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saturday, september 11, 2004

Sunny Day
 
I'm glad to see a few clouds in the sky today. Yesterday the sky was a perfect, clear blue, just as it was on that day.  A perfect blue sky would be cruel today.
 
Three years. I wrote ground-zero-1.jpgthis essay on the first anniversary, and unfortunately it mostly still applies to our situation now. Yes, we've had some investigations, but the questions I asked then remain unanswered. And our "leaders" have yet to be held accountable.
 
And part of me still hasn't accepted the loss of the World Trade Center. I can still see the corridors and shops and cafes and flowing crowds of people in my head, clear as day. How could that not be real?
 
But we remember what we want to remember.
 
Earlier this week some genius at the Wall Street Journal wrote an editorial called "The Children of Beslan: The Unique Depravity of Modern Islamic Terror." The slaughter of children in the name of terrorism, it says, is a turning point. As if such a thing had never happened before.
 
okbomb.gifBut, in fact, this sort of thing -- the slaughter of innocents for the sake of a Cause -- has happened many times in human history. It happened at Oklahoma City, and at Wounded Knee, and Jolo. It's happened throughout history, throughout culture, throughout race and religion. "Unique depravity" is a human trait. We do well to remember that.
 
Trying to understand human nature, to fathom how humans can do such terrible things, is not the same thing as excusing it or blaming the victim. This is a point the WSJ editorial writer clearly does not grasp.
Post-9/11, there were those who "explained" the attacks by blaming U.S. policy in the Mideast as behind the "desperation" of the hijackers. After the Madrid bombings, half the Spanish electorate effectively blamed their nation's participation in the war in Iraq by voting out the government that supported the U.S. In the wake of every suicide bombing in Israel, that country's policy on Palestinians is deemed responsible in many quarters, especially in Europe. Post-Beslan, who is prepared to blame the children?
By this logic, a forensic analysis of Tim McVeigh's mental state is pointless, because to understand what screwball notions banging around in his skull caused him to bomb an office building is to blame the children in the nursery for their own deaths. Never mind that understanding where those screwball notions come from might save lives in the future.
 
holyinocents.jpgWhat's really pointless is to set aside a particular class of people -- Muslims, Germans, white people, Communists, whatever -- and attribute their actions to "unique depravity." That's making excuses -- for ourselves. It sets up a delusion that gives Us permission to do terrible things to Them, because They are "evil" and We are "good."
 
And that delusion is the basis for all of the "unique" depravities throughout space and time.
 
To perceive the origins of enmity is to rob enmity of its power. When enmity has no power over you, you can avoid being sucked into the same old vortex of Us versus Them. That's what Jesus was talking about in his "turn the other cheek" speech.
 
Saying that we must avoid enmity is not to say we must not defend ourselves, or even that we must not sometimes take offensive action to protect ourselves. It just means we don't wake up one morning surrounded by the bodies of innocents and with blood on our hands.
 
The WSJ editorial lauds President Bush for his "transformational" thinking. But our actions as a nation in the past three years reveals the same old, tribal, Us versus Them thinking that is at the root of all depravity. 
 
(I also see that the WSJ editorial quotes our buddy Douglas Feith:
SoldierSitChild.jpgDouglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, explained the Administration's effort to de-legitimize terrorism in a speech last spring at the University of Chicago. "The world should view terrorism as it views the slave trade, piracy on the high seas and genocide," he said, "as activities that no respectable person condones, much less supports."  
That's rich, coming from Feith.)
 
Today the dead of 9/11 will be remembered. Their names will be read at Ground Zero. It is good to remember those we lost and to revisit the weight of that loss. To forget is to trivialize and devalue the lives that ended three years ago today.
 
dying06sm.jpgBut even as those names are read, somewhere in the world other innocents will die for other people's causes, and we shouldn't forget them, either. And we should not kid ourselves that there is something "unique" about such depravity. It is, unfortunately, all too common.
 
Update: This is just what I'm talkin' about.
8:27 am | link

I'm Right! I Mean, Correct!
But specialists interviewed by the Globe and some other news organizations say the specialized characters used in the documents, and the type format, were common to electric typewriters in wide use in the early 1970s, when Bush was a first lieutenant.

Philip Bouffard, a forensic document examiner in Ohio who has analyzed typewritten samples for 30 years, had expressed suspicions about the documents in an interview with the New York Times, one in a wave of similar media reports. But Bouffard told the Globe Friday that after further study, he now believed the documents could have been prepared on an IBM Selectric Composer typewriter available at the time.

Analysts who have examined the documents focus on several facets of their typography, among them the use of a curved apostrophe, a raised, or superscript, "th," and the proportional spacing between the characters -- spacing that varies with the width of the letters. In older typewriters, each letter was allotted the same space.

Those who doubt the documents say those typographical elements would not have been commonly available at the time of Bush's service. But such characters were common features on electric typewriters of that era, the Globe determined through interviews with specialists and examination of documents from the period. In fact, one such raised "th," used to describe a Guard unit, the 187th, appears in a document in Bush's official record the White House made public this year. [Boston Globe, emphasis added]

Instead of asking a bunch of (male) forensic experts, they could have saved themselves some trouble by calling some retired secretaries and asking them about the bleeping type. But nooooooooo ...

7:59 am | link

friday, september 10, 2004

One More Time
 
Even I think I am spending way too much time on the Killian memo issue, but I'm visiting it again because, dammit, I'm an expert. And I don't think they are forgeries.
 
I studied typography as an academic discipline (circa 1971) as part of the old journalism school curriculum at U of Missouri.  I spent roughly 30 years in the book publishing business, most of which was on the production side dealing with type compositors and printers. I have worked with typography and printing processes from the end of the raised-metal-type era to current digital technology. I have designed and written complete type specifications for more books than I can remember.
 
As a production editor in the 1980s I became especially good at measuring the type in books to be reprinted so that corrections could be made by patching the film. To do that, I had to measure the old type and match font, body size, ledding, and letter spacing exactly. This is not a skill people need much any more, since books are stored digitally. But I still know how to do it.
 
I'm bouncing around the web seeing wingnuts flying off about proportional letter spacing and kerning and whatnot, and I'm telling you these people are off the wall.
 
Why? Because, if you need to measure type (body size, ledding, letter spacing) and match it exactly, you have to work with original documents. If you are measuring a photocopy of an original document, the measurements can be off by half a point or more. If you are measuring a photocopy of a photocopy, the distortion grows to more than a point. If you are measuring a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy scanned into a PDF file, e.g. the Killian documents, forget it. The "kerning" and letter spacing you think you see may or may not exist on the original document. Probably not, in fact.
 
I know this because I learned it from my old film patching days. If all I had to work with was a photocopy, my patch wouldn't match. I had to measure the original printed page.
 
So, let's dispense with the "proportional type" theory. I've looked at the PDF files, and IMO the quality thereof is too far removed from the original (the wavy baselines are a dead giveaway) to know what the original type proportion was. And any "kerning" one might see is probably the result of distortion that occurs in photocopies that are generations removed from an original.
 
Now, let's shift focus onto the capabilities of common electric typewriters, circa 1972. As I've already explained, the IBM Selectric was very common. By 1972  the offices of America had replaced old manual uprights for electric typewriters, and the Selectric II, introduced in 1971, was the best.
 
By the time I graduated college in 1973 it would have been shocking to walk into a business office and not see Selectric IIs or similar. It would be as unusual as using a rotary phone today.
 
And Selectrics produced documents in a variety of type fonts, including Greek letters and all manner of esoteric scientific/mathematical symbols. You really could type open and close quotation parks and curly apostrophes. Superscript type was easily created by shifting. Even a reduced superscript "th" was technically possible, in spite of what the wingnuts are saying now.
 
It's true that some whizbangs took a couple of extra steps. People ask, Why would Killian have gone to the trouble of creating a reduced superscript "th"? But we're talking about the early 1970s here. Let's be frank -- in those dear departed times, real men did not touch typewriters. Trust me on this. It's highly probable Killian scribbled a note and gave it to one of the office "girls" to type up for his signature. The office "girls" hardly ever bothered about putting their initials on such documents, in spite of what the secretarial practice books said. But the "girl" would have typed the document very nicely.
 
Finally, I understand the wingnuts find it astonishing that the type seen in the Killian documents can be reproduced exactly in word processing documents today. But to anyone with a rudimentary understanding of typography, this is not astonishing at all. Times Roman characters produced on a lintotype machine in 1960 will match Times Roman characters created in Microsoft Word today. If two Times Roman characters were not exactly the same, one of them would not be classic Times Roman type, but something else.
 
Type faces have been consistent for many generations. We still use some type faces that pre-date machine-made type, in fact; e.g., Garamond, still in use after four centuries.
 
I've collected a few books published and printed in the 19th century. I promise you it is possible to recreate the pages of those books digitally. You could set pages in Quark that exactly match the fonts, spacing, margins, etc.; save as PDF files; and "age" the files in PhotoShop, and I doubt any expert in the world could tell the difference by looks alone. Probably an analysis of ink and paper would reveal the difference, but that's outside my expertise.
 
Today at Body and Soul, Jeanne d'Arc wrote about the way Right and Left deal with uncertainty -- "In general, people on the left face uncertainty the way I did in that post -- asking for answers, and weighing evidence (and often giving people with an ax to grind more credit than they deserve). On the right, 'evidence' is just whatever supports what you want to believe."
 
Yes. And I am not writing this today for the "righties" who will believe whatever nonsense they have to believe to keep their heads from exploding. I'm writing for the "lefties" I've seen all over the Web today who are hanging their heads and ready to admit to forged documents.
 
Stop it. Just stop it. Could the Killian documents be forgeries? Could Paul Wolfowitz be a space alien? Anything is possible.
 
But there is no evidence I've seen so far that has persuaded me the documents are forgeries. And I'm the best expert I know.
 
5:36 pm | link

Listen Up
 
Click here for an audio link to Me my own self on Wisconsin Public Radio yesterday. I was on September 9, 5 p.m.
 
4:31 pm | link

Typos
 
It is beyond belief that any so-called expert would say that electric typewriters ca. 1972 could not have created documents using Times Roman font, proportional spacing, or superscript letters.
 
That's nuts. IBM electric typewriters of that era did stuff like that all the time. Commonly.
 
I'm not an expert. I'm just an old lady who spent a lot of time typing with electric typewriters back then. But I KNOW I'M RIGHT.
 
1971Selectric.jpgRegarding the fonts -- IBM Selectric typewriters, which were very commonly used by 1972, typically used Times Roman type. In fact, it was simple to change fonts in the same document. If the typist wanted to start out in Times Roman and switch to Helvetica and add an OCR bar at the bottom, it could be done. And you could switch to scientific symbols or Greek letters or just about anything. This didn't even require a high degree of skill. All you had to do was pop out the type element ball and pop in another one. And in my experience you could type superscript or subscript letters in any font.
 
Regarding proportional spacing -- I AM an expert at print reproduction, having spent 30 years in the book publishing biz dealing with type compositors and printers. And I say when you're dealing with photocopies of photocopies (as we are here) there will be distortion, including letter spacing distortion, and I am dubious that anyone could say with certainty that the originals had variable letter spacing. However, IBM Executive typewriters, introduced way before the 1970s, could do variable letter spacing. Executives were more like word processors than typewriters. You could store a document on a magnetic tape, edit it on the tape, and then generate the final document automatically.
 
Yes, Virginia, there were such things during the Vietnam era.
 
Executives were less common than Selectrics, but Selectrics were pretty much ubiquitous in the early 1970s. Those old upright manuals that only typed in Courier were just about extinct by then.
 
Addendum: The other nonsense I'm hearing is that some of the documents have centered heads, which typewriters didn't create. Newsflash: Typists did centered heads all the time in the pre-Word Processor days. Experienced typists creating official documents could center accurately, even.
 
And, finally, there is the mystery of how a reduced superscript "th" could appear on a Vietnam-era typed document. This would have been generated by a special character on the element ball. I can't prove these were standard features on type element balls of the time, but surely someone in the United States has some old Selectric equipment squirreled away and could check.
 
Update: More about electric typewriters in this Kos diary and thread.
 
6:42 am | link

thursday, september 9, 2004

And He Hates Dogs
 
Today Bush told an audience in Pennsylvania that John Kerry has a "hidden tax plan."

Now, one of his key economic advisors -- one of my opponent's key economic advisors is saying they won't give the details on how they would raise spending and lower the deficit until after the election. (Laughter.) Well, if they want to hold back information until the people vote, you can bet it won't be good news for the taxpayers. But America will reject the hidden Kerry tax plan. (Applause.)

That sneaky French so-and-so has a hidden plan to destroy America by raising taxes. And he's going to disarm the military and send spitballs to Iraq. He shot down Amelia Earhart and kidnapped the Lindbergh baby. He's probably a space alien.  

(For what it's worth, Kerry has detailed plans for cutting the deficit while paying for all policy proposals in a pdf document on his campaign web site. I offer no opinion of the quality of the plans; I'm only saying they aren't hidden.)

Bush also said the loss of manufacturing jobs that occurred on his watch is Bill Clinton's fault.

When I took office, manufacturing employment had been declining for almost three years. In the last six months of the prior administration, more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs were lost. We're turning that around. (Applause.) Since January, America has added 107,000 manufacturing jobs, including 22,000 last month alone. We are making steady progress for American workers. (Applause.)

A year ago Bush was staring at a loss of 2.4 million manufacturing jobs on his watch, so he promised to appoint a manufacturing czar. Whatever became of that?

 
10:26 pm | link

Rightie Rants
 
I understand righties are claiming the newly released documents about Bush's National Guard service must be forged, because the type on the documents doesn't seem to be typewriter type. They've even dug up some "experts" who claim the quality of the type was not technically possible in 1972. (See a pdf of a document here.)
 
This is nonsense. I put in a lot of typewriter time in the early 1970s. State-of-the-art electric typewriters in those days produced type pages that looked like professionally typeset pages of the time, and compare favorably to word processing documents produced today. IBM Selectric II typewriters (introduced in 1971) let the typist adjust the letter spacing (the "pitch," or the number of characters per inch) and use multiple colors and fonts on the same page. You could throw in diacritical marks and superscript and subscript letters and even umlauts and cedillas.
 
So don't listen to the "forgery" rumors. Absolute nonsense.
 

7:48 pm | link

Hard of Hearing
 
Then:
"I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked down these buildings will hear all of us soon." -- President George W. Bush, in the ruins of the World Trade Center, September 14, 2001
Now:
In a videotape made public ahead of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden's chief deputy claimed mujahedeen, or holy fighters, have taken control of much of Afghanistan and driven U.S. forces into the ``trenches.''

With an assault rifle leaning on the wall behind him, Ayman al-Zawahri said ``southern and eastern Afghanistan have completely become an open field for the mujahedeen.'' [Associated Press]

5:10 pm | link

Air Maha Alert
 
Today:
 
Ben Merens, "Conversations with Ben Merens,"
5:00 PM CENTRAL time (6:00 EST)
WHAD Milwaukee, 90.7 FM
Call in: 1-800-486-8655
 

4:35 pm | link

All's Fair?
 
Apparently some righties were traumatized by the RNC protests last week.
 
You have to read this entire WSJ opinion piece to fully appreciate how thick-headed the author is, but apparently he confronted a few protesters directly and was caught off guard. My goodness, those protesters really, really dislike Bush! and Republicans in general! And other meathead righties such as himself! 
 
"What virus of hatred has now infected our young and their idols in Hollywood, the music industry and the liberal media?" he asks.
 
oldlady.jpgAs you know, I took part in the mighty march Seventh Avenue a few days ago, and I don't remember anyone from Hollywood, the music industry, or even the "liberal media" represented there. I must've missed them. But I guess all that mass of us raving young people (such as the out-of-control young woman at left) displaying all that hatred was pretty shocking to some pundits, who are usually well insulated from reality.
 
Having seen this hate with his own eyes, however, the pundit is quick to explain it:

It's not really that they oppose ridding the world of Saddam Hussein (President Clinton recognized him as a dangerous malignancy) or fear losing jobs abroad (President Clinton pushed for free trade). It's not "sweetheart deals for Halliburton" (which has lost money for seven straight quarters, and which President Clinton brought into Kosovo) or "oil" (this administration is freeing up oil revenues for the Iraqi people, not for palaces or armaments and weapons of mass destruction).

It's about payback.sedition.jpg

According to Mr. Meathead's logic, protesters (such as this couple wearing the Bill of Rights) just want payback for the Clinton impeachment. They are only pretending to be alarmed by the Patriot Act.

Bob the Lizard was also shaken by the protests. "I have covered every national political convention beginning with 1960, he writes, "and never before encountered so unpleasant an atmosphere. Not even the infamous 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago approached last week's level of animosity."oldvet2.jpg

The Reptile goes on to explain why New York '04 was worse than Chicago '68:

The Chicago protesters were trying to force a change in Vietnam policy by a Democratic Party where close to half its party and half the delegates supported anti-war demonstrators. The attempted disruption in New York had nothing to do with changing the position of a political party. This was an attack on ''The System.''

The Reptile was particularly shocked that some protesters recognized him and called him a "traitor" because of his involvement in the Plame case. The outing of undercover agents for political purposes must be an intrinsic part of "the system."

The WSJ author, a Mr. Alan Bromley, explains why he will soldier on:

zellmiller.jpgThey march down Broadway carrying their ugly demeanor and vile signs; they heckle and try to intimidate those who try to embrace reason and embrace the optimism that has made America great.

But those who build, create--and who came to New York City to endorse President Bush--need not be afraid of the protesters and their messages of hate and doom.

Personally, I think Mr. Bromley needs to get out more.

 

8:52 am | link

wednesday, september 8, 2004

Give So It Doesn't Hurt
 
Please donate what you can --
 
Help Campaign Money Watch keep their Cheney/Halliburton ads on television and radio.
 
Help Texans for Truth stand tough against the Swift Boat Liars.
 
Or, send your dollars directly to the Kerry campaign.
 
And Moveon is always a worthy cause.
 

6:24 pm | link

The Observatory
 
Last May the rightie blog Wizbang went on a white-hot, holy righteous rant because leftie blogs were not linking to the Nick Berg beheading video. And, of course, the only reason a blogger would not link to the video -- indeed, the only reason one would not watch it several times to wallow in every horrific detail -- was partisanship. Because, obviously, real Americans who care about their country would have watched that video, preferably in the company of patriotic friends and fortified with American-made snacks and beer. Because that's what people who really care about America do.
 
This morning I clicked Wizbang to see if there was any mention of passing the 1,000 American military dead milestone.
 
Nope. Not at the time I'm writing this, anyway. Although one commenter to this post wrote

It is amazinghow every dispatch from the left will open with deaths now exceed 1,000, the same way they changed the name of Halliburton to HalliburtonthecompanyDickCheneyusedtohead.

Yeah, why in the world would a right-thinking person even mention the thousand dead or the obvious war profiteering ol' Dick is party to? Right-thinking people are supposed to overlook such things.

Does the left leaning media ever realize that we lost 58,000 troops (under a Democratic administration) in Viet Nam and gained nothing?

Dick Nixon* was a Democrat? Who knew?

Do they every point out that we lost 36,000 troops in Korea (under a Democrat) and gained nothing?

Yeah, but World War I and II were fought under Democratic presidents, and we kicked ass (how easily they forget).

You see, dear readers, it matters not what is done, but who does it. Yeah, forsooth, Republican acts are intrinsically virtuous, while the sordid doings of Democrats must be ridiculed and belittled by all true patriots, for to do otherwise is to be partisan, which is bad.

I hope I've cleared that up for you.

*In case any rightie stumbles into this blog -- the U.S. military fought in Vietnam from 1965 until the cease-fire in 1973. Of that time, there was a Democrat in the White House for four years and a Republican in the White House for five years. (Two Republicans, actually; Nixon and then Ford.) About half of the 58,148 U.S. military deaths happened during the Nixon administration. Vietnam was a bipartisan war.

1:25 pm | link

All the News That Fits the Print
 
cropnytimes.jpg
 
Side-by-side headlines on the front page of today's New York Times:
 
#1:
 
 
Bush Contends Rival Adopts Antiwar Talk
 
#2:
 
 
U.S. DEATHS PASS 1,000
 
Pentagon Is Not Certain When Central Areas Can Be Secured
 
 
Do tell.
 
Regarding headline #1, the news story says yesterday Cheney was in Des Moines and Junior was touring my old stompin' grounds of Missouri in a bus. According to the Columbia Missourian (written and published by students and faculty of my alma mater, the University of Missouri School of Journalism), Bush appeared ...

Surrounded by signs saying “Leadership for the Heartland” and a podium adorned with tan horse saddles and western prints, Bush reiterated the themes of his convention speech, including job creation, strong leadership in the war on terrorism and improving health care through tort reform.

I cannot tell you how sick I am of this "heartland" junk. It's all about flattering the Retros that they are better people than the Metros -- divide, and conquer. How about leadership for all of America? Nah... no leverage.
 
(Missouri is a swing state that I suspect the Kerry campaign has written off. I have been trying to find out from the Kerry campaign how I can volunteer to go to Missouri to help the Kerry effort, since I'm a native and all, and I'm not getting anywhere. On the other hand, I'm getting emails every day asking me to go to Pennsylvania or Ohio.)
 
Here's another headline, from the Guardian, that ought to go alongside headlikne #1:
 
The war on terror is being lost

The greatest obstacle to reducing the threat is the US administration

How about arranging for a couple of million reprints of this and dropping them out of airplanes over Ohio and Pennsylvania? And maybe even Missouri?

Regarding headline #2, I can only urge you to visit Juan Cole's Informed Comment site every day for a clear picture of what's really happening in Iraq. And while you are there, don't miss this post:

Cheney, Halliburton and Iraq:
The Purloined Letter

Why was Dick Cheney so eager to invade Iraq? Why did he repeatedly link Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda after September 11, and why did he maintain that not only did Iraq have weapons of mass destruction but that he, Cheney, knew exactly where they were?

Interesting questions, yes? And Professor Cole has answers.
 
Here's another headline from the Times, further down the front page but still above the fold:
 
DEFICIT ANALYSIS AND BUSH DIFFER
 
Budget Agency Calculates Smaller 5-Year Decline
 
In other words, when Junior talks about his five-year deficit reduction plan, he's just blowin' smoke. But we knew that.
 
Inside the New York Times, check this out. Nick Kristof writes (under the headline "Missing in Action"),

I've steered clear until now of how Mr. Bush evaded service in Vietnam because I thought other issues were more important. But if Bush supporters attack John Kerry for his conduct after he volunteered for dangerous duty in Vietnam, it's only fair to scrutinize Mr. Bush's behavior. ...

The sheer volume of missing documents, and missing recollections, strongly suggests to me that Mr. Bush blew off his Guard obligations. ... Does this disqualify Mr. Bush from being commander in chief? No. But it should disqualify the Bush campaign from sliming the military service of a rival who still carries shrapnel from Vietnam in his thigh.

Better late than never, I suppose. See also "Pentagon Releases Bush's Long-Sought Militrary Records" by the much compromised Elisabeth Bumiller. There's no information in this article we haven't known for many months. And it's buried on page A21. And the Boston Globe's article is better.
 
Also buried, on page A18, and in teeny headline type:
 

Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who is a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the White House on Tuesday of covering up evidence that might have linked Saudi Arabia to the Sept. 11 hijackers.

Dear New York Times: This is not front-page news because ...?
 
At the bottom of the first page is another provocative headline, "Advocacy Groups and Campaigns: An Uneasy Shuttle." I am less pleased with this article, which goes on for several paragraphs about how a pollster for Moveon and ACT left that position to become an advisor to the Kerry campaign. This is somehow conflated with the swift boat campaign, which obviously was orchestrated by the Bush campaign. Bad New York Times. Bad, bad.
 

8:58 am | link

tuesday, september 7, 2004

In Memoriam 7:34 pm | link

Take a Deep Breath
 
E.J. Dionne's column in today's Washington Post cheered me up a lot.
If there is one thing that came through from last week's convention, it is that Republicans knew that Bush could not win on his own record alone. They had to frighten the country about Kerry and were willing to say anything -- to distort Kerry's record and to lie about it if necessary -- to further that end.

... the Republicans' tactics have presented Kerry with a timely opportunity to show his steel. Voters are about to learn whether he is strong enough to stand up to President Bush and his slash-and-burn surrogates. If Kerry can face down Bush's withering attacks, the very act of campaigning becomes a way of passing the toughness test that Bush has put before him.

There is a great advantage in politics to the candidate who is seen as fighting against attacks rather than launching them. "The other side," top Kerry strategist Tad Devine said hopefully, "has opened the door so much for us that we are in a very strong position to counterpunch." Devine's comments suggest that Kerry's campaign is about to get a lot more aggressive -- and none too soon...

And since it's Tuesday, it's time for Paul Krugman:

To win, the Kerry campaign has to convince a significant number of voters that the self-proclaimed "war president" isn't an effective war leader - he only plays one on TV.

Of domestic issues, Thomas Oliphant writes in the Boston Globe:

Politicians always need a narrative to frame their presentations. One of the many facts that makes Bush vulnerable this year is that his narrative of the economy since 2000 makes no sense to the people who experienced it.

Consider: He "inherited" a brief recession that began in March 2001, and then 9/11 and a raft of business scandals ensued, but we're back and his policies, above all the tax cuts, are working.

The truth as people experienced it: A decline in business investment triggered a recession lasting at most a few months, 9/11 barely put a dent in the consumer who kept going into debt to keep spending, but it's been three years and not only has the economy not recovered yet, it is flirting with stagnation again. Ordinary people never got much tax relief, no more is in store, and with wage income flat as a pancake, and health, energy and education costs soaring, the squeeze couldn't be tighter.

Over the years (and years, and years ...) I've seen time and time again that voters do eventually catch on if what the politicians are telling them is utterly contrary to their own experiences. Bush's insistence that the economy is just fine can't be helping him any. In fact, that's pretty much what cost his daddy the election in 1992.

But, as Professor Krugman points out, Bush's support is being propped up by a "war psychology." Bush appeals to those who want desperately to believe in the glory of American exceptionalism. Krugman quotes Chris Hedges, a veteran war correspondent: "Lurking beneath the surface of every society, including ours," he says, "is the passionate yearning for a nationalist cause that exalts us, the kind that war alone is able to deliver." 

So, although it's important to keep pounding Bush on domestic issues, the real challenge is to get people to see what a sniveling little weenie he really is, and what a fraud the "war on terror" really is.

This won't be easy. The Iraq War is a wonderful indulgence for some. It's a glorious little war fought against people whose culture and religion are frightenng and loathesome to many of the warmongers, even as we pretend to "liberate" them. (The warmongers' real desire, I've said before, is not so much to "liberate" Iraqis but to make them more "like us.") If you can somehow blame all Muslims for September 11, so much the better. No matter what happens, many die-hards will live out their lives and go to their graves praising Bush as a great leader.

Fortunately, we don't have to enlighten everyone before November 2. We need only a few percentage points to win. It can be done. So it's time to take a deep breath, steady our nerves, and fight harder.

Update: Regarding making making alien people more "like us" -- see this call from rightie blogger Kim du Toit for a more "homogenous" America. Never mind the rightie myth that all "liberals" love and support illegal immigration. The opening quote is a peek at a rightie's ideal America --  a place inhabited by people of the same outlook, background, marriage, or apparent wealth. Although the "apparent wealth" part sounds a bit Marxist, doesn't it?

8:45 am | link

monday, september 6, 2004

Air Maha Alert
 
I'm doing three radio interviews tomorrow, September 7 --

Henry Raines, "American AM,"
8 A.M. EST, WWPR Bradenton & WDCF Dade City (Tampa Bay, FL), 1490 AM and 1350 AM and webcast

Dick Riseling, "WJFF Connections,"
8:05 P.M. EST, WJFF, 90.5 FM, Jeffersonville, NY

Guy Rathbun, KCBX San Luis Obispo, 90.1 FM.
To be taped; check with station for broadcast time.

3:58 pm | link

Geezers Unite!
 
Largest Premium Increase in the History of Medicare
 
The Bushies picked a Labor Day Weekend right after the RNC convention and with hurricanes advancing on Florida to announce that Medicare premiums paid by elderly and disabled patients for routine care will rise 17 percent next year.
 
The increase is for the part of Medicare that covers physician office visits, outpatient hospital care, certain home health services and durable medical equipment. 
 
Some patient advocacy groups are blaming the Medicare Modernization Act, which the Bushies rammed through Congress last year by lying about its actual costs.

Stewart Grabel, ombudsman for the the Pima Council on Aging, said the news just proves what advocates for seniors have been saying since the Medicare bill was up for a vote - "the devil is in the details."

What we said when the Medicare Modernization Act came out is that everybody is talking about the new drug coverage benefit, which isn't that great to begin with because it doesn't control the costs of drugs," Grabel said. "Then if you take a step back, what (the act) is doing is again shifting the costs in the form of increased co-payments and deductibles back to the seniors. That got no press at all back then."

There are subsidies to pay the Medicare premium for the poorest Medicare beneficiaries, Grabel said, "but if you're at about $1,000 a month, that's going to be $78 of your income that's going to go to Medicare even before you get to the co-pays and deductible." [Associated Press]

A plain-spoken lady named Evelyn Pringle sums it up:

In December 2003, Bush signed the new Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act into law. Many seniors expected it to provide much needed relief from escalating health care costs. That has not happened and it will not happen until we get Bush and his cronies in the health care industry out of the White House.

The new law was supposed to be a boost for Bush's reelection campaign. However, it is now being criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike, and by just about every senior citizen advocacy group in the country.

Bush tries to portray the law with its prescription drug benefit as a windfall for seniors; when in fact it is nothing but a scam that benefits insurance companies, drug makers and health care providers.

The Kerry campaign already has an ad slamming Bush on Medicare that seems to include RNC convention footage. Quick work.

Considering that two of the swing states -- Arizona and Florida -- are famous for their retirement communities, this could be huge. It's also a clear, simple example of Bush-style "reform" at work.

1:35 pm | link

Wrap Up
 
First, please note that I am still making corrections and additions to the list of dates in the last post. Let me know if you can think of anything else. In a couple of days I'll add it to the sidebar.
 
Now I want to tie up some loose ends left over from the RNC Convention. In no particular order:
 
Nobody is saying this, so I will. On the whole the protests during the convention were dignified and substantive, and I'm relieved. But I suspect that at least a couple of percentage points of Bush's post-convention bounce can be attributed to the protests. Some people will have a knee-jerk reaction against any street protest, no matter how righteous it is.  The widely seen video of a young black man punching a motorcycle cop in Times Square last week was worth at least a point for Bush all by itself, and probably more.
 
(Whether the young man's reaction to the cop was justified is another matter; I'm just talking about public reaction. Also, I understand the young man was identified and arrested a couple of days later, although I can't find a link.)
 
On the other hand, where were some of the loud-mouthed hotheads like Jamie Moran or Jason Flores-Williams (see this) who had promised to antagonize the delegates and disrupt both the convention and Manhattan? They seem to have faded into the woodwork once the convention actually started. But it's possible that, since they'd gone out of their way to identify themselves, the NYPD had them contained somehow. (Michelle Goldberg describes the draconian NYPD tactics here.)
 
TalkLeft has a video of a sweet-faced Young Republican youngrepublicanfucktard.jpgboy savagely kicking a woman protester who had fallen to the ground. Here's the kid's photo. Pass it around. If he can be identified, he could be prosecuted by either the city or the state of New York. Let's make it  happen.
 
Finally, why was it the Republicans kept George H.W. Bush the Elder as invisible as possible during the convention? Why wasn't he invited to speak? In fact, by most accounts he was barely acknowledged. Isn't that a bit weird? Is Poppy perhaps infirm, or is this a sign that Junior is in hyper Oedipal mode? This Boston Globe editorial from last week hints at the latter.
 

7:01 am | link

sunday, september 5, 2004

Mark Your Calendars
 
Today's New York Times has a calendar of events between now and November 2 that could shake up the election, one way or another. I'm repeating some of that information here, and adding more. If you can think of something else, let me know.
 
September 6: Newsweek issue with excerpt from Senator Bob Graham's new book, Intelligence Matters, hits the stands.
 
September 7: Intelligence Matters goes on sale.
 
September 7: DVD of "Brothers in Arms" ready to ship.
 
September 9: Former Lt. Gov. of Texas, Ben Barnes, to appear on "60 Minutes" to talk about how he accepted a bribe to get Bush Jr. into the National Guard.
 
September 13: "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry," a documentary by a long-time friend of Kerry's, will debut at the Toronto film festival.
 
September 14: Seymour Hersh's book, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, will be released.
 
September 14: Kitty Kelly's tell-all book on the Bushes, The Family, will be released.
 
September 30: Proposed presidential debate at University of Miami.
 
October 1: "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry" to open in theaters in the U.S.
 
October 5: "Fahrenheit 9/11" to be released on DVD.
 
October 8: Proposed presidential debate at Washington University, St. Louis.
 
October 13: Proposed presidential debate at Arizona State University, Tempe.
 
Also: Ongoing investigations that may or may not make news before November 2 include Plamegate and the AIPAC spy case.
 
Wild cards: Iraq, terrorism in general, oil prices, unemployment.

11:22 am | link

Retros v. Metros
 
Some pundit in New York Newsday says that people in Red States have more children than people in Blue States, meaning someday the "retros" will overrun the "metros." However, this other guy points out in the Boston Globe that Red States have higher suicide rates than Blue States. (Coincidence? I think not.)
 
I say it's a wash.

7:39 am | link


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Ben Merens, "Conversations with Ben Merens,"
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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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Copyright 2003, 2004 by Barbara O'Brien

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