Friday, July 30, 2004

cheney & hanford

Most people outside the Northwest probably don't get the connection, but today there was an alert issued for the Hanford nuclear power plant in Richland, Washington.Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Hanford nuclear power plant undergoes emergency shutdown

This is about 75 miles from Yakima, WA, where Vice President Cheney is supposed to speak later this afternoon.

kerry's policies

Bradford Plumer discusses Kerry's policies on health care, minimum wage hike, and teacher reform here:Substance over Style

"man of few achievements"

AP: Bush Criticizes Kerry's Achievements (via Seattle PI)

"My opponent has good intentions, but intentions do not always translate to results," Bush told thousands of supporters who repeatedly interrupted his remarks with standing ovations. Over and over, Bush repeated a new refrain: "Results matter."

Does this guy even own a mirror? He certainly doesn't have anybody holding one up for him. But don't worry--we'll perform that necessary service on Nov 2, 2004.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

the promise of online music

I'm not exactly unbiased, having worked for an online music company and digital rights management in the past, but my online music subscription has paid for itself this week. It's been fun to hear or read about a music group at the Dem convention and be able to pop over to my Rhapsody account and listen to some music while reading a bit about the group.

After reading a Salon War Room article today, I just listened to Black Eyed Peas AND The Eisley Brothers. Added Black Eyed Peas to my playlist. Yesterday it was Wyclef Jean. Before that it was a guy named Bob Schneider--oh wait, he didn't have anything to do with the convention, I just had to find out whether he sounds as good as he looks (he does).

I use Rhapsody because it's convenient and the interface doesn't totally suck. Their emphasis on streams instead of downloads (you can also burn content, too) works for me because I'm mostly interested in listening to a wide range of music at work. But others, such as AOL MusicNet and iTunes seem to serve the same purposes.

My point is the promise of online music--that it can inspire greater music appreciation and consumption--has certainly been fulfilled in my case. Once again, visionary progressives triumph over conservatives thinkers, who were too nervous about protecting the status quo to see the opportunities!!

prozac nation Unhappy Workers Should Take Prozac --Bush Campaigner

So to be a happy Bush camper, you gotta be either wealthy, on prozac, or both? Is Sheybani already on it or will she head to her nearest pharmacy after getting canned today?

Seriously, it's not all that surprising. Bush and his supporters are authoritarian advocates. And authoritarianism is all about control. That's why liberal messiness drives them so nuts.

As SteinL said in a recent Eschaton comment: "Let them eat Prozac!"

nutty story

From the AP (via the Seattle PI: Woman arrested, cuffed for eating candy

A woman is eating a candy bar as she descends an escalator into a DC metro station when a transit cop warns her to finish it before entering the station. "Both Willett and police agree that she nodded and put the last bit into her mouth before throwing the wrapper into a trash can." Then the officer follows her into the station and asked her for ID. She makes a derogatory remark and keeps walking, at which point he arrests, frisks, and then handcuffs her.

"'If she had stopped eating, it would have been the end of it and if she had just stopped for the issuance of a citation, she never would have been locked up,' Transit Police Chief Polly Hanson said Thursday."

So basically, the woman was arrested because she was chewing inside the station? This sounds to me more like an arrest due to proper lack of respect paid to the arresting officer. And what was that officer doing anyway, first warning her and then harrassing her when she does exactly what he says?

But people (and journalists) need to remember that the US Supreme Court this year ruled that people are required to show ID whenever anyone with a law enforcement uniform asks for it, regardless of any evidence of good reason.

Those DC subways are nice and clean, sure. But Seattle's bus tunnel is no landfill, and we don't need a metro SS to keep it that way. either.

Your papers please!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

"better angels"

I was intrigued by this phrase when I learned that it was a quote from Lincoln's first inaugural address. Here's a bit more context, from Lincoln's First Inaugural Address (Top Treasure): American Treasures of the Library of Congress:
Until the final draft, Lincoln's address had ended with a question for the South: 'Shall it be peace or sword?' In the famous concluding paragraph, Lincoln, following the suggestion of Seward, moderated his tone dramatically and ended on a memorable note of conciliation:

"I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stre[t]ching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

This is, in some ways, an odd statement to make, almost more relevant to the end of a war that hadn't yet started when he spoke these words. Maybe it's because our perspective is now post-war that I read these words as almost an exhortation to me to forgive those people strained by passion in the recent past.

I find this hard to do. But as I grow older I understand more the necessity for forgiveness and forgetting, even when it arises out of intellect than out of genuine feeling. Perhaps this is why the convention theme of a United States, so ably articulated by Barak Obama, resonates with me--because I long for a reunion with my people.

teresa's speech

I liked this line (along with a quote from Lincoln about "better angels"):
"In short, John believes that we can, and we must, lead in the world as America, unique among nations, always should--by showing the face, not of its fears, but of our hopes."

Before 9/11, I never believed that the President as a symbol mattered much. After 9/11, I think we all got a lesson in how large segments of the country take their cue from their leadership. Perhaps it was only those people predisposed to name-calling derision and fear-driven violence, perhaps it was only that those people needed affirmation that that type of response was acceptable, but this country descended to a level that left me saddened and ashamed. So that's why, I guess, I respond to people who talk about character, and to a presidential candidate who has the kind of character I want to see.

About Teresa's speech, I was surprised and disappointed when, on PBS, David Brooks again dismissed a good speech as just "fine". He was far more "concerned" about what he thought she should have said, and had virtually no opinion at all on what she did say. He felt she, as a candidate's wife, was supposed to give us some personal insight into Kerry the man, some anecdote about daily life and their relationship. He also suggested that while the speech started out strong, it wound down and she lost energy from the crowd.

Brooks' comments about crowd energy did not reflect the reception I saw on TV, nor by many bloggers who have subsequently posted. If David based his opinion on the number of people leaving during the speech (which I could not see and have no clue about--it could have been zero), he seems to have neglected the fact that the hour was very late and Teresa was the last in a very long line of speakers. I thought the crowd received her very well.

Brooks also seems to have neglected the fact that Teresa will be speaking again on Thursday, when she will be introducing her husband. Isn't that a far more appropriate point at which to let loose one of those conventional personal anecdotes--when it might add color the subsequent speech? Brooks based his opinion on the fact that Kerry badly needs to be made human, which may or may not be true. Brooks neglected to see, however, that people also want personal insight into Teresa Heinz Kerry, and that's exactly what she gave them. In addition, at least in my opinion, it reflects extremely well on Kerry that he partnered with this intelligent, articulate, and poised woman, and that there is something in him sufficient to attract this woman in the first place.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

freedom of speech

Teresa Heinz Kerry gave a very good speech tonight. Her words centered around freedom of speech--or as she said, the right to be what some people call opinionated. Amen.

Now, Teresa, what is your view of the "free speech zone", wrapped in chainlink topped by concertina wire, situated less than a mile from where you speak? Will you tell your husband  he needs to let us know that he won't be another leader who ignores and tries to hide from voices of protest?

dem speeches

I was actually pretty impressed by the first night speeches. Maybe it's not very sophisticated to admit being impressed by a political speech, but too bad. Gore was pretty good, and Clinton excellent (in spite of David Brooks pronouncement on PBS that it was merely a pedestrian "fine but without poetry"). In all cases I felt that the speakers articulated a vision of the country that is uniquely Democratic.

Carter's speech was also quite substantive, but I was really looking forward to post-speech analysis to fill in meaning. Imagine my surprise when Jim Leher (PBS), on scoring an interview with Carter, chose this as his first question:

(paraphrased) "You haven't been invited to speak at a Democratic convention since 1992. Did you have hard feelings about that?"


And when Carter said, in effect, "No", Leher rephrased the same question, causing Carter to state that no, he'd been suffering no "burning ambition to give a short speech at a Democratic convention". Whereupon he took the reins and started answering questions Leher should have asked.

Monday, July 26, 2004

if we'd been elected...

This quote by McGovern last night (via ) reminds me of Trent Lott's accolade for Jesse Helms last year: "'If [Mondale, Dukakis] and I had been elected, we'd have a whale of a better country today,' he crowed, to lusty cheers from the crowd."

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Repubs start circulating horror stories based on this premise--looking at some of the most extreme platform points of the three candidacies and then extrapolating worst case scenarios.

Unfortunately, Dem don't have to extrapolate anything, they simply need to observe reality.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

irrelevance: to protest or not

I thought I'd pick up a new blog for the convention coverage, and like the look of Jeralyn Merritt' Talk Left blog. Last night she posed the question: TalkLeft: Should Lefties Protest in Boston?

I've spent a good part of the past two days reading and writing about the "free speech zone" set up in Boston, but I have never asked this question. The reason I haven't is because to me its irrelevant. The real question is: how are we going to treat our fellow citizens who decide to answer that question differently than we do?

I have to say it would never have occurred to me to protest Kerry or Edwards. I was anti-war before the war, but now I'm for cleaning up our mess. There are some things Kerry stands for that I don't care for, but they don't rise to the level of protest-worthy.

Until this tacit acceptance of protest zones. To me, that's worth protesting.


By the way, in case anyone's wondering why I link to news sites from Santa Barbara to Waukesha (near Milwaukee) apparently indiscriminately:

Whenever I want to cite an AP source, I can't use the place I find it originally, which is usually the AP feed to Yahoo News. Yahoo News pages disappear quickly, so for links in my blog posts I try to find a traditional newspaper site publishing the AP story.

Boston protest early coverage

Early AP coverage highlights a minor clash between anti-war and anti-abortion (pro-life) marches. See, it's all about conflict.

But here's a weird line:

"State police in riot gear lined Beacon Street during the anti-war march. A half-dozen cruisers and 18 police vans followed slowly along the parade route."

Only the anti-war march got riot-gear minders?

Is the essential wrongness of this idea obvious: that anti-war activists get treated like they're about to break into violence? Not to mention the fact that the only protest violence against people this country has experienced in the past decade has come from the anti-abortion fringe? Not to say that today's group deserved riot-gear treatment either, but really, if they're going to profile and go on past behavior, which group has the more serious track record?

more on boston protest zone

The city of Boston, and more specifically a Boston cop named Bobby Dunford is responsible for the security plans, including the free speech zone.

From the Boston Globe:
"{Former Boston police commissioner Paul) Evans said that while Dunford's plan is tactically sound, he believes there will be trouble. He said he believes civil libertarians will sue over what they see as Draconian security measures that crush free speech.

"'Nobody's better prepared, but anybody who thinks this will go off without a blemish is kidding themselves,' Evans said."
Personally, I think trouble won't be limited to lawsuits. Bush/Cheney has got to be dreaming about protesters getting injured or killed as a result of this site. I will not be surprised one bit if Dems turned around sometime next week and discover that somehow Bush/Cheney has reclaimed the high ground (in the eyes of the public) on free speech. Argh.

The Dems at the convention need to be planning something to highlight this issue. If they didn't have a role in setting up the zone, then they need to register their disgust with it, at the very least by acknowledging it and making sure protesters have the opportunity to be heard.

I'd really like to see some kind of Dem reverse protest--maybe a group of delegates going to the "free speech zone" to hold some kind of solidarity event. It would be great if Kerry and/or Edwards come out to view the crowd (not to preach, but to listen). It would resonate, I think, if Kerry did something do demonstrate that he's not afraid of being confronted with dissenting voices.

It really feels like this could be a gigantic black hole, but it has the potential to become a gigantic opportunity for Kerry--if he has the guts to do it. The media love conflict. There is no way they wouldn't cover, and cover huge, any Kerry/Edward interaction with protesters.

Also, to some extent this would be throwing down a gauntlet to Bush--a way of driving a message rather than simply reacting. It would be really interesting to see how the Bush/Cheney Rove machine would counter that kind of move next month. You can guarantee that Bush wouldn't do the same thing--he's ideologically opposed to connecting with people who disagree with him (see NAACP). My guess is that whatever they would do would come off lame and completely staged--like having a small hand-picked group of people to "air" their concerns, which would be something like "stop being so perfect, you perfect man". So please, Kerry--do it!!!

boston concentration camp

Go here to see more about the Boston "free speech zone": - News - Judge Denies DNC Free-Speech Zone Challenge. Be sure to watch the video to get the full picture and hear more of the judge's comments.

I am just sick about this. This is going to backfire big-time onto Kerry and the Dems. It is not clear to me who decided on this place and who ordered the 8-foot high double-chain-linked fences topped by concertina wire. It appears to be the city of Boston--that "bastion of liberal values". Argh.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

seattle summer

Seattle's 2-day etreme summer season is currently underway, with temps in the high nineties. Tomorrow it's supposed to fall back to low eighties, thank god. No constructive thought possible til then, however....

Seattle's weather wimps 

free speech zones

AP: Convention Protesters Upset With Site

I'm extremely disappointed that the Democratic Convention is shunting protesters out of sight and mind. We should be taking the higher ground.

I want to hear Kerry say he wouldn't have people with anti-Kerry t-shirts removed from a public event when he's president. Obviously that's not going to happen if he's willing to treat protesters--many of whom are to the left of him--like this now.

The reality is that none of the tactics that target protesting and free speech can have any impact on preventing terrorism. That's just a given.

How disappointing.

Friday, July 23, 2004

lack of leadership

Eschaton: Failure of Leadership (quoting Richard Cohen).

I think I'll start working on an essay called "What to do when your country goes nuts." It'll be a how-to guide on signs to look for and how to respond to insane mob behavior when confronted by it. Because, unlike Richard Cohen, not everyone "loses their head" with the collective majority. Not everyone's reaction, when seeing a group of bullies beating someone up, is to pile on.

Many of us wander around trying to figure out what happened to everybody and wondering what to do about it. Many others just keep their mouths shut and their heads covered until the fever passes.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

watching, not blogging

Hey, apparently I'm not feeling particularly vocal at the moment, but it doesn't mean I'm not paying attention.

I'm closely watching the coverage of both Berger and Plame developments. The Plame discussions, especially, appear to be reaching new lows in disingenuousness:

Because it turns out Plame answered a query from a colleague about her husband--and didn't run him down(!), escorted him to a meeting and introduced him around, that proves Wilson was lying through his teeth when he said she had no role in the matter? And that egregious lie now "debunks" every single thing Wilson has said over the past year? And because Wilson has been maliciously lying--with his wife's complicity--some Bushie is justified in outing Plame as a covert agent?

(And don't forget about all the belittling rumors swirling around about Plame designed to minimize the outrage of outing her: that she'd been a desk jockey for years, that everyone in DC knew she was covert CIA, that she had no sources to protect, etc., all of which are just made-up stories whose relationship with the truth, if any, is purely accidental.)

Re the Berger situation--I simply have no unique thoughts that aren't already out there in print.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

christians can't be democrats?

Just been intermittently watching PBS's P.O.V. - Last Man Standing: Politics Texas Style and this quote caught me:

"I just don't understand how a Christian could be a Democrat." Said quite earnestly by a middleaged man at a community event.

I don't want to make some wild claims about who's more "Christlike", Dems or Repubs. That's a fools game.

But what in heaven's name does he think a Democrat is?

Update: OK, call me naive. About five minutes after first posting this, the word "commie" popped into my head. I get that to some people Democrat = Communist = godless Communist. I've been reading a friends novel, set in 1950's midwest, and discovering that many people tended to see social programs as some sort of communist plot to undermine healthy capitalist competition. And of course at that time, being Communist with a capital C meant repudiating religion.

So I suppose, if you were so inclined and also stuck in an outdated mentality, you might see Democrat's advocacy of social programs as a some kind of godless threat, even though to an impartial observer they might appear to come straight from the teachings of Christ.

But how--in heaven's name--are we supposed to work together?

pushing the swing

From the Associated Press: "Though polls show the race essentially tied, an AP-Ipsos survey suggests that voters who can still be persuaded are more likely than committed voters to disapprove of Bush by most measures - from the economy to the war in Iraq to his handling foreign policy. Bush's advisers said uncommitted voters are easily swayed by events and thus could swing back to the president before November."

If Bush/Cheney really believes this, then it virtually guarantees a manufactured event in September or later. Might be a sudden scare (like the NY subway evacuation on "The Grid" last night) or an inexorable build up to a major event, such as the path to war in Iraq.

The fact that people are forecasting a Fall Surprise doesn't make it any less likely to happen. One of the most consistent characteristics of this administration is the willingness to follow through on plans regardless of protest. They seem to have figured out that if they power through, refuse to acknowledge any hint of ulterior motive and actually bristle at the prospect, people get confused and start doubting themselves.

weekend blues

By the way, just got back from the annual Winthrop Rhythm & Blues festival, held in Winthrop, Washington--a hop, skip, and a four-hour drive from Seattle over the gorgeous North Cascades Highway. Sure was tough coming back to the petty carping of DC--somehow, politics didn't seem nearly so fun or intriguing as last week--just plain sad.
So to hang on to the moment a little longer, I'd like to put in a little plug for a couple of NW blueswomen who each put on a hell of show in Winthrop. Duffy Bishop is simply an amazing vocal talent who, luckily for us, chose to turn it on the blues.  She's also a terrific entertainer with a true sense of showmanship. Nicole Fournier is a hard-driving, low-down blues rocker with some of the best electric guitar work in the northwest. She's got a mouth on her, too, and puts on a rockin' show.
Another vocal act, John Nemeth, is all style and smooth talking. Nemeth does a wonderful rendition of an old Sonny Boy Williamson song, "Explain Yourself to Me". He also plays a mean harmonica.
[And for the fourth year in a row I have not won the guitar raffle--sigh.]

the social contract

I like this poetic definition of a Democrat from Garrison Keillor: "This is Democratic bedrock: we don't let people lie in the ditch and drive past and pretend not to see them dying."

The idea of the social safety net as being the ethical thing for a developed society isn't new.

But I've been thinking about another reason, discussed in some aspects by people like economist Paul Krugman. So often we as a country have to make drastic, sometimes catastrophic decisions, in part because we delay and delay until we run out of choices. Having a social safety net could give us the time and the space we need to make smart decisions, the ability to not have to make choices between which group of people get royally screwed.

The outsourcing issue is a case in point. Most economist agree that globalization of the workforce, outsourcing, etc., is a good thing. Well, maybe not good so much as necessary to maintain economic stability on a world scale. Krugman et al state that outsourcing could be a positive phenomenon if our country had the infrastructure--education, financial safety nets, etc.--to weather the dark side of the process and come out smarter, more skilled, and just generally ahead of the game in the end.

I was up in the North Cascades this weekend, and I started thinking about logging, which inevitably led to the spotted owl. That controversy came down to a stark choice between the health of a national resource (symbolized by the spotted owl) and the livelihood of a significant segment of the local population. If we'd had our infrastructure in place, the issue wouldn't have had to come down to literal life and death, owl vs. man. We would have had the time to make other choices.

So in the end, advocating a social safety net is nothing more nor less than enlightened self interest. I don't want to have to move to India or China because that's where all the jobs in my field are. I sure don't want to work for a second-rate company because that's all the US can manage to produce. I want to have a good job here, and I want to know that the work I and my colleagues do is recognized as the best.

And yes, I want to be proud of the fact that Americans don't cross to the other side of the street when they see a body in the ditch.

Friday, July 16, 2004

we was duped

Eric Alterman gets to the heart of things in his new Nation column
"Wrong Again":
"It is thanks in part to the Democrats' weakness in Congress that the Bush Administration has been able to convey the impression of having been (along with Congress and the rest of us) the innocent victim of a CIA misinformation campaign--much easier since the committee postponed its examination of the Administration's prewar hype until after the election. But this misimpression is also a product of the selective amnesia of much of the media that covered the release of the report. In fact, almost everything we have learned about the shoddiness of the case for war was known at the time we were being stampeded into it. As the tireless Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay reported for the Knight Ridder chain back in October 2002, 'Intelligence professionals and diplomats...privately have deep misgivings about the administration's double-time march toward war. These officials charge that administration hawks have exaggerated evidence of the threat that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein poses [and]...charge that the administration squelches dissenting views and that intelligence analysts are under intense pressure to produce reports supporting the White House's argument that Hussein poses such an immediate threat to the United States that pre-emptive military action is necessary.'" (emphasis mine)
Yeah, I remember October 2002. It was the date of my very first protest march--ever. I remember hearing the hype and I remember hearing the rebuttals, often from intelligence types.

I think part of my skepticism came out of a feeling that the whole issue was stage managed. This was not a crisis arising out of world events that had to be dealt with. This was a blockbuster movie whose scheduled release date was timed nicely with other dates like the 9/11 anniversary, the 2002 congressional election, and the 2004 primary season.

And don't think I've forgotten why Congressional Dems were so weak-minded in October 2002. They cared more about winning the election that they did about having an honest debate about the war resolution. Way to go, guys.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

kerry's inner circle

This Washington Post article by Jonathan Weisman analyzes the positive and negative aspects of Kerry's ever-expanding "inner circle". In doing so, however, there is a curious omission.

Weisman suggests that Kerry's large circle of advisors, numbering in the thousands, is a departure from normal presidential campaigns. This may be true, but you can't tell based on Weisman's examples. (Weisman's treatment of the issue overall appears to be fair and balanced, which makes the omission rather strange.)

Weisman compares Kerry's circle to Bush's current "campaign policy shop", which numbers about 100 people. This group is responsible for making "sure the campaign is in sync with the vast executive branch that is formulating policy."

Weisman also compares Kerry to Gore's 2000 campaign, which apparently was also much smaller: "Back then, Gore had a wealth of policies already formulated by the Clinton administration. After eight years in power, weary Democratic policy experts weren't clamoring to share new ideas. A stripped-down campaign policy shop existed mainly to push proposals that moved only incrementally beyond then-President Bill Clinton's or to ensure Gore's campaign proposals were consistent with the administration's record."

While Weisman talks about differing styles, between Kerry and Bush as well as between Democrats and Republicans, he seems to miss the most blindingly obvious point: incumbent parties don't need a large independent staff of advisors.

There are two reasons for this:

(1) Incumbent parties already have a huge staff of advisors working for them in the form of their political appointees in the federal government. These appointees were almost certainly independent advisors when the incumbent was merely a candidate.

(2) As Weisman intelligently pointed out when discussing Gore's campaign, incumbent parties don't have a huge list of changes they want to make.

So why didn't Weisman compare Kerry's campaign to candidate Bush's 2000 campaign after eight years of Democratic rule? It is the most logical next step, and Weisman brings us right to the brink of the question. It would also have been useful to know how large Clinton's advisor staff was in 1992, after 12 years of Republicans, as well as in 1996 as an incumbent.

I can only assume that the reality didn't fit the point Weisman was trying to make. Perhaps it is only normal for the challenging party to gather lots of advisors. Perhaps, in fact, the real story is that Democrats generally advocate large, egalitarian governing structures that promote many voices and avoid stifling any of them.

"protecting" pregnant women

According to Bush/Cheney, John Kerry advocates wholesale violence against pregnant women, refusing to vote for a measure that "protects" them.

The real story: The Laci Peterson law increases federal penalties for the murder of pregnant women, including allowing suspects to be charged with two murders. This bill became a bandstand issue when Republicans insisted on using the phrase "unborn child" and shot down a Democratic amendment to revert to the phrase "fetus".

Although Bush/Cheney claim bipartisan support for the bill, only 35 Democrats and 2 Republicans voted against it., primarily because of the phrasing issue. Bush ad bashes Kerry over Peterson law

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

speaking of coalitions

This is what happens when your coalition of the willing is actually a coalition of the bribed and blackmailed: U.S. Urges Manila Not to Buckle Over Iraq Hostage

talk about a coalition of the willing

CJR July/August 2004: The List "Judith Miller is on it, but she's hardly alone. Ahmad Chalabi's defectors told stories to a lot of reporters who now wish they'd kept their distance...."

via Talking Points Memo

Monday, July 12, 2004

the makings of a coup?

When Josh Marshall takes note, a good conspiracy theory is elevated to something worth worrying about.

For my part, I would expect a pre-election terrorist attack to heighten Bush's chances of re-election, not lower them, for the following reasons:

1. American people continue to be far more supportive of the Iraq invasion than Spaniards ever were.

2. The Spanish voted out the incumbent party not just because of the terrorist attack, but primarily because the incumbent party tried to blame the violence on Basque separatists, even in the face of the evidence.

3. Partly because we have the recent events in Spain as an example, I think Americans are extremely concerned about doing the right thing and not "giving in", even to the extent that it would become their sole motivating factor. At the same time, Bush/Cheney has been highly successful at insinuating their subtext.

So why would Bush/Cheney want to postpone the election? Additional time would allow Americans to think instead of react blindly. Do they have so little faith in themselves and in the country's perceptions of their abilities to "keep us safe"?

Are they just hedging their bets in case the landscape changes and a postponement would work in their favor? (This is the most likely, I think, it has the same feel as certain actions taken in the 2000 post election period.)

Or is there something more nefarious afoot?

In my book, the only legitimate reason for postponing (or cancelling) national elections would be if a significant portion of Americans were physically unable to vote, whether because no polling places could be set up or whether people couldn't get to them. I'm not sure what might constitute a "significant portion", though, surely every election day there are minor disasters preventing small numbers of people from voting. Do we have no guidelines for how to handle a major natural disaster on or immediately before election day?

I continue to advocate this stance, even though I believe a postponement would be advantageous to the Dems.

Update: A belated thought. Could it be that Bush/Cheney are looking at what happened after 9/11? In that case, Bush's approval ratings went up significantly in the weeks after the disaster. For example, the CBS/New York Times polls shows approval ratings of 72% on 9/11-12/01 and 90% on 10/8/01. Other polls so lesser but still statistically significant rises.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

"I write badly, therefore I am a would-be terrorist"

As a fellow would-be novelist, all I can say is sheesh: - I write badly, therefore I am a would-be terrorist

After you read it, consider this question: If they had considered him such a threat for something he wrote "while we waited for takeoff", why did they continue the flight? And why was he more of a threat at the end of an uneventful flight?

about that July/November surprise

Unless they have a solid HVT to announce, I'd expect to start seeing one of two scenarios:

(1) "confirmed" reports that bin Laden is dead, possibly for a long while

(2) "confirmed" reports that bin Laden is in a specific region in Afghanistan, and a US mission is in the process of tracking him down (this option allows for several days of exciting war-like coverage)

I mean, heck, if you're going to tell a story, you might as well hype the highest value target you've got.

We've already seen the Bush Administration's willingness to hype so-called confirmed reports that are advantageous to them, only to whisper "someone lied to us" later on when no one's listening. The only question is whether they can still get away with it. Certainly the initial hype will work for them, but will there be a backlash later?

stupidest thing I've ever read

Josh Marshall is all over a recent WaPo article by Susan Schmidt on the Senate intelligenge Report. At the same time, he provides solid evidence refuting the "it was all the CIA's fault" contention. Go read it.

He also addresses a segment in the Schmidt article, that has to be one of the dumbest things I have ever read from a national-level journalist. About the Plame/Wilson affair, Schmidt wrote:
"Plame's role could be significant in an ongoing investigation into whether a crime was committed when her name and employment were disclosed to reporters last summer....The report may bolster the rationale that administration officials provided the information not to intentionally expose an undercover CIA employee, but to call into question Wilson's bona fides as an investigator into trafficking of weapons of mass destruction. To charge anyone with a crime, prosecutors need evidence that exposure of a covert officer was intentional."
Can Schmidt possibly believe that "intentionally" exposing an undercover CIA agent doesn't count when their outing is only a means to an end? Please.

And that bit about "investigation into whether a crime was committed". Sorry, but I think things have gone way past that point. The CIA has already investigated, they referred the matter to the FBI, who investigated and appointed a special prosecutor. A crime was committed; the only question now is who done it.

Friday, July 09, 2004

the case of the missing TANG records

Not much to say about this that hasn't already been said. There are plenty of clues that point to Bush blowing off Guard duty for most of 1972 and early 1973, and then having to do some fancy footwork to keep from getting shipped off to Vietnam for dereliction of duty. The missing records might have merely supported what most people already think, as well as put paid to Bush's claim that he did duty in Alabama (but then details in his story have already changed several times without consequence). Basically, the issue comes down to credibility--who does one choose to believe?

I will note that the Bill Burkett claims, overhearing a Guard general and then-Gov Bush aides discussing "scrubbing" Bush's TANG record in advance of his re-election campaign and later witnessing Bush records being tossed, took place in 1997--about the same time as the relevant microfilm met its fate. It is not inconceivable that a coordinated scrub effort would encompass both paper records in Texas and microfilm in Denver. Especially when you're a Bush family member and presidential visions are already dancing in your head.

bush's "first choice"

From CBS's The Early Show, via Salon's War Room: "Another thing the Bush campaign has conveniently left out is that McCain was, in fact, then Governor Bush's first choice in 2000, according to another interview McCain gave to CBS' The Early Show in March. McCain said then: 'Look, I don't want to be Vice President of the United States, I do not want to leave the Republican party, I would not be Vice President of the United States on either ticket. I told President Bush when he asked me in 2000 if, when he asked me if I was interested, I said I was not interested.' "

Amazing chutspah considering Bush's 2000 primary campaign. I have to admit, I kinda wish McCain had said yes, but it probably wouldn't have made much difference.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

hillary hatred

On Air America's Majority Report last night, John R. McArthur of Harpers ended a thought-provoking discussion by passing on some snarky gossip about Hillary Clinton working actively to sabotage Kerry/Edwards. Could any left-leaning person really believe this AND be willing to talk about it on national radio?

Apparently this talk is all the rage with certain segments of "beltway insiders". Doesn't make it true, of course, just means some people are speculating about it. Seems there's this titanic struggle, completely unreported by the media, between the Clinton/DLC contingent and more liberal factions including Kerry & Gore. And at the root of this is Bill & Hillary Clinton's overweening ambition.

Of course the first note that doesn't ring true is that the rumors have gone virtually unreported. When was the last time the mainstream media refrained from reporting/speculating on fractures within either party? No way. Fractures = conflict, the essential ingredient in every good story. And it's not like Hillary or Bill have been darlings of the media.

Second point: if Hillary is so willfully ambitious she's ready to keep Bush in office for four more appallingly disastrous years, why would a little promise about serving out her Senate term in NY stop her? In four years her star would have faded more than it has today (unlike the Hillary hatred which still seems to be burning bright).

A wily friend of mine suggested maybe certain factions of the Democratic Party want Bush et al to have to clean up the mess they've made, instead of dumping it on the Dems again. If these factions win out, they'd better have a foolproof plan for retaking the Senate and evening out the House, or the next four years will be nigh on unbearable.

But I don't want to believe this rumor. I want it to be like the recent Republican pie-in-the-sky about Bush dumping Cheney for McCain. I want to believe people like the Clintons actually care about the average people who are suffering every day under Bush.

will lay trial bleed on bush?

When I heard Ken Lay's defense this morning--"no one told me"--it sounded reminiscent of Bush's defense--"CIA lied to me".

Will the Lay trial begin before the November elections? If so, I wonder what affect it might have on people's perceptions of the Bush administration's record? As the media continues its skeptical commentary about Lay's justifications, will that perception bleed over into perceptions about Bush?

The fact that Bush/Cheney continue to push the superiority and general goodness of businessmen (over lower life forms like trial lawyers and career politicians) may also suffer as the most high profile and hated businessman airs his dirty laundry.

I've been trying to find out the timeline for the Lay trial, and have found no clues. Anyone out there know?

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

july-august-september-october-november surprise

This matters, mostly because it exposes a new level of cynicism in the Bush Administration. One really has to ask whether the administration actively avoided pulling in big names during politically non-advantageous times.

The New Republic Online: July Surprise?: "Introducing target dates for Al Qaeda captures is a new twist in U.S.-Pakistani counterterrorism relations--according to a recently departed intelligence official, 'no timetable[s]' were discussed in 2002 or 2003--but the November election is apparently bringing a new deadline pressure to the hunt. "

It does suggest that the conspiracy theory that bin Laden is already moldering in a cell, waiting for an October announcement, is probably really just a theory.

Of course, this story will also provide rebuttal ammunition when the administration does hype arrests or killings, and then claims outrage at such a scurrilous and unfounded accusation.

community outreach

The MisLeader had an article citing this Sept 2002 VFW Magazine article:
Due to a glut of patients and a shortage of funds, VA officials have ordered its hospitals and clinics to cease efforts to enroll new patients into its health care system.

"I am directing each network director to ensure that no marketing activities to enroll new veterans occur within your networks," according to a July 18 memo sent by VA undersecretary Laura Miller to Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) directors.

Also in the memo, health fairs, open houses or enrollment displays at veterans service organization meetings were deemed "inappropriate."

I couldn't help contrasting this story with scenes from Fahrenheit 9/11, where military recruiters bypassed upscale shopping centers to troll the malls in economically depressed areas. The captured dialog in these scenes make the recruiters out to be common con men, as they scope out and track their victims and have a military-flavor fairy tale to fit every kid's dreams.

lie? no--merely a "literary device"

From the Progress Report: "'Displaying a shocking indifference to women's rights, 6 Democrats and 45 Republicans confirmed Bush nominee James Leon Holmes to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench in Arkansas. Holmes, a Little Rock attorney who supports a constitutional amendment banning abortion, once wrote that 'concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.' Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) noted that '30,000 American girls and women become pregnant each year from rape or incest.' But Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was unconcerned, saying Holmes's callous remark about rape victims was 'a literary device called exaggeration for effect.' "

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

bush vs. edwards

Salon's War Room has a great comparison of the Bush & Edwards experience. Both in elected office for about the same time (6 years), but before that one was a failed businessman and the other a wildly successful lawyer.

so much for the hillary conspiracies

One of the best parts about the Edwards pick is that it puts paid to all those hillary conspiracies. No, Hillary was not the VP pick. No, Hillary did not successfully scheme for a weak VP choice who would be no match for her in 2012. Aw, too bad.

Or maybe I spoke too soon. Already I've been hearing speculation that H will have Edwards killed, or that she will simply upset the convention and declare herself the candidate. Sheesh, nuttery knows no bounds. But still, let them scare themselves with stupid bugaboos.

mccain embraces bush

Josh Marshall doesn't think much of this Bush ad, at least in terms of undercutting the Edwards announcement. But I think its a pretty effective ad. If McCain doesn't say something in the few days to pull back, I think Bush/Cheney would be nuts not to run it on TV.

I'm listening to a CBS affiliate radio station, and all the news is GOP response to Edwards--bashing both Kerry and Edwards. Washington State GOP chair Chris Vance keeps blathering every half hour how this is "one more instance of flip flopping" by Kerry, based on Kerry saying during the primary that Edwards wasn't experienced enough. Wow. If that's the best they can do, its pretty sad. It just invites comments on things said by Bush Co about McCain.

Monday, July 05, 2004

t-shirt terroristas

On Eschaton, a couple of commenters (tinfoil hattie & john d'oh) had a great idea. At Bush presidential events, instead of wearing an anti-Bush t-shirt, wear a pro-Kerry shirt (or hat or whatever). Then see if they try to give you the bum's rush out. Make sure the local press sees you--maybe even give them a heads up.

Note: I specified presidential visit, because that's where shutting down protests is the most egregious and has the most impact.

However, anytime someone is charged with tresspassing for wearing a shirt with words on it is despicable. There is absolutely no justification for saying someone wearing a protest t-shirt is a terrorist threat--unless they're the stupidest terrorist on the planet.

I really think we'll see this "protest zone" or "free speech zone" go away once a decent case gets to the supreme court. So hurry up already!

Sunday, July 04, 2004

un/oil-for-food scandal

Josh Marshall brings things mostly up to date.

A crucial piece of information I hadn't picked up on before is that this whole scandal started with accusations by Ahmed Chalabi. Very nearly enough said.

free speech zones and lawsuits

Looks like Eschaton readers are all over this issue--check out the comments.

One commenter posted the following links re lawsuits:

CNN: Protestor subpoenas Ashcroft, Bush adviser
Economist: In defence of elderly hippies
ACLU Press Release: Secret Service Ordered Local Police to Restrict Anti-Bush Protesters at Rallies, ACLU Charges in Unprecedented Nationwide Lawsuit
CBS: Silencing Voices of Dissent

presidential NOT compaign event

Here's what the West Virginia Gazette-Mail reported yesterday, July 3:
Thousands of people are expected to jam into the north side of the Capitol on Sunday to hear President Bush speak...

Bush's trip is being billed as a presidential trip, not a campaign visit, meaning taxpayers will pay the costs. Gross said the president's speech will focus on the nation's values and leadership role. He will relate it to the state motto of 'Mountaineers are always free", and have a special tribute to the nation's armed forces.Plenty of tickets were made available to members of the state Air and Army National Guard and local military recruiters, Gross said. All members of the Legislature and Charleston City Council got tickets, as well as a number of both entities’ employees.

Other tickets were distributed through community organizations and businesses, Gross said. There have been some complaints about people not being able to obtain tickets, but Gross said the distribution process is the same for most presidential events.

“How local groups decide to distribute their tickets is their prerogative,” he said.

Some tickets might still be available through Capito’s Charleston office. The office got numerous calls Friday from people searching for tickets, said R.C. Hammond, Capito’s spokesman. Capito’s staff members were taking names and calling people when they are assured of a ticket.

“We wish we had more tickets to give out,” Hammond said.

Still, he noted, Bush probably will return to the state more than once before the November election, “so West Virginians will have another shot” to see him.
I don't know what to make of this ticketing situation. But this appearance was NOT a campaign event, and took place on State Capitol grounds.

people removed from public gathering for wearing anti-Bush shirts???

Hey, this could be a major deal: AP: Bush: U.S. Is Safer With Saddam in Prison :
"Two Bush opponents, taken out of the crowd in restraints by police, said they were told they couldn't be there because they were wearing shirts that said they opposed the president. Supporters of Bush's presumed opponent in November's election, Sen. John Kerry, attended a picnic across the street from the capitol at state Democratic Party's headquarters."

Is there more to the story? Were they disruptive in any way?

I understand that political/election rallies can limit people coming in, using tickets and other security measures, which I guess is sort of ok because the campaigns are paying for it, although it still ticks me off.

But was this event a campaign stop or a presidential appearance for July 4? Seems like some further investigation is warranted!

Friday, July 02, 2004


So if you can afford multiple residences in different states, your vote gets counted over and over? Another revealing letter from Altercation:
"Name: Andrea
Hometown: New York, NY
Speaking of Nader... I was frightened to learn that my ardently conservative father and all his business friends (members of the 200 club) are giving donations to the Nader campaign as a means towards Bush's re-election. My father, as with many wealthy people who hold multiple residences, will be voting twice this year (as he did in the last election in both Florida and Pennsylvania for Bush) as there is no process set in place to check multivoting."