For The Trees

Who is our economy FOR, anyway?

About the Authors:
Dave Johnson
John Emerson
Richard Reich
Thomas Leavitt


Recent Posts:
Moved to Seeingtheforest.com
This Blog Has Moved
Democracy Arsenal
Thought Crimes
Think Progress
Bill Bradley Describes VRWC in NY Times Piece Toda...
Blog Change Coming Friday
How the Liberal Media Myth is Created
Interest Rates
Finally Leaving Blogger


BEST OF STF:

Dave's:

Articles not at STF:

The ATLA Speech on building a progressive infrastructure
Lowering the Bar
The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law
Who's Behind the Attack on Liberal Professors

On the Right and their communications infrastructure:

Why Republicans Win
Win or Lose
The "Conventional Wisdom" Machine
Some History of the Conservative Movement
HOW TO FIGHT BACK
An Amplifier Of Our Own
Don't Blame the Democrats
How They Do It 1 2 3 4
Getting Rolled

Other:

You're Gonna Get Drafted
Scalia and Self-Government
Who is Our Economy For?
Voting Machine Story Link Collection
What's Wrong with this Picture? (Voting Machines)
Like Meat in the Supermarket
Get Active
Thin Line 1 2 3
Fixing Social Security
Seeing the Forest I, II, III
"Incredibly Positive News"
The Breadth of It
The Republican Crony Club
Moon Bush
Ralph Nader is a Scab


John's Best Of:
Kerry Smear Page
Bandar Bush
9/11 Commission Report Damages Bush -- if you read it
Florida Goon Squad Intimidated the Supreme Court
The Use and Abuse of George Orwell
Zizka's Archives (John's previous identity)
Zizka Sampler


News Sources:
AlterNet
BuzzFlash
Common Dreams
Cursor
Drudge Retort
Information Clearing House
Smirking Chimp
TruthOut
What REALLY Happened

Links to Other Weblogs:




9/18/2004
 



White-Bearded Peaceniks

Pandagon: A Reading List To War, in which Santa Cruz is "home of reflexive dovishness and factually incorrect tirades" and those who were opposed to the Iraq war are "white-bearded peaceniks."

I'm avoiding comment.

Meanwhile Matthew Yglasias writes rather academically that he "drastically underrate[d] the possible downside risks of the war" and that "the most pernicious thing about the public debate in America is the continued propensity of questions to be framed around generic issues of "hawkishness" versus "dovishness" rather than the more relevant question of where should finite military and related resources be deployed." (I actually had to look up 'pernicious'.)

A while back this white-bearded peacenik wrote this:
WAR. WAR. My God, we started a WAR! WAR IS THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD and we are at war, and we started it. Yes WE. You and me, our country, we started a war, and now we are starting to see it grow. We are seeing images of soldiers urinating on prisoners with hoods over their heads. We are seeing images of children burned to death, arms missing, mosques exploding, bombs ending lives, coffins returning home...
I'll try to write something again soon on the topic of living as if the world is a TV show where you watch things happen to other people, instead of in the world outside of the United States where things happen to real people.
VietNam was the last time Americans were allowed to see what REALLY happens in a war. And because of the draft it happened to THEM. If you think about it, this means that no one under about 45 really understands that war is anything other than a TV show. It's like the meat in supermarkets - it comes in a nice clean package. THIS is why the public thirsts for war. Much of the public sees this as a TV show. Clean. Sanitary. No REAL death. No REAL gore. It's just another TV show. Like the meat in the supermarket.
Meanwhile... New wave of Iraq bombings.


 



More About the Memos

I want to say something more about the memos. I think, if the memos ARE forged - and we don't know that - that the White House caught CBS in a trap. But I want to point out that this is CBS's fault. The White House was being smart, tough and taking advantage of an opportunity. I would be disappointed if the Kerry campaign didn't do the same thing, given the chance.

The problem here is that CBS didn't nail the story down. They came out against a President with documents that were not sufficiently authenticated. If this happened they should be held to the same standard we would hold the Swift Boat Vets.

And the Republicans should hold the Swift Boat Vets to the same standard they are holding CBS. Fat chance.


 



Partisanship is Good, #2

Over the last year I've argued in many places (notably Kevin Drum, Crooked Timber, Matt Yglesias, and Brad DeLong -- though DeLong himself is fine) that political partisanship not only excusable, but actually a good thing, and in fact an obligation at times. Along with this I have argued that you should not be quick to call fouls on your own team, and that rather than do so you should let your opponents do their own work. Furthermore, whenever one of the chickenshit little issues that political campaigns generate pops up, the wisest thing to do is to treat it ruthlessly as a partisan distraction, rather than agonizing about truth and Gandhi and shit. These discussions usually end up with some ignoramus (often a life-long Democrat) calling me a Stalinist hack and blaming me for the massacre of the kullaks.

It would be nice if all Democrats could be trusted to distinguish between the party spirit of Harry Truman and the party spirit of Josef Stalin, but they can't.

Most of the people who come to STF are partisan Democrats who will wonder why I'm posting this. It's because many of the genteel Democrats who are driving me nuts are academics who think that they are too good for partisanship. Many of them have read Weber's "Science as Vocation", but not his essay "Politics as Vocation". It would do them good to read it, except that none of them ever come over here because they boycott all Stalinists. But I'll post it anyway.

Below are some excerpts from Max Weber's "Politics as Vocation", plus a link. This piece was written in 1918 at the end of Weber's life, and he was thinking specifically about the prospects of the doomed (as we know, and as he feared) liberal democratic Weimar Republic which he had helped found.


"In order to be a useful apparatus, a machine in the
American sense--undisturbed either by the vanity of notables or pretensions to
independent views--the following of such a leader must obey him blindly.
Lincoln's election was possible only through this character of party
organization....


But even herewith the problem is not yet exhausted. No
ethics in the world can dodge the fact that in numerous instances the attainment
of 'good' ends is bound to the fact that one must be willing to pay the price of
using morally dubious means or at least dangerous ones --and facing the
possibility or even the probability of evil ramifications. From no ethics in the
world can it be concluded when and to what extent the ethically good purpose
'justifies' the ethically dangerous means and ramifications....One cannot
prescribe to anyone whether he should follow an ethic of absolute ends or an
ethic of responsibility, or when the one and when the
other.....


Now then, ladies and gentlemen, let us debate this matter
once more ten years from now. Unfortunately, for a whole series of reasons, I
fear that by then the period of reaction will have long since broken over us. It
is very probable that little of what many of you, and (I candidly confess) I
too, have wished and hoped for will be fulfilled; little-perhaps not exactly
nothing, but what to us at least seems little."


Weber: Politics as Vocation


P.S. Not all genteel Democrats are prissy academics. Some have battered-wife syndrome and do submissive wetting in hopes that Rove won't hurt them. (These are probably the ones most responsible for the Dems' McCain infatuation of awhile back, as if McCain could even protect himself). Others are clean and clever lads who know which side their bread is buttered on. Battered and buttered, that's us!




 



IseFire's Comment

In the comments to the You're Gonna Be Drafted post, "IseFire" left this:
"Let the draft come. It will be visted on the sons and daughters of many Bush supporters. A new poll suggests that "Voters are uneasy about Democrat John Kerry's ability to handle an international crisis."

At this point, I think I have given up on the American electorate. They have chosen to be dazzled by Bush's falsehoods: falsehoods about himself and falsehoods he spreads against John Kerry. They choose this man, Bush, who ignored national security reports warning him of terrorists determined to use airplanes as weapons; who sat immobilized in a classroom--the glassy look of mental short-circuiting coating his eyes--when told that the second plane had hit the WTC; who then used the 9/11 attack (an attack against America in my city! that endangered my friends and killed seven men from my fire station one block away) as an excuse to invade Iraq, misleading us as to Iraq's capabilities, and because of this let the war against the terrorists flounder when he switched all our resources to this reckless invasion of a land whose oil he coveted, a nation devoid of WMDs and terrorists, but which now--thanks to this man--teems with huddled masses yearning to make Americans bleed. This man, Bush, in the process of all of this turned us into the most despised nation on the planet, a nation that will get little help as we sink into Iraq's abyss, suffocate under debt caused by Bush's tax giveaways to the rich, and eventually wake to the full magnitude of the horrible consequences that his "dry drunk" illogic and grotesque misunderstanding of Christianity has wrought.

All this as Bush's record, and America is worried about Kerry's ability to lead in crisis?! Then, America deserves George W. Bush!

Heaven forbid America election John Kerry--a man who in the crisis of combat, of ambush, took charge and saved the life of a comrade. Heaven forbid America elect a proven senator with a deep patriotism that is combined with an international worldview. Heaven forbid America elect someone who as a gov't prosecutor went after organized crime and made life better for thousands. Heaven forbid America elect someone who shed blood in foreign lands...for us! for YOU! and who then returned and spoke out against a war because he hated too much to see us do the wrong thing at the expense of our young men! Heaven forbid we elect someone with a sterling education evocative of the learnedness of our nation's Founders! Heaven forbid we elect someone who has the compassion to care, the savvy to practice wise diplomacy, and the connections to pull the globe's democracies back together into a more perfect confederacy of nations determined to cooperate against the threats of religious extremism and terrorism. Heaven forbid!

And heaven just might forbid it, or so it would appear. Our nation has never been so corrupt; the poor have never been so poo"
Fortunately it continues at his website.



 



Stupidest Headline Ever: "Varying Polls Reflect Volatility, Experts Say"

Varying Polls Reflect Volatility, Experts Say (NYT)

If two polls asking roughly the same people approximately the same question at about the same time show a 10-point discrepancy, that doesn't reflect "volatility". It reflects dishonesty or some sort of big fuckup. Both results can't be right.

And on top of that, these same experts have been assuring us for months that the battle lines hardened early and that most voters have already made up their minds. That's exactly the opposite of volatility.

The fuckup theory would be that the experts have no idea what's going on. It makes more sense to me to think that Gallup and a few of the others are deliberately lowballing Kerry. That conceivably could be a good thing if Bush becomes overconfident, but I think that the purpose is to demoralize Democrats, and that purpose has been effectively served.

Everything is a move in the game now. Apparently some of the pollsters are working against us. Just one more thing we have to deal with.

Soto on Gallup

Soto on CBS/NYT poll

Teixeira on polls

UPDATE: In Minnesota the Republicans are actually trying to shut down a poll whose results they dislike.



 



Naomi Klein

I finally read Naomi Klein's piece in Harpers about the neocons' Iraq reconstruction fantasy. It's the clearest, most pointed look at an often neglected aspect of the occupation -- the establishment by the "Year Zero" libertarian nutjobs of a dream country.

(Listeners fo Randi Rhodes will recognize one of her frequent movie allusions in the picture Klein paints. It's easy to imagine scenes in the Green Zone in 2003 not unlike Hyman Roth's birthday party on the Havana hotel terrace in 1959. Did anyone think to bring a cake in the shape of Iraq? And no imagination at all is necessary to see the close parallel between the respective playing out of the Iraqi and Cuban scripts. The interrupted opulence followed by American senators, corporate veepees and Corleones making for the planes and boats could be used, with just a little computer graphic touching up, to put Iraq 2004 on the big screen.)

Read Klein's article. It's focused, crisp, and mostly first-hand. Probably the best thing I've read on Iraq.







9/17/2004
 



A Forgery Set-Up???!!!

I was wondering -- if the Bush Guard document turns out to really be a forgery, how did the right-wing blogosphere know, and so fast?

Well, here is the answer: Blogger Who Faulted CBS Documents Is Conservative Activist

Read the article. It looks like a set-up.

Thanks to BOPNews.

See also here.

Comment:
Since the documents could have been made when they were supposed to have been, and the content of the documents is not in question, there was really no reason to question them at all in the first place, especially within a few hours, by someone with no access to them. Yet, in a coordinated campaign, by a Republican PR firm, the accusation was immediately blasted all over the right-wing media.

At that point, there was only ONE way to know if there was a reason to suspect they were forged -- and that way was if you knew for sure. (If they even are.) If you get my meaning, wink, wink. And now we know that the source of the story, originally attributed to "bloggers," turns out to have been a Republican operative.

Anyway, none of this has anything to do with what the documents SAID, which was true. Which makes this an even more interesting case, doesn't it? The fact that we're all talking about the documents, even though what they SAY has much greater ramifications.

WHY DID BUSH STOP FLYING? THAT is the real question here.


Update - There's more to this story. Read WHY CBS went on the air with the documents.
John Roberts, the network's White House correspondent, called to report he'd just completed an on-camera interview with Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director. Bartlett, it appeared, had no quarrel with the authenticity of the documents.

That was the turning point.

"If we had gotten back from the White House any kind of red flag, raised eyebrow, anything that said, 'Are you sure about this stuff?' we would have gone back to square one," Josh Howard, the program's executive producer, told the Los Angeles Times in an interview Friday. "The White House said they were authentic, and that carried a lot of weight with us."

The story aired that night, and Dan Rather, the CBS News anchor, seemed to have scored yet another coup in his broadcasting career. Hours later, the roof fell in.

Critics, many of them Internet-based, immediately charged that CBS had relied on phony documents from a shadowy, unnamed source. Rather, 72, long a target for conservative critics, was again fending off allegations of liberal bias. A growing chorus of media observers voiced distress that CBS had hurried a story onto the air without fully checking the facts.
If not a set-up, maybe a bugged office, giving them advance warning? Take a look at this,
When time passed and Will heard nothing, she called CBS News the night of Sept. 7. She said she told her contact — whom she declined to name — "If you run this story, you'll get all sorts of questions from hundreds of document examiners." Will declined to say what if any reply CBS gave to her warning.
If someone was privy to that conversation...

But, as I said, we don't even KNOW that this document was forged. And, as I said, the REAL question -- the one with significance to the American people -- is, WHY DID BUSH STOP FLYING? It matters, because if the guy has an addiction problem, we need to know it.

Update - A good piece by Keith Olbermann at Hardblogger.


 



You're Gonna Get Drafted

The Draft – A Reason to Vote if You’re Under 30

You already blew it: You didn't vote last time, or voted for Nader or Bush, and now you're gonna get drafted. There's no way around it now, the draft is almost a certainty.

You're hearing about Reserve and National Guard units being called up, and about people not allowed to leave the military even though their term is up. Have you thought about what this means to you? You KNOW this means they're having trouble finding enough soldiers to go to Iraq, right? Of course Bush doesn’t want to start the draft BEFORE the election. Duh! But what do you think happens the day AFTER the election?

I repeat, they are having trouble finding enough soldiers to go to Iraq. Think about it. Right, you're gonna get drafted.

Or, maybe you think they can't do that? Maybe you think the draft doesn't happen in America. Maybe you think they can't just grab your ass up off the street, stick a rifle in your hands and send you off to war? Of course not, that NEVER happens. Right.

WAR. Yes, that word. The word you have been hearing from Bush’s lips for months now. "I'm a WAR president", he says. Well, what did you think war MEANS? Somebody ELSE’S war? Did you think it means you get to watch a TV show with planes and stuff?

No, WAR means young people getting grabbed up off the street and sent off to fight. That. Is. What. War. Is.

And, by the way, women and students are NOT going to be exempt this time. Maybe not even rich kids. ONLY the children of politicians will be exempt. THIS TIME.

So, are you finally ready to do something about it THIS TIME? Which candidate do you think is more likely to grab your ass off the street and send it to Iraq? Which candidate do you think is more likely to start a war with Iran, or Syria, or maybe even North Korea? Like Bush says, we're at war, and that's the issue in this election. Well, THAT’S what you should be thinking about THIS TIME.

So vote. THIS TIME.

==========

Except there's a problem with this message. Young people are so disengaged that there probably aren't very many of them reading weblogs like this one, so they won't see this. And that means they might not figure this stuff out in time for the election. You have to help them. Take this post and copy it and paste it into an e-mail and send it to someone who is under 30. Or write your own message explaining what the draft is, and why they should be concerned enough to actually vote. It is important to explain that the draft actually CAN happen to them. If you're old enough you can tell them from experience.



 



New Bush Guard Documents

When they release the documents on Friday afternoon, you know they aren't going to help him.

CNN.com - More Bush Guard records released:
"'George Bush is one member of the younger generation who doesn't get his kicks from pot or hashish or speed,' the news release said. 'Oh, he gets high, all right, but not from narcotics.'"
Oh, really? Is THAT why he stopped flying, then? High on life? And why is there always, always a hint about drugs, even in stuff that's supposed to be favorable to him?



 



Friday Buddy Blogging


Friday Buddy Blogging - testing a new way of putting pictures onto the weblog. Posted by Hello



 



Steve's On The Gallup Poll Case

Steve Soto at The Left Coaster on Why You Should Ignore The Gallup Poll This Morning - And Maybe All Of Theirs.


 



Answers to Kerry Questions

Bill at Liberal Oasis has put together a document with answers to questions people ask about Kerry. This is useful when taokig to people who haven't made up their minds. Get it here.


 



Are You Reading

Are you reading Derelection daily?


 



More Intimidation by Republicans

Conservatives Urge Boycott of Procter & Gamble:
"For Procter & Gamble to align itself with radical groups committed to redefining marriage in our country is an affront to its customers."
P&G does not favor denying civil rights to gays. So they say this is "aligning itself with radical groups committed to redefining marriage."


 



POP

We don't know why, but it obviously happened.


 



"What are those guys up to this time?", Part II

Tom Tomorrow has this to say about bad polls:

It's all bollocks, of course. Republicans just want to psyche
you out. They want you to think they can't be defeated. They want you to doubt
yourself, to stumble, to give up. But there are way too many variables at play.
Iraq, the economy, terrorism--it's a confluence of events which hasn't come
together like this before. We're in uncharted territory.
The future hasn't
been written yet. Don't forget that.


This is pretty much what I said below about rumors. During the last weeks of the campaign, you don't want to spend too much time asking yourself "Is that really true?" Just ask "What are those guys up to this time?" Everything is a move in the game.

As Mr. Tomorrow pointed out, we've recently had polls asking the same question during the same time period coming up with results that are ten points apart. It doesn't make a lot of difference why this happened. There certainly are Republican pollsters out there lowballing Kerry's polling results, but maybe it's just bad methodology. Obviously, someone's got to be wrong.

I think that there is definitely a silver lining here. From the scuttlebutt I've seen, apparently pollsters' methods of defining "likely voters" aren't very sensitive. This means that if the Democrats get-out-the-vote campaign is better than last time, Kerry is really doing better than the polls say. (Because Bush's get-out-the-vote was already pretty good last time, he has less room for improvement.) Furthermore, if Bush believes his own polls, maybe he's become over-optimistic. For example, if the polls are wrong which show West Virginia to be safe for Bush and Minnesota a tossup, then Bush's recent Minnesota trip was a big mistake.

If you look at most of the polls, Kerry is hanging tough. I presume that the Kerry campaign is starting to counterattack on issue other than National Guard service, and I've seen evidence of that already.

The main point is to keep fighting. Don't let any of the daily fluctuations in the news -- polls or anything else -- get you down. A lot of it is fluff, and some of it is disinformation.

Here' Conason on the polling





9/16/2004
 



Crime Syndicate

Matt Stoller, on the Kerry campaign:
"the campaign isn't in chaos, it's a political campaign responding to eighty thousand swirling currents and finding it difficult to run against what is essentially a criminal syndicate. "
That's a good way to put it.


 



At Hardblogger

David Shuster at Hardblogger:
"To win a presidential election, strategists of every stripe will tell you that your campaign must show audacity, fearlessness, and chutzpah. And it's why the Republican party and the Bush campaign has been crushing the democrats and John Kerry.

Take the CBS/Bush national guard documents-- Republicans are hammering the anti-Bush story and those responsible for it. The GOP is even demanding a Congressional investigation. Quote, (from a Republican letter on capitol hill): 'We urge CBS to retract its story, and to disclose the identities of the people who have used your network to deceive your viewers.' A congressional investigation may be warranted. But keep in mind this is the same group of lawmakers who tried to BLOCK investigations into the false testimony, forged documents, and outright lies used by the CIA and Pentagon to make the case for war with Iraq. Audacity? You bet. Aggressive and smart politics? Indeed."
Aggressive and smart politics? Or do they just lie, and cheat, and steal. (Warning, long file, probably should have broadband for it... and how come you don't?)

Also, Dee Dee Myers says, about the Swift Boat smear,
Yes, it's Monday Morning Quarterbacking. But after more than 30 years in this game, Kerry and Co. should have seen it coming.



 



Bush National Guard: New Witnesses -- and Witness Intimidation

The Bush AWOL story is still alive as more evidence appears and more witnesses come forward. Besides Mrs. Knox, Robert Strong, and Bobby Hodges, a fourth contemporary witness, Richard Via, has also confirmed that Killian's opinion of Bush was about the same as that expressed in the challenged memos.

These witnesses should expect the worst. Here's what happened to a different Robert Strong once the real Robert Strong's testimony came out:

"Last week, if you typed the words Professor Robert Strong in the popular search engine, a webpage that happens to be about me appeared at the top of the list. For those who have been filling my e-mail inbox with vicious vitriol, that was apparently evidence enough.

At first, I found all of this a bit funny. Here I was in the midst of my 15 minutes of fame, and it was just a case of mistaken identity. But the more e-mails I read, the less amused I became. The meat they contain is more raw and distasteful than any spam I have ever encountered.....

But how does that get them to the conclusion that I am a ''liar,'' the ''biggest dirty trickster since Watergate'' and ``a paid agent of George Soros''?

My e-mailers apparently think that the folks at 60 Minutes were sloppy in checking the facts about Bush's service in the National Guard. Where do they get their facts? How can they be utterly oblivious to their own inability to discover the simplest facts about me?"

Here's another example. Dr. Philip Bouffard is an authentication expert who first said that the Killian memos looked fake, and then was quoted by the Boston Globe as having changed his mind.
All hell broke loose: "I have people calling me and e-mailing me, and calling me names, saying that I changed my mind. I did not change my mind at all!"
Bouffard is apparently no longer giving interviews. To the blogger quoting Bouffard, the Globe's alleged misquotation of Bouffard was the story; to me, the flood of abusive phone calls is the story.

So that's what happened to two people who were wrongly thought to have testified against Bush -- think what it must be like for people who actually do testify against him. In the SBV case there was a definite pattern of witnesses either falling silent, changing their stories (several of the SBV's contradicted their own official Vietnam-era reports about Kerry), or both in succession.
Staudt, normally a Bush supporter, refuses to talk. Burkett, accused of being the source of the memos, refuses to talk. George Elliot, a former commander of Kerry's, changed his story three times in two days and refused to talk after that.

In the memo case, Bobby Hodges originally confirmed the CBS story, and then later claimed that CBS had deceived him. Comparing his two statements, we can see that he accepted the memos as expressing Killian's point of view, though he did not examine the actual physical memos and was not aware of questions about their authenticity. It seems reasonable to conclude that after Hodges' first statement, someone got to him and explained that, not only could he get away with retracting his previous statement, but that that would be a very good idea indeed.

Bob Somerby and others have documented how the SBV organizers wrote a script and put words in people's mouths -- and in fact, several of the supposed SBV's have said that their names were used against their wishes. The whole SBV campaign was an orchestrated political operation, and as the months go by we'll find out more and more about how fraudulent it was. And without denying that the opponests of the Killian memos may have scored some points, we can be sure that they're an orchestrated operation too, and we should fight them as such.

The conclusion we should come to is that we're in the middle of a street fight. The other side is willing to say and do pretty much anything, and they have an enormous pool of volunteer trolls to intimidate witnesses. (People who are only annoying posting on internet political sites can be frightening when they're flooding an individual with anonymous phone-calls and emails.) They also are willing to manufacture evidence, bear false witness, and put words in people's mouths. It's a mistake to take anything that comes from them at face value. It's all part of the fight.

As usual, I've had arguments during the last week with the finer sort of genteel liberal. To them the main story has been: "Are the memos authentic?" For me, the question is: "What are those guys up to now?" It's not that the validity of the memos is irrelevant -- it isn't -- but if we lose a point on that question we should just fight to get the point back somewhere else. Drawing attention to the fact that four witnesses confirm the substance of the memos is a good place to start.

One opinion I've heard expressed is that the National Guard question and the memos themselves are distractions from the real campaign. Agreed, and if we can get the campaign on an issues track, we should. But the genie is out of the bottle, and we have no choice but to fight whichever fights our semi-criminal opponents send our way. We cannot pretend to be "above the battle".

Everything that comes up in the next seven weeks, and above all in the last week, should simply be treated politically. If a report comes out that Kerry tortured kittens in his youth, or had a torrid affair with a STASI agent in East Berlin, or was a heroin addict in Vietnam -- and we know that something will come out around October 28 -- we should not spend any time at all thinking about the truth value of the reports, but should just fight back with all we've got.

But I'm a political hack, and Democrats aren't supposed to be political hacks. We're supposed to be nice guys, in the finish-last sense of the word. And my expectation is that on Oct. 30 the liberal blogosphere will be asking itself whether Kerry is really a kitten-torturer, and if so, whether a man who tortured kittens in his youth can be trusted to lead this great nation.

David Brock on media treatment of memo controversy

Revised 9:15 a.m. PDT.





 



Illegal

No surprise here.

The United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, declared explicitly for the first time last night that the US-led war on Iraq was illegal.

Mr Annan said that the invasion was not sanctioned by the UN security council or in accordance with the UN's founding charter. In an interview with the BBC World Service broadcast last night, he was asked outright if the war was illegal. He replied: "Yes, if you wish."

He then added unequivocally: "I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal."







9/15/2004
 



No Unimportant Races

Natasha writes about Chamber of Commerce money being used in lots of "little" races. But it's a big story.


 



Support Kerry

Digby says:
" And, the very least we can do is make sure that if the issue of politics comes up in our daily lives that we unequivocally say out loud that we support Kerry and think he's a good man even as we make our case against Bush. [. . .] Kerry's working his ass off on our behalf to take down little Junior. We owe him some respect for that and we need to help him make that affirmative case for change.

Here's a little idea for a personal political project that each of us can undertake. Surely, we all know one person who doesn't usually vote, an apolitical type who isn't interested. This country is crawling with them. This is the election to get them registered and make sure they vote, whether by sending them the link for an absentee ballot or offering to pick them up and take them to the polls on election day. Everybody knows somebody like this. If we all make sure that we each get one person to vote who wouldn't otherwise give a damn, we win.

So, think about it. Which of your slacker friends can you get to vote this year? Take the initiative. They won't mind. They don't care. Make that work for us."



 



Wow

Wow. Wow. Wow.


 



Traditional Values Coalition: Lying Scum Sucking Bastards

The Traditional Values Coalition has launched its latest attack, using classic right wing "big lie" techniques to attack the GLBT community by smearing it as a promoter of pedophilia and undermining of the family - in the process, they conflate polyamory with pedophilia, getting a twofer (bashing the queer and the poly communities) in the process. Not to mention inflicting severe damage on the reputation of a young and risk taking African-American film maker (I hope he sues them for libel) and sending a message to everyone in Hollywood that the religious right will stop at nothing to destroy their films and their reputations.

Here's an excerpt from their latest press release:

> Kevin Bacon's film, "The Woodsman" is produced by homosexual activist
> filmmaker Lee Daniels who told a reporter for "Film Festival Today"
> that he wanted to "put a benign face on pedophilia" in this film. A
> benign face on someone who molests children? Why would someone want
> to provide a sympathetic view of a man who robs children of their
> innocence and condemns them to years of guilt and shame?

Source: http://www.traditionalvalues.org/modules.php?sid=1886

Here's what was actually said:

TOM BROOK: “What do you say to those people who say you’re trying to put a benign human face on paedophilia?”
LEE DANIELS: “That I’m trying to tell a story, is what I’d say.”

See URL below for the full interview in context:

http://www.bbcworld.com/content/template_clickpage.asp?pageid=2432

Note who actually said what. Note who the Family Values Coalition said this. Which version of the story do you think that Rush and the rest of the AM radio gang will be ranting about from this point forward?

This is disgusting. It pisses me off. Normally, I wouldn't write about it in this blog, but this kind of flat out viciously defamatory lie is just outrageous and deserves to be emphatically rebutted and discredited ASAP, before it gets repeated everywhere.

Next time you hear a right winger repeat some outrageous quote by a member of a marginalized community, think about the example above before taking it seriously.

--Thomas Leavitt


 



Daddy, are you a traitor?

A guy is a Democrat. His daughter comes home one day and asks, Daddy, are you a traitor?

It certainly isn't going to get any BETTER if Bush-the-uniter wins. And what do we DO to traitors?

Watch your backs.


 



Kerry and the War in Iraq

At a time when the occupation of Iraq looks more and more hopeless: 1,000+ dead American military service men and women (more every day), thousands of (often severely) injured soldiers (more in the last few months than the entire preceding period of invasion and occupation), and an insurgency that appears ever more effective and able to engage in large scale co-ordinated actions (one that, in fact, effectively controls several major cities in Iraq) - at this time, when Bush should be completely vulnerable and easily confronted with a failed policy of war and occupation in Iraq, Kerry finds himself unable to capitalize on the incumbent's weakness.

Why?

Simple - Kerry, like the rest of the American establishment, like Bush, has no idea where to go from here. He hasn't the faintest credible idea of how to stabilize the situation in Iraq (or Afghanistan, Iraq's forgotten step-sister), and he can't conceive of us withdrawing without doing so... the upshot of this is that Kerry is as committed as Bush is to occupying Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the cost in American (and Iraqi) blood or money.

Put another way: Kerry's forward policy on Iraq is essentially identical to Bush's -- which leaves him unable to challenge the incumbent on his current and future policies in Iraq (and no ability to capitalize on the disaster the occupation has become). No wonder every statement he makes comparing his positions with Bush's is backward looking: "I would have done everything differently." This is talk that is not only cheap, but meaningless.

Kerry himself says:

"As complicated as Iraq seems, there are really only three basic options: One, we can continue to do this largely by ourselves and hope more of the same works; Two, we can conclude it’s not doable, pull out and hope against hope that the worst doesn’t happen in Iraq; Or three, we can get the Iraqi people and the world’s major powers invested with us in building Iraq’s future."

Remarks at Westminster College on April 30th, 2004

http://www.johnkerry.com/pressroom/speeches/spc_2004_0430.html


Option one appears to be Bush's plan, more or less - continue spending America's blood and patrimony on a war that has no end, against an enemy that appears as faceless and unidentifiable as Al Quaeda and "global terrorism" - or put another way: as completely generic, decentralized, and unstructured as Al Quaeda (which at this point in many ways more resembles a movement, than an organization).

Option three appears to be Kerry's plan - share the burden with our allies... the problem with that is two-fold:

1. It doesn't change any of the essential characteristics which make our current policy ineffective: replacing some or even the majority of American troops occupying Iraq with NATO troops won't prevent or stop any of the car bombings, kidnappings, and drive by shootings that dominate the headlines every day. Militarily, Iraq is very much like Vietnam - we win every battle, sometimes by hugely disproportionate margins, but are losing the war. How many American deaths have been the result of formal combat (vs. car bombs, mortars, and other non-force engagement type events)? Not terribly many.

The Mahdi Army suffered enormous casualties in combat against American forces in Najaf over a period of weeks - literally hundreds of fatalities, compared to a number that is unknown to me but unquestionably vastly smaller on the American side. But did that matter? No... simply by continuing to exist, by continuing to resist in any form whatsover, the Mahdi Army emerged essentially victorious. Another 40,000 troops (even another 400,000 troops) wouldn't change the fundamentals of this equation - conventional forces can't do much against suicide bombers and car bombs, or a political/military situation in which conventional formulas for victory are meaningless.

2. Our allies in NATO show no enthusiasm whatsoever for taking over the occupation of Iraq: most of them were against it in the first place, most of the European "street" is still against it, and those of our allies who supported it are paying a high political price that is likely to scare off any of them contemplating a change of heart. In this, they appear very rational. What evidence does Kerry offer that he is going to be able to change the basic political calculus of European politics? Or, put another way, how is he going to change the fact that no sane leader is going to want to wade into the quagmire that is Iraq today? Kerry argues that it is in the self-interest of Europe to not let Iraq descend into chaos. But the average European (and his/her representatives) don't seem to agree. Nor does the European elite (see the Financial Times/UK editorial below).

So we see that, in effect, option three is essentially option one - because if we can't persuade our European allies to assume almost the whole responsibility for the occupation in Iraq, Kerry's non-plan leaves us as fully committed as Bush's.

This leaves option two:

Cut and run. It may be brutal. It may be humiliating. But we'll survive it. And, ultimately, the cost of "peace with honor" in Iraq, as in Vietnam, will be very very high ... and, in the end, make little to no difference in the ultimate outcome.

The Financial Times/UK just published an editorial saying essentially the same thing.

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0911-26.htm

Here's an excerpt:

The core question to be addressed is this: is the continuing presence of US military forces in Iraq part of the solution or part of the problem?

As occupying power, the US bears responsibility for Iraq under international law, and is duty-bound to try to leave it in better shape than it found it. But there is no sign of that happening.

The time has therefore come to consider whether a structured withdrawal of US and remaining allied troops, in tandem with a workable handover of security to Iraqi forces and a legitimate and inclusive political process, can chart a path out of the current chaos.

*** end excerpt ***

Read the rest of the editorial - it end by saying that we need to prepare to "step aside and let the Iraqis try to emerge from it [chaos]." The FT is not some wingnut leftist rag - it is the voice of the European financial elite. What hope does Kerry have of dragging the rest of Europe into Iraq when a leading publication, in the home of our one major European coalition partner, is already advocating that we get out now?!?

If Kerry wins, and doesn't pursue an immediate and unconditional withdrawl from Iraq on a definite timetable, he (and the Democratic Party) will pay a terrible price. Four years from now, the war in Iraq won't be Bush's war - it will be Kerry's... the thousands upon thousands of fatalities and injuries incurred over the next four years won't be on Bush's head - they will be on Kerry's. And so will the political consequences.

At that point, perhaps the biggest benificiary will be the Green Party, whose candidate, David Cobb, advocates exactly this: "an immediate withdrawal of US military from Iraq".

As a Green, the prospect of the Democratic Party rendering itself completely discredited as an effective alternative to the Republican Party on the defining issue of our time, the war in Iraq, leaving the Green Party as the sole credible voice of opposition should be pleasing - but as an American, the cost is far too high to contemplate with any ease. How many men and women of my generation have to die (or lose a limb, or two) before the American political elite is dragged face to face with reality? Another 10,000? Twenty thousand? Fourty thousand? 57,000?

It isn't worth it. All I can say is I devoutly hope that Kerry wins, and when the impossibility of pursuing option three becomes readily apparent, is willing to bite the bullet and get us the hell out ASAP, rather the following through on his pledge to keep us in Iraq through the next election cycle.

Kerry won't have my vote this fall, his non-policy in Iraq, among other things, makes that impossible - I'll gladly cast my vote for the nominee of the Green Party for the third election in a row (along with many other Californians, I hope), but my heart and my hope will be with Kerry, for a victory nationwide, and a bout of common sense, post-election.





 



Debunking another right-wing hatchet job on public education.

A friend of mine posted the following item to a Santa Cruz area school discussion group (apologies if this is long, but their is a lot of detail to assemble):

> Where Do Public School Teachers Send Their Kids to School?
>
> NATIONAL - Teachers, it is reasonable to assume, care about
> education, are reasonably expert about it, and possess quite a lot
> of information about the schools in which they teach. If these
> teachers are more likely than the general public (which may not have
> nearly as much information or expertise in these matters) to send
> their own daughters and sons to the public schools in which they
> teach, it is a strong vote of confidence in those schools. ... The
> data show that urban public school teachers are more likely than
> either urban households or the general public to send their children
> to private schools. Across the states, 12.2 percent of all families
> (urban, rural, and suburban) send their children to private schools -
> a figure that roughly corresponds to perennial and well-known data
> on the proportion of U.S. children enrolled in private schools. But
> urban public school teachers send their children to private schools
> at a rate of 21.5 percent, nearly double the national rate of
> private-school attendance. (by Denis P. Doyle, Brian Diepold, and
> David A. DeSchryver for The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation)
>
> http://www.edexcellence.net/foundation/publication/publication.cfm?id=333

My response:

The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation is not an objective source. See the item below, from Cursor's "Media Transparency" website, which helps you figure out whether the money and ideology behind surprising/counter-intuitive "news" and "studies" you see in the media are suspect.

Their president, Chester E. Finn, is described as "one of the education policy gurus of the conservative movement" - and the conservative movement has made the defunding, degrading and destruction of public education one of their primary priorities. This guy has major "conservative" wingnut foundation credentials... he's an advisory board member of the National Association of Scholars, and a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a leading ultra-right wing think tank.

http://www.mediatransparency.org/people/chester_finn.htm

There's a discussion of the foundation on the "school workers on-line community", in which Finn is described by one participant as:

"an enemy of public education as well as a driving force for standards based reforms and high-stakes tests"

http://lists.wayne.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0105&L=swoc&D=0&P=2390


Their research director is also a "research fellow" at the Hoover Institution.

http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=38716

More documentation on the background and ideological orientation of the foundation, and the authors of the report, can be found below.

Getting clear about the ideological predispositions of the sponsoring foundation doesn't necessarily invalidates the particular study - it just calls for closer scrutiny.

As well, let's get clear about something else:

These foundations don't pay for "objective" research - if the results didn't serve the particular ideological agenda, this study would never have seen the light of day... in fact, if the authors and funders hadn't been pretty certain about what the end results would be, it would never have been funded in the first place.

***

I've read through the report, a PDF copy is available at this URL: http://thewheelerreport.com/releases/Sept04/Sept7/0907choicesstudy.pdf

A brief perusal of the report above reveals that this is fodder for the debate over "school vouchers" and "choice". Not at all surprising, given the authors' pro-voucher/"school choice" ideological predispositions.

For example, the report highlight Milwaukee's results, in particular (and no other city's), where voucher based "school choice" is well established. Numerous other positive references to "school choice" are scattered throughout the report (in fact, this is clearly the underlying hypothesis of their report: that "choice" leads to better results).

You'll note that the summary below highlights the difference between urban public school teachers and the public at large - an intellectually and statistically indefensible comparison, as the report itself admits, when it admits that the difference between urban public school teachers and the urban public at large is only 21.5 vs. 17.5 percent (a much smaller 4% - you'll also note that they don't say anything about the level of significance of their results, and what the margin of error and confidence level is, basic statistical figures that are necessary in order to evaluate the results of any study), and when it focuses on a select sub-group of that particular sub-group (teachers making under $42,000 a year) - why? Because AT ALL OTHER INCOME LEVELS, teachers are MORE LIKELY to send their kids to public schools, not less!

In fact, the report makes a big deal of their finding that lower income teachers are 4.6% more likely to send their kids to school than the lower income public at large, while remaining completely silent about the fact that public school teachers making over $84k a year (where do they pay these wages!?!) send their kids to private [typo corrected] school at a rate of 8.9% LESS than the public at large. A completely counter-intuitive result if you assume that greater resources makes it easier to make the decision to send your kids to private school.

Given that I'm not a social scientist and statistical methodology specialist, I'm not as well equipped to analyze and understand the methodology used to develop the figures cited in this study (I hope someone with more credentials than myself does take a whack at that), but I have some basic questions that the report doesn't answer adequately, in my opinion - how is the "control" group (the general public) defined? How accurate and relevant is it to compare lower income teachers to the public at large in the same income bracket - aren't teachers more likely to be better educated than others in their income bracket (especially lower income teachers) - as the report acknowledges? Income is not a full descriptor of socioeconomic class and associated behaviors. Doesn't structuring the comparison this way include teachers employed full time in the same category as many others employed at a much lower wage range, or not employed at all (mothers on AFDC, for example)? I wonder what the results would be if you "controlled" for all these factors? Wouldn't you like to know?

As well, the report states that it backs up two decades of evidence showing that urban (you'll notice that they focus on this group almost exclusively) public school teachers send their kids to private schools as a higher rate than the general public... but all the only evidence they are able to cite is a 1983 survey of public school teachers by the Detroit Free Press and a previous study of theirs done in 1995.

Interestingly enough, a 1999 era poll by Gallup on behalf of the Phi Delta Kappa (5th annual) shows that, UNIQUELY, teacher in inner city schools have dramatically different opinions than ALL OTHER teachers:

"The tendency for teachers to award high grades to schools holds true for all teachers except those in the inner cities. Inner-city teachers give their community schools, the school in which they teach, and the nation's schools nearly the same grades, and all are lower than the grades given by teachers in urban, suburban, small-town, and rural areas."

http://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/klan9904.htm

Note that these teachers also tend to be the newest, and least well paid. So, if you're going to pick a sub-population of teachers with a less than fully positive view of public education, you couldn't do better than the group picked by the study's authors.

Here's what I think:

This report was bought and paid for by an ideologically biased institution with a clear anti-public education agenda. It was assembled by individuals with a clear ideological history of support for forms of "school choice" that include funding for private schools, including religious institutions. The report supports their pre-existing ideological positions, and it's methodology and analysis is worth questioning in detail.

In summary this report is just one more salvo fired by the right wing noise machine, part of the right-wing's long standing program aimed at undermining and destroying public education in favor of a "voucher" system that would use public funds to pay for private education and religious indoctrination, and should be viewed with great suspicion by all serious advocates for public education.

I look forward to seeing a more through analysis and rebuttal of this report by professionals... although I'm sure that any such analysis won't be anywhere near as well covered in the media.

Regards,
Thomas Leavitt

BACKGROUND ON THE Thomas B. Fordham Foundation:

Here's what "Rethinking Schools Online" has to say about it:

http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/17_01/Ford171.shtml

"The Fordham approach is profoundly anti-intellectual."

They are much harsher on the foundation's 911 publication than the reviewer below, but essentially pin the ideological position of the foundation in an identical fashion. School Voices folks should also note the foundation's attack on Alfie Kohn.

Here's a response to another report the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation issued a few years back:

http://www.asu.edu/educ/epsl/EPRU/peer_reviews/cerai-00-07.htm


"In the Foundation’s new report, each state is given a letter grade of A to F for each of the five areas evaluated – English, mathematics, history, geography and science. Only five states make the report’s honor roll, while 42 are rated negatively.
The problem with the evaluations is a simple one: the states’ rankings for quality of standards are inverse to their performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and on the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). That is, the same states that have done the best job in the eyes of the Fordham report’s authors in implementing high standards have shown the poorest performance on widely accepted national tests for student achievement, and vice versa. These states have also performed poorly when compared to other nations."


"Yet while clearly taking sides in the debate between "back-to-basics" advocates of rote learning and automatic computation, and those who would focus more on understanding underlying mathematical principles and their application, the report never seriously engages the nuances of this debate. Instead it opts to place its arguments in ideological, almost religious, terms."

Read the whole response, especially the last paragraph, describing the weak to non-existent underpinnings for the report in question.

Here's another review of a book the foundation published:

http://www.lib.msu.edu/corby/reviews/posted/fordham.htm

The review's author, while being relatively positive about the book itself, makes it clear that there is an ideological agenda behind it:

"In the attempt to balance out what it views as the liberal, left-leaning curriculum currently taught by historically ill-educated teachers, the collection offers examples of alternative ways of thinking which are unabashedly conservative and right-leaning."

Here's the summation:

"The collection affords a rich repository of topics and references to documents on which to draw to achieve a celebratory history of America. At the same time, the essays are an illuminating window into the thinking of serious people with serious concerns and they warrant critical and skeptical examination for their content, rhetoric, and assumptions. In some ways, they might be seen to correspond to the advocacy of creationism which likewise needs to be recognized and acknowledged but also to be treated with critical awareness of mainstream scientific thinking about evolution."

The intellectual equivalent of advocating for creationism? Highly suspect, in my book.


BACKGROUND ON THE AUTHORS:

Here's the lead author's biography, he's definitely a voucher/choice advocate:

http://www.thedoylereport.com/cyber_chair/about_denis_doyle

He has been associated with “think tanks” since 1980 -- Brookings, AEI [American Enterprise Institute], Heritage and Hudson Institute, where he is presently a non-resident Fellow.

The last three are classic ultra-right wing think tanks... see mediatransparency.org for details.

Brian Diepold appears nowhere else as a published author (based on a Google search).

The third author appears to be currently working for Brian Doyle, but previously, he was Research Director for the Center for Education Reform (see article from their web site below, defending public funding of school vouchers for religious schools).

http://www.edreform.com/index.cfm?fuseAction=document&documentID=263§ionID=58

The CER has received nearly 1.5 million in funding from extreme right wing foundations (see
mediatransparency.org, below) over the last decade.

http://www.mediatransparency.org/search_results/info_on_any_recipient.php?recipientID=56

Dave S. himself admits that the major teacher's unions, NEA and AFT "traditionally do not like" CER.

http://www.nea.org/neatoday/9904/messages/10.html





 



Bush - Drugs?

From the comments in the piece below this:
"It would seem to me that there must be a reason (beyond their normal penchant for hiding facts) Bush/Rove has concealed the NatGuard records for so many years. Look very closely at the refusal to take the direclty ordered physical. I believe that holds the monster they fear. Why wouldn't an apparently heatlthy young man just refuse, against direct orders, to take it, knowing that his flying days would be over without it? DRUGS. - Tsquared"
I report, you decide.


 



GOP Officially Part of the Memo Smear

What did I tell you? The Republican Party officially accused the Democratic Party of providing forged documents to CBS as part of a campaign to smear Bush:
Republicans condemned the video and linked it to questions about whether a recent CBS News report on memos written by Bush's former squadron commander might have been faked.

"The video the Democrats released today is as creative and accurate as the memos they gave CBS," said Republican National Committee spokesman Jim Dyke.
Never mind that the documents were NOT forged, were NOT given to CBS by the Democratic Party, and accurately reflect everything kown about Bush's service. Just keep those lies coming, one right after another.

By the way, did I mention that Rush Limbaugh yesterday said on his show that he is now serving as an advisor to the Bush campaign?

Update - House Republicans have officially called on CBS to "retract its report."
About 40 House Republicans demanded today that CBS News retract its report of a week ago that called into question President Bush's service with the Texas Air National Guard more than three decades ago.
This is serious intimidation. The ONLY think in question is one memo. The ONLY reason it is in question is that a right-wing blogger says it looks like a Word document. But they are saying that the ENTIRE STORY should be retracted, etc.

This is a full-court press by the Right to smear Kerry, CBS and Deocrats in general. AND IT IS WORKING. Watch your backs.




9/14/2004
 



Nader

A plea from prominent liberals
"Ralph Nader's bid for the presidency suffered a huge snub from the left Monday when more than 70 prominent supporters of his previous presidential campaign urged voters to swallow their doubts and vote for John Kerry.

They included such heroes of the intellectual left as Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn and Cornel West, writers Barbara Ehrenreich and Studs Terkel, actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, and musicians Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt.

They were aiming at voters in battleground states where Nader's candidacy is seen as a direct threat to Kerry.

"We urge support for Kerry-Edwards in all swing states, even while we strongly disagree with Kerry's policies on Iraq and other issues," they said. "For people seeking progressive social change in the United States, removing George W. Bush from office should be the top priority."

The statement was signed by 78 of the 113 prominent Americans who were personally recruited by Nader to endorse his candidacy in 2000."
I really do believe that we are going to see the practical end of democracy in America if Bush wins this. It will become increasingly difficult for voices of opposition to the Right to get ANYthing on the mainstream media, through the courts, or other channels of reaching the public. What we are experiencing now, though unprecedented, is NOTHING compared to what is coming. The public will be increasingly manipulated with propaganda. The full power of the government will be brought into the process of increasing the Right's one-party control over the process. And "the system" will make it ever harder for opposition candidates to be heard, or even to get on the ballot. This is not fooling-around time, this is uniting time. Watch your backs!

Update - Ouch, I wrote that in a hurry when I was supposed to be in the car driving my wife and visiting mother-in-law to the Santa Cruz County Fair... Courts are not a channel to reach the public, "the process of increasing ... of the process..." Ouch. But this is blogging - something I just HAD to say, so I said it. Keepin' it real.


 



Me!

Four days ago, I called it.

My theory is that these are forgeries of actual documents. Think about it. It would be a PERFECT repug tactic. Not only does it have all the characterisitcs of a repug trick. but they used a similar tactic before. Recall the "John Haldeman" trick the Nixon crew pulled on Woodward/Bernstein.
Wow, am I smart.



 



Secretary: the memos "accurately reflect the viewpoints of Lt. Col. Killian"

They've found Killian's secretary (86 years young). The headlines say that she called the memos "forgeries". But here's the rest of the story:

"The former secretary for the Texas Air National Guard colonel who supposedly authored memos critical of President Bush’s Guard service said Tuesday that the documents are fake, but that they reflect real documents that once existed....

Mrs. Knox, 86, who spoke with precise recollection about dates, people and events, said she is not a supporter of Mr. Bush, who she deemed “unfit for office” and “selected, not elected.”
“I remember very vividly when Bush was there and all the yak-yak that was going on about it,” she said.....


She said she did not recall typing the memos reported by CBS News, though she said they accurately reflect the viewpoints of Lt. Col. Killian and documents that would have been in the personal file. Also, she could not say whether the CBS documents corresponded memo for memo with that file.

“The information in here was correct, but it was picked up from the real ones,” she said..... "

Link, Dallas Morning News, Sept. 14 (registration required)

This whole story is a diversion which is sucking up air from the real issues. But the whole hysterical winger hooplah about the forgeries sure looks a lot less important now than it did yesterday.

And Dubya is the worst President since Franklin Pierce, and his Guard service was sub-minimal.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum has a different take on this. [75 words redacted in the cold light of dawn.] I do not understand why he chose to accept the Republican spin and to give the article a Republican edit. Bush is the story, not the memos.



 



Here and there and everywhere

Not having a good day today, or yesterday. I've been garbling stuff all over the place -- equipment failure had something to do with it. Here are some miscellaneous items.

I. New "Bush flip-flop" site

TR at Eriposte, whose Swiftvets summary covers that story in detail, has shifted his energies to a Bush flipflop summary. His stuff is a great resource for people writing letters to the editor, speaking in public, arguing with their freeper brothers-in-law, etc.

II. Put your money down now!

"Osama Sweepstakes is a fun method of putting a very important issue in front of the American people. I believe, like many others, that bin Laden is currently in custody and will be unveiled before the election, leaving Kerry in a no-win situation.

The site, at
http://www.osamasweepstakes.com/ allows you to vote for the day that YOU think Karl Rove has determined as optimum for his 'capture'! "

III. And what I also meant to say was:


This sentence dropped out of my post about how Republicans mean "macho" when they say "character":

"All these years, The DLC has been giving us the wrong advice. They've been encouraging us to accomodate ourselves to the Republicans, when what the voters have really wanted is for the Democrats to be tougher and less weeny. No one in the world is afraid of Joe Lieberman, and Republicans love him. Democrats can't gain the voters' respect by submitting to the alpha male."



 



Time for the Truth

It's time for the Kerry campaign to cut to the heart of the matter, and to start speaking the plain truth: "Let me tell you how it truly is", "Here's the truth about Iraq / the deficit / medicare / jobs". "The President is telling you that things are going well in Iraq. The truth is that they're getting worse (specifics)." "The President is telling you that that the jobs picture is getting better. The truth is that it's not (specifics)." "The President is telling you that my plans cost $2trillion. The truth is that the President's plans cost $3trillion and they are hiding that from you." "The truth is ... and the President is telling you that / not telling you that / lying about my plan / hiding from debates .... I am John Kerry, and I tell the American people the truth"

The "consistency of message" of the republicans, which is immensely effective, is sadly missing from the democratic campaign, which every day feels more and more like Gore's theme du jour. It's ok to attack on multiple fronts. But what's not ok is not to do it in a consistent way or without a unifying theme.

I am proposing a very simple and very powerful unifying theme: "The truth is ...
and the President lies (in the most direct language possible). I am John Kerry, and I tell the American People the truth".

Parenthetical note about language: "a distortion of my record" and "a distortion of my proposal" just don't connect, specially with swing voters (way too intellectual!!!) . Use the active voice and man in the street verbs: My oponent "lies about" "twists what I say", "cooks up" "dreams up", "makes up" "invents" "contrives" "hides" "hatches". With this you can be serious and critical, and you blunt Bush's mockery. You can attack that too: My oponent "laughs" "makes fun" "doesn't take seriously". "Misleading" is bad, since it admits that the oponent leads.

John Kerry is a truly honest, courageous man. His opponent is a cowardly, deceiving man, and he and his campaign lie compulsively and non-chalantly, blatantly disrespecting the truth. If John Kerry does not emphasize this fundamental difference, he'll be buried by the never-ending avalanche of lies (when you're not limited by facts, you can make up an infinite number of falsehoods -- haven't we seen enough to be convinced of this?)

There's no stronger character contrast between the candidates than their respect for Truth. The American people, overall, are not so cynical (yet) that they have given up on the truth. The truth has a way of being recognizable. Point the truth out, and it opens people's eyes.

Mr. Kerry, while there's still time, expose you oponent for the fraud that he is. The American People deserve no less.




 



Bush Video

DNC Video: Fortunate Son.

Go see!


 



Remember Our Rule

Remember the Seeing the Forest Rule: When Republicans make accusations, you'll find that it is really THEM doing whatever they are accusing others of, and are using the accusation as a cover for their activities. It is a very effective tactic. When Bush accuses Kerry of flip-flopping, it is BECAUSE Bush's record consists of flip after flop. When he attacks Kerry's war record ...

So Bush has been running around accusing Kerry of planning to spend a lot of money. Now there is this story, $3 Trillion Price Tag Left Out As Bush Details His Agenda:
"The expansive agenda President Bush laid out at the Republican National Convention was missing a price tag, but administration figures show the total is likely to be well in excess of $3 trillion over a decade.
A staple of Bush's stump speech is his claim that his Democratic challenger, John F. Kerry, has proposed $2 trillion in long-term spending, a figure the Massachusetts senator's campaign calls exaggerated. But the cost of the new tax breaks and spending outlined by Bush at the GOP convention far eclipses that of the Kerry plan. "
So remember the rule.


 



Forgery or no, Bush's Guard service sucked

The main point of this post is that the Killian memos should not be the main point of this post. (And no, guys, I'm not backtracking. I've been saying like this all along.) But read to the end -- the memos will be there.

Big picture: Dubya is the worst President since Franklin Pierce -- also an alcoholic. (As it happens, Pierce is a relative of Dubya on his mother's side. I imagine them together someday, upholding the family honor in Hell.)

Why do I say that? Well, his fiscal policies are the worst in American history. Republican deficit hawks are going nuts. His civil liberties and environmental records are among the worst, though he does have stiff competition. Iraq is a bloody mess, as a lot of recently-retired generals have pointing out. And there are many more terrorists now than there were before the Iraq War. Enough said.

Bush's National Guard Service is important, if it has any importance at all, as a character issue in the election. The fact is, as the conservative U.S. News & World Report concludes here in a very careful story which does not use the Killian memos at all, that there are multiple reasons for concluding that Bush's performance did not even meet the minimum standard: "A new examination of payroll records and other documents released by the White House earlier this year appear to confirm critics' assertions that President George W. Bush failed to fulfill his duty to the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War." (Here's a graphic presentation, showing four years of good service followed by two years of virtually no service.)

And the fact remains that not a single Guardsman has come forward to testify that they saw Bush in Alabama, despite a reward that's been on the table for years. (There are people who remember Bush's presence in the Barbour political campaign at that time, though their reports aren't flattering).

Does anyone care? Well, apparently some of the families of Guardsmen do: "But we can't help notice the irony that a person who managed to avoid going to combat by joining the National Guard is now sending the National Guard into combat in a war based on lies." But it's not a sure thing that this issue will hurt Bush very much, since born-again Christians are very forgiving of prodigal sons if they're repentant, and since the uber-hawks who might otherwise object to Bush's record hate Kerry even more.

So what about the memos that aren't the main point of this post? They aren't necessary for the case against Bush. Some say they're forged -- a good case is made here. Other experts deny it. I'm not making up my mind, but the real possibility of forgery does indeed seem to be there.

It has always made sense for non-experts to wait and see and let things come out in the wash. The first wave of criticisms of the memos turned out to be full of holes, and we're now on about the third wave. Certainly we would have been foolish to accept the case against the memos right off, but we also would have been foolish to have given too much credence to them.

And contrary to what the wingers are saying, most Democrats did not rush to judgement one way or another. Mostly we just sat back and let the Republican operatives do their work, giving them helpful criticisms whenever was saw them make a mistake. They really should be thanking us.

That's not the way it's being spun of course. The wingers don't have any evidence, but they're sure that the Kerry campaign is guilty. They also claim that Democrats and liberals unanimously concluded immediately that the memos were valid, which is not true at all -- my opinion is that many too liberals rejected the memos too quickly and too uncritically -- we shouldn't do the other side's work for them.

The spin loudly being pushed is that Bush's Guard service has been vindicated, that all liberals made fools of themselves by prematurely accepting the memos, and the the Kerry campaign is tarnished. None of these points are true. If the memos are bogus, Dan Rather and CBS are hurt -- funny how wingers think liberal love Dan Rather. Rather's source will be discredited, along with the forger himself if he's someone different.

And that's it. The Kerry campaign has not been shown to have been involved. Bush's Guard service was still poor. And Bush is still the worst President since Franklin Pierce.

From here on out, it's a media spin story. Will the wingers succeed in bullying the legit media into concluding that Bush's Guard Service has been vindicated and the Kerry campaign has been tarnished? Will the media buy the winger spin that the questions about Bush's service are just a smear -- a claim that a quick read of the USN&WR story will show to be wrong?

The Republican media machine is a powerful one, and the media are gelatinous, fluffy, shallow, and often right-wing, so it's unfortunately quite possible that the winger spin will win out. But this is a media story now. The Bush story is still that his Guard service sucked.

$50,000 reward for anyone who saw Bush in Alabama Guard

Boston Globe story (does not mention Killian memos)

Media feeding frenzy

Lukasiak's research on Bush's Guard service (very thorough)

Ivins on the Guard and Texas politics





 



Just Like on TV

Bush got a double push in the polls because of intelligent timing. The Republican Convention was soon followed by the hysteria over the anniversary of 9/11, and Bush took complete advantage of this. Naturally, experiencing both the Convention and 9/11 has set me brooding about the conjunction of the two events.

First, 9/11. I stood outside with a neighbor and watched the two towers fall. Meanwhile, inside, my TV was on, featuring, of course, images of the two towers falling. I'd even watched some of this inside, before it occurred to me to go outside and see "the real thing." Real reality outside, virtual reality inside. It's all too easy to forget that there's a difference between the two. It's not that the TV image is fiction, but it's confined to a small screen, however vivid the image you're safe from its physical effects, and, most important, what's happening is being interpreted for you while it happens. Good, bad, dangerous, evil, fun, it's all presented to you, along with what you should think about it, what you should be feeling. Outside, no such luck. Your emotions are your emotions, no matter what you're feeling. You get the impact not only of sight but of grit and smell, and the real expressions on the faces around you, not some edited image. and, most vividly of all, how you're going to react to what you're seeing, what you're going to do about it. That good old fight or flight instinct.

Those images of the planes hitting the towers immediately became iconic and even before the day was over, mythological. The images of people jumping from the towers was edited out. Too hard to deal with. Most of the sound of the towers falling was lowered to an acceptable level. You can't smell it, or feel it in your nose. You are not breathing vaporized people. Properly sanitized and interpreted, the entire country was treated to this, day after day, and now, for a week or so once a year, without even realizing what's happening to us, we are shown exactly what we're supposed to remember and how we are supposed to feel about it. Subjective reactions and personal feelings don't count.

Staying with 9/11 for a minute, what was Bush doing that day? We're supposed to vote for him because he's Big Daddy and will protect us. So where was Big Daddy during that crucial period? Giuliani got to the WTC site so fast he almost got killed there. Rumsfeld helped rescue the wounded at the Pentagon. Whatever we may think of these two men, they at least showed up. Bush was in Florida reading to school children to push the importance of his education bill. Politics, not love of children. Once told about the attack, he kept on reading for several minutes. We hear about that now, but not about the rest of his day. Back in Washington, Cheney was physically carried down to the White House war-room bunker. He was joined by Rice and various others, all safe in a nice attack-proof bunker. Giuliani didn't retreat to a bunker. New York has ancient underground air raid shelters, plus the entire subway system, but nobody seems to have even thought about hiding underground. Natural selection at work. New York thrived during the cold war. You don't live in New York if you have a bunker mentality.

Bush didn't return to Washington, not even to his nice, safe bunker. He made an announcement on TV and then -- he fled. By 9:57 AM Air Force One was in the air accompanied by fighter planes. At first they flew in large circles with no plan to go anywhere. What could be safe enough for Bush? At 11:45 they landed at Barksdale AF Base in Louisiana, so he could make another announcement. By 1:15 he was back on the plane, heading for Offutt, Nebraska, and its underground bunker. He got back to Washington around 6:30 PM -- because his absence was becoming "hard to explain." He spent the night with Cheney and the rest of the crowd. Now he explains he refused to sleep down there -- how brave of him -- but in fact he did.

Now to the Convention. New York became a Police State, no getting out of admitting that. Armed with attack weapons, probably the largest army of police ever gathered in one place guarded the Garden against no particular danger; the streets anywhere near the Garden were lined with every imaginable kind of barrier. Watching the convention was like entering a time warp. The 50s have long passed into oblivion -- except inside that convention hall. That was a terrible time, everyone rigidly glued to their jobs, wives in lock-step with their husbands, every hair groomed, every word said censored, parents hit their children. This was the era of back yard air raid shelters, for all the good that would have done, of nightmares about nuclear threat, of "preparedness" for things nobody could prepare for. A country in unadmitted terror, no matter that World War II was over, real terror back then. Do you see where I'm going with this? An awful lot of people, maybe half the country, never really got over this. We yearn for the security of what we know. What we knew was hideous insecurity against which there seemed to be no protection, fear for our jobs, fear for our lives. Like Pavlov's dog, we salivate when the bell rings.

I remember that period very well. I remember deciding that I'd rather die than live that way, prepared to hide in a sealed-off bunker against nuclear attack, and then have to live through the aftermath. Life at any price. Life is worth living -- only if one can live it. Life is for living with courage, not for dragging it out as long as possible whatever the cost. That's the difference between living a free and happy life, or ruining one's life worrying about what may or may not happen. We live dangerous lives on a dangerous planet, and life has always been like that. No matter how careful you are, you could be hit by a truck tomorrow. That's just the way life is. You can have a bunker mentality and go hide, or you can be out in the open and take your chances. Republican politics is the politics of the bunker mentality. That's why it's so hard to get through -- there's nothing rational going on to appeal to. It's the old fight or flight instinct being manipulated by a bunch of masterful crooks.



 



Just Like on TV

Bush got a double push in the polls because of intelligent timing. The Republican Convention was soon followed by the hysteria over the anniversary of 9/11, and Bush took complete advantage of this. Naturally, experiencing both the Convention and 9/11 has set me brooding about the conjunction of the two events.

First, 9/11. I stood outside with a neighbor and watched the two towers fall. Meanwhile, inside, my TV was on, featuring, of course, images of the two towers falling. I'd even watched some of this inside, before it occurred to me to go outside and see "the real thing." Real reality outside, virtual reality inside. It's all too easy to forget that there's a difference between the two. It's not that the TV image is fiction, but it's confined to a small screen, however vivid the image you're safe from its physical effects, and, most important, what's happening is being interpreted for you while it happens. Good, bad, dangerous, evil, fun, it's all presented to you, along with what you should think about it, what you should be feeling. Outside, no such luck. Your emotions are your emotions, no matter what you're feeling. You get the impact not only of sight but of grit and smell, and the real expressions on the faces around you, not some edited image. and, most vividly of all, how you're going to react to what you're seeing, what you're going to do about it. That good old fight or flight instinct.

Those images of the planes hitting the towers immediately became iconic and even before the day was over, mythological. The images of people jumping from the towers was edited out. Too hard to deal with. Most of the sound of the towers falling was lowered to an acceptable level. You can't smell it, or feel it in your nose. You are not breathing vaporized people. Properly sanitized and interpreted, the entire country was treated to this, day after day, and now, for a week or so once a year, without even realizing what's happening to us, we are shown exactly what we're supposed to remember and how we are supposed to feel about it. Subjective reactions and personal feelings don't count.

Staying with 9/11 for a minute, what was Bush doing that day? We're supposed to vote for him because he's Big Daddy and will protect us. So where was Big Daddy during that crucial period? Giuliani got to the WTC site so fast he almost got killed there. Rumsfeld helped rescue the wounded at the Pentagon. Whatever we may think of these two men, they at least showed up. Bush was in Florida reading to school children to push the importance of his education bill. Politics, not love of children. Once told about the attack, he kept on reading for several minutes. We hear about that now, but not about the rest of his day. Back in Washington, Cheney was physically carried down to the White House war-room bunker. He was joined by Rice and various others, all safe in a nice attack-proof bunker. Giuliani didn't retreat to a bunker. New York has ancient underground air raid shelters, plus the entire subway system, but nobody seems to have even thought about hiding underground. Natural selection at work. New York thrived during the cold war. You don't live in New York if you have a bunker mentality.

Bush didn't return to Washington, not even to his nice, safe bunker. He made an announcement on TV and then -- he fled. By 9:57 AM Air Force One was in the air accompanied by fighter planes. At first they flew in large circles with no plan to go anywhere. What could be safe enough for Bush? At 11:45 they landed at Barksdale AF Base in Louisiana, so he could make another announcement. By 1:15 he was back on the plane, heading for Offutt, Nebraska, and its underground bunker. He got back to Washington around 6:30 PM -- because his absence was becoming "hard to explain." He spent the night with Cheney and the rest of the crowd. Now he explains he refused to sleep down there -- how brave of him -- but in fact he did.

Now to the Convention. New York became a Police State, no getting out of admitting that. Armed with attack weapons, probably the largest army of police ever gathered in one place guarded the Garden against no particular danger; the streets anywhere near the Garden were lined with every imaginable kind of barrier. Watching the convention was like entering a time warp. The 50s have long passed into oblivion -- except inside that convention hall. That was a terrible time, everyone rigidly glued to their jobs, wives in lock-step with their husbands, every hair groomed, every word said censored, parents hit their children. This was the era of back yard air raid shelters, for all the good that would have done, of nightmares about nuclear threat, of "preparedness" for things nobody could prepare for. A country in unadmitted terror, no matter that World War II was over, real terror back then. Do you see where I'm going with this? An awful lot of people, maybe half the country, never really got over this. We yearn for the security of what we know. What we knew was hideous insecurity against which there seemed to be no protection, fear for our jobs, fear for our lives. Like Pavlov's dog, we salivate when the bell rings.

I remember that period very well. I remember deciding that I'd rather die than live that way, prepared to hide in a sealed-off bunker against nuclear attack, and then have to live through the aftermath. Life at any price. Life is worth living -- only if one can live it. Life is for living with courage, not for dragging it out as long as possible whatever the cost. That's the difference between living a free and happy life, or ruining one's life worrying about what may or may not happen. We live dangerous lives on a dangerous planet, and life has always been like that. No matter how careful you are, you could be hit by a truck tomorrow. That's just the way life is. You can have a bunker mentality and go hide, or you can be out in the open and take your chances. Republican politics is the politics of the bunker mentality. That's why it's so hard to get through -- there's nothing rational going on to appeal to. It's the old fight or flight instinct being manipulated by a bunch of masterful crooks.





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