Saturday, October 23

"You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, one of which is never to get into a land war in Asia. But only slightly less well-known is this: Never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line! Ha ha ha ha ha!"

-- Vizzini, The Princess Bride


Sidney Blumenthal:

Vast efforts to mobilize or suppress African-American, Hispanic and Democratic voters have already reached a greater level of intensity than in any modern campaign. The Republicans in Ohio, for example, have attempted to toss out new Democrat registrations because it was claimed they were written on the wrong weight of paper, a gambit overruled by a federal court. From Pennsylvania to Arizona, a Republican consulting firm is discouraging new Democratic voters from getting on the rolls.
Since September 11 infused Bush with a mission, he has evoked hovering angels, crusades, mushroom clouds, evildoers, shades of a universe of death. His imagery induces a dynamic of paralysis before the threat and fervor in embrace of his absolute reassurance and power. Dread without end requires faith without limit.

Yet Bush found himself on the defensive when the New York Times reported on the closed gathering of his campaign contributors, where he revealed his radical program for his second term - rightwing capture of the supreme court, privatizing social security, turning over national land to the oil companies, more tax cuts. Kerry was prompted to raise these issues. And Bush whined that Kerry was practicing "the politics of fear". The next day Dick Cheney projected terrorists exploding nuclear weapons within the US, and offered Bush as savior from looming apocalypse.

"No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as terror," wrote Edmund Burke. But not even the eve of destruction will stifle turnout.


Link here.


Link here.


I'm going to go on record now as believing that John Kerry will win the presidency by a margin of 4% or more.


According to 9/11 Commissioner John Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy, we know exactly where Bin Laden is, but we can't go fetch him. Why?

Bin Laden is living in South Waziristan in the Baluchistan Mountains of the Baluchistan region, Lehman told The San Bernardino Sun after delivering a keynote speech on terrorism at Pitzer College in Claremont.

In the exclusive interview, Lehman noted, "There is an American presence in the area, but we can't just send in troops. If we did, we could have another Vietnam, and the United States cannot afford that right now."

Oh no, we can't afford TWO Vietnams at the same time (Iraq being one). Heaven forbid that we should actually capture and convict the perpetrator of the worst terror attack ever on American soil. Kerry needs to hit on this NOW and HARD.


David Brooks is an idiot. In his latest column he ponders the question, Why are Americans so polarized? as a way of getting into the issue of why Bush and Kerry are basically tied:

It just so happens that America is evenly divided about what sort of leader we need: the Republican who leads with his soul or the Democrat who leads with his judgment. Even the events of the past four years have not altered that disagreement. That is why we are still tied.

BUSH LEADS WITH HIS SOUL AND KERRY LEADS WITH HIS JUDGMENT? Well, I'll agree that Bush has poor judgment. But leading with his soul? Brooks writes, "Republicans, from Reagan to Bush, particularly admire leaders who are straight-talking men of faith." Bush has faith, all right -- faith in his family's historic ability to bail him out of any mess he gets into as a result of his lack of good jugment. But straight talking? Where has Brooks been as one after another of Furious George's lies and misleading (in the best of interpretations) statements have been disproven? Bush is about as straight a talker as a sidewinder moves.

Brooks: "Republicans admire a president who is elevated above his executive branch colleagues. It is impossible to imagine George W. Bush or Reagan as a cabinet secretary. Instead, they are set apart by virtue of exceptional moral qualities."

EXCEPTIONAL MORAL QUALITIES? Bush is a draft-dodger who couldn't or wouldn't fulfill his National Guard commitment in a time of war. He's a (reputedly former) cocaine-snorting dry drunk who rarely attends church, is clearly unfamiliar with the Bible and the Christ he purports to revere among all human beings, rejects the counsel of his own church and other world religious leaders, doesn't look like much of a father if you judge that by the way Jenna and not-Jenna have turned out, and lies like he breathes. No, I can't see Dubya as a cabinet secretary. They have to be confirmed by Congress, and GWB would never have made the grade since cabinet secretaries are actually supposed to know something.

Brooks: "Democrats from Carter through Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore and Kerry have all been well versed in the inner workings of government. It is easy to imagine each of them serving as a cabinet secretary."

Imagine having a president who understood the inner workings of government when that's so clearly a disqualification for office in Brooks' mind since it prevents said president from being "exalted" enough for the office. From my perspective, it seems a good idea, especially when considering the results: an "exalted" Bush's totally inept administration.


They're not even being subtle about it.

Republican Party officials in Ohio took formal steps yesterday to place thousands of recruits inside polling places on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters they suspect are not eligible to cast ballots.

Who the hell endowed the Republican Party with the authority to challenge voters' eligibility AT THE POLLS? Let's hope the Democrats have signed up enough counter-challengers to be on hand to protect legitimate voters rather than weed out ineligible ones.

Ohio election officials said that by state law, the parties' challengers would have to show "reasonable" justification for doubting the qualifications of a voter before asking a poll worker to question that person. And, the officials said, challenges could be made on four main grounds: whether the voter is a citizen, is at least 18, is a resident of the county and has lived in Ohio for the previous 30 days.

Just how, pray tell, are the Republican voter-challengers supposed to be able to tell, just by looking at a voter, whether or not s/he's a citizen, 18 or older, a county resident or a 30-day Ohio resident? This smacks of a concerted effort to slow down voting, creating long lines and creating a climate in which some voters will become discouraged and leave without voting.

This is really an incredible development. Read the whole thingl.


Thanks goodness that with all the critical issues he confronts, Furious George is spending precious time and political capital to ensure that energy companies can drill without risk, since the government will repay their loans:

Both big energy companies and small independent energy producers will benefit from the $140 billion corporate tax cut bill that President George W. Bush signed into law on Friday...This should make it easier and cheaper for private energy companies to get financing for the pipeline, because if the companies cannot repay the loans the government will do so.

Friday, October 22


Rittenhouse has a huge story: CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER EDITORS BACK KERRY--Publisher Overrules Them

Just moments ago I learned from a source at the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the paper's editorial board agreed to endorse Sen. John F. Kerry for president, but that Alex Machaskee, publisher, president, and chief executive officer of the paper, and a Republican, overturned that decision, forcing the editors to publish an endorsement of President George W. Bush.

This is a departure from traditional procedure at the Plain Dealer, which normally bases its decisions upon interviews of the candidates or their representatives. The paper's lead editorial writer makes a recommendation to a committee of editors, offering them the opportunity to make comments in an effort to achieve a consensus. The result is, or has been in the past, a group decision.

Not this year.

The Plain Dealer, which has been a persistent critic of the Bush administration, will, according to my source, endorse the president for reelection, that by way of a directive from Machaskee. He ordered the endorsement of Bush.

It gets better: The editorial staff is talking about a walk-out in protest of Machaskee's intervention.

Calls to the Plain Dealer this evening could not confirm this information.

I was on the CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) web site looking for any mention of the Pat Robertson (CBN's founder and CEO) flack. You know, Robertson saying to Paula Zahn that he'd warned the pResident to expect casualties in Iraq and FuGee saying, oh no, we won't have casualties. I couldn't find anything relevant on the site, but I did stumble upon an on-line survey, the results of which shocked me.

Asked what was the question that would affect their viewers' votes most, more than half (52% when I voted) said, same-sex marriage.

What kind of people, at such a time, would say gay marriage is the biggest problem we face?


Wow. I just saw an ad on MSNBC for Operation Truth. Awesome. If you haven't visited their site, why haven't you? We've had it on our blogroll for quite some time now.

This is powerful. They were there.

What's with this Win Back Respect ad and the media? I've seen it shown on cable news shows three times now, and it wasn't until I watched it on the WBR/Brooke Campbell web site that I realized the media were truncating the ad. Guess what they edited out: the disgusting footage of Furious George at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, looking under a table and other places for weapons of mass destruction, saying "Whoops! Not here!" and "They've got to be around here somewhere!" or something equally odorous.

Here's hoping Media Matters for America does some research to see if any network or cable news outlet has ever edited any anti-Kerry ads before airing them (gratis) endlessly before pundits to "get their response." Somehow, I think I know the answer.


Crossfire just aired the new Republican "wolves" ad, and as it ended you could hear the audience laughing. Substitute right-wing host Joe Watkins was aghast because he thought it was powerful! Paul Begala just broke up and kept yelling, "Puppies, Joe! They were puppies! Oooooooo!"

That's EXACTLY the right reaction, mockery. And in fact, the wolves DO look pretty cute. Our youngest daughter used to collect stuffed wolves when she was a young'un, so we tend to view them benignly.

UPDATE: The wolfpack is speaking out. See Wolfpacks For Truth.


On the road with Michael Medved on the radio. I usually tend to think that Medved is one of the more intellectual and reasoned wingers (maybe it's just because he doesn't rant a la Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Ingraham, Beck et al), but after today I place him firmly among the rolls of the manipulative and disingenuous.

The theme of today's show: if you're African-American or Jewish and you want to vote in favor of racism, anti-Semitism and the destruction of Israel, vote for John Kerry. Exhibit 1: cartoonist Jeff Danziger's frame of a thick-lipped Condi Rice sitting in a chair cradling an aluminum tube as she would a baby. Caption: "I knows nothin' about aluminum tubes" or somesuch. I have to take Medved's word for it, since the Danziger web site has apparently removed the offending cartoon. Now note that Danziger has nothing to do with the Kerry campaign whatsoever and says his toon was suggested by an African-American friend of his (it's supposed to be a riff on Gone With The Wind's Prissy, who famously said, "I don't know nothin' about birthin' no babies"). It SOUNDS offensive to me (and if MM's crusade gets picked up by the SCLM, I expect that Kerry will denounce it). But by what stretch does Medved connect that with Kerry or the Democratic Party, which has fought the Republicans for at least a half century to preserve and extend the same rights to minorities that white citizens take for granted?

Exhibit 2 of Democratic racism: the Dem campaign against Repug voter suppression activities. See, that shows we don't respect African-Americans since we're suggesting that they can't fend for themselves.

As for our supposed anti-Semitism, I missed most of that part since I had to get out of the car and get to a meeting. I did hear, though, that Arafat's remarks about Kerry being better for Palestinians than Furious George, added to today's endorsement of Kerry by American Muslims (they suggested a "protest vote" for JFK), leads one to the inescapable conclusion that Kerry and Democrats are, on the face of it, anti-Semitic. Never mind Iran's overt endorsement of Bush and the Israeli Commission's conclusions that by diverting resources needed to fight the war on terror globally, Bush's war on Iraq has actually made Israel less safe. Never mind that Jewish Americans, with Democratic support, have been at the forefront of many, perhaps all, of America's most significant progressive accomplishments such as civil rights and the union movement. They know that the Republicans have historically, and consistently, stood in opposition. How can the two groups have much of an affinity?

That's all I heard.


I've posted on this before because it's not only relevant to Kerry's character and capabilities but also a darn good yarn. Here's The Case That Kerry Cracked. Read it all.

One gets an eerie sense of déjà vu watching John Kerry battle the Bush clan. He’s done it once before, against the old man, President Bush’s father, though many voters have probably forgotten. That battle involved the first Bush administration’s attempt to put the lid on an investigation that connected a worldwide criminal bank to narco-traffickers, terrorists, and to Middle East money men who helped the Bush family make piles of cash. Those links connect to people now on the U.S. post-9/11 terrorist list.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Kerry fought to expose an international criminal bank, BCCI — the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. The bank was run by a Pakistani, working with Persian Gulf managers who operated through a network of secret offshore centers to hide their operations from the world’s bank examiners. They weren’t, however, hidden from the CIA, which not only knew what the bank was doing, but used the bank to funnel cash through its Islamabad and other Pakistani branches to CIA client Osama bin Laden, part of the $2 billion Washington sent to the Afghani mujahideen. The operation gave bin Laden an education in black finance. CIA director William Casey himself met with BCCI founder Agha Hasan Abedi. The CIA also paid its own agents through the bank and used BCCI to fund black ops all over the world.

Kerry took on not only the Bush clan and its friends, but the CIA, and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. This is not irrelevant history, but important to examine, because it reveals a lot about Kerry and how he might respond to terrorism or other global criminal enterprises. Kerry’s record shows that he took on powerful political and bureaucratic interests, was a tenacious investigator, and savvy about international crime and money flows, which is crucial in the fight against terrorism.

Against the opposition of powerful Republicans and Democrats, and in light of a lack of cooperation from a very politicized Justice Department and stonewalling by the CIA, Kerry worked with investigators and ran Senate hearings that exposed the bank’s shadowy multi-billion-dollar scams and precipitated its end.


Hilarious. Matt Lauer was interviewing John McCain on The Today Show and trying everything he could think of to get McCain to say something negative about John Kerry. McCain, that sly dog, wasn't having any. Asked if Kerry has a "fundamental misunderstanding" of the war on terror, McCain replied, "No, I don't think so." Asked if some Kerry statements about Bush had been over the top, McCain responded that the rhetoric of both parties is the worst he's ever seen. Matt tried another tack: Bush says things in Iraq are getting better every day, and of course elections wil be held soon. Yet John Kerry says the situation is unraveling. They can't both be right. Who's correct? McCain: Well, in the north and south it's getting quieter and things are going pretty well. In the Sunni Triangle they're not. Lauer: So Is Bush being accurate in telling the American people that things in Iraq are getting better every day? McCain said, well, not perfectly accurate. The most Matt could get out of Old John was him saying that he thought Bush was better qualified to run the war on terror -- but it was pretty feeble and almost went unnoticed, sandwiched in as it was between equivocations.

This is the kind of thing that will drive the right-wing yahoos nuts. Ten days before the election, one of the Republican Party's stars, who's actively campaigning for Furious George, refuses to attack John Kerry, even refuses to criticize him unless he evenhandedly spreads the blame to both parties and both candidates. Laura Ingraham likes to screech about the "disloyalty" of what she calls "McHagar" (an amalgam of McCain, Hagel and Lugar) -- I bet we'll hear her explosion clear down here in Texas.

And speaking of explosions, I heard Bush 41 saying on the radio this morning that Miss Barbara doesn't like all the negative things being said about her darling baby boy. "She's steamed, and you don't want to see her steamed," he remarked. "I don't know which is going to explode first, Barbara or Mount St. Helens." I'D like to see her steamed -- I'd like to see her steamed on network TV, where she can show all her adoring fans just what she's REALLY like, a very mean bulldog with a privileged attitude.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention McCain's comment on Bill Clinton coming out to actively campaign for John Kerry. He said Bill Clinton was a beloved figure, a star, "We won't see his like again." Wow.


Link here.

Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, released an open letter Wednesday to the residents of Florida.

He urged Florida voters "to consider your vote not in terms of whether the individual is a Democrat or a Republican but whether he can lead your nation with wisdom and return your country to be a beacon of freedom and peace for the world."

Of course, this advice from the man Jon Stewart recently called "the nicest person I've ever met," will fall on deaf ears when it comes to Republican and the let's-kill-us-some-Aye-rabs voters; they don't listen to "nice" people -- they're more likely to trust the words of chickenhawks who flap their wings and scream "Terror! Terror! It's all around us! Let's wipe out the Middle East so we'll be safe!"


The Nation has a great compendium of facts about the Bush-Cheney record entitled "100 Facts and 1 Opinion: The Non-Arguable case Against the Bush Administration." Keep it handy for use in refuting all the ridiculous statements your Republican friends make to you.


E.J. Dionne, he's the man making sense in WaPo. Today he warns readers that a vote for Bush is more than a vote in favor of his handling of the war on terror. Bush likes to win squeaker elections and then interpret them as mandates to accomplish his radical agenda of Social Security and tax reform, among others:

He's not big on the specifics. Yet if Bush is reelected, he will claim a domestic mandate that will come as a surprise to many who voted for him. We know this because Bush lacked a policy mandate in 2000 -- he didn't even win the popular vote -- and nonetheless pushed through two rounds of tax cuts tilted to the wealthy that have built those staggering long-term deficits. In 2004, voters should pay attention to the mandate behind the curtain.
But if Bush will say whatever it takes about terrorism to win reelection, what will he do with his victory? Bush often says that he wants to allow individuals to invest part of their Social Security tax payments in personal accounts. What he doesn't say is how he will cover the transitional costs of at least $1 trillion over a decade. He would guarantee current recipients and those near retirement what they are due under the present system, but he won't say how much he would cut the existing guaranteed benefit for future recipients. All privatization plans that claim to reduce the long-term costs of Social Security, as Bush says his would, are based on cuts in future government benefits.

Bush skimps on the details because he knows the details are the unpopular part of his idea. Those who say Bush will have to propose benefit cuts are accused of "scaring" people. But voters should be scared when politicians talk about the benefits of their grand schemes and don't level with them on the costs.

The same is true of Bush's promise of "fundamental tax reform." All the evidence -- from bills introduced in Congress and from ideas floated by the administration -- suggests that Republicans want to shift the tax burden away from investment and savings and toward wages and consumption. That's a recipe for putting even more of the total tax burden on lower- and middle-income people and less of it on the wealthy. In August, Bush even described a national sales tax as "the kind of interesting idea that we ought to explore seriously." The White House quickly backtracked, and no one has done much since to pin Bush down.

Some conservative legislators have put forward detailed proposals for a national sales tax and Social Security privatization. I think these ideas are a mistake, but I admire the willingness of these politicians to open their plans to public scrutiny. Bush, on the other hand, hides the details. He wants to get himself reelected by talking about terrorism -- and he will inform the electorate only after Nov. 2 that they voted for a lot of other things that they never heard much about.

I'm reasonably confident that a victory for Furious George will also result in a fury of legislative and judicial assaults on abortion, embryonic stem cell research, gays and lesbians, civil liberties, and working families.


Today in the Washington Post op-ed pages, a Christian theologian begs the presidential candidates to quit talking about their personal faith:

Jesus knew that mere talk about faith could be cheap. That's why he sardonically said something that everyone who hears faith-chatter during this campaign season should remember: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." What does it mean to do this will? A little later in the same Gospel of Matthew, Jesus clarifies: Live generously in relationship to the least among us.

That doesn't mean that anyone has the right to definitively judge the faith of anyone else. But it does mean that encouraging the president and the senator to open up more about God may be unhelpful both politically and theologically.

Thursday, October 21


I shouldn't have done it. Here I was in a great mood, cruising home after a long but satisfying day at work, and I had to go and turn on the radio. It was set for a Dallas right-wing talk radio station, and good old Sean Hannity was on, lambasting Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) for her incredibly rude and ignorant Democratic response to his interview with VP Chain-gang, which Landrieu characterized as "an infomercial for the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign." Hey Mary, good shot! Hannity was his usual unbearably indignant, hypocritically oily self, citing Landrieu's "cheap shots -- I wasn't going to take that from a Senator with a total lack of any legislative record," he told a call-in listener. "Name one bill she has ever authored and seen passed!" Since this is exactly the same charge often lobbed at John Kerry by Republican operatives, let's take a look at just what Senators are elected to do.

A short and simple tutorial on the duties of Senators:

The primary duty of Congress is to write, debate, and pass bills, which are then passed on to the president for approval. Other congressional duties include investigating pressing national issues and supervising the executive and judicial branches.

In addition to the duties cited, the Senate also has special jobs that only it can perform. It must:

* Confirm or disapprove any treaties the President drafts.
* Confirm or disapprove the Presidential appointments, such as the Cabinet, officers, Supreme Court justices, and ambassadors.
* Hold a trial for a Government official who commits a crime against the country.

Authoring legislation is relatively simple, given the staff resources that are provided to Senators. SEEING IT THROUGH PASSAGE is much more difficult and depends upon many factors, especially and particularly bi-partisan support, which has surely been in short measure since the Repugs took over the House. Kerry, as we know, has excelled in the investigation responsibilities of the Senate, getting to the bottom of the Iran-Contra scandals in which Reagan administration officials were proven to be trafficking with Islamic terrorists and Central American death squads, and spearheading the investigation and ultimate downfall of the giant banking institution BCCI, which laundered terrorist funding money (his prosecutorial experience paying off, hey?).

Wow. I just popped over to Media Matters For America, which has a summary of the interview. Read it and throw up.

No more posting today. I'm celebrating -- I just won two Platinum Awards (first prize) in an international marketing communications competition, for Best Corporate Web Site, and Best Employee Video. Hooray! (Dare I say "job security"?) We're breaking out the sparkling cider.

So Silmarill, the page is yours...until I get really teed off, at least.


An interesting sidebar to the stories of attempts to suppress the vote and steal the election:

It's easy to vote absentee in Illinois if you meet certain qualifications, like being out of your home county on Election Day. It's also easy if you don't meet those qualifications: You just lie. In fact, greasy machine pols have been known to exploit the present system to cast "votes" for their entire block. Juliet Alejandre is one person who didn't qualify, and who wasn't prepared to lie. Going to school full-time and working nights, the single mother says that the last time she tried to vote she left much of the ballot incomplete because she was terrified her unminded toddler would fall off the stage upon which the booths sat. So with three other working moms, Alejandre sued in federal court to order the state legislature to revisit its horse-and-buggy absentee statute to make reasonable provisions—whether by extending voting hours, changing absentee requirements, or instituting a universal vote-by-mail system like the one that's worked well in Oregon.

This past Friday, Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit, a prominent conservative intellectual and vocal Bush supporter, handed down a capricious, flippant dismissal of the complaint, ignoring key portions of its argument and simply inventing others. (The plaintiffs wanted the court to "decree weekend voting," he fantasized, wondering whether a federal court would soon "have to buy everyone a laptop, or a Palm Pilot or Blackberry?")

Bad enough if it only affected Illinoisans. Here's the scary part: Posner worded his ruling in such a way to make it difficult for anyone to challenge any voting statute passed by any state legislature anywhere.
[emphasis mine]

The decision is diabolical—a perfect counterpart to this season's Republican strategy of drowning voting-rights complaints in a sea of moral relativism. One example: A goal of the plaintiff's case was to stop existing fraud by making Illinois's vague and antiquated absentee regulations more uniform and fair. Instead, Posner argued that the plaintiff's commonsense request for a second look at the statutes opened the door to fraud.

The bottom line: Posner's precedent gives much more discretion to states like Ohio and Florida to take action to restrict voting opportunities, especially for working people. And it was handed down, conveniently, two weeks before Election Day.
[emphasis mine]


This Village Voice article is scary but absolutely right-on as it discusses the current "Bush cult" assault on our democracy. Read the whole thing.

Now, he says, "I see the damage to our system and our sense of ourselves as a democratic people as really quite substantial. . . . The consequences of both the policies and the processes have been more destructive of our national interest and our democratic institutions than any president I know." When someone as level-headed as Tom Mann begins to worry for the future of our democracy, that's news.
Yet the "process," by many accounts, is not just broken but shattered, intentionally ground into dust by Karl Rove and his Republican campaign machine. "What these guys do every day, as a matter of course, without thinking twice about it, would be dramatic transgressions even under Nixon," Jeff Shesol admits from his Dupont Circle office, crowded with paraphernalia from Democratic triumphs past. He's just amazingly quick to dismiss the notion that there's anything a Democratic presidential campaign can do about it. "It is very hard for most people to look at Bush and see him as an extremist," he says. "It is very hard to make that charge stick to a guy who seems so down-home, so commonsense, such a decent man."
I remind Shesol of the NBC report last spring—never effectively rebutted by the White House—that revealed the most Orwellian face of the administration imaginable: that "before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out" the terrorist operations of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but didn't because it "feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam."

"Wow," Shesol responds, with a breath of surprise. George Bush sold out our security in order to pull off a sales job; that, certainly, is not an "elite" message. That's not a "process" story. So why don't we hear it?
A coup? Deep Faith is convinced some might even welcome it. "It makes me wonder, if something really bad happened, and the Bush administration was able to have a coup and be in permanent charge," he tells me, sinking into his living-room couch, scaring the hell out of me, "who among my folk would seriously protest, if they could get a slice of the pie? 'We could go in there and reverse all this judicial precedent we don't like!' "

That Kingdom of God they keep talking about, he reminds us, the hunger for which is now the fuel of the Republican engine, "is not a democracy."


Finally, finally, some principled Republicans are speaking out against Furious George. But note: few of them currently hold office. Anyway, here's a former U.S. Senator from Kentucky, God bless him:

I shall cast my vote for John Kerry come Nov 2.

I have been, and will continue to be, a Republican. But when we as a party send the wrong person to the White House, then it is our responsibility to send him home if our nation suffers as a result of his actions. I fall in the category of good conservative thinkers, like George F. Will, for instance, who wrote: "This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and having thought, to have second thoughts."

I say, well done George Will, or, even better, from the mouth of the numero uno of conservatives, William F. Buckley Jr.: "If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war."
First, let's talk about George Bush's moral standards.
I have just turned 78. During my lifetime, we have sent 31,377,741 Americans to war, not including whatever will be the final figures for the Iraq fiasco. Of those, 502,722 died and 928,980 came home without legs, arms or what have you.
Those wars were to defend freedom throughout the free world from communism, dictators and tyrants. Now Americans are the aggressors — we start the wars, we blow up all the infrastructure in those countries, and then turn around and spend tax dollars denying our nation an excellent education system, medical and drug programs, and the list goes on. ...


The NY Times discusses "Bush's vision:"

In the last, frenetic two weeks of the campaign, there comes a moment at every rally, every town hall meeting, when President Bush starts talking about what he calls "the transformational power of liberty."
Yet Mr. Bush's vision seems to strike a chord with his crowds.
Mr. Bush talks about "the transformational power of liberty'' in the same tones he sometimes talks about the power of religion to transform the soul. He often links the two, repeating a line that "freedom is not America's gift to the world, freedom is the almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world.''

Of course it "strikes a chord with his crowds." That's because they understand what he's really saying. Again, these are code words, written in the language of the faithful. "The transformational power of..." is a popular phrase among evangelicals, church pastors and other sermonizers. It usually ends with "Christ's blood," "faith," "love," or something similar. Bush inserts "liberty," but his audience knows what he's really talking about. We're talking Christian jihad here, folks, and take it from a faithful Christian, this is behind some of the fervent support such remarks generate.

And who said freedom was God's gift to every man and woman? For crying out loud, this is just more evidence that the man who some Christians think is almost God's surrogate in the White House is totally unfamiliar with the Bible. Bible references to slavery, freedom, liberty, etc. are almost exclusively dealing with sin. The unregenerated are "slaves to sin," the born-again are to declare "liberty" to the world (liberty from the control of sin). In fact, we're even instructed, if we're in the physical condition of slavery, to pray for our masters, to do a great job for them so they will be won to the Lord through our example.

My point is, Bush is once again playing to his religious-right base while he foments visions of sugarplums scattering across the earth bringing the luscious taste of democracy to the oppressed peoples of the world.

But his faith is not in God, it's in what he views as his own infallible position with God. This is a man of such dangerous though charismatic arrogance that he appears as a "wolf in sheep's clothing," to quote from the Book he must never peruse. Christians need to wake up and realize that he's leading them (not me!) into waters perilously close to blasphemy. The Bible is very clear that salvation comes from confession that one is sinful, prayer to be forgiven for those sins, an acceptance of Christ as the Son of the Living God, and an offering up of oneself to His control. Through such an experience, one is "transformed" or "born again" to a new heart and mind, a new life. Certainly "liberty" would not be considered "transformational" of men's hearts and minds in a Biblical view. This is why evangelicals have always opposed the liberal agenda; they don't believe people can "change" without the intercession of Christ, so what good is spending all that money? It's the very basis of their worldview. So don't believe for a minute that they swallow that "transformational power of liberty" crap -- they know freedom won't make for better nations or improved conditions for the people of the world; they know George is really offering to open up new mission fields for the conversion of the heathen, and THAT'S why they're applauding so enthusiastically. But don't think for a minute that I believe that that's what Bush is really offering; this is just more cynical Bush/Rove doublespeak to justify his plans for everlasting war and the new corporate profit opportunities that they generate.

Humility is supposed to be a Christian virtue. Furious George shows little evidence of personal acquaintance with the concept.

Wednesday, October 20


Public University Tuition Is Up Sharply for 2004:

Tuition at the nation's public universities rose an average of 10.5 percent this year, the second largest increase in more than a decade, according to the latest annual survey by the College Board. Last year's rise, 13 percent, was the highest.

Private universities and community colleges also increased tuition, by 6 percent and 9 percent, in a year when inflation has been about 2.5 percent. The tuition increases at private and community colleges were also among the steepest in a decade.

Women and young voters, how many calls to action DO YOU NEED? The price of everything is up under this administration, at the same time that the Economic Policy Institute says real wages are down. Is that what you want, more of the same? Or a fresh start with someone who CARES about your family's needs? Do you really believe that Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy will somehow counter the decine in your family's purchasing power? If you do, what are you doing reading this blog?


Fascinating TV watching last night. Much as I loathe Paula Zahn, no one was watching her last night -- all eyes were on a jovial Pat Robertson, who couldn't seem to stop giggling over George Bush's ability to screw things up royally and still be "blessed by God" with success among the electorate. That's not God's blessing, Pat. That's the power of fear and a bovine desire on the part of too many people to be led to the promised land by an earthly father (a distinctly UN-Christian attitude the Bible explicitly warns us against) who they can love and believe in unflinchingly while he protects them against all evildoers. That's what gave rise to the Hitler and Mussolini cults, and it's the source of Furious George's success.

Roberts went on to tell about a visit he paid to FuGee before the Iraq war. Roberts said he warned "the most self-assured man I ever met" that he should be ready for American casualties in Iraq, but Bush responded, "That's not going to happen." Roberts said God had told HIM that the Iraq adventure would be "a disaster" and "messy." But George wasn't having any of it.

Well, who else do we need to tell us before we start to BELIEVE it, that BushCo lives in an alternate universe where The Anointed One has a line straight to God (I wonder sometimes, just who's giving the orders here, God to George Bush or George Bush to God?), so he has no need to prepare, plan or execute strategy -- he can just be confident that no matter what he does, God will bless it with success. In the face of evidence to the contrary, George, like Abraham of old waiting for a son and heir, just figures "it hasn't happened yet, but it will eventually." Unfortunately for GWB, Abraham could believe because God Almighty told him it would happen. In George's case, I think it's pretty clear that he's the one doing the talking, not God.

UPDATE: CNN has a story on the interview.

Tuesday, October 19


I've never seen anything like it. We're in the ninth inning of the Boston Red Sox-NY Yankees game in a 3-2 pennant race, and the Sox are up 4-2. After a lengthy and mysterious break in which police officials joined the umpires on the field, pointing at things unknown, the stands have just been lined with police in riot garb. What has been a terrific series and a most exciting sixth game has suddenly been transformed into a violent-event-waiting-to-happen and the game is almost a background theme.

The Yankee pitcher has retired the Sox. It's now the break before the bottom of the ninth.

Background: In the 8th inning, A-Rod hit a drive to the pitcher, swatting the ball out of the Sox pitcher's hand as he tried to tag A-Rod out at first. A-Rod raced past first, not coming close to the base, though initially he was called "safe" by the first-base referee. During this melee, his teammate crossed home plate, bringing the score to 4-3, Sox. No question, A-Rod fouled, and the umps all gather and finally declare him out, returning his teammate, Derek Jeter, from third base to first. The score is now back at 4-2.

I can only surmise that the umps thought their call was so controversial that the Yankee fans would mob them and tear them limb from limb if the Sox survive and win the game. Ergo, the riot police are called.

Now the cops are exiting the field but remaining in the front row of the stands, ostensibly to be on hand should there be a need. What changed during the commercial break, I wonder?

I'm trying to concentrate on the game, but I keep thinking of that image of riot police lining the field of a pennant game in the United States of America. This our national pastime. We cheer and we cry. When non-game injuries occur, they're because of spoiled players throwing chairs into the crowd or because testosterone-loaded professional athletes brawl. They're not because American sports fans storm the field and endanger honest umpires.

It's like a bad movie. It's like a foreshadowing of Furious George's Amerika.

Woa! Sox win! History is made!


Robert Scheer outs the CIA suppression of its own investigation of the events of 9/11 until after the election.

It is shocking: The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election, and this one names names. Although the report by the inspector general's office of the CIA was completed in June, it has not been made available to the congressional intelligence committees that mandated the study almost two years ago.

"It is infuriating that a report which shows that high-level people were not doing their jobs in a satisfactory manner before 9/11 is being suppressed," an intelligence official who has read the report told me, adding that "the report is potentially very embarrassing for the administration, because it makes it look like they weren't interested in terrorism before 9/11, or in holding people in the government responsible afterward."

When I asked about the report, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, said she and committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) sent a letter 14 days ago asking for it to be delivered. "We believe that the CIA has been told not to distribute the report," she said. "We are very concerned."
In September, the New York Times reported that several family members met with Goss privately to demand the release of the CIA inspector general's report. "Three thousand people were killed on 9/11, and no one has been held accountable," 9/11 widow Kristen Breitweiser told the paper.

The failure to furnish the report to Congress, said Harman, "fuels the perception that no one is being held accountable. It is unacceptable that we don't have [the report]; it not only disrespects Congress but it disrespects the American people."

The stonewalling by the Bush administration and the failure of Congress to gain release of the report have, said the intelligence source, "led the management of the CIA to believe it can engage in a cover-up with impunity. Unless the public demands an accounting, the administration and CIA's leadership will have won and the nation will have lost."

This reminds me of the "good ole days" of CIA excesses, abuses and excuses within this country and around the world: Allende, infiltration of domestic student movements in the '60s and '70s, Iran-Contra, political assassinations, et al. I have great sympathy and respect for patriots such as Ray McGovern and the other VIP's (Veteran Intelligence Professionals) speaking the truth from the early days of the Bush administration, for those intelligence officials who leaked the truth about the BushCo pressure to produce "evidence" that would further their war goals, and for the intelligence professional who spoke to Scheer and revealed this latest outrage. But let's not forget that the intelligence agencies are also rife with right-wing partisans who abuse their secrecy and the power it lends them to forward their radical agendas, as well as bureaucrats who blow with the prevailing wind -- and the wind for at least the past four years has borne the stench of petroleum.

The SCLM should be making a very big deal about this "delayed" report. But then, one could say that about so MANY issues.

Red Sox.....Astros

Go Red Sox! Last night Motherlode was be-moaning the fact that the Red Sox might end up playing the Houston Astros in the World Series. In other words: Massachusetts VS Texas. Sound familiar?

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Holy smoke. Paul Lukasiak's AWOL Project has uncovered information that he think proves Furious George W. Bush was actually kicked out of the Texas Air National Guard:

New information with regard to the meaning of a special code which appears on George W. Bush’s Air National Guard discharge papers indicates that he was being thrown out of the Air National Guard for failing “to possess the required military qualifications for his grade or specialty, or does not meet the mental, moral, professional or physical standards of the Air Force.”   In other words, despite the fact that Bush had an unfulfilled six year Military Service Obligation, he was discharged from the Air National Guard not because he moved to Boston, but because he failed to meet his obligation to maintain his qualifications as an F102 pilot.
The special code is “PTI 961”, and is found[1] in the “Reason and Authority for Discharge” section of Bush’s NGB-22, his “Report of Separation and Record of Service in the Air National Guard of Texas and as a Reserve of the Air Force.” 
From Bush’s NGB-22

No actual “reason for discharge” is cited in this section.  However, the reference to “ANGR 36-05 [PTI 961]” provides us with enough information to determine that Bush was being thrown off for failure to fulfill his requirements.
“PTI” stands for “Personnel Transaction Identifier”, a code which “identifies the controlled personnel management action being accomplished the personnel data system.”[2]   And although the particular meaning of “PTI 961” remains unknown, all “900” series PTIs mean that someone is no longer considered part of “Air Force strength.”[3]
From AFM 30-3 (1977)

AFM 30-3 explains how “transactions” involving the “movement of a member within the Air Force strength which does not affect the total strength, that is, movement….to a different command” would have been “reported by PTI 201.”  Bush’s discharge and reassignment appears to have been a “movement to a different command” (i.e. from the Air National Guard to the Air Force Reserves). 
However, when an “action is reported by the 9xx PTIs” it represents a “loss to the Air Force strength.”  In other words, despite the fact that Bush had almost eight months left on his six year Military Service Obligation at the time, Texas Air National Guard officers were signaling that Bush was essentially worthless to the Air Force, and should not even be retained in the “Ready Reserves” for call up in the event of a national emergency. 

Swarzenegger for stem cell research

10/19/04- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is putting his political career at risk. He endorsed a 3-billion-dollar bond measure that would fund human embryonic stem cell research. His position represents a break with California's republican party.

Schwarzenegger has said he supports the research since his father-in-law is in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. Supporters of this bond measure say Alzheimer's could someday be treated with stem cells.

Monday, October 18

Fox vs CNN


This is from News Hounds
Maxim did a head-to-head comparison of Fox & CNN. Their premise: One's a cable news pioneer, the other's the network liberals fear. But which one's worth taking for a spin? I thought their results were pretty funny.

Head to Head: Fox vs. CNN

FOX: "We report. You decide."
CNN: "America's Most Trusted News Source"
EDGE: Fox. Even they snicker when they say it.

FOX: Supermacho Republican
CNN: Somberly Democrat
EDGE: Fox. CNN is too self-loathing for it's own good—Fox doesn't apologize.

EDGE: CNN. They try, even when no one in the whole world is watching.

FOX: Viagra
CNN: Doobie
EDGE: CNN. CNN is your mellow older brother with a glove compartment full of dope.

EDGE: Fox. Drink once every time you hear "freedom," "terror," or "death toll."

EDGE: Fox. Nothing whets the public's need to know like death and rape.

FOX: Bill O'Reilly
CNN: Larry King
EDGE: CNN. O'Reilly is a pompous loudmouth but King can actually pass wind through his mouth.

FOX: Greta Van Susteren
CNN: Paula Zahn
EDGE: Fox. With a face as harsh as the Texas Panhandle, Van Susteren has to be credible.

FOX: Sean Hannity
CNN: Tucker Carlson
EDGE: Fox. Bow-tied pretty boy Carlson doesn't compare with Fox's resident Napoleonic blusterer.

FOX: Alan Colmes
CNN: Paul Begala
EDGE: CNN. Though he looks like he plays Hacky Sack in his spare time, Begala just isn't the weeping jellyfish Colmes would be if Fox permitted him a speaking role.

FOX: Dick Morris
CNN: James Carville
EDGE: Fox. Morris would sell his grandmother's ribs for some face time on national TV.

FOX: Rupert Murdoch
CNN: Ted Turner
EDGE: CNN. Murdoch might be richer and more powerful, but who'd you rather party with? We'll take Mouth of the South, Ted "Col. Sanders on Angel Dust" Turner.

FOX: Brit Hume
CNN: Lou Dobbs
EDGE: CNN. Watching Dobbs is like watching golf: It's boring, but you're pretty sure something's happening. Hume traded his hard-won D.C. news rep for a fatter paycheck and boss.

EDGE: Fox. Yee-ha!

EDGE: CNN. Sensitive news for sensitive people.

FOX: Dick Cheney
CNN: Hillary Clinton
EDGE: Fox. They'll lance their own nuts for a chance to inhale Uncle President's cheap cologne.

FOX: Shepard Smith
CNN: Wolf Blitzer
EDGE: CNN. Not only did he brave the bombs in Baghdad more than a decade ago, his name doubles as a James Bond villain.

Winner: Fox by a score of 9 to 8.

Breaking news! Fox wins by being the most entertaining cable network this side of Comedy Central and Pax. Sorry, CNN, you can have your boring, old "news." For us, it's all war, dead expectant wives, and hippie bashing all the time!


On Nader

Nader claims to be trying to influence the Democratic Party agenda. This claim is false. The reason Nader cannot be taken seriously is that he has never done anything with his political capital. He has never actually tried to influence the agenda of the Democratic Party. Is there one among you that believes if Nader had a meeting with Kerry and told Kerry, "There is one thing I want from you. I care about a living wage for the poorest working families in America and I want you to fight for a ten dollar an hour minimum wage. You commit here on camera and in writing that you will come out publicly for this after the election and I will throw all my support behind you and pull out of the presidential race. That's my price. A ten dollar living wage for working families in exchange for the presidency." that Kerry wouldn't agree? THAT would be a successful use of Naders position to influence the Democratic Party agenda. But does Nader try this? No. He influences nothing. He only crashes the party. He hurts the people he claims to champion and aides those those he most vehemently disagrees with. If he cared about influencing the DP agenda he would use his capital to achieve that end and he does not. Why is Nader doing this? It doesn't matter. It only matters that he's hurting the country and his countrymen for nothing and that is as close to unforgiveable as a sin can get. With liberal friends like Ralph Nader who needs enemies? God forgive him. I'm not equal to the task.

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Here we go again:

Problems were already being reported with Florida’s new voting system today as the state opened early polling...
But one of the systems crashed shortly after it was fired up to allow Floridians to start casting early votes.

The machines have proved controversial because many do not provide a paper reading of how votes are cast, making a recount of a disputed result impossible.

As an alternative some polling stations are providing voters with paper ballot alternatives.

But a Democratic state legislator said when she asked for an absentee paper ballot it was incomplete.

Shelley Vana, from Palm Beach County, centre of the last election’s debacle, said election workers were indifferent when she pointed out the oversight.

“This is not a good start. If there are incomplete ballots out there, I can’t imagine I would be the only one getting it,” she said.


The Guardian Oberver asks, "Has Bush lost his reason?"

But the momentous decision awaiting Americans is not whether they return to power a President who is uniquely qualified to protect the US against terrorism, as Cheney et al would have us believe. It is whether they re-elect a man who, it is now clear, has become palpably unstable.

The evidence has been before our eyes for some time, but only during the course of this election campaign has it crystallised - just in time, possibly, for the 2 November election. The 43rd US President has always had a much-publicised knack for mangled syntax, but now George Bush often searches an agonisingly long time, sometimes in vain, for the right words. His mind simply blanks out at crucial times. He is prone, I am told, to foul-mouthed temper tantrums in the White House. His handlers now rarely allow him to speak an unscripted word in public.
A senior Republican, experienced and wise in the ways of Washington, told me last Friday that he does not necessarily accept that Bush is unstable, but what is clear, he added, is that he is now manifestly unfit to be President.

This, too, is a view that is widely felt, but seldom articulated and then only in private, within the Republican as well as Democratic establishments in Washington. Either way, the choice voters make on Tuesday fortnight should be obvious: whether he is unstable or merely unfit to be President - and I would argue that they amount to much the same - he should speedily be turfed out of office.


Via Smirking Chimp, "A Republican businessman vilifies George Bush."

Be warned. This sounds like a tinfoil-hat story, but it's only the conclusions that are in question -- the facts are documented. It reminds me a little of the Robert Redford film Three Days of the Condor, in which a CIA officer (Cliff Robertson) tells Redford at the end, "When the oil is running low, Americans won't ask us how we've done it; they'll just want us to go out and get it for them." (He must have been a Bushie.)

Schwarz' signature revelation is the story of what happened to an obscure Argentinean company, the Bridas Corporation--and how that might explain 9/11, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

There is $7.34 trillion worth of petroleum and another $3 trillion of natural gas in the Caspian Basin. A pipeline across Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India could bring it to market. (Included in this "market" are a number of gas-fired power plants in Pakistan, owned by US corporations, and, at the time, an Enron project in Dabhol, India.)

In 1995 the Bridas Corporation was negotiating with the Taliban in Afghanistan to build the pipeline. The U.S. Government and the Unocal Corporation were pressing the Taliban fiercely to decline. In January of 1996, however, Bridas signed the contract to proceed: it now controlled the flow of Caspian riches.
Fast forward to1998. The Project for a New American Century is staffed by a group of "neoconservatives," starkly rightwing political thinkers and activists. It is committed to maintaining the military and economic supremacy in the world accorded the United States by the collapse of the Soviet Union. On January 26, 1998, the PNAC sent a letter to President Clinton urging the removal of Saddam Hussein by military means, if necessary. Should he remain in power, much would be put at hazard, including "a significant portion of the world's supply of oil." Signing the letter were Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, James Woolsey, Zalmay Khalilzad, John Bolton, Richard Armitage, and Elliott Abrams.

Fast forward now to 2000, an election year. Eleven members of the PNAC would assume prominent roles in the upcoming administration of George W. Bush: the signers of the 1998 letter to Clinton, plus Richard Cheney, Douglas Feith, and Lewis Libby. In September the PNAC made public another document, a 90-page report entitled, "Rebuilding America's Defenses." The new document advocated pre-emptive war--something never done in the history of the nation--but it realized how sharp a departure this would be. The "transformation" would be long and difficult, in the absence of "some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor." President Bush, early in his Administration, formally adopted the concept when he signed and issued the National Security Strategy document.

One more fast forward: to January of 2001. The Bush Administration has taken office, and the linkages with the oil industry are intimate, historic, and huge. The president and vice president are just the openers: eight cabinet members and the National Security Advisor were drafted directly from the oil industry, and so were 32 other officials, in the Departments of Defense, State, Energy, Agriculture, Interior, and the Office of Management and Budget.

Vice President Dick Cheney convenes his supersecret "Energy Task Force." Its membership and deliberations remain deliberately obscured, but Schwarz is certain the forced removal of the Taliban and the Bridas Corporation was discussed. The citizen group Judicial Watch did force the release of a few documents, however, with a lawsuit. Prominent among them is a map of the Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, tanker terminals, and oil exploration blocks: the Cheney Task Force had more than a passing interest in Iraqi oil, as well.

From Paul O'Neill and others we know the new Bush people, from their first days in office, intended to invade Iraq. Less well known was the covert planning, undertaken in the spring of 2001, for an attack on Afghanistan. The State Department gained the concurrence of both India and Pakistan for the attack, but as late as August 2, U.S. negotiators were still asking the Taliban to rescind the pipeline contract with the Bridas Corporation. The negotiations were fruitless.

On August 6, 2001, President Bush ignored the CIA's warning of a terrorist attack contained in the "Presidential Daily Briefing," and 36 days later the World Trade Center was rubble. Was this the "catastrophic and catalyzing event" the Project for a New American Century anticipated, and was the Bush Administration in any way involved?

The Internet is full of assertions that it was. Websites, books, and DVD's abound, making their cases--some alarming, others hyperbolic, conspiratorial, or looney. Michael Ruppert 's book Crossing the Rubicon is alarming. Ruppert lays the blame for 9/11 directly at the feet of Vice President Cheney, and his argument was worthy enough to stimulate an invitation from the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco--hardly on the lunatic fringe--to present it in person. Speaking on August 31, 2004, Ruppert did so. Attorney Stanley Hilton, on the other hand, claims George Bush personally signed the order authorizing the attacks of 9/11, and he intends to prove it in a court of law. Mr. Hilton was chief of staff for Senator Robert Dole, which is a decent enough credential to keep him out of the looney bin, but his assertion does give pause to reasonable people.

The reasonable people of New York City, however, are evenly split: a Zogby International poll in late August found 49.3% of those interviewed believed the Bush Administration had foreknowledge of the attacks on the Trade Towers and "consciously failed" to act.

To Karl Schwarz' credit, he chooses only to establish the dots of fact, leaving it to others to connect them and find culpability. But his dots show the Bush Administration was fully aware of the Bridas contract and its threat to the domestic oil industry.

Anyone past middle school can understand how desperately the Bush Administration needed a credible excuse to proceed with its planned attack on Afghanistan. To suggest 9/11 was engineered is risky, but to consider it an unrelated coincidence is asking a great deal. Can anyone be that lucky? There is, of course, a middle ground between engineering and random good fortune: the Bush Administration might in fact have known about the impending disaster but chose, as half of the New Yorkers believe, to do nothing.

On October 7, 2001 the attack on Afghanistan--planned long before 9/11--was undertaken. On December 31, Hamid Karzai is appointed by the Bush Administration to be interim president of Afghanistan, and much has been made of his former service to the Unocal Corporation, as a consultant on the Trans Afghanistan pipeline.

With the Taliban deposed, the Bridas Corporation's contract to build the pipeline was now in play, and on February 8, 2002 its fate was sealed. Presidents Karzai of Afghanistan and Musharraf of Pakistan agreed to a new plan for a pipeline, and by the end of the year a project known as the Central Asia Pipeline was born. The Bridas contract was, in Karl Schwarz' words, breached by US military force.

On February 23, 2003 the Bush Administration agreed to finance the Central Asia Pipeline and protect it with US troops, stationed at permanent bases in the region.
The $10 trillion of hydrocarbon fluids in the Caspian Basin are now firmly controlled by US oil companies, including BP/Amoco, Chevron-Texaco, Amerada Hess, Devon Energy, and Remington/Western Resources. (These companies also have in common a law firm to represent them: Baker Botts of Houston, Texas. The senior partner in the firm is James Baker, the engineer of George Bush's selection as President by the Supreme Court, and former Secretary of State in the first Bush Administration. Baker Botts has been retained also by Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia. Prince Aziz has been accused of complicity in 9/11--and sued--by the families of World Trade Center victims, and Baker Botts is defending him.)

In Afghanistan, neither the Bridas Corporation--nor Osama bin Laden--has been seen or heard of since.

Does the Afghanistan episode demonstrate the influence of the oil industry in the administration of George W. Bush? Does it explain what happened next?

With "Mission Accomplished" in Afghanistan, the doctrine of pre-emptive war can now be applied elsewhere.

President Bush spoke repeatedly of an al Qaida-Iraqi linkage, deliberately and successfully (and we know now falsely) persuading the American public Saddam Hussein was an accessory to 9/11. Chemical weapons, biological weapons, soon-to-be nuclear weapons. Months and months of lies and deception at home, of arm twisting abroad and at the United Nations. And then came the "pre-emptive" invasion.

Now that the lies of the Bush Administration have been exposed, we are told the Iraqi adventure was undertaken to bring freedom and democracy to that tragic region of the world. Liberation to the Iraqis, however, looks more like occupation. And the construction, once more, of permanent military bases in Iraq provides ample reason to feel that way.

US military might has now cordoned off, during the Bush Administration, both the $10 trillion in Caspian Basin resources and the world's second largest pool of petroleum in Iraq. This is a fact, one of Karl Schwarz' dots. Is it truly just a collateral result, a mere by-product of bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East?

Ask who benefits from the fact. Ask who bears the costs. And ask how it happened. Karl Schwarz can answer all three questions, with names, dates, and places. He will let you connect his dots.


Kerry sees "disaster" for middle class:

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry accused President Bush on Sunday of planning a surprise second-term attempt to privatize Social Security, and forecast a "disaster for America's middle class."
"John Kerry's misleading senior scare tactics are just another example of a candidate who will say anything to get elected," said spokesman Steve Schmidt. "No matter how false his accusations or how contradictory they are with his record of repeatedly voting for higher taxes on Social Security."

Note that Schmidt didn't actually refute Kerry's charges (an old campaign tactic), nor did Bush address them directly. Letting a surrogate mislead the voters can be explained later.

"It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission," n'est-ce pas? Especially when you're in a dead-heat race for office.

Here's the quote Kerry is referring to:

''I'm going to come out strong after my swearing in,'' Bush said, ''with fundamental tax reform, tort reform, privatizing of Social Security.'' The victories he expects in November, he said, will give us ''two years, at least, until the next midterm. We have to move quickly, because after that I'll be quacking like a duck.''

Joseph Gildenhorn, a top contributor who attended the luncheon and has been invited to visit Bush at his ranch, said later: ''I've never seen the president so ebullient. He was so confident. He feels so strongly he will win.'' Yet one part of Bush's 60-odd-minute free-form riff gave Gildenhorn -- a board member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and a former ambassador to Switzerland -- a moment's pause. The president, listing priorities for his second term, placed near the top of his agenda the expansion of federal support for faith-based institutions. The president talked at length about giving the initiative the full measure of his devotion and said that questions about separation of church and state were not an issue.

And why aren't church-state separation questions not an issue? Because if Furious George gets elected, he gets to appoint several brand-new Supreme Court justices -- in the mold of Scalia and Thomas, as promised.


Here's a horrifying prospect: Imagining America if George Bush Chose the Supreme Court.


Risks Seen for TV Chain Showing Film About Kerry.

Sinclair is alienating not only Democratic and other fair-minded viewers, but advertisers, consumer and media watchdog groups, analysts and investors.

They better hope like hell that John Kerry doesn't win. And even if Bush does, he'll have a hard time meting out their "reward" of further deregulation -- it would smack too much of "payback."


Heard on CNN this morning that Russia's Putin is "endorsing" Furious George.

Time was, when an endorsement from Russian leadership would be the kiss of death for any American presidential candidate. I know they're supposed to be our ally now, but contrary to what FuGee saw in Putin's "soul," the man is looking very much like a totalitarian these days.

Of course, so does Bush -- or at least a wannabe.


Kerry Draws Even With Bush at 45 Percent in Zogby Tracking Poll:

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry moved into a tie with President George W. Bush in the latest Reuters/Zogby tracking poll of likely voters.

Bush and Kerry, the four-term senator from Massachusetts, each got 45 percent in the survey of 1,211 likely voters taken Friday through yesterday. Seven percent were undecided, and 1 percent said they support independent candidate Ralph Nader.

Kerry has gained on Bush in the running Zogby poll in recent days. Bush led Kerry by four points, 48 percent to 44 percent, in tracking polls Oct. 12-14 and Oct. 13-15. The lead narrowed to two points, 46 percent to 44 percent, on Oct. 14-16. The margin of error in each poll is 2.9 percentage points.

Sunday, October 17


Iraqi Riverbend, who writes the blog Baghdad Burning, addresses questions about a growing drug problem among Iraqis:

During my more thoughtful moments, I do think about the growing drug problem. I know that it is going to get bigger and there's nothing immediate that we can do to stop it. There seem to be such bigger problems out there, that drugs seem to be the least of our worries. Schools have started again and parents worry that their kids will be abducted or blown to pieces. I think our growing drug problem hasn't gotten that much attention with the media because, while it's going to wreak havoc in the long run, drugs don't suddenly blow off an arm or a leg, and they don't explode inside of your car and they don’t come falling out of a plane to burn homes and families… in other words, people don't perceive them as a very immediate threat.

It's like discovering you have cancer while you're fighting off a hungry alligator- you'll worry about the disease later.


Ruy Teixeira has more on the internals of the new Time poll:

The New Time poll, conducted October 14-15, has the race tied 46-46 in a 2-way RV matchup. That's pretty bad for an incumbent seeking re-election, but the rest of the poll has even worse news.

Start with the debates. The poll confirms that voters see Kerry as the winner of the final debate (37-28), though not by the crushing margin of the first debate (59-23). But when asked to consider all three presidential debates, voters do indeed see Kerry as the victor by a crushing margin, 57-27.

Moreover, voters give Kerry very high marks on specific aspects of the last debate, despite the fact that they were less likely to see him as the overall winner. This presumably reflects the extent to which (positive) impressions of Kerry are settling in voters' minds.

For example, by 49-40 voters thought Kerry, rather than Bush, had the best understanding of the issues. That's actually better than after the first debate, when voters saw the candidates tied on this attribute.

And then there's this one: on who "took positions on issues that are closer to your own", voters gave Kerry a wide 54-39 margin after the last debate, compared to 48-42 after the first debate.

And how about this one: after the first debate, voters gave Bush a slight one point edge on who seemed more presidential; after the last debate, voters gave Kerry the edge, 49-44.

On which candidate can be trusted more on different issues and in different areas, the poll finds little change from their post-first debate poll. Kerry's gains after that debate have apparently stabilized.
The poll also asked about some of the specific issues Kerry and Bush differed on in the last debate.

Assault weapons. By 73-22, voters favor the ban on assault weapons; by 49-8 they feel gun control laws should be more strict, not less strict; and by 41-40 they say Kerry is closer to their position on gun control than Bush.

Embryonic stem cell research: By 69-22 voter favor using discarded embryos to conduct stem cell research; by 49-34 they say Kerry is closer to their position on this issue than Bush.

Abortion. Voters say by 45-40 that Kerry is closer to their position than Bush on this issue.

Gay rights. Voters say by 44-41 that Kerry is closer to their position than Bush on this issue; by 54-41 they oppose amending the US constitution to ban same-sex couples from marrying.

Supreme Court appointments. By 43-38, voters say the issue of Supreme Court appointments makes them more likely to vote for Kerry rather than Bush.


One of Sunday's must-reads -- Knight-Ridder, which is rapidly becoming the most reliable and courageous journalism in the country, demonstrates convincingly that the administration went into Iraq with no post-war planning:

A Knight Ridder review of the administration's Iraq policy and decisions has found that it invaded Iraq without a comprehensive plan in place to secure and rebuild the country. The administration also failed to provide some 100,000 additional U.S. troops that American military commanders originally wanted to help restore order and reconstruct a country shattered by war, a brutal dictatorship and economic sanctions.

In fact, some senior Pentagon officials had thought they could bring most American soldiers home from Iraq by September 2003. Instead, more than a year later, 138,000 U.S. troops are still fighting terrorists who slip easily across Iraq's long borders, diehards from the old regime and Iraqis angered by their country's widespread crime and unemployment and America's sometimes heavy boots.

"We didn't go in with a plan. We went in with a theory," said a veteran State Department officer who was directly involved in Iraq policy.


Jeb Bush just told George Stephanopoulos that he didn't know Florida's voter purge list of ex-felons was flawed until July, when he "immediately" "pulled the plug." Steph said what about this story that you met with the county election officials in May and encouraged them to continue to use it? "That's just not true," Jeb replied.

However, according to a "May 4 e-mail obtained by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Florida Department of Law Enforcement computer expert Jeff Long told his boss that a Department of State computer expert had told him 'that yesterday they recommended to the Gov that they "pull the plug"' on the voter database.

"The e-mail said state election officials 'weren't comfortable with the felon matching program they've got,' but added, "The Gov rejected their suggestion to pull the plug, so they're "going live" with it this weekend.'


The Boston Globe gets my vote for today's best editorial endorsing Kerry:

IN 1984, when he was still lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, John Kerry became interested in the emerging problem of acid rain. Some people mocked the idea of poisonous rain from the skies, but Kerry embarked on a fact-finding mission across Europe, where he saw the devastation of industrial pollution on the Black Forest in Germany and many historic buildings.

He took the issue to a meeting of the six New England governors and the eastern Canadian premiers, resulting in the first international agreement on acid rain controls. The pact became a blueprint for the reauthorized Clean Air Act in 1990.

In 1997, four years before Sept. 11, Kerry published "The New War," which was derived from his years leading the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations. In the book, Kerry described a changed global landscape after the end of the Cold War, with security threats coming less from nation-states than from shadowy criminal groups. Although it dwelled mostly on drug cartels and the Russian mafia, "The New War" also addressed the threat of Islamic terrorism and called for international cooperation to fight it.

"We should be the natural leaders of a world coalition against crime," Kerry wrote, "but we have yet to recognize the `new crime's' scale and sophistication."

This year as a presidential candidate, Kerry has offered a plan for energy independence that is notable not just for its sweep and technical detail but because it recognizes the destabilizing effect of resource shortages in the struggle for world security.

These three examples highlight John Kerry's core strengths: an ability to see complex problems in new, often prescient, ways and a willingness to seek collaborative solutions. Far from being wavering or indecisive, Kerry's worldview has been steadfastly informed by these values for as long as we on this page have known him. In complex and dangerous times, the United States needs a leader who can bring together people and ideas. For these reasons, the Globe endorses John F. Kerry for president and John Edwards for vice president in the critical election Nov. 2.


Tim Russert has completely turned over Meet the Press to Ken Mehlman and Bob Shrum -- it's a free-for-all of Republican sound bites and Shrum's more pertinent answers.

Finally! Russert interrupts...and for what? To ask about the Mary Cheney remark! Great, Tim. Should Senator Kerry apologize? Shrum says absolutely not, Bush did so badly in the debates that they had to find something to rail Kerry about. Shrum addresses Lynne's "bad man" remark. He's indignant. Tim plays the clip where Dick Cheney addresses his daughter's homosexuality. So why all the outrage now, he asks? Mehlman says it's because Kerry brought it up to make it a political point. This sucks. Now Mehlman is talking about the Edwards remark about people getting up from their wheelchairs and walking if Kerry gets to fund stem cell research.

Oh goody! Tim interrupts, "I want to talk about stem cells!" It's my show! Let me say something!" Shrum is too good, so Tim changes the subject to the draft. Shrum's good again. How about the flu vaccine shortage?

Mehlman blames it on trial lawyers. Tim says, "So John Kerry's responsible for the shortage?"

Well, kind of, according to Mehlman. "Is it fair," Tim asks, "to blame the president for the shortage?" Shrum is the hottest I've ever seen him. He relates it to the president's "you're on your own" culture.

Russert finally hits the "I never said I wasn't concerned about Osama Bin Laden" Bush gaffe and plays the rebuttal tape. "So he did say it," says Tim. Mehlman says there's no reason to be concerned since Bush has him on the run, since three out of four of his top guys have been caught.

Shrum points out that the president flat-out told an untruth. Cites all the problems in Afghanistan.

Quickly, now, why should we re-elect Bush? Mehlman: To make sure our country is stronger and safer and we have more hope and because Bush tells us the truth.

Why elect Kerry? Shrum: He's defended this country before, he'll defend it again, and fight for the middle class.

Tim's final question for them: What's the bulge in the back of the suit? Mehlman says you've got us, the president is receiving secret signals from aliens, you heard it here on Meet the Press. "That tailor is no longer working for the president."


The NY Times endorses Kerry for president:

Senator John Kerry goes toward the election with a base that is built more on opposition to George W. Bush than loyalty to his own candidacy. But over the last year we have come to know Mr. Kerry as more than just an alternative to the status quo. We like what we've seen. He has qualities that could be the basis for a great chief executive, not just a modest improvement on the incumbent.

We have been impressed with Mr. Kerry's wide knowledge and clear thinking - something that became more apparent once he was reined in by that two-minute debate light. He is blessedly willing to re-evaluate decisions when conditions change. And while Mr. Kerry's service in Vietnam was first over-promoted and then over-pilloried, his entire life has been devoted to public service, from the war to a series of elected offices. He strikes us, above all, as a man with a strong moral core.
The Bush White House has always given us the worst aspects of the American right without any of the advantages. We get the radical goals but not the efficient management. The Department of Education's handling of the No Child Left Behind Act has been heavily politicized and inept. The Department of Homeland Security is famous for its useless alerts and its inability to distribute antiterrorism aid according to actual threats. Without providing enough troops to properly secure Iraq, the administration has managed to so strain the resources of our armed forces that the nation is unprepared to respond to a crisis anywhere else in the world.

Mr. Kerry has the capacity to do far, far better. He has a willingness - sorely missing in Washington these days - to reach across the aisle. We are relieved that he is a strong defender of civil rights, that he would remove unnecessary restrictions on stem cell research and that he understands the concept of separation of church and state. We appreciate his sensible plan to provide health coverage for most of the people who currently do without.

Mr. Kerry has an aggressive and in some cases innovative package of ideas about energy, aimed at addressing global warming and oil dependency. He is a longtime advocate of deficit reduction. In the Senate, he worked with John McCain in restoring relations between the United States and Vietnam, and led investigations of the way the international financial system has been gamed to permit the laundering of drug and terror money. He has always understood that America's appropriate role in world affairs is as leader of a willing community of nations, not in my-way-or-the-highway domination.

We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W. Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better.

Voting for president is a leap of faith. A candidate can explain his positions in minute detail and wind up governing with a hostile Congress that refuses to let him deliver. A disaster can upend the best-laid plans. All citizens can do is mix guesswork and hope, examining what the candidates have done in the past, their apparent priorities and their general character. It's on those three grounds that we enthusiastically endorse John Kerry for president.