Friday, July 30, 2004


This week's Get Your War On.
Operation Iraqi Freedom

Apparently the freedom part wasn't for the Iraqis, but for the folks who took the reconstruction money and ran. Some $600 million dollars are unaccounted for, and twenty seven separate criminal investigations are ongoing, with more sure to follow.

No wonder things are so Cheney'd and Bremerized over there. Meanwhile, the "success" of the Afghanistan mission is rapidly being shown for the Potemkin-like charade it is. Yesterday, Barbara Ehrenreich made reference to this, among other things, while suggesting the sane advice of perhaps listening to some female/feminist points of view before blasting away at enemies real and imagined.

Bush, of course, has no time to consider anything remotely resembling complex thought when a campaign is ongoing. There are far too many carefully vetted hands to shake, and charges of profligacy to be made, although such words might ring hollow from a man who doesn't mind overspending to the tune of almost $450 billion dollars, who doesn't mind keeping the costs of Iraq off the books for purely partisan political purposes, who promises to subsidize drug companies to the tune of over $500 billion dollars a year (and who threatens those who want to speak the truth with dismissal). No, Bush is busy doing what he does best--reciting carefully scripted lines that don't want for even the sound of tinkling silverware.

Say what you want, but in ten years, or twenty years, I can't imagine there will be anyone who will admit to having pulled the lever for George W. Bush. The guy is stinking up the joint so bad that years of open windows and fumigants will be required to reduce the stench to managable levels.
Mission Accomplished

Kerry had some tought acts to follow Thursday night--Barack Obama, Al Sharpton, even John Edwards--but his acceptance speech last night, IMHO, was acceptable oratory and should serve him well as a beginning salvo in the campaign's home stretch.

To be honest, my only references thus far have been blogs--both Louisianian and national. I'll take a look at the media and pundits in a bit, but I'd like to offer my own take.

The lines that seem to stick out most among those posting and commenting are the diss to the Saudi Royal Family, and "the future doesn't belong to fear, it belongs to freedom." Billmon notes a few more items, and I'm sure everyone that I read/listen to could offer their own. However, I doubt individual lines will be remembered by the general public unless they show up on campaign advertising.

That said, there are plenty of things that could easily be culled for media buys--Kerry made a compelling case for himself. Upon the conclusion--nicely timed to allow for commentary--I surfed around the channels I get and couldn't find many people carping, with the exception of Bob Schieffer at CBS, who misquoted the Saudi line, and a few disgruntled C-Span viewers who'd ride the Bush bandwagon even if he plowed into a shrub.

Some scoffed at the personal appeal Kerry made to keep the campaign positive, and pointed out that this followed some stinging criticism. However, such criticism wasn't personal, it was based in policy analysis. Besides, who are the Republicans to criticize? Punks...

Kerry will never have the style of Edwards, much less the superlative skills of Sharpton or Obama, but he came across as himself--an intelligent man who is capable of leading the national government. The introduction from his stepsons and daughters was a nice touch (hey, all of them are good-looking, and, whether you like it or not, people will judge on this)--and the Band of Brothers, led by Max Cleland, is impossible for the Rethugs to counter. And, while I'm not personally a flag worshipper (or any kind of worshipper), I'll accept the appeals to flag and god in the sense that, yes, this time around, the undecideds and fence sitters are for whom the message is targeted. My A.B.B vote can be counted on, provided that Kerry really makes a play for the Gret Stet.

As noted in posts below, it will be interesting to contrast this show with the one next month. In spite of the danger to my television and computer, I might have to watch the countershow just to compare both media coverage and talking points. On the latter, I think the Democrats have nailed it down, in spite of Billmon's warning that the Repubs could possibly "steal back" the flag. As for the media, I'll be interested in seeing whether or not disdain of the process will be given equal time.

But the Dems had a good show--for those of us who watched it--and I'll be hoping for an end to the reign of Bush the Mistake come January of 2005. President Kerry, though, will get no free ride from me. When he pushes DLC "Republican Lite" measures, I'll offer criticism as harsh as any I've leveled at Team Bush (minus perhaps the stupidity references--Kerry might be a lot of things, but he isn't dumb). The troops MUST come home from Iraq, and we'll likely have to pressure the new administration to do the right thing (I noticed a lot of quiet for some of the national security elements to Kerry's address). I'll take my chances with the Massachusetts Senator, though, because this IS the most important election of my lifetime. BUSH MUST GO, and the United States MUST return to being the United States--not a perfect country, by any stretch, but a country that at least paid some lip service to its ideals. Bush smirks at said ideals before cynically tossing them into the trash at the first opportunity. To cite Ronald Reagan, Jr., in his NPR interview last week, "the man is not qualified to be President of the United States."

Kerry, for all his faults, IS. President-elect Kerry, and President Kerry. I think I could get used to saying that.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Baghdad Summer Forecast: Hot, Dry, and Deadly

Robert Fisk opens the door a bit on the disaster in Iraq:

The statistics of violent death in Baghdad are now beyond shame. Almost a year ago, there were sometimes 400 violent deaths a month. This in itself was a fearful number to follow the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. But in the first 10 days of this July alone, the corpses of 215 men and women were brought to the Baghdad mortuary, almost all of them dead from gunshot wounds. In the second 10 days of this month, the bodies of a further 291 arrived. A total of 506 violent deaths in under three weeks in Baghdad alone. Even the Iraqi officials here shake their heads in disbelief. "New Iraq" under its new American-appointed Prime Minister is more violent than ever.

Is that how we plan to win the war? By embarking on a policy of active or passive genocide?
Casting Call

Your Right Hand Thief alerted me first to this "breaking" news, and I also saw this post from Swopa at Needlenose.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Pakistan has arrested a Tanzanian al-Qaida suspect wanted by the United States in the 1998 bombings at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the interior minister said Friday. He said the suspect was cooperating and had given authorities ``very valuable'' information.


Both Oyster and Swopa point out that Team Bush has been begging Pakistan to do something like this for a while now--even going so far as to request action THIS WEEK. Now, Musharraf (Busharraf) is too smart to ask the obvious question, but does anyone NOT think this is an attempt to steal a little bit of thunder from the Democrats during their convention?

Unfortunately, they guy they got seems to be more at the fame level of Charles Nelson Reilly than, say, Osama bin Laden. But beggars can't be choosers.

And, how much aid do you think Pakistan WOULD qualify for if, by some miracle, they managed to nab bin Laden say, just in time for Bush's acceptance speech next month? I'd guess it would make Halliburton's recent book-cooking look like chump change...

Things have calmed here to the point where I can say hello and welcome to the two latest Louisiana bloggers I've been adding to my daily reading. From New Orleans, Jimmy Huck produces The Huck Update and you've gotta give the guy credit for dealing with the wingnuts in the comments section over at one of their sites. Mr. Huck takes the valuable approach of making sure he sees what the other side thinks, and I'll try to take that into consideration. It's difficult, though: I don't have the money to replace my computer, and I'm prone to angry reactions when confronted with the kind of idiotic reasoning found in publications like National Review.

I also want to point out Ian McGibboney from Lafayette, writing the wrongly titled Not Right About Anything, and, as I think I saw at Timshel, is also a reporter in the Hub City. Both are now listed on the blogroll.

If I can show some discipline this weekend, I'll try to get things organized on said roll. Oyster has the aptly named heading of "Pelicans" for the Loosiana folks, while Mary and Jeffrey (and Mr. Prado as linked to above) likewise have some reason to their links. I'm beginning to think that while chaos has its place (as anyone can tell from my writing), I'd like to at least offer the appearance of some degree of order...

That said, my blogroll isn't really the topic here--Messrs. Huck and McGibboney are. Take a look and you'll see that, if these folks are genuine natives of The Gret Stet, then they've proven it's possible to have creative, complex thoughts in spite of having to deal with the education system down here. And they're two more examples of why I think Louisiana is by far the most interesting state in the Deep South.
pResident Prozac

From Billmon. With the usual disclaimer of "consider the source," (for those who aren't aware, Capitol Hill Blue isn't necessarily the most trustworthy publication, apparently), what they ARE saying about Bush and pill-popping certainly wouldn't surprise me is it WAS true:

Although the exact drugs Bush takes to control his depression and behavior are not known, White House sources say they are powerful medications designed to bring his erratic actions under control. While Col. Tubb regularly releases a synopsis of the President's annual physical, details of the President's health and any drugs or treatment he may receive are not public record and are guarded zealously by the secretive cadre of aides that surround the President.

And, if there's a problem getting the legal stuff, Bush can always make a call to, in his words, "great american" Rush Limbaugh for harder stuff.
Looking Sharpton

The Rude Pundit got to this before me, and he's dead on as to the Reverend's oratory last night. I listened to John Edwards' speech as well, and, you know, it wasn't bad. But Al brought the house down.

Good oratory is a matter of both substance and style, and Rev. Sharpton, whatever you think of his politics, is more than capable of delivering on both. His rhetorical answer to pResident Bush set the table for a litany of points that were well made and well presented.

Initially, I found myself contrasting Sharpton's speaking style with Barack Obama--and, I'll admit, I laughed a bit when the Reverend was just a little off on his name (IIRC, he referred to the candidate as Obama Baraka--which itself is a compliment, as Amiri Baraka is no slouch). My own take was that Sharpton was at first playing more of a 4/4 rock or blues rythmn to Obama's virtuoso performance. However, at just the right times, he broke into a crescendo that should should serve as a stylistic lesson to any would be public speaker

There were at least a half dozen things Sharpton said that had me thinking I should've been taking notes, but the magic of the internet allows for easier recall.

On opportunity: "I suggest to you tonight that if George Bush had selected the court in '54, Clarence Thomas would have never got to law school."

On lies: If I told you tonight, Let's leave the Fleet Center, we're in danger, and when you get outside, you ask me, Reverend Al, What is the danger? and I say, It don't matter. We just needed some fresh air, I have misled you and we were misled.

On gay and lesbian issues: "The promise of America is that government does not seek to regulate your behavior in the bedroom, but to guarantee your right to provide food in the kitchen."

"The issue of government is not to determine who may sleep together in the bedroom, it's to help those that might not be eating in the kitchen."

(note: I'll admit to laughing just a bit on the second reference to the kitchen. Al and I apparently share a love of good food).

On multiculturalism: "We cannot welcome those to come and then try and act as though any culture will not be respected or treated inferior. We cannot look at the Latino community and preach one language. No one gave them an English test before they sent them to Iraq to fight for America."

On the Democratic Party: "You said the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It is true that Mr. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, after which there was a commitment to give 40 acres and a mule.

That's where the argument, to this day, of reparations starts. We never got the 40 acres. We went all the way to Herbert Hoover, and we never got the 40 acres.

We didn't get the mule. So we decided we'd ride this donkey as far as it would take us."

On voting rights: "Mr. President, the reason we are fighting so hard, the reason we took Florida so seriously, is our right to vote wasn't gained because of our age. Our vote was soaked in the blood of martyrs, soaked in the blood of good men (inaudible) soaked in the blood of four little girls in Birmingham. This vote is sacred to us.

This vote can't be bargained away.

This vote can't be given away.

Mr. President, in all due respect, Mr. President, read my lips: Our vote is not for sale."

On running for President: "As I ran for president, I hoped that one child would come out of the ghetto like I did, could look at me walk across the stage with governors and senators and know they didn't have to be a drug dealer, they didn't have to be a hoodlum, they didn't have to be a gangster, they could stand up from a broken home, on welfare, and they could run for president of the United States."

Wow. There are times when all you can do is listen, and this was one of those times. Reverend Sharpton articulated a message that should resonate with anyone who has even a shred of hope left after three years of cynical politics by a narrow-minded cabal of warmongers, thieves, and liars.

You know, even John Edwards' speech didn't quite match the rhetorical skills of the Reverend. Sure, it was good, inspiring even. But Al has the gift of the word.

It'll be interesting to see how the media reacts to next month's GOP gathering--Jimmy Huck has some good points to make regarding the conservative bastions not quite knowing how to react to the Democrats show. For that matter, the media is doing its own level best to downplay the gathering, which is a goddamned shame. I mean, for chrissakes, once every four years there's a gathering of people for purposes slightly more important than voting for a favorite "Survivor," and the Fourth Estate can't be bothered to actually cover it. Yes, it's a scripted event--so are Bush's press conferences. Yes, it's a four day infomercial--but perhaps the country could use a couple of days of actual focus on public issues. The fact is that the gathering of delegates, alternates, interested outsiders, and the media is an excellent example of why representative democracy works. And you get the added benefit, at least at the Democratic convention, of seeing some stand-up speechmaking as well. Remember this when the media, either in Boston or even in New York, denigrates this as so much fluff, and recall that THEY'RE the ones who've adopted bullshit phrases like "he sounded presidential" in the first place.

Note: again, more server problems at work. Sorry for the delay in posting. Ack.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Catching a Breath

Right now we just have to wait while our backup is restored to the newly reconstructed domain controller--which has been reconstructed a LOT better than Iraq, mind you. While we're still not sure what happened here at the office, security was a concern--imagine that.

But onto other things. First, what else can you say about Barack Obama's keynote address last night? Before he managed to open wide and insert foot, David Brooks at least gave kudos to the speech before snidely noting that the networks weren't broadcasting it.

One thing I considered while listening was that, in contrast, Bill Clinton supposedly wrote his political obituary back in 1988 when cast in the role of keynoter. For a few moments I let this roll around in my head, before deciding that, for Clinton, his abysmal performance might have been a blessing in disguise: by shooting himself in the foot, he kept the attack dogs of the right at bay who otherwise would have run him through the ringer prior to 1991.

In that sense, Obama should steel himself. Right now there's no way on earth for the dogs to go after him--but that could change following his election. Now, I can't believe he has any of the sorts of "personal issues" of Clinton's, so instead, watch for the Rethugs to paint him as "too ambitious," which will do double duty--for those who light the racist candle, "ambitious" will substitute nicely for "uppity," while those like Brooks, whom I'm sure doesn't think of himself in "that way," but instead, lets his allusions to the talking, will latch on to the ambitious label to imply that the soon-to-be-Senator-elect doesn't care about his constituents' needs--as if residents of Illinois aren't also residents of the United States.

But that's for speculation beyond November. Right now, I really just want to remember the speech as unbelievable oratory. I mean, damn, in both content and style, Obama delivered a tour de force of the kind that, if he'd been conducting a symphony, would have the audience on their feet and probably still applauding right now.

One note I recall making a note that said something like "a cross between Julian Bond and Jesse Jackson." I suppose that could be interpreted in as critical a way as I do with Brooks' "he's like Tiger Woods" crack, but I'll disagree: unlike someone groping for an "acceptable" sports analogy, my own statement implies simply an acknowledgement that Obama is (half) African-American, he lives in Chicago (where Jesse Jackson is based), and his oratorical style nicely blended a degree of repitition, rythmn, and cadence (also like Jackson) with a secular outlook (more like Bond, or perhaps Andrew Young). Again, without trying to tangent off into an "is it racist or not" no win situation, I'll only add that the man has a certain degree of Elvis in him--or even Bill Clinton. That is, he's a man who can transcend racial stereotypes ("Transcendent" was another term I heard from a pundit last night). One other thing: if you haven't seen or read his speech yet, by all means try to make the time. It's linked to above, and Steve Gilliard devotes a post to it. Damn, even just reading it will give you a chill; watching the guy deliver it almost had me applauding at my television.

So, in that sense, you've got to pity Ron Reagan, Jr. Having to follow Obama was bad enough; having to follow with the kind of topic he chose is sort of like trying to follow a rock star's third encore in a stadium show with an accordian and ventriloquist act. And, while he sounded ok in his radio interview on NPR last week, his delivery last night came across to me as "infomercial lite." A comment at Atrios did me at least one better when he or she (I forget now) noted that he sounded like "he was channeling Mr. Science," and went further to point out that this sort of killed the mood.

Indeed. I realize that Barack Obama as of last night was still an unknown (not anymore), but I think the Party made a mistake in not delaying Reagan Jr's appearance by at least a few more minutes. Now, my own choices for punditry last night were Soviet-Style, that is, my low end cable limited me to a single group, PBS's slate of zeros. But they were still in full gush--and, from a quick check on C-Span, the audience was in full eruption--when the focus changed. Alas.

Other quick notes: I wish I had seen the name of the older but definitely hot-looking woman who previewed Teresa Heinz Kerry's speech. Man, she was certainly dressed like someone who planned for a much later evening than just the Fleet Center. I think even Ray Suarez was giving her the eye. For me, I'll merely say that yes, I like see-through blouses on the right people.

Kennedy and Dean were acceptable--nothing to write home about, but they didn't embarrass themselves. Ms. Heinz Kerry sounded the right tone to close last night's business, and made it clear that she's fully comfortable with telling creeps like the guy hounding her Monday to shove it. Good for her.

Finally, I was as surprised as anyone to see Atrios revealing his secret identity. Yes, at times, I wondered just who he was. Well, he's decided to let us know, and even allowed TalkLeft to post a photo. Good, great. Now I can go back to calling him Atrios and reading his blog for the same reasons I started in the first place--good commentary on the issues, great comments sections, and so on. Mr. Black is no longer anonymous, but that doesn't mean I--or anyone else--needs to hound him. Here's hoping the left gives the man his space, and the right doesn't get all hot and heavy to harass him.

OK--I'd better get back to the domain controller. Hopefully the restore is over or close to it, and that we can fully bring the box back up.
Technical Difficulties
One of our domain controllers is down--so I'll be busy today. As soon as the office is back up and running somewhat normally, I'll have a post or two about Barack Obama showing that he's got some rock star in him, too, about how David Brooks really is an insufferable idiot--the Tiger Woods crack example front and center, the discovery that Atrios' real name is Duncan, and so on.

But work has to come first. Later.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

A Clean Kill is a Green Kill

Well, not quite. CNN reports on "environmentally friendly" ammunition being stocked at the shooting ranges of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers.

"One bullet doesn't contain a lot of lead, but hundreds of thousands if not millions of bullets can be very significant," said Steve Taylor of the Military Toxics Project, an environmental group. "Lead is a heavy metal that remains in the environment for a very long time."..

The center estimates its switch to unleaded ammo has eliminated some 70,000 pounds of lead waste -- an effort recognized by the White House this month with an environmental stewardship award.

Because the unleaded bullets turn to dust on impact, they're used only in training. Since 1994, the military has been phasing in its own version of a "green bullet" made of a tungsten composite that's suitable for combat.

"It's the wave of the future," said Remington spokesman Eddie Stevenson.

Biking Bush

CNN reports on another fall the ribbon-cutter-in-chief took on his "$3,100 bicycle...a Trek Fuel 98 made of high-tech carbon fiber." That's what a man of the people apparently rides.

Why, you could purchase TWO of Bush's bikes and still spend less than John Kerry's ten speed (CNN makes sure to note the $8,000 price tag on the Senator's two wheeler).

Hmmm. I spent $45 on my own bicycle a year and a half ago (yes, it was brand new). And I still haven't crashed it--yet.
Coffee and Convention

I had all sorts of reasons to stay in and alternately switch between CSPAN and PBS's convention coverage. I pretty much caught last night's collection of speeches and cut over to Public TV here and there, mostly catching by coincidence David Brooks' unsuccessful attempts to sound witty and erudite (the foreign policy of the Democrats is to try to get France to like us better? Bullshit, David). On the other hand, Brooks at least attempted to interpret, as misguided and inane as it was. The couple of times Mark Shields voiced an "opinion," it wasn't. Instead he took the classic pundit tack of summarizing random points while desperately trying to straddle the fence. Look for Shields to pore over public opinion surveys in the days to come before firmly asserting that he was in the majority's camp all along--whatever position it eventually takes.

That's one reason why I can't stand punditry, particularly on the so-called "liberal" side of the fence. At least the right wing spins out talking points with a certain degree of grim discipline--if the wingnut pundits are told to call "black" "white" and vice versa, they'll insist upon this even if they find themselves confronted with the evidence. So called "liberals" will find a way to digress into essays about the various shades of gray.

Billmon of Whiskey Bar has a pretty good post as to his own feelings towards day one, and I don't find much to disagree with. Like him, I was a little surprised (see yesterday's post)--the Kerry team has been spinning the theme of "accentuate the positive," and this was what the press dutifully reported over the weekend. However, some of my fears as to looking too meek to challenge the awful record of Bush were mitigated. All three main event speakers made pointed references to several salient points--the stolen election of 2000, the ridiculous attempt to go-it-alone on foreign policy, the assault on civil liberties, and the idiotic tax cuts--especially during wartime, which Clinton alluded to once or twice, but which should be a major point to hammer home. The criticism was valid without coming across as shrill--indeed, Gore and Clinton BOTH did the humor thing (for the record, I actually like Gore's stuff a little better, but Clinton won the oratory contest hands down, as Billmon succinctly noted by comparing Clinton as Mozart to the other's Salieri).

Interwoven was an attempt to present Kerry as a reasoned alternative to a president who spends money like it's water, goes to war on a whim (insulting almost all of our major allies in the process, not just France), and can't be bothered to ask his "base" (i.e., the fat cats who make a lot of money--hey, like Bill Clinton!) to lift a finger when it comes time to ask Americans to do their duty/pay their fair share. Of course, I'm biased, but I thought the juxtaposition came across well.

My own take on David Brooks, by the way, is that he's giving us a glance at next month's Republican convention, which I expect to be less a coronation of King Dubya the Dunce (because they have NOTHING they can give him credit for) and more of a "take a whipping stick to the french-loving (I was going to write "francophile," but that term might be giving them a little too much credit) liberals from the northeast"--and pay no attention to southerner John Edwards or Bush's own predilection to pour money down the Iraqi drain. The war is going well--honest--just trust us on that, pay no attention to the news reports and keep your head firmly planted in the sand--or elsewhere.

But that's another month away, so I'll finish by noting another of Billmon's points regarding last night--as he (probably correctly) assumes, last night was the equivalent of a bone thrown to those of us who've watched the last three years with justifiable anger. Look for a sweetening of tone as the rest of the public catches up with the news (indeed--last night's LOCAL TV coverage of the convention offered about five seconds of Clinton and at least that much time to Teresa Heinz Kerry's "shove it." They also incorrectly reported that she had been quoted accurately. However, given the limited attention span of the public, I expect that by Thursday night, all this will be forgotten. In fact, I wish local TV would shove it).

By the way--I can't resist noting a different take on the convention from my own: Alexander Cockburn has his own thoughts, posted here and here. The guy DOES have a few points, like the fact that coffee, bread and fresh vegetables have gotten remarkably better over the last thirty years (thanks to small producers). Hey, that's one way of focusing on the positive.

I'll be catching a good bit of the convention this week--well, I was a political science major on college. Admittedly, my focus was international relations and political theory, but I took at least a few general survey courses--and can stand to save some money this week. Also, it is most definitely summer here in the Gret Stet, so staying indoors is also a matter of ensuring a degree of comfort.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Bush Wins

Another one from Bad Attitudes. This is one reason why Montreal is one of my favorite cities--to visit, that is. I don't think anyone could pay me enough to go through a long winter ever again.

MONTREAL (CP) - The November elections may still be ahead of him but U.S. President George W. Bush came out a big winner Friday - at the World Stupidity Awards.

Bush was a dominating presence at the second edition of the awards presented at the Just for Laughs comedy festival. Host Lewis Black, whose biting satire is a highlight of TV's The Daily Show, took pride in the recognition the United States received at the awards, saying: "we are the gold standard..."

Black said the awards "celebrate the pros" and "perfection in idiocy" because real stupidity is hard work.

"It's easy to fall down a manhole, it's easy to put the candles too close to the drapes, it's easy to launch a military invasion of another country based on a few blurry satellite photos," he observed.

"This year my people, we scaled the Everest of stupidity and we stand upon its peak."

Bush took the Stupidest Man of the Year Award and for the second time in the history of the two-year-old awards won the Stupidity Award for Reckless Endangerment of the Planet.

Bush didn't take the category alone, however, and tied with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The controversial Texan president shared in two other awards as the United States was noted for having the Stupidest Government of the Year.

"What was interesting about that is that the decision was made overwhelmingly by Americans who voted," said Albert Nerenberg, of the Main Organization Revealing Obvious Numbskulls which runs the awards.

Nominations and voting took place at the organization's online site, except for the lifetime achievement award which is settled by the judges.

The nominations were judged by experts in their fields - "a bunch of idiots" and overseen by the Academy for Recognizing Stupidity Everywhere.

Stupidest Statement of the Year was Bush's pronouncement that "combat operations have ended in Iraq," where fighting still rages more than a year after the U.S.-led invasion to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Bush beat out pop princess Britney Spears, nominated for saying, "I do," at her brief Las Vegas wedding, and singer Jessica Simpson, who wondered aloud on TV: "Why does Chicken By the Sea taste like tuna? Is it chicken or tuna?"

Is Calling Bush Disengenous Redundant?

From Bad Attitudes, I found this by Ed Thibodeau at Nonplussed (note to those of us in Louisiana--Mr. Thibodeau's bio says he moved to California at a young age, but it doesn't say from where):

George W. Bush is really a funny guy. At a campaign event in Iowa he declared:

"I'm not a lawyer, you'll be happy to hear," Bush said to cheers. "That's the other team. This is the pro-small business team."

Bush neglected to tell the crowd that the reason he is not a lawyer is because he is not smart enough. As a young man he wanted to be a lawyer and applied to the University of Texas Law School. His application was rejected, despite his famous name which was about all he had going for him.

Happy Fun Time--and One "Shove It" for Good Measure

In spite of having to reorganize over the weekend, I managed to read a couple of pieces like this The New York Times article that focuses on efforts to "be positive." An earlier report I saw yesterday (but can't seem to locate right now) went so far as to indicate that speeches are to be vetted for language, although Al Sharpton stated his intent to "answer" some of the questions Bush posed in his speech to the Urban League last week.

It's obvious as to the motive, namely, efforts to avoid a Democratic version of the 1992 Republican convention, which is now considered an excellent example of the term "hate fest." I believe it was Molly Ivins that noted Pat Buchanan's speech sounded "much better in the original German." At the same time, it is my hope that a balance can be struck. Yes, positive themes are very important. But the Democratic Party must point out some obvious differences between their ideas and those of of the administration. And it's difficult to point out these differences without comparing and contrasting, unless you honestly believe that one set of policies are as good as the other.

Which is why, for instance, I like Teresa Heinz Kerry telling a journalist to shove it. Unlike Mr. Cheney's exercise, she didn't use profanity's equivalent of a thermonuclear bomb--but at the same time, she showed an unwillngness to back down, i.e., she showed a little backbone. The rest of the party would do well to follow her example.

I've been on record as more A.B.B. than pro John Kerry, and I intend to vote that way. In other words, if the Massachusetts Senator is within the margain of error IN LOUISIANA (remember, we are dealing with fifty statewide elections), then I'll vote for him and hope for the best. If Bush is well ahead, then, yes, I will likely cast my ballot in a way that helps a third party--maybe, but not necessarily Nader.

Because, while I'm as pissed off as anyone as to the stagnant nature of two party democracy, I'm downright appalled at the way Team Bush has done everything short of taking a cigarette lighter to the Constitution--both when it comes to "fighting terror" and as they ramrod a domestic agenda down the throats of the American public. Between late-night weekend votes in the House (where fifteen minutes often morphs into several hours), the Patriot Act, the whining about needing such big changes to stave off "another 9/11" (when it is CLEAR that we COULD have either stopped it or severely constrained the carnage had the people in power simply done their jobs), the country has gone so far off track that Bush can call himself a "conservative" even as he deficit spends to the extent that Keynes would blanch.

I mean, Jesus H. Christ: has ANYONE in history chosen to CHARGE the cost of a war (of convenience)? Now, I still think the invasion of Iraq was completely stupid, but, that said, wars generally involve some degree of universal sacrifice--after all, those who pay the biggest cost are the men and women who are lost (or wounded) in battle, and their families. Yet, this administration is so enamored of their elites that they don't even ask them to, at the very least, shoulder the financial "burden" (a two percent hike in the top margainal tax rate isn't exactly a heavy load). But, no--Bush won't even do that. No wonder he won't attend any funerals and sends out form letters to the families of those killed.

Four or eight years of John Kerry won't change my perception of the Democrats, either. If he becomes our next president, and I certainly hope so, I'll probably seek to pressure him on all sorts of stuff, and criticize the hell out of him when he panders to his own set of elites. But I think the Senator actually believes in most of the principles of the Constitution. Bush shows nothing but contempt. And that's why he's got to go--our country can't afford four more years of that.
I had to deal with a number of personal things over the weekend and this morning--in extreme summary, my wallet is no longer in my possession. Phone calls consumed my weekend, waiting in line took up this morning.

Need to catch up this afternoon, work permitting, and everything should be back to normal no later than tomorrow.