Saturday, October 23, 2004

Bush Administration Will Lie About Everything  

The other day, Tommy Franks published an op-ed in the Times critical of John Kerry's statements on bin Laden at Tora Bora. Essentially, Franks said it was not at all clear he was even there and if he was, they didn't let him escape.

Now you can forgive a guy a lot for calling Douglas Feith "the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth", but this steps over the line. Because about Tora Bora, Franks was lying through his teeth.

Here's the thing. I knew he was lying when I read his op-ed. And if I knew he was lying, the probability is 1.00 that the NY Times op-ed editors knew it. Why did they permit it to be published at all? Or at the very least, without a reality check?

USO Seeks To Drive US Troops Mad  

Las Vegas mainstay Wayne Newton, belting out his trademark version of "Danke Schoen," entertained troops during a recent trip to a U.S. base in Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

What Robert Kuttner Says  

Boston Globe:
Here is a flat prediction: If neither candidate wins decisively, the Bush campaign will contrive enough court challenges in enough states so that we won't know the winner election night.

The right stumbled on a gambit in 2000, which could become standard operating procedure in close elections: If the election ends up in the courts, all courts eventually lead to the Supreme Court, which, as we learned, can overrule state courts -- and pick the president...

We may not know the winner until the Electoral College meets in December, and perhaps not even then if contested elections are still tied up in court. It's not even clear whether the ultimate arbiter would be the Supreme Court or the House of Representatives.

If the courts took away the people's right to choose the president, and George Bush in effect stole two elections in a row, this would surely produce a constitutional crisis and a crisis of legitimacy.

But what if they gave a constitutional crisis and nobody came? The most ominous outcome of all would be public passivity, echoing 2000. That would confirm that the theft of our democracy was real.

Call me partisan, but the best insurance against this horrific outcome would be a Kerry win big enough so that even Karl Rove would not dare to mount this maneuver. A razor-thin race virtually invites it. And if Bush wins handily, our democracy will have other problems.

Three day blogging hiatus for personal business.

All Hail Tom Friedman!  

Here's Tom at the height of his awesome powers. As he so often does, Tom puts what sounds like his own befuddled, often perverse, metaphors in the mouth of another:
In British politics there used to be a standard test for candidates for prime minister: Would you want to go on a tiger hunt with this person? That is, would this candidate kill the tiger or try to reason with the tiger? Graham Allison, the Harvard international relations professor who just published a book called "Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe," said to me the other day that the tiger hunt is even more relevant in America today.

"The big question about Kerry is, Will he pull the trigger?" Mr. Allison said. "And the big question about Bush is, Can he aim? With Bush, we know he can pull the trigger, but it's like he shot himself in the foot - and the tiger is still out there. It's the tiger who needs to be shot, not us."
Answers:Um, folks? John Kerry shot, not a tiger it's true, but a human being, a VietCong, in battle. (Meanwhile, George Bush was knocking back shots.)So we know, beyond a shadow of doubt how Kerry would treat the tiger.

But the question for Bush is unfair. It should have been: Do you really want a president who will pull the trigger again when he's proven 1. He doesn't know how to shoot; 2. he's "not concerned" about the tiger; 3. he thinks a declawed, senile lizard is a giant ferocious tiger; and 4. he's too much of a coward to admit his mistake?

The Peter Pan President  

After reading this post on how Bush's worldview resembles an unusual deus ex machina from an early Woody Allen movie, correspondent DB conclusively solved the mystery of where Bush first got some of his more cockamamie ideas of how the world works:
<"if all of you in the audience who believe in fairies"

Presumably this is a reference to Peter Pan. Peter explains to Wendy:

"You see children know such a lot now, they soon don't believe in fairies, and every time a child says, `I don't believe in fairies,' there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead."

Later in the play version Tinkerbell is poisoned and Peter addresses the audience of the play directly. In the book version it goes like this:

Peter Pan by James M. Barrie: Chapter 13

"Her voice was so low that at first he could not make out what she said. Then he made it out. She was saying that she thought she could get well again if children believed in fairies.

Peter flung out his arms. There were no children there, and it was night time; but he addressed all who might be dreaming of the Neverland, and who were therefore nearer to him than you think: boys and girls in their nighties, and naked papooses in their baskets hung from trees.

Do you believe?" he cried.

Tink sat up in bed almost briskly to listen to her fate.

She fancied she heard answers in the affirmative, and then again she wasn't sure.

"What do you think?" she asked Peter.

"If you believe," he shouted to them

Rolling Stone: John Kerry for President  

And it's a damn fine editorial:
For now, it is our job to right the wrongs of the Bush administration, to fix the damage before it is too late. But to simply list the dangerous failures of the Bush presidency as the primary reason to vote for John Kerry would sell short a man of high purpose and moral courage. He is battle-tested, both as a young man in war and as a political leader up against the withering and unprincipled assault of the Bush-family attack machine.

John Kerry brings gravity and experience to this historic race, not to mention an intellect equal to the challenges before the nation. A complex, modern world demands we make judgments based on facts and careful analysis, not on ideology or religion...

I have known John Kerry and have followed his career for nearly thirty years. He resonates with the best values and ideals of our shared generation and is one of its outstanding leaders and heroes. The anger at the stupefying misleadership of America by George W. Bush is enough cause to vote for change, but it should not overshadow the quality and substance of John Kerry. He is an honest man and a fair man; he goes where his intellect and high ethical values take him; and he tells the truth, and is willing to trust the American people with that truth, and make them his partner in the leadership of this country.
RS's interview with Kerry is here. Kerry is blunt, direct, determined, and strong. Read both the editorial and the interview.

Dear Alessandra Stanley  

You idiot. You stupid, stupid idiot. You have no idea what you've done.



The Truth About Lesbians  

A round-up of all the views on lesbian sex held by decrepit male pundits:
Witnesses in the trial of a U.S. soldier charged with abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib have told the court that the CIA sometimes directed abuse and orders were received from military command to toughen interrogations.
Ooops! I guess I made a boo-boo and pasted in the wrong story. Just ignore it.

Here's the lesbian sex stuff:
The evidence, from an officer and a chief warrant officer who served at the jail, is among the strongest so far in the Abu Ghraib trials pointing to more senior involvement in the abuse and direct orders from above to "soften up" detainees.

Previously, the Pentagon has claimed that the sexual and physical abuse that took place at the prison was the work of a few "bad apples" acting on their own initiative.

Testifying in the court martial of Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick, who is charged with five accounts of abusing prisoners, Captain Donald Reese, a military police commander at Abu Ghraib, said the CIA was involved in abusing detainees.

He said U.S. civilian "OGA" officials -- an acronym meaning Other Government Agency reserved for the CIA -- interrogated Iraqi inmates at night, when supervision at the prison was low.
Damn! I'm sorry. I think my computer's broken. Why is it insisting on Abu Ghraib when there's something more important to discuss.

And why are the witnesses pointing the finger of blame for the torture away from the Pentagon? Is the CIA now the Clinton Intelligence Agency?

Answering MoDo's Rhetorical Questions  

In a withering takedown of Bush's faith-based war policies, MoDo asks,
What does it tell you about a president that his grounds for war are so weak that the only way he can justify it is by believing God wants it? Or that his only Iraq policy now - as our troops fight a vicious insurgency and the dream of a stable democracy falls apart - is a belief in miracles?
It tells you that this president should get back to his Crawford nunnery. Posthaste.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Great Commercial  

From Errol Morris.

The Power Of Nightmares  

October 27 BBC TWO 9-10pm. Now, we're talking. Hopefully, this will appear on the web so Americans can see it:
Series exploring the idea that the threat of a terror network is a myth.

American Neoconservatives and radical Islamists come together to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and both believe that it is they who have defeated the Evil Empire and now have the power to transform the world. But both fail in their revolutions.

In response, the Neoconservatives invent a new fantasy enemy, Bill Clinton the depraved moral monster, to try and regain their power, while the Islamists descend into a desperate cycle of violence and terror to try and persuade the people to follow them.

Out of all this comes the seeds of the strange world of fantasy, deception, violence and fear in which we now live.
Hat tip to Metafilter

More Voter Dirty Tricks  

Western Pennsylvania
An ostensibly nonpartisan voter registration drive in Western Pennsylvania has triggered accusations that workers were cheated out of wages and given instructions to avoid adding anyone to the voter rolls who might support the Democratic presidential nominee.

Sproul & Associates, a consulting firm based in Chandler, Ariz., hired to conduct the drive by the Republican National Committee, employed several hundred canvassers throughout the state to register new voters. Some workers yesterday said they were told to avoid registering Democrats or anyone who indicated support for Democratic nominee John F. Kerry.

"We were told that if they wanted to register Democrat, there was no way we were to register them to vote," said Michele Tharp, of Meadville, who said she was sent out to canvass door-to-door and outside businesses in Meadville, Crawford County. "We were only to register Republicans."

If The Bush Administration Was Your Roomate  

Watch the whole series. And there are some other great films there as well.

Sinclair Death Watch #11  

Two responses to my letters:

From Dunkin Donuts:
Thank you for taking the time to contact Dunkin' Donuts about our advertising with Sinclair Broadcast Group. We have reviewed your comments, as well as those of other people who have contacted us. Based on that feedback, we will not be advertising with Sinclair Broadcast Group on the day its stations plan to air "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal."

At Dunkin' Donuts, we always remain non-partisan and do not take any political stance for or against any political party, and do not engage in advertising or promotions that could be misconstrued as supporting a partisan political position..

Please accept our apologies if our advertising on Sinclair Broadcast Group has offended you. You and all of our customers are very important to us. Thank you again for contacting us.

From Regis Corporation:
Regis Corporation does not participate in political or religious
activities. Simply put, we cut hair. We employ over 53,000 people, many
of whom are paid on commission, and rely on that income to support their
families. By boycotting us, you are hurting individuals - our employees
and their families.

We have notified Sinclair Broadcasting Group not to air our advertising
during or adjacent to any political programming. That is the right thing
to do. To take any further action would be inappropriate, and not in
keeping with our responsibilities to our employees and our stockholders.

In return, we are asking you to remove our name from your boycott list.

Bush 2nd Cousins Endorse Kerry  

Maybe he should've tried to see them once...
ix blood relatives of President Bush who support John F. Kerry's bid for the presidency have launched a website to publicize their sharp disagreements with Bush's policies.

The site, Bush Relatives for, consists of personal statements from a group of decidedly liberal second cousins of the president, none of whom knows him personally. All are grandchildren of Mary Bush House, the sister of Prescott Bush, a former US senator from Connecticut and the father and grandfather of the two Bush presidents.

The introduction to the site opens with the slogan, ''Because blood is thicker than oil!" and states: ''As the election approaches, we feel it is our responsibility to speak out about why we are voting for John Kerry, and to do our small part to help America heal from the sickness it has suffered since George Bush was appointed President in 2000. We invite you to read our stories, and please, don't vote for our cousin!"
And from the site itself:
racy (S. Chatham, MA): "I am voting for John Kerry this year as much out of need as desire.  I have always liked him as a politician as well as a human being and I have never doubted his ability to run this country.  I feel we need him now more than ever.  The very thing that our president, my cousin, criticizes him for is exactly what makes him a natural leader, the ability to see when an error has been made and to be willing to do whatever it takes to fix it.  The difference is, whatever needs fixing  (the war in Iraq, joblessness, health insurance, social security, etc, etc) will be approached with a level head and the ability to see all sides of a problem.  John Kerry will keep an open mind and remember that although we live in a great and powerful country, this world is filled with countries, all of whom deserve a voice. The overwhelming arrogance and knee jerk mentality that has consumed our government as of late will lead only to further mayhem and more rash decisions.  It must stop.
I guess one side of the Bush family got the character. This side.

Kerry Leade  

Electoral College 291-247.

Obviously it's not enough, but that is a decisive lead.

Looking A Little Stressed, Are We?  

Unretouched, just cropped.

Reporting lies gives them weight  

Wasserman gets it, even if he can't understand Michael Moore.
[L]ies, even when exposed, work. Indeed, we're seeing a diabolical paradox: That exposing the lie enables it to work...

It isn't just that a lie refuted is a lie repeated. Apparently we've now entered an era where the liar expects to be called on the lie - and wants to be.

Take Dick Cheney's ridiculous assertion that he never met John Edwards before their vice presidential debate. Cheney is a smart guy with the world's best support staff. They planned to use this zinger. They had to know it wasn't true. The next day's papers had photos proving it.

But Cheney's point was that Edwards was a legislative lightweight, not one of the Capitol Hill agenda-setters that even he would have had to deal with. A picture of them at a congressional prayer breakfast years ago did nothing but remake Cheney's point. So the lie was well worth it.

Iraq War: Don't Blame Pat Robertson!  

Robertson said he warned Bush during a meeting. This brings up a more basic question:

Why on earth does one of the craziest, nastiest men in America have personal access to the president of the United States?

Bush/Supremes Made A Deal??  

Looks like we all missed a rather important nuance in Suskind's important Times Magazine article. Suskind wrote, and just about no one noticed:
[Bush] 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.
In an interview with Salon, Suskind elaborated:
[T]he president said, "I'm going to have an opportunity to name somebody to the Supreme Court right after my swearing in." That certainly suggests to me a quid pro quo, that there's been at least a passing of communication, if you will, between someone on the Supreme Court and the White House that immediately after the president's swearing in he'll have his first of what he considers, as he said at the luncheon, the first of four spots that he's expected to [be able to name] in his second term.

The Times, Sinclair Boat Liars, And The Fine Art Of Coitus Per Os  

Rutenberg's and Zernike's Times article today was headlined The Film: Accusations and Flaws, All Serious. Paragraph 1 begins:
he documentary that Sinclair Broadcast Group has instructed 40 of its television stations to feature in a broadcast on Friday night makes some of the most serious accusations against Senator John Kerry of the campaign.
Paragraph 2 starts off with:
The film is rife with out-of-context and incomplete quotations from Mr. Kerry and other antiwar veterans.
Question: How can a film "rife" distortions contain "serious," ie, substantial charges? Wouldn't a better adjective have been "outrageous," "salacious," or "preposterous?"

In fact, the entire article is "rife" with statements designed to be "fair" to the Sinclair Boat Liars but that end up seriously misleading the Times' readers, who have neither the time nor the inclination to watch propaganda.

And what is the result? Mission Accomplished for the Liars. For as Philip Johnson, one of the founding fathers of the modern creationist movement said:
My goal is not so much to win the argument as to legitimate it as part of the dialogue.
And the Times has done exactly that for the Sinclair Boat Liars.

Quote of the Day  

David D. Smith, Sinclair's Chief Exec:
We cannot in a free America yield to the misguided attempts by a small but vocal minority to influence behavior and trample on the First Amendment rights of those with whom they might not agree.''
Exactly, Mr. Smith.

The What's Up, Tiger Lily President  

Fans of Woody Allen's first movie, What's Up Tiger Lily? (link to come) will never forget the climax. Our hero, a Japanese James Bond, runs out of bullets during a fierce gunfight. In desperation, he turns directly to the audience and begs (paraphrased), "If all of you out there concentrate really really hard, and really, really believe my gun still has bullets in it, it will magically refill with bullets and I'll win!" It works. The secret recipe for egg salad is once again safe.

Woody's early cinematic effort came to mind as I finished Jeff Sharlet's rumination on the magical realist "religion" of George W. Bush.

Bush's professions of "faith" have been long overdue for a critical, objective, analysis. The man doesn't go to church. He doesn't read the Bible. And, for all the coded messages, like the Dred Scott reference in debate 3, he seems to have little genuine familiarity with what Jesus, or anyone else in the Bible, actually did, said, or believed. On the other hand, Bush has both a wide and deep understanding of the all too secular goals of the "christian" political extremists who comprise his base.

Sharlet thinks Bush's "faith" is New Age magical realism of the Tiger Lily stripe roughly: "If you believe in yourself, if you believe it will come true, it will come true." I think it's all much simpler than that:

Bush believes he has been chosen by God to rule the world. Therefore, he can do no wrong.

[Update: The film can be found here. The actual quote paraphrased above is, "No bullets? Ah, but if all of you in the audience who believe in fairies will clap your hands, then my gun will be magically filled with bullets."]

Sinclair Death Watch #10  

Reed Hundt
Sinclair calling their proposed new show news does not make it news. What in fact one may think of their broadcast can and should be judged after the fact. But since Sinclair's relationship to objectivity, as reflected in its press statements, is rather attenuated, one should suppose that Sinclair's new show may well be judged just as much a smear as the so-called documentary they apparently will no longer run. As a result, advertisers have just as much ground to be wary, and the FCC just as much basis to do its duty, and Sinclair just as much reason to feel the opprobrium of an aroused public, as was the case before this current and suspicious effort to disguise the true intentions of Sinclair.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bush In The National Guard: Case Closed  

Paul Lukasiak has uncovered evidence that Bush was discharged from the TANG:

'for failing “to possess the required military qualifications for his grade or specialty, or does not meet the mental, moral, professional or physical standards of the Air Force.” '

It's likely because he was either dumb, gay, drunk, high, insubordinate or cowardly. That's what "mental, moral, professional or physical" means in military speak.
Finis est.

Time To Leak Suppressed CIA Report  

Kevin has the skinny

The Dalmation Methodist  

The American Prospect:
This is a huge mistake, because when judged by his deeds, an entirely different picture emerges: Bush does not demonstrate a life of faith by his actions, and neither Methodists, evangelicals, nor fundamentalists can rightly call him brother. In fact, the available evidence raises serious questions about whether Bush is really a Christian at all.
I wouldn't go that far. Let's just say that he's a liar, an incompetent, a fool, a thief, a failure, and hopelessly corrupt. Oh, yeah, he also says he's a Christian.

Sinclair Death Watch #9  

What utter horse manure. Now they're claiming they never had any intention to broadcast the Sinclair Boat Lies and preempt all their programming and show it commercial free. These are both lies. The title of the Sinclair Boat Liars' propaganda was already listed for upcoming broadcast (it has been subsequently scrubbed, so I'll have to do some extra hard searching to add the links when I have time [Update: Here's a tv listing that includes the title of the Sinclair Boat Liar's propaganda]).

As for the nature of this brand-new show they plan to air, it looks like just a different packaging of the Swift Boat Liars' propaganda. Now, they say, it will be a one-sided show that slams the media for being too liberal. Oh, come on. Fact:

If there was a tv network 1/10th as liberal as Sinclair is far right wing, that network's theme song would be the Internationale and their token conservative commentator would be Noam Chomsky.

Sinclair Death Watch #8  

Well, it seems fair, but in truth it's not a great idea. Running GOING UPRIVER as well as the Sinclair Boat Liars' propaganda merely creates the impression that somehow they are equally fair and accurate versions of Kerry's record. They are not.

Let's not forget: GOING UPRIVER has strong opinions are grounded in verified, undisputed facts. The Sinclair Boat Liars' propaganda uses nothing but innuendo and deliberate falsehoods upon which to base their case. It's a pack of lies. They are not even close to "equally valid opposing viewpoints."

The only appropriate way to uphold the doctrine of broadcast fairness is to cancel the broadcast of the Liars lies and replace it with a broadcast of GOING UPRIVER.

Any other solution is a breach of the public's trust, because it betrays a broadcaster's long-established obligation never to compromise the truth.

One more point: If somehow a deal is struck, I'll bet dollars to donuts that GOING UPRIVER's broadcast will be sabotaged while the Sinclair Boat Liars' propaganda will be shown without a hitch.

The Rappaports are well-meaning. But their idea is wrong. They should spend their money on something else.

[Update: Link fixed. Inexcusable grammatical error corrected.]

Sinclair Death Watch #7  

Down 3.54% at close. Comin' real close to $6.10/share before some deep Scaifean-like pockets came to the rescue in the closing 15 minutes.

Lou Dobbs Knows Who To Blame For The Flu Vaccine Shortage  

Incredible. I just heard Wolf Blitzer on CNN ask Lou Dobbs what's at fault for the flu vaccine shortage. He said it was "public policy," a policy going back "ten years." In other words:

It's Clinton's fault. People will die from lack of a flu shot this year and it's all Clinton's fault.

Ok folks, this is getting silly.

Sure, Clinton killed Kennedy. We all know that Clinton can't prove that he was not in Dealey Plaza on 11/22/63, now can he? And yeah, it was Clinton's fault that we lost the war in Vietnam, and that the Cultural Revolution in China happened. And the genocide in Cambodia? Not Pol Pot. Clinton. The breakup of the Beatles? Kurt Cobain's "suicide?" Disco? You know whodunnit. I mean that's all indisputable, historical fact, just ask Lynne Cheney if you think I'm kidding.

But really, Bill Clinton had nothing to do with any public policy decision in 2004. If Dobbs is right, that the current vaccine crisis is a public policy failure, then that, my dear friends, is Bush's failure.

Vampire Politics  

Great article by Rick Perlstein:
'What these guys [in Bush's campaign and White House] do every day, as a matter of course, without thinking twice about it, would be dramatic transgressions even under Nixon,' Jeff Shesol admits from his Dupont Circle office, crowded with paraphernalia from Democratic triumphs past. He's just amazingly quick to dismiss the notion that there's anything a Democratic presidential campaign can do about it. 'It is very hard for most people to look at Bush and see him as an extremist,' he says. 'It is very hard to make that charge stick to a guy who seems so down-home, so commonsense, such a decent man.'

It's a telling formulation: Highly placed D.C. Democrats accept Bush's public image as a fait accompli—a kind of semiotic unilateral disarmament. So they don't even bother to case the weapons in their arsenal. I remind Shesol of the NBC report last spring—never effectively rebutted by the White House—that revealed the most Orwellian face of the administration imaginable: that 'before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out' the terrorist operations of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but didn't because it 'feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.'

'Wow,' Shesol responds, with a breath of surprise. George Bush sold out our security in order to pull off a sales job; that, certainly, is not an 'elite' message. That's not a 'process' story. So why don't we hear it?

'I—don't—know,' Jeff Shesol answers. He sounds defeated, as if Republican traducing of democratic deliberation was something like the weather, beyond anyone's power to change. 'How is it that a month's worth of airtime is sucked up by the Swift Boat Veterans?' he asks, bewilderment in his voice. 'How is it that a month of our national attention is consumed by this, and not some of these other questions, is a very difficult thing to explain. And until we can really understand how that happens, I don't know that we can effectively respond to it.'

Epstein called arguments focusing on injury to democracy a 'sideshow': better to focus on executive mismanagement. He adds, 'Most people would rather vote for the guy that stole the other guy's lunch money, rather than the guy who complained that his lunch money was stolen.'

So much for using the Democratic presidential campaign as any kind of check on the corruption of the democratic process. The consultants have spoken; they've decided it's not worth the fight.
And there's much more. Read.

You're Right To Be Paranoid  

Some absentee ballots distributed to Hamilton County voters do not include the name of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, local election officials confirmed today.

Because of a printing error -- limited, election officials believe, to only a few ballots in the Forest Park area -- absentee ballots recently mailed out exclude the Democratic presidential ticket of Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards.

"It's a screw-up," said Tim Burke, chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Elections. "This just feeds the paranoia that's out there. The tragic thing is that even though I think we will have a very fair and accurate count here, this will cause people to question the accuracy of our operation."

Sinclair Death Watch #6  

Media Matters helping to fund shareholder action against Sinclair.

It's time to forgive Brock and donate!

Sinclair Death Watch #5  

Limbo lower now! How low can you go?Sincliar's flirting with under $6.00 as I post this.

Bush At War With Reality-Based Science Community  

This Times article is aggressively slanted to favor Bush, from an ass-backwards lead to prominent placement of pro-Bush quotes. Nevertheless, if you don't know how seriously Bush is undermining science, and how many scientists have voiced objections to Bush's ignorance of science, here's all you need to know:
Earlier this year, after continuing complaints that the White House was asking litmus-test questions of nominees for scientific advisory panels, the first question asked of a candidate for a panel on Arctic issues, the candidate said, was: "Do you support the president?"
Oh, and one more thing:
...political action by scientists has not been so forceful since 1964, when Barry Goldwater's statements promoting the deployment of battlefield nuclear weapons spawned the creation of the 100,000-member group Scientists and Engineers for Johnson.

This year, 48 Nobel laureates dropped all pretense of nonpartisanship as they signed a letter endorsing Senator John Kerry. "Unlike previous administrations, Republican and Democratic alike, the Bush administration has ignored unbiased scientific advice in the policy making that is so important to our collective welfare," they wrote. The critics include members of past Republican administrations.
Notice: the Times thinks it's the bipartisan Nobelites who are partisan simply because they endorsed a reality-based, pro-science candidate instead of a faith-based ignoramus.

Interesting Factoid  

A scientist quoted in the New York Times on Sunday noted that the government was spending $283 million a year on flu research and $5.6 billion on research for a vaccine against anthrax, a purely theoretical threat.
I dunno how much Bush is to blame for the flu vaccine crisis, but if history is any indication, his neglect probably contributed mightily.

Either way, these research priorities are insane.

Quid Pro Bush  

Corruption hiding in plain sight, again.
Rod Paige isn't just an Education secretary, he's an award-winning journalist.

Of course, his award came from a PR agency that had been paid $700,000 by the Education Department to, among other things, conduct a survey rating media stories about the No Child Left Behind Act. Articles were ranked by how frequently and favorably they mentioned the law, and got extra credit for fawning on the Bush administration and the Republican Party.

Given those conditions, Paige pretty easily got the top ranking for an essay under his byline in the Seattle Times. Sometimes if you want something done right, like getting good press, you've just got to go out and write it yourself.

Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) have asked the Government Accountability Office to decide whether the Education Department broke the law in awarding the PR contract. Congressional appropriations can't be used for propaganda aimed at boosting a political party or candidate.

About $100,000 of the $700,000 awarded to PR agency Ketchum went to the media survey; $120,000 paid for two video clips in the format of news stories, with actors playing news anchors talking up education programs. The Education Department says the videos were made last year, before federal budget monitors issued a reprimand for a similarly misleading video on Medicare.
It really is amazing how much of this kind of stuff goes on these days.

Five Nightmares  

How many will the Republicans resort to?
Nightmare Scenario No. 1: Litigation Following Voting Glitch

Nightmare Scenario No. 2: Litigation Over Whose Vote Counts

Nightmare Scenario No. 3: Litigation Over Colorado's Amendment 36

Nightmare Scenario No. 4: Electoral College Woes in Congress

Nightmare Scenario No. 5: Terrorist Attack That Disrupts Voting
Well, one and two, for sure. Probably three. Possibly four. But not five. Even though the Pentagon once suggested a fake attack on America (during a different administration, to drum up support for an invasion of Cuba), I don't think the Bush administration would dare.

Freedom On The March In Afghanistan - Not  

That poor, poor country. A country whose tragedy has been exacerbated by Bush's wholesale neglect and obsession with Iraq.
Three years after the US-led invasion, Afghanistan is flooding the world with heroin, warlords reign in the provinces, women are scared and the new security forces are underarmed and undersized, analysts say...

"Bush has painted a rosier picture than exists on the ground... and expressed success prematurely," said Vikram Parekh, Afghan affairs analyst for the International Crisis Group.

"When Bush presents Afghanistan as a country which has made great strides towards democracy, those claims lack credibility," Riffat Hussein, head of strategic studies at Pakistan's Quaid-e-Azam University, told AFP.

Hussein and others cite three yardsticks for improvement in the war-torn central Asian land in the last three years: the creation of a national security force; eradicating opium poppies; and disarming warlords' militias.

"If we take these three or four areas to measure success, you will get a very mixed result," Hussein said.

"Militarily the country is under the control of the warlords and Karzai's government does not run beyond Kabul. Right now it's virtual warlord rule whether you look east, west, north or south of Kabul.

"One litmus test is Afghanistan's progress in setting up its own army. Initial goals were for 90,000 and they've not been able to raise beyond 15,000.

"This lack of a national army is directly related to the failure of the government to reign in opium poppies."

Poppy cultivation is set to jump 40 percent this year, the CIA predicts, after a bumper crop last year supplied 90 percent of Europe's heroin and three quarters of the worldwide supply.

It brought in 2.3 billion dollars to Afghanistan last year, 35 percent of gross domestic product, making it the crippled economy's biggest source of revenue.

Parekh points out last weekend's peaceful and well-attended election was "only half an election". Parliamentary elections are on hold until April, because of insecurity and logistical problems.

"That's still going to be a formidable task to administer," Parekh told AFP. "By postponing it, we haven't addressed the obligations that we the international community have committed to."

Post-election claims by the US military that the Taliban are a spent force after failing to sabotage the elections, were "very much a premature conclusion," Parekh said.

Bush capitalised on the first vote on October 9 being cast by a refugee woman in Pakistan, to underscore women's emancipation from Taliban-imposed repression.

Outside Kabul however most are still in all-enclosing burqas, and women are scared to speak out.

Human Rights Watch said a "pervasive atmosphere of fear" persists for women involved in politics. "Many Afghan women risk their safety if they participate in public life," it said in a report this month.

Freeing the provinces from the rule of the gun was also a long way off.

"Large parts of the country remain dominated by militia and the disarmament process has made limited headway," Parekh said.

Most Afghans told Human Rights Watch they were more afraid of local military commanders than the Taliban.

The crucial disarmament drive in one year has stripped just over 10,000 militiamen of weapons, but at least 30,000 are yet to surrender them.

Kerry accuses Bush of making "a colossal error of judgment" in diverting resources from the hunt for bin Laden to the war in Iraq.

"Instead of using US forces, we relied on the warlords to capture Osama bin Laden when he was cornered in the mountains (in December 2001)," he said in a campaign speech.

A Western diplomat said Kerry had "oversimplified" the bin Laden hunt, saying it was less about troop numbers, more about local intelligence and the capacity of neighbours like Pakistan to block his movement.

But Hussein concurred with Kerry on the need for more US resources.

"I think Kerry is right, if you need this government to get on its feet you need to put in more troops and help set up the country properly," he said.

Sinclair Fires Newsman For Telling Truth  

Jon Leiberman needs a new job, and if there's any integrity left in the press corps he will get one in a heartbeat. But the question still remains: Once again, as with the Mary Cheney episode, the far-right Republican party angrily denounced and retaliated against a truth-teller. What about the truth so infuriates the GOP?
The Washington bureau chief for Sinclair Broadcast Group said he was fired Monday after he criticized the company's plans to produce a news program based on a documentary [sic] critical of John Kerry's Vietnam-era anti-war activities.

Jon Leiberman said he was fired by Joseph DeFeo, Sinclair's vice president for news, and "escorted out of the building..."

Earlier this month, Sinclair ordered its 62 TV stations across the country to pre-empt regular programming to air the documentary [sic].

"They're using the news to drive their political agenda," Leiberman said. "I don't think it served the public trust..."

He added: "I really feel like I can sleep at night and I can be OK with my decision" to criticize Sinclair publicly. ... I know I stood up for the principles of objectivity. In journalism, all we have is credibility and objectivity."
Sadly, not in Bushworld America, my friend. I caught his interview with Paula Zahn on an early morning re-run. Zahn was merciless. The tone of her questions and her voice was, "Your resignation was just a cheap partisan stunt to help your Democratic friends. How dare you resign and publicly denounce your very reasonable employers?"

Republican Coprophagy  

It's both deja vu all over again and a blast from the past. But it ain't gonna fly during a Kerry presidency which will focus on reality:
A canon lawyer seeking to have Senator John Kerry excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church because of his support for abortion rights said on Monday that he had ammunition in the form of a letter issued at the request of a senior Vatican official.

The lawyer, Marc Balestrieri of Los Angeles, who heads a conservative Catholic nonprofit organization called De Fide, also said that, based on the letter, he would now seek to have four other Catholic politicians excommunicated: Senators Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Susan Collins of Maine, and Mario M. Cuomo, the former governor of New York.
And that won't be all, of course. In addition to befouling Kerry's faith, you can expect the Sinclair Boat liars to try to indict Kerry for treason.

There's one huge difference between now and the days when these coprophagists swarmed all over President Clinton's doo-doo like flies to...well...doo-doo. Back then, we had a competent president who was a leading member of the Reality-Based Community. As a result, the economy hummed and Americans enjoyed an extremely high sense of security and safety. But during the last 4 disastrous years, the current president neglected bin Laden and al Qaeda pulled off the worst attack on American soil since the Civil War. Bush then invaded a country which had nothing to do with those attacks. These presidential stupidities, and many more, have created serious, serious messes everywhere. Not to mention that the US economy is in seriously precarious shape due to even more Bush-led stupidities. Americans feel, and are, less safe, less secure, than they were when Clinton was president.

In other words, indulging the sick psychoses of the extreme right is something this country can no longer afford.

So if Marc Balestrieri and his fellow nuts think this country cares to eat the same kind of crap he loves to wallow in, he is in for a very rude awakening.

October Surprise  

All over the blogosphere, speculation is rife (don't you love vacuous cliches like "speculation is rife," and what exactly does rife mean, anyway?) over what the Bush October Surprise will be. As if there haven't been plenty already:

1. And what, pray tell, is widespread Republican voter fraud and suppression, chopped liver?

2. Like Sinclair's ugly little stunt doesn't qualify, which saps attention from the issues, and wastes everyone's time trying to stop?

3. How about the once-objective polls, which many analysts say are skewed to favor Republicans?

4. And how 'bout that Afghanistan election to prove freedom's on the march? Y'know, the one where at one point all the candidates decided to boycott the results 'cause they seemed rigged?

5. The delay of investigations -9/11, the war- until after election.

6. The emasculation of CBS News and the killing of the Bush National Guard story.

7. The whole shebang, the sheer number of widespread assaults on every conceivable front, to undermine American democracy and destroy John Kerry's good name and reputation.

Boys and girls, there may be something truly big down the pike - a bin Laden capture/kill, Bush singlehandedly saving Bill Frist's life in a Heimlich maneuver - and there may be crap we don't know about as in Nixon and Reagan. But I think we are seeing the October Surprise right now. Like so much Bush does, it's hidden in plain sight.

A more interesting question: Is there something bold and audacious Kerry could do to decisively pull away? Something that's also not a stunt but real?

President Gore Speaks Truth  

Oh, what could have/should have been.
Al Gore on Monday accused President Bush of intentionally deceiving the public about the reasons for invading Iraq and said he is so ideologically driven that he refuses to admit -- or even learn from -- his mistakes.

"It is beyond incompetence -- it is recklessness that risks the safety and security of the American people," the former vice president said during a speech at Georgetown University.

Krugman On The Inevitable Bush Draft  

Two conveniently forgotten moments from the debates:
The administration's strategy of denial in the face of these realities was illustrated by a revealing moment during the second presidential debate. After Senator John Kerry described the stop-loss policy as a "backdoor draft," Charles Gibson, the moderator, tried to get a follow-up response from President Bush: "And with reservists being held on duty --"

At that point Mr. Bush cut Mr. Gibson off and changed the subject from the plight of the reservists to the honor of our Polish allies, ending what he obviously viewed as a dangerous line of questioning.

And during the third debate, Mr. Bush tried to minimize the issue, saying that the reservists being sent to Iraq "didn't view their service as a backdoor draft. They viewed their service as an opportunity to serve their country." In that case, why are they being forced, rather than asked, to continue that service?

The reality is that the Iraq war, which was intended to demonstrate the feasibility of the Bush doctrine, has pushed the U.S. military beyond its limits. Yet there is no sign that Mr. Bush has been chastened. By all accounts, in a second term the architects of that doctrine, like Paul Wolfowitz, would be promoted, not replaced. The only way this makes sense is if Mr. Bush is prepared to seek a much larger Army - and that means reviving the draft.

Dear Tommy Franks  

Dear Tommy Franks, Excuses, excuses. Bottom line:

You failed to capture Osama bin Laden.


A Reality-Based Voter

Monday, October 18, 2004

Liar, Liar Pants On Fire  

It looks like it runs in the family. Lying. In the Bush family. Jeb just got caught:
Several days before the state's felon voter list was sent to county elections offices across Florida, state officials expressed doubts about its reliability.

The doubts were serious enough that Gov. Jeb Bush was advised to "pull the plug" on the entire project, according to an e-mail written by a state computer expert and obtained by the Herald-Tribune.

Bush refused the request, the e-mail said, and told the Department of State to proceed with the purge of nearly 48,000 voters.

Two months later, after flaws in the list were exposed in the press, the state abandoned the effort to purge voters on the list. Those flaws were revealed after Secretary of State Glenda Hood lost a court battle to keep the list hidden from the public.

Bush said Friday that he was never warned about any problems before the list was released.

But his denial contradicts a May 4, 2004, e-mail in which Florida Department of Law Enforcement computer expert Jeff Long describes how election officials told Bush the list needed to be abandoned.

Movement On The Texas Gerrymander  

Court to Reconsider Texas Redistricting
The Supreme Court today ordered a lower court to reconsider an electoral redistricting plan for Texas that could give Republicans six more seats in Congress, handing Texas Democrats a tentative legal victory, though not in time to reshape the Nov. 2 ballot.

The new plan, drawn up by the Republican-controlled State Legislature last year at the urging of the majority leader of the United States House of Representatives, Tom DeLay, would help the Republicans protect their majority in the United States House.

The high court said, with little comment, that the Texas decision should be reviewed in light of a decision the justices handed down in April on a case in Pennsylvania on similar redistricting issues.

But even if the special three-judge Federal District Court panel reverses its previous ruling, it is highly unlikely that such a decision will alter the outcome of the Nov. 2 election, said Paul M. Smith, a Washington lawyer for one of the groups challenging the new map.

Sinclair Death Watch #4  

Down 6.82% as I post this. Awww...

A Very Weird Immigration Case  

More abuse of the legal system.
On Sept. 2, federal immigration officials arrested Reyes-Alonso, 36, outside UNC Hospitals, where he worked as a pediatric translator, and alleged that he had failed to disclose once working for the Cuban Directorate of Intelligence. He now sits in solitary confinement in Waterproof, La., so frustrated by the legal process that he has gone on a hunger strike...

Reyes-Alonso fled Cuba and entered the United States in August 2000 on a visa he obtained because of his plans to marry [Amber Harmon, an American]. The couple wed Sept. 11, 2000.

Charles Kuck, a lawyer with an Atlanta firm that specializes in immigration cases, has agreed to represent Reyes-Alonso. He has been frustrated by his inability to get his client out on bail or to get information from federal officials who have invoked the Patriot Act to justify their silence.

"They are jerking this guy around," Kuck said Tuesday. "They won't even disclose to the federal judge why they're holding him."

A 1937 law requires immigrants to register with the federal government if they ever had training as foreign agents. Kuck, like Harmon, says Reyes-Alonso told immigration officials of his past work, but not once was he told to register. Kuck since has filled out the form for Reyes-Alonso.

"Trust me, you would never know you had to register," Kuck said. "They don't put it in airline magazines. Even the government says this is a 'gotcha' law."

Immigration and customs enforcement agents are releasing few details of the case.
Since Alonzo admits he was a Cuban Intelligence officer, this case is not that clearcut. Neither the article nor anything else I've seen on the case states what exactly Alonzo did for Cuba. Nevertheless, if there is a specific national security reason for him being held, no one has been informed what it is.
Friends and co-workers say Reyes-Alonso often talked derisively about the Cuban government; to them, allegations that he should be seen as a threat to this country seem far-fetched. Reyes-Alonso came to this country, his friends and co-workers say, to escape a dictatorial regime...

"They're punishing him for no reason," Kuck said. "This is your tax dollars holding a guy who's going to get his green card back."
It seems outrageous. We need to know what he did for Cuba. And he needs to be charged.

The Death Of The Death Of Irony  

Tee Hee!
He filed, she filed, he wrote a children's book.

"Here's a big word for today: dehumanization," writes Bill O'Reilly in his new advice book, The O'Reilly Factor for Kids. "When you are interested in someone only on the basis of physique, you're dehumanizing him or her, seeing that person only as an attractive object.

"If you are doing that, remember, good sex occurs between two human beings, not between two objects."

The timing of the release of O'Reilly's children's book is awkward at best. O'Reilly is host of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, which attracts an estimated 2.5 million viewers nightly. What's attracting even more attention to the popular and outspoken O'Reilly today, though, is a $60 million sexual harassment suit filed against him by a producer on his show.

Andrea Mackris, 33, charged that O'Reilly repeatedly pressured her to engage in phone sex and frightened her with lewd "monologues." The salacious details of her lawsuit quickly made the Internet rounds, and one of the nation's most popular cable news hosts became popular news.

Sinclair Death Watch #3  

Sinclair employee denounces his employers
The Washington bureau chief for Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group's news division angrily denounced his employer last night for plans to air an hourlong program that is to include incendiary allegations against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry for his anti-war activism three decades ago.

"It's biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election," said Jon Leiberman, Sinclair's lead political reporter for more than a year. "For me, it's not about right or left -- it's about what's right or wrong in news coverage this close to an election."

Repeated efforts to reach Sinclair officials for comment last night proved unsuccessful.
I'm sure.

Sinclair Death Watch #2  

Not even a gentlemans C+. Sinclair Broadcast Group is currently rated F (lowest rating).
Appreciation potential (9) is very low; power rating (7) is very low. Relative to the S&P 500 Composite, Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc has moderate Value characteristics; appeal is likely to be to Income-oriented investors; perception is that SBGI is extremely high risk. Current annual total return performance of -28.0% is lower quartile. Current 5-year total return performance of -13.2% is lower quartile. Over the full time period, Sinclair Broadcast Group's stock price performance has been volatile and significantly below market. Sinclair Broadcast Group's current technical position is very weak.

Sinclair Death Watch  

Yahoo! News - Anti-Kerry Film Producer Accused of Libel
A Vietnam veteran shown in a documentary criticizing Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites)'s anti-war activities filed a libel lawsuit against the movie's producer Monday, saying the film falsely calls the veteran a fraud and a liar.

Kenneth J. Campbell, now a professor at the University of Delaware, said in the suit that 'Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal' combines footage of him appearing at a 1971 war protest with narration that claims that many of the supposed veterans who took part in the event were later 'discovered as frauds' who 'never set foot on the battlefield, or left the comfort of the States, or even served in uniform.'

Reality-Based Community: An Explanation  

Hats off to Matt for coining the Putinization of America just before Putin himself agreed with him. And for identifying Bush supporters as members of the reality-based community.

Now the reality-based community thing actually did not originate with last Sunday's terrifying article by Ron Suskind on Bush's Messianic mission. In fact, Suskind talked about the RBC as early as April 26, 2004 on AirAmerica.

Dog Bites Man  

Everyone else has it, but what the heck. Knight-Ridder's now famous Post-war planning non-existent
A Knight Ridder review of the administration's Iraq policy and decisions has found that it invaded Iraq without a comprehensive plan in place to secure and rebuild the country. The administration also failed to provide some 100,000 additional U.S. troops that American military commanders originally wanted to help restore order and reconstruct a country shattered by war, a brutal dictatorship and economic sanctions.

In fact, some senior Pentagon officials had thought they could bring most American soldiers home from Iraq by September 2003. Instead, more than a year later, 138,000 U.S. troops are still fighting terrorists who slip easily across Iraq's long borders, diehards from the old regime and Iraqis angered by their country's widespread crime and unemployment and America's sometimes heavy boots.
And here's part two, Iraq reconstruction efforts overcome by ongoing violence with what sums up the Bush administration:
"Every time we had a chance to do something right, we did it wrong," lamented a veteran State Department official directly involved in Iraq policy.

A Speech By John Kerry  

My Fellow Americans,*

During the last debate, I remarked that I thought if Mary Cheney was asked, she would tell you she was born the way she is, that she was born lesbian. That someone is gay is, for me and surely most Democrats, not a cause for embarassment or concern. And so it came as a considerable surprise to me that Mr. and Mrs. Cheney reacted as if I had utterly stigmatized their daughter, that I somehow believed her exemplary career and her life were shameful. I most certainly do not. Mary Cheney is a wonderful human being.

But before going any further, however, let me be plain. Lynne, Dick: You are friends. I am terribly sorry if, by a sincere misunderstanding of the intent and meaning of my remarks about Mary, I have caused you any pain. That was not my purpose. In fact, just the opposite was, and is, true.

My friends, this incident highlights one of the fundamental differences between our two parties. Republicans, and especially Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, have once again demonstrated they are extremely uncomfortable dealing with a complicated reality, a reality that requires both tolerance of the manifold diversity of our citizens' lives and zero tolerance of those who inflict harm on our country, its citizens, and its values.

Unfortunately, the Republicans who dominate their party these days seem only to understand how to hate. It was one of their own candidates, Alan Keyes, who this summer gratuitously smeared a gay woman, calling her a "a selfish hedonist." I know that very same woman and I know her to be an honest and moral human being.

My friends, the woman that Alan Keyes so cruelly insulted was Mary Cheney. Even though her exceptional competence as a leader in her father's campaign has made my own election efforts harder, we salute her work. Her presence at the top of the Bush/Cheney campaign makes her a genuine asset.

You see, my friends, Democrats have a long tradition of diversity and tolerance. I am a Democrat. Democrats have a long tradition of standing up for openness and inclusion for all Americans. And I am a Democrat. Democrats have a long tradition of fighting for civil rights for Americans even when doing so brings down self-righteous curses from angry bigots. And I am a Democrat.

On the other hand, some Republicans have a long history of pandering to the ugliest human fears and urges. George Bush is such a Republican. Republicans have a long history of gratuitous cruelty to their political enemies. And George Bush is such a Republican. Republicans have a long, sad history of blocking and delaying nearly all of the most important civil rights legislation. And George Bush is such a Republican. Republicans have encouraged the flying of the Confederate flag over state capitols, the destruction of our forests, and an attitude that has made us both an object of fear and a laughingstock everywhere. And George Bush, once again my friends, is such a Republican.

Our party is the party of Roosevelt, of Kennedy, of Clinton. A strong party of action, compassion, hope, and economic probity. Their party is the party of Nixon, of Joseph McCarthy, of Iran/Contra, of disastrous, clueless policies that are ruining the strongest economy in the world, that are weakening our effectiveness abroad. Their party is a weak party, dependent upon appeasement of the most fanatical members of the religious right. Our party is beholden simply to all of America. We, not they, are the real heirs to Lincoln.

And let us not forget, ladies and gentleman, our commitment to national security. It was a Democrat that led this country to victory in World War II. It was a Democrat who prevented a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was a Democrat that brought Milosevic to justice. It was a Democrat who presided over the dismantling and destruction of Saddam's evil armory. It was a Democrat who understood the full nature of bin Laden's threats. It was a Democrat who prevented the Millenium Plot and broke up numerous al Qaeda cells around the world.

By contrast, it was a Republican who first lost troops in a suicide terrorist attack and immediately withdrew from Lebanon, encouraging our enemies to think we were weak. It was a Republican who secretly colluded with the repulsive Iranian government, bribing them with arms in order to free hostages. It was a Republican who first funded the Arab mujahideen in Afghanistan, the men who later took the arms and missiles we gave them and became al Qaeda. It was a Republican that supported a murderous regime whose henchmen brutally slaughtered three American Catholic lay workers and a Catholic archbishop.

And it was a Republican, George W. Bush who ignored the clear warnings he was given not to neglect bin Laden. And it was a Republican, George W. Bush, who deliberately misled this nation into a colossal blunder, the quagmire that is now Iraq. A blunder caused by an incompetent and lazy adminstration that didn't bother to plan, a blunder that has already cost 1100 American lives. A blunder so colossal that Mr. Bush cannot predict an enddate to America's presence in Iraq. Once again, Bush is a man without a real plan.

By contrast, a Kerry administration has the will, the experience, and the work ethic required to find a solution to the heartwrenching human tragedy this administration has created. You have my solemn word that I will not, as the current Republican president has done, set new records for time spent on vacation. If you elect me, I will work hard at my job as your President, not my golf game.

My fellow Americans, the kind of arrogant, ignorant worldview that finds goodness only in a privileged elite and shame on all who differ, even if they are their own children, is the same mistaken worldview that led to the disasters we see in Iraq. The Bush administration's fantastical notion that Iraq would surely be a cakewalk has led, as it only could, to catastrophe. It simply never occurred to them that Iraqis were not golfcart Republicans, but genuine human beings with a very different set of priorities.

A Kerry administration -strong, confident, serious, and realistic - will replace with intelligent planning the deluded policies that have so hindered our security and our ability to trade around the world. A Kerry administration, an administration prepared to deal with the world as it is, will lead this country into a new era, one of fortune, promise, and hope. A world where Americans can once again be safe. A world where tolerance is the norm. A world in which all parents will come to understand that there is nothing about a gay child that carries a stigma.

A world where Mary Cheney might again be part of a presidential debate. As a candidate herself.

Thank you my friends. And God bless America.


*Note to righwingnuts: The rest of my readers don't need to have this pointed out, but given your cognitive handicaps, it is important to clearly state that the above "speech" was never given by Mr. Kerry. It is an imagined speech. I do hope, however, that he would give a similar one, one in which he confronted the Cheneys' shame at their daughter and said the obvious: that it is not the Cheneys in their intolerance who embody American values, but Democrats, who embrace diversity, tolerance, and combine that attitude with a strong realistic stance to external threats to our security and our citizens everwhere.

Molly On Sinclair  

Great roundup. Here's the end.
I am sick of the right wing claiming patriotism as its exclusive purview. No one serves this country well who blindly supports misbegotten wars in the name of patriotism. The right to dissent is one of the founding principles of this country and is in itself a high form of patriotism. What you owe your country is your best evaluation of whether we are or are not going in the right direction.

As Huey P. Long once said, "Sure we'll have fascism in America, but it'll come disguised as 100 percent Americanism."

If George Bush Chose the Supreme Court  

Not to be an alarmist, but if you're not scared stiff by the prospect of a Bush-pack Supreme Court, you should get a CT scan immediately. Chances are more than likely you have a brain tumor.
Abortion might be a crime in most states. Gay people could be thrown in prison for having sex in their homes. States might be free to become mini-theocracies, endorsing Christianity and using tax money to help spread the gospel. The Constitution might no longer protect inmates from being brutalized by prison guards. Family and medical leave and environmental protections could disappear.

It hardly sounds like a winning platform, and of course President Bush isn't openly espousing these positions. But he did say in his last campaign that his favorite Supreme Court justices were Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, and the nominations he has made to the lower courts bear that out. Justices Scalia and Thomas are often called "conservative," but that does not begin to capture their philosophies. Both vehemently reject many of the core tenets of modern constitutional law.

For years, Justices Scalia and Thomas have been lobbing their judicial Molotov cocktails from the sidelines, while the court proceeded on its moderate-conservative path. But given the ages and inclinations of the current justices, it is quite possible that if Mr. Bush is re-elected, he will get three appointments, enough to forge a new majority that would turn the extreme Scalia-Thomas worldview into the law of the land.

There is every reason to believe Roe v. Wade would quickly be overturned...

If Roe is lost, the Center for Reproductive Rights warns, there's a good chance that 30 states, home to more than 70 million women, will outlaw abortions within a year; some states may take only weeks. Criminalization will sweep well beyond the Bible Belt: Ohio could be among the first to drive young women to back-alley abortions and prosecute doctors.
That's the least of it, girls and boys.

Imagine a Scalia/Thomas court's rulings on consumer rights, on the environment, on settlements for negligence, on civil rights, on rulings which involved suits against the Republican Party.

Guess Who Benefitted From The Bush Recession: Blacks Or Whites?  

How did you know? Oh, and this was buried on page A13 of the Times.
The enormous wealth gap between white families and black and Hispanic families grew larger after the most recent recession, a private analysis of government data has found.

White households had a median net worth of greater than $88,000 in 2002, 11 times that of Hispanic households and more than 14 times that of black households, the Pew Hispanic Center said in the study, being released Monday.

Blacks were slowest to emerge from the economic downturn that started in 2000 and ended early in 2001, the report found.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Karl Rove Recycles His Greatest Hits  

Bush Lawyer Anticipates Delay in Tally.

Rove delayed the tally in a 1994 race for over a year until it came out as a victory for him.

Offensive flier presents case of 'whodunit' in state House race

Rove distributed literature grossly offensive to his own candidate in 1996 as a way of angering people into voting against his opponent:

Both tricks are detailed in this Atlantic Monthly article by Joshua Green. Here are the relevant excerpts:
In the race for chief justice, which had been neck and neck the evening before, Hooper awoke to discover himself trailing by 698 votes. Throughout the day ballots trickled in from remote corners of the state, until at last an unofficial tally showed that Rove's client had lost—by 304 votes. Hornsby's campaign declared victory.

Rove had other plans, and immediately moved for a recount. "Karl called the next morning," says a former Rove staffer. "He said, 'We came real close. You guys did a great job. But now we really need to rally around Perry Hooper. We've got a real good shot at this, but we need to win over the people of Alabama.'" Rove explained how this was to be done. "Our role was to try to keep people motivated about Perry Hooper's election," the staffer continued, "and then to undermine the other side's support by casting them as liars, cheaters, stealers, immoral—all of that." (Rove did not respond to requests for an interview for this article.)

The campaign quickly obtained a restraining order to preserve the ballots. Then the tactical battle began. Rather than focus on a handful of Republican counties that might yield extra votes, Rove dispatched campaign staffers and hired investigators to every county to observe the counting and turn up evidence of fraud. In one county a probate judge was discovered to have erroneously excluded 100 votes for Hooper. Voting machines in two others had failed to count all the returns. Mindful of public opinion, according to staffers, the campaign spread tales of poll watchers threatened with arrest; probate judges locking themselves in their offices and refusing to admit campaign workers; votes being cast in absentia for comatose nursing-home patients; and Democrats caught in a cemetery writing down the names of the dead in order to put them on absentee ballots.

As the recount progressed, the margin continued to narrow. Three days after the election Hooper held a press conference to drive home the idea that the election was being stolen. He declared, "We have endured lies in this campaign, but I'll be damned if I will accept outright thievery." The recount stretched on, and Hooper's campaign continued to chip away at Hornsby's lead. By November 21 one tally had it at nine votes.

The race came down to a dispute over absentee ballots. Hornsby's campaign fought to include approximately 2,000 late-arriving ballots that had been excluded because they weren't notarized or witnessed, as required by law. Also mindful of public relations, the Hornsby campaign brought forward a man who claimed that the absentee ballot of his son, overseas in the military, was in danger of being disallowed. The matter wound up in court. "The last marching order we had from Karl," says a former employee, "was 'Make sure you continue to talk this up. The only way we're going to be successful is if the Alabama public continues to care about it.'"

Initially, things looked grim for Hooper. A circuit-court judge ruled that the absentee ballots should be counted, reasoning that voters' intent was the issue, and that by merely signing them, those who had cast them had "substantially complied" with the law. Hooper's lawyers appealed to a federal court. By Thanksgiving his campaign believed he was ahead—but also believed that the disputed absentee ballots, from heavily Democratic counties, would cost him the election. The campaign went so far as to sue every probate judge, circuit clerk, and sheriff in the state, alleging discrimination. Hooper continued to hold rallies throughout it all. On his behalf the business community bought ads in newspapers across the state that said, "They steal elections they don't like." Public opinion began tilting toward him.

The recount stretched into the following year. On Inauguration Day both candidates appeared for the ceremonies. By March the all-Democratic Alabama Supreme Court had ordered that the absentee ballots be counted. By April the matter was before the Eleventh Federal Circuit Court. The byzantine legal maneuvering continued for months. In mid-October a federal appeals-court judge finally ruled that the ballots could not be counted, and ordered the secretary of state to certify Hooper as the winner—only to have Hornsby's legal team appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which temporarily stayed the case. By now the recount had dragged on for almost a year.

When I went to visit Hooper, not long ago, we sat in the parlor of his Montgomery home as he described the denouement of Karl Rove's closest race. "On the afternoon of October the nineteenth," Hooper recalled, "I was in the back yard planting five hundred pink sweet Williams in my wife's garden, and she hollered out the back door, 'Your secretary just called—the Supreme Court just made a ruling that you're the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court!'" In the final tally he had prevailed by just 262 votes. Hooper smiled broadly and handed me a large photo of his swearing-in ceremony the next day. "That Karl Rove was a very impressive fellow," he said.
The murky origins of an offensive flier getting national attention for portraying voting for President Bush as ''retarded'' is doing little to stop the rhetoric surrounding it.
A typical instance occurred in the hard-fought 1996 race for a seat on the Alabama Supreme Court between Rove's client, Harold See, then a University of Alabama law professor, and the Democratic incumbent, Kenneth Ingram. According to someone who worked for him, Rove, dissatisfied with the campaign's progress, had flyers printed up—absent any trace of who was behind them—viciously attacking See and his family. "We were trying to craft a message to reach some of the blue-collar, lower-middle-class people," the staffer says. "You'd roll it up, put a rubber band around it, and paperboy it at houses late at night. I was told, 'Do not hand it to anybody, do not tell anybody who you're with, and if you can, borrow a car that doesn't have your tags.' So I borrowed a buddy's car [and drove] down the middle of the street … I had Hefty bags stuffed full of these rolled-up pamphlets, and I'd cruise the designated neighborhoods, throwing these things out with both hands and literally driving with my knees." The ploy left Rove's opponent at a loss. Ingram's staff realized that it would be fruitless to try to persuade the public that the See campaign was attacking its own candidate in order "to create a backlash against the Democrat," as Joe Perkins, who worked for Ingram, put it to me. Presumably the public would believe that Democrats were spreading terrible rumors about See and his family. "They just beat you down to your knees," Ingram said of being on the receiving end of Rove's attacks. See won the race.

Kerry Leads By 3, 150,000  

In newspaper circulation, that is. Here's the scoop:
They weren't exactly giant surprises, but Senator John Kerry will take them, picking up two more major editorial endorsements on Sunday, this time from The Minneapolis Star-Tribune in swing state Minnesota and The New York Times, which has national impact. Both papers used unusually harsh language in attacking the incumbent.

In E&P's exclusive daily endorsement tally, this gives Kerry a 15-13 edge on President Bush but widens his margin in the combined circulation of the papers that back him from 3-1 to nearly 5-1, with an edge of about 4 million to 850,000 (a complete chart will follow later today).

It's the Language, Stupid  

These are the times that try liberals' souls.

Y'know, writing persuasively may be hard, but it's not rocket science. Today, in the Times, Okrent decided to take a week off and have two other guys write his public editor column, to respond to Okrent's assertion that the Times' campaign coverage is not systematically biased.

"From the left" is Todd Gitlin. "From the right" is Bob Kohn. These labels are wildly inaccurate. "From the half-awake" and "From the majorly caffeinated" is closer to it. Let's look only at the leads:

The Times is not pro-Bush in the way that The Washington Times is pro-Bush, slamming John Kerry with Vietnam falsehoods week after week.
IS The New York Times systematically biased against President Bush? Of course it is.
Makes you sick, doesn't it?

On every conceivable level, Kohn's lead blows Gitlin's away. It's short, pithy, concise. It also flatters the knowledgeable reader, who recognizes that Kohn is recapitulating Okrent's now-famous July 25, 2004 column which was headlined "Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?" and which he answered in the lead, "Of course it is."

Gitlin's fails in so many ways it leaves one breathless and shaking with indignation:

1. On substance, Gitlin is unclear, leading off with a hedge that signals to us that his position on pro-Bush bias is fuzzy. This argument will require effort to follow.

2. The writing is atrocious, simultaneously cramped and watery. What exactly are "Vietnam falsehoods?" That's Bush-level gobbledygook. Gitlin is trying to use "Vietnam" as an adjective so he can save a word, ie "falsehoods about Vietnam," a phrase which already is an imprecise contraction of the unbearably long "false statements about Kerry's Vietnam service record." At the same time, though, Gitlin's sentence seems interminable, two ideas sloppily glued together by "in the way that." To compound the error, Gitlin tacks on a dependent clause of astonishing ugliness for a professional writer. Falsehoods don't quite "slam," "Vietnam" is not an adjective, and "falsehoods" is, as everyone knows, just a wuss-word for "god-dammed lies."

And so it goes. Kohn, who's genuinely crazy, and whose byline has no business appearing in any real newspaper, ruthlessly grinds both Gitlin and the Times into tiny little crumbs. Even in his obligatory "I love this newspaper," you will find not a single word of praise. For Kohn, the Times is nothing more than buttered white toast to go with his Sunday coffee.

I will give Gitlin this much, though. Nothing he could possibly write even approaches the sub-basement level at which my boy Tom Friedman plies his trade, a man who is taken seriously by many, many people, a man who -in one of the most important elections ever - says he'd vote for has-been comedian Bill Cosby.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?