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Saturday, July 31, 2004

Super-sized 

Ah, the "liberal" media distorts the benign reality of Abu Gharib yet again!. New England Journal of Medicine -- Doctors and Torture After all, the Journal is published in Boston, you know -- very suspicious! And in the same issue, the very same issue, they also talk about laser eye correction surgery -- obviously, they're not seeing things straight.
But seriously, this article does lead to some thoughts about whether some of the doctors and nurses, not to mention the soldiers, who have had horrible experiences, and been complicit in horrible crimes, will be able to live again as civilized people after they are finally permitted to come home. We know the horrors of Vietnam resulted in PTSD for years afterward in many soldiers -- if Iraq is "Vietnam on crack", will their homecoming be "PTSD super-sized"?

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Keeping it positive 

This Newsweek poll of 1,010 adults looks pretty positive to me.
In the Washington Post story describing the trip to Wendy's, there was this tidbit:
Heinz Kerry was told that Newburgh is heavily Republican and a local television reporter asked her how she felt "in the heart of enemy territory." . . . she responded, "It's not enemies. It's Americans. We're all Americans."


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Ouch! 

The networks must be flipping out -- on the Republican Convention website they list their tentative speaker lineup -- Rudy Giuliani and John McCain Monday night, Schwarzeneger and Laura Bush Tuesday night, Cheney Wednesday night, and of course Bush on Thursday night -- 2004 Republican National Convention NYC
So which night are they going to skip?
And if they do cover all four nights, how in the world will they explain why the dems got only three nights?

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Ahhh, the poor little hamster 

Rapid Response Team on Democratic Convention on National Review Online I knew it, I just knew it, that some Republican would fall into the trap of saying mean things about the poor defenseless little hamster -- talk about stooping to low attacks.

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It gets worse 

Warning -- The Secret File of Abu Ghraib will make you feel sick to your stomach.

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"One and one is two, two and two is four, I feel so bad because I'm losing the war" * 

Rebels' writ runs large across the troublesome Sunni triangle
What, exactly, are 135,000 US troops doing in Iraq? What is the point?
Whenever they patrol, someone shoots at them. Forget about building schools or repairing hospitals or fixing generators or protecting pipelines -- whenever they leave their fortified bases, someone shoots at them. They have to hide in mosques.
The DOD briefing last week, Gen. Myers said that the US " goal is to make sure that for major supply routes and coalition forces in the area, that these hotbeds don't become centers where they can spin out and create other havoc" -- so its a defensive war now for the Americans, a rearguard action to keep their own supply routes open. They don't appear to be on the offensive anymore.
The quietest and most secure place in Iraq today, apparently, is Fallaujah, after the US military pulled out in April -- there is no violence on their streets anymore -- of course, its now an Islamic dictatorship iin this city -- so much for democracy, I guess. And its now become a bomb factory for the rest of the insurgency, which the US keeps trying to shut down by air raids, which just kill more civilians.
Now it looks like Ramadi is going the same way. The Financial Times reports that "several large Iraqi towns have recently fallen outside the control of US forces and its allies in the Iraqi interim government."
People in the US keep saying that the Americans will be needed in Iraq for five years, or ten years -- nope, its not going to take nearly that long for them to lose this war. They seem to be retreating at the rate of about one city a month now, and its a geometric progression, so give it another year at most. And people keep wanting Kerry to present a detailed plan for what he would do to win in Iraq -- but how could he? It is impossible to come up with a plan to herd cats.
"Winning" is no longer an option in Iraq, and pretty soon America will realize this.
*Riff sung by Dick Shawn, playing Hitler, from The Producers.

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Friday, July 30, 2004

Kerry's policies 

Substance over Style For those who cannot type www.johnkerry.com, here is a summary of some of his domestic policy proposals.

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Not exactly the highest priority 

CNEWS - Canada: Premiers to ask the federal government to set up national pharmacare program
And what, exactly, would a pharmacare program do to reduce hospital and specialist waiting lists? The premiers have been bitching for years about how the feds are not transfering enough money to them to run hospitals -- so now they think the public wants the feds to spend all that money on a pharmacare program? I guess I wonder if this is being floated now just so that the premiers themselves can avoid the scrutiny of provincial health budgets which Martin and Romanow demanded.

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Reactions and reviews 

Well, Google News lists more than 2,000 stories so far about The Speech, and many (not all) bloggers were pretty happy about it. 
Anyway, one further thought -- given how poorly the TV network pundits handled the little bit of the convention they did cover, maybe everyone should quit complaining about how they did only three hours.  Better that people should read about it in the newspapers than watch these guys. 
In terms of the cable coverage, overall CNN did OK - some of their panels were strange, and Wolfie and Jeff Greenfield spend the convention reading from the RNC talking points (though I didn't watch everything they did) -- but Aron Brown (Newsnight) and Larry King did thoughtful work covering the substance of what was being said, and King had some terrific panels plus Moe Rocca.  MSNBC - specifically Chris Matthews --  was more prone to repeating gossip and, from beginning to end, was absolutely obsessed with the convention management (as if anyone other than the media control booth directors actually cared about the time deadlines for the speeches).   But their panelists did occasionally make good points, too.
Best blogger for the convention -- Liberal Oasis.  Used the opportunity to talk to people from all over, and post their interviews, plus covered the convention events.  I also really liked Buzzflash's thoughtful blog posts, and Pandragon too.

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The Speech 

MSNBC - Text of Kerry's acceptance speech
Well, I watched The Speech and I loved it - this one really was a "slam-dunk". Here are the Cathie awards to Kerry:

Best one-liner: "I'm not making this up. I was born in the West Wing!"

Turning the stupidest Republican 'attack', that he was raised overseas, on its ear: "On one occasion, I rode my bike into Soviet East Berlin. And when I proudly told my dad, he promptly grounded me. But what I learned has stayed with me for a lifetime. I saw how different life was on different sides of the same city. I saw the fear in the eyes of people who were not free. I saw the gratitude of people toward the United States for all that we had done. I felt goose bumps as I got off a military train and heard the Army band strike up "Stars and Stripes Forever."

Subtle and not-so-subtle comparisons to Bush: "I ask you to judge me by my record." "Let's not forget what we did in the 1990s. We balanced the budget. We paid down the debt. We created 23 million new jobs. We lifted millions out of poverty and we lifted the standard of living for the middle class." "Our band of brothers doesn't march together because of who we are as veterans, but because of what we learned as soldiers." "Some issues just aren't all that simple." "I will wage this war with the lessons I learned in war . . . You will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace." "There is a right way and a wrong way to be strong. Strength is more than tough words." "The future doesn't belong to fear; it belongs to freedom." "As President, I will not evade or equivocate." "That flag doesn't belong to any president. It doesn't belong to any ideology and it doesn't belong to any political party. It belongs to all the American people." "I want an America that relies on its own ingenuity and innovation - not the Saudi royal family." "Let's never misuse for political purposes the most precious document in American history, the Constitution of the United States." "I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side. " "For America, the hope is there. The sun is rising. Our best days are still to come."

Strongest red meat statements: "I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war. I will have a Vice President who will not conduct secret meetings with polluters to rewrite our environmental laws. I will have a Secretary of Defense who will listen to the best advice of our military leaders. And I will appoint an Attorney General who actually upholds the Constitution of the United States.

Destined to be the most televised line: "As President, I will restore trust and credibility to the White House."

Actually the most radical and far-reaching policy change -- health care as a right: "Health care is not a privilege for the wealthy, the connected, and the elected - it is a right for all Americans."

And the image which DNC hopes the RNC will attack: Kerry giving CPR to a hamster. It was a pretty silly little story, and the image is, on the surface, just as ridiculous as the biosuit photo But if the Republicans fall into the trap of actually SAYING it is silly . . . well, is there a parent anywhere who hasn't done whatever it takes to try to save their child's pet? It's the universal human experience, really.

I must admit that didn't watch a lot of the press analysis afterwards -- there seemed to be a total obsession on all the networks with reporting about how Kerry had delivered the speech in time for network coverage cutoff, to the point that he did not let the convention applaud the individual speech lines as long as they wanted to. I listened to a pretty incoherent "reply" from some RNC spokesperson, who couldn't seem to identify anything in the speech that the republicans disagreed with, exactly. And I turned off the TV coverage when I heard Chris Matthews cut off Willie Brown's attempt to discuss the speech content, saying he didn't want to discuss the substance, only the process -- oh, give me a break!
None of the pundits seemed to grasp that long pauses for applause and cheering would have screwed up the speech's rhythm and its pace of urgency. The arch of this speech was actually circular -- he returned to the same themes again and again, so that even if someone listened only to five or 10 minutes, they would still get most of the message. Overall, I conclude it was honest, straightforward, and clear on what the democrats are promising in this campaign. Now, I'm off to read what the other bloggers think . . .

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Thursday, July 29, 2004

Let them eat prozac 

I just love overheard remarks like this one -- Unhappy Workers Should Take Prozac --Bush Campaigner
Undoubtedly Ms. Sheybani will now also be experiencing the opportunity to redirect her employment focus while she pursues an alternative career goal.

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The substance of the dems 

Dismissed in Boston - Why won't the Democrats talk about judges? By Dahlia Lithwick
Former (briefly) prime minister Kim Campbell will always be remembered in Canada for her remark that election campaigns are no time to be discussing important issues.
She will be forever reviled for that remark, but I could see what she meant -- the politicizing of important issues, and their consequent trivialization, is a problem during election campaigns, when the clamour of reporters' questions and the need to produce acceptable instant soundbites precludes any politician from ever saying "let me think about that for a bit and I'll get back to you." Kerry, in fact, gets into trouble all the time when he tries to give a substantive and thoughtful answers to press questions - gradually, he has learned not to do this.
I was reminded of that problem when I read this article.
Lithwick writes ". . . Shouldn't this election ultimately be a referendum on the rule of law? . . . What is at stake, in this election, is whether we value the notion of being a nation that's ruled by law as opposed to rulers. This isn't just a voting issue. It's what used to launch revolutions." She is right, of course. And the cheers during the convention whenever a platform speaker refers to civil liberties, arbitrary arrests of Arab Americans, and the more bizarre provisions of the Patriot Act, shows that the democrats know this is a core issue as well.
But its not one that can be glibly soundbited, to become just another election goodie -- its not something that produces a soundbite along the lines of "we promise $4,000 college tuition credit". Kerry and Edwards cannot say, in their next breath "and we promise to appoint judges who will support the constitution rather than searching for ways to undermine it" or "and we promise not to corrupt our justice system by soliciting pandering legal opinions that put our own actions above the law" or "and we promise that our Pentagon will not get away with producing soldiers so lacking in moral fiber and leadership that they routinely torture and kill prisoners of war" or "and we promise that that disgrace to American values called Gitmo will be closed immediately".
The Bush administration has portrayed every one of these actions as part of the War on Terror; stating directly and explicitly the intention to change them would allow the dems to be characterized as "weak on terror".
In reality, these actions have nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with a kind of megalomaniac fascism which has seldom raised its ugly head in American political history before, but which is the basic underpinning of the Bush administration and the Project for a New American Century fanatics who are an integral part of that administration. Every president before Bush has taken seriously their oath to protect the constitution. I don't think even now most Americans would accept the fact that Bush and his people see the constitution as archaic, obsolete, an obstacle to their goals.
Lithwick is wrong, however, when she says that the democrats don't talk about these things. Their promise to make these kind of changes is implicit in every statement they make about bringing America together toward a more perfect union, and it underpins their commitment to build a diverse, inclusive, "united states" of America.


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Democrats, keep it up 

Too Nice For Their Own -- and Our -- Good (washingtonpost.com)
Isn't it odd that the media who wouldn't say "boo" to the Bush administration for three years are now berating Kerry and the democrats for not holding a fire-and-brimstone convention? They really are pathetic, aren't they?
The democrats are quite right to hold their fire -- there's lots of time left in this campaign for critiques, but the voters will be sick of it if they have to listen to it for three solid months. The debates are the time to ask the hard questions of Bush, like what the hell were you thinking and why did you screw it up so badly.
Besides, unlike George Soros and Move.On, the dems are NOT just asking people to vote Bush out, they're asking people to vote Kerry in. People need to know they are voting for something positive -- the democrats are using this convention to frame their themes for the next three months, to focus their message for their troops, and I think that's a clever, honest and far-thinking move.
So just continue to ignore what the media says it wants you to do, boys - you're doing just fine as it is.
And so what if you are not dancing to the media's tune -- they blew it big time themselves, so why should you listen anymore to their advice?

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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Blogger reactions 

Atrios' item on Mainstream Bloggers makes some very good points about the media reaction to blogs and bloggers. As the media bloggers like Hardblogger are likely discovering, its harder than it looks.
This reminded me of some rumour I read of or heard of recently, something about how the RNC was going to start a bunch of left-wing blogs, and then just before the election they were going to start trashing Kerry, all with the idea that this would bring the pro-Kerry blogging universe crashing down.
Of course, anyone who actually reads bloggers knows how stupid this idea is. They just don't get it.
The thing about the great left-wing bloggers, and the right-wing bloggers too, is this -- its personal.
It takes an interesting, informed, somewhat unique personality to write a widely-read blog. It cannot be faked or spun or manipulated. The blogs I usually read -- Josh Marshall, Atrios, Kevin Drum, Bill Sher, Billmon, Buzzflash, Penguin, POGGE, Mike, and the others listed on the left -- they let it all hang out.
When my daughter was studying acting, I found out that one of acting's most important and difficult requirements was the demand that people who intend to perform first have to be able to reveal their own vulnerabilities to an audience -- their own stories, their hopes, fears, likes, dislikes, etc. etc. Now, I had always thought that actors concealed their own personalities in their roles, but actually great actors must know and accept their own personalities before they can adopt another personality. They must be able to expose themselves, psychologically speaking, to the audience - if they cannot do this, then their acting comes across as fake, shallow.
And I think its the same with great bloggers -- they do try to keep their blogs up-to-date and interesting, yes, but through their choice of items and their comments, they also reveal their own personalities and their unique "takes" on the world, and it is this revelation that makes their blogs interesting to read, that creates loyal readers. They could no more be right-wing moles than Kerry himself could be a secret Klu Klux Klansman.
And as I have found out myself doing this blog, its a challenge to remain true to yourself day after day in print, to make sure I have said what I meant to say, to continue to talk about things that I think are important, or even trivial things that matter to me.

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It's not just Iraq anymore 

MSNBC Haqrdblogger "Iraq becomes a four letter word" (Pat Buchanan)-
Let me get this straight -- the democrats are mad at Bush because of the Iraq war.
So they're supposed to be spending their time at this convention talking about Iraq, because that's the only thing about the Bush administration that the public is mad about?
So because the democrats are spending their time talking about unifying America, supporting regulations to protect the environment, taxing the rich to reduce the deficit, creating more jobs, supporting US businesses, appointing moderates to the courts, protecting civil liberties, and . . .oh yes, supporting stem cell research -- well, this is a fraud because they were supposed to spend the whole convention being mad about Iraq?
Sorry, Pat, but the democrats have moved way beyond being mad about Iraq -- they all know its a total mess over there and that America agrees its a mess. And they hope their guy can fix it. But they're not going to run their whole election on Iraq, because there's lots more that's wrong with the Bush administration than Iraq alone.
Buchanan's attitude, though, is so typically republican, isn't it -- single issue, narrow focus, black and white, pander to what the public wants rather than trying to re-frame the debate. It's all so familiar.

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Well, at least he's getting some help 

Here's a strange one -- Capitol Hill Blue: Bush Using Drugs to Control Depression, Erratic Behavior .  It follows up on a recently published book, Bush on the Couch, where a psychiatrist did an analysis of Bush's public behaviour.  Author Dr. Justin Frank did a Washington Post live chat last month. 
Now, I have also done a couple of posts recently about Bush's apparently deteriorating mental state.  And its not exactly news that being president is one of the world's most stressful jobs.  So I guess if he actually is in as bad a mental situation as this article says, but if he is actually getting some help with this, then its all to the good, I think.   Just don't let him make any big decisions until the drugs start working -- it takes about six weeks.

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Teresa 

Buzz Democratic Convention Blog Buzzflash's take on Teresa Heinz Kerry's speech -- "Teresa became a star by beating the expectation's game too. Conventional wisdom had it that she would speak fast, digress and say something outrageous. But she was insightful, warm, sincere, and on message. Like Obama, she came off as the embodiment of the American dream, someone who values liberty and freedom even more, because she wasn't born into it."
Watching MSNBC and CNN discuss this speech I had to laugh -- on both panels, there was the token woman journalist, along with the right-wing male talk show host (Tucker Carlson and Joe Scarborough). In both cases, the right-wing male said Teresa's speech wouldn't be supported by women - "wouldn't play in Peoria" as Joe Scarborough said it.
And in both cases, the women on the panel sputtered to life -- they were angry, and even personally insulted, at how these men were brushing off Teresa's remarks. And then the other men on the panels chimed in to support the women.
These women were also impressed by Teresa's high style and class -- Andrea Mitchell, on MSNBC, even made the Jackie O comparison. And when you think about it, have you ever heard a woman say about another woman "I just admire her so much, she dresses so poorly and her clothes are so cheap" -- not one bit. Though women have this reputation for bitchiness and catty remarks, we're the ones who buy the fashion magazines -- we all admire stylish, well-put-together women; Teresa looks and dresses the way all we would, if we had the money.
Though men may be envious of her money and power, she got it the old fashioned way - she married it - and women don't resent her for that. Rather, we're saying "you go, girl!".

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Another RNC talking point "Kerry the unpopular" 

The Democratic Convention: Feed, but Do Not Annoy, the Swing Voters
Where is all this "buzz" coming from about how democrats themselves don't think much of John Kerry - don't like him, too cold, lacks charm, etc. etc?
I hear Jeff Greenfield at the convention talking about this on CNN all the time, usually backdropped by a sea of Kerry/Edwards posters, and just following a speech where the mention of Kerry's name evoked roars of approval. But the media line is that Kerry is hard to like, and the non-thinking media won't be deflected from their mantra regardless of the facts.
I smell another RNC talking point here, positioning Bush as "the guy everyone likes" (NOT) against Kerry "the guy even the democrats don't like" (also NOT).

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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Bloggers start getting the good stuff 

One of the potential benefits of bloggers at the convention is to cover the stuff that the mainstream media miss. Here, for example - Semi-Live Blogging: Take Back America Conference- Liberal Oasis blogs about two related meetings at the convention, both very interesting events. Buzzflash also covers the Take Back America conference.
And yesterday, some blogs (which I cannot now find) also covered the first veterans caucus meeting ever held at a democratic convention.
Now, if it hadn't been for the blogs, I would never have heard about any of these events.
So right on, guys, you're getting the good stuff.
And on Political Animal, Amy Sullivan has a good post about the religious code in Clinton's speech. Worth reading.

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What's that smell? (2) 

Again, a whiff of desperation -- CNN.com - Bush vs. 'Bubble Boy'
So rather than trying to reply to anything that anybody actually SAID at the convention, the RNC tried to make a big deal of Kerry wearing a bio suit, comparing it to Dukakis in the tank.
I don't know how many media outlets actually used the photos, but if this follows the usual pattern, the stunt will backfire on Bush, making the Bush campaign look desperate and cheap. CNN writes "As Camp Kerry noted last night, and we agree,[emphasis mine] NASA required Kerry, along with astronauts-turned-senators Bill Nelson and John Glenn, to wear the weird-looking but precautionary suits as they toured a sterile facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Dukakis made the fatal decision to climb into the tank in 1988 specifically to counter perceptions that he was weak on national defense."
And the Kerry campaign also let the RNC know in no uncertain terms that when it comes to dueling photos, they're got lots -- Kerry's aides released photos of "Bush wearing matching kimonos with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, picking his nose at a baseball game and leading a cheer at Yale." And, of course, there's the photo that the networks already have, of Bush in the flight suit.
So I guess we won't be seeing any more RNC photo releases anytime soon.

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Media Calvins 

Good post now on Liberal Oasis Giving Up On The Public about what kind of media coverage could be generated about the substantive points raised in the convention speeches.
Years ago, I read a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin is supposed to do a school report on bats. He complains to Hobbes "Bats? But I don't know anything about bats. How can they expect me to do a report on something I know nothing about?" And Hobbes mutters "Well, I suppose research is out of the question?"
It strikes me that a number of the high-profile American media types today are Calvins -- they are not particularly knowledgeable about anything, and they feel that having to research anything. like ABM treaties and assault weapons, is really beneath them.
And the reporters have been able to get away with this by what I call "Gonzo Journalism" - stories and chit-chat about  personalities and staged events and "he said, she said" pseudo-controversies and "breaking news" like fires and police chases -- like Jon Stewart's candidates' wives stories.  The TV reporters fake it with fast skims of newspaper stories.  But the newspaper reporters are using uncredited  news agency stories as tje basis for their own output.  Its positively  incestous -- the high- profile reporters skim other reporters' stories for their own research, or get an intern to look up a few clippings.
The only place you now see American journalists doing actual research is for feature magazine stories -- places like Newsweek and Time and Atlantic, and Harpers, and the New York Review of Books, and The New Yorker - and for 60 Minutes.   In an average week, the total output is maybe five or six real "stories".
At least in Canada, we have CBC and CTV programs like The Fifth Estate and Passionate Eye and a few other news programs where actual research is the basis of the stories they do. And the Globe does a consistently good job on its feature stories.
Isn't it funny -- when Turner first started CNN, it was supposed to be a financial disaster, but instead its success has spawned innumerable other all-news stations and TalkRadio and CSPAN and all that -- so we have more American news on today than ever before and yet so much of it is just Gonzo.


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Convention hoopla 

Billmon's post - Star Spangled - expresses many of my feelings about the Convention coverage I watched tonight, though I was moved by the 9/11 tribute and the mother's speech more than he was -- I thought it hit the right note.
Clinton was terrific -- no doubt he could be elected again tomorrow (and, yes, no doubt Reagan could have been elected again too).
Anyway, MSNBC showed the impact his speech had -- even Joe Scarborough, Clinton hater from way back, had to admit what a powerful speech it was. Clinton was very straightforward, too, saying that he and Bush and Cheney avoided Vietnam, but Kerry went -- very effective repetition of the line "Kerry said, Send me". Also I was impressed by Clinton saying that the tax cuts benefited him (and, the unspoken implication, Bush and Cheney too) but that his benefit was being taken out of the pockets of the people at the convention. He demonstrated that the personal is political.
And finally, the media was spouting some DNC talking points -- after months and months of pounding the point home, it seemed that the media finally is saying that having combat experience and showing bravery in combat does make a difference in the quality of presidential leadership -- I think the speech (which I missed) and an interview with the reverend David Alston who served with Kerry also had a great impact here. He said he would go to war again if Kerry sent him. If only the media continues with this message . . .
And finally, I watched Brokaw and Russert interviewing Jon Stewart -- boy, was that pathetic. Stewart started by saying that, regardless of taxes and war and the economy and health care, the focus of media coverage should really be on the candidates' wives. And Brokaw JUST DID NOT GET IT -- sat there, nodded, looked serious and all that. Stewart tried twice, and finally gave up and moved to another topic, saying something about how long a day it must have been. To his credit, Russert was laughing - obviously, he did get it.
And about the Blogger coverage:
So far, at least, many of the Convention "bloggers" aren't as good as Billmon, who is watching on TV like me. Now, I haven't checked them all, but Kos has nothing, and TalkLeft provides a travelog with no analysis and Liberal Oasis couldn't get a wireless feed. The exceptions are pandagon.net, which has some insightful comments about being on the convention floor during the 9/11 tribute, and about Hillary's speech, and the Buzzflash convention blog  -- these type of "informed personal opinion" posts show what bloggers can do that journalists cannot.

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Monday, July 26, 2004

'Shove it where the sun don't shine' 

MSNBC - Kerry's wife tells editor to "shove it"
Much is being made about Heinz Kerry's remark to a journalist just after she spoke about increasing civility in politics. Well, as least she didn't tell a repulican politician to 'go fuck yourself'. Rather, she told a reporter to 'shove it' when he kept asking her about what "unamerican activities" she was talking about (in her speech, she had actually referred to "unamerican traits") -- she told him, quite rightly, that she didn't SAY "unamerican activities" and therefore could not answer his question.
The reporter in question was the editor of a local newspaper which has "investigated" Heinz Kerry's charitable foundation and was a rabid Clinton-hater. Well, I'll be interested to see how her coverage now compares to Cheney's Go Fuck Yourself coverage -- that, of course, WAS said to a fellow politician.

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Coulter shut up? 

Coulter's DNC Coverage for 'USA Today' Gets Delayed Start
Well, isn't this interesting? So has Ann Coulter finally run up against an editor who demands some modicum of truth to her bile? The quotes in the story are the typical "no news here, move along, move along" reactions that news organizations usually give to any stories covering their own internal workings, but Coulter has never struck me as someone who accepts editing gladly.
UPDATE - yes, she has been fired.  Here is the drivel she called a "column"  No wonder they rejected it -- incoherent,  and no actual news anywhere, just a bunch of one-liners which don't make any sense.   Maybe being around so many Democrats actually threw her off her game.

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Helicopters twisting in the wind 

The Globe and Mail - Ottawa forced to buy Sikorsky, sources say
These helicopter stories in the Globe, including this latest "revelation", always seem to be based almost entirely on unnamed "sources". This one sounds like it came from Cormorant's lawyers because it talks mainly about all the possible lawsuits and court options -- I wonder if these will hold up the contract? I think its rather brazen for Cormorant to sue -- wasn't this the same company that was supposed to get the contract 10 years ago, then Chretien pulled it, and paid a half-billion penalty? So they already collected half a billion dollars for which the taxpayers got no value -- and now they want to milk us for more?
I guess Martin should just stand up and say "Look, cancelling the deal 10 years ago was stupid, but Chretien did it anyway. So now that I'm in charge, we're finally getting on with it."

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Gonzo bloggers 

MSNBC's Hardblogger site - will be a useful one to keep up with DNC blog coverate (though some of their links are to outdated posts rather than to the main site - go to the title bar and click to see the most up-to-date posts).
But what I have read so far on some of the much-touted Convention blogs are travelogs and coverage of the press coverage which mentions the bloggers and gee whiz comments about how great it is to be blogging in Boston. There also seems to be a compulsion to publish photos of the media credentials.
I sincerely hope that the blog content improves or else the whole thing will be a gigantic waste of time.
The ones I am intending to check regularly are Liberal Oasis, Daily Kos, TalkLeft and Pandragon. Eschaton and TalkingPointsMemo are also at the convention though not on the official list.
UPDATE - Buzzflash is also blogging the convention.

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Saturday, July 24, 2004

Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now . . . 

Great post at Liberal Oasis -- Great Moments In Convention Acceptance Speeches
I particularly liked Clinton's 1996 speech which included reference to terrorism, pleading with the Gingrich Congress to pass his proposed laws to fight terrorism: We need new laws to crack down on money laundering and to prosecute and punish those who commit violent acts against American citizens abroad; to add chemical markers or taggents to gunpowder used in bombs so we can crack the bomb makers; to extend the same power police now have against organized crime to save lives by tapping all the phones that terrorists use. Terrorists are as big a threat to our future, perhaps bigger, than organized crime. Why should we have two different standards for a common threat to the safety of America and our children? We need, in short, the laws that Congress refused to pass. And I ask them again, please, as an American, not a partisan matter, pass these laws now.
I guess Congress didn't do it.
But that was then and this is now.

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Friday, July 23, 2004

Well, du-uh! 

Waits for emergency room tests longest on weekends
Sometimes I am surprised by what is "news" -- like this story -- didn't everyone already know this? Perhaps we lacked the statistics, but anyone with half a brain always knew that the worst time to get sick is on a weekend, likely followed closely by getting sick after midnight on a weeknight -- in particular, avoid emergency rooms on Friday and Saturday nights, when they are rockin' and rollin' with drunks and drug ODs, not to mention the weekend-warrior injuries (broken bones, etc, suffered by people doing sports and home repairs on the weekend).
A related story in this morning's Globe talked about how difficult it was going to be for Martin to reduce waiting lists. I think the solution for waiting lists is basically pretty simple -- double the number of specialists nationwide, and triple the hospital capacity for them to do their surgeries and other treatments. The trick will be whether Martin can force provincial governments to spend their health dollars on these priorities.

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What's that smell? 

There's a whiff of desperation in the air -- GOP Seeks Catholic Parish Directories.

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9/11 commission comments 

A Lesson From 9/11: Openness
I like Dionne's idea -- "Clinton and Bush owe the nation back-to-back news conferences to react to the criticisms contained in the report. The news conferences should be open-ended. No plausible question should be left behind or evaded. If we want to move forward, we have to put the recrimination behind us. As the Sept. 11 commission has shown, openness and honesty are the best means to that end. " However, the only reporters allowed in the room should be ones who have read the whole report cover to cover and who can ask intelligent questions about it.
And I know its fashionable not to blame anyone for anything anymore, but from my skimming of the report so far, I do wonder how the Department of Defense and the office of the National Security Advisor came off so easily -- both appear to have refused to take terrorism as seriously as they should have over the years. Particularly the Department of Defense, which set such an unrealistically high standard for strking Bin Laden in Afganistan prior to 9/11 that they effectively kiboshed any White House initiatives in this area, and which did not appear to take seriously the risk of terrorist individuals, rather than states, attacking the US. And the terrorism response team in 1999 dealt successfully with the millenium threats, and was known to be successful at the time, but I did not see any discussion of why the National Security Advisor did not continue this type of activity.

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Thursday, July 22, 2004

Bush slogans 

I like Talking Points Memo list of possible Bush slogans:.
1. Not as terrible as it could have been!
2. Four more years and we'll be safe!
3. Peace!
4. Incompetence and exaggeration, not bad-faith or lying, as shown in two recent reports!
5. Are you better off today than you would have been today assuming that that idiot Al Gore had won four years ago and he was president instead of me?

Here's some more:
6. I was a war president but now I'm a peace president. Whatever...
7. Saying America is safer while acting as though it is not
8. If Democrats are girly men, then Republicans must be manly girls
Any other suggestions?

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Bush supports three tax increases for poor families! 

Bush Quashes GOP Deal on Tax Cuts' Life
Or so the election advertisement tag line should read.

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Sauce for the goose 

House Panel to Investigate Berger Case
I don't recall any House investigation of the Plame case -- did I miss it?

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PTSD and Washington 

Richard Cohen's column Our Forgotten Panic is a good one. I know we are a great and brave country, but sometimes we react to threats by simply going to pieces. It's great that we have multiple commissions looking into intelligence failures, but none of those commissions will come close to the greatest intelligence failure of all -- our inability to use our heads when we most needed to. The terrorist attacks coupled with the anthrax scare unhinged us a bit -- or maybe more than a bit. We eventually went into a war that now makes little sense and that, without a doubt, was waged for reasons that simply did not exist. We did so, I think, because we were scared. You could say we lacked judgment. Maybe. I would say we lacked leadership.
Before the war, John LeCarre wrote an article entited The United States of America Has Gone Mad, and Margaret Atwood wrote A Letter to America just after the war began. I reread both after seeing Cohen's column because they both also discussed America's panic and fear. Now, I don't think it matters how great and brave a country is, just about everyone always reacts to trauma, initially, by going to pieces. But after 911, I think everyone in Washington descended into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - some of the symptoms of poor coping with PTSD are "isolation, workaholism, violent behavior, angry intimidation of others . . . and self-destructive behavior" -- and doesn't this just characterize Washington over the last three years? Its a tragedy that the Bush administration took the cynical approach, using America's panic and playing on Bush's own cowardice, just to advance the neocon political agenda and make a few bucks. America deserved better.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Good news 

Canada goes to pot
: "Prime Minister Paul Martin said that his government would re-introduce decriminalization legislation when Parliament resumes in October. 'The legislation on marijuana - the decriminalization of minor quantities of marijuana - that legislation will be introduced,' Mr. Martin told reporters after the first Liberal cabinet meeting was held."
The story reports that "3 million Canadians 15 and up admitted to using marijuana in 2001" though also noting that "nearly half (47 per cent) said they used it less than once a month".

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Kerry by a nose, so far 

I don't get it. I keep reading news stories about how poorly Kerry/Edwards are doing in the polls. When I checked the July polls at the Polling Report WH2004: General for the Kerry/Edwards vs Bush/Cheney match ups, this is what I found:
Pew (1,568 surveyed July 8-18): Kerry 46% Bush 44%
Christian Science monitor (842 surveyed July 12-17) Kerry 44% Bush 41%
Marist College (938 surveyed July 12-15) Kerry 47% Bush 46%
CBS/NYT (823 surveyed July 11-15) Kerry 49% Bush 44%
Democracy Corps (1,010 surveyed July 10-13) Kerry 52% Bush 45%
WP (721 surveyed July 8-11) Kerry 46% Bush 46%
CNN/USA Today (705 surveyed July 8-11) Kerry 50% Bush 46%
Newsweek (1,001 surveyed July 8-9) Kerry 47% Bush 44%
Time (774 surveyed July 6-8) Kerry 49% Bush 45%
Zooby (1,008 surveyed July 6-7) Kerry 48% Bush 46%
AP Ipsos (804 surveyed July 5-7) Bush 50% Kerry 46%
NBC (504 surveyed July 6) Kerry 49% Bush 41%
American Research Group (773 surveyed July 1-3) Kerry 49% Bush 45%

So Kerry led every one except AP.
Now, I know that many of these are within the poll's own margin of error. But the tilt toward Kerry/Edwards has been unmistakable for the last two weeks, leading toward the Democratic convention. And Kerry is raising more money than Bush, which is another kind of poll I guess. So obviously lots and lots of people want Kerry/Edwards to win.
Two other poll results worth mentioning: Newsweek also reports that only 43% want to see Bush reelected, while 52% do not. Zooby also reports that 43% said Bush deserves reelection, while 53% think its time for someone new.
(Note that Nader wasn't a factor in any of these polls, really -- I didn't bother reporting these stats as well, but though the percentages were a little lower when Nader was included, the gap between Kerry and Bush remained virtually the same.)

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Liar, liar, pants on fire 

Love it -- MSNBC - Ice cream mogul puts Bush in the hot seat What a cool idea for a hot summer season!

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Imagine there's no countries . . .  

Imagine if your neighbour built a 10 foot fence between your yard and his, cutting off half your driveway, and he also jogged it onto your property to enclose some trees he had planted without your permission -- how mad would you be? But then again, if the reason he built the wall was because you kept throwing rocks through his windows and killing his cats and hurting his children . . . well, how can this ever be resolved?
Isn't it too bad that countries can't just pack up and  move -- wouldn't it be great if Israel could move to a friendlier neighbourhood -- somewhere between Italy and France, perhaps, or even between New York State and Quebec, though they might not like the winters.
And then maybe Quebec could move to somewhere south of France if they decided to leave Canada.  And the Basque region of Spain could move to somewhere just north of Brazil.  And the Chechnyans could move out of Russia, maybe somewhere south of Turkey?  And Ireland could trade locations with Vancouver Island, settling the so-called Irish Question while also allowing the most "british" part of British Columbia to move closer to home, with the side benefit of letting the provincial capital move to Vancouver, where it should have been all along. 
But what, oh what, do we do with Alberta?  Would anyone else on the planet want to live next door to Ralph?


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Comments on things I missed 

Being away for a week (and then again yesterday), I missed a few goings-on -- now I think I have mostly caught up, so here are some random comments:
On the CRTC decisions:  I found the media furor mystifying -- we set up the CRTC to regulate broadcasting, then they get criticized for regulating broadcasting!  Personally, I agreed with all of the recent decisions -- and I was amazed when media kept saying things like that they "turned down" Fox, or the Italian channel, and they "approved" AlJazeera, when anyone who spent five minutes looking into it could have written these stories accurately.
Cellucci leaving:  Don't let the door clip you in the ass on the way out.
Setting up a petition to charge Michael Moore under the Elections Act:  Is there an award in Canada for dumbest stunt?  If so, this would win it.  When the Act says its illegal for a foreigner to "induce" a Canadian vote, it seemed quite clear to me that this section meant an actual bribe or monetary payoff of some kind.  Not just a speech, for heaven's sake.  I have since read that no one knows quite what this section refers to because it has never been used. 
Iraq, Iran and all that:  POGGE had an interesting piece last week on Chalabi and the intelligence issue.  History will, I think, conclude that this was one of the most successful disinformation campaigns of all time, when the minor power Iran was able to trick the most militarily powerful but intellectually stupid nation in the world.  The US  not only destroyed Iran's long-time enemy, opening the opportunity for the first time in history to a Shiite theocracy in Iraq, but also weakened its own military and undermined its own diplomatic credibility.   Now that the stuff about Iran's apparent connection to  911 is coming out, no doubt the US hawks would love to declare war on Iran.    But they shot their bolt on Afganistan and Iraq -- they don't have enough soldiers or armament or money to mount another war now, and because the world no longer believes US intelligence, they would have no allies to fight with them.

 

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Memories of troopergate 

So the Sandy Berger story is all over the news -- even though it supposedly happened a year ago.  Some unnamed archives staffer supposedly saw Berger stuffing documents in his socks, for crying out loud -- if anyone actually saw this, why didn't they stop him? So maybe this is the crime of the century ( but it seems odd that the FBI has never actually interviewed Berger even though they have been "investigating" this security breach for a year) but it reminds me of another "troopergate" -type of story, where some underling  supposedly witnessed a high profile Democrat doing something illegal.   His lawyer told CNN that Berger inadvertantly shuffled memos into his portfolio last July when he was reviewing documents for possibe release to the 911 commission (apparently, returned after he was told last October to look for them), and that he also knowingly jotted down some notes and took these with him for his 911 commission testimony.  Walking out with the documents was illegal, though leaving with the notes was not. 
There have been a lot of questions raised about why this story is everywhere all of a sudden.  
One of the items likely coming in the 911 commission report on Thursday will be some sharp criticism of the Bush White House for withholding several thousands of documents from the commission until pushed to release them.  Now the White House can imply that Berger stole documents showing he and Clinton were to blame for 911.
UPDATE -- And let's not forget that the Plame inditments may be coming down soon.  With Bergen now also under investigation by a grand jury, the "moral equivalence" argument can be made, so that the Plame leaker becomes somehow equivalent to Bergen.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I vote for Malathion over Deet 

CBC News: Winnipeg resumes fogging after clash with protesters Now, I haven't researched all the pros and cons of malathion, because I don't want to ruin my amateur standing, but I generally tend to go along with Health Canada recommendations because they are using my tax dollars to investigate these kinds of things.
Its too bad that the media quote the most rabid and therefore least credible members of the environmental movement. This story quoted a protester as saying that malathion is ". . killing everyone in Winnipeg". Please, stop with the hyperbole!
Yes, Malathion is a pesticide, and a powerful one, but cities have to evaluate this kind of trade-off all the time. Malathion isn't benign, but its impact on societal health is certainly less than the impact of mosquito-borne diseases, like West Nile and encephalitis (which Winnipeg also has every summer), and its individual impact is substantially less than having to spray every square inch of your skin several times a day with Deet, particularly for young children and for people like city workers, police and the like who must work outside in the summer. Its not pleasant either way, but there it is.



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Poor Ontario, it's just not fair! 

John Ibbitson's column on the cabinet Winners: The West, and the PM's pals illustrates why the west is alienated from the east. The most important thing about the cabinet, according to Ibbitson, is that there are not as many MPs from Ontario in it as he thinks there should be. He writes "As rumours hardened into likelihood last night, and likelihood into fact, it became clear that Paul Martin has decided two things: He will stick with those he trusts, and Ontario can be taken for granted. The second Martin ministry contains a disproportionate emphasis on western MPs."
Could it be possible that, because Martin made a particular effort before the election to recruit electable high profile candidates in the west, that the western liberals elected were a particularly competent bunch?
Could it be that too many of the Ontario MPs have been tainted with all of the Chretien scandals and problems of the past decade?
Naah, of course not.
Its just a mean Martin plot to insult Ontario. Now, I haven't searched the whole list but it appears to me like Ontario still has 15 of the 38 cabinet members listed in the Globe. So only having a little less than half of the cabinet isn't enough? Oh, piffle!
UPDATE:  So according to the Globe today my figure of 15 was correct - exactly one (1) less Ontario minister than in the pre-election Cabinet.

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Sunday, July 18, 2004

Class war 

Bill Moyers recent speech This is the Fight of Our Lives sums it all up.
There's no question about it: The corporate conservatives and their allies in the political and religious right are achieving a vast transformation of American life that only they understand because they are its advocates, its architects, and its beneficiaries. In creating the greatest economic inequality in the advanced world, they have saddled our nation, our states, and our cities and counties with structural deficits that will last until our children's children are ready for retirement, and they are systematically stripping government of all its functions except rewarding the rich and waging war. And they are proud of what they have done to our economy and our society.
Haven't these people read any history? Don't they know that empires fall as well as rise? And the falls are always caused by greed combined with moral rot.
In little ole Canada, we have over the last decade moved beyond the rich-poor rhetoric, I think -- the last election showed that the Canadian people, basically, were more concerned about Conservative divisiveness than about Liberal scandals. It will be, I think, the last time that the Conservatives and NDP, in English Canada at least, will try to run just on a "throw the bastards out" platform -- Canadians do "demand better" than rhetoric. I think this demonstrates a certain level of political maturity. And our media, in spite of a few gonzo exceptions, responded to this and focused much of their coverage on actual issues rather than on hairstyles and mannerisms.
I am saddened that this level of maturity doesn't seem to exist in American politics. For all the talk about how America has such a great democracy, it seems to be so easy to hijack it, to get American media to parrot the RNC talking points -- reference the recent Daily Show take on how RNC talking points shape media language and coverage.
Are Michael Moore and Jon Stewart and Bill Moyers the only popular journalists who can see what is happening here? Well, at least Lou Dobbs is actually covering the job outsouring issue in a sustained way, but I haven't seen any other coverage like this.

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Saturday, July 17, 2004

Have I missed something? 

Yahoo! News - Bush Extends Debate on Values to Children
The "values" debate? WHAT "values" debate? When did this start? I guess I missed it -- is this related to gay marriage or what? And is Yost's implication that republicans have values while democrats do not?
I always thought it was the other way around, actually.

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We're back 

Hi, everyone - we had a great holiday -- took the Prairie Grand Circle route (Saskatoon to Edmonton to Jasper to Banff to Calgary and home again) and saw some mountains and some prairie and some chipmunks and some squirrels and some mountain sheep and some elk and some moose and some deer -- but no bears!  
And we went to F911 - what a movie.  I could understand why some people are cheering it and others are upset. 
The key point I took away from it reminded me of something WallyCoxLives said once in a comment -- Moore's most important assertion was that most of the boys and girls in the American armed forces are lower-class or lower-middle-class people, whose job options are few.  So, as Moore says, these kids are doing America's fighting so that "we don't have to" (note how he doesn't duck the issue that he himself, as well as congress people, are  in the wealthier classes who have options other than joining the services).  Moore continues -- if we are going to ask these soldiers to fight and die for America, it have to make sure that the war it sends them to is a just war, a necessary war to protect America.  And the Iraq war was NOT necessary.   It echoed Wally's point, which was a response to a post I made about the draft -- Wally said he would tolerate a draft for his children as long as Kerry was in the White House, because he was confident that Kerry would not involve the US in an unnecessary war -- and  the same assurance cannot be given about Bush or the Republicans.

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Sunday, July 11, 2004

Well, I'm off . . . 

. . . for a week's holiday. See you next Sunday. In the meantime, here's a great cartoon: the Sunday, July 11 Doonesbury - Doonesbury@Slate - Daily Dose

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Saturday, July 10, 2004

What, $15 million isn't enough for you? 

Lotto winner says jilted lover didn't sign wedding deal Ah, it is to laugh -- why do people DO this to each other and to themselves? Why do people get so greedy? The simple truth is that he was married when he won the $30 million. Therefore his wife is legally entitled to a share of it, regardless of how they were getting along or who lied to who or whatever. Just accept it, fella, and move on.

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The real issue 

Bush Presses Case Against Gay Marriage This AP story shows that Americans, even Democrats, just don't get it.
Yost writes "The vote puts some Democrats and Republicans in a difficult position. One senator acknowledged the political risk in trying to walk a line supporting both traditional marriage and gay rights."
But this isn't the issue at all.
During the Canadian election campaign, Martin clearly laid out the real issue -- it is not whether someone does or doesn't support gay marriage, but whether people do or do not support the duty of the provincial and federal Supreme Courts to interpret the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It was charter challenges which led to the legalization of gay marriage in BC, Ontario and Quebec -- the courts said that, under the charter, all people had the right to marry. Period.
Now, in the US, courts are dealing with the same issue, and, not surprisingly, they're concluding the same thing -- that their state and federal Bills of Rights say all citizens are to be treated equally under the law. Therefore no right given to one person can be denied another person.
And THAT'S the issue, folks.
So the question really is, does the US Congress support the Bill of Rights, or not?

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No nuance, no detail - just cut to the chase 

Billmon is back with a lengthy and complicated piece on the Enron scandal Play It As It Lays
One problem with this story is the complexity of the narrative -- people prefer simpler tales of good and evil. Just look at Billmon's last sentence: "Right now [the Republicans are] desperately trying to sell the proposition that because Kenny Boy ate dinner at Teresa Heinz Kerry's house two years ago (along with the other members of the board of the Heinz Center for Science, Economy and the Environment) the Democrats are just as tainted by the Enron embrace as the [Republican] party, and the [Bush] family, that accepted millions of dollars in soft and hard dollar contributions from Enron insiders, that placed Enron-recommended appointees in critical state and federal jobs, that pushed through legislative and regulatory changes worth billions to Enron, and that dutifully adopted the policies that allowed Lay and his crew to amass huge personal fortunes while systematically robbing Enron's customers, shareholders and employees."
How unlikely it is that most journalists will understand this complexity and be able to construct this into a narrative which can be covered on the evening news.
Its one of the biggest problems that the left-wing and the democrats have to deal with -- the complexity of the problems are hard to explain in a few words. But it is important that Kerry try to construct narratives about the Republican record and his own vision that are easier for the public to grasp.
My advice - discard nuance, reject detail, just cut to the chase. Let the RNC be on the defensive for a change. So what if they attack these constructions as simplistic, which they may be, as long as there is truth at their core?
Lay cheated the American public, and his Republican friends helped him do it.
Bush and Cheney used false evidence to start a war that killed a thousand Americans.
Republican tax cuts for the rich, if maintained, will mortgage America's future.
When faced with recession and job losses, the Republicans did nothing.

And Kerry has to develop a simple narrative for his own policies:
America must throw off the shackles of dependence on middle-east oil.
The American people deserve decent health care.
Terrorism must be fought strategically and decisively.
10 million new jobs for Americans.

You get the idea.




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We have to save our phoney-baloney jobs, gentlemen* 

United Press International: Senate: Iraq intelligence was faulty
Now questions are being asked about why Senate democrats were so eager to endorse the intelligence report when it did not deal with the pressure issue from the White House.
I think I know why.
Here's the key quote -- "'We in Congress would not have authorized that war ... if we knew what we know now,' said Sen. John Rockefeller, democrat, to the news conference.
Basically, the Senate democrats could hardly wait to endorse a report which took them off the hook for their pro-war votes. In the end, it did not matter to Congress whether the Bush administration pressured the CIA to inflate intelligence; this is an issue which would only affect whether voters support Bush or not in November. No, what mattered to the Senate democrats was finding their own political cover for their own reelection campaigns.
*one of my favourite lines from Blazing Saddles

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Nice reach, George 

Bush skips NAACP meet due to hostile comments So Bush wants to "reach out" to African-Americans -- but won't speak at their convention because they have said mean things about him.
Another president, you know, might actually respect an organization like the NAACP, and might decide to explain his point of view and maybe win them over. But not Good Ole Gutless George -- reading My Pet Goat to grade schoolers is about as hostile an audience as he ever wants to deal with.

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Friday, July 09, 2004

A "reality show" I like 

Now, we almost never watch all of the reality shows on TV these days -- which relegates us to reruns of CSI and Law & Order this summer. But here is a reality show I could like.

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The best ball player in the world today 

is Derek Jeter.
He's what my daughter's softball coach described as an "impact" player -- someone who, when the chips are down, can be counted on to come through. He doesn't always hit or field perfectly, of course, but when his team needs him he creates the opportunity for the team to win. Derek Jeter's top 10 clutch moments Its a joy to read, just to relive all those great baseball moments.

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It's ALWAYS the staff's fault 

Report: CIA Gave False Info on Iraq
Poor Bush and poor Cheney, just a couple of good ole boys, poor country bumpkins really, so badly misled by their staff. Why, don't you remember all those speeches from Tenent and his analysts promoting the war? All that terrible pressure they were bringing onto Bush and Cheney and Rice in 2002 and 2003 to be more agressive against Iraq, saying all the time that containment wouldn't work, that war was the only answer? Don 't you remember all that?
One thing that staff in a government bureaucracy must remember at all times -- whenever anything goes wrong, its ALWAYS the staff's fault in the end. And when it goes spectacularly wrong, as it has in Iraq, then the blame is spectacular, too.
Politicians almost always try to save themselves by blaming their staff. No matter that Cheney and Gingrich made innumerable trips to Langley to yell at the analysts who didn't evaluate intelligence to their liking -- no matter that Rumsfeld set up his own baby CIA "Office of Special Plans" to stovepipe defector stories directly to the President, no matter that the CIA and State analysts said over and over and over that Iraq could be handled by containment, that the tubes were for industry, that there was no evidence that Iraq was trying to import yellowcake. Nope, before the war, the analysts were all wet.
So, to save their miserable jobs, the analysts finally caved -- well OK, maybe you're right, I guess maybe the intelligence could be interpreted that way. . . -- and now, kaboom, the whole war is their fault, and their careers are over anyway.
Well, those who live by the sword die by the sword.
There will be a lot of lessons learned from the Iraq war, many unintentional.
And not the least will be, by bureaucrats, that they MUST NOT give in to political pressure to distort their results. If they lose their backbone, as the CIA analysts did, then they have failed the public which pays their salaries. Politicians come and go, but the staff stays. They work for the pubic, not for the politicians, so their public trust is to maintain the standards of their profession. So, in that sense at least, they actually were to blame.

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Thursday, July 08, 2004

No wonder 

Pentagon Says Bush Records of Service Were Destroyed
No wonder the world is full of conspiracy theories these days.
Now, the particular set of destroyed records, according to the story, only cover payroll records for three of the eight to 12 months for which Bush's service records are in question.
But when records disappear, its no wonder there are theories about why.

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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Well, its over 

U.S. Pilot Fined for Killing Canadian Soldiers
But this leaves a sour taste -- so at least he won't be flying again, and at least the general said he "acted shamefully on April 17, 2002 over Tarnak Farms, Afghanistan, exhibiting arrogance and a lack of flight discipline" but four Canadian boys are still dead and he's paying a fine of $1,418 per.
I guess what galls is that he is STILL whining -- he has never shown remorse, and acknowledged that his cowboy attitude was wrong - at least the other pilot resigned voluntarily.


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It's John-John 

Kerry picks Edwards as VP candidate
This is great news -- Edwards brings his youth and energy to the ticket.
And it carries on with the subtle reincarnation theme -- first we have JFK (now standing for John F. Kerry), who is married to a glamorous, aristocratic Terry (its not quite "Jackie" but the stylish similarities are there). And now we have "John-John" again. And Edwards has a son named Jack.

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Monday, July 05, 2004

Oh, sure 

C.I.A. Held Back Iraqi Arms Data, U.S. Officials Say Another headline for The Project.
But, you know, it occured to me that the one positive thing resulting from the whole flap over WMD intelligence is that nobody has to take John Bolton seriously anymore.

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Clean sweep 

Sorry for the lack of new posts -- we've been doing one of those once-a-decade projects of cleaning everything out of the laundry room and the storage room, repainting, repacking everything into plastic storage bins, plus throwing tons of stuff out. My goal was a 50 per cent reduction -- we didn't quite achieve that, but it's close!
This is the kind of exciting holiday event that you, too, can look forward to when you've been married for 30+ years!

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Friday, July 02, 2004

It's a beginning 

Ted Rall often strikes me as a bit of a left-wing nutcase, but I can appreciate the feeling behind his latest screed
We are at war, but the terrorists aren't foreigners. We are fighting for our nation's soul. The right-wing Republicans who control the government and the media have no intention of sharing their power. Thus they present themselves and their ideas--that we should spend our national treasury on invading oil-producing nations but not on national healthcare, that it's acceptable to throw people into concentration camps--as the living embodiment of what it means to be American. Meanwhile the neofascist bullies slime everybody else--the majority--as 'anti-American.' The United States is living under ideological apartheid. There are a many more of us than there are corporatist neofascists, but as any prison inmate can attest, numerical superiority does not assure victory. Excluded from access to mainstream politics and media, measured and even-toned opponents are ignored and marginalized. The current situation calls for radical, loud, even ugly, tactics. Nelson Mandela, fighting the racist white minority government of South Africa, resorted to building bombs to loosen the grip of apartheid. Here in America, one unfair, dissembling movie by a liberal loudmouth like Michael Moore, no matter how successful, could never be powerful enough to counter the millions of conservative lies disseminated by thousands of talk radio stations and newspapers every minute of every day of every year. But it's a beginning.

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You Know you're Canadian If.... 

1. You've frozen your tongue to something metal and lived to tell about it.
2. You're not offended by the term "Homo Milk"
3. You drink pop, not soda
4. You understand the sentence "Could you please pass me a
serviette, I spilled my poutine"
5. You know that a mickey and a 2-4 means "Party at the camp eh!"
6. You talk about the weather with friends and strangers alike
7. When there is a social problem, you turn to your government to fix it instead of telling them to stay out of it.
8. You're not sure if the leader of your nation has EVER had sex and you don't want to find out!
9. You dismiss all beers under 6% as "for children or the elderly"
10. You know that Casey and Finnegan aren't a Celtic music group
11. You participated in "Participaction"
12. You are excited whenever an American tv show mentions Canada
13. Back bacon and Kraft dinner are two of your favourite food
groups
14. You wear socks with our sandals
15. You know all the words to "If I had a million dollars" by The Barenaked Ladies, including the inter-stanza banter between Steven and Ed.
16. You think Ed the Sock is funny.
17. You wonder why there isn't a 5 dollar coin.
16. You have memorized the Heritage Foundation's Heritage Moments, including your favourites, "You know I canna read a word...", "Come on, Vince" and "Kanata".
17. You can sing "O' Canada" in French and actually know what the words mean!
18. You send angry letters to the CBC demanding the return of the Hinterland Who's Who so you can finally find out what happens to the arctic ptarmigan in winter.
19. You think Great Big Sea isn't Maritime-centric enough.
20. Your backpack has more than one Canadian flag iron-on.
21. You have been on Speaker's Corner.
22. You know the French equivalents of ``free,'' ``prize'' and ``no sugar added,'' thanks to your extensive education in bilingual cereal packaging.
23. You know who said "Now I'll call Rusty".
24. You had a crush on Joey Jeremiah from Degrassi Junior High.
25. You think -10 C is mild weather.
26. You have twins named Donovan and Bailey.
27. You have twins named Wayne and Gretzky (alternatively Gordie and Howe).
28. Thinking of Johnny Wayne causes gales of laughter. I told him, Julie, don't go.
29. You're proud that Captain Kirk came from Montreal.
30. You read rather than scanned this list.
(Thanks to various other Canadian websites, from which I stole some of these items.)

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Thursday, July 01, 2004

Right-wing crazy 

Framing Michael Moore -- In These Times
So the right wing is going crazy about Fahrenheit 9/11, trying to blanket the airwaves with all sorts of accusations about how the film is "lying" about this, that and the other. They seem to be focusing on three things -- first, flying the saudis out of the country acutally happened September 14, not 13. Second, that the Carlyle Group isn't really such a big deal, links to the Carlyle Group -- well, the CG isn't really as big a deal as it seems to be. And third, that James Bath wasn't as much of a Bush frield as Moore says he is.
Well, pardon me, but so what?
Eric Alterman, in Michael Moore, Cause for War? - asks why journalists are hysterical about Moore's film when they did not subject Bush evidence for war to any examination at all -- "Perhaps not all of Moore's contentions are equally valid; perhaps some are even wrong. But his record so far looks awfully good compared to those of Mssrs. Bush and Cheney. If only the media that enabled those two had taken their contentions remotely as seriously..."
And the one big scene in F9/11 which no one can rebut is the seven minutes that Bush spent reading My Pet Goat, while thousands were burning and jumping and dying in the World Trade Centre. Why did Bush do nothing? Because he's a coward. When faced with the need for decisive action, he froze.
And there is no way that all the journalists and right-wing crazies in the world can get around that fact.

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