In October? No Surprise.

Over at Calpundit Kevin says:
"The idea that the Bush administration is somehow keeping Osama under wraps in order to spring an 'October Surprise' that will guarantee their reelection is a common topic of gossip, but not something that anyone (yet) has been willing to broach in serious news pages -- and for pretty obvious reasons."
What are the obvious reasons? Thinking this through, (sorry, Tom), I can come up with a number of reasons but there aren't any obvious ones - at least to me.

Is Kevin saying that it is obvious the press isn't picking this up because it's a wild, fringe idea that the Bush people might do something like this? How wild is it when you consider that this is the crowd that took the country to war against a country that had not attacked or even threatened us instead of finishing the task of capturing or killing the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11? AND that this is the crowd that used the timing of that war to manipulate the 2002 elections? Wild compared to that?

Or is he saying that it is obvious the press isn't writing about this because the press is either controlled by or intimidated by the Bush corporatists?

Is he saying it is obvious because it is obvious that they are holding Osama for use in an October surprise?

Uh oh, my wife is looking at me tapping faster and faster on the keys, and she's getting that "there you go again getting all worked up" expression that tells me I had better calm down.

Email to Dave

I sent an email to Dave with this thought I had over a salad this evening. He seems to like it:

I have the campaign slogan for the Demos. They don't deserve it -- it should go to Ralph, but then nobody will hear it.

Kerry/Edwards 2004

Also, another related one:

Kerry/Edwards for Americans!

If any right-winger is stupid enough to play some word game and compare it to America First, YOU JUST RIP THEM A NEW ONE: "What! It's really no surprise to anyone who's been watching you guys, but I'm really shocked you'd make it so clear, so openly, that YOU DO NOT PUT AMERICANS FIRST!" Scream. Scream a lot.

This could even win back the Congress.

There's lots of ways you could take this. Edwards might do particularly well with it. (Dean would have done great with it, alas.)

I'm embarrassed...

for this guy actually. My goodness! This guy is darn near illiterate. He writes at about the fourth grade level.

As someone who worked with hundreds of IU students as a teaching assistant a few years ago, I'm happy to report that this guy is not typical.

Atrios is right though, this guy's ignorance, illiteracy, and bigotry certainly seems to give us an indication where the conservative movement is heading these days, doesn't it?

If you were curious as to exactly what kind of person W was appealing to with the "Defense of Marriage" constitutional amendment, now you know.


Extra Unemployment Benefits Lose in Senate

Yahoo! News - Extra Unemployment Benefits Lose in Senate:
"A Senate measure to extend federal unemployment benefits failed by two votes Thursday despite the election year support of 12 Republicans from states hit hard by layoffs.

Democrats tried to attach the amendment to a gun liability bill, but it failed 58-39 in the GOP-controlled Senate. The margin was two votes shy of the 60 needed to overcome a procedural objection. "
A "procedural objection" -- meaning the Republicans filibustered it, right?
"[Republican Senator] Nickles said jobless workers have more incentive to find a job when the extra unemployment benefits stop. "The more you pay people not to work, the less inclined they are to work," he said.
Right. All those people are just sitting around on their butts, turning down all the jobs they are being offered.

Did US and UK Know?

Juan Cole asks a VERY good question about US and British bugging of UN officials:
"The Blix wiretaps raise an interesting question. Did the US and UK know even more about the lack of evidence for weapons of mass destruction than we thought, from what Blix was saying privately in spring of 2003 before the war?"

Trade, Jobs and The Ongoing Struggle

Following is a comment I left following this post at Brad DeLong's blog. (Of course, what I'm posting here is edited, selected, massaged, even tortured to make me look better.)

Responding to a claim that '...Americans are told that trade destroys jobs...'.:
"I don't know what is gained by misrepresenting the positions of people opposed to the current trade situation! Who is telling Americans that? NO ONE IS.

What I hear people saying is that trade with countries that do not honor their agreements, and/or countries that do not permit labor to organize or that do not allow their citizens to vote on their country's policies or do not have environmental regulations, etc. is inherently stacked against OUR interests AS WELL AS the interests of the people in the countries we trade with. And it is not harming JUST the interests of Americans who lose their jobs but also the interests of our country as a whole. How do we benefit by trading away our jobs, assets, manufacturing base, technological expertise and revenue base, to trade partners who are not purchasing enough from us, not paying their own citizens well, not protecting the environment, not letting workers organize, not letting their citizens vote, not floating their currency so their goods cost what they should relative to ours, etc.?

Ultimately this is about more than trade, it is the ongoing struggle over who gets what share of the pie. Of course corporations will always try to lower costs. They should. But this can mean trying to repeal the minimum wage, or use child labor, or bribing inspectors. So it's up to us, the people, to try to put in place controls that protect the public interest. It is our duty. Is it 'protectionist' to support a higher minimum wage, or national health insurance or worker safety regulations, or the right to unionize? YOU BET IT IS! It protects the people who work for a living. Here AND with our trading partners.

Without worker protections in place in countries like China, and without agreements in place that mean that our trade "partners" REALLY DO balance out our job losses by purchasing US goods, and by allowing their currencies to follow the market, it is NOT A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. It is NOT "FREE" TRADE AT ALL! All we are doing is trading away American living standards, increasing our debt, to enrich corporate executives and corrupt Chinese officials!

"Protectionism" means PROTECTING AMERICANS. A $500 billion trade deficit indicates a problem with our idea of "free trade," doesn't it? Stagnant income growth for the middle class since the 70's indicates a problem, doesn't it? With the trade portion of the struggle between moneyed interests and the public, we are trading away jobs and assets in return for loans. The public takes on the trade debt load and the executives walk away with the cash. With other forms of this struggle, like the minimum wage and the right to organize, we are experiencing the corruption of our own political system, trading away our retirement income for tax cuts to the rich, and other signs that the public's position in this ongoing battle is weakening...

The trade situation is just another part of that battle - it's the scene in 'Grapes of Wrath' where they're bussing in the strikebreakers so they can keep wages low. It's just that they're bussing them over the border now.


Let me add to that. Show me where the current trade arguments are different from the minimum wage arguments? They argue that raising (or even having) a minimum wage keeps the poor from getting jobs. And they argue that asking trade partners to protect workers rights and safety and pay higher wages keeps THEIR poor from getting jobs.

But, in fact, history shows that increasing the minimum wage and other income redistribution policies precedes higher growth, not lower growth. And periods of wealth concentration coincide with periods of lower growth. This is a consumer economy and customers with money to spend grows the economy. Clinton's tax HIKES and minimum wage HIKES and EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) HIKES brought about a boom.

So policies that promote higher wages and income redistribution benefit everyone, and policies that reduce wages and concentrate wealth promote that "race to the bottom." Policies for labor OUTSIDE the country have the same effect as those for labor IN the country. Promoting workers rights increases growth, and benefits all of us."
Go join the discussion.

The Stonewalling Continues

Why are Republicans still stonewalling the 9/11 Commission?

Again, for the hundredth time, what are they hiding?

I have a suspicion that I'll go ahead and share. I suspect that somewhere in the President's Daily Briefing (probably on different days in August) an analyst mentioned a concern about hijacking and domestic terrorism by al-Qaeda -- maybe even going so far as to suggest that targets like the World Trade Center would be vulnerable.

I doubt that the analyst who prepared the briefing connected the concern over hijackings and a heightened threat of domestic terrorism but they probably suggested both of these as potential concerns.

I also now suspect that someone suggested to the president that he increase the security at airports but W couldn't be bothered because he some brush to clear or a golf game to go to or some other pressing engagement during his month-long vacation in August of 2001.

Furthermore, don't you find the insistance that the president actually wants the commission's work to continue for the two months but can't seem to get Hastert to go along, a bit too convenient? I mean, heck folks, who really believes that little cover story?

And also, why just an hour with the commission, Mr. Bush? Here's a question from today's gaggle that really shows that some in the press recognize the president's hypocrisy on this issue:

In every speech he gives, President Bush invokes the atrocities of 9/11 and he talks about how that event has impressed on him a determination to always honor the victims of those atrocities in his daily conduct of his office. And I wonder if you could explain with some serious Texan straight talk here, Scott, how it is honoring the victims of 9/11 to restrict the questioning of the President on this subject to one hour?
How about it, Mr. President?

Answer that question for us all please.



Digby finds a strange coincidence in the firing of Howard Stern. Go read at Hullabaloo:
"So, suddenly John Hogan, Bush Ranger and CEO of Clear Channel discovers that Howards Stern talks about pornography on his show and is offended.

The day after Stern made the above remarks.

Coincidence, I'm sure."
And, the same piece has something I agree with:
"Furthermore, it's just a little bit galling that a violent, pornographic snuff film that features 15 minutes of big juicy close-ups of hunks of flesh flying off the human body as it is flogged with barbed whips is deemed appropriate for children by supposedly good Christians while they have a complete hissy fit over a 5 second long shot of Janet Jackson's nipple on television."
It seems so easy to sell stuff to the the fundies, if you use the right approach. This time it's movie marketing hype. Other times it's estate or capital gains tax cuts. GOD says go pay $9 and see the most violent film ever made. GOD says we should cut capital gains taxes. GOD says send me $100 so I can build a theme park or buy a diamond mine and get even richer. AND they all go out and DO it (or vote for it)! I wonder if I can think up a way to make some money off the right-wing Christians. The money would go to a great cause.

Accountability On the Right

For those who think that the investigation into the Plame affair (Bush aides revealing the identity of a covert CIA agent, working on preventing weapons of mass destruction from getting into terrorist hands) is likely to lead somewhere, or the 9/11 commission (looking into whether Bush f*cked up and let us get attacked), or the investigations into pre-Iraq WMD intelligence (looking into whether Bush f*cked up and got us into a war), I suggest looking at what happened to a couple of cases that involved right-wingnuts and actual dead bodies.

I don't have a high level of optimism that there is going to be ANY oversight or accountability or justice as long as the Right controls all the branches of government.

Update As with any Google search, if the page is no longer there you can still read it by clicking "Cached." This one, for example -- and it is really worth reading past the "about me" and into the "letter" part.

MoDo: "Stations of the Crass"

Our soldiers are being killed in Iraq; Osama's still on the loose; jobs are being exported all over the world; the deficit has reached biblical proportions.

And our president is worrying about Mars and marriage?

When reporters tried to pin down White House spokesman Scott McClellan yesterday on why gay marriage is threatening, he spouted a bunch of gobbledygook about "the fabric of society" and civilization.

The pols keep arguing that institutions can't be changed when, in fact, they change all the time. Haven't they ever heard of the institution of slavery?

The government should not be trying to legislate what's sacred.

When Bushes get in trouble, they look around for a politically advantageous bogeyman. Lee Atwater tried to make Americans shudder over the prospect of Willie Horton arriving on their doorstep; and now Karl Rove wants Americans to shudder at the prospect of a lesbian — Dick Cheney's daughter Mary, say — setting up housekeeping next door with her "wife."

When it comes to the Bushes' willingness to stir up base instincts of the base, it is as it was.


Kerry and Cleland Smears

I've started to collect anti-Kerry smears as they show up. So far I've put up the "Special Interest Money" smear, the "Didn't Really Earn His Medals" smear, the "Jane Fonda Photo" smear, and the "Kerry: Self-Hating Jew" smear. I've also thrown in the two Max Cleland smears: "Cleland-Saddam-Osama" and "Cleland Blew off his Arm and Legs Himself Out of Sheer Stupidity" (the last one courtesy of Ann Coulter.) This should end up being quite a lengthy file (!) so I've parked it at the other site.

I will also continue to update my Bush-Bin Laden site ("Who is Bandar Bush?"). Bush is vulnerable on the War on Terrorism if the Democrats have the guts to attack him. He's actually doing a crappy job and has some enormous skeletons in his closet.

I expect as dirty a campaign as I've witnessed in my lifetime, and I see it as my role to encourage the Democrats to respond with adequate ferocity.

Smear Page

Who is Bandar Bush?

Same-Sex Marriages

Thanks to Oliver Willis for pointing to these pictures of society coming apart, the end of civilization, the destruction of America, the ruin of all we stand for, etc.

I'm assuming...

that Greenspan's luck just ran out, right?

I mean, heck folks, W and the boys have to respond to this forcefully -- or there goes Florida.

And Dave's right. Greenspan is suggesting that the administration default on the nation's promises to senior citizens in order to save the taxcuts for the rich.

What are the odds Greenspan has got a job this time next week?

This is really getting fun to watch, isn't it?

So Here It Is

Not even bothering to disguise the relationship. First, the massive tax cuts for the rich, then the cuts in OUR retirement to help pay for a bit of those tax cuts. Greenspan Urges Cuts to Social Security to Reign In Deficit:
"Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan urged Congress on Wednesday to deal with the country's escalating budget deficit by cutting benefits for future Social Security retirees rather than raising taxes."
He is saying that the SAME money is better for the economy when given to rich people than when use to meet the needs of regular citizens.

And how else does he suggest solving the problem of the massive deficits resulting from the tax cuts for the rich?
"Tax rate increases of sufficient dimension to deal with our looming fiscal problems arguably pose significant risks to economic growth and the revenue base,'' Greenspan said. "The exact magnitude of such risks is very difficult to estimate, but they are of enough concern, in my judgment, to warrant aiming to close the fiscal gap primarily, if not wholly, from the outlay side.''
He says that we must cut spending on the needs of the public rather that tax the rich. He says that raising taxes on the rich threatens economic growth but that cutting the incomes of elderly, or making the sick pay for their treatment, or cutting the paychecks of teachers or construction workers, etc. does not. In other words, he is saying that THE SAME money given to rich people is better for the economy than money spent on the needs of regular people.

Also posted at Daily News Online.



I just don’t get it. I’ve been trying to decide why W thinks a fight over prohibiting gay civil unions, an issue very few people in this world care about, is going to help his campaign. It just doesn’t make any sense.

I think, of course, that tolerance is always a good thing. If states want to do this, what’s the big deal? I just can’t understand why W and the boys feel threatened by states offering civil unions for gay folks. (I remind you that the state can’t legally preside over religious sacraments -- but you knew that, right?)

And, also, how does this really “threaten” your marriage or my marriage? Furthermore, if this passes, can you imagine what historians will say about this generation if the only amendment added to the constitution is this “Defense of Marriage” amendment? My goodness, what would this say about us?

Furthermore, while this issue might crank up the real knuckle-dragging bigots out there (like these guys), most people give it a big yawn. Most folks think, hey, why should prohibiting gay marriage be a priority for our government when there’s so many other important issues out there? And wait a minute, aren’t these the guys who are always talking about local control and state rights? How in the world is this proposed amendment consistent with those beliefs?

Or, more interestingly, is this yet another in a long line of issues designed merely to distract us? Have W and the boys just tossed this issue out there so that people will stop noticing that the economy is heading South (consumer confidence ominously dropped last month) and the Iraq situation is rapidly deteriorating – and that this administration has no earthly idea how to deal with either problem?

Unfortunately, this issue might also distract the folks in this administration from more important problems. Honestly folks, think about it, if there’s a terrorist attack anytime in the next couple of months, W and the boys may have missed the opportunity to thwart it because they were just too busy focusing on this oh-so-important “Defense of Marriage” amendment. I mean, heck folks, this issue is so out there that apparently even Tom DeLay thinks it’s an extremist and divisive issue – and Tom’s not exactly known for his, er, thoughtfulness.

I also think this has a real chance to backfire. It makes W and the boys look like insensitive bigots just at the point in the campaign when they need to appeal to someone outside of their base. A little over a year ago I can remember joking that W’s true base is made up of that 33% of the people in this country who would vote for W even if he sprouted pointy ears and a tail and began speaking in indecent iambic couplets. (Actually, didn’t W begin to do that just last week?)

But how does this issue appeal to anyone beyond these already rock solid Bush supporters?

If you recall, I also predicted that if W went down it would be an incredible show.

Pass the popcorn folks. I really do think that the show is just starting.

If these guys really think this is the issue to fight the 2004 elections over, can you imagine the bushel basket of hilarious missteps yet to come?

A Special Little Law

Senate to Vote on Shielding Gun Makers. A special little law saying you can't sue gun manufacturers,
"has the support of the White House and 55 sponsors in the Senate, including the Democratic and Republican leaders."
The spine injection lasted only so long.

Coming soon, Sainthood for Joseph McCarthy. Later, honors for Jefferson Davis.


Tell The DNC To Launch The $100 Revolution

Go read NDN Blog: The DNC and the $100 revolution and then go to the DNC or the DNC Blog and tell them to launch the $100 revolution this summer!

And, donate $100 today. It's your duty. Seriously. How else are we going to win?

“Free” Trade, Offshoring, Jobs and the Concept of "Ownership" in General

I have a longer piece titled, “Free” Trade, Offshoring, Jobs and the Concept of "Ownership" in General over at the american street.

Education Secretary Calls Teacher Union a "Terrorist Organization"

More from the Cabinet of Mister "I'm going to change the tone in Washington" and "I'm a uniter not a divider."

Paige calls NEA 'terrorist organization':
"Education Secretary Rod Paige called the National Education Association a 'terrorist organization' Monday as he argued that the country's largest teachers union often acts at odds with the wishes of rank-and-file teachers regarding school standards and accountability. "
What can I say? I suppose Bush's Labor Secretary considers the AFL-CIO to be the same thing. And the head of the EPA the Sierra Club. Etc.

And check out what he calls an "apology:"
"It was an inappropriate choice of words to describe the obstructionist scare tactics the NEA's Washington lobbyists have employed against No Child Left Behind's historic education reforms.

"I also said, as I have repeatedly, that our nation's teachers, who have dedicated their lives to service in the classroom, are the real soldiers of democracy, whereas the NEA's high-priced Washington lobbyists have made no secret that they will fight against bringing real, rock-solid improvements in the way we educate all our children regardless of skin color, accent or where they live. "
This is the guy who's job is to WORK WITH the teacher unions!

Who Wins, Who Loses?

Let's suppose that the Democrat (presumably Kerry) wins this fall. When that happens, who will the other winners and losers be?

One loser will be Karl Rove and Bush's core constituency of anti-tax fanatics, Armageddon Christians, homophobes, and militarists. Rove has tied Bush's fate so closely to these groups (at the expense of more rational moderates and conservatives) that it seems that they might bring Bush down. When that happens, the Republicans are going to be less likely to cater to them in the future.

A second loser will be the media -- pretty much all of them, from the talk shows and Fox on up to the Times and the Post. Multiple signs of dissatisfaction about Bush are trickling in, and his poll numbers are about as bad as a sitting President has ever gotten, but the media are still reporting him as "a popular President". By and large, nothing Bush says or does is ever critically reported, no matter how ludicrous and outrageous it is.

From a professional point of view, of course, the media's imbecile coverage of Gore / Bush and the Bush administration has been a disaster. But from the more cynical point of view, the media's attempt to get Bush elected will have failed if Kerry wins, and if that does happen Jack Welch, the Rev. Moon, Rupert Murdoch, and Roger Ailes will whip their little loser media butts for them.

The third loser will be the Democratic pros. Below I linked to Kos calling the Democratic pros "the whiniest, most afraid people in the country". Before Howard Dean came along, the Democrats -- following the best professional advice -- were getting ready to slump through a loser campaign which would not even mention the Iraq War except to support it. Dean (along with a lot of grass-roots Dems) woke them up, and now it looks like we might actually have a fight on our hands. So if we win, it seems that maybe we should be getting some new pros.

Coda: What I just said is probably far too optimistic. Kerry -- who I'll be happy to vote for -- is now the candidate of the Democratic Establishment, and it's quite possible that in the end the media lords will pick up on Bush's weakness and get behind Kerry. So I guess my title should have read "Who should lose".

The media are probably beyond hope, but hopefully there will be someone in the Kerry campaign to put a bug in his ear about this. He might be educable.

Game Time

Below I agree with Matt Yglesias for once. He's responding to Josh Chafetz, who described Kerry's response to Saxby Chambliss (!!) as "slimy".


Can't we get used to the idea that it's game time? Between games, and maybe before and after games, you can have a certain amount of idle chat between players of opposing teams, and maybe players from one of the teams team might admit that they got an unfair break in a previous game, or that one of their own players tends to travel a bit, etc., etc.

But once the whistle is blown you don't call fouls on your own side. And you also don't have people on the court who are still deciding which side they're on, or who believe that competition is a bad thing and that we should all just get along.

So there's no reason to listen to Ricky [Yglesias pet conservative]. He's on the other team. (Though it might be mentioned that his claim that "the Democrats started it" makes one guess that his long-term memory was seriously impaired during his heavy-metal-tweaker days.)

I don't see Chafetz as a Republican. Not quite -- presumably he's angling for the David Broder above-the-battle Ace Pontificater gasbag slot. Let him have that slot, I say -- but someone get him and Broder off the basketball court! (Come to think of it, though, wasn't Chafetz channeling the Krauthammer of a couple days ago? So maybe he really is a Republican.)

I think that after the Chambliss-Cleland race, the Bush-McCain race, and Gingrich's 1994 Sharon Smith smear (at my URL), whatever objective observers still remain will agree that the Republicans play as dirty as anyone ever has played. However, objective observers who blame the Republicans will be immediately smeared as Democratic sympathizers, so why should they even bother to try?

Tit for tat, and do unto others before they do unto you. If you don't like what you see, get your ass out of the way.

P.S. Chafetz seems have missed the subtext here. The man sent by the Republicans to attack Kerry, Saxby Chambliss, was the chickenhawk who defeated triple-amputee Vietnam vet Max Cleland. Chambliss' secret weapon was a TV ad which morphed Cleland's face into Saddam Hussein's. Kerry's statement (with Cleland right beside him) was partly getback for something which happened in the past, and partly a preemptive strike against the smears that are sure to be sent Kerry's way.

Howard Zinn says:

The quick Thanksgiving visit of Bush to Iraq, much ballyhooed in the press, was seen differently by an army nurse in Landstuhl, Germany, where casualties from the war are treated. She sent out an e-mail: "My 'Bush Thanksgiving' was a little different. I spent it at the hospital taking care of a young West Point lieutenant wounded in Iraq. . . . When he pressed his fists into his eyes and rocked his head back and forth he looked like a little boy. They all do, all nineteen on the ward that day, some missing limbs, eyes, or worse. . . . It's too bad Bush didn't add us to his holiday agenda. The men said the same, but you'll never read that in the paper."

As for Jeremy Feldbusch, blinded in the war, his hometown of Blairsville, an old coal mining town of 3,600, held a parade for him, and the mayor honored him. I thought of the blinded, armless, legless soldier in Dalton Trumbo's novel Johnny Got His Gun, who, lying on his hospital cot, unable to speak or hear, remembers when his hometown gave him a send-off, with speeches about fighting for liberty and democracy. He finally learns how to communicate, by tapping Morse Code letters with his head, and asks the authorities to take him to schoolrooms everywhere, to show the children what war is like. But they do not respond. "In one terrible moment he saw the whole thing," Trumbo writes. "They wanted only to forget him."

In a sense, the novel was asking, and now the returned veterans are asking, that we don't forget.

Sometimes people forget that it was us anti-war folks who had enough foresight to worry about these problems before the war took place.

I really think W should spend a day per week visiting injured soldiers. It might make him a bit less likely to take us into an immoral and unnecessary war again.



Stealing From Dave Barry

I am going to have to steal the line, "I am not making this up" for this post. But I am giving credit.

Manufacturing jobs involve assembling things. Place item Bg on item Bn (bottom), then place Item L on the BgBn combination. To complete, place a Bn (top) unit on this, and wrap the completed assembly.

OK, so to make their job-creation record look better before the election the Bush administration is talking about reclassifying a certain job category as a manufacturing job. Item Bn is bun. Bg is burger and L is lettuce. I am not making this up.