Saturday, July 31, 2004

Newsweek Post-convention Poll

The highlights:

Kerry: 49
Bush: 42
Nader: 3
Undecided: 6

Without Nader

Kerry: 52
Bush: 44
Undecided: 4

"In general, would you like to see George W. Bush reelected to another term as president, or not?"

Yes: 43
No: 53
Unsure: 4
Details and historical comparisons here.

Commentary: What has to be killing Karl Rove is that the answer to the "yes / no" question hasn't been in Bush's favor since September 2003. And there's a 10 point gap now.

I think it's fair to say that Kerry's picked up some convention bounce, and certainly it's a bit too soon to pass judgement on how solid the numbers are. The polls next week will be a better indication of the "bounce". Politicians like to say the polls don't matter, but we all know better than that.

Even more poignant than the Newsweek numbers are the Zogby Poll numbers released yesterday. As was noted yesterday, it's not just the raw presidential horserace numbers, it's the exceptionally weak underlying fundamentals for Bush.

For example, in the South, Bush trails Kerry by 2%. Admittedly, it's within the MOE, but still, if I told you a year ago that Bush would be trailing the Democratic Party nominee in the South, you'd have had me committed. The only place where Bush polls better numbers than Kerry, discounting the MOE, is the heartland. No surprise there, huh? (Rachel Luxemburg has some thought provoking ideas on why Bush plays well in the midwest - call it the language barrier...)

Take a look at John Zogby's press release. By necessity, he couches his words. Yet if you read just a tiny bit between the lines, Zogby's saying that the situation may already be unrecoverable for Bush.

While Karl Rove might say publicly that he doesn't give a Maddie Hayes Memorial Flying Fig about the polls, you know, deep in your delighted little heart that exactly the opposite is true.

And that alone should allow you to sleep with a smile on your face tonight.

Sort-of-Retro Saturday

In ASZ's quest to bring you the highest quality in low-brow (mostly political) entertainment, the following are submitted for your approval:

Here's a short, depressing retro Quicktime spot of George W. Bush at his unfortunate best. In His Own Words. And ASZ specifically disclaims responsibility for any chunks you may blow on your monitor.

Did you see "Anchorman", with Will Ferrell? It sucked like a car wash vacuum cleaner. But this Ferrell video is pretty damn funny.

Did you miss the Top 50 Monkeys of All Time? (And how did they miss the glaring omission? Ahhh, they're Brits. What are you gonna do?)

That should keep you busy while I head for the beach. Enjoy your day!

What About Uniform Requirements?

Obtaining Cheney Rally Ticket Requires Signing Bush Endorsement:

Some would-be spectators hoping to attend Vice President Dick Cheney's rally in Rio Rancho this weekend walked out of a Republican campaign office miffed and ticketless Thursday after getting this news:

Unless you sign an endorsement for President George W. Bush, you're not getting any passes.

The Albuquerque Bush-Cheney Victory office in charge of doling out the tickets to Saturday's event was requiring the endorsement forms from people it could not verify as supporters.
They forgot to add that brown shirts and jackboots were optional (but suggested) attire.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Berger Cleared; Deserves Apology

It's time for the Bush administration to clear this man's good name - the good name that media whores around the world chose to smear, based on a neoclown lie and suspiciously timed leak of the lie.

Sandy Berger deserves an apology for the false allegations.

This whole incident requires an investigation. It was clearly intended to cast aspersions on the Clinton administration prior to release of the 9/11 report, to diminish Berger's credibility, to obliquely influence perception of the 9/11 commission itself, and to, by innuendo tie Berger to Kerry.

Clinton Adviser Berger Cleared of Document Theft

President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger -- who'd been accused of stealing classified material from the National Archives -- has been cleared of all wrongdoing.
The National Archives and the Justice Department have concluded nothing is missing and nothing in the Clinton administration's record was withheld from the 9-11 Commission.

The Wall Street Journal reports archives staff have accounted for all classified documents Berger looked at.

Late last year they asked investigators to see if the former national security adviser removed materials during his visits.

Berger's lawyers said his client had inadvertently removed several photocopies of reports, but later returned them.
This whole incident is, in its intent, as bad or worse than the outing of Valerie Plame. Pelosi needs to indignantly step up to the plate on Berger's behalf.

Unemployed? Underpaid? TeamBush says...

Take a Prozac®!

From the "you just can't make this shit up" department...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A campaign worker for President Bush said on Thursday American workers unhappy with low-quality jobs should find new ones -- or pop a Prozac to make themselves feel better.

"Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?" said Susan Sheybani, an assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt.
Brilliant analysis of the Bush economy, Susan.

Oh, wait a second.
  1. Prozac® is expensive, so...
  2. It really helps to have healthcare benefits to buy it (or a sympathetic streetcorner dealer), which knocks out about 43.5 million uninsured people, and,
  3. Most managed healthcare programs (HMO, PPO, POS) limit access to mental health services, which potentially excludes roughly 80% of those who actually have healthcare coverage.
Dang. Well, back to the drawing board, Sue. Even so, we here at TeamLib appreciate that the Bush Campaign staff is thinking on its feet, and recognizes that the issue of a decent job is a concern to many Americans. And since you were so kind to offer unsolicited psychiatric advice, allow us to humbly return the favor!

Take two STFU®'s and call us in the morning.

I think it's essential reading -- Ron Reagan

This is in a source I rarely go to, so I thought I'd post the link to Ron Reagan's story in Esquire, "The Case Against George W. Bush. Oh, I guess I can give a little taste of it as well.

People noticed. A tipping point had been reached. The issue of credibility was back on the table. The L-word was in circulation. Not the tired old bromide liberal. That's so 1988. No, this time something much more potent: liar.

Politicians will stretch the truth. They'll exaggerate their accomplishments, paper over their gaffes. Spin has long been the lingua franca of the political realm. But George W. Bush and his administration have taken "normal" mendacity to a startling new level far beyond lies of convenience. On top of the usual massaging of public perception, they traffic in big lies, indulge in any number of symptomatic small lies, and, ultimately, have come to embody dishonesty itself. They are a lie. And people, finally, have started catching on.
I highly recommend the article, and as usual, Ron. Jr. is a highly entertaining writer.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Attending a Republican Political Event

I was out on the breezeway earlier today, an hour before class, and there was this man with a cute little ten year old setting up a table for Doug Gallagher, who is running in the primary for Senate. This is Florida, and he's up against trial lawyer and hand-picked Bushite Mel Martinez, who frankly has a wonderful personal story. Gallagher is third in the race last I looked, and I was curious why his supporters would campaign on this deserted campus - it is summer school, after all.

Fifty minutes later I returned outside, greeted my students and chatted them up. And then what happens but Gallagher drives up, gets out of the SUV, and strolls up to press the flesh. My students and I chatted a few minutes, and during the chat I excused myself, asked one of his handlers how long the rally was going to be, and made my decision. Instead of Humanities class tonight, instead of teaching critical thinking skills using the Socratic method, we were going to study politics. Republican politics. I was to be surprised.

I posted a note on the classroom door for the stragglers and led the students to the Auditorium. There were forty of us only, fully half of them my students. Doug Gallagher, the software entrepreneur, cam on to the stage and then showed us this video. Pretty funny. Then he gave his spiel, and it hit some good points. He's a Steve Forbes kind of guy. Flat tax with no loopholes, Tort reform, healthcare innovation. I swear he sounded like a Democrat when talking about healthcare, except on the cost issue he was only about limiting liability for Doctors in the end. Still, I warmed to him, not least because he knew I'd brought the class and kept thanking me for doing so. I swear I blushed.

But here's the kicker. Through the introduction, through the video, through the speech, and through the question and answer session, Doug Gallagher, though he expected a 100% Republican crowd, never said teh two words George Bush.

Further, Doug Gallagher, though his opponents are reportedly doing so, never hit those hot-button Republican culture war issues. He did NOT mention the Marriage Act. He did NOT mention abortion. He did NOT mention gun control. Adn he barely mentioned the war in Iraq at all.

What does this tell me? Bush's coattails are tragically frayed. And the culture war issues are going against him.

This post is too long as it is. But I must say when we compared notes after my students were spot ON! The 50 year old Republican guy didn't get the answer he wanted about getting his wife's drugs from Canada. The 22 year old Republican student didn't get the answer he wanted about cronyism. And two people noticed I didn't get the answer about, in the absense of punitive damages in lawsuits, how DO we punish corporate and medical miscreants?

Overall, I would consider voting for Gallagher, were he to win this race, which is a longshot, but he's got to answer my questions. And he has to answer those of my students.

Still, a very instructive night.

Out. Of. The. Park.

Amazing, truly amazing speech by John Kerry.

Any hesitation I might have had evaporated tonight.

This is it. The battle is joined, Monkey Boy™.

Bring 'em on.

Co-Discoverer of DNA, Francis Crick Dies



SFGate obituary

Human Genome Project Information

Watson and Crick, from Time Magazine's "100" issue.

World History 1953



Inoculation

In the past month or two, a few stories have surfaced in the mainstream media (and mirrored in Left Blogistan) regarding the Bush administration's efforts to finally throw a rope around Osama bin Laden. Optimum timing suggested included this week, supposedly to take the media spotlight away from John Kerry and the Democratic Convention.

Well, it's not looking like Osama's gonna turn up before Friday. Or next Friday. Or the one after that.

Regardless of what anyone thinks about the potential for eventual capture / killing of Osama, I'd have to think that there's a better than even chance that, if we're ever going to get him, he's coming in from the cave sometime this year. A bit of concern is starting to rise that the Democratic Party has done little to inoculate the party or its candidate against the potential GOP political capitol of capturing Osama.

Here's what I mean by "inoculate" - suppose you wake up one morning, and there's a newsconference in progress - "We got him." Immediately, TV news networks go "All Osama, All the Time". Basically, they produce a non-stop Bush reSelection commercial. How does the Democratic Party respond?

If history is any guide, poorly. There's not a PR person in the world who likes to be put into a reactive position. And that's exactly where the Democratic Party would be - swatting at buzzing Republican bees from the sidelines.

How's this for an alternate scenario? Right now - as in, today - start talking about the capture of bin Laden as not a possibility, but a joyous probability. Acknowledge that a current, bipartisan effort is being placed on bringing in Public Enemy Number One. Emphasize John Edwards' position on the Senate Intelligence committee as an entree of influence in the process of capturing Osama. Express the hope that Osama is brought to justice tomorrow. Do this, and the party has, to a degree, inoculated itself from voter swing on this issue should it come to pass between now and November.

Most importantly, the Democratic Party talking heads have to start this conversation before the events occur. Dems have to be seen as out-front on the issue. Support and bipartisanship have to be stressed. Dems can not afford to let the GOP own the issue, and must sink a stake in the ground well in advance of the event itself.

And, as election day draws closer, the focus can shift to this: George Bush has had over three years to capture the most wanted man on the face of the planet. It's one guy. Someone, somewhere, knows the exact GPS coordinates of bin Laden's location. A Kerry administration will pull out all of the stops, and most importantly devote the resources, to making the manhunt successful.

Think about it, Terry.

-----------------
Addendum, 7:10PM: Damn, not an hour after I posted this comes word that a "high value target" was captured in Pakistan -- last Sunday. What timing on the press release, huh? Interestingly enough, the topic of catching Osama came up in a Pentagon briefing yesterday, but narry a word on this capture. Coincidence? I think not. Learn from this, Terry.

A Remedy or Two for Crisis Fatique

From Tom Atlee at The Co-Intelligence Institute, Crisis Fatigue and the Co-Creation of Positive Possibilities

An outline:
  1. Let go of outcome.
  2. Come to terms with our own intrinsic participation in Whatever Happens.
  3. Look for positive possibilities and ways to partner them into greater probability.
For the fleshed out version, read what Tom Atlee has to say in his letter to an overwhelmed community organizer and networker. I found Atlee and Co-Intelligence.org in the summer of 1999. As Whatever Happens continues to happen on our Happy Planet, I find the articles and resources there still timely and invigorating.

Is Bush Nuts?

I keep telling myself almost every day, when the old jerky knee wants me to write a headline just like that, that I should put some content in the headline, point towards the story, be at least pseudo-journalistic. After all, this is Richard's Blog and he's been so kind as to let me write here. So I try desperately to avoid the title that comes to mind nearly every day, IS BUSH NUTS????

This time it is an appropriate title, because the answer to the question just might be "yes."

According to Capitol Hill Blues, a liberal journal specializing in Beltway news, Mr. Bush is being given some serious anti-depressant meds to control what is evidently some very erratic behavior.
President George W. Bush is taking powerful anti-depressant drugs to control his erratic behavior, depression and paranoia, Capitol Hill Blue has learned.

The prescription drugs, administered by Col. Richard J. Tubb, the White House physician, can impair the President’s mental faculties and decrease both his physical capabilities and his ability to respond to a crisis, administration aides admit privately.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” says one aide. “We can’t have him flying off the handle at the slightest provocation but we also need a President who is alert mentally.”

I guess it is clear how the big old liberal media machine has picked up on this. They haven't. I stumbled on the story about 9 hours ago, and in that time I've seen it spread to just one other outlet. Of course, if the story first bloomed on Drudge, as often those stories Foxnews finds too hot to handle do, then it would be spread to Limbaugh, spread to O'Reilly, the neo-con pseudo net dailys would grab on, and we'd be a few days putting out the fire.

Let me take a breath here. This is difficult to discuss calmly.

HE'S NUTS!

OK, I'm ready to proceed. So, I understand why nobody has picked this up, but from what Capitol Hill Blues has reported, Bush's behavior has not gone unnoticed by the Press.
Tubb prescribed the anti-depressants after a clearly-upset Bush stormed off stage on July 8, refusing to answer reporters' questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay.

“Keep those motherfuckers away from me,” he screamed at an aide backstage. “If you can’t, I’ll find someone who can.”

Bush’s mental stability has become the topic of Washington whispers in recent months. Capitol Hill Blue first reported on June 4 about increasing concern among White House aides over the President’s wide mood swings and obscene outbursts.


It appears we have a mad President in the attic that the Press and the White House are unwilling to talk about.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Safe

How's that for a one word review of John Edwards' speech on Wednesday night?

Listen, I've been in John Edwards corner and watching him for quite awhile. He was the recipient of some of my money long before Kerry. It was not his best speech. Or even his second or third best.

I suppose we could blame it on the scripted nature of the convention, or maybe even the cold he's picked up in the past week. Edwards is at his best when he's moving around the stage with his tie loose and sleeves rolled up like a tent revival preacher. He couldn't do that yesterday evening. By necessity, he was chained to the podium.

But the essence of his message was true to his nature. This is a man who has lived on both ends of the economic spectrum. I think it's axiomatic that to have empathy, one has to be true to the word "empathetic" - in other words, having walked a mile in those shoes. John Edwards earned that t-shirt a long time ago.

Anyone who watched Edwards' speech would have a difficult time making the argument that he is light on foreign policy issues or the challenges that confront us as a country in dealing honestly (not code chartreuse alerts) with the threat of terrorism. But that being said, something was missing from his speech tonight. Or maybe I just didn't hear it because he was, uncharacteristically, trying to macho-ize the Democratic Party ticket.

Here's what was missing: committing a Kerry administration to examine why the evil doers are bent on destroying America in the first place.

There are a lot of approaches to solving this rubik's cube of foreign policy; certainly many more than I could begin to address here on a backwater internet blog. But the bottom line is that we won't be secure as a nation until we can honestly begin to formulate a national response to the above question.

Domestically, Edwards' "two Americas" approach is correct, because there are two Americas. I've had the good personal fortune to bounce back and forth between the two during my life. That's what drew me to JRE in the first place.

But, with Edwards speech on Wednesday, and surely John Kerry's acceptance speech on Thursday, I'm increasingly squeamish about the direction they're going to be taking the campaign. I admit, it may be necessary for the Democratic Party ticket to play the tough guy on the block. What I don't want to see is Kerry / Edwards trying to out-tough Bush / Cheney. The "Marlboro Man" image is what got us into the international fix that we're in to begin with.

This country needs a totally different direction. Again, maybe I just didn't hear it in Edwards's convention speech, and maybe he was simply subjugating himself to the DNC party line, but I didn't hear a significantly different direction on foreign policy. I didn't hear that Kerry / Edwards were going to strive to repair the diplomatic bridges that the Bush administration has so casually blown up around the world. I didn't hear that Kerry / Edwards were going to make mea culpas for the atrocities such as Abu Ghraib brought on by the Bush administration in the name of the American people.

Maybe I'm just expecting too much from a political convention designed to appeal to the broadest base possible. And in the end, that's what these things are all about.

We live in a dangerous world. John Edwards was trying to assuage Mom and Pop Trailerpark that he and John Kerry would not let up on the war on terra. And they shouldn't. It was a message that needed to be communicated.

What he failed to express is how a Kerry administration would address the true root causes of the problem, and how they would work to ensure that we, and our children's children, would never be put in this place again.

Perhaps I was just expecting too much after listening to the skinny kid with the funny name on Tuesday night.

(Update, 12:50PM, 7/29/04: Text of John Edwards' speech here.)

Greenspan Spends Your Money Wisely

Pleased to meet you,
Hope you guessed my name...


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Economists searching for reasons why some nations are richer than others have found that those with a wide belief in hell are less corrupt and more prosperous, according to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis...

Hooking for Castro?

A week or so back, George Bush made a campaign trip to South Florida. (Damn, there's that state again.) At a stop along the way, he made a speech in which he commented that:

“The dictator welcomes sex tourism. Here’s how he bragged about the industry,” said Bush. “This is his quote — ‘Cuba has the cleanest and most educated prostitutes in the world’ and ‘sex tourism is a vital source of hard currency.’ ”
The harsh statement, on the heels of the Bush administration's recent travel restrictions to Cuba, raised more than a few eyebrows in the press. Bush is already under fire by the Cuban community for his implementation of travel restrictions to the island.

The statement regarding sex tourism clearly had a target audience in mind: the legacy Cuban voters in S. Florida, rather than the younger Cuban American population under 40 that, for the most part, was born stateside. Well, it played with Castro, too.

Now, understand that I'm not trumpeting Fidel Castro as an icon for positive change in the Western hemisphere. But, damn, the guy gets a bum rap sometimes. So, Castro responded:

Speaking in the central province of Villa Clara on a national holiday marking 51 years since he launched his revolution, Castro depicted President Bush as “sinister” and his charges as “irresponsible statements by the president of the most powerful nation on the planet.”
What Castro failed to say was, "I know I'm one, but what are you, Boosh? Neener neener."

Anyway, with a week's hindsight, here's reality. Bush's accusations were based on...

Three days after Bush’s remarks, the Los Angeles Times reported that the White House found the comments in a Dartmouth undergraduate paper posted on the Internet and lifted them out of context. “It shows they didn’t read much of the article,” commented Charlie Trumbull, the author.

Speaking in 1992 to the Cuban parliament, Castro actually said, “There are prostitutes, but prostitution is not allowed in our country. There are no women forced to sell themselves to a man, to a foreigner, to a tourist.”
cubaupdate.org also has a nice little debunking story and references on their website. So, as usual, fantasy collides with reality where it comes to George W. Bush. And the R's are still obsessed with S-E-X. But the sad part is, as usual, the media followup to Monkey Boy™'s remarks was essentially nonexistent.

I'm shocked.

Via Email

Doc? What's the buzz down in FLA? Received this via email today...

Greetings: The reprehensible Jeb Bush is continuing his anti-democratic attempts to rig the vote in Florida:

Posted on Fri, Jul. 23, 2004

Days after a Florida appeals court demanded that the state provide more help to felons who want their right to vote restored, Gov. Jeb Bush introduced a new policy that civil rights advocates say circumvents the will of the court and threatens to exclude tens of thousands of potential voters.

Last week, the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee unanimously ruled that state prison officials must follow the law and provide newly released felons the necessary paperwork and assistance to get their full civil rights back.That would include a one-page application for a formal hearing before the Florida Clemency Board -- the only way an estimated 85 percent of felons will ever get their rights restored.

But instead of providing the application, Bush decided to scrap it altogether. On Wednesday, he announced that felons will now have to contact the Office of Executive Clemency when and if they want to apply for a hearing to have their rights restored.

Bush argues that the policy reduces paperwork and, therefore, provides the ease and assistance demanded by the court.Civil rights advocates say the decision will disfranchise thousands of people in a state where more than 400,000 are already banned from voting.


Also:

Gov. Jeb Bush shows judges he gets his way

Gov. Jeb Bush has come up with a novel way to deal with last week's court ruling requiring the state to give inmates a specific form so they can apply to have their civil rights restored.

He eliminated the form.

There. Now won't that show those rascally 1st District Court of Appeal judges just who's in charge?

"It's an obvious attempt by the governor to thumb his nose at the ruling," cried Randy Berg, the attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union who successfully argued the case on the felons' behalf.


As an aside, I can't see anything that will prevent Bush from circulating on election day his list of 50,000 or so "ex-felons" who are to be denied the vote. This is going to be a repeat in that regard of what Greg Palast uncovered about the 2000 election.

Yes, I know CNN recently obtained a copy of the latest list, but that is irrelevant. The only list that will matter is the one circulated on election day. Democratic Congressmen and Senators should be screaming to high heaven about all of this. Also, any pre-election polls in Florida mean nothing if Jeb Bush is going to disenfranchise thousands of voters.

We're not merely talking undemocratic here. We're talking anti-democratic.
Any comments from readers residing in the People's Banana Republic of Florida?

Admin Note - ASZ Googlized

In case you missed it, the ASZ archives are now fully searchable. Simply scroll down to the bottom of the page, and use the google search box.

Hey, it was free. ;-) And it works. Unbeatable combination.

How's the Security at the Olympics


Just a couple weeks away and yesterday NATO committed more troops. Methinks someone is a tad bit antsy about terrorism. Could there have been some chatter? I'm not so cynical as to think they are just hyping the terror like they do in the good old USA. And this would be the most inviting target around, excepting the Statue of Liberty. Here's the take at USA Today!




BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO has agreed to provide extra forces under alliance command to help Greece protect next month's Olympic Games from potential terror attacks, officials said Monday.

However, unspecified "operational issues" remain to be resolved, NATO officials said on condition of anonymity. The officials said the Greek request for additional counterterrorism assistance, first considered Thursday, had been approved "in essence."

Then again, it doesn't seem as if they have quite all their ducks in a row, now does it?

Odiferous Porcines

BushCo continues to try and spritz eau du Soir on the middle eastern pig they've created. Kind of hard with news like this:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A suicide car bomb exploded outside a police recruiting center in central Baqouba on Wednesday, killing 68 Iraqis and turning the city's busy streets into a bloody tangle of twisted metal and bodies.
Or this:

KABUL, Afghanistan - The relief agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said Wednesday it is pulling out of Afghanistan, discouraged about a fruitless investigation into the slayings of five of its workers and fearful of new attacks...

Taliban-led militants have been blamed for attacks that have killed more than 30 aid workers since March 2003 and made much of the south and east virtually off-limits. The killings of the MSF workers occurred in the northwest and raised fears that the violence was spreading was also becoming too dangerous.
I know it will make absolutely no difference in the U.S. presidential election this year because most people won't pay attention anyway, but elections in Afghanistan (which BushCo touts as a success) have been postponed twice now. Elections been rescheduled for October, but it's hard to see how they can be successful when the people doing the voter registration are being shot in the act of registering voters.

In earlier postings on ASZ, we've established that the only secure areas in Afghanistan are a 10 square mile area of Kabul and 15 feet to either side of any roadway that a military convoy or patrol is driving. The Taliban and poppy warlords are pretty much back in the driver's seat. We've no more than 10,000 troops in a country larger than Iraq. In other words, Afghanistan is an abject failure.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai should thank his lucky stars that Osama bin Missing is still on the lam - because there would be absolutely zero U.S. focus in Afghanistan otherwise.

Rather than try to dab more cologne on the pigs that BushCo has created, the Kerry campaign needs to become really active in spraying both situations with bullshit repellent. Yes, President Kerry is going to have a daunting task ahead of him when the Texan squatter's occupation of the White House ends this coming January. But it's a task that Kerry signed up for when he decided to run. We can hope he chooses to surround himself with more pragmatic and less ideologic brains than George Bush has managed to do in his four years at the helm.

Demagogues Gone Wild

Your ironic chuckle for the night, courtesy of Matt Barganier at Anti-War.com's blog:

Moore vs. O'Reilly
Excerpt:

MOORE: So you would sacrifice your child to secure Fallujah? I want to hear you say that.

O'REILLY: I would sacrifice myself—

MOORE: Your child—It's Bush sending the children there.

O'REILLY: I would sacrifice myself.

MOORE: You and I don’t go to war, because we’re too old—

O'REILLY: Because if we back down, there will be more deaths and you know it.

MOORE: Say ‘I Bill O’Reilly would sacrifice my child to secure Fallujah’

O'REILLY: I’m not going to say what you say, you’re a, that’s ridiculous

Be sure to click through the link at the top of the page. It's good to smile in the middle of the night. Really! ;-)

An Appropriate Gift to Mr. Bush and the GOP

It's Bullcrap! No, better still, Elephant Crap!

Mr. Bush received a gift from Sri Lanka of paper made of Elephant dung. This was two years ago, but it's the first I heard of it. I kid you not! It's reported in the Netscape News!. The production details might give our President the MBA some clues on how to win, so keep the buzz quiet!

"We produce the paper using 75 percent elephant dung," Martis told The Associated Press on Monday. "Fully digested fiber gives the paper a smooth finish, while half digested fiber makes the paper coarser."

Hope you all appreciated the laugh.

Are We Supposed to Use PsyOPS on Americans?

Globalsecurity.org has their report out about the IRaq war, and it is all online. Riveting reading about the build-up, the drive to Baghdad, and. . . that Saddam statue being toppled. Yes, it's amazing. It was a PsyOP, and it was a whole bunch more effective on the American people than it was on the Iraqis.


Yes, the media got played, the world got played, a few dozen Iraqis witnessed it, but the worst of it all was that we got played like a violin. Here's a report from one of the soldiers, evidently.
It looked like the infantry unit up there could use some support, so we moved our [tactical PSYOP team] TPT vehicle forward and started to run around seeing what they needed us to do to facilitate their mission.... There was a large media circus at this location (I guess the Palestine Hotel was a media center at the time), almost as many reporters as there were Iraqis, as the hotel was right adjacent to the Al-Firdos Square.

The Marine Corps colonel in the area saw the Saddam statue as a target of opportunity and decided that the statue must come down. Since we were right there, we chimed in with some loudspeaker support to let the Iraqis know what it was we were attempting to do. The reporters were completely surrounding the vehicle, and we started having to ask the reporters to move out of the way, but they would not move. We were getting frustrated, but we were also laughing about it. We dismounted the vehicle again and just started pushing the people out of the way. They were starting to really inhibit our ability to conduct our mission. The tanks . . . formed up into a perimeter around the square, with the statue in the middle.

At this point the Iraqi people were nervous. The soldier talks through all the action, even to the point of placing Iraqi kids on the tow truck that pulled the statue down.
Somehow along the way, somebody had gotten the idea to put a bunch of Iraqi kids onto the wrecker that was to pull the statue down. While the wrecker was pulling the statue down, there were Iraqi children crawling all over it.

That's your tax dollars at work, folks. The scene was witnessed by a few dozen Iraqis, then hit the US airwaves to impress the war-crazed public on repeated viewings on all the news stations. Bush's approvals went through the roof and the news that it wasn't all hearts and flowers greeting the US Forces was kept from us for several more days. Heck, even today Americans view that scene as a spontaneous outpouring of Iraqis and Americans working together to topple Saddam.

We got played, by the PsyOPS teams of Mr. Rumsfeld's Pentagon.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Barack Obama

I've seen the future of America tonight.

A skinny kid with a funny name.

And I'm encouraged.

Update, 7/28/04, 12:48: Transcript of Obama's speech here.

Up Is Down

Follow me here.

Last year, the U.S. federal deficit was $375 billion, the worst deficit ever. And then, the Bush administration predicted that the deficit this year would be in the neighborhood of $521 billion, plus or minus a trip to Mars (this after being left a $300 billion surplus by the Clinton administration).

This week, the White House is slated to announce this year's federal deficit. The tab? Somewhere between $420 and $450 billion, depending on which spinmeister you believe. It's the worst deficit in U.S. history, exceeding last year's "worst in history" by almost 18%. And guess what?

Incredibly, the White House is now poised to spin this news as a positive thing:

Either way, the White House was ready to emphasize that the figure is well below the $521 billion it projected for this year last February, and tie it to improvements in the economy.

"It is hard to disregard the strong progress made on the economy and our fiscal situation," Kolton said Tuesday.

Democrats have said Bush purposely overestimated this year's budget gap so he could take credit for improvement when the real figures came in.

"The new estimate ... will set a new record of fiscal mismanagement and deficit spending," said Kerry economic adviser Gene Sperling.
Please. Make it stop. I'm getting dizzy.

The Aftermath

This is perhaps the most important soapbox rant of my entire life. How's that for front-loading a thread? It can't be helped. It's the truth. This morning I listened to an interview with the Lucey family on "Democracy Now". Their son, Kevin, returned from his tour of duty in Iraq, and after a fairly rapid decline in functioning committed suicide at home. He joined the US Marine Corps because he said he wanted the training and money for college. This transcript with the parents of Kevin also includes comments from someone from Military Families Speak Out, and from the newly formed Iraq Veterans Against the War.

I suppose it is enough that you read it without any other commentary from me. My particular overlook on the subject is not a secret. We can talk more about it if you like.

Your premium party favor for reading the transcript is:

Dissent Is Now Dangerous, by Stephen Laffoley.
"Youth is the first victim of war; the first fruit of peace. It takes 20 years or more of peace to make a man; it takes only 20 seconds of war to destroy him."
Baudouin I of Belgium

Will the GOP be Anxious Count Overseas Ballots in 2004?

Harken back to the year 2000. One of the tipping points of the presidential election was counting overseas ballots, and particularly those in the service. For all intents and purposes, the overseas absentee ballots tipped the scales in Florida. I don't know how many times I heard, during the month of November, 2000 that "every vote counts" in James Baker's quest to make sure all the military ballots were counted. Didn't matter if they were incomplete. Didn't matter if they were postmarked after the due date (and many were).

It's going to be different this year. There are a lot of U.S. expats out there working hard to get out the vote:

"If passions over the U.S. presidential race are at boiling point back home, they may be even higher abroad, where many Americans say they experience firsthand the ramifications of President Bush (news - web sites)'s foreign policies. Whether they approve of those policies or not, by all accounts, U.S. citizens overseas are registering in greater numbers than ever before, hoping their vote can make a difference in an election both sides say may be the most crucial in modern American history."
And I'm betting there's not a whole lot of Bush votes out there...

I'll Buy the Popcorn!

This should be interesting, particularly with Bush in town.

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) -- Michigan Filmmaker Michael Moore is bringing his blockbuster documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" to President Bush's adopted hometown -- and has invited the film's star to attend...

Organizers expect about 1,000 people to attend the show Wednesday night at a football stadium parking; police said demonstrators against the film were also expected.
I think Mike can afford the freebie.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Jimmy Breslin Gets It

In 1773, they risked lives to speak out
Excerpt: "The parade is supposed to pass Madison Square Garden on the Sunday before the convention. That is as it should be. The crowd can be large, over 250,000; the Republicans are not popular here. The protest committee wanted to walk past the Garden and go straight up to Central Park. The mayor and the police commissioner say that Central Park cannot be used because too many feet would hurt the grass. This is an absolutely insane statement."

The End of Moral Authority

'Murica may be moving on from Abu Ghraib, but the rest of the world isn't. And that's one of the biggest deceits of the Bush administration -- rather than directly and honestly addressing the issue, BushCo seems content to keep trying to sweep this mountain of shit under the carpet.

The problem is, the rest of the world looks at the carpet and sees a huge lump under the fringe.

Some say that the U.S.'s reputation and moral authority on human rights was blown to smithereens when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. The tattered nature of the U.S.'s moral authority on human rights was particularly noticeable when, during the height of the scandal in April, the State Department laughably delayed release of its annual report on human rights around the world.

Here's where the rubber meets the road. Sudan was recently elected to a seat on the United Nation's Human Rights Commission. If you haven't been following international news very closely, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution last week declaring the current bloodbath in Sudan as "genocide". Sudan's response?

When the United States inveighed against Sudan's recent election to a seat on the U.N. Commission for Human Rights, Sudanese diplomat Omar Bashir Manis said it was ironic that Washington raised objections given the "atrocities" American forces committed at Abu Ghraib.

Sudan's election to a seat "is not at all different" from the United States winning a seat, said Manis, whose government is accused of uprooting 1.2 million Sudanese in the Darfur region.

Although many might question his suggestion of moral equivalence between the United States and Sudan on rights performance, the allegations have been damaging for the Bush administration.
There's your damage.

When the U.S. stands accused, in the Court of World Opinion, of acts of abuse that defy colloquial expression it's kind of hard to claim higher moral ground. More importantly, with the abuse charges still festering like an open national sore, out comes documentation that sought to justify the acts in Abu Ghraib.

Then, just to rub a bit of desert sand into the wound, last Thursday the Army's Inspector General released a report on Abu Ghraib that is being universally condemned as a whitewash.

I can not and will not support a government, acting as an agent for the citizens of the United States, that tacitly condones the acts perpetrated in Abu Ghraib (and other facilities we don't even know about yet). That the Bush administration continues, to this day, to cover up these heinous crimes (while deflecting criticism from anyone in a position of responsibility) has so diminished our moral authority as a country that we may never be able to claim the high road again in my lifetime.

This is the worst sort of damage that any one person could inflict on America. Yes, 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001, ostensibly at the hands of Osama bin Laden. But how many millions around the world will die from human rights abuses now and in the coming years because George Bush has single handedly destroyed America's moral authority?

The destruction of America's moral imperative will be George W. Bush's longest lasting legacy.

Double Digits

Anyone notice the ticker down at the bottom of the left menu column?

The countdown: 99 days until regime change. We're under 100, folks. And something tells me these next 99 days are going to mark some of the more "interesting" times in American history.

Things accelerate now.

Can't Beat'em? Bribe'em.

The population of Iraq is approximately 25 million. The per capita income (depending on the information source) is anywhere from $0 to $2700. The U.S. has allocated just under $200 billion for Iraq.

Let's do the math.

$200,000,000,000 / 25,000,000 = $8000 for every man, woman, and child in Iraq. Nearly three times the per capita income.

Why didn't we just pass out the cash right from the get-go? Would have been a whole, whole lot less messy. (Note for any humor-impaired Americans reading this - IT'S A JOKE, ASSHOLE. SEEK HELP.)

Well, it turns out that we are trying to buy down the violence. Jeez, if it's this bad when they're passing out bribes, what's it going to be like when the money and/or Americans are gone?

U.S. troops use cash to woo Iraqis

Cui Bono?

Check out the photos of US military in Iraq at Mahablog, then sing a little song:

"Well, come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your kids off to [fill in the blank].
Come on fathers, don't hesitate,
Send 'em off before it's too late.
Be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.

And it's one, two, three
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is [fill in the blank].
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die."


In April 2003 President Bush told the world, "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." Uh-huh!

Then, read about DU (depleted uranium) from a military expert, and finally decide what you will say to the next young person who expresses any interest -- ANY -- in signing their lives away on the dotted line.


AP Got It Wrong

Surprise, surprise.

Over the weekend, an AP story was widely circulated on the web and blogs that stated, "Bush has electoral college lead".

First off, the general election is still months away. As of 7/26/04, Bush and Kerry remain tied in the electoral college, 0 - 0.

Secondly, as Stephen Crockett and Al Lawrence point out, the AP story is flat out wrong (by either sloppy writing / editing or intentional bias). Of course, AP will issue a correction? Right? Heh.

(It's also curious how the AP has changed the headline over the past day or two. Do a google or yahoo news search.)

Strong Woman

So, let me get this straight. Dick Cheney, Vice-President of the United States, can tell a United States Senator, on the floor of the United States Senate, to "go fuck yourself", and get patted on the back for it by the media and neoclown apologists. Yet when Teresa Heinz Kerry tells a confrontational reporter (who's clearly baiting and bugging the shit out of her) to "shove it" during a private function, she's uncivil??

'Shove It,' Heinz Kerry Says to Journalist

Update, 11AM EDT: Kevin Drum links to a piece which makes it clear that the Pittsburgh Tribune-Reivew has nursed a jihad against the Heinz Foundation for over a year. No surprise, then, that Teresa Heinz Kerry would be predisposed to a bit of attitude against anyone associated with the Tribune-Review.

Updated update, 11:15AM EDT: ASZ's SpinDentist previously wrote about the long running Sciafe jihad against the Heinz Foundation.

An Honest Look at John Kerry

We'll be hearing a lot about John Kerry and John Edwards this week. Some of the media portrayals will be flattering, some won't. Either way, most of the short soundbites won't capture the essence of Kerry as well as the profile written by Thomas Oliphant in "The American Prospect":

It’s also helpful to know that his comeback was political and personal, but -- quite contrary to the “flip-flop” label the Bush team has sought to stick on him -- it did not involve a single change in his approach to the big questions of our day. Normally, positions on issues don’t work well for me as clues to a presidency, or as stand-alone reasons to be for someone. In Kerry’s case, however, he has made three contributions -- in health care, on energy, and in foreign policy -- to the national discussion over the past year that are vintage Kerry and powerful evidence of how his political mind works. They are not derivative, and, in each instance, the contributions were formulated not by the pollsters or the advisers but by Kerry himself.
I pulled the above paragraph out of the article because it's the lead-in to a very broad discussion on three of the most important topics facing America this year (and probably for the foreseeable future). What Oliphant articulates so well is that, if anyone cares to look beyond negative 30 second soundbites from BushCo advertisements, John Kerry has a vision. It's a vision that's been shaped by years of experience in dealing with all of these issues on a national level.

I think we can all agree that George Bush was not prepared or up to the task when he took office. Just the fact that neocons keep making apologies for Bush and 9/11 by saying, "Well, he was only in office 7-1/2 months..." shows you that Bush was learning on the job and still hadn't taken off the training wheels.

Well, four years later, the Bush training wheels are off the bike of state. His bike has two flat tires. Someone stole the pedals. And no one can find the handlebars to steer the bike.

Kerry might not be the most charismatic and engaging person in the world, but I've seen him grow tremendously in that attribute. What is unquestionable is that he has the resume to do the job. He's taken unpopular stands at unpopular times. He is not the flip-flopper that the neoclowns would have you believe. Indeed, a very good case could be made that the "flip flop" tag of derision could be squarely pinned on the shoulders of George W. Bush.

So, this week, John Kerry gets to re-introduce himself to America, on his terms. Let's hope America likes what it sees.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Is it Just to "OUT" gay Republican Operatives?

They make no policy, but they certainly push it. They shape none of the hate in this country against gays, but they certainly enable that shaping. And some of those operatives are gay, and the recent outting campaign of the Washington Blade is identifying, and revealing to its leaders. The mainstream press is not following their lead, but it is my guess that some of these gay operatives are going to get canned by the GOP.

Particularly interesting is the article cited above, talking about two key members of Mel Martinez's campaign for Senate in my state. Mel has been so against gays that he has run ads supporting the Marriage Amendment here in the state.

Interesting reading here, and odd, to me. How could one do this as a gay, support the Christian Coalition when it is so strong against any gay rights, and also for a candidate who is foursquare against same. Yet I am not personally in favor of such outting.

Enough's Enough, Ralph

Personal note to Ralph Nader:

Ralph, I understand your point. I really do. But sir, you pretty much diminished your legacy (at least in this writer's eyes) in 2000. And now you've coopted yourself to the Republican party in your quest for ballot access because you don't have enough support to do it on your own.

I mean, it's not like you really want another four years of George W. Bush running the country down the rat hole, do you?

Or do you?

How long after the Republican Convention will it be before you ask to be included in the Presidential Debates, and how long do you think it will be before George Bush lines up in your corner?

This one's too important for the fate of not only America, but the planet. Stuff your prodigious ego in your back pocket, and make a quiet exit out the side door, please.

You've lost your legacy. You've lost my respect.

And yes, Ralph, I do blame you.

Dems Wary as Republicans Boost Nader

Poor Richard's Sunday Morning Dispatch, 7/25/04

Poll Meme

The old axiom goes, "if you repeat a lie enough times, it must be true". Is it just me, or does it seem like the media wants everyone to have the impression that the presidential race is going to be very close? Regulars at ASZ already know my feeling - I don't think it's going to be a terribly contested race. While in some polls, Bush is still running within the ubiquitious "margin of error", there are enough preconvention polls suggesting that Kerry is widening his lead to make even the most jaded political observers stand up and take notice.

In your heart of hearts, you know that TeamBush is exceptionally nervous right now. Nervous, desperate people do desperate (and stupid) things. The preconvention advertising atmosphere in the Pennsylvania region is most telling. There's been a lot of ad money spent in the market already. For all of that advertising money, here's the most telling thing: almost all of the Kerry / Edwards ads have been positive, focusing on the candidates accomplishments and vision. By contrast, every single Bush / Cheney advertisement has been negative against Kerry, rather than giving viewers an accomplishment-based reason to vote for Bush. Every single one.

The differences in advertising presentation of the candidates seem to be showing up in the polls, too. John Kerry has a 10 point lead in Pennsylvania right now, and larger if you take Nader out of the mix. Oregon (previously considered a tossup) is clearly swinging in Kerry's direction as well.

So why all the "dead heat" talk in the press? It sells papers, TV time, pulls in advertising revenue, and keeps the interest level up by keeping people like me howling. That's what today's media is all about.

Eric Alterman is stealing my stuff

Alterman, 7/7/04: I could probably find more in any single five minute segment of an O’Reilly, Hannity or Scarborough show. Why are the media so furious at Moore? Because he is doing their job for them and taking away their narrative. If they did it better, he wouldn’t have to. Perhaps those reporters attacking Moore should be good enough to publish some of their own comments on the war alongside it.
Cranium, 6/29/04: For crap's sake, build this movie up! "Faulty logic and innacurate assertions"?? Is it just me, or is that supposed to be the exclusive domain of Coulter, Limbaugh, Savage, and Hannity? Mike Moore is on our side! There's more truth in the worst 5 minutes of Fahrenheit 9/11 than there is in a week's worth of bloviating by any of the aforementioned neocon megaphones.
I'll expect my first residual check from MSNBC next week, Eric.

Some better blogs you haven't read in the last week:

A couple of months ago, I ran into a very well written political blog, TwoGlasses. It's written by (man? woman?) the pseudonymed "Toast", a first-order technogeek and political observer. Toast has kept TwoGlasses relatively low key (as opposed to blogwhoring me), so I thought I'd give him / her a plug. Check it out.

Also, Richard (a recently-returned-from-China expat; no relation to moi) at Peking Duck puts together a nice crossection of domestic and Chinese politics. No one is paying much attention to China these days (other than when someone's writing about outsourcing issues), but we should be. It takes a few days / weeks of reading to get into the flow of Peking Duck and understand what Richard's trying to impart - but it's important stuff in the global picture.

The REAL story from the DNC Convention

Doesn't Terry McAullife get it?? I mean, with all of the nattering on by me and everyone else about the media not giving the Democrats positive coverage, convention planners go and make the media stand in line, in pain.

How ya gonna cultivate good media coverage out of that, Terry??

heh.

Stupid award

And finally for this Sunday morning, courtesy of sharp-eyed ASZ reader eteba comes this report from the Great White North:

Bush took the Stupidest Man of the Year Award and for the second time in the history of the two-year-old awards won the Stupidity Award for Reckless Endangerment of the Planet.

That award was presented by Justin Trudeau, son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. He got the biggest reaction of the night from females in the packed house, who hooted, whistled and yelled "yum" at him while he was on stage.

Bush didn't take the category alone, however, and tied with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Can't blame Canada this time, Cartman.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

If You Blinked, You Missed It

This past Thursday marked the release of the 9/11 Commission report, to much fanfare and predictable spin. But were you aware that a second report whitewash was issued on Thursday, very clearly timed simply to fly under the radar screen of the 9/11 report?

I'll be honest, I did know the other report had been issued, but like a good little distracted 'murican, I paid it no heed and went about my day. What report, you ask?

A 300 page report on the Abu Ghraib nightmare was issued by the Army's inspector general, Lt. Gen. Paul T. Mikolashek. And in Sunday's editorial sections, both the New York Times and Washington Post have condemned the report as a stone cold whitewash that defies credulity. After downloading the report earlier today and skimming it quickly, I have to agree. As the NY Times fumes:

The authors of this 300-page whitewash say they found no "systemic" problem - even though there were 94 documented cases of prisoner abuse, including some 40 deaths, 20 of them homicides; even though only four prisons of the 16 they visited had copies of the Geneva Conventions; even though Abu Ghraib was a cesspool with one shower for every 50 inmates; even though the military police were improperly involved in interrogations; even though young people plucked from civilian life were sent to guard prisoners - 50,000 of them in all - with no training.

Never mind any of that. The report pins most of the blame on those depressingly familiar culprits, a few soldiers who behaved badly.
So, the "few bad apples" myth continues to be perpetuated.

Let me ask you this: how in the sam fucking hell can 94 cases of prisoner abuse, including 40 deaths (20 of those deaths being ruled homifuckingcides) not be the result of systemic breakdowns in oversight at the highest level? It's beyond straining credulity.

Like the Times, I held out some hope that Republican Senator John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was an honorable guy who truly wanted to get to the bottom of the issue. But I guess, at the end of the day, the operative word in the preceding sentence is "Republican".

As a result, unlike the Times, I hold out absolutely no hope that a Republican controlled congress will ever initiate a Congressional inquiry with subpoena power. Ever. Ever. Ever.

All the more reason to insure that when John Kerry takes office, he also has at least one chamber of congress on his side. It's the only way that justice in this matter will ever be served.

Another Lost Opportunity?

David Corn has written a stellar piece for The Nation that dissects the 9/11 Commission report, and recaps the completely lackadaisical attitude of the early Bush administration toward the threat of terror. He leads with what should be obvious (but apparently isn't) to even the most partisan media hack:

...George W. Bush is the incumbent president who has to face the voters in November. Although Republicans in recent days have been highlighting the mistakes of the Clinton years, it is not inappropriate for voters to focus on what report tells us about Bush and his administration.
"Not inappropriate", David? Hell, it should be mandatory. Despite cassandras such as Dick Clarke and Thomas Pickard sounding alarms bells from the time the Bush Transition Team rode into town in late 2000, it is crystal clear that TeamBush had other priorities.

Reading Corn's piece is a helluva lot easier than wading through the 500+ pages of the 9/11 Commission report. It distills the essence of the report: while going way out of its way to avoid placing blame, the Commission's findings are clear for those who actually care to take off the partisan blinders.

The events of September 11, 2001 happened on the watch of George W. Bush. There was a cornucopia of warning signals and intelligence which were ignored and / or (perhaps more damning) given second and third tier priority to entertaining Ken Lay's Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force and cooking up the foundation for a case against Saddam.

Once again, TeamBush wiggles off the hook. What's it going to take?

One Giant Leap...

For the Doc... Apollo images newly digitized and online: Project Apollo Image Gallery






Buzz Aldrin Stands Near the LM During the Apollo 11 EVA


Friday, July 23, 2004

Better Than a Stomach Pump

Swallow some bad fish tonight? Have a "few too many" with the boys after work? Feel the need to heave, but just can't quite bring it up?

This should do the trick.

Fair warning - not for faint hearted progressives.

Cool

Don't feel like wading through the whole 9/11 Commission report? Looking for one particular quote or tidbit of information? Here's a completely searchable online version of the report:

VivĂ­simo Clustering Engine - 9/11 Commission Report

Survey Sez...

If it's Friday, it must be survey and poll release time.

Here's a fun one - Harris Poll surveys folks who've seen F9/11. This is just a taste; click through for the whole survey and analysis:

The bad news for the White House in this survey is that independent voters are behaving more like Democrats than Republicans. They are as likely as Democrats to have seen "Fahrenheit 911" (18% compared to 17%) and are much likely than Republicans to expect to see it (20% compared to 10%). And when independent voters see the movie they mostly give it good marks (70% positive) and think it is fair (56%).

Also bad news for the president is that significant minorities of Republican viewers of the movie give it positive ratings (44%) and think it treats the president fairly (30%).
Also on the polling front tonight, swing state Pennsylvania appears to be breaking for Kerry big time:

In Pennsylvania, a key swing state won by Democrat Al Gore in 2000, Kerry was up over Bush by 48 percent to 38 percent, while Nader was at 5 percent, in a state poll conducted by the Los Angeles Times, The Morning Call of Allentown and Muhlenberg College.
Note to Kerry / Edwards supporters in the Philadelphia area: John Kerry continues his trip to Boston, stopping in Philadelphia on Tuesday, 7/27/04. He'll be speaking outside of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, on the Ben Franklin Parkway. Gates open at 4PM. Tickets are freebies, and can be obtained at this link.

GOP Strategy? Suppress the Black Vote

That doesn't surprise anyone here, but this one is hot off the Free Presses in Detroit, where all sorts of conservative types are claiming Dubya was such a hit with the Urban League. For most blacks, this is the reality, a REpublican Party which would rather they didn't vote at all.

State Rep. John Pappageorge, R-Troy, acknowledged using "a bad choice of words" but said his remark shouldn't be construed as racist.

Pappageorge, 73, was quoted in July 16 editions of the Detroit Free Press as saying, "If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we're going to have a tough time in this election."

The city of Detroit is 83% black, Troy is a suburb, so there is no excuse for this guy not knowing.
Ginny Schrader

I'm fairly comfortable with the notion that, barring some catastrophic event between now and November, John Kerry will be the next POTUS. A few months back, when this fact became obvious to me, I opined that at some point the DNC needed to focus some serious effort on reclaiming at least one house of congress.

Yesterday, the job may have become a bit easier, with popular incumbent Pa. Republican Congressman Jim Greenwood formally announcing that he's withdrawing from the race this year. Seems he's been offered a cushy job in the biotech industry.

What was formerly a locked GOP seat has all of a sudden become competitive. Greenwood has about $600,000 in his campaign warchest (which his GOP replacement will inherit); the previously token Democratic Party opposition (Ginny Schrader) has $8,000 in the bank.

How about offering Ginny some encouragement and a buck or two if you can spare it? Show the DNC that this race can, in fact, be competitive.

Schrader for Congress

Update, 12:45PM EDT: I received an email from Atrios pointing me toward a Salon article on Schrader's boom in contributions - and the impact of blogging on fundraising (but we already knew this, right?). If you do donate from here, make it $XX.19 so they can track where it came from.

Problems with Recruiting and Retention?

Saw this over on Blondesense first (natch), but it also popped up on Reuters this morning. Without further snarky comment:

Bigger Breasts for Free: Join the Army

So, what are they doing for the guys?

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Free Speech is NOT a Republican Value

Yeah, one more story of a citizen of this country, this time an elected official, getting the boot from a Bush visit. This happened several days ago, but I think I have seen zero stories of how this happens at Kerry events.

Does anyone believe in the Constitution anymore? Certainly the Republicans want to twist it into a document that forces all Americans to believe as they do, on gay rights, and now about the flag. Yes, I know those were instances of pandering, but can they at least make one action where we can recognize that they believe in the constitution of this country?

Here's the story: The Post Crescent

Why does this stuff always happen in the heartland. Hey, Dubya, I gotta tell you, Wisconsin is a pretty liberal state, and you're trampling core values there. But, sure enough, this time the Bush Administration instructed the Secret Service to boot an elected official who was wearing a Kerry T-Shirt, but who had another shirt over it! Check it out.
Nelson attended a John Kerry for President rally in Fond du Lac earlier in the day before taking his spot in line outside the Bush campaign venue. The event was part of a daylong Bush campaign bus tour through eastern Wisconsin, including the Fox Cities.

Nelson said he was ejected after being caught sporting a T-shirt endorsing the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, though he said it was fully hidden beneath a heavy cotton button-down shirt.

“I have no idea how they knew I was wearing it,” he said Friday.

Now I've known for a while now that the Bushies are focused like a laser on only speaking to their base and keeping anyone with another view aside, but when did they start checking folks' underwear? Yeah, this guy was covered with a shirt over the T-Shirt, likely because he knew it was innappropriate at a Bush rally.

I'm not letting them check my undies.
Q: What is $110,678,000 $116,880,000?

A: One very big cheneying headache for Karl Rove.

The Roots of Cognitive Dissonance - Part II

In the first half of this piece, I described a conversation with an acquaintance of mine at a marine electronics shop, and his personal view that there are no problems with the U.S. economy. As I pointed out, it all depends on the lense through which you view the world.

Kate Storm (rightly) commented that "Cognitive dissonance happens when one's perception of the world around one collides with another reality, when attitude and belief begin to get tweaked by the handwriting on the wall." And I fully concur. The question then becomes, how do we facilitate a national case of cognitive dissonance at the high end of the economic spectrum?

Let me offer the following as an example: at the same time that I was writing Part I yesterday, I was also crewing the set up and staffing of "hot dog day" at a local inner city food bank (I'm a helluva multi-tasker). It's a fun event that's held once per year, and has kind of a carnival atmosphere - games, waterslides, dunk tanks, hoop contests, local celebrities, and of course, food. The kids that you seen in the picture to the right (part of a crowd of about 500 that attended) are not wastrels who just wandered in off the street from the inner city neighborhood that surrounds the food bank. Each one is a client of a social service agency served by the food bank (food pantries, churches, shelters, etc.) - a child who, if not for the services of the food bank, wouldn't be eating very well or very regularly.

Demand for services at food banks throughout the country is booming, yet operational funding is hard to come by (more about this in a future post). But you know what? Donated food is not hard to come by, both from food outlets (stores and food processing plants) and private donations. It's even perplexing to the president of the food bank where the picture above was taken. She recently noted that she's never seen anything like the conditions that exist today - a crappy economic situation at the low end; bountiful food donations from the high end.

So, does the opportunity for cognitive dissonance lay somewhere between the children who attended hot dog day and the sale of a $25,000 fish-finding sonar unit?

Perhaps if my boating acquaintance spent a Saturday morning passing out food at a local food pantry, and ran into one of his $10 per hour employees, he could be persuaded that the economy isn't as good as his own business would indicate. But I'm not holding my breath waiting for him to rub elbows with the unwashed lower caste.

I'm pretty sure that food pantry operating hours would conflict with teeoff times at the club on Saturday morning.

Water, Water Everywhere:
In bottles, and coming to You for a price, a 21st Century commodity

"Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink."
(Coleridge)

As much as I give my folks grief about the deep malarky of my childhood, one thing you'll never hear from me is "no one read to me". Dad read out loud, a lot. He read from Dr. Seuss and Alfred Bester, and Robert Service, and the National Geographic, and he read Kipling and Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner

I came across this today from MSNBC's food editor: Is your bottled water coming from a faucet? It's all about the "commodification" of water, and only as we view it in the US. In other places in the world the big business of water is far more nefarious, and you'll have to exercise your search engine muscles on your own for more, unless I get more ambitious later.

People on the Left Coast might want to try to rent or buy the PBS series called "The Cadillac Desert". PBS used to have a big spread at their Web site on it, but it's been retired. You can find the video here at Amazon. The series was perspective-jogging and disturbing, but necessary. Mulholland's folly has created lasting ripples in ponds with ever-decreasing levels of water here on the Left Coast. The series is worth the money.

Here on: On Western Water as a Commons

More: Water as Commodity
Indigenous Peoples Kyoto Water Declaration

Finally, I'll leave you with a hierarchy of needs ... a much simpler one than Abraham Maslow proposed. It goes like this: Your life ends after about:

3 minutes without air
3 days without water
3 weeks to 3 months without food


How long will US "consumers" allow Coca-Cola and Pepsi and Evian to sell them and everyone else water without a fight? When I was a kid my parents' house had a well. We paid for electricity to pump it. Call me a primitivist if you like. Selling water to people dying of dehydration is an abomination.

For the record, I use city water filtered through a Pur Pitcher, and don't ever buy bottled water.
Slices of Life from the Hilarious Happy Planet

Okay. I admit it, I occasionally visit Fark.com. This morning, my first official day off -- no work today, and my dear husband is out of town for the next seven days (details on request for this rare event) -- I wandered back to Fark to gather P.T. Barnumesque portraits and other fine examples of "news" from our solar system's third rock, AKA the Happy Planet. This is just an observer's quick sampling. (Legal disclaimer: I cannot be held responsible for computer keyboard and monitor damage resulting from the reading of said samples) ;-) Make of them what you will. I chose tidbits that brought a knowing smile to my lips. Here ya go:

In Phoenix, Aridzona, as we call it: Tavern being converted to alcohol-treatment center. This is just wrong! What a world, what a world! Carrie Nation would be mighty proud now.

From a Columbia U. student with too much time for musings: Female Reproductive Anatomy as Model for the Dodge Ram Truck emblem.

And from another august institution of higher learning, MIT, comes Beauty & the Geek. Lab coat, pocket protector, bikini. All in the name of scholarship, mind you.

Swoop on over to Salt Lake City, Utah to read what the Deseret News has to say about a Felonious mystery reader censoring swear words at Layton library.

From Jerusalem, (Israel, that is) our look into a Planet of Happy Apes' future: Monkey hits stride after near-death experience.

Finally, back across the globe to the US "heartland", Independence, Missouri... we're having fun, right? ... All those with an affinity to the human inhabitants of double-wide mobile homes, and tract home suburbs of Los Angeles will find this amusing: Cracking down on yard parking.

To find all the locations of the blurbs listed above you might check out: Earth from Space. (a NASA site, Doc!)

So there. Don't tell me you have nothing to do at work. Reading is good for what ails us. ;-)
Is the U.S. is Running on Empty?

Driving into work this morning, I heard a figure that kind of astounded me. According to a Morning Edition report, between Iraq and Afghanistan (primarily Iraq), the U.S. military / Coalition Provisional Authority has blown through $191 billion dollars in the past couple of years. And now they're asking for more. The estimated need for this year was apparently lowballed by almost a factor of three. And that's either really bad budgeting or a reflection of garden-variety bullshitting in the original funding request.

What's probably more depressing is that $191 billion is just what's reflected "on the books", and totally excludes money spent in Iraq out of the massive black budgets of various agencies.

(As an aside, I'm not quite sure how to reconcile these McDonald's-type numbers with reports that say "the allocated money isn't being spent".)

Now comes a report from the Washington Post that war funds are dwindling away...

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

The Army, which is overspending its budget by $10.2 billion for operations and maintenance, is asking the Marines and the Air Force to help cover the escalating costs of its logistics contract with Halliburton Co. But the Air Force is also exceeding its budget by $1.4 billion, while the Marines are coming up $500 million short. The Army is even having trouble paying the contractors guarding its garrisons outside the war zones, the report said.
And another WAPO report laments the Army "running low on ammo".

Many pundits, most of who are much more tuned in than myself, have compared U.S. involvement in Iraq to our Vietnam experience. However, I'm beginning to believe our involvement probably more closely mirrors the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the late 1970's:

It may seem a bit far-reaching that a country like Afghanistan had any bearing on the fall of the Soviet Union. Anthony Arnold, however, compares Soviet Union with a sick old man and Afghanistan as the pebble which this exhausted sick man stumbled on and fell. One could easily dismiss Arnold's argument if he had been the only expert, or at least among the few writers who had articulated this point. But surprisingly, there are quiet a number of authors who suggest Afghanistan as one of the considerable factors in the demise of the USSR...

Economic devastation, political suppression, despotic rule, and forced virtues were Stalinistic old-school policies, which held the chains surrounding a society that no longer could be held from change. Afghanistan was a major factor in breaking the myths which had surrounded the Soviet Empire for decades. Acknowledging the speedy implementation of Prestroika and Glasnost, coupled with a breakdown of the economics and changing Soviet ideology were elements breaking apart the Soviet Union.
Now, I'm not suggesting (or even hoping) that the U.S. is heading down the bankrupt russkie rat hole as a result of our involvement in Iraq. I believe hope that the national economic makeup of the U.S. is sufficiently different from that of the ex-Soviet Union to prevent any such similar scenario.

Here's a proposition that I want you to think about. Ronald Reagan didn't defeat the Russian Bear. The Russian Bear defeated the Russian Bear. When the state couldn't put enough bread on people's tables and vodka in their glasses because of economics and the basic flaws of collectivism that eventually caught up with the Bolshevik’s, the bloated Soviet Union had no economic recourse other than to shed it's geographic sphere of influence. The Soviet Union ship of state sunk in a hurry. And as a result, almost 30 years later, Russia is still struggling to find its way in the new world order.

Is there a lesson in the demise of the Soviet Union? I think so. Not to put too fine of a point on it, or steal the title of a current book, but imperial hubris (and using a stretched military to project that hubris) brought down an empire through economic devastation.

But then, historically, isn't that what usually brings down empires?

What I Won't Be Writing About Today

The 9/11 whitewas...er...report. Plenty of other sites to read the blather. You thought it was going to blame the Bush administration for ignoring the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing memo entitled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike US"? I said months ago the 9/11 Commission report would be a non-starter. Told ya so.

Neener, neener.

(Sometimes I hate when I'm right.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The Roots of Cognitive Dissonance - Part I

I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday. And now I understand why folks at the middle-high / high end are going, "Bad economy? What bad economy?"

Here's the story. A recent acquaintance of mine is somewhat of a bigshot for a marine electronics supply company. This particular company sells boating electronic equipment to a fairly high end clientele - we're not talking 18 foot SunRay boats here. Their primary niche is a customer base who own 25 to 75 foot pleasure boats - what you would generally refer to as "yachts" if you saw them docked at a local marina.

As we were wrapping up our conversation (after being interrupted several times by phone sales and inquiries), he closed with this:

"Business has never been better. I keep hearing all of this stuff about a bad economy, well, I'm not seeing it here. Yesterday, I was talking with one of our suppliers, and even this deep into July, they're having a hard time keeping up with demand. So, where's the disconnect? I can't see where things are that bad."

Obviously, a hard core Republican. Unfortunately, I wasn't in a position to set him straight at that particular time.

But I hope you get my drift. One thing we've clearly seen over the past several years (and I'll go as far as to indict the conservative Democratic Party administration that preceded the current business-friendly neoclowns) is that the rich have most certainly gotten richer. So, someone catering to that clientele clearly isn't going to see ongoing problems with the economy. They're not selling to the guy that's working two jobs just to pay the rent.

Like anything in life, your perspective is skewed by the lenses with which you view your immediate surroundings. When your station in life is working trade booths at sold-out boat shows, of course you're not going to see the soft underbelly of the country, which is getting softer by the day.

You can google the stats yourself; I don't have the time today to get into a long discussion on the widening gap between the "haves" and the "have nots". It's disheartening to note that the company my acquaintance works for pays the folks that push the product out the door to their high end customers $9 or $10 per hour.

And they're grateful for that.

More later.

Update, 11AM: Billmon @ Whiskey Bar has an excellent post up that ties right into my thoughts.

Core Values in West Virginia

Of all things, I have found myself reading the Charleston Gazette lately, following a story from back on the 4th of July. Seems Nicole and Jeff Rank, FEMA emplyees, went to a Bush event, even had tickets for it, but were bold enough to wear homemade T-Shirts that said "Love America, Hate Bush" on them. The Secret Service saw the shirts there in the crowd, worn by two law abiding citizens with tickets for the event, and promptly asked the city police to arrest the pair. Of course, this is not the first such story about folks getting their right of free speech suppressed by the Bush Admninistration, but the reaction here may be telling.

First, we're talking West Virginia here. Down home values. And the reaction? There has evidently been a huge groundswell of support for the Ranks. On Monday the mayor made a public apology, but that evidently was not enough. Perhaps some huge groundswell of community support, or mere decency, has now pushed the City Council to unanimously add to the apology with one of their own. Yes, the Republicans on the City Council concurred.
The apology, presented in a resolution by Councilman Harry Deitzler, said that the rights of the Ranks “to freely express themselves, as guaranteed by both the United States and West Virginia Constitutions, was directly or indirectly abridged, suppressed, or prevented by the City of Charleston.”

“It was a public event, not a private or a political event,” Deitzler said. “Taxpayers paid to bring [the president] in on an official presidential visit. In this country ... those who disagree with the government are allowed to state that disagreement.”

Perhaps this will play nationwide. Suppression of speech may be just that issue, if played up, that will sway swing voters. No, I do not expect the Bush team to soften on the issue. They appear not to know how to gauge the mood of the people on this or other issues. They are more concerned with amending the Constitution to limit free speech and dividing Americans than they are in attending to the values Americans hold dear. In West Virginia, those values are clearly Free Speech.
Martha Stewart and Nelson Mandela

What's wrong with this picture? I've got nothing personal against Martha. When first investigated she should have come clean, so she brought this on herself. But after that amazing performance outside her sentencing the other day, and after a completely stunning performance on Barbara Walters, you gotta wonder if she has ANY SORT OF THING REMOTELY RESEMBLING A CLUE!

She, she. . . I'm stunned sometimes. She compared herself to Nelson Mandela! This is so ludicrous that it prevents cogent commentary. The best I've seen concerning her statements is a story by Andrew Borowitz.

She must be a closet Republican.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Bezos Chokes, Seb Saves the Day

A million years ago, there was a one line post on ASZ about Sadly, No!'s truly amazing find - Amazon.com reader reviews of "My Pet Goat". Sadly, yes, Amazon drove a stake through the heart of reviews for the book, and they're no longer on available at Amazon's website.

But wait! Happily, almost all of the reviews were captured prior to deletion, and have now been mirrored at Sadly, No!

Please, enjoy responsibly!