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]

Monday, September 13, 2004

fired for kerry

From The Decatur Daily:

Moulton woman says she lost job for sporting Kerry sticker on car

Though she is unemployed and uncertain if she will get her job back, Gobbell said, she doesn't regret her decision to keep the sticker on her windshield.

"I would like to find another job, but I would take that job back because I need to work," she said. "It upset me and made me mad that he could put a letter in my check expressing his (political) opinion, but I can't put something on my car expressing mine."

She was referring to a flier that she said Gaddis placed in employee envelopes to remind them of the positive impact that President Bush's policies have had on them. An employee at the plant who would not identify himself confirmed the contents of the letter.
Someone wanna ask Bush what he thinks of this kind of support?

moral blindness

Molly gets to the crux of the champagne unit matter: "The only reason any of this is relevant today is because it speaks directly to the character of the man in the White House. For Bush to still stand there and deny that he got no special breaks, to deny that some other American kid went to Vietnam in his stead, is so telling of his moral blindness, of his deliberate obtuseness about the way the world of power and privilege screws over most people. If only he had the grace to say, as Barnes did, that he is ashamed of what happened, I'd have some respect for him."

Bush and father didn't specifically ask for special treatment? OK, fine, I don't have a problem with that story. They had plenty of people cozying up to them on spec.

Bush and father didn't recognize special treatment when it was handed to them in 1968? Hard to believe.

Thirty-five years later, Bush and father still can't recognize the special treatment? What world have they been living in?

Correction: Fixed the link. Sorry!


Color me shocked: AP - "Both candidates often shift positions"

Sunday, September 12, 2004

who's grassroots?`

Glenn Smith, founder of Texans for Truth, via BOPnews: "I also can't fail to note that the now-discredited Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which report raising $6.7 million, most of it in large chunks from wealthy Bush supporters, are given far less attention by Newsweek than Texans For Truth, which has raised $400,000 from 6,300 individuals."

juan cole explains al-qaeda

Go read this excellent article in Informed Comment. Its not very long and Cole's writing is clear and to the point. It explains al-Qaeda's world view, what they're trying to accomplish, and how our current Middle East policies fit in.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

white house response

Dan Balz (ABC), on Washington Week in Review, summed up the White House response to the question of whether Bush disobeyed a direct order when he refused to take his flight medical:

"The White House continues to say that he received an honorable discharge and therefore questions about his service are irrelevant."

Soon to come: "The White House continues to say that George Bush was elected President of the United States, and therefore questions about his leadership are irrelevant."

Friday, September 10, 2004

deficit dishonesty

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: The Dishonesty Thing"
The administration claims to have a plan to cut the deficit in half over the next five years. But even Bruce Bartlett, a longtime tax-cut advocate, points out that "projections showing deficits falling assume that Bush's tax cuts expire on schedule." But Mr. Bush wants those tax cuts made permanent. That is, the administration has a "plan" to reduce the deficit that depends on Congress's not passing its own legislation.
So here is proof positive that Bush is claiming two mutually exclusive things.

1. He has a plan to reduce the deficit; the plan includes letting the tax cuts expire.
2. He plans to make the tax cuts permanent.

One of these statements is untrue. Care to guess which one?

Maybe that title should read deficit in honesty.

not terrorism

Rumsfeld: Abuse of Iraqis Isn't Terrorism

Bush supporter yanks protester's hair

Look at that wild gleam in the guy's eye. Yeah, he's really putting his all into saving his country.

Yahoo! News - Top Stories Photos - AP (don't know how long this link will last--best I could do)

we just don't know

In case it needs to be said, yes, that last post was a bit of satire. Or was it? Was Bush's entire TANG service file forged? WE JUST DON'T KNOW.

defender of the constitution

Dana MilbankSecret Service Not Coddling Hecklers (

"Bush forced a smile as the seven interrupted his speech in waves. As the crowd drowned them out with chants of 'Four More Years,' the demonstrators were led roughly from the room by event ushers as a few attendees shouted 'traitors.' Outside, plainclothes Secret Service agents, joined by Blake Gottesman, Bush's personal aide, circled the demonstrators.

One uniformed Secret Service agent complained to a colleague that 'the press is having a field day' with the disruption -- and the agents quickly clamped down. Journalists were told that if they sought to approach the demonstrators, they would not be allowed to return to the event site -- even though their colleagues were free to come and go. An agent, who did not give his name, told one journalist who was blocked from returning to the speech that this was punishment for approaching the demonstrators and that there was a 'different set of rules' for reporters who did not seek out the activists. " (emphasis added)
No comment necessary. Just a full-throated scream.

bush discharge papers forged?

OMG, look. I was able to achieve a virtually perfect match to the Remarks section on GWBs discharge papers (minus a few paper-based imperfections). And I did (gulp!) on my WORD PROCESSOR!!!!! (And in less than an hour too--took me longer to figure out how to upload the pics for Blogger than to produce this forgery.)

Here's my version.

And here's the relevant section of the GWB discharge papers.

See the full document here.

For my forgery, I used the font Prestige12BT.
(For the redaction I just used a fat line--but for a print version I'd use my trusty magic marker, circa 2003, of course.)

UPDATE: Sorry--meant to mention that I just guessed on some of the unreadable letters, since I have no knowledge of military acronyms. But since this is fix-width fonts, all letters are the same width.

now he just sounds silly

Bush: "'When it comes to Iraq, my opponent has more different positions than all his colleagues in the Senate combined,' Bush said. "

Thursday, September 09, 2004

that shadowy Kerry tax plan

Well what do you know--a well-balanced, well-informed AP story.

Bush has spent today warning people that Kerry's widely publicized plans to pay for his proposals are insuffucient--by Bush's calculations (always reliable of course!)--and therefore Kerry must be planning some secret tax hike: "If they want to hold back information until the people vote, you can bet it won't be good news for the taxpayers."

Too bad Bush continues to avoid any discussion of specifics on his side beyond vague utterings of improving American life. He certainly hasn't discussed any numbers. And based on his past performance, Bush has no problems whatsoever pushing through massive spending without making any plans for paying for it. You can bet that, unlike Kerry, Bush's plan won't involve revoking the tax break for the wealthy.

So what are we to do, other than listen to our leader: if he won't discuss finances before the election, you can bet it won't be good news for us taxpayers!

Actually, the Kerry camp is quite open about the fact that their plans aren't yet 100% paid for, but they're close. And Kerry has proven time and time again that he values fiscal responsiblity and absolutely is not interested in spending money without a plan. Remember that $87B? Nearly every attack the Bush people have leveled against Kerry regarding his Senate votes has revolved around Kerry being able to make tough decisions when it comes to budgets. This is in stark contrast to the Bush record--the Bush deficit.

intrepid girl reporter

From NYT:

Stephen Rubin, publisher of Doubleday, says "Kitty [Kelley] has never had to retract anything published in any of her books nor has she ever lost a lawsuit."

Really? Because that's actually saying quite a lot, considering the propensity for lawsuits by the majority of her victims.


The question of authenticity of the CBS documents is drawing a shitstorm today from the right. As far as I can tell their primary goal is to get an AP headline containing the phrase "possible forgery".

[Kind of makes you wonder what they'll do when they finally have to acknowledge that the docs are real--change their mind about Bush? Actually, they don't have to worry--certain types would far prefer to hang onto their conspiracy theories rather than face the pain of their errors.]

Personally, I think its one big waste of time for joe blow bloggers to be hashing this out right now. Wingers are going nuts speculating their what ifs based on a couple of uninformed opinions and no knowledge at all. The fact is that us average citizens, even those old enough to have logged some serious time on an IBM Selectric (brown beast), have long since segued to word processors and let that obsolete experience fall by the wayside. There will be a point very soon in which actual experts will address the issues, answer the questions and let us know their opinion one way or the other.

I'm willing to wait for that, rather than run around trying to refute wild allegations with my own ignorance. I have some confidence in their authenticity, mostly because CBS does. If we've learned one thing these past four years, its that you don't attack the Bush crowd and get away clean. Even if you do have all your ducks lined up, you're still in for their own special brand of shitstorm. So I'm assuming CBS had this authenticated six ways from Sunday until someone trustworthy tells me different.

bush sr. attacked bentsen son's service

Aha. I think Atrios may have pinpointed the reason the Bush family is so sensitive about how Dubya got into the Guard. This sensitivity has been incomprehensible to me--don't they realize that pretty much everyone knows Dubya got special treatment? But most people today realize it was a function of the time period and don't hold it against them too much.

Or not.

According to an 1988 LA Times article posted by Atrios, Bush Sr. did use this exact smear against the Dukakis VP Lloyd Bentsen. Bentsen's son, surprise surprise, served in the same TANG unit as Dubya at the same time. Talk about gall.

But I guess this is why the Bush family so carefully maintains the fiction that Dubya just got lucky one day. They themselves think its shameful.

if Dems lose, here's the reason

The Daily Howler, always a good read, captures the essence of why the Kerry campaign is struggling. Have we NO water carriers?

Chris Matthews lobs what should have been a softball question to former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers (Howler offers an excellent response). But apparently this former press secretary doesn't have the first clue about how to turn it to an advantage, even (unlike poor Dan Bartlett) when she has fact on her side! From her lame answer, its clear she has no clue about any real facts, which I find amazing. As a Dem, as a political operative, as a person who's presumably has been paying a minimal amount of attention during the past nine months, this is one of the saddest performances I've heard of in a long long time.

breaking news

I'm shocked and appalled: Rowboat Veterans for Truth

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

dirty politics

Dan Bartlett on CBS: "I chalk it up to politics. They play dirty down in Texas. I've been there. I see how it works." Well, he should know.

BTW, a correction. During that Bartlett interview, he used the "can't divine the thoughts of a dead guy" excuse at least seven times. He also uttered the phrase "honorable discharge" eight times, at two different times twice within the same 3-sentence answer.

UPDATE: I was under the impression Rather did the Bartlett interview until I got home and watched the show on TIVO. Sorry for the error.

ben barnes' claims?

It's fascinating to me that the Bushies are savaging Ben Barnes's "claims", when in reality he isn't making any claims at all!

Dan Bartlett: "Now, the fact that Ben Barnes, who's a partisan Democrat, who left office under scandal in Texas in 1971, has his own issues. For him to come up after 32 years, during the 2000 presidential election, and now during the 2004 election when he supports John Kerry, I think completely discredits the veracity of his claims." (courtesy of TPM)

But what exactly is Barnes saying? That he made a phone call, at the request of a Bush "family friend"--not directly from a Bush, to grease the wheels for Dubya. Its the same thing he said under oath five years ago and received a personal thanks from Bush elder. He is making no new claims, other than the purely personal--that he regrets his role in helping out political allies.

Frankly, I can't understand at all what the Bushies are afraid of! Everyone's known for years that Bush benefited, indirectly or not, from his family name. So what? It didn't stop 49.5% of voters from picking him in 2000. And why is it so all-fired important for the Bush family that they didn't directly manage Dubya's entre into the champagne unit? Do they think people are incapable of connecting the dots between Bush and a family friend? Do they think people can't grasp that a political ally might do a favor on spec, or as a bargaining tool? And again, so what if they do?

Why are Bushies so afraid of Barnes? Or is it Barnes? Maybe he's a convenient whipping boy, someone they can talk ad nauseum about rather than deal with the real problem issues. Such as the official records. Such as the fact that they can't find anyone to actually stand up and say "I saw him!" after April 1972 (except for Calhoun, whom nobody seems willing to believe).

dead guys can't talk

That seemed to be the gist of Dan Bartlett's defense in and interview with CBS's Dan Rather tonight: "For anybody to try to interpret or presume they know what somebody who is now dead was thinking in any of these memos, I think is very difficult to do." He makes the same or similar statement at least four times, pretty much whenever Rather makes an unflattering interpretation.

This crowd is relentless in claiming an inability to draw logical conclusions based on strong evidence. Saddam-al Qaeda connections? "We just don't know!" When Killian writes Bush was trying to "get out of coming to drill" and that he reminded Bush of his commitment to TANG, was he saying Bush was trying to shirk his duty? "How can we be sure what he was thinking? The guy's dead!"

BTW--Bartlett did let something slip I hadn't heard before. When talking about why Bush had the choice of renewing his pilot medical, the WH continues to insist that Bush didn't need to--regardless of a direct order to do so--because he was no longer going to fly. This has always been their claim, based on two justifications (1) Bush was reassigned to a base in Alabama that didn't have F-102s, and (2) the F-102s were being phased out. (There is zero evidence that either of these justifications were even discussed in 1972. Based on the evidence, Bush chose on his own not to renew the medical and was not acting on any direction from superiors.)

But here's the new bit. Bartlett says "The point was, is that it didn't make sense for the Texas Air National Guard to train President Bush in a new aircraft at the end, toward the end of his service, when he was being given permission to attend Harvard Business School." Bartlett appears to be saying that it didn't make sense for Bush to renew his medical in August 1972, because he wasn't going to be around very long. However, his request for early discharge did not occur until September 1973!

So here's their story, picked out of all the obfuscation. Bush trains as a pilot in 1969 and 1970 (at the cost of a million bucks), performs duty during 1971 and early 1972. By mid-1972, he's still got over two years to go on his commitment. But, because he's planning to go to Alabama for a few months until Nov 1972, TANG decides its not worth retraining him on a new aircraft? Instead decides its a better use of his time to sit around in offices reading training manuals--for two years? Exactly how many other people had this experience? Were no pilots sent through new training in the final 2 years of their commitment?

The truth is they're making it up as they go. And sometimes they forget who is supposed to know what and when (a common error in fiction plotting). But guess what? We can extrapolate likely stories, too, that the fact is our stories are a hell of a lot more plausible than anything the Bush surrogates have managed to put forward so far. Their strategy seems to be that as long as they can come up with a possible answer for every question, it doesn't matter that much if the answers aren't pieces from the same jigsaw puzzle. Well, I'm sorry, but I'm not interested in a pile of mismatched puzzle pieces, I want the whole damn picture. And it better be a landscape, not a Picasso.

kerry widens lead in battleground states!

Go read Donkey Rising for a pick-me-up.

bush afraid of his shadow

President Bush may skip one of the three debates that have been proposed by the Commission on Presidential Debates and accepted by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Republican officials said yesterday.
. . .
The audience for the second debate, to be at Washington University in St. Louis, was to be picked by the Gallup Organization. The commission said participants should be undecided voters from the St. Louis area.

A presidential adviser said campaign officials were concerned that people could pose as undecided when they actually are partisans.

"It's not a fear of the format," said the adviser, who refused to be identified to avoid annoying Bush. "They want two debates that are focused on clear differences on foreign and domestic policy. We benefit from the differences."
Once again, Bush exhibits a fear of facing anyone who isn't an absolute pro-Bush partisan. The question is, is this fear pathological? Or is the Bush team afraid of something specific?

BTW--that adviser "who refused to be identified" is a real snark, having said nothing that could possibly annoy his/her bosses.

Bush is afraid of his own shadow. And his shadow is us.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

good government

Our gal Molly Ivins-Throwing Out the Garbage: "It has always seemed to me a bad idea to put a party full of people who are against government in principle ('Government is not the solution, government is the problem') in charge of running it. They just don't seem to do a very good job."


EJ Dionne's Going in for the overkill: "The answer lies in the word "overkill". If there is one thing that came through clearly to the broader public from last week's convention, it is that Republicans were out to frighten the country about Kerry's ability to lead in dangerous times. They were willing to say almost anything and were perfectly happy to distort Kerry's record. Convention speakers were, by turn, sarcastic, ferocious and mean."

And just in case we didn't get the message last week, Cheney spells it out for us today..."‘It’s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we’ll get hit again and we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States’’ (quote from IHT).

If Kerry were elected, Cheney said, the country might return to a ‘‘pre-9/11 mind-set’’. That's the same Kerry whose advisors include Gary Hart of the Hart-Rudman Commission (which saw its 3-year-long terrorism study and detailed recommendations got ashcanned by Bush in 2001). That's the same Cheney who not only dropped the grenade (i.e., ball) on terrorism before 9/11, but has consistently pursued the same Iraq-based agenda both before and after. If anyone understands pre-9/11 mindset, it's Cheney.

military voting secrecy

Brett (Greetings from Iraq) points out this editorial: IHT: A breach of voting secrecy. "Members of the U.S. military will be allowed to vote this year by faxing or e-mailing their ballots - after waiving their right to a secret ballot."

As usual, the verdict is that its a great idea but is being implemented in a wholly questionable way. "The secrecy of ballots could be breached at several points: when they are faxed or e-mailed from the field, when they go through the contractor and when they are received by local officials. The Pentagon has not explained why it is acceptable, or legal, to require soldiers to waive their right to secret ballots. Laughlin McDonald, director of the Voting Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, says he cannot recall another group of voters being asked to give up such secrecy."

Six Words For Kerry

I posted this suggestion late last night to Eschaton. See below for a growing list of slogans, followed by a list of ways to broadcast them. Use comments or send me an email to add to the list. Note: substantive is better that cute&sassy (but preferably both!)--the point is to educate as well as entertain.

This is a grassroots deal, so feel free to co-opt this idea, post it yourself and add to it--just send me note and I'll link to yours too.

Instead of carping about what Kerry should do or say, let's start concentrating on what we can do.

I just read Tim Grieves Salon article, and one of the points he made was that Kerry simply won't reduce his points to bite size pieces (as well as his unwillingness to repeat the same point ad nauseum). And why should he? His tremendous strength is his intelligence and complexity. Instead, his supporters and surrogates should be carrying this water for him.

(Liberal Oasis points out once again--and this is probably the most frustrating point of all for me--that Dems tend to spend far too much time analyzing their own campaigns faults than doing some of Kerry's heavy lifting.)

How about we start a "Six Words For Kerry" campaign?

Step 1. Come up with a six-word statement--pro-Kerry or anti-Bush--that sums up one particular issue (Grieve cites the Bush line "Because we acted, our economy is growing", which is lame but pithy). Ideally they should have substantiveness (as opposed to "Bush is a Chimp").

Step 2. Post your ideas to sites like this one (Eschaton) so those of us less creative types can pick one we like!

Step 3. Plaster those six words everywhere you can think of. In your email sigs, on your websites. Use magic markers and cardboard if you have to, but make signs and stick 'em up in your windows and on your cars. Get a t-shirt made up. Pool together with others and buy ad space in your neighborhood rags. Print them on envelopes when you pay your bills. Emulate the freeway blogger and commit a misdemeanor or two.

Step 4. Party on Nov. 2.
Not being one of those creative types, I don't have much to contribute yet (except the comment that I've always thought "Bush Lied, People Died" to be annoyingly simplistic and wholly ineffective). The best I can achieve is:

"Because Bush acted, our economy is tanking."


(see comments for more slogans)
Kerry talks plans for the future. Bush points fingers.
Bush proud: Worst economic recovery in 30 years!
Bush created millions of new jobs, just not here! (Warren Terra)
Elect a leader you can be proud of. Elect Kerry.
Elect a leader you don't have to be ashamed of. Elect Kerry.
Bush isn't an effective war leader--he just plays one on TV. (stolen from Paul Krugman)
Kerry: Get the same health plan Congress enjoys.
Bush believes frightened people can be controlled. Prove him wrong.
Bush's fiscal policy? Borrow and Squander. (bbigelow)
Arrogance, corruption and incompetence are no way to run a country. (four legs good)
Is Flag-Burning YOUR top priority?
9/11 happened on Bush's watch (travc)
A photo-op on a mass grave isn't leadership (travc)
Making people side with terrorists isn't a good idea (travc)
Every orphan we create is a terrorist in training (travc)
Deficits matter to our children (travc)
Losing $8 Billion for Iraq is Unacceptable! [Money that went "missing" in Iraq] (travc)
Get Less, Work More: Vote Bush-'04 (hoary cripple)
Work More, Get Less (rorshach)
For (Bush atrocity of your choice), I BLAME BUSH. (Mengele's Barking Dogs--he's gathering donations for a second bumper sticker printing)
MORE US soldiers killed AFTER the capture of Saddam Hussein than BEFORE (Lynn--see all her talking points)
MORE US soldiers killed in Iraq than in the first 4 years of Vietnam (Lynn)
MORE US soldiers killed in 2004 than in 2003 (Lynn)
IRAQ: # (Pennsylvanians) not coming home, # (Pennsylvanians) coming home wounded (get numbers for your state) (Bugsbee)
Bush Is My Pet Goat (bad Jim)
My child reads My Pet Goat too! (bad Jim)
Because Bush acted, our economy is tanking

Use 'Em
add to email sigs
add to web site banners, etc.
make signs for home or car
make a t-shirts
Pool together and buy ad space in neighborhood newspapers
Print them on envelopes when you pay your bills
Freeway Blogger

Monday, September 06, 2004

kicking protesters

I try not to go off on a rant too much here. Anger clouds the judgment, and plus you can look really stupid in the light of day when it turns out you got the wrong end of the stick. But this really ticks me off:

TalkLeft: Young Republican Kicks Female Protester

Go see the video. While its hard to tell that GreenShirt was actually kicking the girl, the ABC reporter obviously has no doubts.

But what really ticks me off is that the protesters were the ones dragged off to jail while this guy gets to celebrate high-fives with his gang of young thugs. Over 1700 protesters arrested, and some of the worst violence took place inside the Garden and was perpetrated on a protester by one of the delegates. (Note: there was one policeman beaten at a demonstration, he is "recovering at home".)

But what really really ticks me off is that I didn't hear about this until Sunday evening. That that this story got virtually no airplay at all. Doing a Google News search on several different permutations finds exactly zero references. Why? I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks about the hijacking of the Wellstone funeral back in 2002, how the behavior of every liberal in attendance (or not) got analyzed into the ground. This RNC convention frankly sickened me in the way it spoke to people's basest emotions, even claiming a sense of nobility in hatred and meanness. Is it because meanness is what we expect in Republicans, while Democrats are supposed to be kind and forgiving? No--I know plenty of Repubs who are good honorable people. I really just don't understand the reason behind this double standard--and that makes me even angrier.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

did germany occupation fail?

I heard Bush's dig at the NYTimes editorial staff, and wondered about it, but then forgot amidst all the other outrages:
"In 1946, 18 months after the fall of Berlin to Allied forces, a journalist in The New York Times wrote this: 'Germany is a land in an acute stage of economic, political and moral crisis. European capitals are frightened. In every military headquarters, one meets alarmed officials doing their utmost to deal with the consequences of the occupation policy that they admit has failed.' End quote. Maybe that same person's still around, writing editorials."

Maureen Dowd didn't forget it. Atrios points this out and adds some perspective. It seems the post-war occupation was failing, until someone decided to respond to events on the ground, change tacks, and came up with the Marshall Plan.

a vote for bush is a vote for war(s)

Kevin Drum over at Political Animal has been beating a drum the past few days. He believes that Kerry's new emphasis on domestic issues is a mistake, that this election is all about Iraq and terror in general. I don't necessarily agree with him--who in their right mind would ignore issues that Bush has failed so consistently on, issues that all polls say is Americans' #1 priority?--but something he posted today makes a lot of sense.

Drum basically says that anyone who doesn't think there will be more pre-emptive attacks in a second Bush term is sadly deluded. " Bush's whole appeal is based on his military toughness, so if he's not planning to use military action in his second term, what's the point of voting for him?" I'd go even further to suggest that a re-elected Bush would view it as a mandate for whatever action he chooses to take.

That's scary.

But how can Kerry bring this subtext to the forefront? I suspect most people responding to Bush's militant rhetoric are doing so on some emotional level--if they do it to us we'll do it to them, we've got to show our might and not get pushed around--rather than a clear idea of what more wars would mean. Kerry would have some minor pitfalls to traverse--the whole appeaser thing always screamed at people who think talk should come before weapons--but he's already getting that.

But Kerry and his supporters could concentrate on clarifying what more wars would look like for us individual Americans. More young men and women going off to hostile lands. More separated and struggling families. More grieving families. More money being sucked out of the national economy--when at the same time we're struggling to meet the challenges of globalization, when we continue to have safety challenges here in our own country, when we desperately need to invest in new energy sources to reduce our foreign dependencies, when the alienation of America will inevitably affect our ability to trade. More hatred of Americans at home and abroad. More dread in everyday living.

When we turn our televisions on in the morning, what do we want to hear about: more young lives added to the toll of dead and wounded? Or do we want to hear that a new partnership has been forged with a people who used to hate us? That the stock market is up again based on stability across the world. That our government has found the grace and the money to finally pass a real prescription drug plan. That our new education system has worked so well that our biggest problem is building more colleges for the children now qualified to attend.

All this is, I guess, a long way of saying the Kerry has the opportunity to clarify the choice people will make in November. People need to know its a choice (because I'm not sure they do--Bush continues to claim that we can spend billions on wars but still have a robust economy), and need to understand it in real terms. Sure, Bush will have the opportunity to say the choice is between safety and peril, but the more explicit he is forced to get in his rhetoric the thinner it gets.

Plus a strategy like this will serve to put war back in front and center without dropping the homefront issues. Everybody wins!

Friday, September 03, 2004

hope versus fear

Guess which one I choose? From the Teresa Heinz-Kerry's speech at the Dem Convention:

"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."

what you voted for

Just received some campaign lit from Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). Her opponent, Rep. George Nethercutt, is apparently going to try the same smear tactic so beloved by Repubs the past few years--picking and choosing bills or pieces of bills she voted against. Here are some excerpts from her response, and perhaps Kerry/Edwards should take note:

Murray spokeswoman Alex Glass: 'Senator Murray has consistently voted for targeted tax relief for the middle class, but she won't apologize for standing up and fighting against the irresponsible Bush tax policy that has resulted in mounting deficits and the worst job numbers since Herbert Hoover.' . . .

Nethercutt's ad attacks Senator Murray for voting for increased investments in Washington state's education, health care, and security priorities instead of big tax cuts for multi-million dollar corporations and those who need it least.

George Nethercutt is attacking Senator Murray for voting for $224 billion in education funding instead of a tax break for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.

He is attacking Senator Murray for voting for $100 billion for defense personnel instead of a tax break for big corporations.

George Nethercutt is attacking Senator Murray for voting to increase veterans' health care by $1.7 billion, instead of a tax break for the wealthy.

And he's even attacking Senator Murray for voting for $311 billion for a Medicare prescription drug benefit for our seniors instead of a tax break for those who need it least.
She follows this up with some detailed Washington state statistics showing the results of votes that opted for the Bush-league tax cuts instead of other priorities.

I think this is a damn good response approach. The fact is that Kerry has right on his side in so many instances, particularly the $87B vote that got such airplay at the RNC. He voted for a responsible spending plan that would support the health of our economy instead of preserving tax breaks for the wealthiest 1 percent. Bush voted against financial sanity.

time poll, but don't panic Campaign 2004: Bush Opens Double-Digit Lead

But a Zogby poll over the same period shows only a 2 point lead for Bush. And an ARG poll taken up to Wednesday night (Sept 1) shows only a 1 point lead.

So the Time poll is almost certainly an outlier, albeit a nasty one. You almost have to wonder if Time was taking their poll during Bush's speech.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

evil personified

OK, I don't usually stoop to cheap shots, but this is just creepy:BuzzFlash News Analysis

Re Zell, I made a deliberate choice not to watch his speech, so I really can't comment. I certainly don't blame people for adjusting their political alignments to their beliefs--although I absolutely do hold them accountable for how they do it.

But I did see the Chris Matthews bit. It's too bad Zel misunderstood a question by Matthews. Matthews was asking him to acknowledge that his fiery rhetoric (i.e., Kerry will fight terrorism with spitballs) is on a par with Dem rhetoric that Repubs will let babies starve, etc. Zel somehow misheard and apparently thought Matthews was saying Zel had accused Kerry of that. I think.

It kind of ticked him off. After all, its one thing to have your actual lies held up for inspection, but to be accused of one you hadn't even uttered! That's really beyond the pale.

Actually, it was wholly obvious that Zell expected the worst from Matthews and had psyched himself up for it. So every word out of Matthews mouth got twisted up for him. Not to get all pop-psych or anything, but when I find my defensive hackles rising all out of proportion, that's a clue to me that--deep down--I know I'm in the wrong.

real unamerican activity

Apparently the Bush Administration has zero confidence in their ability to convict Guantanamo Bay detainees under fair (i.e., constitutional) circumstances. While their original refusal to allow the detainees due process could be covered--albeit ultra-thinly--with claims that any lines of communication might be deadly (although that excuse didn't remain relevant after the first year or so), these actions have no claims to keeping people safe. They are all about ensuring a conviction regardless of guilt. This is not our America.

From an LA Times editorial:

The tribunals are an ad hoc invention, authorized by President Bush three years ago when he rejected the established military court-martial system and the federal criminal courts, either of which would have worked more smoothly. As a result, military officials have few precedents to follow and last week seemed confused about which rules or legal procedures applied.

Members of these tribunals — the jury, in effect — are military professionals appointed by the Pentagon. The tribunal's chief officer is a retired Army judge, the only member of the panel with legal training. He is both the judge and a jury member, ruling on motions and voting with the five other commissioners.

In a criminal court, the lay jury decides the facts and the judge rules on questions of law. Here, however, tribunal members decide on both. Yet the five nonlawyers were clearly befuddled last week when asked to define concepts such as due process and reasonable doubt.

The cards are stacked against detainees in other ways too. Government prosecutors got spacious quarters and their own staff to prepare for the hearings. Military defense lawyers were crowded into one room. Midway through the week, the conference table they all shared was removed. The Arab interpreters were so incompetent that the proceedings resembled a game of "telephone," in which the message veered closer to gibberish with each repetition. Yet this game is about men's futures.
What makes you think this Administration would have any hesitation in doing this to you if it suited their purpose? Better keep your nose clean--watch what you say and do. Better yet, become a rabid anti-terrorist. Spy on your neighbors and report on your coworkers. What better way to prove--when you run afoul of some unforeseen suspicion--that you're on the side of right and might?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

kerry at the american legion

So when the president says we have the same position on Iraq, I have to respectfully disagree. Our differences couldn’t be plainer. And I have set them out consistently. When it comes to Iraq, it’s not that I would have done one thing differently, I would’ve done almost everything differently.

I would have relied on American troops in Tora Bora when we had Bin Laden in our sights. I never would have diverted resources so quickly from Afghanistan before finishing the job.

I would’ve given the inspectors the time they needed to do the job.

I wouldn’t have ignored my senior military advisors.

I would’ve made sure that every soldier put in harm’s way had the equipment and body armor they needed.

I would have built a strong, broad coalition of our allies around the world.

And, if there’s one thing I learned from my service, I would never have gone to war without a plan to win the peace.

The bottom line is that if I don’t believe we had to be shouldering nearly the entire financial cost of this war – more than $200 billion – and shortchanging investments in education, health care, and our safety at home.

But the question now is not just what we should have done, but what we can and must do now in Iraq. We do not need what President Bush has called "catastrophic success.” We need real success.

We need to bring our allies to our side, share the burdens, reduce the cost to American taxpayers, and reduce the risk to American soldiers. And together, we need to more rapidly train Iraqi police and military to take over the job of protecting their country. That's what I’ll do as Commander-in-Chief – because that’s the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home.

full text of speech