Monday, August 30, 2004

Truth at the GOP Convention

Bernie Kerick, former New York police commissioner and Vice President of Giuliani Partners, has this to say:
This fight against terrorism takes decisiveness, not contradiction
I couldn't agree more.

Do you think he cleared his statement with George W. Bush?

Either way, I look forward to Kerick's endorsement of the decisive John F. Kerry.

Bush Flip Floppery

The half-life of Bush flip-flops is getting shorter and shorter:
We have a clear vision on how to win the war on terror and bring peace to the world."
-- George W. Bush
July 30th 2004.

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

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

When the half-life is down to a single news cycle is when I expect the press to recognize that Bush has no idea what he's talking about.

Newt Mangles His Facts Again

Via National Journal Convention E-Mail Alert (no link):
"You ought to ask the Kerry campaign why the only pro-life Democrat to speak at a national convention was Zell Miller -- and he wasn't in Boston." -- Newt Gingrich at today's Republican Main Street Partnership forum.
First, Newtie is wrong on the facts.

And second, my question back to Newtie: Why is the only pro-life featured speaker at the Republican convention (besides the candidate) a Democrat? There are a number of pro-life Democrats who have spoken at the Democratic conventions (present and past). It's the Republicans who seem to be muzzling the anti-abortion voice. As I've asked before, when will we see Alan Keyes and Tom Coburn speak at the RNC?

Who Is George Bush?

Four years ago the Bushies made much of Al Gore's shifting personnas. To hear them tell it, Gore's overwhelming desire to be President engendered a win at all costs, say anything approach that, ironically, disqualified him from being worthy of the office. Gore, they claimed, went to great lengths to conceal who he was in order to make himself more palatable to the electorate.

Ironic. Now (and probably in 2000 as well) it is George Bush whose personality and traits must be concealed and re-worked for public consumption. The New York Times provides a glimpse.

Bush is consistently portrayed as an above-the-fray, compassionate conservative, eager to change the tone of political discourse. He "makes it a practice as president to speak disdainfully of politics and politicians as he travels the country, presenting himself as an outsider in the city where he lives." Yet that doesn't quite reconcile with the reality that "Mr. Bush has, along with Mr. Rove, been a driving force behind the attacks that have become a hallmark of his campaign." Is Bush the genial, common, everyman we've been spoon fed to believe he is? Maybe not:
One aide said a common scene in the White House these days was Mr. Bush, after reading the morning news accounts of the campaign, shouting, as he did a few weeks ago, "Hit him - we need to hit back."
Further evidence of Bush's shifting mien -- not to say flip flopping -- comes when considering his meda habits. Bush, we've been told for the past five years (see Brit Hume interview for but one example), doesn't bother with current events and newspapers. Yet:
On weekdays, aides say, the campaign essentially begins in the White House residence, where Mr. Bush rises at 5 a.m. to read the newspapers and check on the political news.

By 7 a.m., when he is in the Oval Office, aides say, Mr. Bush will frequently tell them about an article they have not seen and tell them to call the reporter and complain.
And then there's this:
Mr. Bush's advisers said he approached the campaign much the same way he approached the presidency. He was not, one said, a "micromanager," and was most interested in the broader strategic decisions made by the campaign.
Followed, two grafs later, with this decidedly micromanaging vignette:
He is involved in deciding the daily theme or attack of the day. While the vast majority of what he says is written by speechwriters, aides say he does write some of his own lines - usually attacks on his Democratic opponent.
Which is it? Does Bush read the papers or not? Is he the political genius this article portrays or the Texas hayseed that Bush himself likes to portray with his halting, convoluted syntax? Is Bush a master strategist who eschews micro management or the meddling tactician described by his aides? Is he the reluctant politician or the conniving back room operator eager for the fight? Is Bush a compassionate conservative or a frothing attack dog who revels in peppering his speeches with self-authored belligerence?

Who is George W. Bush? And can we trust the presidency to someone who lacks a strong sense of self and feels the need to reinvent himself during campaign season?

I'm Thinking of Starting My Own 527

Over the weekend I somehow managed not to avoid seeing Bush's saccharine and shamelessly exploitive Olympics advertisement. You may have seen it too:
In 1972...there were 40 democracies in the world.
Freedom is spreading throughout the world like a sunrise.
And this Olympics... there will be two more free nations…
And two fewer terrorist regimes.
Superimpose flags of Afghanistan and Iraq. Turn off television. Vomit.

Apart from the impertinent politicization of the Olympics there's the fact that, contrary to the implication of the ad, neither Iraq or Afghanistan are democracies. Not yet, at least. And they are a far cry from being free of terror.

The whole unfortunate experience did, however, give me an idea for a companion ad. Let me know what you think.
In 2000...there were 8 countries in the world with nuclear weapons.
Today...after three years of George W. Bush...there are two more.
(Superimpose flags of Iran and North Korea)
Terror is spreading throughout the world like a wildfire.
And George W. Bush is making the job of terrorist recruiters easier.
And now, the two most dangerous terrorist regimes on the planet have nuclear weapons.
So how bout it? MoveOn? Olympic Veterans for Truth? Who's going to get this ad made? It really only needs to run one time.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Calling Texans, New Yorkers, and Californians

Do you live in one of the thirty or so non-swing states? Are you feeling left out of the rush of activity in other states? Do you want to help register and recruit new voters? Well, maybe you too can help.

If you have a cell phone with free weekend (or evening) minutes? Then check out Democracy in the Park. The organization was started when a bunch of blue state New Yorkers decided to meet in Central Park and pool their free cell phone minutes to call swing state voters. They've since put a structure in place by which others with phone minutes to spare can join in the effort.

This got me to thinking. What if you don't have a cell phone? Or, at least, a cell phone with free minutes?

Well, if you've got a broadband Internet connection, for $15 to $25 you can easily get a swing state phone number and start dialing away. Companies like Vonage offer extremely low rates for local service anywhere in the country. Thus, you can sit in Los Angeles but have a Detroit area code and phone number. And $25 is about what you might donate to your favorite campaign. So maybe after you've made your August and September contributions to the Kerry campaign, you can sign up for Vonage service. Then, get a list from Democracy in the Park of voters in a swing state you'd like to target and help turn out the vote.

This election is going to be EXTREMELY close. Every. Single. Vote. Counts.

Can you do something to make a difference? Make the call.

August Cancelled

Summer is over. The Colorado Department of Transportation announced today that the highest continuous paved road in the United States, Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park, was closed today due to 2 foot snow drifts.


In a New York Times interview Bush reveals the tremendous extent to which he is incapable of understanding -- much less formulating a response to -- the threats facing our country:
Mr. Bush also took issue with Mr. Kerry's argument, in an interview at the end of May with The New York Times, that the Bush administration's focus on Iraq had given North Korea the opportunity to significantly expand its nuclear capability. Showing none of the alarm about the North's growing arsenal that he once voiced regularly about Iraq, he opened his palms and shrugged when an interviewer noted that new intelligence reports indicate that the North may now have the fuel to produce six or eight nuclear weapons.

He said that in North Korea's case, and in Iran's, he would not be rushed to set deadlines for the countries to disarm, despite his past declaration that he would not "tolerate'' nuclear capability in either nation. He declined to define what he meant by "tolerate.''

"I don't think you give timelines to dictators,'' Mr. Bush said, speaking of North Korea's president, Kim Jong Il, and Iran's mullahs. He said he would continue diplomatic pressure - using China to pressure the North and Europe to pressure Iran - and gave no hint that his patience was limited or that at some point he might consider pre-emptive military action.

"I'm confident that over time this will work - I certainly hope it does,'' he said of the diplomatic approach.
Bush's response to actual -- as opposed to imagined or at least non-existent -- nuclear ambition: A shrug.

Also I'm not sure whether to register my disgust with Bush or The New York Times regarding the aforementioned "diplomatic approach." This administration has no "diplomatic approach" when it comes to North Korea. Bush's approach to North Korea:
Shut your yap until you accept disarmament and regime change. We will not talk to you until you commit suicide. Oh, except that we will flip-flop and agree to accept a deal with you that was on the table since before I came to office but then decided to scrap. Oh, you don't want to deal now that I've called you 'Evil' and you actually have nuclear capability? OK, shut up then. Proceed to stick fingers back in ears and yell La, la, la, la...
What fantasy world is Bush (and/or the interviewer) living in to think that there is a diplomatic approach to North Korea?

Thursday, August 26, 2004

A Little Bushology

Dick Meyer of CBS provides decent background for a better understanding of this poster.
Character Assasination

Writes Meyer:
Any student of Bush family campaigns could have seen the swift boat shiv shining a mile away. This old family has traditions – horseshoes, fishing, bad syntax and having the help do the dirty work in campaigns as well as the kitchen. And they are very good at getting jobs done without leaving fingerprints, without compromising their patrician image and their alleged character.

Even the audaciousness of this year’s episode is not surprising. Who would have believed that George Bush, with all the trouble over his National Guard service, could get John Kerry in hot water for his combat duty and medals in Vietnam? Well, anyone who saw what George Bush did to former POW John McCain in the 2000 primaries, which was even more outrageous.

The ancestral origin of Bush family gut fighting came in George H. W. Bush’s 1988 campaign against Michael Dukakis in the form of the infamous Willie Horton ad.

...The mantle passed to Bush the Younger in 1994 when he ran for governor of Texas against Ann Richards. She was a salty, strong, unmarried woman. And guess what? A whispering campaign got rolling in East Texas that she was gay and so were some of her staffers. Then one of the Bush campaign's local chairmen told a reporter that Richards' appointment of "avowed homosexuals" might become a campaign issue. In the twisted way the press legitimizes talking about questionable issues, that remark made the whole deal fair game.

In 2000, McCain had George W. on the ropes and South Carolina was the do-or-die state. Flyers appeared from thin air alleging that McCain had a black child (he and his wife had adopted a Bangladeshi daughter from an orphanage there). Other fliers said McCain was the "fag candidate." Rumors swirled that McCain’s time in a North Vietnamese prison camp had left him unstable and downright crazy - again, hitting at the opponent's greatest strength. Other rumors were that his wife was a drug addict. Nice stuff, and none of it had Bush’s inky fingerprints on it.

At an event with Bush, a vet from some fringe group accused McCain of abandoning veterans. That really set McCain off and he demanded an apology from Bush. Bush simply said that he believed McCain "served our country nobly." That’s what he says about Kerry now. Above the fray, clean hands, patrician.

Soon after that, a mysterious group dumped $2 million into ads in more liberal New York attacking McCain’s environmental record and boosting Bush's. Eventually, it turned out the ads were bankrolled by a big Bush donor named Sam Wyly. No Bush fingerprints there either.

You get the picture. The big question is why John Kerry didn't.
I agree with everything Meyer writes until that last sentence.

I think it's obvious that John Kerry got the picture. His thorough understanding of the low down and dirty nature of George W. Bush is precisely why he led so forcefully with his Vietnam experience. The attacks on Kerry's Vietnam era activities (both during and after the war) have been in the Bush playbook since before John Kerry secured the nomination. Anyone who didn't or doesn't recognize that fact is an imbecile.

John Kerry recognized that Bush would find some way to make an issue of Vietnam. He realized that the best way to innoculate himself was to preemptively put the issue on the table with such fervor that any subsequent attacks would be blunted. As it turns out, Kerry's forceful display of his record served to give the Swifties a convenient excuse for their antics. Oh, boo hoo. We had no choice but to bring this up cause he talked so much about his record. Waaah. But make no mistake. The attack would have come whether Kerry had fortified his image or not.

Thankfully, Kerry understood the big picture early enough to attenuate the impact of the attack when it came. As it is, Kerry has likely suffered a survivable hit of only a few points. As Kerry said during his Daily Show interview: He's "been through worse."

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The General Gets Illinois Love

The General has decided to throw his "little soldier" into the ring and run as Illinois' Republican Senate candidate. It is also quite possible that Illinois state Senator Dave Syverson will consider backing his entry into the race, which would surely be a blow to Alan Keyes. Show The General some love and visit his site and pledge your support for his manly endeavor.

Oh, and out of respect for The General, heterosexuals only, please.

Newsflash: Electoral College to Pick President

In a column under the mundane, if not inane headline "Electoral College holds key to election, again" there is actually something interesting.

Purporting to be a straight news story -- Knight Ridder, no less -- the story offers this gem:
You might recall from the last election the Electoral College determines the president.
Whoa, Nelly! The press corps is on a roll today.

Proceeding in the manner of a sixth grade civics class, the "news" story observes that state by state projections currently show a different race from projections based on national surveys. Adding a bit of useful information, the story mentions two state by state vote counting sites: The Kerry leaning (also accessible via the link to the right) and the pro-Bush (which is also quite good and currently shows Kerry in the lead by a wider margin than the pro-Kerry site).

Now, for most of our illustrious press, this bit of non-news would have exceeded their quota of heavy lifting for the day. But this reporter goes further and offers us an insider's account. Thus, we're treated to these wan expressions from the campaign flacks:
Pennsylvania Kerry director Tony Podesta says, "It's graphically interesting, clever, well-done ... it's August and too early to order inauguration tickets."

Kevin Madden of the Bush campaign says, "It's an interesting snapshot analysis but it fluctuates, too, and the most important poll is on Election Day ... we're more concerned with getting our grass-roots voting-day efforts in place."
Is this feigned disinterest in the state by state breakdown necessary? Obviously, more than any one else in the country, the campaigns know the election is won or lost on the proper electoral strategy. And that strategy must be predicated on the application of scarce resources to those states where the most impact will be had, yes, but also to those states that, as a group, will add up to 270 electoral votes. You can't convince me that these people aren't paying attention to the state by state breakdown. Sure, they're probably checking their own surveys rather than the aforementioned websites, but they are definitely following the state by state give and take.

And if they're not then what, really, is the point of this pointless story?

(Via Political Wire)

More Posters

Well, at least one good thing has come out of the whole Swift Boat Veterans got my creative juices flowing. I created some new Bush-Cheney posters that draw prominently from the high-minded tactics of the Bush family. Going back at least to Papa's use of Willie Horton, the Bush family has shown their proclivity and skill for gutter politics. Well, right back at ya:

Character AssasinationWho's Next?
Hiding Behind OthersShameless
I realize that my quaint little posters can't compare to the shamelessness of a moral coward who has the temerity to send others to his fight wars -- not once, but twice! -- and then has the gall to question (or at least not condemn the baseless questioning) of those who fought in his place. Alas, try as I might, I just can't compete with someone who wields fear as a political weapon and uses terrorist attacks as tools to further his narrow agenda. Satire is hardly effective against someone for whom truth is malleable and, ultimately, optional.

Fear And Smear
Politicizing Terror
Fabricacting Truth By Repetition
MistakesPromoting Alzheimer's
For you disaffected Republicans out there, please feel free to print out and use any of these posters at next week's Republican National Convention. My guess is that, although meant as satire, Bush would proudly let at least one of the posters above in the door.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


I mentioned earlier that I had sent a letter to the Boulder Daily Camera about the Tax Facts spam which was published as a letter to the editor. Well, Douglas Steen of dugblog did me one better and actually wrote an entire guest commentary on the topic of astroturf. The Camera published it on Sunday. It's well written and worth a gander. Plus, Apeiron gets another mention.

Sadly, Steen's guest commentary is published only in Boulder. Perhaps the The Modesto Bee will see fit to reprint it since they too were taken in by the bogus letter.

Debunking Bushisms

As part of my ongoing effort to debunk political spam I offer the following e-mail (below) regarding George W. Bush's struggles with the English language.

As with all political spam, your first thought after reading is: "It sounds reasonable." However, if you're willing to do just a little digging you'll find that the claims are bogus. I'm not particularly interested in providing a detailed refutation of this piece of hackery. But, with the minimal effort I did put into researching these quotes, I'm fairly comfortable asserting that most of these statements attributed to George W. Bush are actually statements made by former Vice President Dan Quayle. Irregular Times did a takedown on this e-mail during the 2000 presidential election when, presumably, these statements were first attributed to Bush.

This bit of mass-mailed lying is interesting in that with a quick cut and paste the smear can be directed at almost anyone. In the few minutes I spent on this I was able to find sites that attributed one or more of these to Al Gore and John Kerry. Of course, the lie becomes much less believable when the name of the victim is changed, demonstrating that for political spam to be truly effective it must have the ring of truth.

Finally, I've got to question the work ethic and intelligence of the author of this piece of spam. Seriously. Why on earth claim that George W. Bush makes weird utterances and then refer to statemetns he never made? There are whole books of inane linguistic acrobatics by George W. Bush. For a sampling, check out Bushisms, More Bushisms, and Still More Bushisms.

In the spirit of letting George W. Bush have the final word on the matter I'll recommend his sage words of advice regarding any mass mailing you might find in your inbox:
"There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again."
Now, on with the e-mail that started this whole mess:

-----Original Message-----
From: XXX
Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2004 5:21 PM
To: Buck, Mike
Subject: Language

The first three years . . .

Can the English language survive?

"The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country."
- George W. Bush

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."
- George W. Bush

"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'."
- George W. Bush

"I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments
in the future."
- George W. Bush

"The future will be better tomorrow."
- George W. Bush

"We're going to have the best educated American people in the world."
- George W. Bush

"I stand by all the misstatements that I've made."
- George W. Bush

"We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe."
- George W. Bush

"Public speaking is very easy."
- George W. Bush

"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."
- George W. Bush

"We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur."
- George W. Bush

"For NASA, space is still a high priority."
- George W. Bush

"Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children."
- George W. Bush

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."
- George W. Bush

"It's time for the human race to enter the solar system."
- George W. Bush

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Story of Norman Siegel

Norman Siegel is 84 years old. He is known as a "snowbird" because he maintains a residence in both New York and the sunny environs of Pinellas Park, Florida. The New York Daily News called him recently.
Reached at his Florida home, Siegel interrupted a News reporter who was telling him that thousands of people are registered to vote in both states.

"That's illegal," Siegel interjected. "You have to pick one place as your residence and vote there."

Told that the records show he maintains registrations in both places, Siegel said he had not voted in Florida, then said he had not voted in New York.

When he was told that records show he has voted in both places, Siegel cut off the conversation. "I have to go," he said.
Turns out that Siegel is not the only octogenarian who is basking in the electoral benefits of both states. According to the News, about 46,000 New Yorkers have dual state registration in the Empire state and the Sunshine state.

As Siegel noted during his aborted coversation with the News reporter: It's illegal. Actually casting ballots in both places is punishable by up to 5 years in the hookie and 10,000 simoleons.

While I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this phenomenon in the lead up to the election, I'm not sure we'll actually see anything done about it. Afterall, which candidate wants to raise publicly the specter of hauling grandma off to prison? Might not boost the get out the vote effort among the senior set.

After the election, however, all bets are off. If Florida is once again the hinge on which the presidency turns, I wouldn't be surprised to see the paddy wagon backing up to the Sunny Acres Senior Home.

Via Political Wire

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Fight Like Republicans

Atrios points out the utter impossibility of imagining Democrats in 1996 adopting the Bush tactics of 2004:
The Boston Globe editorial is pretty good (aside from the "Clinton/draft dodger" comment - Clinton was no more a draft dodger than Dick Cheney. Where are the "Cheney/draft dodger" snide remarks?).

IMAGINE IF supporters of Bill Clinton had tried in 1996 to besmirch the military record of his opponent, Bob Dole. After all, Dole was given a Purple Heart for a leg scratch probably caused, according to one biographer, when a hand grenade thrown by one of his own men bounced off a tree. And while the serious injuries Dole sustained later surely came from German fire, did the episode demonstrate heroism on Dole's part or a reckless move that ended up killing his radioman and endangering the sergeant who dragged Dole off the field?

The truth, according to many accounts, is that Dole fought with exceptional bravery and deserves the nation's gratitude. No one in 1996 questioned that record. Any such attack on behalf of Clinton, an admitted Vietnam draft dodger, would have been preposterous.
It wouldn't have just been preposterous, it would've backfired politically and lost Clinton the election. Why? Not because the Amurkan people would have been "outraged," but because fifty thousand attack poodles would have run on the air screaming bloody murder. It would have gone on for weeks and weeks and weeks. Every editorial page in the country would have freaked out the moment it started.
Atrios goes on to conclude that
The media are not passive participants in these things, and they need to accept and come to terms with that.
This is, of course, exactly right. But it's not the whole story. The simple fact is that the Republicans have built a better attack poodle...and they have more of them...and they're able to keep them all eating from the same packaged and reprocessed bag of bloody horsemeat. Consistency of message is one of the best weapons in the attack poodles' arsenal.

Also, the media, unfortunately, responds to bullying. Democrats have not yet learned to compete with Republicans' bullying attack poodles. Give the Democrats credit; they do try. But they just haven't mastered the shrill, ubiquitous, unrelenting whining which the Republicans use to effectively flood the airwaves with their message du jour.

In essence, the Republicans have learned to use the media's sense of fairness as a weapon against objectivity.

The media, as Atrios asserts, is no doubt complicit in this hijacking of objectivity.

But the rest of us need not sit idly by until such time as the media recognizes that they've been duped. As much as I hate to say it, Democrats and Independents need to learn to fight like Republicans.

GOP Scratches Bereuter

Regarding Rep. Doug Bereuter's parting shots Marvin wonders:
Is Rep. Doug Bereuter a flip-flopper? Is he soft on terror? Does he hate America? Yes or No?
Marvin didn't receive a direct answer to his questions in comments. But really they are the wrong questions. When a Republican breaks with George W. Bush the real questions are "How long before his motive or personality is attacked" and "How quickly does he become a persona non grata?" The answers are immediately and immediately:
Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Illinois, a member of the intelligence panel, described Bereuter as "very bitter" for having been passed over in recent years to head the intelligence and international relations committees. He suggested Bereuter's comments were a parting shot to House GOP leaders and President Bush.

..."He is not an opinion maker or someone who has taken a leadership role. I don't think you can take this as a sign his comments are a barometer of other Republican thinking," one Bush political aide said.
Mmmmm, delicious! Republicans waste no time eating their own (or anyone else's, for that matter).

By the way, the correct answers to Marvin's questions are No, No, and No. See, that was easy.


Well, Boulder's Daily Camera came through. They published my letter on the tax facts spam.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Brass Knuckles

The Kerry campaign has a new ad. It's just a short snippet of video from the 2000 debate between John McCain and George Bush when McCain rightly attempted to shame Bush's latest smear attack.

This new ad is a step in the right direction. It's the kind of tough, right back at you message that is needed to counter the Republican dirty tricks brigade. But more ads like this are needed. And they need to hit back just as hard. If the Bushies want to take the gloves off then Kerry needs to put the brass knuckles on.

Look, I'd much rather conduct this campgain solely on the issues. God knows there are plenty of worthwhile issues to debate. But if George W. Bush wants to get down in the mud then I say drown him in it.

Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, this new ad is currently only running as an Internet ad. My guess is that the Kerry campaign is husbanding their resources and counting on free media -- news organizations and what not -- to push this ad even though it may never air as a paid advert on television. Probably a good idea to save their dough because there are going to be plenty more Bush initiated slime fests.

The sad thing is that shame did not work in 2000. And, it will not likely work now. Shame does not work because George W. Bush lacks the capacity for shame.

By the way, if you haven't seen the swift boat liars ad -- and you may not have since, despite the wall to wall attention, it's only airing in two states -- you owe it to yourself to watch the ad. This is the kind of vicious, emotionally shrill attack that your president, the shameless George W. Bush, supports.

Then, if you're not already sickened enough by the shallow, callow, bitter attacks, you further owe it to yourself to actually read John Kerry's entire statement delivered before Congress in April, 1971. If you do both of those things you can't help but note that
  1. John Kerry did not impugn the vets who are mounting this vicious and dirty attack;
  2. John Kerry's testimony, which these veterans feel somehow "hurt" "tortured" "betrayed" "dishonored" and "sold them out" is demonstrably, factually, and objectively supported by the record;
  3. John Kerry was saying over 30 years ago statements which can apply equally to our civilian military leadership today.

Swift Boat Lessons in Leadership

John Kerry was awarded a Silver Star for his actions in combat on February 28, 1969. A number of bitter veterans with 30-year vendettas against Kerry have attacked his actions on that day. They have claimed that somehow Kerry's Vietnam experience makes less qualified than George W. Bush to be Commander-in-Chief.

As it turns out, there are only three officers with direct knowledge of what happened that day: John Kerry, Lieutenant Donald Droz (now dead), and a third swift boat commander, William Rood. Rood has rebutted with eyewitness testimony many of the claims made by those whose simmering hatred of Kerry has caused them to denigrate all veterans who have faithfully served.

What Rood has to say offers insight into what we might expect from a Commander-in-Chief John F. Kerry:
Ambushes were a virtual certainty, and that day was no exception.

The difference was that Kerry, who had tactical command of that particular operation, had talked to Droz and me beforehand about not responding the way the boats usually did to an ambush.

We agreed that if we were not crippled by the initial volley and had a clear fix on the location of the ambush, we would turn directly into it, focusing the boats' twin .50-caliber machine guns on the attackers and beaching the boats. We told our crews about the plan.

The Viet Cong in the area had come to expect that the heavily loaded boats would lumber on past an ambush, firing at the entrenched attackers, beaching upstream and putting troops ashore to sweep back down on the ambush site. Often, they were long gone by the time the troops got there.

The first time we took fire—the usual rockets and automatic weapons—Kerry ordered a "turn 90" and the three boats roared in on the ambush. It worked. We routed the ambush, killing three of the attackers.

...It happened again, another ambush. And again, Kerry ordered the turn maneuver, and again it worked. As we headed for the riverbank, I remember seeing a loaded B-40 launcher pointed at the boats. It wasn't fired as two men jumped up from their spider holes.
What I take from this is that an engaged, analytical, intelligent, and courageous leader assessed a situation and came up with a plan. An effective plan. He shared the plan and led it's successful implementation. Then he did it again. The plan was not some loose, "shoot from the hip" idea. The plan relied on "thinking outside the box." The plan was focused on the enemy at hand. The plan was adapted to deal with the facts on the ground. The plan deviated from the normal course of action because the normal course of action was ineffectual. The plan succeeded because it was predicated on knowledge and executed with leadership.

If President John Kerry can bring to America's foreign policy just a sliver of what he demonstrated on February 28, 1969, America will be much better off than it is right now.

Via Kevin Drum.

Worth Remembering

It is abundantly obvious that there are dozens, if not hundreds of people who remember serving "with" John Kerry. I'm still waiting for anyone to stand up and say they served with Bush during late 1972.

Friday, August 20, 2004


What the hell does this even mean?
"I wasn't there at the time that happened," said Tony Gisclair, a veteran from Poplarville, Miss., who signed the letter, referring to Kerry's combat in Vietnam. "But look at what the man said about us when he came back."

Tony Snesko, a veteran in Washington, D.C., said he was "devastated" by Kerry's antiwar efforts, prompting him to sign on to the group's anti-Kerry message.

Snesko said to see Kerry elected would give credence to the senator's claims that those who fought in Vietnam were reckless baby-killers: "At the point that he might possibly take over this country as president -- it would validate everything that he said about us and would make it appear true."
Does it mean something like:
At the point that Dubya might possibly take over this country as president -- it would validate his drinking, drug use, and that girl he knocked up and then got her an abortion -- and would make it appear true.
I'm trying to wrap my head around the idiocy of these people but I don't even know what to make of it. How does voting for someone change facts (or even perceptions) of something that happened 35 years ago? And why do we care? Can someone explain this please?

Bush Redoubles Ineffectiveness Against Shadowy Groups

Atrios wonders. Here, here, and here too.
All 527 Ads Off the Air

Elizbaeth Dole just told us once again that this is Bush's position. Can some reporter please get to the bottom of this? Does Bush want them to be illegal? Has he embraced a new campaign finance law position?
What Atrios is referring to, of course, is the shadowy network of organizations that we've heard so much about from the White House in recent days. Witness:

MR. McCLELLAN: We've already said we weren't involved in any way in these ads. We've made that clear...I mean, where has the Kerry been -- Kerry campaign been for the last year while more than $62 million in funding through these shadowy groups has been used to negatively attack the President. The Kerry campaign has been noticeably silent, and in many instances, they have actually fueled these kinds of attacks by these shadowy groups that are funded by unregulated soft money. (August 20, 2004)

MR. McCLELLAN: The President has condemned all of the ads by the shadowy groups. We have called on Senator Kerry to join us in calling for an end to all the unregulated soft money activity that is going on in this campaign...And the President has condemned all of the ads and condemned all of the soft money -- unregulated soft money that is going on. Senator Kerry should join us in calling for an end to all of this soft money -- unregulated soft money activity. Senator Kerry has declined to do so. The President has been on the receiving end of more than $62 million in negative, false attacks from these shadowy groups that exist. The President thought that we got rid of all of this kind of soft money activity when he signed the campaign finance reforms into law. (August 19, 2004)

MR. McCLELLAN: We have been on the receiving end of more than $62 million in negative political attacks from these shadowy groups that are funded by unregulated soft money. And the President has condemned all of the ads and activity going on by these shadowy groups. (August 18, 2004)

MR. McCLELLAN: You heard last week, I mean, we made it very -- let's not be selective here, because the issue here is looking at this unregulated soft money advertising and activity that is going on. And we made it very clear last week that the President deplores all the unregulated soft money ads and activity that are going on. And that's why we called on the Kerry campaign to join us in calling for an end to all of this unregulated soft money advertising and activity that is going on...He should join us in calling for an end to all of this unregulated soft money activity by these shadowy groups. That's what the President thought we got rid of when he signed the campaign finance reforms into law. (August 10, 2004)

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, we continue to urge Senator Kerry to join us and call for an end to all the ads and activity by these shadowy groups that are funded by unregulated soft money. These ads are examples of the kinds of problems with this unregulated soft money. The President signed the campaign finance reforms into law in part to get rid of this kind of activity. (August 6, 2004)

MR. McCLELLAN: The President thought he put an end -- or the President thought he got rid of this kind of unregulated soft money when he signed the bipartisan campaign finance reforms into law...And, you know, the President has been on the receiving end of more than $62 million in negative attacks from shadowy groups. The President is calling for an immediate cessation to all the unregulated soft money activity...Again, the President has been on the receiving end of more than $62 million in negative attacks from shadowy groups. And the President thought he got rid of this kind of activity when he signed the bipartisan campaign finance reforms into law...These were loopholes that we thought were closed when the President signed the campaign finance reforms into law...The President knows what it's like to be on the receiving end of more than $62 million in negative attacks from these kinds of shadowy groups. (August 5, 2004)
What Atrios is wondering, I think, is whether Bush has flip flopped once again. Afterall, Atrios seems to be implying, isn't this the same George W. Bush who was opposed to campaign reform during his last unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2000? Isn't this the same George W. Bush who only reluctantly signed McCain-Feingold into law? Isn't this the same George W. Bush who wouldn't even have a Rose Garden ceremony -- signed in the shadows, you might say -- for this, his new signature issue?

Fair questions, all. But, Mr. Atrios, I think you're being too hard on Mr. Bush. Afterall, I think the record is clear that the Bush administration has a long if undistinguished record of ineffectual battles against shadowy organizations:

June 22, 2004: "We face an enemy that lies in the shadows..." -- White House Counsel Judge Alberto Gonzales

March 8, 2004: "...and shadowy private networks and individuals who also traffic in these materials, motivated by greed or fanaticism or both..." -- National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice

February 18, 2004: "This is a shadowy network that exists. The investigation continues, there is still more that we are learning. But we are acting to break up this network once and for all." -- Scott McClellan

November 4, 2002: "...could use his shadowy group of people to attack his enemy and leave no fingerprint behind. He's a threat." -- George W. Bush

October 14, 2002: "We face a shadowy enemy. They're real, they're tough, they are determined." -- George W. Bush

September 17, 2002: "Now, shadowy networks of individuals can bring great chaos and suffering to our shores..." -- George W. Bush

September 16, 2002: "They kind of move around in the shadows of big cities in some countries, and hide, and then strike hard...If they're in some shadowy neighborhood, we'll finally put the spotlight on the shadowy neighborhood. It doesn't matter where they hide, we're after them, one person at a time." -- George W. Bush

June 19, 2002: "And we're making progress, we're making progress. We've got the FBI and the CIA talking like they've never talked before. And that's important, and that's important. (Applause.) It's important because we fight a shadowy enemy." -- George W. Bush

June 3, 2002: "...against this shadowy enemy, it's very important that we gather as much intelligence as we can. We need to know what they're thinking, and what they're planning on doing before they do something. That's the best way." -- George W. Bush

May 21, 2002: "Now, as the President said from the very beginning, it's a shadowy war, it's a different kind of war. It's not the type of war that our parents were used to..." -- Ari Fleischer

May 14, 2002: "One of the things that we're finding is that our enemy is shadowy. They lurk behind civil institutions and then they strike. They -- they're not like an enemy we've known before." -- George W. Bush

May 13, 2002: "We're facing a shadowy enemy..." -- George W. Bush

January 23, 2002: "We still face a shadowy enemy who dwells in the dark corners of the earth." -- George W. Bush

December 12, 2001: "We are fighting shadowy, entrenched enemies..." -- George W. Bush
It seems to me that when Bush says he "thought he got rid of this kind of activity" it's sort of like when he thought he got rid of Osama bin Laden before he went into Iraq. Perhaps he ought not think so much. Or, put another way, Bush has once again demonstrated that shadowy groups concern him only after they attack.


Shorter Kerry:
Bush is a coward.
Seems about right. Let's look at the evidence.
  • Bush is afraid to attack Kerry's service himself so he relies on bullies to do his dirty work
  • Bush was afraid to go to Vietnam; he was also afraid "to shoot [his] eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment."
  • Bush is afraid to face the press, having held only 13 solo press conferences
  • Bush is afraid to face American citizens, requiring loyalty oaths at his staged campaign events
  • Bush is afraid to face foreign leaders -- allies even!
  • Bush is afraid to talk to colored people
  • Bush is afraid to expose the Republican agenda at the GOP convention
  • Bush is afraid of smart people
  • Bush was afraid to take action after terrorists attacked our country. He took 7 minutes to decide to stop reading a children's story and nearly a month to defend our country against al Qaeda and the Taliban.
  • Bush is afraid to lead by holding members of his administration accountable for their failures, including: failure to find WMD, failure to plan for post-war Iraq, intelligence failures, torturing prisoners, and the illegal outing of a covert CIA operative
  • Bush is afraid to admit mistakes.
  • Apparently, Bush is afraid of horses too.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

A Tale of Spam

After I wrote my fisk of the "Tax Facts" political spam I decided it might be a good idea to carry my little matchstick of truth into the vast darkness of the Internet. I thought I might try to "educate" some of the hundreds of web sites mentioning the misleading e-mail.

I had a couple of minor successes but, I must admit, it's a losing battle. One of the chief problems -- aside, of course, from the sheer volume of idiocy -- is that many of the sites that link adoringly to the offending e-mail have password protected comment areas. The effect is something like a self-perpetuating echo chamber in which truth, logic, objectivity, reason, and context are never allowed to enter. Oh well, you expect such things from blogs.

Because I figured I'd drive myself completely nuts, I abandoned the insane little task I'd set for myself. Until today.

On a whim I picked up my matchstick again. Thanks to a previously unseen comment that was literally under my nose I learned that the mendacious e-mail had made it's way into the Boulder Daily Camera's Letters to the Editor. Arggh! Not only did it make it into a real newspaper -- it made my local newspaper! Double Arggh! And I didn't know about it til now. Triple Arggh!

All is not lost, however. Without this little experience I might not have found the nice note of praise in my comments and over at DugBlog.

Plus, this finally got me fired up enough to whip off a quick letter of my own to the Daily Camera. I doubt it will get published since too much time has passed. But maybe my gentle reminder will help them to be on the look out for political spam of all flavors.

At least I hope they'll be vigilant. Afterall, my opinion of mainstream media is already incredibly low. If they're just going to publish whatever inane spam comes down the pike I may as well abandon mainstream media altogether.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The Silver Medal Goes To...

If Jon Stewart is the new gold standard in television journalism then the runner-up has to be the Onion. I realize that they're trying to be witty and ironic. It just so happens that their humor happens to be devastatingly on target. Kerry's One Point Plan for a Better America is a case in point.

I regret that I no longer work downtown and have an opportunity to pick up my weekly Onion. I've got to remember to check in on their web site more frequently.

Thanks to piquant rants & sassy impudence for the pointer.

Colorado In The Limelight

The Votemaster has Colorado front and center today. The Denver Post has not yet deigned to produce a news story on the certification of the ballot initiative to change the state's allocation of electoral votes. But The Coloradoan had a story on Sunday.

In June I was leaning toward supporting the initiative. I'm still leaning that way but I haven't yet completely decided.

Update: Gadflyer shines his light on Colorado's ballot initiative as well.

The Keyes to GOP Victory

I recently wrote about the farsical notion of "Big Tent Republicans" with regard to their choice of speakers at their national convention. My post was in response to continued -- incorrect -- suggestions that Democrats do not let pro-life speakers address their conventions.

In that post I suggested that the RNC could demonstrate their Big Tent bona fides by inviting United States Senate candidate Tom Coburn to speak. Obviously this was a sly bit of insincerity on my part. Everyone knows there's no chance that Ed Gillespie is going to let Coburn speak to a national audience. Not because of his belief that doctors who perform abortions should be executed, mind you. No, of course not. Clearly Coburn won't be allowed to speak because nobody has every heard of the un-elected Senate candidate from Oklahoma. It wouldn't do to disturb the choreographed corronation with an errant Okie nobody.

So in the interests of earnest helpfulness I offer two words that may not have ocurred to the RNC spinmeisters who are more concerned with merely looking good than actually calling attention to their agenda: Alan Keyes.

Think about the perfection, the symmetry of this idea.

The Democrats had their Illinois Senate candidate, Barak Obama speak at the DNC. The GOP can demonstrate their heartland values by letting their Illinois Senate candidate speak at the Republican convention. The Republicans won't let Tom Coburn speak because nobody's ever heard of him. But Alan Keyes doesn't have that problem. In fact, with two Senate races and two presidential campaigns under his belt Keyes has got virtually national appeal. Given the difficulty that Bush has with diplomacy having "Ambassador" Keyes on the dais could go a long way to comforting Americans worried about Bush's diplomatic gaffes and unstinting unilateralism. Plus, given how assiduously Bush has courted the the Urban League the NAACP, Republicans can truly broaden their appeal by inviting a prominent black American to give a prime time address.

Perhaps most importantly, Keyes has the benefit of not only being eloquent and telegenic; but he actually buys into the Republican platform. Unlike the other principal speakers -- Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudy Giuliani, former Democrat Michael Bloomberg, current Democrat Zell Miller, George Pataki -- Keyes endorses the actual vision of the party. In Keyes absence the Republican message might suffer from not actually being enunciated. I think the Republicans should have at least one speaker who will eloquently and intelligently espouse their agenda, don't you?

If I might make an additional modest proposal. Schedule Alan Keyes either before or after Rod Paige. The juxtaposition of two black Republican luminaries would highlight the openness and inclusive values of the modern GOP. Also, as two of the foremost opponents of often unrecognized terrorist groups, Paige and Keyes have much to teach us about how to combat domestic terrorism.

I bet if Gillespie calls, Keyes can be up on stage with short notice. From what I can tell, he's already got a good bit of his speech already written:
What distinguishes the terrorist from the ordinary warrior, is that the terrorist will consciously target innocent human life. What is done in the course of an abortion? . . . Someone consciously targets innocent human life.

As I often point out to folks, the evil is the same. And that means, quite frankly, in fighting the war against terror, as I have often put it to audiences, the evil that we fight is but the shadow of the evil that we do.
He's got a lot more like that, trust me. There are votes there, I'm telling you.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Odd Traffic Tales

Pressed for time in this fast-paced dog-eat-dog word of deadlines and microwavable dinners? Save minutes a month by cutting your fingernails at traffic lights.

I kid you not. At two successive red lights on the way home from work this evening I observed the driver of in the blue Buick in front of me stick his hands out the window as he trimmed his fingernails. I guess translucent keratin cuttings piling up at intersections is better than undecomposed curbside Marlboro and Kool filters. But are we so pressed for quality time at home that we need to do this sort of grooming in traffic?


A Piddling Man And His Piddling Lies

Doren says I'm "scraping the bottom of the barrel" when I'm critical of Bush's picayune flip flops and lies. I don't see it that way.

First, I've made it a habit, with some regularity in this space, to compile or point to compiled lists of Bush's mendacity. Reviewing these lists you immediately see that Bush's struggles with truth are legion.

But beyond the sheer multitude of shading, dodging, and misleading statements, I'm interested in the fact that Bush's malleable approach to the truth is not limited to big, substantive issues. And, as I've noted, why ought we expect clarity and rectitude on the important issues that face us when Bush (and his lackeys) are willing to beguile on insignificant issues?

I do agree that in the whole scheme of things it matters little that Bush can't decide whether his mother is or is now cowed by the aura of the Oval Office or whether he hit the trifecta in being lucky enough to preside over a war, recession, and a national emergency. To a certain extent we expect our politicians to tell us these kinds of minor lies. But it is worth mentioning Bush's minor skirmishes with the truth if only because it was exactly this tactic that Bush (and his minions) used to pillory Gore four years ago. Perhaps by dint of repetition an ignorant press and public can be made to see Bush for the prevaricator he is.

Unfortunately, Bush has in essence inoculated himself against such criticism because we've been conditioned to accept his verbal diarrhea.

But I shall not relent in pointing out either his Big Lies or his littlest ones. And, to prove it, I offer this one, via the Gadflyer. Apparently during his searing interview with Mr. Suspenders, Bush asserted that he "made sure that the NIH's budget was doubled."
But did he? No. The doubling of the NIH budget was a goal set in the second Clinton administration, one that has been accomplished. Bush "made sure that the NIH's budget was doubled” only if you count back to 1998. Bush's first budget covered fiscal year 2002, in which the NIH budget ended up being $22.7 billion. Bush did increase the NIH budget, although his 2005 request is the smallest increase of his term, to $28.8 billion. That’s an increase of 27% across four budgets – and that's using current, not constant dollars. Not bad, but not a "doubling," unless you’re using fuzzy math.
On a scale of one to 10 I give this about a three. In Bushworld that's almost the truth and not even worth questioning. Unfortunately, no one did.

Jeb's Puerile God

Marvin had wondered what kind of religious portent we might find in Hurricane Charley. Via Mark Kleiman we learn that Jeb Bush has an answer:
"This is God's way of telling us that he's almighty and we're mortal."
Kleiman is not impressed with Jeb's theology. I must agree that I'm also not impressed with Jeb's conception of an arbitrary, capricious, petty, and truculent God.

Wolf! No Really. Karl Said So.

I've said it before. And it's true. If you're going to do this blogging thing you've got to put your ideas out there before someone else goes on record them.

Glancing through last week's edition of Newsweek I was aghast to see Karl Rove, senior political advisor to the president, dominating a photo of a meeting in which White House homeland security adviser, Frances Townsend, was supposedly discussing whether or not the terror alert level should be raised in response to 4 year old surveillance information. What, I wondered in frustration, does Rove contribute in a meeting about whether there is a terrorist threat to the United States?

A few days later my dad, who had seem the same photo, and I again ridiculed the presence of Rove in a supposedly non-political setting.

Well, unfortunately I didn't blog about it then. Fortunately Lerxst did. Thanks to Kevin Drum for the assist.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Bush Flip Flops

Another in an ongoing series of Bush's long list of flip flops:
While Bush's style sounds conversational, his speeches, made with only occasional glances at notes, are increasingly practiced, with the same stories and arguments appearing in the same places.

Still, there are occasional variations. In one telling of his riff about the majesty of the Oval Office, he notes that it leaves any visitor speechless -- except for "my mother, who walked in and continued to tell me what to do."

That line was in Las Vegas. In Florida, however, he made the same point but said that the Oval Office is so powerful "it's the kind of place where my mother walks in and feels so overwhelmed, she won't tell me what to do."
Now, obviously, this one is minor. It's even more minor when one considers the whole accumulation of Bush's travails with truth, clarity, and consistency. Yet, when someone struggles as mightily as Bush has struggled with candor and fidelity it's worth asking: If he can't (or won't) get the little, easy things right, why should we think he will be any better at the important and difficult things?

Jesse With Color

Marvin was so kind as to point out the story of Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory and his valiant efforts to scare South North Carolina's Queen City to safety.

By way of returning the favor I'd like to call readers' attention to another of the Old North State's race-baiting ideologues. No, not Jesse Helms...but the next best thing: Vernon Robinson.

For those of you in the Rocky Mountain state who haven't heard of Robinson think of a black Tom Tancredo.

Anyway, it seems that Jordan must have read Marvin's post and decided that a Pakistani filming skylines would be a boon to his impending primary battle. Knowing Robinson he might have preferred the perp in Marvin's story to have been Mexican. But hey, Mexican, Pakistani, they're all dangerous.

Ahh. Kinda like the good 'ol days when Jesse Helms was running against Harvey Gantt. Same shit, different pol.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Sensitivity Training

Poor, poor Dick "F@*! You" Cheney.

It's not enough that he's insensitive to the high-minded ideals and traditions of civil conduct embodied in of the Rules of the Senate.

Now, it turns out, he's insensitive to the way his boss wants to wage war
But Cheney told an audience of about 1,000, "America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive. A ‘sensitive war’ will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans. . . . The men who beheaded Daniel Pearl and Paul Johnson will not be impressed by our sensitivity.

"Those who threaten us and kill innocents around the world do not need to be treated more sensitively. They need to be destroyed."
Is this just another example of a Bush administration flip-flop? Or is Cheney genuinely out of the loop regarding how Bush, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Tommy Franks, Richard Meyers, et al want to run the war?

Bush's war cabinet at least talks about sensitivity. Did Cheney not get the memo?

Hard to know the truth since Cheney's odd rhetoric fits so well with the new campaign strategy that relies on a weird vascillation between flip flopping and being out of touch.

(Via Kevin Drum)

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Let's Recap, Shall We?

I like Ed's summary
There are two, and only two, possible futures that lie in front of us. In one, George W. Bush continues as the resident of the Oval Office, in control of the Executive Branch of the richest, most powerful and influential country on the face of the earth. In the other, he doesn't. There are no other alternatives, and if that sticks in anyone's craw, well it's just too bad -- get over it, and fast, because from here on out, everyone in this country who doesn't want the first option had better be doing everything possible to bring about the second option, and that means helping John Kerry and doing nothing whatsoever to assist George Bush. Anything else -- feeling good about youself, getting your rocks off, "making a statement," "exercising our civil liberties," "not letting them tell us what to do" -- is totally irrelevant and, much worse, counterproductive.
Regarding his larger point about vocal protesters at the RNC, I'm in general agreement. I think it is obvious that the media will cover heavily protests of any kind that take place outside Madison Square Garden. Certainly New York protests will get more air time than protests from Boston. And while I want people to be able to exercise their rights to assemble and speak their minds, I'm cognizant of the fact that the GOP, in its desperation, will do anything necessary to smear and misconstrue the motives and messages of protesters.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Wal-Mart Haters of the World -- Unite!

I am not alone.

Like some readers of this blog, and like many Americans across this great land, I HATE WAL-MART! I know this is not a fashionable view. Wal-Mart seems to be the new General Motors -- as in "What's good for General Motors is good for America." Why, to hear some people tell it, It's almost un-American to dislike Wal-Mart.

Despite my disdain my family will, not as infrequently as I would like, journey into Wal-Mart hell. In our efforts to be frugal we simply cannot ignore that there are certain staple food items on which Wal-Mart is able to drastically undercut the prices of our local grocery store. At least, I tell myself, I'm not buying sweatshirts made in sweat shops. Yet I'm always unhappy when I shop at Wal-Mart. And not only because the store is dirty, the aisles cramped, and the people (Americans!) corpulent and slovenly.

To the rescue comes Chris at MyDD who points to a Slate article which says, in part:
Costco also has the sort of labor policy that would bring a smile to Barbara Ehrenreich's face. Pay starts at $10 an hour. About one in six employees is represented by a union, and workers receive nice health benefits. Sinegal has a non-zero-sum view of employee relations. Give people good jobs at good wages, and they'll be more likely to work harder, less likely to leave, and less likely to steal. As Helyar reported, Costco's turnover "is a third of the retail industry average of 64%," and "shrinkage"—the amount of inventory lost to theft—"is about 13% of the industry norm."

On the right: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Founded in Arkansas (a blue-turned-red state), it grew by spreading into the adjacent South and Great Plains. Like today's Republican Party, it focuses intensely on rural areas and generally avoids cities. (Republican conventioneers won't be able to shop at a Wal-Mart when they visit New York City.) As this Bloomberg story notes, "Sixty-seven percent of Wal-Mart's stores are in the 30 states that voted for Bush and Cheney in 2000."

The company's labor policies are state-of-the-art, for the 1890s. It has been investigated for hiring contractors who allegedly hired illegal aliens to clean Wal-Mart stores and for locking them inside overnight. (One wonders if the Wal-Mart employees who in April were bused in to hear Vice President Dick Cheney sing the company's praises at Wal-Mart's headquarters were similarly confined.) In June, a federal judge certified a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of female Wal-Mart employees who claimed discrimination. The average wage at Wal-Mart, which has no unions and bitterly opposes raising the minimum wage, is lower than Costco's lowest wage. Turnover at Wal-Mart, according to the Economist, is 44 percent, meaning it "has to hire an astonishing 600,000 people every year simply to stay at its current size."
So, it appears, I have a choice. Hallelujah! And if they have low prices and clean, wide aisles so much the better.

I think a dress code may be too much to ask for.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Like Fish In A Barrel

Doctors have some some bad news for George W. Bush:
People who spent most of their lives in jobs that involve little brain work appear more likely to eventually develop Alzheimer's disease, according to new study findings released Monday.
Based on these findings I'd say chances are better than 50-50 that Laura Bush, who unfortunately lost her father to Alzheimer's seven years ago, may, at some point in her future, reap what her husband has sown.

Postman Pean

Anyone who wants to seriously consider this topic -- journalism (especially television) versus blogging -- really needs to read Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. I know of no other book which summarizes so succinctly the premise that television (especially "news") is detrimental to rational discourse and, ultimately, democracy.

Blogging, unlike most television news, at least has the potential to provide context and promote the rational, narrative form. In this regard it could be argued that blogging is superior to what is oxymoronically referred to as television journalism.

Amusing Ourselves to Death is but one of many excellent Neil Postman books. Technopoly provides a trenchant critique of the modern world's deification of technology and, utlimately, the failings attendant to such glorification. I'd also recommend The End of Education for its insightful identification of the problems of modern public education.

A Small Request

Oh, and one more thing.

The Bushies have no trouble asking the Pakistanis to time the arrests of America's enemies to coincide with the Democratic National Convention.

So, taking a page out of the Bushies playbook, I'd like to ask U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald to please issue indictments and arrest warrants against American traitors on or about August 30 or 31 or any day during the first week of September.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Et Tu Karl?

There's been a steady trickle of Plame information recently. Last week it was disclosed that the grand jury interviewed Colin Powell. Today the media is all a twitter with news that a TIME correspondent may go to jail and that Li'l Russ rolled over. The speculation for months has been that the investigation is targetting Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis I. "Scooter" Libby. I'm certainly not in a position to discredit that analysis.

But I wonder this: Where is Karl Rove?

We're in the midst of a tough election campaign which George Bush is currently losing. Where is Dubya's chief politico? Ken Mehlman is seemingly everwhere. Karl Rove has vanished.

In 2000 it was Karl Rove who was everywhere talking about Bush's impending 330 point electoral landslide. Why, this time, is he being kept locked in Cheney's secure location?

Could it be that the Bushies know that Karl is implicated in the ongoing investigation? Is keeping Karl hidden now part of a strategy to minimze the fallout when he's indicted later this year?

Hard to know. But I look forward to finding out.

Flopper In Chief

Back in March I did my list of the many Flip Flops of George W. Bush. Over at the Center for American Progress they've done another list which they're calling Rhetoric vs. Reality. It's a decent list but I think they've pulled their punches. It is neither as long or as shameful a list as they ought to have created. But, the next time someone wants to shove down your throat the asinine argument that Bush is steady, principled, honest, strong, etc. you ought to find on either of these lists enough ammunition to set them straight.

Update: I almost missed Kevin Drum's very worthy list of Bush's straddles and waffles. He adds stem cell research, steel tariffs, Department of Homeland Security, Patients Bill of Rights, gay marriage, veterans benefits, North Korea, and growth of government to the lengthy list of topics on which Bush has flipped and flopped.

Point of Emphasis

We can expect to see more completed passes and higher scoring games this fall. If you like high-scoring shoot-outs then the NFL's "point of emphasis" should brighten your day.
Rule 12, Article 4, Exception 1: Illegal contact beyond 5-yard zone
Beyond the 5-yard zone, if the player who receives the snap remains in the pocket with the ball, a defender may use his hands or arms only to defend or protect himself against the impending contact caused by a receiver. If the receiver attempts to evade the defender, the defender cannot chuck him, or extend an arm(s) to cut off or hook him, causing contact that redirects, restricts or impedes the receiver in any way.
As a fan of the passing game -- I'll pass on almost every down when playing Madden -- I'm happy that receivers will have a better chance at making a big play. However I'm also of the school that says "let them play." I hope that officials won't be calling pass interference on every other passing play.

But regardless of you feel about the "point of emphasis" the important question is: Are you ready for some football?

Friday, August 06, 2004

The President Speaks

The President of the United States focuses on terrorism:
This will be a long, hard struggle. There will be setbacks along the way. But just as no enemy could drive us from the fight to meet our challenges and protect our values in World War II and the Cold War, we will not be driven from the tough fight against terrorism today. Terrorism is the enemy of our generation, and we must prevail.

...But I want to make it clear to the American people that while we can defeat terrorists, it will be a long time before we defeat terrorism. America will remain a target because we are uniquely present in the world, because we act to advance peace and democracy, because we have taken a tougher stand against terrorism, and because we are the most open society on Earth. But to change any of that, to pull our troops from the world's trouble spots, to turn our backs on those taking risks for peace, to weaken our opposition against terrorism, to curtail the freedom that is our birth right would be to give terrorism a victory it must not and will not have.

In this fight, as in so many other challenges around the world, American leadership is indispensable. In assuming our leadership in the struggle against terrorism we must be neither reluctant nor arrogant, but realistic, determined, and confident.

President Bill Clinton
August 5, 1996

Those wiley Democrats. How dare they co-opt Bush's War on Terra...five years and 37 days before Bush even learned how to say "Terra."

Thursday, August 05, 2004

No Surrender

Bruce hits the road and the op-ed page in search of Better Days. Any chance he can help sway the vote in Darlington County?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Uh, They're Learning

So now we finally have an explanation for why a 20-something year old woman -- a daughter of the President, no less -- would stick her tongue out at the camera toting media. O'Reilly gets the goods in an interview with Laura Bush:
BUSH: So they're busy. They're very busy, and they're having a really good time. And it's been very fun and, actually, relaxing for us to have them on the trail.

O'REILLY: But you've had to sit them down and say, "You'd better behave, because if you do anything..." and they'll make it up even if you don't do it, you know.

BUSH: Well, I mean, if they do anything, like one of them has already done, the sticking out the tongue that Jenna did, you know, that makes the newspaper.


BUSH: And she turned around to her dad and said, "I just stuck my tongue out." And he said, "Well, Jenna, it will be in the paper tomorrow."

O'REILLY: Right.

BUSH: So they're learning. You know, they know. But there's a lot of scrutiny, and there is a lot of interest. People are interested. They want to know what family members are like.
So, they're learning.

Now, on the one hand, whether or not a Bush twin drinks herself into oblivion or sticks her tongue out at the meda really doesn't inform the presidential campaign. But, on the other hand, as Mrs. Bush notes, they are joining the campaign, so their actions must bear some scrutiny. Thus, I ask: Which is more to blame, her poor judgement or her poor upbrining? Or, perhaps, a little known third category: Too much hanging out with Uncle "Fuck You" Cheney?

Ah, the flowering of learning is such a beautiful thing.

AM Radio Hell

I just got back from picking my brother and parents up at the airport. Hour to airport; hour to their house; hour back home. I got to spend a good three hours listening to AM radio. Seems to me that to have your own AM radio show you need only do one of the following:
  • Preach of the earthly hell that awaits us if Bush is not elected.
  • Preach of the earthly hell that awaits us if Bush is elected.
  • Preach of the eternal hell that awaits us if we don't oppose gay marraige.
  • Preach of the eternal shame that is ours because the American Men's Olympic basketball team can't beat the Italian team in an exhibition game.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

We Are All Patriots Now

The General nails it. The comments are pretty good too.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Fox Comedy Central

I don't know who's funnier. The contenders:

Condi Rice lying about the freshness of the information precipitating the latest terror alert:
But what happened over the last few days is that that information has become more specific as to place and that is why Tom Ridge felt it necessary yesterday to go out and talk about rather the specific targets in New York and in New Jersey and in Washington, D.C.
Or Bill O'Reilly trying to set policy for the United States:
[Regarding the number of people caught each week trying to illegally cross into the United States from Mexico] But 16,000 a week? I mean, the numbers are staggering. They're staggering. And it seems to me if you're not going to put the National Guard on the border, which is what I would do, with all due respect. I mean, you know more than I do, and I'm not trying to run policy for the Bush administration. But you know, in my book, I clearly lay out that if you do want to solve the problem, the Border Patrol can't do it alone, and they know that.
Granted, it doesn't take a PhD to do a better job as National Security Advisor than Condi Rice. But does Bill really think that his best seller's offer a blueprint for national policy?


Are you still listening? You won't be for long.
Much of the information that led the authorities to raise the terror alert at several large financial institutions in the New York City and Washington areas was three or four years old, intelligence and law enforcement officials said on Monday. They reported that they had not yet found concrete evidence that a terror plot or preparatory surveillance operations were still under way.

More Maps

For your cartographic pleasure you might check out which offers extensive interactive mapping capabilities. If you've always wanted to know the distribution of West Nile cases in humans across the country or the value of various nursery crops grown for sale in various regions of Colorado (and lots more too!) then National Atlas is the place to go. The site also has this neat little time-lapse animation (shockwave required) that illustrates the seasonal "greening" of America as seen from NOAA satellites.

Over at the U.S. Geological Survey there are some other neat maps, including this one which combines the topology of the United States with a geologic survey of the various types and ages of rocks to be found in our eternally interesting land.

If your interests run more political then you'll want to check out Fair Plan. Need help targeting your GOTV efforts? Want to graphically see the percentage of non-voting registered voters in the over 18 population within your precinct? Then you should find Fair Plan's interactive maps based on historical election data quite helpful.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Don't Change Horsemen...

For some reason I'm getting a lot -- a relative term meaning a lot considering this blog's normal traffic -- of Google searchers on the site seeking the "Don't Change Horsemen Mid Apocalypse" banner created with the Bush/Cheney Sloganator.

Most Google searches are pointing to the Apeiron main page rather than directly to the banners which are now buried in the archives. To anyone searching for the Horseman...Apocalypse yard sign I hope this link is helpful.

Ridge Stumps for Kerry

Atrios claims Tom Ridge is playing politics with today's terrorist alert. I agree.

Unfortunately for Ridge's boss, the terror alert bolsters the case for John Kerry.

Today's announcement:
  • Undermines Bush's claim that our War in Iraq -- the "central front in the War on Terror" -- is pushing the fight abroad rather than bringing it to our shores.
  • Gained in part from intelligence provided by allies, demonstrates the importance of having a president who understands, values, and cultivates our important international relationships.
  • Illustrates the folly of Bush soporific refrain: "We are safer."
You know the administration can't help but play politics with national security. Somehow you just wish they were better at it.


Marvin kicks off the style over substance debate but then promptly proceeds to blog about actual (semi) substantive issues. No danger of that here. This post will be limited to the higher plane of pure style.

Apparently, George Bush is finding inspiration for his latest campaign incarnation in the oddest of places...The Al Gore Strategy:
Bush's aides said the convention showed them that Kerry will never be the more personable candidate in the race. The aides said they plan to keep the president in many casual settings in the weeks ahead instead of emphasizing the trappings of office that they had favored when they thought his biggest strength was his role as commander in chief.

So Bush was out in rolled-up sleeves this weekend, saying things such as, "You can't talk sense to these folks," in reference to terrorists. He made a snide aside to "places like Washington, D.C." He visited a Dover candy store and spent about $1.50. He tossed around a football at the Cleveland Brown's training camp...

...Although Bush took a risk by stepping out of his nearly impregnable bubble and drawing attention to the plight of Timken workers, his move was designed to bolster his regular-guy image.
Ironically, of course, is that this is the same George Bush who benefitted from conservative accusations that Al Gore changed political personnas as often as George Bush has changed rationales for the Iraq War. Just as Al Gore went from Alpha Male to earth tones our Chameleon-In-Chief is going for the rugged regular guy look (think the Construction Man in the Village People) rather than being the imperial president.

What makes this even more comical is that just three days ago the GOP accused Kerry of undergoing an "extreme makeover." Ha!

But hey, if Bush wants to be a regular guy, why should we stop him? I say send him home to Crawford where he can be as regular as he wants to be. But I'm not sure he'd be any better as a regular guy than he is at being president. Afterall, how many regular-guys have to get the people they hang out with to sign loyalty oaths?

Oh, and Bush's crack team might want to check the assumptions underlying their Chameleon Bush strategy. According to Newsweek
The Democratic Party’s nominee now boasts stronger ratings than the president on being “personally likeable” (67 percent agree with that description of Kerry, 62 percent of the president); on being someone who cares about “someone like you” (57 percent feel this describes Kerry, 44 percent Bush).
Maybe in the next iteration of George Bush he'll go back to knocking back a few tall boys with the voters. That would be a treat to see.