Tuesday, August 31, 2004

More evidence that GW is, uh, cracking up....?

NASHUA, N.H. — President Bush, who had hoped for a triumphant, gaffe-free entrance to the Republican National Convention, instead has spent the past few days giving rhetorical ammunition to Sen. John Kerry.
In an interview aired yesterday on NBC's "Today" show, Mr. Bush said of the war against terrorism: "I don't think you can win it." In other recent interviews, he called Operation Iraqi Freedom a "catastrophic success" and his postwar plan a "miscalculation."

It's been one slip up after another. Perhaps I will tune in to his big speech after all; who knows what we might hear at this point.
Here they go again, tossing science to the wind. From today's Washington Post:

A bureaucratic shuffle within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has prompted a political firestorm among experts in worker health and safety and has reignited questions about the Bush administration's commitment to sound science.
At the center of the storm is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the institute within the CDC that conducts research on workplace illnesses, injuries and deaths.
But the move has drawn protests from virtually every occupational health and safety organization in the country, including some representing labor and others more aligned with corporate management -- groups that usually are at policy loggerheads but that have shared interests in good science.
Opposition also crosses party lines. Letters opposing the change have been signed by every living former NIOSH director back to the Nixon administration and by assistant secretaries for labor and health from both Republican and Democratic administrations.
"This may be the first issue in the last decade that all the worker safety and health stakeholder groups agree on," said Frank White, a Reagan administration labor official who is now vice president of Organization Resources Counselors Inc., an international management and human resources consulting firm that advises on occupational health issues for 150 large corporations. "It's hard to see a reorganization like this making NIOSH more effective."
Each day, an estimated 9,000 U.S. workers sustain disabling injuries on the job, 16 die of work-related injuries and 137 die of work-related diseases, resulting in tens of billions of dollars in direct costs and hundreds of billions in indirect costs, according to government statistics.
Yet NIOSH has often struggled to ensure its independence and at times its survival -- as in the mid-1990s, when the Republican House tried to kill it. Some corporate interests chafe at NIOSH's right to enter workplaces without a warrant when called in by employees to investigate safety issues.
Others suggested the move is part of a larger administration effort to politicize science -- a concern exacerbated by the significant role Kent C. "Oz" Nelson played in designing the Futures Initiative. Nelson is chairman of the CDC Foundation's board of directors and former chief executive of United Parcel Service, which fought the Clinton administration's efforts to set ergonomics standards for preventing workplace musculoskeletal injuries.
"What, oh, what did I say? Oh, I'm sorry, I meant we WILL win the war!"

Bush scrambles to cover for his slip of the truth, or as Michael Kinsley tagged it, a "gaffe" (when a politician tells the truth).

Too late GW! We heard it.
Gag-me-with-a-spoon quote of the evening:

"Spontaneously, I grabbed the arm of then-Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and said to Bernie, 'Thank God George Bush is our president.'" -- Rudy Giuliani

Gads, how this guy has lost all credibility. Then he infers that Bush = Churchill and Saddam = Hitler.... And he wants us to seriously believe he's not shilling for a GOP slot (US Senator in 2006, or presidential run in 2008) at some point down the road -- yeah, right.
Noam Scheiber’s recent commentary in The New Republic mentions two terrific points:

1) He points out how some of the polls in the country may be deceptive, pending on what sample population is being used. He mentions a poll in Ohio which had Kerry ahead of Bush by a two point margin. HOWEVER, when the pool was widened to include not just those who voted in 2000 but to include ALL registered voters, Kerry’s lead expanded to a 10 point margin. One would think that this difference would have extra significance for this election as many indications point to voter turnout being greater than in 2000 (highly polarized country, many feel much is at stake, many learned from Florida 2000, etc.). In that case, this and any other poll should likely use ALL registered voters as the more accurate sample pool. One could also make the case that net-net, a person voting this November that did not vote in 2000 is most likely to be a Kerry voter (if they chose not to vote for Bush in 2000, what are the odds they will vote for him in 2004?).

2) Noam unfortunately points out another grim fact: for those states with an anti-gay marriage initiative to be decided, such an item on the ballot will almost certainly motivate more resolute right-wing conservatives to get out and vote than it would more moderate types. Ohio has an anti-gay marriage initiative on the ballot.
Managing expectations for political gain:

Not surprisingly, Bush strategist Matthew Dowd, who predicted that Kerry would have a 15-point lead in August, has said -- for whatever mysterious reasons -- he does not expect Bush to get any convention bounce. (Ryan Lizza)
Scary stuff from Speaker of the House Hastert:

HASTERT: You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money. I don't know where — if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from. And I...

WALLACE: Excuse me?

HASTERT: Well, that's what he's been for a number years — George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he's got a lot of ancillary interests out there.

WALLACE: You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?

HASTERT: I'm saying I don't know where groups — could be people who support this type of thing. I'm saying we don't know. The fact is we don't know where this money comes from.

(again, thank you to talkingpointsmemo.com)

You can see where Hastert has DeLay roots. He's both dumb AND without scruples. Soros is one of the most recognized billionaires in the world, having made his money from his hedge fund activities. It's highly doubtful he needs to tap the resources of the drug underworld. And of course, Hastert operates according to the RNC playbook: insinuate, accuse, offer no facts or evidence, just leave it hanging out there, let the media do the rest.

As further evidence just how stupid this guy is, it wasn't too long ago (this past May) that Hastert publicly questioned John McCain's credentials as a Republican. McCain is a featured speaker at the GOP Convention.
Bush’s 8,347th flip-flop:

"We have a clear vision on how to win the war on terror and bring peace to the world."
-- George W. Bush, July 30th 2004

"I don’t think you can win [the war on terror]. But I think you can create conditions so that the — those who use terror as a tool are — less acceptable in parts of the world.”
-- George W. Bush, Aug. 29th, 2004

(thanks talkingpointsmemo.com)

Imagine what they would've done to Kerry if he did this as President....

Monday, August 30, 2004

Business Week interviews stock market strategist Barry Ritholtz for his insights on the upcoming election and how the market may influence it. A key exchange:

Q: Who do you think will win the election?
A: I'm a numbers geek at heart, so I watch four quantitative factors that have had a strong historical correlation with incumbent electoral victory, regardless of party. The first is job creation, second is Presidential approval rating, third is percentage saying the country is going in the right or wrong direction, and the fourth is the Dow Jones industrial average performance in the first half of the election year.

The polls are saying this is a very close race, but all four of the above data points suggest the incumbent is in deep trouble. Over a four-year term, when job creation is less than 5%, studies have shown it's a huge negative for the occupant in the White House. As of last month, we were at a negative 0.8%.

We see recent surveys showing the incumbent polling less than a 50% job-approval rating, and for the "right/wrong direction" question, only 36% are answering "right direction." These are big negatives. The Dow started the year at 10,450. It has come up off the lows but is still down for the year. It's a minor negative.
Zogby and Knight Ridder are out with results to an interesting poll, one that focuses strictly on the so-called "undecided" voters.

Favoring Bush: most get their news from Fox (40.4%), most drive domestic cars (57.9%), and they're more pro-gun (49.8%) than not (32.4%).

Favoring Kerry: not many are NASCAR fans (12.9%), and when asked if they would vote for the Tin Man or the Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz, the Tin Man won in a landslide (48.7% vs. 13.3%). This is significant because it was framed that the Tin Man represented "all brains and no heart" and the Scarecrow vice-versa. Of the two, I would say Kerry represents the Tin Man (!); Zogby concurs.

Perhaps the biggest thing favoring Kerry (and I've mentioned it here before) is the fact that undecided voters overwhelmingly vote non-incumbent. Zogby points out that in 2000, these undecided voters went with Bush over Gore by a 58.7% to 24.7% margin. Given they are now "undecided," by definition Bush has not maintained their allegiance, putting the odds in Kerry's favor that they will swing his way.
Bill Maher likely has the best talk show on TV right now. It's almost always interesting and revealing.

He recently had on former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart:

MAHER: Nice to see you here. Listen, I want to start off by showing you – I hope you can see this – it’s a headline from the Montreal Gazette from September 6th, 2001, five days before we were attacked. And it says: “Terror Risk Real: Hart – Thousands in U.S. Will Die.” No wonder Joe Lieberman called you the “Paul Revere” of our age. You were the guy who said, “The terrorists are coming! The terrorists are coming!” Because you were part of this Hart-Rudman committee that put out this report. Tell us how that committee came into being, what it said, and what has been done about it since.

HART: First of all, there were 13 others, so it shouldn’t be personalized. Seven Democrats and seven Republicans appointed in the fall of 1998 by then President Clinton, with the concurrence of the congressional leadership, to do something that hadn’t been done since 1947, and that is a complete review of U.S. national security, in this case, post-Cold War. And we were to report to the next president of the United States, whomever that might be, which we did, January 31st, 2001. And although he would not see us personally, we met with senior cabinet officials. We urged them to create a department of homeland security because we had concluded two years before that the nation was going to be attacked by terrorists, and that thousands of Americans would die.

I caught some of Giuliani on "Meet The Press" and it appears near certain that Rudy has been properly indoctrinated with the RNC talking points (he's now a "Stepford Republican"). Example:

MR. RUSSERT: Do you agree with the president on stem cell?

MR. GIULIANI: I agree with the president in the sense that the president is the first one to put any money at all, and significant amounts of money, into stem cell research.

I've heard other Republicans use this stupid statement when discussing stem cell and I was a bit surprised to witness the normally-intelligent-sounding Giuliani agree to dumb himself down enough to utter this nonsense. He must know that the only reason GW is the "first one" is because stem cell research is that new! For all intensive purposes, there was no stem cell research going on prior to Bush's administration, at least not anywhere near the scale of today. So, duh, he's the first because it didn't exist for Carter, FDR, or even Clinton to act on.

Another example:

MR. RUSSERT: But on that point--on that point, Mr. Mayor, too often, if the president says he's a hero and has service more heroic than his own, and you say he's a hero, should the Swift Boat Veterans stop ads on TV that say he was a coward and a liar?

MR. GIULIANI: They should and all the 527s should stop.

Again, this is the RNC endorsed response, repeated incessantly by Bush. Don't condemn the Swift Boat liars, but rather call for ALL 527s to cease. Weave and dodge. For shame Rudy.
On the eve of the Republican Convention, I stand by my August 5th post where I simply wonder aloud why Bush/Cheney don't just promise the world, and then some, concerning campaign pledges. They have a well-documented record of going back on SEVERAL of their campaign 2000 promises (the internet is filled with web sites offering fairly comprehensive lists, such as, and here). When it comes to accountability, not only do they weave and dodge to escape any appearance of flip-flopping, but the media has conveniently allowed them to do so, hardly ever taking them to task on any of these flagrant say-one-thing-do-another violations.

So again, I ask, why don't they just go all the way and promise everything but the kitchen sink to the idiot masses? This time around they have no reelection concerns to serve as even a remote checks-and-balance.

I guess they have to at least offer up the appearance that they're credible and responsible.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Over at WashingtonMonthly.com, Amy Sullivan is making a point I've made here before. She's discussing how when it comes to abortion, Republicans demand (in the name of the Lord!) and expect absolute compliance from some, and yet grant a free pass on this issue to others.

She writes:

Look at the line-up for next week's Republican Convention. On three out of the four evenings, the primetime programming stars a high-profile Republican Catholic who also happens to be pro-choice. Between Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Pataki, their states are responsible for 35 percent of the abortions performed in the U.S. And yet you'll hear nary a peep of protest about this from the conservative Catholic League, a supposedly "non-partisan" organization that has been frothing in continuous outrage over John Kerry's pro-choice leanings.
What they do care about is defeating Democrats. Some of them don't even try to gloss over that fact. Deal Hudson (the now-disgraced and resigned former head of Catholic outreach for the Bush/Cheney campaign) told the Washington Post last spring that "he believes the denial of Communion should begin, and end, with Kerry."
So they're hypocrites, you say. Thanks for the newsflash, brainiac.
How many reporters do you think are going to ask Rudy Giuliani or George Pataki or Arnold Schwarzenegger if they should refrain from taking communion? Or will call up the bishops of these men and ask whether these PCRCs should be denied communion? Shouldn't it be a story that Republicans get a pass for the sole reason that they are Republicans? And that certain conservative Catholic organizations only care about abortion when they can use the issue to knock around Democrats?
The silence coming out of the Catholic League regarding the prominence of a bunch of heretical babykillers at the GOP Convention is simply deafening.

I wrote about this same observation on July 22nd:

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.

So these guys will stoop so low as to use religion for political purposes. Surprise! How righteous! Is it any wonder several credible voices have come out saying if Jesus were alive today, he certainly would NOT be a Republican? But beyond that, if one is a devout pro-life Catholic (or Christian) where is the strongly-voiced outrage? I've come across more than one practicing Republican Catholic who has vented venom towards a pro-choice candidate (100% of the time a Democrat) and yet has never said a peep about this blatant hypocrisy within their party.

I could be wrong, but I believe there is more than one passage about hypocrisy in the Bible (most of them in the New Testament!).

Saturday, August 28, 2004

A few brief stem cell items:

"Some people believe that they are saving embryos by opposing embryonic stem cell research. Stopping embryonic stem cell research does not save these embryos. Thousands of frozen eggs are discarded every year by fertility clinics. These eggs are not wanted by their parents and many have been frozen too long to be usable. However, these frozen fertilized eggs can provide stem cells for research and therapy." -- Wise Young, Ph.D., M.D., Professor II & Chair, Dept. of Cell Biology & Neuroscience, W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience

Q: Where do scientists get the embryos they use?
A: If the mother becomes pregnant and has a baby, she may not want to use the remaining frozen embryos. Then she and her husband can give doctors permission to throw them away, or give them to scientists to use for stem cell research. -- Dr. Aman Shah, WebMD Medical News

"The reality today is that each year thousands of embryos are routinely destroyed. Why shouldn't embryos slated for destruction be used for the benefit of mankind?" -- pro-life U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)

The majority who believe that stem cell research should be allowed has increased from 61% to 21% in favor in 2001 to 73% to 11% in favor now. This majority support for stem cell research includes almost all Democrats with opinions (80% to 5%) and Independents (83% to 7%) and a large, if smaller, majority of Republicans (60% to 18%). -- The Harris Poll®, August 18, 2004

Do you need more proof to show just how out of touch Bush & Co. are on this issue -- and many others for that matter? It's one thing to be principled and make the tough decisions, but it's quite another to just be out of step with the general public and rule in a way that's unaccountable. Bush/Cheney and the crew are certainly of the latter.
Co-author of the "Unfit for Command" book, Jerome Corsi, has these wonderful quotes to his credit:

"Islam is a peaceful religion -- just as long as the women are beaten, the boys buggered and the infidels are killed."
"So this is what the last days of the Catholic Church are going to look like. Buggering boys undermines the moral base and the lawyers rip the gold off the Vatican altars. We may get one more Pope, when this senile one dies, but that's probably about it."
"Who are the Frogs going to cry to when the ragheads destroy the Eiffel Tower?"
"JaneFondaKerry is being heavily funded by Iranians -- check out how Gore was funded by the Chinese in 2000."

And he has acknowledged all of these, and then some, stating they were meant as a joke (Ha-Ha! As if he had to tell us! They're obviously quite witty and humorous!!).

But of course, when it comes to his 256-page book, we're all supposed to embrace that "fact"-filled volume with the utmost of seriousness.
While unfortunately a sizeable portion of the public still believes 1) Iraq has WMD, and 2) Iraq had Al Qaeda ties prior to 9-11, at least it appears they're wise enough to at least gradually realize the truth regarding this Swift Boat nonsense:

Almost half in a poll taken this week say they think the president's campaign is behind the ads that try to undercut Kerry's medals for heroism while just over a third think the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is an independent group, the National Annenberg Election Survey found.

The public's belief that Kerry did not earn his medals grew to 30 percent when the attack ads got widespread publicity on cable news networks. But that number has dropped to 24 percent now.

Odds are Karl Rove is burning the midnight oil in search of something else baseless.... Hey, it's what he does.
Excellent editorial in The New Republic. Segments:

Just how dishonest must a smear campaign be for American journalists to say so plainly or, better yet, to ignore altogether? That's the only real question still unanswered in the controversy sparked by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth over John Kerry's service in Vietnam--although even to use the word "controversy" affords the issue's protagonists too much dignity. The veterans featured in the organization's TV ad claim to have "served with Kerry," but none actually served on the same boat. (Yes, we've been reduced to arguing over what the definition of "with" is.) Several of the charges are based on recollections by veterans who, years earlier, had praised Kerry for the very same actions.The accusation that Kerry faked one of his injuries turns out to come from a thirdhand account. Most important of all, the surviving crewmembers from Kerry's boat--as well as Navy records--back Kerry's version of events.
The effect was to spread lies rather than scrutinize them, in a precise perversion of journalism's supposed purpose. More than half of the respondents to a survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center said they had seen or heard of the Swift Boat ad, which initially ran in only three swing states. And the polling firm HCD Research found that 27 percent of independent voters who saw the ad and "who [had] planned to vote for Kerry or leaned pro-Kerry" were "no longer sure they'd back" him.

Journalists, in short, became accomplices to fraud. And they should have known better. In 2000, Bush and his right-wing allies learned that the way to win political arguments is to launch rhetorical attacks based only loosely--if at all--on the facts and then depend on reporters to spread them as credible perspectives on the truth. And, ever since, this White House has conducted its business the very same way, shamelessly peddling lies about everything from budget projections to weapons of mass destruction without the slightest fear of retribution.
My running email exchange with a Naderite friend....

She wrote, "I find myself in good company. Both Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky are voting for Nader."

I replied:

More later, but in meantime this:

“…there are differences (between Kerry and Bush). In a system of immense power, small differences can translate into large outcomes." - professor, author

"But all of that aside, now we face the reality of an Administration that is absolutely nutty. There's that old country song, "It felt so good when it stopped hurting." So we've got to stop the pain. But in doing so, we should not fool ourselves that we have gained some progressive victory. What we will have done is to get us back to a ground level where we can build again for a progressive victory that is several years down the road."
- November, 2003

"These guys (Bush administration) are playing for keeps. They're breaking every rule in the book. They carry out role call votes where they'll hold a vote open for 15 hours to shift it over to their way. They're redoing census and gerrymandering in states at any time they want. They're stealing elections. So, we're really facing a...very dangerous enemy. And I think Ralph's presence...is not what we need right now."
- Democracy Now! February 23, 2004

Finally, I'm sorry to say that when you say you're in good company with Chomsky & Zinn, you didn't dig enough to find out some revealing facts re nuances to their intentions. If you did, you'd find out they would be very sympathetic to MY cause. This:

But in response to an email query from this reporter, Chomsky wrote,
“Voting for Nader in a safe state is fine. That's what I'll do. I don't see how anyone could read what I wrote and think otherwise, just from the elementary logic of it. Voting for Nader in a safe state is not a vote for Bush. The point I made had to do with (effectively) voting for Bush.”

Chomsky lives in Mass. and he makes it absolutely clear that the ONLY reason he's voting Nader is because of the 50 states, Mass. is an absolute mortal lock for Kerry! That's a huge difference than how you posed it, as if he was voting for Nader with no qualifications.

And now, on to Zinn (another Mass. resident):

In another email exchange, Howard Zinn stated, “I will vote for Nader because Mass. is a safe state. And voters in ‘safe states’ should not vote for Kerry.” He also notes, “I don't have faith in Kerry changing, but with Kerry there is a possibility that a powerful social movement might change him. With Bush, no chance.”

I rest my case.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Florida Judge Susan Kirkland has ruled that state law clearly contemplates "that manual recounts will be done on each certified voting system, including the touchscreen voting systems."

However, Florida's Secretary of State Glenda Hood, who issued legislation preventing manual recounts in touchscreen counties, may appeal this ruling. Yes, you heard this correctly, the Secretary of State of Florida may appeal a judge's decision that manual recounts be made possible to comply with existing state law.

Still think "FLA 2000" can't repeat? Read this.
Ben Stein is one of those barely-a-celebrity who shows up on political talk shows to serve as lighter-hearted right-wing voice. Most of the time, he's simply annoying.

Read this make-you-want-to-gag piece he recently wrote for the Wall Street Journal opinion page. As he put it, an "editor asked me what I would say to make the wives feel appreciated while their husbands are in Iraq. This is what I wrote to one soldier's wife."

Here's what the NY Observer thought concerning his letter:

What twaddle. In the pose of speaking as an average American, Mr. Stein betrays his ingrown elitism: Not everyone in America can "buy whatever" they want, nor do most Americans have the good luck to "wake up to the sounds of birds"; nor do they wake up in Beverly Hills, as Mr. Stein does. He would have readers believe that the men and women overseas have made his lush life possible. In his letter, he doesn’t mention that he was raised in a wealthy Republican home, the son of the free-market economist Herbert Stein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. His own education (Columbia and Yale Law) as well as his scattered career—speechwriter for Richard Nixon, law professor at Pepperdine University, part-time actor, advertising pitchman—also receives no mention.

Continuing his everyman’s pitch to the Army wife, Mr. Stein proceeds—apparently without irony—to tell her what the life of a military wife is like: They "go to sleep tired and lonely, wake up tired and lonely, and go through the day with a smile on their faces." Ben Stein knows that the wives go through "desperate hours when the plumbing breaks and there is no husband to fix it, and the even more desperate hours after the kids have gone to bed … and the wives realize that they will be sleeping alone—again, for the 300th night in a row." We began to gag when we saw that he’d signed the letter, "Love, and I do mean Love, Ben."

It appears Mr. Stein thinks that when military wives read his letter, they will feel comforted by the thought of Ben Stein waking up to birds chirping, and feel reaffirmed in the cause their husbands are fighting for. When the truth is, many of their husbands are dying and being horribly wounded for reasons no one in the Bush administration has been able to articulate. And one can only imagine what long-term psychological and economic impact the war will have on their husbands and families. Look at what George W. Bush’s war has done to America: We have alienated the entire world, and provided an effective recruiting tool for Al Qaeda.

But Ben Stein doesn’t want the Army wives to dwell on those unpleasant facts. Rather, they should take heart from the fact that he and his loved ones can buy whatever they want. Surely they will rush to thank him for putting it all in perspective.

I couldn't agree more.
The number of Americans in poverty rose by 1.3 million to 35.9 million, or one in eight people. The number of Americans without health insurance rose by 1.4 million to 45 million, or 15.6% of the population. Both sets of figures rose for the third-straight year.
Gads, who's running the show in the White House? I always assumed it was Cheney, or even Rove, but now I might have to reconsider.... In today's NY Times:

On environmental issues, Mr. Bush appeared unfamiliar with an administration report delivered to Congress on Wednesday that indicated that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases were the only likely explanation for global warming over the last three decades. Previously, Mr. Bush and other officials had emphasized uncertainties in understanding the causes and consequences of global warming.

The new report was signed by Mr. Bush's secretaries of energy and commerce and his science adviser. Asked why the administration had changed its position on what causes global warming, Mr. Bush replied, "Ah, we did? I don't think so."

Scott McClellan, Mr. Bush's press secretary, said later that the administration was not changing its position on global warming and that Mr. Bush continued to be guided by continuing research at the National Academy of Sciences.

OK, so now there's the chance Scott McClellan is deciding policy, as he helped to clarify matters for the confused and befuddled GW.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Great points from Tim Dickinson over at RollingStone.com:

This Swift Boat idiocy is enough to make you want to pull the plug on your cable or convert your satellite dish into a urinal. With Najaf under siege, and the Plame case coming to a head, with the Abu Grhaib scandal now reaching to the highest levels of the Pentagon brass, and with overtime for millions getting the ax, all the dunderheads at the cable networks seem to care about is the Swifties. They're lying. Navy documents prove it. Get over it.

There are, however, a few lessons to be learned from this ridiculousness: 1) outrageous falsehoods get more attention than honest debate, 2) the TV media in the slow news month of August couldn't be happier than to be used as a partisan echo-chamber, 3) John Edwards has revealed his biggest weakness: his inability as the Sunshine candidate to go all Cujo-Attack-Dog against the GOP's dirty tricksters, and 4) Kerry's lack of agility in defending himself from such a predictable below-the-belt blow should worry Democrats.
The LA Times reports that Bush has pulled ahead in its poll for the first time all year, yet other fairly current predictors do not confirm this recent revelation.

As an example, on the web site electoral-vote.com, an electoral vote map is shown that is updated daily based on state-derived polls. Here, Kerry maintains an electoral vote lead by a 280-238 margin. "Which to believe?" is my main question.

In addition, note that in the map graphic, 142 votes are deemed "Strong" for Bush as compared to Kerry's 109 in that category. That makes sense given the well-documented lock Bush has on his base. However, for those votes categorized as "Weak" or "Barely," when summing those two together, Kerry leads by a 171-96 count. What makes that interesting is that it tends to confirm a fairly well understood fact that during elections, undecided ("swing") voters tend to eventually vote non-incumbent. Nonpartisan political analyst Charlie Cook (of The Cook Political Report) has reported that over the last 30 years, over 60% of the undecided vote went to the challenger on Election Day.

Let's hope 2004 is not the exception to this rule.
Last week: Marc Racicot, the Bush campaign chairman, insisted "there is no connection of any kind whatsoever'' between the campaign and the Swift boat group.

Today: Top lawyer for U.S. President Bush's re-election campaign, Ben Ginsberg, resigned after disclosing he has been providing legal advice to a group that accuses Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry of lying about his Vietnam War record. He was the second person to quit the Bush campaign over ties to the group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Can this become any MORE of a lie? Will there be public outrage over this? How will O'Reilly and Hannity spin this one?
Regarding the environment, I ask: when this administration trots out the explanation that what they’re trying to do is legitimately streamline, update, and make MORE effective existing regulations, how can any reasonable person believe it when we know that corporate personnel (lobbyists, executives, etc.) are actually and literally doing the updating & streamlining? With a straight face, they expect us to check our brains at the door and just assume that these obviously-conflicted parties will indeed do what’s best for the American public, and NOT those who pay them.

Any logical, reasonable person would conclude that this farce is simply the fox protecting the hen house! And even if they wanted us to believe this load of absurdity, you’d think they’d at least allow environmental groups to participate in the process (and then just ignore everything they had to say) but they don’t even do that! It’s documented just how willfully exclusionary they’ve been against such non-corporate-backed groups. To simply buy-in to this laughable explanation is to just be a fool.
This from our next CIA head honcho?(!):

Goss also came to Bush's aid a few months earlier, during the Joseph Wilson-Valerie Plame scandal. One would think that a former CIA spy might be appalled by reports that a White House official had publicly exposed the identity of an undercover agent, especially as an act of political retaliation against the agent's spouse. The blatant politicization of intelligence is, or should be, anathema to any professional spy—or prospective CIA director.

But Goss waved off the whole business. In an interview with his hometown paper, the Herald-Tribune of southwestern Florida, Goss said the uproar was the result of "wild and unsubstantiated allegations, which are being obviously piled on by partisan politicians during an election year." There was no need to mount an investigation, he said, because there was no evidence of "willful disclosure" (though how he reached that conclusion without an investigation, he didn't say). Then, in a jab against Bush's favorite target, Bill Clinton, Goss cracked, "Somebody sends me a blue dress and some DNA, I'll have an investigation." -- Fred Kaplan, Slate.com

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

More bad environmental news, this time mercury. Kudos to the USA Today for reporting it. Alarming: "States issued warnings for mercury and other pollutants in 2003 for nearly 850,000 miles of U.S. rivers — a 65% increase over 2002 — and 14 million acres of lakes. The warning level is the highest ever reported by the EPA."

And what has Bush Inc. done to at least attempt to alleviate this growing, serious problem? Click here, and here for a story out just three weeks ago.

Oh, and the LA Times has a front-page story about how Bush Inc. is pushing hard to drill for oil and gas in Rocky Mountain states.

Just get a load of this:

The administration has pressed for approval of new drilling permits across the Rocky Mountains and lifted protections on hundreds of thousands of acres with gas and oil reserves in Utah and Colorado. In the process, it has targeted a number of places prized for their scenery, abundant wildlife and clean water, natural assets increasingly valuable to the region's changing economy.

Soon after taking office in 2001, the Bush White House set up a little-known task force that acts as a complaint desk for industry, passing energy company concerns directly to federal land management employees in the field. Although the creation of White House task forces is commonplace, experts on the executive branch say it is unusual to have one primarily serving the interests of a single industry.

In addition, the Bureau of Land Management has been pushed to issue drilling permits at a record pace for three of the last four years, an increase of 70% since the Clinton administration.

Internal memos and interviews show senior administration officials have directed federal employees to be responsive to industry, commended offices that approved large numbers of drilling permits and chastised those that were slow.

The effort is so intense in the oil- and gas-rich Rockies that some Bureau of Land Management employees there have taken to calling the region "the OPEC states."
Outlined during the 2000 campaign, the administration's course was set the following year with a national energy plan developed by a Cabinet-level group headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. Citing executive privilege, the vice president has kept confidential the records of people who met with the group.

The evolving policy is being carried out by senior officials at the Department of Interior, a number of whom have past ties to the energy industry.
Yet environmentalists and some current and former BLM officials contend that the administration is sacrificing some of the most spectacular natural spaces in the West for a short-term bump in supplies. Despite all the drilling, they say, foreign imports of oil and gas have not declined. They also say Bush's and Cheney's failure to emphasize energy conservation and alternative sources is leading to irreversible damage to federal lands, water, air and wildlife.

And this amazing graphic:

When will this national nightmare end?

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

As usual, today's Krugman column is required reading.
This about sums it up (from today's LA Times editorial):

The technique President Bush is using against John F. Kerry was perfected by his father against Michael Dukakis in 1988, though its roots go back at least to Sen. Joseph McCarthy. It is: Bring a charge, however bogus. Make the charge simple: Dukakis "vetoed the Pledge of Allegiance"; Bill Clinton "raised taxes 128 times"; "there are [pick a number] Communists in the State Department." But make sure the supporting details are complicated and blurry enough to prevent easy refutation.

Then sit back and let the media do your work for you. Journalists have to report the charges, usually feel obliged to report the rebuttal, and often even attempt an analysis or assessment. But the canons of the profession prevent most journalists from saying outright: These charges are false. As a result, the voters are left with a general sense that there is some controversy over Dukakis' patriotism or Kerry's service in Vietnam. And they have been distracted from thinking about real issues (like the war going on now) by these laboratory concoctions.
The following from the August 23rd New Yorker may be at least one reason for Bush's latest decision to focus more on his base (and less on swing voters):

Boyd’s assessment is echoed by Tony Fabrizio, of the Republican polling firm Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates, who issued a gloomy memorandum last month on Bush’s prospects among swing voters. “Our analysis of ‘undecided’ voters in our most recent Battleground State Survey reveals that they are currently poised to break away from President Bush and to John Kerry based on the following findings,” he wrote. “They are more than twice as likely to see things headed down the wrong track as compared to voters overall. They give President Bush a net negative image rating. They give President Bush a net negative job-approval rating. A solid majority sees the country as being worse off than they were four years ago. They are significantly more pessimistic about the current state of the nation’s economy. They are significantly more pessimistic about their own current financial condition. They are twice as likely to see the number of jobs in their area as decreasing instead of increasing. They are significantly more likely to favor the federal government doing more as opposed to doing less. They are more likely to be pro-choice on the issue of abortion. They are more likely to have seen or heard advertising critical of President Bush than of John Kerry in the past year. John Kerry holds a slight net positive image rating.” In conclusion, Fabrizio wrote, “Clearly if these undecided voters were leaning any harder against the door of the Kerry camp, they would crash right through it . . . which would hand Kerry a lion’s share of these states.”
Virtually all the indicators that Fabrizio catalogued tipped further in Kerry’s favor after the Democratic Convention in Boston.

And note this assessment is from a Republican polling firm!
And my email dialogue with a Naderite friend continues.... My most recent response to her:

That press release uses goofy math: you can't compare 4% in current funding in $ terms with actual % votes in 2000. [Assuming I understand it correctly] He's comparing a % of total dollars in funds to a % of actual voters in 2000, i.e. he is equivocating that each vote in 2000 is comparable to $1 (one dollar) in today's 4% funding -- what a laugh! You've got to be kidding me! I thought Ralph was above this kind of chicanery.

Also, if 25% of his votes came from registered Republicans in 2000, why doesn't he list what % of his votes came from registered Democrats (thus, hurting Gore)?? If that figure were say 50%, or twice the Repub. 25% figure, than duh, that would be net-net bad for Gore by a 2-1 ratio! Again though, he chooses not to disclose this.... Thanks for sending me that press release as I now see that Ralph has learned many tricks of the trade! (I'm always getting educated).

It's not fair for you to simply state that ABB voters are "voting out of fear." That's not necessarily true for MANY people and you have no proof of that.

As I said, I agree with many of your (Ralph's) points but I explained my position on all of this. You choose to vote out of principal, and then live with the consequences -- I don't. If you truly feel it won't matter who's in office the next 4 years, that Kerry will up-and-down on every issue be as bad as Bush, then go ahead and vote for Ralph. I categorically disagree with that notion, and I do feel that much of what has occurred in the last 4 years and may occur in the next four years under more GW will be irreparable, or will at least take several future administrations to undo the harm and damage. You apparently disagree, feeling the country deserves what they get and also is resilient enough to recover.

Yes, voting in this country is a sham re Ralph & Maryland. I absolutely agree with his demand for a uniform, EZ federal standard for candidates to get on ballots in all 50 states. Next topic....

You are naive to say that Nader people will support Kerry if "they adopt some of his platforms!" Oh hooey. Since 2000, Naderites have been force-fed Ralph's mantra that both parties are in the sewer. There's little if any chance at this point, based on this inflammatory language, that any Nader person will ever embrace the Democratic PARTY ever again. The only chance for that to happen is for Ralph himself to decree forcefully that it's OK for his flock to return to the once-evil Dem. Party -- fat chance of that happening!

As for Supreme Court concerns, you simply dismiss it saying the Dems will be too spineless and will just sit by and let Bush stack the court with right-wing ideologues. With such resignation, how does one even debate this topic with you? It's pointless.

Finally, you ask "WHY ARE WE NOT DEMANDING MORE FOR OUR FUTURE, NOT JUST THE NEXT FOUR YEARS?!" Fair enough. You state it's naive to think that the next four years will mean much more than that, that in fact four years "is not even a blip." I simply disagree. Example: the Nixon administration (believe it or not) was in power when the EPA was established. The Clean Air Act (1970) is largely credited (by scientists!) for having improved air quality in the country, tremendously, for decades following its passage. Of course, this current administration has attempted to dismantle much of this Act, but are you going to argue against the significant benefits gained over the last 30+ years by just this one piece of legislation, all thanks to passage via a president's signature?!

Please don't be seduced into cynically dismissing even a single day with these guys in power.

My best friend happens to be very right-wing. (Shows you how I can look beyond politics and ideology to see the goodness in people!). He recently emailed to me something along the lines of “I’m not a GW guy, I’m a Reagan guy” when the topic of the election came up. I replied that it didn’t matter if you were a Reagan guy; all that mattered was that come November 2nd, his 60%-meant vote for GW was going to 100% cancel out my Kerry vote.

I hear this fairly frequently when discussing past elections. Someone will attempt to downplay who they voted for because they were really an XXX-guy, implying their vote for that particular election year was only half-meant. Of course, I fully understand the relative basis rational when voting, that you may not be 100% in love with a particular candidate and have to pick between two less-than-stellar candidates. But nonetheless, voting is an all-or-nothing game, i.e. there’s no such thing as a lukewarm vote. Once in the booth and the curtain is drawn, the so-so, moderately-decided GW voter will 100% negate the absolutely-committed Kerry voter every time, and vice-versa.

I told my friend that I’m actually a Thomas Jefferson guy, but I don’t trot that out to people before I state I’m going to vote for Kerry. And I hate to put it so bluntly, but Reagan is now as dead as Jefferson, so the analogy holds. I said to him if he truly was a “Reagan-guy” then he should enter the voting booth on November, write-in “Ronald Reagan,” and pull the lever. This way he can honestly tell people he voted for HIS guy, and he then won’t cancel out my 100% full-meant vote for Kerry.

Of course, much of the time, this sort of waffling when it comes to explaining one’s past voting behavior is simply used as a hedging device. If the voted upon candidate turns out to be a debacle, one can always then say “Yeah, I voted for him/her, but I’m really an XXX-guy,” attempting to deflect and save some face. However, if that person turns out to be a terrific choice, one can then gleefully proclaim, “Yeah, I voted for him/her!” and leave it at that.

All I ask is that for all those potential, yet reluctant, Bush/Cheney voters out there who are actually diehard Reagan people, or Eisenhower people, or even Nixon people, please do us devoted Kerry people a favor: either stay home on November 2nd or show up to vote & write in the name of “your guy (gal).” Stay true to yourself!

Monday, August 23, 2004

Required viewing.

"We've got to use our resources wisely, like water. It starts with keeping the Great Lakes water in the Great Lakes Basin. My position is clear: We're never going to allow diversion of Great Lakes water." (in Michigan last week)

"Bush said he wants to talk to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien about piping [Great Lakes] water to parched states in the west and southwest." -- AP, July 2001

(Thanks Misleader.org)
Another well-deserved plug for Josh Marshall (hands down, the best blog out there):

Today Bob Dole suggested that one or more of John Kerry's Purple Hearts may have been fraudulent in some way because they were for "superficial wounds."

Dole knows better.

In a 1988 campaign-trail autobiography, here's how Dole described the incident that earned him his first Purple Heart: "As we approached the enemy, there was a brief exchange of gunfire. I took a grenade in hand, pulled the pin, and tossed it in the direction of the farmhouse. It wasn't a very good pitch (remember, I was used to catching passes, not throwing them). In the darkness, the grenade must have struck a tree and bounced off. It exploded nearby, sending a sliver of metal into my leg--the sort of injury the Army patched up with Mercurochrome and a Purple Heart."

Just a reminder: keep in mind when reading stories in the paper just how many are directly related to 9/11, versus those that are not.

Example: here are several Iraq-related stories today (as we know, NOT directly 9/11-related), as compared to one I found that is, concerning potential terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay. And then back to non-9/11-related.

Imagine the content of news today without Iraq.
Is it REALLY unfair to at least postulate that Iraq could turn into a Vietnam? Just read this piece in today's USA Today. "Attacks against U.S. and allied forces have averaged 49 a day since the hand-over of sovereignty June 28, compared with 52 a day in the four weeks leading up to the transfer," and "violence is common in almost every part of the country."

I've asked for anyone to send stories of the good news in Iraq that the "liberal media" is submerging -- have not received one. Also, as I've written, Kerry stands to adopt this growing mess, which could ultimately do to his administration what Vietnam contributed in doing to LBJ's. Assuming GW loses, the "Bush Effect" could go well-beyond resolving his deficit problem and correcting his environmental havoc, but also could more immediately work to sink the next administration.

Ahh, what compassion.
As usual, wise words from Josh Marshall concerning the Washington Post article on the SBVT controversy:

If you wade through the article, it's easy to lose track of this. But what does the article itself say? Kerry says one thing, he's critics say another. But are Kerry and O'Neil really equal in this?

The military records all back up Kerry. Back in the old days -- i.e., last month --official military records use to be considered at least presumptively accurate. Now, everyone knows or should know that every after-action report or medal citation isn't necessarily the product of an exhaustive investigation. Yet, they're not meaningless. At a minimum one would assume that the burden of proof would lie with those who dispute their veracity.

So, as I say, all the Navy records support Kerry's account. On top of that, all the people who were in Kerry's boat support his version of events.

Think about that for a minute. All the people in Kerry's boat means all the people closest to the action in question support Kerry's account. Others who were tens or hundreds of yards away, or not even present, contradict his account. Is it really so hard to distinguish between the quality of evidence and testimony that both sides are bringing to the table?

He makes a wonderful point. The supposed liberal Post is bending over backwards to make this out to be a real tough-to-decipher issue. It's not, at least if you consider the evidence on both sides and then utilize the kind of thinking journalists were once encouraged to exercise. As Josh says, "If this were a civil suit, and this was accusers' evidence, it wouldn't even pass the laugh test."

Sunday, August 22, 2004

From a terrific Ellen Goodman column:
As bioethicist George Annas puts it, "The antiabortionist will say that the embryo has the same status as a child and taking an embryo apart for harvesting the stem cells is the equivalent of taking a child apart for its organs. That's the most antiscience argument I've ever heard." Imagine instead, he adds, if an IVF clinic were on fire. Is there anyone who would save the fertilized eggs in the freezer instead of a child?
An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll showed more than 70 percent of voters -- and 58 percent of Bush supporters -- approve of using embryonic stem cells for research.
"Imagine if supporters of Bill Clinton had tried in 1996 to besmirch the military record of his opponent, Bob Dole. After all, Dole was given a Purple Heart...."
The well-respected Jane's Defence Weekly has reported that North Korea is developing ballistic missiles that can 1) carry nuclear warheads, and 2) will reach California.

Will GW preemptively attack this known-to-have-WMD, "Axis of Evil" nation? Of course not. Why? Because North Korea 1) has no oil, and 2) has weapons of mass destruction!
Interesting article in LA Times about how Bush has apparently decided to focus on locking-down his already seemingly locked-down base (?) as opposed to trying to woo fence-sitting voters. Many may see this as a white-flag sign concerning swing voters, but that doesn't necessarily mean a net-net win for Kerry if Bush is somehow able to uncover and incite lurking base voters who were simply going to stay at home come November 2nd.

However, the more convincing explanation is Rove has figured out this is their only recourse at this point. Bush/Cheney are so far to the right that they have little hope in appealing to more reasonable, willing-to-ponder swing voters. Instead, they have to operate as only they know how: stir up unfounded fears (using innuendo, distortion, etc.) to win over voters. And the reason Rove goes back to this time & time again: because it generally works (at least with "their kind").

(Note how this resigned choice to give-up on broadening the base works completely against GW's already laughable 2000 campaign slogan, "I'm a uniter, not a divider").

From the article:

The Bush campaign strategy fits with a presidency that often has appeared more intent on deepening than broadening support.

On most major issues — from tax cuts and environmental protection to the decision to invade Iraq without explicit U.N. authorization — Bush has embraced policies that draw much better marks from his base than swing voters.

Democratic operatives assert that the president's efforts are driven not so much by his strength among Republicans as his weakness among undecided voters.

"Bush isn't going to get many of them, no matter what," said John Sasso, general election manager at the Democratic National Committee, citing widespread pessimism about the economy and the country's overall direction, as evident in polling answers from persuadable voters. "He has only two choices: He can either tear Kerry down and try to make him entirely unacceptable [to those voters], or he can try to jack up his base vote. And that's what you are seeing."

However, this very key statement:

Some Bush supporters worry that focusing on Republican areas, the approach that worked in 2002, may be less applicable in 2004 because so many more people — including swing voters — cast ballots in a presidential election than a mid-term election.

"I admire their ruthless execution," said the veteran Republican independent of the campaign, "but it's a scary way to win an election."

Is any way a Republican typically wins an election NOT scary?
Karl Rove must be smiling this morning. With Kerry's sudden outspoken defense against the SBVT ad, the major papers today have several articles on the subject. So the attention on this ludicrous subject remains, if not grows, just as Rove would like for it to happen. Yet, what is Kerry to do? It's like a playground fight where the other guy is fighting dirty (scratching, kicking, aiming for the scrotum, etc.) and yet there's no judge or referee at the playground; one either must walk away and risk looking bad ("losing"), or roll up one's sleeves and fight dirty also.

William Rood, a Vietnam veteran who served with Senator John Kerry, supports Kerry's version of events from one of their operations together.

It's just like they did with Clinton: keep the focus on scandals -- even if not true. Pound, pound away, eventually the public will soak it in as truth ("Repeat a lie long enough....").

P.S. notice Obama has a 41-pt. (!) lead over Keyes.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

A great op/ed by Sam Harris. He urges us to strongly reconsider the direction in which Bush is going with regards to fusing religion with government.

Some segments:

"...ancient religious texts shouldn't form the basis of social policy in the 21st century. The Bible was written at a time when people thought the Earth was flat, when the wheelbarrow was high tech. Are its teachings applicable to the challenges we now face as a global civilization?

Consider the subject of stem-cell research. Many religious people, drawing from what they've heard from the pulpit, believe that 3-day-old embryos — which are microscopic collections of 150 cells the size of a pinhead — are fully endowed with human souls and, therefore, must be protected as people. But if we know anything at all about the neurology of sensory perception, we know that there is no reason to believe that embryos at this stage of development have the capacity to sense pain, to suffer or to experience death in any way at all. (There are, for comparison's sake, 100,000 cells in the brain of a fly.)"

People can debate religion; what can't be debated is that people die. Stem cell research could save lives in the future. Therefore, to be against it, one is choosing something debatable over that which cannot be debated.


Of course, the Bible is not the only ancient text that casts a shadow over the present. A social policy based on the Koran poses even greater dangers. Koran 9:123 tells us it is the duty of every Muslim man to "make war on the infidels who dwell around you." Osama bin Laden may be despicable, but it is hard to argue that he isn't acting in accord with at least some of the teachings of the Koran. It is true that most Muslims seem inclined to ignore the Koran's solicitations to martyrdom and jihad, but we cannot overlook the fact that some are not so inclined and that some of them murder innocent people for religious reasons.
Why did 19 well-educated, middle-class men trade their lives for the privilege of killing thousands of our neighbors? Because they believed, on the authority of the Koran, that they would go straight to paradise for doing so. It is rare to find the behavior of human beings so easily explained. And yet, many of us are reluctant to accept this explanation.

So, will the future simply be "our" religion against "theirs"....? Shouldn't we at least attempt to stop the madness now?

And this:

There are now more people in our country who believe that the universe was created in six solar days than there were in Europe in the 14th century. In the eyes of most of the civilized world, the United States is now a rogue power — imperialist, inarticulate and retrograde in its religiosity. Our erstwhile allies are right not to trust our judgment. We elect leaders who squander time and money on issues like gay marriage, Janet Jackson's anatomy, Howard Stern's obscenities, marijuana use and a dozen other trifles lying at the heart of the Christian social agenda, while potentially catastrophic problems like nuclear proliferation and climate change go unresolved.

Bravo! (though I would've added "presidential intern BJs" to the list).
Proportional electoral votes.

Great idea, long time coming. Let's hope this movement spreads beyond Colorado. A telling sign: against the idea are Colorado Republican Gov. Bill Owens and Republican State Party Chairman Ted Halaby.
"I am not qualified."

By the way, if you haven't seen the video yet where Porter Goss, Bush's newly-nominated guy to head the CIA, declares "I couldn't get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified," than click here.

Here's a transcript of his statement:

It is true I was in CIA from approximately the late 50's to approximately the early 70's. And it's true I was a case officer, clandestine services office and yes I do understand the core mission of the business. I couldn't get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified. I don't have the language skills. I, you know, my language skills were romance languages and stuff. We're looking for Arabists today. I don't have the cultural background probably. And I certainly don't have the technical skills, uh, as my children remind me every day, "Dad you got to get better on your computer." Uh, so, the things that you need to have, I don't have.
-- Rep. Porter Goss, March 3, 2004, Washington, DC

Oh yeah, I feel MUCH more secure now as an American! This guy is certainly up for fixing the many things wrong in the agency -- hah! Note he said this not 10 years ago, but this year! And for a supposed MBA-run White House, would any business hire someone who uttered this pablum in the job interview?

And best yet, what is the administration's response to this caught-on-VIDEO-TAPE statement: it's "ridiculous hearsay". Dictionary definition of "hearsay": Unverified information heard or received from another. Um, see GW, you need "another," in this case it's the person himself.... Oh, forget it.
Not to go against my own advice, but here's even MORE evidence shooting holes in the SBVT story(s).
I think the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" is to divert attention away from Bush's lack of proper military service, whereas Eleanor Clift in Newsweek believes SBVT is a diversion for Iraq.

You say tomato, I say....
In an editorial today, the NY Times simply cannot understand why GW & Co. continue to fight so hard for snowmobiling in Yellowstone Park. The conclusion:

The reason the Bush administration keeps backing snowmobiles in Yellowstone is to protect a vision of wild lands that is fundamentally invasive and ultimately extractive. The very idea that a natural landscape could be off limits seems to be anathema to this administration.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Don't you just love the way we have all been distracted thanks to the far right's "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" nonsense, diverting our attention away from Bush's HIGHLY questionable service record. Notice all demands have come to a halt with regards to GW's unreleased records, his five months of AWOL without explanation, his failure to show up for a military medical exam (which many have said had to do with his fear of the urine results), and while at least the Swift Boat officers all remember Kerry serving, where is at least one officer or serviceman to state they remember Bush at all??

Yup, another victory for Rove. He has sent us on a fox chase while the hen house gets raided. We're dopes; he laughs.

Go here to remind yourself of all of the outrageous, still-unanswered questions concerning chickenhawk GW's so-called military past.

From now to November, let's make sure to focus the outrage where it should be aimed and not allow it to veer of course.
Could the following parallel a Bush loss in November? (replace "Chavez" with "Kerry" and "opposition" with "Bush"):

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) -- Venezuela's opposition threatened on Friday to boycott regional elections following President Hugo Chavez's referendum win, which they say was fraudulent but which international observers say appeared legitimate.

In other words, will they relinquish power gracefully?
Chickenhawk n. A person enthusiastic about war, provided someone else fights it; particularly when that enthusiasm is undimmed by personal experience with war; most emphatically when that lack of experience came in spite of ample opportunity in that person’s youth.

Exhibit A: VP Dick Cheney

1959: Dick Cheney became eligible for the draft.

February 1962: Cheney was 1-A (available for service), but he was at Yale.

1963: Mr. Cheney enrolled in Casper Community College, he sought his first student deferment. Transferred to University of Wyoming at Laramie, sought his second student deferment.

1964: Mr. Cheney married his high school sweetheart, Lynne. He sought his third student deferment.

1965: Mr. Cheney graduated from college, his draft status changed to 1-A. Mr. Cheney obtained his fourth deferment when he started graduate school at the University of Wyoming.

Oct. 6, 1965: the Selective Service lifted its ban against drafting married men who had no children. Nine months and two days later, Mr. Cheney's first daughter, Elizabeth, was born.

Jan. 19, 1966: his wife about 10 weeks pregnant, Mr. Cheney applied for 3-A status, the "hardship" exemption, it was granted.

1967: Mr. Cheney turned 26, no longer draft eligible.

"Five deferments seems incredible to me," said David Curry, a professor at the University of Missouri in St. Louis who has written extensively about the draft, including a 1985 book, "Sunshine Patriots: Punishment and the Vietnam Offender."

"That's a lot of times for the draft board to say O.K.," Mr. Curry said.

Of course, Republicans will attempt to use Clinton as a diversion (when don't they?), but duh, Clinton does not qualify as a "chickenhawk" (the whole point here). Clinton did not endorse nor was he "enthusiastic" about war.

(Thanks to the NY Times for the above dates and info).
Must read: Kinsley on Bush's distortion of Kerry's voting record (in this case, taxes).

My favorite part:

The best way to see the absurdity of saying that John Kerry voted for higher taxes 350 times is to apply Bush's madcap logic to Bush himself. Every year, in the president's budget, there is a table called "Effect of Proposals on Receipts." It lists the president's proposed changes in the tax rules and how they will affect government revenues for various periods up to 15 years. Most of Bush's proposals will cost revenues, obviously. But in the four fiscal years 2002-2005, Bush has proposed 63 actual "revenue enhancers," as his father used to call them. This doesn't include, as Bush includes for Kerry, his opposition to any tax cuts (and there have been some, such as Democratic proposals to reduce the payroll tax). Nor does the list seem to include any "supply-side" revenue enhancement by magic or growth. These are actual proposals to take more money out of people's pockets and give it to the government.

At Bush's current rate of 16 "tax increases" a year, he'd have 320 under his belt if he could stay in the White House for 20 years [equaling Kerry's 20 years in the Senate]. Depending on how you figure—but without wandering beyond Bush himself into the jungles of absurd logic—this is as many as eight times the number that Bush has managed to pin on Kerry [the GOP web site lists 67, not 350]. But isn't it unfair to call, for example, more efficient administration at the IRS a tax increase? And isn't it simply ridiculous to suggest that George W. Bush is more complacent about higher taxes than John Kerry? Yes, it's unfair. It's ridiculous. That's the point.
John Edwards, M.I.A.?

Is it just my imagination or has VP candidate Edwards fallen off the face of the planet? We see and hear Cheney out there performing the obligatory attack-dog role of the VP, but where is Edwards doing the same? If anything, it appears as if Kerry himself is attempting to single-handily throw the punches, which may be by design to bolster his tough-guy image (he can protect us from terrorists, has swagger, yadda yadda). But still, it would be effective to hear both candidates fighting back, esp. if Edwards is going to face king-of-all-bullies Cheney in a debate. Are we to believe Edwards made a terrific lawyer via sweet talk and nice-guy courtroom behavior? Assuming a big "no," can we then see and hear some of his more bristling, punch-to-the-belly, shark-toothed -- yet fact-based -- side? If we don't, then notch an edge to Bush/Cheney.

Either Edwards is in hibernation or this so-called liberal press is once again dropping the ball.
It appears as if Iran has learned a thing or two from our mighty, fearless, "Bring It On!" leader:

"Iran warns of preemptive strike to prevent attack on nuclear sites."

Way to go GW & neocon loonies! If we can do it, why can't they?

Kerry is finally fighting back. Ahh, what a breath of fresh air. For Kerry to beat this group of a-holes, he must shed any likeness to Sen. Tom Daschle (sorry Tom), meaning there's no room or time for cool-headed, polite, take-the-high-road stuff. If most Americans responded to reason, logic, and intelligent discourse then reality TV shows, fascination with Scott Peterson, and stem cell research resistance would just not exist. But it does, so Kerry campaign take note.

Bush/Cheney have of course denied connections to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, but the NY Times reports today:

A series of interviews and a review of documents show a web of connections to the Bush family, high-profile Texas political figures and President Bush's chief political aide, Karl Rove.

Records show that the group received the bulk of its initial financing from two men with ties to the president and his family - one a longtime political associate of Mr. Rove's, the other a trustee of the foundation for Mr. Bush's father's presidential library. A Texas publicist who once helped prepare Mr. Bush's father for his debate when he was running for vice president provided them with strategic advice. And the group's television commercial was produced by the same team that made the devastating ad mocking Michael S. Dukakis in an oversized tank helmet when he and Mr. Bush's father faced off in the 1988 presidential election.

The strategy the veterans devised would ultimately paint John Kerry the war hero as John Kerry the "baby killer" and the fabricator of the events that resulted in his war medals. But on close examination, the accounts of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth' prove to be riddled with inconsistencies. In many cases, material offered as proof by these veterans is undercut by official Navy records and the men's own statements.

Several of those now declaring Mr. Kerry "unfit" had lavished praise on him, some as recently as last year.

Look, because they have nothing to run on (tax breaks for the super wealthy? Medicare bill for big pharma companies? dismantling environmental regulations? lies about Iraq?), they have to use this pathetic spaghetti-against-the-wall tactic to hopefully gain traction anywhere they can.

Recall Drudge threw some pasta ala Kerry's supposed affair....? Nope, that didn't stick -- move on. It's what they did to McCain and Dukakis. Throw slime and keep throwing it until it sticks. For McCain, insinuations of his adopted child and his mental stability -- score!, and for Dukakis, the Willie Horton smear -- score!

Note above they were determined to cast Kerry as a "baby killer," obviously catering that smear specifically to their most strident and easily-fooled base: the Christian right. They know the relative IQ of their voters and they know just how to take advantage in an insidious, evil way (oh, I know, here I go being all elitist and all....).

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Liar, liar, pants on fire.

In today's Washington Post:

Newly obtained military records of one of Sen. John F. Kerry's most vocal critics, who has accused the Democratic presidential candidate of lying about his wartime record to win medals, contradict his own version of events.

In newspaper interviews and a best-selling book, Larry Thurlow, who commanded a Navy Swift boat alongside Kerry in Vietnam, has strongly disputed Kerry's claim that the Massachusetts Democrat's boat came under fire during a mission in Viet Cong-controlled territory on March 13, 1969. Kerry won a Bronze Star for his actions that day.

But Thurlow's military records, portions of which were released yesterday to The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act, contain several references to "enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire" directed at "all units" of the five-boat flotilla. Thurlow won his own Bronze Star that day, and the citation praises him for providing assistance to a damaged Swift boat "despite enemy bullets flying about him."

As one of five Swift boat skippers who led the raid up the Bay Hap River, Thurlow was a direct participant in the disputed events. He is also a leading member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a public advocacy group of Vietnam veterans dismayed by Kerry's subsequent antiwar activities, which has aired a controversial television advertisement attacking his war record.

In interviews and written reminiscences, Kerry has described how his 50-foot patrol boat came under fire from the banks of the Bay Hap after a mine explosion disabled another U.S. patrol boat. According to Kerry and members of his crew, the firing continued as an injured Kerry leaned over the bow of his ship to rescue a Special Forces officer who was blown overboard in a second explosion.

Last month, Thurlow swore in an affidavit that Kerry was "not under fire" when he fished Lt. James Rassmann out of the water. He described Kerry's Bronze Star citation, which says that all units involved came under "small arms and automatic weapons fire," as "totally fabricated."

Of course, chickenhawks Bush/Cheney/Rove can't directly attack Kerry's military service, so they must get some disgruntled, right-wing, less-than-scrupulous servicemen to do the dirty work.
RARITY WATCH: A Republican says Iraq a mistake.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Some proof that Mr. Greenspan is showing favoritism towards Bush (versus Clinton).

Stephen Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley, wrote the following:

Its (The Fed's) August 10 policy statement contained a very explicit forecast of better times ahead. Despite recent energy-related weakness, the FOMC maintained that “"(t)he economy nevertheless appears poised to resume a stronger pace of expansion going forward.”" It is very rare for America'’s normally reticent monetary authorities to make such an explicit forecast of the future. Just out of curiosity, we combed the archives back to 1994 (when the Fed first began to release such policy statements) and came up with only one earlier instance when the FOMC was equally explicit in articulating a forecast. It was in June 2002, when America’s post-bubble recovery was flagging once again. The Fed'’s press release after the June 26 meeting stated very clearly that “"(t)he Committee expects the rate of increase of final demand to pick up over coming quarters.”" Unfortunately, that was not one of the Fed’'s better calls. Final demand growth averaged an anemic 1.3% (annualized) in the second half of 2002, and a year later the federal funds rate had been lowered from 1.75% to 1.0%. Oops.

I've noticed and written about this trend before -- it's disturbing. The Fed is supposed to be a politically-neutral body and yet indications point otherwise. Don't forget, Greenspan is a longtime Republican.
Great article by Gregg Easterbrook at TNR. He discusses one of my favorite pet-peeves: SUV ownership. The issue symbolizes America's lack of willingness to sacrifice a bit for the sake of the country. By adamantly proclaiming one has the right to buy an SUV, one therefore guzzles gas, wastes energy, and increases our dependence on foreign oil.

Gregg writes:

The idea that there's a right to own a monstrous personal conveyance that wastes gasoline, causes road rage, and, most significantly from the public-good standpoint, increases traffic fatalities, is nonsense. (Studies show that SUVs not only raise total highway deaths, but that even those inside SUVs are more likely to die than those inside regular cars.) There's no doubt government has the power to regulate motor vehicles for public safety, pollution reduction, national energy policy, and for other issues appropriate to the general good. That government has largely failed to do so in the case of SUVs and the misnamed "light" pickup trucks is the fault of government, especially the Congress. The failure to regulate does not mean there is any inherent right to own unsafe mega-vehicles; it only means government has not regulated such machines properly. There was a time when government did not regulate private commerce in machine guns; this did not confer any protected right to own machine guns.

Great points.


Catching up with old reading: I came across Jonathan Chait's "Power from the People" in TNR and it is hands down one of the best written anti-Bush articles I've read all year. If you read this piece and remain unconvinced as to why we need regime change, then there's nothing more that can be done for you. I began to pluck out key sentences to copy here but realized I was basically plucking most of the article.

I'll at least list one, regarding the now infamous Medicare bill passage:

To ensure that it received proper credit for the new law, the Bush administration employed similarly unconventional means, hiring a pharmaceutical lobbyist to help sell it to distrustful voters. The advertising campaign included $9.5 million in TV advertising--which, astoundingly enough, was financed not by Bush's campaign, but by taxpayer dollars. Promotion of the law also involved the production of "video news releases," in which a "reporter"--actually, a p.r. agent--touted the virtues of the new Medicare law. The General Accounting Office (GAO) later concluded that the videos amounted to an illegal use of government money to produce propaganda, but not before 40 TV stations had already aired them.

Circulate this article to all of your Republican friends, ASAP.

I recently traded emails with a friend who is a big-time Nader supporter. She made the well-worn case for Nader (much of it we heard in 2000) and I thought I’d print my reply to her:

You make great points and like I said I'm sympathetic to your cause, but we apparently just differ on our opinion of what 4 more years of Bush & Co. will mean for this country. I can't stand to fathom what these crooks will do with 4 years & no re-election pressures to serve as some kind of restraint. By definition, you feel that if the country has to hit rock bottom before it can get cured that the assumption is the country will still at least be more or less the country we once knew. That may not be the case. You may describe yourself as a "radical liberal," well these lunatics running the country are ultra-ultra radical right-wing nutjobs and that said, the damage they may inflict on the country over the next 4 years may be irreversible. It's a bit too trite to use the "things need to get worse before they get better" axiom because to a point such a stance does not offer a sense of caring about the country. Again, I realize Ralph's intention, but I find it hard to believe he can't in some way wield significant influence WITHIN the Dem party, where he'd then be able to initiate change AND get it to have some real influence. As an example, think about the Supreme Court: what is Ralph's answer to at least 2 if not 3 justices on the Court who are just waiting for Bush to win so they can retire, and Bush would then install radical right-wing judges, who would serve for life. This majority radical right wing Supreme Court would in time change this country for generations to come.... And how much more do you think our environment can withstand if Bush were allowed to continue his backhanded dismantling of ALL environmental laws and regulations.....? Again, once the environment is harmed, or forests cleared, or regulations banished, it will be VERY difficult to have it bounce back -- THAT'S naive thinking.....

But hey, you stick with your boy Ralph.... I at least know that I did something credible to stop this madness.....

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

OK, so let me understand, we send 130,000 troops over to Iraq to occupy a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and has yet to produce any WMD, and yet Bush announces yesterday that we will move troops away from a region of the world that is home to an "Axis of Evil" country (North Korea) that we know possesses WMD, big time. Is it any wonder our allies have such a low opinion of our current leadership?

I’ve pointed out here before studies that support the contention that Rumsfeld miscalculated all along when it came to the number of troops needed to be sent to Iraq. Most estimates had the necessary troop number at 400K+. Bush & Rumsfeld attempted to conduct the operation “on the cheap,” ultimately jeopardizing the lives of the undermanned soldiers sent.

The Washington Post gets it right with today's editorial:

Once again Mr. Bush seeks to convince Americans that they can fight a global war on terrorism without the sacrifices that war normally entails. Already he has refused to shoulder fiscal responsibility for the military decisions he has made, sentencing the nation to growing deficits and punishing interest costs. As the war in Iraq turned nastier and lasted longer than he predicted, Mr. Bush refused to support a needed increase in the size of the Army, ensuring that the pain of his miscalculations would increasingly fall on active-duty, National Guard and reserve soldiers sent into combat for more and longer stretches than expected. Now, even as he warns of an unending battle against terrorists, he promises that "our service members will have more time on the home front."

The Post eventually concludes the right answer should be a dedication to recruiting more soldiers. I agree and would ask why the Pentagon does not refocus resources away from Star Wars-like missile defense systems and direct such largess to recruiting efforts. It’s obvious that if the future holds a constant state of alert (will we ever see the terror alert system drop to green or blue for a sustained duration? get real) than logic dictates to combat such threats will require more troop presence around the globe – not less. Note: “more troop presence” does not necessarily mean more wars. In fact, it’s supposed to translate into less chance for war (recall that the mere presence of a policeman is often enough to halt crime from ever occurring).
The first national comparison of test scores among children in charter schools and regular public schools shows charter school students often doing worse than comparable students in regular public schools.

The findings, buried in mountains of data the Education Department released without public announcement, dealt a blow to supporters of the charter school movement, including the Bush administration.

How will Republicans respond....? My guess: when they don't like the news item itself, they attack the messenger (in this case, the "pinko" NY Times). I pity these people.
From Col. David H. Hackworth's web site:

The stalwart Brown Water Navy warriors who fought at Kerry’s side say he was A-OK, which is good enough for me. The muckrakers such as John O’Neill and his Swiftboat snipers – who didn’t sail on his boat but served anywhere from 100 meters to 300 miles away – are now coming off like eyewitnesses when in fact not one of their testimonies would hold up in a court of law. A judge would call these men liars and disallow their biased statements.

I’ve been in a fair number of battles in my lifetime, first fighting for my country in several hot wars, then covering a dozen conflicts as a correspondent. And I’ve learned that if you can’t see the fight right up close, smell it, hear it and touch it, you can’t possibly bear witness.
Republicans very often like to point to a state’s right to govern over that of federal mandate (e.g. gay marriage, environmental laws, etc.). It will be interesting to see what they have to say, or do, about news that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will help his residents obtain drugs from abroad.

My guess is they will not take kindly to this move (and note it’s a growing movement among states). We all know what happened with the disastrous passed-at-3AM-in-the-morning Medicare bill. The GOP is riddled with big pharma lobby $$$. Get ready to hear more and more groundless hysterics about unsafe drugs from outside the U.S.

This issue classically frames just how much special interest money controls our government and worse yet, how our elected representatives frequently operate against our better interest.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez -- arch-nemesis and thorn in the side of GW -- apparently survived a popular referendum to oust him, winning the popular vote by nearly a 60/40 margin. With more than 8.5 million votes cast, it smashed the previous record for turnout. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, monitoring the election, said it was the largest turnout he'd ever seen.

I'm not exhaustively apprised of everything having to do with the Chavez/Bush conflict, however my initial reaction is it's a no-brainer that GW & Co. would despise this guy given what he stands for. Chavez is a champion of the poor and he has spent millions of dollars to teach adults to read (compare to GW's bogus No Child Left Behind), brought Cuban doctors to the slums, and granted loans to small farm and business owners. He has banned the cultivation of genetically modified crops, directly knocking out humongo-corporation Monsanto (would GW ever do anything like this??).

On top of this, it at least appears efforts were made to insure this election was a fair one (unlike say in our country in 2000). An electronic thumbprint ID system was used, which due to the sheer number of voters caused the closing of polls to be postponed (you think GW & Co. would've held polls open to insure all voters could vote?). Even Chavez himself initially experienced problems when attempting to vote for himself, having to move to another thumbprint machine.

Again, I haven't done a good deal of reading on Chavez, but if Bush is against him, he can't be all bad.
One source familiar with the investigation said Washington had stepped up pressure on Pakistani authorities to turn their latest leads into the capture of more high-level targets before the U.S. presidential election in November.
While soldiers continue to serve their tour of duty in Iraq, the contrast is striking when we look at our president's current "tour of duty," that of his "Ask President Bush" forums. It should be called the "Christian Suck-Up To George" love-in.

Get a load of this bracing "question":

"I'm 60 years old and I've voted Republican from the very first time I could vote. And I also want to say this is the very first time that I have felt that God was in the White House.''

"Thank you,'' Mr. Bush replied, to applause.

This sounds more like a forum that would've occurred for Napoleon!

A nice snippet of truth:

The result is often a love-in with heavily Christian crowds. Mr. Bush relaxes, shows off his humor and appears more human than in his sometimes tongue-tied and tense encounters with the press. He clearly relishes the sessions: As of this coming Wednesday in Wisconsin, Mr. Bush will have had 12 such campaign forums, which is one less than the number of solo news conferences he has had in three and a half years in the White House.