Saturday, October 16, 2004

MBF Watch: "The Way Tyranny Begins" 

So I hit the link to the story about the Dangerous Wimmen with their Radical Breasts for Civil Liberties Lambert posted. Decided to look around Google news to see how other papers in the area covered the matter. The answer is, not very much. But they DID cover Preznit Psycho's standard stump speech just as though it was actual news....

Anyway, I'm looking at the Eugene paper's coverage and at the bottom is one of those "related stories" links. I hit that and, yup, it's a related story all right:

(via Eugene Register-Guard (how ironic a name!)
JACKSONVILLE - Police in riot gear fired paintballs filled with cayenne pepper Thursday night to disperse a crowd of protesters assembled in this historic gold mining town where President Bush was spending the night after a campaign appearance.

Witnesses said Bush supporters were on one side of California Street chanting ``Four more years,'' and supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry were on the other chanting "Three more weeks." Police began moving the crowd [Question: ALL the crowd or just a part of it? Doesn't say.] away from the Jacksonville Inn, where the president was to arrive for a dinner and to spend the night after his speech.

``Nobody was being violent, said Cerridewen Bunten, 24, a college student and retail clerk from Ashland. "We were out of the streets so cars could go by. We were being loud, but I never knew that was against the law.''

Bunten said she was pushed by police as she held her 6-year-old daughter.

Jacksonville City Administrator Paul Wyntergreen said the protest was peaceful until a few people started pushing police. Police reacted by firing pepperballs, which he described as projectiles like a paintball filled with cayenne pepper. Two people were arrested for failing to disperse. There were no reports of injuries.

Richard Swaney, 65, of Central Point, said he was walking with the crowd away from the inn when he was hit in the back with three separate bursts, one of which knocked him down. He felt a stinging sensation he thought was rubber bullets and smelled pepper.

``I don't think I moved fast enough,'' Swaney said. ``I can't believe this happens in the United States. It was very peaceful. I think this is the way tyranny begins."
So the Preznit was protected from six year old girls and 65 year old men. I think the shot-up and peppered Mr. Swaney is dead-on right, don't you?

Finally! Proof that all Republicans are not sex-obsessed loons! 

Take Bill O'Reilly. Please!

[O'REILLY:] "If I have to go down, I'm willing to do it."
(via Guardian)

I'm sure the wife appreciates that, Bill!

UPDATE Nice takedown from Steve Gilliard.

MBF watch: Oregon schoolteachers with tickets threatened with arrest at Partei rally 

Nothing must pop Inerrant Boy's bubble:

Three Medford school teachers were threatened with arrest and escorted from the [rally] after they showed up wearing T-shirts with the slogan "Protect our civil liberties." All three said they applied for and received valid tickets from Republican headquarters in Medford.

The women said they did not intend to protest. "I wanted to see if I would be able to make a statement that I feel is important, but not offensive, in a rally for my president," said Janet Voorhies, 48, a teacher in training.

“We chose this phrase specifically because we didn't think it would be offensive or degrading or obscene," said Tania Tong, 34, a special education teacher.

Thursday’s actions in Oregon set a new standard even for Bush/Cheney – removing and threatening with arrest citizens who in no way disrupt an event and wear clothing that expresses non-disruptive party-neutral viewpoints such as “Protect Our Civil Liberties.”

When Vice President Dick Cheney visited Eugene, Oregon on Sept. 17, a 54-Year old woman named Perry Patterson was charged with criminal trespass for blurting the word "No" when Cheney said that George W. Bush has made the world safer.
(via The Bend (Oregon) Bugle)

"Un-American" is exactly the word for this.

You know, it would be really great if, when the so-in-the-tank SCLM prints all those "Triumph of the W"-photos—always shot upward at Bush, and emphasizing the hands stretched out to Him—the caption would say that only people who signed a loyalty oath to Bush were admitted to his rallies.

Fahrenheit 9/11 PPV Nixed 

Well doesn't this just provide a perfect ending to a happy jolly day, filled with talk of vote theft, missing flu protection, and other uplifting topics?

(via AP)
NEW YORK (AP) -- A cable pay-per-view company has decided not to show a three-hour election eve special with filmmaker Michael Moore that included a showing of his documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11," which is sharply critical of President Bush.

The company, iN DEMAND, said Friday that its decision is due to "legitimate business and legal concerns." A spokesman would not elaborate.

Moore has just released his movie on DVD and was seeking a TV outlet for the film.

Earlier this week, trade publications said Moore was close to a deal with iN DEMAND for "The Michael Moore Pre-Election Special," which also would include interviews with politically active celebrities and admonitions to vote. The Nov. 1 special was to be available for $9.95.

Moore said Friday he signed a contract with the company in early September and is considering legal action. He said he believes iN DEMAND decided not to air the film because of pressure from "top Republican people."
Gasp! Surely not! (Okay, I promise to quit calling you Surely.)

Not sure this is that big a deal on the face of it (and yes, I have evidence the grapes were sour anyway.) I can't really picture that many people paying ten bucks to see a movie--on the day before the election no less--that they can get for next to nothing at Blockbuster or own outright for $20.

It may be better off as a victim of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, just by pissing people off that they're being told they can't do something. Hey, it's a thread to grab hold of anyway.

Time to drink. Heavily. And prepare to re-gird the loins tomorrow.


We've compared Bush to Shakespeare's Macbeth before—as always, Enlightenment values are important—and alert reader Tony reminds us to do this again (Shakespeare text here).

The similarities are striking, aren't they? Not simply that Bush is, as Macbeth was, a usurper. Shakespeare's keen psychological insights are as relevant today as they were 500 years ago.

The setting: Macbeth, at a state dinner, has just seen the ghost of a man he murdered. Lady Macbeth covers for him and gets the guests out the door. Then, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth talk politics:

I pray you, speak not; he grows worse and worse;
Question enrages Him. At once, good night:
Stand not upon the order of your going,
But go at once.

Good night; and better health
Attend his majesty!

A kind good night to all!

Exeunt all but MACBETH and LADY MACBETH

It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood:
Stones have been known to move and trees to speak;
Augurs and understood relations have
By magot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth
The secret'st man of blood. What is the night?

Almost at odds with morning, which is which.

How say'st thou, that Macduff denies his person
At our great bidding?

Did you send to him, sir?

I hear it by the way; but I will send:
There's not a one of them but in his house
I keep a servant fee'd
. I will to-morrow,
And betimes I will, to the weird sisters:
More shall they speak; for now I am bent to know,
By the worst means, the worst. For mine own good,
All causes shall give way: I am in blood
Stepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o'er
Strange things I have in head, that will to hand;
Which must be acted ere they may be scann'd.

You lack the season of all natures, sleep.

Come, we'll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse
Is the initiate fear that wants hard use:
We are yet but young in deed.

Translation: Fasten your seatbelts. Florida 2000 and getting us into Iraq were just starters. The main course is yet to come.

Election fraud 2004: Winger "Judge" Posner: "No constitutional right to vote" 

You remember Richard "Yet Another Dick" Posner—he's the guy who rushed a book into print that pronounced Clinton guilty of various felonies, before Clinton had been tried for anything, and while he was a sitting judge, thereby violating the canons of judicial ethics (takedowns here and here).

Hey, love the neutrality! I say, let's put Posner on the Supreme Court right away, so he can be the wind beneath Inerrant Boy's wings for Kerry v. Bush!

Anyhow, Posner's handed down a decision, Phyllis Griffin, et al., v. Elaine Roupas, et al. (PDF here) that has to do with the rights of working mothers to file absentee ballots. Lot of legal technicalities here (and Posner is right that Illinois has a "gamey" history of electoral shenanigans, particularly downstate) but there's one sentence in Posner's really rather snarky opinion—he seems to work out his "social tension" by putting the boot into working women—that jumped off the page for me:

The Constitution does not in so many words confer a right to vote, though it has been held to do so implicitly. ... Rather, it confers on the states broad authority to regulate the conduct of elections, including federal ones.

Hmmm.... So the right to vote is one of those "penumbra"-type rights, like privacy, that the wingers would like to do away with.

It's a little frightening to think what this decision could mean in the hands of one of those strictly Republican constructionists, isn't it? Yikes!

Here's a copy of the decision. And here are the briefs (type 03 in first bank, 3770 in second) and the oral argument.

Election fraud 2004: BC04 lawyer weighs in 

There's no news here—we already know, for example, that the Republicans are trying everything they know to steal Florida again (Salon must-read)—but I have to quote Bush's campaign lawyer on this one becauuse it is so, so delicious:

President Bush's top campaign lawyer said yesterday that the winner of next month's presidential vote may not be known for "days or weeks" after Election Day if the contest is close.

Experts predict that a large number of absentee ballots will be cast, which could take time to count. For the first time nationwide, voters whose names do not appear on the rolls will be allowed to cast "provisional ballots," which will be counted only after a post-Election Day review determines their eligibility.

In addition, some battleground states will count overseas military ballots received after Election Day as long as they are postmarked before Nov. 3. In Florida, for instance, military ballots received through Nov. 12 will be counted.

Tom Josefiak, the Bush-Cheney campaign's general counsel, said he worries that the uncertainty caused by potential delays could undermine confidence in the outcome.
(via WaPo)

From the Department of No Shit, Sherlock.

So if Bush is chosen by God to be President, why can't he get my Mom a flu shot? 

Just asking.

UPDATE Same topic, different post, alert reader Uncle Jeb Stalin comments:

In our five year plan, comrade Republicans, we have clearly laid out the facts. There will be vaccines for all. Of course, there already are!

Long live the glorious United Republican States of America! Long Live Comrade Leader Bush!

Flu This! 

My, my, a potent Achilles heel uncovered, and while I was gone and Xan and Lambert already hit on the topic. Synchronicity. The ditches here got filled with brush and rocks and muck with the recent rain, and it was backing up onto the road, so one of the neighbors called and asked if I would help clear it out. Now, this guy is not one I have much truck with, because he’s a straight Republican ticket voter and usually we confine our brief and very sporadic conversations to a simple request for help or loan of a tool, how’s the family, or something. Try to avoid politics and religion to maintain the peace, not always successfully. 2000 was especially ugly. So I figured that would be the pattern today, too. And so it was, talk of the weather, until he mentioned his mother, who is a 75-year-old diabetic, and I asked if she’d had her flu shot. That’s when it got interesting. He said no, the clinic in town had said there wasn’t any. I said, well, that’s bad, huh? A couple of years ago the flu had almost killed her. He’s diabetic, too, and so is one of his children. He said, yeah, it was bad, and he couldn’t understand how the USA, such a great country, could run out of flu vaccine. I noted that Bush had told everyone not to worry; he hadn’t gotten a flu shot, either. And I couldn’t resist. I also noted that stem cell research that might one day stop diabetes was also off the table. He got a pissed off look on his face, and I figured he was about to unload a vigorous defense of Glorious Leader. But, no. He looked at the sky instead of me and said, “I know that. And I don’t like it. I’ve been thinking about it for awhile, and now this flu thing’s really pissed me off. It happened on his watch, and he doesn’t seem to care. I’m thinking real hard about voting for someone else this time.” I almost lost my teeth, but didn’t say anything (Don’t gloat! don’t gloat! He didn’t say Kerry, but he didn’t NOT say it, either). I just said, “Yeah.” And we left it there and finished clearing out the ditch.

Y’know, I had noticed that he didn’t have a poster or yard sign up this year. No bumper sticker, either. Figured it was just an oversight.

Of course, all of this might not make any difference, at least in Florida: Fla. sets new rule on touch-screen recounts

For the last few months, me and a friend have been snail-mailing quotes to each other, the only rule being that each one should be more than 100 years old and be applicable to current politics. Here’s the cream of the crop so far:

Plutarch’s Fabius says that “It is not an inglorious thing to have fear for the safety of our country, but to be turned from one’s course by men’s opinions, by blame, and by misrepresentation, shows a man unfit to hold such an office, which, by such conduct, he makes the slave of those whose errors it is his business to control.”

Sounds like someone in power now, making the office of the president the slave of corporate greed.

Or J.J. Rousseau in Political Economy: “A fool, if he be obeyed, may punish crimes as well as another, but the true statesman is he who knows how to prevent them.”

Prevention, not preemptive punishment.

Ralph Waldo: “Government has come to be a trade, and is managed solely on commercial principles. A man plunges into politics to make his fortune, and only cares that the world shall last his days.”

Or that He and His cronies can live in comfort until the Rapture, at least.

Me, I just finished the last of my followup calls, and I’m off for a taste of whiskey to wash the taste of the “news” from the SCLM out of my mouth. Anybody got any better quotes or other news from the streets (and unpaved roads)?

Watch the Local Columnists 

Local columnists have way more punch than the nationally-syndicated folks do. Wendy Thomas in the Memphis Commercial-Appeal is terrific. And this gal from the north woods, Kim Ode, seems to have run across an item I haven't heard anywhere else.

I'm taking out a couple of lines but still skirting the edge of "fair use" under copyright law here. You really should go read the whole thing because it needs to be spread to a wider audience.

(via Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

It's not that I object to our kids being made aware that military service is an option once they graduate from high school -- they've known this ever since they played G.I. Joe.

What I object to is our schools being strong-armed to serve as vast databases to provide military recruiters with our kids' names, addresses and phone numbers, or risk losing federal funding.

And what I object to is where this new wrinkle in recruiting is found: deep within the No Child Left Behind act.

The No Child Left Behind Act became effective in January 2002, but little was said about this amendment, given the greater controversies over testing and funding. Now, though, some folks have unearthed this provision from page 559 of the 670-page act, not to repeal it -- fat chance -- but to alert parents that there is an "opt-out" policy.

Here's what the act says: "A secondary school student or the parent of the student may request that the student's name, address and telephone listing ... not be released without prior written parental consent." The act also says that schools "shall notify parents of the option."

Schools already have quite enough to do without getting letters from parents asking that they delete their kids from the database. But that's how the government, which seems to get bigger and more meddlesome by the week, set it up.

Charles Kyte, the executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators, said he hasn't heard much about the provision since the act was passed, but then again, that was before the war.

When the provision was discussed, "a few of us kind of raised our eyebrows a bit," he said. In the past, most schools gave access to recruiters, but the act forces all schools to comply.

"Now with everything that's transpired, all of a sudden you have a higher concern on the part of parents that the military is a more dangerous option today than it was four years ago," he said.

Kyte said he expects the issue to heat up, especially as students grow more convinced that the draft will be revived.

Our country deserves the best of defenders, and smart, talented men and women will always enlist. So will those who see few alternatives. But there aren't enough enlistees, which sends recruiters to their phones and into our schools. The government says the improving economy is tempting young adults into civilian jobs. Maybe. But I think it's also because the flip side of service -- the trust that our defenders will not be used unwisely -- has been betrayed.

For American soldiers in Iraq, it's become achingly clear that we sent them into harm's way without a good enough reason, and without a good enough plan. For American teenagers here, they shouldn't have to be ambushed by their own side.

Lynne Cheney Theater of the Ridiculous presents.... 

Mustang Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof has this by Hilary Rosen (via WaPo):
The crime? John Kerry in the final presidential debate suggested that we are all God's children and used Mary Cheney as an example of a healthy gay person loved by her family.


The response from the Cheneys and the Bush campaign has been blatantly political. In fact, it is they who are using Mary Cheney -- using her now to score points against Kerry and John Edwards over an issue on which they themselves are guilty of the wrongs that Kerry and Edwards are fighting against. Even after almost 30 years in Washington, I am surprised by the overwhelming hypocrisy and meanness of the Bush reelection campaign. - continue reading... HERE

All of this feigned rankle and melodramatic outrage! surrounding remarks concerning Mary Cheney is of course the exact kind of overwrought pundit-pol theater of the aghast that Jon Stewart was pointing out on Crossfire friday afternoon. And Lynne Cheney's recent hyperventilations and foot stamping stump-stunts with respect to her family's delicate sensibilities - how dare they! - oh, the cruel and tawdry injustice of it all! .....Ooooo! - and all the scripted persecution hooha which so often oozes from the poor put upon conservative rattlebox whenever someone points to the obvious, is, old stuff for sure.

The Christian Coalition types have always been masteful at this kind of woe is me theater. For instance. How often have you had to sit back and listen as some think tank haversack of grinning bleached teeth from the American Family Association or Concerned Women for America or the Family Research Council (or any number of other right wing theocratic nut bowls) launch into one more episodic Vivien Leigh-like pang of ruefull phoney baloney anguish at the mere suggestion that one of their own may in fact be little more than a half-baked Easter ham wearing a pineapple halo - whatever that means. Or, in the case of Lynne Cheney, that some vicious monumental affront has been hurled against her family's honor, leaving the fragile dears inconsolably hurt and possibly without a gentleman caller for poor cripple Mary forevermore. Oh sure. Quick, someone glue the little horn back on the little glass horsies head before Mary discovers shes not a freak. Ay yi yi.

Anyway, the point is, it's old showbiz-style stuff. Leitmotiv. And the Cheney's are simply digging into that old used steamer trunk of costumed dragoons and shiny tinfoil daggers in order to produce a little penny dreadful opera for the benefit of their pilgrims and the easily enticed fipple flutes in the mainstream television media.

Theater of the ridiculous. Pass me a rotten vegetable please.


The Faith-Based Presidency 

The line that was supposed to be the "knockout punch" against Kerry last week--the "reduce terrorism to the level of a nuisance" line--came from last week's NYT Magazine article about John Kerry. That was a long interview with the man himself.

This week we have the Bush story. Written by Ron Suskind, it is not, surprisingly enough, based on a long interview with Bush. Nor anybody in his administration...

officially anyway.

(via NYT)
The Delaware senator was, in fact, hearing what Bush's top deputies -- from cabinet members like Paul O'Neill, Christine Todd Whitman and Colin Powell to generals fighting in Iraq -- have been told for years when they requested explanations for many of the president's decisions, policies that often seemed to collide with accepted facts. The president would say that he relied on his ''gut'' or his ''instinct'' to guide the ship of state, and then he ''prayed over it.'' The old pro Bartlett, a deliberative, fact-based wonk, is finally hearing a tune that has been hummed quietly by evangelicals (so as not to trouble the secular) for years as they gazed upon President George W. Bush. This evangelical group -- the core of the energetic ''base'' that may well usher Bush to victory -- believes that their leader is a messenger from God. And in the first presidential debate, many Americans heard the discursive John Kerry succinctly raise, for the first time, the issue of Bush's certainty -- the issue being, as Kerry put it, that ''you can be certain and be wrong.''
This story runs ten pages long in the online format, and I doubt that there will be anything in it that comes as a great shock to regular readers here. But take a look at it anyway because it pulls together into one place the factor that makes Bush so different, and so terrifying, and in the end so laughable.

Bush has faith all right. Ooodles and oodles of faith. But it isn't faith in Jesus Christ, or even in an abstract "Almighty," it's faith in his own personal innards. His unreliable heart, his diverticular colon, his ravaged liver, his peevish spleen. He believes only in Himself, and not even his most attractive parts at that.

First Fatality From Flu Folly 

(via NYT)
In the San Francisco Bay Area, a 79-year-old woman who had been in line at a supermarket waiting for her shot died on Thursday after she fainted or lost her balance and fell, hitting her head on a metal object, The Associated Press reported. Witnesses told the police that the woman and her husband had been in line for about four hours.
Why is this George Bush's fault? Well, you think maybe if he'd spent more time doing something about issues of concern to the lives and health of the American people rather than sucking up to Big Pharma we wouldn't be dependent on an American company's decision to outsource vital vaccine production to an obviously inadequate foreign plant?

Consider this a standing-in-the-checkout-line discussion point. Along with gas prices of course. Weird weather anywhere in the world is also fair game "since George Bush pretends he doesn't believe in global warming because it would upset his big corporate buddies."

These are just openers. Readers, suggestions for other topics? This is our job these last two weeks. We are the ground game.

So how is Bush going to get my Mom her flu shot? Prayer? 

Isn't there anything the Republicans can do right? Not even elderly can get flu shots!

"It is a very scary situation with not enough vaccines available," said Ida Davis, 79, of Jackson Heights, who was turned away. "This is not acceptable."

Others got lucky - after standing for hours, sometimes in the rain, they got vaccinated and were able to stop worrying about the seasonal illness that kills thousands every winter.

"This is terrible, to have to sit here and wait for hours," said Kate LaGruta, 83, who was vaccinated at the Aging in America Senior Center on Pelham Parkway in the Bronx. "They should have had backups. In a country like this, this shouldn't happen."

America's supply of flu shots was suddenly cut in half last week when British regulators found bacteria contaminating some batches of vaccine made by Chiron Corp., and stopped the company from sending 48 million doses to the United States.

President Bush suggested in Wednesday night's debate that the nation could import the flu vaccine from Canada - but federal officials said yesterday that probably would not work.

Yeah, like Bush gave this so much thought.

The sudden flu shortage has led to price-gouging and outright theft of vaccine supplies, as well as long lines at clinics across the country.

"There just isn't any more vaccine," Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday. "The city cannot go and manufacture vaccines. I don't know if tragedy is the right word, but nobody expected that half of the country's vaccine supply would all of a sudden fail to be delivered."
(via NY Daily News)

And what's the problem? The free market can't do the job.

Ultimately, though, the reliable production of flu vaccines, indeed all vaccines, is going to require a more thorough renegotiation of the relationships between the government and the drug industry, which shies away from vaccine production because of the production risks -- note Chiron's troubles -- the unreliability of demand and the relatively slim profits. To ensure a dependable supply, at least some official bodies must guarantee the purchase of a certain number of doses at a set price
(via WaPo)

Catch the Republicans admitting that, though.

You know, my mother needs her flu shot everywhere. It would sure be nice if The Bush administration hasn't created a public health emergency that would put her at risk. Eh?

So Let's Talk About Mary Anyway 

Doing my shift on the ramparts yesterday--working at Dem HQ in my county, basically just answering the phone and keeping the doors open--hardly seems worth reporting about. Millions of people day in and day out are doing similar work of much greater significance, and in some cases physical, legal or financial danger, than this.

It's not like undecided people wander in and ask me to convince them why they should vote for Kerry. Nor do passionate Republicans come to do missionary work to persuade me to change sides. Those who visit my little section of the ramparts are already motivated enough to visit the Party office, usually looking for yard signs or bumper stickers which we're dead out of.

Sometimes, though, they stick around and chat a bit. Two such folks yesterday both seemed to be looking for reassurance that Kerry hadn't hurt himself with the Mary Cheney comment in the last debate. (Local cable carries Nashville stations, except the ABC which comes out of Jackson. I live beyond the reach of cable and get what the satellite carries in the way of network stations, which is NYC and LA, so I don't know what the locals are saying.)

Neither one of these folks, one man and one woman, both considerably older than me and I am no spring chicken, had ever heard that Mary Cheney is not only gay but what I can only describe as a professional lesbian. She is gay for a living. She was gay for Coors Brewing Co and is gay for the Bush/Cheney 04 campaign. She doesn't work for the campaign by giving standard stump speeches to public gatherings across the country, she works for the campaign by being gay, and being there, and "sending the message" to other gays--via gaydar, apparently, since the message is not intended to be picked up by straight people, most especially straight Christofundies-- that it's okay to vote for her dad and that other guy, they're not as bad as they seem.

This is a roundabout way of getting at the message I bring from the ramparts. Do not let the name "Mary Cheney" or the words "Cheney's daughter" be spoken within your hearing, by friend or foe alike, without bringing up the words "Coors Brewing." A third of your audience may not have known she was gay, or already out, at all; another third may not have known she actually worked to encourage people to drink the Devil's brew; and the other third will be grossed out that she ever pushed such a lousy product. In any case it will upset their thinking, which is what you want.

Oh yeah, and if you have any spare yard signs, leave a note in comments. I called a friend where I used to live in a safe blue state but they didn't have any standard "Kerry/Edwards" ones left either and I don't think "Illinois for Kerry" would be quite right here in west Tennessee.

Why We Mustn't Talk About Mary's Problem 

Catching up on reading I didn't get done yesterday I find this most cogent analysis of the "Mary Cheney problem" from a somewhat unexpected source:
(via Juan Cole)
If daughter Mary's condition were viewed at least subconsciously by Dick and Lynne as a disability, then it would be rude for strangers to bring it up. It would be all right for a politician to go before an audience and talk about his love for his blind daughter and say that although his party is against mandating disabled access to public buildings, he himself favors it because he has seen the challenges his daughter faced.

But obviously if a rival politician suddenly said, "Well, Cheney, your daughter is blind as a bat," that would be rude beyond belief. And Lynne's charge that Kerry is "not a good man" would be precisely the sort of reaction one might expect to such an indelicate reference.

But right-thinking Americans don't believe that being gay is a disability or anything shameful. It is like being left-handed or red-headed. It is just the way some people are, and probably has a complex base in genes and proteins. So if in a debate, the issue came up that some school teachers make left-handed students write with their right hands, and Kerry were to say, "Well, Dick Cheney's daughter knows how unfair this is because she is left-handed," nobody would think that was rude or inappropriate. Because Kerry wouldn't be instancing it as a stigma or a disability, but just a neutral fact of life.

So I think the sheer fury of Lynne and Dick Cheney in reaction to this harmless remark actually demonstrates that they both still have an unfaced prejudice toward gay people, and are still ashamed that this "disability" exists in their family. Kerry thought nothing of the remark because he doesn't share that prejudice, and doesn't consider being gay in any way shameful.
'Course, there's also the Blue-Haired Ladies factor to consider...scroll up from this link to see a more recent post on the Cheneying of the Cheneys. Then take a break and meditate on the subtle workings of karma.

War Is Heller 

Salon has a riveting piece that all should read about the Iraq platoon that mutinied over a "death sentence" convoy mission this week. (Get a one-day pass.) Here's the money quote:
According to family members, the convoy was being asked to go much farther than usual from its southern base -- on a more than 200-mile trip through and around the extremely hostile Baghdad area. The tankers lacked bullet-resistant armor and, lumbering along at 40 miles an hour, would have made an easy target for insurgents lobbing bombs or grenades. The supply trucks are in disrepair and prone to breakdown. Many of the soldiers hadn't had enough sleep. And – astonishingly -- no armed escort or air protection was to be provided, the family members said.

Most absurdly, though, the jet fuel that these members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company were risking life and limb to transport wasn't even usable. It was contaminated with diesel and had already sensibly been rejected by one base and would undoubtedly be rejected again in Taji -- if the convoy managed to make it to its destination at all.

Now, risky missions are part of a soldier's job description, but this is something straight out of Catch-22. Is Colonel Cathcart in charge over there? You recall Cathcart: obsessed with getting promoted, he constantly raised the required number of missions before a soldier could go home and categorized everything either as "a feather in my cap!" or "a black eye!!!"

It appears that, once it became clear that arresting mutineers two weeks before a national election was a "black eye," the Army has denied ever doing any such thing.

I take that back. Colonel Cathcart isn't in charge in Iraq. He stole his coveted promotion and is now running things out of the White House.

"[T]he enemy . . . is anybody who’s going to get you killed" -- Yossarian

Lambert and Xan have more.

Iraq clusterfuck: We call for help from the UK 

Not that, in normal times, there'd be anything wrong with that. But let's connect the dots:

Dot number one: The second example (Xan got the first of "sit down strikes" by the reserves:

The Army is investigating up to 19 members of a supply platoon in Iraq (news - web sites) who refused to go on a convoy mission, the military said Friday. Relatives of the soldiers said the troops considered the mission too dangerous, in part because their vehicles were in such poor shape.

Some of the troops' concerns were being addressed, military officials said. But a coalition spokesman in Baghdad noted that "a small number of the soldiers involved chose to express their concerns in an inappropriate manner, causing a temporary breakdown in discipline."
(via AP)

Of course. "Temporary." And why's the equipment so bad, anyhow? I thought the troops got the best?
Dot number two: Calling in units from the UK to watch our back south of Baghdad:

Plans to redeploy UK troops to the south of Baghdad to assist US operations have sparked warnings from opposition MPs.

UK troops have been asked to fill in behind US soldiers, it is understood.

On Saturday, Shadow Defence Secretary Nicholas Soames joined opposition calls for a Commons statement on the government's intentions.

Mr Soames told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the UK must have an "equal say" in US plans to defeat insurgents.

He added: "The question of chain of command is an extremely important one. I've no objection to British troops serving under American command but it needs to be extremely clearly worked out.

"The rules of engagement must be very clear because they may well be different to those which the regiment would have used in Basra."

(via BBC)

Very interesting. The Kos diarist who broke this in the states writes:

For your side the implications are clear - you haven't got enough resources to conduct operations you want to carry out but on our side one of the big concerns is chain of command. While the fact that the troops concerned were due to finish their tour before Christmas doesn't help. Nor the fact they're the Black Watch, one of the most famous and prestigious in British rmy history. Nor the fact they're from Scotland which with devolution and a general antipathy to all things Blairite hasn't taken the news well.

Of course, with the news organizations leaving Iraq (who can blame them) and Allawi clamping down too, it's hard to get a good read on the real story.

But the question has to be asked: Has Bush's conduct of the war made "break downs in discipline" much more widespread than we're being told? Is that the reason we have to call on the UK for help?

Friday, October 15, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

As I shut my tiny door to the room under the stairs at The Might Corrente Building, I hear the night shift tramping up the marble steps at the front of the building. What's that they're chanting? "Three..." Three something. The chant comes nearer:

"Three more weeks!"

"Three more weeks!"

"Three more weeks!"

Paging Paul Lukasiak.... 

Whah Sallie Bob, yoah jes' not gonna believe whut dey tunned up in a ratty ole' box fulla mouse turdlets an' bugs in some dusty ole biddin' dawn Texas way....

(via AP's invaluable Matt Kelley, via Yahoo)
WASHINGTON - Weeks after Texas National Guard officials signed an oath swearing they had turned over all of President Bush (news - web sites)'s military records, independent examiners found more than two dozen pages of previously unreleased documents about Bush.

The two retired Army lawyers went through Texas files under an agreement between the Texas Guard and The Associated Press, which sued to gain access to the files. The 31 pages of documents turned over to AP Thursday night include orders for high-altitude training in 1972, less than three months before Bush abruptly quit flying as a fighter pilot.

The discovery is the latest in a series of embarrassments for Pentagon (news - web sites) and Texas National Guard officials who have repeatedly said they found and released all of Bush's Vietnam-era military files, only to belatedly discover more records. Those discoveries — nearly 100 pages, including Bush's pay records and flight logs — have been the result of freedom of information lawsuits filed in federal and Texas courts by AP.

A Texas National Guard spokesman defended the continuing discoveries, saying Guard officials didn't find all of Bush's records because they are disorganized and in poor shape.

"These boxes are full of dirt and rat (excrement) and dead bugs. They have never been sitting in an uncontrolled climate," said Lt. Col. John Stanford. "It's a tough task to go through archives that were not set up in a way that you could easily go through them."

Two Texas officials had signed sworn affidavits insisting they had reviewed the files in those boxes and released copies of all that related to Bush's 1968-1973 Guard service, however.
Ah ain't a gonna...er, sorry, I mean, I'm not going to print the whole story because I want you to click on the Yahoo link so you can give this story a "5" and keep it high on the list. But get a load of this little point:
The newly released documents include a January 1972 order for Bush to attend three days of "physiological training" at Laredo Air Force Base in Texas. His Texas payroll and attendance records, released earlier, show Bush was credited for serving on active duty training for the three days involved.

The training involved instruction about the effects of lack of oxygen on the body and exercises in which the pilots are exposed under supervision to the thin air of high altitudes. The purpose is to familiarize pilots with the effects of lack of oxygen so they can recognize them and take appropriate action to avoid blacking out at the controls.
You know what can cause brain damage, and sometimes does it by accelerating the onset of a deterioration which would otherwise take place much later in life? Google "anoxia".....

YABL, YABL, YABL! The Amazin' Froomkin is right again! 

Remember (back here) how Froomkin found the Bush "tell"—the words "of course"—that shows He's lying? Well, here is is in action:

Bush is so desperate he actually came out and talked to the press on his campaign plane. From the transcript, all the way at the end:

BUSH: Listen, thank you. Good to see you, Dan. Get a smile on your faces, everybody, 18 days left.

Q Will you come visit us again?

SENATOR McCAIN: Every day. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: I'm a better person for it, of course. (Laughter.)
(via Transcript)

Would they be laughing if they knew, as we know, that Bush was lying to them? Either they don't read Froomkin (why not?!?!), or they're used to it and don't care. Oh well, good for them. It's nice work of you can get it.

Pay no attention to the bulge beneath the jacket! 

Even way-too-deferential-to-these-clowns Kevin Drum is taking notice—there must be something to it:

But as these pictures from each of the three debates shows, there's very clearly something there. The White House can't just blandly write it off as a weird internet rumor when photos from three separate debates all show it.

So what's going on? The Bush campaign has denied it's a bulletproof vest but hasn't otherwise commented. Is it a back brace? A medical contraption? A secret security device of some kind? (If so, it's not a secret anymore.) Why hasn't the White House press corps asked Scott McClellan about this and demanded a straight answer? How can they allow themselves to be blown off about something this peculiar?

Shouldn't someone get a serious answer to this question? He is the president of the United States, after all.

Well, Kevin, I try not to call Bush "president"—it's just one of those editorial policy things, you know: Giving people their correct titles. I generally say Bush is the "chief executive" and that He "assumed office," rather than was "elected." Dig?

And hey! What about the saliva and the facial paralysis (back)?

Anyhow, Kevin does have a fine bonus: the exhaustive set of Bush Bulge images. Send 'em if you got 'em!

Ah! I get the Mary Cheney thing! 

Alert reader grannyinsanity explains:

Let me explain this one to you folks. It is a diversion plain and simple.

The biggest thing that happened at the debate was George Bush denying that he said he wasn't that concerned about Bin Laden.

That was a lie so blatant that many bloggers had the link posted before the subject even changed. Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum both predicted that we would be seeing that over and over.

That hasn't happened because Lynne Cheney threw out a great big cheap shiny distraction.

I would still like to see that public display of George caught in a big whopper, but that won't happen as long as the press is distracted by Lynne Cheney's hypocritcal grandstanding

[Sound of lambert striking forehead] Duh!

For those of you who came in late, this was in the third debate (the third debate Kerry won, BTW):

SCHIEFFER: Anything to add, Senator Kerry?

KERRY: Yes. When the president had an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, he took his focus off of them, outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, and Osama bin Laden escaped.

KERRY: Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, "Where is Osama bin Laden?" He said, "I don't know. I don't really think about him very much. I'm not that concerned."

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?

BUSH: Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations.

Big Lie #1 From President Bush's press conference of March 13, 2002:

Q But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly
be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

BUSH: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I
wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure.
And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.
And here's the video (via Pandagon)

What Xan calls "The Red Flag." Back to basics, people!

Republican hyporcrisy: Have the Log Cabin Republicans finally had enough? 

I love the CNN headline—it says "Republican Activist".

The head of the nation's largest gay and lesbian Republican group slammed fellow Republicans Friday for "feigning outrage" over comments by Sen. John Kerry, and called on President Bush to "stop attacking gay families on the campaign trail."

Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said Democratic presidential nominee Kerry was "not wise" to refer to the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney during the answer to a question about homosexuality during a presidential debate Wednesday night. (Special Report: America Votes 2004, the debates)

But he said Republicans "who are expressing outrage at the debate comments really have been outrageous themselves."

"The reality is the type of outrage that is being expressed by some Republicans should be expressed at themselves. They've decided to use gay families as wedge issues across America in swing states -- that is truly outrageous," he told CNN's "American Morning."

The comments come as Republicans continue to criticize Kerry over the mention, and Democrats accuse the Bush-Cheney ticket of trying to create an uproar in order to avoid talking about major issues and Kerry's success in the debate.

A CNN/USA Today/ Gallup poll taken immediately after the debate found Kerry the winner by a wide margin. (CNN Poll: Early survey gives Kerry the edge)
(via CNN)

Oh yeah, and Kerry won. That's three for three. Hey guys, why not go with a winner?

And I don't know why it wans't wise to say gay people are all God's children. WTF?

The dingo ate my factor 

1- Hmmm. Strange metaphorical parallels. Bill O'Reilly might like to give this one some thought.

Man's penis eaten by dog (Filed: 05/10/2004) Telegraph UK

An elderly Romanian man is recovering in hospital after mistakenly cutting off his own penis, which was then eaten by his dog.

Constantin Mocanu, a 67-year-old from a village near the southeastern town of Galati, rushed out into his yard in his underwear to kill a noisy chicken keeping him awake at night.

But instead of cutting the chicken's throat, Mr Mocanu cut off his own penis.

He said: "I confused it with the chicken's neck. I cut it and the dog rushed and ate it."

Doctors said the man, who was bleeding heavily when brought in by an ambulance, was now out of danger.

2- Wheres that Freud guy when ya need him. Great moments in headline writing. Conservative exhaust fan Mens News Daily conjures peculiar image:

Bush, Kerry Joined in Same-Sex Marriage Positions, October 15, 2004 - by Roger F. Gay


Republican lawbreaking: Rove before the Plame Grand jury 

Well, at least Unka Kar's keeping busy!

President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, testified Friday before a federal grand jury trying to determine who leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer.

Rove spent more than two hours testifying before the panel, according to an administration official who spoke only on condition of anonymity because such proceedings are secret.

Before testifying, Rove was interviewed at least once by investigators probing the leak. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell also have been interviewed, though none has appeared before the grand jury.

The investigation concerns 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.

Disclosure of the identity of an undercover intelligence officer can be a federal crime if prosecutors can show the leak was intentional and the leaker knew about the officer's secret status.

Novak's column appeared after Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, wrote a newspaper opinion article criticizing Bush's claim that Iraq had sought uranium in Niger - a claim the CIA had asked Wilson to check out. Wilson has said he believes his wife's name was leaked as retribution.

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's campaign was quick to pounce on news of Rove's appearance, with senior adviser Joe Lockhart issuing a statement calling on Rove and other aides to "come clean about their role in this insidious act."

"If the president sincerely wanted to get to the bottom of this potential crime, he'd stop the White House foot-dragging and fully cooperate with this investigation," Lockhart said.

Bush and his top advisers have repeatedly said they are cooperating in the probe, which began more than a year ago.
(Charlotte Observer via the increasingly shrill Josh Marshall)

Funny how "cooperation" always takes such a long time...

And nice of the Grand Jury to do this for Rove on a Friday afternoon, eh?

"Freeway Speech Day" 

Freeway Blogger. 7 pages of photos from around the country.



I guess I'm not getting this one. The wingers are frothing and stamping that Kerry somehow "outed" Mary Cheney in the third debate. Last time I checked, Mary Cheney was the chair of Dick "Dick" Cheney's campaign committee. And before that, she was doing outreach for winger paymaster and watery beer manufacturer Coors—now that's tawdry—to the gay and lesbian community. So how on earth did Kerry "out" her? Maybe the wingers didn't do their research, so they didn't know Mary Cheney's bio before Kerry mentioned it?

Hey, and sponsoring a Constitutional amendment to pick up the SIC vote? That's... "tawdry." Hell, it's positively whorish.

I'm tempted to dismiss the winger frothing and stamping as more of the usual, except they're working it so hard they must think they've got hold of a winning issue... The only one I can think of is that they are playing on the fears of those who are still closeted in the base... Readers?

Add this to the WTF list... 

(Oct. 14, 2004, AP) The United States has refused to join 85 heads of state and government in signing a statement that endorsed a 10-year-old U.N. plan to ensure every woman's right to education, healthcare and choice about having children.

I am shocked, shocked, to hear this. America spitting in the face of world opinion. One would almost think that the current administration thinks the USA exists in a vacuum, and…oh, yeah. That’s right.

The Bush administration said it withheld its signature because the statement included a reference to "sexual rights."

Which, of course, would mean the right to control one's own body. Can’t have that.

Kelly Ryan, deputy assistant secretary of State, wrote to backers of the plan that the United States was committed "to the empowerment of women and the need to promote women's fullest enjoyment of universal human rights."

As long as that “fullest enjoyment of universal human rights” doesn’t include the right to control one’s own body, apparently. Would that be half-full, then? Not quite empty?

"The United States is unable, however, to endorse the world leaders' statement," Ryan said, because it "includes the concept of 'sexual rights,' a term that has no agreed definition in the international community."

Not the United States, asshole. The Bush administration. The two are not the same. You are not speaking for me. I don’t have any problem defining the term. It means "sexual rights." You know, like "voting rights." Oh, you never heard of that one, either?

Ryan did not elaborate. At previous U.N. meetings, U.S. representatives have spoken out against abortion, gay rights and what they see as the promotion of promiscuity by distributing condoms to prevent AIDS.

So they have their own definition of sexual rights. Probably something like this: face to face monogamous heterosexual copulation, for the purposes of procreation only. Unless you’re a GOPer. Then, of course, whatever you get caught doing falls under IOKIYAR.

The statement was signed by leaders of 85 nations, including those in the European Union, China, Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan and more than a dozen African countries, as well as 22 former world leaders.

Sorry, guys…the Bushies just aren’t as enlightened as you folks in Pakistan... WTF? I mean, even Pakistan can sign this, but it’s too liberal for the USA? Really What The Fuck? Wait’ll 2005.

UPDATE: From alert reader Lis Riba in comments: "But there IS an agreed upon international definition. From the World Health Organization: 'Sexual rights embrace human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other consensus documents. These include the right of all persons, free of coercion, discrimination and violence, to: the highest attainable standard of health in relation to sexuality, including access to sexual and reproductive health care services; seek, receive and impart information in relation to sexuality; sexuality education; respect for bodily integrity; choice of partner; decide to be sexually active or not; consensual sexual relations; consensual marriage; decide whether or not, and when to have children; and pursue a satisfying, safe and pleasurable sexual life'. Yeah, I can see why the GOP opposes that list."

Yeah, me too. Thanks.

Mutiny and Deadlines 

Don't have time to add a lot of commentary to this but it's pretty self-explanatory. I've gotta head out to do my Friday duty manning my own little section of the ramparts, but this is huge. Go read. And don't let 'em bury this one:
(via MS Clarion-Ledger)
A 17-member Army Reserve platoon with troops from Jackson and around the Southeast deployed to Iraq is under arrest for refusing a "suicide mission" to deliver fuel, the troops' relatives said Thursday.

The soldiers refused an order on Wednesday to go to Taji, Iraq — north of Baghdad — because their vehicles were considered "deadlined" or extremely unsafe, said Patricia McCook of Jackson, wife of Sgt. Larry O. McCook.

Sgt. McCook, a deputy at the Hinds County Detention Center, and the 16 other members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company from Rock Hill, S.C., were read their rights and moved from the military barracks into tents, Patricia McCook said her husband told her during a panicked phone call about 5 a.m. Thursday.

Shameless SBVF[cough]T. It just gets worse and worse... 

Check out Kevin Drum.

Nip This One in the Bud 

(via WaPo)

The Army's intelligence chief said yesterday that he has "great confidence" in the ability of Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, the highest-ranking intelligence officer tied to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, to lead the Army's intelligence school.
No, actually, she's not. Let's just make it a general rule (sorry) that anybody above the rank of sergeant who did time at, or had responsibility over, Abu Ghraib is not to be put in charge of anything, much less training of new intelligence officers.

Hit the search box or google for "Barbara Fast" and you'll see why. An officer is responsible for everything done by soldiers under his or her command. Let Gen. Fast be assigned to the naval defense of Wyoming or something similar.

I'm not saying they should all have bells tied around their necks and be cast forth to wander in the desert, but command of Fort Huachuca? No. A thousand times no. No way in hell.


We depart from our usual discussion of politics to note an item of pure abtruse scientific research today.

(via AP via nyt)
A word to the wise: Be careful who you're telling lies. There's an elite group of people who don't need to see Pinocchio's nose grow, but can pick up on subtle signs that they're not hearing the truth.

[Psychology professor Maureen O'Sullivan] has explained that there are two categories of clues to a lie: thinking clues and emotional ones.

``Basic emotions are hard to conceal completely,'' O'Sullivan said. People may be afraid of being caught or happy that they are putting something over on another person. Either way, some inappropriate emotion may flicker across their face.

O'Sullivan calls these microexpressions -- changes that last less than a second -- and the people best at catching liars are able to notice them.

The thinking clues occur because it's harder to lie than tell the truth, she said. To lie, people have to make something up. This can lead to hesitations in speech, slips of the tongue, lack of detail in what they are saying.

She explained that there are two categories of clues to a lie: thinking clues and emotional ones.

``Basic emotions are hard to conceal completely,'' O'Sullivan said. People may be afraid of being caught or happy that they are putting something over on another person. Either way, some inappropriate emotion may flicker across their face.

O'Sullivan calls these microexpressions -- changes that last less than a second -- and the people best at catching liars are able to notice them.

The thinking clues occur because it's harder to lie than tell the truth, she said. To lie, people have to make something up. This can lead to hesitations in speech, slips of the tongue, lack of detail in what they are saying.
Not that this would sound like anyone we know. But along with the catches noted by Froomkin yesterday, it would provide a fun party game on the right occasions.

The Family Shame 

Boy-o-boy, sometimes I feel like I'm missing all the important stuff.

Letters to the farmer:

Dear Mr. Farmer,

Our daughter has danced with the Negro. It's true. Of course we love our daughter Mary very much and of course we have nothing against Negoes, especially ones that can dance real good, but the mention of such personal matters concerning our daughters very private - "dancing priorities" - is not something to be discussed by shadowy liberals in a public forum. Suppose a shadowy liberal just blurted out something like "Mr Farmers grandparents rented apartments to Jews!" How would you feel?

Or suppose some shadowy liberal told everyone that your teenage son had a beefcake poster of a shirtless hairy backed Andrew Sullivan dressed in a pair of silk jacquard underwear hanging on the back of his closet door or wanted to join the Tennessee Williams Society or spent hours staring dreamily at glossy magazine pictures of Mark Foley! How would you like that! I don't think thats the kind of thing plain spoken decent God-fearin' tax protesting Bible reading Christian folk want broadcast around the public square by a shadowy liberal tool of Rome.

Plus, suppose your seventeen year old "minute maid" was "in a family way," as they say, and sent off to "work it out" at the "Molly Brown House"! Or suppose your daddy were recorded slobbering lecherously into a telephone receiver describing unnatural acts upon a wet falafel while spanking the bald head of a fat preverted television mogul!

Would you want some looney baby eating Massachusetts socialist dragging your family shame through the dirty common streets as if it were some kind of fiendish tatooed Chinese opium monkey or a filthy impish Irish pub slut?

Well? Is that the kind of cheap and tawdry political trick you'd like played on your family's infamy!

Yours in service to Odin,
Rick and Lon Chainey
Muddy Gap, Wyoming.

Jeeeeez. I'll tell ya what, when this election is over I'm becoming a movement conservative. Them folks is having a whole lot more fun than I am.


Discipline Problems Con't. 

Remember that Reserve outfit I posted about a month or two ago, in training in South Carolina as I recall, that had a "discipline problem" just before being shipped out to Da Raq? They wound up being confined, not just to base, but locked down so tight they couldn't go outside for a cigarette.

The problem's getting around:

(via Jackson MS Clarion-Ledger)
Mississippi National Guard troops training at Camp Shelby for overseas deployment are calling on state leaders to intervene after the soldiers were restricted to the base.

The Tupelo-based 155th Separate Armored Brigade is asking Gov. Haley Barbour and Sen. Trent Lott to look into the matter. The troops speculate their lockdown resulted from a series of recent off-base traffic accidents involving unit soldiers.

Because the 3,000 soldiers in the 155th Separate Armored Brigade are unable to leave for any reason, their morale has plummeted to what one soldier called "the lowest it has ever been."

Currently, about 9,000 soldiers are training at the base, including the 278th Regimental Combat Team, based in Knoxville, Tenn., and various other troops assigned to help with the mobilization.

But members of the 155th Separate Armored Brigade said they're the only ones to be placed on lockdown — something the Mississippians say is unfair treatment.

Sgt. First Class Kevin Reeves, spokesman for the 155th, would not comment Wednesday about the allegations, saying Army officers were in California and could not be reached.

Capt. David Yates sent a letter to Lott's office Tuesday and said he plans to send a letter to Barbour requesting an investigation.

"The entire brigade ... is being punished in an arbitrary and capricious manner," Yates said in the letter to Lott. "As a successful commissioned officer, I cannot condone such action."
A commissioned officer standing up for enlisted men, in writing no less, is somewhat rare. I know of a case from the Civil War but can't think of a lot since. One would venture to guess that Capt. Yates' career is effectively over. But to continue...
Scott Woods, a retired Colonel and a former commander of the 155th, said ... it is not unusual to keep soldiers from going on leave as a deployment nears.

"You would have to get people focused, and a lockdown can keep everyone there," Woods said.

The members of the 155th may serve up to a year in the Middle East.

Liberty, Safety and Internal Passports 

This ran a few days ago in NYT under such an innocuous headline I overlooked it completely. Fortunately my local dead-tree news dispenser, Memphis Commercial-Appeal, did a better job and called it "National Drivers License or Internal Passport?" which caused me to dig it out and look again.

I wish the hair on the back of my neck would lie down, it's getting really uncomfortable and does nothing for my already peculiar appearance:

(via NYT)
WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 - Following a recommendation of the Sept. 11 commission, the House and Senate are moving toward setting rules for the states that would standardize the documentation required to obtain a driver's license, and the data the license would have to contain.

The Senate version of the intelligence bill includes an amendment, passed by unanimous consent on Oct. 1, that would let the secretary of homeland security decide what documents a state would have to require before issuing a driver's license, and would also specify the data that the license would have to include for it to meet federal standards. The secretary could require the license to include fingerprints or eye prints.

The provision would allow the Homeland Security Department to require use of the license, or an equivalent card issued by motor vehicle bureaus to nondrivers for identification purposes, for access to planes, trains and other modes of transportation.

The bill does not give the department the authority to force the states to meet the federal standards, but it would create enormous pressure on them to do so.

Some civil liberties advocates say they are horrified by the proposal.

"I think it means we're going to end up with a police state, essentially, by allowing the secretary of homeland security to designate the sensitive areas and allowing this integrating screening system," said Marv Johnson, the legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

If the requirement to show the identification card can be applied to any mode of transportation, he said, that could eventually include subways or highways, and the result would be "to require you to have some national ID card, essentially, in order to go from point A to point B."

James C. Plummer Jr., a policy analyst at Consumer Alert, a nonprofit organization based here, said, "You're looking at a system of internal passports, basically."

Representative Candice S. Miller, the Michigan Republican who drafted the license section of the House measure, said, "I don't think this is anything that should cause anyone concern."
Well, whew! I feel so much better now. If you haven't done anything wrong you have nothing to worry about, do you?

For details on how such documents have been used in the past, google "Soviet Union" and "internal passports."

Then google or otherwise access the works of T. Jefferson, B. Franklin, P. Henry and other such radicals on the topic of of liberty, security, and people getting what they deserve. Or get used to hearing the words from anybody in a uniform, "Let me see your papers."

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Now, ordinarily I'd be the last one to make fun of a sick man... 

... but then Bush can afford to get sick, can't he?

And I'd also be the last one to make fun of a stroke survivor, since one of my parents had one, and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. That said—

Froomkin laid down a few dots, quoting media observers:

Jeff Zeleny and Rick Pearson write in the Chicago Tribune: "As Bush spoke, television screens showed
a bubble of saliva on the right side of his mouth."

James Bennet writes in the New York Times that Bush's "smile was askew for about half the debate, marred by a glistening light dot at the right corner of his

And AmericaBlog and his alert readers saw the same things, and connect those dots:

His left side of [Bush's] mouth is drooping down, it's as if he had a stroke or something. ... Numerous observers here with me, and in the chat, said they saw drool at the beginning of the debate (again, I'm serious). There's something wrong with his face tonight and he's not admitting it.
(via AmericaBlog)

Remember the theory that the Bush Bulge is a wearable defibrillator? Turns out that there's a Bush family history (41) of atrial fibrillation, which is a cause of stroke. And it may well be—is there a doctor in the house?—that the wearable defibrillator is the only possible medical treatment; I can't imagine it would be safe to keep Bush on Coumadin, for example, since that's very sensitive to diet, and politicians on the road have very poor diet.

So, if indeed Bush is a recent stroke survivor, that would be a good explanation of the Bush Bulge.

But suppose Bush is a long-term stroke survivor? And at risk of another one at any time? That would explain (a) why the Bush campaign only lets loyalists near him—after all, when you sign a loyaly oath to get into a rally, you're hardly likely to mention the spittle—as well as (b) Bush's frequent and lengthy vacations, and (c) all those curious little spasmodic incidents, like the pretzel thing, and Bush falling off his bike (and then lying about it; his people must have been rattled). A long term history of strokes would also explain Bush's marked deterioration in verbal skills since His debates with Anne Richards.

Doesn't the country deserve to know the results of a Bush medical exam before the election, and not after? (Remember that Bush avoided taking his medical exam, just a week ago)

Bottom line with me is: The Republicans are ruthless and so desperate to hold onto power; and Bush himself wouldn't know the truth if it bit him in the ass. If Bush doesn't have a clean bill of health, we'll never know. How can we get to the bottom of the mystery? In 19 days? Readers?

NOTE A medical history of Bush here (via Kevin Drum)

Goodnight, moon 

"We'll make this happen." (Heh; all the way down at the bottom)

Electing Kerry, I mean!

Props to The Amazin' Froomkin—bien sur 

I think the blogosphere might have suffered a little from "not invented here" syndrome on this one—and Froomkin called his shot.

Long story short: Bush has a brutally obvious "tell": When He's letting loose with a real whopper, He says "of course." Froomkin noticed that after Debate 2, and challenged the blogosphere to check it out for Debate 3. If anyone did, I missed it. And heck, it was a Friday, whine...

Anyhow, Bush is still doing it. Quoting Froomkin's entire post:

In last Friday's column, I encouraged you to perk up your ears every time President Bush says "of course," because in adversarial settings Bush seems to use that phrase whenever he's about to say something that supporters might find obvious -- but that his critics might consider a whopper.

Love the balance! OK, OK, snarking is a deeply embedded reflex...

Here's every instance of "of course" from last night:

  • "Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations. Of course we're worried about Osama bin Laden."
  • "Of course we're meeting our obligation to our veterans, and the veterans know that.
  • Regarding his Social Security plans: "And we're of course going to have to consider the costs."

And here are the instances from last Friday:

  • "Of course, we're going to find Osama bin Laden. We've already 75 percent of his people. And we're on the hunt for him."
  • "Of course, I listen to our generals. That's what a president does."
  • "[O]f course we've been involved with Iran. . . . Of course, we're paying attention to these. It's a great question about Iran."
  • "And of course he's going to raise your taxes."

(via WaPo)

Of course, there is an equally compelling, though different "tell" you can use to tell if Bush is lying.... That would be the one where His lips move....

The Wecovery: Bush politicizes Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs numbers 

Now, when I suggested that Karl Rove was going to leave a horse's head in the bed of every BLS statistician that was just a Lambertism. Just a little rhetorical excess.... We do but jest, poison in jest.... No offense in the world!

After all, the integrity of the nation's economic statistics gathering institions is beyond price: Many thousands of businesspeople use those statistics as a resource every day. So it would make no sense for Acting President Rove to tamper with that system—not even for short-term political gain. Right?

Well, slap my monkey and call me Bonzo—yet again, I just wasn't cynical enough!

Get this from John Crudele in (amazingly) the NY Post:

It may not have looked like the Labor Department did the White House any favors in last Friday's employment report, but it did.

Unfortunately, the gesture by the bureaucrats at the Labor Dept. went totally unappreciated.

The story starts a week ago today when Treasury Secretary John Snow hinted that the jobs report — due the next day — might be disappointing because of all those hurricanes down South.

Having an excuse handy is always a good thing right before an election.

But when the weak jobs report was released last Friday, the Labor Dept. went out of its way to say that it couldn't determine whether the hurricanes had a helpful or harmful impact on the report.

That wasn't the favor. But what went on behind the scenes was.

A source who works on the jobs calculation tells me that ordinarily, the Labor Dept. simply sends a fax to companies that haven't replied to the monthly employment survey.

This time though — no doubt trying to placate the nervous White House — the Labor Dept. placed phone calls to businesses that might not have reported jobs because of the weather.

The source in Labor says this was done "despite the expense."

In the end, the response to the September employment survey was better than normal, thanks to the additional cost and effort.
(via the covering-the-story-fer-gawdsake-New-York Post)

"Better than normal" and still it sucked. (back)

So, do we put an asterisk beside the stats for this September, or all the other ones?

Iraq clusterfuck: Insurgents bomb Republican Palace 

More proof that we're winning:

Insurgents hand-carried explosives into the most fortified section of Baghdad Thursday where U.S. and Iraqi government offices are housed and detonated the bombs within seconds of each other, killing 10 people, including four Americans.
(via WaPo)

This is like, oh, the VietCong blowing up the American Embassy in Saigon.


Go look. Vanessa Kerry did. Shock and awe!

So what the heck is Bush stuffing socks behind his back for? Penile Migration Syndrome? No, that's not it. The bulge is horizontal. OK, Horizontal Penile Migration Syndrome. Wait, it's a square bulge.

Rectilinear Horizontal Penile Migration Syndrome... I like it!

At last, Bush has what He's been seeking all his life: A diagnosis!

UPDATE Alert reader ruckulator may have the answer: Is the bulge wearable defibrillator? Say, didn't Bush blow off another medical exam a week ago. Why, yes, he did. I wonder why?

UPDATE Then of course there's the deeply paranoid notion that while we're waiting for the October Surprise, this is the October surprise. The Kossacks discovered—from a lip reader—that Bush asked to meet with Kerry after the debate. WFT? Um, bring on McCain, anyone? With 18 days to go?

The Wecovery: Let's send the lucky duckies to grade school! 

The economists may be "confounded," but we'te not. After all, the economists—for some insane reason—are secure in their jobs. They're not being fucked, and they know it. We are being fucked, and we know that.

In a second economic report, the Labor Department said the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 15,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted level of 352,000. The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out weekly changes, rose by 4,000 to a seven-month high of 352,000.

The report on jobless claims reflects a labor market that is continuing to confound economists' expectations. The country added a lower-than-expected 96,000 jobs in September as the unemployment rate held steady at 5.4 percent
(via AP)

But hey! No Child Left Behind is really a jobs program! So let's give those lucky duckies some schooling! As if they weren't already getting it....

Froomkin On Bulges 

Froomkin's been off a few days, so I was greatly relieved to see him back today at last. It's probably a sign of overinvolvement when you get downright twitchy when you don't see your favorite columnists when you expect to.

This is, of course, the least significant part of the column, but a midafternoon giggle is good for the health. Like most Top 10 Lists this one peters out towards the end, but I like No. 7 for no particular reason except a weakness for absurdity:

(via WaPo)

From the "Late Show with David Letterman", via the Associated Press:

Top Ten President Bush Explanations For The Bulge In His Jacket

10. "It's connected to an earpiece so Cheney can feed me answers -- crap, I wasn't supposed to say that!"

9. "It's a device that shocks me every time I mispronounce a word."

8. "Just a bunch of intelligence memos I haven't gotten around to reading yet."

7. "Mmm, delicious Muenster cheese."

6. "John Kerry initially voted for the bulge in my jacket, then voted against it."

5. "I'll tell you exactly what it is -- it's a clear sign this economy is moving again."

4. "Halliburton is drilling my back for oil."

3. "Oh, like you've never cheated in a presidential debate!"

2. "Accidentally took some of Governer Schwarzenegger's (ste)'roids."

1. "If Kerry's gonna look like a horse, then I'm gonna look like a camel."

UPDATE Xan, my favorite was this:

And while Bush's demeanor last night is widely considered a dramatic improvement from the previous two debates, watch for talk today about saliva and blinking.


NCLB Magick? 

I didn’t listen to the debate. I caught the game instead at a local bar, somehow believing that would be less stressful. Yeah, right.

What I’m hearing this morning, though, through the web and email and over coffee at the diner, is that the lying, smirking chimp-beast answered every question about wages and jobs with a reference to the NCLB. True?

If that was his strategery, he just lost.

NCLB is more hated than any recent education legislation I can remember. I used to be a teacher. A lot of my friends still are teachers. And I can’t think of one who likes this bill. One of them sent me this quote awhile back:

The ESEA [No Child Left Behind Act] is like a Russian novel. That's because it's long, it's complicated, and in the end, everybody gets killed. --Scott Howard, former superintendent, Perry, Ohio, public schools

Besides that, how in the everlovin’ blue-eyed world of nellyboo is testing children to death going to help create jobs or raise wages?

Perhaps it’s a classic case of Republican’t reasoning:

P1: If we test children until they bleed we can make sure they know the basics (unlike the preznit).
P2: If children know the basics, they will be able to get better jobs because everybody knows that’s how you get a good job—it just happens when you're smart and stuff.
P3: If the public schools close because they’re failing to pass all the tests, then the children can use tax money to go to private religious schools and that will make them all even smarter, because now they don’t have to be tested anymore; Jesus just makes them smarter.
C: Therefore, their parents will have higher paying jobs that will be created somehow because their children will have passed the test.
C2: And when the children grow up they’ll all have high-paying jobs, too.
C3: And everybody will have access to health care at a reasonable cost.
C4: And the third world won’t hate us anymore.
C5: And there’ll be flu shots for everybody.
C5: And Jesus will rapture all the good people.

It’s magical reasoning! Almost as if we don’t live in a world of diminishing resources and widening gaps between rich and poor people and rich and poor countries. Presto change-o! Abracadabra!

Get out the vote!

Debate takes that never got took 

What if. Questions for Dear Leader - that never got asked:

ANDY ROONEY: I've been thinking a lot lately about pretzels. Personally, I don't like salt on my pretzels. I don't understand why the people who make pretzels think that they have to put salt on my pretzels for me. Its a lot harder to get the salt off a pretzel than it is too put the salt on a pretzel. If I wanted salt on my pretzel I'd simply spit on it to make it sticky and then shake a little salt on the thing. Mr. President, you've had a LOT of experience with pretzels. If you were given a pretzel with salt on it, and you didn't want salt on your pretzel, would you bomb a potato chip factory?

JACK NICHOLSON: Prez-i-dent Bush. Lets just suppose that you were to, oh, lets say, find yourself in a sit-u-a-tion. And this sit-u-a-tion involved a chicken salad sandwich, a waitress, and a couple of slices of wheat toast. Are ya following me here Mr. Prez-i-dent? And lets just say that YOU are this waitress, Mr Prezident, and the chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast is YOUR big fancy daily special for certain special - "folks". Ya know what I mean Mr. Prezident? Rich "folks." And lets suppose, plain speakin-like, Mr. Prezident, that I'd like to entertain your basic omlette with a couple of slices of plain old wheat toast on the side. But, in order to get that wheat toast, Mr Prezident, I'll need to order the chicken salad sandwich as well. So, this is the thing Mr Prezident, are ya listening up? I want you to bring me the chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast but I want you to hold the "ownership society" mayonnaise and the greasy "faith based" butter-up and the leafy "21st century" lettuce. And bring me a cup of coffee while your at it too. Do ya understand what I'm trying to say here - Mr Prezident?

BUSH: Hold butter, hold lettuce, hold mayonnaise, and...

NICHOLSON: Yeah, thats it, and now all you have to do is hold the chickenshit tax breaks for the rich, bring me the toast and the eggs and the coffee, give me a check for the chickenshit salad sandwich and you haven't broken any...

BUSH: You want me to hold the chicken, huh?

NICHOLSON: Mr. Prezident... I want you to hold it between your fucking knees!! you stupid son-of-a-@$#!%ing motherfu#!%in&g0$*g@!!"*&!!!!.....

[experiencing technical difficulties please hold for station identification...]

BILL O'REILLY: How ya doin' Mr. President. Hey, whadda ya gonna do if I call up the twins at two am on a Friday morning and invite em to spend a weekend with me in the Caribbean? I'll get em drunk, rip off their panties, and take pictures of both of em in the shower together squeezing luffa sponges and teasing each others erect nipples as I lick hot coconut milk from their firm tawny buttocks. Huh? What are ya gonna do Mr Bush, sue me? Ha ha ha. Go ahead and try!

[experiencing FCC difficulties please hold for your local severe weather forecast update...]

DON IMUS: Mr. President, did you ever buy any overpriced salsa from my idiot brother's Autobody Express catalog, and if not, why not, you fat phoney moron. And how come Russert didn't get to ask you any questions? Shouldn't Russert be allowed to ask a question? What the hell is wrong with you people anyway? God almighty how many times do I have to remind you that Russert gets to ask any question before the rest of you losers get a word in edgewise. Bernie!, you bald headed Nazi, wheres my limo! Where's that stupid moron I hired to scratch my ass and spit shine my Platte River zip boots every ten minutes,... I don't have to put up with this...don't these people know who I am!...

PEGGY NOONAN: Oh, Mr. President, good evening Mr. President. I am so thrilled and honored and grateful and humbled and privleged and intoxicated by this wonderful opportunity to ask you a brief question on this celebrated historic occasion. Oh, Mr. President, [sigh] at this very moment our nation finds itself embroiled in a boiling kettle of doubt and cultural dread. We are teetering upon a precipice Mr. President, and the golden sands of the Tigris swirl higher and higher into the blackening whirlwinds, freedom calls, the cradle of civilization weeps, its tears and hopes fall before your tired yet manly shoed foot Mr. President! Will you please reassure the American people and the world which looks to you for strength and resolve and leadership and prayer that your dreams of a more hopeful world will be carried aloft on the alabaster wings of cooing doves, the gladness of morning sunrays, and the gurgling joyous laughter of fat new born babies, oh Mr President.......!


Hey, it coulda been worse. Howard Stern could have been asking questions about lesbians.


She Gets It 

The Inky has it set up so their polling results take you to their message board page. It only shows the last post put up before you arrive, and this is what happened to be there when I was:

(via Philly Inquirer poll page)

From: SoldiersMom 11:12 pm
To: jen_m Poll (2 of 2)

268.2 in reply to 268.1

As a recently widowed mother of a PA National Guard Soldier, here's my benchmark for choosing the next President....
Which one of the candidates do I trust to make the most thoughtful and cautious decision about whether to put MY son, and the sons and daughters of other parents, in harm's way?

I trust the man most who knows first-hand the horrors of war.

I trust the man who, having been in harm's way in an ill-conceived war, would make CERTAIN that we only go into war with a plan not only to be victorious in battle, but for winning the peace, having a clear exit strategy, and being resolute that we not be seen by the local citizenry and the global community as "conquerors" or "occupiers."

Even more so after the debates, there is now no doubt in my mind . . . George Bush is out of touch with issues most important to me and my family. It's my opinion that the only man I trust to make a decision with my only child's life, safety and well-being is JOHN KERRY.

(N.B. I sure don't see Jenna and Barbara running to the recruiting station!)
Yes, ma'am. You and me both. My condolences on the loss of your husband, and may your son come home safely. May he take no harm, and dispense as little as possible.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

The early results? The good guy is winning. Paul Begala:

Bottom line: Bush scored some points attacking Kerry on taxes. But he misspoke several times -- he misled us about Osama bin Laden and about Kerry's health plan. The post-debate fact checkers will have a field day with it.

Kerry cleaned Bush's clock on the basic kitchen table economic issues: jobs, health care, social security, minimum wage. I give the win to Kerry.
(via CNN)


Yahoo K69 B29 (cookied)

FUX (right, half-way down) K66 B34

PBS Interesting college debate-style ballot ("evidence"! "reasoning"!) No cumulation, but massive superiority for K in every category.

MSGOP is the outlier: B55 K45

CNN K83 B17

AND MANY MORE! (Spread that URL around, people)

The debate: Can Kerry pop Inerrant Boy's bubble? 

The instant transcript is here.

The MSGOP poll.

Spin here.

Kerry makes the opportunity cost argument (back)—and give him points for simple, clear language:

I believe that this president, regrettably, rushed us into a war, made decisions about foreign policy, pushed alliances away. And, as a result, America is now bearing this extraordinary burden where we are not as safe as we ought to be.

KERRY: The measurement is not: Are we safer? The measurement is: Are we as safe as we ought to be? And there are a host of options that this president had available to him, like making sure that at all our ports in America containers are inspected. Only 95 percent of them -- 95 percent come in today uninspected. That's not good enough.

So we can do a better job of homeland security. I can do a better job of waging a smarter, more effective war on terror and guarantee that we will go after the terrorists.

Who's running the pool on when Kerry works in the first mention of Poppy?

I have got a comprehensive strategy to not only chase down the Al Qaida, wherever it exists -- and we're making progress; three-quarters of Al Qaida leaders have been brought to justice -- but to make sure that countries that harbor terrorists are held to account.

We're doing everything we can to protect our borders and ports.

But absolutely we can be secure in the long run. It just takes good, strong leadership.

SCHIEFFER: Anything to add, Senator Kerry?

KERRY: Yes. When the president had an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, he took his focus off of them, outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, and Osama bin Laden escaped.

KERRY: Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, "Where is Osama bin Laden?" He said, "I don't know. I don't really think about him very much. I'm not that concerned."

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?

BUSH: Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations.

Big Lie #1 From President Bush's press conference of March 13, 2002:

Q But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.

And here's the video (via Pandagon)
A little bit of the needle here:

SCHIEFFER: Let's go to a new question, Mr. President. Two minutes. And let's continue on jobs.

You know, there are all kind of statistics out there, but I want to bring it down to an individual.

Mr. President, what do you say to someone in this country who has lost his job to someone overseas who's being paid a fraction of what that job paid here in the United States?

BUSH: I'd say, Bob, I've got policies to continue to grow our economy and create the jobs of the 21st century. And here's some help for you to go get an education. Here's some help for you to go to a community college.

[mush deleted]

I went to Washington to solve problems. And I saw a problem in the public education system in America.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry?

KERRY: I want you to notice how the president switched away from jobs and started talking about education principally.

Let me come back in one moment to that, but I want to speak for a second, if I can, to what the president said about fiscal responsibility.

KERRY: Being lectured by the president on fiscal responsibility is a little bit like Tony Soprano talking to me about law and order in this country.


And Bush comes back—he's doing well, but my guess is that's because he's given up on anything but playing to the base:

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?

BUSH: Whew!


Let me start with the Pell Grants. In his last litany of misstatements. He said we cut Pell Grants. We've increased Pell Grants by a million students. That's a fact.

Big Lie #2 From President Bush's own Department of Eduction'2 2005 budget:

Based on current estimates, the Budget provides sufficient funding for every Pell Grant that will be awarded to students in the 2005-2006 school year. However, the Pell Grant program also has a $3.7 billion funding shortfall that requires it to borrow from the subsequent year’s appropriation to pay for program costs. This is largely due to recent underfunding. ... We can no longer continue to underfund the Pell Grant program and make the existing shortfall even worse. The Administration will work closely with the Congress to provide sufficient funding for Pell Grants, and retire the shortfall.

So, if Bush did what he says, he just put it on plastic. (And the Republicans own all three branches of what used to be a balance of power government, and they have to "work closely" together? Why can't they just deliver? As Kerry says:

KERRY: But you know why the Pell Grants have gone up in their numbers? Because more people qualify for them because they don't have money.

But they're not getting the $5,100 the president promised them. They're getting less money.

We have more people who qualify. That's not what we want.

Yep, Bush has either given up on the undecideds, or Rove has decided that the best way to win them is to demonize Kennedy. Bizarre. This crap is Presidential? I don't know how this looks on TV, but as it reads, Bush looks smaller and smaller and smaller.

Bunch of blater from Bush on gay marriage. Kerry:

KERRY: We're all God's children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as.

[Coming out of the closet has been, strategically, so very, very right. Courage pays off.]

Health care:

BUSH: Health care costs are on the rise because the consumers are not involved in the decision-making process.

This sounds like a transparently bad idea to me. Actually, I'd say it's lack of single payer. I mean, if you can't afford health insurance in the first place, how the fuck do you get involved in the decision making process? [Kudos to Dean, once again, for raising the issue of universal health insurance.]

And Kerry hits this one out of the park:

Medicare is paid for by the American taxpayer. Medicare belongs to you. Medicare is for seniors, who many of them are on fixed income, to lift them out of poverty.

KERRY: But rather than help you, the taxpayer, have lower cost, rather than help seniors have less expensive drugs, the president made it illegal -- illegal -- for Medicare to actually go out and bargain for lower prices.

Result: $139 billion windfall profit to the drug companies coming out of your pockets. That's a large part of your 17 percent increase in Medicare premiums.

Bush tries to come back (and apparently champing at the bit—did the amphetamines start to take hold at the hour mark, the way they did last time?)

SCHIEFFER: Go ahead, Mr. President.

BUSH: I think it's important, since he talked about the Medicare plan, has he been in the United States Senate for 20 years? He has no record on reforming of health care. No record at all.

He introduced some 300 bills and he's passed five.

BUSH: No record of leadership.

I came to Washington to solve problems. I was deeply concerned about seniors having to choose between prescription drugs and food. And so I led. And in 2006, our seniors will get a prescription drug coverage in Medicare.

And Kerry knocks Bush down on the ground and stomps on him. What he like to see:

SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry? Thirty seconds.

KERRY: Once again, the president is misleading America. I've actually passed 56 individual bills that I've personally written and, in addition to that, and not always under my name, there is amendments on certain bills.

But more importantly, with respect to the question of no record, I helped write -- I did write, I was one of the original authors of the early childhood health care and the expansion of health care that we did in the middle of the 1990s. And I'm very proud of that.

So the president's wrong.

And why not throw in an "as usual"? Why be so nice to that slippery little scut?

Kerry outlines his moderate plan for universal health coverage. Bush comes back:

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?

BUSH: In all due respect, I'm not so sure it's credible to quote leading news organizations about -- oh, nevermind. [Cute! Bush has been practicing.] Anyway, let me quote the Lewin report. The Lewin report is a group of folks who are not politically affiliated. They analyzed the senator's plan. It cost $1.2 trillion.

Big Lie #3 See FactCheck.org "Bush Mischaracterizes Kerry's Health Plan" for what the Lewin Group really thinks about what Bush is saying about Kerry's plan.

Now Bush goes on the tired old "government sucks" theme:

We have a fundamental difference of opinion. I think government- run health will lead to poor-quality health, will lead to rationing, will lead to less choice.

And just look at other countries that have tried to have federally controlled health care. They have poor-quality health care.

Yeah, those Canadians, dropping like flies. Every other Western country ... And let's leave aside the total distortion of Kerry's plan. Never mind. Kerry does much, much better. In fact, he knocks Bush down and stomps on him again:

KERRY: The president just said that government-run health care results in poor quality.

KERRY: Now, maybe that explains why he hasn't fully funded the VA
, [here] and the VA hospital is having trouble, and veterans are complaining. Maybe that explains why Medicare patients are complaining about being pushed off of Medicare. He doesn't adequately fund it.

And now Kerry has the guts to finally say what nobody (outside of Al Franken, in an appendix to Lies and the Lying Liars) has said: That the tax cuts were, in essence, the heist of the century. Theft, simple and not so pure:

SCHIEFFER: What he's suggesting, we're going to cut benefits or we're going to have to raise the retirement age. We may have to take some other reform. But if you've just said, you've promised no changes, does that mean you're just going to leave this as a problem, another problem for our children to solve?

KERRY: Not at all. Absolutely not, Bob. This is the same thing we heard -- remember, I appeared on "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert in 1990-something. We heard the same thing. We fixed it.

In fact, we put together a $5.6 trillion surplus in the '90s that was for the purpose of saving Social Security. If you take the tax cut that the president of the United States has given -- President Bush gave to Americans in the top 1 percent of America -- just that tax cut that went to the top 1 percent of America would have saved Social Security until the year 2075.

The president decided to give it to the wealthiest Americans in a tax cut.


And now! For the Surreal Quote of the Evening:

BUSH: Listen, the No Child Left Behind Act is really a jobs act when you think about it.

I really don't know what to make of that. It's so far beyond lying, it's miraculous in a way. It seems that NCLB is a kind of WunderWaffen for Bush—it just does everything! Sure, I'll think about it: A nine year old is going to get a job? My job? Or maybe Bush wants to bring back child labor? One thing is sure: Bush must believe this, since it's so insane even Rove wouldn't program him with it. Frightening.

And after more blather from Bush about NCLB, this:

KERRY: You don't measure it by a percentage increase. Mr. President, you measure it by whether you're getting the job done.

Five hundred thousand kids lost after-school programs because of your budget. $89 billion last year to the top 1 percent of Americans, but kids lost their after-school programs. You be the judge.

Not only does Kerry have the guts to take Bush on in the faith department, I like his theology better:

And the president and I have a difference of opinion about how we live out our sense of our faith.

KERRY: I talked about it earlier when I talked about the works and faith without works being dead.

It's like Keillor says, at some point. When the Republicans run the ambulances, they'll take half an hour to get to you, and while you wait they'll hand you a Bible. When the Democrats run the ambulances, it takes five minutes. Which'd you rather?

Oh, man. This is beyond pitiful. Schieffer threw them both a softball as the last question, asking them about strong women in their life. Bush gave the usual tired lines about Leadfoot. Here's what Kerry said:

Can I say, if I could just say a word about a woman that you didn't ask about, but my mom passed away a couple years ago, just before I was deciding to run. And she was in the hospital, and I went in to talk to her and tell her what I was thinking of doing.

And she looked at me from her hospital bed and she just looked at me and she said, "Remember: integrity, integrity, integrity." Those are the three words that she left me with.

Gee, I wonder why Bush didn't mention his Mother? Issues there? Anyhow, yet again, Kerry, in the nicest possible way, knocked Bush down and stomped him. Then put a boot in his ribs for good measure. "Integrity, integrity, integrity." What a sound-byte!

And on that note, I have to get to bed. Looks like we're doing very well in the polls; if we don't win this in the SCLM tomorrow, we have nobody to blame but ourselves—at least in the transcript—I can't answer for what the TV looked like—the only thing holding Bush up was the ropes.

Anyone notice if, at the beginning, Kerry patted Bush on the back again—where the mysterious bulge is?

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