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saturday, august 14, 2004

Voices of Experience
 
In the current issue of The Nation; unfortunately for subscribers only:

Red-hot rage may seem in order when the country's values have been trampled upon by a government with a dubious claim to legitimacy. Yet the theatrics of rage can easily play into Bush's hands.

Righteousness, if not rooted in humility and focused on results--on persuasive power--will offend more than it attracts and fall victim to its own arrogance, as surely as arrogance undercuts Bush.

The power of nonviolence rests in its welcoming spirit, its power to elicit identification and its promise of reconciliation. Consider the brave young men and women of the civil rights movement, sitting with dignity at lunch counters throughout the South. In film footage of the time, you can see them attacked by uncivilized whites, who curse them, beat them--and thus reveal themselves as bullies and cowards. The civilly disobedient cover themselves in self-defense but never raise their hands in anger. They appeal over their adversaries' heads to the majority who, they believe--they have to believe--will see the justice of their cause.

As thousands of Republicans gather to nominate Bush for re-election, and as many more protesters--perhaps fifty times more--gather to express themselves against the damage Bush is doing, Americans of all stripes will be watching. Fair-minded people can understand dignified opposition even when they disagree with it. Rage in the streets is something else altogether. Protesters who spell "Bush" with a swastika, who smash windows, fight the police or try to block Manhattan commuters might as well stay home and send their contributions to the Republicans.

Written by Todd Gitlin and John Passacantando.

Swift. Chris Gruber at Open Source Politics has put together a series of articles answering the false charges of the Swift Boat Liars for Bush. Click here, here, here, and here.
 

11:21 am | link

Positive Thinking
 
David Broder predicts Bush is gonna lose.
 
Bush staked his pesidency, Broder says, on two high-stakes gambles: "The first gamble was the decision to attack Iraq; the second, to avoid paying for the war." Neither, writes Broder, has worked out as he hoped.
If Bush can win reelection despite the failure of his two most consequential -- and truly radical -- decisions, he will truly be a political miracle man. But as his own nominating convention approaches, the odds are against him. ...
 
In The [Washington} Post's polls every month since January, more voters have voiced disapproval of his performance on those two issues than approval.
 
Time is short for changing people's minds. Bush is dragging two huge weights -- and he has no one to blame but himself.
A fellow writing for Time magazine, Mitch Frank (note to Time: Please don't run photos of writers unless they are at least 40. Mr. Frank looks to be about 12) notes that Bush seems unable to come up with any new, bold proposals for his second term. Instead, he runs primarily on the dubious claim that he will keep the nation safer from terrorism than Kerry would. And it doesn't appear to be working.
If the election were held today, there’s a good chance George W. Bush would not be reelected. And if he doesn’t change the course of his campaign or dramatic news events don’t change the race, he’s not going to be reelected in November.
Several "swing" states that Bush won in 2000 are swinging to Kerry, says Mr. Frank, and evidence suggests Bush is unlikely to win over the little sliver of "undecided" voters.
 
(Speaking of "swing" states, the Kansas City Star reports

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge visited the Iowa State Fair on Wednesday in what was billed a “viewing of security measures.” Critics said it was just a photo op. Either way, Ridge assured Iowans that the fair was safe, “so go have a good time and don't worry about a thing.”

So is campaigning for Bush one of the Homeland Security Director's job duties?)
 
Even partisan hack Wesley Pruden of the Moonie Times admits that if the election were held today, Bush would lose. However, Pruden gives the weird advice that Bush should stop ignoring his base. Seems to me Bush is having to lavish far too much attention on his base to reach out to normal people.
 
Fact is, voting blocks Bush thought he could count on for at least some support are slip slidin' away:
Of course, Bush never had much support among African-American voters. And ads sponsored by a rich white man warning black voters that Kerry and Edwards are rich white men are unlikely, I suspect, to change that.
 
Further, Bush is losing ground in some of the battleground states, most notably Florida.
 
Yes, it's still close, and yes, we have three months to go before the election. The Republican Convention could help Bush regain the lead, especially if damnfool hothead punks make a botch of the mass protests in NYC during the convention. (From the Kansas City Star:

Democrats might fear out-of-control protests at the Republican convention as much as Republicans do. “The political repercussions will boomerang,” said Rep. Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat. “I believe a lot of Republicans would like to point to a lot of kids with spiked hair and rings through their noses and say, ‘This is what John Kerry is about.'

See also Mahablog here and here.)

Other than that, what else does Bush have to run on? Failure, failure, and more failure, that's what. He can smear Kerry all day long, but unless he comes up with something positive to offer, he's toast.

See also "The Sound and the Fury" on Daily Kos.
 
In other news: Did you know that Judith Miller of the New York Times was subpoenaed on Thursday by a grand jury to testify on Plamegate? Interesting.
 

8:30 am | link

friday, august 13, 2004

Scoop: Hell Freezes Over
 
Here's a knee-slapper for you:
"The narcissism of the sixties has infected many and left them with a sense of self-importance that the world revolves around them. " --Rush Limbaugh
Hey, if anyone should know all about narcissism, it's Rush.
 
However -- sit down for this -- he said something else in this rant with which I partially, grudgingly, agree. Perhaps Rush is like those ten thousand typing monkeys -- he spews out enough verbiage that, randomly, some of it almost makes sense. So let's hold our noses and wade into the swamp --
Now, don't misunderstand. I have nothing against protesting. I've never done it. I have been the victim of it more than once, but I've never done it. Meantime, we're at war. For every eye that has to police the protesters, that's one eye less watching for terrorists. Do they care? No. Because they want everybody to hate the president. They hate the Republicans, they hate this, they hate that. Okay, we know it, we know it. Now what? You hate the president. You hate the country. You hate this and you hate that. Your hatred for whatever you hate is the most important thing in the world. How do you deal with these kinds of people, my friends? How do you deal with people who are driven and defined by their hatred?
First off, let's deal with the non-sequitur --
Meantime, we're at war. For every eye that has to police the protesters, that's one eye less watching for terrorists.
Of course, the damnfool "war" doesn't have anything to do with protecting us from terrorists. Further, after the Bushies' continued, cynical use of "terror alerts" for political advantage, it's tempting to dismiss terrorism entirely as just another smokescreen for Bushie corruption.
 
Yet there is terrorism. Al Qaeda or the Michigan Militia or Stormtroopers Against Reproductive Rights or whatever might really be planning acts of terrorism in New York that really could kill people. And every cop that is policing demonstrators is one less watching for terrorism.
 
Please note that I'm not saying people shouldn't be on the streets of New York to protest Bush. I'm saying those people should not deliberately provoke police just for the sake of provoking police.
 
Worst case, if there were a real terrorist attack during the convention, guess who would be blamed? And guess who would pay the politidal penalties? Hint: Not Bush.
 
Actions have consequences, people. We should be calibrating our actions to achieve desired consequences, like bouncing Bush out of office.
 
Consider: Lots of people around the country think the NYPD are heroes. They even have their own TV show (several, if your count all the Law & Orders). People do tend to overlook their little flaws, like a tendency to shoot minority men for suspicious activities like hailing a cab or reaching for a wallet.
 
Note that the police union is threatening wildcat strikes during the RNC Convention to protest a contract dispute with the city over wage increases. It would be far smarter, tactically speaking, to express solidarity with the cops than to treat them as enemies.
 
Protest smart, not violently, I say.
 
Consider also this fellow interviewed by Michelle Goldberg:

Among other things, he envisions protesters locking down the streets of New York by chaining their arms together inside metal tubes, creating what's called a sleeping dragon. "You lock your arms in," he says. "When the cops come, they have to saw through these steel tubes. You get 30 people and you lock down a street for six hours. While this is happening, it gives other protesters a great opportunity to make their statement, to be further disruptive. They can lie down with these people, they can chant at the police, they can sit down where they are and be arrested for that or block further public space. They can disrupt the normal flow of society."

What the hell is the point of disrupting the "normal flow of society"? Does this idiot (Jason Flores-Williams, a political writer at High Times Magazine) think "society" is his enemy? Are the people of New York City who just want to go to work and get home his enemy?
 
Flores-Williams needs to spend some quality time considering who he is protesting, and why.
 
The overwhelming majority of New Yorkers are opposed to Bush and his policies, so why antagonize them if your point is to protest the Bush Administration?
 
This is stupid, stupid, stupid.
 
Flores-Williams says he has written a primer on activism at the RNC convention. He must consider himself an expert. In May, he and a couple other activists got arrested for lying in a street near Rockefeller Center and disrupting traffic. He seems very proud of this act.
 
The collective response of New Yorkers was, "Huh?"
 
Other than giving Flores-Williams the right to say, "Ain't I cool? I got arrested!" there was no point I could see to this attempt at "activism"; nor did it accomplish anything except to annoy people.
 
Yesterday on Daily Kos, Theonia posted a guide to NYC protests. The first rule, she says, is "Don't be a dick." Words to live by.
 
Another genius interviewed by Goldberg, Jamie Moran, is tracking down names, hotel rooms, etc., of individual delegates and making them public so that people can harrass them. "We want to make their stay here as miserable as possible," says Moran.
 
First: How irresponsible is this? The world is full of miswired people who would interpret Moran's project as an invitation to assault or kill somebody. 
 
Further, how is this any different from what "anti-choice" terrorists do to intimidate doctors and patients? Do unto others, etc.
 
Also, what is the point? What statement is being made, other than "we don't like you" (I think they know that)? 
 
I think the rule after "Don't be a dick" should be, "Have a point." If the only purpose of an act is to draw attention to yourself or act out your feelings, please don't do it. It won't help.
 
The other part of Rush's rant that has a little spark of truth to it is the part about hate. "Your hatred for whatever you hate is the most important thing in the world."
 
Let's overlook the fact that the Great Bloviating Hypocrite may be the World Champion at hatemongering. Hate is a self-indulgence we cannot afford.
 
Norman Mailer warned (New York magazine, August 9) "You can feel that, yes, you’re working to change the system, but are you changing it or confirming it?"
 
Violent, hateful protest confirms the status quo. Us old people remember how the Vietnam era protests confirmed the Nixon Administration and made it more politically powerful. Let's not make that mistake now.
 
Remember the second rule, have a point. Hate doesn't have a point. We hate them, they hate us, end of story. The stalemate has to be broken.
 
Consider that opposing the Bush Administration is not about what we hate, but what we love. We oppose the Bush Administration because we love our fellow human beings, our country, our planet, civil liberties, truth, justice, and maybe even the American Way.
 
The Buddha taught, "Hate is never appeased by hate, but by love." (Dhammapada, verse 3) It may be hard to love Bush supporters, but we can at least be civil.  
 
Remember the words of Mark Twain: "Always do right. This will please some and astonish the rest."
 
Maybe the third rule should be, "Be astonishing." In a positive way, of course.
 

11:23 am | link

thursday, august 12, 2004

Nixon's Ghost?
 
News Flash -- Gov. McGreevey (D) of New Jersey resigned. I don't know why. Holy shit; I think he's coming out of the closet. Hell, why resign over that? OK, he had an affair. So he wants to resign to avoid being blackmailed, or something.
 
Now on to regular blogging.
 
By now you've heard that the location of the August 29 mass protest in New York is still in doubt.
 
map_manhattan.jpgThe point of contention is not distance from Madison Square Garden. The real problem is that the city wants the August 29 march to culminate in a rally held on the West Side Highway at Chambers Street. The march organizer, United for Peace and Justice, wants the march to culminate in Central Park for a rally on the Great Lawn.
 
As you can see on the map, Chambers Street and the Great Lawn are about the same distance from Madison Square Garden, give or take.
 
UPJ wants the march to assemble on 7th Avenue (see map) and proceed up 7th Avenue, past Madison Square Garden, to Central Park. The city wants the march to turn at 34th Street, head for the West Side Highway, and march south to Chambers Street. This march route also goes past Madison Square Garden.
 
Central Park can accommodate an enormous number of people safely without inconvenience to the city. The Chambers Street location is much, much too small for the number of people who will be there, which means lots of hot, irritated people will spill out all over lower Manhattan.
 
Jimmy Breslin explains in today's New York Newsday:
The Parks Commissioner just turned them down again with one paragraph. The guy comes out of a known liberal family and he battles against freedom of speech. Why did he turn them down? He was told by the police commissioner and mayor, both of whom are acting as errand boys for the Republican National Committee. The Republicans want demonstrators to rally on Chambers Street, near the former World Trade Center site, in order to say, "Look! At the place where people died, they demonstrate against our troops."
Sadly, Jimmy Breslin must be right. It's the only explanation that makes sense. The RNC wants the West Side Highway route so they can use it for propaganda purposes. Worse, the city's route is likely to turn violent, as tens of thousands of tired, crabby marchers will be unable to get anywhere near the Chambers Street rally point.
 
And you know the RNC will arrange for a huge NYPD presence, and possibly National Guard, to keep the marchers in line. It's a trap.
 
 
It appears that UPJ has come to the same conclusion and will direct the march to Central Park, permit or no permit. I think this is right.
 
The Bushies want a violent confrontation. Let's not let them have it. 
 
Of course, if the march doesn't turn on 34th as the city wishes, the NYPD may try to break it up. UPJ might want to consider ending the official march at the corner of 7th and 34th, and directing marchers to take any alternate route to the Great Lawn. 
 
Above all, I urge everyone who plans to be in New York City for the protests to commit to nonviolent demonstration.
 
Think Ghandi. And, please, spread the word.
 

4:03 pm | link

WaPo Apologizes
 
The highly compromised Howard Kurtz writes,
As violence continues in postwar Iraq and U.S. forces have yet to discover any WMDs, some critics say the media, including The Washington Post, failed the country by not reporting more skeptically on President Bush's contentions during the run-up to war.

An examination of the paper's coverage, and interviews with more than a dozen of the editors and reporters involved, shows that The Post published a number of pieces challenging the White House, but rarely on the front page. Some reporters who were lobbying for greater prominence for stories that questioned the administration's evidence complained to senior editors who, in the view of those reporters, were unenthusiastic about such pieces. The result was coverage that, despite flashes of groundbreaking reporting, in hindsight looks strikingly one-sided at times.

Well, it's sort of an apology. Some groveling would have been nice.
 

8:01 am | link

wednesday, august 11, 2004

A Chicken in Every Pot
 
CNN accounced that Bush is no longer "turning a corner." Or, at least, he's dropped the phrase from his stump speech. Next: "Slip Slidin' Away"?
 
I've been thinking about Warren Harding's campaign slogan -- "Return to Normalcy." That's starting to sound good.
 

10:32 pm | link

What We're Up Against
 
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece by a "swift boat" veteran who really served with John Kerry in Vietnam. The author, Jim Rassmann, described how Kerry saved his life while they were both under fire. Rassmann ends with harsh words for the so-called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth."  (Rassmann calls them "Swift Boat Veterans for Bush.")
Does this strategy of attacking combat Vietnam veterans sound familiar? In 2000, a similar Republican smear campaign was launched against Sen. McCain. In fact, the very same communications group, Spaeth Communications, that placed ads against John McCain in 2000 is involved in these vicious attacks against John Kerry. Texas Republican donors with close ties to George W. Bush and Karl Rove crafted this "dishonest and dishonorable" ad. Their new charges are false; their stories are fabricated, made up by people who did not serve with Kerry in Vietnam. They insult and defame all of us who served in Vietnam.

But when the noise and fog of their distortions and lies have cleared, a man who volunteered to serve his country, a man who showed up for duty when his country called, a man to whom the United States Navy awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts, will stand tall and proud. Ultimately, the American people will judge these Swift Boat Veterans for Bush and their accusations. Americans are tired of smear campaigns against those who volunteered to wear the uniform. Swift Boat Veterans for Bush should hang their heads in shame.

What's disheartening are the responses to this article, which (in a nutshell) add up to "So what? You're just a Bush hater." My personal favorites include John McDaniel of Weatherford, Texas, who complains because Rassmann is not being objective. (Of course he's not objective. He's writing about his personal experiences. Duh.)  And then there's Ian Suddderth of Chattanooga, who wrote,

"Does this strategy of attacking combat Vietnam Veterans sound familiar?" These are your own words from your own article. Now ask yourself the same question. You are also attacking "combat Vietnam Veterans." The same standards should apply to both sides. Both sides should have credibility and let the public decide who is being honest.

So when people are lying and someone with personal knowledge of the facts speaks up to let the public know they are lying, that's an "attack." Is this not a variation of the dreaded "political correctness?"
 
I bring this up as a reminder that nothing will change these people's minds. There is no point in trying. There is no point in engaging them in arguments. If the Bushies were to release a statement declaring the sky to be plaid and grass purple, sure as a world this bunch would see plaid skies and purple grass.
 
In the next few weeks we should be focusing on the "undecided" voters as well as persuading those who rarely vote to get to the polls. And to do this, we must yell loudly over the noise machine. 
 
 
Update: A growing chrous of wingnuts is calling for John Kerry to release his military records. He already did, in April 2004.
 
 

6:08 am | link

tuesday, august 10, 2004

Stinks Out Loud
 
HAMBURG, Germany -- Washington has barred German judges access to al Qaeda captives in the retrial of the only Sept. 11 suspect ever convicted, a Hamburg court heard on Tuesday, throwing the case into doubt.

Mounir Motassadeq, 30, is charged with plotting the 2001 attacks with Mohamed Atta and others, and membership of a terrorist organization. ...

His first conviction was overturned because judges had no access to a key al Qaeda figure in U.S. custody.

In a letter to the German embassy in Washington, read out in court, U.S. authorities said they had to protect the sources and methods of the security services.

Since when?

The letter said "interactive access" to such prisoners could hamper their interrogation and lead to critical secret information, including about terrorist threats, being divulged.

The U.S. decision casts doubts on the new proceedings.

Motassadeq has verifiable connections to some of the 9/11 hijackers. "He and suicide pilots Mohamed Atta, Ziad Jarrah and Marwan al-Shehhi formed the core of the Hamburg cell," says Reuters. Further, Motassadeq is known to have transferred money to al-Shehhi and to have connections to other terrorists. 
 
So why wouldn't convicting this guy be a fairly high priority? Just think what light he could shed, not only on 9/11, but more recent plots and plans of al Qaeda?
The issue has led to tension between Germany and the United States, which clearly wants a conviction in the case but is unwilling to allow testimony from the interrogation of al Qaeda captives to be aired in open court.

Now, there may be legitimate reasons why the Bush Administration doesn't want such testimony made public, particularly if ongoing intelligence operations were compromised. However, the Bush Administration isn't a bit shy about compromising intelligence operations for political purposes, is it?

Other reasons the Bushies might not want the world to know about prisoner testimony include (a) the testimony might conflict with Bushie ideology regarding al Qaeda, specifically alleged connections with Saddam Hussein; or (b) something about the testimony might reveal it was obtained through use of torture. Or even (c) the testimony is worthless and the people being detained and interrogated are innocent, and are just being held to cover Bush's butt and make it look like the Bushies are actually doing something about terrorism.

Washington reacted angrily when Motassadeq was freed from custody in April, describing him as dangerous.

Well, duh. It seems that, unlike the Bushies,  Germans take "due process of law" seriously. Imagine.
 

12:36 pm | link

Hammer. Nail. Head
 
Quote of the Day:
 
 "I'm tired of it. I'm tired of being treated by corporate white guys as if my issues are amusing."
 
Fabulous article in The Village Voice by Rick Perlstein! It's a critique of the Democratic Party and recent convention. Demonstrates why many of us are so frustrated with the Dems even though we mostly support its candidates. It also explains why the Dems should stop playing footsie with big corporations and trying to win elections by sounding conservative enough to siphon off some Republican voters.
If single women voted at the same rate as married ones, there would have been 6 million more voters in 2000—200,000 in Florida alone. Why are they alienated? One reason might be how liberal they are. On every single issue, these voters lean left, especially on economics. Eighty-eight percent worry their incomes might not keep up with rising prices (only 68 percent worry about being the victim of a crime); they are sufficiently environmentalist that only 12 percent are "cool" toward environmental groups. The Democrats, if they stopped talking corporate and spoke to these people's issues, would have won that election, and just about every other one besides.
Another good quote:

These days, talking about things like the growing gap between the rich and the rest of us is judged not very nice. Fixing it might require breaking some eggs. The pundits would call it "class warfare." So whenever a concession is demanded in the interests of unity, it will be demanded of the party's left wing, never of the corporate types.

Like the time, Tuesday night, one party liberal—this one—returned to find his seat occupied by one of those blue-suited thirtysomethings. I asked him to give it up. He refused. "We gave lots of money to the Democratic Party," he said, and demanded I sit in the aisle. "It would be shameful if I couldn't get a seat."

It was on behalf of all those poor single women who don't vote and who really hold the explosive power for beating George Bush on November 2, 2004, that I refused to give up my seat.

I can relate to that.

 

9:26 am | link

monday, august 9, 2004

Parallel Universes?
 
The Real World --
CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod, who's traveling with the Kerry campagin, notes that Kerry and Edwards were not only drawing substantial crowds at organized rallies, but surprisingly high turnouts at rural train depots as well. CBS News
 
For the city of Flagstaff, it was practically the second coming.
Presidential nominee John Kerry arrived to screaming crowds in downtown Flagstaff Sunday night, where an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 local residents welcomed the candidate looking to unseat President Bush in November. [Arizona Daily Sun]

The polls may not show much of a post-convention bounce for Mr. Kerry, but his crowds tell a different story. Before the convention, he only rarely drew more than a few thousand people to a rally. Since setting off from the convention in Boston, though, his events have consistently been mob scenes, with or without his running mate - and with or without Ben Affleck, who accompanied him for the first two days of the trip.

In Harrisburg, Pa., on July 30, more than 15,000 people mobbed the Capitol plaza. In Grand Rapids, Mich., home of the Republican former president Gerald R. Ford, Mr. Kerry drew close to 10,000 people near where President Bush had attracted just 4,500 a few days before. [New York Times]

By most yardsticks, Kerry’s train trip across St. Louis a la Harry Truman’s whistle-stop campaign in 1948 was a success. The weather was perfect. Crowds were large and enthusiastic.
And even when his 15-car train passed the western Missouri towns of Lee’s Summit and Independence after midnight Friday without stopping, hundreds of people had gathered to cheer. [Columbia Daily Tribune]

PollingReport.com has a nifty new page summarizing the latest batch of national polls.

Currently, every August poll is listed, both for registered voters, and for likely voters. Of the eight polls, only one shows a Bush lead, and then only under the "likely voter" category. The rest show anywhere between a 1- and an 8-point Kerry lead.
 
Bush spends a lot of time in the 43-45 range, not a good place for an inbumbent to be. [Kos]

And then there's Bizarro World --

Kerry's post-convention week hasn't been very good. An effort at an impromptu photo-op with some Marines he met at a Wendy's went sour, with the Marines complaining that he "imposed on" them and saying that they preferred Bush.  Photos of Kerry in a bunny suit at Kennedy Space Center -- undignified, perhaps, but harmless in themselves -- became a liability when Kerry's campaign manager claimed that their release was a "dirty trick," only to have it come out that the Kerry campaign had asked for their expedited release. Oops!

...And Kerry's personality hasn't won people over. Reliably liberal columnist Jules Witcover reported that Kerry's campaign is "not a big hit on the road," ... Mickey Kaus, who has already endorsed Kerry, is dropping hints about the "Torricelli option" -- dropping Kerry for a more appealing candidate at the last moment -- but I think it's too late for that. [Glenn Reynolds and Glenn Reynolds]

Glennie is either heavily medicated, or he needs to be. BTW, does anyone beside the wingnuts give a bleep about the "bunny suit" photos?

 

9:31 pm | link

Not So Swift
 
There's nothing that enrages me more than liars smearing good people. This may be because of my natal chart (sun and moon in Libra; Aquarius rising), but I can't stand it. I can't stand it even when I'm not especially fond of the person being smeared.
 
So the lying, opportunistic scum known as the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" would, if it were up to me, spend eternity in a particularly nasty hell. Maybe I'd have them locked up in a small room with Limbaugh and O'Reilly. They'd be weeping and wailing for sure.
 
This article sums up the entire smear nicely. Notice that the author, Bryan Zepp Jamieson, believes publishing house Regnery already may have pulled its promotions of the John Corsi smear book, Unfit for Command. T'would be interesting if true. It may be that Regnery's promotion department isn't much on the ball. Surely Regnery isn't developing scruples. They publish Ann Coulter, after all.
 
Jamieson thinks the "Swift Boat" smear is backfiring. I've observed it's not backfiring among right wingnuts, who have swallowed the entire SBVfT fantasy wholesale, no questions asked. However, maybe somebody deep in the Bush campaign realized that non-Kool Aiders weren't buying it. If the SBVfT and the Corsi book suddenly drop off the raider, that will have been why.
 

7:16 pm | link

What About Bob (the Lizard)?
 
According to the Associated Press:
A federal judge held a reporter for Time magazine in contempt of court Monday for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating the leak of the identity of a covert CIA officer.

In an order issued July 20 but not made public until Monday, U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan ruled that Time's Matthew Cooper and "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert were required to testify "regarding alleged conversations they had with a specified executive branch official."

NBC News issued a statement saying that Russert already had been interviewed under oath by prosecutors on Saturday under an agreement to avoid a protracted court fight. The interview concerned a July 2003 phone conversation he had with Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby. ...

The subpoenas of Russert and Cooper were issued by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago, who was appointed as a special prosecutor in the leak case. Hogan denied the claims by the two journalists that they were protected by the Constitution from having to testify.

Hmmm, she said. Or maybe, no big deal. NBC said that Russert had not known Plame's name or her identity as a CIA operative, and "that he did not provide that information to Libby." (But did Libby provide that information to Russert?)

Matthew Cooper and Time intend to appeal the ruling.

If nothing else, this tells us that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is on the job.

 

6:28 pm | link

Shameless
 
Check out these web headlines, and don't skip the last one:
 
Christian Science Monitor:
Pakistan, Britain are furious that US officials confirmed name to newspaper.
 
| csmonitor.com

Reuters reported on Saturday that Pakistani intelligence officers said US officials blew the cover on an Al Qaeda mole last week, when the mole's identity was confirmed to The New York Times. The Times originally identified the source of their information as "senior American officials." The mole, computer expert Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, was arrested secretly in mid-July in Pakistan. He had agreed to help authorities track down Al Qaeda militants in Britain and the United States.
CNN:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- The effort by U.S. officials to justify raising the terror alert level last week may have shut down an important source of information that has already led to a series of al Qaeda arrests, Pakistani intelligence sources have said.

Until U.S. officials leaked the arrest of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan to reporters, Pakistan had been using him in a sting operation to track down al Qaeda operatives around the world, the sources said.

And my favorite:

GOP/USA:

"New York Times Blows Cover of Key Counterterror Agent"

ISLAMABAD (Talon News) -- Pakistani intelligence sources say that the al Qaeda operative named by The New York Times as the source of information which led to the heightened state of alert was working undercover. Naming the suspect, Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, forced Pakistan to terminate its sting operation and hide the man in a secret location. ...

Khan operated a sting to provide critical intelligence on al Qaeda's plans for future attacks on the West. But Khan's value and the intelligence gathered to-date was rendered useless when The Times story broke.

For additional yucks, be sure to take GOP/USA's poll, "Can former Ambassador Alan Keyes defeat Barack Obama for the Illinois U.S. Senate seat?" As of this writing, 66 percent of responders say "yes." 

 

2:41 pm | link

What's the REAL Reason ...?
Nick Lucy, a 64-year-old veteran and Democrat, said he was turned away from a May 7 rally in Dubuque, Iowa, at which President Bush spoke even though he had a ticket given to him by a local Republican leader. Lucy, who was not asked to sign a form, said he has seen every president since Ronald Reagan, but he was denied access because he is not a registered Republican. He is a Democrat and a past commander of the American Legion in Dubuque who plays taps at veterans' funerals. [Steve Larese, "Bush-Backers-Only Policy Riles Voters at RNC Rallies," The Boston Globe, August 9, 2004]
This business of screening attendees at public Bush/Cheney rallies came to light a few days ago, when managers of a Cheney rally in Albuquerque banned attendees who refused to sign a loyalty oath.
 
The Albuquerque rally managers claimed they believed the rally would be disrupted by a "Democratic Operative Group," possibly America Coming Together, although ACT denied this and I find it far-fetched. ACT is a serious organization. Candidate heckling may be fun, in a let's-tip-over-the-outhouse sort of way, but it's not something serious people do to win hearts and minds of undecided voters.
 
Further, with all the Secret Service, local cops, and other security personnel around, if anyone at the rally had misbehaved they could have been quickly and efficiently bounced.
 
The above-quoted Mr. Lucy touches on a more likely reason:

''They asked the police to escort me out of there," Lucy said. ''I wasn't going to disrupt anything, but I probably wasn't going to clap a lot, either. Every rally the president goes to everyone is cheering for him because they're handpicked."

The first most likely reason for the screening is to be sure news stories and photographs of the event are entirely upbeat and pro-Bush. A few hecklers often get a disproportionate amount of news coverage of such events. And photographs of the President in front of crowds transported in ecstasy at the sight of their tribal leader carry a subliminal message: everybody loves Bush

However, one would think the news stories about loyalty oaths and 64-year-old, law-abiding veterans being hauled away by police just for being Democats send about as ugly a message as one could send. 

(For the record, potential hecklers are not screened out of public appearances by Kerry or Edwards.)

According to an RNC spokesperson, the loyalty oaths are only required to attend RNC-sponsored rallies,  which (they say) are paid for entirely out of Republican party funds. These are not "official" presidential visits, but party events meant to energize Bush's base.

Questions:

Does Bush's base really need that much energizing? The majority of polls I've seen say that something like 90 percent of registered Republicans plan to vote for Bush.

Is it true that no tax monies whatsoever help pay for these Bushie-only rallies?

If the base really does need energizing, what does that say about Bush's chances in the November election?

Is the Bush-Cheney campaign holding any rallies that are not "RNC-sponsored rallies"? Are uncommitted voters or, dare I say it, Democrats, ever allowed to experience a Bush or Cheney speech in person? I honestly don't know.

And finally, could there be another reason?

Given that the loyalty oath policy is no way to reach out to undecided voters or win over Democrats, the "sensible" reasons for it make no sense. I postulate the real reason for the Bush-lovers-only crowds has more to do with Bush and Cheney than with campaign strategy. Are they both so emotionally fragile they cannot tolerate people who do not give them unconditional adoration? And isn't this a trait more common to totalitarian dictators than to elected leaders of a republic?

Just askin'.

 

8:25 am | link

sunday, august 8, 2004

The Fruits of Cheap Labor
 
This New York Times article says America is developing a reputation for shoddy building.

As more high-profile buildings by foreign architects rise in the United States, and as computers allow architects to strive for engineering, design and construction complexities never before imagined, a gathering rumble can be heard across the profession about the way America builds. The country has garnered a reputation for overlooking gaping joints, sloppy measurements and obvious blemishes, and refusing to deviate from even the most outmoded standardized practices. Having exported its expertise, in the 80's and early 90's, to destinations from Singapore to Dubai, it is now facing stiff competition from Europe and Asia, where the building traditions favor singularity, craftsmanship and durability over speed and cost. ...

Construction in the United States relies on the quick fix, said Sara Hart, a senior editor at Architectural Record. "Got a gaping one-inch space between frame and window? Just fill it in with silicone and call it a day. Not perfectly flush or plumb? Who cares!" is the typical American response, she said. "While in Germany or Switzerland, they'd rather die than have a gap of more than one-eighth or even one-sixteenth of an inch."

According to a professor of architecture at Berkeley, quality building occurs in economies that are willing to pay skilled, intelligent artisans to do the work, and pay them well enough to keep bright people in the building trades. The best builders in the world are in Switzerland and Japan, both cultures that value meticulous workmanship. America values quick and cheap.

Internationally famous architects have to modify their designs for buildings in the U.S., to allow for the low skills of the builders. In some cases, they have to teach the workers how to do the building.

As a result, more and more architects are choosing to outsource the construction of American buildings, or at least parts of them, hiring overseas craftsmen to do what they fear domestic hands cannot. After designing the Austrian Cultural Forum on East 52nd Street in Midtown Manhattan, for example, Raimund Abraham, an Austrian-born American architect, was concerned that the masklike facade was too complex for American abilities. So he had the whole thing made in Austria and shipped here. "There are no good curtain wall manufacturers in America," Mr. Abraham said, adding that the project had been held up for a whole year while someone capable of installing the facade could be found.

Of course, for many years educators have (stupidly) steered bright students into academics and poor students into "trade school." We seem to think that people work with their hands or their brains, but not both. That's wrong. No doubt America's office cubicles are filled with people who would be a lot happier working with their hands as well as their brains.

But another interesting revelation in this article is that many architects found that American workers can do the job just fine, once they are taught how to do it. (Training workers? Investing in workers? What a concept!)

Corporate America's obsession with getting the cheapest possible labor, and with hiring just enough people to get the job done (asuming those people work 10-hour days and don't take sick days and even skip vacations) isn't helping anyone except the corporate honchos and major stockholders. They get richer and richer. The rest of us just get tired.

I don't think we will get away with going down this road much longer and remain "the richest country in the world." We either have to re-think our priorities, or be content with a much reduced standard of living.

 

9:35 pm | link

Not on Faux News
 
For informative comments on the Bushies' latest betrayal of an intelligence operative, I recommend Juan Cole and Billmon.
 

8:31 pm | link

The Betrayal of Conservatism
 
I want to add to something I wrote yesterday about the shabby treatment of RNC convention delegates and fundraisers by the Bush Administration. The convention is expected to rubber stamp a platform drafted within the White House, while at the same time fundraisers are being hit up for money as never before.
 
Here is a critter you may have never seen before -- a real American conservative. And this individual, William Bryk, says, 
Anything beyond the limited powers expressly delegated by the people under the Constitution to their government for certain limited purposes creates the danger of tyranny. We stand there now. For an American conservative, better one lost election than the continued empowerment of cynical men who abuse conservatism through an exercise of power unrestrained by principle through the compromise of conservative beliefs. George W. Bush claims to be conservative. But based upon the unwholesome intrusion into domestic life and personal liberty of his administration and the local governments who imitate it, George W. Bush is no conservative, no friend of limited, constitutional government--and no friend of freedom. The Republic would be better served by his defeat in November.
Mr. Byrk remembers what conservatives in America used to believe:
... that government's purpose was protecting those [political] liberties; that the Constitution empowered government to fulfill its proper role while restraining it from the concentration and abuse of power; and that its genius lay in the Tenth Amendment, which makes explicit that the powers not delegated to government are reserved to the states or to the people. ... Any government, of any political shade, that erodes personal liberty in the name of social and economic progress must face a conservative's reasoned dissent, for allowing one to choose between right and wrong, between wisdom and foolishness, is the essential condition of human progress. ...
But, you say, aren't these liberal principles? Of course they are. (I particularly like the part I put into boldface.) Liberty is the heart of liberalism. The real difference between "liberals" and "conservatives" in America, once upon a time, was the matter of whose liberties were being infringed.
 
For example, when the SCOTUS in Brown v. Board of Ed. ruled against "separate but equal" school segregation policies, many conservatives complained that the federal government was infringing on "states' rights," and that desegregation deprived individuals of the "right" to associate only with other people of their own race. The fact that African Americans were being deprived of equal treatment under the law didn't seem to bother them.
More subtly, American conservatism viewed human society as something of an organism in itself. This sense of society's organic character urged the necessity of continuity with the past, with change implemented gradually and with as little disruption as possible.
Further, conservatives often complained that school desegregation, and the Civil Rights movement in general, created chaos and civil disturbance. And many conservatives said they were not opposed to equal rights for all, but that the goal of equal rights could be reached more gradually and without civil disorder. To which liberals replied, how many generations must live with brutality and oppression so that conservatives will not be unduly inconvenienced?
 
The essential question Americans have wrestled with for more than two centuries is, when should citizens be left alone, and when must government intervene? And the answer doesn't fall neatly into a conservative/noninterventionist  vs. liberal/interventionist dichotomy. While conservatives may have thought racial oppression was something people needed to work through on their own, they've been quick to call for government intervention in other matters. Abortion rights come to mind, of course, but conservative policies of the past also outlawed all forms of birth control. And throughout American history, conservatives have been far quicker than liberals to call for censorship of material they found offensive.
 
American conservatism has always been characterized by the desire to be able to make one's own choices, while at the same time limiting other people's choices.
 
On the other hand, America needs conservatism. As Mr. Byrk says,
American conservative politics championed private property, an institution sacred in itself and vital to the well-being of society. It favored limited government, balanced budgets, fiscal prudence and avoidance of foreign entanglements.  
It is a good thing to have people in government who respect property rights, who want to be tight with the people's money,  and who drag their feet about going to war. We could use more of such people right now. When both liberals are conservatives are true to their own principles, they balance each other. Liberals counter conservative tendencies to ignore injustice in favor of maintaining the status quo. Conservatives curb the tendency of liberals to rely too much on government programs to solve problems. Sometimes people do need to work things out themselves.
 
The problem with what passes for "conservatism" today is that it's reactionary. The wingnuts care less about traditional conservative principles (younger wingnuts probably couldn't even tell you what those principles are) than about lashing back at liberals.  Liberals in their eyes are reckless people who will force Americans to respect multiculturalism and ecumenicalism and all progressivism since the McKinley Administration.
 
In other words, wingnuts have no principles of their own. They believe in whatever will stop social and civil progress, period, because they fear social and civil progress.  If they have to stomp out republicanism itself  itself to be safe from the hated and feared liberals, they will do so. (See also "Tribes.")
 
And it doesn't help matters that those allegedly on "our side" have been intimidated into moving Right and renouncing the word "liberal."
 
But it's important to remember that traditional conservatives, although we may disagree with them on many issues, are not the threat to our nation that the wingnuts and neocons and Bushies are. Where the Bushies are concerned, liberals and conservatives should be on the same side.
 
_________
 
Big Development: Paul Krugman, Matt Yglesias, and Juan Cole visit Fafnir and eat Doritos!
 

11:22 am | link

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The Loyalties of George W. Bush

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"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

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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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