An Online Magazine in the Reality-Based Community.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Abandon ship! Republican politicos are officially endorsing Kerry, a troubling sign of great significance in this polarized environment. The Nation's John Nichols:
Former Republican members of the U.S. Senate and House, governors, ambassadors, aides to GOP Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush have explicitly endorsed the campaign of Democrat John Kerry. For many of these lifelong Republicans, their vote for Kerry will be a first Democratic vote. But, in most cases, it will not be a hesitant one.

Angered by the Bush administration's mismanagement of the war in Iraq, record deficits, assaults on the environment and secrecy, the renegade partisans tend to echo the words of former Minnesota Governor Elmer Andersen, who says that, "Although I am a longtime Republican, it is time to make a statement, and it is this: Vote for Kerry-Edwards, I implore you, on November 2."

The essay continues on, with direct quotes from over a dozen public "defections" from the GOP faithful to Kerry. This cannot sit well with the Bush camp, and as expected, we've heard little from them (or the media for that matter) about this. How many Dems are endorsing Kerry over Bush. Hmmm?

You have to check out this DKos diary on voter fraud and disenfranchisement around the country. Just a sample, from a flyer circulating in my honey's home state of Alabama:

You have to ask yourself why does the GOP feel they need to do this sort of thing, especially in minority areas? If they put as much effort into trying to recruit the black vote as suppressing it, they could see more dividends, because they are going to vote this time, and it won't be for Bush.

And dammit, can any of them spell? Check this one floating around in Milwaukee:

Remember how you need to be screened, have a ticket and take a loyalty oath before seeing Bush at a rally? We thought it was to keep dissent down. Actually, the real reason is poor, low-self-esteem Shrub needs the pick-me-up of an only-adoring crowd, according to puppetmaster Karl Rove. (NYT).
Karl Rove, the presidential adviser, surveyed the scene one night at a farm in Bucks County, where thousands of supporters stood shoulder-to-shoulder on a plowed cornfield. An American flag, basking in bright lights, hung from the side of a white barn.

"He gets it," Mr. Rove said of the president. "It is really, really energizing. Think about this crowd. Almost everywhere we go it is wild."

Whether it is all the calculated showmanship of a skilled politician, or the genuine George W. Bush refusing to be smothered by the political process, is not up for discussion at the rallies.

When questions to that effect are posed by journalists, the reaction is typically hostile. Many Republicans who attend Mr. Bush's rallies identify the news media as the main source of his problems, and they do not hesitate to challenge or heckle reporters traveling with the president.

The talking heads and MSM have been wondering whether the fact that pollsters are missing cell phone voters who don't have landlines. This would, of course, skewing results. Most pollsters have pooh-poohed this voting block, but Zogby says they're going for Kerry -- and they are planning to goto the polls.
Polling firm Zogby International and partner Rock the Vote found Massachusetts Senator John Kerry leading President Bush 55% to 40% among 18-29 year-old likely voters in their first joint Rock the Vote Mobile political poll, conducted exclusively on mobile phones October 27 through 30, 2004. Independent Ralph Nader received 1.6%, while 4% remain undecided in the survey of 6,039 likely voters. The poll is centered on subscribers to the Rock the Vote Mobile (RTVMO) platform, a joint initiative of Rock the Vote and Motorola Inc. (for more information: The poll has margin of error of +/-1.2 percentage points.

The poll also found that only 2.3% of 18-29 year-old respondents said they did not plan to vote, and another .5% who were not sure if they would. The results of the survey are weighted for region, gender, and political party.

Off political topics for a brief Halloween blast from the past. The missus and I went to an 80s themed party last night and I dug out the only original piece of clothing I have left from my period -- legwarmers. The rest I had to get, including some truly heinous earrings, plastic charm necklaces and the awful pink hat. I didn't have the big hair, as shown in the photo in the middle (1984), or on the right (1981). Had to hide the locs under the cap in 2004.

Top left: 80s party, 2004. Top right: Teased, curling iron and sprayed, 1984; bottom: Huge hair -- 1981 -- HS graduation at Carnegie Hall from Stuyvesant High School in NYC and...the locs of 2004. More on the politics of my hair.

The White House can give up on OBL as a deciding factor for voters, according to the NYT">NYT. As one of the interviewees said, "They've spent all this time looking for the guy and here he pops up, none the worse for wear," said Mr. Blake, a construction worker from Crestline, Calif., who was visiting Las Vegas with his wife, Jennifer, and infant daughter, Stephanie. "After all was said and done, we didn't get him. He's very savvy. I don't think he should be underestimated. He's like a rattlesnake in a cage - be careful, he could strike."

Dick Cheney just said this on Friday at an airport rally at a hangar in Montoursville, Pa, according to the AP:
"The U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq will be studied for years for their brilliance."

OK, I guess the NYT has it all wrong, as usual, eh Dick? It reports again to the sad state of our military's readiness, especially the National Guard. BC04's amazing ability to boldly lie to the public (and apparently to themselves) when they say they support our troops is just disgusting every time I hear it.
When the 1544th Transportation Company of the Illinois National Guard was preparing to leave for Iraq in February, relatives of the soldiers offered to pay to weld steel plates on the unit's trucks to protect against roadside bombs. The Army told them not to, because it would provide better protection in Iraq, relatives said.

Seven months later, many of the company's trucks still have no armor, soldiers and relatives said, despite running some of the most dangerous missions in Iraq and incurring the highest rate of injuries and deaths among the Illinois units deployed there.

"This problem is very extensive," said Paul Rieckhoff, a former infantry platoon leader with the Florida National Guard in Iraq who now runs an organization called Operation Truth, an advocacy group for soldiers and veterans.

Though soldiers of all types have complained about equipment in Iraq, part-timers in the National Guard and Reserve say that they have a particular disadvantage because they start off with outdated or insufficient gear. They have been deployed with faulty radios, unreliable trucks and, most alarmingly for many, a shortage of soundly armored vehicles in a land regularly convulsed by roadside attacks, according to soldiers, relatives and outside military experts.

Guess Cheney should also ignore the NYT story about more Marines dying in an insurgent attack yesterday near Baghdad.
Eight marines were killed and nine others wounded west of the capital on Saturday when a suicide car bomb rammed into their convoy, military officials said, resulting in the deadliest day for the American forces in half a year.

Bush and Cheney cannot blame Kerry for this national shame.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Tomorrow's GOP leadership today. Building corrupt grassroots politicos from day one.

Local GOP orgs know no boundaries either -- one group is taking advantage of the elderly. In Durham, the Herald-Sun reports on these shady fundraising tactics.
"The Herald-Sun reported Thursday that the College Republican National Committee has received at least 87 percent of its North Carolina donations from people who list their occupation as retired. Most of those contacted by The Herald-Sun were in their 80s.

This campaign season, the CRNC has raised more than $6.3 million nationally, putting it in the top 15 political groups tracked by the IRS. The group raised $93,280 in North Carolina.

Because the CRNC solicits under different names, such as the National Republican Task Force and the National Republican Victory Campaign, many seniors have donated to the group repeatedly, often several times in a single day or week. Many had made more than 50 donations since January, sometimes totaling thousands of dollars.

When asked about their giving, many of them had little understanding of how much they had donated or where their money was going.
The group's high-pressure mailings, which often play on senior citizens' emotions, suggest that the money would help re-elect President Bush and other Republicans. But according to the Center for Public Integrity, which monitors campaign spending, the CRNC has spent at least 83 percent of its proceeds since 2000 on direct mailings and other fund-raising expenses.
Officers with the CRNC have refused to answer questions about the organization.

'You've got to talk to somebody else,' CRNC treasurer Paul Gourley said Friday when reached on his mobile phone.

Gourley's name and signature appear on many of the group's solicitation letters, but he refused to say whether he stands behind the fund raising.

In Washington, Lindsay Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, the core organization of the party, said the RNC "is in no way affiliated" with the CRNC, although the RNC still has a link to the CRNC on its Web site.

In Durham, John T. Plecnik, policy adviser for the Duke College Republicans, said his group also has nothing to do with CRNC fund raising and encouraged donors to give directly to the Duke group instead of to the CRNC.

Oh and here are the NC Chapter Chairs:
* North Carolina Chapter Chairman Information
* Appalachian State University Tom Greene
* Campbell University Bret Thevaos
* Davidson College Joseph Adams
* Duke Laura Carpenter
* Elon University Lindsey Guice
* Lenoir-Rhyne College Leslee Baker
* Meredith College Jennifer Smith
* Pfeiffer University Matt Bolen
* University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Jordan Selleck
* University of North Carolina-Pembroke Aubrey Ardiente
* University of North Carolina-Wilmington Michael Pomarico

Meghan O'Rourke at Slate has an interesting and on-point essay on Eminem's "Mosh" video.
Eminem has long been one of the best musical storytellers around, with a knack for turning his own life into the stuff of enduring caricature. "Mosh"—which is, in fact, animated—puts this talent to good use, capitalizing in part on the fact that reality seems like caricature to so many anti-Bush folks these days. "Mosh" is a pointed assault of the Bush administration and its disastrous handling of the Iraq war; it opens with a plane striking a building off-screen and concludes with a horde of disenfranchised citizens and soldiers, dressed in black hoodies with their faces masked, storming courthouse steps in order to vote. (Most versions end with the words "Vote. November 2nd.") Done in stark black-and-white tones—leavened occasionally by the muted blues and reds of a presidential power suit—"Mosh" takes aim at the Bush administration's tax cuts (and the widening gap between the rich and the poor); its self-serving appropriation of the heroic sacrifices made by young soldiers; and, most of all, the "psychological warfare" it has waged on those who "beg to differ" (hoping "to trick us into thinking that we ain't loyal/ if we don't serve our country"). Hence its warm embrace by lefty types everywhere.

...It combines animation and live action to disconcerting effect, moving from bombed-out ghettoes to stylized faces with large, imploring eyes. (GNN also produced the video to "White America," which was never aired on MTV.) Planes fly menacingly overhead, we cut to Eminem as a Bush stand-in reading an upside down book about a pet goat. (One wonders if Eminem knows the similar image that went around the Internet for a while was doctored.) The police harass a black man (hip-hop artist Lloyd Banks); a single mother is evicted from her home; a soldier is redeployed. All of this is powerful but fairly easy to swallow; more complicated—and more interesting—are images in which a loner Eminem stands before a terrifying wall of anti-Bush newspaper clippings and scribblings worthy of the kookiest conspiracy theorist; or the figure of Private Kelly, whose fury divides him even from the voters transfigured by Eminem's battle cry. As figure after figure silently joins Eminem's determined march on Washington, "Mosh" coyly plays against the viewer's sense of wishfulness—perhaps things really will change—by amping up the menace. The central conceit—an army of Eminem-inspired voters "moshes" to freedom—is not meant to be merely reassuring, in the same way that P. Diddy's "Vote or Die" campaign is not simply a noble call to civic duty.

Indeed, what's most remarkable about "Mosh" has little to do with partisan politics. Eminem is hardly carrying water for Kerry and the Democrats; the mode is noirish, fascistic, overtly menacing and antiauthoritarian. Em's native mode is debunking the status quo, not building a new one up, and in "Mosh" he's plainly taken measure of the fact that his video will be watched by upper-middle-class liberals thrilled by the PR value here: Even the pop culture hero who found nothing sacred—the savage from the urban jungle—is outraged by Bush. And so the image of an army of youth marching down the street is meant to make you feel, momentarily, that the peace between the classes is a precarious one, and that violence is the recourse—and the idiom—of those who feel themselves to be terminally disenfranchised.

The article is a good read. The video itself is here.

The Pentagon screws another 6,500 soldiers by extending their tours of duty. There's also fear of more violence by the insurgents. The The New York Times reports that the Department of Defense is thinking of increasing forces by as many as 15,000, but they haven't moved on this yet (probably pending the election). I hope all those Bush voters are packing the bags of all their draft-age kids. They're next.
The Pentagon has ordered about 6,500 soldiers in Iraq to extend their tours, the first step the military has taken to increase its combat power there in preparation for the January elections, senior Defense Department officials said Friday.

About 3,500 members of the Second Brigade of the First Cavalry Division will stay in Iraq two months longer than initially ordered, and about 3,000 soldiers assigned to headquarters and support units of the First Infantry Division will have their tours extended by two and a half weeks.

While Pentagon officials and military officers previously had left open the possibility that additional troops would be required to battle a tenacious insurgency ahead of the elections, they had also expressed hopes that new Iraqi security forces or foreign units might fill the need. The decision to extend the stay of American forces in Iraq at a time when replacement troops also are arriving means a significant increase in the overall American combat presence for the first time since the summer.

No other extensions have been approved, and no units now preparing for Iraq duty have been ordered to speed up their departure, according to Pentagon and military officials.

But senior Defense Department officials said they had considered plans that would allow the American military in Iraq to quickly increase its forces by as many as three brigades - a total of as many as 15,000 troops, the combat power of a traditional Army division - but that no steps had been taken other than the extensions discussed Friday.

...The Islamic holy month of Ramadan has already prompted a 25 percent increase in daily attacks, according to Pentagon officials. But these officials said they had seen no indication yet of a major insurgent offensive like the one a year ago. But military commanders said they must prepare for a guerrilla offensive that could come in November or December, as voter registration gets under way in earnest, or for attacks timed to the elections in January.

"'It comes down to this,' Mr. Kerry said Friday morning in Orlando. 'If you believe we need a fresh start in Iraq, if you believe we can create and keep good jobs that pay more here in America than the jobs were losing overseas, if you believe we need to get health care costs under control and make it available to all Americans, if you believe in the promise of stem cell research, if you believe our deficits are too high and we're too dependent on Mideast oil - then I ask you to join me, and together, we will change America.'"

Bye, bye Furious George.

Had a 90 minute wait last night at Githens Middle School, one of four centers open for early voting. It ends today, with polls open from 9-1 and I know there will be people queued up way before 9. The system was overwhelmed by the turnout; I arrived at 6; the doors were to close at 7, but they pulled every last person that was outside into the school before locking the doors so all could vote. When I left, around 7:30, there were many, many people packed in the building patiently (and cheerfully) waiting.

Oh, and there was no one out representing the GOP passing out voter guides. All Dems. The crowd was demographically middle-class, all races. I would have been shocked if there were any significant number of BC04 voters in this group. Everyone was energized about change.

Also, see the diary NC early voting stats 3 urban counties. Dems are out in full force.

Next, you'll have to kiss Bush's feet at a rally and weep. Slate's Chris Suellentrop is witness to the loyalty oath on the campaign trail. This is so bizarre, but it shows you why Bush can no longer think on his feet -- he has handpicked crowds of worshippers, no tough questions, just his wet dream of an adoring audience that believes he is a deity.
"I want you to stand, raise your right hands,' and recite 'the Bush Pledge,' said Florida state Sen. Ken Pruitt. The assembled mass of about 2,000 in this Treasure Coast town about an hour north of West Palm Beach dutifully rose, arms aloft, and repeated after Pruitt: 'I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States.'

I know the Bush-Cheney campaign occasionally requires the people who attend its events to sign loyalty oaths, but this was the first time I have ever seen an audience actually stand and utter one. Maybe they've replaced the written oath with a verbal one. "

I'm sick of this racist sh*t. For the GOP, it's been a series of stories where it isn't even beneath-the-surface racism. It's outright in-your-face -- from voter intimidation of the elderly blacks in FL to the racist and false flyers in Milwaukee attempting to suppress the vote.

The latest piece of bigotry comes right out of the mouth of Tom Coburn, the wingnut running for the Senate in Oklahoma. Here are his pearls of wisdom...
A Republican Senate candidate from Oklahoma who has run into trouble over verbal gaffes was drawing fire again on Friday for saying black men have a "genetic predisposition" for a lower life expectancy than whites.

Dr. Tom Coburn, a Republican physician locked in a neck-and-neck struggle for a pivotal U.S. Senate seat, made the comment in a discussion of Social Security privatization during a locally televised debate on Wednesday night.

Coburn said black males were statistically more likely to die before they could benefit from Social Security.

"What kind of plan is that, that we are going to take from those who have a genetic predisposition of less life expectancy, that we are going to steal from those and give it to somebody else?" Coburn asked on Wednesday.

...Angela Monson, a Democratic state representative from Oklahoma City, said the suggestion that blacks are genetically inferior was "bizarre."

"I think he was so bent on pushing the privatization of Social Security that he took this leap," she said. "A leap off the deep end."

Has this man read ANYTHING about the environment and society's effect on the health of black Americans and life expectancy? This comment is just moronic, even if the overall statistics are true. As a doctor, he should be well-aware of studies on the health of minority groups.
"Risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, elevated serum cholesterol levels, smoking, diabetes, physical inactivity, and obesity. Public health professionals should focus efforts on prevention and risk reduction at all ages, and particularly at younger ages among racial/ethnic minorities. Improved health promotion and primary and secondary prevention strategies are needed to decrease the burden of heart disease and eliminate health disparities in the population."


Friday, October 29, 2004

Well look at this development -- the State Dept tried to stop the airing of the bin Laden tape. (AP)
The State Department on Friday urged the government of Qatar, which finances Al-Jazeera, not to broadcast a videotaped speech by Osama bin Laden, a senior State Department official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the State Department spoke to officials in Qatar before Al-Jazeera showed a portion of the tape. In it, the al-Qaida leader said the United States can avoid another attack if it stops threatening the security of Muslims.

The request to the Persian Gulf government, which is considered an ally in the U.S. campaign to counter terror, was passed through the U.S. embassy in Doha, Qatar's capital.

Secretary of State Colin Powell and other Bush administration officials have appeared in Al-Jazeera interviews, although the State Department has occasionally denounced the network as biased against the United States. The reason for going on these programs is to convey the U.S. message to the Arab world, the official said.

Do you think they felt this was going a blow to Bush? After all, bin Laden came out and spoke looking healthy and strong, even taunting Bush. Rough translation here, from Drudge. Yeah they had to try and stop it from airing --but that didn't go over well with Al-Jazeera:
OBL: You American people, my speech to you is the best way to avoid another conflict about the war and its reasons and results. I am telling you security is an important pillar of human life. And free people don't let go of their security contrary to Bush's claims that we hate freedom. He should tell us why we didn't hit Sweden for instance. Its known that those who hate freedom don't have dignified the 19 who were blessed. But we fought you because we are free people, we don't sleep on our oppression. We want to regain the freedom of our Muslim nation as you spill our security, we spill your security.

I am so surprised by you. Although we are in the fourth year after the events of sept 11, Bush is still practicing distortion and misleading on you, and obscuring the main reasons and therefore the reasons are still existing to repeat what happened before. I will tell you the reasons behind theses incidents.

I will be honest with you on the moment when the decision was taken to understand. We never thought of hitting the towers. But after we were so fed up, and we saw the oppression of the American Israeli coalition on our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it came to my mind and the incidents that really touched me directly goes back to 1982 and the following incidents. When the US permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon with the assistance of the 6th fleet. In these hard moments, it occurred to me so many meanings I cant explain but it resulted in a general feeling of rejecting oppression and gave me a hard determination to punish the oppressors. While I was looking at the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it came to my mind to punish the oppressor the same way and destroy towers in the US to get a taste of what they tasted, and quit killing our children and women.

OBL: We didn't find difficulty dealing with Bush and his administration due to the similarity of his regime and the regims in our countries. Whish half of them are ruled by military and the other half by sons of kings and presidents and our experience with them is long. Both parties are arrogant and stubborn and the greediness and taking money without right and that similarity appeared during the visits of Bush to the region while people from our side were impressed by the US and hoped that these visits would influence our countries. Here he is being influenced by these regimes, Royal and military. And was feeling jealous they were staying for decades in power stealing the nations finances without anybody overseeing them. So he transferred the oppression of freedom and tyranny to his son and they call it th e Patriot Law to fight terrorism. He was bright in putting his sons as governors in states and he didn't forget to transfer his experience from the rulers of our region to Florida to falsify elections to benefit from it in critical times.

Female Presenter: Bin Laden considered the way Bush dealt with the first moments of Sept. 11, giving a good chance to the executors of Sept. 11 to complete it.

OBL: We agreed with Mohamed Atta, god bless him, to execute the whole operation in 20 minutes. Before Bush and his administration would pay attention and we never thought that the high commander of the US armies would leave 50 thousand of his citizens in both towers to face the horrors by themselves when they most needed him because it seemed to distract his attention from listening to the girl telling him about her goat butting was more important than paying attention to airplanes butting the towers which gave us three times the time to execute the operation thank god.

Male presenter: the final part of the message is that the security of the Americans depends on the policy that they execute despite the winner of the elections.

OBL: Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al Qaeda. Your security is in your hands. Each state that doenst mess with our security has automatically secured their security.

Looks like Osama is resurfacing on video today at 4PM. It's airing on Aljazeera. What precious timing.

UPDATE: Osama thumbed his nose at Bush; he looks healthy and apparently recounted his rational for the 9/11 attacks, and mentioned Kerry, so the White House cannot say it's an old tape, nor that Osama is out of it. Of course their spin will be that there is some hidden message that will require a raising of the terror alert this weekend. Just wait.

2004's Scariest Halloween Costumes, courtesy of The Just brilliant. And there are plenty more of these creative costumes, including Florida's Electronic Touch-Screen Voting Machines, Arrested Protestor, and "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid.

The Littlest Prisoner at Abu Ghraib
Your child will be the hit of the neighborhood costume parade in this recreation of the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal's most indelible image. As an added bonus this easy-to-make costume will remind everyone on your child's trick-or-treat route of our national shame! Simply roll a cone from a sheet of 24"x38" black cardstock, making sure to cut out a hole for the face. Drape with two yards of black felt, and add leftover wires from your last lamp-rewiring project. Voila! So easy, so quick, and so terrifying!

Total cost: Under $20.
Total time: Under two hours.

Thanks to AMERICAblog for the pointer.

Whoops. The dumbass Bush campaign didn't bother to check with the songwriter of "Still the One" (the 80s Orleans tune, not the Shania Twain song) before using it during his rallies. John Hall is filing a complaint. (AP)
Hall, a former Democratic county legislator in upstate New York, co-wrote "Still the One" and recorded it with his band Orleans in 1976. The cheery pop tune was played at Bush events Thursday and again Friday to open and close a rally for the president in New Hampshire.

"I was watching TV, and there all of a sudden was my song, my guitar playing, my voice coming out of the speakers," said the 56-year-old Hall, still a working musician.

Hall wrote "Still the One" with his then-wife, Johanna D. Hall. The two as well as surviving members of the band are supporters of Democratic Sen. John Kerry and don't want their work used to promote Bush's re-election, Hall said.

...Hall's lawyers are drafting a formal letter of complaint to the Bush campaign. A spokesman for the Republican did not immediately return calls for comment.

There's also a good DKos thread on this. Did these Bushies not learn anything from Reagan's campaign when they attempted to appropriate Bruce's "Born in the USA" in '84?

This is where they planned to take the campaign, if it got too desperate -- 9/11 and images of the WTC burning. The Blue Lemur reports on the latest pathetic attempt to sway voters in PA.
Repugs realize now that Dems are serious about "get out the vote" and the early vote numbers are coming in and it's scaring the GOP. See a DKos diary for an example of why they should be worried in NC, for example (which should be a solid state for Bush): NC early voting stats 3 urban counties.

There is a two-hour wait at the early voting locations, and I regularly pass a one school (Githens) that serves as an EV location, and at 1PM today the line was way out the door and has been all week.

Another religious wingnut with queer offspring works to make her a second class citizen. This time it's Georgia Christian Coalition head Sadie Fields. Her daughter Tess finally couldn't take it anymore and has spoken publicly about being ostracized from the family by her mom.
Just days before Tuesday's referendum, Tess Fields sent a letter to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's editorial page criticizing what she called her mother's "bigotry" and "abject hostility toward gay and lesbian people."

Tess Fields, a 35-year-old mother who lives in Oregon, said in an interview with the newspaper that she was speaking out partly to answer an opinion piece her mother previously wrote in the newspaper.

She also wanted to offer encouragement to people opposing the amendment.

Georgia is one of 11 states with gay marriage ban amendments on the Nov. 2 ballot. The amendment also would specify that the state need not recognize same-sex marriages performed by other states and would declare that Georgia courts will have no jurisdiction to settle property division disputes arising from same-sex unions.

Sadie Fields said her daughter's sexuality and their strained relationship is deeply painful for her. The Christian Coalition leader, who also has two sons, said that she loves her daughter and prays for her daily.

"I would give my life for her, but I can't affirm her in her choices," she said.

Sadie Fields said she would continue to support the constitutional amendment because she says it's the right thing to do.

"The amendment issue is larger than just one relationship," Sadie Fields said. "It's not just about me and my daughter. It's about the future of this country."

The sad truth is that these measures are likely to pass in all the states that has it on the ballot. Family values indeed.

Bob Herbert does it again, illuminating the blow that this government has dealt to to those serving in the armed forces. (NYT):
"Not long ago I interviewed a soldier who was paralyzed from injuries he had suffered in a roadside bombing in Iraq. Like so many other wounded soldiers I've talked to, he expressed no anger and no bitterness about the difficult hand he's been dealt as a result of the war.

But when I asked this soldier, Eugene Simpson Jr., a 27-year-old staff sergeant from Dale City, Va., whom he had been fighting in Iraq - who, exactly, the enemy was - he looked up from his wheelchair and stared at me for a long moment. Then, in a voice much softer than he had been using for most of the interview, and with what seemed like a mixture of sorrow, regret and frustration, he said: 'I don't know. That would be my answer. I don't know.'

We have not done right by the troops we've sent to Iraq to fight this crazy, awful war. We haven't given them a clear mission, and we haven't protected them well. I'm reminded of the famous scene in 'On the Waterfront' when Terry Malloy, the character played by Marlon Brando, tells his brother: 'You shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit.'

The thing to always keep in mind about our troops in Iraq is that they were sent to fight the wrong war. America's clearly defined and unmistakable enemy, Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda, was in Afghanistan. So the men and women fighting and dying in Iraq were thrown into a pointless, wholly unnecessary conflict.

That tragic move was made worse by the failure of the U.S. to send enough troops to effectively wage the war that we started in Iraq. And we never fully equipped the troops we did send. The people who ordered up this war had no idea what they were doing. They were wildly overconfident, blinded by hubris and a dangerous, overarching ideology. They thought it would be a cakewalk.

In May of 2003, President Bush thought the war was over. It had barely begun. Many thousands have died in the long and bloody months since then. Even now, Dick Cheney, with a straight face, is calling Iraq "a remarkable success story."

The Washington Blade is covering the state senate race in NC of out lesbian Julia Boseman, who is weathering some seriously homophobic ads from her challenger.
"One of the strongest reactions surfaced in New Hanover County, N.C., where lesbian county commissioner Julia Boseman, a Democrat, is challenging State Senator Woody White, a conservative Republican and supporter of former U.S. Senator Jesse Helms.

White's campaign purchased newspaper ads this week noting that Boseman would be the state's first openly gay legislator and would pursue a "liberal, activist homosexual agenda" if elected.

The ads, some of which were paid for by the state Republican Party, declared that Boseman had been endorsed by the Victory Fund, which it described as a homosexual group based in Washington, D.C.

The ads angered the Wilmington, N.C., Star News, where some of the ads had been placed. The newspaper abruptly withdrew its endorsement of White, saying it strongly disapproved of his decision to attack Boseman based on her sexual orientation."

Wilmington, N.C., Star News, came out strong in its condemnation of White.
It would be legitimate to criticize the significant contributions Ms. Boseman has solicited and received from out of state. This is, after all, a local race to see who will represent voters in New Hanover County. And because the main source of those out-of-state contributions was a special interest group – an Internet fund that collects money for openly gay candidates – it would be fair to mention that.

It's something else to use language such as "known lesbian activists" and "radical homosexual rights and privileges" and to conclude by saying "The truth is … Julia Boseman seeks to be the first openly gay or lesbian State Senator in North Carolina History."

So what? Most sensible voters don't care what a state senator does at home. They care about what he or she does at the legislature.

Ms. Boseman's private life had no apparent effect on her performance as a County Commissioner, and there's no reason to think that would change in Raleigh. Even if she wanted to press for same-sex marriage or similar causes, it wouldn't matter. In the foreseeable future, few colleagues would join her.

Until he allowed these ads to be circulated, Mr. White seemed the more promising candidate.

But now a vote for him would be a vote for intolerance and dirty politics.

The bulge is back, only this time a NASA photo analyst shows that it was, indeed, a wire. Kevin Berger at Salon has the goods. Man, he's earner his taxpayers' dollar.
George W. Bush tried to laugh off the bulge. "I don't know what that is," he said on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday, referring to the infamous protrusion beneath his jacket during the presidential debates. "I'm embarrassed to say it's a poorly tailored shirt."

Dr. Robert M. Nelson, however, was not laughing. He knew the president was not telling the truth. And Nelson is neither conspiracy theorist nor midnight blogger. He's a senior research scientist for NASA and for Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and an international authority on image analysis. Currently he's engrossed in analyzing digital photos of Saturn's moon Titan, determining its shape, whether it contains craters or canyons.

For the past week, while at home, using his own computers, and off the clock at Caltech and NASA, Nelson has been analyzing images of the president's back during the debates. A professional physicist and photo analyst for more than 30 years, he speaks earnestly and thoughtfully about his subject. "I am willing to stake my scientific reputation to the statement that Bush was wearing something under his jacket during the debate," he says. "This is not about a bad suit. And there's no way the bulge can be described as a wrinkled shirt."

Nelson and a scientific colleague produced the photos from a videotape, recorded by the colleague, who has chosen to remain anonymous, of the first debate. The images provide the most vivid details yet of the bulge beneath the president's suit. Amateurs have certainly had their turn at examining the bulge, but no professional with a résumé as impressive as Nelson's has ventured into public with an informed opinion. In fact, no one to date has enhanced photos of Bush's jacket to this degree of precision, and revealed what appears to be some kind of mechanical device with a wire snaking up the president's shoulder toward his neck and down his back to his waist.

Nelson stresses that he's not certain what lies beneath the president's jacket. He offers, though, "that it could be some type of electronic device -- it's consistent with the appearance of an electronic device worn in that manner." The image of lines coursing up and down the president's back, Nelson adds, is "consistent with a wire or a tube."

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Desperation grows...can Bush not draw enough with this road show? This is a hysterical Kos diary on the fake troops in Bush's new ad. They have to manufacture them, courtesy of Photoshop.

UPDATE: Judy Woodruff on CNN's Inside Politics today asked GOP shill Ken Mehlman about this photo and he called it an "editing error" (har-dee-har-har) and that they would be correcting it. It's now gone from the BC04 web site. Yes, how do you inadvertently open Photoshop and select the clone tool and just create the error.


. From a post on a DKos thread.

100,000 Civilians Dead In Iraq War . We really helped them out, didn't we Mr. President? (SkyNews)
Around 100,000 Iraqis have been killed in violence since the US-led invasion last year, according to a new report.American public health experts said the high death rate was partly due to US air strikes on towns and cities. "Making conservative assumptions, we think that about 100,000 excess deaths have happened," said Les Roberts of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a report published by The Lancet medical journal.

"The use of air power in areas with lots of civilians appears to be killing a lot of women and children."

Mortality was already high in Iraq before the war because of United Nations sanctions blocking food and medical imports, but the researchers described what they found as "shocking".

Previous estimates based on think tank and media sources put the Iraqi civilian death toll at up to 16,000.

The researchers blamed air strikes for many of the deaths.

"What we have evidence of is the use of air power in populated urban areas and the bad consequences of it," Roberts said.

Gilbert Burnham, who collaborated on the research, said U.S. military action in Iraq was "very bad for Iraqi civilians".

"We were not expecting the level of deaths from violence that we found in this study and we hope this will lead to some serious discussions of how military and political aims can be achieved in a way that is not so detrimental to civilians," he said.

Woohoo! This one should go over big with the fundy crowd here in NC. I just hope it gets media play. From Raw Story and BlogActive: Friends of grandaughter of anti-gay Senator Jesse Helms say she's a lesbian; Upset she uses him as "motivating factor" in campaign. Jesse is legend here, and the fact that there are homo genes floating around in his pool is going to drive more than a few bonkers.
The granddaughter of Senator Jesse Helms, whom many consider the most anti-gay legislator in U.S. history and who is touting him during her elective campaign, is herself a partnered lesbian, friends of the couple tell RAW STORY.

Jennifer Knox, granddaughter of the retired North Carolina Republican senator, has been in a committed relationship with her partner Shields Carstarphen for over three years, they say. Knox is vying to become a district judge in North Carolina; Carstarphen is the treasurer of her campaign.

Our sources, who asked RAW STORY to keep their names private, say they have known the parties for many years. They have also communicated with, a site known for reporting on closeted anti-gay politicians.

The site will report that the Republican Party, while refusing to answer questions about Knox’s sexuality, has mailed homophobic flyers in a state senate race.

Throughout his long career, Senator Helms consistently excoriated gays for their “revolting conduct” and “unnatural acts.” Calling Martin Luther King a “pervert,” he dubbed the 1964 Civil Rights Act “the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress.”

Knox and Carstarphen share a home in Raleigh, where they have lived for more than a year. They have an active social life in the Triangle area and travel together on vacations.

Knox’s mother confirmed that they resided together in a telephone conversation early this week, referring to Carstarphen as her roommate. Knox is 30.

Each of the sources expressed that they and their friends had wrangled with the consequences of outing Knox, but asserted that Knox’s decision to use Helms as a motivating force in her campaign pushed them to come forward.

When Knox announced her Wake County candidacy Apr. 30, she said Helms was the primary factor in driving her to run for elective office.

“He’s dedicated 30-plus years of his life to the American people and to the people of North Carolina and that has really made an impact on me,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing in making me want to go into elected office.”

These friends found the decision to bring Helms front and center in the campaign unacceptable.

“I think they’ve made a mistake,” one said. “I don’t feel good about throwing stones, but I don’t think this is right, and in today’s political climate I don’t think this type of hypocrisy should go on.”

The state’s Republican Party platform is unequivocal about homosexuality.

“We believe homosexuality is not normal and should not be established as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle either in public education or in public policy,” the platform states. “We do not believe public schools should be used to teach children that homosexuality is normal… We commend private organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, which defend moral decency and freedom.”

While it is in many ways a local story, this ranks up there with SC's Strom Thurmond hiding his black daughter while railing on against civil rights.

At least this time it puts the hypocrisy front and center -- while Jesse is still around to comment on it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Is this kinda funny? Hell, yeah. Man accused of trying to run down Rep. Katherine Harris.

What class. And it's on video.

In the "Watch This Space" department: Mike Rogers at BlogActive is at it again. Looks like a couple of homosexual homophobic legislators are about to get outed, a la Ed Schrock. Can't wait...
Over the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours, blogACTIVE will be releasing two cases on the site. One of them promises to be one of the biggest GLBT news stories of the decade. While, I am confident that the gay and lesbian press will cover this item, I am hoping, with your help, to begin an extensive advertising campaign on mainstream sites to attract readers from this candidate’s home state and district.

This candidate is running on a party platform that is among the most homophobic in the nation. I promise you this…the news of this candidate’s homosexuality is certain to shake things up a bit for years to come.

Also, through the power of the internet, I will be sharing a story of a Congressional “outing” that took place before the web was a powerful action tool. This Congressman has racked up quite a voting record – one that even a part-time sodomite should be ashamed of!

In the "Watch This Space" department: Mike Rogers at BlogActive is at it again. Looks like a couple of homosexual homophobic legislators are about to get outed, a la Ed Schrock. Can't wait...
Over the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours, blogACTIVE will be releasing two cases on the site. One of them promises to be one of the biggest GLBT news stories of the decade. While, I am confident that the gay and lesbian press will cover this item, I am hoping, with your help, to begin an extensive advertising campaign on mainstream sites to attract readers from this candidate’s home state and district.

This candidate is running on a party platform that is among the most homophobic in the nation. I promise you this…the news of this candidate’s homosexuality is certain to shake things up a bit for years to come.

Also, through the power of the internet, I will be sharing a story of a Congressional “outing” that took place before the web was a powerful action tool. This Congressman has racked up quite a voting record – one that even a part-time sodomite should be ashamed of!

Why the GOP is doing all it can to suppress the minority vote. At this point they know that they are going to lose if minorities go to the polls. It's all about turnout now. The Washington Monthly has the scoop.
Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio has just finished a survey of 12 battleground states and finds Bush and Kerry tied with 47% of the vote apiece. But when he weights for minority turnout based on the 2000 exit polls, Kerry is ahead 49.2%-45.7%. And when he further updates the weighting to take into account the most recent census results, Kerry is ahead 49.9%-44.7%.

As Fabrizio blandly puts it, "It is clear that minority turnout is a wildcard in this race and represents a huge upside for Sen. Kerry and a considerable challenge for the President's campaign." More accurately, if Fabrizio is right — that Kerry is ahead by 5% overall in the battleground states — Kerry is a sure winner on November 2.

Suddenly the Bush campaign's obsession with challenging voters in minority neighborhoods makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? Their own internal polling is probably telling the same thing that Fabrizio's poll says: unless they somehow manage to keep the minority vote down, they're doomed.

Jon Cohen as a superb piece on Slate about why there is such a high percentage of HIV and AIDS among black women. This was a question both Cheney and Edwards blew in their debate. They were clueless.
When Gwen Ifill asked a pressing question about AIDS during the vice-presidential debate, both candidates were utterly lost. "I want to talk to you about AIDS, and not about AIDS in China or Africa, but AIDS right here in this country, where black women between the ages of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of the disease than their counterparts," said Ifill. "What should the government's role be in helping to end the growth of this epidemic?"

Cheney did not bother trying to hide his ignorance. "I have not heard those numbers with respect to African-American women. I was not aware that it was—that they're in epidemic there [sic]," he said. Edwards resorted to dodge ball, spending his 90 seconds on AIDS in Africa, the genocide in Sudan, uninsured Americans, and John Kerry. "OK, we'll move on," said Ifill, who somehow restrained herself from rolling her eyes à la Jon Stewart.

...Coming up with a sophisticated answer to Ifill's question is a tall order. AIDS researchers don't have a solid explanation for why black women in America have such a shockingly high prevalence of HIV infection and AIDS, which makes it difficult to spell out precisely how the government should respond to the problem—other than to reach out to these women more aggressively and to conduct more studies.

Many theories abound, the most interesting of which is the DL or down-low phenomenon, where self-identified "straight" black men who sleep with men and also sleep with (and have relationships with) women.
Some men on the DL are becoming infected by anal intercourse with men and then spreading the infection to their female partners, a transmission route that became widely discussed earlier this year with the publication of J.L. King's On the Down Low: A Journey Into the Lives of "Straight" Black Men Who Sleep With Men. But the great unknown is how frequently this occurs, and whether it's truly different in blacks versus whites or Hispanics.

...A fascinating CDC study published last year specifically looked at men who have sex with men and do not disclose their sexual orientation versus those who do disclose. The study recruited participants from only six gay bars (which already tilts the results away from DL men who may not go to gay bars), but the findings were startling. More black men were nondisclosers (18 percent)—that is, on the DL—than white men (8 percent), and all nondisclosures reported having more sex with women than with men. But nondisclosers of all races were also less likely to be infected with HIV than disclosers, and black nondisclosers in particular reported significantly less unprotected anal intercourse with men than did black disclosers. Several other recent studies have found higher proportions of bisexual black men than white men, but it's unclear whether how much of an HIV "bridge" they are to black women.

It's clear, however, that the biggest and most easily identifiable factor in HIV transmission is the high incarceration rate of black men (where high-risk same-sex activity is assumed). Women on the outside are infected by these men upon release. And the sad truth is that good men are sparse, and there is a lot of non-monogamous activity that increases the likelihood of the spread of HIV.
They mix with new partners when their men leave and often reunite with them when they are released. Incarceration also exposes many men to anal sex, whether by coercion or choice, and injection-drug use, the two most efficient ways to spread HIV. And if the locked-up man was the main wage earner, poverty can be a factor, too.

One superb study of concurrency in African Americans in rural North Carolina found that 53 percent of the men and 31 percent of the women reported concurrent partners during the preceding five years. Interestingly, 80 percent of the men in the study who said they had been incarcerated for more than 24 hours reported having had concurrent partners within five years; that percentage plummeted to 43 percent if a man had not been locked up for a day or longer.

Equally important, black women have a small pool of black men to choose from at any given time. "African American women are the only group in the United States where there are fewer men than women," says Gail Wyatt, an associate director of the AIDS Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. "The availability of a partner who shares the same values is much less likely. The women are more likely to be educated than their partners. They're more likely to be employed." As a result of the shortage of black men, black women are vulnerable to becoming involved with men who are engaging in risky behaviors that they don't know about, whether it be having unprotected sex with other partners, female or male; visiting sex workers; or injecting drugs.

There's a great L.A. Times piece on how Bush is on shaky ground with his "base" of evangelicals.
With their ardent, Bible-based opposition to abortion and gay marriage, evangelical Christians are a key target of the massive Republican get-out-the-vote drive heading into next week's election. Party leaders consider conservative Christians to be as near a lock for President Bush as any group can be.

But GOP strategists might want to have a chat with Tim Moore, an evangelical who teaches civics at a traditional Christian school near Milwaukee. He shares Bush's religious convictions, but says the president has lost his vote because of tax cuts for the wealthy and the administration's shifting rationales for invading Iraq.

"There's no way I'm going for Bush. That much I know," said Moore, 46. He remains undecided between Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and a third-party candidate.

Moore reflects a potential problem for Bush in Wisconsin and other closely contested states, where the GOP and conservative groups have invested heavily in turning out a record conservative Christian vote through mailings, voter guides, targeted phone calls and announcements by prominent evangelists such as Jerry Falwell and James Dobson aired on religious radio stations.

...An estimated 80% of the evangelical vote went to Bush in 2000. But Bush's senior political strategist, Karl Rove, said after the 2000 election that the president might have won the race against Democrat Al Gore by a comfortable margin had 4 million more evangelicals gone to the polls rather than sitting out the election.

...A poll published last week by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that 70% of self-described evangelicals or born-again Christians planned to vote for the president, down from 74% in the same survey three weeks earlier. That was not only a slight decline, but lower than the 80% to 90% support that Bush campaign officials had been forecasting.

Karl Rove, the toad, has emerged from his cave, and slammed Bill Clinton for appearing in Philly. The scent of desperation and envy is in the air...
Karl Rove, Bush's chief political adviser, spoke dismissively of Clinton's scene-stealing pairing with Kerry. Seven weeks after quadruple bypass heart surgery, Clinton joined Kerry at a Philadelphia rally that packed cheering supporters shoulder-to-shoulder along three city blocks.

"They had to roll Clinton out of the operating room and onto the campaign trail in order to basically help Kerry with the weaknesses he has among core Democratic constituencies," Rove said, taking liberties with his depiction of the former president as a near-invalid.

Crap. The voter suppression tactics are reaching fever pitch. The latest is an attempt to keep 58,000 voters from receiving absentee ballots. Of course, it's Florida. (Local10 News)
that were supposed to mailed out on Oct. 7 and 8 could be missing.

The Broward County Supervisor of Elections office is saying only that the situation is "unusual," and they are looking into it.

Gisela Salas, Broward Deputy Elections Supervisor, said, "I hate to say 'missing' at this time because that has not yet be substantiated. Some ballots are starting to arrive. But there is an extraordinary delay."

An elections office representative told Local 10 that the office has investigated with the U.S. Post Office what might have happened to the ballots, but so far, no one has been able to figure it out.

"It is unusual. It's a puzzle on the part of our office and the postal service," Salas said. "Our office did make the delivery and the post office assures us they were processed. What happened is in question."

The postal service told Local 10 late Tuesday that they don't have 58,000 ballots floating around. They did say that they have several employees assigned to deal only with ballots and they are being delivered in one to two days -- once they get them.

As far as the voters go that haven't received their ballots, the elections office is now suggesting that they take the opportunity to vote early.

Since many who request absentee ballots cannot physically vote in their county, there are likely to be some angry voters.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

MSNBC has a story up on the conservatives irked by Bush's statement on civil unions.
Some conservative organizations sharply disagreed with Bush and pressed him to seek a constitutional amendment that would ban both gay marriage and civil unions.

“Civil unions are a government endorsement of homosexuality,” said Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute, an affiliate of Concerned Women For America. “But I don’t think President Bush has thought about it in that way. He seems to be striving for neutrality while defending marriage itself.” Knight said “counterfeits” of marriage, such as civil unions, “hurt the real thing.”

...The head of another group, the Campaign for California Families, said it, too, wants a sweeping constitutional amendment that bars civil unions and same-sex marriage.

“Here’s the truth, civil unions are homosexual marriage by another name,” said Randy Thomasson, the group’s executive director. “Civil unions rob marriage of its uniqueness and award homosexuals all the rights of marriage available under state law.”

“Bush needs to understand what’s going on and resist counterfeit marriages with all his might no matter what they’re called,” Thomasson said.

Think some fundies are going to stay home on election day?!

I have been surfing the Freeper site (I need a shower), and this one had me rolling...a security risk?
To: Eva
Civil unions should not be allowed period, it is a security risk to survival of the United States. Civil Unions are a perversion of our system of laws that are based on the principals of justice. The spirit of the law is to promote lives that are healthy and happy, not to promote self-destructive behavior.

In addition, I will repeat that civil unions are a security risk to the United States. I say this, because to go against the spirit of the law is to sellout. And when one sells out on principal, then evil enemies are encouraged because they know we have weakened ourselves from a character point of view, and that makes them smell blood. And we know how blood thirsty the enemy is.

87 posted on 10/26/2004 5:50:26 AM PDT by rodeo-mamma (the democrats always encourage our enemies)

Well, I thought he would sit out this election and not endorse anyone. Sully endorses Kerry (via TNR)...

So we have two risks. We have the risk of continuing with a presidency of palpable incompetence and rigidity. And we have the risk of embarking on a new administration with a man whose record as a legislator inspires little confidence in his capacity to rise to the challenges ahead. Which is the greater one?

You can tell the man is tortured by his decision...

Domestically, the [Bush] record is horrifying for a fiscal conservative. Ronald Reagan raised taxes in his first term when he had to; and he didn't have September 11 to contend with. Ronald Reagan also cut domestic spending. Bush has been unable to muster the conservative courage to do either. He has spent like a drunken liberal Democrat. He has failed to grapple with entitlement reform, as he once promised. He has larded up the tax code with endless breaks for corporate special interests; pork has metastasized; and he has tainted the cause of tax relief by concentrating too much of it on the wealthy. He has made the future boomer fiscal crunch far more acute by adding a hugely expensive new Medicare prescription drug entitlement.

He ran for election as a social moderate. But every single question in domestic social policy has been resolved to favor the hard-core religious right. His proposal to amend the constitution to deny an entire minority equal rights under the law is one of the most extreme, unnecessary, and divisive measures ever proposed in this country. And his response to all criticism--to duck the hardest questions, to reflexively redirect attention to the flaws of his opponents, and to stay within the confines of his own self-reinforcing coterie--has made him singularly unable to adjust, to learn from mistakes, to adapt to a fast-changing world. In peacetime, that's regrettable. In wartime, it's dangerous.

Oh, this must hurt for him to type this...

Domestically, Kerry is clearly Bush's fiscal superior. At least he acknowledges the existence of a fiscal problem, which this president cannot. In terms of the Supreme Court, I have far more confidence in Kerry's picks than Bush's. In 2000, Bush promised moderate, able judges; for the last four years, he has often selected rigid, ideological mediocrities. Obviously, Kerry's stand against a constitutional amendment to target gay citizens is also a critical factor for me, as a gay man. But I hope it is also a factor for straight men and women, people who may even differ on the issue of marriage, but see the appalling damage a constitutional amendment would do to the social fabric, and the Constitution itself. Kerry will also almost certainly face a Republican House, curtailing his worst liberal tendencies, especially in fiscal matters. Perhaps it will take a Democratic president to ratchet the Republican Party back to its fiscally responsible legacy. I'll take what I can get.

And when you think of what is happening in the two major parties, the case for a Kerry presidency strengthens. If Bush wins, the religious right, already dominant in Republican circles, will move the GOP even further toward becoming a sectarian, religious grouping. If Kerry loses, the antiwar left will move the party back into the purist, hate-filled wilderness, ceding untrammeled power to a resurgent, religious Republicanism--a development that will prove as polarizing abroad as it is divisive at home. But if Bush loses, the fight to recapture Republicanism from Big Government moralism will be given new energy; and if Kerry wins, the center of the Democratic party will gain new life. That, at least, is the hope. We cannot know for sure.

On the Bush/civil unions story, I smell flopsweat...the Freepers are fretting over's a sample:
-- Well, this should make some Bush supporters stay home. Or at least the NY Times/Kerry campaign hope so

--Can we step into any more potholes this final week?

--I don't believe this. The NYT is really going full boar trying to smear the President.

--I gotta think he's just pandering for the moderates or something. I'm disappointed, he needs to cater to his BASE.

--He's shooting for the Andrew Sullivan/Log Cabin vote.

--Gay marriage is one of my main issues as a Christian so this is very relevant to me.

--A civil union is the equivalent of marriage in all but name. I do oppose it and so do the American people.

--Wake up! Can you not see that every day now the NYTimes is trying to hit President Bush and help their boy, Kerry? Everyday!

--It is disgraceful. The Times is engaged in blatant political activism. It's as if Terry McAulliff is actually directing what hits he wants the Times to take on President Bush. It is so obvious. You are a hopeless fool if you fall for it, or succumb to it.

--I understand the difference between civil unions and gay marriage, but I'm strongly opposed to both. It's an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.

-- "Civil unions" give the blessing of the state to perversion and immorality.

--They are also unavoidable, as it's far too late in the game politically to stop them. Bush, the practical politician, realizes this. He also realizes that the existence of civil unions makes a ban on gay marriage more palatable to a lot of moderate voters than it would be if there were no alternatives.


So, is Bush trying to stop the voter slide by saying the GOP is wrong for not supporting civil unions? The folks on the Right are really going to choke on that. Naturally, this doesn't address the inequity of over 1000 federal benefits conveyed with civil marriage that gay couples are denied with a mere civil union.
Mr. Bush has previously said that states should be permitted to allow same-sex unions, even though White House officials have said he would not have endorsed such unions as governor of Texas. But Mr. Bush has never before made a point of so publicly disagreeing with his party's official position on the issue.

In an interview on Sunday with Charles Gibson, an anchor of "Good Morning America" on ABC, Mr. Bush said, "I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that's what a state chooses to do so." ABC, which broadcast part of the interview on Monday, is to broadcast the part about civil unions on Tuesday.

According to an ABC transcript, Mr. Gibson then noted to Mr. Bush that the Republican Party platform opposed civil unions.

"Well, I don't," Mr. Bush replied.

He added: "I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights. And I strongly believe that marriage ought to be defined as between a union between a man and a woman. Now, having said that, states ought to be able to have the right to pass laws that enable people to be able to have rights like others."

Mr. Gibson then asked, "So the Republican platform on that point, as far as you're concerned, is wrong?"

"Right," Mr. Bush replied.

Why doesn't the bastard just pick the taxpayer's pocket for his follies? He wants $70 billion more in "emergency funds" for his war efforts. I'm sure he isn't talking about THAT on the campaign trail. (WP):
The Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs close to $225 billion since the invasion of Iraq early last year, Pentagon and congressional officials said yesterday.

White House budget office spokesman Chad Kolton emphasized that final decisions on the supplemental spending request will not be made until shortly before the request is sent to Congress. That may not happen until early February, when President Bush submits his budget for fiscal 2006, assuming he wins reelection.

But Pentagon and House Appropriations Committee aides said the Defense Department and military services are scrambling to get their final requests to the White House Office of Management and Budget by mid-November, shortly after the election. The new numbers underscore that the war is going to be far more costly and intense, and last longer, than the administration first suggested.

The Army is expected to request at least an additional $30 billion for combat activity in Iraq, with $6 billion more needed to begin refurbishing equipment that has been worn down or destroyed by unexpectedly intense combat, another Appropriations Committee aide said. The deferral of needed repairs over the past year has added to maintenance costs, which can no longer be delayed, a senior Pentagon official said.

The Army is expected to ask for as much as $10 billion more for its conversion to a swifter expeditionary force. The Marines will come in with a separate request, as will the Defense Logistics Agency and other components of the Department of Defense. The State Department will need considerably more money to finance construction and operations at the sprawling embassy complex in Baghdad. The Central Intelligence Agency's request would come on top of those.

The U.S. has really been providing and example of moral leadership (Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, etc.). Now the NYT reports that the Bushies have been relying on a legal opinion that non-Iraqi prisoners captured by American forces in Iraq are sh*t out of luck if they think they are protected by the Geneva Conventions.
The opinion, reached in recent months, establishes an important exception to public assertions by the Bush administration since March 2003 that the Geneva Conventions applied comprehensively to prisoners taken in the conflict in Iraq, the officials said.

They said the opinion would essentially allow the military and the C.I.A. to treat at least a small number of non-Iraqi prisoners captured in Iraq in the same way as members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban captured in Afghanistan, Pakistan or elsewhere, for whom the United States has maintained that the Geneva Conventions do not apply.

Monday, October 25, 2004

AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian

Big Bill is back giving Kerry a boost in Philly. (MSNBC)
A smiling, energetic former President Clinton campaigned for Democratic Sen. John Kerry on Monday just seven weeks after undergoing heart surgery, telling a crowd of thousands that President Bush and Republicans are trying to “scare the undecided voters” away from the Democrat.

“If this isn’t good for my heart, I don’t know what is,” Clinton said of the enthusiastic response from the crowd.

...“From time to time, I have been called the comeback kid. In eight days, John Kerry is going to make America the comeback country,” Clinton said to cheers.

...“Isn’t it great to have Bill Clinton back on the trail?” Kerry said, drawing thunderous applause.

Kerry drew cheers of delight when he said that he had asked Clinton “if there’s anything you have in common with George W. Bush? He thought for a moment and he said, ’In eight days and 12 hours, we will both be former presidents.”’

Another must-see ad, this one from, which goes for the jugular in juxtaposing Shrub reading The Pet Goat and people fleeing the WTC. Lots of people on the blogs have talked about developing this kind of ad, but until now, I haven't seen one. This is effective.

The organization also has an ad similar to the Win Back Respect ad that capitalizes on Bush's unbelievable joking about looking for WMDs around the Oval Office.

"Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere..." Bush joked, playing a slide show of the president playfully looking around the Oval Office for WMDs...

...Brooke Campbell lost her brother in Iraq. He was looking for those WMDs. Win Back Respect, a group supported by George Soros and, has a powerful new ad up (QT and WMA) that hits hard. It's called "He Just Doesn't Get It."

Nothing like your president doing a standup routing at the annual Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner when men and women are dying over there because of your policies. Get this bastard out of office.

I was pointed to this story via David Corn's blog.

Sh*t. Anyone left that is a fence sitter on this election or doesn't think their vote means anything needs to get off their ass and VOTE. AP: Rehnquist Hospitalized With Cancer in Md.

This is so out of control -- a DKos diary by scottmaui on a Hawaii Republican state senate candidate that supports execution of gays. His name is Robert Finberg, a pastor for the Christian Fellowship Church. He is a freakshow.

Video is here (WMA):

The fun begins about halfway through. From scottmaui:
Finberg was interviewed by Forrest Bradford, who has a show called Religious Phonies on local cable access channel AKAKU.

After explaining his creationist views of history's timeline, Finberg was asked: "If there was a law that supported the execution of people found guilty of performing homosexual acts, would you support that law?"

After stating "Unfortunately, nearly 300,000 Americans have suffered the death penalty as a result of homosexual activity," Finberg answered, "Yes, if it were the law of the land. Yes."

The video is hosted on a site exposing Republican Congressional candidate Mike Gabbard, who is challenging my congressman, Rep. Ed Case, for HI-02 (Rural Oahu and neighbor islands). Gabbard was endorsed by Finberg, who said they "share the same beliefs." Gabbard was a leading figure in the Hawaii constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

How does something like this happen? A huge cache of explosives, supposedly secured by American forces in Iraq, has disappeared. The NYT reports that 380 tons, yes TONS, of explosives that are nicely all-purpose -- they can be used to demo buildings, serve as missile warheads and detonate nukes.

Things are really "up in the air", aren't they? More Bush/Rummy incompetence. This could have horrific impact on global terrorism.
The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no man's land, still picked over by looters as recently as Sunday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year.

The White House said President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was informed within the past month that the explosives were missing. It is unclear whether President Bush was informed. American officials have never publicly announced the disappearance, but beginning last week they answered questions about it posed by The New York Times and the CBS News program "60 Minutes."

Administration officials said Sunday that the Iraq Survey Group, the C.I.A. task force that searched for unconventional weapons, has been ordered to investigate the disappearance of the explosives.

American weapons experts say their immediate concern is that the explosives could be used in major bombing attacks against American or Iraqi forces: the explosives, mainly HMX and RDX, could produce bombs strong enough to shatter airplanes or tear apart buildings.

The bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 used less than a pound of the same type of material, and larger amounts were apparently used in the bombing of a housing complex in November 2003 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the blasts in a Moscow apartment complex in September 1999 that killed nearly 300 people.

The explosives could also be used to trigger a nuclear weapon, which was why international nuclear inspectors had kept a watch on the material, and even sealed and locked some of it. The other components of an atom bomb - the design and the radioactive fuel - are more difficult to obtain.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Bush is so f*cking stupid. Please let this nightmare be over soon.
President Bush said it is "up in the air" whether the United States can ever be fully safe from terrorism, prompting an attack from Democrat John Kerry's campaign that Bush was sending a mixed message.

Bush's comment, made in a television interview, surfaced as he campaigned in New Mexico, a state he lost narrowly to Democrat Al Gore and is in a tight contest this year for its five electoral votes.

Bush told the Fox News Channel's "Hannity and Colmes" show, taped on Saturday and released on Sunday, that U.S. security was "much better" since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"Whether or not we can be ever fully safe is up -- you know, is up in the air. I would hope we could make it a lot more safe by staying on the offensive," he said.

Good old James Dobson. He's a fundamentalist bad penny that turns up every so often to spew hate and stupidity. He's up to his latest tricks in the OK campaign for the Senate, between Dem Brad Carson's and Republican candidate Tom Coburn. Tpday's colorful comment is par for the course. Apparently gay marriage is a threat to the earth itself.
Dobson warned those attending the Friday afternoon rally at Oklahoma Christian University that the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman must be protected.

He cited examples of countries such as Norway that have allowed same-sex couples to marry as proof that fewer men and women get married.

Dobson said 80 percent of children are born out of wedlock in Norway.

"Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage," Dobson said.

"It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth."

Was pointed to this by Sully's column.

Bunny Greenhouse questioned Halliburton's cozy relationship with the Bush admin, and is being hung out to dry as a whistleblower. Photo: Time

Finally, someone brave came forward to rat out on Halliburton. This corrupt alliance with the Bush administration for no-bid contracts for billions of our tax dollars is out of control. And are you surprised when someone questions is, they receive threats and intimidation.
In February 2003, less than a month before the U.S. invaded Iraq, Bunnatine (Bunny) Greenhouse walked into a Pentagon meeting and with a quiet comment started what could be the end of her career. On the agenda was the awarding of an up to $7 billion deal to a subsidiary of Houston-based conglomerate Halliburton to restore Iraq's oil facilities. On hand were senior officials from the office of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and aides to retired Lieut. General Jay Garner, who would soon become the first U.S. administrator in Iraq.

Then several representatives from Halliburton entered. Greenhouse, a top contracting specialist for the Army Corps of Engineers, grew increasingly concerned that they were privy to internal discussions of the contract's terms, so she whispered to the presiding general, insisting that he ask the Halliburton employees to leave the room.

Once they had gone, Greenhouse raised other concerns. She argued that the five-year term for the contract, which had not been put out for competitive bid, was not justified, that it should be for one year only and then be opened to competition. But when the contract-approval document arrived the next day for Greenhouse's signature, the term was five years. With war imminent, she had little choice but to sign. But she added a handwritten reservation that extending a no-bid contract beyond one year could send a message that "there is not strong intent for a limited competition."

Greenhouse's objections, which had not been made public until now, will probably fuel criticism of the government's allegedly cozy relationship with Halliburton and could be greeted with calls for further investigation. Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) subsidiary has been mired in allegations of overcharging and mismanagement in Iraq, and the government in January replaced the noncompetitive oil-field contract that Greenhouse had objected to and made two competitively bid awards instead. (Halliburton won the larger contract, worth up to $1.2 billion, for repairing oil installations in southern Iraq, while Parsons Corp. got one for the north, worth up to $800 million.) Halliburton's Iraq business, which includes another government contract as well, has been under particular scrutiny because Vice President Dick Cheney was once its CEO. The Pentagon, concerned about potential controversy when it signed the original oil-work contract, gave Cheney's staff a heads-up beforehand. (TIME disclosed that alert in June.)

Greenhouse seems to have got nothing but trouble for questioning the deal. Warned to stop interfering and threatened with a demotion, the career Corps employee decided to act on her conscience, according to her lawyer, Michael Kohn. Kohn, who has represented other federal whistle-blowers, last week sent a letter—obtained by TIME from congressional sources—on her behalf to the acting Secretary of the Army. In it Kohn recounts Greenhouse's Pentagon meeting and demands an investigation of alleged violations of Army regulations in the contract's awarding. (The Pentagon justified the contract procedures as necessary in a time of war, saying KBR was the only choice because of security clearances that it had received earlier.) Kohn charges that Greenhouse's superiors have tried to silence her; he says she has agreed to be interviewed, pending approval from her employer, but the Army failed to make her available despite repeated requests from TIME.

Iraq is going well. Safety is increasing every day. Iraqis are being trained to take over security so we don't need a draft, right? Except they are being killed before they can make it to their first day on the job. (NYT):
In one of their boldest and most brutal attacks yet, insurgents waylaid three minibuses carrying U.S.-trained Iraqi soldiers heading home on leave and massacred about 50 of them -- many of them shot in the head execution-style, officials said Sunday.

The killing of so many Iraqi soldiers -- unarmed and in civilian clothes -- in such an apparently sure-footed operation reinforced American and Iraqi suspicions that the country's security services have been infiltrated by insurgents.

Elsewhere, a U.S. diplomat was killed Sunday morning when a rebel-fired rocket or mortar shell crashed into the trailer where he was sleeping at an American base near the Baghdad airport, the U.S. Embassy announced.

Edward Seitz, an agent with the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, was believed to be the first U.S. diplomat killed in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.

The unarmed Iraqi soldiers were killed on their way home after completing a training course at the Kirkush military camp northeast of Baghdad when their buses were stopped Saturday evening by rebels near the Iranian border about 95 miles east of Baghdad, Interior Ministry spokesman Adnan Abdul-Rahman said.

Some accounts by police said the rebels were dressed in Iraqi military uniforms.

There was confusion over precise figures, although the Iraqi National Guard said 48 troops and three drivers were killed.

Abdul-Rahman said 37 bodies were found Sunday on the ground with their hands behind their backs, shot in the head execution-style. Twelve others were found in a burned bus, he said. Some officials quoted witnesses as saying insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades at one bus.

They're not showing up for duty.
More than 800 former soldiers have failed to comply with Army orders to get back in uniform and report for duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, the Army said Friday. That is more than one-third of the total who were told to report to a mobilization station by October 17.

Three weeks ago the number stood at 622 amid talk that any who refused to report for duty could be declared Absent Without Leave. Refusing to report for duty normally would lead to AWOL charges, but the Army is going out of its way to resolve these cases as quietly as possible.

In all, 4,166 members of the Individual Ready Reserve have received mobilization orders since July 6, of which 2,288 were to have reported by October 17. The others are to report in coming weeks and months.

Of those due to have reported by now, 1,445 have done so, but 843 have neither reported nor asked for a delay or exemption. That no-show rate of 37 percent is roughly in line with the one-third rate the Army had forecast when it began the mobilization to fill positions in regular and Reserve units. By comparison, the no-show total of 622 three weeks ago equated to a 35 percent rate.

Of the 843, the Army has had follow-up contact with 383 and is seeking to resolve their cases, according to figures made public Friday. For the 460 others, "We are still working to establish positive contact," the Army said. Some may not have received the mailed orders.

Members of the Individual Ready Reserve, or IRR, are rarely called to active duty. The last time was 1990, when nearly 20,000 were mobilized. IRR members are people who were honorably discharged after finishing their active-duty tours, usually four to six years, but remained in the IRR for the rest of the eight-year commitment they made when they joined the Army. They are separate from the reserve troops who are more routinely mobilized -- the National Guard and Reserve.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The rigging and theft of the election has begun. Take a look at the GOP's tactics in Ohio.
In yet another sign of how fiercely Ohio will be contested in the Nov. 2 presidential election, Republicans challenged 35,427 newly registered voters yesterday. And both parties named thousands of people to be challengers at the polls.

The Ohio GOP said it is questioning new voters in 65 counties where mail sent to them was returned as undeliverable.

But overburdened elections officials were left wondering how to comply with a state law requiring a hearing on each challenge no later than two days before the election.

"I’m not sure how we’re going to accomplish this," said John Williams, deputy elections director in Hamilton County. "We’ve never had anything like this before."

Those who have been challenged must receive a letter by first-class mail no later than three days before a hearing to answer the challenge — with a lawyer and witnesses, if they choose.

In Franklin County, where 4,219 challenges were filed, officials are considering using the Veterans Memorial auditorium to hold hearings.

"Burden or not, we’ll do it to the best of our ability," said Matthew Damschroder, county elections director.

Damschroder said hearings can be short — showing a driver’s license or utility bill can prove residency. But if mail was returned once, hearing notices also might be returned — meaning no hearing can be held.

William Anthony Jr., chairman of both the Franklin County elections board and the county Democratic Party, said public notices might be appropriate to ensure new voters know they have been challenged.

Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, stressed the challenges will not result in voters being turned away from polling places on Election Day.

"If an individual’s registration is deemed invalid by (a county election’s) board and the person shows up at the poll on Election Day, they will be given a provisional ballot," LoParo said.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Surfed by Electoral Vote Predictor and happened upon a nice chart on the Supreme's appointments and the threat of a Bush re-selection to our basic freedoms if any retire (which is very likely).
One issue that has been totally absent from the campaign is the Supreme Court. The median age of the justices is 68. No spring chickens here except for Clarence Thomas, a mere stripling at 56.

It is very likely than multiple vacancies will occur on the Court in the next four years. The court will undoubtedly have to rule on cases involving abortion, the Patriot Act, and other divisive issues. If you are an undecided voter, think carefully about which candidate would make better appointments to the Supreme Court. Furthermore, a president makes far more appointment to the appellate courts than to the Supreme Court, and they hear far more cases per year.
Today's count, BTW: Kerry 257, Bush 271. It was tipping Kerry yesterday. What a volatile election.

Sully points to a heinous, homophobic ad from a site called Throughout the ad, it implies that Kerry and Edwards are queer and fawning over one another, interspersing "suggestive" images and imaginary dialog balloons of offensive comments of Kerry dissing Teresa H.K. It's beyond stupid. It only tells me that the juvenile frat boy mindset of the GOP is alive and well and playing to its base. They even manage to throw old Ted Kennedy in there as a jilted lover of Kerry. Of course it ends with the above image of "manly GWB" -- Chimpy with a football. He's no homo, eh? God, what a get out the vote campaign.

This is, of course, the kind of ad that screams "closet case" about its creator -- they've thought about this just a wee bit too hard...

The Washington Blade reports that it looks like there's a little in-house fighting going on under the Log Cabin Republican's big tent.
The board of directors of the national gay group Log Cabin Republicans is renewing the group’s contract for Executive director Patrick Guerriero for at least two more years after praising his leadership skills and dismissing critics who claim he has been too adversarial toward President Bush.

“We have full confidence in Patrick,” said Bill Brownson, a Columbus, Ohio, GOP activist who chairs the Log Cabin board.

Brownson and two LCR board members from Washington, D.C. — Tim Schoeffler, the board’s vice chair, and Bob Kabel, a former Reagan administration official — said the board believes Guerriero has done an excellent job in leading the group through an election year minefield in which Log Cabin chose not to endorse a sitting GOP president.

But in recent weeks, sources familiar with the Log Cabin group have reported learning of discontent among the ranks of a small but influential corps of gay Republicans who believe Guerriero has gone beyond the board’s non-endorsement mandate by harshly criticizing the president in television appearances and newspaper commentaries.

The sources, who agreed to be interviewed only on condition that their identities be withheld, said Guerriero and his top lieutenant, Political Director Christopher Barron, have “aided and abetted” Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry through their media criticism of the president.

Guerriero and Barron have said they accepted invitations to appear on television news programs to promote their efforts to defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment, the proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage. Log Cabin paid for a series of television ads opposing the legislation.

Some of the critics have circulated anonymous e-mail messages claiming that Barron “worked” for Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards, the senator from North Carolina, before Guerriero hired him at LCR.

Was the air fare too high? Must be due to the spiraling gas prices. Man's body found in wheel well of Miami-Detroit plane.

This just about says it all about these fanatics. Cripe. They think they can co-opt God? Thanks to Atrios.

"The Body" endorses Kerry:
Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura has officially endorsed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

The announcement was made during a 30-minute news conference at the State Office Building. The former Minnesota was there, but did not make any comments.

Just days ago, Ventura had said that he did not plan to support Kerry or President Bush this election year.

Also at the news conference was former Maine Gov. Angus King, who was the only other third-party governor during Ventura's years in office. He said Ventura changed his mind and decided to endorse Kerry.

Organizers didn't even know Ventura was going to show up until the news conference started. He told reporters who followed him out to his car afterward that he'll be doing interviews in Los Angeles.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

This should make your stomach turn. The Bush supporters are little more than a herd of sheep.according to this report.
Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.

Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.

These are some of the findings of a new study of the differing perceptions of Bush and Kerry supporters, conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes and Knowledge Networks, based on polls conducted in September and October.

Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments, "One of the reasons that Bush supporters have these beliefs is that they perceive the Bush administration confirming them. Interestingly, this is one point on which Bush and Kerry supporters agree." Eighty-two percent of Bush supporters perceive the Bush administration as saying that Iraq had WMD (63%) or that Iraq had a major WMD program (19%). Likewise, 75% say that the Bush administration is saying Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda. Equally large majorities of Kerry supporters hear the Bush administration expressing these views--73% say the Bush administration is saying Iraq had WMD (11% a major program) and 74% that Iraq was substantially supporting al Qaeda.

Steven Kull adds, "Another reason that Bush supporters may hold to these beliefs is that they have not accepted the idea that it does not matter whether Iraq had WMD or supported al Qaeda. Here too they are in agreement with Kerry supporters." Asked whether the US should have gone to war with Iraq if US intelligence had concluded that Iraq was not making WMD or providing support to al Qaeda, 58% of Bush supporters said the US should not have, and 61% assume that in this case the President would not have. Kull continues, "To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance, and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about prewar Iraq."

..."The roots of the Bush supporters' resistance to information," according to Steven Kull, "very likely lie in the traumatic experience of 9/11 and equally in the near pitch-perfect leadership that President Bush showed in its immediate wake. This appears to have created a powerful bond between Bush and his supporters--and an idealized image of the President that makes it difficult for his supporters to imagine that he could have made incorrect judgments before the war, that world public opinion could be critical of his policies or that the President could hold foreign policy positions that are at odds with his supporters."

The Bosox are in the World Series. They were, indeed a miracle team in the playoffs. I didn't watch, incidentally, even though I am a generally a Yankee fan (my heyday of fandom was the '77-78 team).

However...I am a firm believer in the curse. And I fully expect for them to go down in another heartbreaker, courtesy of the Bambino, hahahaha. I think back to the beauty of 1986, when that Mookie Wilson squibber went through Buckner's legs...


Also, it looks like Paul Hamm, Olympic gymnast, gets to keep his gold medal.
"This is, obviously, a great day for me," Hamm said. "The decision from CAS confirms what I've always felt in my heart, which is that I was champion that night and Olympic gold medalist."

The decision by a three-judge panel from the Court of Arbitration for Sport ends a saga that began more than two months ago when South Korea's Yang Tae-young claimed a scoring error cost him the title.

Yang asked the court to order international gymnastics officials to change the results, and adjust the medal rankings so he would get the gold and Hamm the silver. But the CAS panel dismissed the appeal, leaving Hamm with the gold and Yang with his bronze. Kim Dae-eun of South Korea was the silver medalist.

The verdict is final and cannot be appealed.

"An error identified with the benefit of hindsight, whether admitted or not, cannot be a ground for reversing a result of a competition," the CAS panel said.


Back in August, there was another controversy about Hamm's PR flaks turning away a NY Blade reporter to avoid being associated with anything queer. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Election could tip balance of Supreme Court. But we all know that. It's why Bush cannot be elected. It's too frightening a concept, since it looks like between one and four may retire. If hardliners are appointed, we can kiss several things goodbye -- abortion rights, gay rights, privacy name it.
All but one of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices is over 65, and many Court watchers expect at least one, perhaps as many as four, retirements in the next four years.

Any change could potentially have enormous political, social and legal implications on a range of hot-button issues.

"It could change the way this country operates for the next 40 years, well beyond the time the president is in power," said Paul Rothstein, a Georgetown University law professor.

The issue has come up in two presidential debates and is hotly debated among a number of political and issues groups, who have used a possible change on the Court to rally supporters and raise money for their causes.

Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic challenger has also aired television ads. In one from April, a narrator says, "The Supreme Court is just one vote away from outlawing a woman's right to choose. George Bush will appoint anti-choice, anti-privacy justices. But you can stop him. Help elect John Kerry."

One reason for voter interest is that a closely divided electorate mirrors the Supreme Court's current ideological makeup, and a change of a singe justice could quickly shift the future of laws affecting abortion, death penalty, gay rights, race relations, religious expression, and the power of the federal government to override state laws.

The Big Dog is back. Clinton, still in recovery, is going to stump for Kerry in Philly.
Former President Clinton will appear with Sen. John Kerry at a lunchtime rally in Philadelphia Monday in what Democrats hope will be a boost to the presidential ticket in a crucial battleground state.

The two-term former president also will campaign separately for the Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Lockhart, an adviser to Kerry and former Clinton press secretary, said Wednesday.

Clinton, who is recovering from heart surgery, has agreed to the appearance for his fellow Democrat, who is locked in a tight race against President Bush.

Clinton has spent the last six weeks recovering from quadruple bypass surgery, with doctors instructing him to get plenty of rest. Kerry campaign officials have eagerly awaited word of whether Clinton could get out to personally encourage voters to support the Democratic presidential nominee.

Earlier Tuesday, during a stop in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Kerry told a local TV station that Clinton may come help him in that state, where polls showed the Democrat tied with Bush. McCurry said the campaign hopes the former president will be strong enough to visit other battlegrounds, as well.

...Even though he has not been traveling, Clinton regularly phones Kerry and his aides to offer advice. He also has agreed to tape a phone message that will be delivered to voters' homes, and he may record radio advertisements.

The News Journal/FRED COMEGYS

We think it, Joe Biden says it -- Bush is brain dead. He was referring to Bush's stance on prescription drugs.
Biden criticized the administration's prescription drug policies and their impact on consumers. "He is brain dead," Biden said of the president. His comment was greeted with loud applause at the UAW Local 435 union hall in Cranston Heights but quickly drew the ire of Delaware Republicans.

"Sen. Biden should be ashamed of his below-the-belt rhetoric and personal attacks on the president," said David Crossan, executive director of the state's Republican Party. "Challenging policies is one thing, but calling someone 'brain dead' crosses the line."

Many of the union members and retirees who attended the rally didn't think Biden's comments were out of line.

They said in the past they often crossed party lines to support the late U.S. Sen. Bill Roth, a conservative Republican who spent more than three decades in the Senate, and continue to vote for U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, a moderate Republican. However, they would have a hard time supporting Bush, they said, because of his administration's policies.

"The senator wasn't talking the political talk, he was pretty straightforward. That's what we wanted and that's what we got, straight talk," said Bill Wasik, Local 435's vice president. "Basically, the senator said that the Bush administration isn't listening to the working men and women, and that's true."

Local 435 recording secretary Nancy Smith said that while Biden's speech was "very emotional" she did not think his comments were off base.

You know they are running scared when they have to trot Condi Rice out to stump for the dumbass. (WP):
"In the weeks leading up to the Nov. 2 election, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice has traveled across the country making speeches in key battleground states, including Oregon, Washington, North Carolina and Ohio. In the next five days, she also plans speeches in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida.

The frequency and location of her speeches differ sharply from those before this election year -- and appear to break with the long-standing precedent that the national security adviser try to avoid overt involvement in the presidential campaign. Her predecessors generally restricted themselves to an occasional speech, often in Washington, but counting next week's speeches, Rice will have made nine outside Washington since Labor Day. "

My main tickle about this piece is the fact that my state, NC, is now in play as a swing state that needs to be tended to in the home stretch. Bush is up only 50-47, which is within the margin of error. In 2000, for instance, it was strongly in the Red zone, 56 Bush, 43 Kerry.

A brilliant web effort just launched.

It's written and produced by John Aravosis and Matt Stoller, edited by Shaula Evans, and built by Kyle Shank. Everyone stop and pay a visit. Barbara and Jenna never looked so good going to Spring Break Fallujah 2005.

Pat Robertson thinks the President has a few loose screws regarding Iraq. Apparently he thought he could wage war without anyone dying -- is he crazy?:
"The founder of the U.S. Christian Coalition said Tuesday he told President George W. Bush before the invasion of Iraq that he should prepare Americans for the likelihood of casualties, but the president told him, 'We're not going to have any casualties.'

Pat Robertson, an ardent Bush supporter, said he had that conversation with the president in Nashville, Tennessee, before the March 2003 invasion U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He described Bush in the meeting as 'the most self-assured man I've ever met in my life.'

'You remember Mark Twain said, 'He looks like a contented Christian with four aces.' I mean he was just sitting there like, 'I'm on top of the world,' ' Robertson said on the CNN show, 'Paula Zahn Now.'
'And I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you had better prepare the American people for casualties.' '

Robertson said the president then told him, 'Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties.'

The White House has made no reaction to Robertson's comments. "

Tommy Thompson thinks old folks shouldn't stand in lines waiting for the vaccine. Well, Congress doesn't have to. Susan Walsh, AP

The WP reveals that -- surprise -- flu vaccines are plentiful in the Capitol, and available to all. This of course, is in conflict with what both the President and Tommy Thompson advised the public. Guess we're not special...
"While many Americans search in vain for flu shots, members and employees of Congress are able to obtain them quickly and at no charge from the Capitol's attending physician, who has urged all 535 lawmakers to get the vaccines even if they are young and healthy.

The physician's office has dispensed nearly 2,000 flu shots this fall, and doses remained available yesterday. That is a steep drop from last year's 9,000 shots, a spokesman for attending physician John F. Eisold said, because many congressional employees have voluntarily abided by federal guidelines that call for this season's limited supply to go mainly to the elderly, the very young, pregnant women, long-term-care patients and people with chronic illnesses.

But people of all ages who are credentialed to work in the Capitol can get a shot by saying they meet the guidelines, with no further questions asked, said the spokesman, who cited office policy in demanding anonymity.

...Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.), a heart surgeon, sent letters urging his 99 colleagues to get the shots because they mingle and shake hands with so many people, his spokeswoman, Amy Call, said. She said she did not know how many senators have taken his advice.

...Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson reiterated the Bush administration's guidelines at a news conference yesterday afternoon at his department's headquarters at the foot of Capitol Hill.

"What we are telling people is: If you are not in a priority category, do not get the shot," he said. "If you are one of the doctors who got vaccine in the early shipments, please do not give it to people who are not in one of the classifications I have just spelled out."

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

WTF?! Cheney: Terrorists May Bomb U.S. Cities.
"The biggest threat we face now as a nation is the possibility of terrorists ending up in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever before been used against us — biological agents or a nuclear weapon or a chemical weapon of some kind to be able to threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans," Cheney said.

"That's the ultimate threat. For us to have a strategy that's capable of defeating that threat, you've got to get your mind around that concept," Cheney said.

Cheney, speaking to an invitation-only crowd as he began a bus tour through Republican strongholds in Ohio, said Kerry is trying to convince voters he would be the same type of "tough, aggressive" leader as President Bush in the fight against terrorism.

Give me a f*cking break. I'm tired of the Catholic church demonizing gay people. They've got a lot of moral housekeeping to take care of before condemning (and excommunicating) people.
A high ranking Vatican official has denounced what he calls a powerful cultural, economic and political lobby that is drowning out the voice of the Pope - gay civil rights groups and organizations supporting a woman's right to choose.

Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, the former Papal Nuncio to the UN and now the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace said the groups were "inspired mainly by anti-Christian prejudices".

"It is enough to think of how nonchalantly and blithely, yet tenaciously, these lobbies promote confusion over the role of gender identity, mock marriage between a man and a women, and take aim against life itself which is made the object of absurd forms of experimentation," Cardinal Martino said Monday.

If only the plane had begun rolling...Bush Adviser Lays Under Air Force One.

Canada says "enough already" to Americans buying cheaper drugs from them, and I don't blame them. It seemed like it took a while before someone there pointed a finger and said "fix your damn healthcare system." (AP) reports that groups in the country are moblizing to ban the export of prescription drugs. The heart of the problem is the last paragraph of the article excerpt below. Big Pharma wants to squeeze every last dollar out of the American wallet BECAUSE IT CAN.

I was asked by my endocrinologist to speak to a group of sales reps from Novartis two weeks ago. During the Q&A, one dumbass rep actually had the nerve to ask me what I thought of the pharmaceutical industry, since his own brother rails on him about prescription drug costs.

Needless to say, I spent the next 10 minutes politely lecturing him on their role in f*cking up the American healthcare system. I turned around and asked him why did he think it said about the system that U.S. dollars are crossing the border to buy the same damn Novartis drugs in Canada for half the price.

He tried the usual weak defense of that they need to invest in R&D to develop new drugs, blah, blah, blah...Then I reminded him of the millions spent by Big Pharma pimping marketing materials at doctors, wining and dining them and tossing more millions away on commercials on television. That's not R&D.

His response was "we're in the business to make a profit and it's necessary to meet and market to our customers -- the doctors.

At least he was downright blunt about who they are actually serving, and it's not the consumers that actually need the medicines to stay alive.

It was good I had the forum to vent, though. It was priceless to see the silent room full of long faces. I'm sure they were sorry that their colleague asked the question.
Canadians must stop Americans from using Internet pharmacies to raid its medicine chest or face a drug shortage, a coalition of Canadian groups representing seniors, pharmacies and patients has warned.

The groups, claiming to represent 10 million Canadians, or about one-third the population, called on the Canadian government Monday to ban prescription drug exports.

They argue that Canada cannot afford to address U.S. drug shortages and soaring prescription costs with its own stock, which are often considerably cheaper for Americans because of government price controls.

"It is completely untenable to think that Canada could supply their needs and our own for even one month, let along on an ongoing basis," said Louise Binder of the Canadian Treatment Action Council and Best Medicines Coalition.

Binder said she has heard that in Winnipeg, Manitoba, there is a shortage of desperately needed cancer drugs that are readily available to American consumers through Internet pharmacies based in Canada.

Canada regulates drug prices as part of its national health care system, while the market dictates pricing in the United States. Many popular medications for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol can be bought in Canada at less than half the U.S. price.

U.S.-based drug makers Pfizer Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP and Wyeth have cut supplies to some Canadian pharmacies when they suspected orders were too large for the Canadian market and were being sold to Americans.

Monday, October 18, 2004

draft. Draft. DRAFT. U.S. Has Contingency Plans for a Draft of Medical Workers (NYT). Well, it's hit the big media now, after bouncing around the blogs for a while:
The Selective Service has been updating its contingency plans for a draft of doctors, nurses and other health care workers in case of a national emergency that overwhelms the military's medical corps.

In a confidential report this summer, a contractor hired by the agency described how such a draft might work, how to secure compliance and how to mold public opinion and communicate with health care professionals, whose lives could be disrupted.

On the one hand, the report said, the Selective Service System should establish contacts in advance with medical societies, hospitals, schools of medicine and nursing, managed care organizations, rural health care providers and the editors of medical journals and trade publications.

On the other hand, it said, such contacts must be limited, low key and discreet because "overtures from Selective Service to the medical community will be seen as precursors to a draft," and that could alarm the public.

In this election year, the report said, "very few ideas or activities are viewed without some degree of cynicism."

President Bush has flatly declared that there will be no draft, but Senator John Kerry has suggested that this is a possibility if Mr. Bush is re-elected.

Richard S. Flahavan, a spokesman for the Selective Service System, said Monday: "We have been routinely updating the entire plan for a health care draft. The plan is on the shelf and will remain there unless Congress and the president decide that it's needed and direct us to carry it out."

The Selective Service does not decide whether a draft will occur. It would carry out the mechanics only if the president and Congress authorized a draft.

Al Gore ripped Bush a new one today.
"I'm convinced that most of the president's frequent departures from fact-based analysis have much more to do with right-wing political and economic ideology than with the Bible," Gore said in a speech at Georgetown University.

"It is love of power for its own sake that is the original sin of this presidency," he said.

He painted the Bush administration and its "right-wing" supporters as pursuing policies for the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the rest of the country.

"The essential cruelty of Bush's game is that he takes an astonishingly selfish and greedy collection of economic and political proposals and then cloaks them with a phony moral authority, thus misleading many Americans ... who have a deep and genuine desire to do good in the world," Gore said.

"And in the process, he convinces them to lend unquestioning support for proposals that actually hurt their families and their communities," he said.

"Truly, President Bush has stolen the symbolism and body language of religion and used it to disguise the most radical effort in American history to take what rightfully belongs to the American people and give as much of it as possible to the already wealthy and privileged," he said.

Literally...HOLY SH*T. There is news out there that Kerry will be excommunicated for his pro-choice views. This church-state/political-personal problem is not going to go away -- it will have legs. (
A consultant to the Vatican has said Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has incurred the penalty of excommunication from the Catholic Church.

The consultant made his statement in a highly unusual letter to Marc Balestrieri, a Los Angeles canon lawyer who formally sued John Kerry in ecclesiastical court for heresy.

Balestrieri, who launched his case earlier this year by filing a heresy complaint in Kerry's home archdiocese of Boston, told EWTN's "World Over" program on Friday that he had received an unusual, indirect communication from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the pro-abortion stance.

That communication provides a basis, he said, to declare that any Catholic politician who says he is "personally opposed to abortion, but supports a woman's right to choose," incurs automatic excommunication. It also provided a basis for Balestrieri to broaden his canonical actions and file additional complaints against four more pro-abortion Catholic politicians: Democrat Senators Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Tom Harkin of Iowa; Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine; and former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, a Democrat.

...[Father Basil Cole, a Dominican theologian and consultant to the congregation based in Washington, DC] wrote, "If a Catholic publicly and obstinately supports the civil right to abortion, knowing that the Church teaches officially against that legislation, he or she commits that heresy envisioned by Can. 751 of the Code [of Canon Law]. Provided that the presumptions of knowledge of the law and penalty and imputability are not rebutted in the external forum, one is automatically excommunicated ...."

...Balestrieri, a self-identified political independent, says that his actions come as a defender of the faith and Holy Eucharist from sacrilege and scandal, not as one focused on an electoral outcome. "Our victory can come as early as today: It would be for Sen. Kerry, who publicly calls himself a Catholic and yet in violation of Canon Law continues to receive Holy Communion, to repent of his grave sin and publicly recant his abortion advocacy."

There is also an active DKos diary on this topic. The official press release is here.

By the thousands, soldiers 50 and older are being deployed, according to the N.J. Ledger. I figured as much, but the numbers are startling, nonetheless. This is what it takes to stretch the manpower under Bush. Insane.
Charles Thomas tended to wounded soldiers on the sweltering killing fields of Vietnam, helped hurricane victims in Honduras and oversaw finances for soldiers in Bosnia.

Sometime in the next few weeks, the 58-year-old Army National Guard command sergeant major will leave his wife, Jeanette, their 11-year-old Maltese, Pebbles, walk through the door of his Old Bridge home one final time and head to Iraq.

"I don't want to leave my wife, but I have to go," Thomas said during an interview last week at his house, which the couple is selling. "I made her a deal. I promised her this is my last tour of duty, and she gets a new house."

Thomas is among a group of soldiers age 50 and over being called to active duty . Like many, he is a "citizen soldier," a member of the National Guard or Reserves, where soldiers serve part-time. They tend to be older than their active-duty counterparts and are increasingly being deployed overseas to augment active-duty troops.

Of the 160,000 men and women deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, 4,119 are 50 or older. At a time in life when most people are looking forward to retirement or eyeing Florida real estate, these soldiers are leaving behind corporate jobs and grandkids. Some even voluntarily postpone military retirement to go to war.

"He's put in so many years," Jeanette Thomas said as her eyes locked with her husband's from across the living room of their Middlesex County home where paintings and sculptures of angels adorn the small space and their frail Pebbles bounces lovingly between the couple. "My first thoughts were, 'Why don't they send someone else?'"

As of late last week, 10 of the more than 1,085 soldiers to die in Iraq were 50 or older, according to the Associated Press' War Casualty database. That is a tiny fraction of overall fatalities and those men were more likely to die of medical causes, including heart attacks and heat stroke, than their younger counterparts.

No f*cking surprise. With four years to attack the problem of disenfranchised voters and hanging chads, Florida's "e-solution" is already blowing up it its face during early voting. Also, note the quote from the dumbass that cast a "protest vote" for Nader. Thanks, you should have stayed home...
With memories of 2000 and the state's bitter fight over ballots still fresh, Floridians began casting votes Monday and within an hour problems cropped up.

In Palm Beach County, the center of the madness during the recount four years ago, a Democratic state legislator said she wasn't given a complete absentee ballot when she asked to opt for paper instead of the electronic touch-screen machines. And in Orange County, the touch-screen system briefly crashed, paralyzing voting in Orlando and its immediate suburbs.

A steady flow had turned out Monday morning at more than a dozen sites in Palm Beach County. Patrick Flanagan, who went to the county's election headquarters to cast his ballot, said he voted early because he wanted to avoid the long lines expected on Election Day. He said he's voted on the touch-screen machines once before, and both times have gone "very smoothly."

"I'm a computer-phobe, and it seemed easy enough to me," said Flanagan, who added that he had no concerns about his vote being counted.

Also coming out of the polls on Monday, Steve Perez, 44, said he came early to cast a "protest vote" for Ralph Nader.

"What's important is that you vote. I didn't want to get in all the hoopla with all the turnout in Election Day," said Perez, a substitute teacher.

State Rep. Shelley Vana was not so happy. She said the paper absentee ballot she was given at a Palm Beach County site was missing one of its two pages, including the proposed amendments to the state constitution. She said election workers were indifferent when she pointed out the oversight.

"There was absolutely no concern on the part of the folks at the Supervisor of Elections Office that this page was missing. This is not a good start. If there are incomplete ballots out there, I can't imagine I would be the only one getting it," she said.

County elections supervisor Theresa LePore did not immediately return a call for comment.


More attempts at vote suppression, now in Philly. Campaign Extra! points to a Philly Daily news store on the decision to move polling places in the black community, which of course could reduce turnout.:
"'It's predominantly, 100 percent black. I'm just not going in there to get a knife in my back.'
-- Matt Robb, Republican ward leader in South Philadelphia, on his last-minute request to move five Philly polling places in African-American neighborhoods.

Pennsylvania and its 21 electoral votes are the second-biggest 'battleground' prize after Florida. John Kerry can't win here without a huge turnout in Philadelphia, especially in black neighborhoods that vote 90 percent Democratic. As a result, it's the first place you'd expect a GOP voter suppression effort.

They learned that high-ranking state GOP and Bush operatives asked local Republicans to try to move 63 polling places at the last minute. Some 53 of the 63 polling places are in districts less than 10 percent white.

The complaints against the polling places vary -- the bulk are for alleged handicapped accessibility problems, but 17 charge that the polling places are in homes or businesses where voters might feel intimidated.

Deborah Williams, a Republican candidate for Congress, who is black, said the Republican state committee asked to use her name on 28 of the complaints. Nevertheless, she defended the move, saying that 'this is not about creating some stir in the election or denying anyone the right to vote.'
Democrats feel otherwise. If the polling places were moved at the last minute, it could lead to massive confusion on Election Day -- and thwart some people in mostly black, heavily Democratic neighborhoods from voting.

Bob Lee, Philadelphia's voter registration administrator who's normally not given to partisan statements, said flatly: "They're trying to suppress the vote."

The move is almost certain to fail -- especially now that it's been exposed. Lee said it appears that the applications came into his office too late to allow for a hearing before Election Day.

In addition to Robb, the GOP ward leader who acknowledged that race played a role in the request, another Republican ward leader behind the effort was North Philadelphia's Listervelt Ritter, who is black. He said the move isn't aimed at suppression, but he adds:

"The black neighborhoods are the ones that do the funny stuff. What are you supposed to do?"

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Notice any difference in the above White House web site navigation? (Graphics captured and up at BradBlog)

BradBlog has noticed some hankypanky on the taxpayer-funded White House web site regarding Iraq and the Coalition. The mighty 48-nation Coalition of the Willing has been shrinking fast; it's now around 30 and shrinking each day.

The latest country to have misgivings is Armenia, which is hesitant about committing 50, yes 5-0 to the effort. This impressive force was to serve under Poland, which has already announced plans to cut its forces in January.

These kinds of developments have made things a wee bit uncomfortable on the PR front for the White House, so someone, perhaps the webmaster, had a bright idea -- just remove the page and the link to it, and maybe no one would notice. Unfortunately for the web master, Google's cache keeps it all alive, as well as the White House's own press release archive of the original 48 nations -- which is still online.

I mentioned last night the strong Ron Siskind NYT Mag piece on Bush -- it has people buzzing today, especially because it shines light on what the man has in the works for a second term (and this bit of information isn't on the campaign web site).
According to notes provided to me, and according to several guests at the lunch who agreed to speak about what they heard, he said that ''Osama bin Laden would like to overthrow the Saudis . . . then we're in trouble. Because they have a weapon. They have the oil.''

He said that there will be an opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice shortly after his inauguration, and perhaps three more high-court vacancies during his second term.

After his remarks, Bush opened it up for questions, and someone asked what he's going to do about energy policy with worldwide oil reserves predicted to peak.

Bush said: ''I'm going to push nuclear energy, drilling in Alaska and clean coal. Some nuclear-fusion technologies are interesting.'' He mentions energy from ''processing corn.''

''I'm going to bring all this up in the debate, and I'm going to push it,'' he said, and then tried out a line. ''Do you realize that ANWR [the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] is the size of South Carolina, and where we want to drill is the size of the Columbia airport?''

The questions came from many directions -- respectful, but clearly reality-based. About the deficits, he said he'd ''spend whatever it takes to protect our kids in Iraq,'' that ''homeland security cost more than I originally thought.''

''I'm going to come out strong after my swearing in,'' Bush said, ''with fundamental tax reform, tort reform, privatizing of Social Security.'' The victories he expects in November, he said, will give us ''two years, at least, until the next midterm. We have to move quickly, because after that I'll be quacking like a duck.''

There's a good thread Atrios has going on the lack of a post-invasion plan in Iraq before the bombing began. The Knight-Ridder story, "Planning for after the war in Iraq non-existent" has a real "Dr. Stranglove" moment in it.
In March 2003, days before the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, American war planners and intelligence officials met at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina to review the Bush administration's plans to oust Saddam Hussein and implant democracy in Iraq.

Near the end of his presentation, an Army lieutenant colonel who was giving a briefing showed a slide describing the Pentagon's plans for rebuilding Iraq after the war, known in the planners' parlance as Phase 4-C. He was uncomfortable with his material - and for good reason.

The slide said: "To Be Provided."

A Knight Ridder review of the administration's Iraq policy and decisions has found that it invaded Iraq without a comprehensive plan in place to secure and rebuild the country. The administration also failed to provide some 100,000 additional U.S. troops that American military commanders originally wanted to help restore order and reconstruct a country shattered by war, a brutal dictatorship and economic sanctions.

...Within 48 hours of their arrival in Baghdad in April, some of Chalabi's men, including members of his personal bodyguard force, began taking cars, bank accounts and real estate, said a senior military officer who received reports of the events. It became evident almost as quickly that Chalabi and other exiles had a larger political following in the Pentagon than they did in Iraq. Intelligence officials now charge that Chalabi or some of his senior aides were paid agents of Iran's intelligence service, and that Chalabi or his security chief provided classified U.S. military information to Iran. Chalabi has denied the allegation.

It's so incompetent that you want to cry. Not bad planning...NO PLANNING. How is this possible? Did Bush and Co. just kneel down and expect a higher power to take care of logistics, too?

Maureen Dowd is angry, and rightfully so at Catholic bishops that are telling their flock that a vote for Kerry puts them in the hell express lane.
First Dick Cheney said that supporting John Kerry could lead to another terrorist attack.

Then Dennis Hastert said Al Qaeda would be more successful under a Kerry presidency than under President Bush.

Now the Catholic bishops have upped the ante, indicating that voting for a candidate with Mr. Kerry's policies could lead to eternal damnation.

Conservative bishops and conservative Republicans are working hard to spread the gospel that anyone who supports the Catholic candidate and onetime Boston altar boy who carries a rosary and a Bible with him on the trail is aligned with the forces of evil.

In an interview with The Times's David Kirkpatrick, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver said a knowing vote for a candidate like Mr. Kerry who supports abortion rights or embryonic stem cell research would be a sin that would have to be confessed before receiving communion. "If you vote this way, are you cooperating in evil?" the archbishop asked. "Now, if you know you are cooperating in evil, should you go to confession? The answer is yes."

As Mr. Kirkpatrick and Laurie Goodstein wrote, Catholics make up about a quarter of the electorate, many concentrated in swing states. These bishops and like-minded Catholic groups are organizing voter registration and blanketing churches with voter guides that often ignore traditional Catholic concerns about the death penalty and war - the pope opposed the invasion of Iraq - while calling abortion, gay marriage and the stem cell debate "nonnegotiable."

"Never before have so many bishops so explicitly warned Catholics so close to an election that to vote a certain way was to commit a sin," the Times article said.

This flu vaccine mess could affect Bush's chance for re-election

...Kerry just needs to put out the facts. You've got old people standing in long lines (I went to a local grocery store that had the vaccine and the line snaked all through the aisles; people had been waiting for 3 hours). Needless to say, I didn't wait, though I am in a high-risk category (insulin-dependent diabetic). NC is supposed to get another 70,000 doses, according to reports last week, and it will be distributed through county health departments. I don't if it will materialize, but I'll try again a bit down the road.

Here are some basic stats from the CDC:
Every year in the United States, on average:
* 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
* more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications; and
* approximately 36,000 people die from flu.

...The flu spreads in respiratory droplets caused by coughing and sneezing. It usually spreads from person to person, though occasionally a person may become infected by touching something with virus on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

Adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before getting symptoms and up to 7 days after getting sick. That means that you can give someone the flu before you know you’re sick as well as while you are sick.

and...On October 5, 2004, CDC was notified by Chiron Corporation that none of its influenza vaccine (Fluvirin®) would be available for distribution in the United States for the 2004–05 influenza season. The company indicated that the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the United Kingdom, where Chiron’s Fluvirin vaccine is produced, has suspended the company’s license to manufacture Fluvirin vaccine in its Liverpool facility for 3 months, preventing any release of this vaccine for this influenza season. This action will reduce by approximately one half the expected supply of trivalent inactivated vaccine (flu shot) available in the United States for the 2004–05 influenza season.

OK, with that out of the way, the fact of the matter is that national security is at risk because Bush hasn't planned for the flu, let alone a bioterrorism attack. Eleanor Clift, on, illustrates why and how this is a potent campaign issue.
We are on the brink of a public-health catastrophe three years after 9/11. Health officials already fearful about a possible flu pandemic were meeting in Washington last week when word came about the vaccine shortage. A front-page story in The Washington Post said a local Giant supermarket was like a scene out of Lourdes with elderly people in wheelchairs or with walkers and canes pleading for the vaccine. At the Giant near Leisure World, a retirement community in Maryland, there was a four-hour wait for the limited supply of vaccine. The elderly showed up at 4:30 in the morning with their lawn chairs to get a place in line.

What would this administration do if we were faced with a bio-terrorism attack? If they are unprepared for a predictable event like the annual onset of flu, how can the voters have confidence in the nation’s public-health system? Bush volunteered that he would forego a flu shot this year, and called upon others who are not at high risk to skip their shot, as well. That’s hardly reassuring since if Bush so much as sneezes, the finest doctors will be there to minister to him.

One must note that even the UK, where the bad vaccine was tossed, has replaced its supply for its citizens. And the vaccine is plentiful in Canada, as well.
There is no vaccine shortage in Canada. A health care clinic at Vancouver International Airport is beginning to see a brisk business.

"We had a flu shot clinic yesterday, we actually gave 80 flu shots yesterday," said Dr. Videsh Kapoor. "Since we sort of heard there is a shortage I anticipate we will see a lot of Americans coming in for flu shots."

Canadian health officials expect to see a lot of their American neighbors crossing the border for flu shots.

"If there are Americans that are visiting Canada that wish to avail themselves of a flu vaccine while they are here, then I'm sure our health care workers will accommodate them. But we will also try and make sure there is not a shortage for British Columbians," said British Columbia's health minister Colin Hansen.

At this point Hansen isn't worried they'll run out of vaccine.

In the last presidential debate, President George W. Bush suggested the U.S. might be able to get surplus flu vaccine from Canada. But Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson says that's unlikely because it's not licensed for sale in the U.S.

Crap -- all a terrorist cell has to do is get infected with the flu, walk across either border into the U.S., and ride urban transport at rush hour in several large cities, and they will be sure to create a pandemic in no time. At the very least the vast numbers of sick people will cause a huge economic hit, as people stay home and emergency rooms are flooded with hundreds of thousands of people. No need for WMD, Shrub..."bring 'em on" alright.


LOCAL UPDATE: My local paper is covering the flu vaccine price gouging. (Herald-Sun). Note that it's not illegal. Something is definitely wrong with health policy in this country:
The phone at the Duke University procurement office started jangling Oct. 7, only two days after the British government put the clamps on about half this year's supply of flu vaccine destined for Americans' arms.

A pharmaceutical distributor had such a deal, just for Duke, if the procurement folks snapped quickly. Ninety 10-dose vials of the hard-to-find vaccine could be had for a mere $455 apiece -- $40,950, out the door, a "mere" 650 percent premium above the price Duke paid for a partial delivery a few weeks ago, according to Steve Dedrick, Duke's director of pharmacy.

But by the time Duke buyers replied to decline the offer, somebody else had already nabbed half the order anyway, said Dedrick. "They said they'd have the remainder sold within the hour. No big deal. This guy didn't have enough anyway. Our need was so great, it didn't make a significant difference. Unless we're in a really acute clinical situation, we generally don't deal with these folks."

In a news release issued about the survey, the organization said it found that more than 55 percent of respondents reported they had been contacted "by opportunistic vendors offering to sell flu vaccine at highly inflated prices."

Of those, more than 80 percent reported being offered the vaccine at more than four times the original market value, and nearly 20 percent had been offered the vaccine at $800 or more per 10-dose vial. The vials frequently sell for less than $70 apiece.

The pharmacists also indicated that even though more than 75 percent of hospitals said they did not have enough flu vaccine available to meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, 84 percent of respondents reported that they did not plan to buy it on the secondary market at inflated prices.

"We are very concerned that the current environment of extremely short supply coupled with high demand will increase the potential for counterfeit vaccine to appear in the nation's drug supply chain," said Kasey Thompson, director of the ASHP Practice Standards and Quality Division.

Dedrick said he didn't believe price gouging was unlawful, because it's standard business practice. "But when it gets to be two and three and four times the former price, it starts exceeding a reasonable profit. It's like the gouging on plywood after hurricanes. It's just taking advantage of people."

"There's no specific law against this price gouging that I'm aware of," said David Work, executive director of the N.C. Board of Pharmacy. "There's nothing in the pharmacy practice act that speaks specifically to prices. But this is a shameful exploitation of sick people. For some of these people, this will be life and death

Work said this year's flu fiasco pointed to a need for major changes.

"I think this is a good time for our policy-makers in Washington to seriously consider setting up a public agency to manufacture vaccine," he said, "because the pharmaceutical manufacturers figure they can't make as much profit off vaccines as off other products."

..."Some things are too important to leave to private enterprise," Work concluded. "This may be one of them. Actually, I think the manufacturers wouldn't mind being out of the business, but the thought of a public institution getting involved would make them awfully nervous. But that's okay. Let them be nervous. Back when I started in this business, they referred to this as the ethical pharmaceuticals business. But you don't hear that reference much anymore.
But, of course, Bush doesn't believe in government-run health care. He'd rather see thousands die so that Big Pharma can ensure a profit.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

There's a great Frank Rich editorial in Sunday's NYT on one of my pet peeves in terms of self-censorship by the news media in the wake of Bush's extreme secrecy fetish:
"Like the Nixon administration before it, the Bush administration arrived at the White House already obsessed with news management and secrecy. Nixon gave fewer press conferences than any president since Hoover; Mr. Bush has given fewer than any in history. Early in the Nixon years, a special National Press Club study concluded that the president had instituted 'an unprecedented, government-wide effort to control, restrict and conceal information.' Sound familiar? The current president has seen to it that even future historians won't get access to papers he wants to hide; he quietly gutted the Presidential Records Act of 1978, the very reform enacted by Congress as a post-Watergate antidote to pathological Nixonian secrecy."

...The current White House has been practicing pre-emptive media intimidation to match its policy of pre-emptive war. Its F.C.C. chairman, using Janet Jackson's breast and Howard Stern's mouth as pretexts, has sufficiently rattled Viacom, which broadcast both of these entertainers' infractions against "decency," that its chairman, the self-described "liberal Democrat" Sumner Redstone, abruptly announced his support for the re-election of George W. Bush last month. "I vote for what's good for Viacom," he explained, and he meant it. He took this loyalty oath just days after the "60 Minutes" fiasco prompted a full-fledged political witch hunt on Viacom's CBS News, another Republican target since the Nixon years. Representative Joe Barton, Republican of Texas, has threatened to seek Congressional "safeguards" regulating TV news content and, depending what happens Nov. 2, he may well have the political means to do it.

Viacom is hardly the only media giant cowed by the prospect that this White House might threaten its corporate interests if it gets out of line. Disney's refusal to release Michael Moore's partisan "Fahrenheit 9/11" in an election year would smell less if the company applied the same principle to its ABC radio stations, where the equally partisan polemics of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are heard every day. Even a low-profile film project in conflict with Bush dogma has spooked the world's largest media company, Time Warner, proprietor of CNN. Its Warner Brothers, about to release a special DVD of "Three Kings," David O. Russell's 1999 movie criticizing the first gulf war, suddenly canceled a planned extra feature, a new Russell documentary criticizing the current war. Whether any of these increasingly craven media combines will stand up to the Bush administration in a constitutional pinch, as Katharine Graham and her Post Company bravely did to the Nixon administration during Watergate, is a proposition that hasn't been remotely tested yet.

To understand what kind of journalism the Bush administration expects from these companies, you need only look at those that are already its collaborators. Fox News speaks loudly for itself, to the point of posting on its Web site an article by its chief political correspondent containing fictional John Kerry quotes. (After an outcry, it was retracted as "written in jest.") But Fox is just the tip of the Rupert Murdoch empire. When The New York Post covered the release of the report by the C.I.A.'s chief weapons inspector, Charles Duelfer, it played the story on page 8 and didn't get to the clause "while no stockpiles of W.M.D. were found in Iraq" until the 16th paragraph. This would be an Onion parody were it not deadly serious.

...Like the Nixon administration before it, the Bush administration arrived at the White House already obsessed with news management and secrecy. Nixon gave fewer press conferences than any president since Hoover; Mr. Bush has given fewer than any in history. Early in the Nixon years, a special National Press Club study concluded that the president had instituted "an unprecedented, government-wide effort to control, restrict and conceal information." Sound familiar? The current president has seen to it that even future historians won't get access to papers he wants to hide; he quietly gutted the Presidential Records Act of 1978, the very reform enacted by Congress as a post-Watergate antidote to pathological Nixonian secrecy.

Could it be that Mary was responsible for the whole brouhaha? That's what they are saying at
" has learned that the GOP outrage over Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's remarks about Mary Cheney may have been orchestrated by Mary herself.

Sources close to the Bush-Cheney campaign tell that the idea came up in a telephone call between Mary and her parents immediately after the presidential debate Wednesday night.

The younger Cheney, who serves as a backroom advisor to her father, suggested that she would continue to be a 'issue' for Democrats unless something was done to stop it immediately. "

...To get back on track, using homosexuality to the Republican's advantage, could only be done, the source tells, by going on the attack, accusing Kerry of "insensitivity" and putting Democrats on the defensive.

Within an hour of Kerry's remark Lynne Cheney accused Kerry of pulling a "cheap and tawdry political trick." (story) The following morning the vice president called himself a "pretty angry father".

The ploy worked in drawing Democrats into the fray.

Kevin LaMarque/Reuters

Ron Siskind has a great profile/piece in the NYT Sunday Magazine on Bush and the coming war in the GOP, as he puts it, "a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion." The piece is frightening, because even his closest advisers now see that Bush is running his White House in the same manner as an Islamist-type regime he condemns and seeks to destroy -- dismissive of facts and based on fixed religious convictions alone.
Bush's top deputies -- from cabinet members like Paul O'Neill, Christine Todd Whitman and Colin Powell to generals fighting in Iraq -- have been told for years when they requested explanations for many of the president's decisions, policies that often seemed to collide with accepted facts. The president would say that he relied on his ''gut'' or his ''instinct'' to guide the ship of state, and then he ''prayed over it.'' The old pro Bartlett, a deliberative, fact-based wonk, is finally hearing a tune that has been hummed quietly by evangelicals (so as not to trouble the secular) for years as they gazed upon President George W. Bush. This evangelical group -- the core of the energetic ''base'' that may well usher Bush to victory -- believes that their leader is a messenger from God. And in the first presidential debate, many Americans heard the discursive John Kerry succinctly raise, for the first time, the issue of Bush's certainty -- the issue being, as Kerry put it, that ''you can be certain and be wrong.

I'm so sick of the gay-baiting. Bush did it again in his radio address today. The bullsh*t flows from his mouth without a hint of irony.
"In this time of change, some things do not change. Those are the values we try to live by -- courage and compassion, reverence and integrity. I stand for a culture of life in which every person matters and every being counts. I stand for marriage and family, which are the foundations of our society. I stand for the appointment of federal judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the strict interpretation of the law.

My opponent says he supports the institution of marriage, but he voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, which Congress passed by an overwhelming majority and my predecessor signed into law. My opponent has voted against sensible bipartisan measures, like parental notification laws. He voted against the ban on partial birth abortion.

On issues that are vital to this nation's future, all Americans know where I stand. I'm a compassionate conservative. I believe in policies that empower people to improve their lives, not try to run their lives. I believe in helping men and women find the skills and tools to prosper in a changing world. I have worked to help all Americans build a future of dignity and independence. And that is how I will continue to lead this nation for four more years.


In the context of the gay-baiting, I'm still trying to figure out why this Mary Cheney issue (other than a Rovian plan of distraction) still has legs, overwhelming coverage of the continuing deaths in Iraq, or the fact we have platoons failing to perform missions because Bush has them going in with their rears literally exposed.

Anyway, I think the problem is that the Repugs would like all gays back in the closet, then they don't have a face or identity as someone they could care about. The Cheneys are ashamed of the fact that they could, via nature or nuture in their minds, have raised a child that represents the antithesis of their political beliefs.

I'm sure the coming out process for Mary had to be fairly hellish, considering the "public support" she's receiving from her family on this blowup. No, I'm not shedding any tears for that coward -- she, at this point, deserves all the grief she's getting since she's participating in her own debasement by working for the GOP. What's evil is her work will affect all gay people, and we cannot remain silent on this issue.

Where are Mary's public comments -- and I agree, where is Candace G. or even Chrissy Gephardt? Someone who's out and in politics needs to put a first-person human face to spar with the holier-than-thou talking heads out there.

As Digby said, hell froze over. CNN's Bill Schneider actually had a hard-hitting piece on Bush's health care flip-flopping, particularly how the flu shot shortage points out how the reality of this administration's actions represent the very things Bush slams Kerry's approach to health care for. Transcript from CNN:
"WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. This week there was an issue that hit home with voters and forced the candidates to rethink their scripts. It even walked off with the political play of the week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER (voice-over): They're standing in line in Florida and Michigan, in New Jersey. The line goes around the block. Eager swing state residents lining up to vote? Not exactly. They're lining up for flu shots.

DR. CHARLES GONZALEZ, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: It's incredibly serious. We have half as much vaccine as we should have.

SCHNEIDER: How did that happen?

BUSH: We relied upon a company out of England to provide about half of the flu vaccines for the United States citizens.

SCHNEIDER: Uh-oh. Sounds like outsourcing. The president had a solution.

BUSH: We're working with Canada, hopefully they will produce a -- help us realize the vaccine necessary.

SCHNEIDER: But hasn't Bush expressed problems with drug imports from Canada?

BUSH: My worry is, it looks like it's from Canada, it might be from a third world. We have to make sure before somebody thinks they're buying a product, that it works.

SCHNEIDER: President Bush made a plea to the public.

BUSH: If you're healthy, if you're younger, don't get a flu shot this year.

SCHNEIDER: Sounds like rationing, something the president said would result from Kerry's health care plan.

BUSH: Government sponsored health care would lead to rationing.

SCHNEIDER: The government has the situation under control the president says.

BUSH: The CDC responsible for health in the United States is setting those priorities and allocating the flu vaccine accordingly.

SCHNEIDER: Isn't that government control?

BUSH: My opponent wants the government to run the health care.

SCHNEIDER: Maybe the answer is legal reform.

BUSH: Vaccine manufacturers are worried about getting sued, and so therefore they have backed off from providing this kind of vaccine.

SCHNEIDER: Kerry says the issue is the whole health care system.

KERRY: There still aren't enough flu vaccinations. What's the president's solution? He says, don't get one if you're healthy. That sounds just like his health care plan to me, hope and pray you don't get sick.

SCHNEIDER: The flu bug has infected the campaign. The side effect was the political play of the week.

Chris Crain at the Washington Blade sums up why the Mary Cheney stupidity is and should be a non-issue. The problem is people focus on sexual orientation as if it is only about sex. It is no more so than being straight:
The mainstream press, which doesn't hesitate to probe every aspect of the private lives of public figures, still treats a person's sexual orientation as if it were reporting about their bedroom antics.

"In 2004, a person's sexual orientation shouldn't be considered a private fact -- whether they are gay or straight. And the fact someone is gay certainly shouldn't be considered private when the gay person is (a) a public figure; (b) involved in running a campaign that sets public policy that directly impacts gay people; (c) is public about being gay; and (d) has even used her sexual orientation to make money, as Mary Cheney did at Coors."

Mike at BlogActive

It just doesn't end. Review Finds More Bush Military Records. At this point, I'm not sure it is the level of corruption, or the reality that the Pentagon and the TANG don't know how to properly store anything so they can find it. They claim they found one box of papers covered in rat sh*t.
Weeks after Texas National Guard officials signed an oath swearing they had turned over all of President Bush's military records, independent examiners found more than two dozen pages of previously unreleased documents about Bush.

The two retired Army lawyers went through Texas files under an agreement between the Texas Guard and The Associated Press, which sued to gain access to the files. The 31 pages of documents turned over to AP Thursday night include orders for high-altitude training in 1972, less than three months before Bush abruptly quit flying as a fighter pilot.

The discovery is the latest in a series of embarrassments for Pentagon and Texas National Guard officials who have repeatedly said they found and released all of Bush's Vietnam-era military files, only to belatedly discover more records. Those discoveries — nearly 100 pages, including Bush's pay records and flight logs — have been the result of freedom of information lawsuits filed in federal and Texas courts by AP.

A Texas National Guard spokesman defended the continuing discoveries, saying Guard officials didn't find all of Bush's records because they are disorganized and in poor shape.

"These boxes are full of dirt and rat (excrement) and dead bugs. They have never been sitting in an uncontrolled climate," said Lt. Col. John Stanford. "It's a tough task to go through archives that were not set up in a way that you could easily go through them."

...The newly released documents include a January 1972 order for Bush to attend three days of "physiological training" at Laredo Air Force Base in Texas. His Texas payroll and attendance records, released earlier, show Bush was credited for serving on active duty training for the three days involved.

At the time, pilots had to renew their high-altitude training every three years, said retired Maj. Gen. Paul A. Weaver, Jr., a former head of the Air National Guard. Bush's first altitude training came in 1969 when he was in pilot school at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia.

The training involved instruction about the effects of lack of oxygen on the body and exercises in which the pilots are exposed under supervision to the thin air of high altitudes. The purpose is to familiarize pilots with the effects of lack of oxygen so they can recognize them and take appropriate action to avoid blacking out at the controls.

The altitude training came six weeks before Bush began an unexplained string of flights on two-seat training jets and simulators. On April 12, 1972, Bush took his last flight in the single-seat F-102A fighter.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Bush's close allies, the Saudis, are going to need to explain how a prince got caught trafficking 2 tons of cocaine. (ABC):
A Saudi prince moved roughly two tons of cocaine from Colombia to an airport outside Paris, using his diplomatic status and a royal family 727 jet, U.S. and French law enforcement authorities told ABC News.

"It doesn't happen without him," said Tom Raffanello of the Drug Enforcement Agency in Miami. "He is the key co-conspirator. He's the straw that stirs the drink, he made it happen. No plane, no dope. Dope stays in Colombia."

Prince Nayef bin Fawwaz Al Shalaan is under indictment by U.S. and French authorities, but living outside the reach of American law in Saudi Arabia, according to Raffanello. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have no extradition treaty. A trial for the prince's alleged co-conspirators is scheduled to begin next month in a federal court in Miami.

"He's a fugitive in the United States. He's a fugitive in violation of federal narcotics law," Raffanello said.

This is something that everyone expected to happen at some point in this Iraq debacle -- troops are disobeying orders that put them in harm's way. (The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger via Navy Times):
A 17-member Army Reserve platoon with troops from Jackson, Miss., and around the Southeast deployed to Iraq is under arrest for refusing a “suicide mission” to deliver fuel, the troops’ relatives said Thursday.
The soldiers refused an order on Wednesday to go to Taji, Iraq — north of Baghdad — because their vehicles were considered “deadlined” or extremely unsafe, said Patricia McCook of Jackson, wife of Sgt. Larry O. McCook.

Sgt. McCook, a deputy at the Hinds County, Miss., Detention Center, and the 16 other members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company from Rock Hill, S.C., were read their rights and moved from the military barracks into tents, Patricia McCook said her husband told her during a panicked phone call about 5 a.m. Thursday.

The platoon could be charged with the willful disobeying of orders, punishable by dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay and up to five years confinement, said military law expert Mark Stevens, an associate professor of justice studies at Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount, N.C.

On Friday, the Army confirmed that the unit’s actions were under scrutiny.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said he plans to submit a congressional inquiry today on behalf of the Mississippi soldiers to launch an investigation into whether they are being treated improperly.

“I would not want any member of the military to be put in a dangerous situation ill-equipped,” said Thompson, who was contacted by families. “I have had similar complaints from military families about vehicles that weren’t armor-plated, or bullet-proof vests that are outdated. It concerns me because we made over $150 billion in funds available to equip our forces in Iraq.

“President Bush takes the position that the troops are well-armed, but if this situation is true, it calls into question how honest he has been with the country,” Thompson said.

The 343rd is a supply unit whose general mission is to deliver fuel and water. The unit includes three women and 14 men and those with ranking up to sergeant first class.

I got a call from an officer in another unit early (Thursday) morning who told me that my husband and his platoon had been arrested on a bogus charge because they refused to go on a suicide mission,” said Jackie Butler of Jackson, wife of Sgt. Michael Butler, a 24-year reservist. “When my husband refuses to follow an order, it has to be something major.”

The platoon being held has troops from Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Mississippi and South Carolina, said Teresa Hill of Dothan, Ala., whose daughter Amber McClenny is among those being detained.

McClenny, 21, pleaded for help in a message left on her mother’s answering machine early Thursday morning.

“They are holding us against our will,” McClenny said. “We are now prisoners.”...

...Aviation regiments have complained of being forced to fly dangerous missions over Iraq with outdated night-vision goggles and old missile-avoidance systems. Stories of troops’ families purchasing body armor because the military didn’t provide them with adequate equipment have been included in recent presidential debates.

Patricia McCook said her husband, a staff sergeant, understands well the severity of disobeying orders. But he did not feel comfortable taking his soldiers on another trip.

“He told me that three of the vehicles they were to use were deadlines ... not safe to go in a hotbed like that,” Patricia McCook said.

Hill said the trucks her daughter’s unit was driving could not top 40 mph.

“They knew there was a 99 percent chance they were going to get ambushed or fired at
,” Hill said her daughter told her. “They would have had no way to fight back.”

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Pretty even-handed article on the Mary Cheney crap (AP).

Crap, do you think they could find out where the money went? Things are really looking up for the honesty and integrity (hahahahah) of the Bush admin. Auditors Can't Account for Iraq Spent Funds (AP):
U.S. and Iraqi officials doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in oil proceeds and other moneys for Iraqi projects earlier this year, but there was little effort to monitor or justify the expenditures, according to an audit released Thursday.

Files that could explain many of the payments are missing or nonexistent, and contracting rules were ignored, according to auditors working for an agency created by the United Nations.

"We found one case where a payment ($2.6 million) was authorized by the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) senior adviser to the Ministry of Oil," the report said. "We were unable to obtain an underlying contract" or even "evidence of services being rendered."

In a program to allow U.S. military commanders to pay for small reconstruction projects, auditors questioned 128 projects totaling $31.6 million. They could find no evidence of bidding for the projects or, alternatively, explanations of why they were awarded without competition.

The report was released by Rep. Henry Waxman of California, ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee and a leading critic of reconstruction spending to rebuild Iraq.

"The Bush Administration cannot account for how billions of dollars of Iraqi oil proceeds were spent," Waxman said. "The mismanagement, lack of transparency, and potential corruption will seriously undermine our efforts in Iraq. A thorough congressional investigation is urgently needed."

AP photo
Think it's safe for everyone in the Green Zone? Think again. Our forces cannot even keep themselves (or anyone else) safe in their protected area.
Insurgents penetrated the American-controlled Green Zone today, setting off a pair of bombs within seconds of each other and killing five people, including three Americans, and wounding 20 others.

Witnesses said that at least one of the explosions was set off by a suicide bomber and that the second may have been as well. Neither American nor Iraqi government officials had any immediate explanation as to how the bombs were smuggled inside.

Sully is on a roll on the Mary Cheney brouhaha...
The Mary Cheney thing really is a fascinating Rorschach test. Many conservatives are appalled and cast their anti-Kerry opinion as a defense of Mary. Here's one: Last night he allowed his obsession with his own selfish desire to win a point overshadow the appropriate boundaries of taste, compassion, and kindess. Lynne Cheney has the right to call him a bad man. And woman across the nation have the right to see for themselves that he is willing to victimize THEM if it comes to padding his advantage, reputation, position, or standing. Victimize? All Kerry did was invoke the veep's daughter to point out that obviously homosexuality isn't a choice, in any meaningful sense. The only way you can believe that citing Mary Cheney amounts to "victimization" is if you believe someone's sexual orientation is something shameful. Well, it isn't. What's revealing is that this truly does expose the homophobia of so many - even in the mildest "we'll-tolerate-you-but-shut-up-and-don't-complain" form....

...Candidates mention their families all the time. An entire question last night was devoted to the relationship between men and their wives and daughters. Mentioning Mary Cheney is no more and no less offensive than that. What is offensive is denying gay couples equal rights in the constitution itself. Why don't conservatives get exercized about that?


Sully hit the nail on the head. If any of these people examined why they feel outraged, they would see the hypocrisy. I mean the quote from Darth alone is incredible:

"DICK CHENEY TO NBC AFFILIATE WHO: "I would have said Sen. Kerry was out of line to bring my daughter into it. I thought it was totally inappropriate."

Sh*t, the man just got up in Davenport, Iowa on August 25 and talked about Mary in a town hall meeting.
"Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it’s an issue our family is very familiar with," Cheney told an audience that included his daughter. "With the respect to the question of relationships, my general view is freedom means freedom for everyone. ... People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to."

So no matter Kerry or Edwards said, their comments cannot be classified as disrespectful or "outing" statments regarding the professional queer known as Mary Cheney:
Before her father became vice president, Mary Cheney lived an openly gay lifestyle in Colorado with her life partner and worked as Coors' liaison with the gay community.

She traveled the country, trying to persuade owners of gay bars to sell Coors. It was not an easy sell, because Coors' ties to ultraconservative causes and its treatment of gay employees had led to a boycott by gay beer drinkers.

But by funneling Coors' money to gay-sponsored festivals and events and reassuring bar owners that the company's views on gays had changed, Mary Cheney by all accounts did well. Indeed, with her help, Coors lured gay drinkers so successfully that religious conservatives denounced the brewer, claiming the firm undermined traditional family values.

"Coors is such an easy target," Mary Cheney told the alternative weekly Denver Westword in 1999. "It's really tempting to put the [gay community's] Coors Boycott Committee and the far-right extremist groups in the same room and figure out which one of them gets to be mad at us."

The GOP is evil. How else can you explain putting a hold on the Chris Reeve Paralysis Act one day after the actor died? (LA Weekly)
“We’re shocked,” a source inside the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation told L.A. Weekly on Tuesday. “We had been told the bill was going to pass the Senate, but then the Republicans put a hold on the legislation. We heard it was because Chris has been too outspoken on the stem-cell issue. That was the trigger.

“So it would have passed if Chris hadn’t died.”

...Last July, Reeve’s wife, Dana, made a point of traveling to Senator [Judd] Gregg’s backyard and meeting with the local media in an apparent attempt to keep the pressure on Gregg to move Reeve’s bill through his committee. She told the Portsmouth Herald, “There are no dollars attached to it, and it is just a real ‘feel good’ piece of legislation. How could you not support it?”

Yet Senate Republicans found a way.

Reeve’s S. 1010 is identical to the already passed HR 1998, aimed at enhancing and furthering research into paralysis and improving rehabilitation and quality of life for those with spinal-cord injuries. Even so, one or more Senate GOPers made it a casualty of George W. Bush’s mission to confine stem-cell research to a paltry few and inadequate lines despite the fact that Reeve’s legislation had nothing to do with that issue. That’s worth repeating: The thespian’s bill had nothing to do with stem-cell research. Not only did the legislation have bipartisan co-sponsorship, Reeve’s foundation cited the support of Bush cabinet member Tommy Thompson, the Health and Human Services secretary.

But one or more Republican senators decided to piss on Reeve’s grave because the dead actor had dared speak out in support of opening up stem-cell research, which Dubya opposes in lockstep with his conservative Christian masters. As someone else with a conscience said to a cruel and reckless U.S. senator half a century ago, “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

Get this WP headline. I had a good laugh. Mention of Gay Daughter a Cheap Trick, Lynne Cheney Says.
Mary Cheney, one of the vice president's two daughters and an official of the Bush-Cheney campaign, has been open about her lesbian status. The candidates were asked if they believe homosexuality is a choice, and President Bush did not mention Mary Cheney. Then Kerry said, "If you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as."

Lynne Cheney issued her post-debate rebuke to a cheering crowd outside Pittsburgh. "The only thing I can conclude is he is not a good man. I'm speaking as a mom," she said. "What a cheap and tawdry political trick."

Steven Fisher, communications director of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian political organization, said Kerry "was speaking to millions of American families who, like the Cheneys, have gay friends and family members."

Lynne Cheney (and the rest of the dumbass talking heads last night that thought it was in bad taste to bring Mary up) need to remember that it was Gwen Ifill that opened the door to discussing Mary's unique role (haha) in this campaign as the lesbian daughter of the VP in a homophobic administration. She's fair game as she is being paid to work in her father's campaign. She's not a child.

Those who objected are just putting up this smokescreen of "outrage" to keep anyone from following up with the logical questions surrounding how they can be so hypocritical about "tolerance" in their party. All the signals they have been giving demonize homosexuals -- and cravenly score political points with the wingnuts for votes by doing so.

Kerry's answer that he believes in the traditional definition of "marriage" just reflects the fact that at this point and time, it's just not politically survivable to be in favor of gay marriage. Just the fact that he utters "partnership rights" is pretty inflammatory. One step at a time. At least he'll leave our Constitution alone.


Sully has an eloquent response to the hullaballoo as well:
I keep getting emails asserting that Kerry's mentioning of Mary Cheney is somehow offensive or gratuitous or a "low blow". Huh? Mary Cheney is out of the closet and a member, with her partner, of the vice-president's family. That's a public fact. No one's privacy is being invaded by mentioning this. When Kerry cites Bush's wife or daughters, no one says it's a "low blow." The double standards are entirely a function of people's lingering prejudice against gay people. And by mentioning it, Kerry showed something important. This issue is not an abstract one. It's a concrete, human and real one. It affects many families, and Bush has decided to use this cynically as a divisive weapon in an election campaign. He deserves to be held to account for this - and how much more effective than showing a real person whose relationship and dignity he has attacked and minimized? Does this makes Bush's base uncomfortable? Well, good. It's about time they were made uncomfortable in their acquiescence to discrimination. Does it make Bush uncomfortable? Even better. His decision to bar gay couples from having any protections for their relationships in the constitution is not just a direct attack on the family member of the vice-president. It's an attack on all families with gay members - and on the family as an institution. That's a central issue in this campaign, a key indictment of Bush's record and more than relevant to any debate. For four years, this president has tried to make gay people invisible, to avoid any mention of us, to pretend we don't exist. Well, we do. Right in front of him.

Update. It's incredible that anyone thinks this is an "outing" when Mary's been out for years, and even profited from it as a professional queer for Coors. This is about Republicans' homophobia. Here are more comments, including a kick-ass response from Elizabeth Edwards and an incredible comment from Darth, who didn't seem to mind talking about his daughter earlier in the year in a public way. This is from ABC News Noted Now:
ELIZABETH EDWARDS ON ABC RADIO: "She's overreacted to this and treated it as if it's shameful to have this discussion. I think that's a very sad state of affairs… I think that it indicates a certain degree of shame with respect to her daughter's sexual preferences… It makes me really sad that that's Lynne's response."

LYNNE CHENEY AT POST-DEBATE RALLY: "The only thing I could conclude is that this is not a good man. This is not a good man. And, of course, I'm speaking as a mom. And a pretty indignant one. This is not a good man. What a cheap and tawdry political trick."

DICK CHENEY TO NBC AFFILIATE WHO: "I would have said Sen. Kerry was out of line to bring my daughter into it. I thought it was totally inappropriate."

WHAT KERRY SAID: "And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as."

KERRY CAMPAIGN: Senior Kerry aide acknowledges "it was not his best moment," but calls charges that it was inappropriate "ridiculous… The woman is in her thirties. She's public about her sexuality. It was brought up in the last debate. So, what the hell?" ABC News' Marc Ambinder reports…

Palm Beach e-vote dry run screeches to a halt. (AP Photo/J.Pat Carter)

Oy. Is there no end of the troubles with the e-voting machines? Have we not been talking about these kinds of shenanigans for months? (AP):
A computer crash that forced a pre-election test of electronic voting machines to be postponed was trumpeted by critics as proof of the balloting technology's unreliability.

The incident in Palm Beach County — which is infamous for its hanging and pregnant chads during the 2000 presidential election — did not directly involve the touch-screen terminals on which nearly one in three U.S. voters will cast ballots on Election Day.

But critics of the ATM-like machines said it proved how fickle any computer-based voting system can be and highlighted the need for touch-screens to produce paper records.

Tuesday's public dry run had to be postponed until Friday because a computer server that tabulates data from the touch-screen machines crashed, said county elections supervisor Theresa LePore. Such "logic and accuracy" tests are required by law.

She said she suspected Hurricane Jeanne, which struck in September, may have zapped electricity and air conditioning to the room where the server was stored, causing temperatures to soar to 90 degrees or more and possibly causing the crash. The storm wiped out power to nearly 1.3 million homes and businesses throughout Florida.

The incident raised questions in the minds of computer hardware and software engineers about the reliability of other computers on which Floridians will depend for an accurate vote count on Nov. 2 — especially touch-screen machines.

An Achilles' heel of electronic voting equipment, just like any machines whose circuits get hot with colliding electrons, is its inability to tolerate extreme conditions, many experts say.

..."I don't have any confidence at all in these machines," said Susan VanHouten, a poll worker in Lake Worth, Fla., who has helped mobilize 900 monitors at polls in Palm Beach County on Nov. 2. "At this point, the only thing we can focus on is getting as many people as possible in the polls to watch for electrical problems and hardware and software problems."

According to technical standards for electronic voting systems, updated in 2002, voting machines must be able to tolerate storage temperatures ranging from minus 4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. They must be able to operate in "natural" conditions and temperatures ranging from 50 to 95 degrees.

The AP has a good analysis of last night's festivities. Check it out. 20 days to go: Bush defends his presidency, Kerry makes case for change in final debate.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Is that the symbiotic bulge in back again?

Jenna's taking 5.

Lies, lies and more lies. The biggest whopper tonight is that Bush denied saying that he wasn't concerned with finding Osama.
"I don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. I think that's one of those exaggerations."

I figured it wouldn't be long before someone (Atrios) dug up video refuting it (WMA).
So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you. . . . I truly am not that concerned about him.

AND, from the White House web site (geez, the dumbass was begging to be caught in this lie):
THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.

The shit is spreading from NV to Oregon...more RNC dirty tricks with registrations. says the OR state atty gen is looking into it:
"Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and Attorney General Hardy Myers plan to investigate allegations that a paid canvasser might have destroyed voter registration forms.

'There have been allegations made that someone threw out some voter registration forms that had been submitted to them,' Bradbury told The Associated Press late Tuesday. 'This is a violation of the law and I will meet with the attorney general in the morning to talk about what we can do to pursue this, and to make sure it doesn't happen again.'

Bradbury learned of the conduct from KGW-TV, which interviewed Mike Johnson, 20, a canvasser who said he was instructed to only accept Republican registration forms. He told the TV reporter that he 'might' destroy forms turned in by Democrats.

'I have never in my five years as secretary of state ever seen an allegation like the one that came up tonight ever,' Bradbury said. 'I mean, frankly, it just totally offends me that someone would take someone else's registration and throw it out.'

Bradbury said the law requires that groups registering voters submit forms no later than five days after they were filled out. He added that canvassers can't turn away a voter because of his or her party affiliation.

Rory Smith, a spokeswoman for the Republican Party in Oregon, said the young man interviewed by KGW-TV was not in their rolls. 'We do not condone this type of behavior,' Smith told the Portland-based station.

In Nevada earlier Tuesday, KLAS-TV, a CBS affiliate, interviewed an employee of a private voter registration organization who said hundreds, perhaps thousands of Democratic registration forms had been destroyed."

Apparently it's not just under the suit jacket...
Salon continues the speculation that Bush was wired in the debates, and most likely has been wired (and therefore prompted) throughout his presidency.
Now a technical expert who designs and makes such devices for the U.S. military and private industry tells Salon that he believes the bulge is indeed a transceiver designed to receive electronic signals and transmit them to a hidden earpiece lodged in Bush's ear canal.

"There's no question about it. It's a pretty obvious one -- larger than most because it probably has descrambling capability," said Alex Darbut, technical and business development vice president for Resistance Technology in Arden Hills, Minn. Darbut examined photographs of the president's back taken from the Fox News video feed at the first presidential debate in Coral Gables, Fla., as well as 2002 photos of the president driving and working in a T-shirt on his Crawford ranch, which were posted on the White House Web site.

Darbut speculates that the device the president wears is provided by the Secret Service, noting, "They're not going to have him driving around the countryside on his ranch without being in instant contact with him."

No one in the White House or Bush campaign, however, has offered such an explanation. In fact, the Bush camp has shed little light on the mysterious protuberance, turning aside questions with dismissive humor or rising tones of exasperation.

Do you have to let your wife admit for you that you f*cked up? Apparently ball-less Chimpy does. Laura Bush Admits Husband's error on Larry King Live (This is London):
When asked if it was strange that her husband had never admitted making mistakes, she replied: "Well, no, I mean, he said, of course, he made mistakes. And that's what he said.

" He said ' I'm human and I've made a lot of mistakes, there's no doubt about it and history will judge what they are'."

She told King that being asked to name the mistakes was "a trick question".

Voter fraud going nationwide, courtesy of the RNC. A tip posted at AmericaBlog says that Vegas station KLAS-TV reports that voter registrations may have possibly been trashed by a company affiliated and funded by the RNC. This is big.
Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The company claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash.

Anyone who has recently registered or re-registered to vote outside a mall or grocery store or even government building may be affected.

The I-Team has obtained information about an alleged widespread pattern of potential registration fraud aimed at democrats. Thee focus of the story is a private registration company called Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes.

The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations.

Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.
"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assisatnt to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

And the last sentence:
The company has been largely, if not entirely funded, by the Republican National Committee. Similar complaints have been received in Reno where the registrar has asked the FBI to investigate.

What year is it in Alabama? [Note: my wife is from this state, and well, she had to escape]. Their Jim Crow laws are still on the books. And guess who is opposed to legislation to remove them -- Roy "ten commandments in the courthouse" Moore:
Fifty years after the U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) decision outlawing school segregation, an Alabama law mandating racially separate classrooms is still on the books.

Gov. Bob Riley and others concerned about the state's image are urging voters to approve a constitutional amendment on Nov. 2 to strike the long-unenforceable language from the state constitution. They say such laws are a painful reminder of the South's divisive past, and make Alabama look bad when it comes to drawing in new businesses.

But the amendment ballot has opponents, including former Chief Justice Roy Moore, who is suspicious of possible hidden agenda: a huge tax increase.

"This is the most deceptive piece of legislation I have ever seen and it is simply a fraud on the people of Alabama," said Moore, best known for his refusal to remove his Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.

Supporters of the measure say it is not about taxes — but about erasing the last vestiges of Jim Crow provisions from Alabama law.

"This is a no-brainer. For that kind of language to still be in the constitution is disgraceful, and we certainly need for it to be removed," said Ken Guin, the Legislature's House majority leader.

The debate also might offer a glimpse into the 2006 race for governor. Moore, who was ousted last year over the Ten Commandments dispute, is getting encouragement to challenge Riley in the Republican primary for governor in two years. So far, he has made no decision.

When Riley took office in 2003, his first official act was to appoint a commission to suggest ways to improve Alabama's constitution.

The panel recommended cleaning out the now-unenforceable Jim Crow language: a requirement for separate schools "for white and colored children," and poll taxes, designed to keep blacks from voting.

The segregated schools language became unenforceable in 1954, when the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision unanimously ruled that "separate but equal" schools were unconstitutional.

The 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlawed poll taxes in federal elections in 1964, and a U.S. Supreme Court decision two years later did the same for state and federal elections.

When the current proposal got to the Legislature, Guin and fellow Democratic Rep. James Buskey expanded it to add a third provision. They proposed taking out part of a constitutional amendment that Alabama voters added in 1956 in an attempt to get around the Brown decision.

Guin said all they did was follow up on a 1993 decision by a state judge who struck down that portion of the 1956 constitutional amendment.

The ruling came in state's "equity funding" case, where the judge ruled that Alabama's schools weren't adequately or equitably funded and that the state must make dramatic improvements.

In Moore's view, the proposed change is an attempt to get around a 2002 state Supreme Court decision that shot down a massive school spending plan that was supposed to implement the 1993 ruling. The school spending plan would have required an estimated $1.7 billion in new taxes. In that decision, Moore wrote a separate opinion saying the judge lacked the authority for his 1993 decision.

Moore said the proposed constitutional amendment is "a classic example of bait and switch," with the focus now on school funding rather than Jim Crow language.

Gabriel J. Chin, a University of Arizona law professor who helped write a recent study on Jim Crow laws, said many Southern states besides Alabama still have unenforceable segregation-era laws on the books, and referendums on erasing them are not always a sure thing.

"Some people still support segregation. They won't say it in public, but they will say it in the voting place," he said.

Four years ago, Alabama repealed a ban on interracial marriage, but 40 percent of the state voted in favor of the ban.

Bobby Segall, a Montgomery attorney who handles many education court cases, said the state's image is on the line on Election Day. In the past, industrial recruiters for some states have used old laws from competing states to portray the competition negatively.

"It makes the state look horrible if it doesn't pass," he said.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Looks like Bob Barr, a former congressman from GA (1995 to 2003), and a staunch conservative, cannot bring himself to vote for Bush. That's pretty bad.
Voting for president used to be so easy, at least for a conservative. There was the Republican candidate. You knew he generally stood for lower taxes, less government spending, giving fewer powers to the government, lower deficits and a zealous regard for individual privacy.

Then, there was the Democrat. You knew he generally stood for higher taxes, more government and deficit spending, and a zealous regard for civil liberties.

Throughout my own presidential voting history, the choices have rarely, if ever, been agonizing. Nixon vs. McGovern? Carter vs. Reagan? Reagan-Mondale? Dukakis, a Massachusetts liberal? Clinton? Al Gore? Ah, the good ol' days. Each of those races presented clear choices, easily resolved.

Now we have the election of 2004. For the first time in my voting life, the choice in the race for president isn't so clear And, among true conservatives, I'm not alone.

What's making the contest so difficult? It's certainly not that both candidates are so conservative that we have a choice of riches. It's not even that John Kerry is sort of right wing compared to George W. Bush. The incumbent clearly is the more "conservative" of the two.

But the concerns for many conservative voters -- concerns that may cause them not to vote for Mr. Bush on Nov. 2 -- fall generally into three categories: fiscal, physical (as in the physical security of our nation) and freedom (as in protecting our civil liberties).

...Bush's problem is that true conservatives remember their history. They recall that in recent years when the nation enjoyed the fruits of actual conservative fiscal and security policies, a Democrat occupied the White House and Congress was controlled by a Republican majority that actually fought for a substantive conservative agenda.

History's a troublesome thing for presidents. Even though most voters don't take much of a historical perspective into the voting booth with them, true conservatives do.

Hmmm. Who's the Libertarian candidate again?

The AP reports that the Log Cabin Republicans are suiing the Pentagon over Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Hey, are they sure they want to do this with the draft around the corner? Just asking...
Log Cabin members serving in the military asked the group's leaders over the last four months to take legal action, said Marty Meekins, one of the group's attorneys. They did not come forward because of a specific incident but out of "fear of the military finding out their sexual orientation if they are gay and lesbian," said Meekins, who is based in Los Angeles.

The suit says the policy violates a soldier's constitutional right to due process, freedom of speech and equal protection.

Log Cabin officials say they are encouraged by the Supreme Court's 2003 decision to strike down a Texas law that made homosexual sex a crime.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Is Bush suffering from pre-senile dementia? I just saw a terrifying video comparing Bush from 10 years ago to today's Furious George (QT, 4MB). It really does point out his decline. The video shows a lucid GWB debating Ann Richards and contrasts that with his performance in the debates -- there is something terribly wrong with him.

I was pointed to this from a DKos diary on why Bush isn't taking his physical for this year until after the election. The diary has a good number of other related links to surf to.

Bush's good friends, the Saudis are forward-thinking...NOT. Saudi women are barred from voting:
"The Saudi interior minister has said women will not be allowed to vote in the country's municipal elections starting in February 2005.

In response to a question about women's getting the vote, Prince Nayef bin Sultan said simply: 'I don't think that women's participation is possible.'
An election law published in August did not explicitly ban women from voting.
This led many campaigners for women's rights to hope for a substantial breakthrough for Saudi women. "

...Women in the kingdom live with highly circumscribed rights. They are, for example, not permitted to travel unaccompanied by male relatives or allowed to drive.

The San Francisco Chronicle has an excellent article on how the "Austin 12" (the self-appointed band of gay GOP-ers who met with Bush in 2000) became disillusioned with the party after its anti-gay switch in the election cycle.
The small band of 11 gay men and one lesbian, Republicans all, who set out more than four years ago on a highly personal crusade to reconcile homosexuals and the Republican Party, today concedes utter failure.

One is leaving the party. Another resigned his Bush administration post. Their leader refuses to talk to the media. Few will even vote for President Bush. Most feel profoundly betrayed.

For the Austin 12, as they call themselves, Bush squandered a precious chance to broaden the GOP and deliberately harmed the gay civil rights movement at a historic turning point.

Bush may win re-election because of his stance, the members of the Austin 12 say, but they are certain the damage to gays and their party will take years, if not decades, to reverse.

The president's endorsement in February of a constitutional ban on same- sex marriage broke the group's spirit and shattered its support for Bush. To back an effort to insert into the nation's founding document words that would exclude gays and lesbians was -- for them -- unforgivable.

Christopher Reeve was a talented actor, but he was a giant of a man. His passing is significant on many levels, timely because Kerry mentioned him in the last debate, while discussing the ethics of stem cell research. Reeve's gift to us was his inspirational spirit; our gift to him will be to work harder to make his dream of a cure for paralysis a reality with stem cell research. That's something this president doesn't understand.

In what f*cking universe is this morally right, given what this country went through? Remains of 9/11 victims 'to spend eternity' in city rubbish dump (Telegraph UK):
The remains of hundreds of victims of the September 11 attacks are to be permanently buried in the world's largest rubbish dump, to the consternation of their grieving relatives.

In the aftermath of 9/11, more than half a million tons of dust and ashes from the Twin Towers were taken to the sprawling Fresh Kills landfill site on Staten Island.

More than 100 years' worth of refuse from New York City had accumulated at the dump before it was finally closed just six months before the attacks. The rubble from the World Trade Center ended up covering some 48 acres.

Relatives were assured that ashes would be returned after they were sorted, but city authorities have since balked at the estimated $450 million cost of transferring them again. Instead they have promised to lay a 2,200-acre park on top of the dump, whose rotting contents smell strongly of methane, and to erect a memorial to the victims.

Relatives of 1,169 of the 3,000 who died have yet to receive any remains, and many are outraged at the authorities' decision.

...However, [Diane Horning, whose son Matthew, 24, died in the North Tower] is enraged by suggestions that it will be a "symbolic" cemetery. "Only if my son is 'symbolically' dead," she says. "But if he's really dead then I really want him buried."

An informative article, but take a look at the bold quote below...Standby ballots already disputed (USA Today):
"Federal and state election officials are worried that changes made after the 2000 presidential race to ensure that voters are not turned away from the polls could lead to more confusion and court fights this year.

Under the 2002 Help America Vote Act, each state must provide standby ballots to voters if they cannot be found on registration lists, are in the wrong polling place or don't have proper identification but insist they are eligible to vote. Those people will be given 'provisional' ballots that will be kept separate from others until their eligibility can be confirmed.
'Provisional ballots could be the hanging chads of 2004,' says Tony Sirvello, director of an association of local election administrators. 'If there's a state as close as Florida was in 2000, this could have a major effect.'"

..."Democrats worry more about access," says Doug Chapin, director of, a non-profit research group that studies voting systems, "Republicans tend to worry about the integrity of the system."

Uh, not really. Integrity...with Katherine Harris overseeing the election process in 2000? Bullshit. The GOP only worries about their ability to circumvent the integrity of the system.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Pfc. Kyle Maio, 19, spots Lance Cpl. Carlos Perez, 20. Maio said he thinks U.S. officials are not being candid about Iraq because of upcoming U.S. elections. (Steve Fainaru -- The Washington Post)

The WP has a great piece that illuminates how the frustration of being in Iraq, and the politicization of the war itself is wearing on Marines stationed there. The amazing thing about this article is that they gave their opinions freely and are identified by name. Bushies cannot be happy with quotes like this...
"Sometimes I see no reason why we're here," [Lance Cpl. Carlos] Perez said. "First of all, you cannot engage as many times as we want to. Second of all, we're looking for an enemy that's not there. The only way to do it is go house to house until we get out of here."

"I feel we're going to be here for years and years and years," said Lance Cpl. Edward Elston, 22, of Hackettstown, N.J. "I don't think anything is going to get better; I think it's going to get a lot worse. It's going to be like a Palestinian-type deal. We're going to stop being a policing presence and then start being an occupying presence. . . . We're always going to be here. We're never going to leave."

"Every day you read the articles in the States where it's like, 'Oh, it's getting better and better,' " said Lance Cpl. Jonathan Snyder, 22, of Gettysburg, Pa. "But when you're here, you know it's worse every day."

Pfc. Kyle Maio, 19, of Bucks County, Pa., said he thought government officials were reticent to speak candidly because of the upcoming U.S. elections. "Stuff's going on here but they won't flat-out say it," he said. "They can't get into it."

"The reality right now is that the most dangerous opinion in the world is the opinion of a U.S. serviceman," said Lance Cpl. Devin Kelly, 20, of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Lance Cpl. Alexander Jones, 20, of Ball Ground, Ga., agreed: "We're basically proving out that the government is wrong," he said. "We're catching them in a lie."

Not much you can spin about that, Karl.

I heard rumors about this at the beginning of the war, but now we have the military talking about troops being used as guinea pigs for anthrax vaccine testing. From the Delaware News Journal, via Blue Lemur :
A former Dover Air Force Base commander says military officials used his troops as guinea pigs in illegal medical experiments under the government’s controversial anthrax vaccination program.

After some of his troops in their 20s and 30s began developing arthritis, neurological problems, memory loss and incapacitating migraine headaches, Col. Felix Grieder took a drastic step. In 1999, he halted the vaccination program in Dover, a move he said ended his military career. The decorated Air Force colonel has spent the past five years trying to discover the truth about the vaccine program in Dover, where he commanded 4,000 troops.

“In my opinion, there was illegal medical experimentation going on,” says Grieder, who lives in Texas.

Grieder has interviewed scores of his former pilots and crew who say they have had life-altering reactions to the vaccine.

“They would have no reason to lie. I believed them,” he recalls. “I wanted to talk to them face to face.”

Dover is now ground zero in the controversy because troops there were injected with anthrax vaccine containing squalene, a fat-like substance that occurs naturally in the body. Squalene boosts a vaccine’s effect, but some scientists say injecting even trace amounts of it into the body can cause serious illness.

Government officials have acknowledged that the Department of Defense secretly tested squalene on human beings in Thailand. Grieder believes they did the same in Dover.

In a March 1999 report, the General Accounting Office accused the Defense Department of a “pattern of deception” and said the military confirmed human tests involving squalene only after investigators found out about them.

The Department of Defense says vaccine sent to Dover was accidentally contaminated with squalene. Grieder and other officers believe, however, that it was intentionally introduced to test pilots and crew in Dover.

The Defense Department made anthrax inoculations mandatory for all active-duty military personnel in 1998. The immunization order, which remains in effect today, calls for six shots over an 18-month period. Defense officials deny that military personnel were illegally used as guinea pigs to test a vaccine containing squalene.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Bush's local paper in TX endorsed Kerry, and now they're not only getting grief, they're receiving threats.
We expected that perhaps a few readers might cancel subscriptions, and maybe even ads, but have been amazed at a few of the more intense communications, some of which bordered on outright personal attacks and uncalled-for harassment.

We have been told by several avid Bush supporters that the days when newspapers publish editorials without personal repercussions are over. As publishers, we have printed editorials for decades, and have endorsed candidates, both Republican and Democrat. When Bush was endorsed four years ago, the Gore supporters did not respond with threats, nor did Democrats when we endorsed Reagan twice. Republicans did not threaten us personally or our business when we endorsed Carter and Clinton for their first terms.

...Several young members of our staff covering Tonkawa Traditions this past weekend were angrily harassed and threatened that they must leave, which cut short their ability to fully do their jobs and instilled in them considerable fear for their safety. These reporters had nothing to do with that editorial. They were part-time college students working to pay their way through school and better themselves.

Good god, a difference of opinion with these wingnuts is harmful to your health and livelihood now. This is the kind of caliber of people the GOP has attracted, and indeed, cultivates. This is the sorry state of our union today.

AmericaBlog, DKos and Atrios have given Bush the moniker Furious George; here is Kerry's take on the unhinged performance of the prez the other night.
Democratic hopeful John Kerry depicted President George W. Bush as angry, wrongheaded and unfit to lead, hours after the two rivals slugged out their second televised debate. Kerry flew into Ohio, a crucial battleground state where he is running neck-and-neck with Bush, and flung red meat rhetoric at a large crowd of supporters at a rally in the Cleveland suburbs.

The veteran Massachusetts senator lambasted Bush on Iraq, his failure to find terror kingpin Osama bin Laden and his tax policies, three-and-a-half weeks before the November 2 election.

"'Do we want leadership as it's called that can't face reality and admit mistakes or do we want leadership that sees the truth and tells the truth to the American people?' Kerry asked, shouting in a hoarse voice in a performance a world removed from the prosecutorial style he adopted in the debate.

'For me, the most stunning moment of the whole evening was when George Bush was asked to name three mistakes that he has made ... and the President couldn't even name one mistake.' Kerry looked back on Friday's night's debate in St. Louis, Missouri, recalling that at one stage a riled-up Bush cut off moderator Charles Gibson in midsentence to answer one of his rival's statements.

'I was a little worried at one point, I thought the President was going to attack Charlie Gibson.'"

Graphic by Mr. Curmudgeon, on Oliver Willis

We know the media is beholden to corporate interests, but this one takes the cake -- and why regulation of stations is woefully and dangerously inadequate. Conservative TV group to air anti-Kerry film, preempt prime-time shows:
Sinclair Broadcast Group, a conservative television conglomerate whose television outlets reach nearly a quarter of the nation’s homes, is ordering its stations to preempt regular programming just days before the Nov. 2 election to air a film that attacking Sen. John F. Kerry’s position on the Vietnam War, network executives told the L.A. Times Friday. Experts call the move highly unusual.

Already, a move is being made to convince Sinclair to change their decision by putting pressure on Sinclair advertisers, with a “Boycott Sinclair advertisers” blog at

Sinclair’s programming plan, communicated to executives in recent days and coming in the thick of a close and intense presidential race, is highly unusual even in a political season that has been marked by media controversies.

Sinclair has told its stations — many of them in political swing states such as Ohio and Florida — to air “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal,” sources said. The film, funded by Pennsylvania veterans and produced by a veteran and former Washington Times reporter, features former POWs accusing Kerry — a decorated Navy veteran turned war protester — of worsening their ordeal by prolonging the war. Sinclair will preempt regular prime-time programming from the networks to show the film, which may be classified as news programming, according to TV executives familiar with the plan.

When the NYT starts asking questiong about Bush getting prompted with an earpiece, you know it's moved up the news food chain, out of the tin-foil-hat-crowd arena.

"There was nothing under his suit jacket," said Nicolle Devenish, a campaign spokeswoman. "It was most likely a rumpling of that portion of his suit jacket, or a wrinkle in the fabric." Ms. Devenish could not say why the "rumpling" was rectangular.

Is this a surprise? Afghanistan elections are f*cked up. My Way News:
"Afghanistan's historic presidential election turned sour Saturday when all 15 candidates opposing U.S.-backed interim President Hamid Karzai withdrew in the middle of voting, charging the government and the United Nations with fraud and incompetence.

In the end, faulty ink - not Taliban bombs and bullets - threatened three years of painstaking progress toward democracy. The opposition candidates claimed the ink used to mark people's thumbs rubbed off too easily, allowing for mass deception.

Electoral officials rejected opposition demands that voting be stopped at midday, saying it would rob millions of people of their first chance to directly decide their leader, and the joint U.N.-Afghan panel overseeing the election would rule later on the vote's legitimacy.

But the controversy nonetheless cast a pall over what had been a joyous day in Afghanistan. Millions of ethnically diverse Afghan voters crammed polling stations for an election aimed at bringing peace and prosperity to a country nearly ruined by more than two decades of war. Men and women voted at separate booths in keeping with this nation's conservative Islamic leanings.

Karzai - who is widely favored to win - said the fate of the balloting was with electoral panel, but he added that, in his view, "the election was free and fair ... it is very legitimate."

...Even if the vote is ultimately validated, Karzai's ability to unite this nation, fight rampant warlordism and crush a lingering Taliban insurgency in this nation of an estimated 25 million people might be fatally compromised if his opponents refuse to accept the results and insist that his rule is illegitimate.

Other post-debate comments of note:

Sully gives it to Kerry. His observation on Bush:
That he has to concede the complete absence of WMDs in Iraq is inevitably brutal on him and his argument about the war. The facts are simply against him, and it shows. He had absolutely no answer on his spending spree. None. If you're a one-issue voter on fiscal responsiblity, Kerry is obviously your man; and this debate rammed that point home. And then there were some simply bizarre moments. Does anyone in America ever use the term "internets"? Plural? I've never heard anyone in my life use this formulation. The mandatory malapropism: Bush promised at one point that he'd be more "facile" in future. That's going to be a hard promise to keep. After four years of defending the homeland, the president should also not be giving soundbites like "I'm worried. I'm worried about our country." Hey, Mr president. Join the gang. And then ythere was the hilarious answer on the judicial appointments. Bush won't appoint anyone who still believes in the Dredd Scott decision. That's a relief. But, to be honest, it's the kind of question a high-school president might give, not the president of the United States. Bush's biggest failure was to detail Kerry's record, rather than just describing it as "liberal". "Show, not tell" is a good rule of thumb for effective criticism. And then there was the inevitable "mistakes" question. Bush didn't answer it - except to say he wish he hadn't hired Paul O'Neill. You'd think by now he'd have some kind of answer. But he seems to think he is incapable of error. That, in fact, is an obvious part of the problem.

Oliver Willis, not surprisingly, though it wasn't close:
Dude, This Debate Was A Walk: With Bush running around, defensive, yellin' off the top of his lungs, how could you not consider Kerry the more presidential? Please, little George, you ain't worthy of playing on Kerry's ballpark. And Lord, man, can't you stop smirkin' for 90 minutes?
BUSH FLIPS OUT: Click here to watch your President flip out of his gourd. I've never seen anything like it.

Other punditry, ripped from DKos...
Ron Forunier, AP: "As he fought to keep his emotions in check in a testy, personal debate with Sen. John Kerry, the president asserted 'That answer almost made me scowl.'... Several answers brought Bush's emotions to the surface, for better or worse, as he sought to curb Kerry's momentum.... Bush was the most aggressive, at one point overrunning moderator Charles Gibson's attempt to pose a question.."

David Niven, political science professor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton (from the above article):"Bush seemed wound a bit too tight. He was a little like Nixon sort of jumping out of his suit... He looked bad on the TV close-ups.""

Jonah Goldberg, National Review: "WHY DOES BUSH...
Sound like he's angry at the guy asking about making drugs cheaper?

Paul Begala, CNN: "Good debate. The press will say it's a draw, but I think Kerry bested Bush -- or rather Bush made a few errors. Two words for President Bush: anger management. He spent much of the debate nearly yelling at the audience."

John Whitesides, Reuters: "An angry Bush at one point cut off moderator Charles Gibson to upbraid Kerry for criticising the size of the coalition backing the United States in Iraq, saying it denigrated allies like Britain and Poland."

Beth Gorham, CBC News: "It all added up to a major challenge for the president, who appeared angry and defensive during attacks from Kerry in a tense sparring match on Sept. 30 that was watched by some 62 million Americans."

Billmon (back from the dead): "If Kerry and the Dems can't make an issue out of the fact that the president of the United States is utterly incapable of controlling his hairtrigger temper, they don't deserve to win this election... I mean, the man is a walking time bomb."

David Paul Kuhn, "BUSH MAD, KERRY COMPOSED... Though Mr. Bush was more composed than in last week's first presidential debate, all agreed his tone was sometimes antagonistic and he again appeared uncomfortable being challenged. Kerry, on the other hand, was viewed as measured and articulate. "

I was listening to it on the radio in the car for the first half of the debate, so I couldn't see the body language, and it was interesting.

It felt more "balanced" in terms of how I would imagine Joe/Jane Average receiving it. Both candidates, in content gave answers that we've heard before, or took positions in line with what ones we figured they'd have.

Listening with my personal political thinking cap on, I thought Kerry had the edge by far; he gave way more substantive answers, and Bush was sidestepping them (and emitting the usual types of malapropisms that endear wingnuts to him, or, for anyone with a brain, scare the sh*t out of them).

One thing that seemed unclear while listening was whether Bush was yelling his answers or his mic was too loud. I was still radio-only when Bush became unhinged, interrupting Charlie Gibson and then I realized, yeah, he was yelling, trying to be "assertive," haha. It's going to blow up in his face.

Got home and started watching and that's when I realized it was a Kerry blowout. Bush's demeanor was bizarre, and he was still making faces, had bad posture, and looked as unpresidential as he did in the last debate when you could see him next to Kerry's cool demeanor.

All I could think when I heard Bush evoke Reagan a bit earlier, was how RR, even in his last term, was more "together" in comparison to this guy. And that takes something. Bush really looks dangerous out there -- people needed badly to see this side of him -- he clearly shouldn't be running the country.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Keith Olbermann rocks. He's covering the debate question by question, like prizefight rounds. Looks like he's judging Kerry as the winner of the slugfest. A sample:
9:34 p.m. ET
Round six: Bush receives from Robert Farley about prospects of a draft. Says he's heard rumors on the "internets." Bloggers can be heard howling over the multiple. Minus one point to Bush. Stumbles in claiming he's replacing troops with weapons and equipment and unmanned vehicles. They'll save "manpower and equipment." Veers back to say there'll be no draft. Kerry is on the ropes here, now lists the military leaders who support him. Sounds a little too much like thank yous at a Friars' Roast. Minus one point to Kerry. Now Kerry backs out of clinch and says there's already a backdoor draft and says his military policy will be like Reagan's and Eisenhower's. One point to Kerry. But Bush is off his stool before Gibson authorizes him to and he's yelling at the ref -- always a bad idea. Minus one point,. Bush. He also leaves himself open by invoking Poland as an ally when Poland is pulling out -- Kerry scores point by noting it.
Round, Kerry +1 to -2.

I received a letter from a reader asking me to highlight the issue of servicewoman not having access to their right to an abortion, even if she has been raped. As we have all read, the military will pay for someone to get cosmetic surgery, including breast implants, nose jobs, and liposuction. The true horror of this is that the Department of Defense reported that there were 1,012 incidents of sexual assault on service members in 2003, and 901 in 2002. These women had no recourse provided by their employer if they became pregnant.

The Bush brand of fundamentalism is responsible for this, and Congress can change it. You should sign the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s petition if you agree that this policy makes no sense. Thanks for pointing this to me, Mara.

I don't know if this pre-debate spin is laughable or just pathetic and sad. From The Guardian:
George Bush plans to unleash a withering attack on his Democratic challenger in their debate rematch in Missouri tonight, scourging John Kerry's record in the Senate to argue that he would be a dangerous leader. With the opinion polls suggesting that Mr Kerry's triumph in the first presidential debate last week has made it a closer race, President Bush cannot afford to let him win another round.

The Republican strategy presumes that a high-octane attack on Mr Kerry's fitness for office will deflect attention from Mr Bush's performance as the incumbent and put the Democrats on the defensive. That will handicap Democratic efforts to put the spotlight on Mr Bush's conduct of the war in Iraq.

First good electoral news in a while from the Electoral Vote Predictor 2004. Kerry 280, Bush 239.

The "was Bush prompted by an ear piece" debate has graduated from the blogs to, in an article by Dave Lindorff. I don't know what to believe, but Bush's behavior at debate #1 really makes you wonder what went wrong.
Was President Bush literally channeling Karl Rove in his first debate with John Kerry? That's the latest rumor flooding the Internet, unleashed last week in the wake of an image caught by a television camera during the Miami debate. The image shows a large solid object between Bush's shoulder blades as he leans over the lectern and faces moderator Jim Lehrer.

The president is not known to wear a back brace, and it's safe to say he wasn't packing. So was the bulge under his well-tailored jacket a hidden receiver, picking up transmissions from someone offstage feeding the president answers through a hidden earpiece? Did the device explain why the normally ramrod-straight president seemed hunched over during much of the debate?

...To watch the debate again, I ventured to the Web site of the most sober network I could think of: C-SPAN. And sure enough, at minute 23 on the video of the debate, you can clearly see the bulge between the president's shoulder blades.

Bloggers stoke the conspiracy with the claim that the Bush administration insisted on a condition that no cameras be placed behind the candidates. An official for the Commission on Presidential Debates, which set up the lecterns and microphones on the Miami stage, said the condition was indeed real, the result of negotiations by both campaigns. Yet that didn't stop Fox from setting up cameras behind Bush and Kerry. The official said that "microphones were mounted on lecterns, and the commission put no electronic devices on the president or Senator Kerry." When asked about the bulge on Bush's back, the official said, "I don't know what that was."

So what was it? Jacob McKenna, a spyware expert and the owner of the Spy Store, a high-tech surveillance shop in Spokane, Wash., looked at the Bush image on his computer monitor. "There's certainly something on his back, and it appears to be electronic," he said. McKenna said that, given its shape, the bulge could be the inductor portion of a two-way push-to-talk system. McKenna noted that such a system makes use of a tiny microchip-based earplug radio that is pushed way down into the ear canal, where it is virtually invisible. He also said a weak signal could be scrambled and be undetected by another broadcaster.

Suggestions that Bush may have using this technique stem from a D-day event in France, when a CNN broadcast appeared to pick up -- and broadcast to surprised viewers -- the sound of another voice seemingly reading Bush his lines, after which Bush repeated them. Danny Schechter, who operates the news site, and who has been doing some investigating into the wired-Bush rumors himself, said the Bush campaign has been worried of late about others picking up their radio frequencies -- notably during the Republican Convention on the day of Bush's appearance. "They had a frequency specialist stop me and ask about the frequency of my camera," Schechter said. "The Democrats weren't doing that at their convention."

Repeated calls to the White House and the Bush national campaign office over a period of three days, inquiring about what the president may have been wearing on his back during the debate, and whether he had used an audio device at other events, went unreturned.

Another brilliant Jib-Jab movie. As in brilliantly awful and homophobic, or just funny? Depending on the POV, it could be offensive or not. I don't know, probably both. I just know I laughed.

He's dead. George and Tony are to blame for all of this. Thanks for nothing but agony being spread worldwide. British Hostage Beheaded in Iraq, Video Shows:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - British hostage Ken Bigley has been beheaded in Iraq, three weeks after he was kidnapped by militants demanding the release of women held by U.S.-led forces, a video seen by Reuters showed on Friday. In the video, seen by a Reuters witness in the office of a foreign news organization in Baghdad, the 62-year-old engineer was shown making a statement as six militants stood behind him, before one cut his head off with a knife.

...Last week, Bigley appealed, in a video tape released by his kidnappers, to British Prime Minister Tony Blair to meet the captor's demands to save his life.

'Tony Blair is lying, he is lying when he said he's negotiated. He has not negotiated. My life is cheap. He doesn't care about me,' Bigley said while squatting behind metal meshing and looking distraught.

'I am begging you for my life. Have some compassion please,' he said, his voice cracking with emotion.

Of course they should not negotiate, that would appease the terrorists. But these citizens did not have to die if Shrub and Blair hadn't played cowboy with Saddam.

Michael Bierut, recruitment poster via Swim Inc./Corbis

51% of Youth Tie Bush, Draft Reinstatement: "The National Annenberg Election Survey found that 51 percent of adults age 18 to 29 believe Bush wants to reinstate the draft. Eight percent said Kerry supports bring back the draft, and 7 percent said both want to. A fourth of those polled said neither candidate favors the idea.

Both Bush and Kerry say they don't support a renewed military draft. Earlier this week, the House defeated a bill paving the way to a draft 402-2. House Republicans have sought to quash the persistent Internet rumor that the president wants to reinstate the draft if re-elected while Democrats have fanned the flames on the rumor. "

Blogging has moved from the writing, reading and commenting phase -- the next level is putting your money where your mouth is. History has been made -- the "first PAC to wage politics entirely online" is up and running. is the brainchild of Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos, Jerome Armstrong of MyDD, Duncan Black of Atrios and others). Their goal is to "use online tools and technologies to further the cause of progressive politics in our nation."

They'll be targeting races and making a difference using the power of online communities...our strength is the ability to communicate far and wide, and it's the foundation for funding candidates that need that extra push. Our time has finally come. Thanks, guys.

You can tell that the Brits have been affected by all the Bush Kool-Aid -- they attempt to apologize for the Iraq f*ckup, even as they retract it in the next sentence, lol. (BBC):
Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt has made the government's first direct apology for using inaccurate intelligence to justify the Iraq war.

Appearing on BBC One's Question Time, Ms Hewitt said she was speaking on behalf of the entire Cabinet.

"All of us who were involved in making an incredibly difficult decision are very sorry and do apologise for the fact that that information was wrong."

But she added: "I don't think we were wrong to go in."

Ms Hewitt was responding to members of the audience who challenged her comment that Prime Minister Tony Blair had already apologised for the inaccuracy of the intelligence.

At Labour's annual conference last week, Mr Blair said: "I can apologise for the information that turned out to be wrong, but I can't, sincerely at least, apologise for removing Saddam."

Thursday, October 07, 2004

This made my night. Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio took to the floor of the House and said what is on everyone's mind about the draft. He opened a can of Whoopass on the Bush administration and its stance that we should believe that they have no plans to reinsitute it. The video and audio of this has been posted in a variety of places, including DKos and MyDD.

Here is a rough transcript (credit Newsie8200 on DKos):
Thank you. I rise in opposition of this bill. I'd like to clarify something. We're not trying to scare kids. This President's foreign policy is scaring kids. People are asking, "Why are people believing this big internet hoax?"

Well, these people told us that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11, same people who told us that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, same people that told us we were going to be able to use the oil for reconstruction money, same people who told us that we were going to be greeted as liberators not occupiers, same people, same President who told us that the Taliban was gone, same President that told us that Poland was our ally two days before they pull their troops out, same President who tells us that Iraq is going just great, same President who tells us that the economy is going just great, same people who told us that the tax cut was going to create millions of jobs, same people who told us that the medicare program was going to cost $400 billion when it really cost $540 billion, 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 or that has been told to these college students has been true. Not one thing. Bremer says we need more troops; the Pentagons says we need more troops. And this President can't get them from the international community. There's only one option left. Let's be honest with the American people. I yield back the balance of my time.

I received an email from a colleague today about the controversy regarding NC ballots -- the design of which could confuse some voters.
I learned some interesting things about the North Carolina ballots for the upcoming elections. I find these shortcomings unbelievable, but here they are:

1. If you check the "straight party vote" box on the ballot, you are NOT voting for a presidential choice and you are NOT voting in any of the judicial races. The ballot has three sections---the presidential race, the judicial races, and the rest. "Straight party vote" only applies to the rest.

2. Judicial candidates on the ballot do not have party affiliations listed. It will not say "Democrat" or "Republican" next to the judges's names. You need to take a cheat sheet in there with you. When we're closer to the election, I will post the list of NC judicial candidates endorsed by the state Democratic Party.

3. Bring your picture ID to the polls. It is a requirement for early voting (October 14-30 at select sites and board of elections offices). I've heard mixed answers about whether or not it is a requirement for election day voting at your home precinct, so take a picture ID to be safe.

I'll note that at least we don't have to worry about touch screens. We have optical scan technology, so there is a paper trail. And, Durham voters can check if they are registered by going here.

Early voters have the option of casting their ballot on these days/times:
Thursday-Friday - Oct 14-15 9am-7pm
Saturday - Oct 16 9am-5pm
Sunday - Oct 17 1pm-5pm
Monday-Friday - Oct 18-22 9am-7pm
Saturday - Oct 23 9am-5pm
Sunday - Oct 24 1pm-5pm
Monday-Friday - Oct25-29 9am-7pm
Saturday - Oct 30 9am-1pm these locations:
Board of Elections Office, 706 W. Corporation
Northern High School, 117 Tom Wlikenson Rd.
Hillside High School, 3727 Fayetteville St.
Githens Middle School, 4800 Old Chapel Hill Rd.

Kevin Drum at The Washington Monthly sums up the last week of the jousting well:
BAD WEEK....It's been a bad week for the White House. I think it's worth summarizing just how bad:

Thursday: George Bush gets his butt kicked by John Kerry in the first presidential debate.

Saturday: Partly due to Bush's dismal debate performance, polls indicate that Kerry is catching up. Bush's lead appears to have been reduced to 2-3 points.

Monday: Donald Rumsfeld admits that Saddam Hussein didn't have any substantial ties to al-Qaeda. "To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two." After his statement is reported, he tries unsucessfully to claim that he was "misunderstood."

Later Monday: The CIA agrees with Rumsfeld. The linchpin of the administration's case for collaboration between Saddam and al-Qaeda has been Saddam's alleged "harboring" of terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but a CIA report concludes that it probably didn't happen. "The evidence is that Saddam never gave Zarqawi anything," said an official who read the report.

Tuesday: Paul Bremer admits that the administration made a big mistake by not having enough troops in Iraq. "The single most important change -- the one thing that would have improved the situation -- would have been having more troops in Iraq at the beginning and throughout" the occupation.

When his statement becomes public, Bremer complains that his remarks were "off the record." For its part, the Bush administration tries to claim that Bremer was lying, but is forced to backtrack almost immediately when it becomes apparent that Bremer did ask for more troops as far back as July 2003.

Later Tuesday: Dick Cheney initially appears to fight John Edwards to a near draw in the vice presidential debate, but before long attention shifts to Cheney's numerous and obvious lies during the debate. This is likely to be the consensus post-debate talking point.

Wednesday: Weapons inspector Charles Duelfer releases his final report. He says that Saddam Hussein destroyed all his WMD after 1991, had no WMD programs in place after that, and that his capacity to build WMD was actually deteriorating after 1998, not increasing.

Thursday: Polls show that Bush has lost nearly his entire lead. The race is now a dead heat. AP/Ipsos actually shows Kerry ahead.

That's a bad week. I wonder how George Bush will be feeling when he takes the stage tomorrow? A little bit nervous, perhaps?

OK. No WMD. But we needed to overthrow Saddam over the oil-for-food program. No shit, this is what he said.
President Bush and his vice president conceded Thursday in the clearest terms yet that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, even as they tried to shift the Iraq war debate to a new issue - whether the invasion was justified because Saddam was abusing a U.N. oil-for-food program.

Ridiculing the Bush administration's evolving rationale for war, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry shot back: "You don't make up or find reasons to go to war after the fact."

Vice President Dick Cheney brushed aside the central findings of chief U.S. weapons hunter Charles Duelfer - that Saddam not only had no weapons of mass destruction and had not made any since 1991, but that he had no capability of making any either - while Bush unapologetically defended his decision to invade Iraq.

"The Duelfer report showed that Saddam was systematically gaming the system, using the U.N. oil-for-food program to try to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions," Bush said as he prepared to fly to campaign events in Wisconsin. "He was doing so with the intent of restarting his weapons program once the world looked away."

Is this the threshold for going to war? Over 1,000 dead? What must those sitting over there getting bombed by the Green Zone be thinking?


For entertainment's sake, you have to see Wonkette's take on the above.
Gosh, the Bush team is sort of running out reasons they invaded Iraq, no? First it's they've got WMDs, then it's that they were in the process of manufacturing WMDs, now, if we understand The Amazing Cheney right, Saddam was thinking about manufacturing WMDs. If that gets struck down, we hear the administration is going to go with "he told this guy my cousin knows that he was thinking about manufacturing WMDs." Well, we hate to see a perfectly good invasion get marred by, oh, a complete lack of justification, so we thought we'd suggest some other things about Saddam that the president, at least, might find reason enough to go to war:
  1. Didn't rewind rental tape
  2. Mixed recyclables
  3. Wrote a book
  4. Reads books
  5. Throws like a girl
  6. Is too tall
  7. Fuzzy math
  8. Prevented OBGYNs from practicing their love
  9. Wanted us to pass a global test
  10. Is a BIG GAY

John at AmericaBlog pointed me to this outrage. Can you believe that Bushies are admitting that they want to scare voters with terrorism? (WP):
A Bush adviser said the president hopes to change the dynamics of the race with more biting attacks on Kerry's record and trustworthiness and on what Bush charges is Kerry's reluctance to use U.S. military force to defeat terrorism. The strategy is aimed at stoking public fears about terrorism, raising new concerns about Kerry's ability to protect Americans and reinforcing Bush's image as the steady anti-terrorism candidate, aides said.

Slate's Fred Kaplan skewers the Prez and the lazy media that were tricked into covering his "major policy address" yesterday.
Did CNN and MSNBC get hoodwinked this morning? Yesterday, the White House announced that President Bush would be delivering a "major policy address" on terrorism today. The cable news networks broadcast it live and in full. Yet the "address" turned out to be a standard campaign stump speech before a Pennsylvania crowd that seemed pumped on peyote, cheering, screaming, or whooping at every sentence.

The president announced no new policy, uttered not one new word about terrorism, foreign policy, or anything else. He did all the things he wanted to do in last Thursday's debate—accuse his opponent of weakness, bad judgment, vacillation, and other forms of flip-floppery—though this time without a moderator to hush the audience, much less an opponent to bite back. And Bush loved it, smiling, smirking, raising his eyebrows, as if to say, "How 'bout that zinger?"

In short, the cable networks were lured into airing an hourlong free campaign ad for George W. Bush. (CNN's spokeswoman did not return my calls inquiring if the producers felt used. The secretary to MSNBC President Rick Kaplan—no relation—connected me to a "viewer relations" line, where I could leave a message if I wished. I called again to clarify that I had a press question, not a consumer complaint. She connected me to the same line again. When I tried a third, fourth, and fifth time, she didn't even pick up the phone; no doubt seeing my number pop up on the Caller ID screen, she routed my call to the prerecorded announcement.)

And the LA Times editorial cuts right to the chase by asking "Is He a Dope?".
Although neither group likes to say so, some Americans who support President Bush and many who don't support him have concluded over four years that he may not be very bright. This suspicion was not allayed by Bush's answers in the first presidential debate a week ago.

Even Bush's most engaged critics shy away from publicly challenging his intelligence for many reasons, most of them good. To raise the issue seems snooty and elitist. This is an image no American wants because seeming snooty is even worse than seeming stupid. Just ask Bush's opponent, Sen. John Kerry. Furthermore, the concept of brainpower or IQ as a single, measurable trait is generally, though not universally, rejected by scientists. And the obsession with IQ has been responsible for all sorts of political mischief.

...Actually, we would not frame the question as one of abstract brainpower, a dubious concept. You don't go through America's top schools, serve as governor of a major state and occupy the presidency with even mixed results if you're not reasonably smart, no matter how thoroughly your way is eased by others.

The issue might better be described as one of mental laziness.

Does this man think through his beliefs before they harden into unwavering principles? Is he open to countervailing evidence? Does he test his beliefs against new evidence and outside argument? Does his understanding of a subject go any deeper than the minimum amount needed for public display? Is he intellectually curious? Does he try to reconcile his beliefs on one subject with his beliefs on another?

It's bad if a president is incapable of the abstract thought necessary for these mental exercises. If he is capable and isn't even trying, that's worse. It becomes a question of character. When a president sends thousands of young Americans to kill and die halfway around the world, thinking about it as hard and as honestly as possible is the least he can do.

...Bush's Iraq policy is full of contradictions, often rehearsed on this page and elsewhere. But so is Kerry's. It isn't routine political mendacity that makes many people — many more than will admit it — wonder about Bush's mental engagement. It is a combination of things: his stumbling inarticulateness, the efforts his advisors make to protect him from unscripted exposure, his extreme reluctance to rethink anything.

Here's a headline that says it all -- thanks John. Edwards: Bush 'In Denial About Everything'. (AP)
Sen. John Edwards, answering President Bush's blistering criticism of Democrat John Kerry, contended Wednesday that the Republican was ``completely out of touch with reality'' about the Iraq war and the economy.

``He won't acknowledge the mess in Iraq. All you have to do is turn your television on,'' Edwards said. ``They still don't recognize that there's any problem with jobs and the economy'' despite rising health care costs and record job losses.

``You can't fix these problems until you recognize there is a problem,'' the Democratic vice presidential candidate told a sign-waving audience in a warehouse at the Palm Beach County convention center. ``They're in denial. They're in denial about everything.''

...Noting that the Bush's advisers had billed Bush's speech as a major address on foreign policy and the economy, Edwards said: ``The problem is, of course, when you got the same old tired ideas, the same old false attacks, the same old tired rhetoric, there are no new ideas. There are no new plans.''

``This president is completely out of touch with reality and it showed again in his speech today,'' Edwards said.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Remember the coalition of the willing? Apparently the White House doesn't want you rattling off the dwindling members' names. They've removed the active link from the WH web site. Fortunately, nothing on the web is gone for good, and you can see the shrinking list (Poland just dropped off) here. Love this quote from the "forgotten page":
This number is still growing, and it is no accident that many member nations of the Coalition recently escaped from the boot of a tyrant or have felt the scourge of terrorism. All Coalition member nations understand the threat Saddam Hussein's weapons pose to the world and the devastation his regime has wreaked on the Iraqi people.

Just a few tidbits...I was busy last night, but I did see the VP debate. Edwards did well enough against Darth Cheney to keep the momentum going, which is all that matters. The amazing thing, however, is the number of LIES Cheney rolled out of his evil mouth. The three most ludicrous were:

1) that he never tied Iraq to 9/11 (there's so many transcripts, stories and videos of him doing so, I cannot believe he'd have the balls to say that); and

2) that he never met John Edwards:
"Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight."


3) Compounding #2 above, during Cheney's tenure as Vice-President, he's presided over the Senate as President on just two occasions, that's certainly fewer than "most Tuesdays."


There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Draft vote in House killed, 402-2. Big surprise, won't pacify anyone, I'm afraid.

The GOP is running scared on the draft issue. They want to put the Rangel bill, "The Universal National Service Act," up for a vote in the House.

The Guardian is featuring letters to Michael Moore from soldiers in Iraq. This is a must read; it is an excerpt from his new book, which should hit the stores this week. One sample:
From: Anthony Pietsch
Sent: Thursday August 5 2004 6.13pm
Subject: Soldier for sale

Dear Mr Moore, my name is Tony Pietsch, and I am a National Guardsman who has been stationed in Kuwait and Iraq for the past 15 months. Along with so many other guard and reserve units, my unit was put on convoy escorts. We were on gun trucks running from the bottom of Iraq to about two hours above Baghdad.

The Iraqi resistance was insanity. I spent many nights lying awake after mortar rounds had just struck areas nearby, some coming close enough to throw rocks against my tent. I've seen roadside bombs go off all over, Iraqis trying to ram the side of our vehicle. Small children giving us the finger and throwing rocks at the soldiers in the turrets. We were once lost in Baghdad and received nothing but dirty looks and angry gestures for hours.

I have personally been afraid for my life more days than I can count. We lost our first man only a few weeks before our tour was over, but it seems that all is for nothing because all we see is hostility and anger over our being there. They are angry over the abuse scandal and the collateral damages that are always occurring.

I don't know how the rest of my life will turn out, but I truly regret being a 16-year-old kid looking for some extra pocket money and a way to college.

This, my friends, is the height of BALLS. Can they sink any lower?
A state Republican Party mailing accuses Democratic congressional candidate David Ashe--a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq--of "weakening the war on terror" by supporting John Kerry.

A flier sent on behalf of his Republican opponent, Thelma Drake, says Ashe and the Democratic presidential candidate are "two peas in a pod" on "issues like higher taxes, abortion on demand and the war on terror."

...Ashe called the flier an example of "low common denominator politics."

"When I was walking around Iraq wearing 25 pounds of body armor, I thought I was pretty good on the war in Iraq," Ashe said.

A lawyer who had been in the Marines, Ashe was recalled to active duty after the Sept. 11 attacks to serve in Kuwait and Iraq.

The story also notes that Ashe is running for the seat vacated by Ed Schrock in the 2nd Congressional District. Schrock dropped his bid for a third term after a BlogActive reported that he had used a gay telephone dating service to solicit men for sex.

Freep the polls after the debate tonight:

So sad. Heartbreaking. Think the president will attend either funeral, or for that matter, any funeral of the fallen? (AP):
A 45-year-old woman collapsed and died days after learning her son had been killed in Iraq, and just hours after seeing his body. Results of an autopsy were not immediately released, but friends of Karen Unruh-Wahrer said she couldn't stop crying over losing her 25-year-old son, Army Spc. Robert Oliver Unruh, who was killed by enemy fire near Baghdad on Sept. 25.

"Her grief was so intense — it seemed it could have harmed her, could have caused a heart attack. Her husband described it as a broken heart," said Cheryl Hamilton, manager of respiratory care services at University Medical Center, where Unruh-Wahrer worked as a respiratory therapist.

Unruh, a combat engineer, had been in Iraq less than a month when he was shot during an attack on his unit.

Several days after learning of his death, his mother had gone to the hospital complaining of chest pains, Hamilton said. She was feeling better the next day but saw her son's body Saturday morning and collapsed that night in her kitchen.

I need a barf bag. Just read Sully's prediction about tonight's debate and one line, just about made me hurl...:
"Well, I could easily be wrong, but I have a feeling Cheney will crush Edwards tonight. The format is God's gift to Daddy. They'll both be seated at a table, immediately allowing Cheney to do his assured, paternal, man-of-the-world schtick that makes me roll on my back and ask to have my tummy scratched. (Yes, I do think that Cheney is way sexier than Edwards. Not that you asked or anything.) Every time I've heard Edwards talk about foreign policy, I've winced - not because he's some kind of U.N.-style liberal, but because he's obviously winging it, hasn't thought much about foreign policy, and seems miles away from thinking about anything like, er, strategy. Then again, Cheney's record so far in this war has been unencouraging. I'll be drinking a shot every time Edwards says Halliburton. And I'll be fascinated to see how and if Cheney grapples with his president's war on his own daughter's dignity."

Michael Bierut, recruitment poster via Swim Inc./Corbis

David Hackworth blasts Bush's claim of "all-volunteer army, no need for a draft" out of the water in an essay.
Recently, when John Kerry brought up the possibility of a return to the draft, SecDef Donald Rumsfeld was quick to respond that Kerry was full of it.

But my take is that Kerry is right on the mark. Not only because Rummy has been flat wrong on every major military call regarding Iraq, but because this is a war that won’t be won by smart weapons or the sledgehammer firepower we see every night on the tube.

Right now – with both our regular and Reserve soldiers stretched beyond the breaking point – our all-volunteer force is tapping out. If our overseas troop commitments continue at the present rate or climb higher, there won’t be enough Army and Marine grunts to do the job. And thin, overworked units, from Special Forces teams to infantry battalions, lose fights.

...Most of our warriors – who are mainly from blue-collar families from Small Town, USA – have few political connections and few conduits though which they can effectively sound off. So when they get screwed over by a desperate Pentagon’s makeshift policies – such as the “Stop Loss” program that’s holding over large numbers of our servicemen and -women well beyond their contractually agreed-upon terms of enlistment, or the widespread calling up of out-of-shape, ill-trained citizen soldiers from the Individual Ready Reserve – these “volunteers” salute, suck it up and lay their lives on the line.

But like elephants, they won’t forget that they are “backdoor draftees,” as Kerry and John McCain call them. Which means that when their hitches are up, they won’t be rushing to re-enlist. And they’re also warning their younger brothers, sisters and pals to stay away from recruiting stations.

Although Pentagon puff artists insist they’re making quota, recruiters are already saying it would be easier to find $100 bills on the sidewalk outside a homeless shelter than fill their enlistment quotas, even with the huge bonuses now being paid.

So the draft – which will include both boys and girls this time around – is a no-brainer in ‘05 and ‘06.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The amazing, shrinking coalition of the willing...Poland wants out.

It's all true...

Read brings it all home.

A Brennan Houlihan posted this hilarious, practically musical, mash of soundbytes from the GOP convention. It doesn't need much explanation, just play it. From Brennan (from a post at Oliver Willis):
...there was no audio tweaking. Everything was as they said it. There were no repeated clips either. They really said those things that many times. In fact, there were even more instances of these words that I didn't use because the camera had cut away to audience reactions.

Homophobia in candidate ads continues...This one is for a third party Senate candidate in NY who is using stupid gay-baiting tactics to get ahead. Too bad she doesn't have a prayer of getting anywhere with it, but STILL. (AP):
Conservative Party candidate Marilyn O'Grady's ad features male figurines representing Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer and his Republican challenger, Howard Mills, on top of a cake.

"Schumer and Mills, the perfect liberal couple," the 30-second spot states, citing the support offered by both Schumer and Mills for gay civil unions and abortion rights.

"Only conservative Marilyn O'Grady stands with President Bush to defend marriage and protect the unborn," the ad continues.

Schumer's campaign declined to comment on the ad, while Mills campaign spokeswoman Caroline Quartararo called it an "interesting press stunt by a minor party candidate."

Schumer, who is seeking a second term, has a wide lead in the race.

Meanwhile, Sully finds some more gay-baiting in, no surprise, SC:
A NEW LOW: South Carolina Republican Senate candidate, Jim DeMint, has now reached another anti-gay low. His was the campaign that accidentally sent out an email using the word "dike," and now he's declaring that gays should not be allowed to teach in public schools:

DeMint, a Greenville congressman, said the government should not endorse homosexuality and “folks teaching in school need to represent our values." Tenenbaum, the state education superintendent, called DeMint’s position "un-American." DeMint said after the debate that he would not require teachers to admit to being gay, but if they were "openly gay, I do not think that they should be teaching at public schools."

It's interesting to remember that, two generations ago, Ronald Reagan specifically opposed a California initiative to bar gays from teaching. But today's Republican party is not Reagan's party any more. It's Santorum's.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Option Nobody's Pushing. Yet. -- That's the piece by James Dao in the NYT today about the draft. Out on the campaign trail, the candidates are hearing from people are really uneasy about the prospects of it, given the mess we are in. There's no doubt that this will come up in the town hall debate. How can it not?
More than one-third of nearly 3,900 former soldiers mobilized under a special wartime program have resisted their call-ups. The Army National Guard fell nearly 10 percent short of its 2004 recruiting goal of 56,000 enlistees. The Army, concerned about recruiting, has eased some standards. And there have been bipartisan calls in Congress to expand the Army by more than 20,000 soldiers.

Just months ago, Pentagon officials suggested that a new draft could be avoided if recruitment and retention numbers stayed high. But as fighting in Iraq escalates, signs are growing that those numbers may not be adequate in the coming years. Thus, the new talk about a draft.

...The Bush administration has called for pulling troops out of Europe and South Korea, expanding the number of combat brigades to shorten rotations and increasing the size of the Army temporarily by about 30,000 soldiers, in many cases by delaying their departure from the armed forces.

Mr. Kerry has countered with proposals to expand the Army permanently by 40,000 soldiers, speed up training of Iraqi forces, double the number of Army special-forces troops and increase international forces in Iraq. Doing so will allow a swifter drawing down of America's 135,000 troops in Iraq, he contends.

The mathematics behind these suggestions can be sobering. In the combined American armed forces there are 1.4 million active-duty troops, with another 865,000 National Guard members and reservists. That may sound like a big pool to draw from, but consider: Total active Army and Marine personnel are about 655,000, and that includes support units, training units, headquarters personnel and others who do not go to the front. During a prolonged war like that in Iraq, units sent to the front have to be rotated out and replaced with an equal number while they rest and retrain.

So maintaining a level of 135,000 ground troops in Iraq, another 20,000 in Afghanistan and a smaller force in the Balkans, while a garrison of 36,000 (soon to be reduced) guards the Korean armistice line and other troops maintain bases in Europe, creates a major strain. The current system is already drawing on Guard and reserve units to fill the gap. What is more, some military officers and political figures have long questioned whether 135,000 troops is a large enough force to prevail in Iraq.

To get a condensed version of Bush's video antics during the debate, go here. Hysterical, and all in chronological order, boiled down into 5 minutes.

Edwards and Cheney are prepping for Tuesday's debate. I'm disappointed with the format, which has them sitting at a table instead of at the podium (or a town hall, which Edwards wanted. The aesthetics favor Cheney, but Edwards needs to engage him directly and not hold back. He's not the affable Cheney of 2000 when he did the table debate with Lieberman. He's got a huge Halliburton ball and chain on him this time and he needs to be held accountable (for Halliburton, the Iraq war, wresting control of power on 9/11, the list goes on and on).
Cheney, far more controversial today than he was in 2000, must maintain his air of quiet command and not be goaded into grumpiness or saying something he might regret, analysts said.

"Cheney has this gravitas thing he lays on you," Democratic strategist Bill Carrick said. "It has to do with his demeanor, his gruffness combined with his résumé. Edwards has to break through that."

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., failed to do that in his 2000 debate against Cheney. Lieberman's gentle collegiality was largely ineffective.

Edwards will take a much harder-hitting approach, said a senior official with the Kerry-Edwards campaign. Edwards will focus on how President Bush and Cheney "managed to lose more jobs, do nothing about health care and messed up Iraq," the official said.

Edwards has been preparing for the debate in Washington, D.C., and on the campaign trail. His sessions generally last a few hours, and prominent Washington lawyer Bob Barnett plays Cheney. ("We put him in a Darth Vader costume," one senior Kerry-Edwards staff member cracked.)

Edwards will hole up through tomorrow in a "debate camp" in Chautauqua, N.Y., dashing out occasionally for nearby campaign events.

Cheney will prepare in Wyoming through today. He probably will relax tomorrow and may go fishing, then fly to Cleveland on Tuesday morning, an aide said.

Bowles (l), lost to Dole in 2002 for Jesse Helms' seat but is leading in the polls this time around; U.S. Rep. Richard Burr, R-5th District, thinks he's going to finish strong.

The American Prospect has an analysis of the tighting race for John Edwards' Senate seat here in NC. Burr is closing in on Bowles.
Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and Winston-Salem Congressman Richard Burr squared off in their only debate on Monday. Both candidates went on the offensive on issues like health care, gay marriage, and, most forcefully, trade. Given the debate’s canned format and the absence of any embarrassing gaffes, it’s unlikely that it changed the dynamic of the race much. And that’s good news for the nerdy Dem from Charlotte with those gigantic glasses.
Indeed, Erskine Bowles has defied near-universal expectations by maintaining a substantial and consistent lead over Burr all the way through the early fall. Observers had all but guaranteed that the race would tighten rapidly by this point, but the last Raleigh News & Observer poll, taken by the firm Research 2000 between September 20 and 22, gives Bowles the same 9-point lead (49 percent to 40 percent) that he’s enjoyed for months now. One source told The Hill that a recent internal GOP poll gave Bowles an advantage of 18 points.

So what gives? Most Carolina politicos chalk it up to a much better organized and focused campaign operation on Bowles’ side, with a candidate at the helm who learned valuable lessons in his unsuccessful 2002 race against Liddy Dole about grass-roots campaigning and tailoring a populist appeal to voters. Meanwhile, Republicans have been grumbling for months now about Burr’s anemic and unfocused effort. They’re beginning to air their worries in public, with fellow North Carolina Representative Walter Jones telling The Hill on Tuesday, “I think in the next 10 days he’s really got to move some numbers.”

That may very well happen. Burr only recently unveiled his first attack ads (as part of a planned GOP blitzkrieg for the last six weeks of the campaign, according to The Hill). It looks like the theme he’s settled on is “all Clinton, all the time,” tying Bowles explicitly to the his old boss’ tax increases and anti-tobacco zealotry and implicitly to every other aspect of Bill Clinton’s tenure that North Carolinians believe to be bad. Burr has $6.7 million ready to unload on TV ads, while the National Republican Senatorial Committee has already reserved $5.3 million in North Carolina ad space to run its own anti-Bowles effort. Meanwhile, the committee just released its own poll this week claiming that the Clinton tarring is already working, with Bowles’ lead reduced to a single, statistically meaningless point (45 percent to 44 percent). That figure should obviously be taken with a major grain of salt, but it shouldn’t be ignored.

Bowles has plenty of money himself, as well as the help of an independent ad campaign being run by the political arm of the League of Conservation Voters, but the fact that he’s had no luck breaking the 50-percent threshold in any poll is cause enough not to get complacent. And, lest we forget, this is North Carolina. As the go-to political expert on Tar Heel politics, Ferrel Guillory of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, puts it, “No Republican Senate candidate here has gotten less than 45 percent in practically 20 years … . You’ve got to say that simply because he’s the Republican candidate and he looks OK, Burr’s going to get 45 points.”

It’s true: Burr does indeed look OK.

To remind folks about the candidates' stand on gay marriage...

BURR, from his web site, which is prominently listed there as a main issue ("Sanctity of Marriage"):
I support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect the sanctity of marriage. I am a co-sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment (House Joint Resolution 56), which defines legal marriage as being between one man and one woman and places the question of civil unions on individual state legislatures, expressly prohibiting courts from making such decisions.

The will of the people must be heard on this essential family issue and a Constitutional amendment is now necessary to establish the appropriate definition of marriage that represents American values and is written by officials who answer to the electorate.

BOWLES, having served in Clinton's White House when DOMA was passed, and running in a fairly conservative state (excepting the Triangle, which is a progressive area), has nothing official to say on his site. So, I did a bit of Googling...
* Bowles said during the debate that state laws were adequate and that he would only support a ban "as a last resort."

* According to the Kinston Free Press, Bowles told a rally there that he was "100 percent" against same-sex marriages.

* N.C. Democrat Spokeswoman Susan Lagana has said Bowles opposes gay marriage (which is against the law in N.C.) Asked if Bowles would vote for the current amendment, Lagana said he would not as long as those other laws are on the books. If they weren't, he would vote for it.

Bowles has NOT taken a stand on civil unions in any forum. Because of the need to reach both conservative and progressive audiences, you can see Bowles poorly walking the line up there.

Burr has been broadcasting some effective commercials (meaning generically pro-business, socially non-threatening ones, as opposed to the wingnut variety, which would scare off independents).

Of the 5.1 million registered voters, 2.4 million (47%) are Democrats, 1.8 million (35%) are Republicans, 928,450 (18%) are unaffiliated and 10,649 (0.2%) belong to other parties (Newsday).

I think that since the Dem voter turnout is likely to be very high, and Bowles will squeak through, since Burr is just not an option for many people.

Oh Boy. The NYT has an explosive piece, entitled: How the White House Embraced Disputed Arms Intelligence. It outlines how Condi and Colin paved the way to the Iraq war with misleading, if not outright lies. It's looking bad for the Bush admin. It also explains Powell's mea culpa earlier in the week. He likely knew this one was coming out...
"But almost a year before, Ms. Rice's staff had been told that the government's foremost nuclear experts seriously doubted that the tubes were for nuclear weapons, according to four officials at the Central Intelligence Agency and two senior administration officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity. The experts, at the Energy Department, believed the tubes were likely intended for small artillery rockets.

The White House, though, embraced the disputed theory that the tubes were for nuclear centrifuges, an idea first championed in April 2001 by a junior analyst at the C.I.A. Senior nuclear scientists considered that notion implausible, yet in the months after 9/11, as the administration built a case for confronting Iraq, the centrifuge theory gained currency as it rose to the top of the government.

Senior administration officials repeatedly failed to fully disclose the contrary views of America's leading nuclear scientists, an examination by The New York Times has found. They sometimes overstated even the most dire intelligence assessments of the tubes, yet minimized or rejected the strong doubts of nuclear experts. They worried privately that the nuclear case was weak, but expressed sober certitude in public.

One result was a largely one-sided presentation to the public that did not convey the depth of evidence and argument against the administration's most tangible proof of a revived nuclear weapons program in Iraq. "

Oops. Didn't want to forget Darth Cheney; he was in on it too.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

The WP is saying the Bush camp is alarmed at how badly his debate performance was received.
Bush advisers were described as stunned by how negative the reviews were of the president's performance, which many of them regarded as not his best but not so bad. Bush was portrayed as upbeat while acknowledging to supporters that he knew he could have done better. His aides indicated they planned some retooling before Friday's debate, but maintained a sense of outward confidence.

...For Bush, the immediate objective is to wipe away impressions of that debate, in which he appeared annoyed and irritated by Kerry's criticism. But just as significant may be how well he passes the test of explaining why he believes his policies in Iraq are working at a time when conditions on the ground suggest that the insurgency is stronger than ever. The longer the focus is on Bush's record, these strategists said, the more trouble he may have.

And I thought all the people that trotted out after the debate (Hughes, Ginsburg, and their ilk) were just lying out of their asses to put the best spin on things. Maybe they actually believed Bush did an ok job...boy, whatever they are smoking, it's led to some brain damage.

There's no one admitting the hard truth, even internally, that their candidate stinks like a down east hog farm and his policies and tactics have blown up in their faces.

Kerry leads in first post-debate poll. Nice news, but it's the same poll that had Bush 11 points ahead a couple of weeks ago, so there's no peaceful feeling here. I look at it as sign that the commitment to Bush is softening and that Kerry still has to close the deal to get those folks to the polls. The survey, which was after the debate, gave Kerry a 49-46 percent edge over Bush.

It's a little scary too, since you know Karl Rove won't let Bush fall too far behind in the polls before deciding to pull some sort of October surprise. And if that fails, voter intimidation or outright poll fraud.

More coverage of the Chimp-in-Chief's humiliating performance in the debate, specifically the body language issue (WP):
For the current president, the performance could be particularly damaging, because part of his advantage over Kerry is voters' perception that he is likable while Kerry lacks the common touch. Democrats on Friday moved quickly to maximize the damage. The Democratic National Committee posted on the Web a video titled "Faces of Frustration," showing Bush in various stages of consternation as he listened to Kerry. "He was defensive, annoyed, arrogant, even angry, and showed it," said DNC Chairman Terence R. McAuliffe.

...Bush has flashed such expressions -- and worse -- at reporters when they ask him hostile questions. But the public has generally not seen the president's more petulant side, in part because he is rarely challenged in a public venue. He has held fewer news conferences than any modern predecessor, Congress is in his party's control, and he has a famously loyal staff. In rare instances when Bush has been vigorously challenged -- most recently in interviews with an Irish television journalist and a French magazine -- he has reacted with similar indignation.

Inspirational debate flashback.
In Iraq, no doubt about it, it's tough. It's hard work. It's incredibly hard. It's - and it's hard work. I understand how hard it is. I get the casualty reports every day. I see on the TV screens how hard it is. But it's necessary work. We're making progress. It is hard work. You know my hardest, the hardest part of the job is to know that I committed the troops in harm's way and then do the best I can to provide comfort for the loves ones who lost a son or a daughter or husband and wife."
--President George W. Bush

Supreme Court turnover. This is the election issue that just about everything ultimately revolves around, especially if you're gay. For instance, the House bills attempting to bypass the Supreme Court's authority to rule on gay marriage and flag burning tell you how important the issue is to wingnuts as well. If they cannot force their social agenda onto the country through the legislative branch (knowing the current court might overturn it), their #1 priority is to pack the Court in a Bush second term.

The story notes that Rehnquist and O'Connor would be more likely to leave if Bush wins and Stevens would be more inclined to depart if Kerry wins.

Legal Times has a piece about Supreme Court clerks that were present in 2000 during the election debacle that is in featured in October's Vanity Fair. This is an explosive article because the clerks are in hot water for violating Court confidentiality agreements when they revealed the Justices' decision making on throwing the election to Bush.

Scalia, O'Connor and Kennedy are portrayed as hell-bent on reaching the decision to give Chimpy the win, strong-arming their colleagues. This is scary stuff.

The VF article was scanned and posted and it is here. Read it and weep for our country.

Friday, October 01, 2004

James Wolcott on the escape of Bush's Mr. Hyde persona in the debate:
"Since then Bush has been wheeled out into forums where no one can dare question or contradict his majesty, where he can lean forward and repeat ad nauseam his patented soundbites. Last night I believe we saw the ugly comeback of the private face of Bush--the irritable expressions he flashes subordinates when he's presented with information he doesn't like or feels someone's taken up too much of his time or is pressed to explain himself to people he shouldn't have to explain himself to because he's the president and fuck you. The notion that Bush is 'likeable' has always been laughable. It takes a Washington pundit to be that dumb. He's an angry, spoiled, resentful little big man--I use 'little big man' in the Reichian sense of a small personality who puffs himself up to look big through bluster and swagger but remains a scheming coward inside--and next to a genuinely big man like Kerry, shrunk before the camera's eyes."

The House attempted to pass FMA yesteday (again) and it was defeated. The kicker is that Ed Schrock, the virulently anti-gay VA congressman outed by BlogActive when tapes of him trolling for sex on phone services surfaced, voted for it again (at least he's consistent, if hypocritical). So Mike Rogers released a few more choice audio bits of him cruising, just to remind folks what this soon-to-be ex-congressman is all about.

Bongo News photoimage

I'm just speechless. I wonder what Bush thinks of Antonin Scalia today. "Sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged" (The Guardian):
"He is the conservative bastion of the US supreme court, a favourite of President Bush, and a hunting partner of the vice-president. He has argued vociferously against abortion rights, and in favour of anti-sodomy laws.

But it turns out that there is another side to Justice Antonin Scalia: he thinks Americans ought to be having more orgies.

Challenged about his views on sexual morality, Justice Scalia surprised his audience at Harvard University, telling them: 'I even take the position that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged.'

It seems unlikely that this is what President Bush meant when he promised to appoint more judges like Scalia to the court, should the opportunity arise. Crucially, Justice Scalia is one of the judges in favour of overturning Roe v Wade, the landmark judgment protecting abortion as a constitutional right. "

It's a beautiful day...check out the Dem's video here.

My crappy Photoshopping, but you get the idea.

There's been a lot of discussion about Bush's joke about keeping his daughters on a leash last night. It really was offensive on many levels...for women...for all those tortured at Abu Ghraib.

I'm wondering what in the hell went wrong with Chimpy. Was he just overprepped, under/over medicated or what? His body language suggested he wanted to either clock Kerry, or walk offstage at times. I think having to be on the defensive, one-on-one, really sent him over the edge. It was as if his handlers, particularly whoever stood in for Kerry during the Bush's prep, didn't hit him hard enough so he wouldn't be so rattled in the real debate. He was off even his lame 2000 debate performance.

I didn't expect him to be fantastic, but, this being the foreign policy debate, he's got nowhere to go but down.

No lie, I think there is something going wrong "under the hood" with Bush; he looked so bad. His stumbling and bumbling was at a such a level of impatience and discomfort that he looked unbalanced. It was funny at first, but after it all settled in and I watched a replay, it was actually frightening.

And the spinners really had a hard time defending that performance.

Kerry on the other hand, was wildly successful at being succinct and skewered great points home. He way surpassed my expectations.