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Miscellaneous Thoughts (a.k.a. The Ranting Corner)
Monday, 11 October 2004
Long Damn Time
Yeah, I know. It's been a while. Computer problems and a heavy workload add up to zero free time. I don't even check email at work anymore. I know! Crazy, right?

Anyway, I was reading this and thought of you, dear readers. Now I know we're not Afghanistan, but seriously? It's some scary shit.

From Slate:
"All three papers lead with Afghanistan's first presidential election yesterday, in which hundreds of thousands of Afghans turned out to vote despite long lines, inclement weather and the threat of violence from Taliban militants. But though the election remained largely peaceful, its legitimacy was immediately questioned by 15 candidates opposed to incumbent President--and expected winner--Hamid Karzai. The complaints centered on the official method for preventing repeat voting, where each voter has his or her thumb marked with indelible ink after the ballot is cast. The problem: "Many voters found they could erase [the ink] minutes after voting simply with water, and, if they had an extra card, vote again."

After brief consideration, United Nations and Afghan monitors decided not to suspend the voting, claiming that most of the problems had already been corrected. They did, however, pledge to fully investigate the complaints. The results could take weeks to tabulate anyway, since many of the polling places are in remote areas and, notably, most of the election workers are not fully trained--a condition which, according to an overseer quoted in the NYT, is "likely to buttress the case of critics who say the election was rushed to provide a foreign policy success to the Bush administration in advance of November's elections."

The papers note other reported shortcomings in Saturday's electoral process. There were, for instance, only 230 international monitors present at the polls, compared with 16,000 Afghan observers, "75 percent of whom were partisan political operatives" who may have attempted to influence voters (LAT). And only one-fifth of registered voters were given any instruction on what to do with their ballots. The NYT reports that at one mosque in Kabul, "poor, illiterate women, many with deeply damaged eyesight, struggled to understand how to mark their ballots, or even to discern among the candidate photos."


I mean, does it get any better than this? I suppose it's better than a postponed election, right? Right?

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 5:52 PM EDT
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Monday, 27 September 2004
The Evil One's Re-Election Lies...

Kerry has never wavered from his support for giving Bush authority to use force in Iraq, nor has he changed his position that he, as President, would not have gone to war without greater international support. But a Bush ad released Sept. 27 takes many of Kerry's words out of context to make him appear to be alternately praising the war and condemning it.

Here we present this highly misleading ad, along with what Kerry actually said, in full context.

Kerry is shown saying it was "the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein." What's left out is that he prefaced that by saying Bush should have made greater use of diplomacy to accomplish that.

The quote is from May 3, 2003, at the first debate among Democratic presidential contenders, barely three weeks after the fall of Baghdad. The question was from ABC's George Stephanopoulos:

Q: And Senator Kerry, the first question goes to you. On March 19th, President Bush ordered General Tommy Franks to execute the invasion of Iraq. Was that the right decision at the right time?

Kerry: George, I said at the time I would have preferred if we had given diplomacy a greater opportunity, but I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein, and when the President made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him.

(Note: We have added the emphasis in these and the following quotes to draw attention to the context left out by the Bush ad.)

The full "right decision" quote is actually quite consistent with the next Kerry quote, "I don't believe the President took us to war as he should have," which is from an interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC's "Hardball" program Jan. 6, 2004:

Q: Do you think you belong to that category of candidates who more or less are unhappy with this war, the way it's been fought, along with General Clark, along with Howard Dean and not necessarily in companionship politically on the issue of the war with people like Lieberman, Edwards and Gephardt? Are you one of the anti-war candidates?

Kerry: I am -- Yes, in the sense that I don't believe the president took us to war as he should have, yes, absolutely. Do I think this president violated his promises to America? Yes, I do, Chris.

Q: Let me...

Kerry: Was there a way to hold Saddam Hussein accountable? You bet there was, and we should have done it right.

When Kerry said "the winning of the war was brilliant" he wasn't praising Bush for waging the war, he was praising the military for the way they accomplished the mission. He also repeated his criticism of Bush for failing to better plan for what came next. This was also on "Hardball," May 19:

Q: All this terrorism. If you were president, how would you stop it?

Kerry: Well, it's going to take some time to stop it, Chris, but we have an enormous amount of cooperation to build one other countries. I think the administration has not done enough of the hard work of diplomacy, reaching out to nations, building the kind of support network.

I think they clearly have dropped the ball with respect to the first month in the after -- winning the war. That winning of the war was brilliant and superb, and we all applaud our troops for doing what they did, but you've got to have the capacity to provide law and order on the streets and to provide the fundamentally services, and I believe American troops will be safer and America will pay less money if we have a broader coalition involved in that, including the United Nations.

When Kerry called Iraq "the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time" he was once again criticizing Bush for failing to get more international support before invading Iraq. He criticized Bush for what he called a "phony coalition" of allies:

Kerry (Sept 6, 2004): You've got about 500 troops here, 500 troops there, and it's American troops that are 90 percent of the combat casualties, and it's American taxpayers that are paying 90 percent of the cost of the war . . . It's the wrong war, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Earlier that same day at another campaign appearance he repeated pretty much what he's said all along:

Kerry (Sept 6, 2004): "I would not have done just one thing differently than the president on Iraq, I would have done everything differently than the president on Iraq. I said this from the beginning of the debate to the walk up to the war. I said, 'Mr. President, don't rush to war, take the time to build a legitimate coalition and have a plan to win the peace."

Nine months of fruitless searching have gone by since Kerry said on Dec. 14, 2003 that weapons of mass destruction might yet be found in Iraq. But what's most misleading about the Bush ad's editing is that it takes that remark out of a long-winded -- but still consistent -- explanation of Kerry's overall position on Iraq:

The exchange was on Fox News Sunday, with host Chris Wallace:

Q: But isn't it, in a realistic political sense going to be a much harder case to make to voters when you have that extraordinary mug shot of Saddam Hussein...looking like he's been dragged into a police line-up?

Kerry: Absolutely not, because I voted to hold Saddam Hussein accountable. I knew we had to hold him accountable. There's never been a doubt about that. But I also know that if we had done this with a sufficient number of troops, if we had done this in a globalized way, if we had brought more people to the table, we might have caught Saddam Hussein sooner. We might have had less loss of life. We would be in a stronger position today with respect to what we're doing.

Look, again, I repeat, Chris, I have always said we may yet even find weapons of mass destruction. I don't know the answer to that. We will still have to do the job of rebuilding Iraq and resolving the problem between Shias and Sunnis and Kurds. There are still difficult steps ahead of us.

The question that Americans want to know is, what is the best way to proceed? Not what is the most lonely and single-track ideological way to proceed. I believe the best way to proceed is to bring other countries to the table, get some of our troops out of the target, begin to share the burden.

The final quote is the one in which the Bush ad takes its best shot. Kerry not only said it, he did it. He voted for an alternative resolution that would have approved $87 billion in emergency funds for troops and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it was conditioned on repealing much of Bush's tax cuts, and it failed 57-42. On the key, up-or-down vote on the $87 billion itself Kerry was only one of 12 senators in opposition, along with the man who later become his running mate, Sen. John Edwards.

It's not only Bush who criticizes Kerry's inconsistency on that vote. Rival Democratic presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, a senator who also had voted to give Bush authority to use force in Iraq, said: "I don't know how John Kerry and John Edwards can say they supported the war but then opposed the funding for the troops who went to fight the war that the resolution that they supported authorized." Lieberman spoke at a candidate debate in Detroit Oct. 26, 2003.

Another Democratic rival who criticized Kerry for that vote was Rep. Dick Gephardt, who said beforehand that he would support the $87 billion "because it is the only responsible course of action. We must not send an ambiguous message to our troops, and we must not send an uncertain message to our friends and enemies in Iraq."

But aside from the $87 billion matter, this Bush ad is a textbook example of how to mislead voters through selective editing.


"Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate Sponsored by ABC News," Federal News Service, 3 May 2003.

"Interview with John Kerry," MSNBC Hardball with Chris Matthews, 6 Jan 2004.

"Interview with John Kerry," MSNBC Hardball with Chris Matthews, 19 May 2004.

Lois Romano and Paul Farhi, "Kerry Attacks Bush on Handling of Iraq," The Washington Post 7 Sep 2004: A8.

Calvin Woodward, "Kerry Slams 'Wrong War in the Wrong Place,'" The Associated Press , 6 Sep 2004.

Fox News Sunday, "Interview with John Kerry," 14 December 2003.

Adam Nagourney and Diane Cardwell, "Democrats in Debate Clash Over Iraq War," New York Times, 27 Oct 2003: A1.

Joe Klein, "Profiles in Convenience," Time magazine, 19 Oct 2003.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 7:26 PM EDT
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Sunday, 26 September 2004
Now Playing: Visions and Miracles - The Cantigas de Santa Maria
It's been over a week, kids. My only explanation is that work has really picked up. I have early morning meetings and post-work events so that when I finally get home at night I fall into bed exhausted.

On the up side, I'll be getting my very own Palm Pilot shortly, thanks to the company. It's mostly so that the three of us will have all of our calendars in the same spot, but I am so looking forward to being able to store music and pictures in it.

Instead of posting just one political thought this morning, let's go through the headlines of the New York Times, shall we?


Medicare Rules Set Off a Battle on Drug Choices
A battle between insurers and drug companies could determine how many medicines will be available to beneficiaries.

~Wait! You mean the Medicare plan could be flawed? No way! But Bush was behind it! And he loves the seniors so!


7 Iraqi Guard Applicants, 4 U.S. Marines and a Soldier Are Killed
The military also said it had conducted an airstrike in the volatile city of Falluja to kill militants holding a meeting.

~But Iraq is great! That's what Bush just told us. So whatever, New York Times. I mean, even Allawi - the PRIME MINISTER - says it's doing just fine and dandy.


Al Qaeda Tries to Upset Afghan Vote
Al Qaeda is present along the border region of Pakistan and Afghanistan and is encouraging Afghan insurgents to disrupt upcoming presidential elections.

~Al Who? Af-Where?


Hurricane Jeanne Hits Florida
Hurricane Jeanne sent wind and huge waves crashing ashore as it slammed into storm-weary Florida early Sunday.

~Does anyone else think that this is God trying to warn Floridians that another election f*ck up will be unacceptable?


Court-Martial Expected in Abu Ghraib Case
Pfc. Lynndie R. England, who has come to symbolize the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal, will face a court-martial, one of her lawyers said Friday.

~Seriously, bastards, Iraq is doing just great, okay? All of this liberal bias is just. . . liberal bias.


A Big Increase of New Voters in Swing States
A registration campaign in Democratic areas has added tens of thousands of new voters to the rolls in Ohio and Florida.

~Thank f*cking God. Oh, wait. It won't matter because if any of those new voters in Florida are black they won't be allowed to vote anyway!


That's all for now. Keep your heads down, don't make eye contact with the enemy and keep fighting the good fight. We may just make it out of this.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 9:27 AM EDT
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Thursday, 16 September 2004
Is Anyone Really Surprised By This Anymore? No? Okay, Then.
Now Playing: I Can't Say No - Oklahoma!
From the Center for American Progress:

VALID VOTERS STRUCK FROM ROLLS: Florida is one of only seven states in the union which denies former felons the right to vote, even after they've completed their sentences. In 2000, the state hired an outside contractor to implement a "felon list." Riddled with errors, this list struck thousands of innocent voters from the rolls.

Lessons have not been learned. This past May, the Florida Division of Elections quietly distributed a brand-new purge list for the upcoming election. The outgoing head of the division, Ed Kast, sent a memo to election supervisors on May 12, 2004, detailing how to keep the list out of the hands of advocacy groups that wanted to double check the names, "citing statutes about the privacy of voter registration information and the will of the legislature ? even though nothing in the law prevents the same information from going to political candidates to further their campaigns." Later that month, after CNN filed suit to gain access to the rolls, they found the new list wrongly included thousands of eligible voters and "heavily targeted African-Americans ? who traditionally vote Democrat ? while "virtually ignoring Hispanic voters" ? who, in Florida, are often more likely to check the box next to GOP names.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 12:46 PM EDT
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Hee! My friend Mike in Winona just sent me this and it totally cracked me. I wonder what my senior picture says about me. Let's not find out, shall well? Instead let's laugh at the poor bastards who's pics will long live in infamy. 2005 Graduates? Let this be a lesson.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 8:45 AM EDT
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Our Illustrious President And His Family
Mood:  sad
Courtesy of Slate Magazine, we the public are treated to a few glimpses of the choice bits in Kitty Kelley's unauthorized book on the Bush Clan.

Academic Honors

Page 252: George H.W. Bush comes to the rescue when his sons run afoul of Andover honor codes. Jeb violates the school's alcohol ban, but he's allowed to finish his degree after his father intervenes. Years later, Kelley writes, school officials catch W.'s younger brother Marvin with drugs, but dad talks them out of expulsion and secures for his son an "honorary transfer" to another school.

Page 253: At Andover, George W. Bush writes a morose essay about his sister's death. Searching for a synonym for "tears," he consults a thesaurus and writes, "And the lacerates ran down my cheeks." A teacher labels the paper "disgraceful."

Page 251: The family patriarch, Prescott Bush, questions W.'s seriousness about attending Yale, the Bush clan alma mater. "It's the difference between ham and eggs," he says. "The chicken is involved. The pig is committed."

Page 261-68: George W. at Yale. A witness remembers a "roaring drunk" Bush doing the Alligator at a fraternity kegger. A frat brother says Bush "wasn't an ass man." Another friend concurs: "Poor Georgie. He couldn't even relate to women unless he was loaded . . . . There were just too many stories of him turning up dead drunk on dates." W. lovingly tends to his frat brothers but derides other Yalies as "liberal pussies."

Page 271: Joke excised from Bush's 2001 Yale commencement speech: "It's great to return to New Haven. My car was followed all the way from the airport by a long line of police cars with slowly rotating lights. It was just like being an undergraduate again."

Page 309: At Harvard Business School, which W. attends from 1973 to 1975, a professor screens The Grapes of Wrath. Bush asks him, "Why are you going to show us that Commie movie?" W.'s take on the film: "Look. People are poor because they are lazy."

Sex and Drugs

Page 49: Prescott Bush frequently shows up drunk at the lavish Hartford Club and never tips the bellboys. "Finally we figured out how to exact revenge," says one bellboy. "Whenever he came in drunk and wanted to go upstairs, we'd take him in the elevator and stop about three inches from his floor. He'd step out and fall flat on his face."

Page 79: In a letter to his mother during World War II, H.W. fulminates against the casual sex he sees at a Naval Air Station: "These girls are not prostitutes, but just girls without any morals at all."

Page 209: In the early 1960s, H.W. has an affair with an Italian woman named Rosemarie and "promise[s] to get a divorce and marry her." Bush ends the affair in 1964; the woman asks the attorney if she can sue Bush for breaking their engagement.

Page 327-30; 341-42; 353: Now ambassador to China, H.W. has a relationship with his aide Jennifer Fitzgerald. Around the same time, Barbara disappears from Peking for three months. "Everyone knew that [Fitzgerald] was George's mistress," says a source.

Page 375-76: James Baker refuses to run Bush's 1980 presidential campaign if Fitzgerald is around; Bush concedes but pays her a salary. After becoming vice president, Bush gets into a traffic accident while riding with his "girlfriend"; he calls Secretary of State Alexander Haig to help him shoo away the Washington, D.C., police. Fitzgerald isn't Bush's only dalliance: A divorcee from North Dakota moves to Washington to be with the veep. Kelley says Nancy Reagan, who reviles the Bushes, delights in the gossip.

Page 266: George W. and cocaine. One anonymous Yalie claims he sold coke to Bush; another classmate says he and Bush snorted the drug together. Sharon Bush, W.'s ex-sister-in-law, tells Kelley that Bush has used cocaine at Camp David "not once, but many times." (Sharon has since denied telling Kelley this.)

Page 304: While working on a 1972 Alabama Senate campaign, Bush, witnesses say, "liked to sneak out back for a joint of marijuana or into the bathroom for a line of cocaine."

Page 575: A friend says Laura Bush was the "go-to girl for dime bags" at Southern Methodist University.

Ibid.: George and Laura visit Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax and his girlfriend Jane Clark in the Caribbean and attended pot parties.

Team Sports

Page 257: At Andover, W. proves a poor athlete. He rides the bench in basketball until a starter falls ill, and he is given the chance to enter the lineup. Bush smacks an opponent's face with the ball and winds up back on the bench.

Ibid.: Bush elects not to tell his friends back in Texas?where all-male Andover is derided as "Bend Over"?that he has become the school's head cheerleader.

Page 258-59: Under the moniker "Tweeds Bush," W. presides as unofficial chairman of Andover's stickball league. He manufactures a series of bogus membership cards that double as fake IDs in Boston bars.

Ibid.: W. introduces the school to the sport of pig ball, which involves throwing a football high in the air and then throttling a random player. As one ex-student puts it, "[T]o me he is the epitome of pig ball."

Page 276: George H.W. challenges Yale chaplain William Sloane Coffin to a series of squash games. When Coffin takes four in a row, Bush refuses to quit until he wins. "That time I kicked a little ass and it felt good," Coffin gloats.


Page 50: George H.W.'s mother, Dotty, forces her son to play sports right-handed, even though he's a natural southpaw.

Page 72-73: Barbara Bush's nickname explained: During World War II gasoline rationing, the Bushes navigate Kennebunkport, Maine, in a horse-drawn carriage. Prescott Bush Jr. notices that the family's horse, Barsil, looks a bit like George's then-girlfriend. He gives them both the nickname "Bar."

Page 191: At Yale, George H.W. asks Bar find a job to pay for her smoking habit.

Page 437: On a 1986 trip to Israel, Barbara visits the Holocaust Museum. "She had worn a blue flowered cotton housedress and open-toed sandals," says the wife of the U.S. consul general. "I couldn't believe it. Here she was the wife of the Vice President of the United States, for God's sakes, and she looked like she was going to a Sears Roebuck picnic."

Page 467: An associate on Barbara: "She can make a clean kill from a thousand yards away. ? [W]hen she delivers the life-taking blow, she does it with a thin-lipped smile. ? Have you ever seen an asp smile?"

Page 534: After Bush loses the 1992 election, Barbara holds a White House rummage sale and hawks her lightly used ball gowns to staffers.

Page 381-82: Sharon Bush on Barbara: "She can be a tyrant. That's why her boys called her 'The Nutcracker.' "

Page 577; 618: On party invitations, Laura Bush insists on being listed as "Mrs. Laura Bush," not the traditional "Mrs. George W. Bush." An intimate describes her as a "very nice woman who's got a lot of problems and smokes constantly."

Black Sheep

Page 183: Prescott Bush's eldest son, Prescott Jr.?known to the family as "P2"?sabotages his 1982 Senate campaign when he tells a women's club, "I'm sure there are people in Greenwich who are glad [the immigrants] are here, because they wouldn't have someone to help in the house without them."

Page 337-39: Prescott Bush III?"P3"?abandons his wife shortly after their wedding and, according to various accounts, is diagnosed with schizophrenia and moves in with members of the Weather Underground.

Page 186: H.W.'s brother Jonathan, an aspiring actor, announces plans for an off-Broadway minstrel show that Variety says includes "some Negro talent along with the blackface components." The production is quickly scuttled, and Bush settles for a part in Oklahoma! before giving up show business.

Page 491-92: Barbara Bush is upset that her daughter Doro, a divorcee, is getting nowhere with Rep. David Deier after a year of dating. "Never laid a hand on her," Bar says.

Compassionate Conservatism

Page 227: George H.W., who runs hard against civil rights legislation in his 1964 Senate campaign, makes amends by sponsoring a black softball team in Houston called the "George Bush All-Stars." As he puts it, "Organized athletics is a wonderful answer to juvenile delinquency."

Page 247: H.W. campaigns hard to be Nixon's running mate in 1968. Nixon goes with Spiro Agnew, a Greek-American, whom Bush derides as "Zorba, the Veep."

Page 252: George W. hangs a Confederate flag in his dorm room at Andover.

Page 268: W. on Yale's decision to admit women: "That's when Yale really started going downhill."

Page 427: In Midland, W. and his lawyer, Robert Whitt, try to hire the same housekeeper, an illegal alien named Consuela. When Whitt wins, Bush calls his wife and cusses her out.

Page 481: Miss USA visits the Oval Office in 1989 and affirms her commitment to world peace. After she leaves, H.W. tells reporters, "Did ya hear that, fellas? It's all about brains now. I liked it better when it was just bikinis."

Page 591: When Jeb's son Johnny is caught half-naked with a girl in a mall parking lot in 2000, George W. jokes, "It could have been worse. The girl could've been a boy." He adds, "We've might've picked up some gay votes with that one, huh?"

Power Plays

Page 279: George H.W. makes a secret trip to Lyndon Johnson's ranch to ask the ex-president if he should give up his House seat for a 1970 Senate run. Johnson says the "difference between being a member of the Senate and a member of the House is the difference between chicken salad and chicken shit." Bush runs and gets clobbered.

Page 350: As CIA director, H.W. despises Henry Kissinger and instructs his staff to refer to him as "Mister," not "Doctor." "The fucker doesn't perform surgery or make house calls, does he?" Bush says.

Page 454: After a testy interview with Dan Rather in 1988, H.W. remarks, "That guy makes Lesley Stahl look like a pussy."

Page 504: H.W. tells a congressman that he wants Ronald Reagan to go down in history as "the man who preceded George Bush."

Page 598: George W. to McCain during the nasty 2000 South Carolina primary: "John, we've got to start running a better campaign." McCain: "Don't give me that shit. And take your hands off me."

Secrets of the Bushies

Page 22: W. isn't the first Bush with a dubious war record. Prescott writes a gag letter to an Ohio newspaper detailing his mock-heroics in World War I, which the newspaper takes as fact and prints in full on the front page. His mother later apologizes and the paper retracts the story.

Page 95: George H.W. weeps during Skull and Bones initiation when describing his World War II heroics.

Page 213; 347: H.W. as Oliver Stone?hours after the Kennedy assassination, Bush phones the FBI and tells them about a 24-year-old Bircher who he says plotted to kill the president. The man is later cleared. As CIA director, for reasons no one quite understands, Bush demands to see many of the agency's assassination files.

Page 567: A witness recalls that during a CNN interview-turned-family-dinner "the elder Bush was drooling over Paula Zahn's legs, and younger Bush was yammering to get to the dinner table."

Page 578: A retired National Guard officer says he overheard a conversation between a Bush staffer and a guardsman about tidying up W.'s service record.

Page 604: During the 2000 recount controversy, W.'s sister Doro shrouds herself in a scarf and dark glasses and joins GOP protesters outside the Naval Observatory.

Page 566: The Bush family exchanges gleeful e-mails during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. George H.W. sends his sons a missive about Peyronie's disease?an unwelcome curvature of the penis?with the addendum: "And, of course, [Clinton's] Johnson curves to the left."

Page 618: A friend says that during their famous Crawford summit, Bush treated Russia's Vladimir Putin as if he were an unreformed Communist apparatchik: "I told Putin that in this country we own our own homes and because we own them we take great pride in them. ? I don't think the son of a bitch knew what the hell I was talking about."


Well, there you have it. A really classy bunch of people.

I haven't been posting much latey because I've been slammed at work and because I feel like whenever I post it's about sad, depressing shit (see above). I'll try to be better.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 8:17 AM EDT
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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
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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