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Saturday, July 31, 2004
You can run, but you can't hide:
Bush Visits Worried Workers of the Rust Belt:
Bush has been appearing in front of almost uniformly supportive crowds, with his campaign or the White House carefully dispensing tickets as a tool for weeding out dissent. But there was no disguising or diverting the pain in Dover, once a flour- and steel-milling center, where Bush's eight-bus caravan passed by rain-soaked residents waving signs such as "We Need Jobs" and "Thanks for Stealing My Daddy's Pension."The flip-flops were a nice touch.
So today, in Canton, Ohio, home of the Timken Corporation, President Bush says the rich don't pay taxes. From the Official White House Press Office transcript:
THE PRESIDENT: [Kerry] said he's only going to raise the tax on the so-called rich. But you know how the rich is, they've got accountants. That means you pay. That means your small business pays. It means the farmers and ranchers pay. That's the wrong medicine for this economy, and we're not going to let him prescribe it.Yep, you heard it right. The rich has accountants and they don't pay taxes.
This coming from our millionaire President, whose assets equal at least $8.8 million and possibly more than $20 million. And he's running for office with an even wealthier man, Vice President Dick Cheney, who currently earns up to $5.9 million a year (including payments from his former emplyer, Halliburton Corp.) and has personal assets worth as much as $86 million. I'll bet they both keep plenty of accountants in business. Ya think?
(via Daily Kos)
Media Matters for America watches CNN so you don't have to:
On July 30, the day after Senator John Kerry's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, CNN Crossfire host Tucker Carlson stated, "His [Kerry's] plan for Iraq, such as it is, is to have other people, dark skinned foreigners, from the Middle East fight our war for us. He said it last night in his speech. I watched his speech."Text of John Kerry's Acceptance Speech at the Democratic National Convention (washingtonpost.com):
I know what we have to do in Iraq. We need a president who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side and share the burden, reduce the cost to American taxpayers, reduce the risk to American soldiers. That's the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home.Oh, and the Media Matters folks missed this gem from later in the show:
Kerry is trying -- Kerry is trying to be conservative. But one issue on which he really is, by any definition, out of step with the mainstream is his contention that abortion ought to be legal and protected until the moment of birth. It seems to me he is going to lose a lot of votes on that, and he well should. Do you think he will moderate that position at all?Is he stupid or just venal? You tell me.
Update: If anyone is proposing to have a force of "dark skinned foreigners from the Middle East" in Iraq, it's the Bush Administration. From the International Herald Tribune:
Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has called on Muslim nations to join a proposed force of Islamic troops.... Powell said it was premature to say if Washington backed such a force but said it supported the principle.P.S. I didn't add those dollar signs -- they were in the original IHT story...
John F. Kerry on the new Bush campaign slogan: "The last time we had a president who ran on a slogan of turning the corner was Herbert Hoover, and he ran on the prospect that prosperity was just around the corner," Kerry said. "I don't want to run talking about turning the corner. I'm running to climb the mountain and get to the top."
No shame. None at all. This disgusting move from Bushco says it all:
Before the rally, Bush met with 10 steelworkers from Timken Co., the world's largest maker of steel tubing and roller bearings, which in May said it would close three plants in Canton, affecting 1,300 employees.Yeah, right. Bush's supporters in the Timken family gave him huge donations in exchange for staging a mammoth event there promoting his tax cut. His policies resulted in the loss of 1300 jobs. Christopher Brauchli has an excellent summary in : Bush and the Timken Plant, a Year Later:
On April 24, 2003, the president stood alongside W.R. 'Tim' Timken in the Timken Company plant in Ohio and urged the employees to support his proposed tax cut for the rich. He didn't use those words since that would have offended the hourly workers most of whom were not among the rich but many of whom were in the audience. If enacted, said Mr. Bush, the tax cut would spur economic growth assuring his audience of continued employment if not huge tax benefits. The only difference between the effect of the tax cut on the worker and the rich person was the rich person would get more money for doing nothing whereas the worker would get more money by remaining employed.I wrote about Timken a bunch in May. Here is the key story. Here is another, and another, and another.
Anyone want to guess how those 10 "representative" Timken workers were chosen?
I would love to see John Kerry visit Canton, Ohio and invite all 1,300 of those laid-off workers and their families and friends to hear what he has to say.
Just to bring everyone up to speed...
Someone has written our Dear Leader a shiny new speech which he is apparently reading very well, all over states in the heartland of this great country, in front of crowds that have apparently signed loyalty oaths to ensure that they will cheer on command, not wear inappropriate T-shirts, and think only good thoughts. In this shiny new speech, he says: "After 19 years in the United States Senate, my opponent has had thousands of votes, but very few signature achievements."
Amusingly, John Kerry was elected to the Senate in 1984 and took office in 1985. Unfortunately for Bush-Cheney '04, any comparison of the two candidates that involves 1984 or 1985 will have to focus on the fact that George W. Bush spent most of both years drunk and possibly putting indeterminate amounts of white powder up his nose.
Anyway, in fairness to both candidates, I'm reviewing their "signature achievements," one year at a time, for 19 consecutive years starting in 1986, the year in which George W. Bush decided to stop being a lazy drunk and took his first steps down the road that led to where he is today. Scroll down to read the entries for 1986, 1987, and 1988. If anyone has any good stuff they want to contribute, feel free to pass it along in the comments.
This timeline is really interesting.
This unauthorized biography is downright mean.
Friday, July 30, 2004
George W. Bush continues working on Dad's campaign:
[Lee] Atwater was hardly the sole practitioner of negative campaign tactics, but he was considered the Picasso of that political art form. The Bush campaign's attacks on Dukakis -- for a prisoner-furlough system in Massachusetts and his veto of a bill requiring the Pledge of Allegiance in schools -- were a far cry from Reagan's upbeat "Morning in America" campaign in 1984.He also bought the Texas Rangers in a sweetheart deal that year and traded Sammy Sosa to the Cubs.
Meanwhile, Kerry gets a divorce:
In 1988 Kerry and his first wife, Julia Thorne, were granted a 'no-fault' divorce after 18 years of marriage. They cited the generic grounds of 'irretrievable breakdown of the marriage,' according to divorce records.He also saved a colleague's life:
Republican Senator Jacob "Chic" Hecht from Nevada rushed out of a GOP Conference luncheon gasping for air because he was choking on a slice of apple. Kerry happened to walk off a nearby elevator and hurriedly performed the Heimlich maneuver. "He sized it up in a split second and saved my life," "Every year at Christmas my wife and I call John Kerry and thank him for saving my life," -- Jacob HechtComplicated, isn't it?
Kerry blocks Cheney gas price hike:
In 1986, then-Congressman Dick Cheney proposed a tax on oil that would have raised gasoline prices and laid 400,000 workers off. The Congressional Research Service, in coordination with staffers from the Senate Energy Committee, studied the effects of Cheney's bill on consumers. The report states that if Cheney's plan had been enacted in 1986 it would have cost consumers $1.2 trillion.Bush gets a job working on Dad's campaign.
Jim Pinkerton, an advisor to the elder Bush's campaign, was interviewed by PBS in 2000:
We really came to know each other in 1987 when he came to work full time at the Bush campaign.... It was apparent that, yes, he was literally the eldest son. Was he sort of the obvious future, once and future king, future inheritor of the Bush mantle? Not at all. I mean, I really didn't think of him that much in political terms back then. I thought of him as sort of a business man. During the course of that campaign he got involved with the Texas Rangers and so on. And while I always thought he had a political dimension to him -- he had in fact run, but he had also lost in 1978 -- I figured "Look, here is just a guy who is sort of sorting out his options, going through what a lot of people go through at 40" or whatever he precisely was at that time, about 40. Just looking for sort of a way to make a contribution, and whatever options he wants to put in front of himself it will be better if in fact his father wins.Hey, this is fun. SCLM, are you paying attention?
George W. Bush gives up drinking:
In the hangover after a boisterous 40th birthday party in 1986, Bush decided to give up drinking as part of what he describes as a broader and more gradual spiritual awakening.Freshman Senator John Kerry begins a fierce investigation of the Iran-Contra scandal:
The Republican senators who controlled the committee owed their majority status to Reagan's popularity. Privately, they were feeling increasing pressure from a shadowy figure at the White House, a Marine lieutenant colonel named Oliver North, who was orchestrating support for the contras.Our year-by-year comparison continues.
Can you keep a straight face while reading this report?
"When it comes to choosing a president, results matter," said Bush, who spent a week in self-imposed silence at his Texas ranch during the Democratic convention, which he summed up as a collection of "clever speeches" and "big promises."Where, oh where to begin? First of all, let us please please please make the 19 years before GWB took office a matter of public debate. While Kerry was toiling in the Senate and doing some fine work (including the investigation of the Iran-Contra scandal that led to multiple criminal convictions in the Reagan White House), George W. Bush was whooping it up, drunk and disorderly, presiding over one failed business after another, until he finally made a magical transformation into a born-again Christian, had his Daddy buy him a baseball team, and ran for Governor of Texas.
Please please please will some reporters do some comparisons of what each man was doing during each of those 19 years? Let's be sure to ask about Harken Energy and Enron. And then let's talk about the 19 years before that. C'mon, media, you can do it! One year at a time. "Signature accomplishment" for each one. Anyone up to the challenge?
And what's this bullshit about a late speech? Kerry took the stage at 10:00 PM EDT. Do you mean the Leader of the Free World is tucked in before 10:00? Doesn't he realize that the Greatest President Who Ever Lived (the guy they buried last month) used to take naps during the daytime so he could watch programs that came on past his bedtime?
Somehow, I expect that President Kerry will work much longer hours.
I officially retract anything nice I may have said about CNN, after reading this CJR Campaign Desk report:
Defenders of Fox News, CNN's arch rival, argue that Fox takes a conservative slant to offset CNN's liberal stance. Critics of both think, by contrast, that CNN, badly bruised in the ratings war, has stooped to slavish imitation of Fox's most dubious ploys and policies.Read the long, long, long list of excerpts. Be sure to have a barf bag handy.
Back in August 2002, Bush claimed the shitty economy was all Clinton's fault:
Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, in separate speeches Wednesday, both claimed the U.S. economy was already in recession when they were inaugurated in January 2001, implying the blame for the slowdown rested on President Clinton's shoulders.Except there was no recession, apparently. Reuters reported today:
In annual revisions to U.S. gross domestic product numbers released on Friday that could fuel a politically charged debate, the Commerce Department rewrote the history of the recent downturn by revising away a decline in the second quarter of 2001.So, Mr. President, if you want to blame someone for the crummy economy and the loss of more than a million jobs, and the shrinking wages of the average American, just look in the mirror.
And let us know if you don't see your reflection. That would be an interesting data point.
William Saletan says Bush and Rove have no one but themselves to blame:
I don't know how much of John Kerry's acceptance speech the candidate penned himself. I don't know who suggested which lines, how many drafts there were, or who edited them. But I can tell you who wrote the speech: George W. Bush.I cannot wait for the debates.
A refreshing Reuters article on Republicans defecting to Kerry's camp:
Hey, if Secretary Ridge is unhappy with his low-paying job, maybe he just needs to chill. That seems to be the Bush campaign's recommendation:
A campaign worker for President Bushsaid on Thursday American workers unhappy with low-quality jobs should find new ones -- or pop a Prozac to make themselves feel better.Ha ha ha ha ha. Something tells me Ms. Sheybani is going to be looking for a new job soon.
Poor Tom Ridge:
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is considering stepping down after the November election, telling colleagues he is worn out from the massive reorganization of government and needs to earn money in the private sector to put his teenage children through college, officials said.Gee, don't you think most Americans would love to have that kind of problem? Didn't the Bush tax cuts help, Mr. Secretary?
Given that the average American family makes something less than $70,000 per year, how are they supposed to put their kids through college? Oh, I see. They can send their low-paying job to Bangalore and then take a high-paying consulting job in corporate America. Right?
Note to Secretary Ridge: Kerry and Edwards have a plan to offer tuition credits to the families of the middle class, which you (barely) fall into. They also will roll back the tax cuts on people making more than $200,000, which means you don't have to worry about paying more taxes under a Kerry Presidency.
Oh wait. You won't have a job. Darn.
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Max Cleland. My God, what a great intro. The Boss for a soundtrack.
OK, John, knock it out of the park.
Update: Kos said, eloquently, what I was struggling with: "May Saxby Chambliss rot in hell for how he slandered Max. "
More update: I was amazed to turn on CNN after watching the speech on C-SPAN. I tuned in late, so I might have missed something (Digby in particular was complaining about CNN's slanted analysis), but what I saw was Jeff Greenfield doing a very fair analysis, pointing out three killer sections of JFK's speech that hit hard at the heart of the Bush campaign. No snarkiness, no Republican talking points, just a solid analysis. Even the Aaron Brown panel that followed was above-average. Maybe there's hope.
Personally, I thought the speech was excellent. After a rough start, he got on track quickly, hit all the right notes, and turned the negative rhetoric back on Bushco. We'll see what happens in NYC in September.
This excerpt from the New Republic article, "July Surprise," was published in Talking Points Memo more than three weeks ago:
A third source, an official who works under ISI's director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed tnr that the Pakistanis "have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs [i.e., high-value al Qaida targets] before [the] election is [an] absolute must." What's more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington." Says McCormack: 'I'm aware of no such comment.' But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July" -- the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.We cannot let our so-called liberal media let this story die. It doesn't get any more blatant than this.
Joshua Micah Marshall says "[W]e noted in May and then The New Republic reported out extensively early this month, that this White House has been telling the Pakistanis for months that they wanted to see a big-time al Qaida leader -- hopefully bin Laden -- produced during the Democratic convention."
Today, on the day that John Kerry gives his acceptance speech, CNN has this breaking news alert: Pakistan captures high-level al Qaeda operative.
It's not Osama, but it'll have to do.
Josh says this will be a litmus test for the media:
I'd be very, very curious to hear whether when, oh say, CNN goes on about how this al Qaida guy has been hauled in they will mention at all, or with any consistency, that one of the most respected political magazines in the United States reported just weeks ago on the pressure the administration has been placing on the Pakistanis to serve up an al Qaida bad guy on this day.Interestingly, Ashcroft held a press conference that included this guy's mug shot (along with six others) in early June. As CBS News noted at the time: "Some officials believe al Qaeda's goal is not to aid one candidate over another so much as to show it can influence voters ... just as it did in Spain earlier this year when bombs demolished commuter trains and toppled a prime minister who had backed the U.S.-led Iraq war."
Something for all of us to remember: The bombs didn't topple the Spanish government. The people toppled the government that lied to them about the perpetrators of the bombing, in a blatantly political attempt to gain political advantage.
Think we Americans are as smart as the Spaniards?
Will Ferrell captures the core of Bush's cluelessness in this excellent parody video.
If you like it, send money to ACT.
(Via Approximately Perfect)
Billmon finds the historical roots of the Republican party in Asimov:
The three laws:Do you think Will Smith will be working security at the Republican convention?1. A Republican may not injure a corporation, or, through inaction, allow a corporation to come to harm.
Well, at least for a few minutes this week I did, after hearing first Barack Obama and then last night watching Al Sharpton bring down the house in Boston. Talk about passion and soul!
The Rude Pundit had a nice summary of the Reverend Al's most excellent in-your-face Bush-bashing remarks. As the name befits, of course, the commentary contains many instances of the Cheney-word:
Last night, Rev. Al Sharpton fucked up the shit of the Democratic stage show going on in Boston. Going off script, going longer than his allotted six minutes, Sharpton spoke with a passion and rage that distilled so much of what people wanted to hear, especially the people in that convention hall who, if they heard one more fuckin' time about Kerry's Vietnam War experience, they were gonna drown themselves in the Mekong.And poor Bob Graham, who had to follow Sharpton on stage, went over about like ... oh, I don't know, maybe Judy Collins trying to play a couple of sweet acoustic songs after Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have just blown the roof off the joint. Nothing wrong with Judy, and nothing wrong with Bob Graham, but it's just cruel to make anyone follow Al after that thundering performance.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Gee. What a surprise.
I.R.S. Says Americans' Income Shrank for 2 Consecutive Years:
The overall income Americans reported to the government shrank for two consecutive years after the Internet stock market bubble burst in 2000, the first time that has effectively happened since the modern tax system was introduced during World War II, newly disclosed information from the Internal Revenue Service shows.What a mess.
Who knew The Onion was actually reporting real news? Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over'.
Ironically, this was written in January 2001, just days after Bush assumed office.
It would be funny if it weren't so damn true.
(via a commenter at Washington Monthly)
Xan at Corrente has this hilarious suggestion:
The rafters are ringing with applause, whistles, shrieks of joy. The band is playing a jazzed-up version of James Taylor's "Carolina In My Mind." The candidate releases his wife from the post-introductory hug and steps to the podium.Oh, for the days when Comedy Central did true alternative convention coverage.
I'm getting sick and tired of all this discussion of bloggers at the convention. I'm especially sick and tired of the Dave Winers of the world who insist that they can define what a "real" weblog is and isn't.
Matthew Yglesias writes: "At the end of the day, blogging is just a mode of presenting text (and, to some extent, images) and a set of computer programs that make it easy to present text in that way. It's not a method of doing things. The result, I think, is that the phenomenon of the 'blogger' has no real future, though the phenomenon of the blog does."
Blogs are a form of publishing. Although it would have been possible to do a blog 10 years ago, it is infinitely easier today because of the existence of sites and tools that are geared toward instant publishing. Blogs can take an infinite number of forms, from diaries of meaningless blather by a bored teenager to professionally run, group-authored sites.
The blog form is interesting because it's essentially a friction-free printing press. Just like Gutenberg's original, it can be used in many ways, to produce many things.
Because he invented one of the original blog publishing tools, Winer believes he should be able to define the genre for all of us. That's silly. Just as it's been since the days when humans carved pictographs on cave walls, it's still about the content. Write some interesting stuff, and you can put it in front of the world in a matter of seconds. Write some crap, and hey--you can have it in front of the world in seconds. If you're a discriminating consumer of news, you'll gravitate toward the interesting stuff, regardless of how it was produced.
PS: Winer's coverage of the Democratic convention is unbelievably self-indulgent and, in his own words, boring beyond belief. Truly representative samples:
I'm being interviewed by CNN right now, Jeff Greenfield, and they want a shot of me typing something into my weblog....Winer never misses an opportunity to proclaim that his blog is the oldest one on the Internet. Yeah, well, sometimes an old man is wise. Sometimes he's just an old fart.
Note to Dave: Jesse and Ezra at Pandagon.net are sitting in the same room as you. Each is less than half your age. Collectively they are kicking your ass with content that is funny, insightful, meaningful, and not self-indulgent. Take the headphones off for a second and go ask them how they do it.
Brilliant work from Juan Cole:
Dick Cheney was doing some counter-programming to the Democratic National Convention by speaking on the West Coast at Camp Pendleton.The whole piece is brilliant. If you're not reading Juan Cole regularly, you're missing out.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
John Emerson at Seeing The Forest has an excellent analysis of how the media missed the point of the 9/11 Commission's report:
The media consensus seems to be that the 9/11 Commission report either exonerates Bush, or else says that Bush and Clinton were equally bad. But the consensus is wrong.I haven't had a chance to read the full report yet, but the one chapter I have read made me sick to my gut. We really, really, really need adults back in the White House.
I just love Media Matters for America, for calling Tucker Carlson on his bullshit:
CNN Crossfire co-host Tucker Carlson claimed that former President Bill Clinton called Republicans (whom Carlson said are "half the country") "wackos" in his July 26 speech to the Democratic National Convention. When CNN host Larry King corrected Carlson during a panel discussion on Larry King Live, saying, "He [Clinton] didn't say 'wacko,'" Carlson retracted and reworked his charge as follows: "[W]hat he did say was, '[T]hey [Republicans] need a divided America,' and that's -- I don't know -- pretty stout criticism. I don't think it's entirely fair. And coming from the former president, I think it's a bit heavy."Except for the fact that he's telegenic, Carlson has nothing to offer. The circuits that connect his brain to his conscience appear to have been permanently seared. He's Bill O'Reilly with a bow tie, and every time I listen to his "analysis" of anything on CNN, I'm baffled that he has a job. I'm especially dismayed that PBS gave this putz his own show.
On last night's three-hour PBS coverage of the Democratic convention, Gwen Ifill interviewed a female delegate from Florida. The transcript isn't available, and I can't find a rebroadcast of the segment anywhere, but I know what I heard and still can't believe the jaw-dropping question she slipped in at the end of the interview.
The Floridian delegate was bright, articulate, and passionate. Ifill asked if she was anti-Bush or pro-Kerry. "Both," came the reply, without hesitation. She doesn't like what Bush is doing to the country, but she's excited to be supporting Kerry. Fair enough.
Then the subject turned to the 2000 Florida vote. The delegate said that everyone who was at the convention was determined to see that it didn't happen again. "Our votes weren't counted." So Ifill follows up with this zinger: "Now, four years later, can you look back at those events and laugh?"
I'm not sure I could have answered that question. I might have just stared at her and asked if she was crazy. Or I might have grabbed the microphone and started pounding on something. But the woman from Florida stayed cool and didn't miss a beat: "No. They stole the election from us, and we're here to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Laugh about it? Ha ha ha ha ha.
If anyone finds a transcript or a tape of this interview, I'd be interested in seeing it.
This is sickening.
CSPAN-2 showed some old convention footage tonight, including JFK's famous "New Frontier" acceptance speech from the 1960 convention. I was a bit too young to watch that one (although I remember Goldwater's 1964 speech). And anyway, I grew up in a staunch Republican household, so I might not have heard his words over all the hissing from the adults. But I was struck by how appropriate that earlier JFK's sharp words were for the current era:
[W]e are not merely running against Mr. Nixon. Our task is not merely one of itemizing Republican failures. Nor is that wholly necessary. For the families forced from the farm will know how to vote without our telling them. The unemployed miners and textile workers will know how to vote. The old people without medical care--the families without a decent home--the parents of children without adequate food or schools--they all know that it's time for a change.I have commented on the similarities between Nixon and Bush, of course, most of them focusing on their paranoia and obsession with secrecy, and their fundamental dishonesty.
There's a difference, though. Nixon was a genuinely smart, curious man, who did a few great things and was done in by his tragic flaws. Bush is incurious and banal, and he blew his one shot at greatness by abusing the mandate the entire world gave him after 9/11.
Jack Kennedy took a pointed personal shot at Nixon:
We know that it will not be easy to campaign against a man who has spoken or voted on every known side of every known issue. Mr. Nixon may feel it is his turn now, after the New Deal and the Fair Deal--but before he deals, someone had better cut the cards.And Bush 43 doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as his Daddy. I hope this JFK can come up with some rhetorical flourishes that are as good as those great words from four decades ago.
Monday, July 26, 2004
Well, now that Atrios has revealed his real name (Duncan Black), the ranks of anonymous bloggers have gotten a bit smaller. I'll keep my true identity secret for a little while longer, though.
Although of the 42 people who read this site regularly, at least 16 know me personally. Hmmm. This might be trickier than I thought.
Less than two months ago, President Bush was singing the praises of Lakhtar Brahimi, the U.N. Special Envoy to Iraq. At that time, Bush said:
Mr. Brahimi made the decisions and brought their names to the Governing Council. As I understand it, the Governing Council simply opined about names. It was Mr. Brahimi's selections and -- Ambassador Bremer and Ambassador Blackwill were instructed by me to work with Mr. Brahimi. As we say in American sports parlance, he was the quarterback. And it seemed like a good group to me.So, what's the quarterback saying today?
Juan Cole unearthed this recent interview in an Austrian paper:
[Brahimi] said Iraq would no doubt recover from the chaos in which it was presently. ''The question is only, how long will it take? And what will the normalization cost?'' The price up till now had already been very high . . . Brahimi said the resistance in Iraq was difficult to analyze. Alongside the old cadres of the Baath regime of Saddan Hussein, there was a strong group of Iraqis which for patriotic reasons attacked any form of occupation. . .For those keeping score, as Cole notes, more than 100,000 died in Afghanistan after the chaos of the early 1990s opened the door to the Taliban. So far, the casualty count in Iraq is about a tenth of that, but this game is, sadly, in the first quarter.
I'm tanned, rested, and desperately trying to catch up on two weeks worth of blogging. Oh, and my publisher expects me to do a bunch of work that's been piling up while I was away. Go figure! All the A-league bloggers are in Boston anyway, so don't expect me to even try to compete with them.
Anyway, Al Gore's speech warmed my heart, and I have the Big Dawg's speech on the TiVo for later viewing. But today's news carried the perfect metaphor. While the Democrats are having a party in Boston, George W. Bush is literally stumbling:
President Bush, for the second time in two months, took a tumble on his mountain bike while riding on his Texas ranch, a White House spokeswoman said on Monday.Oh, to have this sort of ironic juxtaposition every day.
Saturday, July 10, 2004
No, not the Neil Young album. Although it's a great soundtrack for what we're going through these days.
I'm away for a couple weeks recovering from my latest project and preparing for the next one. I may get to a Wi-Fi connection and post something here or there, but don't count on it.
I'll be back in time for the Democratic Convention. Be good to each other.
Friday, July 09, 2004
A few days ago, we noticed that the GOP's outreach campaign to female voters for BushCheney '04 is... W Stands for Women.My pick, of course, is Worst. President. EVER.
Tommy Chong is a free man again: "Tommy Chong, out of prison after serving nine months for selling bongs, is scheduled to appear on the Tonight Show tonight." I'll Tivo it so I can zip past Leno's blithering.
World O'Crap reviews the new book If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It, by conservative Hugh Hewitt, which basically argues:
[I]f you don't want to work to elect Republicans in every election, then you are undoubtedly one of those people who don't care about the future of the United States, and you deserve to die in a terrorists attack.I believe the book should probably be called If It's Not Close, We Don't Need to Cheat. But what do I know?
Do you know someone who's planning to vote for George W. Bush this fall? Ask them to read this:
Bin Laden Is Said to Be Organizing for a U.S. Attack
Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenants, operating from hideouts suspected to be along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, are directing a Qaeda effort to launch an attack in the United States sometime this year, senior Bush administration officials said on Thursday.Scary, isn't it? We used to be very concerned, according to Colin Powell, in December 2001:
The Bush administration's focus remains on Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan, Powell said. U.S. Special Forces and Pakistani troops are searching caves along the Pakistani border for clues to the location of the al Qaeda leader. Powell said Bush intends to persevere for as long as it takes to track down bin Laden and destroy his terrorist network.But something happened a few months later, and the White House lost interest. It sounds like they think they actually won the war in Afghanistan and defeated bin Laden:
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?And then ask why we have 140,000 troops in Iraq and a few thousand in Afghanistan. Maybe it's because we gave up?
Donald Rumsfeld, Abu Dhabi Television interview, April 28, 2003:
Well, the armed forces of the United States and the United Kingdom, were designed to deal with armies, navies, and air forces, and they do that. They do it very well. They weren't designed to do manhunts. Now you just made the statement that [Bin laden and Mullah Omar are] still at large -- they're still free. I don't know that that's true. I don't know where Bin Laden is. He may be dead. He may be alive. He may be injured. He certainly is not out in the open, making video tapes and leading the Al-Qaida at all.Or maybe he is. So, do you feel safer now than you did on September 12, 2001?
Bush let Osama bin Laden get away. Don't let him get away with it.
Al-Hayat says that the Iraqi Ministry of Health released statistics showing that some 400 Iraqis have been killed and over 1600 wounded in violence since Prime Minister Iyad Allawi came into office on June 28.That total covers 10 days. Of course, the United States Government does not count civilian or military casualties in Iraq, so it's impossible to add these numbers to any authoritative running total. But the number is clearly over 10,000 and possibly double or triple that. Disgraceful.
Pentagon Says Bush Records of Service Were Destroyed:
Military records that could help establish President Bush's whereabouts during his disputed service in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago have been inadvertently destroyed, according to the Pentagon.Nothing to see here. Move along.
Thursday, July 08, 2004
Fascinating report on Ashcroft's inability to cope with ethics in the Plame investigation:
The briefings raise questions about the appropriateness of Ashcroft's involvement in the investigation, especially given his longstanding ties to Rove. Senior federal law-enforcement officials have expressed serious concerns among themselves that Ashcroft spent months overseeing the probe and receiving regular briefings regarding a criminal investigation in which the stakes were so high for the Attorney General's personal friends, political allies, and political party. One told me, "Attorneys General and U.S. Attorneys in the past traditionally recused for far less than this."Asshole.
Great music, memorable slogans. Visit the Sloganator Memorial (1.7MB download) and laugh. Great music, too.
PS: I would love to see these on signs held aloft by protesters in NYC this September.
(Thanks to Sadly, No! and Beat Bush Blog for the pointer.)
It is going to take Tom Ridge weeks to scrape all this bullshit off his shoes:
Ridge Says Terror Threat Is Increasing but No Details Yet:
American intelligence analysts have credible information that Al Qaeda terrorists are planning another attack in the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said today. But he said that the chances of heading off an attack were better than ever, and that there was no reason to raise the terrorist-threat level for now.Yeah, so let's see... We don't know where, when, or how, but the chances of heading off an attack are better than ever. Is there any planet on which that logic works? Bizarro World, maybe?
Unfortunately, this is all sounding so familiar. Anyone remember Condi Rice's testimony before the 9/11 Commission?
Condi said, "When threat reporting increased during the Spring and Summer of 2001, we moved the U.S. Government at all levels to a high state of alert and activity." Yep, that's what Ridge is saying now.
Condi said, "The threat reporting that we received in the Spring and Summer of 2001 was not specific as to...manner of attack." OK, that's the same in summer 2004 as it was in summer 2001.
Condi said, "[T]he Department of Defense issued at least five urgent warnings... The State Department issued at least four urgent security advisers and public worldwide cautions on terrorist threats... The FBI issued at least three nationwide warnings to federal, state and law enforcement agencies... The FAA issued at least five civil aviation security information circulars... The CIA worked around the clock to disrupt threats worldwide... This is a brief sample of our intense activity in the high threat period of the summer of 2001. Yet, as your hearings have shown, there was no silver bullet that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks." Uh, OK. So just like in 2001, the Administration is runnng around issuing warnings, but they don't know where, when or how an attack might happen, so they don't have a "silver bullet," so it's probably going to happen again.
Anyone want to tell me again why these guys are in charge?
It doesn't matter whether you're a Democrat or Republican. You should worry about the impact of this election on the future of civil rights in this country.
The next President of the United States will be able to appoint at least two and perhaps four Supreme Court justices.
If George Bush is elected, he will be able to appoint anyone he wants to, and the Republican-controlled Congress will rubber-stamp his selections. Democrats may try to embarrass the nominee during confirmation hearings, but they won't have the guns to block the final vote. It is a dead certainty that Bush will appoint more zealots like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas to the court. In fact, one of the litmus tests for any new Supreme Court nominee will be how willing he or she is to defer to the Bush Administration's vision of the all-powerful executive branch.
By contrast, if John Kerry is elected, he will not be able to appoint radicals to the Court, even if he wants to do so. His selections will instead face extraordinary scrutiny from a Republican-controlled Congress. If he nominates someone who is more than a millimeter to the left of center, that judge will go down in flames during the confirmation process. For each opening, Kerry will have no choice but to pick a cautious, quiet judge whose qualifications are impeccable, whose record is unexciting, and whose views are moderate.
If John Kerry is elected, in other words, the next justices appointed to the Supreme Court will be men or women whose stated views and judicial history are acceptable to a broad spectrum of Americans. And they will serve for decades. Isn't that the result that most Americans want?
If you've got a friend who's wavering on how to vote this fall, make sure they understand this issue.
MyDD resurrects a Life in Hell comic from 1993:
Bongo: Why is the TV saying America is proud again?Why do those rabbits hate America?
The Charleston Gazette - News:
A worker with the Federal Emergency Management Agency who wore an anti-Bush T-shirt at the president's July Fourth rally in Charleston [West Virginia] has been sent home to Texas.Yeah, we got freedom of speech. As long as you don't say too much.
(Props to Atrios for the link, apologies to The Neville Brothers for ripping off the punch line.)
Election Officials Consider Security Options at Polls:
U.S. officials are expressing concern that terrorists will try to disrupt the presidential election in November by launching an attack around Election Day, but they are only now planning to raise the subject with local election officials.And if those terrorists decide to do something different, attacks could come on Election day. Or in late July. Or September. Or maybe the day after Election Day. Or not at all!
So be prepared. For whatever.
Mark Schmitt (a very smart man) lays out the reasons Why Cheney Can't Leave. The possible replacements in the Administration all have too much blood on their hands, Giuliani would never be acceptable to the right wing, and McCain would never say yes. Here's the kicker:
I also have come to think that there may be some truth to the idea that Cheney is the driving intelligence behind the entire Bush presidency. The insistence on being interviewed together by the 9/11 commission is one huge hint; the many instances in which Cheney seems to speak for the administration but with a tone and argument totally unrelated to Bush's, is another. The fact that Bush sometimes gets his message into line with Cheney's, rather than the other way around, speaks volumes. And if Cheney is driving the decisions, then the man who picked the vice president is unlikely to fire himself.I've worked for guys like this before. This analysis is dead-on.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Big John comes out swinging:
Kerry, campaigning with Edwards in the midwestern city of Dayton, Ohio, countered that "it seems to me as if he (Bush) doesn't have a record to run on, he's got a record to run away from, so he's just attacking everybody."Yeah baby!
OK, this is a can of worms. But the Christian Science Monitor is one of the most balanced sources around:
Christian Zionists, an Evangelical subset whose ranks are estimated at 20 million in the US, have in the past two decades poured millions of dollars of donations into Israel, formed a tight alliance with the Likud and other Israeli politicians seeking an expanded 'Greater Israel,' and mobilized grass-roots efforts to get the US to adopt a similar policy.Sometimes it seems that the war in Iraq was just the first step on that road, doesn't it? I had no idea there were 20 million people in the U.S. who were a part of this movement. That's a truly frightening thought.
A White House press release said today that the President had signed "H.R. 2751, which modifies human capital management authorities of the General Accounting Office (GAO) and renames the GAO the 'Government Accountability Office.' "
Has a real ring to it, doesn't it? Government. Accountability. So when does it start happening again?
The Bush campaign's new ad, starring John McCain, is called "First Choice." In the press release announcing the ad, the campaign calls McCain "John Kerry's first choice for a vice presidential running mate." By implication, of course, that means Edwards is an inferior second choice.
Ironically, kos found quotes from McCain earlier this year in which it was revealed he was Bush's first choice for VP in 2000. So Dick Cheney was Bush's second choice as well.
Ha ha ha...
Update: Balkinization says, "The Dems should run an ad noting that Al Gore was the country's first choice for President."
TBogg has adorable pictures of John Edwards' and Dick Cheney's kids.
They're really worth seeing.
(via Suburban Guerrilla)
The Chicago Tribune quantifies just how close we are to losing freedom of speech. A new national poll has the very depressing numbers. Of course, they don't want to see Janet Jackson's boob on free TV again, but 55% think violence and sexual content should be restricted on cable TV too, and 52% think the government should "impose restrictions on information and content that appears on the Internet."
But this is the one that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
Twenty percent say negative reporting on the war should not be allowed. Twenty percent say critical editorials against a war should not be allowed. About the same number feel that the 1st Amendment itself goes too far. A little over 10 percent say the Patriot Act, which expanded government search and surveillance powers, didn't go far enough.Now blow up another big building or set off a small dirty bomb or mail out some more anthrax and watch those numbers go over the top.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
The Sept. 11 commission, which reported no collaborative links between Iraq and al Qaeda, said on Tuesday that Vice President Dick Cheney had no more information than commission investigators to support his later assertions to the contrary.Add your own punchline...
Fafblog! has the Republican attack ad you haven't seen. Yet.
"I'm Senator John McCain, rugged individualist. I march to the beat of my own drummer and I don't give a damn about 'parties' or 'politics.' I'm a man's man."Somewhere, Karl Rove is saying, "Damn, wish I'd thought of that!"
The Cosmic Iguana says Kerry did it right:
They say that picking a VP is the first best test of a presidential candidates performance in office. Bush One picked Dan Quayle, proving that he was in outer space. Bush Two allowed Cheney to pick himself, proving that he was a tool.No election? But that could only happen if... Oh. Never mind.
Before John McCain sold his soul to Karl Rove, he had nothing but kind things to say about John Edwards, as Kos noted today:
In Four Trials, John Edwards has written movingly of people who were terribly wronged, and whom he helped seek some measure of justice with great skill, determination, and genuine compassion. He shows a perceptive appreciation in these accounts for the strength of his clinets' character. And, in the loving portrait of his son, Wade, and the deeply touching account of his loss, John reveals the strength of his own character and give the reader a look beyond a political biography into the heart of a good man.Funny, I don't recall McCain saying a good word about the strength of George W. Bush's character. Do you?
And Atrios has this McCain quote on Edwards, one month after Bush's inauguration:
He's got the ambition, the talent and the brains to go very far, to be president of the United States.
-Charlotte Observer, 2/26/01
Did someone in the Kerry campaign do a brilliant head-fake on the New York Post? Or are they just a bunch of incompetent sleazebags? I'm not sure they'll ever be able to live this down.
Expect some truly nasty coverage of the Dems this summer as retaliation. Of course, you could have expected that anyway.
Update: The Post doesn't have the story up on their Web site anymore, but I do!
Kerry Picks Gephardt
(If you want to link to this, please copy the file and put it on your own server, OK? I've got limited bandwidth...)
Salon's Joyce McGreevy watched Fahrenheit 911 in a parallel universe. Her version was called "Scare-N-Hype 411," and the most memorable part, for me, was this:
But the most stirring sequence is the penultimate scene, in which a young man on the eve of his surrender to Wal-Mart, bids farewell to his mother:Normally, I'm a fan of alternate realities, but this one was a little too close to the real thing.
(via Suburban Guerrilla)
This nice note from John Kerry just arrived in my e-mail inbox:
Dear Sid,OK, for a second there, I thought he said "John Elizabeth Edwards." Those of you who have seen The Producers on Broadway know why that's funny.
No complaints here. Edwards is the anti-Cheney, and that's good.
Juan Cole explains:
US observers keep expressing puzzlement as to why the killing of hundreds or thousands of insurgents has not had an impact in repressing the guerrillas. They don't seem to get it that Iraqi clans still matter and that when they kill an Iraqi, they anger the man's brothers, uncles, and first and second cousins, some of whom step forward to take his place. In the US a lot of people don't even know their cousins and certainly would not sacrifice their lives to avenge one. Iraq is not like that. So, it isn't really even a matter of ideologies, necessarily. The US military has incurred enough clan feuds to keep the insurgencies going. And, of course, Iraqi and Arab nationalisms are powerful enough that people hate seeing Western troops in their country. The line between being angry about it and being angry enough to pick up a gun is a thin one.We kill more than 10,000 civilians and wound who knows how many more, in a country that's less than 1/10 the size of ours, and we don't understand why they're angry. Sigh.
"When you live in a fishbowl, everything seems a little distorted... I keep thinking it's Tuesday."
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