Saturday, October 16, 2004

Bush Talks About What He Wants To Do  

In Ron Suskind's must-read Times Magazine piece, we learn a lot about something Bush has been doing his level best to hide, namely his plans for the next four years. If you haven't donated to DNC, MoveOn, or any other group working to defeat Bush, you certainly will after you read this:
"I'm going to be real positive, while I keep my foot on John Kerry's throat,'' George W. Bush said last month at a confidential luncheon a block away from the White House with a hundred or so of his most ardent, longtime supporters, the so-called R.N.C. Regents. This was a high-rolling crowd -- at one time or another, they had all given large contributions to Bush or the Republican National Committee. Bush had known many of them for years, and a number of them had visited him at the ranch. It was a long way from Poplar Bluff.

The Bush these supporters heard was a triumphal Bush, actively beginning to plan his second term. It is a second term, should it come to pass, that will alter American life in many ways, if predictions that Bush voiced at the luncheon come true.

He said emphatically that he expects the Republicans will gain seats to expand their control of the House and the Senate. According to notes provided to me, and according to several guests at the lunch who agreed to speak about what they heard, he said that ''Osama bin Laden would like to overthrow the Saudis . . .

then we're in trouble. Because they have a weapon. They have the oil.'' He said that there will be an opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice shortly after his inauguration, and perhaps three more high-court vacancies during his second term.

''Won't that be amazing?'' said Peter Stent, a rancher and conservationist who attended the luncheon. ''Can you imagine? Four appointments!''

After his remarks, Bush opened it up for questions, and someone asked what he's going to do about energy policy with worldwide oil reserves predicted to peak.

Bush said: ''I'm going to push nuclear energy, drilling in Alaska and clean coal. Some nuclear-fusion technologies are interesting.'' He mentions energy from ''processing corn.''

''I'm going to bring all this up in the debate, and I'm going to push it,'' he said, and then tried out a line. ''Do you realize that ANWR [the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] is the size of South Carolina, and where we want to drill is the size of the Columbia airport?''

The questions came from many directions -- respectful, but clearly reality-based. About the deficits, he said he'd ''spend whatever it takes to protect our kids in Iraq,'' that ''homeland security cost more than I originally thought.''

''I'm going to come out strong after my swearing in,'' Bush said, ''with fundamental tax reform, tort reform, privatizing of Social Security.'' The victories he expects in November, he said, will give us ''two years, at least, until the next midterm. We have to move quickly, because after that I'll be quacking like a duck.''

Joseph Gildenhorn, a top contributor who attended the luncheon and has been invited to visit Bush at his ranch, said later: ''I've never seen the president so ebullient. He was so confident. He feels so strongly he will win.'' Yet one part of Bush's 60-odd-minute free-form riff gave Gildenhorn -- a board member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and a former ambassador to Switzerland -- a moment's pause. The president, listing priorities for his second term, placed near the top of his agenda the expansion of federal support for faith-based institutions. The president talked at length about giving the initiative the full measure of his devotion and said that questions about separation of church and state were not an issue.

From Hell  

Five U.S. Troops Are Killed in Car Bomb Explosions

Attacks Kill Two U.S. GIs in Afghanistan

My heart, and my family's, go out to the families of all the dead from these horrors. We must find a way to stop this. And that way begins with the removal from office of the man who got the country embroiled in these messes.

Gillespie Tells Rock The Vote To "Cease And Desist"  

Basically, what Josh says in the quote below. But the point of Gillespie's letter was never to follow through on legal action for this. It was to make RTV think twice about the next time they take on an issue critical of Bush.

And there is only one response that will truly get Gillespie to knock it off: Rock the Vote should double its attention to the issue of the draft, and double its focus on GOP suppression of younger voters.

Rock the Vote's letter back to Gillespie, quoted at the end of this post, is exactly right. But now, Rock the Vote needs to take action.

This week RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie sent the group a 'cease and desist' letter threatening legal action against the group and raising the possibility of seeking the revocation of the group's status as a tax-exempt 501c3 organization if the group did not cease discussing the draft issue.

Claims that a draft is possible, Gillespie argued, are so ridiculous on their face that the the group could only be acting from 'malicious intent and a reckless disregard for the truth.' (Those, of course, are catchphrases laying the groundwork for legal action.)

Gillespie's rationale for arguing that there is no basis for discussing the possibility of a draft is the say-so of the president. Gillespie quotes him saying, "We don't need the draft. Look, the all-volunteer force is working ..."

That, to Gillespie, is -- quite literally -- the end of the debate.

This move, if you think about it, is extraordinary. In a political campaign there are very few forms of political speech -- judged by content -- that should ever be subject to legal proceedings. But to threaten legal action to squelch discussion of a subject that is obviously a very newsworthy and relevant issue -- and one the country could face in the next four years -- is simply astonishing.

And yet, no editorial condemnations. Hardly a mention of it. These are now, apparently, the rules of the road -- expected and calling for no particular commenton.

That's even more astonishing.
Rock the Vote tells Gillespie where to shove it:
The letter I received from you yesterday was quite a surprise. It struck us as just the sort of "malicious political deception" that is likely to increase voter cynicism and decrease the youth vote. In fact, it is a textbook case of attempted censorship, very much in line with those that triggered our organization's founding some fifteen years ago.  

I am stunned that you would say that the issue of the military draft as an "urban myth" that has been "thoroughly debunked by no less than the President of the United States."  

I have some news for you.  Just because President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary Rumsfeld, and for that matter Senator Kerry, say that there is not going to be a draft does not make it so.  Just because Congress holds a transparently phony vote against the draft does not mean there isn't going to be one.  Anyone who thinks that the youth of America are going to take a politician's word on this topic is living on another planet.    

By your logic, there should be no debate about anything that you disagree with.  There's a place for that kind of sentiment (and your threats), but its not here in our country.

Friday, October 15, 2004

When Norman Bates Needs A Night Off  

Richard Cohen knows the perfect guy to cover for him.

Ratfucking On Steroids  

What Digby says.

Sinclair's Advertisers Are Pulling Out  

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) Several businesses have pulled advertising from WGME-TV in response to the station's plan to televise a critical documentary about John Kerry's anti-Vietnam War activities.

The Lee Auto Malls, and the law offices of Joe Bornstein withdrew their advertising indefinitely, according to the Portland Press Herald.
Hannaford supermarkets also decided to withdraw advertising, but it reversed its position on Friday.

''We recognize that WGME has been placed in an untenable position,'' spokeswoman Caren Epstein said in a statement. ''It was never our intention to politicize this issue even more by our action.''

Hannaford's email:
Hannaford's phone number:800-213-9040

This Is Not Good  

Platoon defies orders in Iraq
A 17-member Army Reserve platoon with troops from Jackson, Miss., and around the Southeast deployed to Iraq is under arrest for refusing a “suicide mission” to deliver fuel, the troops’ relatives said Thursday.

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

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

The platoon could be charged with the willful disobeying of orders, punishable by dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay and up to five years confinement, said military law expert Mark Stevens, an associate professor of justice studies at Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount, N.C.

On Friday, the Army confirmed that the unit’s actions were under scrutiny.

The Wedge  

A book published nearly a year ago is, I think, essential reading for anyone interested in the details of how a modern day cultural crusade gets successfully conducted. The book is Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design and its obstensible subject is, of course, the religious right's extensive efforts to get "Intelligent Design" (which I call IDiocy) a respected place in the public discourse. As important as this subject is by itself, what makes this book a must read is that it provides useful insight into how the right carefully picks an issue, defines its parameters, and then methodically constructs a public relations blitzkrieg in which no detail is too small, no angle missed, and no quarter taken.

The strategy used by the IDiots is nearly identical to that used by the right with other causes. What is unique, however, and what makes Creationism's Trojan Horse so valuable for anyone interested in confronting the right, is that nearly all the planning and implementation of the marketing of IDiocy was openly published. Typically, the rightwing micro-strategizing is secret; the public only sees the final result, for example in the fine-tuned rhetoric of the anti-abortion movement, or the marketing of the Bush/Iraq war ("Well, would you rather have Saddam still in power?"). However, as the "Intelligent Design" effort was developed, the prime movers were either unable, or didn't bother, to cover their tracks. The meticulousness of the assault is simply astounding.

And let's not forget that the cause of the IDiots is intellectual, abstruse, abstract. The care and attention paid to the advocacy of an idea as opposed to a concrete action is impressive. As is the passion they've managed to generate over something as obscure as speciation development.

In summary, Creationism's Trojan Horse informs us that:

1. There is no science - none - behind the assertions of "Intelligent Design" advocates. Nor have the main proponents of IDiocy published any scientific research in support of their positions in any peer-reviewed journals.*
2. "Intelligent Design" advocates are simply "creationists in cheap tuxedos," who say one thing when they need to appear "scientific," and another when they are addressing religious groups.
3. The "Intelligent Design" movement is extremely well-funded by, among others, wealthy "christian reconstructionists" who are openly working for the establishment of an American theocratic state.
4. The hub of IDiocy is the CRSC, the self-styled "Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture" within the Discovery Institute, a right wing think tank at which, among others, Dick Cheney has spoken.
5. About 6 years ago, the CRSC created a document called The Wedge Strategy which outlined a comprehensive 5 year strategy to advance the cause of IDiocy. "Scientific," educational, legislative, legal, cultural, and marketing goals were laid out in detail.
6. To date, there is no well-funded, well-organized counter-strategy to confront IDiocy.
7. The efforts to advance the implement The Wedge Strategy and advance the cause of "Intelligent Design" have been phenomenally successful (except in actual science), far more than those who should be concerned about it realize.

The Wedge Strategy describes 3 phases -

Phase I. Scientific Research [sic], Writing & Publicity

Phase II. Publicity & Opinion-making

Phase III. Cultural Confrontation & Renewal

But they only really care about Phases II and III; ie, the marketing of "Intelligent Design." And in the service of that marketing, the authors of the book cite numerous documents which attest to the indefatigable enthusiasm and obsessive attention to detail the IDiots possess.

The first step was rhetorical. They eliminated all the normal frames and definitions of science and created new ones that gave them an argumentative advantage.** For example, IDiots redefined science to include two different possible approaches - "methodological naturalism" and "theistic realism." And so, evolution can be recast as "Darwinism," a "naturalist" theory while "Intelligent Design" is an example of "realist" theory.

With evolution now defined as "non-realist," it becomes easy to assert that "Intelligent Design" deserves at least equal status. And so they have.

The IDiots' assault on the discourse of science has been thorough, even encylopedic. We encounter notions like "Irreducible Complexity" or "Complex Specified Information" and the impressive acronyms they spawn. it's all nonsense, but they don't give a hoot because, in the words of the inventor of "methodological naturalism:"
My goal is not so much to win the argument as to legitimate it as part of the dialogue.
And increasingly in the public's eye, it seems that they have.

To "legitimate" IDiocy, they have polished their sophistries to a fine sheen and used them not only to undermine the public discourse on science but also everywhere else in their strategy. Here's one example:

One day before the senate was to vote on the "Better Education For Students and Teachers Act," Senator Rick Santorum, he of "man on dog" fame, introduced an amendment conducive to IDiocy. He said it addressed "the subject of intellectual freedom." The language was so perfectly crafted that it bamboozled even the streetwise Ted Kennedy, who spoke in favor of it as did Robert Byrd. The amendment passed 91-8. And the IDiots pounced immediately, writing schoolboards requesting (ie demanding) that "Intelligent Design" get equal time in science classrooms. Once Santorum's snotty little ruse was exposed for what it was, it was deleted and the language inserted into some less prominent "Joint Explanatory Statement" but it was too late. The IDiots still refer to the Santorum Amendment when advancing their case.

A few words on the phrase "intellectual freedom." Just as leftover duck's feet get sold as Dim Sum, nothing is ever wasted in "Intelligent Design" advocacy. Having invented the concept that the teaching of IDiocy is about "intellectual freedom," IDiot lawyers have been trained to sue school boards, claiming First Amendment infringement if IDiocy is excluded from science classes.

Creationism's Trojan Horse has numerous other examples and many references to the planning documents of the IDiots. In addition to the rhetorical examples, you can also trace the development of the "victimization" theme so prevalent on the right ("They won't let us teach alternate scientific theories" is all of a piece with "What about white people's rights?" Or little Ben's book title, "It's my country, too"). But with "Intelligent Design," the rightwing had to explain so much about how they were going to wreck science that we can see all the cogs and wheels come into place and start to spin.

While the story is a grim one (terrifying for those of us who care passionately about our children and good science), there is reason for hope. A careful reader can treat the marketing documents of the IDiots as an instruction manual: s/hewill learn how to successfully market, publicize, and proslyetize a complex, abstract idea. Two can play at this game given enough money, effort, and the conviction that the game is worth playing.

IDiocy can be beaten back to the margins of American culture, where it belongs. Besides, what's the alternative? In The Wedge Strategy , the IDiots make it perfectly clear what they're doing and what their ultimate goal is:
Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism [they mean "empirical science"] and its cultural legacies...Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.
And they are well along the way.

*Readers who are familiar with the issues regarding evolution only through the shamefully biased mainstream reporting of IDiocy may be surprised to learn that there is not only no science at all behind the "Intelligent Design" movement, but not even any relevant scientific research that's been published by the movement. Even though there are a few trained scientists among the advocates of IDiocy, their scientific research has not been relevant to "Intelligent Design" issues. At best, they have merely theorized and hypothesized and tried to poke holes in modern day evolution science. More often than not, they simply refer to popular books or articles published in "Intelligent Design" or "Christian" magazines, which have have never been peer reviewed (and would never stand up to scrutiny).

The IDiot who appears to be the most difficult to dismiss on the scientific substance is one William Dembski, who has written book after book chockablock with abstruse "mathematics." There are very few people qualified to slog through his work, but those who have report that Dembski resorts more than not to mathematisms - that is, pretentious and vacuous symbology that looks like real math - rather than the real thing. Dembski's real work, the book makes clear, is in christian apologetics and evangelization. As Dembski says, "Indeed, intelligent design [sic] is just the Logos theology of John's Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory."

In other words, in spite of the fact that there is no science behind it at all - nor much interest, as the book makes clear, in doing any real science - the advocates of "Intelligent Design" want equal time in science classes.

This very deliberate technique - a calculated disinterest in the facts combined with a breathtakingly aggressive assertion of lies - has also been deployed very effectively in the service of other causes, for example the statements by Bush and others that entirely misrepresent the conclusions of the 9/11 report, the Duelfer report and so on.

** (Lakoffians, are you listening? Frames are merely the beginning!)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

People Forget Quickly, Don't They?  

October 13, 2004:

Mr. Bush: "Gosh, I don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. That's kind of one of those exaggerations."

March 13, 2002:

"I'll repeat what I said.  I truly am not that concerned about him."

One More Thing Getting Ignored  

Better to obsess over cheap and tawdry sex.
The U.S. budget gap expanded to $412.55 billion in fiscal 2004, marking the Bush administration's second-straight record deficit, the Treasury Department said on Thursday.
Yeah, they predicted it to be higher but that's only because they can pretend like it's shrinking when it doesn't go that high.

Advice To Kerry's Campaign  

Apparently, if the polls are any indication, Kerry creamed Bush in the debates. But there aren't any more. What to do to keep the pressure on Bush?

Kerry press conferences. Live. Televised. Impromptu.

Television interviews with real journalists, not fluffers. Live. Unscripted. Probing.

Keep John Kerry on tv, for as long as possible. Don't hide him, don't shield him.

Because John Kerry Unplugged is the single best thing you've got going for your campaign. Make sure we continue to hear directly from him.

At length. And talking about the issues.

Sure, don't ignore the soundbites, but the results of the debate should tell you something: The American people want to hear a smart man talking about the facts.

Give them what they want. Give them more of President Kerry.

GoP Voter Fraud  

Sproul's companies are the ones who assisted with Nader petitions and who were recently caught in Nevada shredding Democratic voter registrations they collected. Who paid them? knew the answer to that. But what's really amazing is that they didn't even bother to cover their tracks:
Political Money Line lists five payments from the Republican National Committee to Sproul's firms. (Not to mention six from the Arizona GOP -- apparently Sproul is making out quite well as an outside consultant to the organization he used to head, which is a nice little racket if you can get it.) Four of those payments were made in August; one was made in July. All five were disclosed by the RNC as "non-candidate committee operating expenses" under the line item "political consulting." There was:

a payment of $20,000 on 7/14/04;
a payment of $181,905 on 8/4/04;
a payment of $99,135 on 8/11/04;
a payment of $27,917 on 8/13/04;
and a payment of $160,002 on 8/25/04.

In other words, the RNC dumped a pot of money on Sproul between the middle of July and the end of August -- right as the ground campaign began to heat up, and, if I'm not mistaken, around the time Nader began to face ballot deadlines in a number of key states.

A Few Bad Apples, My Foot  

Up to 28 U.S. GIs face Afghan abuse cases

Ladies, Gentlemen, and Republicans: Lend Me Your Ears  

Sure, the right wing loves talking about sex in public as if it's something shameful but fascinating, but we don't have the time to cater to their kinks anymore.

Right now, theres' some serious shit goin' down and we better pay attention:
The mysterious removal of Iraq's mothballed nuclear facilities continued long after the U.S.-led invasion and was carried out by people with access to heavy machinery and demolition equipment, diplomats said on Thursday.

The United Nations nuclear watchdog told the Security Council this week that equipment and materials that could be used to make atomic weapons had been vanishing from Iraq without either Baghdad or Washington noticing.

"This process carried on at least through 2003 ... and probably into 2004, at least in early 2004," said a Western diplomat close to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitored Iraq's nuclear sites before last year's war.


Several diplomats close to the IAEA said the disappearance of the nuclear items was not the result of haphazard looting.

They said the removal of the dual-use equipment -- which before the war was tagged and closely monitored by the IAEA to ensure it was not being used in a weapons program -- was planned and executed by people who knew what they were doing.
Any questions why we are being asked to feel sorry for poor Lynne Cheney's feelings?

Big Pockets, Small Brains  

Alterman and McLeary have the gory details but here's all you really need to know:
Universally ignored by the mainstream media, the report's authors identified more than $254 million worth of [right wing] public policy grants made between 1999 and 2001, with just five institutions (many of which share board members and directors) laying out the lion's share of the money.
True, $254 million doesn't go as far as it used to, but still, it's gonna take a lot of ten buck donations to MoveOn to come even.

So let's make it twenty, everyone! Donate now.

Open Letter To Michael Ignatieff  

Dear Michael,

In the new issue of New York Review of Books, you write:
Those who opposed the war have good reasons to feel vindicated by the horrible turn of events in Iraq. Their problem is that if America abandons its commitment to helping Iraqis fight for a democratic outcome, through the endo of 2005 and into 2006, this betrayal will transform the occupation's many failures into an unforgivable crime. [Emphasis added.]
"Their problem?" Fuck you, Ignatieff. You wanted this war, not me. This is your problem, buster. You go over there and help the Iraqis fight it.

Our problem is that while people like you still have a career, sober-minded writers - like the ones over at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who predicted exactly what did, in fact, happen in Iraq - are still accorded nowhere near the mass media attention you still, unaccountably, receive.



Sinclair Action Working  

Madison, Wisconsin
One local business has decided to pull its ads from WMSN/Channel 47 in the wake of the station's decision to air an anti-John Kerry documentary [sic] next week.

The owners of the Paisan's and Porta Bella restaurants said that after receiving about a dozen complaints about the program, "we just decided that we didn't want to jeopardize losing any customers over this," said owner Jerry Meier.

He was among several business owners who said they have received numerous calls from patrons upset that they advertise on Channel 47.

The Truth Is A "Cheap And Tawdry Trick"  

Lies, no problem. But the truth, now THAT really upsets Republicans.

Let's recall some genuine "cheap and tawdry" tricks. Remember when Limbaugh humiliated the 13 year-old daughter of the President?
Columnist Molly Ivins reported (Arizona Republic 10/17/93) this incident from Limbaugh's TV show--'Here is a Limbaugh joke: Everyone knows the Clintons have a cat. Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is a White House dog?' And he puts up a picture of Chelsea Clinton. Chelsea Clinton is 13 years old.
Remember when rumors were flying around that the President's wife was a dyke and his child wasn't his child? And there is more, my God, there is so much more: accusations of murder, of drug smuggling, you name it, they claimed Clinton or his wife did it.

And let's remember something: someone's sexuality wouldn't even be a campaign issue if Bush hadn't pushed for an anti-marriage amendment to the Constitution.

[Due to bloggerizing, this post was pub'd before it was finished. It has been corrected.]

Sinclair Action Working  

Madison, Wisconsin
One local business has decided to pull its ads from WMSN/Channel 47 in the wake of the station's decision to air an anti-John Kerry documentary [sic] next week.

The owners of the Paisan's and Porta Bella restaurants said that after receiving about a dozen complaints about the program, "we just decided that we didn't want to jeopardize losing any customers over this," said owner Jerry Meier.

He was among several business owners who said they have received numerous calls from patrons upset that they advertise on Channel 47.

Great Commercial  

To be expected, but it's still terrific. As mentioned, it was such a gift, I just hope it wasn't a plant.

Debate One More Thing  

Kerry made a point of bringing up issues related to the specific state he was in. Last night he mentioned Arizona six times. In the other debates, I noticed he did the same thing. He is telling us he is seeking a real connection with real problems.

Bush only mentioned Arizona once, in his perfunctory thank you, 'cause it happened to be part of the venue's name.

Tells y'something.

Iraqi President Didn't Drink All The Kool-Aid  

Surprise, surprise:
Iraq's president said in an interview published Thursday that the Jan. 31 date for Iraqi elections is ``not sacred'' and the vote could be postponed if if a lack of security threatens the fairness of balloting.

President Ghazi al-Yawer's comments, made in an interview with the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, represent a departure from a major policy goal of both the U.S. and Iraqi governments. President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi have insisted the election will proceed as planned despite the growing security crisis.


5 Killed as 2 Bombs Explode Inside Baghdad Green Zone
In a brazen attack that punctured any illusions of a safe haven in the capital, five people, including three American civilians, were killed today when two separate explosions were set off inside the heavily controlled Green Zone in central Baghdad.

The three Americans worked for the United States Defense Department, said Lt. Col. James Hutton, a spokesman for the First Infantry Division. The nationalities of the others were not immediately known.

A total of 18 people were wounded in the attacks, including an American soldier, a United States airman and two American civilians, Colonel Hutton said.
And that is why we must get Bush out. Otherwise, three years from now, we'll still be getting these reports out of Iraq. But there will be at least one new dateline added: Tehran.

And then we will fondly remember the good old days, when casualties from terrorist attacks both here and abroad totaled less than 10 a day.

You'd Think Palm Beach Would Wanna Get It Right...  

But noooo...
A computer crash that forced a pre-election test of electronic voting machines to be postponed was trumpeted by critics as proof of the balloting technology's unreliability.
But surely, Theresa LaPore, who designed the infamous butterfly ballot, is long gone, right?
Tuesday's public dry run had to be postponed until Friday because excessive heat caused a computer server that tabulates data from the touch-screen machines to crash, said county elections supervisor Theresa LePore.

And what's all this about heat and the machines?
"Heat is a very serious problem for these machines, especially in Louisiana and Florida," said Dan Spillane, former senior testing engineer of touch-screens for a small equipment manufacturer in Seattle. "Basically, these things work in the secretary of state's office. Outside of that, no one knows."
By gum, he's right! The last time I checked, Florida's like a goddamm sauna with the temperature maxed out most of the time. Must have slipped someone's mind. can't think of everything, I suppose.

Shut-Out: Kerry Wins Easily  

Now that the debates are over, I'm certain that many, many people will change their mind.

No longer will they vote against Bush. They'll be voting FOR Kerry.

Once again, Kerry thoroughly dominated his opponent, winning on substance, style, knowledge and character. Once again, it wasn’t even close.

As before, I read the transcript. I didn’t watch. Among other reasons, I prefer to focus on the substance, not on whose make-up or smile was cuter. I realize that most people think it is the height of naivete to bother too much with what the candidates said, especially to the exclusion of their all-important appearance and presentation. But I remember a time when precisely the opposite was true. And I still kind of like that retro, old-school approach.

From the beginning, Kerry blew Bush away on the character issue. Here is how each person began:
Mr. Kerry Well, first of all, Bob, thank you for moderating tonight. Thank you, Arizona State, for welcoming us. And thank you to the Presidential Commission for undertaking this enormous task. We're proud to be here. Mr. President, I'm glad to be here with you again to share similarities and differences with the American people.
Mr. Bush Bob, thank you very much. I want to thank Arizona State as well.
Bush didn't bother to acknowledge Kerry's presence. Throughout the debate, Bush referred to Senator Kerry merely as "my opponent," that is, a nuisance. The senator referred to "the president" or "Mr. President" (he may have also used "President Bush" but I don't recall that from my reading). Most telling, however, was this exchange, which demonstrates Kerry's innate self-confidence. He is so self-assured he can go out of his way to positively acknowledge Bush.

Schieffer asked a question about the political polarizing of the country. Here is how Kerry began his response:
Mr. Kerry Let me pay a compliment to the president, if I may. I think in those days after 9/11, I thought the president did a terrific job. And I really was moved, as well as impressed, by the speech that he gave to the Congress. And I think the hug Tom Daschle gave him at that moment was about as genuine a sense of there being no Democrats, no Republicans. We were all just Americans. That's where we were.
You will search in vain throughout Bush's remarks for anything even remotely as decent or warm. Not only about Kerry, but about anyone at all. Bush inhabits a world bereft of empathy; he can't spare even a word about his father when the opportunity is opened for him. To the extent he recognizes anyone else, it is as "my opponent."

At the end of the debate, in answer to a soft-ball question about women in their life, Bush squeezes out one self-deprecating remark: his wife speaks English better than he. Not that she's smarter, or his equal on anything substantive. She just speaks better. Kerry provides us with three, possibly more, "human" quirks and they speak to his character traits, not his public performance. Bush's worldview is hostile, unfeeling, uncaring. He is obsessed with appearing, but not being, strong; that's why he can't admit a mistake.

Or if you prefer, even within his family, Bush gives no quarter. Ever. And that, folks, is the telltale sign of a dangerously weak, unreliable, and cowardly man.

Kerry on the other hand is confident enough in his own worth to acknowledge an opponent when he's strong, and has insight into his own strengths and weaknesses, nor is he afraid to admit them (or fool enough to hand his enemies real cannon fodder, which explains why they have to lie about "nuisance" or "sensitive" in order to smear him).

Bush told way too many lies for anyone other than a fact-checker to bother slogging through and I'm sure the web will provide anyone interested a full list real soon. The most obvious was this one:
Mr. Kerry Yes. When the president had an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, he took his focus off of him, outsourced the job to Afghan warlords and Osama bin Laden escaped. Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive this president was asked, where's Osama bin Laden? And he said, "I don't know. I don't really think about very much. I'm not that concerned." We need a president who stays deadly focused on the real war on terror.

Mr. Schieffer Mr. President.

Mr. Bush Gosh, I don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. That's kind of one of those exaggerations. Of course we're worried about Osama bin Laden. We're on the hunt after Osama bin Laden. We're using every asset at our disposal to get Osama bin Laden.
This is actually a string of lies. In March of 2002 [Update: Corrected. The WaPo article is off by a year], Bush said:
"So I don't know where he [bin Laden] is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you. . . . I truly am not that concerned about him."
(Note: before Democrats hasten to make commercials featuring this, they should scour the record to see whether Kerry may have said something similar. I doubt he did, but this is too perfect a gift from Bush to trust on its face.)

Furthermore, Bush is lying about using "every asset" at our disposal to get bin laden. Qualified people have said for quite some time that the Bush/Iraq War diverted resources from the hunt for bin Laden. For example, a quick google search turns up this, this, and this. More will surely focus in the next two days.

Worse, perhaps, than the lies, was Bush's steadfast refusal to get specific. He avoided the abortion/judge question, avoided the jobs question by changing the subject to education, avoided the minimum wage question. By contrast, Kerry -sometimes addressing America directly- clearly answered the vast majority of the questions with crisp responses, and rapidly rebutted Bush's misstatements and lies. One example:
Mr. Kerry The fact is that my health care plan, America, is very simple. It gives you the choice. I don't force you to do anything. It's not a government plan. The government doesn't require you to do anything. You choose your doctor. You choose your plan. If you don't want to take the offer of the plan that I want to put forward you don't have to. You can keep what you have today - keep a high deductible, keep high premiums, keep a high co-pay, keep low benefits.

But I've got a better plan. And I don't think a lot of people are going to want to keep what they have today. Here's what I do. We take over Medicaid children from the states so that every child in America is covered. And in exchange, if the states want to - they're not forced to, they can choose to - they cover individuals up to 300 percent of poverty. It's their choice. I think they'll choose it because it's a net plus of $5 billion to them.

We allow you if you choose to, you don't have to, but we give you broader competition to allow you to buy in to the same health care plan that senators and congressmen give themselves. If it's good enough for us, it's good enough for every American. I believe that your health care is just as important as any politician in Washington, D.C. If you want to buy in to it, you can. We give you broader competition, that helps lower prices.

In addition to that we're going to allow people 55 to 64 to buy in to Medicare early. And most importantly we give small business a 50 percent tax credit so that after we lower the cost of health care they also get, whether they're self-employed or a small business, a lower cost to be able to cover their employees.

Now what happens is when you begin to get people covered like that - for instance in diabetes, if you diagnose diabetes early you could save $50 billion in the health care system of America by avoiding surgery and dialysis. It works. And I'm going to offer it to America.
By contrast, as far as I recall, the only time Bush got into seriously meaty details about any plan was when he described health-savings accounts. There are numerous examples from Kerry. Here is Kerry laying out a clear summary plan to address the serious crisis in military deployment caused by Bush's Iraq mess:
Our military is overextended. Nine out of 10 active duty Army divisions are either in Iraq, going to Iraq or have come back from Iraq. One way or the other, they're wrapped up in it.

Now, I've proposed adding two active-duty divisions to the Armed Forces of the United States - one combat, one support.

In addition, I'm going to double the number of special forces so that we can fight a more effective war on terror with less pressure on the National Guard and Reserve.

And what I would like to do is see the National Guard and Reserve be deployed differently here in our own country. There's much we can do with them with respect to homeland security. We ought to be doing that. And that would relieve an enormous amount of pressure.

But the most important thing to relieve the pressure on all of our armed forces is, frankly, to run a foreign policy that recognizes that America is strongest when we are working with real alliances, when we are sharing the burdens of the world by working through our statesmanship at the highest levels and our diplomacy to bring other nations to our side.
And here is Kerry on immigration:
Number one, the borders are more leaking today than they were before 9/11. The fact is we haven't done what we need to do to toughen up our borders. And I will. Secondly, we need a guest-worker program. But if it's all we have it's not going to solve the problem. The second thing we need is to crack down on illegal hiring. It's against the law in the United States to hire people illegally. And we ought to be enforcing that law properly. And thirdly, we need an earned legalization program for people who've been here for a long time, stayed out of trouble, got a job, paid their taxes and their kids are American. We've got to start moving them towards full citizenship out of the shadows.
Bush never rebutted either plan. In fact, he avoided all discussion of them.

Even more alarming, Bush gave almost no indication of what a second Bush term (Saints preserve us!) would contain.

But we can assume more of the same. More wars, more unnecessary deaths of American soldiers and innocent civilians, increased recruitment for terrorist organizations, more job loss, more breaks for Bush's and Cheney's sleazy pals, more human rights scandals, more corruption scandals, less civil rights, the steady erosion of the security of Social Security, further efforts by neo-Birchers to marginalize the United Stations, more attempts to rape the environment, more serious attempts to suppress dissent, a total lack of attention to the very real problems of the poor in this country, more government secrecy, and an increasingly dangerous isolation of the United States from the world. And worst of all: the totally unpredictable disasters that will come from a president completely incapable of making a competent decision.

In a Kerry presidency, however, we will have a brilliant chief executive with a stellar record of service and success, and a competent vice-president with realworld achievements on his resume. We will see much more than a return of Clinton's best. Yes, indeed, Kerry will be preoccupied during the first part of his first term with cleaning up the stinking awful mess the elephants left behind.

And in stark contrast to the infallible Bush, Kerry will make mistakes. But unlike Bush, he will have the guts to admit it, thereby minimizing the compounding of error upon error.

And so, as all three debates make crystal clear, it is Kerry who has the workable plans, it is Kerry who has the strength of character, and it is Kerry who has the the extensive, successful, experience to lead the United States.'

[Update:] Shieffer was, as many suspected he'd be, awful. Not a single question on the environment. Was P.A.T.R.I.O.T. brought up? Civil rights were glanced on. Government secrecy not at all. African-Americans and other minorities barely registered. And yes, I got the Rathergate allusion, but thought it was too cheap a shot to mention. Josh Marshall didn't an he was right to.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

More On National Voter Fraud By GOP  

The RNC is paying for a systematic voting fraud operation in several battleground states. It looks to be as simple as that. This is an enormous scandal.
Here is the link in the tapped article.

This is really, really, really, serious. Get it, NY Times, networks, Newsweek, Time?

Great New MoveOn Ad  

Mistake. And be sure to donate.

Third Rate Burglary  

Thieves hit Democratic Party offices; computers containing sensitive data removed

O'Reilly Hit With Sex Harass Suit  

Why am I not surprised? Clarence Thomas level stuff. Apparently, she recorded some stuff.

Well, let's hope it ends his career once and for all.

GOP Dirty Tricks  

Abuse of House mailing privileges:
A House Democrat said Wednesday a Republican committee chairman broke House rules by mailing more than 175,000 fliers touting a Bush administration decision to keep Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks open to snowmobilers.

Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., learned of the fliers -- produced and mailed over the last month for $68,081, at taxpayer expense -- when a constituent complained last week. Republicans are "using any means possible to promote their agenda, and the re-election of the president," she said.


Christopher Reeve Paralysis Act stalled by GOP.
"L.A. Weekly has learned that, just a day after the actor's death, one or more Republican senators put a surprise hold on the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Act. The uncontroversial legislation had been expected to sail through committee and then the Senate as easily as it had the House of Representatives where it passed 418 to zero last week.. A source inside the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation told L.A. Weekly on Tuesday. 'We heard it was because Chris has been too outspoken on the stem-cell issue. That was the trigger. So it would have passed if Chris hadn't died.' But the actor's bill had NOTHING to do with stem-cell research. Not only did the legislation have bipartisan co-sponsorship, Reeve's foundation cited the support of Bush cabinet member Tommy Thompson, the Health and Human Services secretary."

Voter Fraud And Dirty Voting Tricks By GOP Goes National  

Folks, this is extremely serious. This should become a mainstream story. Please read these links. There is only one conclusion: this is widespread, deliberate GOP subversion of the national election:

Talking Points Memo

RNC funds voter supression efforts

Minnesota dirty voting tricks.

Milwaukee GOP operative is refusing requests for 260,000 ballots in anticipation of high turnout.

More Nevada voter shenanigans.

Operation Truth  

Operation Truth has a heartbreaking commercial about wounded soldiers in Iraq. Go, watch it, and donate so they can help get it on the air.

Seraphiel Finds A Doozy  


Sinclair Responds With A Lie  

I received the following in response to my emails to Sinclair:
We welcome your comments regarding the upcoming special news event featuring the topic of Americans held as prisoners of war in Vietnam.

The program has not been videotaped and the exact format of this unscripted event has not been finalized. Characterizations regarding the content are premature and are based on ill-informed sources. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has been invited to participate. You can urge him to appear by calling his Washington, D.C. campaign headquarters at (202) 712-3000. You may call this station's parent company headquarters at (410) 568-1780 if you would like to make further comments on this matter.

Thank you.
This is filled with lies. The propaganda Sinclair intends to broadcast (I won't link to the site nor mention its name) is indeed being produced by a discredited journalist. It's content is also publicly known: it is a cynical rightwing smearjob on John Kerry. That is all it is.

To give you an indication of the true nature of this extremist stunt, here's the actual poll posted on the website of the video Sinclair intends to show. Notice the choice of questions. (Other than disquising the name of the show, nothing was changed)

Edwards On Bush's Bulge: "I Think It Was His Battery"  

Sounds reasonable to me. Other insights:
[Jay] Leno asked Edwards if he could beat the president in a foot race.

Edwards, who said he jogged about five miles Tuesday, reminded the audience he played football as a student.

Bush, he noted, was on a cheering squad.

Bush "was on the side, with his pompoms," the North Carolina senator said. "I don't know, can you run fast with those cheerleading outfits on?"

Earlier, at a campaign stop in Colorado, Edwards attacked President Bush and Cheney as "out of touch." He didn't let up on Leno's show.

When Leno showed a clip of Kerry windsurfing, Edwards said, "If I had to spend 90 minutes on a stage with George Bush, I'd want to clear my head too."

Germany Hints They Like Kerry  

As others have noted, for diplomatic reasons, they can only hint around, but what is clear is that the Germans approve of Kerry's plan for Iraq:
Germany might deploy troops in Iraq if conditions there change, Peter Struck, the German defence minister, indicated on Tuesday in a gesture that appears to provide backing for John Kerry, the US Democratic presidential challenger.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Struck departed from his government’s resolve not to send troops to Iraq under any circumstances, saying: “At present I rule out the deployment of German troops in Iraq. In general, however, there is no one who can predict developments in Iraq in such a way that he could make a such a binding statement [about the future].”

Mr Struck also welcomed Mr Kerry’s proposal that he would convene an international conference on Iraq including countries that opposed the war if he were to win next month's election.

Germany would certainly attend, Mr Struck said. “This is a very sensible proposal. The situation in Iraq can only be cleared up when all those involved sit together at one table. Germany has taken on responsibilities in Iraq, including financial ones; this would naturally justify our involvement in such a conference.”
via TalkLeft

"Most Misquided Policy Since The Vietnam War"  

These scholars are being kind, I think. Bush's Iraq invasion was the dumbest thing this country did since writing in the Constitution that non-free persons (slaves) counted as 3/5 of a citizen.:
The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has been the “most misguided” policy since the Vietnam War, according to an open letter signed by some 500 U.S. national-security specialists.

The letter, released Tuesday by a Security Scholars for a Sensible Foreign Policy (S3FP), said that the current situation in Iraq could have been much better had the Bush administration heeded the advice of some of its most experienced career military and foreign service officers.

But the administration’s failure to do so has actually fueled “the violent opposition to the U.S. military presence,” as well as the intervention of terrorists from outside Iraq.

“The results of this policy have been overwhelmingly negative for U.S. interests,” according to the group which called for a “fundamental reassessment” in both the U.S. strategy in Iraq and its implementation.

“We’re advising the administration, which is already in a deep hole, to stop digging,” said Prof. Barry Posen, the Ford International Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (news - web sites) (MIT), one of the organizers of S3FP which includes some of the most eminent U.S. experts on both national-security policy and on the Middle East and the Arab world.

Among the signers are six of the last seven presidents of the American Political Science Association (APSA) and professors teach in more than 150 colleges and universities in 40 states.

Besides Posen, the main organizers included Stanley Kaufman of the University of Delaware; Michael Brown, director of Security Studies at Georgetown University; Michael Desch, who holds the Robert M. Gates Chair in Intelligence and National Security Decision-Making at the Bush School of government at Texas A & M University; and Jessica Stern, at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, who also served in a senior counter-terrorism post in the National Security Council during the Clinton administration.

“I think it is telling that so many specialists on international relations, who rarely agree on anything, are unified in their position on the high costs that the U.S. is incurring from this war,” said Prof. Robert Keohane of Duke University in North Carolina.

Best thing John Updike's Ever Written.  

John Updike in Slate:
I look forward to voting for John Kerry, a man of exemplary intelligence who was brave in war and then brave in protest of war. I don't look for him to reverse our course in Iraq overnight, nor to provide quick fixes for global or national problems, but there are certain things I am sure he will not do: He won't try to pack the Supreme Court and other judiciary with anti-choice judges; he won't push for an anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment; he won't try to perform voodoo economics with tax cuts and a raging deficit.

Obligatory Debate Question  

To George Bush:

Considering all the trouble you've caused the world, why don't you just pack up and go home?

GOP Dirty Tricks  

In Nevada, they've been registering voters at malls then tearing up Democratic voter registrations. Yes, it's true. And yes, the Republicans are behind it. The same firm that's been doing this was also one of the companies hired to collect signatures for Nader in Arizona.

Nixon must be looking up from Hell and smiling his creepy smile.

Three More U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq  

In Baghdad. For those who haven't been following this, US military casualties are nearly 1100 now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

"Karl Rove, You've Been Busted"  

The left blogosphere has connected the dots between Bush, Sinclair, Enron and a whole bunch of other slimeballs. Inquiring minds want to know: any mainstream press gonna expose this sleazy October Surprise to the rest of the country? Here's Digby's story. And here's Sid's.

Come on, you ink-stained wretches!

Kerry's Professionalism, A Slutty Press Corps (Literally), And An Insecure Bush  

Lotsa folks are publishing excerpts from Rolling Stone's Kerry Fights Back and for good reason: It's excellent.
I'm going straight to the White House," John Kerry says. "I'm thrilled with where the campaign is right now." Just ninety minutes earlier, on this warm afternoon in late September, he stood on an outdoor stage at the University of Pennsylvania campus in downtown Philadelphia and gazed out onto a sea of 20,000 supporters. The school had hosted only one other rally this big in recent memory -- when Bill Clinton came through on his re-election tour in 1996. It's heady stuff when a first-time presidential candidate draws crowds comparable in size to those of a popular sitting president.

"I feel as if we have finally gotten the American people and the press simultaneously focused on the real issues," he says. "Things I've been talking about for two years. George Bush has made catastrophic mistakes in Iraq, catastrophic mistakes in foreign policy. He's shown bad judgment, made bad choices about how to proceed in a war on terror. I think he's also out of touch with the American people on what their day-to-day lives are like. The cost of health care skyrockets; he has no plan to reduce it. School is expensive; he's made it worse. He has a string of broken promises about not hurting Social Security as he dips into it every day. This is the most say-one-thing-and-do-another administration in history."..

On Iraq -- now the central issue on which he is attacking Bush -- Kerry is harsh, claiming Bush has been guilty of "misleading, miscalculating, misjudgment, mismanagement." The consequences may be "very serious" for the United States, but already the price has been immense. "Two hundred billion dollars spent and a thousand lives laid down," Kerry says, "because [the Bush administration] miscalculated in every respect and because they pursued a rigid, ideological goal rather than an honest assessment of America's security."

Kerry straightens up in his chair. "I believe we are going to win," he says. "And we are going to win because, I think, America wants a change in the right direction." Then he adds, "I'm fired up and ready to go."...
On press bias against Kerry. Short version: the Kerry team are not whores. Literally:
In late september, i spent a week on the Kerry plane. Unlike the 2000 Bush plane, which became notorious for its party atmosphere -- margaritas flowed at the end of the day and affairs among the press corps were widely rumored -- the feeling on the Kerry plane is professional and businesslike.
Since they're not getting laid for free (nor free drinks):
It soon became apparent that many members of Kerry's traveling press make no attempt to hide their open dislike of the candidate...

[T]o report on [Kerry campaign] events accurately would mean you had to say something unqualified and positive about Kerry. This is something his traveling press corps has been -- and still is -- loath to do. On the evening of September 21st, outside an auditorium in Orlando, where inside more than 7,500 people were screaming wildly as Kerry spoke, Candy Crowley stood next to the venue and reported on CNN that Kerry was "trying . . . to rev up the crowd." The implication was unmistakable: Kerry's supporters in Florida were resistant, even standoffish. Just to make sure Crowley was able to get away with downplaying the event as she was, CNN never showed a wide shot of the large, cheering crowd.
So Kerry's team tries to court the press. No, they won't fuck them. They'll just treat them as if they really were a press corps:
[L]ate on Friday night, well into a flight from Denver to Boston, McCurry made his way to the rear of the plane, where network cameramen, still photographers and reporters who do not work for A-list dailies -- a group that includes both reporters from the newsweeklies, such as Time, and members of the press from states sure to go to Bush, such as Texas -- are seated. One reporter not so jokingly referred to this section as "steerage." McCurry approached Nedra Pickler, an Associated Press correspondent -- a sturdy, unflinching woman who takes her job deadly seriously.

"Would you be willing to participate in a group interview on deep background," McCurry asked her, "should Kerry come back to the reporters?"

"No," Pickler said flatly over the roar of the jet engines. "It is the position of the Associated Press that if John Kerry were to meet with reporters, the interview should be on the record."

"But it will give you an idea," McCurry said, "of what his thinking is at the moment about the campaign. You can attribute what he says to someone close to the campaign. Then next week we will have an on-the-record press conference. This can help you prepare for that."

Some reporters, such as Susannah Meadows of Newsweek and myself, were happy to meet with Kerry on background -- a perfectly acceptable journalistic practice. But all of the reporters had to agree, McCurry said; otherwise, no deal. This, however, is what was strange. The reporters seemed to take a perverse pleasure in standing up to Kerry, in not giving him what he wanted...
At the end of the article is some hope. Someone in the Campaign finally picked up on something Brady Kiesling, and others, noticed a very long time ago: Bush is a very weak man. The American people need to see that.
...I wonder if McCurry has located a fatal flaw with Bush -- much like Sasso's realization that Bush is living in a fantasy world of spin. "He is tremendously insecure," McCurry says. "Any time any of his aides look like they have stature, he wants to suppress that, because it's about him. When it's not about him, he gets nervous that people will understand that he's not as good as everyone thinks he is."

"Is that his fatal weakness, then?" I ask.

"Yes, and you know who understands this better than anyone? John Kerry. The other day, Kerry said, 'I need humor,' which is why he did some of the late-night and morning shows. But the insight he had was, 'I can get under this guy's skin -- if we have the right kind of humorous barb.' " McCurry pauses. "Last night, Kerry read aloud a Bush quote" -- about how the CIA was guessing about conditions in Iraq -- "and made fun of him, which made the news this morning. So I know -- because I've been there -- that Bush was sitting in his suite in the Waldorf-Astoria getting ready for his day at the United Nations General Assembly, and I'll bet you any amount of money he watched that on TV and went nuts, because Kerry was making fun of his own words. If you saw the clip of the quote, Bush looked like his dad." McCurry takes a short pause for effect. "It was devastating."

Sinclair And Crony Capitalism  

Turns out the Holocaust trivializers at Sinclair have a very good reason for airing their propaganda. Can you say payment in kind for a high profile presidential flackjob?
You wouldn't know it from the name "Sinclair Broadcast Group," but it turns out that through their wholly owned subsidiary Sinclair Ventures, Inc., SBC is a major investor in a company called Jadoo Power Systems which has won some major military contracts during the Bush years. Defense contracts aside, as Fortune has reported, "Jadoo's biggest coup came after President George W. Bush touted hydrogen as an alternative to foreign oil in his State of the Union speech last January . . . The startup got some unexpected free publicity when Bush held a TV camera using one of Jadoo's lightweight fuel cells on his shoulder as media photographers captured the moment. Jadoo plans to begin selling such batteries to the broadcast market early next year."

Bush gives "unexpected free publicity" to a Sinclair subsidiary, Sinclair gives a little unexpected free publicity to John Kerry's opponents. One hand washes the other.
Also, it seems that Sinclair has been rather lucky:
Another Sinclair Ventures company, VisionAIR, seems to have gotten into the federal contracting business recently. And, conveniently enough, when the Justice Department issued some new rules for contractors in August, VisionAIR was able to happily announce that they were already compliant with the new standards, so it's nothing but less competition for them. Not as fortunate as unexpected free publicity, perhaps, but lucky just the same.

Illegal Immigrants  

Via email, I learned of what looks like a terrific program that explores the real world that John Sayles' recent film fictionalized. Maria Hinojosa, the journalist who hosts the show, is one of the real shining lights on CNN. Let's watch this Sunday at 8 or 11:
Through extraordinary access, CNN Presents explores the lives of four families on the front lines in the growing battle over illegal immigration in America.  In  "Immigrant Nation, Divided Country," CNN's Maria Hinojosa tracks the illegal immigration debate from a nearly deserted village in Mexico to the booming suburbs of Atlanta and the rural hamlets of North Georgia.

 "Immigrant Nation, Divided Country" premieres Sunday, Oct. 17, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. on CNN/U.S. (ET). The program will re-air on Saturday, Oct. 23.

An estimated three million illegal immigrants will flood into the United States this year in search of jobs. Their presence has sparked a backlash from some native-born Americans.  Hinojosa, a Mexican-American herself, takes a personal journey to understand the changes and conflict created by the wave of illegal immigration.  She confronts U.S. government officials about the mixed message sent about illegal immigration.

Political Hate Speech  

The now infamous Sinclair Holocaust trivializer also had the gall to say this:
However, the accusations coming from Terry McAuliffe and others, is it because they are some elements of this that may reflect poorly on John Kerry? That it's somehow an in-kind contribution of George Bush?

If you use that logic and reasoning, that means every car bomb in Iraq would be an in-kind contribution to John Kerry.

Contrary To Rumor, Oklahoma's No Hotbed Of Sapphism  

Too bad really. For a while I thought maybe Colgate, Ok had become West Northampton:
The Republican Senate candidate in Oklahoma warns of "rampant" lesbianism in some schools in the state in a tape released Monday by his Democratic opponent.

The remark by Republican Tom Coburn drew a skeptical response from state educators.

"I don't believe that," said Keith Ballard, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association. He said the group's attorneys "haven't said anything to me about that."

In the tape released by the campaign of Brad Carson, the Democratic candidate, Coburn says a campaign worker from Coalgate told him that "lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they'll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that's happened to us?"

Joe McCulley, school superintendent in Coalgate, chuckled when asked about Coburn's remark.

"He knows something I don't know. We have not identified anything like that. We have not had to deal with any issues on that subject -- ever," McCulley said.

The comment came at a town hall meeting in Hugo on Aug. 31 and was taped by a Democratic campaign worker.

John Hart, spokesman for Coburn, said the remark was made during a broader discussion about the challenges parents face in society "where our kids are getting mixed messages about sexuality."

Hart would not say that Coburn misspoke. "I wasn't there," he said.

Of the educators' skepticism, Hart said: "If that's what they say, I guess we will have to take their word for it."

Bubbie Rules  

Excellent flash.

Thanks, Atrios.

Sinclair Seems Quite Familiar With Holocaust Deniers And Their Smear Tactics  

Incoherent slimeballs:
Sinclair, based in the Baltimore suburb of Hunt Valley, decided to air the film after it was rejected for airing by the major broadcast networks, vice president Mark Hyman said. "This is a powerful story," Hyman said. "The networks are acting like Holocaust deniers..."

Reply To The Pro-Coathanger Crowd  

Dr. Alison Murdoch, who directs a fertility center in England is the mother of 4 children. In the Times today:
"To those people who say a life is a life is a life, ask them this question," she said. "There is a house, and their 2-year-old child is asleep in bed upstairs, and in their basement they have 10 embryos that are cryo-stored. The house catches fire, and they can go and save either their child upstairs or their embryos in the basement, but not both. Which would they go to?

"I can pretty well guarantee, certainly in the U.K. audience, that 100 percent would say, 'I'll save my child.' They'll not let their child burn to death in order to save 10 embryos that are cryo-stored."


Damn, he's good.
By singling out Mr. Bush's lies and misrepresentations, am I saying that Mr. Kerry isn't equally at fault? Yes.

Mr. Kerry sometimes uses verbal shorthand that offers nitpickers things to complain about. He talks of 1.6 million lost jobs; that's the private-sector loss, partly offset by increased government employment. But the job record is indeed awful. He talks of the $200 billion cost of the Iraq war; actual spending is only $120 billion so far. But nobody doubts that the war will cost at least another $80 billion. The point is that Mr. Kerry can, at most, be accused of using loose language; the thrust of his statements is correct.

Mr. Bush's statements, on the other hand, are fundamentally dishonest. He is insisting that black is white, and that failure is success. Journalists who play it safe by spending equal time exposing his lies and parsing Mr. Kerry's choice of words are betraying their readers.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Oh, America #2  

Al Qaeda suspects have 'disappeared' and may have been tortured, says Human Rights watch.
At least 11 al Qaeda suspects have "disappeared" in U.S. custody, and some may have been tortured, Human Rights Watch said in a report issued Monday.

The prisoners are probably being held outside the United States without access to the Red Cross or any oversight of their treatment, the human rights group said. In some cases, the United States will not even acknowledge the prisoners are in custody.

The report said the prisoners include the alleged architect of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, as well as Abu Zubaydah, who is believed to be a close aide to Osama bin Laden.

In refusing to disclose the prisoners' whereabouts or acknowledge the detentions, Human Rights Watch said, the U.S. government has violated international law, international treaties and the Geneva Convention. The group called on the government to bring all the prisoners "under the protection of the law."

"I think the U.S. demeans itself when it adopts the philosophy that the ends justify the means in the fight against terror," said Reed Brody, special counsel with Human Rights Watch.
Indeed it does.

Oh, America  

But you can't say they're unneeded:
Seven American activist groups asked the United Nations on Monday to provide international observers for next month's presidential election.

A petition delivered to the U.N. Economic and Social Council said that only the U.N. can ``give us recourse to international bodies beyond those within our own national and state governments'' in case of a repeat of the problems seen in the 2000 election, which President Bush won after a protracted ballot fight in Florida.

Grace Ross of the Economic Human Rights Project, based in Somerville, Mass., said the non-governmental groups decided to seek action from the Economic and Social Council, known as ECOSOC, after U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan turned down a request for international observers from 13 members of Congress, led by Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Tex. Annan said the U.N. needed an invitation from the U.S. government, not Congress.

Ross claimed that while governments need to go through the U.N. General Assembly, non-governmental organizations could request observers through ECOSOC. If its 54 elected member nations approve, the ECOSOC president could then ask Annan to send observers, she said.

The United States would have to grant permission to any observers that the ECOSOC wanted to send.

The petition ``strongly supports'' the presence of observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a 55-nation security group invited by the Bush administration to monitor the election. Bush faces Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry.

But the seven groups say it's not clear that the European observers will have the force of international law behind them since they are invited guests.

Other organizations signing the petition include the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, based in Philadelphia; the National Welfare Rights Union and the Michigan Welfare Rights Union, based in Detroit; the Independent Progressive Politics Network, headquartered in Bloomfield, N.J.; Seacoast Peace Response, based in Portsmouth, N.H.; and the North Shore Massachusetts chapter of the Alliance for Democracy.
Two Words: Puh Thetic.

Israeli Think Tank Hates America  

How could they say such things?
he war in Iraq did not damage international terror groups, but instead distracted the United States from confronting other hotbeds of Islamic militancy and actually ``created momentum'' for many terrorists, a top Israeli security think tank said in a report released Monday.

President Bush has called the war in Iraq an integral part of the war on terrorism, saying that deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein hoped to develop unconventional weapons and could have given them to Islamic militants across the world.

But the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University said that instead of striking a blow against Islamic extremists, the Iraq war ``has created momentum for many terrorist elements, but chiefly al-Qaida and its affiliates.''

Jaffee Center director Shai Feldman said the vast amount of money and effort the United States has poured into Iraq has deflected attention and assets from other centers of terrorism, such as Afghanistan.

The concentration of U.S. intelligence assets in Iraq ``has to be at the expense of being able to follow strategic dangers in other parts of the world,'' he said.

Shlomo Brom, a retired Israeli army general, said the U.S.-led effort was strategically misdirected. If the goal in the war against terrorism is ``not just to kill the mosquitos but to dry the swamp,'' he said, ``now it's quite clear'' that Iraq ``is not the swamp.''

Instead, he said, the Iraq campaign is having the opposite effect, drawing Islamic extremists from other parts of the world to join the battle.

``On a strategic level as well as an operational level,'' Brom concluded, ``the war in Iraq is hurting the war on international terrorism.''

Can Kerry Bring Serious Allies Into Iraq?  

That seems to be the major objection to Kerry's plan, that no one could possibly expect any government to send troops to clean up Bush's mess. Two points in response:

If anyone can do it, Kerry can.

If anyone can't do it, Bush can't.

Nothing could be less persuasive to a potential ally of the US than a president so detached from reality, so impulsive, so arrogant, and so intemperate as George W. Bush.

One more thing:

"Getting allies seriously involved" in Iraq need not mean military involvement. There is so much more that could be done to help the US out in Iraq that Bush has not been able to successfully negotiate with other countries. Kerry could. He's known the world's leaders for years. Furthermore, having had firsthand experience with the alternative, he values diplomacy.

The choice couldn't be clearer. Kerry's expertise and sense of reality vs. Bush's incompetence and delusions.

Bush, 10 Years Ago And Today  


Frankly, I don't have an opinion on whether Bush has dementia. But I know his policies and behavior is demented.

Boycott Sinclair Broadcasting  

Go here for links.

Hat tip, Tom Tomorrow.

You Can Run AND You Can Hide  

"You can run, but you can't hide," Bush snarled at Kerry in the last debate, punning on the word "run." But as always, Bush is lying, even when you think he's just boilerplating.

In fact you CAN run and hide, if your name is George W. Bush:

You can run AND you can hide a civil rights report that is damning to the administration.

You can run AND you can hide the Iraq war by deliberately delaying major combat operations until after the election.

You can run AND you can hide the coffins of the men and women killed in your unnecessary war.

You can run AND you can hide a deep investigation into the Niger forgeries used to build the "mushroom cloud" case against Saddam.

You can run AND you can hide the identity of your Vice President's advisors on energy until after the election.

You can run AND you can hide the true cost of the medicare prescription-drug program.

You can run AND you can hide the malicious intent of your programs behind Orwellian language like "PATRIOT Act" "Family Marriage Amendment" "Clear Skies Initiative"

You can run AND you can hide your disgraceful National Guard records by lying about your record and withholding documents.

You can run AND you can hide your terrible record by vilifying anyone of stature that stands up to tell the truth.

Oh yes, you most certainly can run and hide.

But sooner or later, the consequences of what Bush is hiding will harm us all.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

The Golden Rule Of Bush: When In Doubt, Always Listen To The Wrong People  

Laura Rozen tells us all about it:
Leading the charge in favor of this idea [American sponsored/encouraged/induced regime change] is neoconservative writer and political operative Michael Ledeen. For years, Ledeen -- currently the Freedom Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and acontributing editor at National Review -- has argued that the chief source of international terrorism in the world is Tehran. In numerous articles and his most recent book, "The War Against the Terror Masters" (2002), Ledeen has insisted not only that overthrowing the regime in Tehran should have come before military intervention in Iraq (though he continues to strongly support that operation), but that it would be relatively easy. "You don't have to fire a shot," he told The New York Sun in November 2002. "The Iranians are dying to bring down the government themselves."
Damn, that sounds familiar. Haven't we heard that before? Something about cakewalk?

Anyway, those of you who are reality-challenged, or who feel that the last 4 years were too boring, you will definitely be encouraged by this:
While Ledeen's argument did not prevail then, it is gaining attention now, in particular as European-led diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to curtail its nuclear program have faltered in recent months.

"Untidy" Is Not The Word, "Long Hard Slog" Is Not The Phrase  

In fact, what's going on over there defies language's ability to describe.

Good News If You're A Terrorist Seeking Chemo Weapons  

Via a tip of the hat from Mathew Gross, we learn that
...a little-noticed section of the 960-page [Duelfer] report warns that the danger of a "devastating" attack with unconventional weapons has grown since the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq last year.
And who says the terrorists don't want Bush around for another four years?

But don't worry, the gist of the article is they only wanna use them in Iraq. True, against US soldiers as well as other "coalition" members and Iraqis.

But WE don't have to worry.

Okay, well, I suppose if you have a child over there, you might be a tad concerned that your kid may return to the state slightly...melted.

But look, Bush ain't worried, why should you? After all, you're gonna vote for him right? Why should he worry?

More Than Coffins Are Getting Censored  

RP, via email, drew my attention to this:

New law limits details on injured troops
Implemented about a year ago, HIPAA prohibits hospitals and other health care providers from releasing information about a patient without consent from the patient or next of kin. It also is intended to give people more control over their health records...

Now, military officials are citing the law in refusing to identify soldiers wounded in Iraq or disclose details about their injuries.

When eight members of a Waukesha-based National Guard unit were hurt Sept. 12 by a suicide car bombing in Baghdad, the military, citing HIPAA, would say only that none of the injuries was life-threatening and that three soldiers had been hospitalized. Family members later revealed that one of the most seriously hurt was the unit's commander and that another soldier had nearly lost a leg in the explosion...

Peterson said even members of Congress have been turned away when looking for details about wounded soldiers from their districts...

Some critics question whether the military's true intention in adhering so stridently to HIPAA is privacy - or secrecy.

A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), one of HIPAA's chief architects, said the senator never intended the law to keep Americans from learning about casualties in important military missions like the current war on terrorism.

Agreeing that soldiers have privacy rights, too, Kennedy spokesman Jim Manley said the military should be more assertive about obtaining consent from wounded soldiers so the public knows what is happening on the battlefields.

Asked whether the Pentagon might be exploiting the privacy law, Manley replied: "I have to be concerned that they are."

Ladik, the Vietnam veteran, shared his skepticism. Now 58 and a retired police officer who lives near Madison, he noted that widespread news coverage of casualties in Vietnam turned public opinion against that war during the 1960s and '70s.

The government's strategy today, Ladik said, seems to be maintaining public support by restricting such information.

"That really turned on them in the Vietnam War," he said.
You can insert whereever you like heated denials from the administration that they are doing anything but protecting privacy.

Bye, Bye, Bai  

Yup, I wuz afraid of that, but only partly conscious of it at the time. My bad.

Yesterday, I discussed and excerpted an incredibly bad article in the Times Magazine about Kerry that contained, if you ignored the lame attempt to extract meaning from Kerry's taste in mineral water and other ephemera, lotsa terrrific information about Kerry's Senate career.

Turns out it was a poison pill and I shoulda seen it.

Matt Bai portrays himself as a thoughtful writer with a difficult mission, which is to discover exactly what Kerry's plan is to fight terrorism. After a nearly 4000 word exposition, whose thrust is that Kerry hasn't articulated any plan at all, finally we get a relevant quote from Kerry himself. Guess what? He has, and always has had, a very well articulated plan. Bai obviously never shut his inner monologue up long enough to listen to Kerry.

But Bai is no disinterested, if logorrheic, pixel-stained wretch. His article presents a Kerry-bashing strategy as a free gift to the Bushies, all wrapped in ribbons (not medals) and ready to go. He distorts -pardon me, interprets, no, pardon me, mangles - Kerry's very clear words by recasting them, badly, in his own words. Then Bai argues with himself. He also spins Kerry's words shamelessly, imputing meanings that simply aren't possible to infer from what Kerry actually said. And then, having refuted himself, Bai blames Kerry for not addressing the question.

Bai claims that Kerry's vision of a war on terror is directly analagous to a war on the mob or a war on drugs and he expects to use basically the same methods. Bai, NOT Kerry, says that Kerry believes that "Al Qaeda might be as easily marginalized as a bunch of drug-running thugs, that an ''effective' assault on its bank accounts might cripple its twisted campaign against Americans." Since Kerry seems focused on these non-military solutions, Bai concludes that Kerry is not properly addressing the "historically consequential" moment, when Americans fearfully perceive an "existential threat" that can't be solved merely by poring over bank statements.

But that's a lie.

Kerry obviously believes no such thing.

But the GOP knows when they've been handed a perfect talking bashing point, however intentionally or otherwise. Today, on Face the Nation (link not yet available), some Bush apologist picked up Bai's fallacious strawman, quoting Kerry from Bai's article to "prove" that Kerry thinks terrorism is like prostitution and should be fought the same way.

Yeah, right.

Here's what Kerry actually said:
''You know, when your buildings are bombed and 3,000 people get killed, and airplanes are hijacked, and a nation is terrorized the way we were, and people continue to plot to do you injury, that's an act of war, and it's serious business. But it's a different kind of war. You have to understand that this is not the sands of Iwo Jima. This is a completely new, different kind of war from any we've fought previously.''

Kerry told me he would stop terrorists by going after them ruthlessly with the military...
And naturally, the CBS talking heads, including Schieffer, never bothered to point out that Kerry's remarks were lifted entirely out of context and that the Bush flack was lying. Nor did they point out that the Bushite was making the classic mistake of confusing Iraq with al Qaeda.

So, my apologies. The information about Kerry that Bai's article contains can easily be obtained elsewhere, without Bai's poison pills, his inaccurate analysis and his insufferably pompous tone. No wonder Kerry once cut short an interview with him.

Bye, bye, Bai.

[Update: Now the quote Gillespie -the Bush hack mentioned above- pulled out of context from Bai's article is gonna be in an ad. Hopefully, Kerry will respond, immediately.]

[Update: The Bush hack on Face The Nation was misidentified in the update above. It has been corrected]

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