The Mahablog: Truth and the Bush Administration

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Blame Bush for North Korea's Nukes
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Homeland Insecurity
Peaceniks of the Past
Is It Too Late?
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What Are We Fighting For?
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Forgetting the Alamo
The Killer Mothers
Anti-Bush Graphics to Go
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August 29
Partial Transcript, Abrams Report, April 5, 2005

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saturday, september 4, 2004

What scares me most about our current political climate isn't Bush, or Cheney, or even Bob Novak. It's that so many people seem out of their bleeping minds.
Or if they are not crazy, I am. Take your pick.
This opinion piece is linked all over the Right Blogosphere today. The wingnuts love this stuff:

That seems to be the way John Kerry likes it. Americans should be free to call Bush a moron, a liar, a fraud, a deserter, an agent of the House of Saud, a mass murderer, a mass rapist (according to the speaker at a National Organization for Women rally last week) and the new Hitler (according to just about everyone). But how dare anyone be so impertinent as to insult John Kerry! . . .

Excuse me? Did we not just barely survive Four Days of Hate inside Madison Square Garden? Where I assume every word was vetted by Karl and Karen? And Kerry is held responsible for what somebody allegedly said at a NOW meeting? And do we want to talk about loyalty oaths?

The unfairness of this essay angers me, of course, but I also find it fascinating in a clinical sort of way. It's a shame we can't put wingnuttiness into a petrie dish and study it in a lab. 

But consider the Right Blogospher blogger Stephen Green of VodkaPundit. He is capable of intelligent writing -- I have seen it -- and he takes occasional stabs at introspection, which is extremely rare on the Right Blogosphere. His reaction to Mr. Bush's acceptance speech, although unfathomable, is also revealing --

There was no overriding theme to President Bush’s speech, except for the unspoken one: “This is who I am.” No, wait -- let me amend that. The unspoken theme was, “This is who we are.” As Americans.

Now, I am, as I've said before, approximately a tenth-generation American. My family has been in the Americas for roughly three centuries. I had ancestors on both sides of my family who fought in the Revolution. And I was born and raised in Missouri, which is in the center of the dadblamed Heartland. And I say that is NOT who I am. And that is NOT how a lot of Americans are. Just some Americans.

For all its faults, for all its overtly- and overly-religious tones, this small-l libertarian prefers George Bush’s America to John Kerry’s. I don’t care for NASCAR. I’m not much for country music, Sundays at church, blue-eyed soul, or faith-based initiatives.

But Bush made me feel welcome all the same. No, wait – let me amend that statement, too. Bush made me feel like his place is somewhere I’d like to spend some time and get to know the locals. You know -- down a few beers, chat up the natives and learn their quaint customs.

I don’t feel as welcome, as at home, in the America Kerry painted for us tonight.

I appreciate Mr. Green's honesty here, and I think he has touched on the key to our divisiveness. And part of me can relate.

I left the Ozark Mountains as a young adult, and at the time I had a pretty small comfort zone. People from cities, people who drank beer with meals (I never saw such a thing until I was 23 or so, but then I didn't know what a bagel was, either), Jews (met my first one in college), nonwhite people, people with funny accents, people who said pasta instead of noodles, and people with pierced ears (including women) were all outside my comfort zone way back then. So I understand how that feels.

Human beings react to social discomfort in different ways. Usually we become defensive. Some people are shy or feel awkward. Other people become nasty. We laugh at and ridicule and belittle things that make us uncomfortable, because if we tear them down, they won't be so big and scarey.

Of course, you can always do what I did, which is to realize the discomfort was my problem and adjust. But that takes effort.

Mr. Green continues:

I’ll repeat something I said earlier.

Forget the war. Forget policy. Forget everything but two men who want something from me. Kerry could never have joked about the way he walks – or made any other joke at his own expense. Bush can, and did. That's a guy comfortable in his own skin, and that's a guy I'd give something to, before the other guy. I'm pretty sure a lot of people recognize that, even if only instinctively. In other words, my gut tells me

to vote for Bush.

My brain does, too.

Ah, but I 'spect the brain is just following where the gut leads it. Green goes on to list some policy differences between Kerry and Bush, for example:

I’m not much for faith-based initiatives, but I know for certain that unless we reform Social Security, this nation is in deep trouble. Tonight, Bush touched the “third rail” of American politics. Kerry seems content to keep on, keepin’ on. Strange position for a challenger to take against an incumbent, no?

Which, of course, is a misrepresentation of the issue. Just about every non-wingnut American economist says that social security doesn't need reform as much as it needs to be fully funded, meaning it needs a big surplus now in order to handle the baby boom retirement that is fast closing upon us. With a prudent fiscal policy, which Kerry proposes, social security would be able to scoot along through most of the 21st century. But Bush's scheme to partially privatize social security, with no clue how current obligations will be paid after the "privatized" money is taken out, is just damn irresponsible. It puts social security at greater risk, and even without the risk the numbers just don't crunch.

I believe Mr. Green is intelligent enough to look at those numbers and understand the issue. The problem is that he lacks the courage to do so. There's something about some Americans, including John Kerry and Democrats in general, that makes Green uncomfortable. So rather than look honestly at Bush's policies he fudges them so he can cling to them, like an ideological security blanket.

The part about Bush being "comfortable in his skin" is, of course, utterly in the eye of the beholder. Even disregarding the famous Seven Minutes, which was a study in discomfort if there ever was one, his unscripted television appearances this year revealed a very uncomfortable man.  

Now, without knowing Mr. Green I have no idea exactly what lurks in his psyche that is causing his discomfort. In any event I  never knew that a good President was somebody you could comfortably have a beer with. George Washington was famously aloof, and he turned out OK.

I argued here that the reason righties are so belligerent is that, deep down, they are afraid. All that hostility is a defense reaction. The fact that most of the things they are afraid of are no danger to them doesn't make the fear less real.

Along those lines, I urge you to read this article in the current Nation, "Rust and Rage in the Heartland" by Dale Maharidge.

There are tens of millions of American workers living in a virtual depression, in a virtual Weimar. Their anger is real, as is their fear. Ignoring it is dangerous. The right has been addressing it in the form of appearing decisive with "preventive war," or by cranking up the xenophobia. When many of them go into the voting booth they will punch the card or pull the lever for a candidate who appears strong.

Yes, the Bushies are playing this fear like a violin; for details, see this weekend's Frank Rich column. The Right encourages the fear, feeds it, fans it, does whatever it takes to keep it going. Because that's the source of their power.

It's going to take great leadership -- think Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt -- to get us out of this. I don't know if Kerry is up to it. But if Bush get four more years -- Think the country is crazy now? You ain't seen nothin' yet ...

9:39 pm | link

About Those Polls ...
By now you've heard of the Time poll (conducted by SRBI Public Affairs) that shows Bush with an 11-point lead over Kerry coming out of the convention. If you haven't heard this, just go anywhere on the Right Blogosphere and it will be shoved in your face.
I don't know nothin' about polling methodology, but many folks are crying foul because SBRI pushed the "leaners" into making a choice. Here is how the poll question was worded:

"Suppose the 2004 election for president were being held today, and you had to choose between John Kerry and John Edwards, the Democrats, and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the Republicans. For whom would you vote?" If undecided: "Even though you haven't made up your mind yet, do you lean more toward supporting Kerry or Bush?

There's an excellent diary post at Daily Kos explaining that why this is not a kosher way to take a poll.

And note that a Zogby poll taken at exactly the same time (scroll down) shows Bush with a glorious 2-point lead, which is within the 3 point margin of error. ARG has Bush up by one point among likely voters. Rasmussen gives Bush a 4-point lead at the moment, but points out that "Very few of the interviews for today's report were completed after the President's speech last night. Most were completed before the speeches given on Wednesday by Senator Zell Miller and Vice President Dick Cheney."

Which brings us to another point: Gallup defines the "bounce" as "the difference in the candidate's vote percentage in the last nationwide poll conducted before the convention and the first nationwide poll conducted after his party's convention." We won't see the real "bounce" numbers until next week.

Another Daily Kos diary reveals CNN's Judy Woodruff going off message.

Throughout today's Inside Politics, Judy Woodruff and company trumpeted the just-released Time Magazine poll showing Bush with an 11-point lead over Kerry.  She asked Mary Beth Cahill about it, sternly asking "Are you upset about this development, obviously Bush has a big bounce out of their convention," and she probably mentioned the poll about 6 times within the hour.

Well, right before the sign-off, they cut back to Woodruff, who obviously thought she was off camera.  And she's talking to someone (unseen), and she says this:

"She said it was an outlier, there's another poll out today that shows them tied."

Update [2004-9-3 16:55:40 by dday]: Pyewacket gives a full transcription: "She said there may be problems with that poll, there's another poll out today that shows them even...[then, a little dismissively] I don't know what it is."

Gallup points out that, historically, candidates with a substantial lead on Labor Day tend to go on to win. Bounces may or may not be an indicator, however.

My web buddy Stirling Newberry, who is smarter than most other people I know bunched together, says that Bush has already peaked -- "even as he was giving his speech, the relentless grind of numbers - facts are, indeed, stubborn things - were eroding beneath him. Bush is, in a sense, goring himself - he should be far ahead, and not inching up by a whisper."

If you are into number crunching, you'll want to read this post by Chris Bowers at MyDD. And in another post, Chris Bowers writes,

Oh yeah, and before anyone starts going on about how this is over, on October 27th, 2000 the CNN / USA Today / Gallup tracking poll had it Bush 52-39 Gore. We all know how that popular vote turned out less than two weeks later.

Bottom line, the poll numbers floating around right now were gathered before Wednesday night's Zell-Dick Hatefest, which may have turned off swing voters. We've yet to see if there's any RNC convention bounce at all.

9:06 am | link

friday, september 3, 2004

Mail to the Masses
I got letters from the DNC and RNC today in the mail. I must be special!
The Democratic National Committee wants me to mail in a phone pledge I made. OK, OK.
But the Republican National Committee wants my opinion. Yes! I swear I am not making this up.
The RNC has mailed a "select group of Republicans," of which I must be one, with three pieces of paper plus a return envelope. If the sample is broad enough to make me one of the "select group," this had to cost some bucks.
(For those into print technology, the three pieces were two 8 1/2 x 11 sheets, printed both sides, one PMS "spot" color plus black, plus an 8 x 14 sheet printed both sides and possibly two PMS colors plus black, although it might be a three-color job using yellow and magenta plus black. And a return envelope. The Dems sent me one 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper printed in cyan, magenta, and black plus a return envelope.)
Anyway, the RNC sent me a "GOP CENSUS DOCUMENT which was assigned and prepared especially for you as a representative of all Republicans living in your voting district." (As a displaced hillbilly, I kind of doubt I'm representative of anybody in Westchester County, NY, much less of Republicans.)This was followed by a registration number and voting district code that don't correspond to anything on my voter registration card, and believe me, I checked. And I'm registered as a Democrat as well.
The cover letter goes on for four pages (two sheets printed both sides), making extensive use of elipses, boldface, underline, and ALL CAPS, telling me how vital it is that I answer their "census" so that the Republicans can build a BLUEPRINT for consolidating their power over the next decade.
I liked this part:
Democrat Party Chairman, Terry mcAuliffe, has stated he will redouble his efforts this year not only to win complete control of Congress, but to take revenge on President Bush and take total control of our national government.
I was astonished. The writer did not put the phrase "total control of our national government" in boldface or underlined type or put elipsis points after "President Bush." What a wasted opportunity for typographical emphasis.
McAuliffe knows he can count on the support of some unions and every liberal special interest to rise tens of millions of dollars to elect Democrats at all levels of government.
How dare the chairman of a political party do such a thing! But I found the "some" qualifier in front of "unions" intriguing. Are the Pugs not demonizing all unions these days? And why not? And the qualifier is repeated later in the letter:
Liberal special interests and some unions will continue to hire hundreds of "professional activists" and put them in place in targeted congressional districts around the country.
Yeah, how dare the Dems hire actual campaign workers.
Working together with the radical environmentalists and ultra liberal groups like People for the American Way and the Feminist Majority, these organizers are putting together a broad coalition of liberal grassroots activists to identify and get out their voters.
This is what worked for them in 1998 and 2000.
Is this an admission that Gore won?
And it's what they failed to do in 2002 so they are redoubling their efforts this year.
Damn that Terry McAuliffe! But the real point of this letter, other than the not-so-subtle implication that Democrats may not legitimately take part in representative government, is that the RNC needs me to answer their census and give them money ... so that they can develop a BLUEPRINT.
The census, consisting of absolutely neutral questions like "Do you support President Bush's initiatives to promote the safety and security of all Americans?" leads to a final question, "Will you support the Republican National Committee by making a contribution today?"
The answers are "Yes, and here's my contribution of ___," "Yes, I support the RNC, but I am unable to participate at this time. However, I have enclosed $11 to cover the cost of tabulating my survey," and "No, I favor electing liberal Democrats over the next ten years."
In other words, even if you fill out the census, if you can't cough up at least $25 you are not "participating."  This point is rubbed in by the following "SPECIAL QUESTION FOR RNC MEMBERS ONLY (Your gift today makes you a member in good standing of the RNC.)" The "special question" just wants to know where the answerer gets his/her news -- television, newspapers, etc.
Clearly, the real point is to make the answerer who does not contribute money feel like an outsider, like someone who is letting down the team. I can't remember that I've ever received anything from the Dems so blatantly manipulative, but maybe I'm on the wrong mailing lists.
Anyway, you can bet I answered the survey, checking the box marked "No, I favor electing liberal Democrats," AND answering the "special question," nyah nyah nyah, and mailing it back. Plus I'll add some other stuff to the postage-paid envelope to bulk up the postage costs.
Maybe I'll include a BLUEPRINT of what the RNC can do with George W. Bush.
Update: The Big Dog has heart disease; needs bypass surgery.
12:02 pm | link

What's New?
Full disclosure. I lacked the resolve to watch the "Acceptance Speech" myself. I'm relying on reviews and the speech transcript to find out how it went.
Consensus seems to be that Bush delivered two speeches. In the first, he dutifully plodded through a domestic agenda, and in the second he warmed to the topic nearest his heart, death national security.
Ken Fireman of New York Newsday summed up speech #1:
... after weeks of signaling that he would use his acceptance speech to announce an agenda for the rest of his presidency, Bush offered only vague thematic outlines or modest programs on most issues.

He revived his 4-year-old proposal for partly privatizing Social Security by allowing younger wage earners to divert part of their payroll taxes into individual investment accounts, but offered no details on how such a costly and controversial idea might be implemented.

He pledged to lead a bipartisan effort to transform the federal tax code into "a simpler, fairer, pro-growth system," but again offered no particulars on what such a system might look like - only a plan to appoint an advisory panel to study the issue.

According to a fact sheet distributed by the White House, among the questions the panel will be asked to consider is whether to "modify the current system or replace the system with new one." It did not indicate whether Bush is prepared to endorse the proposal of some conservatives to completely scrap the federal income tax system in favor of a national sales tax or value- added tax.

Many of the specific programs Bush mentioned have been on his legislative wish-list for some time, such as making it easier for small businesses to band together to buy discounted health insurance, allowing individuals to establish tax-free "health savings accounts" and capping damages in liability lawsuits.

And the new initiatives he offered - increased funding for job training and community colleges, regulatory and tax relief for those who invest in poorer communities, expansions of community health centers in rural areas, more "early intervention" programs in high school - were relatively modest in scope.

Here's the punch line:

Nonetheless, Bush asserted that a common philosophical theme ran through all these ideas. The world, the global economy and American society are changing rapidly, he said, and the federal government "must take your side" to help Americans navigate those changes without killing individual initiative.

In other words, you citizens had better not expect the Gubmint to bail you out if the mighty Corporate World Order cuts your job and your health care and industrial pollution gives you cancer and your sons get sent off to die in Iraq. Us freedom-loving Amurricans know that the best way to promote the general welfare is to concentrate wealth and power into the hands of the very few with the resolve and the will to boldly turn corners and damn the consequences. If you don't like the results, you're a girlie man.
Having eaten his vegetables, Bush moved on to the red meat:

Our strategy is succeeding. Four years ago, Afghanistan was the home base of al-Qaida, Pakistan was a transit point for terrorist groups, Saudi Arabia was fertile ground for terrorist fundraising, Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons, Iraq was a gathering threat, and al-Qaida was largely unchallenged as it planned attacks.

If Bush's strategy was to maintain the status quo, or even make the situation worse, then I have to admit it's a smashing success. Although I can't say if Libya is still secretly pursuing nuclear weapons (did Bush say new-cue-lar again?), it appears Afghanistan is not the home base of al Qaeda any more. Although al Qaeda has managed to re-enter Afghanistan, it doesn't seem to have a home base at all but is instead a menace entirely cut free of geographical restraints that can strike anywhere, anytime, with impunity -- largely unchallenged as it plans attacks.
Pakistan is still a transit point of terrorist groups, which is why the Pakistanis are able to arrest a few terrorists whenever the Bushies find it politically expedient. Since the Bushies also have no compunction about unmasking covert operations whenever they find it politically expedient, no doubt the terrorists of Pakistan will continue to transit in the foreseeable future.
Regarding Saudi Arabia -- is he saying the Arabs have shut down all the infamous Wahhabi schools? Not that I'd heard.
And Iraq, my dears, has gone way beyond the "gathering threat" point.
Bush is running on sheer bluster. I cannot think of any other president whose popularity and public image were so utterly removed from his actual accomplishments. Truly disturbing.

7:33 am | link

thursday, september 2, 2004

I Can't Watch
They can't make me watch. I don't wanna watch.

9:49 pm | link

This Afternoon in Union Square 9:22 pm | link

Meanwhile ...
A roundup of not-RNC convention news you don't want to miss:
"We lost more American soldiers (488) in Iraq in 239 days of this year than we did in 287 days last year (482), when there was a war on and before our mission was accomplished." (Molly Ivins)
"The Bush administration is ignoring, if not defying outright, the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that all terror suspects must be able to challenge their imprisonment." (LA Times editorial) 
"The Justice Department on Wednesday assailed its own legal strategy in the case that had brought its first courtroom victory in the war on terror.

"In a 60-page filing released Wednesday, prosecutors asked a federal judge to end the terror case against what they once called a 'sleeper operational combat cell' based here. They are asking for a new trial of three men only on document fraud.

"After nine months of investigation, federal prosecutors compiled a wealth of evidence that they said fatally undermined every aspect of their terror case. They also sharply rebuked the prosecutor who led the case, Richard G. Convertino, suggesting he knowingly withheld evidence that he was obligated to share with defense lawyers. Mr. Convertino, who was removed as the case prosecutor last year and is the subject of a department investigation, has denied accusations that he did anything wrong and has filed a lawsuit against the department.

"The developments were a stunning reversal in a case once hailed by Attorney General John Ashcroft as a major victory in the war on terror." (Danny Hakim, New York Times)

"The burgeoning scandal over claims that a Pentagon official passed highly classified secrets to a Zionist lobby group appears to be part of a much broader set of FBI and Pentagon investigations of close collaboration between prominent U.S. neo-conservatives and Israel dating back some 30 years.

"According to knowledgeable sources, who asked to not be identified, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) has been intensively reviewing a series of past counter-intelligence probes that were started against several high-profile neo-cons but never followed up with prosecutions, to the great frustration of counter-intelligence officers, in some cases.

"Some of these past investigations involve top current officials, including Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of Defence for Policy Douglas Feith, whose office appears to be the focus of the most recently disclosed inquiry; and Richard Perle, who resigned as Defence Policy Board (DPB) chairman last year. " (Jim Lobe; see also Juan Cole)

"Linda Allison's story, never before published, contradicts the Bush campaign's assertion that George W. Bush transferred from the Texas Air National Guard to the Alabama National Guard in 1972 because he received an irresistible offer to gain high-level experience on the campaign of Bush family friend Winton 'Red' Blount. In fact, according to what Allison says her late husband told her, the younger Bush had become a political liability for his father, who was then the United States ambassador to the United Nations, and the family wanted him out of Texas. 'I think they wanted someone they trusted to keep an eye on him,' Linda Allison said. ...

"Asked if she'd ever seen Bush in a uniform, Allison said: 'Good lord, no. I had no idea that the National Guard was involved in his life in any way.' Allison also confirmed previously published accounts that Bush often showed up in the Blount campaign offices around noon, boasting about how much alcohol he had consumed the night before. ...

"'After about a month I asked Jimmy what was Georgie's job, because I couldn't figure it out. I never saw him do anything. He told me it basically consisted of him contacting people who were impressed by his name and asking for contributions and support,' Allison said." (Mary Jacoby, Salon)

By now you've probably heard this one, but just in case ...

"Ben Barnes, the former lieutenant governor of Texas, will finally break his silence and talk to the press about what role he played in helping Bush get a coveted slot in the Texas Air National Guard in 1968. Sources say Barnes has already sat down for a '60 Minutes' interview that will air next week." (Eric Boehlert, Salon)

Also: Florida hurricane, Russian school in Chechnya still held hostage; Ahmed Chalabi escapes assassination; Lord Black plundered Hollinger International; Kobe Bryant case dismissed.

BIG update: Don't miss the Tweety vs. ZigZag video! 

7:12 am | link

Chips Off the Old Block
Young Republicans support the war but don't want to be bothered about fighting it themselves, thank you. (Knight Ridder)

6:23 am | link

wednesday, september 1, 2004

Protest Update
Girly Man runs from protesters -- the New York NBC local news says Arnold Schwarzenegger ran way from protesters waiting for him after a tour of a public school. I'm watching a group of mostly women complaining that Ahhnold ran away from them. There should be video on the web any minute now.
Also, some protesters got into Madison Square Garden and disrupted the afternoon proceedings. The Young Republicans being interviewed apparently just found it amusing. This is not the first time security has been penetrated.
I admire the protesters' ambition, but this kind of grandstanding can get out of hand and work in Karl Rove's favor. Fortunately, just one more day of convention.
I hope to get back into the city tomorrow to see firsthand what's going on.

5:22 pm | link

A Tale of Two Headlines
Both headlines dated September 1:
New York Fire Fighter Locals Overwhelmingly Endorse
John Kerry for President
FDNY Officers, Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester, White Plains Among Over 100 Local Affiliates in the NYSPFFA to Endorse John Kerry

ALBANY, N.Y., Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Professional Fire Fighters from across the State of New York recently gathered in Binghamton for their Annual Convention.  By a huge plurality they endorsed John Kerry for President.
I'm not going to repeat the whole press release here, but please read it. It's a clear-headed statement explaining why the nation would be better served with John Kerry in the White House instead of George Bush. Then come back here for the rest of the post, and the other headline.
President To Visit Queens Firefighters
NEW YORK (CBS) It was the defining moment of his presidency, and for his first stop in the convention city, President Bush chose a New York audience that will evoke memories of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Bush was to meet Wednesday night with firefighters at the Italian Charities of America in Elmhurst, N.Y., about 10 miles from where terrorists crashed two airliners into the World Trade Center nearly three years ago. Campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel says conventioneers will be able to watch as Bush talks with the firefighters. Bush may also visit a local firehouse.
Bush Campaign handlers figured out a that Bush visit to Ground Zero itself during the convention would be all-too-obvious exploitation. So he's doing the next best thing by visiting the noble firefighters.
What's a wallow in 9/11 nostalgia without some members of the FDNY, after all?
But will the whores of the "news media" let the public know that the International Association of Fire Fighters (AFL-CIO) overwhelmingly supports Kerry? Don't hold your breath.

4:50 pm | link

Where the Tall Corn Grows
Maybe it's me, but this creeped me out --

NEW YORK — Keith Hunter spent yesterday morning cleaning up a park in Harlem while his wife shopped on Fifth Avenue.

The Iowa delegate, along with dozens of others from North Carolina and Connecticut, painted weathered benches forest green at a playground in Morningside Park.

Yesterday was part of a GOP-wide service project called "Compassion Across America," where delegates helped to beautify various underserved communities throughout the city.

First off, if Morningside Park is where I think it is, it's in a lovely area of Manhattan called Morningside Heights that intersects the Upper West Side and what we might call Harlem Proper. The park is a stone's throw from Columbia University and the massive Cathedral of St. John the Divine. It's also in the same neighborhood as Riverside Church and my favorite place in Manhattan, Grant's Tomb.

Further, Morningside Park appears to have its own community organization of caretakers and cleaner-uppers.

In other words, the park isn't any more "underserved" than most of the rest of New York City, and probably better served than some parts. And NYC in general would be a lot less "underserved" if Bush would give the city the money he promised after September 11. 

But here are these out-of-towners sweeping into "Harlem" like 19th century white missionaries entering Darkest Africa to bring civilization to unwashed savages.

I like this part:

Hunter wasn't sure what to expect as he stepped off the shuttle bus in Harlem, but was pleasantly surprised at the diversity, he said.

Yeah, those underprivileged Columbia University students do come in all colors.

Granted, Manhattanites are not the neatest people in the world. In their proclivity for littering they are almost as bad as hillbillies. But maybe the people who use the park did not want their benches painted forest green. Maybe they like the weathered look.

I've written one of the Friends of Morningside Park to get his opinion of the Iowa Delegates. It may turn out I'm overreacting. 

Meanwhile, Iowa Delegate Leon Mosley, who endeared himself to New Yorkers by saying "I left God's country. They could use a bunch of people from Iowa to come here to show New Yorkers what life is all about, what being patriotic is all about, and what country is all about," is saying he didn't mean all New Yorkers.  He was only referring to some protesters.

Leon: Go back to Iowa. Now. Don't let the door hit your butt on the way out.


1:56 pm | link

It's Giuliani Time!
In three straight speeches, one by Cheney at Ellis Island and those by John McCain and Rudolph Giuliani on Monday night at the Republican convention, not once was the name of Osama bin Laden mentioned. ...

Giuliani's bothered the most. He left out bin Laden because Bush can't get the words out of his mouth. Why shouldn't his boss ignore bin Laden? He is the killer who got away and he stands for the war that kills Americans every day.

Instead Giuliani played everybody for rank suckers and converted the old "Win one for the Gipper" to "Thank God Bush is the president." Giuliani doesn't have even a little bit of shame.
In very Democratic NYC, only RINO (Republican in Name Only) candidates need apply for elected office. As mayor, Rudy's status as a party maverick made it possible for voters to overlook his unfortunate Republican party affiliation.
In 1992 he endorsed Mario Cuomo over George Pataki for governor, saying he believed the liberal Cuomo would be better for NYC. In the 2000 primary he clearly preferred McCain to Bush. Pro-gun control, pro-choice, and pro-gay rights, Rudy would seem to be out of step with Bush's GOP. And they with him.
Yet Monday night the GOP trotted Guiliani out like a prize bull, for all to see and admire. And Rudy did his part by sharing some of his 9/11 heroic luster with the "My Pet Goat" president.
This is transparent political expedience, of course. But Rudy's complicity in maintaining the Bush Big Lie -- that Osama bin Laden doesn't matter, that the Iraq War is mystically tied to 9/11 and the ephemeral War on Terror -- is the most shameless sellout I have ever seen.
Rudy Giuliani has turned his back on those he publicly mourned three years ago. He tramples their remains to promote himself.

Language is a wonderful thing. It can be used to express thoughts, to conceal thoughts, but more often, to replace thinking. (Kelly Fordyce)

Guiliani dismisses the charge that he and Bush are exploiting 9/11. "It's impossible to conduct this presidential election without talking about Sept. 11. It would be like conducting the re-election of Abraham Lincoln and not talking about the Civil War," Giuliani told USA Today.
But, Rudy, I don't mind the GOP talking about 9/11. In fact, I wish Bush and Dick and Condi and you and the other Bushie minions would talk. I want you to talk about the warnings ignored and the steps not taken that might have prevented 3,000 deaths. I want you to talk about lower Manhattan air quality after 9/11 and information that was deliberately withheld from New Yorkers (did you know?). I want you to talk about the firemen and other Ground Zero workers who got sick breathing that air. I want you to talk about the money Bush promised to New York City that somehow never materialized (although Wall Street firms got their handouts pronto). I want you to talk about the firehouses that are closing to save the city money. I want you to talk about trains and bridges and ports and tunnels and gas lines and nuclear reactors that remain insecure because the so-called Department of Homeland Security is a bleeping joke.
And I want you to talk about Osama bin Laden.
We're not supposed to see the flag-draped coffins of dead soldiers returning from Iraq. But the dead of 9/11 are not allowed to rest in peace. Instead, they've been put to work for the Bush campaign, and Guiliani dances on their remains to promote himself. Their families should be paid for their commercial usage.
On 9/11 "America's Mayor" filled the role President Bush should have filled but did not, as Bush was flapping about aimlessly in Air Force One trying to get his bearings, or perhaps sober up, before he faced the public. New Yorkers remember that. But they also remember Amadou Diallo.
New Yorkers were ambivalent about Rudy when he was mayor. On one hand, he reduced crime and cleaned up Times Square. On the other hand, his wink-wink, nudge-nudge attitude toward racism in the NYPD made his name a synonym for police brutality -- "It's Guiliani Time!" 
Fact is, the Rudy Giuliani that New York City remembers has a lot in common with our president. As mayor, Guiliani was often criticized for failing to meet with black community leaders. As president, Bush refused to address the NAACP. As mayor, Guiliani  opposed the creation of independent police commission to review brutality charges. As president, Bush opposed an independent commission to investigate September 11. And both men have an autocratic, "my way or the highway" style of "leadership."
Rumors are that Rudy Giuliani wants to run for president in 2008. If the 9/11 dead can carry Bush on their shoulders to victory this November, perhaps they'll do it for Rudy four years hence. But my guts tell me that  Rudy couldn't win an election in New York City today.
Maybe Rudy can scam the rubes in Iowa, but he ain't foolin' New York.

6:22 am | link

tuesday, august 31, 2004

Three alerts -- one, the radio interview I had scheduled for tonight will probably be rescheduled because of an emergency that befell the host. The interview will probably be moved to next week.
However (this is alert #2), tomorrow at 10 a.m. I'm to speak to  Steve Breyman of WPRI, Troy, New York. They have a Real Audio link.
Alert #3 is a barf alert. This belongs on the Barf-o-Rama page.

5:15 pm | link

Tired and Old
Over on uggabugga, Quiddity discusses George Bush's record of achievement.
In short, Bush doesn't have a record of achievement, and the minions who maintain the White House Web Site aren't even working too hard at faking one.
Just for fun I visited the Bush campaign web site. They've taken the Kerry cartoons off the home page; too bad. But wait ... down in the lower left corner is a section on "The Bush Record." Much funnier than Kerry cartoons. I clicked on "Jobs & the Economy." Sample rhetoric:
The choice for America – We can move forward with the President’s pro-growth economic policies that are creating jobs, increasing incomes and opening new markets for American goods. Or, we can go back to the tired old policies of tax and spend, economic isolationism and economic pessimism – a proven recipe for economic disaster.
Hoo, boy, that's a rib-tickler, huh? 
Also on the Bush site, we're treated to Arizona Senator John Kyle comparing the two conventions. Compare/contrast with observations from Sydney Blumenthal and others:
KYLE: I think there are 3 big differences between DNC and this convention. First, while we have a lot of diversity in the speakers, and the Democrats weren’t able to truly speak their minds.
BLUMENTHAL: On the first day of the Republican Convention not one speaker mentioned a domestic issue -- not education, healthcare or the economy. ... In the afternoon, a radical conservative platform against stem cell research, abortion rights and gay rights was approved by the convention without a murmur of dissent.
KYLE: Second, you’ll see a very specific and positive agenda for the next 4 years of the Bush administration. You’ve heard very little about what Kerry will do.
MAHA: See Kerry campaign web site, left-hand column, Plan for America. Knock yourself out. Re Bush plans -- they'd better be good.
KYLE: And third, starting last night with Senator McCain and Rudy Giuliani, you’ll hear about this President’s leadership in the war on Terror that will distinguish the difference between President Bush and John Kerry.
GEORGE W. BUSH: I don't think you can win it [the war on terror] but I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world.

ANONYMOUS, AUTHOR OF IMPERIAL HUBRIS: There is nothing that Bin Laden could have hoped for more than the American invasion and occupation of Iraq.

JANE'S INTELLIGENCE WEEKLY: [T]he overall progress made by the anti-terrorist coalition is extremely limited compared to the mounting evidence that popular support for Osama bin Laden's group and its ideology is, in fact, growing stronger.

KYLE: You can really feel the enthusiasm for their nominee among these delegates in sharp contrast to the DNC. There the enthusiasm was against Bush and not for Kerry.
MATT STOLLER: There's something more here [Democratic convention] 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.
KYLE: I’d much rather be for than against --
CNN: Delegates to the Republican National Convention found a new way to take a jab at Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's Vietnam service record: by sporting adhesive bandages with small purple hearts on them.
KYLE: ... and I’m really excited about prospects for victory.
MAHA: So am I, Senator. So am I.
Finally, I nominate this jerk as the Person I Most Want to Punch Out This Week:

"I left God's country," said Leon Mosley of Waterloo, Iowa, co-chairman of his state party. "They could use a bunch of people from Iowa to come here to show New Yorkers what life is all about, what being patriotic is all about, and what country is all about.''

Bring it on.


2:59 pm | link

Remember, Middle Eastern evildoers are not all alike! Don't be fooled by cheap imitations! Insist that the Bush Administration be held accountable for getting the real perpetrator of September 11, and not just any despot in the general vacinity!
Osama is the guy who arranged to destroy the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon, not Saddam. They don't even look alike, yet people confuse them!
Don't be fooled by the Bush bait-and-switch! The next time the GOP celebrates the capture of Saddam as a great victory in the war on terror, holler,
"Where's Osama?"  
This reminder brought to you as a public service by The Mahablog.

11:55 am | link

Republican Ga Ga
I can't watch. There's not enough alka-seltzer on the planet. So my observations of the Pug Convention are from second-hand sources.
In fact, the last Republican convention I remember watching was 1992. Pat Buchanan got a lot of discredit for talking up his holy culture war and scaring away moderate voters. But what I remember most is Marilyn Quayle.
Like the already-hated Hillary Clinton, Marilyn Quayle went to law school. Unlike Our Hillary, however, Their Marilyn dropped law practice and devoted her life to her home and children. And the Pugs weren't going to let us forget it.

Today, as we learn on our visit to her home--the 33-room Victorian mansion the family occupies on the grounds of Washington's Naval Observatory--Marilyn Quayle is much more than a mother and a self-confessed vice-presidential advisor. Marilyn Quayle personifies the bright young career woman's dream of "having it all" and "having it all together." That "all" includes a happy and fit family and a challenge that's probably bigger than her fondest dreams. Marilyn likes a good fight, and the fight that currently occupies her energy is the battle against breast cancer. ...

So how does this young Hoosier play a leading role in the anti-cancer crusade, keep pace with a busy husband, nurture three vigorous children, and fulfill the social obligations of being the Vice President's wife? Managing the spacious house is a cinch; Marilyn makes decisions easily and quickly. She's completely at ease in the comfortable setting and has added many homey touches to the official residence. Some paintings in the residence, for instance, were donated by her uncle to the Indiana Museum of Art and leased by the museum to the Quayles for use during their vice-presidential tour of duty.

As Marilyn efficiently arranges for our photographer to shoot the cover photo in her dining room, she comes off as a most unflappable mother-career woman who doesn't take herself too seriously but is very serious about her causes. She gets the job done while others might still be talking about it. [Saturday Evening Post, October 1990]

And, of course, if Marilyn Quayle was a typical mother-career woman, then I'm the Virgin Mary.

Her speech at the 1992 convention literally made my blood run cold. Here was this very wealthy, very privileged woman bragging about how she made the right choice to stay home with her children. As if she'd actually had to sacrifice anything to do so. There was something about the haughty way she looked down her nose as she spoke that lingers in my memory still.

The convention-goers loved her. But at work the next day, whenever I passed another woman in the hall (and the publishing industry is overwhelmingly female) we'd look at each other, then one of us would say "Marilyn Quayle," and we'd both pretend to retch.

The moral of which is, Republicans sometimes reveal their true snotty little selves at these conventions, and it ain't pretty.

From what I've read, today's Republicans have already some across as a bullying juvenile gang by sporting "purple heart" bandages to mock John Kerry.

At their convention the Democrats made an effort to keep Bush bashing to a minimum. The Republicans clearly feel no such restraint.

And will anyone beside the die-hard Bush faithful be moved by 9/11 nostalgia? If an eyewitness like me is sick of it, how does the rest of the country feel?

It seems especially weird to me that people are still awed by the moment in September 2001 when Bush stood on the smoldering remains of the 9/11 dead and yelled through a bullhorn, "The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."

Today, Osama doesn't even need earplugs.

Bush failed, people. The brag he made on that day has not been fulfilled. Instead staying on course to get the people who really did knock those buildings down, Bush got sidetracked by an old vendetta against somebody else and let the perps go.

We need another march up Seventh Avenue, but this time everybody should be shouting this question ..

"Where's Osama?"


10:02 am | link

monday, august 30, 2004

Radio Ga Ga
I want to put in a good word for the Mainstream Media Project.  This nonprofit is dedicated to broadening the range of opinions and perspectives in mainstream radio programming. IMO there's nothing more important to democracy in America than breaking through the vast echo chamber of idiocy that is American mass media. Mainstream Media has been arranging radio interviews for me so I can tell the nonwired about blogging, and I feel privileged to be able to help the cause.
I'm learning interesting stuff, too. This morning I got to speak with Tom Turnipseed, who has a great liberal radio show in the unlikely media market of Columbia, South Carolina.  This is proof that anything is possible.
Tomorrow evening at 8:05 I'll be speaking live to Dick Riseling of WJFF, 90.5 FM, Jeffersonville, NY ) "Radio Catskill"). Their web site has a link to streaming audio, so I hope some of y'all can catch the show.

8:27 pm | link

Morning After
One more observation -- I attended the street demonstratons against Iraq in February and March 2003, and I remember that International A.N.S.W.E.R. was a huge presence at those events. There were so many big A.N.S.W.E.R. banners and blocks of IA people marching together in both events one might have thought they were IA, not United for Peace and Justice, demonstrations.
Yesterday, IA was just one of many, many diverse groups, and not an especially prominent one. I saw some hand-held IA signs, but that's about it.
This is a good thing.
About the numbers: I'm seeing estimates of anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000 people. I cannot say how many people were really there. However, UPJ had a permit for 250,000. The city set aside a several-block area for the marchers to gather before the march began. If we assume this area was big enough to accommodate 250,000, then there were more than 250,000 people, because the area wasn't nearly big enough.
500,000? Maybe not. But more than 250,000.
As I recall, the NYPD claimed there were about 100,000 people at the February 2003 rally on Second Avenue, and yesterday's march was many times bigger than that.

8:48 am | link

sunday, august 29, 2004

Photos 10:39 pm | link

A Modest Proposition
First off, I want to request ... nay, plead ... that persons whose names can be shortened to bush or dick not ever be elected, ever. And while we're at it, let's eliminate anyone whose name rhymes with duck. On principle.
Today I have seen more slogans built around suggestions for what to do with bush and dick than I'd care to see for the rest of my life, thank you. 
How many marchers? Word on the street was 400,000, still marching.
It's hot as blazes in Manhattan today. I was feeling pretty well until I got trapped in an ever-tightening crowd on Seventh Avenue at 20th Street. After standing in the hot sun for quite a long time before the march even began, I didn't last very long -- I shuffled along for about four blocks, then ducked into a cafe to sit down and have a cold soda, then back down the street a couple of blocks, and then I realized I could not make it to Madison Square Garden, much as I wanted to. A lot of people pealed off, actually, although most kept marching.
From what I saw, this was not a march of Democrats. This is not to say that there were not a lot of Democrats and Kerry supporters in the crowd. But the support for Kerry was mostly subdued, consisting of buttons and baseball caps. I didn't see a lot of pro-Kerry banners and signs. (An exception -- "Bush is scary. Vote for Kerry.")
On the other hand, a lot of the more vocal groups made it very plain they didn't like Kerry, either. I think these people were a minority, but they were a loud and in-your-face minority.
Then I caught some of the march on a television. Sweet ol' David Gergen was trying to speak and behind him was an angry young man shouting the F word quite a bit, and then more F word signs floated by in the background, and I'm thinking, noooooooo  ... this is just what will drive a lot of swing voters into the arms of Karl Rove. I hope I'm wrong.
I do have a lot of good photos. I will post them this evening. But first I am taking a nap.
Update: My daughter posted some photos here.

4:52 pm | link

It Begins
So right now I'm sitting in a Starbucks at the corner of Union Square West and E. 17th Street and Broadway. I am looking straight out the window at the television news vans and the guys with major equipment. And I'm here with a notebook and my cell phone and digital camera, and almost as good.
I took this photo on Seventh Ave. near where the march is supposed to start about 7:30 this morning. Not many people on the street yet, but some volunteers for United for Peace and Justice were setting up rows of signs to hand out. I'll put up photos of that in a bit.
I honestly don't know where I'm going to go from here. I may walk back over to Seventh Ave. once I've finished my latte. I couldn't find any hotspots over there, however. We'll see.

9:17 am | link

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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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