Wednesday, December 08, 2004

on the word "disgruntled"

Technically, calling the soldiers who confronted Rumsfeld today "disgruntled" is a correct use of the word. According to my Yahoo! Reference, it means "to cause unhappiness by failing to satisfy the hopes, desires, or expectations of."

In terms of real-world communication, however, there's a full five-piece set of baggage attached to the word. In general, we do not use the term "disgruntled employee" to describe someone who complains to HR or lays out some hard truths for their boss. No, we save that term for the employee who keys the boss's car or slashes his tires in the parking lot after work. Or we use it to describe former employees who take out their frustration by returning to work with a shotgun.

Disgruntled employees are those who take out their anger with excessive inappropriateness. The subtext to the subtext is that their disgruntled-ness is misplaced or unfounded.

Does any of that apply here? Exactly what information does the AP (no point in holding Fox to any standard) have to support the use of this inflammatory term?

Saturday, December 04, 2004

online music revisited

Hmm. I just reread my early post about the Rolling Stone 50 list and realized it appears to have been edited by a chipmunk (moi), who while cutting large chunks of rambling also decimated the point I thought I was making.

It's not that Rhapsody doesn't have a good selection. It does. Most online services have similar content, because once the music labels finally chucked their Napster-terror and agreed to online distribution, they OK'd it for everyone. (Credit my old alma mater MusicNet for contributing a lot of the groundwork.)

So when an artist's entire or near-entire collection is inaccessible, it means that whoever owns the rights just isn't interested in online distribution. And when you see a list of about 40 top artists and only a handful are still balking, well, I think a little exasperation is understandable.

rhapsody rock school

Hurray! Check out this blog for Rhapsody subscribers: rhapsody rock school: "from the musical mindes of the people who brought you Rhapsody"--I'm guessing this is some of the old bunch.

There are about 15 contributors, and they post news as well as share playlists. Scroll down and there's a playlist of 39 of the Rolling Stone 50 list.


Friday, December 03, 2004

a "political public service message"

Salon Politics reports on "Our Leader" billboards in Florida. Leaving aside certain parallels, I was struck by another phrase on the billboard: "a political public service message brought to you by Clear Channel Outdoor."

Exactly what is a political public service message? Is this as in "it is in the public interest to support the current regime", with the corollary that it is NOT in the public interest to oppose the current regime? Public service messages generally advocate behaviors that the vast majority agrees with (at least in the abstract): "don't do drugs/alcohol/nicotine", "protect children from abuse", "stay in school", etc.. While there can be an element of political agenda, the most effective ones are apolitical. But they do all have one thing in common: they take a tone that says "we know better". They say our way is the right way, and its time to shape up and fly straight or suffer the consequences.

Hmm. I think we'll need to keep this attitude in mind in the coming years. We've already seen vast and varied attempts to somehow shame people into supporting the status quo regardless of their performance. Something tells me we ain't seen nothin' yet.

online music

So I decided to take advantage of my Rhapsody online music account to listen to the recent Rolling Stone Top 50 rock songs of all time. I really expected that services like Rhapsody would create a playlists such as this for their subscribers, but no.

So I decided to create my own. And I quickly found out why it was a no go. Here's a list of artists from the list with almost *no* music available online:

The Beatles (I seem to remember something about Michael Jackson outbidding McCartney for the rights??) There is only one Beatles album: "In The Beginning".

Led Zeppelin Zep is not even listed in my Rhapsody catalog. Not one song. Although it was a little scary to see all the remakes of Stairway to Heaven. Anyone ever hear the classic Dolly Parton cover???

Eagles One compilation song only, that huge hit "Rasta Harvest".

Ray Charles This one was intensely disappointing. Only a few albums, and only a few songs available on each. Significant exception is the tremendous "The Birth Of Soul (1952-1959)" which unfortunately doesn't include "Georgia on My Mind" which was recorded in 1960. The only "Georgia" recording available is a live performance from 2002 on the less-than-stellar "Late in the Evening".

On the flip side, a number of artists from the list are gloriously accessible, which extensive collections online, including:

Bob Dylan
The Rolling Stones
Aretha Franklin
The Beach Boys
Elvis Presley
The Who
Sam Cooke (somewhat smaller collection but still representative)
The Clash
Jimi Hendrix
Bruce Springsteen
Otis Redding
Johnny Cash
David Bowie

Note: I work in the online music field, and its my perception that most online services have most available titles. I don't know of any artists that are exclusive to a service, although some individual tracks might be, at least for a limited preview.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

answering the bushies

With regard to the breathtakingly outrageous "tax simplification" proposals put out by the administration today:

Can we please not get suckered in *again* by the Bushie's trick of throwing pie at us just so we'll be grateful when they squirt us with seltzer?

If we follow past patterns, we'll spend the next weeks yammering ad nauseum about how catastrophic these policies would be, analyzing them, drumming up facts and figures, etc.

Then the bushies come out with a different policy thats only slightly less extreme, and it sucks all the wind out of our sails.

Let's do something different this time. Lets start talking about some tax simplification proposals that really *are* moderate, revenue neutral, etc. Then the general public has some real opportunity to compare policies, instead of between ultra-outrageous and simply nowhere-close-to-fair.

Note to Congress: You don't have to drop pointing outraged fingers to do this. Do both. Make sure people *know* exactly how outrageous these proposals are, in addition to showing them a better, more responsible way.

tax on jobs

Seen in Eschaton Comments:

Republicans clearly believe that people who work for a living should pay more of the tax burden and people who collect money from invested wealth should pay less.

It is a tax on jobs.

Monday, November 15, 2004

litany versus narrative

Kevin Drum irritates everyone today by pointing out that the reason Dems have a litany and no resonant narrative is because we've already achieved so much of our agenda we've been reduced to backing and filling in response to Repub erosions.

While my initial reaction to this post was "what rose-colored world are you living in???", I realize that its the prospect of losing all those things won last centery that makes it seem so catastrophic. Things look bad because we measure them against what we had, not pie in the sky we hope for.

Also, Kevin's post made me realize that Dems don't so much lack a narrative as we do a *new* narrative. Our narrative is decades old, and it's all about achieving what in many ways we already have achieved. The narrative still has great value as our core, but it no longer has resonance.

So instead of maintainance repair people, we should be thinking like designers. At the same time, our design should be solidly built on the basic foundations that are currently crumbling away, so that we simultaneously shore them up as well as proving their worth and our consistency.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

12-step program for the "blues"

For anyone who doesn't already check Mark Fiore's weekly flash comic, this week's is a must see. Be sure to catch all the details, including the disclaimer on the last screen!

The Depressed Democrat's Guide to Recovery

Friday, November 12, 2004

women's "rights" controversial

So apparently there is the need for an equal rights amendment, because apparently even the concept of women having basic rights over their own body (and I'm not talking about abortion) isn't the no brainer it should be:

The word "rights"-- too controversial for the FCC?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

what did you do today?

Exhortation from Molly Ivins: "So, fellow progressives, stop thinking about suicide or moving abroad. Want to feel better? Eat a sour grape, then do something immediately, now, today. Figure out what you can do to help rescue the country -- join something, send a little money to some group, call somewhere and offer to volunteer, find a politician you like at the local level and start helping him or her to move up."

Today I renewed my membership in the ACLU. What will I do tomorrow? Don't know yet. But something.

taking a break

This is National Novel Writing Month, and I am attempting to write 50,000 words by 11:59pm, November 30, so I'll be mostly silent here for the rest of the month. Unless something really obscene happens of course.


Home again. So sorry I wasn't able to post more while in Arizona--the days were long and the free time back at the hotel was way too brief. On Tuesday we got to the volunteer HQ around 5am and were out at the polling places until after 7pm--in some cases, way after 7pm.

I happened to spend most of my day at a very crowded polling place near ASU in Tempe. The biggest problem we encountered was people who had been told they could vote at any polling place with a provisional ballot, which wasn't true for Arizona. So I spent most of my time trying to hook people up with the correct polling place. The line there was never less than an hour long, and at 7pm it was almost a 3 hour wait. Imagine--hundred of teenagers waiting in 2hr lines--to vote!! They were terrific, I just couldn't believe what I was seeing.

I believe that the problem here was the same as for many--a blowout turnout that was unanticipated by the polling officials. Sometimes this was a willful decision that everyone knew would turn into long lines and discouraged voters. Other places it was just lack of attention. I don't know which was true at ASU. Voter registration drives at ASU made headline, and were very aggressive this year, so you'd think someone would have prepared better. Unfortunately, there wasn't a single thing to do by election day.

About the election outcome, I have nothing to say except if Bush expects a "clean slate" and a benefit of the doubt, he's got another think coming. If he expects to "unite" this country by demanding that everyone get behind his policies, he will be sadly mistaken.

And to those moron independents and third-party backers who say that if the Dems wanted to win they should have fielded a "viable candidate", I say you wouldn't know a viable candidate if he personally saved you from a burning building. You had a choice between a man like Bush and a man like Kerry, for godsakes. It couldn't have been clearer. You people screwed up big time, and you deserve what's coming. But because I and 55 million others live here too and don't deserve what's been handed to us, I and others will try like the devil do soften the blow. You can thank us later, if you ever figure out which way's up.

Monday, November 01, 2004

my fellow ep workers

Today was all about GOTV, with the EP volunteers being lent to another local non-partisan group called the Arizona Leadership Institute, whose main focus is to register minority and low-income voters.

So far I've met about ten people. The staffers are from here, but all the volunteers I've met are from out of state: one other from Seattle, one from Oregon, and three from California. Everyone seems basically liberal, although only one of us has mentioned who he's voting for.

I did see my first ever Badnarik bumper sticker though, in the EP parking lot.

oops @#$%&*(#@%!!!!!

sh*t!!!! I just accidentally wrote over my old custom template with this new blogger special. That's what happens when you start playing around at 2am. Not gonna fix it tonight though!

Sunday, October 31, 2004

being non-partisan

I'm finding it a bit tougher to toe this line than I thought. Not with voters out in the neighborhood--that's easy, mostly because I care far too much about voting integrity.

But with other volunteers, especially when you realize someone is on the same wavelength as yourself. But since Election Protection is a non-partisan group, you don't want your personal opinions to bleed in too much!

annoying people

I've been very surprised to discover that, so far at least, I've annoyed very few people by knocking on their door and exhorting them to vote.

Well, OK, there was the guy who'd obviously been woken from an afternoon nap in front of ESPN--but hey, without us he'd have missed that Packer's 4th quarter. Then there was the older lady, the only one who said flat out she wasn't going to vote, but that was ok because her daughter would be voting.

But most people seemed happy to announce that yes they certainly would be voting come Tuesday, while others proudly announced they'd already done the deed. Several people happily engaged in conversations and asked questions about the process.

All round, a worthwhile afternoon.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

arizona bound

I don't think I've mentioned it, but I decided to through my election day lot in with the non-partisan poll watching group Election Protection. In their wisdom, they assigned me to Phoenix, which was fine with me since I'd never been there before.

So this morning I packed my bag and flew to Phoenix. I'd been a little apprehensive wondering if there'd be any level of harrassment of election volunteers at airport security. Yes, I'm paranoid. Surprise, surprise, this was the very first time since 9/11 that I haven't been singled out for some kind of random special attention. No pat down at security, no extra questions at the gate. Had to remove the shoes, but everyone was doing that.

So here I am at a nice suburban motel in Phoenix, hoping I'll have time to check out the Heard Museum and the Science Center between bouts of annoying people with GOTV drives. More of substance soon.

Friday, October 29, 2004

island bound

Salon's War Room summarizes Newsday: "Aloha! Hawaii really is a battleground state, and befitting a battleground state will get a visit from Dick Cheney before too long. (Al Gore, who won Hawaii by nearly 20 points four years ago, will be there today, and Alexandra Kerry will also fly to the islands to stump for her dad.) "

Congrats to Alexandra for winning that coin toss! Can't you just feel the entire political press corps rooting for it all to come down to Hawaii's 4 votes?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

milking republican seniors

The Seattle Times: Fund-raising group milks vulnerable senior citizens

This group labels itself "Republican", but its just a straight con. Its not clear that any of the money raised went for political causes: "Of the money spent by the group this year, nearly 90 percent went to direct-mail vendors and postage expenses."

BTW--for those with the phrase "liberal media bias" foaming on their lips, the Seattle Times is considered Seattle's conservative newspaper. The Times is one of the flippers who endorsed Bush in 2000, but switched to Kerry in 2004.

Monday, October 25, 2004

simpson blues

I'm trying to figure out why I'm supposed to be shocked and outraged by Ashlee Simpson's heartburn. Aside from the fact that I don't have a clue who she is, are there really people out there who think pop singers are really belting out on a stage? And risk hitting a wrong note or two on national TV?

air america comes to seattle!

Air America Radio | Hurray!!! Now I can listen in on my way to work!

wsj covers failure to hit zarqawi - Questions Mount Over Failure to Hit Zarqawi's Camp.

Mostly the same facts, with a slightly more detailed timeline, few new quotes from interested parties and a new justification from the Bush admniistration:

"Another factor, though, was fear that a strike on the camp could stir up opposition while the administration was trying to build an international coalition to launch an invasion of Iraq. Lawrence Di Rita, the Pentagon's chief spokesman, said in an interview that the reasons for not striking included 'the president's decision to engage the international community on Iraq.' Mr. Di Rita said the camp was of interest only because it was believed to be producing chemical weapons. He also cited several potential logistical problems in planning a strike, such as getting enough ground troops into the area, and the camp's large size."
The new timeline indicates that the original plans were drawn up in June 2002 and then sat on by the White House until about February 2003.

For those with shaky memories, during the summer of 2002, the Iraq invasion was still just a marketing plan that hadn't yet been officially rolled out. Throughout most of the fall of 2002, Bush was openly disdaining any collaboration with the United Nations, and did not seriously start coalition building until late 2002.

One weird note about the WSJ article. Not once does the article mention that Zarqawi's camp was in an area of Iraq not controlled by Saddam Hussein. As a result, a casual reader could easily assume this was proof that Hussein had a chemical weapons plant and was harboring al Qaeda.

Friday, October 22, 2004

bush staffer indicted but still employed

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: October 17, 2004 - October 23, 2004 Archives: This story concerns Larry Russell, that Bush-Cheney director in South Dakota who with several other staffers resigned amid allegations of voter fraud and was promptly rehired to run the Bush-Cheney GOTV in Ohio. South Dakota has now handed down indictments against those staffers, several of whom he brought with him to Ohio.

Are these people still employed by Bush-Cheney? Why?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

liberal media

It's been enjoyable this week watching the newspaper endorsements rolling in for Kerry and Bush. Kerry is way ahead in both number of papers and in circulation. Here's a particularly fun fact:

Florida Newspapers:

St. Petersburg Times (G): 358,502
The Miami Herald (G): 325,032
South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale) (G): 268,927
The Palm Beach Post (G): 181,727
Daytona Beach News-Journal (G): 112,945
Florida Today (Melbourne) (G): 90,877
Bradenton Herald (B): 52,163


[crickets chirping]

That's right. According to Editor & Publisher, Bush hasn't received a single endorsement from a major Florida newspaper. One paper has refused to endorse anyone. The Tampa Tribune--described as having endorsed Republicans in every presidential election (but one) over the past 50 years--said it could not back Bush "because of his mishandling of the war in Iraq, his record deficit spending, his assault on open government and his failed promise to be a 'uniter not a divider' within the United States and the world." The paper had less than kind words for Kerry as well, saying his "Senate record stands at odds with our conservative principles".

taking out zarqawi

Under the heading of yet more amazing issues the Kerry campaign isn't pushing: LiberalOasis notes that Kerry is finally pushing the "why didn't we take out Zarqawi when we had him?" question. Unfortunately, nobody seems to be listening. LO sort of suggests this might be another case of something that's common knowledge to the media (and news junkies) but to no one else.

But again, this matters. While the BCCI topic is good Kerry-character material, the Zarqawi fiasco is concrete and egregious. And it speaks to every criticism leveled at Bush with regard to Iraq and his cavalier attitude to his own "war on terror".

So here's the story to start talking up, folks. Get your facts and figures down, and start inserting the question in the discussion whenever you can. LO thinks that this little truth will shake that blind faith of average joes around the country. And LO is rarely wrong.

(Note: my "heading" was mostly just a joke--everybody's got a different opinion on what Kerry should be talking about, but there are only so many hours in the day and only one campaign manager!)

dirty tricksters

Josh Marshall has been keeping tabs on the story of Jim Tobin and the New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal. This story can't seem to break out of its low profile in spite of the big giant dots and the flourescent lines connecting them.

This matters. Tobin was fingered in the criminal investigation no later than July of this year. But the Bush-Cheney campaign, which employed Tobin as its New England regional director kept him in charge until mid-October, after his name was finally leaked to the public.

Couple this story with that of the group of Bush-Cheney staffers from South Dakota who, after resigning over questionable absentee ballot practices found positions in the Ohio branch of the campaign, and you have a picture of the GOP attitude toward dirty tricks. Far from eschewing practicioners, the GOP rewards and encourages them.

Isn't that worth an investigative reporter's time?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

mum on bcci?

What Paul Glastris says. Lots of people have been wondering why the Kerry campaign never does more than mention in passing Kerry's BCCI investigation. After all, we're talking about exposing money laundering on a global scale, which included funding for terrorists. But the most relevant issue related to Kerry's BCCI work is the fact that he did it in spite of tremendous pressure from colleagues and supporters. There were so many senators who had personal and professional ties to people involved in BCCI, the pressure was extreme. But Kerry did the right thing in spite of that, and was instrumental in ending a global crime network. (For a decent summary of Kerry's role in BCCI, see here.)

This was only one of several times Kerry took the hard road against peer pressure, starting with his work with Vietnam Veterans Against the War, through Iran Contra, through BCCI, deficit reduction, and most recently his vote against mandating $87B to the Iraq war effort without working out a way to fund it.

Bob Shrum's position is apparently that average people won't understand the BCCI story. Its certainly true that the entire conspiracy is a complex and tangled web that almost no one really understands. But why doesn't Shrum understand that a good communicator can craft several compelling themes from the story? Create some conventional wisdom based on big picture truths?

One question is--what's the downside to the story? What could Bush/Cheney drum up to counter the CW? The worst I've heard is that Kerry was "more showhorse than workhorse". But this doesn't jive with the facts at all. The BCCI scandal was a hot potato that nobody wanted to handle. Kerry got a tremendous amount of flack for refusing to drop it or orchestrate a whitewash. Sheesh, Kerry even got an angry phone call from Jackie Onassis wanting know why Kerry was skewering a good friend of hers (Clark Clifford).

Kerry did apparently weather some personal attacks, allegations that his family had ties to drug dealing (!) that appear to be your typical slimy political pressure. Perhaps Shrum decided that the slime, if recycled right before the election, would hurt more than the BCCI themes would help.

As far as I can make out, most people have been assuming Kerry was holding the BCCI story as a hole card. Now that the election is only 13 days away, however, that hope is shrinking fast. BCCI is not a two-day story--it's a character tell that would have been best woven into the public perception of Kerry as a man. A really good man who truly demonstrates principled action in spite of political cost.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

highlights from bush's one-term presidency

In case you're wondering how a second Bush term might look, Molly Ivin's recaps lowlights from the first term: WorkingForChange-No more years

"But I like to remember the little things, those itty-bitty things that really made it special. Those touches of style. The je ne sais quoi of it all. Like choosing Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday to announce his administration would oppose affirmative action in the University of Michigan case, calling it "divisive," "unfair" and "unconstitutional." Classy timing."
Here's one I'd forgotten:

"Here's one of my faves. In his big address of 2002, Bush said: "A good job should lead to security in retirement. I ask Congress to enact new safeguards for 401(k) and pension plans." The Bush plan allows companies to switch from traditional fixed-benefit plans to what's called cash-balance plans. It saves corporations millions a year -- in the case of large companies, as much as $100 million. Older workers can lose up to 50 percent of their pensions. The Bush rules not only permit the conversions, they also give cash-balance plans a tax advantage, as well as protection from age discrimination lawsuits. It's the perfect Bush plan: Corporations get to screw workers, and they get a tax break for it -- plus, nobody can sue."
To me, this particular effort perfectly epitomizes Bush's priorities and intents. It wasn't enough to relax the rules in the corporations favor, shifting huge amounts of risk from the corporation to the individual. By attaching a tax incentive to it, he's effectively rewarding companies who do make the shift, and punishing those who place a higher value on the individual.

Why the extra push? Partly, I think, it was merely taking advantage of an opportunity to reduce corporate taxes. But could it also be evidence of Bush's "transformational" philosophy? Could it be that by muscling through a fundamental change in the prevailing corporate approach to retirement plans, he's willfully altering the entire playing field on which corporations and employees negotiate benefits?

Monday, October 18, 2004

cnn on gore gets it right and wrong

In this short story on Al Gore's speech today: " - Gore: Bush purposely deceived public on Iraq", CNN gets one detail right, but makes two disappointing errors.

What CNN got right:

"He [Gore] delivered his remarks in strong but measured tones..." Hurray, at least one media outlet is finally refraining from characterizing the former VP and winner of the 2000 election as a deranged nut! Could the tide finally be turning in the media's hate-hate relationship with Gore? Too soon to tell. Unfortunately they followed it up with....

What CNN got wrong:

1. "He [Gore] delivered his remarks in strong but measured tones, avoiding the overheated passion that had marked several of his appearances earlier this year." Ouch! So close! As anyone knows who was paying attention to coverage of the Gore speech in May, the media almost uniformly characterized Gore's as a hopeless "rant" (one well-known pundit commented "it looks as if Al Gore has gone off his lithium again"), but utterly failed to produce any video to back up their characterizations. For more discussion on this instance of Gore-ing, see the here.

2. And apparently this story was written by someone who was not yet born in 2000: "Gore, who won the popular vote in 2000 but lost the electoral vote after a recount of ballots in Florida..." Of course, as anyone who was sentient in 2000 knows, Gore lost the presidency because the recount in Florida was HALTED--by the US Supreme Court. It is quite possible Gore would have won Florida--and the presidency--If a full recount had been allowed to proceed.

bush health care plan

GW Bush has at last announced his health care plan. He describes it as a stunning leap forward in providing health care to every American man, woman and child in the country, even while eliminating costly government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare (but not FEHBP). Here are the details:


Saturday, October 16, 2004

mutiny part ii

If true, this is the key issue: News | Revolt in the ranks in Iraq: "Most absurdly, though, the jet fuel that these members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company were risking life and limb to transport wasn't even usable. It was contaminated with diesel and had already sensibly been rejected by one base and would undoubtedly be rejected again in Taji -- if the convoy managed to make it to its destination at all. "

mutiny in iraq

A friend just asked me what I thought about the mutiny in iraq. Since I'm not the most prolific of writers, here's my answer. She's guaranteed to chew on my thoughts and spit out something way more profound, so I may have to revise my opinion later, but here goes.

Well, I have mixed feelings. After all, the Normandy invasion was basically a suicide mission, too. I guess I feel pretty inadequate to judge.

I know in the military its supposed to be all about obeying orders without question, but you have to figure that for that kind of structure to hold, there has to be a level of trust by the soldier in his/her higher-ups. I mean of course in the abstract everyone thinks their top brass are morons, but when you're jumping out on the Normandy shore (or over the walls at Gallipoli for that matter), into the face of major artillery, you gotta have some faith that your commanders wouldn't be sacrificing you without a really good reason. That they were doing everything they possibly could to strengthen your odds. So to me this whole thing is all about a breakdown of that trust.

Since giving that blind trust to GW has been driving me nuts for the past 2 years, being what seemed a stunningly willful refusal to face facts in order to get through the day, I suppose I should be glad the whole house of cards is tumbling. But mostly it makes me sad for those 17 (and overwhelmingly glad I've never had to make a decision like that). Also I can't help wondering what happens to the people out in the field who were waiting for that supply convoy.

In political terms, how long do you think it'll be for Bush to start blaming Kerry and the Dems for this "breakdown in morale, brought about by their endless pessimism and politically motivated refusal to support the troops"????? Up is down, baby. But I think we need to be ultra careful here--not for political reasons, but for the 150K or so troops in Iraq. This could get really bad if not handled right--and I think its a guarantee Bush et al won't handle it right, they'll certainly crack down hard on the soldiers rather than deal with the systemic problem. So Kerry will need to step up. Also, Dems need to find a way to step up, too. Supporting the troops isn't just a slogan, and pointing fingers at Bush won't be enough. After all, if Bush actually pulls out this election, we'll have 150K people stuck in a disintegrating Iraq with little hope of real improvement.

Friday, October 15, 2004

education = jobs? reports today:

"'In the final debate I talked about the vital link between education and jobs; the senator didn't seem to get it,' Bush told thousands of supporters in the heart of the biggest media market in Iowa that covers some 30 counties in the eastern part of the state."

Oh he gets it, Mr. President. He just understands that it takes more than some half-assed college grant program and a semi-funded no-child-left-behind mandate to honestly claim you've got a jobs program. He also gets that telling people the problem behind their inability to manage their livelihood is not enough education is more than a little condescending, not to mention blazingly obtuse. Not to mention a few other choice words, considering the role you've had in gutting the middle class's security and even viability.

repub second-guessing

Gee is sure is nice to see the gun shooting the other foot! Politics: "Almost flailing

"Even as stalwart a Republican as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, now a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, thought there might be uneasiness. 'If you don't have some anxiety you are not in touch with reality,' he said."

" ... One senior Republican strategist not affiliated with the campaign said he began to think the Bush camp might be nervous when it launched a hard-edged ad that mischaracterized Kerry as describing terrorism as a 'nuisance.' 'I would describe that as almost flailing,' the strategist said.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

debate impact

Totally aside from the crucial issues:

I think the clearest thing to come out of the debates is that when it comes to looking "presidential", Kerry just has to be himself while Bush has to gather himself into a persona. Whether it's true or not, Kerry came across as quite genuine, as well as far more self-assured. Bush came across as like actor who had trouble finding the core of his role.

political tool?

Tim Grieve of thinks Kerry made a mistake with his reference to Mary Cheney's sexual orientation in last night's debate. I disagree for two reasons:

1. When Grieve says Kerry's mistake was in handing Republicans something to talk about today, he's being remarkably naive. If it hadn't been Mary C., it would have been that Kerry didn't (horrors!) mention his own wife's name during the final question. Or perhaps it would have been a parsing of Kerry's response to either of the "faith" questions, or Kerry's lack of an education plan. (Actually, Kerry has a darn good education plan, but you wouldn't know it by listening to any of the debates.)

2. It seems to me that Mary Cheney is indeed being used as a political tool, but not by John Kerry. It is her own parents, and by extension the Republican Party, who are victimizing her in the truest sense of the word. The likelihood that they are doing it with her full support makes it a non-issue for Kerry.


Kevin Drum says, about Bush's bin Laden gaffe last night:

"I suspect the answer lies in the cocoon Bush lives in. Not only has he convinced himself that he never really said that he wasn't concerned about Osama, but he has no idea that the outside world believes otherwise. He doesn't realize that not only is his Osama statement well known, it's actually quite a popular target of mockery. What's more, nobody on his staff has ever clued him in.

It's a pretty good metaphor for Bush's biggest problem: his staff spoon feeds him a rosy view of the outside world and he honestly believes that this rosy world is the real world."
Yup. That was my take, too. How else would he have dared to deny making the comment?

most improved

From Early Debate Reactions: "In contrast to his first debate performance, Mr. Bush was smiling through most of the debate, said host Brit Hume, who described the president as comfortable, aggressive and more in command of his facts and figures than he had been in previous debates. 'It was the president who was most different in term of his performance and his command of his material,' he said."

Hume seems to be saying Bush won the "most improved" award. Remember in school? The Most Improved Student award always went to the underachiever who the teacher wanted to encourage. While we all might wish Bush might improve with regard to actual policy, I'm not interested in hanging my future on a goof-off.

And, within the context of the article, Hume's comment was apparently his justification for why he thinks Bush won the debate. He won because he changed the most? Wow. This about a man who prides himself on his constancy and refusal to change course even when the facts go against him. Who has built his entire campaign on falsely painting his opponent as one who changes too much?

Perhaps we should be grateful. It proves Bush can admit a mistake (albeit privately) and adjust accordingly.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Scott Rosenberg over at Salon notes:

"Demonstrator's sign seen over Wolf Blitzer's shoulder during CNN pre-debate: "What's the frequency, W?"

mary cheney outed?

Not hardly. Talking Points Memo points out that Republicans are trying to turn Kerry's reference to Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter into some sort of attack. Odd seeing as how the same subject came up in the VP debate and there was no hue or cry then.

What this tells me is that those Republicans think Bush lost tonight's debate. And that he lost badly enough for them to be lashing out in fear.

I feel so much better now!

debate gap

Not one single question on the environment. Not one single question on energy policy.

Immigration was more important?


classic conflict of interest

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Bush special envoy embroiled in controversy over Iraq debt

No shame.

Apparently Baker, who was appointed by the Bush Administration to negotiate Iraqi debt forgiveness with countries around the world, simultaneously wears another hat. As a Carlyle Group senior exec, he is also involved with making sure Kuwait gets its debts paid.

Baker v. Baker. That must be one tough negotiation session.

Why would any other country be interested in dealing with Baker when they know right off the bat he's acting in bad faith?

jobs creation--or not - Tax Windfall May Not Boost Hiring Despite Claims:

"Big companies long lobbied for a tax cut on their overseas profit as a way to spur U.S. job growth. But now that it has been granted, much of the windfall won't go toward hiring but for such uses as strengthening balance sheets, buying back shares and making acquisitions.

The one-year break, included in a sweeping tax bill that cleared the Senate and went to the president this week, will allow hundreds of billions of dollars in overseas profit to be brought home by dozens of U.S. companies at a steeply reduced tax rate. By some estimates, U.S. companies have parked as much as $500 billion in profit abroad to avoid taxes back home.

Companies say the repatriated money, which would be taxed at a 5.25% rate instead of 35%, will provide stimulus and better position them for hiring in the long run. Software company Oracle Corp., for instance, likely will use some of the billions it will bring home to help finance its aggressive acquisition strategy. Computer maker Hewlett-Packard Co. says it may devote a substantial portion of the several billion dollars it plans to bring back to paying down debt from its purchase of Compaq Computer Corp. -- a transaction that led to layoffs.

The Bush administration has been lukewarm about the tax bill, though President Bush, who has been attacked by Democratic opponent Sen. John Kerry over sluggish job growth during his administration, is expected to sign it.

The repatriation provision is among the most far-reaching of the many business tax breaks included in the sweeping bill, formally dubbed the 'American Jobs Creation Act of 2004.' ""Companies say"??? Well, heck, I'm sure we can trust the word of a megacorporation when billions of dollars are at stake.

Note that the different between 5.25% and 35% is 29.5%. On $500B, the tax break is $147.5B--for one year.

nevada registration

Weird. Is it just a coincidence that the voter fraud story regarding trashed registrations broke on the evening voter registration ends in Nevada? Lots of theories come to mind. Perhaps the company managers only got brazen on the final few days? Maybe the former employee blowing the whistle had some reason for delaying? Hmmm.

more on las vegas voter fraud

Las Vegas SUN: Democrats accuse voter registration group of fraud

According to this story, the FBI is NOT currently working the case at all.

dem registrations trashed by GOP-funded group

See this Las Vegas, Nevada news story, Voter Registrations Possibly Trashed, but there's no "possibly" about it:

"Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

'We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assisatnt to get those from me,' said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law."

"The company has been largely, if not entirely funded, by the Republican National Committee. Similar complaints have been received in Reno where the registrar has asked the FBI to investigate."
They couldn't possibly expect to get away with this, although daylight was more likely to come after the election. In which case, based on past experience, its considered a fait accompli and all remedies are aimed at future elections (and end up being ignored anyway).

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

civil rights & bush

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report (draft Sept 2004), "Redefining Rights in America: The Civil Rights Record of the George W. Bush Administration, 2001–2004", is out. Here's the summary:

Several themes emerge from this study. Specifically, this examination will show that the administration’s statements frequently do not match its actions. Its civil rights promises often suffer for lack of funding and ineffective implementation. To his credit, President Bush has not dismantled some good programs that previous administrations had implemented. However, he has also not comprehensively advanced them or demanded accountability for their outcomes. And finally, through the views of his executive and judicial appointments and his own professed priorities, President Bush redefines civil rights, at times by promoting unrelated initiatives under a civil rights banner.
Here's another telling passage:

The Commission thus identified as a key indicator of the administration’s commitment its willingness to develop a strategy in collaboration with civil rights leaders and representatives from affected communities. Rarely during his first three years in office did President Bush speak at meetings of civil rights organizations.19 As a candidate in 2000, President Bush gave a speech at the NAACP’s national convention, but during his first three years in office, did not attend the group’s meetings or call its leaders to the White House to confer with him. Nor has he engaged the NAACP in policy conversations, breaking a tradition that began under President Warren G. Harding and had been carried on by 11 consecutive Presidents beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt and ending with Clinton.
(emphasis added)

fight to survive

New blog: Fight To Survive: describes itself as a "mouthpiece for a group of soldiers who are fighting in a war they oppose for a president they didn't elect while the petrochemical complex turns the blood of their fallen comrades into oil."

Thanks to Different Kitchen.

Monday, October 11, 2004

josh on sinclair

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: October 10, 2004 - October 16, 2004 Archives:

"It's not a 'fairness' or a free speech issue. It's a massive and quite public case of election and campaign finance fraud. It's the sort of thing that, if it happens, will put the legitimacy of the entire election into doubt."

debate best line

OK, so I'm a little behind the times, but here's what I thought was the best line of the night:

John Kerry: "The military's job is to win the war. A president's job is to win the peace."

And a major reason why this is true is because peace requires diplomacy and a desire for good will--skills Bush not only doesn't have, he doesn't even value.

checking the checkers

Kevin Drum over at Political Animal gives us a handy summary of the various media fact-checking for last Friday's debate.

Shorter Drum summary: Stick with the Washington Post's "debate referee" and avoid the NYT's "shockingly bad" vapor at all costs.

greenhouse gas levels leap

The Guardian via Salon: Puzzling pattern
(direct link to the Guardian: Climate fear as carbon levels soar

An unexplained and unprecedented rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere two years running has raised fears that the world may be on the brink of runaway global warming.
Scientists are baffled why the quantity of the main greenhouse gas has leapt in a two-year period and are concerned that the Earth's natural systems are no longer able to absorb as much as in the past.
But the fear held by some scientists is that the greater than normal rises in C02 emissions mean that instead of decades to bring global warming under control we may have only a few years. At worst, the figures could be the first sign of the breakdown in the Earth's natural systems for absorbing the gas.

That would herald the so-called "runaway greenhouse effect", where the planet's soaring temperature becomes impossible to contain. As the icecaps melt, less sunlight is refected back into space from ice and snow, and bare rocks begin to absorb more heat. This is already happening.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

some water for cheney believers

For anyone who thought Cheney came across articulate and authoritative in Tuesday's debate, here's a cold dose of reality:MSNBC - Rewriting History

perfect storm

Now this is what we like to see!

Projected Electoral College Votes: Kerry 538 Bush 0

It's just experiencing minor technical difficulties but let's hope its a prescient glitch! After all, it could have gone the other way and depressed us all.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

finding america

Excellent, excellent article here: | Looking for votes, finding America

Jonathan Alford is a California postal working and jazz pianist who took a week off to volunteer for Kerry in Pennsylvania. His article about the experience is insightful and reflective, humble and wholly unpatronizing.

I hope at least part of it is open to non-subscribers. Here's a taste:

I reach a few stalwart old working-class Dems -- "kick those bastards out of office" -- right at the start, but soon enough the typical responses to my questions become expressions of confusion and hopelessness. "I don't know who to believe -- I don't what to think -- something needs to change -- they always promise old people things but nothing ever happens -- my income hasn't changed in 12 years and everything keeps going up." One old woman says that her friend is being forced to sell the house she has lived in for 40 years because she can't pay her bills. She says it is happening all over and it just makes her sick.

What is touching about some of these undecided seniors is the responsibility they feel about collecting all the information before making a decision. "Well, Al and I are planning on watching the debate and reading some more and then we will probably make up our minds." Or "we just don't know enough." It is the older generation's inbred sense of the importance of a vote. It is a precious thing, to be cast with care and deliberation. Most of the seniors are leaning toward Kerry, but most are not excited by him. An interesting -- and depressing -- note is how many have been influenced by the scurrilous GOP attacks on Kerry's wartime service. One lady, a lifelong Democrat, said she couldn't vote for Kerry because Teresa wasn't ladylike enough. "Can you imagine telling that reporter to 'shove it'? My goodness." When I pointed out that the reporter had been dogging her for days and was personally abusive, she said simply, "I don't know about that but I just don't think she is a first lady." A slender reed on which to make a decision, but gratifying, I am sure, to Republican spinners.

Many are not really willing to engage at any length, but a few every hour will tell me personal details and allow little glimpses into their lives. These phone calls are no longer a pro forma political exercise; they are achingly poignant and compelling. Irma tells me her husband can't come to the phone as he has just gotten out of the hospital and is resting. She confides that she too had a stroke two years ago and they both are pretty much housebound. "I don't know what we are going to do. I thought that you were supposed to enjoy the older years -- you work your whole life for this?" It is a hard dance, to try to talk to Irma about the political dimensions of her life woes, convince her to vote for the man I want her to vote for, and still simply be a listener and a fellow human being. And that of course is the nub. Politics has been so dehumanized by image glorification and the pursuit of power that it has become impossible for many of these men and women to even imagine a world in which the personal and the political could ever intersect.
Alford also reflects on the first debate, with some insight that unfortunately proved all too true for the second debate:

The media, unable to confront the propagandistic web of distortions and lies the administration used to make its case for war in Iraq, falls back on simply evaluating its effectiveness. Abdicating their responsibility to find out the truth, they vanish into a never-never land whose apparent cynicism ("it's all spin anyway") conceals its moral and intellectual vacuity. They would still roll over for Bush in tonight's debate, if only he had told his lies crisply and with folksy assurance. Thank God he didn't.

new bush tactic

I am not impressed with the new Bush line about Kerry's unfitness to solve the Iraq war (from AP): "'Senator Kerry assures us that he's the one to win a war he calls a mistake, an error, and a diversion. But you can't win a war if you don't believe in fighting.'"

Kerry's view that the war is in the wrong place, at the wrong time, only underscores his motivation to cleaning up the mess and getting troops home. That's the kind of approach people want to hear.

Very few people in this country are interested in pushing our commitment to war further, in extending some pseudo-democratic ideology. And this seems to be the unstated contrast Bush is pushing. Although he doesn't say it, Bush is signaling his commitment to widen the war effort, do whatever it takes to achieve whatever vision of Mid-East democracy he and the neo-cons are chasing.

classy soros

I just went to to see if Soroswould have the class to point people back to Here's the statement in the top left of the home page:

"We do not own the domain name and are not responsible for it redirecting to We are as surprised as anyone by this turn of events. We believe that Vice President Cheney intended to direct viewers to"

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

security accountability

Last week, Atrios invited us to vote for our favorite Bush line from last week's debate. Paul Krugman nails it:

So far, Mr. Bush has paid no political price for his shameful penny-pinching on domestic security and his refusal to provide effective protection for America's ports and chemical plants. As Jonathan Chait wrote in The New Republic: "Bush's record on homeland security ought to be considered a scandal. Yet, not only is it not a scandal, it's not even a story."

But Mr. Kerry raised the issue, describing how the administration has failed to protect us against terrorist attacks. Mr. Bush's response? "I don't think we want to get to how he's going to pay for all these promises."
Kerry's talking about security at ports and chemical plants, an issue that Bush has consistently and adamantly ignored for three years, and Bush treats the issue like Kerry's lining a pork barrel! And all the while he's spending far more on "offensive" adventures whose security value seems problematic at best.

Now I'm all for thinking outside the box. I don't like playing defense all the time--In my daily life I feel stronger when I'm being pro-active, looking at the larger picture and all that. So I would certainly feel very unsatisfied if our only national response to global terrorism was to hunker down at wait to find out where the chinks in our armor lay.

But geez, shouldn't we at least lock the back door when we step out for our neighborhood self-defense class?

Of course there will always be areas that we won't be able to secure, whether because of logistics, or perhaps simply priorities. But if that were the case, then Bush/Cheney should have a long list of specific measures taken (one in which "Iraq" isn't every third entry). Instead, all we get is a lecture in fiscal responsibility, which is sort of like having our uncle the lush counsel us on the evils of drink.

The reason this issue matters more than almost any other in the subject of security is because it illustrates how little concern the Bush Administation has for domestic security. Whether this lack of concern is because they don't care if a little collateral damage happens here in the US or because, deep down, they don't believe it will happen again, take your pick.

Or perhaps I'm wrong about their concern. Perhaps what really happened is that they believed their own hype about Afghanistan and Iraq. Maybe they thought they'd get in quick and cheap, set a couple of examples and scare some people, and then they'd be right back here with time and money to fill in the chinks at home. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way, and now Bush is faced with the fact that we don't have the money to do what should have been done in the first place. But since the reason for the lack of money is directly related to his complete muck-up in Iraq, he can't even acknowledge there is a problem let alone deal with it.

Well, I guess its good to know Bush can recognize a spending limit, on occasion.

acid test (pg rating here)

From The (really really) Rude Pundit:

"And don't you fuckin' gimme that stroke victim smirk, Dick, or I'll come across and start shovin' aluminum tubes up your ass, all 60,000 of 'em, one anodized tube at a goddamn time. Then, with all those tubes up your ass, you can tell me, tell all of us, if they feel like centrifuge tubes or just plain ol' rocket tubes."
Now that may be an expert finding I'd be willing to accept.

Schneier on Security

New blog worth checking out: Schneier on Security Thanks to Political Animal for pointing it out.

Monday, October 04, 2004

textbook pushback

As reported in the AP (via Seattle P-I):

Re-fighting last week's TV debate on Iraq (news - web sites), in which polls suggest Bush lost ground to Kerry, the president said, "The policies of my opponent are dangerous for world peace. If they were implemented they would make this world not more peaceful but more dangerous."

The Kerry campaign answered back, "If George Bush (news - web sites) thinks John Kerry's plans to strengthen the military, build alliances and implement the 9/11 Commission's intelligence reforms will make the world a more dangerous place, he's even more detached from reality than he demonstrated at the debate the other night."
Terrific example of a strong response that both defends and attacks. Good job, Kerry team!!

Friday, October 01, 2004

who's robotic?

National Review editor Jay Nordlinger, via Politics:

"Staying on message is one thing; robotic repetition -- when there are oceans of material available -- is another--I hate to say it, but often Bush gave the appearance of being what his critics charge he is: callow, jejune, unserious. And remember -- talk about repetition! -- I concede this as someone who loves the man."

push poll in maryland?

Push polls are one of the nastiest of political dirty tricks. I've been waiting to hear reports, and here's the first one I've seen:

The Votemaster at electoral-vote.comsays: "I got a report of push polling in Maryland ('Are you going to vote for John Kerry even though he will raise your taxes?'). I don't know which firm it was though."

Hopefully we'll hear more soon.

bush if elected

KERRY: "What I worry about with the president is that he's not acknowledging what's on the ground, he's not acknowledging the realities of North Korea, he's not acknowledging the truth of the science of stem-cell research or of global warming and other issues.
And certainty sometimes can get you in trouble.

LEHRER: Thirty seconds.

BUSH: Well, I think -- listen, I fully agree that one should shift tactics, and we will, in Iraq."
Why is Bush promising that he "will" fix problems in Iraq, instead of actually doing it?

Could he be talking about plans they're postponing until after the election? Plans that will likely increase US casualties or garner negative publicity?

Or is he just talking without any intention of acting?

fun with video

I just about fell off my chair when I heard Bush jump in and insist "Of course I know bin Laden attacked us! I know that."

Experience the fun again here:Bush's Outburst | Oliver Willis

New Bush Slogan: "I deserve to be president because I know Osama bin Laden attacked us."

hard truth

I'm having more and more of a problem with the "flypaper" argument, that is, that violence in Iraq has drawn terrorist activity there rather than here. "Better there than here" I keep hearing.

I've heard lots of logical arguments against this, about why its a fallacy, why it won't work. But my argument is moral.

It's like in order to keep ourselves safe we gave a terrorist the key to the house across the street. Better him than us, we say, shaking our heads at the evil of terrorism.

A terrorist is going to do what he does without any help from us. We're not to blame for his existence. But when we hear our leaders patting themselves on the back for inviting terrorists to invade another country in hopes that they won't attack us, it's not only faulty. It's sick.

Is that the kind of people we want to be?

Thursday, September 30, 2004

a free iraq?

Bush kept pushing in at least two different responses, the advantages of a "free Iraq".

"A free Iraq will be a major defeat in their ideology of hatred."
"A free Iraq will be an ally in the war on terror."
"A free Iraq will set a powerful example in the part of the world that is desperate for freedom."
"A free Iraq will help secure Israel."
"A free Iraq will enforce the hopes and aspirations of the reformers in places like Iran."
"A free Iraq is essential for the security of this country."
"A free Iraq is going to make this world a more peaceful place."
"A free Iraq will serve as a powerful example for millions who plead in silence for liberty in the broader Middle East."

Wow, that's a lot to lay on a little country!

But more important, its a load of crap. More specifically, its a load of neocon crap. Bush can't guarantee any of these outcomes, or even realistically hope for them. This is pie in the sky fantasyland.

A really free Iraq will do whatever it chooses to do, which could very well include turning its back on its "liberators" and embracing religious fundamentalism and a national theocracy. If Bush's true plan is to install a puppet government and enforce a pro-US policy, then Iraq is not free, and more important Iraqi resentment of the US will not diminish.

Iraq may end up choosing a democracy. We can hope for this but little more. If this truly was one of Bush's rationales for the invasion, it may well be the most irresponsible one of all.

Debate transcript: KATU 2 - Portland, Oregon

crazy clear

What Different Kitchensays: It's "crazy clear" that Kerry was just plain better in tonight's debate. Sure, there were a couple of rough spots, but nothing like the disaster that was George "I'm Right Because I'm President, Fool" Bush. I've never enjoyed watching him as much as I did tonight.

Kerry is just a class act.

I do, however want to understand the final answers on nuclear proliferation and North Korea better though. I don't know enough about the facts to judge, but it seemed like Bush really wanted to hammer some point home.

BTW, anyone happen to notice that both Laura Bush and Teresa Heinz-Kerry were wearing exactly the same color pink? Some kind of focus group synergy, or just a coincidence? And what was up with the whole Bush family on stage but only Teresa?

puppeteering: he talks too!

That WaPo article referenced in the last post contains a lot to discuss. Talking Points Memo's Joshua Micah Marshall explores the reality that Allawi's speech to the US Senate last week was a wholly owned product of the Bush/Cheney campaign.

Why does this matter? Because Bush is attempting to show that Allawi's view of his own country validates Bush's. Its a little tough to call Bush's Iraq view rose-colored if it meshes with the president of Iraq. Unless, of course, you suspect Allawi is motivated to support Bush.

So, instead of hearing two different perspectives, one validating the other, we heard one opinion read by two different voices.

spreading the gospel

U.S. Effort Aims to Improve Opinions About Iraq Conflict ( "Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's office has sent commanders of U.S. military facilities a five-page memorandum titled 'Guidance to Commanders.' The Pentagon, the memo says, is sponsoring a group of Iraqi Americans and former officials from the Coalition Provisional Authority to speak at military bases throughout the United States starting Friday to provide 'a first-hand account' of events in Iraq. The Iraqi Americans and the CPA officials worked on establishing the interim Iraqi government. The Iraqi Americans 'feel strongly that the benefits of the coalition efforts have not been fully reported,' the memo says. "

When I first heard this I assumed it was just another attempt to pump up the pro-Bush military vote. But I think it goes far beyond November (Bush hopes). This is about conning soldiers into reupping, about minimizing the bad news sent home.

I don't mean to say a little morale boost isn't a good thing for any organization. I generally work for small startups, and a rah-rah from management can go a long way for those working thru the summer nights. (On the other hand, the stakes aren't quite so high when I get disgruntled.) My problem is I simply don't trust Rumsfeld's organization to include any sense of reality.

(gospel=godspell=good news)

cowering, i say

I'll say it again. When you hear Bushies talking about terrorist attacks in the States to help John Kerry, recognise that they are doing some advance damage control.

They are terrified something might happen, and they know they have done little or nothing to prevent it. And the last thing they want is for the conversation center around their failures.

playing the osama card

Another post I was working on yesterday was about the Patty Murray/George Nethercutt Senate race here in Washington.

Senator Patty Murray has become a Dem powerhouse over the past few years. The Repubs are looking to Rep. Nethercutt (R-Spokane), the guy who unseated Speaker Tom Foley back in '94, to turn things around for him again. The fact that Nethercutt ran almost exclusively on a term limits issue, which he subsequently disavowed for himself, doesn't appear to be an issue for them.

Anyway, even non-Washingtonians might remember the Murray brouhaha back in late 2002, when Murray was quoted as saying the following:

"We've got to ask, why is this man so popular around the world? Why are people so supportive of him in many countries that are riddled with poverty? ... [bin Laden has been] out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven't done that."
Of course, Murray's point was that we need to understand our enemies in order to counter them, but the Right spent a joyous week or more excoriating Murray for "praising" bin Laden and voting her chair of the "Blame America First" crowd.

Nethercutt piled on, calling Murray's comments "bizarre" and uninformed. "You have to wonder what country Sen. Murray has been living in since September 11th." (from Seattle PI, Dec 21, 2002) Uninformed was exactly what her comments were not, but that didn't stop Nethercutt. Of course it helped that so many GOP cohorts sliced down Murray's comments to little more than "bin Laden builds day cares", which I guess would sound pretty bizarre if that's all you heard.

But that was back in the dark days, when most people were still watching what we said and did (although some of us were starting to show up at anti Iraq war marches). When the GOP could and did pretty much marginalize anyone they wanted to by calling their statements "traitorous" (this would later morph into "not supporting the troops").

But Nethercutt still thinks the "bin Laden builds day cares" line still hold some quicksand for Murray. Perhaps he hasn't noticed that his leader, Bush, has almost successfully avoided uttering the bin Laden name for nearly 18 months. In any case, Nethercutt has pulled out his little water pistol and loaded it up with this yellow slime, in the form of a TV ad. Nethercutts new twist on Murray is " winning the war on terror means fighting terrorists, not excusing them", and snide accusation that bears no relation with Murray's words.

But then Nethercutt has never been one to let facts get in the way of a dogmatic ideology. In October 2003, after returning from a visit to Iraq, he said U.S. progress "is better than we might be led to believe in the's a bigger and better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day, which, which heaven forbid is awful."

This debate, of course continues through today. Its the debate between people who want to understand the whys behind events--to better prepare for the future, and people who find virtue in dogmatism and manufacture hearts and flowers to justify themselves.

justice delayed?

Note: I had two lengthy posts eaten by Blogger yesterday--very annoying and discouraging. I haven't found the heart to try to re-write them yet. But here's another worthy story:

According to Juan Cole, the silence in the air about the various FBI investigations into the Executive Branch is due to orders from the Bush Administration: Is Justice Being Delayed by Bush Administration Politics?

You really have to wonder what next February will look like if Bush wins, what with the Plame investigation, the Larry Franklin investigation, the Senate Intel Committee investigation on Iraq, Part II (which is supposed to explore the administration's role in generating all that faulty intelligence), not to mention the almost inevitable disaster that will be Iraq by then.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

mount st. helen's

Just wanted to reassure all you east coasters (and beyond) that no, Seattle is not in immenent danger of being blown sky high.

In May 1980, I was a senior in Vienna, Virginia, heading here to college. I can't tell you how many people asked me what I was going to do now that Seattle was buried under ash. (It wasn't, that was Yakima and parts east.)

This time, if it blows, there will certainly be damage, but no one's treating the mountain cavalierly like they did in 1980. But it still doesn't stop some of us, from the safety of Seattle, from devising all sorts of disaster scenarios. One friend is convinced a blast like that would set off a massive EMP that would disrupt electronics for miles around. He really had me when he started talking about horizontal gravity, which sounded quite intriguing.

Of course Seattlelites really kick into high gear over the subject of Mt. Rainier blowing its top.

wonderful news

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP - Europe: Italy rejoices as hostages released

I don't have anything to add. Just wanted to take a moment and say thank God for some good news.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

cowering under the bed

It recently occurred to me that one of the reasons the Bush/Cheney team has so aggressively pushed the "Osama bombs for Kerry" line is this: they are absolutely terrified that a bombing will occur before the election. They know their only chance to thwart it is pure luck, and they know that, given a few days reflection, the American people will fix the blame squarely and accurately on them.

By placing a little advance blame on Kerry, they hope to muddy the issue and skate out from under.

They are like the lord of the manor who by day sashays around the village, wielding his wealth like a weapon, crushing people under his thumb of influence. Too cheap to invest in a decent alarm system, he cowers under his bed at night, certain that the inevitable fallout of his ill-will is sneaking up the back stairs.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

a spot of humor

Get your political jollies right here:MadKane Notables Weblog (Madeleine Begun Kane)

biden carries water on fox

Transcript: Sen. Joseph Biden on 'FOX News Sunday':

"And the last thing I want to make this point: I find the way the opposition is dealing with this is really, really dangerous. They're telling everybody that basically if Kerry becomes president of the United States, he's not going to stick with Iraq.

I personally was authorized by Kerry in front of all my colleagues to say the first thing in a private meeting, I said, 'Mr. President [Alawi], you know me.' And he said, 'Yes, I do.' I said, 'I guarantee you that John Kerry as president--you will continue to have the full support of the United States of America in order to be able to establish a representative republic. He said, 'Thank you, and I know it.'"

Saturday, September 25, 2004

let's get it started

I've seen at least two recent stories about voter enthusiams along these lines:

CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll: Presidential race tight in Florida - Sep 24, 2004: "The poll also found that Republicans in the Sunshine State were more enthusiastic about voting this year than Democrats..."

At the same time, Ruy Teixeira on Donkey Rising has been reporting a the seeming error in the Gallup polls. It seems Gallup is assuming a greater Republican turnout than Democrat--at odds with recent history--which is skewing their numbers significantly toward Bush. Is this a case of Gallup generating a self-justification? Or did they figure out early on something nobody else saw?

My gut tells me Repubs could not possibly be more energized than Dems. My gut's been wrong before. But Dems have never exhibited the tendency to line up four-square behind their candidate. You're far more likely to find a self-described Dem explain away their choice as "the best of the worst" than you will a self-described Repub. But my perception is that this has nothing to do with the candidate, and everything to do with being a Democrat. In supporting a candidate, there's always a necessary element of self-delusion that doesn't seem to come as easily to the average Democrat. Or maybe its more accurate to say this is the public perception, which perhaps becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

cbs delays Niger forgery report

Thanks, CBS, for guaranteeing buyers remorse on Nov 3 if Bush wins: The New York Times > Washington > Campaign 2004 > The Fallout: '60 Minutes' Delays Report Questioning Reasons for Iraq War

Hey, remember when all those negative stories about Arnold appeared the day after the election? And we all wondered why none of that stuff got mentioned before?

Note: I first heard about this story on Eschaton, with a link to americablog. I don't think its correct to say that CBS is refusing to report on ANY negative news from Iraq, or any negative news about Bush. I suspect CBS is being hypersensitive about anything to do with "forgery", also any Bush-related story that's investigative as opposed to reporting on breaking events. But jeez, people!! Get in there, do the due diligence you bypassed last time around, and get the story out! You've got 5 weeks, surely you can nail down the story by then!

At the same time, I've been wondering how Rove was planning on countering the Iraq-is-hell, Bush-is-in-fairyland that's become the overriding perception of the past week. Its possible the Rove remedy will be an inundation of happy-happy stories from Iraq, whereever he can solicit help from media friends and strongarm it from anyone else.

pigs with wings?

Ca you believe this AP headline: Bush twists Kerry's words on Iraq

Update: Alas no. While that was the headline last night, and this morning the Yahoo slug was still the same, but when you click on the link it becomes this: "Bush, Kerry Twisting Each Other's Words". Wow. That's a news story.

Its interesting that the former headline made it onto my Yahoo's Most Viewed Stories list, even as late as this morning (10 AM PT). But once the headline changed it fell off.

Friday, September 24, 2004

which track?

Nice work, Balta. Island of Balta delves into the mystery of how Iraqis could possibly be more optimistic about their country's future than Americans.

It turns out that Bush's extemporaneous (or was it?) gaffe not only highlights how anxious Americans currently are. It also underscores how out of touch Bush continues to be about progress in Iraq. How nice for him that his supporters take such good care to gin up unimpeachable (not!) poll numbers.

dissent is necessary and right

I posted something like this back in April, but it's become relevant yet again....

It seems reasonable to ask how, in theory, people are supposed to take action to stop or end an unjust war. Do Kerry critics seriously propose that we continue a poorly conceived and mis-directed war purely for the sake of troop morale? Do they suggest that no war is ever wrong or unjust? That it is always a noble endeavor? That our leaders will always be accurate and well-meaning?

(Wow. I was way less shrill back those long months ago.)

Thursday, September 23, 2004

department of "duh"

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP "Poll: Having money helps with satisfaction"

fact versus opinion

The Washington Post has a revelation: Despite Bush Flip-Flops, Kerry Gets Label (

I can hardly wait to see what Howler has to say about this...

"Once such a popular perception becomes fixed, public opinion experts and strategists say, virtually every episode in the campaign is viewed through that prism, while facts that do not fit with existing assumptions -- such as Bush's history of policy shifts -- do not have much impact in the political debate. Why these impressions became so firmly fixed in the first place is a source of debate."
Apparently WaPo is mystified as to how people get attached to these popular perceptions.

And yet they still can't seem to get Kerry's $87B story right!!

wild sky killed

Mixed feelings: Wild Sky measure is killed in House

Apparently the House Resources chair, Richard Pombo, R-Calif, cared more about upholding his principles on wilderness management than about maintaining control of the Senate. Or perhaps conventional wisdom in Washington is saying Nethercutt has no shot against Patty Murray.

Next year, Wild Sky!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

war vs. law enforcement

From TalkLeft: Ashcroft: Not a Single Post 9/11 Terror Jury Conviction

The few convictions Ashcroft has achieved have been plea bargains, often for significantly lesser charges, as we see today.

I guess now we know why Bush and company think blowing up terror suspects is more effective than arresting them. But considering they seem to spend more time and energy hunting anti-war protesters and other dissenters than terrorists, maybe it's not surprising.

As a commenter noted on TalkLeft: is Ashcroft more incompetent for imprisoning over 5000 innocent people, or for being unable to convict 5000 terrorists?

wilderness law test

Today's a fairly big deal for those concerned about either preserving or making use of America's wilderness. The House is going to vote on a plan to extend federal protection over an area (about 100,000 acres) called Wild Sky here in western Washington. At stake is whether the 1964 Wilderness Act, which contains a mandate to protect "where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man", should be applied only to unsullied land. To some, that means: build one logging road, one fire tower, and its open season on that section of land.

What that would mean to all of us is that any land that has been used, for any reason, can never be reclaimed.

Unfortunately, it's more complicated than that. The issue is also being used as an electioneering test case for Representative George Nethercutt (R-Spokane), who's running for senate against incumbent Patty Murray (D-WA). Not normally a fan of wilderness, Nethercutt, faced with courting the far more liberal west side of the state for the first time in his career, has promised to achieve what state Democrats have not against a Republican-controlled House (or more accurately, against the new chair of the House Resources committee). Nethercutt's plan, which not surprisingly is almost worse than useless, is somewhat more likely to pass than the Dem bill, but only if he can convince his Republican colleagues to cave on principle in order to give him a slogan for his Senate campaign.

The Seattle Times: Local News: Dueling Wild Sky plans headed to House panel

The Seattle Times: George Nethercutt in the Wilderness

Everett Herald: Celebrate Wilderness Act's Anniversary

fear, not ignorance

Let's be clear about this. Voter intimidation doesn't work simply because the target audience doesn't know the law--or knows less about the law than the average American. While most US citizens don't know election law backwards and forwards--for myself, this was the first year I didn't try to foist my driver's license on the poll worker--most of us also have a reasonable expectation that if we register, we'll be able to vote. That's all we need to know.

Minority communities don't have that luxury. Unlike most of us, their wholly normal lack of election law knowledge is used against them, to make them unsure and make them fear running afoul of some law. Add to that the long and varied history of voter oppression and reprisals in this country, then add to that the lack of parity that minorities experience every day of their lives. It's easy to see why people might decide that a little thing like voting just isn't worth the risk.

how to win friends

It seems Bush's methods of begging the UN--that irrelevant, dying organization--for help in Iraq include claiming credit for other people's work: Politics

Not only does Bush claim credit for Kofi Anan's efforts with regard to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, he conveniently forgets the fact that US activity under his watch has done more to hurt the effort than help.

This is another case in which Bush is all talk and no action. Usually blowhards like Bush only have gall enough to make promises and then conveniently forget them. Bush--always pushing that gall (or is it bile?) envelope--comes back after the fact and solicits accolades, while mouthing more empty promises in the same breath.

(BTW, did anyone else notice the shifting AP and Reuters headlines? I could swear the first one I read this afternoon said "At UN, Bush Demands Assistance in Iraq". The later, something like "At UN, Bush Urges Aid for Iraq". And now its "Bush Urges World to Unite with Iraq". Huh.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

thinking long term

Just because you live in a blue state doesn't mean you can't do some real good without leaving town.

Getting people registered and voting is a long-term solution. If, god forbid, sections of your state starts turning puce, and the intimidators start showing up on your doorsteps, how much better will it be to have minority voters and other targeted groups already in the habit casting ballots? Already sure of their rights?

Voter intimidation works because it's used against minority populations who have little reason to trust in authority, who expect--right or wrong--to be treated unfairly. Maybe by doing some groundwork now, we can take away some of the implicit power that makes intimidation tactics work.

voter prevention already underway Technology | The Pentagon doesn't want you to vote overseas

But there's a way around here: Verified Voting

coordination - CBS arranged for meeting with Lockhart: "The White House said CBS' contact with Lockhart was inappropriate. 'The fact that CBS News would coordinate with the most senior levels of Sen. Kerry's campaign to attack the president is a stunning and deeply troubling revelation,' said Dan Bartlett, White House communications director. "

As opposed to the routine micro-management of the press conducted by the Bush Administration, including demanding--and getting--the power to vet quotes and nix troubling stories and photos.

It is certainly instructive to learn what does stun and trouble this administration. Iraq sure ain't doing it.

voter intimidation

Read this story, "Voter terrorism", and become enlightened.

Along the same vein as an earlier post, its not enough to just jump up and down and point our fingers. That is not going to stop some groups of people who have found the rewards way too lucrative--and the punishments non-existent.

Not one of the incidents cited in the Salon article resulted in a change in the election. As far as I can tell, not one of them resulted in a legal conviction. Instead the only outcome appears to be promises not to transgress again--promises that were systematically ignored.

No, this fight isn't just about calling people to task after the fact. It's about preventing it before and during. Here are some ideas off the top of my head:
  • Get the right information out to the neighborhoods before the election. That means getting out flyers and mailing, doorbelling, talking up TV and radio media.

  • Give people a place to call when they get worried or feel harassed. If some authority figure--or pseudo-authority figure--tells them they can't vote, give them a number to call to get the right info, and if possible a warm body to escort them if that's what they want.

  • Organize neighborhood groups to go down to the polling place together.

  • Patrol the neighborhood on election day for odd situations. Document them for sure, and if possible try to remedy the situation.

  • Get a digital camera or video camera and make yourself obnoxious with it. You see anything strange, start filming and make sure the intimidator knows you've got his/her number. Get as confrontational as you dare. (These last two activities are probably best not done alone.)

  • Volunteer to drive people to their polling places. Make sure that you go in with them and watch out for "challengers" and other poll workers or volunteers who act overly concerned about people's right/ability to vote.

  • Volunteer for organizations like Election Protection, which expects to field thousands of legal and other observers into sensitive areas. (This is what I'll be doing during election week.)
One thing--be sure to have your facts straight about the local regulations on registration and voting. You've got to know, for example, whether it's legal for a poll worker to demand ID (only in a few circumstances), and what remedies are available if an obstacle crops up.

Also, I have a vague idea about ways for a neighborhood to push back--with some help. Maybe it would be possible to get house signs that say something like "Don't even try it. I know my rights, and I'm voting." Something that directly speaks to potential intimidators coming into the neighborhood. Not that it would do much to dissuade them, I'm thinking more about empowering the people in the neighborhood.

Any other good ideas out there?????? It'll take some work, but if even just a few people decide this is the fight they want to take up, it would be worth it.

Monday, September 20, 2004

what they wanna hear?

Wow. So apparently, Bush/Cheney believes that US troops in Iraq want to hear fairies and sugarplums, and not any real plans to get them out and bring them home. Any actual Iraq or Afghanistan troops wanna weigh in on this one?

From AP (via Eschaton): "In a speech in New Hampshire on Monday afternoon, Bush was countering by saying the nation needs 'consistency' in its leadership - not a change in the middle of the war, and not a series of contradictions, said campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel.

'Our troops deserve better than to hear Kerry's campaign pushing pessimism and lack of faith in the mission,' Stanzel said. "

Sunday, September 19, 2004

cbs to cave?

According to NYT, yes.

The main thing that ticks me off most about this whole episode is how so much crap was passed off as "conclusive evidence". You felt like you were shouting in a hurricane, and then when some real compelling evidence did appear, it seemed to validate all the crap that had come before.

The second thing that ticks me off is how stage managed the whole thing feels.

its not what we say

Here's something I've been thinking about for a while.

It seems like we've fallen into a pattern that hasn't been working to well for us lately. Here's how it goes:

Lefty Liberal sees some possible writing on the wall, and thinks by exposing it to the world its power will be diminished. Example: "Can you believe it, Repubs are looking for ways to exploit 9/11 for their national election in 2004! Can you believe the gall! The insensitivity!"

There's a minor lefty uproar about the gall and insensitivity. Lefties settle down after a while, secure in the knowledge that they've thwarted evil, scored a few points and shown neo-cons/cons in a negative light.

Neo/cons continue to link 9/11 with the RNC convention in many and varied ways.

Lefties notice again after a while and start ringing that warning bell. "Repubs planning to hijack the feelings of good will and patriotism associated with 9/11!!!" We scream. "Look here! Look here!"

Neo/cons: Shrug and a "Yeah. So."

Lefties: "But you're trying to take undue advantage of the honest emotions of the people!!!!"

Neo/cons: "So what's your point?"

Lefties: "You're totally exploiting the fact that 3000 people were killed and turning it into an advantage for your political purposes!"

Neo/cons: "Well. What are you going to do about it?"

Lefties: sputter sputter "Er... The people aren't going to stand for it!!"

Neo/cons: "Whatever."
For some reason, we seem to think that if we publicly expose some future reprehensible behavior, it will prevent the other side from taking exactly those actions we expose. But it never seems to work for us. I don't know why. Perhaps because we're imposing our own standards on a group that lives by a totally separate set of values.

The point is, in situations like these, we've got to have a back up plan. And we've got to realize we can't talk our way out of problems.

A good case coming up. I get the feeling that lots of people think that if we talk (and talk and talk) about the Repubs "stealing" the upcoming election, then somehow they won't be able to get away with it. But this isn't like being able to call up the cops and getting them to stake out the jewelry store.

Well, actually it is, but we're the cops, and we're the ones who have to be willing to take action. Its not enough for us to simply tell the burglars that we've blown the whistle. They already know we got nothin' left.

So lets get out of this mindset that if we can just dream up some conspiracy theory and get it out in front of people, we'll have saved the day. It takes a bit more sweat than that.

mute button

Sorry I haven't been more prolific the past few days, all. I can't even claim Josh Marshall's excuse, being Protestant and all--although my birthday does sometimes fall on Yom Kippur. Does that count? Didn't think so.

Mostly, I think, I'm just trying to back off from the obsessive blogger persona recently possessing me. Only post when you have something new to say!!! And try not to spent more than 50% of the workday writing rants!!!

Sure is tough to do, though, when a certain world leader is so busy fucking up our lives every time we turn around.

weird ap headline

The headline for this new AP story reads "Ex-Guardsman: I Contacted Kerry Campaign."

Huh? This is so cryptic, could anyone know what the article refers to from the headline?

If you actually read the story, it turns out that this ex-guardsman is Bill Burkett, who some speculate may have been the source of the CBS documents. Burkett says he passed information, supposedly about Bush's Guard service, to the Kerry campaign. Through a whole lot of innuendo, I guess we're supposed to assume that there's now proof that the whole 60 Minutes story was driven by the Kerry campaign.

RNC spokesman Jim Dykes would certainly like every one to think so, pretty please. Too bad for him that Burkett goes on to say that no one from the Kerry campaign called him back.

So what's with the weird headline, when the story itself belies the conclusion the headline tries so hard to make? Or does the AP now hold the campaigns responsible for every story fed to them by every joe-blow on the street? If so, I've got a doozy for the Bush campaign--something about an email from Enterprise Captain Archer who's leapt back in time to warn us that Kerry turns out to be the AntiChrist.

Ok, to get serious for a moment, its possible what the AP article is really trying to imply is that Kerry campaign involvement is possible, if you disregard Burkett's protest. But in fact there is absolutely no evidence of any involvement at all, while there is some circumstantial evidence that Burkett was CBS's source. Burkett's comment about contacting the Kerry campaign adds no more or less credence to the speculation that was already out there.

In contrast, the connections between the Swiftees and the Bush campaign are specific and many. (And really, this is what the RNC bloviating is all about--trying to make their own dirty tricks look like business as usual.) The Swiftee organization was initially funded and run by people with very close personal and professional ties to the Bush campaign. The Swiftees shared consultants, including a media producer and a legal advisor, with the Bush campaign.

Bill Burkett, if he indeed is the source of the memos, is one man. And by all accounts, he is very alone.

UPDATE: The headline has now changed to "Man linked to Bush memos contacted Cleland". Equally cryptic and misleading.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

mcclellan on the bush memos

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan: "We had every reason to believe that they were authentic at that time."

In spite of the fact that nearly every detail in the CBS Bush memos contradicts the official White House story?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

what digby says

Hullabaloo: "Kerry has every reason to be hopeful. Indeed, there is good reason to believe that Bush's ephemeral lead is shrinking as we speak. It's a nailbiter, but it is far from over.

I just wish that Dems could put on their game faces and try to sell the guy a little bit instead of constantly writing his epitaph. He's really a good man, you know. He's spent his life in public service, trying to do the right thing, working hard and carrying our agenda. He's our most liberal nominee in decades. He's smart and energetic and he's never been tainted by corruption or scandal. Is it so hard for Democrats to get behind a man like this or are we just as shallow as everybody else? Would we too be happier with a brand name in a suit? "

kerry is our best iraq solution

Reading Molly Ivins this morning, I had a revelation.

Molly talks about how Kerry's difficulty in coming up with real effective solutions for Iraq is due the fact that our viable options continue to narrow with each passing day and each action by the Bush Administration.

[start soapbox mode]

Then I realized: the single most effective plan Kerry could and does have is to send Bush and his crowd of screw-ups packing. Virtually every major decision the Bush Administration has made with regard to Iraq has made the situation worse, not better. Perhaps if Bush had made any attempt to rectify errors, fired an incompetent staffer, even acknowledged a mistake or two, we might hold out some future hope for redemption from this crew. Alas, no. The one thing we can guarantee is that another Bush term will see a continuing downward spiral into catastrophe.

Therefore, the best thing we could do for ourselves and for Iraq is to run screaming in the opposite direction. Kerry has come up with a number of ideas for improving the situation (ideas for which this Bush camp can only weakly deride with the repellant "flip flop"), but he is chasing the tail of an exit strategy that gets more elusive and ethereal with every command Rumsfeld whispers into Bush's ear.

We can stop the downward spiral. We can give Kerry and his people the chance to work out a viable exit plan and implement it. We can wake up on November 3 and know that the world is already a little more sane.

[end soapbox mode]