Saturday, September 4


My daughter-in-law is a New Yorker. She and her family have a different take on Bush's "heroism" after 9/11 ala this letter to the editor of the NY Times:

To the Editor:

Re "Bush, Evoking 9/11, Vows to 'Build a Safer World' " (front page, Sept. 3):

President Bush promised to be a "uniter"; his domestic policies have riven the country, and his foreign policy has earned us the ire of the world.

President Bush promised that his tax cuts would produce an economic boom; he delivered a big deficit and an anemic economic recovery.

President Bush promised that no child would be left behind, but his underfinancing of his education initiative has left millions of children behind.

President Bush promised "clear skies," but his environmental policy will increase pollution.

And George Bush calls John Kerry a flip-flopper?

David Kornhaber
Venice, Calif., Sept. 3, 2004

To the Editor:

As someone who for many years has lived just a short walk from the World Trade Center, I found that watching President Bush and the Republican Party present a convention strewn thick with references to the president's valor right after Sept. 11 was a bit thick for me.

I well remember that directly after the attacks, with our neighborhood filled with smoke, sirens and the stench of death, so many of us craved inspiring leadership, but President Bush was nowhere to be found. Where is he? we asked.

When he finally did show up here, three days later, we saw a shaken, uncertain figure toting a bullhorn.

Only from Washington, when he addressed the country from a script, did he seem impressed with the gravity of the city's suffering.

He wasn't there for us at the time of the attacks, and he hasn't been there for us since: city politicians have been turned into mendicants by the Bush administration's notable stinginess in providing promised rebuilding financing for the city.

To see the president swashbuckling into New York as the conquering hero of 9/11, using us as a prop in his re-election campaign, is dismaying.

Nicholas Dawidoff
New York, Sept. 3, 2004


"Government should help people improve their lives, not run their lives," George W. Bush stated in his nomination acceptance speech Thursday night.

Improve their lives? How does his order cutting overtime pay for workers fit in with this philosophy? What about soaring health care and college tuition costs; declining incomes for the middle and lower classes; horrific increases in the number of Americans, especially children, living in poverty; administration attempts (not over by a long shot!) to privatize (read: destroy) Social Security and eliminate Medicare and the rest of the social safety net; Bush-sponsored rollbacks in our environmental standards; a nation living in a constant state of fear and uncertainty, a condition largely nurtured by those who govern us?

Not run their lives? What other administration in recent memory has so fervently and evangelically attempted to inject its own religious values into the lives of all Americans by sponsoring initiatives to block the legitimization of intimate human relationships, to sponsor a specific religion (Christianity), to tell us how to raise our children, to negate the decades-old established right of women to control their own bodies?

In Bush's world, up is down and truth is lies. These people have no shame.


The Yurica Report reveals startling documentary evidence that Bush took aim at Iraqi oil even before becoming pResident, even agitating about "weapons of mass destruction." This Department of Commerce document confirms Paul O'Neil's contention that the Bush administration was zeroed in on war with Iraq from the very beginning, long before 9/11. A must-read!

How much longer will a gullible American citizenry continue to believe this man and the truth have ever been friendly? "The truth is not in him."

Friday, September 3


Via the Smirking Chimp, David Corn addresses the subject I raised in this post and much more:

It's official: the 2004 campaign is a referendum on whether the United States should wage a crusade to bring liberty to the repressed of the world--particularly in the Middle East--in order to heed the call of God and to protect the United States from terrorists who target America because they despise freedom. Or, at least, that is how George W. Bush would like the contest to be framed.

In his acceptance speech, Bush pushed the message of the week--it's the war, stupid--to lofty heights. Like the speakers of previous nights, he fully embraced the war in Iraq. But while John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Zell Miller, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Laura Bush depicted the war as an action necessary for safeguarding America, Bush also placed it within the context of an even grander mission. "America," he proclaimed from that altar-like podium, "is called to lead the cause of freedom in the new century....Freedom is not America's gift to the world. It is the Almighty God's gift." (Minutes earlier, New York Governor George Pataki described Bush as the Supreme Being's gift to the United States: "He is one of those men God and fate somehow lead to the fore in times of challenge.")

This rhetoric was nothing new for Bush. He has made these points previously. But at the end of a week in which the war was presented as the Number One reason to vote for Bush, he chose to highlight the messianic side of his military action in Iraq. It was this part of the speech that soared. During the first 35 minutes, Bush ticked off a laundry list of domestic initiatives, as Bill Clinton liked to do. But Bush did so without the enthusiasm that Clinton displayed when discussing such subjects. It was as if this was the obligatory portion of the evening; Bush had to talk about something other than the war to prove he has a second-term agenda. It was an act of self-inoculation, an attempt to preempt Democratic criticism that he doesn't care about the close-to-home stuff. He tossed out a few new (but modest proposals) and the old standbys: health savings accounts, partial privatization of Social Security, tax reform, and tort reform. Especially tort reform--which the GOPers regard as a blow against John Edwards. The delegates roared when Bush pushed this button--much more loudly than when he promised more money for Pell grants or low-income health clinics. As for the details of his domestic agenda, Bush told the crowd to check his website.

He took a couple of spirited swings at John Kerry, deriding his challenger for having voted against the antigay Defense of Marriage Act, for having declared that Hollywood is the "heart and soul of America, and for opposing the $87 billion in funding for the Iraq war. And Bush briefly dished out the red meat to the social conservatives: a few words of support for "the unborn child," a poke at activist judges, a vow to oppose gay marriage. But his passion was reserved for the war on Iraq and the larger undertaking.

The war, in Bush's view, shows that he is willing to do whatever it takes to protect America, that he is a decisive leader whose determination to defeat the nation's enemies cannot be questioned. "You know where I stand," he said--implying you might not now where that other guy stands. And what's more, the war demonstrates that he has a vision beyond kicking terrorist butt. "This young century," he declared, "will be liberty's century. By promoting liberty abroad we will build a safer world....We have a calling from beyond the stars." Idealism (democracy in the Middle East), safety (whipping al Qaeda) and faith (God is calling) all rolled into one neat package. That's not a bad sales pitch. And for a politician who occasionally blows his big speeches, he delivered this half of his acceptance address with strength and conviction.

This was not a transformational speech for Bush. "In general," Senator Orrin Hatch told me, "it's what we've heard before, but he did it well." After Bush described the global campaign he wants to lead in his second term, he then did his down-home, self-deprecating thing: "People sometimes have to correct my English. I knew I had a problem when Arnold Schwarzenegger started doing it." The message: I'm a regular fella whom you have no reason to fear. And while the speech was loaded with the standard misrepresentations--e.g., his choice was to go to war or take Saddam Hussein, a madman, at his word--it did present plenty of clarity. Yes, we certainly do know where he stands when it comes to mounting a crusade.

The obvious question: will the Protector-as-Missionary bit sell? Will voters hear the term "liberty century" and be moved? Or will they ask, is that the name of a new car? It's one thing to turn a lemon (a messy war now considered a mistake by a majority of Americans) into lemonade. But can Bush turn that lemon into blessed wine?
My hunch is that Bush's acceptance speech, no matter what was said, will not make much difference--given that he neither drooled nor pulled a Zell Miller. He came across in a familiar fashion. And after three-and-a-half long years, do voters need more information about Bush to render a decision? If there are any undecided voters--and perhaps they don't really exist--were these citizens paying attention to this speech (or the convention)? And if they were watching, do they want a crusader in the driver's seat? You tell me.

Handicapping this election is a mug's game. On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that political observers and strategists have concluded that the "political terrain has shifted dramatically" in Bush's favor and that "specific proposals are unnecessary." One Bush adviser told the newspaper, "The strategists are saying, 'Everything is breaking our way. It looks like it's almost over.'" But on the same day, The Wall Street Journal noted that a Bush strategist "confided" that "I don't think anything has changed since March. I don't think this election will see a break out." Go figure.

It's impossible to assess how the GOP convention and Bush's speech will play in the long run--meaning over the next two months. Intervening events--the debates, developments in Iraq, swings in the economy--will, well, intervene. But it is easy to discern the Bush gameplan. At this convention, Bush did not pussyfoot about. His message was nuance-free: la guerre est moi. In this regard, he is taking full and complete responsibility and asking to be judged accordingly. And God only knows how that's going to turn out.


Just heard Sean Hannity say (and Newt Gingrich agree with him) that John Kerry is "emotionally out of control" because of his response last night to the Swift Boat, Zell Miller and Dick Cheney attacks.

I have never questioned the patriotism of the opposition, but I DO question the morality, trustworthiness and just plain good judgment of too many of their prime representatives. In the face of Zig-zag Zell's over-the-top performances at the RNC and after-convention talk shows, they find that JOHN KERRY is emotionally out of control? The guy they usually characterize as cold and unemotional?

Teresa Heinz Kerry said quite some time ago that if her husband was attacked "personally," she would't hesitate to use her fortune to respond. Isn't it about time for a zillion-dollar ad blitz, Teresa?


Okay, Mama, aunts and uncles: here's your next domestic terrorism alert:

Medicare beneficiaries could face a whopping 17 percent premium increase next year followed by several years of substantial increases, the program's chief actuary said Thursday.

The projected $11.50-a-month increase -- to $78.10 from the current $66.60 -- would be the largest since Medicare premiums began at $3-a-month in 1967. The exact increase will be announced this fall.

Together with the bogus Medicare prescription benefit, shouldn't this prompt you to be rethinking your commitment to vote for the boy king?


I lunched today with five other women marketing executives (three Republican, one Democrat, one independent) and we spent the better part of an hour discussing politics -- not the presidential race per se, but tangential topics. Interestingly, the one thing we all could agree on was the foolhardiness of trying to deliver democracy/freedom/liberty/whatever-the-buzz-word-of-the-week-is to other countries who haven't invited us to do so. Every single one of my companions was adamant that not only is this "mission" "not our job," but it's an arrogant, ignorant, oh-so-dangerous just-plain-crazy policy that will reap the whirlwind if we sow it anymore...if it's not too late already. "Democracy works great for us," one commented, "because we're founded upon certain moral principles that we (mostly) all agree to. Other cultures don't have the same moral principles, but that doesn't make them all wrong; it's just barely conceeivable that they might have moral principles that their people adhere to that are as valid for them as ours are for us." One well-traveled lady raised the subject of lying, which she explained is not considered a sin but rather an acceptable negotiating tactic in many Arabic countries, contrary to Western mores. "What does Bush want," asked another, "a century of constant war? Because that's what it will take, to accomplish his ideal of the 'liberty century.'" Another commented, "I want to feel safe NOW, I don't want to hear about plans for remaking the world that will make the world more dangerous until after my grandchildren are dead and buried."

I believe I'll add this to my anti-Bush talking points.


To my military family: PLEASE READ Fred Kaplan's piece, "Lies, Damned Lies, and Convention Speeches," in which he unspins the Republican canard that John Kerry has voted to gut the military of every weapons system except "spitballs":

Still, it is worth setting the record straight. The main falsehood, we have gone over before (click here for the details), but it keeps getting repeated, so here we go again: It is the claim that John Kerry, during his 20 years in the Senate, voted to kill the M-1 tank, the Apache helicopter; the F-14, F-16, and F-18 jet fighters; and just about every other weapon system that has kept our nation free and strong.

Here, one more time, is the truth of the matter: Kerry did not vote to kill these weapons, in part because none of these weapons ever came up for a vote, either on the Senate floor or in any of Kerry's committees.

This myth took hold last February in a press release put out by the RNC. Those who bothered to look up the fine-print footnotes discovered that they referred to votes on two defense appropriations bills, one in 1990, the other in 1995. Kerry voted against both bills, as did 15 other senators, including five Republicans. The RNC took those bills, cherry-picked some of the weapons systems contained therein, and implied that Kerry voted against those weapons. By the same logic, they could have claimed that Kerry voted to disband the entire U.S. armed forces; but that would have raised suspicions and thus compelled more reporters to read the document more closely.

What makes this dishonesty not merely a lie, but a damned lie, is that back when Kerry cast these votes, Dick Cheney—who was the secretary of defense for George W. Bush's father—was truly slashing the military budget. Here was Secretary Cheney, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Jan. 31, 1992:

"Overall, since I've been Secretary, we will have taken the five-year defense program down by well over $300 billion. That's the peace dividend. … And now we're adding to that another $50 billion … of so-called peace dividend."

Cheney then lit into the Democratic-controlled Congress for not cutting weapons systems enough:

"Congress has let me cancel a few programs. But you've squabbled and sometimes bickered and horse-traded and ended up forcing me to spend money on weapons that don't fill a vital need in these times of tight budgets and new requirements. … You've directed me to buy more M1s, F14s, and F16s—all great systems … but we have enough of them."

I'm not accusing Cheney of being a girly man on defense. As he notes, the Cold War had just ended; deficits were spiraling; the nation could afford to cut back. But some pro-Kerry equivalent of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Zell Miller could make that charge with as much validity as they—and Cheney—make it against Kerry.

In other words, it's not just that Cheney and those around him are lying; it's not even just that they know they're lying; it's that they know—or at least Cheney knows—that the same lie could be said about him. That's what makes it a damned lie.


I just don't understand the American electorate. How can this be? Time has Bush over Kerry, 52% to 41%.


More than once in this blog I have compared Bush as a "CEO" pResident (see here and here for example), to those genuine corporate CEOs I have worked with over the past 16 years at a Fortune 250 company. The inimitable Juan Cole does the same today, and he's SOOOO right and his metaphor is SOOOO tight and simple, anyone could follow it. I'd like to see a TV ad along these lines. It could be the most effective line of attack yet.

If you think about George W. Bush as CEO of America, Inc., it becomes clearer why his poll numbers have been so low (low to mid forties) in the run up to the election. No president with those kinds of poll numbers in the spring before the election has ever won.

Bush's basic characteristic is not steadfastness, as the convention attempted to argue, but rashness. He is a gambler who goes for the big bang. He loses his temper easily, and makes hasty and uninformed decisions about important matters. No corporation would keep on a CEO that took risks the way Bush has, if the gambles so often resulted in huge losses.

Let us imagine you had a corporation with annual gross revenues of about $2 trillion. And let's say that in 2000, it had profits of $150 billion. So you bring in a new CEO, and within four years, the profit falls to zero and then the company goes into the red to the tune of over $400 billion per year. You're on the Board of Directors and the CEO's term is up for renewal. Do you vote to keep him in? That's what Bush did to the US government. He took it from surpluses to deep in the red. We are all paying interest on the unprecedented $400 billion per year in deficits (a deficit is just a loan), and our grandchildren will be paying the interest in all likelihood.

And what if you had been working for America, Inc. all your life, and were vested in its pension plan (i.e. social security)? And you heard that the company is now hemorrhaging money and that the losses are going to be paid for out of your pension? What if you thought you were going to get $1000 a month to retire on, and it is only going to be $500? Or maybe nothing at all? Because of the new CEO whose management turned a profit-making enterprise into an economic loser? Would you vote to keep him on?

What if the CEO convinced himself that the Mesopotamia Corp. was planning a hostile takeover? What if he had appointed a lot of senior vice-presidents who were either incompetent boobs or had some kind of backroom deal going with crooked brokers, and fed him false information that Mesopotamia Corp. was making a move and had amassed a big war chest for the purpose? And what if, to avoid this imaginary threat, he launched a preemptive hostile takeover of his own, spending at least $200 billion to accomplish it (on top of the more than $400 billion he is already losing every year)? Remember, it was a useless expenditure.

It turns out that Mesopotamia Corp. was a creaky old dinosaur with no cash reserves, and couldn't have launched a hostile takeover of the neighborhood mom and pop store. And, moreover, its arena of operations is extremely dangerous, and nearly a thousand America, Inc. workers get killed taking it over. And it turns out that the managers that the CEO put into Mesopotamia Corp. were bunglers. They adopted policies that made the taken-over employees bitter and sullen and uncooperative. Instead of standing on its own, the wholly owned subsidiary of Mesopotamia, Inc., requires continued infusion of capital from America, Inc. It looks increasingly as though Mesopotamia, Inc., will have to be let loose, and that its new managers will opt for interest-free Islamic banking as soon as they can.

Meanwhile, the real threat of a hostile takeover comes from al-Qaeda, Inc. Because 138,000 employees had to be assigned to Mesopotamia, Inc., there are few left to meet that challenge.

So given this kind of record, do you vote this CEO back in? It is often said that a lot of Americans want to stick with Bush to "see Iraq through." But if you think about him as a CEO, and look at how well he has run things, you can see the idiocy of this argument. The real question is, do you throw good money after bad?


I think the weirdest moment, for me, during the pResident's speech last night came when he accused John Kerry of being insulting and disrespectful to our allies. What the?????? GWB is almost universally despised outside the U.S. because of his disrespectful attitude and bullying tactics towards other countries and their governments.

And isn't it the height of something-or-other to imply that John Kerry voted aganst supplying our troops with the proper body armor and other equipment because John Kerry voted against the $87 billion appropriations bill? If memory serves, the bill PASSED, we've spent upwards of $200 billion on the war, and our troops STILL don't all have what they need and deserve to protect themselves.

I'm beginning to understand why hypocrisy is so rampant among Republicans: they don't think it matters what you DO, only what you SAY. If you say the right things, you're OK, since that's all you're judged on. So when Repugs are exposed for the hypocrites they are, they don't see it that way. After all, that miserable philandering Catholic winger who wanted to deny John Kerry communion for his pro-choice vote SAID the right things -- he was anti-abortion, anti-Democrat, anti-gays, pro-war, etc., so he's an OK guy. His private behavior? "Nobody's perfect." It's OK to excoriate John Kerry, authentic American war hero, because of what he SAID when he got back from Nam.

Like I said, it's not what you do with these people, it's what you say.


Bob Herbert thinks Americans have been shielded from the brutal facts of this war and the effect on the spread of terrorism of Bush's actions:

The truth is always the first casualty of politics. But there was a bigger disconnect than usual between the bizarre, hermetically sealed perspective that was on display in Madison Square Garden this week and the daunting events unfolding without respite in the real world.

Iraq is a mess. While the cartoonish Arnold Schwarzenegger was drawing huge laughs in the Garden and making cracks about economic "girlie men," reports were emerging about the gruesome murder of 12 Nepalese hostages who had traveled to Iraq less than two weeks earlier in search of work.

At the same time, an effort to disarm insurgents in the militant Baghdad slum of Sadr City collapsed, and the death toll among American forces in Iraq continued its relentless climb toward 1,000.

The Los Angeles Times noted yesterday that a report by the respected Royal Institute of International Affairs in London has concluded that Iraq will be lucky if it avoids a breakup and civil war. The often-stated U.S. goal of a full-fledged Iraqi democracy is beyond unlikely.

In Afghanistan, a legitimate front in the so-called war against terror, much of the country remains in the hands of warlords, and the opium trade is flourishing. Experts believe substantial amounts of money from that trade is flowing to terrorist groups.

In Israel, 16 people were killed by suicide bombers who blew themselves up on a pair of crowded buses on Tuesday. In Russia, a series of horrific terror attacks, in the air and on the ground, have cast a pall across the country.

Despite all the macho posturing and self-congratulating at the Republican convention, the wave of terror that's been unleashed on the world is only growing. The American-led war in Iraq is feeding that wave, causing it to swell rather than ebb.

Any serious person who looked around the world this week would have to wonder what the delegates at the G.O.P. convention were so happy about.

The Republican conventioneers spent the entire week reminding America that we were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. But interestingly, there was hardly a mention by name of those actually responsible for the attacks - Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Discussions about the nation's real enemies were taboo. We don't know where they are or what they're up to. The over-the-top venom of some of the speakers and delegates was reserved not for Osama, but for a couple of mild-mannered guys named John.

What Americans desperately need is a serious, honest discussion of where we go from here. If we're going to be in Iraq for 10 or 20 more years, the policy makers should say so, and tell us what that will cost in money and human treasure. The violence associated with such a long-term occupation is guaranteed to be appalling.

Vietnam tore this nation apart. As we've seen in this campaign, the wounds have yet to heal. Incredibly, we're now traveling a similarly tragic road in Iraq.


Paul Krugman:

For many months we've been warned by tut-tutting commentators about the evils of irrational "Bush hatred." Pundits eagerly scanned the Democratic convention for the disease; some invented examples when they failed to find it. Then they waited eagerly for outrageous behavior by demonstrators in New York, only to be disappointed again.

There was plenty of hatred in Manhattan, but it was inside, not outside, Madison Square Garden.
Mr. Bush, it's now clear, intends to run a campaign based on fear. And for me, at least, it's working: thinking about what these people will do if they solidify their grip on power makes me very, very afraid.

Thursday, September 2


This is an article every voter should read. John Nichols, author of "Dick: The Man Who Is President," is interviewed by BuzzFlash:

It should also be noted that Cheney was not just good for Halliburton. As Secretary of Defense, he laid the groundwork for privatizing vast areas of the military. That was a terrible move, as it dramatically increased the number of private-sector firms that recognize that it is in their interest for this country to be constantly at war. We now have the most muscular pro-war lobby in the history of the country; they are not just pushing for a particular war, they are for war in general. Halliburton is just the worst example of a far greater crisis.

The whole Dick Cheney/Halliburton connection serves as a reminder of just how right Dwight Eisenhower was when he warned about the dangers of a growing military-industrial complex. Every pathology he feared has come to pass.
Most of what troubles America about the Bush administration -- the arrogance, the intellectual emptiness, the secrecy, the constant spin, the refusal to acknowledge mistakes -- is a reflection of Cheney. As former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill noted, the administration works the way it does because Cheney wants it that way. That's the important thing to recognize in this election year: Even voters who, for whatever reason, find that they like Bush should recognize that Bush is not charting the course of this administration. That's Cheney's job. [emphasis mine]
Cheney is not a deep thinker. He likes easy answers. And there is nothing easier than parroting the right-wing line on every issue. At Yale, Cheney became obsessed with a Cold War vision of the world. He has never evolved. Cheney simply sees different enemies. (Notably, the professor who taught Cheney's favorite course now says that his former student is dangerously misguided about the world.) On the domestic front, Cheney buys into every failed fantasy that the right has ever conjured up -- from supply-side economics, to tort reform and the drug war. When it comes to ideology, there is nothing creative about the guy at all. As a result, while other conservatives may deviate from the script (think Jack Kemp or John McCain), Cheney is always "on message." And he is always telling George W. Bush to stay there, as well. The one exception -- Cheney's uncomfortable attempts to advocate for some tolerance with regards to gays and lesbians -- is unavoidable because to take a different stance would force him to distance himself from his daughter. Conservatives recognize that, and forgive him.

That's appropriate because, on the fundamental issues that are of concern to conservatives, Cheney has been a 100 percenter. Newt Gingrich has noted that Cheney's record in the House was more conservative than his own. Surveys have suggested that Cheney's closest ideological soul mate was North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, although Helms softened on some issues as he got older. Cheney has remained a consistent hard liner. That's why he gets such thunderous applause from Republican convention delegates. They love the guy because he tosses out the raw meat - especially when he is attacking John Kerry.
Is Dick Cheney the epitome of a person who pursues power for the sake of holding power?

Absolutely. That is the essence of his being.


Well, everybody's talking about the Zell Miller hate-a-thon, so I guess I'll offer my two opinion on the subject. First of all, I kept asking myself what everyone, Miller and his oh-so-receptive audience as well, is so angry about. For crying out loud, they've controlled the every move of government since 9/11. The Dems have been helpless, ineffective at combating any of GWB's initiatives -- he's gotten pretty much everything his way, by hook or by (too often) crook.

So what's the cause of such ravening Kerry hatred? Aha! I finally got it. Old Zell is just plain furious with anyone who would criticize the Commander In Chief during a war! That, in a nutshell, is it. All Democrats (except DINO Miller) are despicable traitors who would rather invite Osama to tea than to tear his throat out.

Now personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Osama's throat torn out -- my problem with the BushCo war was that it is tearing out the throats of the wrong guys...innocent Iraqis and "expendable" U.S. troops.

The whole night was an effort to inflate fear, fear, fear in the minds and hearts of Americans. Bush has nothing to run on except an irrational fear of terrorists. And yes, I mean irrational. Let's get real. Do people in middle America really believe they're in more danger from international terrorists than from poor crops, lack of health insurance, and loss of jobs? Do we really want to live every day in fear of an attack or do we want to get on with life, knowing everything that can reasonably be done is being done to keep us safe, through domestic precautions and international cooperation?

You know, back in the sixties and seventies there were lots of terrorist groups like Black September around and they did a lot of damage. International law enforcement did a fine job of putting them to rout. But the sight of Bush, Cheney, Giuliani, Miller et al FREAKING OUT LIKE A BUNCH OF GIRLY MEN over Al Qaeda is not macho, it's not impressive. It doesn't make America look strong and resolute, it makes America look paranoid and frightened.

It's not that I "don't get it" -- of course I recognize the awful threat. But I understand the causes and effects, and what we're doing to combat terrorism is not effective because it doesn't come near affecting the causes. We're exacerbating the problem because we're led by a bunch of unimaginative, chickenhearted ideologues who are as motivated by profit as by responsibility to the American citizenry; and woe to the citizens when the two seem to be in conflict.


Corrente points us to John Kerry's speech before the American Legion yesterday. It's an important read:

I can't come here and fulfill my obligation as a candidate for President of these great United States and not give you a serious appraisal of the challenge we face in Iraq and the war on terror.

No one in the United States doubted the outcome in Iraq or how swiftly the war would be won. We knew we had the best-trained troops in the world and true to form, they performed magnificently, and we are all proud and grateful.

But the certainty of winning the war placed the most solemn obligation on the civilian leadership of this country, to make certain that we had a plan to win the peace.

The Army Chief of Staff General Shinseki told Congress we would need several hundred thousand American troops to win the peace and do the job properly. His candor was rewarded with early retirement and his advice ignored, sending a chilling message through the ranks of the professional military.

By dismissing the State Department's plan for post-war Iraq and proceeding unilaterally, the civilian leadership simply did not put the mechanism in place to secure the country. They were unprepared for the looting, insecurity, and insurgency that burst out with the fall of Saddam's regime.
They failed to secure Iraq's borders, and so allowed thousands of foreign terrorists, Islamist militants, and intelligence agents to penetrate and destabilize post-war Iraq.

Amazingly, they had no real plan for post-war political transition. All of this happened despite clear and precise, bipartisan, warnings from Congress, and regional experts.

Then, as the challenge grew around our troops, the civilian leadership failed to respond adequately; failed to share responsibility with NATO or the UN, which offered assistance; failed to share reconstruction or decision-making, as a way of inviting others to shoulder the burden; and failed to provide the security on the ground necessary for post-war reconstruction.

They rushed and short-changed the training and equipment of the Iraqi police; they failed to recruit enough experts in the language and culture of the region and used those they had ineffectively.

The civilian leadership disbanded the Iraqi military completely so there was no internal structure to maintain order; chose consciously to put an American, instead of an international face on the occupation; failed to prepare for a large number of prisoners; and most significantly, failed even to guard nuclear waste and ammunition storage sites, despite the fact that weapons of mass destruction was their fundamental reason for the war. And some of the weapons we didn't guard are the very weapons being targeted at our troops today.

As a result, today terrorists have secured havens in Iraq that were not there before. And we have been forced to reach accommodation with those who have repeatedly attacked our troops. Violence has spread in Iraq; Iran has expanded its influence; and extremism has gained momentum.

President Bush now admits he miscalculated in Iraq. In truth, his miscalculation was ignoring the advice that was given to him, including the best advice of America's own military.

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

I wouldn't have gone to war at all -- I opposed it vociferously from the beginning of the war chant. But if I HAD, I'd have wanted a John Kerry to be leading the effort. I don't think I've heard anyone say it in a long time (if ever), but BushCheney et al didn't WANT international institutions to cooperate -- they wanted to keep what they expected to be the "war booty" all for themselves and their capitalist cronies (not all American, mind you). They wanted all the credit if (they were sure WHEN) they they have to take all the blame because they didn't.


William Saletan states the case against Bush in a nutshell:

The 2004 election is becoming a referendum on your right to hold the president accountable.

That's the upshot of tonight's speeches by Vice President Dick Cheney and Zell Miller, the Republican National Convention's keynote speaker.

The case against President Bush is simple. He sold us his tax cuts as a boon for the economy, but more than three years later, he has driven the economy into the ground. He sold us a war in Iraq as a necessity to protect the United States against weapons of mass destruction, but after spending $200 billion and nearly 1,000 American lives, and after searching the country for more than a year, we've found no such weapons.

Tonight the Republicans had a chance to explain why they shouldn't be fired for these apparent screw-ups. Here's what Cheney said about the economic situation: "People are returning to work. Mortgage rates are low, and home ownership in this country is at an all-time high. The Bush tax cuts are working." But mortgage rates were low before Bush took office. Home ownership was already at an all-time high. And more than a million more people had jobs than have them today.

"In Iraq, we dealt with a gathering threat," Cheney said. What about the urgent, nukes-any-day threat to the United States that supposedly warranted our expense of so much blood and treasure? Cheney was silent.

"A senator can be wrong for 20 years without consequence to the nation," said Cheney. "But a president always casts the deciding vote." What America needs in this time of peril, he argued, is "a president we can count on to get it right." [emphasis mine]

You can't make the case against Bush more plainly than that.

Wednesday, September 1


MaxSpeak brilliantly deconstructs Arnie's speech:

As we noted before, it is one thing to convey the common sense to one's children that in order to succeed one must maintain a positive attitude and work hard. It is another to presume that, as a matter of public policy, there is no role for government -- the whole people acting collectively -- to insure individuals against common adversities for which private insurance is not available, or prohibitively expensive.

If you don't buy this, you're a girlie man. Well as I smooth my panties I'd like to note the link -- once again -- to some Democratic orthodoxy. You're a girlie man if you recognize weakness in the economy, or in our economic system. In other words, you are guilty of an individual failure. It's your fault, you loser. Once again, the gall here is oceanic. From someone whose career depended so much on good luck -- in athletics and acting, for Christ's sake -- to conflate bad luck with personal inadequacy is breathtaking.

What's the Democratic link? In arguments about free trade, the Clintonoids' refrain was that American workers are so cool of course they will be able to compete with the export of jobs. (In other words, they will somehow accept some combination of more productivity for less pay.) You can't compete (sic), what are you, some kind of weenie?

Then we had this gem:

"But then I heard Nixon speak. Then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting the government off your back, lowering the taxes and strengthening the military."

Under Mr. Wage/Price Control Nixon, the expansion of the U.S. public sector, taxes included, was historically unprecedented. As to strengthening the military, by contrast we had the discrediting of the military in the course of the Vietnam War.

Which brings me to the 'two Americas' bit, a rhetorical gem:

"Now, the other party says that we have two Americas. Don't you believe that either. I have visited our troops in Iraq, Kuwait, Bosnia, Germany, and all over the world. I've visited our troops in California, where they train before they go overseas. I have visited our military hospitals. And I tell you this, that our men and women in uniform do not believe there are two Americas. They believe we are one America, and they are fighting for it.

We are one America, and President Bush is defending it with all his heart and soul."

I take my hat off to whoever wrote this. It conflates a recognition of the class struggle with unseemly betrayal of the sons and daughters of the working class currently being fed into the meat-grinder of Iraq. And "defending" is that military slacker G. Bush. Logical idiocy, a brilliant inversion. As such, it is perfectly in keeping with the unending waving of the bloody shirt Monday night. We salute our troops indeed. Why not, since their blood and little else irrigates the prospects of the GOP in November.


From that mad-as-hell-and-I'm-not-going-to-take-it-anymore New Yorker Mahablog:

Guiliani dismisses the charge that he and Bush are exploiting 9/11. "It's impossible to conduct this presidential election without talking about Sept. 11. It would be like conducting the re-election of Abraham Lincoln and not talking about the Civil War," Giuliani told USA Today.
But, Rudy, I don't mind the GOP talking about 9/11. In fact, I wish Bush and Dick and Condi and you and the other Bushie minions would talk. I want you to talk about the warnings ignored and the steps not taken that might have prevented 3,000 deaths. I want you to talk about lower Manhattan air quality after 9/11 and information that was deliberately withheld from New Yorkers (did you know?). I want you to talk about the firemen and other Ground Zero workers who got sick breathing that air. I want you to talk about the money Bush promised to New York City that somehow never materialized (although Wall Street firms got their handouts pronto). I want you to talk about the firehouses that are closing to save the city money. I want you to talk about trains and bridges and ports and tunnels and gas lines and nuclear reactors that remain insecure because the so-called Department of Homeland Security is a bleeping joke.
And I want you to talk about Osama bin Laden.
We're not supposed to see the flag-draped coffins of dead soldiers returning from Iraq. But the dead of 9/11 are not allowed to rest in peace. Instead, they've been put to work for the Bush campaign, and Guiliani dances on their remains to promote himself. Their families should be paid for their commercial usage.


Andrew Sullivan saw it the same way I did:

But Jenna and Barbara really did steal the show. The word "sex" emanated from the stage. No, this wasn't an ad lib. The marketers who are promoting the policies of James Dobson and Rick Santorum were making jokes mocking the prudery of people who think "Sex and the City" is something only married people do and never talk about. Like the president's gaffe about not winning the war on terror, this could never have been uttered at a Democratic convention without the Dems being described as out-of-touch metrosexuals. But the delegates, knowing that this kind of front is necessary to win over the American middle, didn't seem to mind. Compared to the earnest, mature, almost somber Kerry daughters, these two were upper-class brats, giggling, cooing, pointing to friends in the crowd, giggling over their lines, and generally showing the maturity of the average "American Idol" contestant. I have to say I loved it - if only for its authenticity, for the sudden interruption of an actual reality into the sometimes surreal script of this convention. So we have an Austrian-American bodybuilder with a history of orgies and a couple of spoiled, hard-drinking party girls fronting for a party whose platform is inspired in large part by Biblical fundamentalism. Yep. It would be hard to convey a more vivid reflection of our fractured culture than that. [emphasis mine]

The RNC has demonstrated what we already knew: that the Republican Party is the party of hypocrites. You might call it the GOP -- Good Only Publicly.


The irrepressible Arianna Huffington via Working for Change:

Here then, for your voting-booth convenience, is a quick overview of President Bush's "great record":

Since he took office, 1.2 million people in America have lost their jobs, bringing the total to 8.2 million.

The number of Americans living below the poverty line has increased by 4.3 million to 35.9 million -- 12.9 million of them children.

The number of Americans with no health insurance has increased by 5.8 million -- with 1.4 million losing their insurance in 2003. The total now stands at 45 million.

Forty percent of the 3.5 million people who were homeless at some point last year were families with children, as were 40 percent of those seeking emergency food assistance.

Median household income has fallen more than $1,500 in inflation-adjusted terms in the last three years, and the wages of most workers are now falling behind inflation.

Average tuition for college has risen by 34 percent, while 37 percent of fourth graders read at a level considered "below basic." One third of the president's $1.7 trillion in tax cuts benefits only the top 1 percent of wealthiest Americans.

President Bush also failed to fulfill his pledge to get Osama Bin Laden "dead or alive," traded the moral high ground for preemptive war and the horrors of Abu Ghraib, never attended a funeral or memorial service for any of the 975 soldiers killed in Iraq, pulled out of the Kyoto agreement on global warming, gutted the Clean Air Act, initiated the rollback of more than 200 environmental regulations, backed a constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriages, and refused to follow through on his promise to extend the assault weapons ban.

So let's get one thing straight: Anyone who is lauding George Bush at the Republican Convention -- and, yes, that includes you Rudy, Arnold, Governor George and Mayor Mike -- is endorsing his disastrous and wholly immoderate record. Thus, by definition, all these Bush strokers have surrendered their moderate credentials -- no matter how warm and fuzzy their positions on social issues. The president's record betrays both courage and compassion, and no amount of lofty rhetoric will change that.

"It's not that Bush is resolved to help them better their lives; it's just that he's resolved."

Harold Meyerson has a great op-ed piece in today's Washington Post:

There is apparently not much to George W. Bush's presidency except his resolve.

Judging by the speeches of Sen. John McCain and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani on the Republican convention's opening night, the president has no record whatever on matters economic, nor -- remarkably for a wartime president -- much of one when it comes to conducting the war in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

What the president does have is leadership -- pure, undiluted determination, a virtue that transcends such considerations as where exactly he is leading us. At other periods in our history, issues might matter, Giuliani noted, but "in times of danger, as we are now in, Americans should put leadership at the core of their decision."

Of course, the Bush campaign is fully aware that on a range of issues, Americans aren't wildly enthusiastic about where the president's resolve has taken us. By a narrow plurality, Americans would now prefer that he not have led us into Iraq. And nowhere has the president been more unwavering than in his disastrous commitment to tax cuts, which has held firm through surplus and deficits, peace and war, a weak economy and -- well, a weak economy.

Consistency may be the hobgoblin of small minds, but George Bush got it and John Kerry don't -- or so Giuliani and a host of other Republican speakers would have us believe. Kerry, said hizzoner, lacks the "clear, precise and consistent vision" that the president has already demonstrated.

Let's make this a new mantra: "Bush isn't resolved to DO anything; he's just resolved."


It's over. Bush is going to be elected, and I'll tell you why. The overwhelming majority of the working press are so vested in his administration that they fear for their jobs should Kerry win. They have spent the years since Bush 41 tearing into Democrats, a campaign culminating in a feverish pro-Bush 43 four years. We Democrats are not so punitive as are Republicans, and their fears of limited access to a Kerry administration are close to baseless, but their guilty consciences, not reality, are clearly dictating their actions.

I truly am dumbfounded at the fact that almost no progressive pundits have been appearing on cable news coverage of the conventions. During the DNC, Republicans immediately followed key Democratic speeches, putting their own spin on what was seen and heard. Not so with the RNC. It's so obvious I can't believe the print media aren't highlighting this blatant bias on the part of their media rivals. Only Ron Reagan at MSNBC has the guts and/or confidence to show any balance at all among the multitudes of TV news personalities gushing over the Repugs virtues and brilliance. And BTW, I always liked him. It took guts of an extraordinary kind to pursue a career in ballet when he was the straight son of a tough-talking macho Republican president.

I'd love to see an in-depth poll of people my own age to see if others of my generation are as shell-shocked as The Sage and I are about this new Orwellian world we used to know as America.

Tuesday, August 31


Ben Stein is saying on Hardball that this election is a "referendum on faith." He says this is all about which man is a man of faith (Christianity, explicitly).

Oh my God.


This NY Times editorial is just one more link in the chain of horror stories about just how wrong our presidential balloting counts can go.


William Saletan asks, "What does 9/11 tell us about Bush?" and answers, "Nothing."

I disagree. It demonstrated how much leverage he can get from a photo op. As The Sage commented last night during Giuliani's speech, "Even Mickey Mouse could have united the country after 9/11."

For the past month, a group of veterans funded by a Bush campaign contributor and advised by a Bush campaign lawyer has attacked the story of John Kerry's heroism in Vietnam. They have argued, contrary to all known contemporaneous records, that Kerry was too brutal in a counterattack that earned him the Silver Star, and that he survived only mines, not bullets, when he rescued a fellow serviceman from a river. President Bush, who joined the National Guard as a young man to avoid Vietnam, has been challenged to denounce the group's charges. He has refused.

Now the Republican National Convention is showcasing Bush's own heroic moment. As John McCain put it last night: "I knew my confidence was well placed when I watched him stand on the rubble of the World Trade Center with his arm around a hero of September 11 and, in our moment of mourning and anger, strengthen our unity and our resolve by promising to right this terrible wrong and to stand up and fight for the values we hold dear."

Pardon me for asking, but where exactly is the heroism in this story? Where, indeed, is the heroism in anything Bush has done before 9/11 or since?


This is just disgusting:

Delegates to the Republican National Convention found a new way to take a jab at Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's Vietnam service record: by sporting adhesive bandages with small purple hearts on them.

Morton Blackwell, a prominent Virginia delegate, has been handing out the heart-covered bandages to delegates, who've worn them on their chins, cheeks, the backs of their hands and other places.

Blackwell is president of the Leadership Institute, a nonpartisan educational foundation he founded in 1979. According to its Web site, the institute prepares conservatives for success in politics, government and the news media.

Have these people no shame? I'd like to know just how many Repugs sporting bandaids mocking John Kerry's military service have any service credentials themselves.

I've googled him, but I can't find any reference to any military service of Morton Blackwell. In fact, he appears to have followed the GWB playbook of supporting the war while waging politics at home during his eligible military service years: "In youth politics, Mr. Blackwell was a College Republican state chairman and a Young Republican state chairman in Louisiana. He served on the Young Republican National Committee for more than a dozen years, rising to the position of Young Republican National Federation national vice chairman at large. Off and on for five years, 1965-1970, he worked as executive director of the College Republican National Committee under four consecutive College Republican national chairmen." No mention of any military service in his official bio.

Let's see how much news coverage this sickening display of the chickenhawks gets.

Monday, August 30

I am SO SICK of this adulation for John McCain. Can we finally, PLEASE, call a moratorium to it among progressives? McCain just admitted (after calling Michael Moore out critically in his speech at the RNC) to Chris Matthews that he HAS NOT SEEN Fahrenheit 9/11 and had "no idea" that one of the major themes of the film was the fact that our recent history is that our wars are fought largely by the powerless among U.S. society.

He's just another political opportunist. It's easy to be a "maverick" in Arizona -- since Barry Goldwater's time, it's practically part of the job description.


Thanks, Rudy, I've got it now. I'm a terrorist. I'm not with you, so I'm a terrorist. We're at war with the people who attacked the Achille Lauro more than 20 years ago and killed one passenger. The whole point of Giuliani's speech seemed to be that since GWB got going after 9/11, the USA has been willing to murder anyone we could, because we were angry and grieving and frightened.

Did I just hear what I think I did? Did Rudy Giuliani just call for almost-eternal war?

Oh my gosh, GWB is a saint in the miraculous-Church-validating kind of sense. He "got me through it" (Rudy G.) in some mystical way.

What a washout. If Rudy couldn't make me cry, or even recall the grief of three years ago, 9/11 no longer has the knee-jerk reaction power it once had. The new power, for me, is the depth and strength of my resolve to personalize my prayers for the families and to avoid the temptation to co-opt them for my cause.

Rudy just articulated the Bush vision for the world as one in which the USA will "encourage" the spread of "freedom" throughout the world, especially the Middle East, as the solution to global terrorism. "It's our mission," he said, "we extend freedom -- governments that are free and accountable." Okay, America. Are you willing to commit the lives and funds it will take to conquer, convert and occupy dozens of countries throughout the world in order to (perhaps) prevent the occasional loss of life, however precious it may be, at the certain, not occasional, cost of tens of thousands of lives?

Brokaw and Russert think Giuliani scored a home run. I've lived too long.

Bush says war on terror not winnable

Bush says War NOT Winnable!

That's right. As GW Bush's next to last brain cell was rocked by a spasmic and tormented death he nonetheless managed to say the US could not win the war on terror. At least he didn't just look stupidly into the camera and sort of mutter, "frog" while picking his nose in semblance of his too recent for comfort simian ancestors. See. There's always a silver lining. Our president does not have the presence of mind to know not to say that the US cannot win the war on terrorism, but at least he's not schizophrenic...

 By Matea Gold, Times Staff Writer

NANTUCKET, Mass. — Trying to stay on the offensive during a week dominated by Republican festivities in New York, the Democrats pounced today on a comment by President Bush that the war on terror is not winnable, calling it pessimistic and defeatist.

Bush's remark came in an interview broadcast today on NBC news show.

When asked if the United States can win the war on terror, Bush replied, "I don't think you can win it, but I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."

In a statement released by the Democratic campaign — and later in a speech in Wilmington, N.C. — vice presidential candidate John Edwards scolded Bush for his attitude.

"This is no time to declare defeat," Edwards said. "It won't be easy and it won't be quick, but we have a comprehensive long-term plan to make America safer."

Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt accused Edwards and other Democrats of taking the president's comment out of context. "It's another reason why they have a growing credibility problem with the American people," Schmidt said.

"What the president meant was that this is a war unlike any others. We don't face an enemy where there will ever be a formal surrender, where the white flag is displayed," Schmidt said.

Sen. John F. Kerry stayed out of the fray today as he vacationed in Nantucket, meeting with campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill to discuss political strategy for the final two months of the race and begin preparing for debates with Bush, aides said. The Democratic presidential nominee also spent part of the afternoon windsurfing.

Kerry is expected to refrain from campaigning during the Republican convention, except for a speech to the American Legion in Nashville Wednesday.

But the candidate's surrogates did not let up criticism of Bush.

"To suggest that the war on terrorism is not winnable is absolutely, totally, thoroughly unacceptable," Sen. Joseph R. Biden (D-Del.) said in a conference call organized by the campaign.

"It's a little bit like saying that our war against communism directed out of Moscow is not winnable."

Retired NATO Gen. Wesley Clark said the U.S. can defeat terrorist organizations, adding that the country can stymie their ability to recruit new members and keep them from accessing weapons of mass destruction, among other measures.

"We are going to crush the people who are out to hurt America," Clark said.

It was the second remark by Bush in recent days that the Democrats have seized on. Last week, the Kerry campaign jumped on the president's acknowledgment in a New York Times interview that the administration miscalculated the conditions in post-war Iraq.

Since then, the campaign has made that a central theme of its criticism, accusing Bush of "miscalculating" how to deal with health care and protect steelworker jobs.

Edwards, a senator from North Carolina, hewed to that theme in his speech today, telling an audience in his home state that the administration has miscalculated the need for intelligence reforms and the growing nuclear threats in North Korea and Iran, among other issues.

He called for a "nuclear whistle-blower initiative" to protect scientists who expose illegal nuclear programs. And he reiterated a proposal Kerry made in June to provide nuclear fuel to countries like Iran for energy purposes in order to keep those nations from developing their own nuclear programs.

"We should call their bluff, and organize a group of states that will offer the nuclear fuel they need for peaceful purposes and take back the spent fuel so they can't divert it to build a weapon," Edwards said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.


Economic view in the NY Times -- It's not new jobs. It's all the jobs.

The real issue is not how well the new jobs pay, but whether the incomes of workers in general are rising or falling. On the second score, there is not much to debate. The incomes of most workers, adjusted for inflation, are sinking.

The evidence for this assertion is piling up. The Census Bureau weighed in last week with the latest update on family and household incomes. Both declined through the first three years of the Bush administration. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics comes a similar story for individual workers. Whether the measure is median weekly pay or average weekly pay, the increases have been too small since last summer to keep up with a measly climb of 1 percentage point in the inflation rate.

"That is true across nearly all full-time wage earners," said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Lower-end workers have taken the biggest hit, but people at the higher end - earning as much as $75,000 a year - are hurt, too. "The job market is still very weak," Mr. Zandi said, "and employers have the upper hand in negotiations."
Yet Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry fail to spotlight this alarming downward trend, from which they could segue into a debate over how to ameliorate the income deterioration. A higher minimum wage would probably help. So would an expanded government role in providing health insurance, relieving employers of some of the rising cost. Perhaps some or all of the money saved would go to wage increases.

Mr. Kerry embraces these positions much more than Mr. Bush, who prefers to let the marketplace solve wage and employment problems, allowing a minimum of government intervention, except tax cuts. These are huge differences, yet the candidates become sidetracked in debates over the quality of 1.5 million newly created jobs and fail to pound away at each other in the main event - how to arrest declining income in the vastly larger work force. "


Bob Novak, he of out-Valerie-Plame fame, has a little problem with disclosure and situational ethics:

Among the stoutest defenders of "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry," the best-selling book arguing that Mr. Kerry lied about his record of service in Vietnam, is the columnist Robert Novak.

In his syndicated columns and on the CNN program "Crossfire," Mr. Novak has lauded the book and referred to veterans who criticize Mr. Kerry - most notably John E. O'Neill, the book's co-author - as "real patriots."

Unmentioned in Mr. Novak's columns and television appearances, however, is a personal connection he has to the book: his son, Alex Novak, is the director of marketing for its publisher, the conservative publishing house Regnery.

In a telephone interview, Robert Novak said he saw no need to disclose the link.

"I don't think it's relevant," he said.

"I'm just functioning as a columnist with a point of view, and a strong point of view," he added.

And CNN wonders why their ratings continue to slide. At least on Fox, you KNOW you're being spun. CNN persists in calling itself "trusted" when people like Bob Novak, Darryn Kagan (Rush Limbaugh's newest flirt and David Letterman nemesis), Wolf Blitzer, Paula Zahn, and Judy Woodruff have long lost whatever dregs of journalistic credibility and/or integrity they fancied they had left...

Top 10 Conservative Idiots of the Week

Enjoy Democratic Underground's Top 10.

Sunday, August 29

Skippy has a great post on an ex-Nixonite's views of GWB.


Greg Palast is on top of Florida's elections, and it's getting uglier:

Sunday Aug 29, 2004
by Greg Palast

On Friday, Theresa LePore, Supervisor of Elections in Palm Beach, candidate for re-election as Supervisor of Elections, chose to supervise her own election, no one allowed. This Tuesday, Florida votes for these nominally non-partisan posts.

You remember Theresa, "Madame Butterfly," the one whose ballots brought in the big vote for Pat Buchanan in the Jewish precincts in November 2000. Then she failed to do the hand count that would have changed the White House from Blue to Red.

This time, Theresa's in a hurry to get to the counting. She began tallying absentee ballots on Friday in her own re-election race. Not to worry: the law requires the Supervisor of Elections in each county to certify poll-watchers to observe the count.

But Theresa has a better idea. She refused to certify a single poll-watcher from opponents' organizations despite the legal requirement she do so by last week. She'll count her own votes herself, thank you very much!
And so far, she's doing quite well. Although 37,000 citizens have requested absentee ballots, she says she'd only received 22,000 when she began the count. Where are the others? Don't ask: though she posts the names of requesters, she won't release the list of those who have voted, an eyebrow-raising deviation from standard procedure.

And she has no intention of counting all the ballots received. She has reserved for herself the right to determine which ballots have acceptable signatures. Her opponent, Democrat Art Anderson, had asked Theresa to use certified hand-writing experts, instead of her hand-picked hacks, to check the signatures.

Unfortunately, while Federal law requires Theresa to allow a voter to correct a signature rejection when registering, the Feds don't require her to permit challenges to absentee ballot rejections.

I know what you're thinking. How could Madame Butterfly know how people are voting? Well, she's printed PARTY AFFILIATION on the OUTSIDE of each return envelope. That certainly makes it easier to figure out which ballot is valid, don't it?

And dear Reader, please take note of the implications of this story for the big vote in November. Millions have sought refuge in absentee ballots as a method to avoid the dangers of the digitizing of democracy. Florida and other states are reporting 400%-plus increases in absentee ballot requests due to fear of the new computer voting machinery. Some refuge. LePore is giving us an early taste of how the Bush Leaguers intend to care for your absentee ballot.

If there's no safety in the absentee ballot, how about the computerized machines? The LePores of America have that one figured out too.

On Friday, the day on which Theresa began her Kremlim-style vote count, the New York Times ran a puff piece on Jeb's Palm Beach political pet. Cub reporter Amy Goodnough derided fears of Democrats who painted "dark scenarios" about the computer voting machines Madame Butterfly installed over the objections of the state's official voting technology task force. If you're wondering why the experts told her not to use the machines, I'll tell you -- because the New York Times won't. It's not because the voting specialists are anti-technology Luddites. The fact is that Florida counties using touch-screens have reported a known error rate 600% greater than the alternative, paper ballots read by optical scanners. And those errors have occurred -- surprise! -- overwhelmingly in African-American precincts. First Brother Jeb has teamed with LePore to keep the vote clean and white. Together they have refused the Democrats request for the more-reliable paper ballots as an option for voters. In Leon County, by contrast, Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho insisted on paper ballots and did not lose a single vote to error in the March presidential primary. Sancho told me it's a slam-dunk certainty that the computer screens will snatch away several thousand Palm Beach votes. Theresa and the Jebster have been quite close since LePore came out of the closet. The Republican-turned-Democrat, nominally independent, this year accepted the sticky embrace of the Republican Party. One really has to wonder if she ever truly left the Blues in the first place. It's a shame that Supervisor LePore was too busy counting her votes and rejecting ballots to respond to my phone calls. I wanted to be the first to congratulate her on her election victory -- two days before the election. Or maybe she fears I might be the early birddog who catches the butterfly as she turns back into a worm.


Molly Ivins, who has known and observed George W. Bush for nearly 40 years, attempts to explain his "compassionate conservatism" disconnects in a piece in Mother Jones:

Okay, we cut taxes for the rich and so we have to cut services for the poor. Presumably there is some right-wing justification along the lines that helping poor people just makes them more dependent or something. If there were a rationale Bush could express, it would be one thing, but to watch him not see, not make the connection, is another thing entirely. Welfare, Medicare, Social Security, food stamps -- horrors, they breed dependency. Whereas inheriting millions of dollars and having your whole life handed to you on a platter is good for the grit in your immortal soul? What we're dealing with here is a man in such serious denial it would be pathetic if it weren't damaging so many lives.

Bush's lies now fill volumes. He lied us into two hideously unfair tax cuts; he lied us into an unnecessary war with disastrous consequences; he lied us into the Patriot Act, eviscerating our freedoms. But when it comes to dealing with those less privileged, Bush's real problem is not deception, but self-deception.


Wow. Greg Palast has gone the essential one-further on the former-TX-LtGov Barnes-got-Bush-into-the-National-Guard-as-a-favor story:

 That’s far from the end of the story. In 1994, George W. Bush was elected governor of Texas by a whisker. By that time, Barnes had left office to become a big time corporate lobbyist. To an influence peddler like Barnes, having damning information on a sitting governor is worth its weight in gold – or, more precisely, there’s a value in keeping the info secret. 

Barnes appears to have made lucrative use of his knowledge of our President’s slithering out of the draft as a lever to protect a multi-billion dollar contract for a client.  That's the information in a confidential letter buried deep in the files of the US Justice Department that fell into my hands at BBC television.


Last night I was Googling to get my husband info about the recent changes in overtime pay policy. I couldn't believe what a lack of media coverage there was on this crucial topic. Why have the media largely ignored what should be labeled as "The biggest paycut in U.S. history"?

On August 23, the Bush Administration's Department of Labor eliminated the right to time-and-a-half pay for overtime work for millions of Americans in what amounted to the biggest pay cut in American history. The facts that should have made that statement a headline in every paper in the country were easily obtainable. Reporters had had months in which to review the changes. Experts had written helpful analyses. The specific ways in which various categories of workers were being stripped of their rights would have been no secret to a sixth grader with internet access writing a report for school.

And if our national media couldn't take the time to read the rule changes, the goals of the Department of Labor and other parties involved had been made abundantly clear. The DOL had published advice to employers on how to avoid paying overtime. Both houses of Congress had passed an amendment to prevent the new changes from stripping workers of overtime pay, but a conference committee under Republican leadership had removed that measure. Business groups supported the changes. Labor unions opposed them. And the Bush Administration had spent four years building a solid record of reducing worker rights and of lying about its actions.

For the media to take seriously Bush Administration claims that these changes would benefit workers would require not only a strict avoidance of research, but also the assumption that the administration was as likely as workers' organizations to make honest claims about what would help workers. Of course, the media made this assumption, illustrating a fundamental problem with contemporary journalism. Reporters believe they cannot arbitrate between competing views and that they must give extra deference to the government. As a result, whether or not they do their own research, they do not report on what they learn.


Three of our favorite bloggers have a fascinating to-date on the Israeli-spy-in-the-Pentagon thing -- IRAN-CONTRA II?

While the FBI is looking at the meetings as part of its criminal investigation, to congressional investigators the Ghorbanifar back-channel typifies the out-of-control bureaucratic turf wars which have characterized and often hobbled Bush administration policy-making. And an investigation by The Washington Monthly -- including a rare interview with Ghorbanifar -- adds weight to those concerns. The meetings turn out to have been far more extensive and much less under White House control than originally reported. One of the meetings, which Pentagon officials have long characterized as merely a "chance encounter" seems in fact to have been planned long in advance by Rhode and Ghorbanifar. Another has never been reported in the American press. The administration's reluctance to disclose these details seems clear: the DoD-Ghorbanifar meetings suggest the possibility that a rogue faction at the Pentagon was trying to work outside normal US foreign policy channels to advance a "regime change" agenda not approved by the president's foreign policy principals or even the president himself.


Let's pray for viral journalistic ethics:

We are in the middle of an important national event: the real-time confrontation of a political smear. In previous elections, the examination has almost always been in retrospect. Now the smear, against John Kerry's military service, is being critically examined as it happens. Vigilance is required, and a little courage.
John Kerry served with distinction in Vietnam, in very dangerous duty. Lots of folks chose not to serve in Vietnam at all.

This is not about who is elected, but about how we allow this campaign to unfold, especially on our pages. I am sick to death of being played for a chump by the likes of Karl Rove. America can definitely do better.


I was staying optimistic in spite of polls showing Kerry slippage until I read this, which, I think, challenges the conventional wisdom that "undecideds will break for Kerry." THESE undecideds are unlike those of recent history --

An important read.