An Online Magazine in the Reality-Based Community.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

I almost don't want to waste bandwidth talking about Michael Savage, but this homophobe is why Bush needs to lose. Read this crap, which aired on his Savage Nation broadcast (credit mediamatters.org):
SAVAGE: You know something; I'm voting for Bush, I just made up my mind. There's nothing in this for me. I'm a white male, I'm a white, male, married heterosexual -- I don't want the Democrats. Everywhere I turn, there's another hot coal in my eye. For example, today's DNC calendar of public events included lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender meeting, the disability meeting, the ethnic meeting, the American Indian meeting, the Asian/Pacific Islander meeting, the Hispanic meeting, and the African American meeting -- God bless 'em, they're entitled to their meeting, I'm entitled to my vote, they're not my party, end of story. And that's it. I'm not voting for a party of ethnic minorities and women and immigrants.


I love it. A dying woman in FL asked that instead of flowers or charitable contributions, that people make sure Bush is defeated in Nov.
[Joan] Abbey, who was a lifelong Democrat, died Monday -- coincidentally on the first day of the Democratic National Convention.

...Abbey was buried the day after the Democratic convention ended. Her unusual death notice in the Miami Herald said: "You can honor Joan's values by voting against George Bush and contributing to a liberal or Democratic cause."


Please tell me how requesting the race of a photographer going to a GOP campaign event isn't offensive and wrong? Better yet, ask Dick Cheney.
President Bush's re-election campaign insisted on knowing the race of an Arizona Daily Star journalist assigned to photograph Vice President Dick Cheney.

The [Arizona Daily] Star refused to provide the information.

Cheney is scheduled to appear at a rally this afternoon at the Pima County Fairgrounds.

A rally organizer for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign asked Teri Hayt, the Star's managing editor, to disclose the journalist's race on Friday. After Hayt refused, the organizer called back and said the journalist probably would be allowed to photograph the vice president.

The claim was that the information was needed "for security purposes." BS.


Prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. Haven't heard much about it lately, eh? Rolling Stone reports that the Pentagon is stalling on several investigations. It's no wonder why -- the Bushies wouldn't want you to hear about this:
The new classified military documents offer a chilling picture of what happened at Abu Ghraib -- including detailed reports that U.S. troops and translators sodomized and raped Iraqi prisoners. The secret files -- 106 'annexes' that the Defense Department withheld from the Taguba report last spring -- include nearly 6,000 pages of internal Army memos and e-mails, reports on prison riots and escapes, and sworn statements by soldiers, officers, private contractors and detainees. The files depict a prison in complete chaos. Prisoners were fed bug-infested food and forced to live in squalid conditions; detainees and U.S. soldiers alike were killed and wounded in nightly mortar attacks; and loyalists of Saddam Hussein served as guards in the facility, apparently smuggling weapons to prisoners inside.


The horse is out of the barn... CNN reports a former Air Force chief of staff and one-time "Veteran for Bush" said Saturday that America's foreign relations for the first three years of President Bush's term have been "a national disaster" but that the president's Democratic rival was "up to the task" of rebuilding.


When you cannot run from your own economic projections, it's bad. This year's federal deficit will soar to a record $445 billion. And a quote on the obvious:
The shortfall will be the third consecutive - and ever-growing - deficit under Bush, following four consecutive annual surpluses under President Clinton. Democrats said the turnabout underscored the damage done by Bush's tax cuts and his poor stewardship of the economy, and criticized the White House praise for the report.

I guess I'm trying to figure out what there is to praise.


The Pope is lashing out against feminism again. You'd think the man had enough to worry about -- like going bankrupt from all the lawsuits from the priest molestation cases around the world.
Modern feminism's fight for power and gender equality is undermining the traditional concept of family and creating a climate where gay marriages are seen as acceptable, the Vatican says.

...This has "inspired ideologies which, for example, call into question the family in its natural two-parent structure of mother and father, and make homosexuality and heterosexuality virtually equivalent, in a new model of polymorphous sexuality," it says.


Great news in the latest Zogby poll. Bush support is slipping badly "The most recent Zogby poll shows deeper trouble for President George W. Bush beyond just the horserace. Mr. Bush has fallen in key areas while Senator John Kerry has shored up numerous constituencies in his base. The Bush team?s attempted outreach to base Democratic and swing constituency has shown to be a failure thus far, limiting his potential growth in the electorate."

A breakdown (credit Atrios):

The ugly details-

Among Hispanic Voters:
Kerry 69%
Bush 19%

Among Southern Voters:
Kerry 48%
Bush 46%

Viewed Favorably in the South:
Kerry 55%
Bush 55%

Approve of Bush's Job Performance in the South: 44%

US Headed in the Right Direction in the South: 43%

Among Young Voters (18-29) :
Kerry 53%
Bush 33%

Among Single Voters:
Kerry 69%
Bush 19%

In the Red States:
Kerry 46%
Bush 48%

In the Blue States:
Kerry 50%
Bush 38%

Among People Who Did Not Vote in 2000:
Kerry 50%
Bush 25%



The president wants to say he believes in freedom and the democratic way, but apparently that doesn't include public displays of dissent. You canot attend a cmapaign rally unless you support the GOP ticket. Check this BS out.
Some would-be spectators hoping to attend Vice President Dick Cheney's rally in Rio Rancho this weekend walked out of a Republican campaign office miffed and ticketless Thursday after getting this news:
Unless you sign an endorsement for President George W. Bush, you're not getting any passes.
The Albuquerque Bush-Cheney Victory office in charge of doling out the tickets to Saturday's event was requiring the endorsement forms from people it could not verify as supporters.


The campaign claims this is necessary because of a "known Democrat operative group" was intending to try to crash Saturday's campaign rally. Come on, what are they scared of? People can protest, no?

Apparently these organizers cannot spell either:
...An endorsement form provided to the Journal by Random says: "I, (full name) ... do herby (sic) endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States." It later adds that, "In signing the above endorsement you are consenting to use and release of your name by Bush-Cheney as an endorser of President Bush."

Just so you know, Kerry-Edwards opens their campaign stops to both protesters and supporters.


You know, I was wondering what Bush's plan was for those workers unhappy with the fact that their jobs are being downsized and that the only jobs being created in his recovery are low-wage, crap jobs. It's easy, says assistant to the campaign Susan Sheybani -- take some Prozac.


Friday, July 30, 2004

The Washinton Blade reports that "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" continues to bite the military in the butt with 6200 discharges since 1998. To add insult to injury, as they are reactivating 68-year-old doctors for service, the Pentagon doesn't see a need for curtailing anti-gay harassment.
in 1999 the Department of Defense Inspector General surveyed 72,000 troops in an attempt to assess anti-gay sentiment in the military. Eighty percent of respondents said they heard anti-gay remarks during the past year, 37 percent had witnessed or experienced anti-gay harassment and 9 percent reported being either the victims or witnesses to anti-gay physical assaults.


Nope, no policy change needed.


Confirmation that Bush was AWOL is at the Raw Story's site.
Federal code unearthed by RAW STORY finally lays to rest questions of whether President George W. Bush was absent without leave during the time he served in the Texas Air National Guard.

The research, conducted by Paul Lukasiak over the past four months, proves that Bush was absent without leave under the law.

His superior officers could not have approved, nor could they have ignored, five straight months of missed training sessions between May and September of 1972.

According to the 1972 edition of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Section 886, Article 86,"Absence Without Leave, subparagraph three, any member of the armed forces is considered AWOL if he, without authority, “absents himself or remains from his unit, organization, at which he is required to be at the time prescribed.”

Bush’s superiors could not have had the authority to absent him because the Code of Federal Regulations specifically defines when the Secretary of Defense cannot make exceptions.

It states unequivocally than an officer cannot miss more than 10 percent of training sessions without being excused. More importantly, it states that absences can only be excused "where … the training is made up by performance of equivalent drills or training periods – all other occasions are considered unexcused absences."

This needs to go national. Where is the mainstream media on this?


Tom Ridge says he plans to retire. He might as well, he isn't doing anything to make us safer.


It's a definitely confirmed that bible-beating stand-up comedian Jerry Falwell is going to give the invocation at the GOP convention. While you await this due to be entertaining event, take a look at some of the public gems the man has uttered...credit Patriotboy.

Also, it looks like the IRS has been alerted to Falwell's mixing of church and state as he is using his ministry to endorse Bush. Thank the Americans United for Separation of Church and State for being a watchdog on his rear end.


Kerry's speech, though it had strong -- if rambling -- content, was delivered in such an awkward way, you had to wonder what he was thinking. There was lots of positive showmanship -- Max Cleland, his Navy buddies, etc., but in his own speech he had absolutely no rhythm with the audience response. It showed you how Clinton was a master at public speaking; he was in sync with the audience, knowing the spaces to pause and absorb the crowd response. Kerry kept stepping all over applause and aborted ovations from the crowd, verbally wrestling them rushing through each paragraph of the speech as if there was a stopwatch going.

Of course, the pundits were all saying there was a stopwatch -- that the plan was to make sure Kerry stayed within the prime-time window for viewers, but that is a lame-ass excuse for that delivery. I'm sure no network would have cut him off, so he looked fairly stupid trying to rush through what is supposed to be the climactic event of the convention. The mood was almost spoiled as he tried to talk over the revved-up audience. It made him look impatient, irritated and distracted from the strength of the content itself. And the content was considerable; I did think it felt patched together, an attempt to hit as many topical notes as possible.

William Saletan @ Slate wrote an interesting piece that captured the essence of Kerry's points scored at the expense of the Bush admin.
First Kerry released the outrage at America's disrepute around the world. Recalling his boyhood days in West Berlin, he said, "I saw the gratitude of people toward the United States. … I am determined now to restore that pride to all who look to America."

Explosion of applause.

He released the outrage at the debunked and shifting rationales for the Iraq war. America must be "true to our ideals," he said. "And that starts by telling the truth to the American people."

Explosion.

He released the outrage at abuses of executive power. "I will have a vice president who will not conduct secret meetings with polluters to write our environmental laws," he said. "And I will appoint an attorney general who will uphold the Constitution.'

Explosion.

He released the outrage at corporate scandal. "Next January," he said, "Americans will be proud to have a fighter for the middle class to succeed Dick Cheney as vice president."

Explosion.

You get the idea. But damn, after the electricity generated by Obama, Clinton and Edwards, Kerry's delivery was disappointingly stolid.


Thursday, July 29, 2004

Just saw blurb on Andrew Sullivan's blog. Not to be believed -- well, actually, it is Alabama -- that said using sex toys isn't a private concern. This ludicrous ruling is part of the earlier handiwork of then-Alabama Attorney General William H. Pryor (Bush just elevated this numnut to the 11th Circuit):
Americans do not have a fundamental right to sexual privacy, a 2-1 decision of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said on Wednesday.

The split panel upheld an Alabama law -- nearly identical to one in Georgia -- that made the sale of sex toys a crime punishable by up to a year in prison.





Edwards made a great case for the ticket. Also, his wife Elizabeth is a peach, extremely charming and telegenic in the sense that she looks, speaks and emotes like a next-door neighbor. This can only help them, since Kerry and his wife project patrician wealth. You have to marvel that the Edwards look like a solid couple, with kids to match. Makes the GOP ticket look elderly and feeble.


Wednesday, July 28, 2004

More on Barack Obama's big splash at the convention last night. And a few tidbits about the guy are here.
1. He has a remarkable bio - one that prompted the Democrat's 2000 keynote speaker, Harold Ford Jr., to call him "an American story."

His father was a Kenyan - also named Barack Obama - who was studying economics in Hawaii and later left for Harvard and then his home country, never to return. His mother was an 18-year-old white woman from Kansas. Her second husband was an Indonesian oil manager, so Obama spent part of his youth in Jakarta.

His family struggled, but Obama went to Hawaii's top prep school, then Columbia and Harvard Law School, where he was the first African-American to edit the law review.

2. His first name means "blessing" in Swahili. On the campaign trail, he wins voters over by joking about his unusual name and says that it rhymes with "Yo Mama" - although he steers away from its rhyme to a certain Middle Eastern terrorist.

3. He declared that Iraq didn't have ties to al-Qaida or weapons of mass destruction - back in 2002. The same autumn that candidates John Kerry and John Edwards were voting to authorize President Bush to go to war, Obama was speaking at anti-war rallies.

"I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars," he said two years ago.

4. He can be candid about his past. In 1995, he published his autobiography, "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance," and admitted that as a teenager he experimented not only with marijuana but with cocaine.

"I guess you'd have to say I wasn't a politician when I wrote the book," he told the New Yorker. "I wanted to show how and why some kids, maybe especially young black men, flirt with danger and self-destruction."

5. He's very supportive of Bill Cosby's recent controversial comments about African-American teenagers, their parents, and black popular culture.

"I understand the basic premise that Bill Cosby was talking about, and I think he's right about it," Obama said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "There's got to be an element of individual responsibility and communal responsibility for the uplift of the people in inner-city communities."

6. When asked, he says he considers himself an African-American. "The reason that I've always been comfortable with that description is not a denial of my mother's side of the family," Obama told the New York Times. "Rather, it's just a belief that the term African-American is by definition a hybrid term. African-Americans are a hybrid people. We're mingled with African culture and Native American culture and European culture."

He added later: "If I was arrested for armed robbery and my mug shot was on the television screen, people wouldn't be debating if I was African-American or not. I'd be a black man going to jail. Now if that's true when bad things are happening, there's no reason why I shouldn't be proud of being a black man when good things are happening, too."

7. He's unapologetically liberal. After law school, Obama shunned white-shoe law firms and worked as a community organizer in a poverty-stricken Chicago neighborhood.

As a state lawmaker, he pushed for death-penalty reforms and an end to racial profiling. He also pushed for health-care coverage for children.

8. He's not only a good candidate, but a lucky one. The man he was supposed to run against, Republican Jack Ryan, dropped out recently when unsealed divorce papers said he had dragged his wife, TV actress Jeri Lynn Ryan, to sex clubs. Possible replacement candidates, like former Chicago Bears football coach Mike Ditka, have shied away from taking on Obama.

If he wins in November, Obama will become only the second black Democratic senator, after Carol Moseley Braun, also of Illinois. Massachusetts elected a black Republican, Edward Brooke, in the 1960s and '70s.

9. He's ready for prime time, but apparently not on the major broadcast networks. ABC, NBC and CBS, which used to offer wall-to-wall convention coverage, didn't televise the convention at all Tuesday night.

When Obama took the stage around 10 p.m., the networks were airing shows like "Last Comic Standing" and "Navy NCIS." But you could catch the speech on the major cable news channels or C-SPAN.

10. He really could end up in the White House. Why not? He's not only brilliant and a good public speaker but has movie-star good looks and a great story to tell. He's a bit to the political left, but some pundits already see Obama drifting to the center.



Bush was AWOL. John Byrne of The Raw Story has an exclusive on how Bush never made up five months of National Guard Service:
Instead of dispelling claims that President George W. Bush was absent without leave (AWOL), a close inspection of the payroll records released by the White House actually show that the President never made up five months of missed Air Force National Guard service in 1972 and 1973, RAW STORY can reveal."


The site includes an image of the paperwork documenting the variance.


Please tell me how the economy is recovering, President Bush, when we have oil at $43 a barrel? Makes me want a hybrid car. [I'm waiting for a electric/gas Subaru Outback]


Yes, it's definitely a safer world -- Iraq suicide blast kills 51. MIssion accomplished.


Teresa Heinz-Kerry gave an incredibly boring speech, sorry to say. I guess it's more about the fact that potential First Ladies (hopefully one day it will be a First Spouse, meaning a guy) always have to deal with the oddities of trying to define themselves, even though they're not on the ballot. They're under no obligation to hold the same political stances as their husband, so it's not clear they need to state their positions -- but they also have to try to define their husband.

In any case, you're left with a lot of standard, supportive pablum. Canned goo, as it were. When it's that late at night, she needed to be more inspiring if she's going to occupy that much air time.

***

I missed Howard Dean's speech, so I have no idea how he came off. Reading the transcript, I wasn't impressed.


Barack Obama, the currently unopposed senatorial candidate from IL,  really blew away the rest of the speakers at the convention last night with this speech. The child of a Kenyan father and mother from Kansas, he is truly part of the ethnic mosaic that is America. And, thankfully, he has an outlook totally refreshing and devoid of the tired, victim-based politics of the left:
Now don’t get me wrong. The people I meet — in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks — they don’t expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead — and they want to.

Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don’t want their tax money wasted, by a welfare agency or by the Pentagon.

Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach our kids to learn — they know that parents have to teach, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. They know those things.

People don’t expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all.


And he has absolutely the right take on why our troops (and their families) have been misled, and under supported while in the face of danger:
You know, a while back, I met a young man named Shamus [Seamus?] in a V.F.W. Hall in East Moline, Ill.. He was a good-looking kid, six two, six three, clear eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he’d joined the Marines, and was heading to Iraq the following week. And as I listened to him explain why he’d enlisted, the absolute faith he had in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all that any of us might hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Shamus as well as he is serving us?

I thought of the 900 men and women — sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who won’t be returning to their own hometowns. I thought of the families I’ve met who were struggling to get by without a loved one’s full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were Reservists.

When we send our young men and women into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they’re going, to care for their families while they’re gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.

Now let me be clear. Let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued — and they must be defeated. John Kerry knows this.
This guy is one to watch. The GOP should be thinking hard about what their priorities are in terms of finding new talent for their future, because if they stay on the fundamentalist recruiting path, they are doomed. Obama will eat them for lunch.



Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Ron Reagan, Jr. will be speaking tonight at the convention. He's clearly no Bush supporter, but it still has to make them itchy over at GOP HQ. Read these stinging excepts from a 2003 Salon interview:
Reagan says his family feels particularly alienated from the Republican Party over its opposition to embryonic stem cell research, which could have significant benefit for Alzheimer patients like his father. 'Now ignorance is one thing, ignorance can be cured. But many of the Republican leaders opposing this research know better, people like [Senate Majority Leader] Bill Frist, who's a doctor, for God's sake. People like him are blocking it to pander to the 20 percent of their base who are mouth-breathers. And that's unconscionable -- there are lives at stake here. Stem cell research can revolutionize medicine, more than anything since antibiotics.'

Reagan, who says the label 'progressive' would fit him, does not belong to a political party. 'I'm certainly not a Republican; I couldn't belong to any party that had leaders like Tom DeLay. And the Democrats are too busy trying to out-Republican the Republicans.'

and more:

"The Bush people have no right to speak for my father, particularly because of the position he's in now," he said during a recent interview with Salon. "Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the '80s. But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father's -- these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive, and just plain corrupt. I don't trust these people."

"The big elephant sitting in the corner is that George W. Bush is simply unqualified for the job... What's his accomplishment? That he's no longer an obnoxious drunk?"

"Sure, he wasn't a technocrat like Clinton. But my father was a man -- that's the difference between him and Bush. To paraphrase Jack Palance, my father crapped bigger ones than George Bush."

"Nine-11 gave the Bush people carte blanche to carry out their extreme agenda -- and they didn't hesitate for a moment to use it. I mean, by 9/12 Rumsfeld was saying, 'Let's hit Iraq.' They've used the war on terror to justify everything from tax cuts to Alaska oil drilling."

"And they told us, 'Don't worry about W. not knowing anything, good old Dick Cheney will be his minder.' Dick Cheney? And this was going to be compassionate conservatism? Dick Cheney is to the right of Genghis Khan, he wants to drill in your backyard, he wants to deny black people their rights --it was all there in his voting record for us to see. What were we, rubes?"



Nancy won't show, hahahahahaha. Apparently she won't be speaking at the GOP convention. That's here.:
GOP officials don't seem too bothered by the fact that presidential son Ron Reagan will address the Democratic convention tonight. They're clearly more troubled, however, by the fact that Reagan's mother, Nancy, apparently won't be speaking at theirs. It's no secret that Mrs. Reagan is dismayed by George W. Bush's restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, which holds enormous promise for future disease cures. Researchers admit the near-term potential of stem cells for Alzheimer's patients like Ronald Reagan is quite limited, but Mrs. Reagan doesn't seem to care: 'I do not expect her at our convention,' Republican chairman Ed Gillespie admitted in a press briefing here this morning.


Here's a scoop from AmericaBlog...Jerry Falwell to give invocation on opening night of GOP convention. This is just amazing. Bush and Co. have decided to throw caution to the wind in the hope of retaining the moderate crowd with this pick. What is scary is that this means the GOP has solidified its public embrace of the evangelical right. Just sickening, though it may make for some serious fun watching this nonsense -- if I can stand to watch the hatred spew.


Hit Bits from Clinton:
At home, the president and the Republican Congress have made equally fateful choices, which they also deeply believe in.

For the first time when America was in a war footing in our whole history, they gave two huge tax cuts, nearly half of which went to the top 1 percent of us.

Now, I'm in that group for the first time in my life.

And you might remember that when I was in office, on occasion, the Republicans were kind of mean to me.

But as soon as I got out and made money, I became part of the most important group in the world to them. It was amazing. I never thought I'd be so well cared for by the president and the Republicans in Congress.

I almost sent them a thank you note for my tax cuts, until I realized that the rest of you were paying the bill for it. And then I thought better of it.

Now look at the choices they made, choices they believed in. They chose to protect my tax cut at all costs while withholding promised funding to the Leave No Child Behind Act, leaving 2.1 million children behind.

They chose to protect my tax cut, while cutting 140,000 unemployed workers out of their job training programs, 100,000 working families out of their child care assistance, and worst of all, while cutting 300,000 poor children out of their after-school programs, when we know it keeps them off the streets, out of trouble, in school, learning, going to college and having a good life.

They chose -- they chose to protect my tax cuts while dramatically raising the out-of-pocket costs of health care to our veterans and while weakening or reversing very important environmental measures that Al Gore and I put into place, everything from clean air to the protection of our forests.

Now, in this time, everyone in America had to sacrifice except the wealthiest Americans. And most of us, almost all of us, from Republicans to independents and Democrats, we wanted to be asked to do our part, too. But all they asked us to do was to expend the energy necessary to open the envelopes containing our tax cuts.

Now, if you like these choices and you agree with them, you should vote to return them to the White House and the Congress. If not, take a look at John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats.


And the unbelievable part about draft dodging...
Now, let me tell you know what I know about John Kerry. I've been seeing all of the Republican ads about him. Let me tell you what I know about him.

During the Vietnam War, many young men, including the current president, the vice president and me, could have gone to Vietnam and didn't. John Kerry came from a privileged background. He could have avoided going too, but instead, he said: Send me.

When they sent those swift boats up the river in Vietnam, and they told them their job was to draw hostile fire, to wave the American flag and bait the enemy to come out and fight, John Kerry said: Send me.

And then, on my watch, when it was time to heal the wounds of war and normalize relations with Vietnam and to demand an accounting of the POWs and MIAs we lost there, John Kerry said: Send me.

Then when we needed someone to push the cause of inner city children struggling to avoid a life of crime, or to bring the benefits of high technology to ordinary Americans, or to clean the environment in a way that created new jobs, or to give small businesses a better chance to make it, John Kerry said: Send me.

So tonight, my friends, I ask you to join me for the next 100 days in telling John Kerry's story and promoting his ideas. Let every person in this hall and like-minded people all across our land say to him what he has always said to America: Send me.


From Carter's speech:
The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of "preemptive" war. With our allies disunited, the world resenting us, and the Middle East ablaze, we need John Kerry to restore life to the global war against terrorism.

In the meantime, the Middle East peace process has come to a screeching halt for the first time since Israel became a nation. All former presidents, Democratic and Republican, have attempted to secure a comprehensive peace for Israel with hope and justice for the Palestinians. The achievements of Camp David a quarter century ago and the more recent progress made by President Bill Clinton are now in peril.


And...

You can't be a war president one day and claim to be a peace president the next, depending on the latest political polls. When our national security requires military action, John Kerry has already proven in Vietnam that he will not hesitate to act. And as a proven defender of our national security, John Kerry will strengthen the global alliance against terrorism while avoiding unnecessary wars.

Ultimately, the issue is whether America will provide global leadership that springs from the unity and integrity of the American people or whether extremist doctrines and the manipulation of truth will define America's role in the world.



I located Gore's speech at The Blue Lemur. Here are two of my favorite points:
Friends, fellow Democrats, fellow Americans: I’ll be candid with you. I had hoped to be back here this week under different circumstances, running for re-election.

But you know the old saying: you win some, you lose some. And then there’s that little-known third category. I didn’t come here tonight to talk about the past. After all, I don’t want you to think I lie awake at night counting and recounting sheep.

I prefer to focus on the future because I know from my own experience that America is a land of opportunity, where every little boy and girl has a chance to grow up and win the popular vote.



Later...

The first lesson is this: take it from me – every vote counts.

In our Democracy, every vote has power. And never forget: that power is yours. Don’t let anyone take it away or talk you into throwing it away.

And let’s make sure that this time every vote is counted.

Let’s make sure not only that the Supreme Court does not pick the next President, but also that this President is not the one who picks the next Supreme Court.


I didn't catch any of the Dem Convention until the overnight replay on C-Span. I saw the Gore, Carter, Hillary and Bill Clinton speeches. Just my short, lame takes since I was half awake...

Gore: he was actually good! Touched humorously several times on the election 2000 fiasco, and he wasn't robotic (for Gore). He really stirred up the crowd.

Carter: Just an aside -- my he's aged. He was actually the most pointed about Bush's failures, especially in the areas of international policy. He brought up Bush's neglect of the Middle East peace process and the creation of even more hatred of our country with his misguided Iraq invasion.

Hillary: Boring, shrill, unlikeable. God, she needs work if she ever wants to run for prez. And I'm the first to be a booster of women in office, but she's just awful.

Bill: Damn, he was good, the horndog. Better than I ever remember him being while in office. Then again, as an active politician, he wouldn't dare say the kinds of things he said last night. The really earth-shattering moments were when he boosted Kerry's war record by blasting himself as a draft dodger (along with Bush). For someone with an ego as large as his, he didn't let it get in the way of masterful political gamesmanship. The other was when he used the motif of having become rich since retirement and how Bush was protecting Clinton's tax break -- at the expense of our troops, our economy, etc.

Maybe more on this later.



Monday, July 26, 2004

Is this what Bush meant by bringing peace and stability to the region? Time's look at women in today's Iraq suffering the consequences of "honor killing":
Shaima is running for her life. Her delicate face peeks out of a black head scarf as she nervously scans the sidewalk outside a Baghdad cafe. A 24-year-old prostitute, Shaima (not her real name) lives in fear of a man who is determined to kill her. The tormentor is her younger brother, who has been delegated by his parents to murder his sister and reclaim the family's honor. He has already come close. Last month the brother spotted Shaima walking in the sprawling outdoor market in east Baghdad. He lunged at his sister with a knife, but she fled toward a policeman standing nearby.


It makes me sick to think the U.S.'s actions have only exacerbated the situation, and we're doing zero to stop it in the one place we've got the military actually involved. Nothing from Bush about it. Here's another article on the issue...
the number of honor killings is also on the rise. It is horrific enough that in U.S.-run prisons, such as Abu Ghraib, women were raped (and impregnated), sexually abused and humiliated in ways similar to the abuse committed against men. But the worst aspect is that for many people in Iraq, the abuse of a woman in any way (even the mere act of being imprisoned) is seen as an assault on the family?s honor. Traditionally, the response to this has been to cleanse the honor of the family by killing the woman who has been violated (an honor killing). While the practice is officially discouraged, legal consequences are rare. As a result, the actions of our military have effectively condemned many of these women to death.


A blurb on Kerry's position on gay marriage by Geraldine Sealey from Salon's War Room '04 --
John Kerry's position on gay marriage -- he supports civil unions, but stops there -- may not thrill gay and lesbian delegates at the convention, but they know there's little choice but to support him. Consider their alternative. When the singer Carole King spoke to GLBT delegates at a caucus meeting this afternoon at the Democratic convention, they gave her a boisterous round of applause when she said: 'I don't agree with [John Kerry's] stance on gay marriage.' But, showing just how intent they are to get rid of Bush, delegates applauded with almost equal vigor when she said they all had to get over it. 'I think he will eventually come to where we are on it,' King said. 'I want to ask you go a little extra. There's a difference between saying we're supporting him because he's not as bad as the other guy ... This is a good man who has been your advocate for many, many years. Let's do this with enthusiasm.'

For the most part, the GLBT delegates did seem truly energized to support John Kerry. The Democratic platform language contained strong opposition to the amendment banning gay marriage, and called for supporting gay families and protecting gay Americans from hate crimes. King told Salon it didn't bother her that Kerry didn't take that extra step of supporting gay marriage, and she didn't think pro-gay marriage Democrats should pressure him to come to their position. 'John Kerry feels as as he feels,' King said. 'I don't think pushing him should be the objective, we should be pushing America toward change. John Kerry's stand on gay marriage has not stopped him from being an advocate.


You think Blogging isn't big? Here's an article highlighting some of the folks covering the convention. It's a revolution. WSJ: Meet the Bloggers


Here's a choice quote at the Dem convention from loser DL Hughley, homophobe. From Alternet --
To attract a crowd of TV cameras in Boston, celebrities make a big difference. In fact some are suggesting that celebrities have taken over the Democratic Party, and are using up the oxygen of elected officials. This was certainly the case on Sunday, when Comcast sponsored a panel aimed at young people. The event took place at the tony Charles Hotel, which is where the Clintons are staying. The guests included Danny Glover and Ben Affleck, two of the smartest celebrity progressives, along with a somewhat reactionary comedian, D.L. Hughley, who went out of his way to buy into the terrorist fears, and also wanted the audience to be clear that whatever the gays is fighting for, it is not civil rights, and that civil rights are the province of blacks.

Fortunately, Danny Glover fired back. He responded that whoever's rights are being abused, be they gay or black or women, that it is a civil rights issue. Affleck, drawing laughs from the crowd, said that even though he recently decided not to get married, he believed that gay people should have the right if they wanted to."


F9/11 -- why can't these dumbasses figure out it's still a documentary?
I find it amusing that CNN, or anyone for that matter, has to find something other than "documentary" to call F9/11 (shockumentary" or "mockumentary"). The documentary form has never been described as impartial. Every filmmaker has a vision or point of view. Did "Harlan County USA" (Barbara Koppel's 1976 Oscar-winning -- and left leaning -- film about WVA coal miners) ever get called anything other than a documentary? Or William Gazecki's "Waco: Rules of Engagement" (1997), which could be seen as right-leaning?

Moore's film, while it may enrage folks on either end of the political spectrum is still a documentary. If you want to call it propaganda, fine, however, there are no actors in the film, no script. That's a documentary, folks. It's absurd that this even has to be explained to anyone -- let alone CNN.


Some good news about fair-minded voters in Florida on Bush and his anti-gay grandstanding.
A new survey of voters in Florida, the nation's largest swing state, and one of the most important battlegrounds for control of the White House, shows that voters are not rallying to the President's anti-gay campaign.

Only 2 percent of likely Florida voters named same-sex marriage as an important issue in the election, according to a poll for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Florida Times-Union that was released on Sunday.

Bush, who has made a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage a campaign issue, appears to be losing many of the moderate, independent voters of Florida who could make a decisive difference in a close election.

The poll also showed that John Kerry has taken a slight lead in the state.



Costco vs. Walmart and the election. Want to know where to spend your hard earned dollars? Wal-Mart has a lot of issues (unfair pay to women, killing mom-and-pops, pick your battles) to acknowledge with your wallet. The latest is that WM gives more money to the GOP than any other company. Costco''s chief exec is donating money to independent causes that are working to oust Bush. Take a look. Of course, I'm a big Target fan, so I better take a look at where their money is going...


Sunday, July 25, 2004

Daily Kos features a poem that hits the nail on the head about homophobes' lack of understanding of what Gay rights means:
"For The Straight Folks Who Don't Mind Gays But Wish They Weren't So Blatant
By Pat Parker

You know, some people got a lot of nerve. Sometimes I don't believe the things I see and hear.

Have you met the woman who's shocked by two women kissing and, in the same breath, tells you she is pregnant? But gays, shouldn't be so blatant.

Or this straight couple sits next to you in a movie and you can't hear the dialogue because of the sound effects. But gays shouldn't be so blatant.

And the woman in your office spends an entire lunch hour talking about her new bikini drawers and how much her husband likes them. But gays shouldn't be so blatant.

Or the 'hip' chick in your class rattling like a mile a minute, while you're trying to get stoned in the john, about the camping trip she took with her musician boyfriend.

But gays shouldn't be so blatant.

You go into a public bathroom and all over the walls there's John loves Mary, Janice digs Richard, Pepe loves Delores, etc., etc. But gays shouldn't be so blatant.

Or your go to an amusement park and there's a tunnel of love with pictures of straights painted on the front and grinning couples are coming in and out. But gays shouldn't be so blatant.

Fact is, blatant heterosexuals are all over the place. Supermarkets, movies, on your job, in church, in books, on television every day and night, every place--even in gay bars--and they want gay men and woman to go and hide in the closet.

So to you straight folks I say, 'Sure, I'll go if you go too. But, I'm polite so, after you.'"


So, we've heard that Bush is pressuring Pakistan to "produce" Osama bin Ladin before the election; if this article is true -- the government there knows he's receiving treatment at a military hospital. Oh, and Pakistan knew in advance about 9/11...

"Pakistan's intelligence officials knew in advance about the 9/11 attacks, a well-known American analyst has said, based on a ''stunning document'' that he claims was given by a Pakistani source to the 9/11 Commission on the eve of the publication of its report.

The document, from a high-level, but anonymous Pakistani source, also claims that Osama bin Laden has been receiving periodic dialysis in a military hospital in Peshawar, says Arnaud de Borchgrave, editor-at-large of the news agency UPI. "




The NYT has a good article on the "de-closeting" phenomenon. What really gets me about the topic generally is how these hypocritical gays who by day work on Capitol Hill for elected officials working to deny marriage to gay people and by night are part of the gay life, literally out and about.
The outing campaign, as it has been dubbed, has taken on a life of its own. John Aravosis, a political consultant who has encouraged the campaign, said he recently received a call from someone offering to secretly photograph the gay son of a prominent Republican woman. On Friday, The Washington Blade, a gay newspaper which had run articles about Mr. Rogers's Web site, ran an independently reported article detailing the gay life of a Republican political consultant in Florida who was not openly gay in his professional life.

The article defied an unofficial but generally accepted journalistic practice of not disclosing a person's sexuality against his or her wishes. Chris Crain, executive editor of The Washington Blade, said there were heated exchanges among editors and reporters over running the article.

"Some of the people involved in all of this are friends," Mr. Crain said. "But we wouldn't stop to think about whose feelings we were hurting in almost any other area of journalism. And in most cases, these aren't people who are struggling with being gay. These are people who are leading double lives. I don't think it's the obligation of any media to protect double lives."


As a woman of color, I see little difference between this duplicitous behavior by these Hill staffers than I do about light-skinned, "passing" blacks back in the day that would not even acknowledge a black family member on the street because they had crossed over into the white world, seeking acceptance of a better life at the expense of their soul. One can argue "desperate times call for desperate measures", especially with Jim Crow laws in the south and general racism in the north that black people of that time experienced. See Philip Roth's The Human Stain, a fictionalized the life of Anatole Broyard, a reporter for the NYT that was posthumously "outed" as black). At least in that case, the man's motives were only personal, though you could argue that if Broyard had "come out" as black after being successful he would have opened a lot of eyes about race and class.

Also, cranking the clock ahead to today, perceived cultural "passing" into the dominant culture can also be acheived in other ways, political ways. Ways in which you don't have to actually look white, but hold political views or otherwise dispel stereotypes held by the dominant culture about blackness. A good article on this is here.

With these gay traitors though, they fail to see any connection of their political activities and their ability to hurt our community, and ultimately themselves, as you can see from this cluelessness (my emphasis below):
A gay press secretary for a House Republican who refused to be named because his boss asked him not to speak publicly on the marriage debate said that the "barbaric tactics" of gays attacking other gays had reinforced his partisan commitment. He felt the pull most recently, he said, during the emotional June weekend marked by both President Ronald Reagan's funeral and Washington's annual gay pride parade - a parade, he said, that seemed less about pride and more about polarizing politics.

"It put it into focus," said the aide, whose name and telephone number have been posted on Mr. Rogers's Web site. "If there is a spectrum of things that make up who I am, the things that draw me to work for Republicans are more important that anything related to my sexual orientation."




Saturday, July 24, 2004

The AP claims that Kerry Trails Bush in Electoral Votes so far, 193 to 217. The analysis:
The margin of victory will come from:
_TOSSUPS — Bush and Kerry are running even in 11 states with a combined 128 electoral votes. Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan and West Virginia are the toughest battlegrounds. Two other tossups, Pennsylvania and Oregon, could soon move to Kerry's column.

_LEAN KERRY — Maine, Minnesota and Washington (a combined 25 electoral votes) favor Kerry over Bush by a few percentage points. Gore carried them in 2000.

_LEAN BUSH — North Carolina, Colorado, Louisiana, Arizona, Virginia, Arkansas and Missouri (a combined 73 electoral votes) give Bush modest leads. He won all seven in 2000.

All total, 21 states are in play. Some will bounce between "lean" to "tossup" throughout the campaign.


I'm not sure if this is actually the case, as other analyses I've seen see it differently, but it does mean the election is going to be close and there's no excuse this time around for saying "my vote doesn't mean anything."


I am sick of my tax dollars being burned by Bush and the Pentagon. Another $2.6 billion pickpocketed from us and lit afire. See U.S. spending billions on planes unfit for war.

The United States has spent $2.6 billion to purchase 50 troubled planes which do not meet the Air Force’s requirements and cannot be flown in combat zones, the Pentagon reported Friday.

The C-130J transport planes, produced by Lockheed Martin, have never met eight-year old guidelines, The LA Times reported. But eight years later, the Air Force continues to order them.

...The propeller-driven cargo planes are frequently plagued by faulty computer and diagnostic systems and inadequate defense measures, the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General concluded. To date, none of the planes has been cleared for their primary missions of dropping troops and cargo into war zones and flying in conditions requiring the crew to wear night-vision goggles.


And the Pentagon cannot give our troops more body armor and maintain equipment. Now you know why (along with Halliburton contracts flushing the rest of our cash down the proverbial toilet).


This makes my day (from Canada.com/National Post): U.S. President George W. Bush a big winner at World Stupidity Awards.
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?"


Do you know what the Right thinks about the "un-closeting" campaign. Take a look. I'm playing a tiny fiddle after all the hate-filled legislation they are trying to pass to discriminate against me.

The desperation is growing each day as the bible-beaters see Bush floundering in the polls. We're bound to see more measures like this , another bill launched in Congress to "protect" marriage pop up as Bush's numbers and independent support go down. All they've got left are the "true believers", and Dobson and his ilk need for them to turn out in November.

***

And to continue the illness, the Washington Blade reports we've got some self-loathing gays in DC that are STILL supporting Bush. And worse, holding fundraisers for him.



Friday, July 23, 2004

Oh wait, there are those darn records...
The Pentagon on Friday released newly discovered payroll records from President Bush's 1972 service in the Alabama National Guard, though the records shed no new light on the future president's activities during that summer.

A Pentagon official said the earlier contention that the records were destroyed was an "inadvertent oversight."

Like records released earlier by the White House, these computerized payroll records show no indication Bush drilled with the Alabama unit during July, August and September of 1972. Pay records covering all of 1972, released previously, also indicated no guard service for Bush during those three months.

The records do not give any new information about Bush's National Guard training during 1972, when he transferred to the Alabama National Guard unit so he could work on the U.S. Senate campaign of a family friend. The payroll records do not say definitively whether Bush attended training that summer because they are maintained separately from attendance records.


Still looks like he was AWOL to me.


Craig Unger, author of House of Bush, House of Saud, posted on his site for the book about the release of information on those bin Laden family members that were flown out of the country shortly after 9/11. These were the ones that weren't interrogated and "sent out for their safety" according to Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar on Larry King Live. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) released the flight list this week.
For months we’ve known that approximately two dozen members of the bin Laden family were among the 142 passengers on the White House-approved Saudi evacuation, but exactly which members of the family were on the flights? This week, Senator Frank Lautenberg(D-NJ) released the passenger list for the September 19, 2001, Boston to Paris flight, showing who was on the flight for the first time. Two names in particular might be of interest to investigators. The documents show that Khalil Binladin boarded in Orlando. According to the German wire service Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Khalil, who had business interests in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, had won the attention of Brazilian investigators because of his visits to the Minas Gerais capital, Belo Horizonte, which was allegedly a Hezbollah training center. Another passenger, Omar Awad bin Laden, a nephew of Osama’s, lived with his brother Abdullah, who was a key figure in forming the American branch of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth. Federal agents raided WAMY this spring. The FBI has described the group as a “suspected terrorist organization.”



An excellent article on the "uncloseting" phenomenon -- outing "socially open" gay politicos that work for anti-gay efforts is here. The Washington Blade recently outed a staffer working for a homophobic Senate candidate in Florida, Mel Martinez. The staffer used to work for the Christian Coalition in that state! This dude is sick:
In 1997, Dowless, still in his role as director of the state’s Christian Coalition, cheered when the University of Florida rescinded a student spouse ID card that had been given to the partner of a lesbian student. The card gave spouses of students special advantages, such as use of the university’s libraries and recreational facilities.

“Marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman,” Dowless told the Alligator, the student publication.

In 1998, Dowless successfully blocked a move by the state legislature to write the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into the state Constitution. The move would have prohibited discrimination based on a variety of attributes, including gender.

This is a man who was cruising in gay bars in Florida and was later confronted with information by a Blade editor, who was in the bar at the time. The interesting thing about this is that this puts these "family values" politicians who employ gay staff  in a corner. They then have to confirm that the staffer wouldn't be fired for their orientation --  that exposes their high hypocrisy, and so those politicians deserve to be "outed" on that front if they are planning to legislatively restrict my civil rights.


This is another reason why the election is so important. Bush is sending up a ton of right-wing, frightening judicial nominees that are truly backward thinkers like this joker, who would like women back in the kitchen:

WASHINGTON -- Women senators are expressing outrage at a controversial [Bush] judicial nominee who co-authored a 1997 article with his wife in which he suggested biblical passages about wives being subservient to their husbands should be taken literally.

J. Leon Holmes, nominated by President Bush to serve on the federal district court in Arkansas and his wife wrote the article for the Arkansas Catholic Review that reads 'the wife is to subordinate herself to the husband ... the woman is to place herself under the authority of the man.'"



One of my favorite films of all time, The Manchurian Candidate, has been remade and is coming out on 7/30. Generally, I am skeptical of remakes, but upon hearing that Jonathan Demme was directing (he did Silence of the Lambs), I figured that it would be interesting, at the very least. Casting, I knew would be a challenge; updating the screenplay for a this political and social era would be a big hurdle as well.

Fortunately, the casting is smart -- Denzel Washington as the Ben Marko character (played by Old Blue Eyes in the original) is a no-brainer. The coup is Meryl Streep. I cannot wait to see her in the Angela Lansbury role. The latter's performance is seared into my brain, so Streep has big shoes to fill. Another casting choice that really struck me as appropriate is Liev Schreiber, in the Laurence Harvey role. Physically, he truly evokes the latter, and he's a wonderful actor with a mellifluous voice. I'm excited to see this movie. Here are some links to the original 1962 film's synopsis and the remake's official site.


Thursday, July 22, 2004

After losing the bruising fight in the Senate last week to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment, the bible-beating GOPers in the House passed a bill today to prevent Federal Courts from overturning state DOMAs (Defense of Marriage Act). This is clearly unconstitutional. It still has to be debated and pass the Senate in order to be signed into law by Bush. The sheer hatred of the GOP for gays and lesbians has them blinded to our country's history of balance between the judicial and legislative branches. The vote was 233-194.
The bill would strip the Supreme Court and other federal courts of their jurisdiction to rule on challenges to state bans on gay marriages under a provision of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act. That law defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and says states are not compelled to recognize gay marriages that take place in other states.

The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said it could find no precedent for Congress passing a law to limit federal courts from ruling on the constitutionality of another law, although Democrats said opponents of civil rights legislation tried to do the same thing.

The effect of the bill would be to single out gays and lesbians, barring them from going into federal court to seek to have their marriages recognized, several Democrats said. Civil rights groups said the bill is unconstitutional for that reason.

"We face no less than a sign on the courthouse door: 'You may not defend your constitutional rights in this court. You may not seek equal protection here,'" said Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the House's lone declared lesbian. "Today, the 'you' is gay and lesbian citizens. But who would be next?"




Here it is, the 9/11 Summary on how badly the government ^&**ed up.


I love this post at AmericaBlog today (credit John Aravosis). No comment by me is necessary, it hits the nail on the head about our current -- and -- hopefully future leadership...

Edwards Declined to Go Into Hiding on 9/11
While the other guy read "The Pet Goat" and then ran and hid from his family and his country, without a peep, for a good 3 hours...

AP:
Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards was on his way to work at the Capitol when terrorists struck in New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, but he says he declined to join other members of the Senate at a secure location because his family would not be with him.

His wife, Elizabeth, was out shopping. Eldest daughter Cate was at college in New Jersey. Youngest daughter Emma Claire was at school, and son Jack was on a play date.

U.S. Capitol Police were whisking members of Congress to secure locations for their safety.

"I said, 'Well, what about my wife and my kids?'" Edwards told CNN's Larry King in an interview Wednesday, a day before an independent commission investigating the attacks releases its long-awaited report. "And they said, 'Well, they'll stay here. And I said, 'Well, if they're staying here, I'm staying here."



The $60 roll of duct tape. Thank you Halliburton. Please just take my wallet while you're at it. No wonder we're $12 billion in the hole on Bush's Big Iraq Adventure.

Halliburton subsidiary KBR paid inflated fees for cell phone services, bought hundreds of rolls of duct tape for $60 each and obscured the waste by failing to file paperwork properly. In one case, he said, a fellow procurement employee recorded a multimillion-dollar purchase as a $200 order, then dismissed it as a mistake.


At least they're holding hearings on the fraud. But it doesn't look too good when you have representatives like Committee Chairman Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.):
...the so-called whistle-blowers" simply misunderstood the logistical reality of life during wartime. He said he was giving the Democrats a chance "to put up or shut up" on an issue that won't go away.


Oh yes, it gets worse. Kick the gays out of the military. Send troops to Iraq. Issue "stop-loss" orders -- preventing the loss of troops by preventing volunteer soldiers from leaving the service, even after they've fulfilled their obligations. Call up the Individual Ready Reserve and Inactive National Guard. Still not enough? Then do this -- call up next year's recruits:
In what critics say is another sign of increasing stress on the military, the Army has been forced to bring more new recruits immediately into the ranks to meet recruiting goals for 2004, instead of allowing them to defer entry until the next accounting year, which starts in October.

As a result, recruiters will enter the new year without the usual cushion of incoming soldiers, making it that much harder to make their quotas for 2005.

...Army officials say that they have been unable to defer as many enlistments as in the past because 4,500 more recruits were needed at midyear to help meet a temporary increase of 30,000 soldiers in the active duty force, which is to grow to 512,000 by 2006. The increases are largely driven by the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In an interview on Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, the Army's top personnel officer, said that the Army would use incentives like cash bonuses, educational benefits and choice base assignments to help meet its overall recruiting and re-enlistment goals next year, as it has in almost every year when it started with so few advance recruits. But he acknowledged that factors including the American casualties in Iraq and the improving job market made filling the ranks a challenge.

"I worry about this every single day - recruiting and retention," said General Hagenbeck, who commanded forces in Afghanistan in his previous assignment. "We are recruiting a volunteer force during a time of war. We've never done that before."




Wednesday, July 21, 2004

An actual quote, no lie: Bush -- 'I Want to Be the Peace President'. Feel the flop sweat of desperation on the stump:

"The enemy declared war on us," he told a re-election rally. "Nobody wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president."

Bush has called himself a "war president" in leading the United States in a battle against terrorism brought about by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America.

"I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind," he said in February.

Despite a surge in attacks in Iraq and U.S. warnings that al Qaeda is plotting another major strike, Bush said U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had already made America safer, and that his re-election would let him finish the job.

"For a while we were marching to war. Now we're marching to peace. ... America is a safer place. Four more years and America will be safe and the world will be more peaceful," Bush said.





Guess how much this nonsense in Iraq has cost? No wait, that's what the President and his henchmen did, since they were only off by $12.3 Billion.


The troop shortage highlights how the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is coming home to roost.
So urgent is the Army's need for more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan that it recently summoned 5,600 ex-active duty soldiers back into uniform. But the need might not have been so great if the Army hadn't cashiered 6,300 troops for being gay over the past six years. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) in Washington released data last week showing that of the gay troops removed, 3,100 held jobs that are currently in demand. Those kicked out included truck drivers, medics, radio operators and combat engineers — the same kinds of soldiers the Pentagon is now seeking.

OK, the government cannot have it both ways. I say all the closeted gays in the military should come out now...sounds like you won't get discharged any time soon. This is the nightmare scenario for the government that is going to force a change in policy. Getting rid of qualified, dedicated people for no good reason is asinine when you have people out there deployed for over a year at a time with no end in sight.


The Washington Post has a story today on the unrest in National Guard and Reserve families and that this formerly-solid Bush demographic is slipping away:
The people most likely to shift their support from Bush to Kerry are in the reserves and National Guard, says David Segal, a professor at the University of Maryland. 'In the past the antiwar movement was rooted in college campuses,' he says. 'Now the major movement against the war is in reserve families.'
Reservists, used to serving a weekend a month, are being called up for a year at a time, over and over. They leave homes to serve in jobs for which they feel unprepared, attached to commanders and units they don't know. 'We are the stepchildren, here to be abused,' says Michael Ray Gibbins, eating his lunch at Fort Stewart with two buddies from the Texas National Guard at the end of a day that started at 3 a.m.


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

New speakers have been added to to the GOP convention -- Sam Brownback and Rick Santorum -- architects of FMA. PLEASE, PLEASE let them get to speak in primetime. That will push the undecideds over the edge to the Dems. Also, they've got Elizabeth Dole on the program (check out the form response we got when writing to her about FMA).


Bush and Rummy are going down. You know that the military is desperate for bodies when they are recalling 68-year-olds to send to Iraq.


Is this stupid or what? Linda Ronstadt was booted from the Aladdin Casino in Vegas for dedicating a song to Michael Moore and F9/11. They banned her from future performances. So, Michael Moore lashed into the owner from his web site.

An excerpt:

For you to throw Linda Ronstadt off the premises because she dared to say a few words in support of me and my film, is simply stupid and Un-American. Frankly, I have never heard of such a thing happening. I read that you wouldn't even let her go back up to her room at your hotel! Are you crazy? For crying out loud, it was a song DEDICATION! To "Desperado!" Every American loves that song! Sure, some people didn't like the dedication, and that's their right. But neither they nor you have the right to remove her from your building when all she did was exercise her AMERICAN right to speak her mind.


We may have been the state that elected Jesse Helms over and over, but our Tar Heel queer community recently rose up to defeat the politics of discrimination [this time around]. From HRC:

ATTEMPT TO PUT DISCRIMINATION IN NORTH CAROLINA CONSTITUTION FAILS
'No constitution should be used to discriminate,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.

WASHINGTON — An attempt to amend the North Carolina Constitution to prohibit marriage between same-sex couples — as well as civil unions and domestic partnerships — failed when the Legislature adjourned July 18. 'No constitution should be used to discriminate,' said Human Rights Campaign President Cheryl Jacques.   'Every North Carolinian deserves to have the same rights and freedoms under their constitution.' The statewide gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights group, Equality North Carolina, worked arduously to defeat the measure. HRC's North Carolina Steering Committee worked closely with the group in opposition to the discriminatory amendment and granted Equality NC $10,000 to help pay for a lobbyist to work against the bill. "Equality NC appreciates the strong support we received from the Human Rights Campaign field staff and the local steering committee, which helped make this success possible," said Ian Palmquist, Equality North Carolina's executive director of programs. "This victory sends a message that our community can effectively mobilize to stop discriminatory state constitutional amendments."




Monday, July 19, 2004

Hysterical Flash animation on the dumbass right wing talkshow hosts from mediamatters.org: Right Wing Squares


The president is really out of it when he says that "the American People are safer" because of his war on terrorism, especially regarding "NU-CU-LAR" proliferation, lol. He needs a speech therapist.
See Slate's:
Bush's Foreign Fantasy
The president thinks the world is safer than it was three years ago. Which world is he living in?
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Friday, July 16, 2004, at 2:40 PM PT

'Safer': a slippery concept
Earlier this week, at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, home of the Y-12 nuclear-weapons facility, in Tennessee, President Bush gave one of his best-written speeches. This was his 'America is safer' speech, and we will no doubt hear variations on it many times in the next four months. In it, he lists the world's hot spots, one by one (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan), contrasts what each was like three years ago with what it's like now, and concludes each success story with the refrain, 'and the American people are safer.' After the last item on the checklist, he expands the viewfinder, exclaiming, 'and America and the world are safer.'"



Saturday, July 17, 2004

You must see this Bush/Kerry parody at JibJab.com


Images from September 11, 2001 are impossible to forget -- the video of clouds of god-knows-what-kind-of-hazardous particles rolling down NYC streets. Hundreds of EMS/NYPD/FDNY workers and numerous lay people were heroes, braving the acrid smoke and debris. Do you remember EPA's Christine Todd Whitman saying how the air wasn't hazardous.? We all knew it was a big lie, but to have the facts of how bad it was and what data was hidden from the public is a disgrace and someone needs to be held accountable. NYP story:
An Environmental Protection Agency memo claims city and federal officials concealed data that showed lower Manhattan air was clouded with asbestos after the World Trade Center collapse.

And officials sat on the alarming information even as they told the public it was safe to return downtown, the internal memo says.

Testing by the city Department of Environmental Protection showed the air downtown had more than double the level of asbestos considered safe for humans, claimed federal EPA environmental scientist Cate Jenkins, who supplied the memo to The Post.

The data, which Jenkins says she culled from state records, appear damning.

On the day after the attack, the memo claims, city test results from the corner of Centre and Chambers streets and from the corner of Spruce and Gold streets showed asbestos concentration at about twice the level considered safe by the EPA.

The city did not release this information to the public, Jenkins says.

The next day, Sept. 13, city tests were "overloaded" with asbestos in the air — so much that the lab could not conclude precise amounts — along Church Street.

Again, the information was withheld, the memo claims.

When the city published the test results for the weeks following 9/11 on its Web site in February 2002, there were 17 instances where the data was either understated or left blank, Jenkins asserts in her report.

"New York City could wiggle out of the [claim of] concealment, because they weren't making any explicit statements about data at the time," Jenkins told The Post. "But the EPA can't wiggle out of this. They said the air was safe at the same time they were coordinating data with the city."

To drive her point home, Jenkins compares statements made by the EPA on the same day test data was showing dangerous levels of asbestos.

On Sept. 18, then-EPA administrator Christie Whitman said the public in lower Manhattan was not being exposed to "excessive levels of asbestos."

That same day, city testing data, some of which was later made public, showed asbestos levels 50 percent higher and more above what her agency considers safe, the memo states.





This article makes you shiver. It's from the Women on Wall Street site and documents one of its writer's experiences on a recent domestic flight. I don't know which is worse, that the terrorists are still planning to take planes or that our government cannot do anything better to protect us than holding useless, non-specific press conferences about remaining vigilant.


Friday, July 16, 2004

What is the price we our paying in Iraq? Take a look. Iraq Coalition Casualties


The insanity of Election 2000 threatens to repeat itself. If you recall, it was found that thousands of people, mostly of color, couldn't vote when they showed up at the polls because they mistakenly appeared on a list of ex-felons. From the Reuters story:

In a hearing on the illegal disenfranchisement of alleged felons in Florida, commissioners accused state officials of "extraordinary negligence" in drawing up a list of 48,000 people to be purged from voter rolls, most of them because they may once have committed a crime.


This is ridiculous, but in Jeb Bush's Florida, can we expect anything less...of course not...more:

The list was riddled with inaccuracies, he said, because no one had checked the source data bases to correct errors. For example, it failed to list the alleged felonies those excluded had committed and where and when they were committed.

...The state said each of Florida's 67 counties would now have to find its own way to purge its voter rolls of felons. The commission heard that many counties, especially those controlled by Republicans, would probably use the state list despite its flaws and that court action was likely.


OK. You know the horrors about Abu Ghraib and the abuse of prisoners have died down in the mainstream press. You have to wonder what else Donald Rumsfeld/Cheney/Bush might have been trying to hide from the public. Well, it's even worse than you can imagine. Respected journalist Seymour Hersh has discovered more unspeakable acts:
"Seymour Hersh says the US government has videotapes of boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

'The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking,' the reporter told an ACLU convention last week. Hersh says there was 'a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there, and higher.'

He called the prison scene 'a series of massive crimes, criminal activity by the president and the vice president, by this administration anyway...war crimes.'"

..."The disaffection inside the Pentagon is extremely acute," Hersh says. He tells the story of an officer telling Rumsfeld how bad things are, and Rummy turning to a ranking general yes-man who reassured him that things are just fine. Says Hersh, "The Secretary of Defense is simply incapable of hearing what he doesn’t want to hear."

The audio of Hersh's talk (Credit edcone.com)



This is just rich. You have to go to the site just to see the numnut photo of Bush. Washington Blade Online: "Bush finally says 'G' word -- After nearly four years in office, president finally says 'gay' "


This is also sickening. After all the pontificating by the Republican senators this week on the Senate floor over "letting the American people" decide the fate of gay marriage, we have Congress trying to impose a Defense of Marriage Act on the District of Columbia. This is a city full of queer people, and it has a local government that favors legalization of gay marriage:
"Rep. Jo Ann Davis, whose district includes the cities of Fredericksburg and Williamsburg, dropped her bill into the legislative hopper without any co-sponsors and without releasing a statement elaborating on her reasons for introducing the legislation.

Davis' bill, H.R. 4773, is just one sentence long. It states, "In the District of Columbia, for all legal purposes, 'marriage' means the union of one man and one woman.

...If enacted by Congress, the bill would add D.C. to the list of 38 states governed by a Defense of Marriage Act, or 'DOMA' laws, aimed at banning same-sex marriage within their jurisdictions. Virginia has such a DOMA law while Maryland does not, though Maryland law defines marriage as limited to opposite-sex couples.


The ludricrous Marriage Affirmation Act in Virginia is being challenged by the ACLU, thank goodness. You have to wonder how much more homophobic a legislature can be; they had to know this ban would be challenged. From the Washington Blade Online:

Less than a month after the enactment of the Marriage Affirmation Act, a Virginia law that prohibits recognition of civil unions or other marriage-like contracts between same-sex partners, the ACLU of Virginia has announced it will file a lawsuit challenging the measure.

...Opponents assert the Marriage Affirmation Act could be used to void an array of contracts same-sex couples currently use to protect their rights, including medical care directives, wills, child care arrangements and joint ownership of property — all of which are legal arrangements the ACLU says fall under the rights provided by the U.S. Constitution.

The Virginia House of Delegates passed the measure by a veto-proof two-thirds majority last spring, and it became law July 1 without a signature from Gov. Mark Warner. The governor, a Democrat, favored the measure’s ban on recognition of civil unions but opposed the extra restriction on contracts.




This is shameful. While we've got hundreds of thousands of men and women serving overseas in what is at the very least, a questionable deployment in Iraq, Bush has slashed funds for military families and veterans. Note this in an article from Intervention Magazine:


In the spring of 2003, shortly after the start of the war in Iraq, the state of affairs on veterans funding in the Republican controlled House was by all accounts surprisingly hostile to veterans. The Bush administration sent to the House its proposal for cutting $844 million from veterans’ health care from the 2004 budget. Over a 10-year period the cuts would total approximately $10 billion. When the proposal reached the House Budget Committee, all 18 Democrats opposed the cuts, and they proposed an amendment to restore the $844 million and add another billion for VA discretionary health care. Led by their chairman, Jim Nussle of Iowa, Republicans on the committee, in an almost perfect party-line vote, 22-19, rejected the amendment and proceeded with the Bush proposal.


Ostensibly, this would be a voting bloc that the "war president" would want to count as a sure thing, but he's apparently so hard headed (or stupid or both) he cannot even see the wisdom of bolstering this "base" along with her friends "the haves and the have-mores".


I'm watching CSPAN this AM, the Washington Journal program hosted by Brian Lamb (who's unbelievably unflappable). It's amazing how stupid the callers are. This is scary, considering most CSPAN viewers are supposedly likely voters.

Almost no one could understand the concept of the choice the presidential candidates have to make about taking public/private funds. The issue Lamb put before them was whether Kerry should take $75M of public funds after the convention, or gamble on raising unlimited private funds. The gamble is that the GOP convention, which is 5 weeks later than the Dems, means that Bush has the advantage of knowing Kerry's choice ahead of time. It's not much of a gamble for Bush, of course, since he's likely to go the private route, since we all know he can raise tons more than $75M considering his business contacts. Hell, he's actually taking public funds if he gets anything from Halliburton, which has its hands deep in the taxpayers pocket...

Anyway, the callers on CSPAN just couldn't grasp the choice Kerry has, seeming to think that there would be an ability to "level the playing field" for both candidates or force both sides to spend an equal amount of money. This was after repeated explanations by Lamb in a variety of ways.

The average voting American really is dumb, sad to say, no matter which party they are affiliated with. Or to be charitable, thay are blissfully uninformed and proud of it.


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Ha ha ha ha...
The FMA debate has exploded in the right-wing whack job GOP's face. The vote was 48-50, nowhere near the 60 that was needed to move the amendment debate forward.

Even as it blew up, Rick Santorum is still breathlessly desperate:

"I would argue that the future of our country hangs in the balance because the future of marriage hangs in the balance," said Sen. Rick Santorum, a leader in the fight to approve the measure. "Isn't that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?"

If only my marriage had the power to miraculously catch Osama for the cause of homeland security.


Harold Meyerson of the WP today: has it right:

"The Senate Republicans still can't pass a budget, and the 26 judicial nominees on whom both parties have signed off remain unconfirmed. But as the Republican leaders on Capitol Hill and in the White House see it, the chief duty of Congress is to frighten the religious right to the polls in November. And so we have the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages, which the Senate is to vote on today. "


and later in the piece...

For, as the right tells the tale, what gay-marriage advocates are seeking is not simply the right to have the state sanction such marriages but the right to close down churches that don't. According to Gary Bauer, "churches will be pressured to either abandon the Scriptures or lose their tax-exempt status if they refuse to 'marry' homosexuals.' " James Dobson's Focus on the Family cautions that "if homosexual activists succeed in redefining traditional marriage, the next step is making it a crime to speak God's truth about homosexuality."


Slam dunk on that.


Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has a brilliant --- with quick turnaround -- ad in markets showing the Cheney's differences with the current administration on FMA. See the ad -- "The Cheneys" television ad

Here's the text of it:

Text: Should we change the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage?
Text: Vice President Dick Cheney, October 5, 2000
Dick Cheney [2000]: People should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into.
Text: Lynne Cheney, July 11, 2004
Lynne Cheney [2004]: People should be free to enter into the relationships that they choose.
Dick Cheney [2000]: I think that different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that’s appropriate.
Lynne Cheney [2004]: When it comes to conferring legal status on relationships, that is a matter left to the states.
Dick Cheney [2000]: I don’t think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area.
Text: We agree with what Dick Cheney once said.
Text: And what Lynne Cheney just said.
Text: Call your Senators. 202-224-3121
Text: Don’t write discrimination into the Constitution.
PAID FOR BY THE HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN


Gay Marriage Ban Divides Senate GOP: "'There is a master plan out there from those who want to destroy the institution of marriage to, first of all, begin to take this issue in a few select courts throughout this country at the state level,' said Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo. Pointing to rulings in Vermont and Massachusetts, he said that 'once they get their favorable rulings from activist judges ... they want to take it to the federal courts and they'll eventually move it to the Supreme Court.' "

Wait, I need to consult my master plan...


This man has to be stopped; I didn't realize that by getting married I was starting the death knell of society -- who knew?

GOP May Revise Marriage Amendment (washingtonpost.com): "During debate yesterday, Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.) said the amendment is aimed at protecting marriage and the family, not denying anyone's rights. He said the amendment was needed to 'stop what I believe is the death knell of our society.' "



We wrote one of our senators, Elizabeth Dole, about FMA. Read her response (Edwards, of course, is already on record as against FMA). Notice how she refers to us as a couple in the address area, courtesy of a limited formletter function in her office, lol. Oh, and the official White House response to our letter.


The Senate is debating FMA now (S.J.Res. 40). CSPAN2 is covering it live.


Recommended summer reading...

This book is by a co-worker's brother. It has been extremely well-received, and is an excellent chronicle of the civil rights struggle in Oxford, NC. Blood Done Sign My Name : A True Story

If you haven't heard all the hullaballoo about this one, you need to check it out. On the Down Low: A Journey Into the Lives of "Straight" Black Men Who Sleep with Men. J.L. King spins a first-hand account of this fascinating topic about the subculture/sociological phenomenon that is threatening the health and safety of black men and women. A must read because it addresses the conspiracy of silence and guilt around sexuality, particularly in the religious, Af-Am community and how this is what comes home to roost. Oprah had him on as a guest and this shot the book high up on Amazon's sales list. The reader reviews are interesting to read -- there's a lot of tense conversation there. King's site.

On to lighter reading, I read this in a couple of hours, but it was a good laugh. Celebrity Lies!: Stars, Fibs, Fabrications, Myths and Little White Lies. Trash. Though, I'm the one in the house that reads the deliciously crappy US magazine.


I'm wondering how much Dick Cheney is squirming, now that his wife Lynne is out against the Federal Marriage Amendment. Of course, his formerly out lesbian dughter Mary is still nowhere to be found on this issue and actively working for her father's re-election...


Monday, July 12, 2004

If you've seen the phenomenon that is Fahrenheit 9/11 on that first week it was out, you probably experienced being sold out of a show, standing on line, and a whole lot of interesting crowd reactions/after-movie discussions. Michael Moore's masterpiece of counter-media was a sellout and he chronicles the response around the country on this web site. There is a great picture of the crowd at the Carolina Theatre in downtown Durham. Yeah, Kate and I got shut out of that showing. [But we've seen it twice since then.]

Also, you may want to check out a great film that was also at the Carolina; it's a great companion piece to F9/11. It's called Control Room, by Jehane Noujaim (she also co-directed Startup.com, another goodie). It is a documentary about Al-Jazeera's coverage of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. It's pretty damning of the U.S. media in the respect that it is crystal clear how all the cable news outlets are manipulated by the U.S. military's spin on things. It hammers home the points Michael Moore makes about the media being asleep at the wheel when they should have been doing investigative journalism about this whole Iraq fiasco. For instance, it wasn't hard for either filmmaker to find evidence of U.S. soldiers abusing prisoners. Why didn't this come out sooner...hmmm?

Anyway. I give Control Room a thumbs up. Too bad it's in the shadow of F9/11. It deserves equal attention.


We received a surprise gift from Katie's friends Sarah and Kristin - a Lenox swan jewelry holder and a picture frame. TOTALLY unnecessary to give us something, but we really love them, gals. I need to place a bet on which of us breaks the swan first. We're klutzes.


Just posting the pets, our children. Boy, were they spooked by the storming today. The Bichon Frise is Chloe; Red (Rhodesian Ridgeback) and Bailey (Lab-Weimeraner mix) are the other two in the righthand photo. Red outweighs Chloe by about 90 lbs, lol.

 


OK, OK, we give in. Folks, we are now registered at Mikasa.com. Our registry number is 1342032. The pattern is Italian Countryside. But really, we don't need your gifts, just your smiles and support!


I must say, it sucks to have to be back at work after more than a week away. I have spent the entire day going through emails and paperwork. Fortunately I have gotten through most of it. Can you believe over 100 of the 260 emails in my inbox were spam? And that was with a filter. Geez.

In other news...did you hear the President's radio address on FMA last Saturday? Can more steam come out of my ears? This man is desperate, and is roiling his base:
A great deal is at stake in this matter. The union of a man and woman in marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, and the law can teach respect or disrespect for that institution. If our laws teach that marriage is the sacred commitment of a man and a woman, the basis of an orderly society, and the defining promise of a life, that strengthens the institution of marriage. If courts create their own arbitrary definition of marriage as a mere legal contract, and cut marriage off from its cultural, religious and natural roots, then the meaning of marriage is lost, and the institution is weakened.


PLEASE.


Been getting a LOT of feedback on our wedding page, lovely family and friends and folks from all over...see the guestbook.