Sid's Fishbowl
A proud member of the reality-based community (aquatic division)
Thursday, September 30, 2004

One word: Bullshit.

Exhibit A: Nominees in the Best International category are:
Informed Comment
National Review - The Corner
Little Green Footballs
Iraq The Model
To have LGF given credibility as a source of "international" information is so far beyond ridiculous as to be absurd. And the CJR Campaign Desk pointed me to Roxanne of Rox Populi, who calls bullshit as well, based in no small part on the fact that National Review Online's The Corner is nominated in just about every category. Sheesh. Rox has created her own Best Political Bloggers Contest, which includes the category "Best I-Don't-Know-What-The-Fuck-You're-Talking-About-Half-The-Time-But-You-Seem-Like-You're-An-Expert Blog."

If you follow the links from the Washington Post contest, you will see a selection of A-list blogs on the left and right that you can find linked from just about anywahere. Follow the links from Rox's page instead to see some real alternatives.

Do you live in Florida? Even if you don't, you should consider using the new online Florida Election Ballot.

(Go ahead and click, it's worth it.)

Thanks to Prof. Froomkin for the link.

Courtesy of Xan at Corrente: "I'll tell ya the line I would most like to hear Kerry say and don't expect to: 'Mr. Bush says he will do better at protecting America from terrorist attack. I hope that means that the next time he gets a memo saying 'Bin Laden Expected to Attack Inside US' he will do something other than go on vacation.' "

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

These guys claim to be a non-partisan prayer and fasting movement for George W. Bush. Yeah. Right.
Answer a call to personally fast once a month for President Bush.

God is raising up multitudes of Christians (regardless of political affiliation) to fast and pray for the holiness of President George W. Bush and our nation. Join us in God's grassroots movement.
Hey, I have an idea! If you're planning to vote for George W. Bush, please fast from now until Election Day. Don't worry, God won't let anything bad happen to you.

Meanwhile, I'll be having an extra helping of calories today, because I think God wants me to stay strong and healthy so I can keep working to defeat Bush.

(via J-Walk)

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

If Daniel Ellsberg had acted earlier, the tragedy of Vietnam might have been prevented. That's what makes his column in today's The New York Times so compelling:
Surely there are officials in the present administration who recognize that the United States has been misled into a war in Iraq, but who have so far kept their silence - as I long did about the war in Vietnam. To them I have a personal message: don't repeat my mistakes. Don't wait until more troops are sent, and thousands more have died, before telling truths that could end a war and save lives. Do what I wish I had done in 1964: go to the press, to Congress, and document your claims.

Technology may make it easier to tell your story, but the decision to do so will be no less difficult. The personal risks of making disclosures embarrassing to your superiors are real. If you are identified as the source, your career will be over; friendships will be lost; you may even be prosecuted. But some 140,000 Americans are risking their lives every day in Iraq. Our nation is in urgent need of comparable moral courage from its public officials.
The truth shall set us all free.

The latest Gallup Poll shows George W. Bush with a big lead over John Kerry. Unfortunately, their methodology is horrendously biased in favor of Republicans, as this new ad from explains. Does your local paper use the Gallup Poll results? Send them a letter and ask them to ask Gallup why they are conducting such an unfair poll. Then ask them to find another polling company whose results are more accurate.

For more background, see this post by Steve Soto and this one from Ruy Teixeira.

The Lone Star Iconoclast, George W. Bush's hometown newspaper in Crawford, Texas, endorsed him when he ran for President four years ago. It editorialized in support of going to war with Iraq in 2003. But this year, they are endorsing John F. Kerry. Here's what they had to say:
Few Americans would have voted for George W. Bush four years ago if he had promised that, as President, he would:
  • Empty the Social Security trust fund by $507 billion to help offset fiscal irresponsibility and at the same time slash Social Security benefits.
  • Cut Medicare by 17 percent and reduce veterans’ benefits and military pay.
  • Eliminate overtime pay for millions of Americans and raise oil prices by 50 percent.
  • Give tax cuts to businesses that sent American jobs overseas, and, in fact, by policy encourage their departure.
  • Give away billions of tax dollars in government contracts without competitive bids.
  • Involve this country in a deadly and highly questionable war, and
  • Take a budget surplus and turn it into the worst deficit in the history of the United States, creating a debt in just four years that will take generations to repay.
These were elements of a hidden agenda that surfaced only after he took office.

The publishers of The Iconoclast endorsed Bush four years ago, based on the things he promised, not on this smoke-screened agenda.
The Bush Administration has made one mistake after another, but no one admits those mistakes, no one takes responsibility for them, and no one is ever held accountable. Their relentless smear campaign is an attempt to hide their record from the voters.

The editors of the Iconoclast know their neighbor George W. Bush very well. They look at John Kerry and see a man with "30 years of experience looking out for the American people" and a background as "a highly decorated Vietnam veteran."

Their editorial makes a lot of sense. Pass it on.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Last week Bill O'Reilly interviewed George W. Bush for a half-hour. The interview airs over three consecutive nights on O'Reilly's show, beginning tonight. In this column, O'Reilly explains his approach to the interview and inadvertently lets slip his exalted opinion of himself and why his show is practically unwatchable by anyone interested in a full and fair exchange of ideas:
I approached my thirty minute interview with the President cautiously. I kept my presence low key, which is a tremendous departure for me. There are certain rules that have to be followed when talking with the most powerful man in the world, and I respected the guidelines.

For example, I am known for confrontational interviews, but you simply cannot tell a sitting President that you, the interviewer, know more than he does. That would make you look like a moron. So open confrontation goes right out the window.

Also, the tone of your questions must be respectful. Although I asked everything I wanted to ask and there were no restrictions in the interview, my queries were posed less aggressively than usual. I was direct, but subdued, another departure for me.
. To review: You can't tell the sitting President you know more than he does. Even if you do. (Of course, I thought the purpose of an interview was to ask questions, not to thump your chest about your own intelligence or knowledge. Guess I can't work for Fox.) Apparently, O'Reilly believes that no one else should tell the President they know more than he does - on Iraq, on the economy, on fiscal policy, you name it. When the Oval Office is filled with an incurious dunderhead the likes of which has not been seen since Millard Fillmore, this is a bad thing.

Also, with the President, you have to be nonconfrontational and subdued. Kind of like Tim Russert treated Bush when he interviewed him earlier this year. The rest of our press corpse hass learned this lesson as well.

However, if the interview subject is anyone other than the sitting President, O'Reilly seems to say, he is fully justified in letting it be known, in a confrontational, aggressive style, that he, Bill, is way smarter and they should just, you know, shut up. And if the interview subject won't shut up and insists on saying things that O'Reilly disagrees with? Yell louder and then cut off their mike.

By the way, I think Bill O'Reilly probably is smarter than George W. Bush. But I don't want either one of them to hold elected office.

Brad Friedman reads through the archives at the White House and notes:
In the buildup to War on Iraq, when the idea was very unpopular amongst Americans just prior to the 2002 Elections, Bush and his surrogates went out of their way to tell the American people that he had no plans for war on his desk...
"I told the Chancellor that I have no war plans on my desk, which is the truth." - May 23, 2002 to German Chancellor Schroeder

"I told the Prime Minister there are no war plans on my desk." - June 23, 2002 to Australian Prime Minister Howard

"I told President Chirac, I have no war plans on my desk." - May 26, 2002 to French President Chirac
As we later learned, of course, plans for War on Iraq were being readied at the time by the Pentagon even if they weren't yet "on Bush's desk".

This morning, on ABC's This Week Colin Powell made a careful mid-sentence correction when answering a question about whether there are plans for re-instating the Draft in the U.S.:
POWELL: There are no plans for a least President Bush has no plans for a draft.
In other words, Bush "has no plans for a Draft on his desk."

We report, you decide.

(Fool me twice, shame on me?)
OK, now read what was in the New York Times this morning:
Fearing a sharp decline in recruiting and troop retention, the Army is considering cutting the length of its 12-month combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, senior Army officials say.

Senior Army personnel officers, as well as top Army Reserve and National Guard officials, say the Army's ability to recruit and retain soldiers will steadily erode unless combat tours are shortened, to some length between six and nine months, roughly equivalent to the seven-month tours that are the norm in the Marine Corps.

But other Army officials responsible for combat operations and war planning have significant concerns that the Army - at its current size and as now configured - cannot meet projected requirements for Iraq and Afghanistan unless active duty and reserve troops spend 12 months on the ground in those combat zones.
Now connect the dots. Shorter tours of duty mean you don't have enough soldiers. Longer tours of duty mean you don't have enough soldiers. If you're between 16 and 30 years old, you are right to be afraid.

Juan Cole says:
"Adam Entous of Reuters is too polite to put it this way, but the conclusion is easily extracted from his article that Bush played fast and loose with the facts on Iraq last week.

Bush said that the UN electoral advisers are on the ground. In fact, there are only a handful there because it is so dangerous. Voter registration hasn't been conducted. Almost no preparations have been made, and the poor security situation may prevent them from being accomplished.

Bush spoke of 100,000 "fully trained and equipped" Iraqi soldiers & police.

In fact, only 22,700 Iraqi troops and police have received even minimal
training, and only a few thousand are fully trained. The article is worth reading in full, and by the time you get to the end it is clear that Bush was either lying or ignorant, neither of these being a good posture for a president.
So who you gonna believe? Bush, or your own eyes?

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Amazing journalism from Nicholas Turse:
John Kerry is being pilloried for his shocking Senate testimony 34 years ago that many U.S. soldiers—not just a few "rogues"—were committing atrocities against the Vietnamese. U.S. military records that were classified for decades but are now available in the National Archives back Kerry up and put the lie to his critics. Contrary to what those critics, including the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, have implied, Kerry was speaking on behalf of many soldiers when he testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 22, 1971.


The archives have hundreds of files of official U.S. military investigations of such atrocities committed by American soldiers. I've pored over those records—which were classified for decades—for my Columbia University dissertation and, now, this Voice article. The exact number of investigated allegations of atrocities is unknown, as is the number of such barbaric incidents that occurred but weren't investigated. Some war crimes, like the Tiger Force atrocities exposed last year by The Toledo Blade, have only come to light decades later. Others never will. But there are plentiful records to back up Kerry's 1971 testimony point by point.
You'll need a very strong stomach to read the examples Turse found. Oh, and can I emphasize once again that these are official records from the United States military?

The most depressing thing is that the Swift Boat Liars raised more than $6 million for their latest rounds of smears.

(via Antigone at XX Blog)

Larry Lessig brilliantly demolishes the most insidious argument against John Kerry:
As with most Americans, at the start, Kerry supported the war in Vietnam. Unlike almost all Americans of privilege (see, e.g., George Bush and Dick Cheney), Kerry demonstrated his support by volunteering to serve in that war. But after his experience, he—as almost all Americans—came to believe that war was a mistake. Our government had lied to get us into the war; it had lied about its prosecution of the war. Based upon the facts, he changed his mind.

The same is true about the war on Iraq. As with most Americans, Kerry supported giving the President the authority to go to war. As with most Americans, Kerry expected the President would exercise that authority in a way that did not unnecessarily put America at risk. But after his experience, he—as with most Americans—came to believe that war was a mistake. Most of us believe our government lied to get us into the war; most believe it has lied about its prosecution of the war. Based upon the facts, Kerry is now critical of a war he supported at the start.

This is not flip-flopping. It is evidence of a functioning brain.

When you learn that the premise of your action was false, you should rethink your action. When you learn that the premise of a war was false, you should rethink the justification for the war. Being stubborn in the face of reality doesn't make you principled. It makes you Chairman Mao.

Yet the Bush campaign makes this criticism of Kerry because it recognizes that the voters it needs to win won't take the 60 seconds to see the absurdity in its argument. It, and its allies, are expert in flash-bulb politics. The swift boat campaign, which will be more significant in this election than Michael Moore's film, is a perfect example of the general point: lie in the right rhythm, and you can destroy just about anything.
Flip-flopper my ass.

The new DVD "features exclusive interviews from AL FRANKEN and JACOB WEISBERG! Plus, it includes four new music videos from The George W. Bush Singers, artwork from Garry Trudeau, and animated segments by Chris 'Sketchboy' Routly."

Watch the five-minute preview and be amazed by the George W. Bush Singers.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Oliver Willis discovers a "Major League" Flip-Flop on Iraq :

"And the final point that I think needs to be made is this question of casualties. I don't think you could have done all of that without significant additional US casualties. And while everybody was tremendously impressed with the low cost of the conflict, for the 146 Americans who were killed in action and for their families, it wasn't a cheap war. And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is not very damned many. So I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the President made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq." [Cheney Remarks to the Discovery Institute, Seattle, WA, 8/14/92]
Too bad Cheney doesn't windsurf.

A new study from the Pentagon provides more evidence that a draft is inevitable if Bush remains in office and "stays the course" on Iraq:
A Pentagon-appointed panel of outside experts has concluded in a new study that the American military does not have sufficient forces to sustain current and anticipated stability operations, like the festering conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and other missions that might arise.

Portions of the study, which has not been officially released, were read into the public record on Thursday by Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a leader of Democrats who want to expand the size of the military. During testimony by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his top commanders, Senator Reed said he found the study "provocative and startling."

Mr. Rumsfeld said the report was an "excellent piece of work," and that he had ordered briefings on its findings for senior military and civilian officials.
Who is joining the armed forces today? Certainly there is still a hard core of gung-ho young people who want to serve (and are being profoundly exploited by their Commander-in-Chief). But the carnage in Iraq has to be taking a huge toll on enlistments and re-ups. Why else would the Pentagon be resorting to calling up unprecedented numbers of National Guard forces, including "a South Carolina Army National Guard battalion [that] has been under disciplinary lockdown for a series of incidents starting a couple of weeks ago" (Intel Dump) and half of the Army Reserve, which its commander acknowledges "has not been properly prepared" for the stresses of Iraq. Not to mention stop-loss orders, which keep active duty military on after the end of the term they signed up for, and the imminent departure of some 5,000 British troops.

Oh, and last but not least... an average of about 1000 American soldiers a month are leaving Iraq early, in a casket, or on a stretcher, or as the result of injuries that are serious enough to take them out of combat but not have them counted as officially "wounded."

Glad I'm officially too old for this shit.

A commenter at Political Animal posted this eerily prescient bit of dialog from Dr. Strangelove. The milquetoast President Muffley (played by Peter Sellers) and General Buck Turgidson, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (played brilliantly by George C. Scott), are discussing the renagade General Jack D. Ripper, who has taken over an Air Force Base and launched a fleet of B-52s to drop nuclear bombs on Russia:
Muffley: There's nothing to figure out, General Turgidson. This man is obviously a psychotic.
Turgidson: Well, I'd like to hold off judgment on a thing like that, sir, until all the facts are in.
Muffley: General Turgidson, when you instituted the human reliability tests, you assured me there was no possibility of such a thing ever occurring.
Turgidson: Well, I don't think it's quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip up, sir.
Isn't it strange when a 60-year old book (1984) and a 40-year-old film are the most reliable predictors of what will happen next in Bush's World?

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Remember where Dear Leader was on 9/11? Remember that he sat, reading The Pet Goat for seven minutes after being notified that America was under attack, because he didn't want to traumatize the children?

Turns out he might have done more damage by sitting there reading. How many of those kids are going to seek help from The Childhood Goat Trauma Foundation someday? "The effects of a childhood goat trauma vary widely from person to person, depending on the severity of their trauma. Such problems as irrational fears, unexplained twitching, and insomnia could all have origin in a goat trauma."

(via J-Walk)

Mark A. R. Kleiman has a great bumper sticker idea:

Re-elect Bush
Ignorance is strength

Kerry demoralizes U.S. troops, Bush says:
"You cannot expect the Iraqi people to stand up and do the hard work of democracy if you're pessimistic about their ability to govern themselves. You cannot expect our troops to continue to do the hard work if they hear mixed messages from Washington, D.C."
Yeah, those Marines were ready to go in and kick some serious ass until they heard the bad man acknowledge the horror of the world they're living in.

Sheesh. Mathew Gross has a much better definition:
Seeing your buddies blown to smithereens is demoralizing. Watching an insurgency grow out of control because of a lack of foresight from your commander-in-chief is demoralizing. Recognizing that the situation is complex and difficult is realism. Talking about the situation in a realistic and mature way is called an election.
End of today's lesson.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Dear Campaign Press Corps,
Yesterday, a group of American citizens were invited to submit questions to White House Communication Director Dan Bartlett. Please read the results, as published here: Dan Bartlett hosts Ask the White House. See if you can ask some questions like these:
Marilee, from Denver, CO writes:
What is Mr. Bush's plan for success in Iraq? Stay the course doesn't seem to be working. Does he want to engage the world community, i.e. the UN? How can he do that when he and the Mr. Cheney totally dissed them prior to the invasion and at the RNC in NY early this month?

Stephen, from Colorado Springs, CO writes:
Dan, Why is it that the president or you will not declare that the documents (CYA Memos) are false and untrue? Certainly if the documents are fakes, then the information in them is false as well.

Let's hear you and Mr. Bush say they are false and untrue accusations and we can settle all this mess.

Dave, from Ohio writes:
Mr. Bartlett, thank you for your service to our nation. I saw your appearance on Hannity and Colmes a couple of weeks ago. You said that the deficit is due to the revenues coming in under spending, and that's because of the recession. But the Office of Management and Budget says that the deficit is due to spending increases and tax cuts. You said that the deficit is going down. But the OMB says it is increasing. What gives?
And there were more. So many more that Dan got a headache and had to bug out pretty quickly. Anyway, dear press corps, these are all great questions, which you all should be asking and following up on. And here's the good news: These questions are all, literally, in the public domain. Feel free to use them.



Dan Rather, CBS News Anchor

* given documents he thought were true
* failed to thoroughly investigate the facts
* reported documents to the American people as true to make his case
* when confronted with the facts, apologized and launched an investigation
* number of Americans dead: 0
* should be fired as CBS News Anchor

George W. Bush, President of the United States

* given documents he thought were true
* failed to thoroughly investigate the facts
* reported documents to the American people as true to make his case
* when confronted with the facts, continued to report untruth and stonewalled an investigation
* number of Americans dead: 1100
* should be given four more years as President of the United States

(Outlet Radio, via Kos)

Reuters reports:
President Bush, determined to put an optimistic face on deadly conditions in Iraq, said on Tuesday that the CIA was just guessing when it said the war-racked country was in danger of slipping into civil war.

"The CIA laid out several scenarios. It said that life could be lousy, life could be OK, life could be better. And they were just guessing as to what the conditions might be like," Bush told reporters during a picture-taking session with Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.
Hey, it's all just a guess. Your guess is as good as mine.

I'm guessing that the world will be a much better place if Bush gets a full-time job clearing brush in Crawford.

An unmistakable message from God.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004 has an easy-to-follow primer on Bush and the National Guard. Don't be distracted by the CBS memos, which are irrelevant to the real story. This is what really matters:
The details can get a bit obscure, but the basic timeline of Bush's service between 1972 and 1974 is easy to follow: In spring 1972 Bush attempted to permanently transfer to a non-flying Alabama Guard unit. During the second half of 1972 he missed many of his required weekend training drills. At the end of the year he returned to Houston. Bush then had to make up the absences he had stacked up while in Alabama through 'substitute service' training in 1972 and 1973. In July 1973, Bush asked to be released by the Texas Air National Guard so he could attend Harvard Business School. In September, the Guard let him go, and the Air Force officially dismissed Bush in November 1974.

Yet looking at the already available public records, they raise as many questions as they answer about Bush and his surrogates' accounts of his service -- because from his Alabama transfer to his missed physical to his substitute service to his "inactive status" to his honorable discharge, it was as if Air Force and Guard regulations simply did not apply to Lt. Bush. He seemed to become a ghostlike figure, doing -- or not doing -- whatever he pleased, unsupervised and unrated by his commanders. One serious question is whether some of Bush's superiors may have played an active role in hiding Bush's shoddy record -- pressured perhaps by powerful politicians -- by crediting him with crucial makeup training days that appear dubious in nature.
It would be nice if someone were able to ask these questions directly to Bush instead of going through Scotty "Stonewall" McClellan.

In today's Washington Post, E.J. Dionne asks: What Is Bush Hiding?
"There are a lot of questions and they need to be answered," Bush told the Union Leader in Manchester, N.H., last week. "I think what needs to happen is people need to take a look at the documents, how they were created, and let the truth come out."

I couldn't agree more. And apparently CBS came to the same view. CBS messed up, and yesterday, Rather fessed up. He said the network could no longer stand behind the documents. There will be much hand-wringing about the media in the coming days, and properly so.

But what's good for Dan Rather, who is not running for president, ought to be good for George Bush, who is. "There are a lot of questions and they need to be answered." Surely that presidential sentiment applies as much to Bush's Guard service as to Rather's journalistic methods.


Bush could end this story now so we could get to the real issues of 2004. It would require only that the president take an hour or so with reporters to make clear what he did and did not do in the Guard. He may have had good reasons for ducking that physical exam. Surely he can explain the gaps in his service and tell us honestly whether any pull was used to get him into the Guard.

But a guy who is supposed to be so frank and direct turns remarkably Clintonian where the National Guard issue is concerned. "I met my requirements and was honorably discharged" is Bush's stock answer, which does old Bill proud. And am I the only person exasperated by a double standard that treated everything Bill Clinton ever did in his life ("I didn't inhale") as fair game but now insists that we shouldn't sully ourselves with any inconvenient questions about Bush's past?
Until he was 40 years old, Bush was a self-confessed drunk. He also tacitly acknowledges doing illegal drugs. Interestingly, if he were applying to work as a civil servant in the White House, he would be required to list his experiences with illegal drugs, with no statute of limitations.

So, what was the reason for skipping that flight physical and going AWOL? Gee. Maybe this story from the August 30, 1999, issue of Time Magazine, "I've Made Mistakes..." will help:
As Governor of Texas, George W. Bush has been adamant on the subject of drugs: Stay away from them; expect to go to jail if you're caught with them; and don't ask me whether I ever used them. While every other Republican candidate denied ever taking illegal drugs, Bush continued to hold to his line: "I've made mistakes in the past, and I've learned from my mistakes." Period.


But on the heels of his Iowa victory, something suddenly snapped. At each press conference, Bush dropped another veil. First he said he could pass the White House background check that asks appointees whether they have used drugs in the past seven years. The next day it was up to 25 years.


On Wednesday morning in New Orleans, Sam Attlesey of the Dallas Morning News pulled Bush aside to ask him yet another drug question, this time about whether, as President, he could meet the same qualifications as the people he hired when it came to fbi background checks concerning illegal drug use. Bush was at first confused, and he gave his stock answer about not cataloging the sins of his distant past. Then he and his team piled into the motorcade to head for a fund raiser at the Fairmont Hotel.

It was one thing to refuse to talk about drugs--but this was about White House security and double standards. "Imagine the ad our opponents could make if we didn't answer the question," said an adviser. "'As President, George W. Bush would maintain a double standard when it comes to illegal drug use by White House employees--one for him and one for everybody else.'" And so they agreed that Bush should call Attlesey back and confirm that he would meet all the standards himself. Case closed.

It wasn't until after the New Orleans fund-raising dinner that night, as the entourage boarded a private jet for Roanoke, Va., that some advisers began to feel queasy. The logical follow-up question, they realized, would be,"What about during your father's Administration?" It was slowly dawning on them that the hole was just getting deeper. And that was even before checking the Dallas paper's website upon landing and seeing the nightmare headline: BUSH SAYS HE HASN'T USED DRUGS IN LAST SEVEN YEARS.

"Oh, my God!" groaned an adviser privately. Working by phone and e-mail, Bush and his top advisers weighed the options into the night. Bush decided he would have to move the boundary markers again. He'd volunteer that he could have passed even the 15-year background check in effect when his father was inaugurated in 1989. This would finally lay the story to rest, they imagined, if they stretched the drug-free zone all the way back to 1974, when he was 28. "It speaks to his life as a mature person," explained press secretary Mindy Tucker.

Having acknowledged that questions about background checks were legitimate, Bush backed into yet another trap. When NBC's David Bloom noted that current White House appointees must list any drug use since their 18th birthday, Bush suddenly stopped answering and ducked back behind his stone wall. He'd admitted making mistakes; if voters didn't like that answer, he said, "they can go find somebody else to vote for. That's the wonderful thing about democracy."
Yes, there you have it. Bush was not "a mature person" when he was entrusted to fly million-dollar jets for the Texas Air National Guard. And yes, he used illegal drugs - presumably marijuana and cocaine - up until 1974.

Now, would someone like to connect the dots and ask the President why he didn't want to take a flight physical and submit to random drug testing in 1972 and 1973? Thank you very much.

I don't usually bother passing along anything from Atrios, because I assume (ahem) that you already devour every word. But on the off chance you don't, this is what you missed:
It seems I have been unfair to the Bush administration. I have been saying that their entire plan for Iraq is for all of us to "Clap Louder." Apparently, I was wrong. There's actually a second part to the plan - keep killing Iraqis until they get tired.

Kerry's "Top Ten Bush Tax Proposals":
10. No estate tax for families with at least two U.S. presidents.

9. W-2 Form is now Dubya-2 Form.

8. Under the simplified tax code, your refund check goes directly to Halliburton.

7. The reduced earned income tax credit is so unfair, it just makes me want to tear out my lustrous, finely groomed hair.

6. Attorney General (John) Ashcroft gets to write off the entire U.S. Constitution.

5. Texas Rangers can take a business loss for trading Sammy Sosa.

4. Eliminate all income taxes; just ask Teresa (Heinz Kerry) to cover the whole damn thing.

3. Cheney can claim Bush as a dependent.

2. Hundred-dollar penalty if you pronounce it "nuclear" instead of "nucular."

1. George W. Bush gets a deduction for mortgaging our entire future.
(hat tip to Approximately Perfect)

Monday, September 20, 2004

Remarks by the President at "ask President Bush" Event:
...look, here's the situation. It's tough as heck in Iraq right now because people are trying to stop democracy. That's what you're seeing. And Iraqis are losing lives, and so are some of our soldiers. And it breaks my heart to see the loss of innocent life and to see brave troops in combat lose their life. It just breaks my heart. But I understand what's going on. These people are trying to shake the will of the Iraqi citizens, and they want us to leave. That's what they want us to do.

And I think the world would be better off if we did leave -- if we didn't -- if we left, the world would be worse. The world is better off with us not leaving. It's a mistake to pull out.
You really have to see this to believe it.

William Saletan's critiques of John Kerry (notably his continuing obsession with "Kerryisms") can be exasperating, but he's performed a genuine public service with a piece posted on Slate today: Where Kerry Stands on Iraq. It summarizes Kerry's important NYU speech on Iraq into 14 clear points. I only wish that the headline writer had resisted the cheap shot to call this article "a Kerry-English translation." Kerry's wording was, for the most part, crystal-clear. Saletan's contribution is not the translation but rather summarizing it into bullet points. (In fact, it's ready made for conversion into a PowerPoint slide deck.)

Of course, you could just read the full speech, as delivered by Kerry. I don't think this section, for instance, needs any translation. Do you?
On May 1 of last year, President Bush stood in front of a now infamous banner that read “Mission Accomplished.” He declared to the American people: “In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” In fact, the worst part of the war was just beginning, with the greatest number of American casualties still to come. The president misled, miscalculated, and mismanaged every aspect of this undertaking and he has made the achievement of our objective – a stable Iraq, secure within its borders, with a representative government, harder to achieve.

In Iraq, this administration’s record is filled with bad predictions, inaccurate cost estimates, deceptive statements and errors of judgment of historic proportions.

At every critical juncture in Iraq, and in the war on terrorism, the President has made the wrong choice. I have a plan to make America stronger.

The President often says that in a post 9-11 world, we can’t hesitate to act. I agree. But we should not act just for the sake of acting. I believe we have to act wisely and responsibly.

George Bush has no strategy for Iraq. I do.

George Bush has not told the truth to the American people about why we went to war and how the war is going. I have and I will continue to do so.

I believe the invasion of Iraq has made us less secure and weaker in the war against terrorism. I have a plan to fight a smarter, more effective war on terror -- and make us safer.

Today, because of George Bush’s policy in Iraq, the world is a more dangerous place for America and Americans.

If you share my conviction that we can not go on as we are …that we can make America stronger and safer than it is… then November 2 is your chance to speak... and to be heard. It is not a question of staying the course, but of changing the course.
Kerry. Smarter. Wouldn't that make a good bumper sticker?

There's nothing funny about the latest blog entry from the Pink Bunny of Battle, who says "The Gloves Are Off:
Bush and Cheney are saying to American voters, basically, that in seeking revenge for 9/11 that it doesn't really matter who we hit -- just as long as they're brown and Muslim.

And there are millions of Americans who think that this is exactly what we should be doing. If you're skeptical, just let me ask you this: Have you listened to right-wing radio lately?

I don't have to words to express my loathing for George W. Bush, his political advisors, his apologists in the press, the hack journalists who act as stenographers for the administration's talking points, and the corrupt, heartless propaganda machine that supports what will ultimately be seen as the single worst administration in my country's history.

But I would like to say this. I hope the following words are seared forever in your mind:

Who -- I ask you, WHO -- has asked why tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women, and children had to die so that America could avenge the deaths of three thousand in New York? Why is there no accounting of civilian casualties in Iraq? Why is there no compassion or concern for the plight of innocent Iraqis, who have lost their families, their livelihoods, their homes, and their dignity? How will our country appear to the world, when it becomes clear that a majority of the American people bought Bush and Cheney's subtle appeal to their racism, and saw fit to countenance the death of tens of thousands of innocents because others of their skin color and religion attacked our country?
When I watch the evening news or read the papers, I regularly see 10 or 20 Iraqis dead or wounded for every American soldier who was killed or injured. And to compound the shame, our country doesn't even bother to count how many poor brown people have died.

It's a disgrace.

Hesiod finds this frightening poll:
THE DUMBING OF AMERICA: Wnat to know why George W. Bush is even close to John kerry in the polls, let alone leading?

Because about 40% of the American people are ignorant dumbasses.

Newsweek poll:

you think Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was DIRECTLY involved in
planning, financing, or carrying out the terrorist attacks of September
11th, 2001, or not?"

Taken Sept. 2-4.



That "DIRECTLY" was capitalized by the pollsters...not me.

And they STILL got that disturbing result.

I can't think of a bigger indictment of the irresponsible, incompetent whore media than this poll.
It also requires a willing suspension of disbelief from a public that treats all substantive issues of policy as if they were promos for the new season of Survivor.

I haven't read Kitty Kelley's book yet, but I did watch Matt Lauer pretend to be a tough reporter last week for three days on the Today show. He cross-examined her like he was auditioning for a role as the prosecutor on a remake of Perry Mason. And Kitty gave it right back to him. So I was particularly impressed when I came back home and found this little item from The Gadflyer:
After several minutes of intense grilling of Kelley on the book's claims, Lauer, perhaps seeking to roll back the news media's obsession for negativity, chastised the author for writing a harsh book on George W. and family. "Most people, no matter what their politics, would say that if a family has three generations of public service, the reality has to be that there are some nice things that need to be said about them, and why aren't they in this book?" Lauer pointedly asked.

Kelley, after undergoing intense questions from Lauer that not-so-vaguely resembled Bush re-election campaign talking points, responded, "Matt, you play golf with the former President Bush."

While personal in nature, Kelley's assertion was reasonable. Lauer had come across as the first family's staunch defender, and it was reasonable for Kelley to suggest that Lauer had a personal relationship with George Herbert Walker Bush.

But Lauer quickly denied Kelley's assertion: "I have never played golf with him."

So this got me wondering: why would Kelley bring this up if she didn't know it was true? I had to check this out for myself, so the next morning I ran a Lexis/Nexis search for 'Matt Lauer' 'Bush' and 'golf.' And, wouldn't you know it, up popped the following New York Daily News headline from May 26, 2004:

"Lauer & Ex-Prez Bush Link Up On Golf Course"
Marvelous. Can someone please tell Katie that her co-host's pants are on fire?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Click some of the links on the right... I'll be back on September 20th.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Iraq's new ambassador to the United Nations - representing the Coalition's hand-picked government - tells The Scotsman: "More troops - or Iraq will be a disaster":
Britain and the United States must send many more troops to Iraq immediately to prevent a catastrophic breakdown in law and order which would lead to the disintegration of the country and the emergence of a new "super rogue state", Baghdad’s new ambassador to the United Nations said yesterday.

Samir Sumaida’ie accused Iran of stirring up much of the current unrest in Iraq and said that any attempt to cut troop numbers - as Britain is planning to do - in response to political pressure at home would be a short-sighted decision.

In his first interview since taking up his new post, Mr Sumaida’ie said the coalition had made a "dog’s dinner" of the postwar period and had a responsibility to put it right.

But he praised both Britain and the US for their courage in taking on Saddam Hussein and criticised opponents of the war, including the Scottish MP George Galloway, for failing to understand the dangers Saddam Hussein posed to his own people and the international community.

Mr Sumaida’ie, who was interior minister in the now-defunct Iraqi Governing Council, said he intended to tackle Britain and the US over the issue of security when he took up his appointment at the UN in New York.

"I believe what we need is more troops now rather than less, a considerable amount more. You need to have overwhelming power at the beginning to give local security forces time to gel. Then you would be in a better position to withdraw large numbers," he said. "If you keep at this level or reduce it, the number of insurgents will stay the same or increase."
Of course, Bush's military advisors were telling him that he had grossly underestimated the force requirements before the war started, and he ignored those recommendations. The United States doesn't have more troops to send. So it looks like we can expect the quagmire to grow. Lovely.

(Hat tip to This Is Rumor Control.)

Accused U.S. Deserter Surrenders in Japan:
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Reuters) - U.S. Army Sergeant Charles Jenkins gave himself up to American military authorities Saturday to face charges that he deserted to communist North Korea four decades ago while on patrol in South Korea.
So, apparently, if you failed to keep your commitment to the military three or four decades ago, it DOES matter. Interesting. Wonder if this applies to other people as well?

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Poor Man explains the elementary logic that should simplify forensic analysis about the Killian documents for you:
Let me save everyone a whole lot of time. They are genuine. How do I know? Because the internet is currently awash in wingnuts claiming the memos are fakes. Ergo, they are for real. Q.E.D.

Some people may feel that I'm just being flip here. Is that so, some people? Tell me: how rich would you be right now if, every time something was posted on a right-wing message board, or everytime Drudge had an exclusive, or any time Rush Limbaugh revealed a secret truth that the liberal media won't tell you, you called up your bookie and put down $20 even money on "bullshit"? The correct answer is: "pretty fucking rich". The correct answer is: "I would never, never lose." So, if anyone doubts my methodology, I have a crisp new $20 bill that just told me that I'm 100% right and you're just too dumb to see it. If any of you champs out there think me and Andrew Jackson are both wrong, well then, today's your lucky day, because we're paying 2:1. If you need us, we'll be on the couch playing ESPN NHL 2K5. Peace.
Please note I am using the old-fashioned straight quotes and no superscripts as a tribute to my long-gone Selectric.

Health premiums devouring paychecks
Job-based health insurance premiums jumped an average of 11.2 percent this year, according to a new survey of employers released Thursday. That's more than four times the 2.3 percent overall growth in inflation and five times the 2.2 percent bump in workers' salaries.

The increase marks the fourth straight year of double-digit growth, although it's smaller than last year's record 13.9 percent hike. The slower growth rate suggests the worst premium inflation may have ended in 2003. Offsetting that faint optimism is another grim fact: 5 million fewer U.S. jobs provide health coverage than did in 2001.
I wish we had a president who took this kind of stuff seriously.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Weekly Standard says: "DOCUMENTS CITED Wednesday by 60 Minutes in a widely-publicized expose of George W. Bush's National Guard Service are very likely forgeries..."

Yeah. And the source is Stephen F. Hayes, the putz who accepted a bunch of forged documents from Dick Cheney's office and turned them into an entire book!

The Mighty Wurlitzer is cranked up to fever pitch.

My money says they're real.

Update: I don't care about the documents, of course. I just want to point out that Stephen F. Hayes is not a real journalist, he is a partisan hack who lives to serve his right-wing masters.

Slate reports on a "memorable moment" during a speech by John Kerry in Cincinnati yesterday:
... the shouts of a protester -- "You said you committed atrocities. You said you burned villages" -- who was silenced when the man standing next to him put him in a headlock. After the speech, Kerry spokesman David Wade said the protester was a man named Mike Russell, who Wade said was the Bush-Cheney chairman in Bracken County, Ky., during the 2000 election. "He is now, coincidentally, with the Swift Boat Veterans," Wade added.
Ugly, aren't they?

The two hometown papers in D.C. don't agree on much, but they managed to find common ground on the campaign trail.
Wall-to-Wall Supporters: It Sure Is Crowded in Here -- or Is It?
On Tuesday, correspondents from The Washington Post and the Washington Times counted the crowds at President Bush's three stops in Missouri, then compared the actual figure with the official Bush campaign figure:
  • Lee's Summit: Actual attendance, 8,500. Bush count, 14,000.
  • Sedalia: Actual attendance, 2,200. Bush count, 3,200.
  • Columbia: Actual attendance, 8,000 to 9,000. Bush count, 14,000.
It seems that the Bush campaign is inflating its crowd counts by 45 to 75 percent. Some of this may be the result of people walking through metal detectors more than once, but there's clearly some old-fashioned crowd padding going on.
If you're gonna be a world-class liar, you can't just do it on the big stuff. You have to stay in practice with little stuff like this. I'm sure there are specific targets in the Bush Campaign's press office, and if you can't keep up, you get thrown off the bus.

Josh Marshall has a full transcript of the CBS News interview with the President's spokesman, Dan Bartlett, about the Texas Air National Guard scandal. It's interesting reading, especially for this one line dropped in the middle of it, in which Bartlett admits: "They play dirty down in Texas. I've been there. I see how it works."

Yeah, and when those Texans come up to Washington, they keep playing dirty.

Do you think he wishes he could take that one back?

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

I had never seen The (Illustrated) Daily Scribble before, but based on this example, I have to pay more attention. (Via J-Walk)

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Scotty McClellan should have his mouth washed out with soap.

Mathew Gross passes along an e-mail he received. I've added a detail or two and made these instructions Windows-centric ...

1. Start by emptying the Recycle Bin on your desktop. Right-click the Recycle Bin icon and choose Empty Recycle Bin.

2. Create a new folder on your computer's desktop.

3. Name it George W. Bush.

4. Drag the folder you just created to the Recycle Bin.

5. Empty the Recycle Bin again.

6. Your computer will ask you to confirm your decision to get rid of the worst president we've ever had.

7. Say "Yes! Yes! Yes!" and click the Yes button.

Now get out and register some people to vote.

This is sickening:
"It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States," Cheney told about 350 supporters at a town-hall meeting in this Iowa city.
Kerry should literally call Bush and Cheney out. He should tell these two miserable fucks to come stand on a stage alongside them and say those words face to face. Gutless cowards.

Actually, Cheney just created the perfect campaign ad for MoveOn or someone else who isn't afraid to go at these guys head-on.

Cheney's words should be the narration over a split screen. One half shows people looking up at the Twin Towers in panic, with a clock superimposed over the screen showing the day and date. The other shows Bush reading The Pet Goat, with an identical clock superimposed over the other half of the screen.

Fade to black. "If we make the wrong choice then the danger is we'll get hit again..." Bush-Cheney. The Wrong Choice.

Like this (thanks, Michael):

Reuters reports:
Many U.S. public school districts are starting a new school year with fewer teachers as less state funding and other factors leave them with gaping budget holes and nothing else left to cut but instructors, school and teachers union officials say.

Some states, still struggling to leave the economic slowdown behind them, have reduced funding to schools or shaved promised funding increases because of their own budget troubles, the officials said.

Schools also blame the teacher layoffs on inadequately funded federal educational mandates, soaring health care and utility costs, competing charter schools and reluctance by voters to boost local funding.


More than 3,000 Ohio teachers lost their jobs this summer, according to Michele Prater, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Education Association.

She said districts were forced to let teachers go after cutting other things like extracurricular activities.

"Everything that could be cut has been cut," Prater said.

Meanwhile, Ohio voters are becoming increasingly reluctant to back higher taxes for schools. Just a quarter of the 103 school tax issues on the Aug. 3 ballot passed, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

For the Cleveland Municipal School District, a $100 million budget deficit led to two rounds of teacher layoffs totaling more than 700, although negotiations over union concessions could restore about 95 of those jobs.

The result will be bigger class sizes for the district's 70,000 students, with elementary classes growing from 19 to as many as 25 students and middle and high school classes mushrooming from 25 to 30 students, said school district spokesman Alan Seifullah.

Oregon school districts have chopped 2,000 teachers over the last two years as high unemployment ate into the state's income tax collections.

Detroit Public Schools will begin its new school year with 1,300 fewer teachers due to budget troubles, although some laid off teachers may be called back to fill jobs vacated through an employee buyout program.

Minneapolis Public Schools reduced its teacher ranks by about 600 to close a budget gap caused by inadequate state and federal funding and declining enrollment.
Any teacher who votes for Bush deserves to be unemployed. What a disgrace.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Dan Gillmor is normally a savvy reporter, but he bit down hard on a piece of Republican chum when he wrote this blog entry:
"Throw Me an Anchor," Yells the Drowning Man
Kerry names John Sasso as senior advisor. Sasso, you'll recall, is the genius who ran the Michael Dukakis campaign in 1988.
Two points: First, Sasso also was a senior strategist on Clinton's successful campaigns in 1992 and 1996, and he was part of Gore's campaign in 2000, which won the popular vote. Second, doesn't it make sense to hire someone who knows exactly what the enemy is capable of?

Look, Kerry is not Dukakis. Period. The problems with the Dukakis campaign were legion, and they started with the candidate. I don't know the details of Sasso's abilities, but I trust his recent record, and I trust Kerry's campaign judgment.

Friday, September 03, 2004

A tale of two reporters:

This original story went out over the AP wires today:
September 3, 2004, 1:57 PM EDT

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) - President Bush on Friday wished Bill Clinton "best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery."

"He's is in our thoughts and prayers," Bush said at a campaign rally.

Bush's audience of thousands in West Allis, Wis., booed. Bush did nothing to stop them.
Obviously, the AP correspondent was hallucinating, or perhaps gremlins corrupted the story as it flowed through the wires. Or maybe the Secret Service wrestled the offending paragraph to the ground. Whatever the reason, a "corrected" version appeared on-line minutes later, minus that reference to the booing. That's the version that most newspapers picked up, and the original version is swiftly slipping down the memory hole.

Mysteriously, the Agence France Presse correspondent heard something completely different:

AFP[ FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 03, 2004 11:50:32 PM ]
WEST ALLIS, Wisconsin: US President George W. Bush on Friday said his "thoughts and prayers" were with with his predecessor, Bill Clinton, who has been hospitalised ahead of undergoing heart surgery.

"En route here, we just received news that President Clinton has been hospitalized in New York. He is in our thoughts and prayers. We send him our best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery," said Bush.

Bush was in this battleground as part of a campaign blitz aimed at building on his prime-time speech to the Republican national convention, which kicked off the final two-month sprint to the November 2 elections.

After his announcement, thousands of boisterous supporters clapped respectfully.
Leave it to those treacherous French to hear "respectful applause" and completely ignore the booing. Isn't it ironic that a French reporter does the sympathetic story, and an AP editor has to spike the original story?

The original stopry is easy to believe. This is, after all, a typical Bush play, used most recently in a disgusting attack on John Kerry at a Bush campaign event. Bush 41 and Bush 43 are notorious for their inability to do the right thing, so the original AP story was quite believable. At least the twins are honest about their complete lack of class.

Update: I've now heard an audio clip of the sound bite, which contains applause and some cheering. No booing on that tape. That doesn't mean some jerks near the AP reporter weren't booing, of course. In fact, given the hate-fest we just sat through, it would be odd to think that a dieahrd Republican crowd wouldn't at least think of jeering the Big Dawg.

It's instructive to note how this sort of story can be reported so differently, isn't it?

Second update: I've been cruising the blogosphere noting the reactions of rightward-leaning commenters (and some bloggers) who point to this example, triumphantly exclaiming that it "proves the existence of left-wing bias at the AP." Uh, that might be true, except for the fact that AP promptly and efficiently corrected its error. Note to Fox News and other media: This is how it's supposed to work. When your errors are pointed out to you, you correct them immediately.

Hmmm, that faith-based Bush foreign policy seems to have a few holes in it. Britain's highly regarded Chatham House (formerly the Royal Institute of International Affairs) just concluded that Iraq will be "lucky if it manages to avoid a breakup and civil war" and could become the spark for a "regionwide upheaval." AN LA Times wire service story breaks it down:
In a bleak assessment of where Iraq stands nearly 18 months after it was invaded, the institute's Middle East team focused on the internal forces dividing the country.

At best, the report suggests, the United States and its allies can hope for a "muddle through" scenario, holding the country together but falling short of their original goal: the creation of a full-fledged democracy friendly to the West.

To achieve even that, the United States will have to keep all of Iraq's factions "more or less on board" through a combination of clever diplomacy and military restraint, while avoiding any hint of interference in coming elections, the report said.
The Bush Administration? "Clever diplomacy and military restraint"? Surely you jest.

The "default" scenario, though, is the violent breakup of Iraq, the report said. "Under this scenario, Kurdish separatism and Shiite assertiveness work against a smooth transition to elections, while the Sunni Arab minority remains on the offensive," it said.

The breakup could occur regardless of whether "the U.S. cuts and runs" or whether "U.S. forces try to hold out and prop up the central authority," it said.

The institute is an independent research body chartered by the queen; its scholars frequently advise the government.
Those Brits are starting to sound downright ... French.

OK, so Saddam was a bad man. He was also toothless and well contained. He had no weapons of mass destruction. He had some random stashes of old chemical weapons that probably would have blown up in the face of anyone who tried to use them. Thanks to a coalition that had been enforcing no-fly zones over the north and south for a decade, the Kurdish minority was well protected, and any attempts at mass murder or genocide by Saddam would have resulted in swift and brutal retribution. Continuing economic and political pressure on Saddam for several years could have resulted in a more or less peaceful transition of power to a less objectionable strongman. We accept that sort of government from our good friends in Pakistan, so why would it have not been acceptable in Iraq?

Instead, an ill-timed, poorly planned, "catastrophically successful" war has turned the whole Middle East into a powder keg. And now he wants to tackle Iran? If you have a God that you pray to regularly, please send a request to send this guy packing. And register some voters!

Our press appears to be taking testosterone supplements. The Washington Post put this article on page A1: GOP Prism Distorts Some Kerry Positions ( It's a pretty impressive bit of fact-checking.

There must have been something in the water at Madison Square Garden that turned every speaker at the mercifully concluded Republican convention into a hissing liar. Even the Governator fell victim. The Associated Press called him on his Austrian history gaffe:
Austrian historians are ridiculing California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for telling the U.S. Republican convention that he saw Soviet tanks in his homeland as a child and left a "Socialist" country when he moved away in 1968.

Recalling that the Soviets once occupied part of Austria in the aftermath of the Second World War, Schwarzenegger told the convention on Tuesday: "I saw tanks in the streets. I saw communism with my own eyes."

No way, historians say, challenging Schwarzenegger's knowledge of postwar history -- if not his enduring popularity among Austrians who admire him for rising from a penniless immigrant to the highest official in America's most populous state.

"It's a fact -- as a child he could not have seen a Soviet tank in Styria," the southeastern province where Schwarzenegger was born and raised, historian Stefan Karner told the Vienna newspaper Kurier.

Schwarzenegger, now a naturalized U.S. citizen, was born on July 30, 1947, when Styria and the neighbouring province of Carinthia belonged to the British zone. At the time, postwar Austria was occupied by the four wartime allies, which also included the United States, the Soviet Union and France.

The Soviets already had left Styria in July 1945, less than three months after the end of the war, Karner noted.

In his convention address, Schwarzenegger also said: "As a kid, I saw the socialist country that Austria became after the Soviets left" in 1955 and Austria regained its independence.

But Martin Polaschek, a law history scholar and vice-rector of Graz University, told Kurier that Austria was governed by coalition governments, including the conservative People's party and the Social Democratic party. Between 1945 and 1970, all the nation's chancellors were conservatives -- not socialists.

Polaschek saw the moderate Republican governor's recollections at the convention as a tactical move. Schwarzenegger, he said, was "using the old Communist enemy image for Bush's election campaign."

"He did not speak as a historian, after all, but as a politician," Polaschek said.

Norbert Darabos, a ranking official of Austria's opposition Social Democratic party, sharply criticized Schwarzenegger's "disdain for his former homeland."

"The Terminator is constructing a rather bizarre Austria image," he said.
He's a big fat Luegner.

[Via Approximately Perfect]

TBogg has a ROFL collection of one-line reactions to the Bush speech. Samples:
'Having both Mel Gibson and Jesus come out on stage with him probably locked up the Christian vote'

'Where can I get one of those old people muzzles like the one that Zell Miller was wearing?'

'It was really nice to see Laura Bush blink that one time. It made her seem so...real'

'When Dick Cheney started flopping around on the stage like a landed trout, Bush didn't even bat an eye. That's the sign of a leader.'

'Until he spotted that delegate in the front eating a banana he seemed so focused.'

'I would have saved bringing Ronald Reagan back from the dead until the very end.'

'Until he brought it up, I wasn't aware that Mars had WMD's, much less the fact that their hydra-headed overlords were threatening us.'

'Hiring Halliburton to do the balloon drop was a good idea, but I expected a lot more for $2.4 billion.'

'I'll reserve judgement on rounding up all the poor people and putting them in workcamps until I see if I made the cut.'

William Saletan does a word count on Bush's speech and notes that the most common word (other than definite and indefinite articles) was "will":
This was a speech all about what Bush will do, and what will happen, if he becomes president.

Except he already is president. He already ran this campaign. He promised great things. They haven't happened. So, he's trying to go back in time. He wants you to see in him the potential you saw four years ago. He can't show you the things he promised, so he asks you to envision them. He asks you to be "optimistic." He asks you to have faith.

"Since 2001, Americans have been given hills to climb and found the strength to climb them," said Bush. "Now, because we have made the hard journey, we can see the valley below. Now, because we have faced challenges with resolve, we have historic goals within our reach and greatness in our future."

Recession. Unemployment. Corporate fraud. A war based on false premises that has cost us $200 billion and nearly a thousand American lives. They're all hills we've "been given to climb." It's as though Bush wasn't president. As though he didn't get the tax cuts he wanted. As though he didn't bring about postwar Iraq and authorize the planning for it. All this was "given," and now Bush can show up, three and a half years into his term, and start solving the problems some other president else left behind.
Deloreans for all my Republican friends!

Update: The Los Angeles Times adds, "His well-written speech would have been more convincing if he had not actually been president for the last four years."

I am now 100% convinced the Republican party and the Bush campaign machine wouldn't know a fact if it were engraved on stone tablets and propped up in a burning bush. I present evidence from this week's Grand Old Party in NYC.

Two key Kerry-bashing chunks of Zell Miller's speech, it turns out, were lifted nearly intact from anonymous chain letters spread on the Internet and widely debunked on and other impartial sites. (Details here and here.) Let me repeat that: The keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention attacked the nominee of the opposing party using "facts" that he had received in an anonymous chain letter. But wait. It gets better.

Last night, as I was watching Bush's acceptance speech, I noted an odd detail. In State of the Union addresses, it has become commonplace for the President to quote a letter from an average citizen, usually a small child or a soldier. Bush adapted this tried-and-true rhetorical device last night. Except he left out the key element, which is the correspondent's actual name. (At the SOTU, the letter-writer is often invited into the Presidential box so the cameras can swivel that way at the magic moment.) I thought this meant that one of the Presidential speechwriters had just made the letter up, the way lazy newspaper columnists make up commentary from taxi drivers. I sadly misunderestimated the White House.

Michael over at Musing's musings fed the speech text into Google, which whirred, buzzed, clanked, and finally spat out the details of this "letter from a soldier." I'll let him tell the story:
In Commander Codpiece's somnolent speech last night, he made much of a letter he allegedly received from a soldier in Iraq:
Our troops know the historic importance of our work.

One Army Specialist wrote home: "We are transforming a once sick
society into a hopeful place - The various terrorist enemies we are
facing in Iraq," he continued, "are really aiming at you back in the
United States. This is a test of will for our country. We soldiers of
yours are doing great and scoring victories in confronting the evil
Problem is, the guy who sent the letter, Joe Roche, is an adjunct fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research. Their press release touting the quote unblushingly describes the center as "a non-partisan, conservative/free-market think-tank." On their About Us page, however, they mention (in the fine print at the bottom of the page, of course) that they are a " member organization" and more prominently feature this quote from Tom DeLay at the top right (where else?) of the page:
The National Center is THE CENTER for conservative communications.
Should we be surprised that a right-wing policy analyst supports the preznit? Of course not. Should the preznit be embarrassed for lying by omission to make it appear that he had a broader base of popular support in the military? Of course. Not that he will, mind you. I have yet to detect a scintilla of evidence in favor of the proposition that Emperor C+ Augustus has a conscience. Or a set of moral principles by which he guides his life, other than "Win at all costs."
Now this, on the other hand, represents the actual words of an actual soldier, not a cog of some political machine crassly exploiting his uniform. I hope we'll see this ad a lot.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Noted former Bush defender and thinking man's conservative Andrew Sullivan goes off the reservation after last night's performance by Zell: "I watched a Democrat at a GOP Convention convince me that I could never be a Republican."

Best of all, you can read Mark A. R. Kleiman on the Miller meltdown and get all you need of Sullivan's lengthy post, which is excerpted there. get their stories straight.

Zell: "Where is the bi-partisanship in this country when we need it most?"

Cheney, a half-hour later: "When the President and I took office, our schools were shuffling too many children from grade to grade without giving them the skills and knowledge they need. So President Bush reached across the aisle and brought both parties together to pass the most significant education reform in 40 years."


Editor & Publisher recaps the Angry Chris Matthews-Zell Miller Debate:
"You're hopeless," Miller told Matthews, dead serious, speaking over a hook-up from Madison Square Garden, where he had earlier delivered the keynote address. "I wish I was with you there because I want to get in your face." Then Miller said he wished they were back in the age when you could challenge someone to a duel. "I don't know why I came on this program," he added, amidst four minutes of heated exchanges.

Matthews had gotten on Miller's case right from the start, asking him if he really believed what he had said in his speech about Senator John Kerry wanting to defend America with "spitballs." As Miller fudged his answer, and Matthews in his customary style cut him short or talked over him, they each started shouting. Miller told Matthews to "get out of my face," later saying he wanted to get in Matthews' face.
Zell knew exactly what he was getting into, given that he repeatedly mentioned how Matthews treated "that girl" (Michelle Malkin). Too bad the Republicans didn't put Malkin up on the platform for "Compassion" night. Sudden thought: Zell and Michelle. What a couple they would be!

As speakers at the GOP convention trumpet Bush administration successes in the war on terrorism, an NBC News analysis of Islamic terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001, shows that attacks are on the rise worldwide -- dramatically.

Of the roughly 2,929 terrorism-related deaths around the world since the attacks on New York and Washington, the NBC News analysis shows 58 percent of them -- 1,709 -- have occurred this year.

In the past 10 days, in fact, the number of dead has risen by 142 people in places as diverse as Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel. On Tuesday, the number of civilians killed by terrorists totaled 38 -- 10 at a subway entrance bombing in Moscow, 16 in a bus bombing in Israel and 12 Nepalese executed in Iraq.

Moreover, the level of sophistication is increasing. Terrorism experts point in particular to the attacks apparently carried out by Chechen rebels during that 10-day period. The rebels, whose top military commanders have been Arabs, are operating at a whole different level.

"You have bombs on board planes, bombs at a train station and now a hostage taking," said Roger Cressey, a former deputy National Security Council director of counterterrorism. "This is all coordinated. These things do not happen by accident, and in fact, United States officials are frantically trying to determine if they are a forerunner of an attack aimed at the U.S."
The cognitive dissonance in the Bush campaign is becoming painful. The President has made us safer, but we're in a war against a shadowy enemy which can strike at any time. We can win. We can't win. Wait, we can win. Go about your normal lives, and try to avoid that feeling of fear deep in your gut. Oh, and as Arnold said the other night, don't look the soldiers directly in the eyes, or they might pick you up and take you to Guantanamo.

Ya think Dubya will mention any of this tonight?

New Donkey is on my Essentials list (see the sidebar at right) for posts like this one:
On an evening supposedly devoted to defending the administration's economic record, the two big prime-time speakers, Zell Miller and Dick Cheney, unloaded a truckload of bile against John Kerry's national security record. I'm not sure I've ever heard so many slurs, misleading inferences, and bold-face lies in the course of an hour of rhetoric. Miller didn't bother to even mention the economy or any other domestic issue. Cheney barely did, and even then just trotted out the usual BC04 talking points with a notable lack of enthusiasm. This night was about destroying John Kerry, period.

Yesterday I wondered how Miller would explain his support for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. He didn't even deign to mention, much less defend his strange transformation. But perhaps his own flip-flop led him to ignore that prong of the GOP attack on Kerry, and instead devote his entire speech to the argument that the Democratic candidate hates the military, hates his country, and would turn over the world to the French, if not to al Qaeda itself.

The Bushies supposedly thought Zell would help them win over swing voters. I have a hard time believing anybody was won over by this glowering rant. Not since Pat Buchanan's famous 'culture war' speech in 1992 has a major speaker at a national political convention spoken so hatefully, at such length, about the opposition. At the dark heart of the speech was the same old tired litany of lies and mischaracterizations about Kerry's Senate votes on military spending and weapons systems that BC04 has been retailing for many months.
In my opinion, this was a horrible miscalculation by the Republicans, and I couldn't be happier. Any undecided voter who tuned in last night had to be offended, because the message coming from the podium was that they were stupid, stupid, stupid to have seen even a hint of competence or patriotism in John Kerry. A genuinely undecided voter has already seen some good and some flaws in both candidates and isn't going to be swayed by an over-the-top rant from a man who looked like he was about to puke up an alien.

Anyone want to set the odds on whether Bush mentions Zell tonight?

That Zell Miller just can't make up his mind.

Zell Miller, March 2001:
My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders – and a good friend.

He was once a lieutenant governor – but he didn't stay in that office 16 years, like someone else I know. It just took two years before the people of Massachusetts moved him into the United States Senate in 1984.

In his 16 years in the Senate, John Kerry has fought against government waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington.

Early in his Senate career in 1986, John signed on to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Bill, and he fought for balanced budgets before it was considered politically correct for Democrats to do so.

John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment. Business Week magazine named him one of the top pro-technology legislators and made him a member of its "Digital Dozen."
Oh, and be sure to see Zell's performance on Hardball (Internet Explorer and Flash required). The part where he said he wished he could challenge Matthews to a duel was classic.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Last night at the RNC, a parade of speakers came up and continued to bash John Kerry. Sam Brownback, Bill Frist, Rod Paige, Michael Steele, The Bush Twins, and Laura Bush all spoke in prime time. In keeping with the "Compassion" theme, only the First Lady mentioned 9/11 or Saddam Hussein (two references each). [Update: I looked at the Governator's speech and saw a reference to "the attacks on our homeland" and decided that yes! that counts as a 9/11 reference.) Surprise! Still not a word about Osama bin Forgotten.

So, for those keeping score, the totals after two days are:

9/11 references: 21
Saddam: 17
bin Laden: 0
Al Qaeda: 4

Osama who?