Thursday, September 30, 2004

What can you do in five minutes?

After Bush was told "America is under attack" on 9/11. he spent the next five minutes or more sitting and flipping through My Pet Goat.
Now, in five minutes, I can sweep the kitchen floor, or mix up a cake mix, or fold a load of laundry. I can run across the street to help a boy who fell off his bike, or bandage my daughter's bloody knee, or remove a sliver from my son's finger. I can deal with a phone call at work, or type up an email, or proofread a poster.
So what's the explanation for why Bush took five minutes to do anything on 9/11?
When FOXNews ballyhooed that O'Reilly was going to ask him the big question about why he just sat there, I just had to check to see what his answer was:
"O'REILLY: One of the big propaganda things against you is the classroom in Florida after 9/11 when Andrew Card came in and whispered in your ear. . . . Let's clear this up once and for all. What were you thinking?
BUSH: I was thinking America was under attack, I was collecting my thoughts, and I wasn't about to panic a bunch of kids. And the program was winding down, I waited for the end of the program, I excused myself and I went to action. And what the American people will judge me on is whether or not I handled that crisis, in a way that lets them know that, that I'll lead in this war on terror, that's what they need to look at, and I think they are looking at it that way."
So I guess he only appeared to be stunned and speechless, frozen with fear, unable to move, needing someone to tell him what to do. Actually, he was 'collecting his thoughts' -- they must have been pretty scattered, eh?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Progressive Women Bloggers Ring

Thanks to Shaula at tsuredzuregusa, I just applied to join the Progressive Women Bloggers Ring See all the links, below. Looks like a terrific group.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Five cruicial questions for the media to ask about Bush's performance during the debate

Josh Marshall describes the problem with the "post-debate debate" in this post at Talking Points Memo. He emphasizes how important it is for dems to begin framing the crucial debate issues NOW rather than later.
In other words, if they don't take steps now, the Dems will get a "post debate analysis" of how sweaty Kerry got under the TV lights. Its already part of the RNC spin.
So the Dems should focus their frame on the following five crucial questions:
1. Will Bush's receeding hairline allow too much forehead shine in the television glare?
2. Is his hair too wispy to show well in the debate backdrop?
3. Will the debate rule against using any stepstools or platforms make Bush look too short and fat beside Kerry? Will the podium be short enough that Bush can lean on it as he likes to do when speaking?
4. Will Bush find the warning lights too distracting? Will these throw him off balance during his answers?
5. Will there be sufficient water available so that Bush does not have to keep constantly licking his lips during his answers?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Someone may be tapping the phone, but they're not listening

Well, the US war on terror doesn't seem to be going so well on the home front, either.
If there actually are any real terrorists making phone calls these days, I guess they can stop bothering to speak in code. How incredibly unlucky would they have to be if any phone call they made actually got translated? MSNBC - FBI lags in translating audio from terror probes -- the article says the FBI had more than 300,000 hours of untranslated tapes. And remember the news a few days ago (see my Saturday post) that all a terrorist has to do to get off the No-Fly list is change his name?
The problem is this -- too much technology, not enough focus! Sure they can record hundreds of thousands of hours of phone calls, which which ones are the important ones? And they can put thousands of people on No-Fly lists, but which ones are actually dangerous? While US agencies spend millions of dollars and hundreds of hours sorting through all this data, their systems are so convoluted and information-overloaded that any real terrorist could dance rings around it.
And now the War in Iraq is adding thousands of new potential "terrorists" to their phone tap and airline lists, as Iraqis and Muslims all over the Middle East get angrier and angrier at the United States.
Nice going, guys. Now, does everyone feel safer?

Monday, September 27, 2004

Flagpole article?

This bizarre article - Reporters Put Under Scrutiny in C.I.A. Leak - strikes me as a flagpole article - "let's run it up the flagpole, boys, and see who salutes!"
The article hints that no charges are going to be laid -- ". . . investigation inside the government, in which the president, the vice president and many other officials have been questioned, seems to have been both exhaustive and inconclusive . . . ". And while the text seems to confirm that Scooter Libby is one of the guilty ones -- "The four reporters who have testified in the Plame case say they talked about conversations with I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff . . . Mr. Libby's lawyer, Joseph A. Tate, said Mr. Libby had signed a form authorizing reporters to tell prosecutors about their conversations with him.. " -- the graphic implies he is not, or at least, not the only guilty one.
So the article, itself, becomes the prosecution if the investigation stalls.
And if the public and blogger reaction is that of course journalists should protect their sources, that the public interest demands it - well, then, that's the end of the investigation. If the reaction, however, is one of horrified disgust - how dare they connive at protecting a criminal? - then maybe the investigation continues.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

"The Americans will defeat the Americans"

CBC broadcast Control Room tonight -- its a documentary about Al Jazeera during the Iraq Warm up to about mid-May, 2003. What a terrific show.
Lots of terrific scenes and fascinating people, but the most affecting line for me came from CentCom reporter Hassam. When one of the other reporters asked him, before the war began, who would defeat the Americans, he said "America." His colleagues looked at him, and he explained, "America will defeat the Americans. The US Constitution. I believe in the US Constitution."
There, in one line, is the hope of the world, that Americans themselves will use the strength of their own constitutional foundation to turf out the neocons who have tried to jettison it.
See it if you can.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Utterly ridiculous

This Washington Post editorial points out the stupidity of how the 'No fly' lists are being enforced. Moonshadow Boxing
But here's a sentence that points out the stupidity of the lists themselves: "Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) apparently shares a name with someone on the no-fly list and has been told several times that he can't fly. So have numerous other non-terrorists. At least one person says he was told that he needed to have his name legally changed to avoid the problem in the future. " (emphasis mine)
So if legally changing your name is sufficient to avoid the 'No fly' list, what would stop a "real" terrorist from just changing his name, and flying all over the country? The whole thing appears to be just a ridiculous waste of time and money for everyone.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Those who live by the sword . . .

This Washington Monthly article "Perverse Polarity" by Paul Glastris lays the blame for increased partisanship in Washington at the door of the radical republican right.
Glastris concludes "The point is that [Republicans] have clearly taken the lead in dismantling bipartisanship by uniting around a radically conservative agenda and consciously--even gleefully--defying the old unwritten rules of politics that once kept partisanship and ideology in check. The same simply does not hold true on the other side of the political spectrum. You can say a lot of things about the Democrats. You can say the party's grassroots loathes Bush just as intensely as Republicans loathed Clinton. You can say Democratic members of Congress have, belatedly, become less naive about making deals with the Bush administration. But you can't say Democrats have moved farther to the left. They have recognized a radical presidency for what it is--but that does not make them radical as well."
Now, I am not a political scientist nor an expert on history, but in my observation, radicalism always leads, ultimately. to marginalization.
A radical agenda is, by definition, an ideological agenda. Radical ideology does not work in a democracy for the long term because it is not responsive. When ideas matter more than people, the ideology does not, because it cannot, respond to people's needs. In the end, provided that the elections are held fairly, of course, ideology is ALWAYS voted out eventually.
Even a cursory look at the politics of democracies in the 20th century proves this case -- in England, conservatives hold sway for a decade or two, then labour comes back with a rush when people finally get fed up. In Saskatchewan, the NDP get defeated when they simply will not listen to people's complaints. In Quebec, the Parti Quebecois loses when people get tired of the rhetoric. And, of course, if the next government also proves to be too ideological, then ultimately it gets turfed as well.
What drives Conservatives in Canada mad is that people simply will not vote the Liberals out of power -- the federal liberals refuse ideology as a basis for most of their political decisions, preferring polls and focus groups -- you might say their ideology is simply that they govern based on what people want. Ideologues on both sides call this cynical and pandering -- but actually, it works out quite well. Basically, if enough people want a non-ideological government to do something, then such a government will do it. That's OK with me.
Getting back to the situation in the US, the more ideological the republicans get, the more certain it is that ultimately they will lose. And it is the needless, ideological war in Iraq that will be their undoing. Just as Vietnam and the Iran hostage crisis were blamed on the democrats, which allowed the republicans to elect Nixon and Reagan, so America will blame the republican ideologues for Iraq -- and rightfully so.
Bush and Cheney cling to their justification of Iraq as payback for 9/11, as a crucial battleground in the War on Terror. But as the situation deteriorates there day by day, as it becomes more apparent that the US is losing Iraq, then even that linkage turns around and bites them in the ass -- if Iraq were, actually, a crucial battleground, then losing in Iraq means the US is losing the War on Terror, does it? And whose fault is that? Not only that, but they're also losing in Afghanistan, as the debacle-to-come in the Afghan elections in two weeks will make clear. They can writhe and snap at Kerry, and try to blame the UN, and the French, and everyone else, but basically they are twisting in the wind.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Kerry and the debates

The presidential debates are set. Its three-- which is an indication that Bush knows he is in serious trouble.
Now, the media meme is all about how terrific Bush is at connecting with the people, and how stiff and wooden and convoluted Kerry is. So count on the major media's "coverage" of the debates to pick Kerry's responses to pieces while applauding Bush for not tripping on the stage.
Remember how Gore actually "won" the first debate - his polls were up -- until the media decided overnight that he had actually lost and so announced it the next day?
The difference this time could be the blogs. Reporters deride them, but they read them -- don't ever think they don't -- and increasingly they take their direction from them.
Now, the right-wing bloggers will be doing their very best to put the positive spin on everything Bush says.
So it is the BOUNDEN DUTY of every good blogger to do the same for Kerry.
Kerry has a better plaform than Bush does, so have no doubt -- he will win these debates. But its crucial that the debates get reported this way.
First and foremost: Edit yourself! Refrain from blogging any policy quibbles and strategy critiques, which would lead reporters to intone things like "Senator Kerry's message tonight got a mixed reaction even from his own supporters.....blah, blah"
Second: Praise Kerry's engaging smile and throw in a mention of basset hound eyes (everybody loves bassets; heartwarming, friendly)
Third: Don't forget to mention Kerry's "commanding" presence and demeanour (tall, dominating, authoritative, etc etc). Bush's least remarked-upon trait is his remarkable resemblance to Mad Magazine's Alfred E Newman, which is getting more pronounced as his hair thins and as Alfred's "What Me Worry?" slogan becomes ever more applicable. The physical contrast with Kerry could not be greater.
Fourth, and very important: Repeat and echo every good Kerry line and phrase. He will have some good zingers, and a lot of thoughtful phrases which may not be delivered as well as they could be. It is every good blogger's duty to make sure they are highlighted.
Gentlemen, start your engines . . .

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

UN bashing

Here's the new RNC talking point -- Iraq is all the UN's fault. Listening to some US news broadcasts tonight about Bush's speech, the tone was that the UN should have helped more and because America had to do it alone, no wonder the troops are having problems and the UN said they would help with the elections but they aren't doing that either.
The New York Times criticizes Bush's speech as self-serving - President Bush's Lead Balloon: "Mr. Bush might have done better at wooing broader international support if he had spent less time on self-justification and scolding and more on praising the importance of international cooperation and a strengthened United Nations. Instead, his tone-deaf speechwriters achieved a perverse kind of alchemy, transforming a golden opportunity into a lead balloon. "
But they don't get it -- Bush didn't go to the UN to get anything done -- he just wanted to begin to establish the new talking point line. And bashing the UN has the side-benefit of undermining Kerry's approach for getting more international support.

Monday, September 20, 2004

"We were misled"

Compare and contrast:
"We were misled" says Dan Rather in MSNBC's story CBS News admits Bush documents can't be verified. The story continues "Rather acknowledged CBS failed to properly determine whether the documents were genuine." -- Sept. 20, 2004
Result: CBS election coverage tainted, credibility lost; RNC delighted with opportunity to try to smear the Kerry campaign. Talk shows hysterical.
"Before the war, the U.S. intelligence community told the president as well as the Congress and the public that Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and if left unchecked would probably have a nuclear weapon during this decade. Today we know these assessments were wrong." says Senator Pat Roberts, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee in CNN's story Report slams CIA for Iraq intelligence failures. The story says that intelligence used to support the invasion of Iraq was based on assessments that were "unreasonable and largely unsupported by the available intelligence." -- Friday, July 9, 2004
Result: 1,100 US troops dead, 8,000 wounded; 20,000 Iraqis dead; Iraq infrastructure destroyed; cost of $200 billion and rising; Al Quaida recruiting bonanza. Talk shows hysterical but Rumsfeld, Rice, Cheney all keep their jobs. Tenent retires.
Somehow, there's really no comparison . . .

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Kerry can rally courage in America

The new RNC talking point is that Al Quaida wants Kerry as president. "If you don't vote for Bush, the terrorists will git you!"
Cheney is saying it, so is Hastert. On the talk shows I watched today the republican senators mumbled that they didn't support it, but they weren't exactly ringing in their condemnation of the new line. And the DNC was sputtering about how outrageous an attack this is.
Gee, how unexpected! How out-of-character it is that the Bush campaign would use an outrageous smear against Kerry!
The example which keeps being used is Spain -- its now an established American meme that Al Quaida wanted the Spanish government defeated and the Spanish people were so scared by terrorism that they caved in.
This is, of course, stupid. It was the LYING that doomed the Anzar government. First this government joined the "coalition of the willing" though 90 per cent of Spaniards opposed to the war. The Spanish people never wanted their sons in harms way in Iraq. But the government lied that the troops and everyone else would be safe. Then came the suicide attacks -- and the government LIED AGAIN, saying that it was not its Iraq policy that was to blame, instead immediately trying to blame the Basque separatists . This fiction fell apart within a few days. The Spanish people were so angry that they turned out to vote in record numbers and threw the liars out in disgust.
That said, this "terrorists will win if you vote for Kerry" argument could be powerful in a nation which as frightened and demoralized as the United States is today. Four out of ten are still convinced that Iraq was behind 9/11. And some duct-taped their houses as the beginning of the Iraq War, so convinced were they that an attack by Saddam or Al Quaeda or someone was imminent.
Kerry has to turn his boat into this attack head-on -- just complaining about how unfair this is won't be enough.
He can continue what he is already saying -- that he will be more ferocious and more effective than Bush has been in tracking down Al Quaida directly.
He could add that he won't outsource the war on terror to Pakistan and Indonesia while American soldiers are tied down as the palace guard in Iraq. The likely debacle of the Afganistan elections in October will help, by demonstrating to the American people that the war against the Taliban is still going on. And if Howard loses in Australia, this will dispute the Spain myth. And he could remind people that while Bush was avoiding his flight physical, Kerry was leaping out of his Swiftboat and tracking down the Vietcong who was shooting at his buddies.
He can also rally the courage of the American people. For three years, "be afraid, be very afraid" has been the motto of the Bush administration, because they believe that fearful Americans would not oppose them. Kerry can inspire America to courage, the same way as he rallied his "band of brothers" in Vietnam.

Live show tunes!

I love this -- where else but in New York! Here it is, in full:
"This morning I had the most bizarre subway ride. I board the Number 3 train at Grand Army Plaza after 9 a.m. Find a seat, then settle into reading Henry James for class. I hear a woman’s voice gradually rising in volume. She is preaching the “Lord’s” word to the train car’s sleepy riders. Of course, I had forgotten the headphones for my subway evil sounds blocking device. The train stops and starts. The words denigrating “gay devils” reach my ears. I stand up.
Me: “Excuse me, but do you mind keeping your voice down, I am trying to read.”
Preacher Lady: (screams) “I got to testify.”
Preacher lady hitches up her skirts and tells me that I am going to hell for interrupting you-know-who’s word. Two or three OTHER Christian ladies on the train start shouting at me and discussing my prospects as the Devil’s prison bitch. The last straw was a 50 something red faced man in a suit slamming his Bible towards my face. There was only one thing I could do.
Me: “If you all don’t lower your voices and cease calling me Satan, I will have to sing show tunes.”
The other straphangers look at me with stony faces. I begin to sing. “Its very clear, our love is here to stay. Not for a year, but forever and a day…”
Preacher lady and the Jesus police start mumbling and beseeching G_d to strike me down and boil me in molten tar. (I look better in silver.) The train reaches Wall Street. Confused subway riders check out the scene. I begin swaying and feeling the music. The slamming Bible man looks like he is going to pop a blood vessel. “I cast ye out, Satan.” I go into jazz dance crouch and then spring up to belt out, “THAAAAAAT OLD BLACK MAGIC, HAS ME IN A SPELL…” Bible man has to get off the train as I wriggle and shimmy. “That same old witchcraft when your eyes meet mine!” Bible man exits. SHOW TUNES 1, FUNDAMENTALISTS 0. “So when you walk alone and forlorn, and hear that Cadillac horn remember, love isn’t born, its made…and that’s why every window has a window shade…bad a biddle be bop…” I try to discuss freedom of religion with the ladies, but all attempts at reasonable discourse fail.
By 34th street, the last of the Christian word warriors has left the train. 3 subway riders shake my hand and say, “I have always wanted to tell those idiots to shut up! Bless you.” I am shaking. I don’t know what comes over me at times like this. I only know that I cannot stay silent. I wish that I had my ukulele with me.
At 42nd street, a woman strides into the car and starts PREACHING. The entire car bursts into laughter. I interrupt this new preacher lady and note that she is wearing a flowered straw bonnet.
Me: “Excuse me, Ma’am…but I must warn you that there has been a 12 subway stop donnybrook regarding the unwanted intrusion of religious beliefs into our morning commutes.”
Preacher Lady 2: “I got freedom of speech! And GOD TELLS ME THAT THE GAY DEVILS ARE CONTROLLING NEW YORK.”
Me: (standing up) “If you do not cease and desist fouling the air with homophobia, I must sing…SHOW TUNES.” There are now 3 or 4 gay men on the train. They start laughing.
Preacher Lady 2: “The Lawd says you are going to …” (litany of punishments that would be fun with the right person).
Me: (sings) “The Girl that I marry will have to be, as soft and as sweet as a nursery… the girl I call my own, will wear diamonds and laces and smell of cologne…” One of the boys on the train starts to harmonize. Preacher Lady 2 makes her way down the car, pointing and exclaiming, “I have met the devil right here!”
Me: (sings) “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets…” Dancing around the subway poles and doing my best Gwen Verdon kicks, I feel the spirit in me. I close with “Pennies from Heaven” and make sure to get the Jazz Hands in for good measure. As Preacher Lady 2 runs to the next car at 72nd Street, the doors open, a perfect end of song button for my gay pointing gesture. The subway riders break into applause and I bow. Rock on.Several straphangers whisper, Happy New Year to me in Hebrew. An Orthodox lady hands me an orange. I don't know if I should laugh or cry."


The state polls are being released now and the battleground state polls show its neck and neck -- MSNBC - Kerry making scant progress in crucial states Its worth noting that these were "likely voter" polls of 625 people in each state.
But wasn't this the election that George Bush was supposed to win hands down? He was, for three years, the "popular wartime president" according to the media. The republican machine was unmatched in its ruthlessness, precision, professionalism. Karl Rove was a genuis, no doubt about it. Bush was such a likeable guy, everybody loved him.
Well, meet John Kerry, everybody.
I've been saying for three years that the democrats have to win the Gore states plus two -- but plus one would be enough. As Kerry battles for these states, he is getting energized, more focused. Will it be enough? If Kerry continues the kind of campaigning he has been doing over the last week, and if the democrats get their vote out, it will be.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Bush Lied and Soldiers Died

The NYT is still trying manfully to toe the party line on WMDs -- Weapons Inspectors: Iraq Study Finds Desire for Arms, but Not Capacity But it doesn't matter anymore -- after a thousand deaths and 7,000 injuries (or maybe twice that, really) -- America doesn't care anymore what a delusional Saddam might have wanted to do at some mythical future time. This NYT story is a meaningless bleat in the roar of outrage building over the July National Intelligence Estimate.
This report has, I think, hit the average American like a bomb - a Witness to Mass Delusion, so to speak. People like me had been saying for months (I said it in June, actually) that the United States is losing in Iraq. But the so-called average American doesn't read little-ole-me, or other blogs like me. A goodly proportion of good people, including a lot of the news media and the pundits, went merrily along through the summer under the vague impression that basically things were improving in Iraq except for a few bad areas.
Over the last week, this impression began to change as a few generals began speaking out. Uneasiness was growing, a feeling that Iraq was turning to the worse.
Then, yesterday, everybody finds out about the NIE report -- its not just bad news from a nattering nabob of negativism, a democrat, a leftie, a blogger. Its the National Security Council, official government policy.
And not only are Americans now finding out that they are losing in Iraq, they're also realizing that the Bush administration knew six weeks ago that Iraq was a disaster, but Bush didn't tell them. They heard nothing but upbeat, happy talk from him about Iraq all through August, all through the convention, all through September, while more than 100 American soldiers died -- and he did NOTHING to change it. Hey, don't bother me, I'm too busy making jokes about Kerry and getting teary-eyed about 9/11!
Suddenly, the basic truth of the Buzzflash slogan, Bush Lied and Soldiers Died, has become obvious to America.
Tonight, Hardball actually stopped talking about the CBS memos to interview Richard Holdbrook about Iraq and the NIE. Lou Dobbs stopped talking about outsourcing jobs to interview Evan Bayh about Iraq and the NIE. Yesterday Judy Woodruff stopped covering Hurricane Ivan to interview General McPeakabout Iraq and the NIE - "I've commanded troops in combat. The least he could do is level with the troops here, let alone coming clean with the American people. This is a wall-to-wall disaster that the president has engineered our way into here. And we simply have to get rid of this administration and get started on fixing it."
The outrage is sincere, and meaningful In the NYT, Bob Herbert tracks down the last American soldier who died for America's last mistaken war. "Wars are all about chaos and catastrophes, death and suffering, and lifelong grief, which is why you should go to war only when it's absolutely unavoidable. Wars tear families apart as surely as they tear apart the flesh of those killed and wounded. Since we learned nothing from Vietnam, we are doomed to repeat its agony, this time in horrifying slow-motion in Iraq. . . When the newscaster David Brinkley, appalled by the carnage in Vietnam, asked Lyndon Johnson why he didn't just bring the troops home, Johnson replied, "I'm not going to be the first American president to lose a war." George W. Bush is now trapped as tightly in Iraq as Johnson was in Vietnam. The war is going badly. The president's own intelligence estimates are pessimistic. There is no plan to actually win the war in Iraq, and no willingness to concede defeat. I wonder who the last man or woman will be to die for this colossal mistake."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Turnaround time

Kerry Asserts Bush Has Misled Voters
You've got it, JFK -- this is the heart of the matter. And Bush cannot defend himself because he lies all the time, about just about everything.
This brilliant Buzzflash editorial got it right "The only way to win against the right wing thugs who stole the American government is to cream them, rip off their masks and put them on the defensive through Election Day."
The Kerry campaign has got the message. They're running with it, and they're winning with it. I base my opinion partly on the actual polls but also on my "gonzo journalism" meter.
Gonzo stories are stupid, meaningless stories which the Bush campaign plants - like this one Kerry drops ball with packers fans. It reminds me of the "Whiz With" story in early August. They're a sign of desperation, when the Bush campaign knows it is in trouble, trying to go on the offensive but with no ammunition.

Christians One; Lions Nothing

Bumper Sticker Insubordination - A Kerry fan gets fired, and then hired, for her politics John Kerry, solving America's unemployment problem one job at a time. No wonder Bush is going to lose and Kerry is going to win.

Monday, September 13, 2004

How many would have lived?

It bears repeating:
How many hundreds of US soldiers and POWs would have been saved if Nixon had listened to Kerry in 1971 and declared a ceasefire then, instead of waiting two years to declare it?

When is a "winter soldier" not a "winter soldier"?

When a Google search for "winter soldier" brings you to this site -- flying monkey veterans against Kerry -- instead of this one --the actual Winter Soldier Investigation.
Its really bizarre -- they're trying to hijack history, it appears. The Free Republic Network is sponsoring their site, which is pretty elaborate. For seasoning, it also has "Jane Fonda" sprinkled all over it -- apparently she is the wicked witch of the east, as far as vietnam vets are concerned.
Anyway, this anti-Kerry group is headed up by a man named Larry Bailey. They held a rally in Washington this weekend at which they expected thousands but got hundreds.
What is really priceless, however, is that this same Larry Bailey has spent his career uncovering fraudlent Navy SEALs -- people who claim to be SEAL veterans when they are not. So I wonder what he thinks of the news that Bush puffed up his military service by claiming he served in the US Air Force, and may not even have fulfilled his TANG commitments (thanks to Atrios for some of these links.)
Now, I know everyone is always supposed to be so respectful of soldiers, and not call them wingnuts, but really, folks, we're supposed to believe that these grandfathers had their entire lives blighted because of John Kerry's dastardly testimony 35 years ago? I'll bet Kerry wishes he actually had been so influential in 1971 -- then maybe Nixon would have ordered the ceasefire that Kerry wanted -- and how many soldiers and POWs would have been saved if the war had ended then instead of with a mad scramble off the embassy roof four years later?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Check these out

A wonderful post on Daily Kos -- read all the comments. Its about how people are working so hard at their local level to get Kerry elected. The US and Canadian systems are so different -- I hadn't realized how difficult it was in the US to get organized at the local level. In Canada, with a parliamentary system, the first place parties get organized is at the local constituency level, because the party doesn't win unless they get a majority of members elected.
And a terrific post on Donkey Rising about the lessons Dems should learn from the swiftboat thing -- not necessarily the conventional wisdom -- "Republicans have significantly damaged their image and reputation among many moderates and opinion leaders by embracing an essentially dishonest, "win at any cost" approach during this campaign. This tarnished reputation is an asset democrats should energetically exploit. Not only does it reduce the appeal and legitimacy of Republicanism in general, but it makes it easier for Dems to successfully deflect future smear campaigns."
And James Carville was great tonight on Russert -- articulate, quick, passionate about Kerry, and labeling republican talking point BS for what it was. He identified precisely the problem now in Iraq -- it's changing so fast that a plan of one or two months ago isn't the right position today. He also emphasized something I have also been blogging about today in comments on other blogs -- that its a republican talking point to demand Kerry has to have a detailed position on Iraq, because the same folks are not demanding that Bush also specify what HE would do. And Carville sent the message to the republicans to watch out for the debates, implying that that is when Kerry will hit Bush hard on the whole Iraq mess.

Friday, September 10, 2004

How many deaths will it take 'til we know

that too many people have died

September and October

So, what is coming up for September and October that will affect the election?
1. A bunch of new smear campaigns will be started about Kerry (movies, ads). And so you can count on the media parroting the RNC talking points and following the RNC agenda which gets them to interview another bunch of unnamed democrats about how Kerry "must respond to these serious accusations" and how Kerry "must talk about his policies" and "Kerry must present a clear position on ___", as if he hasn't already done all this and more.
But also coming up will be:
2. Election in Australia -- Howard will lose and the Aussie troops are out
3. Election in Afganistan -- what are the chances that this will be successful? If it is held at all, suicide bombers will blast the polling stations.
4. Another 100 US troops will die in Iraq, another thousand will be injured. More cities will be lost to the insurgents.
5. The Kelly book will ignite the Bush cocaine/drinking stories.
6. Farenheit 9/11 will be released on video. New round of ads, coverage, etc.
7. Boston might be in another pennant race. The New England Patriots might be doing well, too.
8. In the vice-presidential debate, Edwards will wipe the floor with Cheney. In the presidential debates, who knows what might happen . . . but if Kerry embraces his "inner Munster", he will come off as genuine and caring, which is the only thing that is important about these debates.
Have I missed anything?

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Update on sources

In spite of the blogflap about typefaces, Kevin Drum reports "CBS is very, very confident that the memos are genuine. They believe that (a) their sources are rock solid, (b) the provenance of the documents is well established, and (c) the appearance of the documents matches the appearance of other documents created at the same place and time. In addition, people who knew Killian well have confirmed that the memos are genuine."

I don't get it

Here are the new documents about Bush's flight status.
Supposedly, these are the originals from 1972?
But NOBODY used Times Roman justified typeface fonts in 1972 -- particularly in personal memos for files.
Nobody used "fonts" at all, except typographers in printing plants.
What we had was: Courier 12 point And that's what everyone used.
In an office situation, writing a note for a file, at best you would get a typewritten note, maybe on an electric typewriter but more likely on a manual. These notes would have been typed by the office secretary, whose initials would be at the end of the memo. Much more likely that a note to file generated by the executive himself would have been handwritten, because most men could not type at all.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Well, now we're getting to it

A couple of days ago, I posted that America should be asking Who dropped the ball on 9/11?
Well, its starting to happen, all brought about by Cheney's incredibly stupid remark about how America would only be safe by voting for Bush. The New York Times editorial and Maureen Dowd both write about this, but Dowd is more interesting. She says Cheney Spits Toads: ". . . Cheney implies that John Kerry couldn't protect us from an attack like 9/11, blithely ignoring the fact that he and President Bush didn't protect us from the real 9/11." (emphasis mine). She continues " Mr. Cheney warns against falling back 'into the pre-9/11 mind-set,'' when, in fact, the Bush team's pre-9/11 mind-set was all about being stuck in the cold war and reviving 'Star Wars' - which doesn't work and is useless against terrorist tactics. The Bush crowd played down terrorism because Bill Clinton and Sandy Berger had told their successors that Osama was a priority, and the Bushies scorned all things Clinton. The president shrugged off intelligence briefings with such headlines as 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States'' because there was brush to be cleared and unaffordable tax-cutting to be done."
What Cheney appeared to mean by the "pre-9/11 mindset" remark is that the "old way" of dealing with terrorists by legal processes (arrest, trial, prison) is not as good as the "new way" of military processes brought to America by the Bush administration, using 9/11 as an excuse.
So far, the new way includes The Patriot Act, no-fly lists, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Gharib, outsourcing torture, denying the Geneva Conventions, alienating allies around the world, promoting preemptive war, redacting reports critical of allies like Saudi Arabia, outing CIA agents, death by container, actual murder or something like it (when Bush, in the 2002 State of the Union, talked about people "not being around anymore"), utter failure to progress on the Palestinian issue, and, of course, the wars in Afganistan and Iraq - all enacted with the meme of "keeping America safe", which they did not do and will not apologize for. Nor will they take responsibility for how terrorist acts are increasing around the world, and how a generation of Arab youth into new terrorists.
Gee, I think I'm getting a little shrill.

90 attacks a day in August -- but the generals soldier on!

Confronting Insurgents: U.S. Conceding Rebels Control Regions of Iraq
Suggest the song which occurs to you while reading this article -- my own is the old Perry Como tune "dream along with me . . ." (Perry Como was in a movie I saw tonight, so likely that's why this one occured to me).
Its lines like this that bring it to mind:
". . . the administration had decided to let Dr. Allawi try to persuade rebel leaders to join the process of reconstructing Iraq, or suffer the consequences if they did not." So far, the "consequences" for Ramadi, Falluja, Baquba and Samarra are that they have become rebel (US military definition) or free (insurgent definition) cities. Added to these should likely also be Najaf and Tikrit.
And then there is this line: "To buy time, General Myers said, Gen. George Casey, the top American commander in Iraq, is working with the Iraqi government to develop a strategy to retake the cities. General Myers said that strategy included trying to "isolate certain communities," hampering the insurgents' ability to rearm and resupply, and curtailing attacks against American forces." Considering that they have now had 18 months to "hamper" and "curtail", how successful is this going to be?
And this one: ". . . an American assault is likely in the next four months. 'I do have about four months where I want to get to local control,'' General Metz said. 'And then I've got the rest of January to help the Iraqis to put the mechanisms in place.' . . ." And this one: ". . . commanders gave an upbeat assessment, noting that "the messages at Friday Prayer are becoming more and more moderate" and that American forces "keep continuous pressure on the enemy" while they help Iraqis with reconstruction."
Yes, they'll be winning any day now.
Kerry is right -- the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. The US has to get these people out of there before another thousand US troops and another 20,000 Iraqis are killed. Right now, the generals are singing "Dream along with me, I'm on my way to the stars!"

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Who said this today?

Crossposted to E-Group
Read this excerpt from this transcript and try to figure out whose supporter is complaining:
". . . character assassination is the real centerpiece of the __ campaign . . . But if you want to be honest about who you are, just tell us, and you'll find you may lose, but you'll at least at the end of the campaign know that you were true to yourselves instead of all this gobbledygook. It's just amazing. The fact that they don't think they've been mean enough, they don't think they've been negative enough? These people have no sense of perception or proportion. They have no idea of who they are and how they sound . . . if they think they're exercising restraint and moderation as they walk down the aisle in this campaign they have no concept of who they really are, so no wonder it's tough for them to tell us. "
Is this -- a Kerry supporter complaining about the Bush campaign? Or a Bush supporter complaining about the Kerry campaign?
When I read the right-wing blogs and the left-wing blogs, sometimes I think I am reading about election campaigns in two different countries, maybe even on two different planets.
When Kerry wins, as I very much hope he will, I hope he can make some dent in the level of anger and despair and division in the US, and lead them away from this kind of division. Its bad for the country, whatever country you're in.

Monday, September 06, 2004


This MSNBC story Kerry, Bush battle over the war uses the usual "he said/he said" format -- but this time, for a change, note that it is Kerry on the offense - Iraq, jobs - and Bush/Cheney on the defense.
And note that Kerry is now talking about bringing all the troops home - to this, after another seven dead today, Bush really has no response. He's been so "resolute" about "staying the course" in Iraq that its hard to see how he can twist to another position now.

The GOP's platform of tragedy

I love Garrison Keillor. It was for his "Mr. Blue" column that I originally subscribed to Salon. Now read this: The GOP's platform of tragedy. Great exceprts abound:
"The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, N.M., little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt's evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No. 1 reason the rest of the world thinks we're deaf, dumb and dangerous."
"George W. Bush is running for re-election on a platform of tragedy - the single greatest failure of national defense in our history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of which the White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the country into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will render government impotent, even as we engage in a war against a small country that was undertaken for the president's personal satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country, flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully. The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived this. The election of 2004 will say something about what happens to ours."
Thanks, Buzzflash, for finding this story.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Bush Is A Miserable Failure, But Good News - John Kerry Has An Optimistic Plan For a Better America

Great post on Daily Kos -- Daily Kos :: Bush Is A Miserable Failure, But Good News - John Kerry Has An Optimistic Plan For a Better America
Its EXACTLY what the democrats and friends need to stress now.

He's coming back

Some better poll news.
The Rasmussen traking poll Prez track 2004 shows Kerry is coming back, to 46.4%, with Bush down to 47.6%. Two-thirds of this poll includes the Bush speech and the Kerry reaction. As I understood it during the Canadian election, the tracking polls may not indicate absolute numbers but they do indicate direction, whether someone is winning or losing. This poll is now calling a thousand people a day.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

We had bad polls, too

To my American friends: a note about polls.
The Time and Newsweek polls are pretty discouraging, I admit.
But its still 8 weeks to the election. Come November, no one will remember what anyone said they might do on Sept. 2.
During the Canadian election campaign, which was only a month long, the Martin liberals had lots of bad polls -- from the beginning, the polls showed a close race, and about two weeks into the campaign, it looked as though Harper was winning. Martin didn't even "win" the leaders debate a week before the vote.
But, on election day, the Liberals elected 130 seats and the Conservatives about 95 (sorry, I cannot tell you the exact numbers because my computer is working so slowly it would take forever to call up the right references).
The key problem, for Harper, was when he started swaggering -- talking about who would be in his cabinet and the like. Many Canadians had been flirting with the idea of supporting him -- a likeable guy, good looking, energetic. In comparison, Martin looked sort of old, and he was dragging behind him a lot of scandal from the Chretien administration. But Martin got the nod in the end because he had "just enough" support to carry the liberals in a number of close races. So it didn't matter that the Conservative majorities in Alberta were huge. Basically, "just enough" people spread out across the country could not support Harper's brand of radical conservatism.
The bad polls had another effect -- they energized Martin -- for the first time in his life, he threw himself into campaigning, pounding home his messages, speech after speech, rally after rally. And oh, wasn't everyone still telling him he was doing it wrong, that he had the wrong messages! But HE believed in what he was saying, and it came through.
On the last day of the campaign, he flew coast to coast, walking in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The national press corps was pissed -- they had expected to be able to quit early on the last day, instead they had to follow Martin on a dawn til dusk odessey, ending in BC at midnight and still having to fly home from there. But this, for Canadians, sealed the deal -- it was a stunt, but people liked it.
So be of good cheer, Americans. Polls do not an election make.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Who dropped the ball on 9/11?

Bush did, that's who.
Watching the coverage of the horrible Russian school disaster, I noted that a lot of the parents are blaming Putin for the disaster. Unfairly, perhaps -- but Putin promised, apparently, to keep them safe two or three years ago and now its proven that he did not.
So why has Bush been let off the hook so throughly on 9/11? The media completely accepted Condi's "but nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition" line. The reason Bush was so opposed to the 9/11 commission was his fear that they would blame him for the attacks -- and they should have. It has now been proven that he had plenty of warning, with plenty of people running around with their hair on fire for months before it happened.
It's easy to see now how simple it would have been to stop 9/11 -- if, in mid-July, they had increased airline security by banning knives on planes, that would have done it. And if they had also, in August, followed up on the Presidential Daily Brief by pulling together all those on-going FBI and CIA investigations, that would have done it, too.
Now, you can argue that no one then could have known how easy it would have been to disrupt the 9/11 attack. But they knew that something big was being planned. And they failed to take some pretty obvious steps to increase protection for the American people.
Richard Clarke was right to apologize to the 9/11 families -- he WAS at fault. But so, even more so, was the rest of the Bush administration.
9/11 is back on the public stage now, because the republicans put it there during their convention.
So I wonder now if America will begin to reexamine its 9/11 meme, where the fall of the towers has been talked about as though it was a completely unexpected act of god. And I wonder if they will begin to realize that while Al Quada was to blame for 9/11, the Bush administration should have stopped it but didn't because they dropped the ball.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

"It was better in the original German"

Best comment on Zel Miller's speech, from a commenter on Atrios.GOP backs away from Miller's blast -- too late! You guys decided to let a nutcase be a keynote speaker -- what were you thinking?

All hat, no cattle

This was Kerry's response to Bush's speech. Right on!
Moe Rocca hit it during his little comedy bit on Larry King -- oh that Kerry, he said, what a buzz-killer.
He was right -- Bush's speech was pretty good -- brilliant toward the end, when the audience was in tears.
But he'll get little buzz from it now, and all because of Kerry's midnight rally, surrounded by thousands of people gathered to hear HIS speech. It was not defense, either -- instead he put Bush and Cheney on the defensive -- instead of basking in the glow of their own speeches, they'll be sputtering about how unfair and misleading Kerry's speech was.
Kerry covered just about everything -- he said health care was a right and he would not lie America into a war and he promised jobs and said America should not have to depend on Saudi Arabia to lower its oil prices and should not have given no-bid contracts to Halliburton while still being paid by them and that no one who avoided service like Bush and Cheney had the right to question his fitness to command.
So now, its the flaws in Bush's speech that are being talked about - even Tucker Carlson said it was too long. And they just got a phone call from a woman who asked, when Bush talks about bringing freedom to the world, is he talking about more wars?
And the media are lapping it up, so gleeful that they will have all sorts of stuff to cover for the next two months.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


"Smacktard" is the insult now used by my son and his friends -- he says its some kind of combination of the old insult "retard" (which for his generation is too un-PC and insufficiently insulting anyway) plus the phrase "smacked upside the head" (which they don't use either because it has its own unacceptable connotations).
Anyway, from what I have heard about the Cheney and Miller speeches, it seems to be an appropriate insult -- they're both a bunch of smacktards!

Pissing on a car

George W. Bush's missing year
The most memorable image from this story -- Georgie pissing on a car.
So while John Kerry was getting shot at in Vietnam, George Bush was coming to work late and leaving early, whooping it up in Georgia. Gee, what a leader of men!