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Miscellaneous Thoughts (a.k.a. The Ranting Corner)
Saturday, 4 September 2004
An "Unbiased" Voice
Topic: Politics
I love it when things like this happen. The BBC (clearly not a part of the so-called "liberal media") has a great editorial on the RNC that just wrapped up in NYC. I won't reprint the entire thing as I did below with Kaplan, but I will give you choice tidbits and a link if you want to read the whole thing for yourself.

My favorite parts:

[George Bush] criticised Mr Kerry for a policy of "expanding government", saying that Mr Kerry wanted more than two trillion dollars in new federal spending.

George Bush neatly glossed over the fact that he himself has expanded federal spending by 29% since coming to office and sent the budget plummeting into the red.

The "tax and spend" attack on Mr Kerry works partly because that is what many Americans assume Democrats do, despite the fact that former President Bill Clinton successfully balanced his budget.

~~

Every image and every speaker [at the convention] were carefully choreographed to reinforce in the voters' minds the idea of George Bush as a steadfast, principled, say-what-you-mean-and-mean-what-you-say kind of leader.

Not a moment of doubt or hesitation. No mention of the missing weapons of mass destruction. Or the ongoing bloodshed in Iraq, a year after major hostilities were supposed to have ended.


Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 9:10 AM EDT
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Friday, 3 September 2004
Liar, Liar Pants on Fire
Mood:  sad
Fred Kaplan of Slate makes mincemeat of the 'Pubs. I've re-printed the article for those of you who are interested in the Lies. Yes, they deserve an uppercase "Y".

~~

Half-truths and embellishments are one thing; they're common at political conventions, vital flourishes for a theatrical air. Lies are another thing, and last night's Republican convention was soaked in them.

In the case of Sen. Zell Miller's keynote address, "lies" might be too strong a word. Clearly not a bright man, Miller dutifully recited the talking points that his Republican National Committee handlers had typed up for him, though perhaps in a more hysterical tone than anyone might have anticipated. (His stumbled rantings in the interviews afterward, on CNN and MSNBC, brought to mind the flat-Earthers who used to be guests on The Joe Pyne Show.) Can a puppet tell lies? Perhaps not.

Still, it is worth setting the record straight. The main falsehood, we have gone over before, but it keeps getting repeated, so here we go again: It is the claim that John Kerry, during his 20 years in the Senate, voted to kill the M-1 tank, the Apache helicopter; the F-14, F-16, and F-18 jet fighters; and just about every other weapon system that has kept our nation free and strong.

Here, one more time, is the truth of the matter: Kerry did not vote to kill these weapons, in part because none of these weapons ever came up for a vote, either on the Senate floor or in any of Kerry's committees.

This myth took hold last February in a press release put out by the RNC. Those who bothered to look up the fine-print footnotes discovered that they referred to votes on two defense appropriations bills, one in 1990, the other in 1995. Kerry voted against both bills, as did 15 other senators, including five Republicans. The RNC took those bills, cherry-picked some of the weapons systems contained therein, and implied that Kerry voted against those weapons. By the same logic, they could have claimed that Kerry voted to disband the entire U.S. armed forces; but that would have raised suspicions and thus compelled more reporters to read the document more closely.

What makes this dishonesty not merely a lie, but a damned lie, is that back when Kerry cast these votes, Dick Cheney?who was the secretary of defense for George W. Bush's father?was truly slashing the military budget. Here was Secretary Cheney, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Jan. 31, 1992:

Overall, since I've been Secretary, we will have taken the five-year defense program down by well over $300 billion. That's the peace dividend. ? And now we're adding to that another $50 billion ? of so-called peace dividend.

Cheney then lit into the Democratic-controlled Congress for not cutting weapons systems enough:

Congress has let me cancel a few programs. But you've squabbled and sometimes bickered and horse-traded and ended up forcing me to spend money on weapons that don't fill a vital need in these times of tight budgets and new requirements. . . .You've directed me to buy more M1s, F14s, and F16s?all great systems ? but we have enough of them.

I'm not accusing Cheney of being a girly man on defense. As he notes, the Cold War had just ended; deficits were spiraling; the nation could afford to cut back. But some pro-Kerry equivalent of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Zell Miller could make that charge with as much validity as they?and Cheney?make it against Kerry.

In other words, it's not just that Cheney and those around him are lying; it's not even just that they know they're lying; it's that they know?or at least Cheney knows?that the same lie could be said about him. That's what makes it a damned lie.

Before moving on to Cheney's speech, we should pause to note two truly weird passages in Zell's address. My favorite:

Today, at the same time young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of a Democrat's manic obsession to bring down our commander in chief.

A "manic obsession to bring down our commander in chief"? Most people call this a "presidential election." Someone should tell Zell they happen every four years; he can look it up in that same place where he did the research on Kerry's voting record ("I've got more documents," he said on CNN, waving two pieces of paper that he'd taken from his coat pocket, "than in the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library combined.")

The other oddball remark: "Nothing makes me madder than someone calling American troops occupiers rather than liberators." Huge applause line, but is he kidding? The U.S. troops in Iraq are occupiers. Even Bush has said so. If he doesn't understand this, then he doesn't understand what our problems are.

Cheney followed Zell, and couldn't help but begin with. . .not a lie, but certainly a howler: "People tell me Sen. Edwards got picked for his good looks, his sex appeal, his charm, and his great hair. [Pause] I said, 'How do you think I got the job?'"

Funny, apparently self-deprecating line, but does anybody remember how he did get the job? Bush had asked Cheney to conduct the search for a vice presidential candidate, and he came up with himself. He got the job because he picked himself.

Later in the speech, Cheney made this comment: "Four years ago, some said the world had grown calm, and many assumed that the United States was invulnerable to danger. That thought might have been comforting; it was also false."

Who are these people who thought this? The implication is that it was the Democrats who preceded Bush and Cheney. But it was Bill Clinton's administration that stopped the millennium attack on LAX. It was Clinton's national security adviser who told Condoleezza Rice, during the transition period, that she'd be spending more time on al-Qaida that on any other issue. It was Rice who didn't call the first Cabinet meeting on al-Qaida until just days before Sept. 11. It was Bush's attorney general who told a Justice Department assistant that he didn't want to hear anything more about counterterrorism. It was Bush who spent 40 percent of his time out of town in his first eight months of office, while his CIA director and National Security Council terrorism specialists ran around with their "hair on fire," trying to get higher-ups to heed their warnings of an imminent attack.

"President Bush does not deal in empty threats and halfway measures," Cheney said. What is an empty threat if not the warnings Bush gave the North Koreans to stop building a nuclear arsenal? What is a halfway measure if not Bush's decision to topple the Taliban yet leave Afghanistan to the warlords and the poppy farmers; to bust up al-Qaida's training camps yet fail to capture Osama Bin Laden (whose name has gone unmentioned at this convention); to topple the Iraqi regime yet plan nothing for the aftermath?

"Time and again Sen. Kerry has made the wrong call on national security," Cheney said. The first example he cited of these wrong calls: "Sen. Kerry began his political career by saying he would like to see our troops deployed 'only at the directive of the United Nations.'" Yes, Kerry did say this?in 1971, to the Harvard Crimson. He has long since recanted it. Is there evidence that George W. Bush said anything remarkable, whether wise or naive, in his 20s?

The second example of Kerry's wrong calls: "During the 1980s, Sen. Kerry opposed Ronald Reagan's major defense initiative that brought victory in the Cold War." We've been over this?unless Cheney is talking about the Strategic Defense Initiative, aka the "star wars" missile-defense plan. It may be true that SDI played some role in prompting the Soviet Union's conciliation, though it was at best a minor role?and wouldn't have been even that, had it not been for Mikhail Gorbachev. But two more points should be made. First, lots of lawmakers opposed SDI; almost no scientist thought it would work, especially as Reagan conceived it (a shield that would shoot down all nuclear missiles and therefore render nukes "impotent and obsolete"). Second, Kerry voted not to kill SDI, but to limit its funding.

"Even in the post-9/11 period," Cheney continued, "Sen. Kerry doesn't appear to understand how the world has changed. He talks about leading a 'more sensitive war on terror,' as though al-Qaida will be impressed with our softer side." A big laugh line, as it was when Cheney first uttered it on Aug. 12 before a group of veterans. But Cheney knows this is nonsense. Here's the full Kerry quote, from an address to journalists on Aug. 5: "I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side."

In context, it's clear that "sensitive," a word that has several definitions, is not meant as a synonym for "soft." And Cheney, who is not a stupid man, knows this.

"He declared at the Democratic Convention," Cheney said of Kerry, "that he will forcefully defend America after we have been attacked. My fellow Americans, we have already been attacked." Where in Kerry's speech did he say this? Nowhere.

"Sen. Kerry denounces American action when other countries don't approve," Cheney continued, "as if the whole object of our foreign policy were to please a few persistent countries." No, that's not it. Kerry thinks that other countries should go along with our actions?that a president must work hard at diplomacy to get them to go along with us?because going it alone often leads to failure. Cheney should ask his old colleague Brent Scowcroft or his old boss W's father about this. Or he should simply go to Iraq and see what unilateralism has wrought.

~~

I love me some Fred Kaplan. I hate that he's right, though. It makes me very, very worried that the truth won't matter. The Bushies will steamroll over the truth and it's just possible that this time around they'll be properly elected.

I keep thinking about that line in "Wag The Dog". Do you remember the commercial the President was running in that movie? "Don't change horses in mid-stream." I feel like that could be the theme song of this campaign. He hasn't really done anything good for us, and he's really done a lot of bad, but changing might make things worse. The fear of something worse is what might keep him in office.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 6:41 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 1 September 2004
A Flip-flop. A Flip, Flip, Flop. A Flip-it To The Flip-it To The Flip, Flip, Flop
Mood:  incredulous
Um, hi, Mr. President? The Kettle just called. He says to stop calling him black.

In case you missed it I'm referring to the article in this morning's NY Times that reports Bush's "forceful declaration to the nation's largest veterans group that the United States will win the war on terrorism".

Some of you will note that this "declaration" comes just ONE DAY after Bush said in an interview with NBC that he did NOT think the United States could win the war against terrorism.

So which is it? Mission accomplished? Mission miscalculated? Or mission impossible?

This would be comical if it weren't so frightening that this joker could be in the White House for FOUR MORE YEARS.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 8:26 AM EDT
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Friday, 27 August 2004
Depressing
Mood:  don't ask
Now Playing: Maroon 5
From American Progress:

"How Large is 45 Million?
Today, the Census Bureau reported that 45 million Americans lacked health insurance in 2003, up by 1.4 million from 2002 and 5.2 million from 2000. (The poverty rate also increased significantly for the third straight year). How large is 45 million people? It is roughly equal to the total population of everyone living in California, Oregon and Washington state combined. There are more uninsured in America than African Americans (37.1 million). And the number of uninsured in America is four times the population of Greece (10.6 million)."

Does anyone see a problem with this? Anyone? ::crickets:: Just me? ::more crickets:: Okay.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 10:35 AM EDT
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Thursday, 26 August 2004
A Fair Shake in Florida?
Mood:  chatty
Fat chance.

In other news, Pumpkin was foaming at the mouth last night. She's been getting more and more militant in her reactions to all the pills she now has to take to fix her butt problem. She saw me coming and started hyper-salivating in preparation for the not-swallowing of the pill in question. I kid you not there was a fat string of bubbles and drool that stretched at least four inches and connected her face to the floor. It wasn't pretty.

We watched a great movie this past weekend. Bubba Ho-Tep. Check it. Bruce Campbell plays Elvis. Ossie Davis plays JFK. Together they fight an undead Egyptian mummy who's been terrorizing their rest home. It was awesome. Go rent it immediately.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 9:15 AM EDT
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Monday, 23 August 2004
About Time?
Mood:  irritated
I think the outcome of the big meeting down in Crawford today was all about damage control. The polls tell us that Kerry and Bush are too close and Bush wants to come off as the "good guy", the guy who's outraged over all these false allegations, the guy who just wants a fair fight.

Well, he's finally "denounced" the anti-Kerry ads but unfortunately, he's only denounced them in association with all the other negative ads going on out there.

He's said absolutely nothing about the Kerry ads in particular. Whatever. I don't know why I'm surprised.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 2:27 PM EDT
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Oy
Mood:  cheeky
Now Playing: Annie Lenox
I'm not sure how I feel about this. A guy was tossed out of a Bush rally for "heckling". Now, the Bushies have such tight strictures on who's allowed to attend these things that I think there'd be more heckling if more regular people were able to attend. So no big surprise here.

On the other hand, this guy not only got tossed out of the rally, but the next day he got fired from his job as a graphic designer. Now that's just wrong. Fired from your job for having an opinion? Are you kidding me?


Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 1:43 PM EDT
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Sunday, 22 August 2004
Protesters Go Home!
Mood:  caffeinated
Now Playing: Avril
This morning?s New York Times article on the upcoming RNC really pinpointed a few major problems. The gist of the article, which you can read in full here, is that in preparation for the protests that they know are coming, the Bushies have devised a very clever way of spinning the potentially embarrassing protests.

?Republicans said they would seek to turn any disruptions to their advantage, by portraying protests by even independent activists as Democratic-sanctioned displays of disrespect for a sitting president.?

Even though it is our right under the First Amendment to speak out in protest of anything, the Bush camp will seek to turn the protesters into ? you guessed it! ?disrespectful of a sitting president and by extension unpatriotic as well.

Never mind that if there were no demonstrations they would no doubt say, ?See? Everybody loves us! That silly John Kerry is wasting his time!?

How are people STILL undecided???

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 11:12 AM EDT
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Friday, 20 August 2004
Handful of Butt
Mood:  don't ask
Now Playing: Annie Get Your Gun
So last night I put on my bathing suit, got into the tub and shampooed my cat?s butt. No, really.

I had to take her to the vet last week because she had this weird matted fur going on in that area and it didn?t look good. So I took her in and he tells me that she?s got vaginal fold pyoderma.

Basically she?s so fat that the skin in that area has folded over and allowed for bacteria to become trapped and infected.

The way to treat this problem? Keep the area clean and lose weight.

The problem? She?s only lost a half a pound since April (bringing her down to a whopping seventeen pounds for those of you keeping track). So that leaves keeping it clean. He recommended a bath with some baby shampoo three days a week and he was kind enough to shave her butt for me.

As I sat in the tub last night directing the shower massage while Kevin held her down it occurred to me that I would probably find the situation hilarious if I weren?t the one with the handful of shampoo.

My cousin thought the abbreviated version of this was pretty funny so I thought I?d give the rest of you a laugh.

Grrr.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 1:25 PM EDT
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Thursday, 19 August 2004
Misery Loves Chocolate. And Nachos.
Yesterday I had to go down to Atlantic City for a business-y type event at the beach. All seemed to be going well until on my way home when I stopped to pick up a pair of pants. In the dressing room I took off the khakis I?d worn to the beach and threw them on the little shelf provided.

And that?s when I noticed a huge blue ink stain. On the seat. Of the pants. This was not some tiny little nickel-sized spot. I had apparently sat on something that had rubbed all of it?s color onto me.

I was immediately mortified and pretty much still am. The worst part is that no one bothered to tell me! I walked around all day with this huge blue stain on my ass.

Needless to say I went home and consumed a plate of nachos. Today I?m working my way through a bag of Hershey?s Kisses.

Every time I think about it I just want to crawl under a rock. How could no one tell me? Bastards!

I?m going up to see Baby Kate this weekend and can?t wait. I need something to make me smile.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 11:26 AM EDT
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