Saturday, October 09, 2004

This picture needs a caption 

Goodnight, moon  

So where's the video with the clips of Bush shouting at people, winking, and making funny faces during the debate?

Hey, when Bush said "internets", he was right! Go see.

You know, I saw farmer's latest on the Köulteratavus after dinner and that wasn't a good plan... At all...

So wrong. But so very, very right.

And here's a sample of what the Marines think about the war in Iraq:

"I don't think anything is going to get better; I think it's going to get a lot worse. It's going to be like a Palestinian-type deal. We're going to stop being a policing presence and then start being an occupying presence. . . . We're always going to be here. We're never going to leave."

If Bush has managed to piss off the Marines... Well, if they see that nobody else has taken Him down, they'll take it on themselves.

ABC gets the memo 

The memo on "Okrent's Law," that is. Here it is—as posited by hapless, overworked, and deeply co-opted Times "Public Editor" Dan "Bud Man" Okrent (back)):

Okrent pointed out that “the pursuit of balance can create imbalance, because sometimes something is true.

Seems like ABC News has gotten the same idea. From News Director Mark Halperin:

We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that.

Okrent's Law—although obviously Halperin is the better writer—not that there's anything surprising about that, editorial standards at the World's Greatest Newspaper (not!) being what they are. Anyhow:

I'm sure many of you have this week felt the stepped up Bush efforts to complain about our coverage. This is all part of their efforts to get away with as much as possible with the stepped up, renewed efforts to win the election by destroying Senator Kerry at least partly through distortions.

It's up to Kerry to defend himself, of course. But as one of the few news organizations with the skill and strength to help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying to serve the public interest. Now is the time for all of us to step up and do that right.
(via Sludge)

The wingers are frothing and stamping about Halperin's memo, of course, but they'd do that no matter what, since they're driven by a persecution complex. Sounds like the refs are getting tired of being worked, though.

Custer Battles, or, Little Bighorn II 

Remember how we fought the Battle of Fallujah to "avenge" the mercenaries from Blackwater? This is another beneficiary of the "outsourcing" of what are rightly military functions. They're not only doing, for ten or more times the price, what could and should be done by US military forces operating under the chain of command, they're stealing and cheating on top of it:

(via AP's superb Matt Kelley)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A company hired to provide security for U.S. officials and installations in Iraq fleeced the government out of millions of dollars by submitting phony or inflated bills, a lawsuit by two former employees says.

The federal lawsuit unsealed Friday says Custer Battles LLC billed the former Coalition Provisional Authority for equipment and services that didn't exist and inflated other charges. The improper charges, the lawsuit says, included billing for fake leases on up to eight forklifts swiped from Iraqi Airways.

The Air Force suspended Custer Battles on Sept. 30 from obtaining new contracts on the ground that it has reason to believe the company broke federal contracting rules.

Lawyers for the two men suing Custer Battles say the firm's fraudulent charges amounted to $50 million. Federal law allows fines against companies that defraud the government in an amount equal to three times the fraudulent proceeds.

Lawyers for the former Custer Battles workers said the Bush administration refused to join in the lawsuit, arguing that the CPA was not a government entity and therefore the government could not have been defrauded.

Custer Battles, a small company based in suburban Washington, was one of many private security companies which rushed into postwar Iraq to snap up contracts to guard people and installations. Two former Army Rangers active in Republican politics formed the company: Scott Custer and Michael Battles.

The lawsuit says Custer Battles billed the CPA for work that was never done, employees that were never hired and equipment that never arrived. The suit accuses Custer and Battles of setting up front companies in the Cayman Islands, Cyprus and Lebanon to create phony leases that boosted the firm's profits.

The lawsuit said Custer Battles took at least one and as many as eight forklifts from Iraqi Airways at the airport, repainted them to cover their former markings and billed the CPA for leasing them at thousands of dollars per month.
Kos was right, dammit. Mercenaries are scum.

Dead as a Dinosaur 

Those of us of a certain age remember when we loved the name "Sinclair" because it had that gorgeous green dinosaur logo on its gas stations. The name is attached to a different kind of station these days, and the affection is wearing off fast.

(via LATimes)
NEW YORK — The conservative-leaning [leaning?? As in "tilted so far right their asses point skyward" leaning? Ahem, back to our story] Sinclair Broadcast Group, whose television outlets reach nearly a quarter of the nation's homes with TV, is ordering its stations to preempt regular programming just days before the Nov. 2 election to air a film that attacks Sen. John F. Kerry's activism against the Vietnam War, network and station executives familiar with the plan said Friday.

Sinclair has told its stations — many of them in political swing states such as Ohio and Florida — to air "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," sources said. Sinclair will preempt regular prime-time programming from the networks to show the film, which may be classified as news programming, according to TV executives familiar with the plan.
"Sinclair Broadcasting" is indeed the company that ordered its ABC affiliates not to air the "Nightline" show where Ted Koppel's showing of the faces and reading the names of the (then) 700+ dead in Iraq was called "a political stunt to lessen American support for the war effort."

Now the discussion around leftyland has been along the lines of-- find out the advertisers and boycott them; fire off protests to the FCC (which of course will be ignored with Michael Powell in charge) and the rest of the usual.

I suggest reading the last graph here first:
"Stolen Honor" was made by Carlton Sherwood, a Vietnam veteran and former reporter for the conservative Washington Times who is also the author of a book [adulatory to the point of hagiography: Ed.] about the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

On the website for the film, he tells viewers, "Intended or not, Lt. Kerry painted a depraved portrait of Vietnam veterans, literally creating the images of those who served in combat as deranged drug-addicted psychopaths, baby killers" that endured for 30 years in the popular culture.
First off, given the topic, I don't think viewership is going to be all that great. People did the great Vietnam Rehashing back during the Swiftie Liars thing and those who could be persuaded to that view already were.

Second, look at the qualifications of the filmmaker here. I will defer to John Gorenfeld, expert in all things Moonie, if I'm wrong, but my bet is that this film will be so godawful as to be laughable. So over-the-top that it will boost Kerry votes in the areas where it's seen rather than the reverse Sinclair is counting on.

Thirdly--hey, remember the rules. We are lefties, we are in favor of free speech. The solution to bad speech is more speech. We don't cut off that with which we disagree, we outshout it.

Now is the time to deploy some of that Soros money. Find a competing station in every market Sinclair operates in and buy the time to run Going Upriver* in prime time as close to Oct. 30 as can be arranged.

*No endorsement of this particular website, about which I know nothing, is intended. It just came up on Google as being Canadian, which I figured would lower electoral bias.

Exit Stage Left, Of Course 

Not much happening at the Harvest Fair. Annual thing in a nearby town. Nearby as in 50 miles away. No tables and very little politicking, which in a way was nice. Mostly folks selling produce offa the back of their trucks, music and hay rides for the kids, and good food. The trucks tell the political story. It was about 33-33-33, meaning that about a third of the folks had no stickers, a third had aWol stickers, and a third had Kerry stickers. There were even a few Badnarikis. One guy had a W’04 sticker that he had turned into an aWol sticker by using cutouts from other bumper stickers. Nice idea, I thought.

Grass hay sells fast there, because all they grow is alfalfa and oats. They grow great chiles, though, cheap and hot. When I go back home, folks’ll line up to buy those chiles, because chiles don’t grow well around Nowheresville. Not much profit in it, but I’m a lousy capitalist anyway. The plan was to wrap the sweet corn and tomatoes in a top ten lies sheet, but even at eight and a half by fourteen, that only works for tomatoes. So I just handed them out. I don’t think I made any converts. One guy wanted to know if it was okay to give Liberal hay to his horses. I think he was kidding, cause when I told him the only side effect I knew of was that his sheep might learn to read and write, he chuckled. Heh. Didn’t stay any longer than it took to sell 28 bales and a couple bushels each of corn and tomatoes, sitting on the tailgate singing what folks used to call protest songs.

And, I voted this morning before I left. Yep. Mailed in my absentee ballot, certified mail. One little lance into the boil, hurrah!

Here’s what I’m seeing, for what it’s worth. Voter turnout is going to be the key to winning this. Yeah, like I said in other posts of a more paranoid nature, there’s a chance they’ll steal this thing somehow. But as my best friend pointed out, sheer numbers will make that harder. Aside from that very real possibility of pollcats, the real thing is going to be getting Dems, Greens, and Indies for Kerry to the polls. (Unless of course in your state—or nearby states—you can still register folks. That’s first.) GOTV now is all about working the phones and following up. (Knocking on doors isn’t too practical around here, but maybe where you are it is…don’t go alone!) The precinct captain here has the numbers for newly registered and inactive Indies, Dems and Greens, and the volunteer work right now is following up and making sure they got their cards and know where their polling places are, if they need a ride on e-day or whatever. So I said, sure, give me some names. Off a list of 150 for this precinct, I got fifty and two other vols got 50 each (in a county that has about 100,000 people and ten precincts or so I think). Guess I’ll be busy for a week or two. Then I’m supposed to follow up right before and on e-day with the live ones (who say they’ll vote). Don’t want to call at bad times, you know, so it has to be done when I’m not a work or on the road, and when folks aren’t likely to be eating or sleeping. And when I’m sober and halfway perky. This cuts into total hours. First three I’ve called today that were home said they had their cards and were going to vote. One said to call him if anyone needed a ride, since he was retired and could drive all day. Wow.

And signs. The GOPers around here apparently have an endless supply of these huge 4x6’ signs, while all we’ve got are these dinky 18x24” signs. The coordinator said there wouldn’t be any big ones coming, so what we should do is make our own out of plywood and paint. I haven’t done that, but I see that a couple people have, and they’re pretty nice copies from the small ones, too. Right on the main highway. I didn’t think the signs and stickers were that important until I realized how good it made me feel when I saw how many of my neighbors were for Kerry, too. Not as many as for aWol, but more than I would have thought.

Local Dem HQ had coffee and doughnuts and teevee for the debates, but I didn’t go. From the posts, I see our man kicked ass. Me, I’m tired of pointing out the obvious; i.e., aWol is a lying idiot who doesn’t give a shit about poor folks, and could very well start WWIII. Same for all of Bushco. Yeah, I’ll keep handing out top ten lies paper and buttons (I have six buttons left), but more and more I’m thinking, why waste time? Folks either know this and are voting for Kerry, or they’re brainwashed fools. Screw stopping by the revival tent. Thus, light posting from me, more’n likely. Get out the vote! To the barricades, me hearties! Force them to obviously steal it! (Which then would mean, back to the barricades!) Direct action brings satisfaction. It takes a village to stomp a weasel.

Yours in the revolution our past heroes envisioned,

Beer and skittles 

Charles Pierce at American Prospect:
"That Guy" in Chief
A beer with George W. Bush ain’t as good as you think.

Who in God's name would want to have an actual beer with George W. Bush?


He's the guy who never drives. Or chips in for gas. He might be the guy who booted in the back seat, but he'll never admit it without DNA evidence.

"...he strikes me as the sort of person I would have thrown out of the room. A rich, beer-drunk yahoo with a big allowance who passes out in your bathtub." ~ Hunter S. Thompson

"Dead Bug!" Deke:
When Bush entered Yale in 1964, he joined Deke, the jock fraternity, and became rush chairman, handing out the nicknames and pounding down beers at "the longest bar on campus."


Bush's frat-brother background was useful at flight school. A favorite fighter-jock game was called Dead Bug. In a bar, when anyone shouted "Dead bug!" everyone, including generals, had to drop to the floor with hands and feet extended into the air, like a dead bug. Last man down had to buy drinks. Bush, who was cheap as well as practiced at drinking games, "would always get to the floor first," recalls Scott Woodfin, a retired Air Force colonel who served in Bush's unit. - (February 23, 2004 issue of Newsweek) - PRNewswire

Thanks to Donny for the Charles Pierce link.


Köulteratavus: Bluebottle garbage fly 

Who left the screen door open!

A. Coulter: Decietful, annoying, and pernicious. A beggarly tribute to all that is retrogressive, stupid, and mean. Gerald L. K. Smith in drag. If any producer at any one of these bottomfeeder cable "news" networks had even ten cents worth of self respect left to invest they might try rolling up an old newspaper, reaching across the desk, and flattening this pestilent squealing larva into a greasy diseased stain once and for all. Before it has another chance to squirm its way into another evening's televised soup du jour.

What Digby said:
Paul Begala and Dick Gephardt and every single Democrat should REFUSE to appear against this fucking Nazi whore on television. It is a travesty that this insane harpy is part of any decent commentary on broadcast television.

Please spare me any more whining and weeping about Michael Moore in the future. This heinous douchebag makes Moore look like Winston Churchill. If she's giving that pathetic old fuck Larry King bj's that's her business, but the Democratic party really should draw the line at appearing on television with the GOP Paris Hilton version of Benito Mussolini as if she's a rational person. What will we tell the children?


Would you have a beer with this man? 

Alert reader MJS says No:

Turn Bush's mic into a highball glass and he is the epitome of a noxious bar lizard: sweeping generalizations, awkward ramblings, strange winks that are (presumably) meant to include you in on his private joke, leaping off of his barstool amped and shrill, very little in his bag of tricks, soon ignored by the bar regulars, tries to walk out without paying.


And of course see our hardy perennial "Having a beer with a nut job"

Friday, October 08, 2004

YABL: Please sir, can I have some wood? 


KERRY: But what you can do is create a fair playing field, and that's what I'm talking about.

Ladies and gentlemen, that's just not true what he said. The Wall Street Journal said 96 percent of small businesses are not affected at all by my plan.

And you know why he gets that count? The president got $84 from a timber company that [he] owns, and he's counted as a small business. Dick Cheney's counted as a small business. That's how they do things. That's just not right.

BUSH: I own a timber company?


That's news to me.


Need some wood?

(via Transcript)

The truth:

President Bush himself would have qualified as a "small business owner" under the Republican definition, based on his 2001 federal income tax returns. He reported $84 of business income from his part ownership of a timber-growing enterprise.
(FactCheck.Org via Blue Lemur via Oliver Willis)

Hey, I guess Bush is doing so well he just can't keep track of everything he owns! "Go figure."

And it is, of course, especially rich that it is none other than FactCheck.Org that gives us, well, the facts. The very same FactChecks.Org that Cheney Cheney'ed himself with (back) earlier this week.



Bush "wood" if he "could"....

NOTE Pandagon was right.

UPDATE Nice to see the Kerry Campaign press release on this was posted at at 10:45PM.

Goodnight, moon 

So, how'd the debate play on TV?

(And anyone but filthy-minded me catch the pr0n innuendo in "Need some wood"?)

Feel a draft?

Control the past, control the future (registration required).

It couldn't happen to a nicer whore.

Oh, and I wondered what the 5:00 horror would be. Turns out the the FBI seized IndyMedia servers—in London. Liberal blogosphere next?

Some polls. Around midnight:

Yahoo: K65 B35

CNN: K79 B19

FUX K59 N40

Master of his domain? 

So, how's it going?

I don't have a TV, or even a radio, so if any alert readers want to comment on how things are going, that would merit a tip of the ol' Corrente Hat.

UPDATE The instant transcript is here.

From the transcript:

Not too bad:

GIBSON: Senator Kerry, a minute and a half.

KERRY: Nikki, that's a question that's been raised by a lot of people around the country.

Let me address it but also talk about the weapons the president just talked about, because every part of the president's answer just now promises you more of the same over the next four years.

The president stood right here in this hall four years ago, and he was asked a question by somebody just like you, "Under what circumstances would you send people to war?"

KERRY: And his answer was, "With a viable exit strategy and only with enough forces to get the job done."

He didn't do that. He broke that promise. We didn't have enough forces.

General Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, told him he was going to need several hundred thousand. And guess what? They retired General Shinseki for telling him that.

This president hasn't listened.

I went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I talked to all of them to find out how serious they were about really holding Saddam Hussein accountable.

I came away convinced that, if we worked at it, if we were ready to work and letting Hans Blix do his job and thoroughly go through the inspections, that if push came to shove, they'd be there with us.

But the president just arbitrarily brought the hammer down and said, "Nope. Sorry, time for diplomacy is over. We're going."

He rushed to war without a plan to win the peace.

Ladies and gentleman, he gave you a speech and told you he'd plan carefully, take every precaution, take our allies with us. He didn't. He broke his word.

No, not bad. And Bush's response:

GIBSON: Mr. President?

BUSH: I remember sitting in the White House looking at those generals, saying, "Do you have what you need in this war? Do you have what it takes?"

I remember going down to the basement of the White House the day we committed our troops as last resort, looking at Tommy Franks and the generals on the ground, asking them, "Do we have the right plan with the right troop level?"

And they looked me in the eye and said, "Yes, sir, Mr. President." Of course, I listen to our generals. That's what a president does. A president sets the strategy and relies upon good military people to execute that strategy.

That's simply bizarre. And it won't work. The audience already knows, because Kerry got it in first, that Bush fired Shinseki. So of course the guys around Bush are going to say whatever He wants to here. And I think Kerry, in his response, is smart to let people figure that out for themselves, and go for the jugular.

GIBSON: Senator?

KERRY: You rely on good military people to execute the military component of the strategy, but winning the peace is larger than just the military component.

General Shinseki had the wisdom to say, "You're going to need several hundred thousand troops to win the peace." The military's job is to win the war.

A president's job is to win the peace.

Nice line.

The president did not do what was necessary. Didn't bring in enough nation. Didn't deliver the help. Didn't close off the borders. Didn't even guard the ammo dumps. And now our kids are being killed with ammos right out of that dump.

That one's outta here! I hope it's playing as well on TV as it reads in the transcript. (Is Bush really shouting?)

Bush got asked about the draft, and said that with his Wonder Weapons, he wouldn't need so many troops. I have to quote Kerry's answer in full, because Kerry—at least in the transcript, and I hope and pray on TV—is just on fire. He's mixing the catchphrases, the detail, and killer arguments together masterfully. Very different from reciting points off index cards. Get this:

KERRY: Daniel, I don't support a draft.

But let me tell you where the president's policies have put us.

The president -- and this is one of the reasons why I am very proud in this race to have the support of General John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Admiral William Crowe, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Tony McPeak, who ran the air war for the president's father [heh] and did a brilliant job, supporting me; General Wes Clark, who won the war in Kosovo, supporting me; because they all -- and General Baca, who was the head of the National Guard, supporting me.

Um. Impressive list.

Why? Because they understand that our military is overextended under the president.

Our Guard and reserves have been turned into almost active duty. You've got people doing two and three rotations. You've got stop-loss policies, so people can't get out when they were supposed to. You've got a back-door draft right now.

And a lot of our military are underpaid. These are families that get hurt. It hurts the middle class. It hurts communities, because these are our first responders. And they're called up. And they're over there, not over here.

Now, I'm going to add 40,000 active duty forces to the military, and I'm going to make people feel good about being safe in our military, and not overextended, because I'm going to run a foreign policy that actually does what President Reagan did, President Eisenhower did, and others.

We're going to build alliances. We're not going to go unilaterally. We're not going to go alone like this president did.

And now Bush loses it! Watch:

GIBSON: Mr. President, let's extend for a minute...

BUSH: Let me just -- I've got to answer this.

GIBSON: Exactly. And with Reservists being held on duty...


BUSH: Let me answer what he just said, about around the world.

GIBSON: Well, I want to get into the issue of the back-door draft...

Somehow, I don't think the transcript should read "draft....". I bet it should read "draft—as Bush just ran over the moderator. (The um, medication must be wearing off, or kicking in, about an hour in.)

BUSH: You tell Tony Blair we're going alone. Tell Tony Blair we're going alone. Tell Silvio Berlusconi we're going alone. Tell Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland we're going alone.

There are 30 countries there. It denigrates an alliance to say we're going alone, to discount their sacrifices. You cannot lead an alliance if you say, you know, you're going alone. And people listen. They're sacrificing with us.

And Kerry responds:

GIBSON: Senator?

KERRY: Mr. President, countries are leaving the coalition, not joining. Eight countries have left it.

Kerry hits it out of the park again. And the beauty part is, he's doing it with a fact-based approach.

Now to domestic policy. The medication, or the adrenaline, or being questioned, or whatever it is really seem to have Bush rattled. Listen to this one:

HORSTMAN: Mr. President, why did you block the reimportation of safer and inexpensive drugs from Canada which would have cut 40 to 60 percent off of the cost?

BUSH: I haven't yet. Just want to make sure they're safe. When a drug comes in from Canada, I want to make sure it cures you and doesn't kill you.

Huh? That's just bizarre. Those Canadians, dropping like flies, eh? Please refer this one to The Department of "How Stupid Do They Think We Are?

Now Bush attacks Kerry directly and personally. Watch Bush throw the punch

BUSH: Now, he talks about Medicare. He's been in the United States Senate 20 years. Show me one accomplishment toward Medicare that he accomplished.

I've been in Washington, D.C., three and a half years and led the Congress to reform Medicare so our seniors have got a modern health care system. That's what leadership is all about.

Right, in 2006, assuming it isn't a typical Bush bait and switch operation. We already know He doesn't have the money to pay for it.)

Now watch Kerry slip the punch and stagger Bush:

KERRY: Actually, Mr. President, in 1997 we fixed Medicare, and I was one of the people involved in it.

We not only fixed Medicare and took it way out into the future, we did something that you don't know how to do: We balanced the budget. And we paid down the debt of our nation for two years in a row, and we created 23 million new jobs at the same time.

And it's the president's fiscal policies that have driven up the biggest deficits in American history. He's added more debt to the debt of the United States in four years than all the way from George Washington to Ronald Reagan put together. Go figure.

"Go figure." Nice one.

And Bush is rattled. The sneer is really starting to come out, now:

BUSH: You're right, what does matter is a plan. He said he's for -- you're now for capping punitive damages?

BUSH: That's odd. You should have shown up on the floor in the Senate and voted for it then.

There's no "[LAUGHTER]" in the transcript. Wonder how this played on TV...

But now, the laughter does come. And where? Fiscal policy, of all things:

I'm pledging I will not raise taxes; I'm giving a tax cut to the people earning less than $200,000 a year.

Now, for the people earning more than $200,000 a year, you're going to see a rollback to the level we were at with Bill Clinton, when people made a lot of money.

KERRY: And looking around here, at this group here, I suspect there are only three people here who are going to be affected: the president, me, and, Charlie, I'm sorry, you too.


Kerry just won the audience. Fucking brilliant. To be fair, Bush gets his own laugh later (seems like he's calming down and the tension slackened a bit). But the guy to get the second laugh doesn't get the audience back. To the enviroment:

HUBB: Mr. President, how would you rate yourself as an environmentalist? What specifically has your administration done to improve the condition of our nation's air and water supply?

BUSH: Off-road diesel engines -- we have reached an agreement to reduce pollution from off-road diesel engines by 90 percent.

Oh, man. No. No. This is the first thing out of Bush's mouth? Off road diesel engines I'd say that blows the earpiece theory [back] to smithereens. And Kerry gets in close and throws some more punches:

KERRY: Boy, to listen to that -- the president, I don't think, is living in a world of reality with respect to the environment.

Now, if you're a Red Sox fan, that's OK. But if you're a president, it's not.

Let me just say to you, number one, don't throw the labels around. Labels don't mean anything.

I like this "labels" riff Kerry's running. It takes Bush's index cards away from Him. Not that we don't have some labels of our own:

The Clear Skies bill that he just talked about, it's one of those Orwellian names you pull out of the sky, slap it onto something, like "No Child Left Behind" but you leave millions of children behind. Here they're leaving the skies and the environment behind.

If they just left the Clean Air Act all alone the way it is today, no change, the air would be cleaner that it is if you pass the Clear Skies act. We're going backwards.

In fact, his environmental enforcement chief air-quality person at the EPA resigned in protest over what they're doing to what are calling the new source performance standards for air quality.

They're going backwards on the definition for wetlands. They're going backwards on the water quality.

They pulled out of the global warming, declared it dead, didn't even accept the science.

I'm going to be a president who believes in science.

Not bad. (Of course, he could have brought in stem cell.)

And that's it for me tonight on the transcript. Reading it, I'd have to give Kerry a decisive victory on points, but I'd been hoping for a knockout. The way I read it, Kerry had Bush on the ropes, but Bush got a second wind. Maybe the earpiece kicked in after all. And I wonder how it played on TV.

The post debate polls

Presenile dementia
1. "rumors on the Internets"

2. "it might be from a third world"

3. "Culture of life is really important for a country to have if it's going to be a hospitable society." Hospitable?

Off his meds?
Instant analysis from Ron Fournier of AP:

President Bush smirked and winked and chuckled to himself.

Hey, nice lede!

He jumped from his stool, chopped at the air and interrupted the debate moderator. As he fought to keep his emotions in check in a testy, personal debate with Sen. John Kerry, the president asserted, "That answer almost made me scowl."

Several answers brought Bush's emotions to the surface, for better or worse, as he sought to curb Kerry's momentum.

At times, Kerry swiveled to address Bush directly, forcing camera angles that caught the president's facial reactions. Bush seemed to be aware that his reactions were being watched; as Kerry spoke, he scribbled notes or looked at the Democrat.

As for Bush, voters said last week they were turned off by his repetition of a few talking points during his turns at the microphone and his peevish facial expressions during Kerry's remarks. He did so poorly_ about a third of voters formed a less favorable view of him during the debate, according to an AP-Ipsos poll — that he had nowhere to go but up.

Bush cut down on the antics Friday night, but didn't eliminate them.

Early in the debate, Kerry quoted Republican senators expressing concern about Iraq. Television cameras caught Bush laughing to himself, then smirking, and finally giving a quick wink to somebody in the crowd.

Bush was the most aggressive, at one point overrunning moderator Charles Gibson's attempt to pose a question after Kerry said he was "not going to go alone like this president did" in Iraq.

Often, Bush's voice rose to nearly a shout. Was is too much? That's in the eye of the beholder.

Takes two hands to handle a whopper 

And in the Best Metaphor Category, the envelope please.... Josh Marshall!

Like Sherman's Army cutting their supply lines in their March to the Sea, the Bush campaign is cutting itself free from any semblance of the truth with the expectation that they can live off the rhetorical fat of the land until November 3rd.
(via Talking Points Memo)

Yes, look for Blotchy to just make shit up. Atrios says the same. And Kos is running a live rapid response operation.

The $8000 question 

Xan, in comments, asked:

Anybody got a pool going on whether some audience member will try for the bounty—$8000 last I heard [here]—and ask "Mr. President, How many times have you been arrested?"

It's short enough that anybody ought to be able to get it out...unless they put a Dale Earnhart-style 5 second delay on the broadcast.

23 minutes left to get that pool started....

So now it's Bush's back that's bulging? 

Let's see if we can spot anything tonight!

Frankly, I didn't buy the idea that Bush was using an earpiece in the last debate—because whoever was feeding Him His lines had, well, a catastrophic success. Then it occurred to me that, if Bush does indeed have presenile dementia (back), then without the earpiece His performance would have been even worse than it was. Which is a frightening thought.

Anyhow, the fine folks at Salon have been looking into it, and they do make a case that (1) the mysterious Bush Back Bulge really was there, and (2)

To watch the debate again, I ventured to the Web site of the most sober network I could think of: C-SPAN. And sure enough, at minute 23 on the video of the debate, you can clearly see the bulge between the president's shoulder blades.

Jacob McKenna, a spyware expert and the owner of the Spy Store, a high-tech surveillance shop in Spokane, Wash., looked at the Bush image on his computer monitor. "There's certainly something on his back, and it appears to be electronic," he said. McKenna said that, given its shape, the bulge could be the inductor portion of a two-way push-to-talk system. McKenna noted that such a system makes use of a tiny microchip-based earplug radio that is pushed way down into the ear canal, where it is virtually invisible. He also said a weak signal could be scrambled and be undetected by another broadcaster.

Suggestions that Bush may have using this technique stem from a D-day event in France, when a CNN broadcast appeared to pick up -- and broadcast to surprised viewers -- the sound of another voice seemingly reading Bush his lines, after which Bush repeated them. Danny Schechter, who operates the news site MediaChannel.org, and who has been doing some investigating into the wired-Bush rumors himself, said the Bush campaign has been worried of late about others picking up their radio frequencies -- notably during the Republican Convention on the day of Bush's appearance. "They had a frequency specialist stop me and ask about the frequency of my camera," Schechter said. "The Democrats weren't doing that at their convention."
(via Salon (at least get the day pass!))

Well well. An alternative theory (3) is that the Bush Back Bulge is caused by a back brace:

The debate rules, at the Bush campaign's urging, specifically forbid shots of the candidates' backs. Areader speculates that Bush may be wearing some sort of back brace, like the one pictured here. It's plausible, given all the times he has fallen off bikes and Segways.
(via Kos)

Which does raise the interesting question of whether Bush has been taking, um, medication for his back pain—and how He is going to handle medication, or no medication, in a 90-minute standup format.

Watch closely, readers! And send plenty of karmic interference waves in the direction of St. Louis....

UPDATE This is interesting. From Anna's comment at Kos:

And did you notice that JK gave Him a little pat on the back before the debate started?

Just to let Him know....

UPDATE Alert reader Anonymous (not, I think, that Anonymous) comments:

I vote bad suit. It's always looked empty on him anyway.


Last minute advice for Dear Leader 

1. Don't forget to take your Anti-Peevishness Pills!

2. One good stiff drink won't do it. You need to look happy, upbeat, and You need to be energetic. I suggest You get some good, pharm quality cocaine and do a couple of lines before You go out there. You know what to do. You've done it before. (alert reader GD Frogsdong)

3. You should put a nice big cucumber in the front of your pants for the evening. No, seriously. Nothing gives more confidence than thinking you've got the biggest one in the room, and also the looks the ladies will give You will send Your confidence through the roof. (alert reader GD Frogsdong)

4. If all else fails, take that cucumber out of your pants and go Cheney yourself. (alert reader GD Frogsdong)

5. ...


Weimar Redux 

Maybe watching RFK the other night has rekindled my cynicism, I dunno...

Nobody knows who—if anyone—has the power to suspend elections in an emergency. The matter, back in July, was given to the Department of Justice to look into, but I haven’t heard anything being released. The idea of letting the Department of Homeland Security make the call was effectively killed. The idea of letting Soaries make the call died a-borning. That leaves three possibilities: the Congress, the Supremes, or the President. The lawyers agree that the emergency powers of the President are very broad, but are a “hodgepodge” that nobody really understands. Given Bushco’s love of wielding unilateral power, I think it’s reasonable they’d try it. The Supremes already caved when faced with the Florida legislature voting to give its Electoral College votes to Bush in 2000, so if it goes to them again it’s clear what the outcome would be. And the Congress is lacking in spinal integrity when it comes to challenging the Exec, so… the fact is, nobody knows what to do legally if the elections are unable to continue, or if every vote can’t be counted. I repeat, as far as I can tell, nobody goddam well knows. If I’m wrong on this, some reader correct me.

Rep. Baird of Washington’s 3rd Congressional District says: “…the Constitution of the United States of America has never said that the President or a designee of the President can delay an election. That must reside with Congress, if anything is going to happen to elections. But I really do want to underscore, what is the purpose of an election? The purpose of an election is not simply to say we had an election and someone was declared the winner. The purpose of the election is to understand the will of the majority of the American people. If events, be they natural or terrorist, in some way distort the ability of us to accurately glean and determine the will of the American people, then that is to be of profound consideration. My concern, again, is we must first and foremost ask ourselves what mechanisms are in place to ensure that the will of the American people is accurately recorded and counted, not what mechanisms are in place so that at the close of business on November 2 we can all declare we have had an election. That is all I am trying to say here…” from the Congressional Record.

From the lawyers’ point of view, though, things aren’t so clear:

We are fighting a war against terrorism, with no end in sight. It is a war, I believe, that will inevitably escalate. Indeed, it is a war that could force the nation to live under martial law—for indefinite periods. These are not decisions that should be made by the President and Congress each time the crisis escalates; rather, we should think about them carefully in advance in order to make prudent decisions later. One need only look at the haste and thoughtlessness with which we have adopted the potentially dangerous USA PATRIOT Act, most of which Republicans and Democrats alike had earlier rejected, to understand why legislating in the aftershock of terrorism should be avoided if possible. Our present emergency laws and regulations are a hodgepodge, a patchwork quilt. They respond to precedents from past great crises, and that is wise, but unfortunately these precedents do not contemplate a protracted war on terrorism, or an enemy unlike any we have ever confronted. Congress has the power to determine whether it wants the American equivalent of a constitutional dictator in the White House. The only way to be certain that we don't make that decision during a crisis, is to revise and codify our emergency laws now - before fear and anger in the aftermath of a possible attack might cause us to make bad decisions, and too easily trade liberty for security in numerous areas.

By John W. Dean Presidential Powers in Times of Emergency

And there’s plenty more at Media suppresses news of Bush's moves to cancel US elections (CAUTION: socialist website).

Sure, all of this is old, too old and “silly” for the SCLM to follow up on, the result of Soaries’ statements in July of this year which were quickly hushed and denounced by all. But it’s stinky to me that the terror warnings for Nov. 2 are still being given, Ashcroft is “quietly” ramping up “investigations of possible election threats,” that the polls are tied and Bushco is sweating because We the People have registered thousands and thousands of new voters. My, my—is that the aroma of the Reichstag burning? Mike Ruppert at The Elections Watch says, “Stop. Catch your breaths. Steel your hearts and minds in preparation. Soon we’re all going to find out what we’re made of. If we do not have an election this November then the world we have been fighting to change until tonight will become only a ‘pleasant’ memory compared to the world that will follow.”

Not to worry anybody or anything...

The Worst And The Best 

First, THE WORST (not merely the worst presidency ever, worst congress, too), courtesy of an anonymous commentator at MaxSpeak, (even when a Max commentator speaks, we listen.)

The general subject matter falls under an issue that's mostly been absent from discussion lately, the Environment:
From The Alternate Energy Resource Network:October 7 2004 - Andrew Stern- NOW IS THE TIME TO STAND UP FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY. TODAY! (link)

Yesterday Senator John Warner (R-VA) submitted a last-minute amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill currently in Conference Committee that will have the effect of stopping not only the Nantucket Sound Wind Farm but, in effect, ALL OFFSHORE WIND-BASED RENEWABLE ENERGY INITIATIVES IN THE UNITED STATES. If you care about the future of energy in this country, and are as outraged as we are about Sen. Warner's methods, please take some time to make your feelings heard.

Warner, the Republican Senate Chair of the Committee, is proposing language that would prevent the Army Corps of Engineers (the approved permitting authority for offshore development) from acting on any offshore wind farm application, INCLUDING ANY CURRENTLY PENDING, until Congress specifically authorizes the use of outer Continental Shelf land for such purposes. Although this sounds benign, anyone who knows how our government works knows that this will, in reality, stop all offshore wind projects in the US.

In other words, Warner, WHO OWNS A SUMMER HOME IN OSTERVILLE, is effectively sacrificing the future of renewable energy in the U.S. so that the Nantucket Sound Wind Farm will not go ahead. Worse, he is inserting this amendment into the bill at such a late stage that there will be virtually no time to debate it. In other words, he is sneaking a provision that will be harmful to the country into an inappropriate bill at the last moment to ensure its passage.

Whatever ! your position on renewable energy, you may well be disgusted at these tactics, which masquerade as government of the people by the people for the people.


Warner's amendment would directly contradict and impede President Bush's Executive Order to expedite the production of domestic energy resources.

Offshore wind energy projects can significantly reduce operations at fossil fuel power plants, thereby improving air quality and the health of all Americans. Cape Wind would also offset over a million tons of greenhouse gases each year, equal to taking over 150,000 cars off the road from this one offshore wind farm alone.


Warner's amendment is predicated upon the need for offshore wind projects to have a competitive bidding process, despite the fact that it is the policy of the United States government not to require this of commercial wind energy projects on federal lands because the Bureau of Land Management is actively trying to encourage greater commercial wind energy development on federal lands. Issues regarding leasing or rent can be addressed concurrently with the ongoing and crucial NEPA permitting review on these projects designed to reduce America's reliance on foreign oil and to improve the air quality for all Americans.

Introducing this amendment late into the Conference Committee process is a blatant attempt to prevent public scrutiny and input into this crucial public policy decision. When the House held hearings on the issue last year, the overwhelming testimony (including labor and environmental witnesses, as well as the Massachusetts legislative leadership) was that any changes should not interfere or disrupt the ongoing review of existing project applications. Warner's amendment would single out clean offshore wind power from any other type of proposed commercial activity on the outer continental shelf.
The press release has more details about what projects this amendment would curtail, and makes a convincing argument that this little undemocratically finessed amendment could put the offshore wind energy industry back for decades.

The committee could take up the amendment as early as today, so it's important to register a complaint ASAP.

You can find all the necessary information for getting in touch with the Senate committee and its individual memebers by clicking on the link above.


The Nobel Peace Prize has just been awarded to Wangari Maathai, whom the Wa Po characterizes as "the Kenyan firebrand who mobilized the women of Africa in a powerful crusade against deforestation called the 'Green Belt Movement'."

This is wonderful news, and we on the left who care about the downside of Globalization, and worry that fundamentalists of various stripes are sometimes the only forces taking a stand against it, Wangari Maathai, a feminist, an economist, an environmentalist, a human rights activist, a college professor (US educated), both a determined believer in democracy and non-violent warrior against the cronyism and corruption so typical of government in developing countries, should also be an inspiration, and far better known than she's been, up to now.

Ninety percent of Kenya has been de-forested over the last fifty years and Wangari's Green Belt Movement, a response to the special burden borne by rural women who spend increasing portions of their lives searching out firewood for cooking, was about getting those same women to plant trees. Since the late seventies, it's estimated that 30 million trees have been planted all across Africa. And because the act of planting a tree was part of a movement, it became both an ecological and a political awakening, as to their great credit, the Nobel Committee seems to have understood.
Explaining the choice, Ole Danbolt Mjoes, head of the prize committee, said, "We have added a new dimension to the concept of peace. We have emphasized the environment, democracy building and human rights and especially women's rights."
Indeed! Wangari Maathai is one amazing woman.
From time to time she has been intimidated and even beaten by police in the course of her protests. She was hospitalized in Kenya in 1999 after being clubbed by guards hired by developers while she and her followers tried to plant trees in Karura forest.

In 1992, she was among a group of women who stripped naked in downtown Nairobi to protest police torture. The police had beaten them to disperse their demonstration and, as she later said, the women "resorted to something they knew traditionally would act on the men. . . . They stripped to show their nakedness to their sons. It is a curse to see your mother naked."

"She was threatened physically and was called a busybody in the press, yet she didn't flinch," said Mwalimu Mati, deputy director of Transparency International, a watchdog group in Nairobi.

"She's converted a lot of us to understand why the environment is so important," said Mati. "She worked alone for a very long time and she deserves this recognition. Now she has the real morale authority to challenge people who are selfishly allocating themselves land."
Read the whole article, and anything and everything else you can find about Wangari and about her movement. One person can make a difference, especially when she sees herself and her efforts in a larger, political context.

And all you have to do to make a difference on at least one issue is to make a few phone calls or send a few faxes. Here's that link again.

The Wecovery: Jobs market flatlined, economists surprised yet again! 

Looks like the leading indicators ("Economy tanking") were right again. And can't we outsource these economists? Or give me the job! I'm sure I could keep getting surprised (back) for a lot less money than these guys are making!

The facts:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. payrolls grew by just 96,000 workers in September, the government said on Friday in a surprisingly weak report....

I keep asking: What's surprising about it? The economy has sucked since Bush took office; in fact, that's his plan ("Why Bush wants jobs flatlined"): a low-wage, no benefits, plantation-style economy, with gated and guarded communities in place of the big house.

[The report] heightened market speculation that a mid-year economic "soft patch" may be harder to dig out of than thought and might lead the Federal Reserve call a halt to its campaign of incremental rate rises sooner than had been expected.

The only "soft patch" I can think of is Dick "Dick" Cheney's belly....

September's job-creation total fell well short of Wall Street economists' forecasts for 148,000 new hires. The department also revised down its estimate of August jobs to 128,000 from 144,000 it reported a month ago.
(via Reuters)

Lovely. Thank god I've got overtime. Oh, wait....

Poor Paul Bremer.... 

Unka Karl must have left a horse's head in his bed. Josh Marhshall—who is starting to sound pleasingly shrill—has more. Another one of those "split screen" things: before the horse's head in WaPo, and after the horse's head, in today's grovelling Times OpEd.


(Portland, Oregon) WWeek:
Put down the Visa card, Mr. President. Back away slowly. "The budget deficit! Goddamn it, it's the most important story there is!"

It's not often that economists launch into breathless tirades. But that's what happened when WW asked Portland econ Joe Cortright about the Bush administration's effect on Portland pocketbooks. Cortright says almost nobody's paying attention to the massive swing--from a $236 billion budget surplus four years ago to the $444 billion deficit--on Bush's watch.

In practical terms, that swing has put an invisible monkey on our backs. The federal gub'mint ran up $1,289 in debt for every person in the city in 2003. In 2004, W's killer combo of falling revenues (thanks to a lousy economy and massive tax cuts) and rising costs (Iraq) will put $1,513 on each Portlander's unseen Visa bill.

And Cortright says the most insidious effect is that the pain won't come until long after November.

"It's as if somebody gave you $500 in cash today," Cortright says of Bush's tax rollback, "and then ran up thousands in debt on your credit card, and then arranged so you won't get a bill until after the election."

When there's a deficit, the government borrows money to pay for it. That money must be paid back someday--unless we plan to pull an Argentina by defaulting and ruining our national credit forever. The local implications? Cortright says--and other economists agree--that as the bills pile up, services vanish.

So when we talk about Head Start, transportation, crime-fighting and the unfunded gorilla that is No Child Left Behind, remember the deficit.

"What Bush has done," Cortright says, "is essentially mortgaged our future."

Merry Christmas:
Friday's jobs report won't be as strong as economists would like at this point in the recovery from the 2001 recession. Economists want to see 250,000 new jobs or more per month. But payrolls have lagged far below that.

Some economists don't expect an improvement any time soon. The period from September to December "historically has seen the heaviest job cutting," said John Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray and Christmas, a job placement and research firm.

Planned job cuts tracked by the firm shot to an eight-month high of 107,863 in September, 41 percent more than a year ago. - AP.

U.S. businesses added 96,000 jobs to payrolls in September, the government reported on Friday, a weaker-than-expected total... Business - Reuters

Its been a while, but I feel a bombastic rant coming on.


One Nation Under False Pretenses 

Krugman today:
I first used the word "Orwellian" to describe the Bush team in October 2000. Even then it was obvious that George W. Bush surrounds himself with people who insist that up is down, and ignorance is strength. But the full costs of his denial of reality are only now becoming clear.

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have an unparalleled ability to insulate themselves from inconvenient facts. They lead a party that controls all three branches of government, and face news media that in some cases are partisan supporters, and in other cases are reluctant to state plainly that officials aren't telling the truth. They also still enjoy the residue of the faith placed in them after 9/11.

This has allowed them to engage in what Orwell called "reality control." In the world according to the Bush administration, our leaders are infallible, and their policies always succeed. If the facts don't fit that assumption, they just deny the facts.

Ignorance Isn't Strength, NYTimes. (registration not required)


See Dick Lie: 30 Lies in 90 Minutes 

Via Density-land
Some people discussed the FREQUENCY of Dick Cheney lying in Tuesday's debate. So I tried an experiment. Every time he lies, it's highlighted in red with an explanation on the other side of the page cobbled from the blog-o-sphere.

Lie Number 10:
CHENEY: Twenty years ago we had a similar situation in El Salvador. We had -- guerrilla insurgency controlled roughly a third of the country, 75,000 people dead, and we held free elections. I was there as an observer on behalf of the Congress. The human drive for freedom, the determination of these people to vote, was unbelievable. And the terrorists would come in and shoot up polling places; as soon as they left, the voters would come back and get in line and would not be denied the right to vote. And today El Salvador is a whale of a lot better because we held free elections. [Lie #10]

Reality Check:
"First of all, the United States was not supporting freedom in El Salvador twenty years ago. According to the United Nations Truth Commission and independent human rights organizations, the vast majority of those killed in El Salvador during this period were civilians murdered by the U.S.-backed junta and its allied paramilitary organizations Secondly, the Salvadoran elections Cheney observed in the 1980s were not free elections. The leading leftist and left-of-center politicians had been assassinated or driven underground and their newspapers and radio stations suppressed. The election was only between representatives of conservative and right-wing parties. Thirdly, despite threats from some of the more radical guerrilla factions, there were very few attacks on polling stations. Fourthly, people repeatedly lined up to vote because they were required to. Failure to get the requisite stamp that validated the fact that you had voted would likely get one labeled as a “subversive” and therefore a potential target for assassination. Lastly, El Salvador finally did have free elections in 1994, only after Congress cut off aid to the Salvadoran government and the peace plan initiated by Costa Rican president Oscar Arias -- which was initially opposed by the Republican administrations then in office in Washington -- was finally implemented." -- Common Dreams

29 more lies! free! - includes side by side analysis as they scroll down the page. Includes complete text of Cheney's remarks: Let's see how long Dick Cheney can go without lying....


My little peevish pet president 

Pet blogging Friday continues...

From Matthew Chamberlin at The High Hat:
Karl Rove, Pet Owner
Sometimes when Karl in his fervor gesticulates too feverishly
Jake slithers off and molts alone, sometimes very peevishly.

Read the whole thing here > Karl Rove, Pet Owner


"My Little Pony"  

Pet blogging Friday.

From reader "I Heart Edwards":
My Little Pony, My Little Pony
Isn't the world a lovely place
My Little Pony, My Little Pony
Everywhere you go, a smiling face

Running and skipping; merrily tripping
Watching the morning unfold
My Little Pony, My Little Pony
What does the future hold?

No sign of trouble in sight
My Little Pony, My Little Pony
May all your days be bright
May all your days be bright.

Poetic ditty - words and inspiration: "I Heart Edwards".
Ponyboy image by All Hat No Cattle.net
headline 1: Glum & Glummer - see Common Dreams.org
headline 2: Biz Profs to Bu$h - see Max Speak
headline 3: Case for War demolished - see Common Dreams.org


Thursday, October 07, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Global test (Atrios). Heh.

I think Bush might need some helpful hints to get through tomorrow's debate, where some of those present might not be adopting a suitably worshipful attitude toward Him. Readers?

Bush blows off another medical exam 

This time, however, nobody can ground him. Except the voters, of course, in November.

Anyhow, here (via Josh Marshall) is an odd little fact:

Bush postpones election-year doctor's visit
After undergoing his annual medical check-up in August 2001, 2002 and 2003, US President George W. Bush has put the procedure off this year until after the November 2 election, his spokesman said.
(via AFP)

I wonder why? Is he getting all he needs from the twins? Or.... Could it be something more serious? Actually, when I read Marshall's post, I thought at once of this letter, from last month's Atlantic:

James Fallows’s description of John Kerry’s debating skills (“When George Meets John,” July/August Atlantic) was interesting, but what was most remarkable was Fallows’s documentation of President Bush’s mostly overlooked changes over the past decade—specifically, “the striking decline in his sentence-by-sentence speaking skills.” Fallows points to “speculations that there must be some organic basis for the President’s peculiar mode of speech—a learning disability, a reading problem, dyslexia or some other disorder,” but correctly concludes, “The main problem with these theories is that through his forties Bush was perfectly articulate.”

I, too, felt that something organic was wrong with President Bush, most probably dyslexia. But I was unaware of what Fallows pointed out so clearly: that Bush’s problems have been developing slowly, and that just a decade ago he was an articulate debater, “artful indeed in steering questions and challenges to his desired subjects,” who “did not pause before forcing out big words, as he so often does now, or invent mangled new ones.” Consider, in contrast, the present: “the informal Q&As he has tried to avoid,” “Bush’s recent faltering performances,” “his unfortunate puzzled-chimp expression when trying to answer questions,” “his stalling, defensive pose when put on the spot,” “speaking more slowly and less gracefully.”

Not being a professional medical researcher and clinician, Fallows cannot be faulted for not putting two and two together. But he was 100 percent correct in suggesting that Bush’s problem cannot be “a learning disability, a reading problem, [or] dyslexia,” because patients with those problems have always had them. Slowly developing cognitive deficits, as demonstrated so clearly by the President, can represent only one diagnosis, and that is “presenile dementia Presenile dementia is best described to nonmedical persons as a fairly typical Alzheimer’s situation that develops significantly earlier in life, well before what is usually considered old age. It runs about the same course as typical senile dementias, such as classical Alzheimer’s—to incapacitation and, eventually, death, as with President Ronald Reagan, but at a relatively earlier age. President Bush’s “mangled” words are a demonstration of what physicians call “confabulation,” and are almost specific to the diagnosis of a true dementia. Bush should immediately be given the advantage of a considered professional diagnosis, and started on drugs that offer the possibility of retarding the slow but inexorable course of the disease.

"Started"? What does this guy mean, "started"?

Iraq clusterfuck: Wow, yet another reason to go to war! Count me in! 

The good poeple in the Department of "How Stupid Do They Think We Are?" have really been putting in the hours this week. Now there's more!

Bush and his vice president conceded Thursday in the clearest terms yet that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, even as they tried to shift the Iraq war debate to a new issue - whether the invasion was justified because Saddam was abusing a U.N. oil-for-food program.

Ridiculing the Bush administration's evolving rationale for war, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry shot back: "You don't make up or find reasons to go to war after the fact."

This week marks the first time that the Bush administration has listed abuses in the oil-for-fuel program as an Iraq war rationale.
(via AP)

Has anybody been keeping track of the many shifting reasons Bush has given for going to war? This is yet another one.... Have we broken 10 yet? 100?

And, gee, if it weren't the "resolute" Bush "conceding" this... Well, I'd say it, um, "mixed messages." Maybe even a flip flop. Wouldn't you?

Unfortunately, Bush's flip-flops have blood all over their soles—from all the dead bodies he's walked over on his way to stealing another election. Nice image there, farmer, if you have a moment....

UPDATE From the WaPo coverage:

Bush did not take questions from reporters after reading his statement.
(via WaPo)

Gee, I wonder why not? The Anti-Peevishness Pills hadn't kicked in yet?

UPDATE Alert reader pansypoo tells me that I previously posted an image of "slides," not "flip flops." Well, OK. Readers, can any of you point us to a better image?

Smellin' Pollcats? 

Dog with a bone on this, sorry… but after all the hard work we’ve done it would be, well, incendiary to try to flush it. Nothing anywhere about a contingency plan for how to handle any event that disrupts the Day that the Forces of Evil are Defeated (Nov. 2). Anywhere I can find, anyway. Thanks to shystee for the tip on Soaries. Nothing there, either, about a plan. But they’re sure kicking up a lot of dust about the possibility that it could happen:

“Attorney General John Ashcroft quietly has issued a sweeping directive that authorizes the FBI to use hundreds of law enforcement agents from other federal agencies to help investigate any terrorist plots that target the Nov. 2 elections. The directive - the first of its kind since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks - allows the FBI to tap agents from the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as part of a nationwide effort by FBI-led counterterrorism units to seek out and stop any plots against the elections…”

Whenever Asscroft does something “quietly,” it’s time to worry.

But the persistent warnings about terrorism also have drawn skepticism from some Democratic election officials and civil-rights advocates who have accused the Republican White House of creating a climate of fear that, among other things, could suppress voter turnout. Heavy voter turnout historically has favored Democrats in U.S. elections.

Engy Abdelkader, civil-rights director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says that Arab-Americans and other minorities could choose to stay away from the polls if they believe that federal agents will be questioning people there. "This could have a very politically chilling effect on our community," Abdelkader says. "We are monitoring this very closely."
via FBI to get help on Election Day plots

Meanwhile, some Democratic election officials are questioning whether there is a political angle to the Bush administration's repeated terrorism warnings. Rebecca Vigil-Giron, a Democrat who is New Mexico's top election official, says she wonders whether the warnings amount to a veiled Republican effort to suppress voter turnout. Historically, heavy turnout in U.S. elections has favored Democrats.

Attorney General John Ashcroft… this week rejected the notion that the Republican White House has hyped the threat to discourage voting. Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo says it is "absolutely absurd that we would seek to depress the vote."

Still, there is skepticism. Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, a Republican, says he was "flabbergasted" at the reaction last month when he sent letters to local election clerks urging them to develop plans to respond to "an immediate and present danger." Some local officials accused Rokita of trying to intimidate voters. "Given the concern about terrorism," he says, "I felt somebody ought to be out ... making sure we were talking to each other."
via Election warning causes anxiety

Skepticism? No, we’re trusting little sheep. Look, it just makes sense that if you suspect an attack could occur, you would plan for how to handle the elections if it did. But they’re not doing that. They’re pulling out all of the law enforcement stops to “investigate” vague warnings and ramp up fear. Could be CYA after 9/11, but it could be voter intimidation. WTF? I smell a setup.

And the rumblings on the street are that if anything should happen that smells like someone is polecatting up the polls on Nov. 2, the cry will rise up: “To the barricades, citizens!” Surely even the beltway zombies can see what would happen if the election craters. Can’t they? Oh, right. These are the ones who planned so carefully for iWaq and worked tirelessly to prevent 9/11. Never mind, Ms. Litella.

Free Michael! And His Underwear! 

Fans of "South Park" are acquainted with the Underpants Gnomes and their motto (believed by many to be an underlying theme of the entire Bush administration), "(1) Steal Underpants, (2) ??? (3) Profit!"

We have our own Underpants Gnome. And he's a wanted man in Michigan:

(via Yubanet.com)
By: Michael Moore
Published: Oct 7, 2004

Dear Friends,

You may have heard by now that the Michigan Republican Party has called for my arrest. That's right. They literally want me brought up on charges -- and hope that I'm locked up.

No, I'm not kidding. The Republican Party, yesterday, filed a criminal complaint with the prosecutors in each of the counties where I spoke last week in Michigan.

My crime? Clean underwear for anyone who will vote in the upcoming election.

Each night on our 60-city "Slacker Uprising Tour" through the 20 battleground states, I've been registering hundreds (and on some nights, thousands) of voters at my arena and stadium events.

If they promise me that they'll do this [vote], I give the guys a 3-pack of new Fruit of the Loom underwear, and the women get a day's supply of Ramen noodles, the sustenance of slackers everywhere.

The satire of all this seems to have been lost on the Republicans. Or maybe it hasn't. The state of Michigan (where we spent most of last week) reported that over 100,000 young people recently registered to vote, a record that no one saw coming. The Slacker Tour has turned into a huge steamroller with a momentum all its own.

So, the Republican Party, to show their gratitude that so many young people will now be involved in our system, has demanded that I be sent to jail for trying to "bribe" students to vote.

My friends, they will not catch me. Though I may be on the run, and I may never be able to return home to my beloved Michigan, I make this solemn vow to you and yours: The slackers of America shall not be denied their noodles, they will proudly wear their clean underwear as free Americans, and they will vote Bush out of office come November 2nd (though they will not show up to the polls until well after noon)!

Stay strong, stay slacker, and please remember to turn the underwear inside out every three days. As for the noodles, add boiling water, stir.


Michael Moore
The kicker? This story showed up on the front page of Google News. Algorithms for Kerry! I love it.

(Letter edited for length. Some pretty funny parts left out, so if you have time or need a lift, go read.)

Principles Be Damned 

I used to be a journalist, if a features-and-obit writer can be dignified with the title. I was one during the Pentagon Papers case and joined in every protest against the government intrusions that I could. The First Amendment is absolute, dammit...

...except maybe just this once.

(via NYT but an AP story)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal judge held a reporter in contempt Thursday for refusing to divulge confidential sources to prosecutors investigating the leak of an undercover CIA officer's identity.

U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan ordered New York Times reporter Judith Miller jailed until she agrees to testify about her sources before a grand jury, but said she could remain free while pursuing an appeal. Miller could be jailed up to 18 months.

Hogan cited Supreme Court rulings that reporters do not have absolute First Amendment protection from testifying about confidential sources. He said there was ample evidence that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago, the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case, had exhausted other avenues of obtaining key testimony before issuing subpoenas to Miller and other reporters.

``The special counsel has made a limited, deferential approach to the press in this matter,'' Hogan said.

Fitzgerald is investigating whether a crime was committed when someone leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose name was published by syndicated columnist Robert Novak on July 14, 2003. Novak cited two ``senior administration officials'' as his sources.

``I think it's really frightening when journalists can be put in jail for doing their job effectively,'' Miller told reporters outside the courthouse.
Tell it to the 1066 dead, sweetheart.

Media methods: Split-screening the liars 

Frank Rich (via Kos makes a useful point about, well, camera technique. Remember the old TV show, "To Tell the Truth"? It's alive and well:

If anything, the first Bush-Kerry confrontation has given split-screen television a new vogue. Having defied the efforts of both campaigns to squelch its use on Sept. 30, emboldened TV news organizations can run with it at will. So we saw on the Sunday after that debate, when Condoleezza Rice appeared on ABC's "This Week."

There she was quizzed about the report in that morning's Times saying that in 2002 she had hyped aluminum tubes as evidence of Saddam's nuclear threat a year after her staff was told that government experts had serious doubts. Ms. Rice kept trying to talk over the soft-voiced George Stephanopoulos's questions, but [Stephanopoulos] zapped her with a picture: a September 2002 CNN interview in which she had not, shall we say, told the whole truth and nothing but. As the old video played, ABC used a split screen so we could watch Ms. Rice, "This Is Your Life" style, as she watched the replay of her incriminating appearance of two years earlier. Maybe, like Mr. Bush at the first debate, she knew her reaction was being caught on camera. But even if she did, the unchecked rage in her face, like that of her boss three days earlier, revealed that her image and her story, like the war itself, had spun completely out of her control.
(via NY Times)

It's really a story for The Department of "How Stupid Do They Think We Are?" Just as we say to ourselves (as with the old yellowcake "crude forgeries" fiasco) "Don't they know we can use Google?" so the slightly-less-terrified (oh, "emboldened") SCLM are saying to themselves, "Don't they know we have archives?"

More like this, please.

What's the Plan? 

I was having coffee with some friends this morning, and we were talking about how the voter registration drives had gone. Everyone agreed that new voter registration was a success, with probably hundreds of thousands of young new voters, mostly for Kerry, added this year. The news stories lately back that up. Everyone's doing followup on the phones once a week, too. Then the talk turned a little more paranoid, a little more tinfoil-hattish. How far would Bushco go to hold onto power? Out of the four of us, only two were willing to say he would stop at nothing. The other two, more trusting types, thought they’d play fair up to a point. What point? Well, they wouldn’t deliberately allow or stage a terror attack, for example. They wouldn’t dream of postponing or canceling elections. But, didn’t the head of the FEC float that idea already? Is there a plan in place for what to do about elections if such an attack occurred? Why has this story gone under the radar?

It got me to thinking (ouch!), so I did a little browsing on the topic after chores, and found a couple of things. First one’s from a blog I never heard of before:

“What is the probability that W's regime would attempt to use an attack for political purposes?" If you assess the probability of that at less than 100%, you need to ask the Easter Bunny or the Great Pumpkin to review the events of the last four years.

How much disruption needs to be caused to trigger a response? If one guy shoots up a precinct in Utah, we keep going, right? What if they blow up the Niagara Mohawk substation in Buffalo-- or Lower Colorado in Texas or one of the other major transmission points on the grid--and we have another huge blackout?Suppose the attack doesn't actually have a direct impact on voting-- a mega-worm that brings down major computer networks 72 hours before Election Day?Suppose there's a nerve gas attack in Houston in late October-- and we've cleaned up the chaos by election day, but we don't know who's to blame?You want to just wing any of those? You don't do that-- you assume that it just can't happen-- and you wind up open for... Well, say there's an attack on Election Day, in Manhattan, and that it's got 9/11-style consequences. You've got a bunch of people dead, fifteen million people unable to get to the polls-- many of whom live in Connecticut and New Jersey (and a large number who commute from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island). Let's say the perverted wits who chose to attack on "911" do this one at "High Noon", so the rest of the country has 7-10 hours to stew and rage. You ready to hear W. announce that the elections in six key blue states have to be postponed for a week or two-- but the rest of the county can keep voting and counting because "it's important to show the terrorists that they can't win." That's why you want a contingency plan for dealing with a terrorist attack during election season.

via We Report... You Deride

And another site advising folks to get their city councils to do what Hamtramck done:

“Be it resolved, the Hamtramck City Council speaking for the people of the City of Hamtramck wishes it to be known that no act of nature or man will prevent, hinder, or intimidate them from voting and expressing their will…”

via Welcome to GuvWurld

Hey, it could happen. I looked for a contingency plan somewhere; searched the FEC site. Haven’t found a thing. That’s a little worrisome. Any correntians know of one? Is this truly tinfoil hat territory? What would Bushco do if any of these nightmare scenarios played out? I mean, regardless of who caused them? Mebbe we should be demanding to know, What's the Plan?

I haven’t gone back down past the revival tent, but when I do, I have the Wittman article for the “pastor.”

Dick "Dick" Cheney 's cheapest of cheap shots at Edwards 

I know, there were so many. But the subchapter S cheap shot was the lowest of the low. The Amazin' Froomkin quotes Ragout:

Bush frequently makes the same claim on the campaign trail, praising small businesses as "job creators," and charging that Kerry's plan will raise their taxes: "Ninety percent of small businesses pay tax at the individual income tax rate, because they're either subchapter-S corporation or a sole proprietorship."

So it was more than a little hypocritical when, later in the debate, Cheney charged that Edwards had used a "special tax loophole" to avoid taxes during his days as a lawyer. The loophole? Incorporating under subchapter-S, of course!

In their stump speeches, subchapter-S corporations are virtuous job creators, but when their opponent starts a perfectly typical corporation of this type, he's a tax dodger. What a cheap shot.
(via Ragout)

Silly. It's only right to become Subchapter S if you sign a loyalty oath and show up at a torchlight parade for the Partei! IOKIYAR!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

It might turn out, against all conventional wisdom—surprise!—that the Vice Presidential debates were decisive after all.

The meme that the Republicans are, um, factually challenged seems to be taking hold.

Why? Because when Cheney says he never met Edwards, and there are photos and witnesses that prove he's lying, that's the kind of toddler-level lie that anyone can understand.

So it would be a truly delicious irony if Cheney Cheney-ed himself. With Patrick Leahy watching from the second row. (And Elizabeth Edwards nailed Cheney—insofar as that is possible—on it, right on the stage after the debate. Sweet!)

Business school PhDs rebuke Bush for creating an oligarchy 

Oh, you know, those business school professors—so liberal! Here's what they have to say (via Maxspeak; check out the signatories):

We also urge you to consider the distributional consequences of your policies. Under your administration, the income gap between the most affluent Americans and everyone else has widened. Although the latest data reveal that real household incomes have dropped across the board since you took office, low and middle income households have experienced steeper declines than upper income households.

I bet we'll hear a lot this Friday from aWol about the "ownership society"; but we won't hear anything about who owns what—or who owns who.

To be sure, the general phenomenon of mounting inequality preceded your administration, but it has continued (and, by some accounts, intensified) over the past three and a half years.

Some degree of inequality is inherent in any free market economy, creating positive incentives for economic and technological advancement. But when inequality becomes extreme, it can be socially corrosive and economically dysfunctional. Problems of this sort are visible throughout much of the developing world. At the moment, the most commonly accepted measure of inequality – the so-called Gini coefficient [WikiPedia] – is far higher in the United States than in any other developed country and is continuing to move upward. We don’t know where the breakpoint is for the U.S., but we would rather not find out. With all due ["heh"] respect, we believe your tax policy has exacerbated the problem of inequality in the United States, which has worrisome implications for the economy as a whole. We very much hope you will take this threat to our nation into account as you consider new fiscal approaches to address the nation’s most pressing economic problems.

Sensible and farsighted economic management requires true discipline, compassion, and courage – not just slogans. Given the tenuous state of the American economy, we believe that the time for an honest assessment of the problem and for genuine corrective action is now. Ignoring the fiscal crisis that has taken hold during your presidency may seem politically appealing in the short run, but we fear it could ultimately prove disastrous. From a policy standpoint, the clear message is that more of the same won’t work. The warning signs are already visible, and it is incumbent upon all of us to pay attention.

Remember this gem from aWol?

What an impressive crowd: the haves, and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite, I call you my base.
(The Tiffany Network)

Somehow, I don't think Bush is going to pay a lot of attention. Eh? Anyhow, I say if we don't give the super-rich more of what they already have so much of, the terrorists have won.

The Cheney cheer! 

Gimme an F! F!

Gimme an A! A!

Gimme a C! C!

Gimme a T! T!

Gimme an S! S!

What's that spell? FACTS!

What's that spell? FACTS!

What's that spell? FACTS!

And now we break into (the same old) song:

Yeah, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He's got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in the Iraq sands....

Vanishing Docs and other Cheney Bu$hCo. fantasies distortions and lies: 

OB/GYNs, vanishing docs, malpractice reform.... (fact check)

[1] Cheney overstates Wyoming doctors' premiums by a factor of six.

Cheney stated: "[In Wyoming] rates for a general practitioner have gone from $40,000 a year to $100,000 a year for an insurance policy."

The Facts: In 2004, the insurance rate for the state’s leading underwriter (Doctors Company) for family general practice was $15,322 (no obstetrics, no surgery), according to a non-partisan report from the Wyoming Legislative Service Office.[1]

[2] Cheney’s disappearing doctor figure is contradicted by hard numbers

Cheney stated: "We’ve lost one out of 11 OB/GYN practitioners in the country."

The Facts: Cheney apparently relied on a survey commissioned by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in which 9 percent of respondents said they had ceased practice. But every year thousands of obstetricians stop delivering babies as they get older. The ACOG survey did not attempt to determine whether malpractice rates were a statistically significant factor affecting OB/GYNs’ decisions.

In fact, the number of board-certified OB/GYNs in the United States grew by 18.1 percent from 1999 to 2004, according to the American Board of Medical Specialties

[3] John Kerry and the liberals in Congress blocked medical malpractice reform.

The Senate voted on three malpractice bills. Senator Kerry did not vote to "block" any of these bills. In each case, Majority Leader Frist was required to get 60 votes for the bill to proceed to the floor. And in each case, the Republicans were unable to muster even 50 votes from their 51-seat majority to bring the bill up for debate.

Much more info - for further details see: Public Citizen -- Cheney’s Claims in V.P. Debate and New Bush-Cheney Medical Malpractice Ad Continue Campaign of Deception and Distortion | Government Data and Studies Show Bush-Cheney Claims About Insurance Rates and Access to Doctors Have No Foundation


They Haven't Stopped--We Can't Either 

Two very good debates and an actual half hour of decent NBC newscast tonight does not an election victory make. The subversion of government agencies continues:

(via WaPo)
Officials at a federal program that runs hospitals and clinics serving Native Americans this summer prohibited employees from using those facilities to sign up new voters, saying that even nonpartisan voter registration was prohibited on federal property.

Staff members at several Indian Health Service hospitals and clinics in New Mexico, a presidential battleground state where about one-tenth of the population is Native American, were trying to register employees, patients and family members who use the facilities.

Several of those involved in the registration effort questioned what they saw as a double standard, given that the federal government encourages registration on military bases, where voters traditionally have favored Republicans.

Several Bush administration agencies have been criticized after taking steps to block or question other registration efforts.

The Homeland Security Department sought to block a nonpartisan group from registering new citizens outside a Miami naturalization ceremony in August.

The Justice Department has launched inquiries into new registrations submitted by Democratic-leaning groups in several key states. Democrats say the probes are politically motivated.
I snipped a discussion of the Hatch Act, which is being blatantly violated here by the Bushco people. And the fact that the DNC and civil rights groups were unaware this was going on, meaning it might be a recent move. I'd like to see some of the Recount Emergency Fund go preemptively to publicizing this crap.

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