps believe the rebellion is deeper and more widespread than is being publicly acknowledged, officials say.

People at the CIA "are mad at the policy in Iraq because it's a disaster, and they're digging the hole deeper and deeper and deeper," said one former intelligence officer who maintains contact with CIA officials. "There's no obvious way to fix it. The best we can hope for is a semi-failed state hobbling along with terrorists and a succession of weak governments."


"I'm not surprised if people in the administration were put on the defensive," said one CIA official, who like many others interviewed would speak only anonymously, either because they don't have official authorization to speak or because they worry about ramifications of criticizing top administration officials. "We weren't trying to make them look bad, we're just trying to give them information. Of course, we're telling them something they don't want to hear."

Quickly Codpieced Crusader, into the soundproof bubble!



Military Hospital Sees Iraq Carnage Daily - Staff Frustrated That Nation Doesn't Know Enough Of War's Toll - By Mathew MCallester

Landstuhl, Germany:

It was an average morning at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, which has become the American military's museum of pain and maiming, doubt and anger. The planes from Iraq land every day, sometimes two or three of them.

Like his staff, who brim with frustration at what they see as the irresponsible disinclination of the American people to understand the costs of the war to thousands of American soldiers, the hospital's chief surgeon feels that most Americans have their minds on other things.

"It is my impression that they're not thinking about it a whole lot at all," said Lt. Col. Ronald Place. As he spoke, the man who has probably seen more of America's war wounded than anyone since the Vietnam War sobbed as he sat at a table in his office.

Nowhere is it less possible to escape the horrors of the war in Iraq for American soldiers than Landstuhl. Nestled among the tall trees of a forest on the outskirts of this small town in southwestern Germany, the largest American military hospital outside the United States is the first stop for nearly all injured American personnel when they are flown out of Iraq or Afghanistan. Dedicated and compassionate doctors, nurses and support staff push aside curtains of fatigue and what the hospital's psychologists call "vicarious trauma" to patch up and tend to soldiers before they fly to the United States for longer-term care.


Col. Earl Hecker sat outside the room where nurses were applying white antimicrobial cream to burned soldiers. Twenty-seven years old, Hecker remarked, looking at the patient's notes.

Hecker, at 70, is a few generations older than his patient. A surgeon who had retired from the Reserves but recently rejoined, he has forsaken his private practice in Detroit for now to help at Landstuhl, working past his assigned 90-day tour to stay nearly 150 days.

The day before, Hecker had been taking care of an 18-year-old soldier who, thanks to an Iraqi bullet, will forever be quadriplegic.

Hecker sat gazing through the window at the burned soldier and thought of the kid he had sent off to the States the day before. "Terrible, terrible, terrible," he said, staring into the distance. "When you talk to him he cries."

A month ago, Hecker took four days off to fly home to see his family. He needed a break. They went out for dinner at a nice restaurant. Hecker realized during dinner that he was suddenly seeing the world differently. He looked around at the chattering people, eating their fine food, drinking good wine and he thought to himself: “They have no idea what's going on here. Absolutely none.”

He doesn't think people want to see it. He thinks the nation is still scarred by Vietnam and would prefer not to see the thousands of injured young men coming home from Iraq.

"I just want people to understand — war is bad, life is difficult," he said.

Maybe it was the stress, maybe it's because Hecker has no military career to mess up by speaking out of line, but it just came out: "George Bush is an idiot," he said, quickly saying he regretted the comment. But then he continued, criticizing Bush as a rich kid who hasn't seen enough of the world. "He's very rich, you'd think he'd get some education," Hecker said.

"He's my president. I'll follow him in what he wants to do," he continued, "but I'm here for him." Hecker leaned forward and pointed through the glass at the unconscious soldier fighting for his life 2 yards away.


[...] Comments such as Hecker's about the president can lead to severe consequences for those with careers ahead of them. ~ More...see full story: Newsday


The City of Bloggerly Love 

Via Red Hair & Black Leather
City officials in Philadelphia are mulling over a US$10 million plan to turn the entire city into a WiFi hotspot. Repeaters and transmitters would be placed throughout the city, possibly on streetlights, enabling blanket coverage for the entire city. - Full post here

Good idea. This might discourage Lambert from climbing around on the ledges of the Corrente building - during electrical storms - in his flame retardant "official" bloggers bathrobe - in order to locate elusive WiFi hotspots. Then again, maybe not.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Lone Star Iconoclast goes iconoclastic on W 

"...we were duped into following yet another privileged agenda," - The Lone Star Iconoclast.
Crawford Newspaper Endorses Kerry Tue Sep 28.
CRAWFORD, Texas - A tiny weekly newspaper that bills itself as President Bush hometown paper has endorsed John Kerry for president, saying the Massachusetts senator will restore American dignity.

(thanks Chris)


Marching Orders 

It's coming to be that time when personal decisions have to be made about how to best spend our finite funds and energy for the cause, time to give ourselves our own marching orders.

My posts have been fewer recently, in part because of computer problems, apparently kharmic in nature, but also because I've been doing some on the ground organizing.

My own new marching orders will center on the blog and providing information and encouragement to readers; I plan to do some posts that will be essentially compact talking points for use by anyone who knows anyone who could do with some persuading to vote, and to choose Kerry and a Democratic congress.

Bill Scher at Liberal Oasis has a great example of what I'm talking about. The key to being an effective informal advocate is to have done some thinking about what kind information voters you know are most in need of, and have some of it ready at hand, both for purpose of discussion, email follow-ups, or printed out on a single page. That was part of what I was doing, preparing training materials for use by grass roots election workers who will be getting out the vote in their own African-American and Latino neighborhoods, the emphasis being on creating real enthusiasm for voting based on issues before election day

My belief that speaking up on a daily basis whenever an opportunity presents itself, with family, with friends, with colleagues, at the laundramat, standing in line at a supermarket, can make a real difference is based on years of experience that I can trace all the way back to my teenaged years, when the North Carolina student sit-ins at lunch counters inspired me to organize some of my friends, aided by our parents, to start an informational picket line in front of Woolworths, which was a ubiquitous chain of five-and-dimes, in whose southern stores African-Americans could shop, but not sit at a counter and order so much as a cup of coffee. We not only generated thousands of protest letters vowing not to shop at the chain until Woolworth's southern policy was changed, other picket lines were spun off in front of other Woolworths. (see also, RDF's lovely post below on the subject of going after the slacker vote

Herewith, some suggestions for putting funds and energy to work.

Cursor is having a pledge drive; yes it comes at an awkward time with so many important campaigns to contribute to, but Cursor needs the funds to continue its own invaluable work, providing a one stop liberal/left information center, and don't forget their work on media transparency, or the recent invaluable addition to the site, "Derelection, 2004" keyed to campaign coverage.
The site has raised more than half of what it needs to keep going through next January; if enough of us take the time to contribute as little as twenty-five bucks, even as little as five or ten bucks, an invaluable resource stays in business.

"DRIVING VOTES" is a dandy website that makes it easy to get organized to register voters in those battleground states. (courtesy of Steve Monohan)
Registering voters in swing states is the single most effective way to defeat Bush. Driving Votes provides you with everything you need to register voters in swing states. Get your friends together for a road trip for democracy.

Registration deadlines are coming up! Take a trip before thedeadline, and then stay tuned to find out how you can help Driving Votes make sure that on November 2nd, everybody votes.
This is one of the best organizational sites I've seen; lots of practical information. Some of you may live close enough to one of the swing states to make it a day trip, or a weekend one. But even if you can't, take a look at the site, and then consider giving it a bit of your financial support.

Isebrand.com, is a terrific site for an up-to-date take on relevant-to-the-election news stories, and in general, the site has an activist bent. In particular, take the Isenbrand e-pamphlets; short, pointed, documented and suitable for email tranmission to friends and family, each pamphlet supplies quick talking points on a single subject. Useful in themselves, they also serve as a sample of how to be your own walking media center.Also, recently received at the Corrente building, an email from Scott Isenbrand that spoke to the issue of Kerry's record as a public servant, which the media, echoing the Bush campaign, has treated as if it is something Kerry is trying to hide from the public. I can't find a link for it on the site, but it is too good not to share, so I'm reproducing it here.

John Kerry's Record as a public servant
*John Kerry put 100,000 new cops on America’s streets, and was credited by President Clinton for his efforts.
*John Kerry put behind bars "one of Massachusetts’ most notorious gangsters, the number two organized crime figure in New England."
*John Kerry wrote The New War years before 9/11 happened. It is an in-depth study of America's national security in the 21st Century.
*John Kerry is the ranking Democrat on the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee.
*John Kerry is a leading expert on North Korea.
*John Kerry wrote the first bill in American history reducing acid rain.
*John Kerry repeatedly led the charge in protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling.
*John Kerry passed legislation that shut down money laundering activities of terrorists and drug traffickers.
*John Kerry orchestrated the settlement with tobacco companies ending marketing to children and teenagers.
*John Kerry fought against Newt Gingrich’s anti-labor and anti-environmental regulatory reform.
*John Kerry fought to raise the minimum wage.
*John Kerry worked to shut down wasteful corporate subsidies.
*John Kerry has served 19 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
*John Kerry was chairman of the Senate’s Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs and with John McCain negotiated an agreement with Vietnam to provide a full accounting for POW/MIAs.
John Kerry’s military record: http://www.johnkerry.com/about/john_kerry/service_timeline.html
President Clinton Praised Kerry for Putting 100,000 COPS on the Street – “When we tried to get past six years of talking tough on crime but nothing happening, rhetoric and rhetoric and rhetoric and no action, to put 100,000 police on the street, to ban deadly assault weapons to pass the Brady bill, the other side, [the Republicans] led the fight against it. But John Kerry helped us pass the toughest, smartest, best crime bill this country has seen in many a day, and the crime rate has gone down for four years in a row. John Kerry was on the right side of history.” [Public Papers of the President: Fall River, MA; 8/28/96]
U.S. Senator Zell Miller, Democratic Party of Georgia Jefferson Jackson Dinner 2001.
"My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders--and a good friend. In his 16 years in the Senate, John Kerry has fought against government waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington. Early in his Senate career in 1986, John signed on to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Bill, and he fought for balanced budgets before it was considered politically correct for Democrats to do so. John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment."
Even Dr. Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader Says Kerry’s Global AIDS Legislation is a “Huge Step Forward”: “’The Kerry-Frist bill is a huge step forward,” said [current Majority Leader Bill] Frist. “It further validates U.S. leadership in the global effort to end devastation many countries face in the fight against HIV/AIDS’.” [Office of Senator Frist, press release 7/12/02]

Most importantly - don't get discouraged. The SCLM is clearly in the tank for Bush; they can't seem to help themselves. The conventional wisdom is that Bush is solidly ahead, and constant skepticism that there is really anything Kerry can do to catch up. Don't listen. The polls this year are all over the place. There are indications that Democratic efforts to register voters in battleground states have been more successful than anticipated. Even among those voters who are leaning toward Bush, there are real doubts about the direction of the country. Even in several polls where Bush leads Kerry overall, a large majority, over eighty percent, in fact, do not want Bush's next four years to resemble his first four years. And don't take that as an indication that Senator Kerry has been a "bad" candidate,else why hasn't he been able to capatalize on that desire for change. We have yet to see precisely what kind of a candidate he has turned out to be. And if you don't believe me, remember these marching comments from the estimable Digby; they're the best prophylactic against despair I can think of for all who hope to live a Bush-free next four years; you'll find them here, and here, and here and here, which will take you, with almost perfect symmetry, right back to Liberal Oasis. Go see, you'll be glad you did.


This sounds like a little tiny scam operation, but if it's happening in Minne-goddam-Sota it can happen anyplace. Considering that most of us have to call ten people to get one human who isn't screening calls or using a machine, these scammers are deplorably dedicated.

(via Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
A phony voter registration drive in which a telephone caller seeks Social Security numbers and other personal information is part of an apparent identity theft scam, the League of Woman Voters and the Minnesota Secretary of State's office warned on Monday.

Over the weekend, reports came in from the Moorhead, Minn., area about calls being placed from people identifying themselves as being from the League, or from an unknown organization called "Women's Right to Vote." Other calls may have been placed in Rice and Isanti counties.

The targets of the calls were told they were not registered to vote and that they could ensure registration by supplying their Social Security numbers and other personal information.

Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer's office said anyone seeking to register to vote must complete a form with a signature and no one can do that for anyone over the phone.
Although it might be worth pointing out that one of the lines on the Loyalty Oath form that has to be filled in to get into BushCo rallies is....one's Social Security number. If any infiltrators find themselves in this position, I suggest using the number "911-43-1984"

Render Unto Bush, er We Mean The Lord 

In the Bibles I own, Jesus is recorded as saying "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto the Lord that which is the Lord's." Rev. Republican's copy is obviously a newer edition which omits this passage:

(via Richmond VA Times-Dispatch)
LYNCHBURG - Evangelical Christian ministers crowded into the Rev. Jerry Falwell's new law school yesterday for a pep talk on how to preach conservative politics without running afoul of the law.

Bristling with frustration, several raised their hands when asked if they had received letters from Americans United for Separation of Church and State warning that giving biased information about political candidates could jeopardize their tax-exempt status as nonprofit organizations.

Jerry Falwell Jr., Falwell's son and a lawyer for the ministry, said that despite the letters, churches were actually allowed to hand out candidate biographies and voter-registration packets.

What they should not do, he said, was endorse a candidate in church. The tax code forbids it, though he hopes the Supreme Court will eventually change the law.

"That's why this election is so important," he said. "Three or four justices are going to be appointed in the next four years."

Falwell, a favorite target of Americans United, was himself accused of breaking the law this summer when he wrote a letter urging followers to re-elect President Bush.

"Jerry Falwell is, I think, the worst possible person to give advice about the tax code," said Barry Lynn, a Christian minister who runs Americans United.
Sometimes I think the best thing we could do for the Christian church is outlaw it. They are never quite happy unless they're being persecuted, are they? I would not, however go so far as to throw them into a colliseum with lions or bears as that would result in a pretty lousy football game.

Dodging the Draft, Dodging Ourselves 

"All those eyes on me--the town, the whole universe--and I couldn't risk the embarrassment. It was as if there were an audience to my life, that swirl of faces along the river, and in my head I could hear people screaming at me. Traitor! They yelled. Turncoat! Pussy! I felt myself blush. I couldn't tolerate it. I couldn't endure the mockery, or the disgrace, of the patriotic ridicule. Even in my imagination, the shore just twenty yards away, I couldn't make myself be brave. It had nothing to do with morality. Embarrassment, that's all it was.

And right then I submitted.

I would go to the war--I would kill and maybe die--because I was embarrassed not to.

That was the sad thing. And so I sat in the bow of the boat and cried.


The day was cloudy I passed through towns with familiar names, through the pine forests and down to the prairie, and then to Vietnam, where I was a soldier, and then home again. I survived, but it's not a happy ending. I was a coward. I went to war."

So wrote Tim O'Brien in "On the Rainy River," of his decision not to flee to Canada, despite his lifelong pacifism. This luminous passage came back to me as I read of reaction to the news about a planned "war resisters memorial" in the town of Nelson, BC, one of a handful of Canadian towns that succored young Americans fleeing the meat grinder of Vietnam.

Never mind that the memorial and event are entirely the work of private individuals, and probably a small group of them at that; it should come as no surprise that since the news was publicized, the town of Nelson itself--an absurdly peaceful, friendly, and beautiful little town I recently had the pleasure to visit--has found itself in the crosshairs of the jingoes. This link, which carried a sampling of the abuse, and occasional plaudits, generated by the story, currently appears to be down. Suffice it to say that the abuse divided between O'Reilly-esque threats of a nationwide boycott of all things Canadian and denunciation of the "cowardice" of those who "refused to defend our freedom". (A similar, more civil spectrum of comments can be found here.)

It would be sad enough to encounter this reaction even under normal times, but to see it now, where once again cynical politicians are using the threat of shame and ostracism to coerce support for a desperately evil war, only underscores the importance that their refusal to submit to the illegitimate will of unworthy leaders was indeed an act of courage worthy of remembering, and indeed, following. As Eric Alterman trenchantly put it yesterday,

Iraq is actually worse than Vietnam. When Vietnam happened, we hadn’t experienced Vietnam yet. We didn’t know that a president would lie to the country in order to involve us in a war that would needlessly kill tens of thousands of Americans and destroy our prestige and moral standing in the world. Now we do. And we let it happen again.

The widespread human inability to distinguish legitimate duty from submission to the herd, to separate nobility from political rank, to resist manipulation of moral emotions for immoral ends, is, as is being demonstrated daily, a central problem for us as a species, not just us a nation. Until we learn to recognize this flaw in ourselves, history will continue to repeat, tragically, forever.

It's certainly possible that what the organizers come up with may retroactively falsify (and thus cheapen) the resisters' motives and experiences, just as many who went to Vietnam, too scared to say no, or unwilling to admit a mistake, now falsify theirs. Let's be clear about one thing: The only real cowards during the Vietnam era were those that supported the war while ducking fighting it. Those people, it should go without saying but never does, are now the very bastards sending another generation off to slaughter in the current one. That so many Vietnam vets fail to direct their rage at them, says alot about the need for just such a memorial, and recognition of the many forms that courage takes.

[UPDATE: Well that didn't take long. I am told via email from a town official that the organizers have backed down, official announcement to come later. Chalk up another victory for fear. Tim O'Brien would have understood.]

Hometown Knows Best 


(via AP (in NYT))
A tiny weekly newspaper that bills itself as President Bush's hometown paper has endorsed John Kerry for president, saying the Massachusetts senator will restore American dignity.

The Lone Star Iconoclast, which has a weekly circulation of 425, said in an editorial dated Sept. 29 that Texans should rate the candidates not by hometown or political party, but by where they intend to take the country.

``Four items trouble us the most about the Bush administration: his initiatives to disable the Social Security system, the deteriorating state of the American economy, a dangerous shift away from the basic freedoms established by our founding fathers, and his continuous mistakes regarding Iraq,'' the editorial said.

The Iconoclast, established in 2000, said it editorialized in support of the invasion of Iraq and publisher W. Leon Smith promoted Bush and the invasion in a BBC interview, believing Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

``Instead we were duped into following yet another privileged agenda,'' the editorial said.
Hey, they could have thrown in "All Hat, No Cattle!" and mentioned fear of horses and goat abuse, but I'll take it just the way it is.

Hope in Scary Times 

Ran across some Bush campaigners yesterday. First bunch I've seen on the stump. They’re out there, and they’re scary. Almost like cyborgs, relentlessly chanting the mantra of Strong Leadership, Moral Values, and Strong Economy, as if saying it makes it true. Come on, you’ve seen them; they’re fully assimilated, swaying to the vibes of the Central Rove… they want you to believe that resistance is futile.

Scary. So what are the good guys doing to ward off the attack of the Bush hive, to stop them from assimilating more impressionable minds?

Michael Moore is kicking ass, and what he says resonates with me. He says: “I'm putting out the red alert call to slackers everywhere to help me lead this revolt. I want everyone in their teens and twenties who exist from one packet of Ramen noodles to the next bag of Tostitos to take your fully-justified cynicism and toss it like a Molotov right into the middle of this election. As ‘non-voters’ you have been written off. But if only a few thousand of you vote, it could make all the difference. You literally hold all the power in your hands. That's even cooler than holding a TV remote.” (via http://www.michaelmoore.com/)

Sure, Moore’s got money and time, and most of us poor slobs don’t. But there’s something everybody can do to get out the vote. I mean the vote of most Americans—the burned out majority. There aren’t that many of these borgs among us; the SCLM just makes this election seem close. Time is short. Do you know when registration ends in your state? What’s the deadline for absentee voting? Visited any college campuses lately with compelling literature? Visited any malls or parks? Volunteered to be a pollwatcher? (I did that once; it was fun.) Have you talked to anyone at your local Dem HQ about volunteering to make phone calls, help with mailings, knocking on doors? If you’re not a joiner, at least pick up some literature and visit the parks and hangouts. Mention the looming specter of fascism to appropriate audiences.

A few tips:

There is no point in talking to someone who says they can’t vote for Kerry because he’s immoral and unchristian and approves of gay marriage and abortion. Run, don’t walk, away from this person. The look in their eyes will tell you they’re already assimilated into the hive. They will murmur things like “Strong Leadership, Moral Values, and Strong Economy, must vote for Beloved Leader.” No discussion.

Your best bet is twofold: (1) getting Dems, Greens and independents who are already registered to the polls on e-day or making sure they have absentee ballot requests turned in by deadline, and (2) distribute Libertarian Party literature to Republicans, especially 2nd Amendment enthusiasts. (I dropped a load off at the local VFW—you can get it for free at their website.)

It’s still not too late to register unregistered folks, especially young folks, but time is short.

And if the Bush borgs get another four years—either by hook or by crook—how many more will be assimilated?

What’s everybody else doing to get out the vote? Can we share stories so we don’t feel like we’re fighting this alone? Isn’t that the beauty and power of blogs—to make connections and know that, hey, I’m not the only one?

(Disclaimer: This is my first try at this; I'm not much of a techie. Sorry.)

Bush Supports Terrorists 

It seems Yusef Islam/Cat Stevens was just a fine upstanding example of a Good Muslim back not that long ago. Wonder if anybody in DC, like maybe at the WaPo, has a picture of this meeting? We have one of Secretary of Offense Don Rumsfeld shaking hands with the Spider of Evil back before he turned to the Dark Side, I think they would make a nice matched set:

(via LA Times op-ed)
God almighty! Is this the same planet I'd taken off from? I was devastated. The unbelievable thing is that only two months earlier, I had been having meetings in Washington with top officials from the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to talk about my charity work.

The Bedbug Letter 

Back in the days when railroad travel was more common than it is today, a man took a long trip which required use of a sleeper berth. It was infested with insects, and when he got home he wrote an irate letter to the railroad to complain.

He gets back a long and flowery missive from the railroad president himself, apologizing profusely and explaining that such a thing had never been known to happen before, heads would roll, etc.

The irate traveler was prepared to be satisfied with this until he noticed another piece of paper, obviously put in with the apology by accident. It turned out to be his original letter of complaint, with a note scrawled in the corner: "Send this crank the bedbug letter."

(via Columbia (SC) State)
The director of operations for Jim DeMint’s U.S. Senate campaign has been reprimanded for derogatory remarks she made about gays and lesbians in an errant e-mail.

Ginny Allen was admonished personally Monday by the Republican nominee, who promised in a letter of apology that she would be dealt with “according to office guidelines.”

Allen was not fired. Attempts to reach her for comment were unsuccessful Monday.

Lisa Hall, chairwoman of the Central Savannah River Area Rainbow Alliance, which works to raise awareness of gay and lesbian issues, in July invited both Senate campaigns to an Oct. 7 town hall meeting to discuss issues of interest to gay voters.

Democratic nominee Inez Tenenbaum promptly promised to send a representative, but after receiving no reply from the DeMint campaign, Hall sent a follow-up e-mail Monday.

Allen, apparently thinking she was forwarding the e-mail to someone inside the campaign, inadvertently replied to Hall.

“Come on, fag, give this dike a reply,” Allen wrote.

DeMint sent Hall a personal letter of apology Monday for the “extremely inappropriate remarks” in the e-mail.

“Mrs. Allen’s remarks do not reflect my beliefs or the character of the campaign,” DeMint wrote. “I am running a positive campaign of ideas, and that includes personal respect for others.”
Yeah right. Let's see what does represent his "beliefs and character."
During three terms in Congress, DeMint has consistently opposed allowing gays and lesbians to marry. He backs a constitutional amendment to prohibit it nationwide.

“The government cannot approve and promote homosexuality,” DeMint says in a video on his campaign Web site. “If we approve gay marriages, we’ve, in effect done that.”
Well, that's just so much better! See? No "fag" or "dyke" in that, so this must mean he's really okay.

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