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Friday, September 03, 2004

Clinton 
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Former president Bill Clinton, after experiencing chest pains, is to have heart surgery for a quadruple bypass, media reports said Friday.

CBS News and CNN reported that Clinton, a former Arkansas governor, had gone to Columbia Presbyterian hospital in Manhattan with complaints of chest discomfort. ABC News said the former president would have a quadruple bypass on Friday.

Link
We're wishing him well. Guess he's not gonna be doing much campaigning for a few weeks.

Of course, like current and former presidents and Congress-critters, he has access to the finest healthcare our tax dollars can afford. Unlike the rest of us...

Jobs 
144,000 new jobs in August. So, to net it out, the economy LOST another 6,000+ jobs (according to economists, about 150,000 people enter the workforce each month). Paradoxically, the unemployment rate fell again, to 5.4% - attributable mostly to the unemployed whose benefits have run out and are thus no longer counted.

George W. Bush, CEO 
If you believe, as some I know do (like Maplewood's favorite Republican, Ed May), that government ought to be run like a business and the President should be considered as its CEO, Juan Cole has some business-related questions for you:
Let us imagine you had a corporation with annual gross revenues of about $2 trillion. And let's say that in 2000, it had profits of $150 billion. So you bring in a new CEO, and within four years, the profit falls to zero and then the company goes into the red to the tune of over $400 billion per year. You're on the Board of Directors and the CEO's term is up for renewal. Do you vote to keep him in? That's what Bush did to the US government. He took it from surpluses to deep in the red. We are all paying interest on the unprecedented $400 billion per year in deficits (a deficit is just a loan), and our grandchildren will be paying the interest in all likelihood.

And what if you had been working for America, Inc. all your life, and were vested in its pension plan (i.e. social security)? And you heard that the company is now hemorrhaging money and that the losses are going to be paid for out of your pension? What if you thought you were going to get $1000 a month to retire on, and it is only going to be $500? Or maybe nothing at all? Because of the new CEO whose management turned a profit-making enterprise into an economic loser? Would you vote to keep him on?

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Bush's speech 
I'll have more to say when I have some time to read the transcripts, but my initial reaction is one of relief ... after last night's Miller/Cheney mean-team performance Bush needed a home run, but all he could come up with was a bloop single.

The speech lasted well over an hour. Despite its length, he had almost nothing to say about his domestic accomplishments over the last 3 1/2 years. His stated plans for the next four years consisted mainly of ideas that have been floating around for years, many of them even from before his inauguration in 2001. His plan for privatizing Social Security, for example, is little changed, and still a fiscal impossibility. He spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the Middle East, mostly looking through glasses so rose-colored as to be opaque. He managed to get in ten minutes or so of Kerry-bashing, featuring the same lies his surrogates have been spouting for months, all of which have long-since been discredited.

It was probably inspiring for Bush's base but, in the speech's lack of realistic vision, its paucity of accomplishment, and its mean-spiritedness, I don't think it did a thing to decide the undecided.

To mix my sports metaphors, the ball is now back in John Kerry's court.

Does the Bush Doctrine make YOU feel safer? 
I've been saying this for a year and a half now - it's good to see, though sad to know, that I'm not the only one who thinks the Bush Doctrine makes the world a scarier place.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration may think tough talk will discourage Iran's nuclear ambitions, but U.S. policy on Iraq and North Korea has left the Islamic state believing that only nuclear weapons can deter the possibility of U.S. invasion, experts said on Thursday.

Iran, which President Bush has branded part of an "axis of evil" along with North Korea and prewar Iraq, saw Baghdad fall to U.S.-led forces in April 2003, the same month that North Korea told the United States it possessed nuclear weapons.

Now, with 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and North Korean diplomatic talks promising attractive benefits for Pyongyang, Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations said the message to Iran was clear.

"You've got to become North Korea, or you will be Iraq," said Takeyh, the council's senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies.

"Biological and chemical weapons don't deter the U.S. military and are no guarantee of territorial integrity or sovereignty," he said. "But nuclear weapons have a bargaining utility."

Scary Zell 
I can't say much more than to suggest Zell wipe the spittle off his chin.


AP photo

A performance worthy of Pat Buchanan. And even Andy Sullivan, no friend to the Kerry campaign, gets it:
Zell Miller's address will, I think, go down as a critical moment in this campaign, and maybe in the history of the Republican party. I kept thinking of the contrast with the Democrats' keynote speaker, Barack Obama, a post-racial, smiling, expansive young American, speaking about national unity and uplift. Then you see Zell Miller, his face rigid with anger, his eyes blazing with years of frustration as his Dixiecrat vision became slowly eclipsed among the Democrats. Remember who this man is: once a proud supporter of racial segregation, a man who lambasted LBJ for selling his soul to the negroes. His speech tonight was in this vein, a classic Dixiecrat speech, jammed with bald lies, straw men, and hateful rhetoric. As an immigrant to this country and as someone who has been to many Southern states and enjoyed astonishing hospitality and warmth and sophistication, I long dismissed some of the Northern stereotypes about the South. But Miller did his best to revive them. The man's speech was not merely crude; it added whole universes to the word crude.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

I love Tony McPeak 
It's not often I fall for generals. I have a negative reaction to so much of America glorifying militarism. But I have to admit I've long had a weak spot for the salty General Merrill "Tony" McPeak, former chief of staff of the US Air Force, now retired. One week into the Iraq war, he gave a bracingly honest of assessment of how it was going and where we most likely were headed, including one of the most hilarious dismissals of the claims about Saddam's "WMD" I've ever read. {"This reminds me of the story about the guy who said, 'If I had some ham, I'd make a ham sandwich -- if I had some bread.'")

Today, in response to Karl Rove claiming that John Kerry had "tarnished" fellow Vietnam veterans with his anti-war protests, Tony the Tiger exploded:

"Who in the hell is Karl Rove, talking about John Kerry's war record?!?!?!?!?"

The General pointed out Rove never even served in Vietnam. He got a student deferment.

Ewww! 
Some Republicans are already looking ahead to 2008. A bunch of their wannabes have been or are about to start talking to the New Hampshire delegation at the RNC this week. NH, of course, is home of one of the most important early presidential primaries.

Potential candidates who're pressing the NH flesh: George Pataki, Rudy Giuliani, Bill Frist, John McCain, Chuck Hagel, and Rick Santorum.

To dieBOLDly steal an election... 
No, it's not the touch screen machines that are the issue this time - you can only do retail cheating there. The Diebold vote tabulation computers, using their GEMS software, can get it for you wholesale. It has a simple-to-use backdoor that allows anyone to change vote tallies, with no passwords, no audit trails, no alarms. And it's no accident - it's in there by design.
By entering a 2-digit code in a hidden location, a second set of votes is created in the Diebold central tabulator, a program installed in 1,000 locations, which controls both paper ballots and touch-screens, each system handling up to a million votes at a time. Full story

After invoking the 2-digit trigger, this second set of votes can be changed so that it no longer matches the correct set of votes. The voting system will then read the totals from the bogus vote set.

It takes only seconds to change the votes, and to date not a single location in the U.S. has implemented security measures to fully mitigate the risks. It is not too late to do so, and the corrective measures are relatively simple.

This program is not "stupidity" or sloppiness. It was designed and tested over a series of a dozen version adjustments, and has been in place for four years.

If you're in a location where they're using Diebold voting machines, contact the local papers AND your state's Secretary of State or Supervisor of Elections. Let them know about this - and that you do NOT want this crapola software to make your vote meaningless. Point them, and yourselves, at BlackBoxVoting.org.

Why Ahnold is a Republican 

In his speech last night:

Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air.

I said to my friend, I said, "What party is he?"

My friend said, "He's a Republican."

I said, "Then I am a Republican."

What a fine example to follow.



2 PM update - Department of "Shame on me":
Kos points out that The Gropinator's story I quote from, above, is a fabrication. Arnold described it as his reaction to the 1968 Nixon-Humphrey presidential debate. Trouble is, there were no presidential debates in 1968. AND: Austria, where Schwarzenegger is from, is not now nor was it then a "Socialist" country, as he described it while he was trashing the memory of Hubert Humphrey, who was a better American than George Bush OR Arnold will ever be.

Why do the Republicans hate our troops? 
Purple Heart bandaids
via Sisyphus Shrugged

Is this the government we deserve? 
George Santayana must be grinning evilly in his grave...

From Josh Marshall at TPM:
More on Soros and Hastert.

The Hill has a piece in Wednesday's paper in which the reporter asked Hastert's spokesman John Feehery whether he had any evidence of Soros' ties or funding by drug cartels. Feehery makes clear that he and his boss have no evidence for this whatsoever but insist that they stand behind the vaguely but ominously worded accusation.

(See this link for actual video of what Haster said. It's worth taking a moment to watch it because the bare words of text don't really do it justice.)

These are scary times. And it's an ominous sign of the times that the Speaker of the House can float such a false and extremely defamatory charge and have the behavior go almost unnoticed in the press.

Think about it.

If Bush wins in November and the Publicans retain control of both the Senate and House, how long will it be before we see something like a reconstituted House Un-American Activities Committee?

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

C'mon. He's not real, right? He really is an animatron 
Campaign 2004

The dis-Courage Factor 
It's just incredible how self-deluding David Brooks can be. His column today, headlined The Courage Factor:
John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger are the big stars of the first two days of the Republican convention, but they didn't get their prime-time slots because they're moderates. ... McCain, Giuliani and Schwarzenegger are speaking because they are brave. ... [they] are featured because they embody the brand of courageous conservatism the party has sought to project since 9/11 ... they are obsessed with character. When they talk about problems, they talk about selfishness and dishonor. Mayor Giuliani was never so aggressive as when somebody had violated his sense of decency. Once McCain finds corrupt malefactors ... he latches onto them with his teeth and he will not let go.
Aside from his examplary performance during the the week of 9/11 (when he did everything George W Bush should have done, but didn't), Rudy Giuliani is best remembered in New York for flaunting his girlfriend in public, while still married to then-wife Donna Hanover. He was so 'honorable' toward his wife and children that he told the press he was getting a divorce before he told his family. And now we know what Giuliani really thinks of New York, where he was Mayor for eight years - he really doesn't like it very much. In his speech last night he said "I’ve never seen so many Republicans in New York City. It’s great, great. I finally feel at home." How 'honorable' is it to so disrespect the city that gave you such opportunities? If he's never felt at home in New York, he's quite welcome to leave ...

And what of John McCain's dealing with corrupt malefactors? When it was time to take a stand to support the honor of a man he knew to be admirable and honorable, a political rival but a long-time friend, McCain did indeed take a stand - at the side of George Bush, whose surrogates attacked his friend, John Kerry, as vivciously as they had attacked McCain himself. All for the dubious chance that Bush's sponsors might someday let McCain run for President too.

Oh yes, these gentlemen are very brave - until their courage and their honor came between what they wanted and what they knew to be right. The quality of their character is this - they took the self-serving choice. That, I suppose, is why they were chosen to speak at the Republican convention - they are the perfect examplars of George Bush's America.

Is the New York Times trying to tell us something with this headline? 


For G.O.P., Another Night of Moderation Lies Ahead



?

Now THERE's Democracy for you! 
Congressman Tom Tancredo R-CO, a delegate at the RNC, wanted to get a few planks added to the Republican platform. When the platform committee voted them down, he decided to try to get them submitted for debate on the convention floor. Shouldn't be TOO big a problem, or so Tancredo thought:
There are two ways to bring a matter to the floor: One is to convince six state delegations to support the motion for a floor debate--a virtual impossibility, Tancredo realized; the other is to get 19 members of the platform committee to support bringing a matter to the floor. This latter route seemed doable to Tancredo, save for one problem: The congressman couldn't find out who, exactly, was on the platform committee. Running the platform process with all the discipline and secrecy that's come to be expected from the Bush White House, the RNC, citing security concerns, refused to divulge the identities of the handpicked delegates who served on the platform committee--even, in some cases, to other members of the platform committee.

Jason Zengerle at TNR's Republican Convention Blog
It's all of a piece with their actions of the last 3 1/2 years. George Bush's Republican Party won't be happy until the government of the United State is entirely opaque and its oligarchs are completely anonymous.

via Kevin Drum at Political Animal


A Maplewood note: This isn't a whole lot different than the way Chairman Doug Bland runs the Maplewood "Democratic" Committee.

The marvelous flexibility of the U.S. Constitution 
Last night on the podium of the Republican convention, GOP-party-whore John McCain came in from the cold of turning tricks with fat-cats near the entrance to the Lincoln tunnel to deliver an arousing speech to the lowforehead crowd penned up indoors. Bending over as far as he could to pleasure the fundamentalists, McCain breathed heavily about Bush's war in Iraq, which he hailed as a noble process of bringing American liberties to an enslaved populace : "Our efforts may encourage the people of a region that has never known peace or freedom or lasting stability that they may someday possess these rights," he said.

Meanwhile, back in the real Iraq, a spokesman for Moktada al-Sadr told the NYT that Sadr's militia won't turn over its weapons, invoking the 2nd Amendment. "Don't most families in America keep a weapon?" he asked.

The Los Angeles Times reports today that 63 GIs were killed in August versus 54 in July and 42 in June. "They are just hitting us hard and everywhere," said one analyst. "The reason they are effective is because they just have more people shooting at us." Doh. More evidence of that "catastrophic success" Gen. Shinseki tried to warn Congress about?

And hey, folks: We're not just giving up on the war on terror, we're forgetting about winning hearts and minds as well. The State Department has shifted $3.3 billion away from reconstruction in Iraq into paying for security. Something tells me all that will buy us is . . . yep, more people shooting at us.



Monday, August 30, 2004

Holy McGreeveys, Batman! 
Congressman Ed Schrock, R-Va(2 - Norfolk/Virginia Beach), a co-sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment, abrubptly announced today that, due to 'unspecified allegations "that have called into question my ability" to serve"', he was withdrawing from his re-election bid and retiring from Congress. His announcement not only took Democratic opponent David B. Ashe by surprise, it also came as a shock to the Virginia Republican Party.

Schrock, a darling of the Republican leadership and recipient of a 92% rating from the Christian Coalition, has been one of leaders of anti-gay forces in Congress. He has also just been outed as gay. There are reports on the web that he's in the habit of rendezvousing with gay men via the MegaMates telephone dating service and, rather than denying them, has chosen to resign.

via Atrios

No retreat, no surrender 
"We have a clear vision on how to win the war on terror and bring peace to the world."
-- George W. Bush
July 30th 2004.

"I don’t think you can win [the war on terror]. But I think you can create conditions so that the — those who use terror as a tool are — less acceptable in parts of the world.”

-- George W. Bush
Aug. 29th, 2004.


from Talking Points Memo

Don't YOU feel safer now?

Just can't win for losin' 
As rabbit.ears noted, Bush says of the 'war on terror' : “I don’t think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that the — those who use terror as a tool are — less acceptable in parts of the world.”

Well, right - 'cause it's NOT a war - it's basic police work, an international crackdown on organized crime. And, like other police work, it depends on the willingness of people to cooperate and communicate. After 2 years of bellicosity from Washington, nobody in the international community is willing to talk to us.

It's going to take someone other than Bush to mend those fences and get down to work on this.

Bush calls Iraq a "catastrophic success" then tells Matt Lauer the war on terror is unwinnable 
I know he's an idiot, but what is Bush drinking these days? In an interview with Time magazine published yesterday, Bush said of his war on Iraq: “Had we had to do it over again, we would look at the consequences of catastrophic success, being so successful so fast that an enemy that should have surrendered or been done in escaped and lived to fight another day.”

What planet does this nit-wit war-monger live on? Does somebody rig his video games so the President always wins? Does he really think there are "do-overs" in a war? Or that it is "success" when an enemy escapes and comes back stronger than ever to mow down young Americans?

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This morning, on NBC's "Today" show, Bush was asked if the US is going to win the "war on terror" that his Administration declared was its top priority. "I don't think you can win it," Bush said. "But I think you can create conditions so that the - those who use terror as a tool are - less acceptable in parts of the world."

Well, maybe somebody else could. But as everyone now knows, Bush created the conditions for making terrorism a badge of honor in more than half the world. In China, they even make little plastic children's toys showing an airplane ramming into the twin towers.

Lisy Corp. is recalling 14,000 bags of candy containing a toy depicting the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The wholesaler said the toys were purchased in bulk and the figurines were not noticed until someone complained.

This morning, as I drove to Jersey City, I saw dark clouds descending upon Manhattan, ominously shrouding New York City in black. I think I know why.


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Repuglican leadership 
If you're a wealthy American and NOT a Bush supporter, there obviously must be something evil about you. Coach Hastert says George Soros is a drug pusher. Apparently there are no depths they won't stoop to. Pathetic.
LOOSE-TONGUED SPEAKER? Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert - having already enraged some New Yorkers with his remarks about local office-holders' "unseemly scramble" for federal money after 9/11 - yesterday opened a second front. On "Fox News Sunday," the Illinois Republican insinuated that billionaire financier George Soros, who's funding an independent media campaign to dislodge President Bush, is getting his big bucks from shady sources. "You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money. I don't know where - if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from," Hastert mused. An astonished Chris Wallace asked: "Excuse me?" The Speaker went on: "Well, that's what he's been for a number years - George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he's got a lot of ancillary interests out there." Wallace: "You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?" Hastert: "I'm saying I don't know where groups - could be people who support this type of thing. I'm saying we don't know."

from Lloyd Grove's Lowdown
via Talking Points Memo

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The largest protest ever at an American political convention 
Thanks to all the hundreds of thousands of you who did it!


A crowd of anti-Bush demonstrators Sunday filled the streets of Manhattan near Madison Square Garden, where the Republican National Convention opens on Monday. (AP Photo)


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