Saturday, October 09, 2004

Limericks & Wood

Check out The Rude Pundit for a five line summary of last night's debate.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Instant, Biased, Alcohol Fueled Analysis

First, I spent the five minutes before 8 o'clock scrambling around for batteries and headphones for my ancient Walkman--Entergy cut power at twenty till (line work on my street) and came back on line just as Senator Kerry was acknowledging the first question. So luck was on my side.

Bush, like president Cheney, channeled the ghost of Richard Nixon, only Dubya's Nixon was hopped up on amphetamines for roughly the first half of the show. Seriously. Someone must have pumped an IV full of crank into his veins--either that, or they put a cattle prod on the seat. Or, perhaps Rove managed to drill the idea that "it's now or never" into the dauphin's skull. Regardless, he was the used war salesman ("what's it gonna take for me to get you into THIS WAR right now?"). Under those circumstances, Kerry takes the debate by default.

Unfortunately, the Senator let the moment get to him at times, and actually stumbled on a couple of questions, particularly the one on stem cell research. However, I can't imagine any Bush supporter being particularly comfortable with his performance. I'll put it this way: if Bush was the starting pitcher in a baseball game, his first five pitches would've gone over the heads of the batter, catcher, umpire, and perhaps even the first few rows of seats behind the backstop.

Years ago, I read Ulysses Grant's memoirs--in it, he recalls a humiliating moment as a youth when charged with buying a horse. He wrote that he told the seller that he was authorized to offer twelve dollars, but was allowed to go as high as sixteen (or words to that effect). Guess how much he ended up paying...

That's what Bush sounded like. Between the lies, the overeagerness (and the weird expressions that seem to be congenital), and his overall mein, Bush showed more than ever that, while he might make a passable mayor of a small town (or a weak governor, as he was in Texas), the man just isn't capable of handling the role of commander-in-chief of the United States. His attempts to at humor fell flat, his rhetoric was strained, he didn't know his OWN business affairs--which makes any sentient being wonder how he can handle the affairs of the nation--in the end, it was simply a pathetic performance. Keith Olbermann at MSNBC scored it 14-4-3 for Kerry, and I don't think he was particularly partisan. For anyone who hasn't swallowed hook, line, sinker, rod and reel the Bush program of "trust me--I want you to have this war today," Bush's performance must have been painful to view.

OK--I might be back tomorrow (wow--a second straight weekend post)--but I'm gonna read the big blog's spin and maybe hit the bars around here--if the rain finally stops--later on, y'all.

Winning the Lottery

This isn't satire:

LOUISVILLE, KY. - In July 2003, Amanda Young said goodbye to her father as he left for Iraq to work for a contractor and help the family out of debt. Now Charles Craig Young is heading home, since the family won $100,000 Wednesday night playing Powerball...

Her father supervises maintenance crews in the heavily fortified Green Zone of Baghdad for Iraqi dignitaries. He works for private contractor KBR, Houston-based Halliburton's engineering and construction subsidiary. He was originally due back in August, but stayed to make extra money.

"They were kind of undecided when he was going to come home," Amanda Young said. "We kind of solved that problem."

Not all the money will go toward debt, Judy Young said. Her husband has one request when he gets back to Kentucky - he wants a new tractor.

First, congratulations are in order for Mr. Young and his family. He gets to come home from what is doubtless a dangerous situation. No westerners are safe in Iraq these days. Here's hoping his return is uneventful. However, the fact that he had to put his life on the line--in Iraq--to pay off debts speaks volumes. While billions are being thrown down the memory hole in Iraq, normal people are straining to pay bills. A few, for whatever reason, are gambling with their lives in exchange for, yes, quite a bit of money to be made there--but, as we saw today, at horrific risk.

Between this and the jobs report--which showed what can only charitably be described as anemic growth--we see that Bush has managed to screw up both his foreign and domestic policy.

Monkey Dust

Once again, I'm surprised to link to someone--in this case, Eleanor Clift at Newsweek (a good friend emailed this to me):

Senior Republicans on Capitol Hill know that Iraq is a mess. A few brave senators like John McCain, Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar have spoken out, but most are staying silent in solidarity with their party. They’ll tell the truth after the election. The incompetence, hubris and arrogance of this administration has cost American lives and treasure, and left whoever is president over the next four years a situation that will be almost impossible to correct. "If we could hear the inner deliberations of this administration, it would scare us," says a former Republican operative, who knows how the Bushies play the game. "They know they've been caught. Their strategy is to throw up enough monkey dust to get through the next four weeks."

I'll consider "monkey dust" in light of this recent Ben Tripp column that suggests Bush is not merely a disgrace to humanity, but a disgrace to primates. And something tells me it's a lot more noxious than pixie dust.

To the post below entitled You Can't Eat it or Drink it... Hullabaloo noticed another country that could well be implicated in the scandal surrounding the Oil for Food UN/Iraq program...

The United States.

Millions of dollars of US oil business with Iraq are being channelled discreetly through European and other companies, in a practice that has highlighted the double standards now dominating relations between Baghdad and Washington after a decade of crippling sanctions.

Though legal, leading US oil service companies such as Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Schlumberger, Flowserve, Fisher-Rosemount and others, have used subsidiaries and joint venture companies for this lucrative business, so as to avoid straining relations with Washington and jeopardising their ties with President Saddam Hussein's government in Baghdad.

Halliburton, the largest US oil services company, is among a significant number of US companies that have sold oil industry equipment to Iraq since the UN relaxed sanctions two years ago.


Digby concludes:

It sure was lucky for Unka Dick that Saddam was willing to "pervert" the oil for food program so that Halliburton could launder its involvement through European countries and avoid being "cut out of the action."...

We've come full circle. They have so lost touch with reality that Cheney is now implicating himself in Saddam's WMD programs and he doesn't even realize it.

Fool Me...Won't Get Fooled Again

Another one from Needlenose (Swopa), here's the transcript of Congressman Tim Ryan's floor speech regarding the possibility of reinstituting the draft. Various blogs have the video and/or audio for Windoze and Macintosh--My DD, Kos--the Needlenose link above will direct you to DailyKos--and it's worth looking at or listening to if you want to catch the tenor of Ryan's voice.

I rise in opposition of this bill, but I would like to clarify something. We're not trying to scare kids -- this president's foreign policy is what's scaring the kids of this country. And if people have said today, "Why are people believing this? Why are people believing this big Internet hoax?" Well ... [gap in tape]

. . . told us Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9-11; same people that told us Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction; same people that told us we are gonna be able to use the oil for reconstruction money; same people that told us that we'd be greeted as liberators, not occupiers; same people, same President that told us the Taliban is gone; same President that told us that Poland is our ally, two days before they pull out; same President that tells us Iraq is going just great; same President that tells us the economy is going just great; same people that told us the tax cut was gonna create millions of jobs; same people that told us that the Medicare program only cost 400 billion dollars, when it really cost 540 billion dollars -- so please forgive us for not believing what you're saying! Please forgive the students of this country for not believing what you're saying!

Not one thing -- not one thing about this war that has been told to the American people, that has been told to these college students, has been true. Not one thing! Bremer says we need more troops, the Pentagon says we need more troops, and this President can't get 'em from the international community -- there's only one option left. Let's be honest with the American people.

Bipartisan Fun

Fubar at Needlenose links to Mr. Sun's "Make Your Own Bush Stump Speech. In the spirit of fairness, you can do the same with Mr. Kerry.

Teaser--I'll report, you decide: would you prefer a) a president under the complete control of Dick Cheney? or b) free ketchup for everybody!
Multimedia Friday

Scaramouche posted a link to this Quicktime movie (which he saw at BoingBoing). It'll take a little time to load at 25Mb, but it's an impressive indictment of what they call "War Corporatism," and the Project for a New American Century.

You can also right click (on a Windoze PC) and choose to save it to disk. Either way, it makes for interesting viewing.
Is That a Receiver in Your Pocket, Mr. President, or are You Just Happy to See Her?

Salon has an expanded version of the Lindorff article I posted about the other day--the article that suggests Bush may have relied on "little voices in his head" during his debate against Kerry last Thursday.

But I wonder if the bulge--which, to be fair, was in his back, not his pants--might be due to the little known surgery he had back in 2001 to insert a pacemaker in his brain...

July 13, 2001 | WASHINGTON -- In the second White House health scare in little more than a week, doctors Wednesday night implanted a sophisticated pacemaker in President Bush's brain. The device, known as an implantable cranial defibrillator, or ICD, continuously monitors and records the president's brain waves. When Mr. Bush's brain activity becomes dangerously slow for a chief executive, the device delivers a mild electric shock, jolting the president back to a relatively active mental state.

"I feel good," the president told reporters several hours after the operation. Bush then twitched noticeably. "I mean, I feel well," he said.

Doctors say the implant is performing flawlessly, although they're trying to limit the number of shocks Bush receives to fewer than 100 a day. The surgery came barely a week after Vice President Dick Cheney was fitted with a device to regulate his irregular heartbeat.

The White House portrayed last night's medical procedure as an "insurance policy" against further problems for the president. At a news conference at George Washington University Hospital, where the operation was performed, doctors downplayed the seriousness of Bush's condition. The periodic electric jolts from the implant, physicians say, will have minimal effect on the president.

"His hair is not going to stand on end," said chief surgeon Dr. Alan J. Thayer. "Well, maybe a little."

The president, looking tired but fit after his operation, said that the device will help him function better as a world leader.

"The American people need to know that their president is equipped to handle a trouble spot like Slovenia," Mr. Bush said. "Serbia, I mean Serbia," he added, his head jerking violently.

Bush has an extensive medical history of moderately impaired thinking and reasoning, dating back to the 1970s. Doctors have long noted that the president's thoughts easily become confused, and that his public pronouncements often deteriorate into a tangle of mispronunciations, faulty logic and bad grammar. Although Bush's condition wasn't serious enough to prevent him from running for president, or from winning the state of Florida, doctors say his condition has deteriorated significantly in recent months. The president's brain wave activity dipped dangerously low during his recent trip to Europe, and stopped altogether at one point during a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader was unaware of any change in Mr. Bush's condition, officials say.

Yesterday, the president's doctors subjected him to a battery of mental tests to assess his risk of developing a potentially fatal "zero brain wave" pattern. Once the risk was confirmed, surgeons decided to implant the electronic device, which acts both as a pacemaker and a defibrillator. The pacemaker component is programmed to speed up the president's thinking when it becomes abnormally slow. The defibrillator can shock his brain back to a normal state if Bush's thoughts become "too fast," although doctors say that the chances of that happening are remote.

The device that doctors sutured to the base of the president's cerebellum is known as a Medtronic Gem IV DR model. (There were some problems with an earlier model, which had to be recalled by the manufacturer.) Such devices, once the stuff of science fiction, have become an increasingly common tool in modern neurology. Hundreds of prominent Americans have been fitted with so-called mental pacemakers in recent years, including actor Adam Sandler, TV personality Mary Hart, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, singer Britney Spears, Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., former vice president Dan Quayle, and the entire board of directors of the now-defunct Some of those who wear a mental pacemaker expressed hope that the president's condition would raise public awareness about their circumstance.

"This may turn out to be a blessing in the skies for all of us," said talk show host Maury Povich, who was fitted with one of the first Medtronic devices four years ago. Mr. Povich trembled violently from head to toe before adding, "I mean disguise, disguise, for God's sake, turn it off."

Bush has been advised to avoid deep thoughts for a few days to give the device a chance to settle in place. Doctors say the president so far has cooperated fully with the recommendation. Bush has also been told to alternate holding his cell phone against his right and left ear so the implant receives equal doses of radiation from each side. And the president will have to run at full speed whenever passing through White House metal detectors.

Several congressional leaders privately expressed concern about the president's medical procedure, coming barely a week after Cheney was fitted with a device to regulate his irregular heartbeat.

But Bush dismissed the worries, stating that the Bush-Cheney team is "more fit than ever" to lead the country.

"You'll find no healthier duo than Dick Cheney and I," Bush said. The president hesitated, as if waiting for a signal, and when none came, broke into a toothy grin.

You Can't Eat it or Drink it...

But you can get invaded if there's corruption in the program where you trade it for consumbles. Hullabaloo issues a correction regarding his assertion that Bush had no "definitive and believable reason for the need to invade Iraq." Turns out, it was all about the food. There was "no doubt" that Saddam Hussein and his cronies were accepting kickbacks from the UN (let the John Bircher paranoids commence salivation), and, um, well, Poland and Russia, among others (like--francophobes, take your marks--France). But don't forget Poland. You didn't forget Poland, did you?

Meanwhile, in the real world, beyond justifying invasion of a country because of the serious crime of bribery, the ongoing crisis in the Middle East continues apace. Juan Cole notes explosions today in Egypt, Pakistan, and, of course, Baghdad (isn't that truly sad, and I don't mean that cynically. These days, an explosion on Baghdad hardly qualifies as news). Kenneth Bigley, the British kidnapping victim, was finally killed--Tony Blair, and, to be fair, Michael Howard (Tory party leader) all but requested that the kidnappers carry out their threat. Consider how that must make Mr. Bigley's family feel--the life of their loved one became, well, an inconvenience to the British government. I know that individual lives aren't considered quite as sacred during wartime, but this really was awful.

Finally, here something from Axis of Logic: A History of the Iraq War, Told Entirely in Lies. As the subtitle notes: All text is verbatim from senior Bush Administration officials and advisers. In places, tenses have been changed for clarity.

There are lies, damn lies, and statistics,--and then there are Bush lies.

But the Taliban are Supposed to be Gone

Reuters reports on a rocket attack by the Taliban:

One rocket exploded in the air above the main U.S. military compound in Kabul before dawn, damaging vehicles in a nearby car park. In the eastern city of Jalalabad, a rocket plowed into a house, wounding two young children, officials said.

More significantly, the report doesn't question the 10 million plus figure for registered voter, which, as many have pointed out, exceeds estimates of the eligible electorate. No mention is made of the warlords who really run most of Afghanistan, nor is any mention made of the opium crop, which apparently Bush thinks is the mechanism by which Afghanistan will join the "family of nations."

The article DOES directly quote "Taliban spokesman Latif Hakimi." If the Taliban can provide an official spokesperson, then I think Bush's claims about having routed them are a bit premature.

Here's hoping violence will be minimal--considering that the "election" is little more than window dressing for the Bush policy of creating gravel out of rubble, voters are playing lottery with their lives. There will likely be attacks on some polling places--the question is which ones.

And if anyone thinks life will get better for the Afghans--well, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn and some real estate in Florida I'd like you to look at.

Earlier this year, Karzai had to come to the US and beg for money, because the compassionate conservative administration and Congress forgot to include this particular project in the budget. After the election, look for a similar response.

The Bush Afghanistan project, like everything else he's done, is a classic instance of a "C" student turning in "C" level work. That might be fine for running a small business (or small city)--but it's completely inadequate for the United States government.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Another Reason to Vote Absentee

Timshel posted this link to Boing Boing--if you enlarge the picture, you'll see that WBAY of Green Bay, Wisconsin, has called the 2004 election (well, they're reporting that AP called it). However, one thing's a little odd: if you count up the electoral votes in the article, it comes to 520--18 short of the actual 538.

So, maybe this is just some sort of weird AP promotion, and perhaps someone screwed up and posted it...still, you'd think AP would identify it as such.


Kerry lets Bush have it. Also, at the bottom of the page is the quote of the hour, if not the day.

John Edwards on Bush and Cheney:

They are willing to say left is right and up is down. The vice president, Dick Cheney, and the president need to recognize that the Earth is actually round and that the Sun is rising in the east.

You know, I think Cheney knows the earth is round, but he'd lie about it just to be consistent. With Dubya, I'm not so sure--I picture him staring quizzically at a Mercator projection of the planet before finally calling for Rove.

" hard work, Karl. I know that."
November 3rd is the Beginning, Not the End

Al Giordano has a good, if long post about the implications of a Kerry victory in November. Short version: Kerry, if victorious, will be a good man in a bad situation. Globalization limits the ability of one individual to effect change (and, my own opinion is that he might NOT want to effect much change to begin with). Still, he's the small bit of hope--or, in Giordano's words, "uncertainty," versus the "certain doom" of a Bush victory. Also, Al takes a small swipe at Ralph Nader ("Beautiful Loser").

Furthermore, if/when Kerry wins--and Giordano thinks he could win decisively (more on that below*)--it is incumbent (no pun intended) on the public to keep pressuring him. James Wolcott noted that a number of people he knows are hoping they can tune out of politics in the event of a Democratic victory next month.

That's exactly the WRONG tack. It will be necessary to CONSTANTLY pressure a Kerry administration to do the right thing--on Iraq, on the economy, on education, on the environment--you name it. A Kerry victory won't cause the right to roll over and die--they'll continue to pressure him to "reach across the aisle" (just like Clinton did with the bogus and harmful "welfare reform," for instance AND the appointment of GOP'er Cohen to head DOD). True Progressives need to lobby from our side--because we're right. And Kerry will need to be constantly reminded of this.

*--Last winter, when Kerry had been written off by everyone (including me--not that I really matter, but my own comment was that he "talked a lot but never really said anything, i.e., a typical Senator), Giordano explicitly stated that Kerry would win the nomination handily. As that's pretty much what ended up happening, I'll pay careful attention to and strongly consider Al's arguments, as they've been proven to have some merit.
Justice DeLayed is Justice Denied

Reuters reports on the latest goings on in the Tom DeLay saga:

U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay, rebuked by his chamber's ethics committee last week for offering an improper political favor, was admonished by the same panel on Wednesday night for two unrelated matters.

The committee rebuked DeLay for his participation in an energy company golf fund-raiser in 2002, and for having intervened with help of a federal agency in a partisan dispute in Texas last year.

DeLay called a late-night news conference to respond to the admonishments, which prompted another citizen's watchdog group to call for him to step aside.

Considering that most of the House business these days is conducted after hours, it doesn't surprise me that it was a "late-night" news conference. I mean, jeez, is Tom DeLay a goddamned vampire? Does the sight of the rising sun cause him to crawl back into the coffin awaiting him at his Capitol Hill office?

I dunno--maybe the coffin is also one of Cheney's "secure, undisclosed locations." While watching Tuesday's debate, I was struck by how ashen the VP looked. Zombies and ghosts (and, speaking of, Ann Coulter) have more of a tan than Big Time.

The next time DeLay appears before the press, it'd be nice if someone brought a mirror along just to see whether or not he makes a reflection.
If This is True, Then Bush is Definitely No Churchill

Timshel has a link to a Washington Post article about the book Chirac Contre Bush: L'Autre Guerre (In English: Chirac Versus Bush: The Other War).

Short version:

France was ready to provide up to 15,000 soldiers for the war, but between objections over the timing of the invasion--and Dubya's micron-thin skin--the deal fell through. It seems that the dauphin couldn't stand that Chirac and Bush, Sr. were bon amis, as it were, and of course we all know about how the US all but used a big hook to yank UN inspectors out of Iraq before Shock and Awe commenced.

Remember Shock and Awe? That faded faster than A Flock of Seagulls. And Bush's take on the invasion--"we won too quickly"--has about as much credibility as a Rumsfeld GPS Weapons of Mass Destruction locator.

You know, when I read the Post article, which shows the utter petulance of Bush the younger, I recalled what Churchill said when asked about the Stalin alliance during World War II. He said something about how he'd make a pact "with the Devil himself" if that's what it took to defeat Hitler.

In contrast, Bush can't even bring himself to deal with a genuine ALLY, both in a strategic geo-political sense AND in terms of politics. For those who might not recall, given the level of anti-French vitriol, Chirac is a conservative. And, yes, conservatives in industrial nations on both sides of the Atlantic have common cause (which means I'm not all that enamored of Jacques).

Now, 15,000 additional soldiers would hardly make an iota of difference strategically, but they most definitely would have had a political impact had they been deployed in sensitive areas at the outset. At this point, though, with more or less the entire country seeing insurgent action, I'll suggest that there are up to 15,000 French soldiers who should be grateful our president is such an idiot. At the same time, it once again demonstrates the clear contempt Bush has for our men and women in uniform.

Off topic, but: speaking of contempt, I saw on Atrios that Judith Miller had the book thrown at her. If it was me, it'd be 18 months for contempt of court--and 20 years for contempt of the truth.

Anyway, to wind up this post--I've said words to this effect before, but what the hell, I'll repeat: when historians of the future examine the Bush administration, they're going to wonder what sort of madness came over the country. For that matter, I can't believe there will be anyone--sort of a few wingnuts and evangelical X'tians--who will even admit they voted for the clown in a few years time.
Cheney Asserts Forcefully: War IS Peace

The vice president's response to the Duelfer report is an apt summation of the administration to date--no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and no means to manufacture them, morphs into "we must invade and invade right now."

Having moved the goalposts right out of the stadium, the new reason for invasion, dutifully reported by sheep posing as the national press corps, is "Saddam wanted to end the sanctions."

I can't think that provides much comfort to the dead and wounded--on both sides of this ridiculous war. Underscoring the point that Iraq might as well be Arabic for chaos, another explosion rocked Baghdad today--this time a major hotel was the target.

Oh, and in case anyone missed it, last night's Nightline had a report on Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI: estimates suggest that more than half of the wounded US Troops suffer from this to some degree. Symptoms can range from irritability to complete loss of almost all upper brain function.

When will the warmongers understand that the reason war is a last resort is precisely because of the short and long term damage it causes individuals, their family (and, in the case of Iraq, the very places where they live--our operations in Najaf, Fallujah, Samarra, and Baghdad are turning large areas into rubble)? One has to assume that they simply do not or will not face the consequences of modern warfare.

Instead, they'll lap up Cheney's insane assertion. Hell, at this point, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Bush Cheney rallies we're full of people chanting "Four More Years," followed by "Ignorance is Strength," "Lies are Truth," "Freedom is Slavery."

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Rapid Response

If you go to the Democratic National Committee website, you'll see their latest web multimedia ad, which does pretty much what I suggested. The ad notes Cheney's small lie ("I never met you until tonight"), refutes it nicely, then takes on the big lie (Saddam, 9/11, and Al Qaeda) and shows that Dick is acting like, well, a dick. Gee. Maybe the people leading the DNC have spines after all.

I knew it was going to happen someday...I just didn't think it'd be today. I'm linking to....Andrew Sullivan.

That's right. Here it is. At least it's not one of his bizarre pro-Bush, pro-Rethuglican screeds. No, this one is pretty straightforward:

From: "Baghdad, USConsul"
To: "Baghdad, USConsul"
Subject: Warden Message
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 2004 14:36:13 +0000

Warden Message - Increased Security Awareness within the International Zone

On October 5, 2004, at approximately 1 pm, U.S. Embassy security personnel discovered an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) at the Green Zone Café. A U.S. Military Explosive Ordnance Detachment safely disarmed the IED.
American citizens living or working in the International Zone are strongly encouraged to take the following security precautions:

* Limit non-essential movement within the International Zone, especially at night.
* Travel in groups of two or more.
* Carry several means of communication.
* Avoid the Green Zone Café, the Chinese Restaurants, the Lone Star restaurant and Vendor Alley.
* Conduct physical fitness training within a compound perimeter.
* Notify office personnel or friends of your travel plans in the International Zone.
**** Conduct a thorough search of your vehicle prior to entering it.

Consular Section
US Embassy Baghdad

In other words, the Green Zone just got a little redder. I don't think this is what Bush and Cheney had in mind when they talk of "progress" in Iraq--unless they're on the side of the insurgents.

Greenboy at Needlenose found this Livejournal post. Check it out--it's a genuine absentee ballot printed for voters in Michigan. Pay careful attention to the arrows.

Unlike this joke ballot, which Scaramouche linked to, this is the real thing. Jeez. Proofreading is a lost art these days.
Will Bush Make More Jokes About This?

More evidence has emerged to demonstrate that WMD was a figment of the Bush imagination:

The chief US weapons inspector in Iraq has concluded Saddam Hussein had less ability to develop weapons of mass destruction last year than he did in 1998 when United Nations weapons inspectors left.

Well, it's nice to see the truth finally emerge, especially after last night's serving of lies with a side order of gravitas.

And a CIA report throws more egg on Team Bush's face:

A reassessment by the Central Intelligence Agency has cast doubt on a central piece of evidence used by the Bush administration before the invasion of Iraq to draw links between Saddam Hussein's government and Al Qaeda's terrorist network, government officials said Tuesday.

It turns out that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi wasn't being sheltered by Hussein. Supposedly he was in Baghdad sometime in 2002--which means he was one of six million people living there at the time--and no, even a vicious scumbag like Saddam can't keep track of everyone. The report also indicates Zarqawi was "in contact" with Islamic fundamentalists in "Northern Iraq," i.e., Iraqi Kurdistan, where the UNITED STATES had a presence. So--why didn't Bush go after him then?

But I digress--the point here is that yet another team of investigators has shown that Hussein, far from being the ultimate bogeyman, was in fact a doddering old wretched cretin living on borrowed time and his legacy of violence. But instead of letting him rot on the vine, Bush thought a war would be the perfect way to establish his credentials in time for his re-selection. As for the thousand plus US soldiers who've been killed--well, the fact that Bush refuses to attend ANY of their funerals speaks volumes.

It also speaks volumes when you consider that WMD became a funny joke for Bush last spring.
Postscript to the Postscript

The post debate spin is for all practical purposes, a draw. Raw meat GOP partisans seem impressed with Cheney's Grim Reaper act, but he didn't do much for anyone else. Edwards held his own--he wasn't outstanding, but he made no serious mistakes--and Cheney's attempt at creating a "defining moment" fell flat because it was, well, a lie.

If I was a Democratic spinner, I'd point this out. Yes, there were other lies--Saddam and 9/11, Saddam and Al Qaeda, Cheney attempting to say that he'd "never had business relations with that company...Halliburton..." But I'd start with the flat out lie about when Dick Cheney met John Edwards, and note that if Dick Cheney will lie on national television about something so trivial in an attempt to score cheap political points, then how can anyone trust him on matters of national importance? If this was a trial, the Vice President would have, at that moment, truly destroyed his credibility.

It's too bad Edwards decided not to pursue this--instead, he made some decent points about Cheney's abysmal voting record when he was a representative. Not bad, but calling the guy on a lie would have been better. Cheney would've really had smoke coming out of his ears.

Oh, and here's James Wolcott's take on last night's show. Short version: Cheney was a cranky old man who was up past his bedtime.

And he lied.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Concluding Unscientific Postscript

The available spin for cheap television viewers like me is over. Here are my thoughts, with no attempt to be unbiased, or unfiltered--I've been looking at what I can find on the internet (and voting in all the available polls), as well as watching the first round of spin.

First, I was glad to see PBS take my point below and make it one of the themes (the Kennedy/Nixon analogy). Ha. Michael Beschloss double dipped, showing up on both ABC and PBS. Don't know if he said the same thing at both places, but he's definitely trying to make the public TV/commercial TV crossover.

Didn't know that Cheney lied WHEN he lied, but it looks like the line-of-the-night for him becomes, by default, a dud. Bensten was at least smart enough to make his killer line unassailable (because it was a personal judgement). Cheney opted for the cheap and easily refuted falsehood--then again, imagine that.

Cheney looked old--that's gonna haunt him...wait, the way Cheney looked, I don't know if there's ANYTHING that could haunt him. On the other hand...

So Cheney locks up the zombie and vampire vote this evening. Ann Coulter, this bloc of voter's high priestess, will no doubt call it a smashing victory for him.

However, Cheney's remarks on AIDS were appalling. Anyone who's seen the human side of the AIDS crisis--and that's a LOT of people--can only shake their head. The guy's response is to talk about the hit it causes to the economy? "Basically you end up with a country of kids and old people, while you have a deficit of people in condition for prime economic output" or words to that effect? Jeez. He looked like an ogre.

Bob Schieffer, oddly enough, seemed to almost take a weird, Rutger Hauer-in-Blade-Runner approach to his commentary. Maybe it's because he's getting on in years(just like Dan Rather). He gave Edwards very high marks. He played up the Iraq issue, focusing on the very real fact that life and death actually matters to the electorate. In the end, Schieffer chose life.

Oh--did you notice Cheney couldn't resist beginning his first answer to a DOMESTIC question with a 9/11 reference. Damn. He really DOESN'T have a soul...

Edwards held his own--and, using the Rove test (TV with the sound down--ok, I didn't actually TURN the sound down, but I'm sitting watching the repeat on C-Span, while working on this)--anyway, using the Rove test, Edwards LOOKS a hell of a lot better than Cheney. He held his own on the same stage as Mr. Grave-itas (Mr. Abu we all saw, there was NO mention of Abu Ghraib AND both candidates refused to adopt a balanced approach to the Israel/Palestine crisis). His foreign policy responses were sensible and had the added benefit of being appropriate for a VICE president, unlike Cheney, who doesn't seem to know that he's NOT the president. Edwards blew Cheney away on domestic issues. And, Cheney lied. If he lies in a debate, how can you trust him on anything?
More Later

I'm still being entertained by spin, believe it or not...but it's becoming apparent that Cheney lied (and now, goddamnit, a Steely Dan song is playing in my head).

But--"Mr. Vice President, you're no Lloyd Bensten" (and I never even liked Lloyd Bensten).

pResident Cheney?

One quick note: is it just me, or does anyone else notice that Cheney hasn't really acknowledged that he's the VICE president...

OK, one more note: I've seen both Needlenose's and The Poorman's pre-debate comparisons of Cheney and Edwards. But here's one I haven't seen--Edwards looks like a southern John Kennedy, and Cheney looks like a gray-haired Nixon...think about it.

Back after the conclusion...
Hack License

I'm almost posting this solely for making sure I remember the link--I'm guessing most folks stopping by have seen this at Atrios. New York Press's First Quadrennial Election Hack Invitational:

To determine a winner in each match-up, the contenders' articles will be examined by a three-person panel of drug-addicted judges culled from the editorial ranks of this newspaper. Our decisions are completely subjective and cannot be appealed. In fact, one of our rules is that any appeal from a contestant, whether in private or in public, results in automatic advance through to the next round...

The rules are very simple. We have chosen 32 of the country's leading campaign reporters, mostly from the world of print, and bracketed them into pairs. Each week, the pairs will square off against one another. Whoever writes worse, advances. It's that simple.

The tournament progresses until the week after the election, when the writer of the worst and most slavish and dishonest election post-mortem among the two remaining contestants will receive an Illustrious Mystery Prize from the New York Press tournament committee. Anyone familiar with the history of these sorts of competitions is welcome to speculate as to what that might be.

Damn--from the looks of it, the first round is over. I was hoping to print out some brackets, and start an office pool...
For Your Reading Pleasure

Halliburton Watch has A Handy Guide to Halliburton for the VP Debate at their website. In case you were wondering just how closely the least popular figure in the Bush administration was tied to what's gotta be just about the least popular company in the--well, I was going to say the United States, but HAL is a multinational--well, anyway, take a look at the guide and the website.

See you after the debate--if I'm not completely horizontal at that point.
Drinking Game: Veep Debate Version

First, just to add to everyone else linking to this brilliant bit of advice--if John Edwards actually uses The Rude Pundit's counsel, I'll immediately go out, buy a fifth of Grey Goose, and down half the bottle in one gulp. I swear. But I'd give myself better odds of winning the lottery...

So, onto my rules--and, since I'm probably the only one playing this version of the game tonight, I guess I can afford to be less-than-precise in the actual amount to consume whenever I hear:

Cheney rehashing the tired old joke "how do you think I got the job [of VP]." Oh, and off topic, but: Lynne was recently making jokes about John Kerry's tan. I wonder if Thursday's debate managed to shut her up.

(and, back on topic, but I'd tip my glass up if Edwards pointed to that thing on his lip and said something like "Just being nominated caused THIS").

Dick Cheney IMPLYING, but NOT directly stating, a link between Hussein's Iraq and Al Qaeda (extra consumption if he actually SAYS Osama bin Laden, even more if he does so WITHOUT it being in direct response to John Edwards).

Dick Cheney suggesting that John Edwards lacks the experience to to run the country in the event of a crisis (extra consumption if he doesn't bother to mention that it would take both a crisis AND John Kerry being somehow incapacitated--after all, Cheney's the first veep to finish a president's term WITHOUT the president himself having died).

(I'll also raise my fist and/or holler "you tell him!") If John Edwards suggests that Dick Cheney's "experience" seems to manifest itself in telling outright lies--like the whoppers about Saddam Hussein and nuclear weapons, Saddam Hussein and 9/11, Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda--and I'll have a bonus gulp if Edwards recounts Cheney's own statements to the effect that he considered any attempt to overthrow Saddam Hussein in 1991 would have resulted in a disastrous occupation. Another bonus gulp if Edwards manages to bring up Bremer and Rumsfeld's respective flip-flops on these issues.

--I'll also drink at the first mention of domestic issues--I wonder if there's an over/under on the number of minutes it will take before one is brought up. Unless it involves no-bid contracts and/or Cheney's Energy Task Force, I'd choose at least 45--minutes--before domestic issues are raised. Although, speaking of no-bid contract and the Task Force--

I'll have a nice sized sip if Edwards manages to suggest that Cheney should place himself "above even the suspicion of wrongdoing" and release the notes of his Energy Task Force meetings.

If Cheney replies, "Why don't you go fuck yourself, John," I'll have the cash ready, and be prepared to walk to the closest place that actually sells Grey Goose vodka.

I'll have a monster, no-bid sized gulp WHEN Cheney says he has nothing to do with Halliburton's Iraq War windfall. I'll take a more modest sized gulp WHEN he says he had nothing to do with the energy industry-manufactured California energy crisis of 2001 (that is, IF the moderator asks). And I'll take more modest sized gulps whenever Cheney says that trial lawyers and/or frivolous lawsuits are dragging the economy down.

And, finally (after all, it's a Tuesday and I have to at least show up at work on Wednesday)--I'll pour and drink if Cheney says anything about John Edwards being too well-off to understand the needs of the common person or words to that effect. And I'll polish the glass off if Edwards immediately responds with something like "you own a HALF MILLION shares of Halliburton, you're STILL getting deferred compensation, but you think you DO?"

Well, that ought to be enough--if I'm still more or less coherent when it's all over, I might post something about the fun a little later.


The Talent Show has a post up about four Kerry endorsements that, if we really DID have an "objective" newsmedia, would require regular Sunday morning sessions where George, Cokie, and the other George would have to ask why the wheels are flying off of the Republican coalition...yet, the press is strangely silent on this matter.

Bush has managed to piss off any number of GOPers. Between his extremely limited agenda, his high-handed, arrogant manner, and his singular aversion to fiscal discipline, normally conservative voters are looking at the Democratic ticket as a way to ensure a financially sound system. Let's face it--an economic melt down could affect the rich as well as the poor.

Throughout the Democratic Convention, a video screen behind the podium flashed photos and short biographies of Republicans who for various reasons have decided to vote against Bush. The GOP, not to be outdone, responded with...Zell Miller.

That speaks volumes.
All Y'all

This was emailed to me by my sister. Sorry that I don't have the attribution, but whoever wrote it got it right:

Only a Southerner knows the difference between a hissy fit and a conniption, and that you don't "HAVE" them, you "PITCH" them.

Only a Southerner knows how many fish, collard greens, turnip greens, peas, beans, etc., make up "a mess."

Only a Southerner can show or point out to you the general direction of "yonder."

Only a Southerner knows exactly how long "directly" is -- as in "Going to town, be back directly."

Even Southern babies know that "Gimme some sugar" is not a request for the white, granular sweet substance that sits in a pretty little bowl in the middle of the table.

All Southerners know exactly when "by and by" is. They might not use the term, but they know the concept well.

Only a Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who's got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big
bowl of cold potato salad. If the neighbor's trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin!

Only Southerners grow up knowing the difference between "right near" and "a right far piece." They also know that "just down the road" can be 1 mile or 20.

Only a Southerner, both knows and understands, the difference between a redneck, a good ol' boy, and po' white trash.

No true Southerner would ever assume that the car with the flashing turn signal is actually going to make a turn

A Southerner knows that "fixin" can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adverb.

Only Southerners make friends while standing in lines We don't do" queues," we do "lines"; and when we're "in line," we talk to everybody!

Put 100 Southerners in a room and half of them will discover they're related, even if only by marriage.

Southerners never refer to one person as "y'all."

Southerners know grits come from corn and how to eat them.

Every Southerner knows tomatoes with eggs, bacon, grits, and coffee are perfectly wonderful; that red eye gravy is also a breakfast food; and that fried green tomatoes are not a breakfast food.

When you hear someone say, "Well, I caught myself lookin'," you know you are in the presence of a genuine Southerner!

Only true Southerners say "sweet tea" and "sweet milk." Sweet tea indicates the need for sugar and lots of it -- we do not like our tea
unsweetened. "Sweet milk" means you don't want buttermilk.

And a true Southerner knows you don't scream obscenities at little old ladies who drive 30 MPH on the freeway. You just say, "Bless her heart"
and go your own way.

To those of you who're still a little embarrassed by your Southerness: Take two tent revivals and a dose of sausage gravy and call me in the
morning. Bless your heart!

And to those of you who are still having a hard time understanding all this Southern stuff, bless your hearts, I hear they are fixin' to have
classes on Southerness as a second language!

And for those that are not from the South but have lived here for a long time, y'all need a sign to hang on y'all's front porch that reads "I ain't
from the South but I got here as fast as I could."

"Pitchin' a hard work. I know that."
Pronouncing "Georgi Parvanov" Hard Work

Jerome Armstrong at MYDD has some details on the Coaliton of the Willing. I'll put it this way: if it was fabric, it would be 100 percent natural fiber, subject to a good bit of shrinkage when immersed in hot water.

Originally, Bush touted the trifecta of Britian, Spain, and Australia among 48 countries. But Spain has long since evacuated and regained their senses, and the number of coalition members is now down to 26 according to the latest reports.

The reason why Bush is not mentioning Australia behind Britian is because they have an election on October 9th, and if Howard loses, Australia will likely pull out, so the Bush administration is downplaying that connection. So, beyond Britian... ah, Bulgaria has a few troops on the ground, which means that Bush gets to show us soon that he can pronounce Georgi Parvanov.

I can see our pResident furrowing his brow in concentration, telling Karl "well, I've got the first part of his name--lemme show you," followed by several attempts: "GeorgeDubya. I mean, Georgedub-uh-eeeyou. I'm gettin' there."
Must-See TV

Representative David Wu approves this message and does his own stunts. Scroll a short way down his campaign page to watch his latest ad. Wu (D-OR) compares proposals advocating the privitization of Social Security to "jumping off a bridge."

You have to give the guy points for creativity--and courage.
Questions of Character

Hullabaloo has an interesting observation about something that apparently was on MSNBC or Hardball (I'm assuming the "Matthews" he refers to is Chris).

Matthews just interviewed Joe Lockhart and mentioned the new zogby poll question "If your car was broken down on the side of the road, who do you think would stop and help you?" Shockingly, 32% said John Kerry and 40% said Junior.

Then Digby goes on to point out the following: Not only did John Kerry pull Jim Rassman out of a canal in Vietnam, he also saved the life of then US Senator Chic Hecht of Nevada back in 1988. Seems that Hecht was choking on a piece of apple--Kerry was the only one who realized what was happening, and his quick thinking (literally just in time) kept Hecht from, at the very least, slipping into a coma.

Could anyone imagine Dubya doing anything like that?

Digby closes with the following paragraphs, which I think aptly describe Bush's true character:

Remember James Byrd's family in Jasper texas begging him to help them pass hate crimes legislation?

"I went in there pleading to him," Mullins says. "I said that if he helped me move it along I would feel that he hadn't died in vain ... [Rep.] Thompson said, 'Gov. Bush, what Renee's trying to say is, Would you help her pass the bill?' And he said, 'No.' Just like that."

"He had a nonchalant attitude, like he wanted to hurry up and get out of there," Mullins says. "It was cold in that room."

Remember when his daughter had an emergency appendectomy?

As he boarded the plane, reporters inquired about Jenna's condition. 'Maybe she'll be able to join us in Florida,' the president-elect said. 'If not, she can clean her room.' The reporters stared at him, stunned. 'I couldn't believe it,' one of those present later said. 'First of all, I'm a father, and I cannot imagine a scenario in which my daughter would have major surgery and I would just leave on vacation. And then he just seemed so snarly about it, like he was pissed at her.'"

Not only wouldn't he stop to help you at the side of the road, he's the type who'd slow down and stare at you, then laugh uproariously and hit the gas, spraying gravel in your face as he sped away.
Not That it Really Matters, But...

I might as well acknowledge a minor conspiracy theory making the rounds. Here's Dave Lindorff in Counterpunch asking whether or not Bush used an earpiece in Thursday's debate.

If nothing else, it would explain the bizarre "Let me finish" that Dubya blurted out to, um, well, nobody. While I think it's pretty evident that the pResident's skin is so thin it has to be measured in microns, I found myself wondering why he'd say something like that--I thought, "maybe Lehrer did something that suggested he was ready to move on to the next question."

More on whether or not Bush wore an earpiece can be found here. For the record, I don't think the bulge in his back is proof positive--I'm inclined to believe he's donning some sort of bulletproof vest, although that would certainly make it easier for him to accessorize with a wireless receiver (begging the question of who's REALLY the metrosexual--a guy who accessorizes with a vest and receiver, or a guy with an inkpen?).

Also, if you follow Joseph Cannon's links, you'll find something I consider a little less surprising: George W. Bush, the Hard Working Man, seems to have brought a crib sheet with him to the show. Yeah, the link's pretty fuzzy, and, like my title says, I don't think it really matters in the sense that anyone should holler too loud about 'the rules,' but it does speak volumes that Bush's handlers feel it's necessary to prop him up so extensively.

Writing out crib sheets is hard work...
Bush Team Flip-Flopping--In Other News, the Sky is Blue

OK, well he's an ex-Bushista, but Paul Bremer is now saying the US had/has too few soldiers in Iraq. As plenty of folks already noted, now's a hell of a time to fess up to that. Um, Paul, don't you think it would've been better to, I don't know, either show some spine--or at least fake it--WHILE you were running the show there?

And, for comic relief, watch the bouncing Rumsfeld--why, the guy can change positions faster than I can change my shoes.
It's Hard Work...

After being alerted to the latest post from The Poor Man by Your Right Hand Thief, I stayed at his page and found this ode to our golfer children's book reader flight-suit-wearer commencement speaker turkey pardoner commander in chief.

Lord knows what might have happened if Dubya wasn't allowed to spare the bird.

In related news, Tom Burka reports that Mount St. Helens scientists predict 70% Chance of Bush Eruption in the next Debate.

Monday, October 04, 2004

More on Samarra--and Other Things

Riverbend has a new post up with her take on the Samarra assault, the situation in Baghdad, i.e., the more or less daily car bombs (including the horrible massacre outside the rebuilt sewage treatment plant, which killed some 40 children), the hostages, and so on.

Given that western journalists these days are pretty much unable to actually work in Iraq (unless they too want to become a hostage, or worse), Riverbend, Salam Pax, Raed Jarrar, and other bloggers are probably the most reliable source of information these days.
Last Wishes

From The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin:

Jane Buffett tried desperately to live until Nov. 2 so she could vote for John Kerry.

She lost that fight, but her husband and sons continued the battle in her obituary.

Jane died Sept. 25 at age 64 after a long struggle with multiple myeloma, a cancer that attacks bones from the inside.

"She really wanted to live to this election and vote. I kept promising her that as soon as the absentee ballots were printed, we would get her one," said Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, who became choked up talking about her friend of 30 years.

"She always helped with my campaigns, even when she was very ill. She took it upon herself to be a positive source of energy and confidence for me. I was very affected by her death, and even more by her life."Jane Buffett's obituary in Madison newspapers said:

"Jane was outraged that any politician who would cut back cancer treatment options for Social Security recipients, who would invade a foreign country and then expect her grandchildren to pay the bills, could claim to be a 'compassionate conservative.' Once he became the nominee, she saw John Kerry as the candidate who would most conserve everything she valued. Jane fought to live long enough to be able to vote this November. To honor her memory, please do everything you can to elect John Kerry."

Her husband, Roger Buffett, said that he and sons Perry and Carl decided to include that language.

"Jane and I did not sit down to write an obituary," Roger said, adding, however, that "she was ecstatic about Sally Baron's obituary last year."

Baron was a Stoughton woman whose obituary in August 2003 said that "memorials in her honor can be made to any organization working for the removal of President Bush."

Jane Buffett "was disgusted that a few thousand young people would have to give their lives so people can run around in big vehicles," her husband said. "Now we have an oil crisis and tax breaks for people who drive Hummers. She was incensed. So as the boys and I worked on the obituary, it was a natural. They said, 'This is what Mom really wanted.' "

Jane suffered with multiple myeloma for 8 years.

Compare and Contrast

Here's the headline of The Guardian's article about the latest revelations regarding Condollezza Rice and her very Bush-like lack of curiousity regarding aluminum tubes and whether or not they were part of an Iraqi nuclear program:

Doubts raised on Saddam theory in 2001

The Bush administration knew as early as mid-2001 that a central plank of its argument about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction was regarded by its own nuclear experts as probably untrue, it was reported yesterday...

[Nuclear] experts conveyed their doubts to the administration in an intelligence memo dated August 17 2001, but were disregarded in favour of a junior CIA analyst who championed the idea that the tubes were to be used in uranium enrichment, the report said.

Here's the headline from The San Francisco Chronicle:

Bush aide defends prewar assertions

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice defended on Sunday the emphatic statements she made in the run-up to the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein was rebuilding his nuclear weapons program...

Rice told CNN in an interview that the tubes "are only really suited for nuclear-weapons programs," adding a now-famous phrase: "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

Rice, by the way, claimed Sunday that she was aware of the controversy back when this was supposedly an issue, i.e., when some folks seriously alleged that Saddam was trying to kick-start his nuclear program. Unfortunately, the record clearly indicates she chose to ignore the now proven correct assessments that Iraq's nuclear program was dead. Instead, she chose to flail away, making ominous pronouncements about mushroom clouds.

Perhaps if she was still in academia, Rice could plead "bad information," and move on. But as National Security Advisor to the President, she must be held to a higher standard.

Resignation would be the honorable thing to do. And if Bush doesn't request her resignation--well, that's yet another reason to give him a pink slip.

Insider Information

From Bad Attitudes, any number of things you may or may not want to know about this country's Senators and Representatives--at least according to aides, staffers, and other associated wonks.

On the non-shocking side: Rick Santorum isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, Ted Kennedy and John Breaux topped the "No Altar Boy" category on the Senate side, and Katherine Harris got high marks for low IQ on the House side.

Mary Landrieu made the list twice--ranking second in both the "Just Plain Nice" category and the Senate Swimsuit Competition...

But how did Mary Bono edge Stephanie Herseth in the House version?
Don't Believe the Hype

Despite the initial success of "US and Iraqi troops retaking Samarra, I don't think celebrations are truly in order there. As Juan Cole noted last Friday, attacking guerillas in Samarra also means assaulting the city. Unfortunately, most residents are civilians, not combatants, and those who couldn't flee were subject to the random violence that defines "the fog of war."

On the other hand, the US finally DID apply overwhelming numbers--a combined force of 5,000 US and Iraqi soldiers participated in the attack against several hundred insurgents (Cole describes them as mostly local youth gangs, although some have lately taken to wearing the colors of Monotheism and Holy War). But we are still chronically short of boots on the ground, and the fact that a few hundred guerillas could even take Samarra in the first place is indicative of the problems the US still faces.

The US claims 125 enemy were killed in the assault, but this number appears to include at least some noncombatant civilians. Also, many guerrillas simply disappeared--I think there's little doubt they've either gone elsewhere to strike at us, or will wait us out.

The 2,000 Iraqis participating in the attack appear to be the largest contingent of local forces used to date. The Times article says little about what they actually did, though.

I'm not yet ready to buy into the hype surrounding the new Iraqi army for a lot of reasons. To begin, you have the obvious lies, like the ones Bush told at Thursday's debate. TalkingPointsMemo pokes a monster-truck sized hole in the claim that 100,000 Iraqi troops have been trained, while William S. Lind offers some perspective on the nature of what amounts to a contingent of mercenaries.

Which is why it will be interesting to watch as the Iraqi forces are given control of Samarra.