Thursday, September 30, 2004

And While You Were Sleeping Throug the Debate...

Thirty killed in Gaza battle:

In Israel's deepest thrust into the Gaza Strip in four years of conflict, 30 people have been killed in a single day of combat.

Among the dead are Palestinian militants, Israeli soldiers, and civilians on both sides. In the worst incident, at least seven Palestinians died when an Israeli tank fired a shell inside a crowded refugee camp.

Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, has ordered reinforcements into Gaza as part of a large-scale operation aimed at stopping Palestinian rocket attacks once and for all...
The only person who I heard begin to discuss this problem in the debate tonight was John Kerry. I truly believe that Kerry's position tends toward a Roadmap for Peace that can actually work, rather than the sham crafted by Bush-Sharon, LLC (a subsidiary of BushCo, Inc.).

I understand how volatile this topic is - but it's absolutely paramount to solving the problems in the middle east. Do I think John Kerry is much more capable of solving the problem (or at least even recognizing a problem exists) than Chimpy McCokespoon?

Do you even have to ask?

Post Debate Discussion

Get your spin on!

Open Debate Thread

Discuss & dissect what the SCLM is already characterizing (1/2 hour before the start of the debate) as a "terribly damaging Kerry loss".

Branding Suggestion for Kerry in the Debate Tonight

Cakewalk to Baghdad

It's how it was promoted, yes? Nu? It would be a cakewalk to take out the villian Saddam Hussein. That's what "they" said. Richard's post below points up how it was plainly not so. So my question is, will John Kerry talk about this in the foreign policy-oriented debate tonight? I personally want to see him rip the Little Twig to sunder on his administration's arrogance and ineptitude regarding Iraq. (It goes without saying that I was opposed to "the war" from the get-go) But, I'm betting Kerry won't.

Your bonus for getting this far is a link to Country Joe McDonald's new song: "Cakewalk to Baghdad"
(click at left to hear) . These are the men who gave us the "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" in the late 1960s. The download for the song is at the left margin of the page. Here are the lyrics. (It's Real Player format. You can convert it to MP3 or 4 if you have the right sound editing software.)

Lyrics are here:
"I remember back, before we whacked Iraq
I was watching the news, were we gonna attack?
A man named Richard Perle came on and talked
He said going to Baghdad would be a cakewalk

Cakewalk to Baghdad,
Cakewalk to Baghdad

It went real easy,
Took a couple of weeks
Tore down that statue
Set those Saddamites free
The Frogs and the Krauts, they feel real bad,
They missed out cakewalkin' into Baghdad

Cakewalk to Baghdad,
Cakewalk to Baghdad

Next we're gonna cakewalk into Teheran,
Gonna cakewalk to Damascus and Pyong-yin-yang
When we strut on in,
Everybody's gonna cheer
They'll be wavin' old glory,
We'll have kegs of beer, just like that...

Cakewalk to Baghdad,
Cakewalk to Baghdad

Cakewalk to Baghdad,
Cakewalk to Baghdad

Now moms and dads don't worry 'bout
Your soldier boys and girls
We're just sending them cakewalkin'
Around the world
When the coffins come home and the flag unfurls
Cheer for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Perle

Cakewalk to Baghdad,
Cakewalk to Baghdad

Do you think we'll see those Bush boys patrollin' the streets
Like our soldiers got to do in Basram and Tikrit?
We gonna see Richard Perle cakewakin' 'round
The streets and alleys of Baghdad town?

Cakewalk to Baghdad,
Cakewalk to Baghdad
Easy to cakewalk in ... not so easy to cakewalk out."
As my 76-year old dad says: "I want those lying bastards out."

A Marine's Eye View

Steve Brozak is an ex-Marine Iraq war vet, who returned to face not an ungrateful nation, but a totally disengaged government and administration who he characterizes as "criminal in terms of its inept management". He was so pissed, he took on the herculean task of trying to unseat a popular Republican congressman in a particularly conservative district in New Jersey.

And he has a fighting chance.

You can read Steve's complete story at (suck it up and view the ad so you get a free view) - it's a very important story and really illustrates the true nature of the situation in Iraq, both today and during the immediate post-invasion occupation.

Most of all, what the Salon story illustrates is the absolute disdain the desk monkeys in the Pentagon have for the men and women on the ground in Iraq. Here's a short excerpt:

Meanwhile, the situation on the ground shocked him. 'The number of people there and how they were prepared in terms of equipment and training was, across the board, criminal in terms of its inept management,' he says. He saw the potential for calamity. 'What we are faced with today is our active duty force stretched to the breaking point,' he says. 'The National Guard and reserve systems are broken, possibly beyond repair. We are staring down the barrel of the draft.'

'Do the math,' he continues. 'How many people do we need going forward? How many people do we have? Where are these bodies coming from?' When Brozak returned from the Middle East to his post in Arlington, Va., he tried to alert civilians in the Defense Department to the trouble on the ground.

But, he says, they were uninterested. 'It was that same arrogant, contemptuous attitude. When I came back and said we have a problem, we need to address it right away, we are fighting for our lives, their attitude was, 'We know better than you do.' It was their contempt for the people in uniform, it was their contempt for all Americans' that finally drove him out of the Republican Party.

In fact, Brozak says, Republicans' contempt for soldiers -- coupled with their mawkish reverence for the military in the abstract -- had been bothering him for a while. He first started souring on his party when the Bush team smeared John McCain during the 2000 primaries; he was outraged by the 2002 attacks against Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, who was tarred as a traitorous ally of Osama bin Laden despite the fact that he lost three limbs serving in Vietnam...
Again, great article from someone who's actually been on the ground fighting in Iraq, and knows the true deal - not only on Iraq, but the chickenhawk bastards that put us there.

Debate Thread

I'm just going to keep adding to this thread during the day with little tidbits and items I find...if you find something of particular interest, note it in the comments.

For your debate viewing pleasure tonight: Presidential Debate Bingo!

Buzzflash Editorial: What Debate?

Krugman: Swagger -vs- Substance

Duel: Bowling Balls at 2 Paces

Franken Challenges O'Reilly to Bowling:

NEW YORK - Who's the kingpin, Al Franken or Bill O'Reilly? If Franken had his way, the answer would be decided with a bowling ball.

On his radio show Wednesday, the satirist-commentator challenged the Fox News commentator to a 'friendly' bowling match...

Another Dispatch from Bizarro World

Russia - a virtual dictatorship and real world garbage dump for some of the nastiest environmental contaminents and biohazards known to mankind - can approve the Kyoto Protocol.

The Bush Administration guts clean air regulations, allowing a quantum increase in mercury emissions, and thumbs its collective nose at the Kyoto Protocol.

What's wrong with this picture??:

Russia's Cabinet approved the Kyoto Protocol on global warming Thursday, clearing the way for the worldwide adoption of the document once the Russian parliament ratifies it as widely expected.

BushCo Gets One Right!

...but we've heard this story before. Remember before Iraqi sovereignty turnover puppet regime installation, we were told to expect that "violence would ramp up" before Jerry Bremer snuck out of Baghdad two days early under the cover of darkness? Damn. They got one right.

And it's kept ramping up. And up. And up. In fact, it's fair to say that violence hasn't ramped down since the first day that tanks and embedded reporters rolled into Iraq from the Kuwaiti border in March, 2003.

Journalists will no longer venture outside of their hotels, so we should have no false illusions that we're getting anywhere close to the correct story. The scribes that do take the chance to wander the streets are wearing flack jackets and taking personal body guards. The media relies on reports from local stringers and cameramen.

Even Ayad Allawi wouldn't travel beyond the nearest bar in the Green Zone™ without a convoy and body doubles. Still, he's the guy that says violence is "isolated to a few provinces". Yeah. It sure looks like a few provinces. Like all of them. 30 days, 2368 attacks.

And now, the occupation forces and their Washington (and Baghdad) masters are diminishing expectations again, saying, "violence will ramp up prior to elections".

(Which one? Theirs or ours?)

If you think about it, warnings that "violence will ramp up" are pretty specious, because such pronouncements would imply that violence ever ramped down. It's been an ever upward spiral.

Now, comes word this morning that dozens of people have been killed in multiple car bombings around Iraq, the most serious targeting a U.S. military convoy. No word yet on the nationality of the injured, but I think it's fair to speculate that since a U.S. military convoy was targeted, U.S. troops were probably killed. How many? It depends on how quick U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte can get in touch with Minister of Defense Rumsfeld and Vice Chancellor Cheney to figure out the spin (or change clothing on the bodies) in advance of tonight's foreign policy debate between John Kerry and G.W. McJesus.

So, here's my question for tonight's debate: "Mr. pResident, when can we expect the violence in Iraq to ramp down?"

Update, 9:45A:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - At least three bombs exploded near a U.S. convoy in western Baghdad on Thursday, killing 34 children and three adults, a hospital official said. Hours earlier, a suicide car bombing killed a U.S. soldier and two Iraqis on the capital's outskirts.

It was unclear if the bombs — which also wounded 137 people, including 10 U.S. soldiers — targeted the convoy or a ceremony marking the opening of a new sewage system in the neighborhood that was taking place at the same time. Also unknown was the nationalities of the casualties or whether there were U.S. soldiers among the dead.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Another Republican Defection to Kerry

And another Republican lamenting what his party has become. I lament it as well. I used to know of many good Republican politicians. Now the list is very small. Richard Lugar, Olympia Snowe? Name a few if you can, in those comments below, willya?

Oh, the defector? Also a son of a Republican President. So that makes two sons of Republican Presidents voting for Kerry, Ron Reagan and John Eisenhower. Hey, and I wouldn't count out Jack Ford.
Here's the announcement.

An Interim "Thank You!!"

A sincere "THANK YOU!!!" to the following blogs for hooking up to ASZ's "DCCC-F9/11 Marathon" (as culled from Technorati):

If you're a blogger, we'd appreciate a hookup to the "DCCC-F9/11 Marathon", and we'd be more than happy to recognize your contribution!

Remember, all affiliate proceeds from every purchase of Fahrenheit 9/11 are being donated to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to fund last-minute pushes by progressive congressional candidates in competitive districts. More details here.

Distrust Abounds

Another one of those "duh" moments for the media.

Poll Shows U.S. Distrust of Politicians 'Epidemic'

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Americans' distrust of politicians and business leaders has reached an "epidemic" level, driven by the Iraq war, the disputed 2000 presidential election and financial scandals, a Reuters/DecisionQuest poll revealed on Wednesday.

The nationwide telephone survey of 1,100 adults found 61 percent of Americans had lost faith in leaders and institutions over the past four years...(more)
Yet a majority of 'muricans still apparently support Chimpy McFlightsuit. I just don't get it. Where's the disconnect??

Philadelphia Weekly Endorses Kerry

No real surprise in this...but again...a strongly worded rebuke of Bush in endorsing Kerry:

...Bush feels free to step on people's dignity. In the case of gay people, he proposed a hollow and meanspirited amendment to the Constitution that he knew had no chance of passing. In the case of nonwhite immigrants, he stomps on civil liberties ruthlessly in the name of homeland security.

He unthinkingly mocks the values of working people. He gives tax breaks to the rich and to corporations that believe profit margins are a means to an end. To those who work for a living, he sells the lie that things are good and getting better by the moment.

He's robbed us of our empathetic character. He says little to nothing on our behalf about the genocide in Sudan or the heartbreak in Haiti or the AIDS epidemic worldwide. Instead, he raises the specter of the evildoers every chance he gets.
It's easier, it's simpler, it preys on fears.

It makes him feel big and makes us feel small...
He not only makes us feel small - he actually makes us small, every day that he continues to occupy the White House.


"American forces and Iraqi police continued raids on insurgents in the Baghad slum of Sadr City..."

How many times have you read or heard a very similar statement over the past month or so? Quite a few, I'd venture.

It's all part of the government / media manipulation of U.S. public perception of the 'war'. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Iraqis have died in this particular neighborhood of Baghdad in the past 18 months.

But it doesn't resonate with most Americans. First, it's half a world away. Second, the word "insurgent" has become a code word for "any brown people not like us". Third, it's happening in a slum.

What's happening in Sadr City might as well be happening in South Central L.A. (California), or Harlem (NYC), or Little Havana (Miami). You know why? 90 percent of Americans could care less what happens in those slums, either. It's brown (or black) poor people who cause nothing but trouble and suck on Uncle Sam's teat.

And there you have the lense through which the average American views the operations in Sadr City.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Ann Richards, another of my long-time favorite women

And you know, Hulkette and I don't like just any old politician, woman or man. But from my overlook far from Texas I've liked what I've seen and heard about Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, for many years. She lost her bid for reelection to Georgie Boy, and as I remember it, their debates factored in (along with the unmentioned Bush Cabal wheeling and dealing that is).

She has some words of wisdom, bred of experience, for Kerry in the upcoming debates.

Read. You'll like.
Excerpt: "Kerry, like Richards and other Democrats who have faced Bush in past debates, probably knows too much.

"As a consequence, we see issues in less simplistic terms than the president. The president speaks in terms that are so simple on the most complex issues that it sort of leaves you with your mouth hanging open," says Richards, who was unseated by Bush 10 years ago this fall."

I Understand...

...where billmon is coming from with this image...

If you don't, then you're just not paying attention.

The Hurricane Didn't Get Me

My building is in that picture, though pretty far away. Anyway, folks, I am back, though posting may be few and far between for another week. I need to throw out a bunch of carpet tomorrow, for one thing. And there is that Chicago trip this weekend.

I loved the Crawford Texas stuff, Richard. But I've not read everything here. It's odd. I feel almost compelled to post a link or something. I certainly need a laugh. So how is

George Orwell Requests Your Presence

Say No to a National ID Card

Oh My Goodness

How in the hell did I miss this?

Text of Bush speech, 9/28/04:

"In a different kind of war, we had to recognize that we're not facing a nation; we're facing a group of people who have adopted an ideology of hatred and love to find places where they can hide. They're like parasites. They kind of leech on to a host and hope the host weakens over time so they can eventually become the host. That's why I said to the Taliban in Afghanistan: Get rid of al Qaeda; see, you're harboring al Qaeda. Remember this is a place where they trained -- al Qaeda trained thousands of people in Afghanistan. And the Taliban, I guess, just didn't believe me. And as a result of the United States military, Taliban no longer is in existence. And the people of Afghanistan are now free. (Applause.) In other words when you say something as President you better make it clear so everybody understands what you're saying, and you better mean what you say. And I meant what I said. (Applause.)"

I am awestruck. Literally. And I don't mean that in a just-saw-Britney-walking-naked-down-the-street kind of awestruck.

This is wrong (actually, the whole speech is wrong) on so many levels. And I don't mean just morally wrong. Or bullshitting wrong. We're talking fundamental, real world, basic facts wrong.

Fortunately, Team Kerry responds...

Obliging Sukabi

A bit earlier this afternoon, I posted a snippet of an Associated Press article about an editorial in George Bush's hometown newspaper, the Lone Star Iconoclast. The editorial is an early endorsement of John Kerry.

When I posted the original link and brief commentary, it was just a quick hit on my part between tasks at my day job - I read the AP piece, and just thought it was kind of funny. Heh. A weekly newspaper from Crawford, Texas not endorsing its hometown boy. And I kind of blew it off from there. After all, according to AP, the Iconoclast doesn't exactly have a huge readership, with a circulation of 425. I know of "neighborhood watch" newsletters that have a larger readership.

So, in my own prejudice of the piece (formed by AP's pooh-poohing), I pictured in my mind's eye a post-high school kid running a scaled down version of "Shopper's Gazette". I didn't figure there would be a lot of great editorializing going on.

Then, along comes ASZ reader (and frequent commenter) Sukabi. In the comments to the original posting below, Sukabi said, "Richard, you should really link to the original editorial for this piece. It's great, and well worth reading the entire thing. They lay everything on the table." We've got such a great group of regulars here, that I figured there was something to it. So I clicked over on the link to the Iconoclast that Sukabi provided.

Sukabi understated "well worth reading" - another of our regulars, NEPAJim, said it should be required reading for all 'Muricans. After reading it, I agree.

Here's a link to the original Iconoclast editorial that endorses John Kerry, and cuts to the core of why George Bush is wrong for America. But I'm not going to make you click through. No, no, no. You get to read it, right here, right now. If no one on ASZ blogged another post between now and November 2, this would be topping on the ice cream that blogging on All Spin Zone has been for me:

The Lone Star ICONOCLAST - Editorial, Opinion of the Publishers
Kerry Will RestoreAmerican Dignity - 2004 Iconoclast Presidential Endorsement

Few Americans would have voted for George W. Bush four years ago if he had promised that, as President, he would:

• Empty the Social Security trust fund by $507 billion to help offset fiscal irresponsibility and at the same time slash Social Security benefits.

• Cut Medicare by 17 percent and reduce veterans’ benefits and military pay.

• Eliminate overtime pay for millions of Americans and raise oil prices by 50 percent.

• Give tax cuts to businesses that sent American jobs overseas, and, in fact, by policy encourage their departure.

• Give away billions of tax dollars in government contracts without competitive bids.

• Involve this country in a deadly and highly questionable war, and

• Take a budget surplus and turn it into the worst deficit in the history of the United States, creating a debt in just four years that will take generations to repay.

These were elements of a hidden agenda that surfaced only after he took office.

The publishers of The Iconoclast endorsed Bush four years ago, based on the things he promised, not on this smoke-screened agenda.

Today, we are endorsing his opponent, John Kerry, based not only on the things that Bush has delivered, but also on the vision of a return to normality that Kerry says our country needs.

Four items trouble us the most about the Bush administration: his initiatives to disable the Social Security system, the deteriorating state of the American economy, a dangerous shift away from the basic freedoms established by our founding fathers, and his continuous mistakes regarding terrorism and Iraq.

President Bush has announced plans to change the Social Security system as we know it by privatizing it, which when considering all the tangents related to such a change, would put the entire economy in a dramatic tailspin.

The Social Security Trust Fund actually lends money to the rest of the government in exchange for government bonds, which is how the system must work by law, but how do you later repay Social Security while you are running a huge deficit? It’s impossible, without raising taxes sometime in the future or becoming fiscally responsible now. Social Security money is being used to escalate our deficit and, at the same time, mask a much larger government deficit, instead of paying down the national debt, which would be a proper use, to guarantee a future gain.

Privatization is problematic in that it would subject Social Security to the ups, downs, and outright crashes of the Stock Market. It would take millions in brokerage fees and commissions out of the system, and, unless we have assurance that the Ivan Boeskys and Ken Lays of the world will be caught and punished as a deterrent, subject both the Market and the Social Security Fund to fraud and market manipulation, not to mention devastate and ruin multitudes of American families that would find their lives lost to starvation, shame, and isolation.

Kerry wants to keep Social Security, which each of us already owns. He says that the program is manageable, since it is projected to be solvent through 2042, with use of its trust funds. This would give ample time to strengthen the economy, reduce the budget deficit the Bush administration has created, and, therefore, bolster the program as needed to fit ever-changing demographics.

Our senior citizens depend upon Social Security. Bush’s answer is radical and uncalled for, and would result in chaos as Americans have never experienced. Do we really want to risk the future of Social Security on Bush by spinning the wheel of uncertainty?

In those dark hours after the World Trade Center attacks, Americans rallied together with a new sense of patriotism. We were ready to follow Bush’s lead through any travail.

He let us down.

When he finally emerged from his hide-outs on remote military bases well after the first crucial hours following the attack, he gave sound-bytes instead of solutions.

He did not trust us to be ready to sacrifice, build up our public and private security infrastructure, or cut down on our energy use to put economic pressure on the enemy in all the nations where he hides. He merely told us to shop, spend, and pretend nothing was wrong.

Rather than using the billions of dollars expended on the invasion of Iraq to shore up our boundaries and go after Osama bin Laden and the Saudi Arabian terrorists, the funds were used to initiate a war with what Bush called a more immediate menace, Saddam Hussein, in oil-rich Iraq. After all, Bush said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction trained on America. We believed him, just as we believed it when he reported that Iraq was the heart of terrorism.

We trusted him.

The Iconoclast, the President’s hometown newspaper, took Bush on his word and editorialized in favor of the invasion. The newspaper’s publisher promoted Bush and the invasion of Iraq to Londoners in a BBC interview during the time that the administration was wooing the support of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Again, he let us down.

We presumed the President had solid proof of the existence of these weapons, what and where they were, even as the search continued. Otherwise, our troops would be in much greater danger and the premise for a hurried-up invasion would be moot, allowing more time to solicit assistance from our allies.

Instead we were duped into following yet another privileged agenda.

Now he argues unconvincingly that Iraq was providing safe harbor to terrorists, his new key justification for the invasion. It is like arguing that America provided safe harbor to terrorists leading to 9/11.

Once and for all, George Bush was President of the United States on that day. No one else. He had been President nine months, he had been officially warned of just such an attack a full month before it happened. As President, ultimately he and only he was responsible for our failure to avert those attacks.

We should expect that a sitting President would vacation less, if at all, and instead tend to the business of running the country, especially if he is, as he likes to boast, a “wartime president.” America is in service 365 days a year. We don’t need a part-time President who does not show up for duty as Commander-In-Chief until he is forced to, and who is in a constant state of blameless denial when things don’t get done.

What has evolved from the virtual go-it-alone conquest of Iraq is more gruesome than a stain on a White House intern’s dress. America’s reputation and influence in the world has diminished, leaving us with brute force as our most persuasive voice.

Iraq is now a quagmire: no WMDs, no substantive link between Saddam and Osama, and no workable plan for the withdrawal of our troops. We are asked to go along on faith. But remember, blind patriotism can be a dangerous thing and “spin” will not bring back to life a dead soldier; certainly not a thousand of them.

Kerry has remained true to his vote granting the President the authority to use the threat of war to intimidate Saddam Hussein into allowing weapons inspections. He believes President Bush rushed into war before the inspectors finished their jobs.

Kerry also voted against President Bush’s $87 billion for troop funding because the bill promoted poor policy in Iraq, privileged Halliburton and other corporate friends of the Bush administration to profiteer from the war, and forced debt upon future generations of Americans.

Kerry’s four-point plan for Iraq is realistic, wise, strong, and correct. With the help from our European and Middle Eastern allies, his plan is to train Iraqi security forces, involve Iraqis in their rebuilding and constitution-writing processes, forgive Iraq’s multi-billion dollar debts, and convene a regional conference with Iraq’s neighbors in order to secure a pledge of respect for Iraq’s borders and non-interference in Iraq’s internal affairs.

The publishers of the Iconoclast differ with Bush on other issues, including the denial of stem cell research, shortchanging veterans’ entitlements, cutting school programs and grants, dictating what our children learn through a thought-controlling “test” from Washington rather than allowing local school boards and parents to decide how young people should be taught, ignoring the environment, and creating extraneous language in the Patriot Act that removes some of the very freedoms that our founding fathers and generations of soldiers fought so hard to preserve.

We are concerned about the vast exportation of jobs to other countries, due in large part to policies carried out by Bush appointees. Funds previously geared at retention of small companies are being given to larger concerns, such as Halliburton — companies with strong ties to oil and gas. Job training has been cut every year that Bush has resided at the White House.

Then there is his resolve to inadequately finance Homeland Security and to cut the Community Oriented Policing Program (COPS) by 94 percent, to reduce money for rural development, to slash appropriations for the Small Business Administration, and to under-fund veterans’ programs.

Likewise troubling is that President Bush fought against the creation of the 9/11 Commission and is yet to embrace its recommendations.

Vice President Cheney’s Halliburton has been awarded multi-billion-dollar contracts without undergoing any meaningful bid process — an enormous conflict of interest — plus the company has been significantly raiding the funds of Export-Import Bank of America, reducing investment that could have gone toward small business trade.

When examined based on all the facts, Kerry’s voting record is enviable and echoes that of many Bush allies who are aghast at how the Bush administration has destroyed the American economy. Compared to Bush on economic issues, Kerry would be an arch-conservative, providing for Americans first. He has what it takes to right our wronged economy.

The re-election of George W. Bush would be a mandate to continue on our present course of chaos. We cannot afford to double the debt that we already have. We need to be moving in the opposite direction.

John Kerry has 30 years of experience looking out for the American people and can navigate our country back to prosperity and re-instill in America the dignity she so craves and deserves. He has served us well as a highly decorated Vietnam veteran and has had a successful career as a district attorney, lieutenant governor, and senator.

Kerry has a positive vision for America, plus the proven intelligence, good sense, and guts to make it happen.

That’s why The Iconoclast urges Texans not to rate the candidate by his hometown or even his political party, but instead by where he intends to take the country.

The Iconoclast wholeheartedly endorses John Kerry.
I got caught in the trap this afternoon in which many, many Americans have been snared. I read the AP blowoff article. And I blew off researching the subject of the AP article. I guess in my own defense, I was at work and didn't have the time. But I can't really say even if I had discovered the AP story this evening that I would have dug much further. I took it as the piece I posted below. A funny little story.

I learned a valuable lesson today.

FYI - SpinDentist

Just got off the phone with SpinDentist's fiancé, and he's doing OK down in FLA. Still without power, and took some water damage from upper floors in the complex where he lives. He'll be on the road this weekend to the Bears / Eagles game, and his fiancé said he's looking forward to a hot shower and A/C.

Just thought you'd like to know!

Crawford, Tx. Newspaper Endorses Kerry

You just know this has to piss off Darth Rove and Chimpy McFlightsuit:

CRAWFORD, Texas - A tiny weekly newspaper that bills itself as President Bush's hometown paper has endorsed John Kerry for president, saying the Massachusetts senator will restore American dignity.

Take Action

If you haven't heard by now, there's a move afoot by Ohio GOP Secretary of State Ken Blackwell to quash voter registrations because they didn't meet paperstock requirements. Now, we've heard some creative excuses for denying a qualified person the right to vote, but this about takes the cake. Here are the details, and two ways you can take action to protest this ridiculous ruling.

New Democratic voter registrations are up 250% in Ohio. Democrats throughout the "Buckeye State" are prepared to turn out in record numbers to demand change on November 2nd in federal, state and local elections.

With only 6 days left before the voter registration deadline, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is trying to bar thousands of newly registered voters from the polls.

Citing an arcane ruling requiring voter registration cards be printed on 80 pound paper stock, Blackwell is threatening to void registrations submitted on any other paper, demanding these registrants re-apply. But there is no time to reapply which could leave thousands of new voters off the rolls.

Tens of thousands of Ohioans have registered online or with registration forms printed in newspapers, copied by friends, community activists, and even state offices. These are valid applications that must be processed immediately.

We've known all along that Republicans were going to play hardball with new registrations this year. Secretaries of State are supposed to empower voters, not disenfranchise them. There are two easy actions that ASZ readers can do to protest this obvious ploy to disenfranchise voters:

  1. Sign the ACT petition.

  2. Write or call Mr. Blackwell, and ask him why an African American such as himself would want to disenfranchise a largely minority population from voting. Here's the address, phone number, and email:

    J. Kenneth Blackwell-R
    180 E. Broad St., 15th Floor
    Columbus, OH 43215



WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Health insurance premiums for workers are rising around three times faster than their wages, and health costs eat up a quarter of earnings for more than 14 million Americans, according to a survey on Tuesday.

Seven Day DCCC Marathon Continues...

ASZ's seven day DCCC fundraising marathon continues until Friday, October 1...

Fahrenheit 9/11 is coming out on DVD in 10 days
. There's been a lot of buzz that the DVD "extras" will be even more explosive than the film itself.

Listen, you know you're going to buy it anyway when it comes out. So why not let your purchase work for progressive candidates? All affiliate proceeds received from your purchase of F9/11 (or any other videos you buy when clicking on the link below) will be donated to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

More details here.

Again, you know you're going to buy the DVD anyway. Would you rather give your money to the GOP-backing Walton clan at Wal-Mart, or a megastore like Best Buy, or would you rather make your purchase work for progressive candidates? The choice is pretty simple.

We have an aggressive goal of pre-ordering 1000 units between now and October 1st. The biggest need for campaign cash in competitive districts is going to be between October 1 and November 1. The DCCC needs your help. Show them the power of even a third string progressive blog by clicking here.

Realism from the Middle East

King Abdullah II of Jordan gets it. If any country, or any person, in the world has their pulse on the overall situation in the middle east (by absolute geographic necessity), it's Abdullah and Jordan.

Jordan's King: Iraq Elections Impossible:

PARIS - Jordan's King Abdullah II said in an interview published Tuesday that if elections are held in Iraq amid the current violence, extremists will be the victors, and he warned that he sees no chance for improvement in Iraq in the short term.

Abdullah, who met with President Jacques Chirac in Paris on Tuesday, told the daily Le Figaro that it 'seems impossible to organize indisputable elections in the chaos of Iraq today,' but he noted that Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is determined to go ahead with the vote, scheduled for late January.

'If elections take place in the current disorder, the best organized faction will be the extremists,' Abdullah said. 'The results will reflect this advantage of the extremists. In such a scenario, there will be no chance that the situation gets better.' ...

Losing My Voice but Remembering Emerson

I worry sometimes when I go what seems to me too long in-between postings at ASZ. I worry about a lot of things. Did I mention that my husband is grinding his teeth again during the night? Big deal, eh? I know I am not the Lone Ranger of Worry here on the Happy Planet. But, damnit... I have not miraculously transcended this place and time, nor has the Mother Ship signaled that I should head for the appointed rendezvous place ... yet. I'm spending about equal amounts of time keeping up with current events on-line and playing mindless games of skill. I read the blogs that are now supposedly shambling toward decrepitude (or so goes the pronouncement). I go to work. I even cracked Kevin Phillips' American Dynasty on Sunday. I put my head down and do what I need to do. That's how we phrase it in my family. I read once that the "enlightened life" is like that. Cowabunga!

So after a short CRT-light-bathed nap tonight, I have Ralph Waldo Emerson and the American Transcendentalists on my mind, so to speak. (self-psychological analysis ... seeking that transcendence mentioned above) I won't provide you with any pithy commentary on Emerson, just show you what I needed to remind myself tonight.
Emerson on Politics:
"Gold and iron are good
To buy iron and gold;
All earth's fleece and food
For their like are sold.
Boded Merlin wise,
Proved Napoleon great, —
Nor kind nor coinage buys
Aught above its rate.
Fear, Craft, and Avarice
Cannot rear a State.
Out of dust to build
What is more than dust, —
Walls Amphion piled
Phoebus stablish must.
When the Muses nine
With the Virtues meet,
Find to their design
An Atlantic seat,
By green orchard boughs
Fended from the heat,
Where the statesman ploughs
Furrow for the wheat;
When the Church is social worth,
When the state-house is the hearth,
Then the perfect State is come,
The republican at home."

Continue here (scroll down) for his essay on politics from 1844: Essay VII

Excerpt: "But the wise know that foolish legislation is a rope of sand, which perishes in the twisting; that the State must follow, and not lead the character and progress of the citizen; the strongest usurper is quickly got rid of; and they only who build on Ideas, build for eternity; and that the form of government which prevails, is the expression of what cultivation exists in the population which permits it."

I so love the fingertip libraryness of the Internet. When I remind myself of All Things Good, the Internet comes in just behind, my husband, my children, sunsets, trees, eyes, books, and ... ketchup. You can find the Transcendentalists here at

Monday, September 27, 2004

You Have the Right to Remain Silent - For Now

We spend a lot of time here on ASZ discussing various life-and-death issues, and like to think that we occasionally provide some comic relief (and well placed outrage) in an otherwise excruciating presidential campaign. Kate and I have gone back and forth time and again (as have some of the rest of us) talking about the reality of politics. Demoplicans. Republocrats. Jackasses of different colors, but still jackasses. Hope and fear. Yada, yada.

There's one issue that's received next to no discussion on ASZ, and I suppose that's simply because none of us feel terribly comfortable addressing the judiciary. I won't claim any expertise in the topic, but I carry a whole lot of opinions on the subject matter. In that regard, I suppose I'm no different than anyone else.

We all know what happened in 2000. We've seen Al Gore play 'surrender monkey' after the Supreme Court of the United States, a court that was stacked by 41, chose 43. We're coming perilously close to seeing 50 years of progressive legislation and legal interpretation overturned. And if George Bush is re-selected, it's almost a stone cold certainty that he'll be replacing possibly two, and as many as three Supreme Court Justices, including the Chief Justice.

Yes, it's a scary thought. Of all the potential ramifications of this election, perhaps the judiciary is the single most important issue. Because if Bush stacks the SCOTUS, it could literally be another 100 years before a progressive majority makes it back to the bench. In other words, more than anything, even 4 more wars, George Bush has the chance to leave a lasting legacy -- a legacy which would turn back the clock 100 years on civil rights, women's rights, environmental law, equal protection, labor law, and a host of other progressive initiatives and constitutional interpretations.

I hope our readers have some learned opinions to share on this issue - like I admitted, I'm not really a legal eagle, but even as a layperson I understand that four more years of George Bush would truly wreak havoc on the Judicial Branch.

Here's an AP article on the topic to get you started.

Update, 9/28/04, 10:15AM: If you need any reminders on how important this issue is, Digby reminds us.

Pain At the Pump

I noticed when I filled up over the weekend that pump prices have risen more than a nickel over the past few days.

Reuters: Oil hits record on Nigeria fears

I said in March that this would be a core issue in the election. I would expect the Kerry campaign to be focusing some effort on this in the next week or so once the "foreign policy" debate is completed this coming Thursday.

Billmon Speaks

Over this past weekend, on opposite coasts of the U.S., two major publications addressed the issue of blogs and their impact this year on the quadrennial election process. The New York Times Magazine ran an article on the impact of political blogs that was written (mostly) before the Killian memo fiasco. The LA Times featured a piece written by my mentor, Billmon, of Whiskey Bar.

Billmon posits that the leading blogs on the left have 'sold out' in their quest for advertising dollars to sustain viability. He also (in a backhanded way) questions the motivation of a few select bloggers who have moved into writing their blogs for 'mainstream publications' (eg. Kevin Drum, Matt Yglesias) and believes that moving into the mainstream dulls the edge of the knife, so to speak.

I don't know that I completely agree on either point. But in a larger sense, I agree that the independent nature of blogs such as ASZ is what makes them a valuable resource - kind of gatekeeping (or one stop shopping) for both opinion and links to what are sometimes non-mainstream sources. The whole 'indy' concept is to make participants think outside the box. Billmon's line of thinking is that if, as a blogger, you're beholden to some corporate or advertiser interests, then you lose the independence and ability to put forth bleeding edge views.

Maybe. I'll let Atrios, Kos, and Steve Gilliard argue that point. But I think Billmon misses the bigger picture. The reason why blogs such as Kos and Eschaton are able to thrive is ad revenue that their respective owners are seeing. This certainly allows (if not motivates) both Kos and Atrios to devote a large part of their day in maintaining their blogs, 24 X 7 X 365. What's the alternative? Certainly, I don't expect the Sierra Club or the Brookings Institute to be offering either Kos or Atrios fellowships to continue their important work.

Whiskey Bar thrived because of Billmon's unique perspective and ability to "long form blog" - in other words, create his own content rather than relying on the relay method of blogging. Whiskey Bar was kind of the template for ASZ, but what we've done here is kind of merge the concepts behind Whiskey Bar and a place like Eschaton. Some long form blogging, interspersed with links to other places. That's the space that most successful blogs seem to occupy.

Billmon long resisted the urge to take Whiskey Bar "commercial". I'm sure he had many offers and opportunities to do so. At ASZ, we really didn't have such aspirations when we started this loose confederation of like-minded progressives, and no one (to the best of my knowledge, anyway) has offered either myself, Doc, or Kate a 6 figure fellowship to continue our bloviating here. That's why it's kind of sporadic. Again, a labor of love, an outlet for our individual outrages and a desire to contribute something meaningful to the overall discourse is what drives the contributors at ASZ.

Will we be here after the election? I know I will be. But one thing I certainly anticipate - ASZ will change and evolve in response to the issues in which we deal. I hope Billmon will again join the fray, and that his somewhat negative view of both the left and right "sellouts" is tempered a bit after silly season passes.

tBLOG - Pourquoi pas?

Shamelessly stolen from WhyNot? at tBLOG:

Aw, Dude!, the Sequel

(Thanks to The Blatant Truth and Liz at BlondeSense for pointing me there...and a gentle reminder, dude, you can't run to Canada anymore when your number is called...)

(Yeah, so I bumped this to the top. Sue me. But forward to all of your "slacker" contacts while you're filing the writ.)

Sunday, September 26, 2004

A Lifetime of Service

In Fahrenheit 9/11, you're given all the reasons in the world why George Bush should be shown the door in 2004.

In a new DVD release, "Going Upriver", you're given all the reasons in the world why John Kerry is so unquestionably qualified to lead this country. Here's the scoop:

Acclaimed director George Butler (Pumping Iron) takes an inside look at Senator John Kerry's tour of duty in Vietnam, his contributions to the peace movement that followed, and how those experiences came to shape his future political career. Based on the best-selling book Tour of Duty by Douglas Brinkley.
And more good news: order either one (or both) and ASZ's affiliate proceeds from your purchase are donated directly to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to fund progressive candidates in competitive districts.

Not one dime goes in the pockets of any of the ASZ bloggers - we've all got day jobs, and we do what we do here out of love for our country and frustration at what it's become. If in that process, we can motivate our readers to do something they'd do anyway (and as a bonus contribute a few bucks to candidates who share our collective values) we're happy to do so.


I appreciate the fine work that everyone put into moving ASZ's "draft letter" into the mainstream. There's a lot more cars yet to be papered, and emails to be sent though, so no time to rest - we can do that after the election. Actually, we can all mentally collapse after the election, whatever the outcome. Then we get up, and get going again. :-) Because the hard work starts in January after inauguration day...

Anyway, I pointed out a few postings back that the VRWC and SCLM have picked up on the draft campaign - as we knew they would - and are spinning away. The talking points:

  • The bills to reinstate the draft were introduced by Democrats.

    How true, how true. But the bills still sit and live in committee. The Democrats gave the Republicans a sword. The GOP had two choices - use the sword to kill the bills in committee (they didn't), or use the sword to slay their Democrat colleagues (which they haven't done either). Yep, the Dems created a 'poison pill' for the GOP. Either way the bill is exercised, it will be the fault of the GOP. It may not be pretty, but that's politics, folks.

  • George Bush has never said he'd reinstate the draft.

    How true, how true. But this is just the 'nuance' that Dubya disdains. Yet he's using it to nice advantage. As recently as this morning on ABC's This Week, Colin Powell, when asked about a draft, said (exact remarks) "There are no plans for a least President Bush has no plans for a draft." As Brad Friedman of BradBlog points out, George Bush stated three times leading up to the illegitimate invasion of Iraq that he had "no plans for war on his desk". Apparently, nobody bothered to ask Bush if such plans were in a file cabinet under his desk.
Let's quit playing the word game with this volatile issue. How can they say there are "no plans" for a draft, when indeed there are - the Selective Service was fired up again this past year (after nearly 30 years in cold storage), and local Selective Service Boards have been actively seeking members.

John Kerry and John Edwards have both stated, unequivocally, that they will not reinstitute a draft. The Bush administration continues to use weasel words and non-denial denials when questioned about the topic. Demand a yes or no answer to the question: "If you are re-selected, Mr. Bush, are you prepared to state that under no circumstances will your administration reinstitute a draft of any sort? And that you will veto any such legislation that comes to your desk?"

Until Bush gives an unambiguous answer to the draft question, it's a very legitimate campaign issue - and given the Bush administration's history of playing fast and loose with the truth, we must operate on the assumption that there will, indeed, be a draft.

Keep papering cars and sending those emails.

Aw, Dude...

War crimes in action: the news you don't see on American media...because it might muss up perceptions.

NewsGateway - Fallujah Video Massacre (Windows Media file; make sure your speakers are on)

Denial is Not Just A River in Egypt

Over the last couple of days, I've written about some really ludicrious statements coming out of various apparatchiks associated with the Washington GOP noise machine. The GOP party line talking point has become, "yeah, it's a bit of a slog in Iraq, but it's just a few outling provinces that are causing all the trouble". And predictably, this morning's bloviating by BushCo associates on the various talkshows was the culmination of a week's worth of head-in-sandism being put on display by people who know better.

That's what pisses me off more than anything.

They know better. And so does the media. But blowdried talking heads just keep perpetuating the lie. Not only do we have to hold the politicians accountable on November 2, we must hold the media accountable as willing accomplices to the crimes and travesties of the past four years.

Powell Says Iraqi Security Situation Worsening

But, gee, that's not what Bush and Allawi were saying late last week, Colin...

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The Family

I don't care what the media whores, book reviewers, or anyone else says about Kitty Kelley's expose on La Famiglia Bush, her book should be required reading for every American. Never mind that she's meticulous in documenting every iota of even her "off the record" sources - to the point that she's never been sued by any subject of her writing - the woman has a set of brass balls.

All you've heard in the media and on the talk shows is her focus on Chimpy McCokespoon's prediliction for the white lines. You haven't heard (nor has anyone disputed) the uber arrogance of the First Prick.

Did you know that until he was selected as POTUS, he'd never been to Europe and that he didn't hold a valid passport? I swear to you. This guy has one sense of the world - and it's a faux Drug Store Cowboy Texan view. Here's an example from Kelley's book:

Illustrating what was meant by "impossible,", the family friend related W's description of meeting Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia. "George said, 'I told Putin that in this country we own our own homes, and because we own them we take great pride in them.' Then he told me, 'I don't think the son of a bitch knew what the hell I was talking about.'

"I was speechless," said the friend. "George acted like Putin was the dumb hayseed know-nothing and he, George, was the man of the world. I guess it never occurred to him that Putin, former head of the KGB, had been briefed to the gills on American capitalism...It was scary listening to the President of the United States sound so damn stupid and arrogant. I was dumfounded that George had lectured the President of Russia like a first grader on the basics of home ownership in America...I've know George for many, many years, and I've watched him grow more arrogant...

"He has no humility whatsoever about being President. He really thinks he deserves the office, that it's his by merit, not default. There's no sense that he's lucky to be there and that if not for a partisan vote by the Supreme Court, he'd still be pumping iron in the governor's mansion in Austin...With each job he's gotten worse, more arrogant. Now he's unbearable." (P 618 - 619)
This is the guy that apparently 50% of the U.S. wants representing them in the world community. This is the guy that, 3 days after his coronation in 2001, allocated 1.3 BILLION unaccounted dollars for faith based initiatives - but not a dime was given to the Jewish or Muslim communities in the U.S. He was paying off his base.

And we wonder why the world hates us?

In the Headlines Today...

Pentagon Releases More Bush Service Documents - how many more Friday night TANG document dumps do we get? This is the 6th or 7th time since "all documents have been released" in February that more records have mysteriously popped up. And BushCo still hasn't complied with the judge's order related to the Associated Press FOIA suit almost two weeks ago. It's time for a contempt citation (I'm feeding you guys straight lines this morning - run with it).

Web Posting Claims British Hostage Killed - for the moment, file this under 'rumor', since it's still fairly fresh. I can assure you, however, that the British government certainly did a whole lot more to try and save Mr. Bigley than has BushCo with its resolute determination not to "negotiate with terrorists". What's really disturbing is the absolute flip-flop-flip of the British and American governments earlier in the week, aided and abetted by the keystone kop performance of Iraqi officials. Left hand, meet right hand.

4 Marines Killed; Fallujah, Other Areas Erupt- just another day of tranquility in the "completely safe" provinces of Iraq. Book your 2005 spring break fling to Baghdad today! Rates have never been cheaper.

Ivan brings what Prince Bandar fails to deliver - So, Chimpy McCokespoon gazes into his Magic 8 Ball™ , asking about reelection prospects, turns the ball over, and the answer comes up "Outlook not so good". What to do about oil prices that have doubled since he took office? Flood the market from the U.S. Stratergeic (sic) Petroleum Reserve. But he said he wouldn't tap the reserve just to drive down prices...what to do, what to do...? Ivan! Yeah, that's the ticket! Open them spigots!!

Lastly, for our friends in Florida that are in the bullseye, don't take your chances with Jeanne. Stay safe. We know Patricia from Blondesense (and her hubby) have already bailed out of their previously hurricane damaged home. ASZ's own SpinDentist lives in the same basic area. This is a fair-to-middling powerful storm right now, and the 8AM NHC forecast is disturbing. Jeanne reminds me a lot of Andrew, in terms of the way she's developing (for those of you new to ASZ, I'm a bit of a weather wonk):

Guidance now suggests that upper-level winds will remain favorable
for Jeanne to strengthen until landfall. Therefore...the main
restraining factors for development are the current large eye...and
the abundant dry air surrounding the hurricane. SHIPS and the GFDL
both take Jeanne to 100 kt by landfall. Given the current
trends...the intensity forecast will go a little higher and call
for 105 kt. It would not be a surprise to see Jeanne get stronger
than that...and reaching category four status is not out of the

Ok, that's it from me for most of the daylight hours. I've got a busy Saturday planned. But while you're thinking about it, go buy your F9/11 DVD today! Remember, all affiliate proceeds are being donated to the DCCC. You know you're going to buy it anyway. Do you want to make the Walton clan richer, or do you want your purchase to work for progressive causes? To me, the choice is a no brainer.

Friday, September 24, 2004

ASZ Lost and Found Notice




Jeebus, it's like the Freepers and LGFers are feeding Rummy his lines through an earpiece or something:

We had something like 200 or 300 or 400 people killed in many of the major cities of America last year. Is it perfectly peaceful? No. What's the difference? We just didn't see each homicide in every major city in the United States on television every night. It happens here in this city, in every major city in the world. Across Europe, across the Middle East, people are being killed. People do bad things to each other.
The Freepers have been using this line of reasoning for months to justify the violence in Iraq.

Except that I don't remember the Crips or Bloods blowing themselves up in a Los Angeles car bomb attack and killing 40 people at a whack. Or a disabled Bradley APC on Central Ave. in Albuquerque being fired on by two Apache helicopters with multiple New Mexicans (including a KOB-TV newsman) being blown to smithereens. Or police being unable to go into Grand Rapids, Michigan because every citizen was armed with an RPG and ready to fire at the cops, and were occupying the Cathedral of St. Bernadette of the Little Flower.

Steve Gilliard has an even better (albeit longer) comparison.

Crap. I need a drink.

Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, here's what Ayad "Tony Soprano" Allawi had to say yesterday about the violence in Iraq:

His upbeat message masks the growing violence in the major cities of Baghdad and Mosul and in the tough Sunni towns north and west of the capital.

Speaking in Washington, Allawi said that of Iraq's 18 provinces, "14 to 15 are completely safe. There are no problems."
Ok, I did the math, and gave him 15 of 18 (more on that in a moment), even though the Associated Press is not so charitable:

However, at least six provinces - Baghdad, Anbar, Diyala, Salahuddin, Kirkuk and Nineveh - have been the scene of significant attacks on U.S. troops and Iraqi authorities in the past month. The only areas not plagued by bloodshed are the three northern provinces controlled by Kurds. The situation in many areas, however, is unknown since journalists’ travel is restricted by security fears.
The issue is that the provinces mired in violence are home to 90% of the Iraqi population. So, let's apply PM Allawi's rationale to the U.S. - that would equate to 8 or 9 of the most populous states in America.

For the sake of argument, let's say the same chaotic situation existed in the U.S. as exists in Iraq. Allawi's pronouncement of Iraqi harmony and goodwill would be like me saying, "there's no problem in states like Idaho, Vermont, or Utah, but civil order is a bit untidy in New York, California, Florida, Michigan, and a few other outlier states." And you would be left with the unmistakeable impression that I'd taken the final plunge into full blown dementia.

Oh. And if you do happen to find the top half of my head, please let me know. The neighborhood kids were kind of grossed out when I pulled into the driveway and got out of my car. Well, grossed out in a morbid curiosity sort of way -- they did seem to like the pulsating frontal brain lobe thing -- kind of like finding a dead possum in the middle of the road while they're waiting for the school bus...still, I hate scaring little children.

You Might Want to Change That Reservation to Southwest...

Ouch. I'm not sure I'd want to get on a U.S. Airways flight right now. I certainly wouldn't bring any luggage that I ever wanted to see again, anyway...

USAir Looks for 23 Percent Union Pay Cut:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - US Airways Group Inc. will ask a bankruptcy court on Friday to impose emergency pay cuts of 23 percent on unionized workers if an agreement with the workers is not reached during the day.
U.S. Airways, along with United, has stopped paying into its employee pension plan. Delta was hemorrhaging pilots taking early retirement for the same reason: the flyboys figured a 50% lump sum payout on their pensions was better than losing the whole thing, as Delta threatened bankruptcy. American Airlines is bleeding cash again.

The U.S. airline industry is in a real mess.

Short Summary - Politics and the Bush Failure in Iraq

I don't normally post someone else's blog entry in it's entirety. First, it simply muddies up the water here on ASZ, and a quick description and link usually suffices. Second, it's proper protocol to send readers over to the blog that originated the post. However, I'm making an exception today for Kevin Drum.

Now, Drum and I don't always see eye-to-eye. If you think about it, that's not surprising - Drum gets paid for his work, I don't, and regardless of how the election plays out I'm sure Kevin would like to keep his day job. So he has incentive to play the "moderate" a bit more than does ASZ.

Today, Kevin posted an entry that deserves the widest possible dissemination, and I'm happy to oblige. Somehow, this information absolutely must make it to the mainstream. We've certainly never been accused of being "mainstream" on ASZ - but we'll do our part to put Kevin's succinct synopsis into play. (Note: click over to Political Animal if you want all the links from the original posting):

Is George Bush in "fantasyland" regarding Iraq, as John Kerry says? I realize that's the fashionable position among lefty partisans, but it's honestly hard to come to any other conclusion these days.

We all know the wildly erratic background. In the beginning, administration ideologues were convinced we'd be welcomed with flowers. Within a few months we'd install Ahmed Chalabi as president of a liberated Iraq, draw down the occupation force to about 30,000 troops, and declare victory.

That really was fantasy, but when that plan almost immediately fell apart there was no Plan B on the shelf. So the administration ginned one up posthaste: disband the Iraqi army and stay around for a while. Jay Garner objected, so he was fired and Jerry Bremer was called in to be our new proconsul.

But that plan didn't work out too well either. By November scattered attacks had grown into a full-blown insurgency and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, apparently tired of Bremer's strongman act, insisted on quick elections. After some panicky discussions back home and a call to the UN, Plan C was unveiled: we would turn over power on June 30 and hold elections seven months after that.

But that still didn't work. The turnover proceeded on schedule, but security didn't get any better. Fallujah and Najaf became rebel strongholds, hamhanded planning turned Muqtada al-Sadr into a Shiite hero, and a dangerous insurgency became a full-blown guerrilla war.

So now we're on Plan D, a feebly disguised version of Plan C: the elections will proceed as scheduled and that will fix everything. It's unlikely that anyone below the level of cabinet secretary actually believes this, but it's impossible to say so because there's an election coming up. An American election, that is.

That election, and the political considerations that go along with it, have been driving our military strategy for the past two years. Before the war, we passed up a chance to take out terrorist mastermind Abu Musab Zarqawi — for political reasons. We invaded with too few troops — for political reasons. We lowballed the cost of the war — for political reasons. We ignored the UN and then turned around and pleaded for their help — for political reasons. Then we installed Iyad Allawi as president behind the UN's back — for political reasons.

And just recently we've learned that the Marines were yo-yoed in and out of Fallujah — for political reasons. The president has bizarrely dismissed his own intelligence agencies' analysis of Iraq as "guessing" — for political reasons. He's ignored the advice of his own generals about troop requirements for the upcoming elections — for political reasons. And assaults on Baathist enclaves have been postponed until December — for fairly obvious political reasons.

And Thursday's press conference was just scary. It's no longer clear if George Bush is merely a cynical, calculating politician — which would be bad enough — or if he actually believes all the happy talk about Iraq that his speechwriters produce for him. Increasingly, though, it seems like the latter: he genuinely doesn't have a clue about what's going on. What's more, his staff is keeping him in a sort of Nixonian bubble, afraid to tell him the truth and afraid to take any positive action for fear that it might affect the election.

So things will just get worse, since no one is willing to admit the truth and no one is willing to propose serious action to keep things from deteriorating further — at least not until after November 2nd. But by then it will be too late. And when the Iraqi elections fail, what happens then?

What's Plan E?
Kevin, we do see eye-to-eye this time...but I'm most afraid that Plan E will be closer to Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Bypassing provinces

The story today is that Mr. Allawi and Mr. Rumsfeld both think elections in Iraq will be a "go" in January, but that they will not take place in certain "hot spots." While reading over at the EMB I came across this graphic posted by pzarathustra, that brings home the notion of having an election with not all the people involved.

No further comment, your honor.

Friday Fun

Here's a mildly amusing way to putter around on the 'puter at work, and have a bit of fun in the process: The George W. Bush Conspiracy Generator.

What's Up?

At Daily Kos they are strategizing in the comments area about what zingers would work for Kerry in a debate. I'm thinking similar zingers would work for some of us as we talk with folks in real life, so I'm studying up.

Here's the suggestion of what Kerry should say to finish this exchange:

Kerry: Mr. Bush, why haven't we caught Al Zaqwari?

Bush: He hides

Kerry: Having worked as a prosecutor, I'm familiar with the idea that criminals hide. It's not a surprise. But we find them, we arrest them, and we bring them to justice. We do it with small police forces all over the nation.
You've deployed almost the entire US military, along with the resources of the CIA, and you can't find Osama bin Laden in three years? You can't find Zarqawi in three years?

These folks are industrious in the thread of suggestions linked above. I recommend you stop by if only to read it.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


I remember being enraptured by the novel by E. L. Doctorow. And that was a long, long time ago. I even liked the film, with Elizabeth McGovern, and didn't George Plimpton have a role in it?

Now he's written a short essay against George Bush. And it is sweet and logical and lovely prose.

Hope you all enjoy.

Sue Niederer Followup

Remember our post last week (I think we broke this) about the woman in New Jersey who had the unmitigated gall and audacity to run the gauntlet past security and ideology checkpoints at a Laura Bush rally? Yep, Sue Niederer, the woman who wore a shirt with the words, President Bush You Killed My Son, and was subsequently arrested for "defiant trespass" (or some other such specious charge)?

Well, it turns out you don't fuck with the First Stepford Wife. Now Ms. Niederer, a grieving mother of a son recently killed in Iraq, has the Secret Service on her case:

Federal officials said they are examining comments made in online postings of interviews with Sue Niederer, who was arrested last week during a Republican campaign rally in Mercer County when she interrupted a speech by first lady Laura Bush.

In portions of an interview posted online in May on the Web site, Niederer said she wanted to "rip the president's head off" and "shoot him in the groined area."

The comments caught the attention of a Secret Service analyst and are under review, Special Agent Tony Colgary told The Times of Trenton for Wednesday's editions. It is a federal crime to threaten to kill the president...
I swear to you, George Orwell couldn't have made this shit up even 50 or 60 years ago.

Now, I'm sure that there's a lot of people around this country, and other planetary outposts, who would like to (figuratively speaking, of course, for any SS or latter day Gestapo officers visiting this site) rip Chimpy McCokespoon's head off and shit down his windpipe. And I can think of no class of people more morally entitled to such a fantasy than mothers and spouses of those killed during the course of BushCo's Excellent Nation Building Adventure.

I sincerely hope that the ACLU is all over this one.

Support Regime Change

Ok, it's official. ASZ is now an affiliate of TLA Video. What does that mean? We make a few dinars on every purchase you make of Fahrenheit 9/11 or any of the other great DVD's shown in the left menu. Or anything else you buy from TLA Video (wink wink), as long as you click through from ASZ.

And here's the best part - we will donate all proceeds from the sale of these videos (paltry though it may be) to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). We've said before that John Kerry's coattails need to be long. This is our small bit to help the cause.

You know you're going to buy F9/11 when it comes out, so why not be ahead of the curve? You'll have it in your hot little hands days before the official release date. And you'll be supporting a great progressive cause.

Click through right now.

Hell in a Handbasket

I wish I could post the original "Peanuts" comic that I have on the front of my refrigerator.
It is of Charlie Brown and his sister Sally on the school bus. Sally asks: "Is this the tour bus to Stonehenge?" Charlie replies: "No. This is the regular school bus that goes to Pinecrest Elementary School every day of your life." Sally says: How did I get on the wrong bus?"

I feel like Sally a lot. We snidely refer to going to hell in a handbasket, but it feels like more than that to me. It feels like W.B. Yeats amped up on meth. My otherwise successful coping devices fall by the wayside. I'm a woman raving.

Over at Moon of Alabama (a Whiskey Bar offshoot), the poster alabama says: "George Bush, as the Governor of Texas, sent one hundred and fifty convicted men and women, one by one, to their deaths by lethal injection. The man's a serial killer (not a merciful person). Licensed to do so by Texas, he presided more executions than Henry the Eighth of England (and he got his start by blowing up frogs with firecrackers)." And I agree. Most people don't like to consider that they have put a sociopath in the White House, but some of us are compelled to look at it.

I suppose I am reaching out to find others that can no longer, or can with difficulty, wrap the "normal" political spin around all that we see before us, at least in Blogtopia, every day. I'm used to living on sanity's edge, so feeling off-kilter about the up-coming election worries me. I'm content with being iconoclastic. It's not an issue. Perhaps it is just a remnant of my "civilized self" that is feeling the pain.

I'm looking for (beyond comfort food) a thought that there are more of you beyond... like me feeling the same. Or if you're not, why you're not.

More Wind and Rain Coming!

Jeanne is packing it and headed to Florida. Most of the storm tracks mean that this one is going to hit me hard again and right at home. But I've not been troubling myself more than 80% of the time with worry and evacuation plans. I have recently heard a good deal about the local battle plans here in Brevard County, FL.

Seems there are 17,000 registered Democrats who did not vote last election, and we've got 1000 volunteers. There's just one week left but we are nearly there in getting them all absentee ballot request forms and having them submitted. This get out the vote program will then expand to each volunteer contacting 25 friends and relatives to also vote absentee.

There's a lot of worry down here that this one is going to be stolen again, and there is a special issue about the voting machines where there is no more paper trail to examine. I personally believe that the Bush's will try to work through the courts to bar registrations, etc., but to actually change people's votes? My tin foil hat is not so constructed. Still, the paranoia I hear among the volunteers sometimes makes the hair stand on the back of my neck.

So, folks, if you don't hear from me for a while, take care. And lick Bush!

F9/11 - Get Your Order In Today

I'm starting to hear a tremendous amount of buzz on the Fahrenheit 9/11 DVD - the "extras" are supposedly scathing. There's going to be a lot of material on the F9/11 video that was not included in the theatrical release.

Also, there are a couple of other Bush-related expose type of videos that are currently out - or coming out very shortly (Bush's Brain, Bush Family Fortunes, etc. etc.). Should you or anyone you know need a reason to be reminded why America can't take another four years of George W. Bush, any of these flicks should do the trick. *

If you order F9/11 during the next day or two, I can almost guarentee you'll have your copy a few days before the DVD is publicly available (DVD's usually ship several days before the public release date).

Listen, I've recommended TLA Video before - and I'm pimping them again. When you call customer service, you get a live person immediately. When you order a movie, it's shipped the same day. On the rare instances when you might have a problem, they take care of it instantly.

In the dog-eat-dog world of Wal-Mart and Amazon, TLA Video is an award winning organization that smokes the competition when it comes to anything movie / video related. Give 'em a try one time - you'll be hooked.

Update, 11:10AM: Thanks to a commenter on Atrios:

I don't know if there's a difference between US and UK versions of F9/11, but the UK Version has a second DvD, which includes the following;

Disc 2:
From Iraq:
The eve of the invasion
Outside Abu Ghraib prison
Eyewitness account
From Washington:
Rose Garden press briefing
Condoleeza Rice's 9/11 testimony
Lila Lipscomb at the Washington DC premiere
Additional Footage:
'Career Gear' featurette
Homeland security: Miami style
Extended interview with Abdul Henderson
Arab-American comedians
Kudos youth group
The Music:
Soundtrack to war

Update, 9:30PM: Ok, it's official. ASZ is now an affiliate of TLA Video. What does that mean? We make a few dinars on every purchase you make of F9/11 or any of the other videos shown in the left menu. Or anything else you buy from TLA Video (wink wink), as long as you click through from ASZ. And here's the best part - we will donate all proceeds from the sale of these videos (paltry though it may be) to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). We've said before that John Kerry's coattails need to be long. This is our bit to help the cause. Click through right now.

Again, here's the link to purchase F9/11.

*ASZ specifically disclaims responsibility for exploding heads, nightmares, or sudden urges to break things around your house that may occur during or after viewing any of the recommended films.

Geo Bush and the War on Terra - pre 9/11/01

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year, you know that Richard Clarke, former head of counter-terrorism for both the Clinton and Bush administrations, released a scathing book this past spring on the Bush administration's efforts to spike talk of terrorism in the months before September, 2001.

The bottom line is that no one in BushCo was interested in listening. George Bush was more interested in taking a round of golf; Dick Cheney was far more interested in making sure Ken Lay was being taken care of; Condi Rice was working with Wolfo and Rumsfeld to cook up the plans to depose Saddam.

In Against all Enemies, Clarke characterized former CIA DCI George Tenet as "running around Washington with his hair on fire" regarding terrorist chatter in the summer of 2001. But no one would listen. Clarke's frustration certainly showed through during the 9/11 Commission hearings. And he is still the only senior Bush administration official on duty at the time of the attacks who has apologized to the families of the victims (and the nation) for "failing you; not doing enough".

No, Dick, it's George Bush who didn't do enough. It's Bush and his entire cabal that ignored well-informed people like you, George Tenet, John O'Neill, Randy Beers, and just about anyone else with a voice in the intelligence community. It's George Bush and his administration who put no priority on pursuing action when they received a memo on August 6, 2001 titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike U.S.". It's George Bush who My Pet Goated for seven full minutes in the middle of the attack on 9/11/01, and then hightailed it for nearly 14 hours.

Yeah, George Bush is a real leader. Like I said earlier this morning, words fail even me sometimes.

Anyway, Dick Clarke did an interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross yesterday. I had the opportunity to catch the repeat yesterday evening, and it was simply amazing. I continue to be astounded that, given Clarke's revelations earlier this year, that George W. Bush is even still in office, much less not in jail. Take 45 minutes and listen to the interview - it's really, really good, and Dick Clarke is unquestionably the most credible witness to have emerged against BushCo in the past four years.

Lastly, Against All Enemies just came out in paperback. If you didn't read the book 6 months ago, or the hardback was priced a wee bit high for your wallet, by all means pick up the paperback this week. I guarantee you that you will not be able to put the book down. I further guarantee you that you will come away with a renewed sense of why it's so critically necessary to eject the group of gangsters that currently occupy the White House.

The blood of so many people is on their hands.

When Words Won't Come

Yeah, it happens. Even to me.

Bush Mocks Kerry's Leadership Credentials

Poodle on the Ropes

Lawyers say PM could be impeached over Iraq:

Parliament has the power to impeach Tony Blair over his decision to invade Iraq, lawyers acting for an all-party campaign to use the ancient right say today.

...The charge they lay against the prime minister is: 'Misleading parliament as to the basis for military action against Iraq so as to obtain from that body (and its individual members) support for the conflict which would not necessarily have been forthcoming, in contravention of the fundamental constitutional principle of ministerial accountability to parliament.'

The lawyers were responding to a report drawn up for the campaign saying that there are three grounds for impeaching the prime minister - the claims he made before the war about Iraqi weapons, his failure to tell MPs about new intelligence correcting those claims, and, that Mr Blair entered into a secret agreement with President George Bush to go to war without the consent of the cabinet, parliament, or the British people."
Just so you know, if we manage to send Dubya back to the ranch, we get a two-fer. Tony "The Poodle" Blair won't be far behind Chimpy McCokespoon.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

It's Been Suggested...

... that 50 million brains have been kidnapped.

I'll go you one better. I think it's more like 100 million and I know why.

We've been warned for more than 50+ years, over and over again. But it's been veiled in film and written fiction. Some of you know this like breathing out and breathing in as I type. It's more than simple brain-kidnapping. More than mere brain-sucking. It's..

The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

"Look! You fools! You’re in danger! Can’t you see? They’re after you! They’re after all of us! Our wives…our children…they’re here already! You’re next!" —Dr. Miles Bennell

Grabbing my sunglasses, I turn the snark off.

Ok, So Advocating HomoCide is a Joke, but a Bare Nip Gets You 500K Fine

I swear to Swaggart's Jeebus, this world is upside down.

Good ol' boy, hooker lovin', JD guzzlin', Reverend Jimmy "All I want to do is jack off awhile and look at your tits" Swaggart advocates that homo's need a good killin'. And it's a joke. Swaggart's ministry is shown on public airwaves throughout the U.S. But I guess since he apologized for his off-the-cuff nationally broadcast homo killin' remark, he's good to go with the Bush Administration, and the collection plate won't be empty this weekend:

"It's a humorous statement that doesn't mean anything. You can't lie to God — it's ridiculous," Swaggart told The Associated Press. "If it's an insult, I certainly didn't think it was, but if they are offended, then I certainly offer an apology."
Meanwhile, Janet Jackson has a "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl, which CBS happened to broadcast, and CBS (which had absolutely nothing to do with Janet's 10 nanosecond exposed nip) gets fined a cool $500,000 by that bastion of public airwave protection, Michael "I'm Not Colin" Powell.

May I humbly suggest that you contact FCC Commissioner Powell and insist that, at a minimum, any TV station that broadcast Swaggart's homophobic remarks be substantially fined for promoting discrimination and advocating violence against minorities. Perhaps a broadcast license renewal challenge is also in order for any TV station that carried the remarks. Matthew Sheppard thanks you.

John Kerry Will Not Draft Your Children - But Bush Will

...and a classic "non-answer" answer from BushCo.

Kerry: Draft Likely to Return Under Bush:

...Kerry said he would not bring back the draft and questioned how fairly it was administered in the past.

Answering a question about the draft that had been posed at a forum with voters, Kerry said: 'If George Bush were to be re-elected, given the way he has gone about this war and given his avoidance of responsibility in North Korea and Iran and other places, is it possible? I can't tell you.'

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials have been asked numerous times whether they thought a draft would be necessary to maintain force levels in Iraq. They have said consistently that they think it is neither necessary nor desirable, since today's military is built on volunteer service and professionalism. "
BushCo has emphatically and consistently evaded a yes / no response to any questions about a possible military draft since the spectre was first raised earlier this year.

And if you regularly read ASZ, you already knew the answer to this question, you smart person, you!

Update, 8:25PM: Thanks to our Canadian compatriot Robert at My Blahg for picking up that Michelle Malkin has gotten wind of the email campaign on the draft issue.

By the looks of the email reproduced on Malkin's website, it seems like someone else has independently taken the same concepts that we developed here on ASZ, and redirected them toward a college audience. Good! Anyone who's old enough (or will be old enough) to be drafted needs to know that this is the single most important issue in this presidential campaign. Again, Kerry said today (and rather emphatically) that he won't do a draft. BushCo continues to trot out the "non-denial denials".

And I think it's pretty damn funny that Karl Rove dropped the issue on a third string neocon media megaphone like Malkin to begin with. This is a woman of oriental descent who's in favor of internment camps. Even Chris "Tweety" Matthews ripped her to shreds on Hardball, and he never does that to someone from the goofball right. So, when the progressives set up the re-education camps, I think Malkin should be the first resident.

But I digress.

Anyway, have you papered any cars today, or mass emailed people? If you've got the time to read this, you have the time to fire up your email program. Why not do it right now?!

Abu Ghraib'd

Remember the story of Capt. James Yee, a Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo Bay? Basically, the military destroyed his career (and his marriage) as a result of some very fuzzy charges relating to 'espionage' at Gitmo. This was before the Abu Ghraib situation broke in the news earlier this year.

After the news of detainee torture and humiliation was made public, there was some speculation that perhaps Capt. Yee had possession of some pictures and documents that maybe would have been, eh, a bit damaging to the fine folks running the Gulag Gitmo. All charges against Yee were eventually dismissed, but not before forcing him to plead guilty to possessing smut on his computer. So, I would imagine that did wonders for his marriage. But then, one man's torture is another man's smut. We'll never know the nature of the pictures.

Anyway, another formerly accused "spy" at Gulag Gitmo had the most serious charges against him dropped today, and last week, so did another officer who had previously been accused to trying to take "classified material" off base. (By the way, there's no "off-base" in Guantanamo Bay).

It's all pretty fishy sounding, and it seems as if the Army has no desire to go the public courts martial route. No doubt that Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and company would rather deal with all those involved in a manner that the military refers to as "non-judicial punishment". In other words, no public witness to the trial, no legal discovery, and a closed record, in return for a reduced sentence (which each will most certainly accept) and a hushed mouth.

U.S. Drops Charge Against Accused Spy

The military on Wednesday dropped an espionage charge against a Muslim interpreter accused of spying at the camp for terror detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The development marks the third Guantanamo spy case to fall apart this year, despite vows by Attorney General John Ashcroft and military officials to prosecute the men for jeopardizing the nation's security.

The charge against Senior Airman Ahmad Al Halabi was dropped in exchange for his guilty plea to four "minor infractions," said defense lawyer Donald Rehkopf Jr.

...Al Halabi was one of four men accused of spying at the Navy base in Cuba. Suspicions were raised when Al Halabi and his superior officer and chaplain, Capt. James Yee, also a Muslim, spoke Arabic while socializing together at the base.
Somehow, I have a sneaking suspicion this issue is not yet finished. We'll see, but the Army sure wants to make it go away, and they're admitting (in hindsight) that there wasn't a very solid case to begin with.