The Mahablog: Truth and the Bush Administration

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saturday, july 31, 2004

What'd I Say
Via Atrios -- the media whores are already talking down the post-convention bounce. Newsweek is calling it a "baby bounce": "Kerry’s four-point “bounce” is the smallest in the history of the NEWSWEEK poll."
Hey, hey, hey, hey, tell me what'd I say ...
That's the second paragraph. If you keep reading, however, the news for Kerry gets better.
Atrios also wonders about the Cheney loyalty oaths ... "How the hell are Bush/Cheney going to campaign seriously given the extreme private nature of all of their events and the extreme security associated with them?" Good point. Very weird.

9:40 pm | link

That Old, Old Song
In 2000 Bush beat back a challenge from John McCain by running as a "Reformer With Results." Never mind that his actual record in Texas was lightweight and his "results" questionable.
Now he's running on the theme that "Results Matter," which to me is the best argument yet for running Bush out of office. As soon as possible. Tarred and feathered.
Yesterday one of his results was revealed -- record budget deficits. Way to go.

9:36 am | link

friday, july 30, 2004

Conventional Wisdom
Significantly, the poll shows that Kerry's numbers didn't change, but Bush's did -- downward. So, we're not looking at a Dem convention bounce (which is what the news whores will be saying today, if they mention Zogby at all). We're looking at an electorate that is turning against Bush.
In recent days the TV wingnut "pundits" have been touting an ABC News-Washington Post poll (see, for example, typical pack of lies from the Washington Times and more originating from the New York Daily News) that indicated a greater trust for Bush to fight terrorism. This poll provides about the only good news the Bush campaign has had in a while (since most other major polls put Kerry ahead), so the whores ran it up the flagpole and demanded a salute.
I haven't seen this poll, so I don't know how the question was worded or exactly when the poll was taken. However, I suspect many people polled are just repeating "conventional wisdom" -- saying what they've been taught to say by media whores.
I watched Kerry's speech on PBS last night, so I missed the frantic efforts by the streetwalkers on the other channels to distract the audience from what Kerry was saying. I understand CNN was particularly frantic. Says Salon:

The post-speech analysis got off to a comical start on CNN, when the news channel inadvertently broadcast frantic comments from a Democratic producer in a rage that more balloons were not dropping from the ceiling of the Fleet Center: ""More balloons! We need all of them coming down! All balloons! Balloons? What's happening, balloons? There's not enough coming down. All balloons! Where the hell -- there's nothing falling! What the fuck are you guys doing up there?"

No word yet if any FCC action will be taken against CNN.

I say we all email the FCC today and demand CNN be brought to justice. Be sure to email Michael Powell, too.  
According to this Salon round-up, however, the majority of the punditocracy praised the speech, and most of the right-wing shills didn't run it down as much as they did Al Gore's acceptance speech four years ago.
This doesn't mean the shills will not stop trying to trash the Dem Convention. In the next few days expect them to tell us the convention failed because Kerry didn't get a big enough bounce:

A few weeks back, Bush strategist Matthew Dowd released a memo arguing that, based on “historical trends,” the Kerry-Edwards ticket ought to emerge from Boston with a 15-point lead. Of course, like anything else you spoon feed the media, that became a buzz and then a mantra. And you can bet the republicans will be scoffing if Kerry doesn’t immediately show those lofty numbers in every single poll.

But no one ever bothered to examine the republican claim on its surface.  Going into the convention, the country is more or less split 45-45, with third party candidate Ralph Nader polling around 4 per cent or so.  Even assuming those numbers are soft, that leaves only about 6-8 per cent or so of undecided voters left out there to sway. 

So where is that 15 per cent supposed to come from?  Are a few nights worth of speeches extolling Kerry and his ideals supposed to win over every undecided voter plus shake loose 4 percent of the other guys’ votes as well?!

Here’s the math: for Kerry to literally get a 15 percent bounce, he’d have to go up to 60%, leaving Bush and Nader to share the other the 40%.  In other words, to achieve a Dowd’s “historical” fifteen percent bounce he’d have to end up twenty points ahead!

Or, to simply achieve a 15 percent spread in the numbers, Kerry has to poll at 57%, with Bush going down to 42%, and Nader falling off the earth at one percent.  And remember, that leaves no undecided voters anywhere on the continent.  I’m not a historian, but I don’t believe there is any historical basis for that nifty trick.
 [Kevin Kelton, Washington Dispatch, July 29, 2004]

So keep watch for the "15 percent" talking point, and expect the "anchors" like Blitzer and Matthews to not challenge it.

Important Update

Every blogger in Left Blogistan will be linking Krugman today. Click here to see why.


7:35 am | link

thursday, july 29, 2004

And There They Go
Kerry did the job. The speech was bold, IMO, and hit all the right notes. Bush and the RNC will have a hard time topping Kerry.
Now, whatever else you do, be sure you see tonight's Daily Show on Comedy Central. If you missed it, be sure to tape it, or be sure to catch the repeat tomorrow, but see it. It's brilliant.

11:41 pm | link

Let Them Eat Prozac
The Pugs are trying to get political mileage out of photos of John Kerry in a decontamination suit. They're hoping for another Dukakis-in-a-tank moment. So let's see what kind of mileage we can get from this:
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.

The comment was apparently directed to a colleague who was transferring a phone call from a reporter asking about job quality, and who overheard the remark.

When told the Prozac comment had been overheard, Sheybani said: "Oh, I was just kidding."
Sure you were, sweetums.

7:43 pm | link

This Is Your Bush on Drugs?
Via Hammerdown ... there's another article in Capitol Hill Blue about Bush's eroding mental health:

A sullen President George W. Bush is withdrawing more and more from aides and senior staff, retreating into a private, paranoid world where only the ardent loyalists are welcome. ... Bush’s erratic behavior and sharp mood swings led White House physician Col. Richard J. Tubb to put the President on powerful anti-depressant drugs after he stormed off stage rather than answer reporters' questions about his relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth J. Lay, but White House insiders say the strong, prescription medications seem to increase Bush’s sullen behavior towards those around him.

I think we have to be very careful about these Capitol Hill Blue reports, because they don't seem to be corroborated anywhere. Doesn't mean there isn't some truth in them, though.

Speaking as someone with lots of personal experience with depression and the drugs that treat it, I question whether Bush's behavior indicates depression. Depressives are usually enervated and may spend hours staring vacantly at wallpaper, although on the inside they may be overcome with emotional pain and anxiety. Certainly the boy ain't right, but I don't think his problem is depression.

4:25 pm | link

Why the Dems Will Never Nominate Hillary
All in all I like Hillary Clinton. I voted to send her to the Senate in 2000, and in 2006 I expect to do so again. However, I don't think she represents the future of the Democratic Party, and I don't believe she will ever receive a presidential nomination.
I want to go back to Matt Bai's excellent article in Sunday's New York Times:

In his 1992 campaign, Clinton vowed to drag the party into the new economy, bringing it toward the center on social and economic issues that mattered to an anxious middle class. Parts of that agenda, like a middle-class tax credit and welfare reform, met with success. But weakened by the Republican takeover of Congress and then his impeachment, Clinton's lasting legacy to the party seems to have amounted to something far less than an ideological modernization; somewhere along the line, Clintonism devolved into a series of rhetorical gimmicks -- ''fighting for working families,'' ''working hard and playing by the rules'' -- aimed at appeasing conservatives and winning over pet constituencies like ''soccer moms'' and ''office park dads.'' Underneath all the now-tired mantras, there remains a vacuum at the core of the party, an absence of any transformative worldview for the century unfurling before us.

Clinton may have been the most effective president in my memory, given that Kennedy didn't make it to the end of his first term. With the obstacles he faced, Clinton did a remarkable job.
However, I think Clintonism is more a strategy than a legacy. It is a strategy that worked for Bill Clinton in the 1990s, although it didn't seem to help the rest of the Dem Party much. We lost much ground in Congress during the Clinton years. 
But these are no longer the 1990s. The political landscape is shifting. And given that the biggest thing bequeathed by Clinton to the Dems is the terminally clueless Democratic Leadership Council, I think it's safe to say it's shifting away from Clintonism and the politics of me-tooism. Josh Marshall wrote yesterday,

On the surface, the fiery rhetoric and animus of 2003 and early 2004 were directed at President Bush. And to some degree of course they were. But the punch of that rhetoric derived not so much from Democrats' antipathy for President Bush as from a pitched battle, almost a rebellion, within the Democratic party -- the grassroots of the Democratic party insisting that Washington Democrats were compromising with the president over particulars when he was leading the country in a direction that had to be opposed across the board. Fiery rhetoric against President Bush was fiery rhetoric against compromise and accomodation with him. In other words, it was to a very real degree aimed at other Democrats.

Amen, bro' Josh. Granted I'm not in Boston, but what I'm seeing on television is a party sick to death of playing the other guy's game. The Dems are fired up to take the fight to the Bushies and on the Democrats' own terms.
Remarkably, the Dems already are looking past Bush to the future of the party. Matt Stoller wrote on BOP News:

There's something more here than dislike at Bush. Indeed, anger at Bush just isn't around. Instead, there's a beginning of a conversation about where to take the party, combined with a hopeful feeling not just that Bush can lose, but that the Democrats can win. It's like the first shoots of spring after a long winter.

This is great news. No more moving to the Right to steal a few voters away from the GOP while ignoring the progressive base. The New Democrats have gotten old.
Bill Clinton is a political genius, and he may very well understand what is happening. But Hillary as Senator has pretty much sung the old New Democrat song. If the Democratic Party becomes the progressive powerhouse I think it can be, by 2008 or 2012 Hillary will be way old news.
Maybe by then Chris Matthews will stop having nightmares about Hillary biting off his head (or whatever).

10:10 am | link

wednesday, july 28, 2004

Positive v. Negative
John Edwards draws a line between GOP negativity and Dem positivity. Will it work with the swing voters? I'm hoping the unassimilated voters are a sick to death of Bushie fearmongering and divisiveness, as I am.
Now Ralph Reed is snickering at the Dems and telling outright lies about Kerry's record, which Wolf "dumb as a post" Blitzer does not correct. I'm sick of this stuff.

11:11 pm | link

Let Me Speak for Myself, Thanks
This is not about the convention, but I need to vent.
William Safire purports to speak for a pro-choice position in today's New York Times:
People who are resolutely pro-choice believe that life begins at birth, and that a woman has a right to abort what is taking place in her own body any time during a pregnancy.
Mr. Safire, I don't believe that and I've been pro-choice since before Roe v. Wade, which was before anyone was calling a pro-abortion rights position "pro choice."
Bill continues:
People who are resolutely pro-life believe that life begins at conception and that aborting that embryo or fetus is akin to murder.
Though the two sides disagree about when life begins, they agree on what they are arguing about.

I disagree that there are only two sides. There are myriad "pro-choice" sides, even without the other side. So I hardly think the "two sides" "agree on what they are arguing about."

You can be pro-choice with no restrictions on abortion, or pro-life with absolute restrictions, or - like most Americans - comfortable enough with current law discouraging late-term abortion. But most find it difficult in logic to be for both extremes at the same time.

As I believe in neither extreme as Mr. Safire describes them, it's no problem for me at all. But let's take his assumptions one at a time.

People who are resolutely pro-choice believe that life begins at birth

I don't doubt there are a few people out there who think that way, just as I have no doubt there are a few people out there who believe they've been abducted by aliens. But it's an irrational statement on its face, since the product of pregnancy is demonstrably living at all stages of development, and I don't think it's a common opinion.

IMO any sentence that kicks off with "Life begins..." is false. Science cannot tell us with certainty that life ever begins. All we know is that life appeared on this planet a very long time ago. Whether it originated on this planet, by divine creation or by chemical reaction; or whether earth was seeded with life by meteorites from Mars (which doesn't tell us how life got to Mars) or by space traveling aliens, we do not know.

Individual organisms begin and end, but life itself may be beginingless and endless.

However life got here, since appearing on earth it has continued. It travels from form to form as a flame passes from candle to candle, celebrating itself in infinite manifestations. A not-living thing cannot become a living thing. Living things can only be created by life.

Safire doesn't mention this, but the other howler I sometimes hear is that abortion-rights advocates deny a human fetus is human. That's silly; of course the product of a human pregnancy is human. Duh.

It's at this point the anti-rights types start flapping around, sputtering ... if you think a fetus is human life, that means you must advocate MURDER!!!!! (Sound effect: Organ glissando in F minor)

No. The product of pregnancy may be human life from conception, but at conception it's in a very primitive, pre-hominid (indeed, pre-vertebrate) and insentient form.

Therefore, can we call an embryo a person, with rights that trump the rights of the mother?  That's silly, I say. Of course not.

But when does personhood begin? This is not a question science can answer. There is no clear, bright line. DNA aside, there more difference between a blastocyst and a viable fetus than between spinach and a raccoon. But the change from a collection of cells to a viable organism is incremental. Unlike an oven-stuffer roaster, there's no little plastic thingy to pop up and tell us when personhood has arrived.

Indeed, as personhood is a cultural-social construct, I promise you we would reach an impasse trying to agree what personhood is, never mind when it begins. (Or if it is; see, for example, the Buddhist teaching of anatta.)

... a woman has a right to abort what is taking place in her own body any time during a pregnancy.

I (and, I suspect, most advocates of abortion rights) would have no problem at all prohibiting elective abortions when there is even a remote possibility the fetus might be viable -- as long as exceptions are made for pregnancies posing a severe health threat to the mother or in cases of severe fetal defect. Then, I think, the mother, the couple, the parents, should be given the choice to terminate. And they should be able to make that choice privately, in consultation with physicians, without having to petition a government tribunal.

Many who support abortion rights do so for this reason: Where abortion is illegal or difficult to obtain, abortions are performed later in pregnancy. The Alan Guttmacher Institute has all kinds of data showing that making abortions illegal has little impact on the rate of abortion. See especially this study, Chart C. 

In the United States today, 88 percent of abortions take place in the first trimester. 95 percent of abortions are performed by the 15th week of gestation. According to Guttmacher, almost half of the women having later abortions say they were delayed because of problems in affording, finding or getting to abortion services. In other words, were it not for the endless work of the so-called "right to life" brigade to make getting an abortion difficult, a higher percentage of abortions would be performed in the first trimester.

And let us not forget the coat hanger. Where abortions are illegal, women risk their lives to obtain them. Abortion methods in Latin America, for example, include punching the stomach, inserting sharp objects (e.g. knitting needles, sticks), and flushing the womb with caustic chemicals like bleach. (See Table 5.)

To me, keeping abortion legal has less to do with a right to do whatever one wants with one's body, than with a genuine respect for life and the living of life. And that means I respect the lives and experiences and personhood of those women who decide, for whatever reason, they are not prepared to continue a pregnancy. I have no right to make that decision for someone else.

And sometimes I might disagree with those decisions. It's terribly sad to terminate a pregnancy. But I know that if the decision were left to government bureaucracy, many women who really need abortions would be denied them.

People who are resolutely pro-life believe that life begins at conception and that aborting that embryo or fetus is akin to murder.

That may be, although many of those same people make exceptions -- for rape, for incest, for cases of fetal deformity. Seems a tad inconsistent. But the anti-rights people didn't vote for me to speak for them.

Though the two sides disagree about when life begins, they agree on what they are arguing about.

But we don't. After all these years, we still don't. Those on the fringes wear T-shirts and bumper stickers and scream slogans, but the fringes do not represent most people. I think most people are seeking a middle way. They want to find a balance that extends compassion to both the woman and the fetus.

You can be pro-choice with no restrictions on abortion, or pro-life with absolute restrictions, or - like most Americans - comfortable enough with current law discouraging late-term abortion. But most find it difficult in logic to be for both extremes at the same time.

I think Safire is right that most Americans are comfortable enough with current law discouraging late-term abortion. And most people who call themselves pro-choice would be more comfortable with laws discouraging late-term abortion if we weren't endlessly fighting "junk" legislation like this and this.

IMO the abortion fight is no longer being waged between pro-choice and anti-choice factions. It is being fought between extremist anti-choice factions and everyone else, not to mention anti-choice factions and medical science.

Now, Safire's point is that John Kerry is a "straddler" because he respects abortions rights but also believes life begins at conception. John Kerry might also believe that Catholic communion is necessary to enter into Heaven, but I don't see him trying to impose that belief through legislation.

Let us be logical, Mr. Safire.  

8:36 pm | link

No Fear
To see the fundamental difference between the Dems and the Pugs, just look at Teresa Heinz Kerry and Laura Welch Bush.
Teresa Kerry is real. She will be who she is -- multifaceted, refined yet earthy, cerebral and sensual, focused and passionate. Even as she plays the role of supportive spouse, she does it her way -- she spoke last night of her own experiences, making it clear she has her own identity and is not just the woman's auxiliary of John Kerry.
And then there's Laura Bush. I do not dislike Laura. She's an attractive and gracious woman. However, she seems ... artificial. I suspect when she's off camera Karl Rove pulls her battery pack and tucks her away in a pink satin box.
The Hard Right is tooling up to demonize Teresa the way they demonized Hillary. And why do they hate Hillary? They're afraid of her.
webkali.jpgI watched a bit of the "Chris Matthews Show" this weekend. Matthews and his panel of "pundits" could think of nothing else to talk about than how Hillary is playing the Democrats to get herself elected president. The theory is that Hillary the Ambitious, Hillary the Schemer, would rather Kerry lost in November so she can get the nomination in 2008.
I bet Matthews has nightmares about Hillary hiding under his bed, waiting to rip his heart out of his chest and eat it.
The Republicans are playing to the emotions of white men who resent losing their place in the center of a patriarchal universe. They've been doing this since the Nixon Administration, and they get better and better at it. And by now we've got a whole generation of white guys who grew up believing some snotty liberal elitist feminazis are out to castrate them.
I know I've sung this song before, but it's an important point. I think misfiring masculinity may be the root of all political evil in this country. See, for example, the way Norman Mailer linked Fear of the Female to support for the war in Iraq.
As sociologist Arlie Hochschild wrote in "Let Them Eat War":

Let's begin by re-imagining the blue-collar man, for we do not normally think of him as a fearful man. ... Since the l970s, the blue-collar man has taken a lot of economic hits. The buying power of his paycheck, the size of his benefits, the security of his job -- all these have diminished. ... For anyone who stakes his pride on earning an honest day's pay, this economic fall is, unsurprisingly enough, hard to bear. How, then, do these blue-collar men feel about it? Ed Landry said he felt "numb." Others are anxious, humiliated and, as who wouldn't be, fearful. But in cultural terms, Nascar Dad isn't supposed to feel afraid. What he can feel though is angry. As Susan Faludi has described so well in her book Stiffed, that is what many such men feel. As a friend who works in a Maine lumber mill among blue-collar Republicans explained about his co-workers, "They felt that everyone else -- women, kids, minorities -- were all moving up, and they felt like they were moving down. Even the spotted owl seemed like it was on its way up, while he and his job, were on the way down. And he's angry."

A wise person I know once said, "everything you feed will grow." And Republicans have been feeding the resentment felt by working-class white men for nearly forty or so years. GOP surrogates like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly keep it stoked. Had it not been fed it might be dead by now. In the past forty years white guys might have gotten over their resentment and accepted a more egalitarian world. But it was fed, and now it's huge and impenetrable. And George Bush is playing to it to the hilt, because it's all he's got.  
Back to Laura Bush -- the connection between subservient wives and "regular guy" status discussed nicely in this Buzzflash interview with the above-mentioned Arlie Hothschild.
Buzzflash: ... Bush can't communicate directly to the white male about how he stands for the white male being on top, so there's a lot of coding going on, it seems. And much of this is subliminal, because Bush can't say, well, I keep Laura in her place, but --

Hochschild: You never see her. She's in a lockbox.

BuzzFlash: And she's always walking behind him and is carefully scripted to say as little as possible. If she says anything, it's once or twice a month, and it's a sentence or two, or maybe a highly controlled interview. In their relationship, she symbolizes the woman who is always deferential to the husband. ...  He's picking their pockets but saying to them -- with a wink and a nod, in politically correct code words and symbols -- like that all-male signing of the late-term abortion bill, where only white males were present -- the white guys are in charge here. "Notice there's no women," Bush is coding to them. "We're reigning them in, but not officially -- we're going to say we're all for women."

And then a wink, a wink and a nod.

This National Review Online article describes Laura Bush as an ideal First Lady: "She is poised, well-read, low-key, and rarely discusses controversial issues in depth [i.e., she keeps her mouth shut and knows her place -- maha] She seems to believe her husband was elected and that, as First Lady, she is there to support him. ... We are comfortable with Laura Bush. A former teacher, she is non-threatening, classy, and devoted to mother-and-apple-pie issues like literacy and schools. She is easy to interview but journalists are not going to hear her spouting off about how much she has come to dislike Democratic spin, even if she does." [emphasis added]

The author, Sheri Annis, describes Teresa Heinz Kerry as "refreshing." But clearly, she finds THK a little disturbing and possibly a freak:. "She does not stick to the talking points. In fact, Heinz Kerry described Republican charges about her and her husband as un-American during the couple's joint 60 Minutes appearance. Such heated rhetoric is no way to win over swing voters.... Teresa Heinz Kerry didn't land on the cover of Newsweek because she's a strong, independent woman, but because she's viewed as quirky."

Um, how many years has it been since Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique? (Forty-one, I believe.)

In 1973 I had a summer job working for the PR department of the Missouri State Fair. One of my duties was to write stories for home-town papers about the winners of livestock shows. So I spent a couple of weeks attending cattle competitions.

The dairy cattle judges said something peculiar whenever they gave a prize to a cow; something like, "I like this here cow 'cause she's got a good udder on her and good femininity." This seemed  more like Miss America than Best 2-Year-Old Holstein.

So finally I asked one of the judges what he meant by "good femininity." He looked bemused. It means, he said, that she stays out in the pasture an' chews her cud and don't cause no trouble.

The difference between the Dems and the Pugs is that Dems aren't afraid of women who cause trouble. Dems seem to enjoy trouble-causing women, in fact.

But Pugs are afraid of them. Pugs prefer Holsteins to human women. This is why Pugs are weenies.

10:07 am | link

tuesday, july 27, 2004

Seeing the Promised Land
Oh ... my ... gawd ... Barack Obama  ... unbelievable. What a great speech.
The Dems should send videos of that speech to every "swing" voter in America.

10:18 pm | link

WSJ on a Roll
Synopsis:  Ignoring the myriad reports that all Berger took were copies, not originals (see my comments from Saturday), the unnamed writer speculates that Berger wanted to hide comments by Richard Clarke suggesting Berger obstructed anti-terrorist activities during the Clinton Administration.
Having speculated that Mr. Clarke said such a thing, the writer goes on to say that this supposed information "belies the public line taken by both Mr. Berger and Mr. Clarke, which is no small matter given how critical both have been about the Bush Administration these past few months. Certainly their own credibility is an issue, as is that of Mr. Clinton, who has also claimed that he told Mr. Bush how consumed he was with al Qaeda."
Got that? Berger (a) was trying to hide something because he took copies of documents from the National Archives, although he slipped up and left the originals behind; (b) the WSJ has no way to know what was in those documents, but it guesses it was something negative Richard Clarke said about Sandy Berger back in the 1990s; and (c) since they are both saying entirely different stuff now, this proves they are liars.
The writer goes on to speculate that Berger somehow subverted the work of the 9/11 Commission, although the commission says he didn't, because there is no way to know what Berger was hiding, except that the commission says it got all the documents it wanted and, anyway, the originals were still safe and sound in the National Archives.
In April we learned that the White House was withholding thousands of pages of National Archive documents regarding Clinton Administration counterterrorism measures from the 9/11 Commission, but the WSJ isn't concerned about this.

Synopsis: Democrats are lying about the dangers of computer voting without a paper trail. Compare contrast with today's Paul Krugman column: "Fear of Fraud."

James Taranto on Presidential Leadership

Taranto chokes back panic mode (see previous blog, below) and rationalizes why winning Ohio is unimportant to the GOP.

Scott Simon, "When Punchline Trumps Honesty: There's more McCarthy than Murrow in the work of Michael Moore."

The wingnuts just can't get over F9/11, can they? Panic mode, people?

And have you noticed none of these people write coherently? WSJ's turgid rhetoric is very hard to follow. This is, of course, deliberate.


Mahareader Allan F. responded to this morning's blog:

It's been my observation that Bush and all his ilk have been doing something since the election 2000, this behaviour is best described as "blaming your opponent for the thing you are most vulnerable in" (i.e., Gore is a liar vs. I served my military duty honorably, you can find many more examples) It's second nature for Bush to do this, and it works: you don't reply back with the truth because it sounds like a school yard fight. ( I can hear him in my head blaming Jeb for something he did as a kid using the same line of obfuscation with Mama Barbara. I wasn't there, mind, but I can still hear it. Maybe I should see a doctor. "Chronic Bush Fatigue.")

Amen, Bro' Allan.


12:44 pm | link

Short Takes
Atrios Outed!!
There are photographs of a person alleged to be Atrios here and here. And be sure to catch CNN's blog roundup of convention news, especially the comments by Jay Rosen. (Re the "heavy hitters" photograph -- I know we've been through this before, but I still find it disturbing that the "heavy hitters" are all white boys, and most of 'em baby-faced white boys at that. I love their blogs, but still ...) In Old Media news -- UPI has a nice roundup of last night's convention action.
Fafblog Is Back!!
Fafnir and Giblets are on a bus to Boston! Move over, Atrios!
Big Dog Gives Short Speech!!
My mind is made up. Bill Clinton should take a visible role campaigning for Kerry. People who foam at the mouth over Clinton are going to vote for Bush, anyway. The rest of us need to be reminded of those dear, sweet, innocent times when all we had to wring our hands over was a little hanky-panky in the Oval Office.
Last night, the Big Dog ruled. Best line of the night:  "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values." I may put that on a T-shirt. The other best line was delivered by elder statesman Jimmy Carter: "We cannot lead if our leaders mislead." Also worthy of a T-shirt.
Note, however, that I do not propose a return to Clintonism for the Democratic Party, nor do I think Senator Hillary will ever be a contender for the presidential nomination. Not in 2008; not ever. I hope to get back to this point later today.
The New York Times has transcripts and videos of the speeches here.
Mickey Kaus Is an Idiot!!
Not news, of course, but I thought I'd throw it in. For months, Kaus has snickered that the Democrats are in panic mode, or if they aren't in panic mode they should be. Today he's saying it's finally time for the Democrats to panic. And he provides a four-point plan for a Kerry victory that makes no sense at all. (Does Kaus have permalinks? And if so, where are they?)
Kaus is crowing that the 9/11 Commission report gave Bush a boost. Perhaps, but in another time-space continuum. Kaus celebrates the most recent ABC News/WaPo poll, which has Bush up a couple of points over Kerry. But the margin of error is 3 points, meaning that there may have been no movement at all.  The Investor's Business Daily/Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll (scroll down), which finished polling after the commission report release, still has Kerry 3 points ahead of Bush.
Kaus might want to read the observations of Martin Kettle in today's Guardian.

It is high time the political class woke up to the fact that the US polls are giving a pretty consistent message that cannot be dismissed merely because it doesn't fit the streetwise assumption that Bush will win. Yet the reality is that the polling numbers in the Bush-Kerry contest have been saying something strikingly consistent ever since Kerry emerged as the Democratic contender in March.

That something is that Bush is losing and Kerry is winning. ...

The other important point is that many of Kerry's strongest gains are in the all-important battleground states. ... On that basis, Kerry had a 322-216 vote advantage in the electoral college.

It's no time for us Real Patriots to be complacent, of course. But I think it's way past time for the freep and wingnuts and Bushies to be in panic mode.
Kaus's snarks are so far removed from verifiable reality I can hardly tell exactly what he's snarking about. The most disturbing thing about Kaus (which bleeds over onto most of the Right Blogosphere) is the way he assumes that news sources giving positive news about Bush are pro-Bush, but news sources giving negative news about Bush only do so because they are anti-Bush. Kaus assumes that everyone lies and spins to further an ideological agenda.
I'd be the last one to say that establishment media are always objective and factual. But as many have pointed out, this assumption that establishment media are pro-liberal and report negative news about conservatives only to promote a liberal agenda gives the wingnuts permission, in their minds, to lie and spin and twist to promote their wingnut agenda.
But enough about the brainwashed twits of the Right. This is a week for tapping into the power of positive thinking.

7:30 am | link

monday, july 26, 2004

On Democrats
The Democratic Party is preparing to send their champion into the arena to slay the GOP monster, and I am violently ambivalent. Although I pin my hopes for the future of America on a Kerry victory, at the same time I'd like to scoop up most of the Dem Party leadership and give it a good smacking.
As a liberal -- and I prefer liberal to progressive, thank you very much -- I despair that no party I know of in America today represents me. For example, the Big Two represent the Right and the So Far Right It's in Another Galaxy. No room for liberals.
I agree with the Greens on many issues, and on a local/regional level there is the occasional Green I could see myself voting for. But much on their web site turns me off -- for example, this highly twisted take on American history, and the fact that they still don't seem to get the truth about Ralph Nader
The Green Party might be viable once it gets over its adolescent rebellion phase. But the rhetoric on their web site tells me many Greens are less interested in solving problems than in whining about how awful the grown ups are. However, at some point they may mature enough to realize they will never take over and rule the system their way, and that they will need to build a broader coalition to have any real impact. So, to the Greens, I say -- See ya. Take care. Write when you get work.
And Libertarians are anti-progressive flakes. That's the kindest thing I have to say about them.
Which brings us back to the Democrats, who for a time during the 20th century were as close to a liberal-progressive party as any we've had in America (save, perhaps, the Radical Republicans during Reconstruction and Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party. And please don't be tiresome and argue with me about the Bull Moose Party unless you actually know something about it).
In the next few days as the Dems convene in Boston I want to look past Senator Kerry's victory in November (please!) and toward the future of a Democratic Party that ain't afraid of calling itself liberal. So tune in for future installments of "Can This Party Be Saved?"
Required reading for the next blog:
It's on the Web, so no excuses. You must read this:
Highly recommended:

6:50 am | link

sunday, july 25, 2004

This is from an email making the rounds among military personnel and their families in the U.S.
Here's some of the text from the email:
Protecting your freedom!
Message from Iraq
The proud warriors of Baker Company wanted to do something to pay tribute To our fallen comrades. So since we are part of the only Marine Infantry Battalion left in Iraq the one way that we could think of doing that is By taking a picture of Baker Company saying the way we feel. It would be awesome if you could find a way to share this with our fellow countrymen. I was wondering if there was any way to get this into your papers to let the world know that "WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN" and are proud to serve our country."
Semper Fi
1st Sgt Dave Jobe
The attached photo was forwarded from one of the last U.S. Marine companies in Iraq. They would like to have it passed to as many people as possible, to let the folks back home know that they remember why they're there and that they remember those who've been lost.
How heartbreaking is this? These Marines are suffering and dying for reasons that don't have a dadblamed thing to do with 9/11.
Somebody should hang for this. I think we all know who.

8:26 am | link

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Radio Archive

Ben Merens, "Conversations with Ben Merens,"
September 9, 2004, WHAD Milwaukee, 90.7 FM

Guy Rathbun, KCBX San Luis Obispo,
September 15, 2004, 90.1 FM.



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The Loyalties of George W. Bush

Terror Alert Level






"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." --Theodore Roosevelt, 1918


The War Prayer

I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!... He has heard the prayer of His servant, your shepherd, & will grant it if such shall be your desire after I His messenger shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause & think.

"God's servant & yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused & taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him who heareth all supplications, the spoken & the unspoken....

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed, silently. And ignorantly & unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is completed into those pregnant words.

"Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.

"O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended through wastes of their desolated land in rags & hunger & thirst, sport of the sun-flames of summer & the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave & denied it -- for our sakes, who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask of one who is the Spirit of love & who is the ever-faithful refuge & friend of all that are sore beset, & seek His aid with humble & contrite hearts. Grant our prayer, O Lord & Thine shall be the praise & honor & glory now & ever, Amen."

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! -- the messenger of the Most High waits."

·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·

It was believed, afterward, that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

[Mark Twain, 1905]

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Copyright 2003, 2004 by Barbara O'Brien

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