Jenna's Abortion

I agree that any discussion on the subject of Jenna Bush's recent abortion is completely out of line. Nothing more will be said about it here.

Remembering 9/11

Matt Yglesias is exactly the kind of American that Pat Robertson and al Qaeda hate -- an elite, slightly metrosexual, predominantly-Jewish New Yorker. I hardly ever link to Matt, partly because he doesn't need the links, and partly because he frequently annoys the hell out of me. However, I don't see how his 9/11 memorial could have been done any better, and it took a lot of courage to write the following, which pretty much expresses my own sentiments:

Confusion is still as widespread as it was on 9-12-01 but back then we at least felt confused. Like Socrates we knew, to some extent at least, what we did not know. Now the worst are filled with passionate intensity. The ratio of unknown unknowns to known unknowns is frighteningly high.

I'm afraid. Not in the panicky way I was afraid three Septembers ago, but a deeper, less intense but more profound fear that we may have made some horrible mistakes and we have barely any idea what to do about them.

Juan Cole has also written a very thoughtful reflection on the day.

Greg Palast has some things to say about Bush, the Saudis, and 9/11.

Here's a nice tasty Godwin's Law violation.

The last two links are courtesy of Bartcop.

What Republicans Think

I'm on Townhall.com's e-mail list. Townhall.com is part of the Heritage Foundation, which is the "hub" of the network of "conservative" organizations that runs the "Conservative Movement" and the Republican Party. I just received this "Conservative Alert," which this time is actually an ad for a book by Ann Coulter, and is mailed to their entire list. I'm thinking it might be informative to show you what they think is a good way to sell something to "conservatives." So here is how the Right is talking, a month and a half before the election. Remember, THEIR guy says he is "a uniter not a divider."

The headline is "Nothing too extreme can be said about liberals because it's all true."
Dear Fellow Conservative,

No one knows how to put liberals in their place like Ann Coulter. And she does exactly that in her new book, How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must): The World According to Ann Coulter ... in How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must), Ann Coulter is unleashed and at her best. She has done more than just collect her best columns. She has updated, expanded and included columns too hot to print. For example:

  • The essence of being a liberal: "The absolute conviction that there is one set of rules for you, and another, completely different set of rules for everyone else."

  • John Kerry: "A reporter asked Kerry, 'Are you for or against gay marriage?' As usual, his answer was, 'Yes.' "

  • Her 9/11 comments: "I am often asked if I still think we should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity. The answer is: Now more than ever!"

  • The state of the Democratic Party: "Teddy Kennedy crawls out of Boston Harbor with a quart of Scotch in one pocket and a pair of pantyhose in the other, and Democrats hail him as their party's spiritual leader."

  • Her philosophy for arguing with liberals: "Tough love, except I don't love them. My 'tough love' approach is much like the Democrats' 'middle-class tax cuts' -- everything but the last word."

  • The "Treason Lobby": "Want to make liberals angry? Defend the United States."
  • "we should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity." The "conservative movement" has mailed this to their entire Townhall list 6 weeks before the election!

    If you know anyone who is voting for Bush because he is a "compassionate conservative" or who thought that the Republican convention's moderates in any way reflect the Republican Party, send them here.

    Why Should Conservatives Vote For Bush?

    Obsidian Wings: Why Should Conservatives Vote For Bush?

    Seriously, why do so-called "conservatives" think that the modern Right has anything at all to do with "conservatism?"

    It's OK to be partisan!

    I keep on having arguments with nice, idealistic academic Democrats explaining to them that our two-party system only works if there are enough partisans fighting for their parties. Partisanship is competitive and produces winners and losers -- the goal is for your party to win. It's true that as issues work their way through the process, ultimately a lot of compromises are made, and what comes out is seldom exactly what any single individual wanted. But compromise is the endgame. Competition is what makes the system run.

    One of these days I'm going to crank out a big theoretical piece about the differences between scholarly research and political action. One is timescale: a scholar can spend five years on a problem if he needs that long to get it right, whereas political players often are working in conditions of extreme uncertainty with a deadline of just a few minutes. Another is misinformation: by and large geologists, for example, do not have to deal with deliberate concealment, deception and dishonesty on the part of their colleagues, whereas people in politics have to think about that all the time. (And Bush is one of the worst ever, but there never was a golden age when this was not true).

    And another difference is that everything a politician says, does, and thinks is related to his goal of political victory. Regardless of how idealistic he is, if he doesn't win he will be unable to accomplish anything at all. As a result, the most-admired political leaders throughout history have all done things which their worshippers would rather not talk about.

    When everything a politician says is directed toward his political goal of victory, he is behaving pretty much the same as anyone on any job. He's making a case. In the same way, a salesman makes the best case for his product, a lawyer makes the best case for his client, a professional sticks up for his profession, schoolteachers advocate for schools, and people who work for Nike say good things about the shoes Nike makes.

    Too many Democrats seem to be unwilling to play the actual game of politics. Part of it, I am convinced, is the academic scholar's disdain for lower forms of human discourse. Part of it is a wrongheaded absolute idealism, tracable to Gandhi and to a misreading of Orwell, which makes it impossible to differentiate between the kinds of partisanship characteristic of Harry Truman and the kinds of partisanship characteristic of Josef Stalin. The outcome is a kind of jellified fairmindedness which leaves its practitioners helpless in the face of deception and misinformation.

    In the ten days before November 2, we can expect to see some plausible piece of information terribly damaging to Kerry to start popping up everywhere. We should vigorously deny it until Nov. 3 -- regardless. It will probably be a lie, but in the context of the campaign it's an attack and we should bat it down no matter what. We might end up being wrong that way, but that's infinitely preferable to being wrong in the opposite direction, and letting a big lie give us four more years of George W. Bush.

    P.S. Given what I've said, what's the problem with George W. Bush?

    Bush is like a salesman with a very bad product. There's nothing wrong with making a case for your product, but if your product is bad, you have to lie all the time, and that's what Bush does. And likewise, if you're lying in order to sell a bad product, you have to sell exclusively to gut-thinking, thoughtless, uncritical people who don't pay close attention (i.e., suckers), and that's what Bush is doing too.

    I'm exaggerating a bit -- Bush's core constituency includes a certain number of people who want World War Three and want to see the U.S. government bankrupted, and they understand what they're voting for. But I don't think that any campaign in American history has ever been so exclusively directed at stupid people and hard-core ideologues.

    (The context of this is, of course, the recent controversy about the Killian memos, during which a large number of liberal Democrats were in too much of a hurry to declare that the objections were valid. We should let the Republicans do their own work -- it will all come out in the wash eventually. I definitely agree that we shouldn't put too much weight on these memos. They really aren't needed to make the case against Dubya's Guard service, and Dubya's Guard service is a very small part of the total case against him.

    My immediate inspiration was this satire seen in Kos.)

    See the Forest

    Well we just have to wait and see what the experts conclude about the forgery.

    In the meantime, see the forest. The big picture is that one of the candidates VOLUNTEERED to go to Vietnam, for his SECOND tour of duty he VOLUNTEERED for Swift Boat duty, the most dangerous job in the Navy. He was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts. He went on to be a prosecutor, a Lt. Governor, and a Senator.

    The other guy was a poor student, a drunk, there are signs he was a drug abuser. He got his father's friends to get him out of serving in Vietnam. He was a failed businessman with many, many signs of corrupt, illegal activities. (And again, his father's friends bailing him out at every turn.) He is a liar. After becomming a corporate front-man as Governor in a "weak governor" state he did not take his responsibilities seriously and instead used the office to political advantage. He handed the state to the rich and powerful.

    How much do I need to go on? If I do, I have to get into his record as President.

    There simply is no comparison betwenn the two men.

    They are experts at diverting attention and we are diverted from the big picture.

    More Thoughts About Forgery

    What we have available to look at when trying to decide about those Bush service records documents is copies of copies. The original of at least one of these probably doesn't exist any more because it sounds like it was sent to Bush. There was no reason at that time for Bush to keep it forever. Nobody knew he would eventually be president. Not to worry; an "original copy" made in the 70s would have its own characteristics that would be easy to pin down. I won't go into details. Why give lessons to forgers on how to fake them? But photocopy technology has advanced so rapidly since the 70s that every aspect has changed, the equipment itself, the paper used, and the inks, so making a successful forgery would require doing a scientific study first. It would be virtually impossible to find the right materials now. Nobody clung to samples of office supplies manufactured in the 70s. The terrible quality of the copies speaks for their originality. The way the materials have aged would settle the matter.

    The memos sound like the kind of thing one writes to oneself for future reference, to keep a record when one finds oneself in a dubious position. The originals of these probably got filed and are probably in an archive somewhere. Even if those memos were sent to someone else, the originals would still be in the files where they were sent. Even if only copies survive, the fact that they are early copies could be determined. If a forger created "originals" and then made copies to give to CBS using modern technology, thinking that this would hide the fact that these were forgeries, he outsmarted himself.

    Forgers are always damned clever. No forger would have used a font that didn't exist for the technology he was imitating, and jumping on the fact that the font is New Times Roman to "prove" these are Word documents is silly. New Times Roman has been around since 1931. Any self-respecting forger using a word processor would have used a font that wouldn't cause comment. That in itself speaks for the documents being original. I still don't think there's a chance in Hell these documents are forged.


    Conservative newsmagazine concludes that Bush did not fulfill his obligation; and more on the fake forgery controversy

    Dan Rather stands behind his reporting on Bush's National Guard service, defending the disputed documents and explaining that the story was not based primarily on these documents anyway (see Seeley below).

    More significant news: in a story published before this whole staged brouhaha erupted, US News & World Report (a generally conservative newsmagazine)
    has concluded in a meticulously-done piece that Bush did not fulfill his National Guard requirement:

    "Using this standard, Bush's records show that during the fiscal year of July 1, 1972, through June 30, 1973, Bush fell significantly short of this requirement to do inactive duty, obtaining only 36 points that year. He fared worse the following year, gaining only 12 points. Even if one uses May, the date of his induction, as the starting point in the points calculation, President Bush falls short of the minimum number of weekend drills required by his military service obligation his last two years."

    I think that "Masaccio" on
    Brad DeLong's comments has summed up "typewritergate" perfectly:

    I have spent years doing anti-fraud work of various kinds. We often speculate about this kind of stuff, is a signature like another, is this type-face like another and so on. Only once in my career was I right. We will not know if it is a forgery based on the kinds of analysis I see in the media, here and elsewhere in the blogosphere. Either the source is trustworthy, or not.

    And for the rest of it, even talking about it is playing into the hands of the creeps from the right. Don't do it. Let them rage against the night. It makes them happy if we play the game. Don't even talk about it. Ignore them like you would Patrick R. Sullivan or Adrian Spidle or any other troll. Let them go play with each other.

    It's a fake controversy invented by desperate people. It is claimed that the supposedly-forged document "matches perfectly" with a document generated by Microsoft Word, but it doesn't. It is "sort of like" a document produced in Word, but the match is very fuzzy, as you can see
    here. And if you're wondering, THAT is the killer evidence that you've been hearing about for the last 24 hours.

    (If you want to sneak a look,
    Geraldine Seeley at Salon has a lot of interesting stuff (find Sept. 10, 16:32 PDT and page down). It turns out that two of the story's document experts have dirty hands, and the PR firm handling the fake forgery controversy also handled the fake Swiftboat controversy.)

    ABC's "
    The Note" (Sept. 10: find " President Bush and the National Guard: the politics of the documents") has a chronology of the attack on the Killian documents. The attack started with a piece by "Buckhead" on the Free Republic just three hours after the Rather show ended. The Freepers bounced the story around for awhile and the next morning Little Green Footballs picked up, and it accelerated from there.

    "The Note" speculates that the documents were forged and a Republican plant, but more likely the White House had forwarded the materials they got from CBS to the relevant operative. The swiftness of the response is not unusual -- it reminds me of the trashing of the
    Wellstone funeral. I really can't believe it was all done by unpaid volunteers.

    To Forge or not to Forge

    I wrote most of this as a comment, and then decided I should post it so people won't miss seeing it.

    Here are some points about detecting forgeries. I spent roughly 25 years working on the problem of fakes, frauds, and forgeries for museums -- but also on the problem of forged documents, sometimes for museums in connection with the history of objects, sometimes for the police, and sometimes for the court in cases of suspected forged wills. I then worked for a company in which, among other things, I was involved with -- the manufacture and chemical analysis of inks and paper.

    Keeping in mind that I have not seen the originals it would not be that hard to tell whether they were printed by a typewriter or by a printer. For openers, a typewriter strikes the paper, and modern printers spray the paper with various kinds of ink. One can tell the difference fairly easily by looking at the effect under a microscope; striking the paper will indent it at least somewhat. Striking the paper lays the ink down differently, too. Laser and jet printers spray the ink and it looks much more even than ink from any kind of typewriter -- or from early computer printers that did strike the paper. Looking at what was shown on TV, the type looked to me like it was done on a typewriter, but one has to see the original to be sure. Also, the composition of the inks used are different for typewriters and for printers, and the ink should be tested.

    As for things like proportional spacing, font choice, that small "th" etc. weren't there electronic typewriters available that could do that? The 70s weren't the dark ages. That wouldn't be hard to pin down. Also, some of the Selectric fonts looked just like that.

    If I were examining these documents, though, I'd look first at the chemical composition of the ink and the condition of the paper. Ink formulas change over the years, even for typewriters and printers. Paper ages quite a bit in 30 - 35 years, and there's no reason to think any kind of special acid-free paper was used in Air Force Reserve offices for ordinary memos and letters. Also, the chemical composition of commercial paper coatings and fillers get changed by the manufacturers over the years. And these, too, age with time.

    For a forger to successfully make an almost undetectable forgery of documents from the 70s would require (1) paper from the 70s, (2) ink from the 70s, which would not be easy to find in any sort of condition that could still be used because typewriter ribbons dry up and other inks settle out, and (3) equipment from the 70s. The equipment would be the easiest to get. I've got an old Selectric in the closet, and plenty of those balls in different fonts myself. It would take a really determined forger to locate all three, but of course that's what they're going to argue.

    Beyond the physical attributes, determining whether these are forgeries would depend on comparing the wording of the documents with the rest of the correspondence of the assumed author to look for discrepancies in style and vocabulary. I don't think there's a chance in Hell that these documents were forged, but I'd have to examine them myself to be sure.

    Can't read a dead man's mind

    Several times Scott McClellan has claimed that the Killian documents are irrelevant because "You can't read a dead man's mind". Besides being about the stupidest thing I've ever heard -- the big advantage of documentary evidence is that it doesn't require mindreading -- I think that there's a more sinister meaning.

    What he really meant was: "You can't get to a dead man to change his mind." They got to Killian's widow, who explained that her ex-husband never would have said anything bad about "our President". (The real question, of course, is whether he would have said anything bad about one Lt. Bush thirty years ago.) They got to Neil Bush's ex-wife Sharon, who denied what she had said about cocaine use at Camp David. They got to George Elliott, Kerry's commander, who changed his story three times in two days and now refuses to talk to reporters. For a long time they were able to get to Ben Barnes, though just now he flipped on them. Apparently they've gotten to the guy who confirmed Killian's story for CBS (Bobby Hodges), who is no longer willing to talk. And probably they've gotten to Hodges' superior Walter Staudt too.

    Someone should make a list of the players in this game who have changed their stories, or who have clammed up, or who have been caught lying. There are plenty of them.

    Funny, though -- no one can find a single person who remembers Bush from the Alabama Guard. The same way you can't "get to" a dead man, you can't get to someone who just plain doesn't exist at all.

    (Somewhat revised 5:00 PM PDT, 6:00 PDT, etc.)

    Seeing the Forest: Bush's National Guard service

    Today's media discussion of the possible forgery of the Killian documents casting doubt on Bush's National Guard service vividly demonstrates the Mighty Wurlitzer's power to reframe a debate. 24 hours ago new evidence came out which made Bush look pretty bad, and everyone talked about it for a few hours. But the attack machine sprang instantly into action, and now we're talking about forgery, electronic typewriters, and proportional spacing. Within 24 hours of the time the story broke, half a dozen major outlets are playing it as a forgery story.

    Contrast the Swift Boat case. After the accusations had been out there for a good while, refutations started to dribble in slowly until by now the only thing still standing is the exact date of Kerry's visit to Cambodia. But many more people heard the original smears than the refutations, and the Republican goon squads kept pumping out the misinformation anyway, so Kerry was hurt.

    Furthermore, once the SBV's started looking bad, the new Bush spin was that 527 groups are a bad thing, soft money is a bad thing, negative campaigning is a bad thing, that everyone's Vietnam-era military service should be taken off the table completely, and that the international financier George Soros is shadowy. The main point, that a group with many links to George W. Bush got caught lying about Kerry, was lost in the fog of confusion produced by the Republican flaks. (For the record, by the way, I think that dirty politics and negative campaigning are here to stay, and that the Democrats, without making it a central issue of the campaign, should keep hammering at Bush's Guard record, which really was pretty dubious).

    The case against Bush's Guard service was already pretty solid before the Killian documents surfaced, and if they are discredited, the case remains strong. But if the media make forgery the main story, the real issue will die. (The main story can be found in the
    Boston Globe, here and here in Salon, and especially at Paul Lukasiak's site.)

    I really don't know how much the media itself is the problem, and how much it's the campaigns. Maybe the media are so biased that the best efforts of the Democrats would come to naught, regardless. But as of right now, my belief is that the Republican's media work (which includes bribery, intimidation and frequent threats) is just more effective than the Democrats'. Another example is the preponderance of Republicans over Democrats on the talk shows, with feeble apolitical centrists often presented as the Democratic representatives.

    Even if the Democrats can't get good coverage out of the media, at least they have to figure out a way to make some effective noise about it. For example, they should have well-drilled, effective spokesmen lined up and ready to go for every talk show, and raise a big stink if their guy is left out in favor of some lame or some conservative.

    As of the morning of Sept. 10 at 8:00 PST. the forgery question is still open. Most of the triumphant blog-troll claims of last night have been shot down by now, but the killer point hasn't been scored yet one way or another. (I have seen it argued that that the Killian documents have traits characteristic only of typewriters as opposed to word-processors, which if true would destroy the whole Microsoft Word premise of the forgery claim, but the jury's still out on that). But this issue isn't really very important, except for the credibility of CBS News. Because everything we know about Bush's Guard service tells us that it was minimally acceptable at best. (As for the honorable discharge Bush continually brags about: almost everyone gets those. John Allen Muhammed, the beltway sniper, got an honorable discharge despite several serious violations of military regulations).

    P.S. One thing that has happened here is very characteristic of troll argumentation: obfuscation by technical detail. When you're arguing about gun control, for example (about which I'm basically neutral, though I take the pro-control side when forced to), you start off talking about teenagers bringing guns to school, and you end up in long arguments about how many rounds the magazines of Czech assault rifles hold. In this case, it was a lot of stuff about "proportional spacing", etc., but there was one difference this time. As the story developed, it turned out that the trolls weren't expert about that stuff at all, and were pulling most of their facts out of their butts. (I wonder if they were bluffing about the Czech assault rifles too.)

    Kos and Salon have summaries of the story. The jury's still out.


    Dem Supporters Who Don't Vote

    There's a month, maybe less in some states, to get people registered so they can vote in this election. Do YOU know any Democrat-leaning people who don't vote? Get them registered. Go get a registration form YOURSELF and take it to them and help them fill it out and send it in yourself. Later you can work on getting them to the polls. But get this out of the way today.

    Copy this message and put it in an e-mail and send it to everyone you know.

    Bad Polls

    ABCNEWS.com : Poll: Advantage Bush as Election Nears.

    Kerry's approval has gone negative, people see Bush as a strong, decisive leader, etc.

    I attribute this entirely to Kerry's stance on Iraq, which even I don't get, especially his August 9 statement which I blogged about, and, of course, the effect of The Smear. This does NOT mean I don't support Kerry. I think he would make a good president, and that it is important that we all do everything we can ot get every single person to the polls that we cn get there.

    What it means is that the Republican vote suppression machine is in full swing. Enough negative attacks and even YOU will be thinking of not voting -- that's the POINT of it. They are simply very good at smearing and at turning voters off, because they have invested so much money studying how to attain and keep power by manipulating and tricking people.


    Juan Cole
    "The Likud brutally occupies 3 million Palestinians (who don't get to vote for their occupier) and is aggressively taking over their land. That is, it treats at least 3 million people no better than and possibly worse than the Syrian Baath treats its 17 million. The Likud invaded Lebanon in 1982 and killed 18,000 or so people, 9,000 of them innocent civilians. This is, contrary to what Bernard Lewis keeps implying, just about equivalent morally to the Syrian Baath's crushing of the Islamists in Hama the same year, which killed an estimated 10,000. Many in the Likud coalition are commited to "transfer," or the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. At the least they want to keep Palestinians stateless and without basic human rights and dignity. The vast majority of Palestinians has never commited an act of violence, but Likud propaganda justifies their expropriation on the innuendo that they are all terrorists. Likud aggression is invisible in American media, and the way in which it provokes violence is off limits for discussion."

    New Election News Blog

    Derelection: Cursor's Election Media Coverage

    Vote for Bush or Die

    From a NY Times story today:
    "Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that the nation was more likely to 'get hit again' by terrorists if John Kerry was elected was one of the toughest attacks launched in a presidential election in 40 years.

    [. . .] Newt Gingrich, the former speaker, hailed what he said was Mr. Cheney's directness, saying, "Dick Cheney has understated the difference in danger to the United States between a Bush and a Kerry presidency."
    NewsMax news "story", Cheney's 'Soft on Terror' Charge Has Sting of Truth
    "From North Korea to the appeasement government in Spain, from France to the al-Qaida News Network, al-Jazeera, those opposed to America's war on terror seem to be backing Kerry."
    It's all going to come down to where people get their information. The Republicans have convinced a large part of the public that they should not believe mainstream news sources...

    Alterman on Neocons

    Over at Altercation today:
    "Remember absolutely everything they insisted would happen has not happened and/or never did happen.
    There were no WMDs

    There was no nuclear program

    There was no connection to Al-Qaida or any other group of anti-American terrorists.

    We were not welcomed as liberators; We were "welcomed" as infidel occupiers.

    The occupation did not pay for itself; it is costing us hundreds of billions of dollars.

    Saddam Hussein is more popular in Iraqi opinion polls than Ahmad Chalabi, who may be an Iranian spy, (and so, too, may be some of the Neocons themselves, but that;s another story).

    America is more hated and reviled in the Arab world than any time in its history.
    This Salon article lists twenty-one separate false Neocon assertions."
    Meanwhile half the population STILL thinks Iraq was responsible for 9/11 AND had WMD. Here's a letter from today's San Jose Mercury News:
    "The service and sacrifice of our 1,000 brave soldiers killed in Iraq may well mean that the Mercury News never has to run this headline: "Terror attack hits San Jose: 100,000 dead.''
    I think people need to believe that the Iraq war is justified because Iraq was responsible for terrorism, because the alternative is just too onstrous to believe. We invaded a coutnry that had NOT attacked us? And we did this even though we were already fighting a real war against those who DID attack us?

    What will it mean to the country, the world, and democracy if Bush is able to win this election with a campaign that is entirely lies and tricks? The Republicans have ALREADY launched aggressive war and bankrupted the country - so what's left? They almost certainly will turn the focus on you and me. Watch your backs.


    Fortunate Son

    Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
    Ooh, they're red, white and blue.
    And when the band plays "Hail to the chief",
    Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord,

    It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senator's son, son.
    It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, no,

    Some folks are born silver spoon in hand,
    Lord, don't they help themselves, oh.
    But when the taxman comes to the door,
    Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yes,

    It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no millionaire's son, no.
    It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, no.

    Some folks inherit star spangled eyes,
    Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord,
    And when you ask them, "How much should we give?"
    Ooh, they only answer More! more! more! yoh,

    It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no military son, son.
    It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, one.

    It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate one, no no no,
    It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate son, no no no

    Two Blog Hero Awads?

    Can I award two blog hero awards to the same person in the same week?

    I know I give a lot of homework, but there's a lot going on, and a lot to understand. This post will help with the understanding part. AND it's good reading.




    Progressives have been under the illusion that if only people understood the facts, we'd be fine. Wrong.

    It Was Part of the Plan

    Written this afternoon while Blogger wasn't working, posted now:

    I'm listening to PBS' Fresh Air show, an interview with Wayne Slater, co-author of Bush’s Brain, a book about Karl Rove. Slater just described how in Bush's 1994 campaign for governor Rove prepared a "whisper campaign" smearing Ann Richards. Before the campaign they made a commercial with Bush saying that Richards had insulted him personally. This commercial was prepared because they were worried about how the public might react to their attacks and smears against a popular Governor, a woman. So they prepared in advance a commercial with Bush complaining that she had attacked him personally. Then they worked hard to get Richards to say something about Bush, baiting her with constant personal insults, and when she finally said something they went up all over the state with this commercial.

    Think about this. Before the campaign they prepared a commercial with Bush complaining that Richards had attacked him personally. They did this because they were plalning a smear campaign against her.

    Remember this whenever you hear Republicans playing victim, complaining about being attacked, to justify their lies and smears and nastiness. It is all an act. It is all played for effect. They just lie.

    Don't Like What Someone Says? SMEAR THEM!!

    Someone is saying something that makes Bush look bad. So they get smeared. That's how it works.

    From the Repubican National Committee: Who Is Ben Barnes?

    It's Not Me

    It's not me. Sun Posts a Blog Expert.
    Sun Microsystems has hired the creator of the Roller blogging technology to bring the communications tool to its enterprise software. Founder Dave Johnson said he accepted the job with Sun Microsystems this week to "design, develop, and deploy the primary blogging system for Sun in conjunction with other engineers" and to evangelize blogging both inside and outside of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker.
    But a job a Sun would not be turned down.

    Reality Itself

    Reality on the Ballot:
    "This election has become a test of whether reality still means anything to the American people, whether this country has moved to essentially a new form of government in which one side is free to lie about everything while a paid ?amen corner? of ideological media drowns out any serious public debate.
    For weeks now, George W. Bush?s campaign has been radically testing the limits of how thoroughly one party can lie, misrepresent and smear without paying any price and indeed while reaping rewards in the opinion polls. Bush personally capped off this binge of dishonesty with his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, continuing his pattern of lying about how the war in Iraq began."

    Catholics can vote for Kerry. Where were the media on this story? Where were the Democrats?

    "In a memorandum, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has said it is not necessarily sinful for Catholics to vote for politicians who support abortion, as long as they are voting for that candidate for other reasons.He was lahying out the principles under which bishops or other ministers may deny Communion to Catholic politicians who consistently promote legal abortion.Catholic News Service reports that Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, sent the six-point memorandum to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, who heads an episcopal task force on Catholic politicians. It was designed to offer guidance to the US bishops when they discussed the Communion/abortion issue at their mid-June meeting near Denver." (link)

    To me the big story is this: this story is three months old. Why hasn't everyone heard it?

    Granted, the media are worthless, and granted, I'm not on the Catholic net, but I've heard all about the miscellaneous bishops who are pressuring Catholics to vote Bush, and I've also heard about Bush's cheeky request for the Pope to campaign for him. Somehow or another, the Kerry campaign needs to get the word out.

    Good take by Father Andrew Greeley (Aug. 10):

    "I can think of only one way that bishops might earn a hearing for their teaching. While insisting on their convictions, they should refrain from questioning the integrity and good faith of those who disagree.

    Then they should become beacons of light on all issues concerning human life, the rights of women and the rights of the poor and the oppressed."

    Today's story
    Another version

    Blogger Not Working

    Blogger has been out since last night. Can't post. I'm trying e-mailing this in to see if it gets through.



    Fistfight Breaks Out Over Kerry Veterans:
    "A member of a Christian group has been fired after allegedly punching several veterans marching for presidential candidate John Kerry in Monday's Harvest Festival parade in Windsor, Colo."
    In another news report today,
    Vice President Cheney warned on Tuesday that if John F. Kerry is elected, "the danger is that we'll get hit again" by terrorists, as the Bush campaign escalated a furious assault on the Democratic presidential nominee that has kept Kerry from gaining control of the election debate.
    These are related stories. That kind of talk by Cheney is like instructions to the guy in the story above. If you BELIEVE the Vice President, John Kerry's candidacy threatens your life. If he wins, you and your children die. So what you must do goes beyond just voting against the guy, you are protecting your life, your childrens' lives, your country, and everything you believe in.

    They are escalating the rhetoric, and the inevitable incivility is starting to break out at the fringes. How far will they take it?

    The American Street

    The American Street has a new look.

    Great Ad

    Texans for Truth as a hard-hitting ad asking where Bush was when he was supposed to be in the National Guard. Go see the ad and give them a few dollars to help get that ad on the air.


    I'm watching Crossfire, and Tucker Carlson tells a whopping lie about Kerry, and I know that he knows it's a lie, and I wonder he gets out of it -- what role he sees for himself in Bush's brave new world -- that leads him to decide it is OK to just lie like that.

    Then I remember the story the other day, where the guy says he was offered $200,000 a year FOR LIFE - even if he resigns - to become a propagandist for the Right. (That was big money 20 years ago.) Besides flat-out bribe money like this, there is a lot of other money floating around for "journalists" and others willing to sell themselves out. From a 1999 Salon article about "journalists" taking money from those they cover, in the form of "speaking fees,"
    "The top echelon of Washington political reporters — Cokie Roberts, Sam Donaldson, George Will, Andrea Mitchell and many others whose heads appear daily on the screen — receive from $10-$30,000 (in Cokie's case) per appearance from industry groups like the National Association of Realtors, the American Hospital Association, the Public Relations Society of America and the Mortgage Bankers Association."
    $30,000 FOR ONE APPEARANCE would very quickly pass that $200,000 per year. The story says that the three major networks stopped allowing their reporters to take these bribes from "those they may report on" but many of these "associations" are part of the Right's network. If the Chamber of Commerce gives you $30,000, and the Chamber is a huge Bush supporter, what is that going to do to your ability to report on Bush's absence from the National Guard? NONE of the groups paying these kinds of fees are "Progressive." If you are on the Right there is a lot of money out there, AND THEY ALL KNOW IT.

    Want to see who is out there accepting speaking fees? Check here or here for a few.

    I think that all of our media outlets owe us an explanation of who is taking money from whom. I'm talking about TV pundits AND GUESTS, columnists, op-ed writers, and every single person presented to the public as any kind of authority on any issue.

    Remember what happened when there were few controls on those giving stock market advice to the public? The same sort of meltdown is happening to our democracy.

    Update - A question for the comments -- What kind of right-wing hack would YOU be willing to become for $30,000-per-appearance plus $200,000 per year for life?

    New Smear at Drudge

    There is a new smear up at Drudge, saying kerry voted to ban a gun that he is shown using. Of course, the claim is a lie. But that doesn't matter, because the effect will be to reinforce the "flip-flop, say-anything" smear, as well as to send code-words to gun nuts that Kerry is against them.

    Kerry voted for the Assault Weapons Ban, which Bush also supported. He is shown holding a standard shotgun. There is a convoluted explanation of why this is a gun that would have been banned, even though it really wouldn't have been...

    Update - from the Kerry campaign:
    "Let's do some straight shooting on the gun issue. John Kerry's opponents are worried because he's the first Democratic candidate to support Second Amendment gun rights and to be an avid hunter.

    "The facts are clear. John Kerry opposes banning this gun and always will. John Kerry was proud to receive this union-made gun at the United Mine Workers Labor Day picnic in Racine, West Virginia.

    "The Republican Party and George Bush's campaign will stop at nothing to mislead voters about John Kerry's record. We challenge Bush to engage in honest debates--West Virginians deserve to hear the truth."


    Bush Drinking Photo

    Digby has a BIG find!

    Then scroll down and read the next few posts, and watch the video one of them points to. It looks like Bush is drinking again - or worse.

    Dems Response

    Matt Stoller -- Why the Democratic Response to the Convention Failed:
    "Anyone who complains that the Democrats 'aren't fighting back' should have been there at 10am every day of the week."

    Labor Blog

    Introducing Labor Blog:
    "Enter a new group blog on labor issues.

    Why? Well, for those of us in and around the labor movement, it's because we think what people do 8+ hours per day, 5+ days a week is where the fate of the nation and the world rests. When workers have power in the workplace, they end up with power in the political world, just as employers use power in the private economy to leverage privileges from the public sector. "

    Hope the Kerry campaign uses this guy

    West Virginia’s top Army Reserve spokesman says the Iraq war was a mistake, and President Bush should be voted out of office.

    In a long interview with Gazette columnist Sandy Wells, Col. Lew G. Tyree of Charleston publicly revealed his feelings about the Iraq invasion, saying:

    “I feel we were not told the truth. I do not think we should be there. America is in more danger now because we are using up a tremendous amount of human resources, the soldiers. We tend to ignore that there are well over 1,000 dead and well over 7,000 injured. We use many of the soldiers time and time again. Where are the replacements going to come from? We’re getting re-enlistments, but not recruits. Where is the strength for defending this country in another arena?”

    The Stakeholder

    The Stakeholder, from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is a really good blog. It is a real blog, feels like a real blog, reads well, and on top of that serves one of the most important causes there is. So go read it.

    They have also started an A/V blog. Go ask them where Episode 2 is.

    Members of the Media

    This story was released late Friday before Labor Day weekend, and was consequently not seen by many people. However, this is one of the most important stories of the year, so maybe in the interest of making sure your readers are INFORMED, you could repeat this story in tomorrow's papers: Medicare Premiums to Jump a Record 17%:
    "In the largest increase in the history of Medicare, insurance premiums paid by elderly and disabled patients for routine care will rise 17% next year, the Bush administration said Friday. "


    Winer on Miller's Speech

    I just caught up to this from Dave Winer:
    "The Zell Miller speech was a wakeup call. That wasn't an election speech, that was incitement to a lynch mob. Guess who's the guest of honor? Think about it. Why was the Miller speech so scary? Answer -- you're next. That's what Miller was saying. After this election we put on the brown shirts. I saw John McCain interviewed on NBC after the Miller speech. You could tell he was scared. They asked if he thought Kerry would make a good commander in chief, he said yes he would. That's the kind of candidate the Reps should nominate. Then after the election, win or lose, we won't have to have a civil war."

    Dear Kerry Campaign,

    Something I've been saying: People are scared and they want leaders who will protect them. Kerry needs to tell the public how he is better at protecting them against terrorists than Bush is. He needs to make a convincing case. That is what the public wants to know. That is the ONLY question today. The Republicans know this.

    Update - Maybe I'm completely wrong. Also here, "Mr. Clinton ... told Mr. Kerry that he should ... focus ... on drawing contrasts with President Bush on job creation and health care policies..."

    Also from that last reference -
    "Among the better-known former Clinton aides who are expected to play an increasingly prominent role are James Carville, Paul Begala and Stanley Greenberg, campaign aides said."
    I'm happier now.

    Update - But maybe I was right in the first place. This guy is saying what I was saying. "In fact, it's a no-brainer: somehow Kerry has to convince people that he can be trusted with national security and Bush can't — and if he doesn't, he's going to lose."

    Keep Him Blogging

    Everybody, please read John's recent "bleg" and help him keep blogging through the election. He's asking for a vote of confidence. He's a great blogger and he is saying things that are important.

    On the right they make offers of $200,000 a year for life even if you resign. We've got to stick together and help each other out. We're all doing this for free or very little compensation, because we feel these are things that have to be talked about.

    We Were Right

    Once again events show that the instincts of "the blogosphere" are right on, while those of the Washington insiders are faulty.

    From Newsweek's In Bush's Shadow: "
    John Kerry wanted to hit back. It had been a miserable August as he took incoming fire about his military service from a gang of hostile Vietnam vets. But no, campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill and other staffers argued, the Swift Boat ads would blow over. Finally, Kerry had had enough. For three or four days, as he campaigned across the country, Kerry ripped into Cahill, furious that the mostly baseless attacks on his valor were driving his numbers down. 'He was very angry,' one old friend says. 'The calculation had been made that this wasn't going to hurt him.' "
    Not only were they unprepared for the inevitable big smear when it came, they thought they should not respond and that it would blow over.

    Update - This means it's up to us - the grassroots. We must all redouble our efforts between now and the election. Registering voters, going door-to-door, talking to people, sending e-mails... Go to your local Democratic Party office and SIGN UP AS A VOLUNTEER! You know this is a crucial election and you know that it is important to the world, the nation, and YOU that Bush is removed from office. Your local Democratic Party office will be coordinating the efforts of volunteers so it is much more efficient to go there and sign up than to just try to do things on your own. IT IS SO IMPORTANT!

    Do you have a bumper sticker on your car? It makes a difference. One of the Right's tactics is to demoralize Kerry supporters. But people SEE bumper stickers, and they make a difference. They tell people that Kerry has support. This is important, especially in an election where intimidation is a tactic. About half of voters support Kerry. If people see Kerry stickers on enough cars it encourages THEM to be more active and public with THEIR support!

    Gotta Read

    I'll write more on this later. This article says what I've been saying for more than two years, so it's clear the author is brilliant.

    Tentacles of Rage: The Republican propaganda mill.

    More later, but look at the kind of money offered to people to become shills for the Right!
    It was at Kristol's suggestion that I met a number of the fund-raising people associated with the conservative program of political correctness, among them Michael Joyce, executive director in the late seventies of the Olin Foundation. We once traveled together on a plane returning to New York from a conference that Joyce had organized for a college in Michigan, and somewhere over eastern Ohio he asked whether I might want to edit a new journal of cultural opinion meant to rebut and confound the ravings of The New York Review of Books. The proposition wasn't one in which I was interested, but the terms of the offer an annual salary of $200,000, to be paid for life even in the event of my resignation or early retirement—spoke to the seriousness of the rightist intent to corner and control the national market in ideas.
    $200,000 a year for life, even if you resign! Remember that Bill Bennett was gambling away MILLIONS in Las Vegas. Brock says he got book advances in this range as well. And, though he doesn't put a date on this, it implies it was the early 80's.

    Now before you ALL go running off to find Scaife to ask for jobs making up stories that turn war heros into girlie-men, ... Oh, never mind, I'm just going to try to get there first. I just told my wife that number - for life even if he resigns - and she has decided we are on the wrong side.

    That's how it works. These people aren't just paid... and using the term "well-paid" isn't sufficient. But at least now you know WHY they just lie.

    Bush's Guard records missing / Saudi complicity in 9/11

    I don't have anything against a negative campaign, but it wouldn't make any difference if I were, because that's what we're facing. So here are two units of dirt on the worst President in American history.

    The military-service issue should really be pretty much irrelevant as far as I'm concerned, but the way it's developing, the man with the medals has come out looking bad, and the guy with the dubious, minimally-acceptable-at-best stateside service has come out unscathed. (But maybe Ben Barnes' testimony will change that. Here's a summary of the story.).

    On the other hand, the 9/11 issue is a very serious one. Bush is campaigning mostly on 9/11, even though his pre-9/11 counter-terrorism record was horrible. (The 9/11 report does not spell this out in so many words, but the facts reported there lead to that conclusion.) The Senate 9/11 report was censored, and Bob Graham has written a book telling what was missing: a serious investigation of the role of high-level Saudis in 9/11. (Look here if you're intered in that topic).

    These days publicity is everything and reality is nothing. It reminds you of those nightmare sci-fi dystopia movies. These issues are real, but you have to wonder how much traction they will get in our bought, cowed media. And at least 30% of the electorate is systematically misinformed and motivated mostly by liberal-hatred. They could care less about the Iraq War or any other serious issue.

    Files missing from Bush's National Guard records:

    The five kinds of missing files are:
    _A report from the Texas Air National Guard to Bush's local draft board certifying that Bush remained in good standing. The government has released copies of those DD Form 44 documents for Bush for 1971 and earlier years but not for 1972 or 1973. Records from Bush's draft board in Houston do not show his draft status changed after he joined the guard in 1968. The AP obtained the draft board records Aug. 27 under the Freedom of Information Act.
    _Records of a required investigation into why Bush lost flight status. When Bush skipped his 1972 physical, regulations required his Texas commanders to "direct an investigation as to why the individual failed to accomplish the medical examination," according to the Air Force manual at the time. An investigative report was supposed to be forwarded "with the command recommendation" to Air Force officials "for final determination."
    Bush's spokesmen have said he skipped the exam because he knew he would be doing desk duty in Alabama. But Bush was required to take the physical by the end of July 1972, more than a month before he won final approval to train in Alabama.
    _A written acknowledgment from Bush that he had received the orders grounding him. His Texas commanders were ordered to have Bush sign such a document; but none has been released.
    _Reports of formal counseling sessions Bush was required to have after missing more than three training sessions. Bush missed at least five months' worth of National Guard training in 1972. No documents have surfaced indicating Bush was counseled or had written authorization to skip that training or make it up later. Commanders did have broad discretion to allow guardsmen to make up for missed training sessions, said Weaver and Lawrence Korb, Pentagon personnel chief during the Reagan administration from 1981 to 1985.
    "If you missed it, you could make it up," said Korb, who now works for the Center for American Progress, which supports Kerry.
    _A signed statement from Bush acknowledging he could be called to active duty if he did not promptly transfer to another guard unit after leaving Texas. The statement was required as part of a Vietnam-era crackdown on no-show guardsmen. Bush was approved in September 1972 to train with the Alabama unit, more than four months after he left Texas.

    Senator Bob Graham's new book claims Saudi complicity in 9/11:

    In his new book, Graham claims the president coddled the Saudis and pursued a war against Saddam Hussein that only diverted resources from the more important fight against Al Qaeda. Graham was furious when the White House blacked out 28 pages of the inquiry's final report that dealt with purported Saudi links to the 9/11 plot. Graham says much of the deleted evidence centered around the activities of a mysterious Saudi then living in San Diego named Omar al-Bayoumi, whom Graham calls a Saudi government "spy." Al-Bayoumi befriended two of the key 9/11 hijackers, Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, when they first arrived in the country.

    More info on Saudi 9/11 connections -- thanks to Pen-Elayne.

    Revised 12:10 PDT / 6:34 PDT

    S/M Politics: The Leper Lickers

    This post was heavily edited after it was posted.

    During the convention we were treated to the most vitriolic display of pure hatred I've seen since, as a tiny child, I sat with my terrified Jewish Grandma listening to Hitler make speeches. This was exactly the same kind of thing. The spewing of hatred, the adoring cheering audience. I'll never forget the expressions on those faces at the convention, eyes rolled heavenward as though in the presence of the Messiah.

    This display of Republican hatred was set against a background of the drone of circling helicopters, scream of police sirens, as the largest army of police ever assembled threatened the citizens of New York. People were knocked to the ground when they came out of the subways at 42nd St. because they might be potential terrorists -- uh, I mean demonstrators. Nearly 2,000 terrorists -- well, that's what Bloomberg called them -- were illegally held for days in wire cages in filthy conditions, not allowed to make phone calls or see a lawyer, their names not released to their terrified relatives and friends. This is a big city with lots of crime. When someone vanishes for days, there's plenty of reason to worry.

    So -- what's the hidden agenda? Why the public display of compassion and kindness, Compassionate Conservatism at work while shifting the tax burden to the middle-class, or what's left of it, creating astronomical deficits, declaring a war that can never end, the endless terror alerts, sending the best jobs overseas, keeping health care out of reach because of its cost?

    The agenda is not hidden. They've been quite open and honest about it, every time they say they're "protecting" us, fathers take care of their children, but we've refused to see it, to believe they're a bunch of sadists just doing their thing. Reasonable people wouldn't act like that, would they? However, if the public's kids aren't dying in a war, Bush can't claim he must be re-elected because he's a wartime president. Never mind if the only possible purpose for that war has turned out to be political advantage at home. Who'd believe any administration could be that cynical? If the public is not kept in a constant state of fear, terrified of "them," the terrorists about to attack, terrified of losing their jobs, of economic ruin if they get sick, the public isn't going to need a Big Daddy promising to protect them. This is why we can never solve any social problems. Once solved, there's no need to keep Big Daddy around. That's how sadomasochism works. Create enough anguish, pain and suffering and you can get away with anything if your promises to end the pain sound sincere enough. Ah, sweet suffering!

    Back in the good old Dark Ages, to which we are rapidly returning, there were lots of people who went around licking the sores of lepers to prove how much they trusted God to protect them. Some of them even got officially declared saints for it. That leper licking impulse is still with us. Licking lepers accomplished nothing for the lepers. Feeding them or giving them a comfortable place to live would have helped them. Making a public display of how compassionate the lickers were only benefitted the lickers. This pretense that Bush will solve all our problems, be a nice, kind Big Daddy is mere leper licking.