Saturday, July 31, 2004

Right-wing talk show host Mark Levin recently had on Jason Salzman, co-author with Ben Cohen of “50 Ways YOU Can Show George the Door in 2004.” Levin proceeded to spend the entire five minute segment trying to get Salzman to admit that Cohen is a liar in that he sells ice cream and it’s a contributor to heart disease and Ben is not “coming clean” to this fact. In fact, Levin conducts some quick, back-of-the-envelope math and comes up with the accusation that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream likely contributes to the deaths of 10,000 people per year in this country, and then compares this 10K figure to the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq (approaching 1,000) and hopes to use this twisted logic to put the number of dead soldiers in perspective.

What can you say? Where do you begin to take apart this garbage? Salzman barely makes any come backs to Levin’s line of “reasoning,” mainly because it’s obvious Salzman can’t believe what he’s hearing and is brain-locked. I myself was simply dumbfounded. Levin even attempts to equate selling ice cream to selling tobacco (not mentioning that for one, nicotine has been shown to be as chemically addictive as heroin or cocaine – unlike anything found in ice cream).

The other obvious difference is people can choose to eat ice cream, or not. Our soldiers don’t have the luxury of choice: they sign up and then must go and fight wherever and whenever they’re told.

It’s these same morons on the right that pontificate about how our educational system is in the toilet and how the country is going to hell in a hand basket. The above example of astute thinking should serve to show in what parts of society our educational system has failed.

(Of course, like most right-wing hosts, Levin could not spend the time to address the issues brought up in the book, the many lies and distortions of GW. Nope, instead their tactic is to distract their listeners and employ a three-card-monte move where they hope to skim along on the surface up to November and that their listeners will just go along for the ride, not expecting or demanding anything more).
Prediction: the growing-more-desperate-by-the-week right-wing will cite the following opening lyrics from Springsteen's "No Surrender" -- a regular Kerry campaign tune -- as irresponsible, seemingly endorsing a bad precedent for kids (their lame, brainless criticism has become so pathetically predictable I thought I'd throw them a free bone):

We busted out of class had to get away from those fools
We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school

Friday, July 30, 2004

Wage growth slowest in 20 years.
I've been writing about how the media coverage of the Dem convention has been anything but slanted to the left. If anything, they've either been overly critical (I hope I see the same from them come the Republican show) or, as Paul Krugman points out today, irresponsibly focused on the trivial. A terrific segment from Krugman's column:

A Columbia Journalism Review Web site called, says its analysis "reveals a press prone to needlessly introduce Senators Kerry and Edwards and Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, as millionaires or billionaires, without similar labels for President Bush or Vice President Cheney."

As the site points out, the Bush campaign has been "hammering away with talking points casting Kerry as out of the mainstream because of his wealth, hoping to influence press coverage." The campaign isn't claiming that Mr. Kerry's policies favor the rich - they manifestly don't, while Mr. Bush's manifestly do. Instead, we're supposed to dislike Mr. Kerry simply because he's wealthy (and not notice that his opponent is, too). Republicans, of all people, are practicing the politics of envy, and the media obediently go along.
Realted to my "July Surprise" post below, Josh Marshall writes this,

This is just the latest, but perhaps the most blatant, example of how this administration has placed politics and, really, political dirty tricks above national security itself, and along the way persisted in defining political deviance down until tactics we used to associate with banana republics start to seem commonplace here.

And while we're at it, this is yet another example of how truly important it is that we democratize the Middle East. Because once we have, some of them will be able to come back here and redemocratize us.

Hmm, could Bush & Pakistan be saving the big one (Osama) for the Republican convention? "August Surprise" anyone?

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Remember when I wrote this?

Whelp, right on cue, this story just out.

Assuming it's true, Pakistan delivers just in time to steal Kerry's thunder. These guys will stop at nothing....
I heard Pat Buchanan this morning (I know, you think all I do during the morning drive is tune into right-wing radio programs). He started with the near-obligatory statements about the convention being a fraud, and how the media has been complicit (though I’ve argued quite the opposite), but then he actually brought up a fairly interesting point.

For what it’s worth, out of the many right-wing talking heads out there, I must say that Buchanan sounds downright lucid and reasonable in comparison. His point was that Iraq appears to be a “cauldron,” an operation that is a mess and very likely will become a much greater mess. Buchanan has stated, “Operation Iraqi Freedom was an unnecessary war.” Yet, he criticizes Kerry for not shooting straight in that Buchanan believes deep down Kerry believes, as the delegates believe, that this occupation is wrong and we should get out. With Kerry telling the American people the contrary, he might be setting himself up for disaster if he wins the election and the Iraq situation takes a significant turn for the worse. Having inherited a disaster, and yet proclaiming in 2004 that he will stay the course, the American people may begin to tag Kerry with their anger, not caring a wit about the prior guy who got us into this mess. It’s a bit like LBJ inheriting the Vietnam War. It’s not like Reagan inheriting Carter’s Iran hostage “mess.”

In that sense, when right-wingers question whether Dems love the country or instead simply love Kerry, I would say if we simply loved Kerry, for the reason above we could urge him not to run. GW created this Iraqi mess, let him finish cleaning it up. On top of that, Kerry will have to clean up the deficit mess. We love our country because despite these things, we go ahead and urge Kerry to run. We know that it will only get worse if GW stays in office.
I continue to laugh at how obviously the Republican powers-that-be sat down weeks ago and decided upon a unified set of talking points to rehash on TV & radio during this Dem convention. All I’ve heard is how this convention is a fraud, how it’s being so controlled, how the speakers are being told what to say (and not say), how they’re not allowing it to turn into the freak show they oh-so desire, etc. This is not surprising. What is a bit more surprising is the degree to which I’ve heard this kind of stuff from the more mainstream, and supposedly liberal, media.

I’ve always known that “liberal media” stuff was for the most part a big fat red herring. While admittedly the mainstream media on average leans more left than the average American, in no way would I say it’s extreme. However, what is extreme is the degree to which those right-wing media outlets are to the right. Using a 50/50 scale, I would say the NY Times leans to the left by say 60%, whereas FOX News and the Wall Street Journal lean to the right by 85+% -- far beyond a moderate 60%!

Anyway, as more anecdotal proof, last night I watched the convention coverage on CNN and Larry King had on former Sen. George Mitchell, David Gergen and Bob Dole as a fairly bipartisan panel (Dole a Republican, Mitchell a Dem, and Gergen has worked for many presidents in both parties). However, in terms of what we heard on the air, most of it was Dole’s cranky rantings of criticism, granted mild when compared to lunatics like Limbaugh or Hannity, but nonetheless Dole received far more air exposure than say Mitchell. And what Gergen had to offer leaned more to the right than left.

Then this morning on Imus, I hear Andrea Mitchell of NBC bring up one bit of criticism after another. (Isn’t NBC the mainstream media?). She poked satirical fun at Sharpton’s speech (which has become an immediate favorite subject of the right-wing), then went on to comment on how controlled everything is and how speeches are being doctored (another RNC talking point), and finally she stated that despite Edwards’ best efforts, there still remains a question on credibility concerning how Kerry/Edwards will protect this country from terrorist attack. Boy, that sounds like real lefty liberal commentary to me!

As for this ludicrous question surrounding the Kerry/Edwards ticket with regards to a lack of credibility when it comes to protecting the country from terrorists, I ask: what exactly would it take for them to close the supposed gap on this credibility issue? You never hear anything specific on this because they don’t have an answer to the question. What did GW offer in this regard prior to 9-11? Prior to 2000? Doesn’t he have perceived credibility on this issue simply because he happened to be president at the time when this tragedy happened and has for the most part, gained credibility just by acting (somewhat) presidential in the meantime? And what would be the most likely credential that people would say should be a requirement concerning this issue? I would venture to say prior wartime experience. In that case, Kerry has it, GW lacks it – end of story.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

And now, for a brief bit of bipartisan comedy: JibJab

OK, back to slamming GW....
Bush is expected to introduce his ideas for a second term between now and the Republican convention. During that time, I believe Kerry – and especially Edwards (VP = attack dog) – need to hammer home Bush’s lack of credibility with regards to any promises or proposals he makes for the next four years.

Bush said many things when he ran in 2000, offering up lots of committed statements and promises, and yet we’ve seen him go back on these campaign pledges time after time (Kyoto, no nation building, etc.). You talk about flip-flopping! And in addition to these many reversals, we have the many lies he’s told (with the rest of his cohorts) over the last 3+ years.

His lack of credibility is astounding and Kerry/Edwards should make this a campaign trail mantra. Anything Bush/Cheney promise should not be believed.
"EPA says people may be vulnerable to health-threatening chemicals at 111 Superfund sites, and that groundwater is vulnerable to contamination at 251 Superfund sites."
"Florida is headed toward being the next Florida."

You still think FLA 2000 was a one-time fluke? Still trust electronic voting machines? I say, "no" and "no." (Please read both stories, scary stuff).

I agree with the Democrats call to have the U.N. observe this November's election (yes, in some ways, we've become a banana republic).

Powerful imagery.

The American Friends Services Committee (AFSC), a Quaker organization, put out this display of 900 pairs of combat boots which symbolize American casualties in Iraq.

(thanks Centerfield)
Do not become completely distracted by the convention; other worthy news items make their way out, many hoping to duck and weave and not be noticed.

Example, the SEC under big-biz friendly Bush/Cheney has apparently not been able to hire enough people to fill openings. Despite Congress upping the SEC's budget by a whopping $300 mil., and also during a time when you'd think this administration would want to improve the unemployment number via hiring, they have instead chosen to drag their heels on beefing up the arm of government in charge of corporate oversight.

Yeah, I know, a surprise -- go figure.
More from BC:

"When I was in office, the Republicans were pretty mean to me. When I left and made money, I became part of the most important group in the world to them. At first I thought I should send them a thank you note—until I realized they were sending you the bill.

They protected my tax cuts while:

· Withholding promised funding for the Leave No Child Behind Act, leaving over 2 million children behind

· Cutting 140,000 unemployed workers out of job training

· 100,000 working families out of child care assistance

· 300,000 poor children out of after school programs

· Raising out of pocket healthcare costs to veterans

· Weakening or reversing important environmental advances for clean air and the preservation of our forests.

Everyone had to sacrifice except the wealthiest Americans, who wanted to do their part but were asked only to expend the energy necessary to open the envelopes containing our tax cuts."

Ah yes, and we are still to believe that the GOP would be the party of choice if Jesus were alive today....
It's worthwhile printing segments of Bill Clinton's speech (below). After all, if not for anything else, his performance made me long for the days when we could actually listen to our president and learn something (or two), and not simply feel embarrassed about our leader and be thankful that he made it through a speech with out mispronouncing too many words. Bill's mistake with Monica pales when compared to the many disgraces of Bush/Cheney.

"They think the role of government is to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of those who embrace their political, economic, and social views, leaving ordinary citizens to fend for themselves on matters like health care and retirement security. Since most Americans are not that far to the right, they have to portray us Democrats as unacceptable, lacking in strength and values. In other words, they need a divided America. But Americans long to be united. After 9/11, we all wanted to be one nation, strong in the fight against terror. The president had a great opportunity to bring us together under his slogan of compassionate conservatism and to unite the world in common cause against terror.

Instead, he and his congressional allies made a very different choice: to use the moment of unity to push America too far to the right and to walk away from our allies, not only in attacking Iraq before the weapons inspectors finished their jobs, but in withdrawing American support for the Climate Change Treaty, the International Court for war criminals, the ABM treaty, and even the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty."

He's right. They need and desire a split, polarized country. Limbaugh, Hannity and the rest are secretly hoping that Kerry wins. It will return them to the days when they were able to hound Clinton for eight years, spreading hate and picking up many small-minded listeners & viewers who respond to such rhetoric. Because they can't defend on the issues, they do best attacking using labels and names, appealing to base emotions in your more pea-brained American.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

This morning, I flipped on the radio and heard Sean Hannity being interviewed on a right-wing talk show. He was breathlessly reciting the RNC talking points regarding the Dem convention, throwing around the "L" word as much as possible and complaining because the event was being overly "controlled" and had not been allowed to turn into a "freak show." He was depressed because he felt it was all staged & fake, as if wolves in sheepskins.

Oh give me a break. There was nothing more repulsively fake than the 2000 Republican convention, where they attempted to hoist on the American people the absurd idea that what looked to be 90% of the faces on TV were minorities -- as if suddenly the Republicans were the tolerant, inclusive, big-tent party. It was a joke! I'm sure Hannity believes that convention was a 100% truthful portrayal of the real GOP, which would just confirm how delusional he can be. If he wants to sling around the "H" word (hypocrisy), in my mind that is the single word that best describes Republicans. Just wait till their convention, you just won't believe your eyes (and ears).

And as for that non-existent liberal media, Salon is out today with just how slanted the media has been against the convention,

"While not openly contemptuous of Kerry, the way so much of the press was of vice president Al Gore in 2000, TV's talking heads had a habit on Monday of spinning things in a slightly negative light."
Big day yesterday (!). I’m still attempting to come up with some intelligent things to say, but in the meantime why reinvent the wheel -- the following from Josh Marshall:

In any case, there I am a few feet from (Michael) Moore; and it's one of the first times all day when I can think of a question to ask someone where I'm really curious and uncertain as to what the answer will be. So I ask him what he makes of all of this. No attacks on the president. Not even any mention of the man's name. It's like the anti-Michael Moore event. Or rather the non-Michael Moore event. (I caught myself the first time, realizing that hadn't come out precisely as I'd intended.)

Clearly, the guy didn't know what to make of me. And as he breezes by he says, "Oh, Really? I liked it. You don't even have to say it. Everyone knows how bad it is."

Think what you will about Michael Moore or evening one of the convention, I think that sums up precisely what this event is all about and the dynamic on which it's operating. I've seen a slew of articles today arguing that the Democrats must energize their 'base' while not alienating the swing voters John Kerry needs to clinb from the mid-40s past 50%.

But this strikes me as a tired conventional wisdom that has little to do with what's actually happening here.

To be in the hall tonight -- or even to have watched the Democrats closely for the last five or six months -- is to know that that tension or trade-off hardly exists.

When it first occurred to me to write this post I was going to say that partisan Democrats have decided to give Kerry a free hand in appealing to independents and swing voters. But that doesn't get it quite right. That was the case in 1992 when the party's core voters, after twelve years out of the White House, were willing to give Bill Clinton all sorts of leeway with what most viewed as his DLC heterodoxies. But something different is at work here.

Among Democrats, the rejection of this president is so total, exists on so many different levels, and is so fused into their understanding of all the major issues facing the country, that it doesn't even need to be explicitly evoked. The headline of Susan Page's piece in USA Today reads: "Speakers offer few barbs, try to stay warm and fuzzy." But the primetime speeches were actually brimming with barbs, and rather jagged ones at that. They were just woven into the fabric of the speeches, fused into rough-sketched discussions of policy, or paeans to Kerry.

Perhaps it's a touchy analogy, but like voters who understood the code-words Republicans once (and often still do) used to flag hot-button racial issues they dared not voice openly, these Democrats could hear the most scathing attacks on President Bush rattling through the speeches they heard tonight.

Bravo Josh.

Monday, July 26, 2004

A NY Observer editorial echoes what I wrote about on June 30th, discussing the success rate of the taller candidate.

They write, "In five of the past six U.S. Presidential elections, the taller candidate has won." Perhaps technically, but I'd make that six for six (Gore is taller than Bush). Note: Kerry is 4 inches taller than GW.
Kerry is apparently seeking the help of several Kennedy-associated folks. Such a close alliance may make some Dems sweat a bit, setting Kerry up to be an easy target for the, uh, dreaded "L" word.

Limbaugh and the rest of them have been bashing Kerry with the "Mass. liberal" label long before this revelation. And besides, near zero percent of Limbaugh or Hannity listeners are candidates for switching their vote to Kerry (likewise, a very low percent of Air America listeners likely to switch and vote for Bush). The question then remains of the less than 20% of still undecided voters (80+% are "locked in" to either Bush or Kerry), will this liberal label become like kryptonite as it did for Dukakis?

Given how much GW has tarnished the conservative label, I would venture to say that many (like myself) would be proud to be considered leaning left or, gulp, liberal.

Again, if all you hear on FOX or the right-wing radio shows is the "liberal" word being thrown around -- absent any discussion of the issues -- then you know they got nothin'. You'd think the "boy genius" Rove could do better than that!
Another example of the right-wing avoiding substantive, timely issues (for obvious reasons).

Just in the past month, the seemingly oh-so-intellectual George Will has written about the following bracing, of-the-moment issues: charity work in Congress, Schwarzenegger, Turkey & the EU, the decline of reading in the USA.

Wow, these topics are of burning interest to most Americans! I'm glad Mr. Will is dedicating his time & effort to the cause!!

As I wrote here on July 19th, it's true, Mike Malloy will be joining Air America Radio on August 2nd.

Sunday, July 25, 2004 reports on another (in a long series of) lie put forth by bonehead Hannity. The subject this time: medical malpractice suits. The target: John Edwards, of course.

Forget the facts, this time around Hannity chooses anecdotal, in-the-family evidence to defend his stance. Gads.

According to the CBO, malpractice-related costs add approximately 2% to overall health spending -- hardly the "astronomical" figure Hannity was gasping about.

What I want to know is by how much does the extreme power of the big pharma lobby escalate healthcare costs? Huh Sean? Just in that bogus, 3AM-voted-upon Medicare bill this lobby likely had tremendous influence, and we know the true cost of that bill was well over $100 bil. more than first fessed up -- or at least five times more expensive than the 2% added to costs due to malpractice.

Also, regarding trial lawyers, they perform before a jury of our peers, a set of citizens that ultimately decides upon these "obscene" awards. Hmm, with that logic, we all should've hated Michael Jordan for his "obscene" salary. Hey, he got what the Bulls were willing to pay, right? Is he to blame? In the end, it's the average Joe & Jane who are to blame, not the trial lawyer; he/she is just doing his/her job.

But, Hannity says things with such frightening certainty that most of his blockhead viewers & listeners just take what he has to say as gospel. (And you can count on lame-o Colmes to comply & behave). It's truly scary.
Proof that I attempt "to inform of the truth."

After posting the prospective electoral college map (below), I discovered an AP-type story that disputed the 310-217 margin in favor of Kerry. In contrast with right-wing pundits, I care very much about conveying the truth as accurately as I can so I contacted the source of the data behind the map,, questioning this discrepancy. Their reply,

I don't believe them. I'll bet they assigned some cub reporter to write this story and he botched it. I follow this very closely and I doubt I have missed a poll. Even has Kerry way ahead and that site is rabid Republican.

Just FYI, has the tally at 327-211 and the popular vote at 51.5%/46.7%, both favoring Kerry.

Sounds about right.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

The map below likely appears very red/pink, which would favor Bush. However, when you add up those numbers in each state, the electoral vote total sums to a significant Kerry advantage -- to the tune of a 310-217 margin. Wow!

It's a reminder that if winning elections took garnering the majority of acreage in the country, well then Bush would have it made.

This map brings to mind a terrific article by Richard Rosenfeld in a recent Harper's, titled "What Democracy? The case for abolishing the United States Senate." (Harper's does not reprint articles online. However, for those interested, I would be willing to type here some key passages from this wonderful piece.)

(Thanks to Oliver Willis for pointing out this map).

The Bush twins describing their dad:

"... he is a steadfast leader who means what he says and acts with resolve."
This description also fits the first lemming to go over the cliff.
To compete with the NY Yankees, to a large extent you have to become the Yankees.
The underlying numbers for polls can be so interesting -- and perplexing.  Example, with yesterday's poll results, we have seen how dramatically Bush's poll numbers turn around if Cheney were dropped from the ticket, yet reportedly 72% of Republicans, as well as about half of independents, say they want Cheney to remain on the ticket.

The race remains close (49/47 in favor of Kerry) and perhaps reflecting the deep polarization of the country, decided (certain) voters amount to a whopping 83%, i.e. Bush & Kerry are supposedly fighting for less than 1 in 5 up-for-grabs voter.  Note also that when you throw Nader into the mix, the lead for Kerry drops from 49/47 to 47/46.  I realize these results are statistically insignificant given +/- 3% error, however the movement in the numbers is a tell.  I still maintain hope that Nader will finally come to his senses and drop out. The very-Nader-like Kucinich recently endorsed Kerry/Edwards.

Another interesting tid-bit:  Cheney's favorable/unfavorable numbers 47/43, Edwards' 52/26 (huge difference vs. Cheney), yet note Hillary Clinton's 56/38.  Yes, she has a 56% "favorable" number, ahead of her husband's 54% and Bush's 52%.  The fact is many people like her -- despite what you hear from the right-wing media. Yet, Edwards was the better choice given his low 26% unfavorable number vs. Hillary's 38% (she's more polarizing -- not what Kerry needs).

Finally, in terms of individual issues, the only one Bush leads Kerry on: Iraq & terrorism (surprise!).  Kerry leads on the economy, health care, education, and, get this, taxes.  Given this one-note presidency, if things get woefully worse in Iraq or with a terrorist incident, it should dramatically tip the scales in Kerry's favor. 

Thursday, July 22, 2004

It's All Partisan!

From Center for American Progress:

House Government Reform Committee Chairman Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, yesterday called the actions of Samuel R. Berger "a disturbing breach of trust and protocol" and said his committee will soon begin an investigation into the matter, despite CBS News reporting "law enforcement sources say they don't expect any criminal charges will be filed."
- Washington Times, 7/22/04; CBS News, 7/20/04


In 2003, when he was asked to hold hearings into the administration's leak of an undercover CIA operative's name, Davis declined, saying, "I know Ashcroft very well, and I'm sure he'll go by the book." He had his spokesman claim an investigation into the administration leak "should be conducted by career FBI agents."
- St. Louis Post Dispatch, 10/03/03; Roll Call, 9/30/03

If true, what Mr. Berger did is inexcusable.  However, one has to question the timing of this leak.  This administration has made a habit of using diversionary tactics to take the media's attention off the ball -- in this case, the release of the 9-11 report.

More evidence of incompetence?  Iraq effort near broke:

The U.S. military has spent most of the $65 billion that Congress approved for fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is scrambling to find $12.3 billion more from within the Defense Department to finance the wars through the end of the fiscal year, federal investigators said yesterday.

Rick Sanctimony
Could Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) be the most dangerous Senator in America?  His name seems to pop up whenever there’s an issue that involves “values” or ethics.  He was quick to state something about the Sandy Berger issue.  And of course, he co-sponsored the marriage act that recently failed in the Senate (which McCain pronounced as “un-Republican”).
Out of curiosity, I reviewed some of the things this guy has said over the past year or so.  As I’ve mentioned, he has attempted to become the go-to person in the Senate concerning issues involving “family values” and the like.  In other words, his mentor is likely Bill Bennett. 
What’s extremely troublesome when you read some of his quotes in past interviews is his language; the way he attempts to express his thoughts appears to qualify as Orwellian doublespeak.  He’ll attempt to answer a question in what he states is a frank and up-front manner, yet if you closely read what he says (and I recommend two or three re-readings) it’s very difficult to parse out his true meaning.  I’ll give some examples:
"This is an issue that is so important to the foundation of our country. I say often that we can have either one or the other in this country: strong government or strong family. But they are antithetical to each other. The fact that if you do not have strong families in America, you must have strong government to make up for the dysfunction that follows from that." 
OK, so here we have a less-government-is-better conservative and yet isn't he saying that if the family "fails," the government needs to step in "to make up for the dysfunction"...? Who decides whether or not you "do not have a strong family" and therefore require the rescue of the government?  Your church? The GOP??  It's outrageous how these guys want less government for certain things, but lots of government for others.
When asked about an interview where he appears to place some blame for the Catholic Church scandal on liberals, his answer:
You have the problem within the church. Again, it goes back to this moral relativism, which is very accepting of a variety of different lifestyles. And if you make the case that if you can do whatever you want to do, as long as it's in the privacy of your own home, this "right to privacy," then why be surprised that people are doing things that are deviant within their own home? If you say, there is no deviant as long as it's private, as long as it's consensual, then don't be surprised what you get. You're going to get a lot of things that you're sending signals that as long as you do it privately and consensually, we don't really care what you do. And that leads to a culture that is not one that is nurturing and necessarily healthy. I would make the argument in areas where you have that as an accepted lifestyle, don't be surprised that you get more of it.
In this case, what we're talking about, basically, is priests who were having sexual relations with post-pubescent men. We're not talking about priests with 3-year-olds, or 5-year-olds. We're talking about a basic homosexual relationship. Which, again, according to the world view sense is a a perfectly fine relationship as long as it's consensual between people. If you view the world that way, and you say that's fine, you would assume that you would see more of it.
Real clear in his answer, right?  It sounds like he's implying that those who are for privacy are in part to blame for priests abusing young boys!  More importantly, he never comes right out and bluntly condemns neither the Catholic Church nor the priests for this entire debacle. 
Finally, this:
The idea is that the state doesn't have rights to limit individuals' wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire.
So he's for limiting rights and freedoms in this country.  Meanwhile, we're over in Iraq spending billions of dollars to bring freedom to that country.
One thing he makes crystal clear:
"They are calling into my office, but not in huge numbers. I have not been hearing from my colleagues that they are being overwhelmed by calls at this point."
Regarding his marriage bill, apparently his constituents -- and much of America -- have other issues as priorities.  It sounds like this issue keeps Mr. Santorum, and he alone, up at night.
Finally, it's no surprise that Santorum is very much pro-life, a real zealot when it comes to the abortion issue.  However, note that like Bush, when it came to the closely contested race in PA between the pro-choice Specter and pro-life Toomey, guess who Santorum endorsed? Yup, like Bush, he endorsed pro-choice Specter.  Again, as I wrote at the time about Bush, politics will be politics and anyone that believes these guys truly care about the issues over their political skins is a fool, plain & simple.  As I understand it, the abortion issue is supposed to override all politics, and yet when GW and Rick buckle under political pressures, the pro-life folks are silent.  Where's the publicly-expressed outrage from them?

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Tom DeLay has described this Berger incident as a "third-rate burglary."  You've got to be kidding me.  This two-bit lout has the nerve to pass judgment on someone else?  This is the same guy who is currently being investigated for illegal fund raising, who "stole" several district seats from the Dems in Texas via an out-of-the-norm redistricting, who by many accounts spearheaded the Republican-led brawl in FLA in the "stolen" 2000 election, who had the horrible Medicare bill passed at 3AM in the morning, etc.  It's a laugh to hear this stalwart beacon of ethics making such a statement. 

Tom, a word of advice for your sake: keep a low profile when it comes to anything involving ethics.

Thanks to recent reports, we now know Iran very likely played a part in 9-11.  Prior to this anti-American story, this country has a history of running into trouble with the U.S. (recall, they're one of the three "Axis of Evil").  Now we learn (none too surprisingly) that Halliburton is being investigated for conducting business with Iran while the U.S. had sanctions barring such actions.  And who was in charge of Halliburton during much of this time? That's right, Mr. Patriot himself, Dick "F*** You" Cheney. 

We'll see if the lame Dems will make hay of this -- as the Repubs have done so with the Berger story.

Of course, for Kerry, this is both good and bad news.  Good news for the obvious reasons, but bad news in that it's another demerit for Cheney, putting him that much closer to the rumored exit door on the ticket. 

Just thinking out loud, I'm not sure if Bush were to dump Cheney that it would be a big negative for Kerry.  While yes, we've seen the poll numbers where Bush gets a big boost with say Powell as VP, yet if Kerry/Edwards played it right, they could score many points with such a dumping.  For one, it would be an admission that something went wrong, that Cheney had made mistakes, etc., i.e. all the things Bush adamantly avoided admitting to during the 9-11 hearings (admitting to mistakes).  It also serves as a sign of desperation and a lack of loyalty -- something Bush wears like a badge of honor.  It further would confirm the "they'll do anything to win" phrase that properly has been attached to the Republican wing. Finally, Kerry would be able to air several effective TV ads showing Cheney's face and listing the many questionable items he has amassed over the years.

Also, don't forget that Powell may very well want no part of that ticket (nor McCain).  It's been long rumored he would quickly retire if Bush were to win a second term, and given how badly he's been wounded during his time spent in this administration, his credibility crushed and shredded, one has to wonder if he could stomach it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Republican who headed EPA criticizes Bush.  (thanks Oliver Willis)
Key passage:
Bush's record on the environment was so dismal that he would cast his vote for Democrat John Kerry. "It's almost as if the motto of the administration in power today in Washington is not environmental protection, but polluter protection," Train said. "I find this deeply disturbing." In 1988, Train was co-chairman of Conservationists for Bush, an organization that backed the candidacy of George W. Bush's father.
Regarding the Sandy Berger story, from
However, it seems equally clear that the surfacing of this matter is the product of a malicious leak intended to distract attention from the release of the 9/11 commission report.

Consider the timing.

According to this article in the Post, the National Archives began investigating this matter in October and then referred it to the FBI in January. That is, needless to say, at least six months ago. The article also notes that the FBI has yet to interview Berger, which suggests that the investigation has not reached a critical stage, for good or ill, that would have brought it to light now.
The most obvious, and probably the only, explanation of this leak is that it is intended to distract attention from the release of the 9/11 report due later this week. That would be yet another example of this administration's common practice of using the levers of executive power (law enforcement, declassification, etc.) for partisan purposes.

That doesn't mean Berger doesn't have any explaining to do. The two points are not exclusive of each other.

-- Josh Marshall
During his monologue last night, Letterman joked about recent reports that Iran -- not Iraq -- had something to do with 9-11, saying "apparently we invaded the wrong country due to a typo." 
Funny -- but also not funny.

An update from the gambling front concerning the upcoming elections (as you know by now, I greatly respect the predictive ability of such market-driven devices).  Odds greatly favor the Republicans retaining control of the House (currently at about 87% probability), however the Senate is at least a bit more hopeful.  While odds still very much favor a GOP-majority there (about 75% probable), the odds have been steadily eroding from a peak of 84%.
Another bright note: the odds of Bush winning another term have plummeted from a high of 75% at the start of the year to the current 50%.  That's huge.  And perhaps the best news is odds favor Cheney staying on the ticket, at a whopping 87%.  Let's hope Dick is watching his diet and remains healthy!

Krugman today paints a fairly convincing case as to why Bush just might be, as he terms it, "The Arabian Candidate" (playing off the remake of the "The Manchurian Candidate"). 
Meanwhile, bedlam erupts in Vegas when Linda Ronstadt dedicates a song to Michael Moore.  The scene sounds similar to the Republican-led brawl in Florida during the 2000 recount.  What did concert goers expect from Ms. Ronstadt? After all, she was part of the "No Nukes/Muse" concert in 1979.  I guess folks figured she'd switch sides once she went big band era ala Nelson Riddle -- you go girl!

Monday, July 19, 2004

Say It's True!
The White Rose Society  has up some terrific news regarding Mike Malloy, if true:  "Industry insiders tell us that Mike will have a Show on Air America Radio beginning August 2nd. The show will air from 10pm to 1am ET." 
I miss listening to Mike's radio shows.  He was as no-holds-bar as it gets concerning criticism of this administration.  Yet, he did so by using facts (as compared to Rush, Hannity, etc.).  What I loved was the passion in his voice. 
He is a true angry liberal!

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Hmm.  No relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda & 9-11, however there does appear to be an Iran/Qaeda/9-11 relationship
Your move, Bush/Cheney.  Do we bomb / punish them?  What, why not? Not enough oil?  They have nukes (WMD)??
More environment-related shenanigans.

It continues to amaze me how such a large portion of less-than-affluent voters will vote for GW.  As Bush said at a high-priced dinner (captured in Fahrenheit 9/11), "Some people call you the elite, I call you my base."  Bush/Cheney couldn't give one hoot about the average American, but the genius is in how they can convey that they do seemingly care.  Today's NY Times article is just another item of evidence for the pile.  A key quote:
"There's a bit of a dichotomy," said Ethan S. Harris, chief economist at Lehman Brothers. "Joe Six-Pack is under a lot of pressure. He got a lousy raise; he's paying more for gasoline and milk. He's not doing that great. But proprietors' income is up. Profits are up. Home values are up. Middle-income and upper-income people are looking pretty good."

Saturday, July 17, 2004

I could be wrong, but a few years down the road look for a backlash to these reports that the lower your cholesterol the better.  I do a good bit of reading on health-related matters and statins are more of a controversial set of drugs than most people are aware.  For one, they lower levels of CoQ10, ironically a very crucial nutrient for the heart.  In addition, it has not been shown whether or not such extreme low levels of cholesterol in humans actually does damage in other areas (i.e. for some bodily functions, cholesterol is needed).  Also, we know that statins put stress on the liver -- what will happen longer-term when dosages are increased to get cholesterol down to these new lower levels?  Finally, these studies are somewhat questionable given the fact that many of the researchers have received $$ from the pharma firms who produce statins.
Buyer beware. 
Some more "junk" science.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Should the following be a statement made by a U.S. tax-exempt, religious organization?
"I believe it is the responsibility of every political conservative, every evangelical Christian, every pro-life Catholic, every traditional Jew, every Reagan Democrat, and everyone in between to get serious about re-electing President Bush." 
Guess who? Yup, that non-partisan Falwell. How does a conservative jive separation of church & state (Constitution) with this stuff?
Bush & Co. refusing to hand over documents regarding non-compete Halliburton-type deals.  The monarchy lives on....

John McCain: Same-sex marriage ban is un-Republican.
Sewer Nation
Once again, I had some spare time in the car and, deciding to subject my brain to more trauma, I tuned into Michael Savage’s “The Savage Nation” radio program.  I never listened before and figured I’d give him about ten minutes.
All I can say is “O-H M-Y G-O-D.”  How any right-wing person with at least one brain cell in their head can listen to this guy, and take him seriously no less, is completely beyond me!
For starters, he brings up the defeat of the same-sex marriage proposal in Congress and expounds upon how such a minority (gays, or as he refers to them “deviants”) has taken our government hostage, and why should 2-3% of the population be considered at all to the degree that they have.  He feels, at least in this instance, the majority should win out.  Again, like I wrote yesterday regarding Gingrich, he feels our form of democracy equates into the majority = 100% rule, with little if any consideration for the minority.  These so-called conservatives like to bring up the Founding Fathers often, yet they fail to recognize that most of these old timers if alive today would likely be liberals!  This country was founded on the ideals of folks escaping the tyrannical rule in England, where the majority -- the king -- ruled on everything and all subjects would have to oblige.  Does the fact that the U.S. has more Christians than any other religion (majority) mean that all laws passed should be Christian-like?
Then he moves on to talk about the movie, “This Boy’s Life,” starring Robert DeNiro who plays a father who emotionally, verbally, and physically abuses his son, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.  Although he states the movie was not good, he goes on to endorse the father figure role of DeNiro saying this is how it was in the good old days of the '50s, where fathers taught their sons how not to be "sissies," implying also that such abuse kept them from becoming homosexual.  He compares this to today where we have fathers who as he puts it are "progressive," chiding that dads today just want to be your buddy, your friend -- as if that's just awful.  Where do you start with this stuff?  What's most frightening is to think that Savage has listeners who take what he's saying seriously!
Finally, he refers to his PhD (never stating he received it as an ethnobotanist, or alternative nutrition, instead implying it's in psychology), mentioning that when he studied primitive African tribes (?), you often saw rituals where sons would have to fight one another with sticks and whichever one cried would be shunned and not regarded as a man.  Savage endorses this aboriginal act as a good thing, again relating it to the good old days of the 1950s. 
Can you imagine a society, or nation, built on the so-called "values" of this sick man?  And this is just based on my ten minutes of listening!  What vitriolic, idiotic, hate-filled rants could he be communicating for hours each day?! 
This guy is the classic definition of "shock jock," not Howard Stern.  Compared to this garbage, Stern sounds like an innocent virgin.  Perhaps we can assume that Savage literally just throws on the air the most provocative B.S. he can think of, knowing his audience just eats it up. Then you have to question the make-up of his audience, and ultimately condemn them.  Without his listeners, there would be no Savage Nation.
P.S. He wants us to believe that the "extreme" homosexual community forced the hand of Congress to bring up this motion concerning same-sex marriage.  Um, last time I looked Congress was controlled by the Republicans, and there has been many a time that Dems have said that bills they'd like to see make it to a vote never see the light of day.  The only reason this same-sex bill made the rounds is because the Republicans wanted it to -- it had nothing to do with them giving in to the pressure of gays.  Republicans want to excite their base, or more specifically distract them, to keep their minds off all the other things going wrong for GW.  It's a bait & switch tactic.  Just tune into O'Reilly any night of the week and you'll hear him blaring about porn, gays, etc., all polarizing social topics because he can't talk about anything else because all other topics are bad for the Republicans.
Anyone who believes the gay community forced Congress to bring up this proposal is a fool and deserves a like-minded fool like Savage.   

Thursday, July 15, 2004

August Surprise?

Will Cheney step aside in August, leaving an open slot on the ticket for someone else (Powell? McCain? Giuliani?)? The NY Times states in a story today that a circulating theory "holds that Mr. Cheney recently dismissed his personal doctor so that he could see a new one, who will conveniently tell him in August that his heart problems make him unfit to run with Mr. Bush. The dismissed physician, Dr. Gary Malakoff, who four years ago declared that Mr. Cheney was "up to the task of the most sensitive public office" despite a history of heart disease, was dropped from Mr. Cheney's medical team because of an addiction to prescription drugs."

Polls show the Bush/Cheney ticket trails Kerry/Edwards by about 5%, but a Bush/Powell ticket pulls ahead by 9% -- a decisive 14% swing, making clear Cheney's unpopular standing. If these guys will do anything to win, it's hard to believe loyalty to Cheney will win out over the sheer desire to win at any cost. Look for a rock-the-boat change to come, and Kerry/Edwards better be prepared to properly attack it.
A terrific primer on Bush's horrible anti-environment record. A nightmare. He clearly deserves the LCV's "F" grade.
Two words Kerry should be mentioning more and more in stump speeches: conservation and prevention. Conservation relating energy, prevention relating to health. These two things are basically free and should be actively promoted by our top leaders. Of course, we can’t expect Bush to since such words work against the interests of big business. The last thing energy companies want us to do is conserve, and the last thing health care companies want us to do is to take care of our bodies, or to prevent the onset of disease.

We know where this administration stands on energy conservation (as a reminder, Cheney said a few things on this subject). The fact is the technology already exists to save massive amounts of energy consumption, it’s simply not being strongly encouraged or forced to be used. As an example, auto manufacturers have the know-how today to lower MPG needs without causing drivers to sacrifice much, if anything at all. Such conserving, if promoted enough to get the nation acting in a unified manner, could help save billions of dollars in needless energy-related cost outlays.

As for health prevention, Kerry should promote the benefits that come from exercise, dieting, vitamin & mineral supplements, etc., not just in terms of the personal health benefits, but also the benefits that flow to our health insurance system. We could save billions of dollars by making sure that people remain healthy, versus allowing them to gradually become sick and then overload the already overburdened healthcare system in this country. Much of the problem has to do with ignorance. If one were to do their homework, they’d learn that just with vitamins and minerals alone that their lives could be improved tremendously and in fact the government should subsidize the purchasing of vitamins & minerals the same way it already subsidizes the purchasing of prescription drugs. Of course, the big pharma firms have nothing to gain from patent-free vitamins and minerals and they also stand to gain nothing from a population that becomes increasingly healthy.

It’s just common sense, free from special interests – and that’s the problem!
At the risk of subjecting myself to head injury, the other day I spent about eight minutes listening to Sean Hannity’s radio program. (You need to know what the other side is saying; at the very least, it reconfirms you’re right, they’re wrong). He had on Newt Gingrich (as my luck would have it) and they were discussing the Kerry/Edwards ticket. They spent the entire time simply labeling the pairing – not discussing anything with regards to specific issues. And of course what was the label they must’ve said at least twenty times in the eight minutes: liberal.

Yes, that’s right, they’re attempting to appeal to their people via the old left-wing, “pinko,” “commie” liberal stuff. Here you have it, a peek at the RNC talking points regarding the Kerry/Edwards ticket. Label, label, label. Newt proclaims that this is the most liberal ticket since McGovern in ’72. That’s it, no talk of where Kerry stands vs. Bush. He feels it’s enough to simply throw around labels the entire time, that he doesn’t need to appeal to any part of the intellectual side of Hannity’s listeners. Say “liberal” and they will follow. How the folks listening don’t feel insulted is beyond me.

Newt goes on to say that he doesn’t understand how Kerry can come out personally stating he believes life begins at conception, but yet then will vote for a woman’s right to choose. What Newt fails to understand is consistency is not the issue here when you’re a politician running for president, who will then be expected to represent and protect the rights and freedoms of all citizens, irregardless of one’s own personal beliefs. Once again, Newt & Co. want small government when it comes to taxes, regulations, the environment, etc., yet they want huge, monolithic size government when it comes to social issues such as same-sex marriage, right to choose, etc.

Kerry simply believes that Constitutional law should not necessarily stem from his personal belief(s). Just because Kerry is Catholic does not mean he should vote down the line pro-Catholic. What if the president were Joe Lieberman? I could just hear Newt & Hannity sounding off if Lieberman were to then try to legislate in a pro-Jewish fashion (cancel Christmas anyone?).

We live in a democracy, not an aristocracy or theocracy. The Founding Fathers established a form of government to get away from laws based on the whims of a king. Gingrich and the like would like us to return to such a system – as long as the king was a Republican!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Surprise, surprise....

Just a coincidence, right? From the NY Times (thanks Guy James):

HOUSTON, July 8 - Military records that could help establish President Bush's whereabouts during his disputed service in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago have been inadvertently destroyed, according to the Pentagon.
The destroyed records cover three months of a period in 1972 and 1973 when Mr. Bush's claims of service in Alabama are in question.
There was no mention of the loss, for example, when White House officials released hundreds of pages of the President's military records last February in an effort to stem Democratic accusations that he was "AWOL" for a time during his commitment to fly at home in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director who has said that the released records confirmed the president's fulfillment of his National Guard commitment, did not return two calls for a response.
GW continues to side with big business, looking to legislate reductions in overtime pay eligibility. Kerry has responded.
On the heels of yesterday’s story (cited here) about Bush overturning Clinton-legacy controls on road-building in national forests, Kerry is out today proposing a cut of $100 million dollars in timber industry subsidies to invest in & help preserve our national forests.

A great strategic move by Kerry to release this proposal one day after Bush’s action, starkly showing the difference between the two candidates on environmental issues. It couldn’t be more night and day.

As I wrote here long ago, the environment is a low-hanging-fruit issue for Kerry, one that he can easily exploit and often, and he should.
A must-read.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

E.J. Dionne has it right when he states, "Note that he's (Bush) not telling us we should wage war against the evil Hussein for humanitarian reasons -- that was not the central rationale then, though it is now...."

Don't be fooled. We were always told the #1 reason for the war was WMD, not to save the Iraqi people from a bad man. However, as E.J. mentions, you hear Bush more and more sneak in that humanitarian-based reason now that the WMD and links to Al Qaeda reasons have been completely decimated. He's revising history. And remember, Bush campaigned in 2000 using an anti-nation-building message.
Thomas Oliphant: "The major finding in the material released so far is not so much that the CIA's hard-liner-serving conclusions were uniformly false or wildly overstated. The major finding is that the conclusions and declarative statements were in every significant instance found to be undermined or even contradicted by the intelligence data that was sent along with them."
You want proof of the priorities of this administration? Given the many problems and concerns to be addressed right now, they decide a must-do is to allow the building of roads for logging in 60 million acres of national forest, overturning a Clinton rule.

A reminder: if they decide to do this just months prior to an election, imagine what they'll do if they win a 2nd term and have four years and no reelection pressures to do what they please -- yikes!! Good-bye Yosemite & Yellowstone!
I realize liberals are supposed to like Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Try as I might, I just can't appreciate this lo-fi nerd noodling.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Call me excessively cynical (or some would resort to "unpatriotic" or "pinko commie!"), but this Newsweek story about potentially postponing the November election due to an impending terrorist threat strikes as me as all too peculiar and convenient. Why do I get the feeling that if Bush held a commanding lead in the polls, such well-publicized terrorist alerts would be kept subdued, on the back burner....? Yet, as it is, with his anemic poll numbers, what better than to loudly & frequently play up that which would help any incumbent: fear and patriotism. Get used to Ashcroft, Ridge, et al, blaring the alarms about threats as we approach November -- unless of course Bush decisively pulls ahead in the polls. Then you'll likely hear just a smattering of mild warnings.

As I mentioned here many weeks ago, and has since been mentioned in Fahrenheit 9/11, this administration will play the terrorist threat like notes on a flute, making sure the public stays afraid, inflating their fears, but allowing for ups & downs in that regard. The "October Surprise" could end up being a postponing of the election, allowing time for the public to realize & soak in the enormity of the threat and then patriotically (subconsciously?) flock to the side of their leader, enabling Bush/Cheney to undoubtedly capture a surging lead in the polls, and then presto -- an election is promptly held.

Don't laugh. With these guys in power, anything and everything is possible.
I recently watched on C-SPAN most of the debate between Howard Dean and Ralph Nader. It was a very civil debate to say the least, with Nader repeating points we've heard him make many times before, and Dean attempting to differentiate the many great views that Nader holds with how it will be better to vote Dem rather than Nader.

If you listen to Nader in a vacuum, you can't help but agree with nearly every point he makes. However, when you put his role in proper context, contrasting how he might be able to affect this election for Bush and against Kerry, and when you think of what a 2nd-term Bush could be like, with no concerns for reelection and thus no-holds-bar, whelp, you must then listen to Nader's lips move in silence. As Dean says in the debate, the stakes are simply too high this time around as we're dealing with peoples' lives.

Nader's idealism is just too ideal, or fantastic, at this juncture in history. Much more so than in 2000, the proper course of action is to go with pragmatic idealism (Kerry) over super-ideal idealism. It's just that much more disturbing to continue to read reports that the RNC is actively helping Ralph get on state ballots. And yet, he still wants us to believe he'll take more votes away from Bush than Kerry, i.e. he's insulting the intelligence of the folks he's actively appealing to for votes -- hmm, no wonder the Republicans love him! (If it quacks like a duck....).

As I've said, once he gets a bit more ego-driven air time ala these types of debates, my hope is he drops out and then vociferously backs Kerry/Edwards. I can't say this route is very likely given the lengths to which Nader appears to want to bash Kerry as much as he does Bush, but one can always hope he has an epiphany in the night and wakes up drenched in sweat, realizing the err of his ways.

P.S. On June 23rd, Nader urged Kerry to select Edwards as VP, and yet during this debate I don't recall Ralph saying anything at all, much less anything positive, about this eventual selection.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Thank you Paul Krugman for this reminder: "For the first time since 1932, employment is lower in the summer of a presidential election year than it was on the previous Inauguration Day." And Paul's most recent column is a must-read (as usual).
The invasion of Iraq could've been prompted in large part due to a Foster Brooks-like informant!

If it wasn't so damn sad and shameful, this would be hilarious. From the LA Times:

The only American who met a now-discredited Iraqi defector codenamed "Curveball" repeatedly warned the CIA before the war that the Baghdad engineer appeared to be an alcoholic and that his dramatic claims that Saddam Hussein had built a secret fleet of mobile germ weapons factories were not reliable.

In response, the deputy director of the CIA's Iraqi weapons of mass destruction task force — part of the agency's counter-proliferation unit — suggested in a Feb. 4, 2003, e-mail that such doubts were not welcome at the intelligence agency.

"As I said last night, let's keep in mind the fact that this war's going to happen regardless of what Curveball said or didn't say, and the powers that be probably aren't terribly interested in whether Curveball knows what he's talking about," the CIA official wrote, according to information released Friday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to support the Senate Intelligence Committee's blistering, 511-page critique of America's prewar intelligence.

"However, in the interest of truth," the e-mail continued, "we owe somebody a sentence or two of warning, if you honestly have reservations."

No evidence suggests such a warning was given, however. And Curveball — the chief source of repeated U.S. assessments that Iraq had a mobile biological weapons program — turned out to be a fraud.


On Feb. 5, 2003 — one day after the CIA official wrote the e-mail that "this war" would happen — Secretary of State Colin L. Powell repeatedly cited Curveball's information as he painted a graphic portrayal of "biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails" for the U.N. Security Council.

Powell called the alleged germ-producing vehicles "one of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq."


The one American who had met Curveball in May 2000 expressed his doubts, however.

The unidentified official "thought this guy might be an alcoholic and that bothered him a lot," a CIA analyst familiar with the case told Senate investigators. The official repeatedly "locked horns" with the CIA's lead analyst on Iraq's biological weapons "over the reliability" of the defector's account.


The American official later told Senate staffers that he had "had many discussions" with CIA analysts prior to 2003 "about my concerns with Curveball as this whole thing was building up and taking on a life of its own. I was becoming frustrated, and when [I was] asked to go over Colin Powell's speech … and I went through the speech, and I thought: 'My gosh, we have got — I have got to go on record and make my concerns known.' "

To help determine who was right, the Senate Intelligence Committee staff last fall asked U.S. intelligence officials for an assessment of Curveball and his reliability. The results were not reassuring.

In December, the DHS intelligence officer who had been responsible for collecting and reporting intelligence from Curveball's debriefings in Germany wrote a report for the committee asserting that the defector "is not a biological weapons expert" and "never claimed that the project he was involved in was used to produce biological agents."
On the heels of the 9/11 Commission report stating there is/was no evidence of a "collaborative relationship" between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, a bipartisan Senate report (511 pages!) was issued yesterday (note it wasn't issued on a Monday or Tuesday, but rather a Friday, where it can then get muted by the weekend) slamming the CIA for misleading / shoddy intel reports leading up to the Iraq war. Here's a key segment:

"The Central Intelligence Agency reasonably assessed that there were likely several instances of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda throughout the 1990's but that these contacts did not add up to an established formal relationship," the Senate report said, adding that the C.I.A's assessment that "there was no evidence proving Iraqi complicity or assistance in an Al Qaeda attack was responsible and objective."

GW's response? "We removed a declared enemy of America, who had the capability of producing weapons of mass destruction, and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them."

Based on that glib answer, it begs the question: shouldn't we then be invading / attacking North Korea next? And then Iran? Both are declared enemies of the U.S. who we already know for certain have nuclear capabilities -- as compared to Iraq who had none.

My hope is that Edwards will quickly take on the traditional attack-dog role for Kerry and hound Bush/Cheney on this issue.

Friday, July 09, 2004

In today's NY Times:

Mr. Zubaidi contends that the men altered their stories after they met with senior figures in the Iraqi National Congress. Mr. Zubaidi, who acknowledged that he had a bitter split with the I.N.C. in April 2003, said officials of the group prepped the defectors before allowing them to meet with the American intelligence agents and journalists.

"They intentionally exaggerated all the information so they would drag the United States into war," Mr. Zubaidi said. "We all know the defectors had a little information on which they built big stories."
Our democracy at work.

In the House, a vote on the Patriotic Act was, oh, shall we say, tampered with by Republicans. This bill would've put a halt to allowing the FBI to monitor people's reading, e-mail and Internet habits at public libraries. There was a winning 219-201 margin to pass the bill by the end of the 15-minute scheduled time limit. However, the Republican-controlled House allowed the voting to continue for another 23 minutes, as Democrats chanted "shame, shame'' and Tom DeLay promptly pressured several members to switch their votes. In the end, the final vote count was 210-210.

As one member said, "You win some, and some get stolen." Rep. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, sponsor of the bill, said "I resent on behalf of the American people that the Republican leadership rigged the game. At the end of 15 minutes, we won, and it wasn't even close."

Another in a series of examples of where the Republicans do whatever it takes to win. The sad part is the voting public has no clue that this event occurred.
Oh, so not all lawyers are bad....?
Just in case you missed it, an excellent study came out last October by PIPA at the Univ. of Maryland, titled "Misperceptions, The Media & The Iraq War." In a nutshell, it delves into how and why so many Americans believe three key "facts" about the Iraq war:

1) There is a link between Iraq/Saddam and Al Qaeda (& 9/11).
2) WMD have been found.
3) World public opinion towards the U.S.

The study is just 21-pages long, but if you're short on time skip to page 13 and observe the graphic in the upper-left corner. A whopping 80% of those categorized as FOX News viewers (where FOX was deemed their primary news source) held at least one or more of these misperceptions, as compared to just 23% for PBS-NPR viewers. Put another way, 77% of PBS-NPR folks believed none, zero, of the three misperceptions, as compared to just 20% of FOX folks.

Astonishing. The power of the media cannot be overstated.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

BusinessWeek is just out with the obligatory reminder that a Democrat as president is not the end of the world for the stock market (hey, it could even be a buying opportunity!). Gads. The fact is (you can look it up) over the last 50+ years, Democrats in the White House have been better (far better) for the stock market than Republicans.

The most head-scratching part in the article: "surveys have found that 70% to 80% of portfolio managers believe Bush will be reelected." I work for an investment management firm and I can vouch for these numbers. I remain baffled when I hear the majority of my co-workers confidently muttering that Bush will win -- despite Kerry often leading in the polls. I can't tell if it's denial or wishful thinking. Not that Kerry is a lock, but whereas we're paid to be skeptical and pragmatic, it seems like when it comes to politics in the world of Wall Street, it's OK to dream.
I've been catching up on my reading, piles of magazines. A notable find: Molly Ivins' article in Mother Jones. She absolutely nails what GW is all about:

I doubt it has ever even occurred to Bush that there is anything wrong with a class-driven good-ol'-boy system. That would explain why he surrounds himself with people like Eugene Scalia (son of Justice Antonin Scalia), whom he named solicitor of the Department of Labor -- apparently as a cruel joke. Before taking that job, the younger Scalia was a handsomely paid lobbyist working against ergonomic regulations designed to prevent repetitive stress injuries. His favorite technique was sarcastic invective against workers who supposedly faked injuries when the biggest hazard they faced was "dissatisfaction with co-workers and supervisors." More than 5 million Americans are injured on the job every year, and more die annually from work-related causes than were killed on September 11. Neither Scalia nor Bush has ever held a job requiring physical labor.

What is the disconnect? One can see it from the other side -- people's lives are being horribly affected by the Bush administration's policies, but they make no connection between what happens to them and the decisions made in Washington. I think I understand why so many people who are getting screwed do not know who is screwing them. What I don't get is the disconnect at the top.
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.

The New Republic has posted a story about a potential “July Surprise” in the form of Pakistani troops capturing or killing high-profile Al Qaeda “targets.” Why July instead of say October? One reason is very likely to be that the Democratic Party holds its convention in Boston at the end of July. However, another reason may be that October 1) is too close to the actual election (Bush/Cheney may be sunk by then, they need a boost sooner), and 2) is too obviously similar to a stunt once pulled (hence the phrase “October Surprise”).

In any event, this article mentions quotes from several sources in Pakistan confirming that pressure has been placed on them to make this surprise happen. A most telling quote is the following, "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington."

I urge everyone to tell friends, family, neighbors, etc., about this article and the possibility that this “surprise” may occur. The more people who become aware of this underhanded chicanery prior to the fact, the less effective the surprise will be if and when it happens. Hopefully, the mainstream media will pick-up this story and run with it. I won’t hold my breath, which makes it that much more important that word get out via internet.
Another idiotic one-liner tossed off by our leader. When asked to compare John Edwards with VP Dick Cheney, Bush bluntly declared, "Dick Cheney could be president. Next?"

Leaving aside the fact that Edwards is likely more qualified to be president today than Bush was in 2000 (extremely successful lawyer & U.S. Senator, versus a failure at running several businesses & Gov. of Texas), I for one wish to thank Bush for reminding the American public that the possibility of a Cheney presidency could in fact come true. I think it’s clear that imagining Cheney in the Oval Office elicits a much different response now compared to four years ago. Yes, many may say they don’t have to imagine it – by all accounts, he’s been running the country for years now. But that just further makes my point about how frightening it would be if it were made official.

Given the many failures this administration has presided over, responsibility for a large portion of them must tie back to Cheney. Policy-wise, he’s perhaps the most powerful VP in recent memory. He’s been able to apply his stamp of influence on nearly everything that’s come from the executive office. In the meantime, he carries around a sack of liability-baggage the size of Rhode Island, whether it be Halliburton conflicts, credibility issues (e.g. he continues to claim Saddam was linked to 9/11 & Al-Qaeda), Scalia cronyism, and perhaps forgotten, he has suffered from severe health issues in the past (heart).

Yes GW, Cheney could be president – just another reason to vote Kerry/Edwards!

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The LA Times has an interesting story about -- surprise! -- cronyism and influence-peddling concerning no-bid contracts in Iraq. As stated in the story, "Shaw's actions are the latest to raise concerns that senior Republican officials working in Washington and Iraq have used the rebuilding effort in Iraq to reward associates and political allies." I anticipate more such stories to come out in the next few months (assuming this affirms that the press has awoken from their 3+ year nap!).
The right is out with warmed-over criticism concerning Edwards as VP. The two phrases I’ve heard most often are “too inexperienced” and “light on foreign relations.” Let’s look at both of these compared to their guy, GW. Regarding the first item, when running against Gore, I don’t recall Bush blowing people away with his years of experience in political life?! If anything, they tried to frame his lack of political experience as a plus (he’s not a Washington insider, etc.). Now of course, they reverse course concerning Edwards.

As for Edwards not having the international chops to cut it given the country is at war, that’s just absolute nonsense. One could make the case that GW had even less experience in this area than Edwards -- when George was running for President no less (not the #2 slot). That said, Kerry more than makes up for any perceived deficiency on this front, and frankly, given the abysmal job this administration has done concerning anything international, how could any competing ticket be worse?

Continue to look for more lame salvos to come out against Edwards. Example: they’ll try to portray Edwards as beholden to trial lawyers, but is there any worse such picture of a top official in the pocket of another entity than that of Cheney and Halliburton? Kerry/Edwards should be drooling for that canard to be launched!

The Bush/Cheney/Rove operation is desperate and growing more so with each passing week.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

It's official: John "Boy" selected as VP!

Kerry has chosen John Edwards as his VP. No real surprise here, or if anything the surprise is that there's no surprise (that he didn't pick Hillary, McCain, etc.). Some may quickly judge that Kerry's played it safe: going with the #2 guy during the primary season, appealing to the South, son of a mill worker and a populist (offsetting Kerry's super rich wife), youthful looking, etc. I ask: can you blame him? With Bush's poll numbers scraping the bottom, and with no immediate signs of this changing, why should Kerry have rocked the boat with a more eye-raising pick?

Let's face it, Kerry's real VP "pick" heading into November is the Bush/Cheney ticket! Sure, Edwards will do just fine and serve to enhance Kerry's chances, but make no mistake the idiot tandem currently in office continue to do wonders for Kerry's campaign.

Also, with Edwards chosen, chalk up another accurate selection by the market forces. As I wrote here on June 13th:

I was just watching CSPAN and I saw Sen. Bill Nelson introducing the featured speaker, John Edwards. Before Edwards came out, Nelson had somewhat oddly referred to gambling, stating that the bookies felt Edwards would win the VP nod setting his odds at a very low 6 to 5 (or near even money). I must say that I greatly respect the opinions of bookies (they're not in the business of losing) and I also respect the opinion of the free market. I did check Nelson's figures and by gosh, he was right. I would say Edwards is the clear front runner at this point.

Granted, Gore shocked many when he picked Lieberman. But I would "wager" that Kerry has greatly learned from the Gore campaign and I don't believe he'll try to mimic much of it

Monday, July 05, 2004

Market forces meet conspiracy theorists.

I've always had a remote suspicion that this administration was not above any desperate move to help their chances this November. That would include a bogus "October Surprise"-like occurrence involving Osama's capture. However, the chart below from portrays quite a different take on this subject, with the lifetime contract topping out at near 50/50 odds of this happening and steadily eroding to a current 14% chance:

P.S. Note that the above charts depicts odds on an Osama capture by Sept. 30th. Needless to say, if the contract's expiration was extended to election day, the graphic might appear strikingly different!
If a hardline right-wing, religious zealot like Orrin Hatch is for stem cell research, what type of politician is lining up on the opposing side with GW?!
Apparently, we now have astrology on our side.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Happy July 4th!

On this day, let freedom ring! (For real, unlike Hannity's empty sloganeering re this phrase). I can't recall an Independence Day that stood for so much given how much our liberties and rights have been threatened. Keep the faith, a change is gonna come!

And now, a sobering graphic.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Seem fair?

What is your effective tax rate? Above 20%? 25%? Remember the following next April:
In 2000, the 400 taxpayers with the highest adjusted gross incomes reported over 1 percent of all income reported to the IRS that year. Their average tax rate was 22.3 percent. If the Bush tax cuts of 2002 and 2003 had been in effect, their tax rate would have declined to 17.5 percent, with an average savings of $8.3 million. These taxpayers are the biggest beneficiaries of these tax cuts. To make the top 400 in 2000, a taxpayer needed taxable income of $86.8 million.
New York Times, 26 June 2003;
IRS report, June 2003.
(Thanks to Bear Left!)
Although yesterday's employment report came in well shy of estimates, I do agree with those who say that a president should not get 100% credit or blame for anything related to the economy. There are just too many working parts to the entire economic picture, including significant international inputs, making it well beyond the scope of even the most powerful office in the world.

However, that's not to go to the other extreme and say that the U.S. President is not meaningful -- he/she is! Our economic policy is one of the key drivers for the entire global economic domino-effect. What we do & what we endorse as policy, whether it be tariffs, taxes, interest rate levels, etc., ultimately does have great impact on the economies in the rest of the world. So, what Bush & Co. favor, or disfavor, matters -- much.

Also, despite the limitations of the degree in which a president can influence anything economic, this fact doesn't stop him/her from conveying a message on this topic. Clearly, Bush chooses to play up any signs of economic progress, ignoring the complications apparent in the area of employment. Kerry, on the other hand, comments on those things not exactly rosy right now. Granted, much of this is politically driven, but I don't recall GW ever mentioning anything about workers and their welfare when he was running against Gore. His priorities are, and have always been, with the "haves" not the "have-nots," or as he says in Fahrenheit 9/11, with his base.

Put that way, one clearly has a choice this November when it comes to economic issues.

Friday, July 02, 2004

On May 27th, I wrote here regarding the up & down shenanigans of the color-coded terror alerts:

I can propose at least three reasons for the very-public release of these warnings:

1) It's a very easy way for Ashcroft, the FBI, etc., to make Americans aware that they're doing something to prevent terrorism ("Wow, our tax dollar is being well spent.... they're working hard to protect us!")
2) If anything were to occur, it provides political cover (unlike 9/11, this time they could say, "Hey, it's not like we didn't warn you!")
3) With the election fast approaching, it's a well-known fact that the incumbent stands a much better chance of getting re-elected if the country is currently under some kind of threat of attack. In other words, fear favors the sitting president (and majority party, for that matter). Thus, Bush Inc. wants the country to constantly be reminded of imminent terrorist attacks and to remain "vigilant," keeping them in a steady-state of mildly paralyzing concern. Voters will then be too afraid to favor a change with regards to the highest office -- best to just "stay the course."
By most accounts, these warnings are simply a campaign tactic, nothing more, nothing less.

In Fahrenheit 9/11, one of the best running segments in the movie is interviews with Congressman/psychiatrist Jim McDermott, who agrees with my above sentiments stating that this administration is using fear to control the public by raising and lowering the colored "terrorist alert" with a politically-inspired agenda in mind. And again, this guy's insights mean something given he's a psychiatrist.
I’ve come across several right-wing folks who are questioning Michael Moore’s credentials for making Fahrenheit 9/11. Forget the fact that he’s made several films, one of which won an Oscar. What were these same people saying concerning Mel Gibson’s credentials to make a movie about Jesus? I don’t recall them ever questioning Mel’s abilities in this regard. And as for artistic license, I would venture to say that interpretations of the Bible normally requires more creative leeway than does say putting together facts (news footage, documents, interviews, etc.) about our current sitting president. Yet again, the right-wing hypocrisy machine says one thing out of one side of their mouth....

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Joe Conason was discussing Ralph Nader on Air America today and he had it right when he referred to Nader as desperate and looking downright foolish right now. Whereas Ralph has stated repeatedly that he will siphon away more Bush votes than those for Kerry, how can one honestly believe this when the Dems are filing legal suits to keep him off of state ballots and yet Republicans are supporting his cause to be on them. Ah, duh!

The longer Nader stays in this race, the more he looks as idiotic and clueless as GW himself (ouch!).
Fahrenheit 9/11

One thing you quickly realize while watching the movie is that “Junior” Bush has been a failure at most everything in life. If it weren’t for his father and/or influential family friends, you have to wonder where a guy like this would’ve ended up. The fact that he lands in the White House, leading the most powerful nation in history, is beyond astonishing.

In that vein, I couldn’t help but think that this film will serve as a wonderful, and sad, time-capsule item that will forever remind us of the fool that once led this country. It will only age like a fine, expensive wine, with its central themes growing ever more clear and evident with each passing year. Future generations will shake their heads in disbelief after viewing this film, befuddled as to how it could ever have happened. Also, if in fact this country begins a slow, gradual slide down in global importance, I believe this administration will have marked the beginning of the descent.

In prior films, Michael Moore has used a heavier hand with regards to editing to drive home his points. In this film, I sensed very little of that, if any at all. And he didn’t have to do much in that regard! All of the evidence (mainly footage) is right there, thanks to GW himself. It’s naked, free from creative manipulation, which makes it that much more frightening.

Howard Stern has described it as a monster or horror movie. He’s right. You leave the cinema shaken, in disbelief at what you just witnessed. GW & Co. manhandled their way into power and have proceeded to manhandle their way through this country and our lives – like Godzilla stomping across Tokyo.

Anyone who sees this movie and then votes for Bush/Cheney needs to truly have their head examined.