Sid's Fishbowl
A proud member of the reality-based community (aquatic division)
Tuesday, August 31, 2004

From the New York Times, August 31, 2004:
In a part of the NBC interview that was broadcast during the weekend, [George W. Bush] also commented on his National Guard service in the Vietnam War and the Navy service of Mr. Kerry, a decorated combat veteran. "I think him going to Vietnam was more heroic than my flying fighter jets,'' Mr. Bush said. "On the other hand, I served my country. Had my unit been called up, I would have gone.''
Why didn't he complete the last sentence? He would have gone...where? To Canada? AWOL? To his daddy's "fix-it" pals?

[thanks to Carl for the punch line]

Just curious: Anyone hear mention of Osama bin Laden at the convention yesterday? I heard lots of talk about 9/11 and Saddam, but OBL/UBL was MIA.

Isn't that odd? Here are the stats from last night's official transcripts:

Rudy Giuliani
9/11 references: 11 [*]
Saddam: 6
bin Laden: 0
Al Qaeda: 1

John McCain
9/11 references: 5
Saddam: 6
bin Laden: 0
Al Qaeda: 2

Zainab al-Suwaij
9/11 references: 0
Saddam: 2
Al Qaeda: 0
bin Laden: 0

Lindsay Graham
9/11 references: 0
Saddam: 0
bin Laden: 0
Al Qaeda: 0

Ron Silver
9/11 references: 1
Saddam: 0
bin Laden: 0
Al Qaeda: 0

Bernard Kerik
9/11 references: 1
Saddam: 1
bin Laden: 0
Al Queda [sic]: 1

9/11 references: 18
Saddam: 15
bin Laden: 0
Al Qaeda: 4

[Does not include three additional references to other dates in September 2001]

Monday, August 30, 2004

Matthew Yglesias misses the obvious punch line:
The British are, of course, the masters of the understated put-down. To wit, Andrew Sullivan back from his French-style vacances:
"Waging war requires both determination and effectiveness. Bush has a lot more of the former than the latter." Indeed. Although I'm not really sure how much determination he has on a certain level, our Iraq policy 'lo the past six months has been marked by a rather high degree of drift, something I've previously attributed to divisions among the NSC Principals that have paralyzed the interagency process. What Bush has is a really determined look.
Kind of like this guy:

Thank goodness Max is blogging the Republican convention! For some reason, Fox News and CNN didn't mention these events:
We haven't decided what events to attend yet. There is an interesting ritual sacrifice of a welfare mom scheduled for 2 pm. It's all on the up-and-up, since it's a voluntary contract; she agreed, in exchange for school vouchers for one of her three children. At 4 pm there will be a ceremony commemorating the execution of Joe Hill. 6:30 pm, endangered species all-you-can-eat buffet. 9 pm, candlelight vigil in honor of the brave Kent State National Guardsmen who defended themselves against a horde of bloodthirsty, effete impudent snobbish so-called "college students." Decisions, decisions.

Hold it . . . There's a commotion because Governor Schwarzenegger is showing off, groping four women at the same time. Back later.
It feels like 1968 again!

Here's how:
Powell described his killer schedule in an interview Thursday with Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, a reporter for a London-based Saudi newspaper.

"So do you use sleeping tablets to organize yourself?" Al-Rashed asked.

"Yes. Well, I wouldn't call them that," Powell said. "They're a wonderful medication -- not medication. How would you call it? They're called Ambien, which is very good. You don't use Ambien? Everybody here uses Ambien."
Thanks to a commenter at Daily Kos for the pointer.

In the middle of an excellent column on the Franklin espionage scandal, Juan Cole writes about the American-Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC):
Some readers have suggested that I have exaggerated AIPAC's hold on the US Congress. But I have direct knowledge of senators and congressmen being afraid to speak out on Israeli issues because of AIPAC's reputation for targetting representatives for un-election if they dare do so. And, it is easy to check. Look in the Congressional record. Is there ever any speech given on the floor critical of Israeli policy, given by a senator or representative who goes on to win the next election? And look at the debates in every other parliament in the world; there are such criticisms elsewhere. The US Congress is being held hostage by a single-issue lobbying organization that often puts Israeli interests above US interests, as the spying scandal, and the attempts to thwart the prisoner exchange by Iran of high al-Qaeda operatives for Mujahedin-e Khalq terrorists demonstrate.
Ironically, AIPAC appeared to be the sole sponsor of an event at the Republican convention yesterday, at which Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) was the keynote speaker. I watched the event live on C-SPAN with a mixture of bemusement and horror. Oddly, I can't find any mention of it on the RNC's convention site or on AIPAC's site. Imagine that!

Here's a news release that says "Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Bush-Cheney '04 Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman and Former N.Y. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani are confirmed as headline speakers."

As Cole notes, though, this isn't exclusively a Republican problem. No American politician of either party can afford to slight AIPAC. Now that there are reports the group is involved in an FBI probe into possible spying, do you think some folks in Washington are nervous?

Update: Let me emphasize that this isn't about being anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. It's about opposition to a hard-line organization with ties to a right-wing government in Israel. As Cole notes: "Again, I underline that the American Jewish community does not support most AIPAC positions (a majority are much closer to Americans for Peace Now), and that this issue has to do with a small fanatical leadership of a specific lobbying organization, nothing more."

NPR devoted a special episode of All Songs Considered to political songs: "In this election year it seemed a good idea to put out a call for music about politics. What we wanted was satire; what we got were earnest and passionate songs that mostly bashed the incumbent president."

Follow the links to listen to some pretty tasty music, including Rich Man's War by Steve Earle, plus tracks by John Fogerty and Tom Waits.

The next time your Republican friends start whining about lefty protesters with their piercings and long hair, force them to look at this:

George W. Bush supporter Joe Piazza, who said he will attend this week's Republican National Convention, shows off his pro-Bush costume as he walks through a hallway in the Landmark 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City on August 29, 2004.

Josh Marshall reports on just how much of a tool Scotty McClellan is:
Today Scott McClellan went on the offensive against Ben Barnes for describing the "shame" he feels over helping President Bush duck service in Vietnam.

"It is not surprising coming from a longtime partisan Democrat," he said. "The allegation was discredited by the commanding officer. This was fully covered and addressed five years ago. It is nothing new."

It turns out that Barnes is such a down-the-line partisan that he supported Texas's Republican State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn for reelection in 2002.

Strayhorn is Scott's mom.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

If I had a garden, I'd want a George W. Bush Yard Gnome. (Hat tip to Michael at Musing's Musings.)

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Bruce Schneier asks, How Long Can the Country Stay Scared?:
A terrorist alert that instills a vague feeling of dread or panic, without giving people anything to do in response, is ineffective. Even worse, it echoes the very tactics of the terrorists. There are two basic ways to terrorize people. The first is to do something spectacularly horrible, like flying airplanes into skyscrapers and killing thousands of people. The second is to keep people living in fear. Decades ago, that was one of the IRA's major aims. Inadvertently, the [Department of Homeland Security] is achieving the same thing.

European countries that have been dealing with terrorism for decades, like the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Italy, and Spain, don't have cute color-coded terror alert systems. Even Israel, which has seen more terrorism -- and more suicide bombers -- than anyone else, doesn't issue vague warnings about every possible terrorist threat.

These countries understand that security doesn't come from a scared populace, and that true counter-terrorism occurs behind the scenes and away from public eye. For earthquakes, the long term security solutions include things like building codes. For terrorism, they include intelligence, investigation, and emergency response preparedness.

The DHS's incessant warnings against any and every possible method of terrorist attack has nothing to do with security, and everything to do with politics. In 2002, Republican strategist Karl Rove instructed Republican legislators to make terrorism the mainstay of their campaign. Study after study has shown that Americans worried about terrorism are more likely to vote Republican. Strength in the face of the terrorist threat is the basis of Bush's reelection campaign.

Speaking about terrorist threat warnings, Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge said: "We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security." Despite these words, it's increasingly clear that politics is at the heart of Bush's counter-terrorism program.
OK, now go on about your normal life.

Josh Marshall is all over the emerging spy scandal:
I'm told the evidence the FBI has on Franklin -- at least on the narrow facts of case -- is quite strong and involves wire tap information, though why a career DIA analyst like Franklin would allow himself to get tripped up on a phone call mystifies me.

The main focus thus far has been on the highly sensitive and troubling allegation that an ally, Israel, was spying on the United States or the recipient of classified information from a US government official.

However, I strongly suspect that as this story develops the bigger deal will be less the alleged recipient of the information, Israel, than the country that is the subject of the information, Iran.

I don't mean to imply that it's an either/or. It can very much be both. But the reportage thus far has understated the degree to which this is an Iran story -- it grows out of the simmering and unresolved administration battle over policy toward Iran.
See the pattern, anyone? This should be a huge issue this fall. Vote for Bush and you are giving the go-ahead to invade Iran. We'll need a draft, of course, and we might need to use slightly more powerful weapons.


For those who aren't up on the rhetoric of right-wing wackos, the references to the term "shrill" in the past two posts might induce some head-scratching. Courtesy of Corrente, see this definition.

Michael Moore has some thanks and advice for President Bush:
thank you for sending Bob Dole out there and letting us know that Mr. Kerry, though wounded three times, actually "never spilled blood." When you are in the debates with Kerry, turn to him and say, "Dammit, Mr. Kerry, next time you want a purple heart, you better spill some American red blood! And I don't mean a few specks like those on O.J.'s socks – we want to see a good pint or two of blood for each medal. In fact, I would have preferred that you had bled profusely, a big geyser of blood spewing out of your neck or something!" Then throw this one at him: "Senator Kerry, over 58,000 brave Americans gave their lives in Vietnam – but YOU didn't. You only got WOUNDED! What do you have to say for yourself???" Lay that one on him and he won't know what to do.
The rest of the piece is, you know, a little shrill.

Also, Michael Moore will be covering the Republican convention for USA Today. That should be amusing. Wanna bet he doesn't get invited into anyone's luxury box?

Friday, August 27, 2004

Garrison Keillor wonders what the hell happened to the Republican Party:
In the years between Nixon and Newt Gingrich, the party migrated southward down the Twisting Trail of Rhetoric and sneered at the idea of public service and became the Scourge of Liberalism, the Great Crusade Against the Sixties, the Death Star of Government, a gang of pirates that diverted and fascinated the media by their sheer chutzpah, such as the misty-eyed flag-waving of Ronald Reagan who, while George McGovern flew bombers in World War II, took a pass and made training films in Long Beach. The Nixon moderate vanished like the passenger pigeon, purged by a legion of angry white men who rose to power on pure punk politics. "Bipartisanship is another term of date rape," says Grover Norquist, the Sid Vicious of the GOP. "I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." The boy has Oedipal problems and government is his daddy.

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt's evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we're deaf, dumb and dangerous.
Another convert to the Coalition of the Shrill. The rest of the piece is equally on target.

Zachary Roth of Columbia Journalism Review's CJR Campaign Desk spent a day on the bus with the press corps covering the campaign (specifically, the group following Dick Cheney around). This anecdote tells you everything you need to know about why our press and our political system are both so horribly broken:
Levy read quotes from Cheney down the phone to his editor, including the following: "John Kerry said as much in his convention speech, that he wanted to go back to the way things used to be, and that America would resort to military force only when attacked." In reality, Cheney was being disingenuous: Kerry has not said this, and his foreign policy advisers have specifically kept the door open for the use of pre-emptive attacks. But in talking to his editor, Levy didn't offer any hint that Cheney had it wrong, and his editor didn't raise that issue either. (Indeed, not once all day did I hear a reporter attempt to assess the accuracy of anything Cheney said. They were concerned only with accurately transcribing his words and actions, and with assessing the strategic purpose of the trip. Fact-checking the vice president's assertions didn't appear to be on the agenda.) The quote about military force appears in Levy's write-up of Cheney's day, which ran in papers Thursday.
What a fucking waste of the First Amendment.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The RNC word of the week is "shadowy," as in this example from the Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan: "If Senator Kerry was serious about focusing on the issues, he would join the President in calling for a stop to all these ads by these shadowy groups."

OK, will one of the members of our worthless press corps please start asking Scotty and the campaign to name names? The only "shadowy" groups I can think of are the ones that are working in support of the Bush campaign.

Do you think they mean Gee, that sure doesn't seem "shadowy" to me. They have a Web site. They file public disclosure forms with the IRS for each contributor who contributes an aggregate of $200 or more during the calendar year, as required by law. All of their officers and staff members are listed by name. Maybe they mean the Media Fund? Again, nothing "shadowy" here. They even display their FEC and IRS filings on their Web site.

I can't think of a single other "shadowy" organization working to influence elections except the Swift Boat Veterans for T**** and Republicans for Clean Air, which produced the McCain smear ads in South Carolina. Now those guys are shadowy.

Name some names and let's have a real debate.

The Census Bureau has the ugly numbers:

The number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.3 million last year, while the ranks of the uninsured swelled by 1.4 million, the Census Bureau reported Thursday.

It was the third straight annual increase for both categories. While not unexpected, it was a double dose of bad economic news during a tight re-election campaign for President Bush.

Approximately 35.8 million people lived below the poverty line in 2003, or about 12.5 percent of the population, according to the bureau. That was up from 34.5 million, or 12.1 percent in 2002.

The rise was more dramatic for children. There were 12.9 million living in poverty last year, or 17.6 percent of the under-18 population. That was an increase of about 800,000 from 2002, when 16.7 percent of all children were in poverty.

The Census Bureau's definition of poverty varies by the size of the household. For instance, the threshold for a family of four was $18,810, while for two people it was $12,015.
OK, a quick timeout here. How would you like to support two people on $1000 a month? Now toss in two kids and pay for everything on a grand total of $1560 a month. That's everything. Housing, food, transportation, education, clothing, medical care. Oh yeah. Medical care. Hope those kids don't get sick or break anything.
Nearly 45 million people lacked health insurance, or 15.6 percent of the population. That was up from 43.5 million in 2002, or 15.2 percent, but was a smaller increase than in the two previous years.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton, R-Texas, noted that while more people lost insurance, there also were about 1 million more Americans with coverage in 2003. Overall, 243 million people had insurance last year.

"The bottom line is this: More people in America have health coverage today than at any time in our nation's history and I think that's a fact worth noting, but we can always do more," he said.
Yes, our population has grown by nearly 3 million, so one would expect that just about any measure based on population would find "more people in America" have that attribute. Trying to put a spin on these bad numbers is just insane. The President of the United States should stand up and say, "This record of performance is unacceptable. It is proof that our economy is not working. We can and will do better." And if the current President won't say those words and match them with deeds, then maybe we need a different President. Ya think?

When Max Cleland showed up at George W. Bush's ranch to deliver a letter signed by nine United States Senators, President Bush refused to meet with him. Instead, he sent out his own representative, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, Jerry Patterson.

Go ahead. Click his name, and you'll see that Mr. Patterson is "a former state senator from [the Houston area], a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and a student of Texas history." Mr. Patterson wrote a passionate article published on the Web site of the Southern Legal Resource Center. This group claims to be "a non-profit legal foundation waging a counter-offensive to preserve Southern Heritage." They've got pictures of Confederate flags and clean-cut white folks on their home page, along with links to articles at attacking the NAACP and the Southern Poverty Law Center. You can read an editorial that calls Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal "fascist-style central planning," and says "the time is ripe for a constitutional counterrevolution" led by "Christians, conservatives, gun owners, taxpayers, and simple believers in honest government."

In Mr. Patterson's own editorial, dated 14 June 2000, he writes these remarkable words in defense of the Confederate flag:
Even though I am not proud of slavery, I can continue to honor symbols of the Confederacy as I honor the American flag. I am as proud an American as they come. I am, however, not proud of what my country did to the American Indian. I have pride in my service as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam, but I am embarrassed at the atrocities that occurred at My Lai. I still wear a small Vietnam service pin on my lapel, knowing that not everything done in Vietnam is worthy of pride. However, I know that most who served there were good men and women who truly wanted to do the right thing.

If the Confederate flag represented slavery, then the U.S. flag must represent slavery even more so. Slavery existed for four years under the Stars and Bars and for almost 100 years under the Stars and Stripes.
My, that's a far cry from the text of the letter he tried to deliver to John Kerry today:
We are pleased to welcome your campaign representatives to Texas today. We honor all our veterans, all whom have worn the uniform and served our country. We also honor the military and National Guard troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan today. We are very proud of all of them and believe they deserve our full support.

That's why so many veterans are troubled by your vote AGAINST funding for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, after you voted FOR sending them into battle. And that's why we are so concerned about the comments you made AFTER you came home from Vietnam. You accused your fellow veterans of terrible atrocities -- and, to this day, you have never apologized. Even last night, you claimed to be proud of your post-war condemnation of our actions.
And Mr. Patterson has little sense of irony, given that he wrote this in 2000:
Retroactive cleansing of history is doomed to failure because it is, at heart, a lie. We should memorialize and commemorate all of our soldiers who served honorably - those who wore blue or gray or served as Buffalo Soldiers - whether or not we completely support their actions in today's enlightened world.
So, to review: Nine decorated veterans who currently serve in the United States Senate write a letter to the President of the United States. Another veteran and a former United States Senator tries to hand-deliver the letter to the President. Instead of meeting that representative and looking him in the eye, the President hides on his ranch and sends out his own representative, whose claim to fame is defending the Confederate flag. This man, who has openly acknowledged that atrocities in Vietnam did occur, and who has criticized the U.S. flag as a symbol of slavery, is the public representative of the President.

That does it. We've officially gone through the looking glass.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The old methods of U.S. discrimination at the polls have been replaced by 'subtler and more creative tactics,' according to a report released on Wednesday.

Julian Bond, the board chairman of the civil rights group NAACP, voiced special concerns about attempts to turn away minority voters.

"Minority voters bear the brunt of every form of disenfranchisement, including pernicious efforts to keep them away from the polls," Bond said in a statement.

The statement said the report, by the NAACP and People for the American Way Foundation, found that the kinds of voter intimidation found in the past -- discriminatory literacy tests, poll taxes and physical violence -- have been supplanted by other methods, including:

-- a plan in Kentucky to place 'vote challengers' in African-American precincts during the upcoming elections;

-- the use of armed, plainclothes officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to question elderly black voters in Orlando as part of a state investigation of voting irregularities in the city's 2003 mayoral race, which critics said intimidated black voters, potentially suppressing this year's turnout;

-- the barring of Native Americans from voting in South Dakota's June primary after they were challenged to provide photo identification, which is not required by state or federal law.
I wasn't born in 1930, but I imagine this is what it felt like.

Matthew Yglesias notes: "The links between the Bush campaign and the Swift Boat Liars are much tighter than the links between Iraq and al-Qaeda."

And y'know what? He's right!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Washington Post:
A lawyer for President Bush's re-election campaign disclosed Tuesday that he has been providing legal advice for a veterans group that is challenging Democratic Sen. John Kerry's account of his Vietnam War service.

Benjamin Ginsberg's acknowledgment marks the second time in days that an individual associated with the Bush-Cheney campaign has been connected to the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which Kerry accuses of being a front for the Republican incumbent's re-election effort.

The Bush campaign and the veterans' group say there is no coordination.
Well, as long as they say there's no coordination, I guess we have to believe them. Damn! If only they had admitted it!

Juan Cole has a savage commentary on our Dear Leader:
The true absurdity of the entire situation is easily appreciated when we consider that George W. Bush never showed any bravery at all at any point in his life. He has never lived in a war zone. If some of John Kerry's wounds were superficial, Bush received no wounds. (And, a piece of shrapnel in the forearm that caused only a minor wound would have killed had it hit an eye and gone into the brain; the shrapnel being in your body demonstrates you were in mortal danger and didn't absent yourself from it. That is the logic of the medal). Kerry saved a man's life while under fire. Bush did no such thing.

What was Bush doing with his youth? He was drinking. He was drinking like a fish, every night, into the wee hours. For decades. He gave no service to anyone, risked nothing, and did not even slack off efficiently.

The history of alcoholism and possibly other drug use is a key issue because it not only speaks to Bush's character as an addictive personality, but may tell us something about his erratic and alarming actions as president. His explosive temper probably provoked the disastrous siege of Fallujah last spring, killing 600 Iraqis, most of them women and children, in revenge for the deaths of 4 civilian mercenaries, one of them a South African. (Newsweek reported that Bush commanded his cabinet, 'Let heads roll!') That temper is only one problem. Bush has a sadistic streak. He clearly enjoyed, as governor, watching executions. His delight in killing people became a campaign issue in 2000 when he seemed, in one debate, to enjoy the prospect of executing wrong-doers a little too much. He has clearly gone on enjoying killing people on a large scale in Iraq. Drug abuse can affect the ability of the person to feel deep emotions like empathy. Two decades of pickling his nervous system in various highly toxic substances have left Bush damaged goods. Even for those who later abstain, 'visual-spatial abilities, abstraction, problem solving, and short-term memory, are the slowest to recover.' That he managed to get on the wagon (though with that pretzel incident, you wonder how firmly) is laudable. But he suffers the severe effects of the aftermath, and we are all suffering along with him now, since he is the most powerful man in the world.
This long entry includes extensive quotes from a transcript of an NPR story that documents just how much Bush was drinking when he was working on the Alabama Senate campaign while he was supposed to be serving in the Texas Air National Guard.

For the record, I think this stuff should all be on the table. All of it.

Brad DeLong speaks an essential truth: "In 1988, Bob Dole had a message for the Bush family: 'Stop lying about my record.'

In 2004, Bob Dole has cut off his own testicles, put them in a jar, and presented them to George W. Bush as he supports the Bush family's current liars."

Despicable doesn't even come close to describing Dole's pathetic attempts to join in the Kerry smears. Whatever residual respect I may have had for him is now gone.

Update: If you're unclear on the details of why Bob Dole is a pathetic hack, see this dispassionate account. Disgusting.

John Kerry. Jon Stewart. One hour. This should be good.

Monday, August 23, 2004

George Bush is up to his old tricks. Watch the ad.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

David Corn profiles Steve Earle: "Sucking on a cigarette, Earle says, 'I can deal with losing girlfriends.' He has been through six marriages with five wives. But, he adds, 'there are two things I won't be able to stand: losing that dog and seeing Bush reelected.' He tosses the cigarette and heads back into the booth."

Just a few more days until the release of The Revolution Starts...

Just in time for the Republican convention, the movement to take back the White House has crafted three key messages to help frame the debate during the Republicans' big week.

The Republicans are running a relentlessly negative campaign.

They accuse the Democrats of doing that, but they're the guilty ones. Look for side-by-side comparisons of the Kerry and Bush Web sites, and then watch the fireworks as Kerry "turns the boat toward the attackers":
"Over the last week or so, a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been attacking me. Of course, this group isn't interested in the truth - and they're not telling the truth. ... They're a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the President won't denounce what they're up to tells you everything you need to know - he wants them to do his dirty work."
The White House has covered up its failures on 9/11.

The 9/11 Commission report is bad, and so is The Pet Goat. A new report now shows another example where the Bush Administration lied about the aftermath of the attacks for political gain. Watch what happens at the convention when Bush tries to use 9/11 as a campaign issue:
The Sierra Club report was highly critical of how the Bush administration handled the environmental impact of the towers' collapse, which claimed nearly 2,800 lives and blanketed lower Manhattan with dust and debris.

Among the charges made in the report were:

--the Bush administration failed to warn the public immediately of long-standing evidence that such a collapse would release toxins and make the air unsafe to breathe.

--that the EPA failed on at least a dozen occasions to change its safety assurances even after it became clear people were getting sick.

--that the Bush administration failed to enforce safety requirements among workers on the Ground Zero clean-up effort.

Last year the EPA, in an internal report by its Inspector General Nikki Tinsley, said the White House pressured the agency to make premature statements that the air was safe to breathe.

The EPA issued an air quality statement on Sept. 18, 2001, even though it "did not have sufficient data and analyzes to make the statement," the EPA report said, adding that the White House "convinced the EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones." Among the information withheld was the potential health hazards of breathing asbestos, lead, concrete and pulverized glass.
Bush cuts mean homeland security is at risk.

Big talk for homeland security, but where are the results? If America is attacked by terrorists, we are not prepared. And Bush has to answer for that lack of preparation.
A report by New York's Democratic representatives in Congress said that since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by Islamic militants, Bush had left the state with inadequate protection and security efforts were underfunded.

"Republicans coming into town for the convention are going to be safe in spite of the Bush administration, not because of it," Congressman Anthony Weiner said in a statement released with the report. "Bush's actions fall far short of his rhetoric nationally and in the city."


New York ranks 35th in per capita funding from the homeland security agency despite being the most populous city in the United States with eight million residents, and the place most frequently mentioned by security experts as a possible target for another attack by al Qaeda.

The report said the administration had cut funding for biological attack preparedness, firefighting equipment, personnel and the communications systems that hampered rescue efforts in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, killing nearly 2,800 people.

In addition, it said ports were vulnerable because most of the millions of containers that enter the country were not inspected by the government. It described as inadequate Bush's proposal of $46 million for port security in 2005 compared with $4 billion over 5 years that Democrats in Congress call for.
Bush has to answer to Americans on all three issues. And this should be the framing for any analysis of the conventions. Are they defending their record or attacking a challenge? Is America really safe? Are we prepared for a disaster? Let's hope the Democratic voices can stay on these messages over the course of the campaign.

John Kerry's Speech to the International Association of Fire Fighters:
[M]ore than thirty years ago, I learned an important lesson - when you're under attack, the best thing to do is turn your boat into the attacker. That's what I intend to do today.

Over the last week or so, a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been attacking me. Of course, this group isn't interested in the truth - and they're not telling the truth. They didn't even exist until I won the nomination for president.

But here's what you really need to know about them. They're funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor out of Texas. They're a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the President won't denounce what they're up to tells you everything you need to know - he wants them to do his dirty work.

Thirty years ago, official Navy reports documented my service in Vietnam and awarded me the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Thirty years ago, this was the plain truth. It still is. And I still carry the shrapnel in my leg from a wound in Vietnam.

As firefighters you risk your lives everyday. You know what it's like to see the truth in the moment. You're proud of what you've done - and so am I.

Of course, the President keeps telling people he would never question my service to our country. Instead, he watches as a Republican-funded attack group does just that. Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: "Bring it on."

I'm not going to let anyone question my commitment to defending America - then, now, or ever. And I'm not going to let anyone attack the sacrifice and courage of the men who saw battle with me.

And let me make this commitment today: their lies about my record will not stop me from fighting for jobs, health care, and our security – the issues that really matter to the American people.

The situation in Iraq is a mess. That is the President's responsibility and he owes the American people an answer.

America is on track to lose more jobs than it's gained under George Bush and he supports a tax code that rewards companies for shipping jobs overseas. He owes the American people an answer.

Health care costs have exploded out of control. The President has done nothing and he owes the American people an answer.

The middle class is paying a bigger share of America's tax burden. The President needs to answer to the American people why that is fair.

Unfortunately, those in the White House are coming from a different place than you and I. They see things a little differently than you and I. They tell us that today, when it comes to the issues that matter most, we're getting the job done.

Well, just saying the job is getting done doesn't make it so. My friends, let me tell you when the job will be done.

The job will be done when every firehouse in America has the firefighters and the equipment they need to protect our communities. Right now, two-thirds of firehouses are understaffed, and we're not spending one dime to fund the SAFER Act.

The job will be done when all our firefighters have the resources to fight the war on terror here at home. Right now, in too many places, your budgets are being cut to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

And, my friends, the job will be done when we stop opening firehouses in Baghdad while closing them down here in the United States of America.

For four years, we've heard a lot of talk about values. But values are not just words. They're what we live by. They're about the choices we make, the causes we champion, and the people we fight for.

I definitely don't want to get overconfident, but I do want people to understand why things are different this time than they were in 2000. Andrew Tobias had a good Q&A this morning explaining why I feel the way I do:
Q: You say, It's going to work out. We're going to win. Really? Do you truly think so? I'm so depressed at all the negativity and lies about Kerry, and all the scary stuff about untraceable ballots, that I feel sure that they will steal the election again. And if they do, I truly wonder if this country, or indeed the world, will survive another four years. Why do you think we will win?

A: Because of turnout.

In October of 2000, voters were asked whether they were "unusually excited" about the upcoming election. And now, in 2004, they've been asked again: Are they unusually excited about THIS upcoming election?

Among Republicans, the number is up - 51% are "unusually excited" versus 48% last time.

Among Democrats, the number is up from 36% to 68%.

That is not a typo.

When we were complacent and unexcited last time, we won by 537,000 votes. Now we are wide awake, fighting mad, and determined to win.

You can see the energy in the massive primary turnout this past winter. You can see it in the huge crowds Kerry and Edwards attract. You can see it in the jaw-dropping response to our tens of millions of pieces of direct mail - like nothing direct mail marketers have ever seen before. People recognize this is not business as usual.

But if the rank and file on the other side is only marginally more energized than before, up from 48% to 51% (could some of them, in their heart of hearts, be disappointed that we've turned massive surpluses into massive deficits? had a net job loss for the first time since Herbert Hoover? advantaged the rich at the expense of everyone else? turned much of the world, which was so ready to be with us after September 11, against us?) . . . the leadership of their party - the guys orchestrating the campaign - are hugely motivated to keep, indeed to extend, their control over all three branches of government (and, increasingly, the press).

So we're going to win, but it's going to be a very, very tough fight. And speaking to those of you who want to see it happen (and I know not all of you do, and am particularly grateful and impressed that you come to listen anyway) - please spend the next 76 days making sure that it does. Visit for ways to help.

Why are going to win? Here's the blah-blah-blah answer - and I completely believe it:

We're going to win because John Kerry's domestic policies favor the vast majority of voters, who are not rich and powerful. And because people sense we need to rejoin the world if we are to succeed in our war on terror, as we unquestionably must.

Help is on the way.
Keep working for change. Don't let the lies and the slime discourage you. That is exactly why they spread it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

At a Boeing plant, President Bush lectured Americans on the need for us to spend billions of dollars continuing to build the Reagan-era Star Wars missile defense system, which has failed every test to date. Digby comments on Bush's mind-boggling remarks: "The guy who invaded a country on the basis of its huge scary cache of unconventional weapons only to find it didn't even have one is lecturing people about understanding the threats of the 21st century." Heh.

Update: Michael at Musing's musings made me laugh out loud with this observation: "He's living so far in the future that he's lost all touch with reality as we know it. And I wonder what a Freudian analyst would make of Dumb-ya's juxtaposition of an interceptor missile (really, really big phallic symbol) and Ronald Reagan (really, really dead father figure; also, now that I think about it, really, really out of touch with reality, especially in his later years) in the middle paragraph, there."

Update 2: Oliver Willis points out a good summary of why the faith-based missile defense system doesn't work.

A retiring Republican Congressman from Nebraska wrote a four-page letter to his constituents concluding that the Iraq war was wrong. The Lincoln Journal Star Online:
In a dramatic departure from the Bush administration, Republican Rep. Doug Bereuter says he now believes the U.S. military assault on Iraq was unjustified.

"I've reached the conclusion, retrospectively, now that the inadequate intelligence and faulty conclusions are being revealed, that all things being considered, it was a mistake to launch that military action," Bereuter wrote in a letter to constituents in the final days of his congressional career.

That's especially true in view of the fact that the attack was initiated "without a broad and engaged international coalition," the 1st District congressman said.

"Knowing now what I know about the reliance on the tenuous or insufficiently corroborated intelligence used to conclude that Saddam maintained a substantial WMD (weapons of mass destruction) arsenal, I believe that launching the pre-emptive military action was not justified."

As a result of the war, he said, "our country's reputation around the world has never been lower and our alliances are weakened."

Bereuter is a senior member of the House International Relations Committee and vice chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

His four-page letter represented a departure from his support for a 2002 House resolution authorizing the president to go to war.

His vote to authorize the use of military force - even pre-emptive force - was based on faulty, or misrepresented, intelligence that led to the fear Saddam Hussein would share weapons of mass destruction with terrorists, Bereuter said.

"Left unresolved for now is whether intelligence was intentionally misconstrued to justify military action," he said.
As I've said before, there are sensible Republicans out there. Too bad they can't clone this one.

Billionaire Mayor Bloomberg is offering discounts:
In a transparently mercantile bid to keep protesters from disrupting the Republican National Convention later this month, the Bloomberg administration will offer 'peaceful political activists' discounts at select hotels, museums, stores and restaurants around town during convention week, which begins Aug. 29.

Law-abiding protesters will be given buttons that bear a fetching rendition of the Statue of Liberty holding a sign that reads, 'peaceful political activists.' Protesters can present the buttons at places like the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Sex, the Pokemon Center store and such restaurants as Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too and Applebee's to save some cash during their stay.
Here's the NYC "Welcome Peaceful Political Activist" page. As Zeynep at Under the Same Sun notes, this is not a parody from the Onion.

On the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer last night, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said:
For one thing, we're in a war, and he who would tear down what is falls the responsibility of recommending something better and putting something better in place and knowing that it will work. So we have to approach it with the seriousness that it merits.
He was talking about the 9/11 Commission's recommendations to revamp the U.S. Government's intelligence infrastructure. What, did you think he was talking about something else?

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


KERRY’S POSITION ON IRAQ: "I voted to give President Bush the authority. Then President Bush f*cked it up."

Spread the word.

(via Atrios)

Monday, August 16, 2004

Oliver Willis points to the new MoveOn ad responding to the Swift Boat smear. Click here to help MoveOn run it.

I just sent a few bucks.

I can't wait till the Rapture comes, so we can get rid of John Ashcroft and put someone back in charge of the FBI who respects the Constitution. Professor Froomkin lays out the facts, in the style of a legal brief, on the frightening case of FBI investigations into planned protests at the upcoming Republican convention. (The original story is in the NY Times and is linked in Froomkin's analysis.)
1. The FBI is systematically questioning groups it thinks are anti-Bush, asking if they plan violent protests during the Republican Convention, or know of anyone who does.

2. The FBI says, "No one was dragged from their homes and put under bright lights. The interviewees were free to talk to us or close the door in our faces," and indeed there is no evidence to the contrary.

3. At least some potential demonstrators have been intimidated: "they got the message loud and clear that if you make plans to go to a protest, you could be subject to arrest or a visit from the F.B.I." It may be that they were wrong to be intimdated, but can you blame them? And if this chilling effect is widespread, should that not be a cause for some concern?

4. While the FBI's reported questions would not be troubling in the context of a case where it has particularized suspicion, they are troubling when used dragnet-style. And the FBI's awareness of someone’s opposition to the Administration's policies -- however fervent -- does not imply they intend violence, and cannot suffice to substitute for particularized suspicion.

5. Without knowing more details I cannot say with confidence if the FBI has crossed the line separating mere bad taste and errors of judgment from systematic First Amendment violations. That said, what's going on is bad enough that someone on the inside filed an internal protest, although that must surely be a career-ending event in the FBI. That doesn't look good.
There's plenty more good reading at the Prof's site,

Berry's World reads through those boring transcripts of Bush campaign events and finds this flip-flop:
The Oval Office is a powerful place. It's the kind of place where my mother walks in and feels so overwhelmed, she won't tell me what to do.
President Bush, August 10th, Niceville, Florida

The Oval Office is a powerful place. It's -- you know, people walk in and just get overwhelmed by the majesty of this shrine to democracy. I do, on a daily basis. And the only person I know that didn't was my mother, who walked in and continued to tell me what to do.
President Bush, August 12th, Las Vegas, Nevada
If you want to stay in practice for the big lies, you have to tell lots of little lies.

More bad news for Michelle Malkin and Annie Jacobsen. USA Today reports that those pesky terrorists might have white skin sometimes, and they might be male or female. They might not even all be Arab. Damn!
Al-Qaeda allies are believed to be scouting U.S. targets, and the terror organization is using non-Arab recruits to avoid detection, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials say.

The FBI has counterterrorism investigations in virtually all 56 of its field offices but has not broken up a known surveillance cell, either because agents are tailing suspects who have not committed crimes or because they have descriptions but not identities.

It is unclear how many al-Qaeda scouts are in the USA. "The FBI has their eye on or has opened several hundred investigations of people sympathetic to or supportive of" al-Qaeda, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said. "If we knew somebody was here as an operative -- and we knew who they were or where they were -- they wouldn't be on the street."
To avoid the intense scrutiny on travelers from certain Middle Eastern countries, al-Qaeda is believed to be using operatives from Chechnya, Bosnia and, when possible, Western Europe. Not all are Arab, and not all are men. All are thought to be Muslim, but a few have pretended to convert to Christianity to deepen their cover, the senior intelligence official said.

"There was a legitimate concern right after 9/11 that the face of international terrorism was basically from the Middle East. We know differently," Ridge said. "We don't have the luxury of kidding ourselves that there is an ethnic or racial or country profile."
The moral? Be afraid of everyone you see, regardless of race, creed, color, sexual orientation, or country of origin. Thanks to World O'Crap for the pointer.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Thanks to BAGnewsNotes for pointing out a brilliant takedown by the co-producer of "Outfoxed." After watching O'Reilly lie his way through an hour-long "debate" with Paul Krugman on CNBC, Jim Gilliam decided to do his own research and add corrections and clarifications as captions on top of the video. The results are eye-opening:
"On 'Meet the Press' last weekend, Fox's Bill O'Reilly was invited to debate NYTimes Columnist Paul Krugman. Afterwards, O'Reilly insisted that he had bested Krugman. So, what's the truth?

Borrowing a similar methodology used in Outfoxed to expose the network's bias, the film's co-producer Jim Gilliam gave the O'Reilly-Krugman 'debate' a similar once-over. In this amusing video clip, Gilliam splices together highlights of the show, adding titles to clarify facts whenever O'Reilly takes liberties with them. It's an interesting editorial technique, and a revealing look at how much talking heads (especially the pompous B'OR) can get away with.
Follow the link and watch the clip. It's an eye-opener. Also, read this profile of O'Reilly at, which tries to explain the appeal of this man:
According to Douglas Rushkoff, an author and media/popular-culture theorist, O'Reilly's poor impulse control is precisely what makes him so valuable to Fox News Channel. According to Rushkoff, O'Reilly's appeal to anger, emotion and opinion are not merely ratings-grabbing devices; they are part of a larger program of ideological coercion. As the conservative-message machine geared up in the 1970s," says Rushkoff, "its strategy was to make the political landscape more emotional and less factual -- galvanizing a new base of conservative support around hot-button issues. That's why Fox tries to replace news with opinion." O'Reilly, Rushkoff says, is crucial to this strategy, with his opinion-based news analysis and short temper. "The net effect of people getting their information from the O'Reilly show, instead of from a news operation, is that they're more apt to believe that the arguments that sway them most emotionally deserve their allegiance."
Want to win the debate? Yell louder. Stung by an attack on the facts? Try an ad hominem attack. Reduce everything to simple issues and personalize them. Then yell some more. It works for O'Reilly.

(Via Preemptive Karma via Roger Ailes)

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Bill Maher has an excellent op-ed column in the New York Daily News, entitled "Bush blew it the morning of 9/11." In it, he points out the sheer, breathtaking stupidity of Bush's actions on that fateful day. It wasn't just the seven minutes of deer-in-the-headlights panic memorialized in Fahrenheit 9/11. No, it's much worse.
The fact that Bush wasted 27 minutes that day -- not only the seven minutes reading to kids but 20 more at a photo op afterward -- was, in my view, the most outrageous thing a President has done since Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the Supreme Court.


Republicans are tying themselves in knots trying to defend Bush's actions that morning. The excuses they put forward are absurd:
  • He was "gathering his thoughts." This was a moment a President should have imagined a thousand times. There is no time in the nuclear age for a President to sit like Forrest Gump "gathering thoughts" after an attack has begun. Gathering information is what he should have been doing.
  • From the White House press secretary: "The President felt he should project strength and calm until he could better understand what was happening." I agree that gaining a better understanding of what was happening should have been his goal. What I don't get is how that goal was reached by just sitting there instead of getting up and talking to people. Is he a psychic? Was he receiving the information telepathically?
  • "He didn't want to scare the children." Vice President Cheney has said of Kerry, "The senator from Massachusetts has given us ample reason to doubt the judgment he brings to vital issues of national security." So Kerry's judgment is suspect, but at a moment of national crisis, Bush's judgment was: Better not to scare 20 children momentarily than to react immediately to an attack on the country!
If he had just said, "Hey, kids, gotta go do some President business - be good to your moms and dads, bye!" my guess is the kids would have survived.

I cannot see how someone who considers himself a conservative can defend George Bush's inaction. Conservatives pride themselves on being clear-eyed and decisive. They don't do nuance, and they respect toughness.
Keep this one in your arsenal of talking points. The next time you're in a discussion with a conservative friend or family member, lay this one on them. Plant the seeds of doubt. Tell them if they're not sure, they can look it up in the 9/11 Commission report. It's all documented in Chapter 1. As a bonus, tell them they should read Chapter 8, too.

Wired News has a story that would be funny if it weren't so true:
It was simultaneously an uh-oh moment and an ah-ha moment.

When Sequoia Voting Systems demonstrated its new paper-trail electronic voting system for state Senate staffers in California last week, the company representative got a surprise when the paper trail failed to record votes that testers cast on the machine.

That was bad news for the voting company, whose paper-trail, touch-screen machine will be used for the first time next month in Nevada's state primary. The company advertises that its touch-screen machines provide "nothing less than 100 percent accuracy."

It was good news, however, for computer scientists and voting activists, who have long held that touch-screen machines are unreliable and vulnerable to tampering, and therefore must provide a physical paper-based audit trail of votes.
I've spent the last 20 years working, up close and personal, with computer technology. No computerized system will ever be 100% accurate at anything. No manual system will ever be 100% accurate, either. That's why we put in audit trails and procedures that allow us to double- and triple-check these types of systems.

There are only two possible explanations for people who insist on putting in paperless electronic voting machines: They truly don't understand technology, or they want to game the results.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Every aspect of a George W. Bush campaign appearance is scripted, including the Q & A sessions. So what do you make of this exchange in Portland, Oregon yesterday?
Q Can you hear me now?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, ma'am. I like the cowboy boots, strong look.

Q I thought you might like that.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, yes, it's strong.

Q Actually, 33 years ago I was working with the Texas Air National Guard.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, fantastic.

Q From October of '71 to May of '72, you and I knew each other. So you were there.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) Good to see you again. (Laughter.) Yes, sir. Thanks for your service, Sergeant.
Of course, those dates are not in question at all. The disputed dates are from May through September 1972, as is well documented in the AWOL Project. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported:
"[I]n May 1972, [Bush] moved to Alabama to work on a political campaign and, he has said, to perform his Guard service there for a year. But other Guard officers have said they had no recollection of ever seeing him there. The most evidence the White House has been able to find are records showing Mr. Bush was paid for six days in October and November 1972, without saying where, and the record of a dental exam at a Montgomery, Ala., air base on Jan. 6, 1973.


Among the issues still disputed is why, according to released records, Mr. Bush was suspended from flying on Aug. 1, 1972. The reason cited in the records is 'failure to accomplish annual medical examination.'

Mr. Bartlett, the White House spokesman, said in February that Mr. Bush felt he did not need to take the physical as he was no longer flying planes in Alabama. Mr. Lloyd, the retired colonel who studied the records, gave a similar explanation in an interview.
Isn't it convenient that someone showed up at a Bush campaign event and "testified" to his military service during a period that was never in dispute?

First Draft - George and Laura Lie to Larry King: "The Bushes were on Larry King Live last night. What follows is a partial list of the whoppers told by the Midland Misleaders side by side with the truth."

Nice summary of a dysfunctional couple.

Update: In the comments, Clifburns modestly points to a couple of bonus whoppers from the Liar-in-chief that the First Draft folks missed. Check out the Preznit's stand on a national sales tax and gay marriage and ask yourself: "stupid or deceitful?"

Bush and Kerry visit Portland, Oregon

Kerry's holding a "free public rally... No tickets needed."

Bush is having two events. "Neither event will be open to the public; attendance will be by invitation or ticket only."

Update: 60,000 people showed up for Kerry's rally in Portland. Sixty thousand. Holy shit.

Bush and Larry King:
KING: So is that what led you to say on that ship that the battle is over?

G. BUSH: No, I didn't say that. Now, let's be careful about that.

I went on that aircraft carrier to thank a crew.

KING: The sign said it, I think.

G. BUSH: No, the sign said, "Mission accomplished." It didn't say the battle was over. It said, "Mission accomplished." And I was talking to sailors and a pilot who had been on an extended tour -- I think, maybe the longest in a long period of time. They were both -- this carrier was both in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

And I wanted to look them in the eye and say: Thank you for doing your job.
Horseshit. The Ministry of Truth has not yet revised the transcript of Commander Codpiece's remarks on the carrier. Here is exactly what he said:
President Bush Announces Major Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended: "THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.
The man will sit in front of Americans, with his wife by his side, and lie through his teeth. And Larry King doesn't call him on it. What a tool.

Oh, and just in case anyone missed the point, remember this delightful sound bite from the same speech on the same aircraft carrier:
The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 -- and still goes on. That terrible morning, 19 evil men -- the shock troops of a hateful ideology -- gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of their ambitions.
Wow. Thank God we invaded the people who sent those terrorists over to New York and Washington. Oh. You mean we didn't invade Saudi Arabia? Go figure.

The President's selection to be the new director of the CIA thinks it should be just fine to have secret police spying on U.S. citizens right here at home.

Newsweek reports:
Rep. Porter Goss, President Bush's nominee to head the CIA, recently introduced legislation that would give the president new authority to direct CIA agents to conduct law-enforcement operations inside the United States -- including arresting American citizens.

The legislation, introduced by Goss on June 16 and touted as an "intelligence reform" bill, would substantially restructure the U.S. intelligence community by giving the director of Central Intelligence (DCI) broad new powers to oversee its various components scattered throughout the government.

But in language that until now has not gotten any public attention, the Goss bill would also redefine the authority of the DCI in such a way as to substantially alter -- if not overturn -- a 57-year-old ban on the CIA conducting operations inside the United States.

The language contained in the Goss bill has alarmed civil-liberties advocates. It also today prompted one former top CIA official to describe it as a potentially "dramatic" change in the guidelines that have governed U.S. intelligence operations for more than a half century.

"This language on its face would have allowed President Nixon to authorize the CIA to bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters," Jeffrey H. Smith, who served as general counsel of the CIA between 1995 and 1996, told NEWSWEEK. "I can't imagine what Porter had in mind."
And if the current Supreme Court had been in place in 1973, they would have probably crushed the Watergate investigation and Nixon would probably have finished out his term. Frightened yet?

Charles Pierce draws a straight line from the NFL to the 2004 campaign:
It was broadly hinted at in Washington that the White House was going to use its time and money during the run-up to the Republican national convention to make John Kerry a subject of humor and derision.

Which means they're going to be stomping on Kerry's logo pretty hard over the next month or so.

It is a wonderment, though, that this president is going to campaign for a while on the platform of making somebody else look ridiculous. The sheer audacity of it, considering that, every time he rises to speak, this president is even money to break an ankle getting from a subject to a verb, and that this president talks about the serious problem of international sex tourism without ever apparently consulting his brother Neil, who apparently lived for several years in Thailand working as a petri dish, and that this president could find neither oil in Texas nor his National Guard unit in Alabama.
  • Food on your family.
  • Make the pie higher.
  • Watch this drive.
  • The Pet Goat.
With all the very big fish they have swimming around in their own very small barrels, they're now going to launch Operation Whoopie Cushion?


I think it's time for the referees to visit the training camp here. After all, as we were told at length, the rules are enforced for everybody's safety. The reason that celebrations are being kept to a minimum in the NFL this season is supposedly because they stir up bad blood and get somebody hurt down the line. This White House may want the campaign fought out on the grounds of national security, or on the social issues that get the Christers all revved up and ready to rock. It damn sure doesn't want it fought out on the grounds of which man looks more ridiculous as president of the United States.
Maybe we should mail little referee kits (yellow flags and whistles) to every talking head on every network (except Fox, which is hopeless). A flurry of penalty flags and a piercing blast of the whistle every time Newt Gingrich or Dan Bartlett or Scotty McClellan or some other RNC tool appears in public would be just the remedy to all this unsportsmanlike conduct.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

MoveOn PAC has announced the winners of its "Real People Ads" contest. The winners are exceptional. Go watch.

Not a single comparison of Bush to Hitler in the bunch. Imagine that.

Over at, Professor Froomkin is troubled:
I'm somewhat concerned about the way the ad skirts the campaign finance laws. As I understand it -- and I'm in no way an expert -- the ads can't endorse a candidate, although they can talk about them.

If that's the rule, this ad comes very close to the line. Rather than say "Vote for Kerry" the ad no doubt accurately indentifies the speaker as "Voting for Kerry".

If the statement is accurate, it's just descriptive. So perhaps technically it's not an endorsement and thus within the letter of the law, maybe brilliantly so. But it can't be consistent with the spirit of the campaign finance rules.
Yeah, well, fuck fairness and the "spirit of the campaign finance rules." If the other side is gonna slime and distort with the Swift Boat ads and a coordinated daily blast of RNC lies and distortion, then the good guys cannot go to hand-wringing over technicalities.

And if the Bush campaign wants to file suit over it, more power to 'em. Maybe it'll get these ads shown in the news, for free, as often as the Swift Boat crap has been on the air for free.

8 hospitalized as heat hammers Bush crowd:
About 20 people were overcome by the afternoon heat outside Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix on Wednesday after waiting several hours to watch President Bush speak at a campaign rally.

Paramedics rushed eight people to hospitals after they suffered symptoms of dehydration and heat exhaustion.

Among the injured was a woman in her mid-70s who suffered a heart attack and was not breathing when she collapsed outside the Coliseum, near 19th Avenue and Encanto Boulevard. The unidentified woman was listed in extremely critical condition late Wednesday, Phoenix fire Capt. Frank Salomon said.


Many of the supporters brought no water or umbrellas to fight the sun, leaving them susceptible to the intense summertime heat, Salomon said.

Salomon estimated the heat bouncing off the asphalt was 120 to 130 degrees. Wednesday's high temperature in Phoenix was 111 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

"They didn't come prepared for this heat," Salomon said. "They didn't bring any water, didn't bring shade."

Once people got to the Coliseum doors, Secret Service agents were seen taking away water bottles that Phoenix firefighters had distributed moments before. A Secret Service spokesman in Phoenix declined to comment on the situation, referring inquiries to a supervisor who did not return phone messages Wednesday.
In addition to the loyalty oath, did attendees have to sign a medical release?

On August 10, George W. Bush made a campaign stop in Pensacola, Florida. At that rally, according to one press report, "Gary Walby, a resident of nearby Destin, told the president during a question-and-answer session that though he always voted Republican, 'this is the very first time I felt God was in the White House.'"

On August 11 and 12, the state of Florida was hit by natural disasters:
Hundreds of thousands of Tampa Bay-area residents were ordered Thursday to get out of the way of a rapidly strengthening Hurricane Charley, as its weaker sister, the disorganized Tropical Storm Bonnie, blustered ashore in the Florida Panhandle.

Charley, which had pumped up to nearly 105 mph by early afternoon, was expected to hit the state's western coast Friday, possibly bringing heavy rain, swirling tornadoes and a storm surge of up to 12 feet to the Tampa Bay and Fort Myers areas.

The back-to-back storms -- the first to menace the state so close together since 1906 -- had prompted Gov. Jeb Bush to declare a state of emergency for all of Florida.
On August 11, Bush campaigned in New Mexico and Arizona. According to the Arizona Republic: "Speaking with rolled-up shirt sleeves, Bush was flanked by a seating section in which supporters, dressed in red or white, were seated to create a huge red 'W.' Above them was a banner proclaiming, 'God loves you, President Bush.'" Shortly after the President began speaking, lightning started forest fires in the vicinty and a vicious dust storm blew in:
Four people died and 42 others were injured in a series of chain-reaction accidents during a blinding dust storm, authorities said. Nearly two dozen vehicles, including a passenger bus and 12 tractor-trailers, were involved in crashes on both sides of Interstate 10 Wednesday evening.


Dust created by a late-afternoon wind storm hampered the efforts of firefighters, who battled the low visibility and the flames to help the injured.

Kelly Williams, who lives just north of the accident scene, said the storm kicked up a blinding wall of dust surrounding the community and the interstate. When she and her family ventured to the site, they could barely see the wreckage.
Is the President coming to your town soon? Better batten down the hatches. And pray.

Max Sawicky clears away the crap in this post, which I reprint in its entirety because, dammit, it's so true:

I am so sick of the anti-Kerry war stories. I was never much interested in the details of the Bush record either, though I did not fail to make note of the basics. The comparison is simple: Kerry went into combat, Bush didn't. All the rest is a massive distraction from what the election ought to be about, to wit:

1. Was invading Iraq a good idea?
2. Have we and are we doing as well as possible to protect ourselves from Al Queda?
3. How do we boost employment and fix the deficit?
4. How do we reduce poverty?
5. Should gay marriage be left to the states?
6. Is every stem cell a person with a right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness?

Etc. etc. Not all of these, by the way, necessarily cut to the same candidate's advantage.

On the personal military integrity issue, the comparison between the candidates is simple. Wallowing in details only serves those who would like you to not talk about the issues above. It's a losing battle. Floating lies is costless. Documenting their falsity exhausts resources.

You don't have to argue with hacks and idiots. Their function is to absorb your attention, because it could be deployed to better effect elsewhere.
The only quibble I have with this approach is it ignores the relentless drumbeat of the right with their disciplined message of short, punchy lies. Rather than spending time on lengthy rebuttals, spend your time coming up with short, punchy responses to those lies. And repeat them every chance you get.

Man's best friend? Not if that man's the Preznit. A gallery of left-leaning, right-thinking dogs.

Update: Cats hate Bush, too.

[via J-Walk]

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

This guy made the mistake of carrying a book about medieval role-playing computer games on the ferry. Here's what happened:
This morning, they're doing bag searches again to get on the ferry. And the guy doing the searches pulls me aside and says, 'Sir, I feel that I need to confiscate this book.'

I pause and say, in that tone of voice that most people would recognize as meaning, 'have you lost your grip completely, chuckles?': 'You need to confiscate... a book.'

'Yes. I feel it's inappropriate for the other people on the ferry to be exposed to it.'

Now, I had the book IN MY BAG. It was not open. And while the Maiden of the Mirthless Smile is displayed as improbably proportioned, well, this is not, as far as I know, illegal to have. I mean, there was a guy carrying a copy of Maxim, and some of the women in THAT are improbably proportion. (All right, I admit: they're not wielding a huge sword and dressed in a bustier studded with human finger bones. But really.)

My response: 'Well, let me call the ACLU and have them come down here, and see what they think about your attempt to confiscate a book that was not in the plain sight of others due to your feeling it's not appropriate.' And I pull out my cell and start scrolling down the list - ACLU-NJ is at the top, actually, before 'Amanda' and '[info]ardaniel' since it sorts alphabetically.

He gets all pissy at me and says, 'Don't you understand this is for your safety?'

'Confiscating someone's gun or bomb is for my safety. PErhaps confiscating someone's pocketknife or nailfile may be for my safety. What's so damn dangerous about my book?'


'That's NOT YOUR DECISION! I could be carrying a copy of Hustler in here, and it's STILL not your decision! You're looking for bombs and knifes and guns and things that hurt people, and a book that is IN MY BAG is not going to leap out of its own damn accord and HIT SOMEONE!'

The rest of the people waiting for the ferry are watching our exchange. He realizes that they're all looking at him, and that I'm winning this one in their eyes.

He lets me go on the boat.

I'm pretty sure he made notes about me, and I'll probably get more hassling later, and if I run into him again he'll probably be more of an asshole.

But I don't care. I won this one. I'll win the next one if I have to fight it.

Today I print out the Fourth Amendment and keep a copy of it in my bag.
The book in question is pictured here. OK, anyone who still thinks this election isn't important, raise your right arm.

Whoever wrote this editorial for the Salt Lake City Tribune deserves to be promoted to the big leagues. Go away, they tell the hordes of big media types descending to cover the sad, sordid story of another incident of domestic violence that ended in murder.
This is a local story, involving the pain of local people, investigated and prosecuted by local officials and thoroughly covered by the local media. Further reporting of this story for any other audience, beyond short updates, is a waste of videotape, ink and, most of all, time.

When this story is all over it might, in the hands of a perceptive writer, make a good magazine article. But it really appears no different than the sad tales of hundreds of other women who, each year, are killed by those they trusted the most.

For Fox News, MSNBC and, most disappointing of all, CNN - the Network of Record - to be spending so much time hashing, rehashing and, most of all, speculating on the gory details of this single case is an excellent example of what's wrong with the mass media today.

Every minute spent by Larry King or Fox News on Lori Hacking or Laci Peterson is a minute they don't spend on health care, education, environmental quality, national security, the economy or other real issues that should be the center of public attention, especially in an election year.

A nation full of people who know more about Scott Peterson's defense strategy than they do about Donald Rumsfeld's is not a nation that shows much ability to govern itself.
So sad, so true.


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

If you haven't heard Steve Earle, well... Damn. You should.

His new album, "The Revolution Starts," will be out on August 24th. I've heard most of it, and the music will make those little hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Imagine what Bruce Springsteen would sound like if he had got seriously messed up with drugs, went to prison, came out clean and sober, never got rich, and never lost touch with his populist roots. You can listen to three tracks for yourself if you're so inclined. I recommend Rich Man's War as a good starting point. Then move on to F the CC and The Revolution Starts Now.

The man himself will be marching in NYC the week of the Republican convention. He's one of my heroes.

Read the lyrics for yourself:

Rich Man's War

Jimmy joined the army 'cause he had no place to go
There ain't nobody hirin'
'round here since all the jobs went
down to Mexico
Reckoned that he'd learn himself a trade maybe see the world
Move to the city someday and marry a black haired girl
Somebody somewhere had another plan
Now he's got a rifle in his hand
Rollin' into Baghdad wonderin' how he got this far
Just another poor boy off to fight a rich man's war

Bobby had an eagle and a flag tattooed on his arm
Red white and blue to the bone when he landed in Kandahar
Left behind a pretty young wife and a baby girl
A stack of overdue bills and went off to save the world
Been a year now and he's still there
Chasin' ghosts in the thin dry air
Meanwhile back at home the finance company took his car
Just another poor boy off to fight a rich man's war

When will we ever learn
When will we ever see
We stand up and take our turn
And keep tellin' ourselves we're free

Ali was the second son of a second son
Grew up in Gaza throwing bottles and rocks when the tanks would come
Ain't nothin' else to do around here just a game children play
Somethin' 'bout livin' in fear all your life makes you hard that way

He answered when he got the call
Wrapped himself in death and praised Allah
A fat man in a new Mercedes drove him to the door
Just another poor boy off to fight a rich man's war

Molly Ivins, formerly a national treasure, is now officially a North American treasure:
This year, the American psychodrama, eh, is the election, and Canadians are taking unusual care, even by their standards, to try to phrase their questions delicately. 'You couldn't possibly...' they begin, only to break off. 'Are you not aware of what...' 'Surely you realize how...' But they can think of no polite way of asking if we are such freaking idiots we haven't noticed the damage that has been done by the Bush administration to the American reputation all over the world.

One tries to explain that, 'Who cares what the rest of the world thinks?' is a common American reaction, leaving the poor Canadians to quietly mutter, 'Oh dear.'
Go ahead, ask your Canadian friends. They'll tell you she's right.

Excellent Daniel Gross piece in Slate: Wal-Mart = Bush. Costco = Kerry. Costco's Winning.

For the record, I've set foot in a Wal-Mart exactly four times in my life, and I have made a vow not to go back. Costco gets all my business. Better merchandise, better prices, betteer food and wine selection, better treatment of the workers. At Wal-Mart, Gross notes, "The company's labor policies are state-of-the-art, for the 1890s."

I'm delighted to hear the marketplace is behaving rationally.

The Boston Globe says:
The grumbling began as soon as the Boss said he would, for the first time, stump for a presidential candidate. "This is a sad day for me," a fan wrote on the Bruce Springsteen Internet newsgroup. "After 25 years as a hardcore Bruce fan, I'm officially done with him."


Because Springsteen announced last week that he and a like-minded clutch of rock stars -- including Dave Matthews, R.E.M., Bonnie Raitt, John Fogerty, and John Mellencamp -- would hold concerts in nine swing states to support Democratic nominee John Kerry. The Vote for Change tour, set to kick off in October, is the latest news in a campaign marked by unprecedented fund-raising efforts by musicians. And it has roused complaints from an often underappreciated chunk of the listening public: Conservatives.

"I don't want my money going to these causes," says Jeff Raymond, an R.E.M. fan from Worcester. "I have a severe problem going to a concert that's going to be directly funding these things I don't believe in."

Raymond isn't alone. Other Bush supporters pledged not to go to the concerts, some of which include a potential musical dream pairing of R.E.M. and Springsteen.
So, uh, don't go. Oh, and don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

Have these morons actually listened to the artists in question for the past 10 or 20 (or in Springsteen's case) 30 years?

If you are offended by liberal musicians, I'm sure Toby Keith or Charlie Daniels will be passing through your town soon. Wear your American flag shirt, grab a six-pack, and get ready to do some boot-scootin'.

Human Events Online, a reliable organ of the vast right-wing conspiracy, is outraged. Outraged! "Will Kerry's supporters stop at nothing?"

Ha ha ha. This is who they're defending.

OK, back to work.

[Updated to fix the name of the organization. Funny, I hear "human" and I think "human rights." Guess I'll never be a wingnut. Thanks to Michael at Musing's Musings for the catch.]

It's the dog days of summer, and I have deliverables due. So I'll be laying low for a while. Expect light blogging, with occasional outbursts of outrage, until the Republicans gather for four groovy days of peace, love, and music in Woodstock in late August.

(I'm just assuming it's in Woodstock. I heard it was in New York but didn't really check the details. I'm sure someone will correct me if I got this wrong...)

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Via The Big Picture, this quote from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (and an excellent graph - click the link) proving that the small number of jobs created in this "jobless recovery" aren't a step up:
Of the 3.2 million reemployed displaced workers who lost full-time wage and salary jobs during the 2001-03 period, 2.6 million were working in such jobs in January 2004. (The remaining reemployed workers had part-time wage and salary jobs or were self-employed or unpaid family workers.)

Fifty-seven percent of workers who were displaced from full-time wage and salary jobs and who were reemployed in such jobs had earnings that were lower than those on the lost job. About one-third experienced earnings losses of 20 percent or more.
The polls consistently show that a solid majority of Americans believe the country is not moving in the right direction. This is one reason why. A lot of people know someone who "traded down" and accepted a lower-paying job after getting laid off.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

"The one thing we can say about George W. Bush is we will be forever in his debt."

-- Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), after the administration's recent announcement that this year's deficit, an estimated $445 billion, will set a red-ink record.

(Washington Post)

Hunter S. Thompson is crazy, but in a good way. He's also one of the more astute political analysts of all time. Read his latest:
Election years are always weird in America, and they always happen in football season. That is a fact of life. The President will always be elected on the first Tuesday in November, for good or ill, and not even Richard Nixon could change it. He hated anything that stood between him and a Green Bay Packers game, especially on Monday nights.

Nixon was a bad loser. He hated losing worse than death, and that is why I enjoyed him. We were both football fans, both addicts; and on some days, nothing else mattered.

But that was yesterday, and George Bush is now.

Where is Richard Nixon, now that we need him? He was crooked in every way and his hands were covered with blood -- but he was a rabid, high-rolling football fan with a sly taste for gin; and on some nights, he could be good company.

Ah, but we live in a new century now, and the president is not a football fan. The first real game of the season will be a huge event for most of us; but for young George Bush, it will mean nothing. He will feel no relief, no escape from the same sense of doom that fell on his father, only 12 years ago. The old man failed when he tried to get re-elected, and so will his son. They both peaked too soon, about six months before football season; and after that, they sank like punctured fish.

So the time has come to get busy on what we call 'the summer book' in the business of gambling on presidential elections. And right now the London/Vegas numbers are about 51-49 percent for Bush, if only because he is the filthy-rich incumbent and the son of a global oil-industry magnate.

That is big in the politics business; but this year, it will not be enough to make up for all the wretched, disastrous failures of the Bush administration. Betting on George Bush to win this coming election would be like betting the Denver Broncos to win the Super Bowl.

My own whim at the moment says that John Kerry will win big in November, and that the Colts will finally win the Super Bowl. Why not? This is the year of the monkey, and George Bush will be lucky to get out of Washington without being put on trial for treason.

Yes sir, we are coming around to some bold visions now, but my time is running out. Next week, I will tell you what happens in America if Kerry loses this election, along with the current odds on whether there will be an election this year. Okay. Mahalo.
I can't wait.

(via Approximately Perfect)