Balloon Drop

Here's a "stitched" photo of the balloon drop.

What The Republicans Are Encouraging

DEM'S MARINE MISFIRE , in a Republican newspaper:
John Kerry's heavily hyped cross-country bus tour stumbled out of the blocks yesterday, as a group of Marines publicly dissed the Vietnam War hero in the middle of a crowded restaurant.
John Kerry is a United States Senator, and recipient of the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, three purple hearts and many other honors. Yes these active-duty Marines -- SOME IN UNIFORM! (thanks, Ollie) -- felt free to act this way toward him in public. I can't imagine members of the armed forces acting this way toward an honored veteran OR a U.S. Senator before the Republican hate machine started cranking out its horrible, divisive smear and fear campaigns.

If Kerry becomes President I have a feeling he will finally, finally do something about the right-wing takeover of the military culture. It's bad for the military, bad for our country, bad for our traditions, and dangerous for democracy.

STF in Best Ten Posts List!

2004 DNC Bloggers : The Ten Best List @ Radio Free Blogistan

Weblog Still Looks Funny

The blog still looks really funny, text crowded up against the edges, etc. I think it is because some of the pictures posted below are interfering with the template. I'm still working on it. Apologies.

Republican Tactic

Remember what I wrote about Repubolicans accusing their opponents of what they are, in reality, actually themselves guilty of, as a tactic?

Bush Questions Kerry's Record:
"President George W. Bush launched his counterattack against John Kerry on Friday, saying his Democratic rival has spent 19 years in the U.S. Senate with 'no signature achievements.'"

An IM Conversation

Him: what about the promised stuff about the convention!!!!!?????????????
Me: that's so last week...
Him: then blogging failed at the convention
Me: I'm joking
Him: everybody's been saying: "see, i dont have no stinking deadline, so i'll write a great piece later, and you'll all love it"
Him: so now it's like last week.
Him: you guys are even worse than the pros.
Him: at least they write some shit.
Me: I just f*****g woke up. Got home late, just woke up
Him: you just promise to right something good and then don't even write SH*T?
Him: i didn't say you had to do it now.
Him: you just sadi you weren't goinbg to do it AT ALL.
Me: I also said I was joking


C-SPAN seems to have found it.

Update - That link doesn't seem to work. For now, try this. [Dave]



I wonder if the Greens here have seen the Let Nader Debate ad over on the right there.

"Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?"

Reuters, quoting Susan Sheybani, "an assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt."

When questioned about this, her response: "Oh, I was just kidding."

Yeah. Sure.

Saw a pointer to this in the Salon article on John Kerry's speech to the DNC. Thought it deserved more play, as an example of the underlying attitudes held by the Bush/Cheney campaign.

--Thomas Leavitt, posting from Santa Cruz, CA

Seeing the forest: a "greenwash" example.

So, one of the first things that Dave made me hip to was how the right has spent billions creating a vast array of "front" organizations to push it's message - and that one of the first things I should do whenever I see something suspect was to check it out on MediaTransparency.org.

So, I got this in my mailbox today (a posting to the Politech list):

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: IHS Environmental Art/Film Contest
Date: Wed, 28 Jul 2004 11:18:09 -0400
From: Max Borders
To: Declan McCullagh


This is Max Borders at aBetterEarth.org, a project of the Institute for Humane Studies. I may have sent you information about some of our environmental programs in the past, since I think your blog, like our website, is open to innovative approaches to environmental challenges, including utilizing market solutions and property rights.

I think your audience might be interested in our latest art/film contest. We are conducting an “EnviroAds” contest to encourage innovative thinking about the environmental challenges we face. We are looking for clever, outside the box thinking about some very old problems.

Here’s a description of the contest you could pass along:

$6,000 Enviro-Ads Film/Art Contest
A total of $6,000 in awards will be given to the creators of the best EnviroAds, as determined both by visitors to aBetterEarth.org website and by our distinguished panel of judges. Create and submit an ad that's funny, satirical, creative, inspiring, ironic, sexy or dramatic. Win the top prize of $3,000, or one of the runners-up prizes of between $250 and $1,000.

We're looking for original material that causes people to think about environmental issues in different ways. The goal is not persuasion per se, but to start a conversation. Make us think. Make us cry. Make us laugh out loud. For contest details, go herehttp://www.abetterearth.org/enviroads.

Deadline for submission is September 30, 2004. Winners will be announced in October.

If you have any questions, please contact Max Borders at info@abetterearth.org

Thank you very much, and good luck with your writing.

Max Borders


$$$ for environmental films/ads... sounds pretty cool, right?

Well, maybe... but: "innovative approaches to environmental challenges,
including utilizing market solutions and property rights" raises a red flag for me. These are right wing key words (as I'm sure most readers of this blog know). ... and Declan has some pretty strong libertarian tendencies.

So, let's see what MediaTransparency has to say...

Institute for Humane Studies
Fairfax, VA 22030

Be sure to see the grants to George Mason University. The Institute for Humane Studies' mission is to support "the achievement of a freer society by discovering and facilitating the development of talented, productive students, scholars, and other intellectuals who share a commitment to liberty and who demonstrate the potential to change significanly the current climate of opinion to one more congenial to the principles and practices of freedom."

Among its many objectives, the Institute seeks "to enhance [young peoples'] career skills and their understanding of strategically targeted career paths through seminars, mentoring, internshps, and networking." Toward that end, IHS holds summer seminars for students on free market economics and libertarian thought. Participation at these seminars is free. The Institute is also well enough funded to offer student fellowships of up to $17,500 for continued Study. Awards more than $400,000 a year.

... and how much moola has been rained on these folks? $5,600,500

Makes you wonder why they're being so cheap about the prize money, eh? :)

--Thomas Leavitt, posting from Santa Cruz, CA

Last Post from Boston

Heading for the plane. Brilliant analysis later...

Yet Another Smear

Kerry's exploits in Vietnam are disputed in best seller.

Smear after smear after smear.

Kerry volunteered to go to Vietnam, was wounded, and got serious medals.

Bush ...

NLRB erodes worker rights. Excuse: terrorism.

Saw this on the Labor Greens mailing list list:


Below is a blurb and and a link to my recent article on a new NLRB decision which cuts back on what are called Weingarten rights in labor law.

Weingarten rights are the watered-down version of Miranda rights you have not to incriminate yourself when you are arrested under the criminal law.

Under Weingarten, you have the right to demand the presence of a co-worker if your employer is interrogating you for possible discipline.

The new ruling holds that Weingarten applies only to union employees. The stated reason: Terrorism since 9/11/01.



Labor Board to Non-Union Workers: "You're On Your Own When You Face The Boss"

by Ellis Boal

Reversing course for the fourth time in 30 years, in June the NLRB
announced it would no longer protect the right of a non-union worker
to refuse to participate in an investigatory interview without the
assistance of a co-worker. Read about the history of your Weingarten
rights and what rationale the NLRB has used this time.



The author notes that the NLRB, under Clinton in 2000, had established the previous rule. It will be interesting to see if this decision is reversed (and worker's rights restored), under the Kerry Administration (and if it takes eight years to do so).

--Thomas Leavitt, posting from Santa Cruz, CA

$175,700 a year not enough (for a Republican) to put kids through college.

Tom Ridge, our Secretary of Homeland Security, is considering resigning from office, because he "needs to earn money in the private sector to put his teenage children through college", say others in the Bush Administration according to CNN.

Also, according to CNN, Ridge's decades of public service have left him with "relatively little savings" - this after six years as Gov. of Pennsylvania, where he earned $138,316 a year.

He owns an $873,000 home with a $784,000 mortgage, and his financial disclosure reports from 2003 show that he owned between $122,000 and $787,000 in equities.

This prompts the question: if a man currently making $175,000 a year, who has been earning a six figure salary for almost a decade can't manage to accumulate enough savings to finance the college education of two kids, what hope do the rest of us have?

Or perhaps the question should be: has the ruling political class in our country had its expectations so distorted by close association with private sector potentates that they've lost all perspective?

Seems like it to me.

--Thomas Leavitt, posting from Santa Cruz, CA (and earning well under six figures a year, with two kids).

Go See the Novak Picture!

Go read the Burnt Orange Report about Natasha and Novak, and see the picture of Novak just before he turned into a bat and flew away.

I was there, too, and Natasha of Pacific Views chased Novak down the street, holding out a microphone, saying "Mr. Novak, do you have any comment on the aftermath of your outing of Valerie Plane?"

It was something to see, especially coming from us HAYSEEDS! Us HAYSEEDS didn't get the memo saying not to ask, what Michael Moore calls, THE QUESTIONS.)

"Anti-American" Marketing Campaign?

This came in an urgent emergency e-mail from Heritage Foundation's Town Hall, in its entirety (please, sue me, and get FOX to sue me, too!):
To: Conservative Friends
From: Center for Individual Freedom
Re: Subway's Anti-American Tray-Liners

Dear Friends,
I am writing today to ask for your help on an issue of utmost importance.
It has come to our attention that SUBWAY, an American company, is using this tray liner (see below for English translation) in their restaurants in Germany and across Europe. In a shameless and anti-American effort to increase sales in Europe, SUBWAY restaurants are promoting the film, "Super Size Me," a documentary about a man who gains weight by gorging himself at McDonald's for 30 days straight without any exercise. Learn more about “Super Size Me”, and its irresponsible message.
The most offensive part of this new advertising campaign is the display of an obese Statue of Liberty holding a burger and fries in her hands. The headline screams “Why are Americans so fat?” (The headline uses the German word “Amis” – a derogatory term for Americans.)
Simply put, SUBWAY’s advertising strategy is a new low in corporate behavior -- exploiting cultural tensions and inflaming anti-American sentiment abroad just to sell more sandwiches. It is appalling that SUBWAY, a U.S. company, would attack Americans and the Statue of Liberty in a time of war ... just to gain market share.
In response, the Center for Individual Freedom (www.cfif.org), together with Frontiers of Freedom (www.ff.org) and several other organizations, has launched its own campaign to demand that SUBWAY immediately end its anti-American marketing ploy.
To be effective, we desperately need your help!
An excerpt from today’s Houston Chronicle, which reported on this issue in a front page article, reads: "SUBWAY officials thought a tie-in with a movie featuring [Jared] Fogle and raising awareness about the nation's weight problem 'just seemed to make sense' for a company that has just launched a campaign to fight childhood obesity,” Kane said.
There you have it folks. No denial, no apology, no shame.
Please join us in demanding that SUBWAY immediately halt its anti-American propaganda scheme overseas. Call SUBWAY CEO Fred DeLuca today! Urge him to stop his cynical advertising campaign against the United States. The phone number for Mr. DeLuca at Subway's Executive Offices in Connecticut is 800-888-4848, ext. 1401.
I also want to encourage you to write letters to the editor of your local newspapers condemning SUBWAY for its anti-American marketing scheme. And to make this campaign successful, it’s critical that you help spread the word by forwarding this call to action to your friends and family.
We need your help. Let SUBWAY know that Americans refuse to tolerate their shameless gambit. Take Action NOW!

Jeff Mazzella
Executive Director
Center for Individual Freedom

Translation of Subway Tray-liner--Germany

Michael Moore quote:

“The only time I have been scared/frightened for my life has been going through a McDonald’s drive-thru.”
Trayliner text:
Why are Americans so fat?
In the Michael Moore tradition, New York filmmaker Morgan Spurlock does some deep questioning and self experiments for 30 days on products from the world’s largest fast food company.
Astounding revelations…scary liver levels and horrifying blood levels that would cause any doctor the highest degree of alarm.
In this top satire, which won the prize for best direction from Sundance 2004, Spurlock explores the questions of responsibility between big business and consumers, and the big money which contributes to this “Fast Food” culture, and how to make Americans healthy again. An ironic hit into the stomach that is enriched by fat and facts behind this dubious mega industry.
Passage near Statue of Liberty:
You care about what you eat and everything isn’t equal? Then you shouldn’t miss this film about foolish intake. It will open your eyes.

This is "attacking Americans in a time of war."

What this REALLY is, is flat-out intimidation. It looks to me like Subway's check was late and they're being made an example of. Seriously, there are probably meetings going on between the organization putting out this letter and Subway management, looking for a $500,000 contribution.

The Greatest Band in the World Today

"Amelia" is a classy indie band whose self-released CD is getting some airplay (reviews below). If you just hate alt country or anything that's called "retro", you won't like them, but if you like that kind of thing they are in the top rank. Their lyrics tend toward the edgy and dark. I love their stuff but then, I've never been known for my objectivity.

This link should take you directly to free Rolling Stone downloads: http://tinyurl.com/66dup

You can find out more here: http://www.ameliaband.com

Buy here: http://www.ameliaband.com/store.html


"Sultry and sophisticated cabaret pop with just a whisper of twang that flits in and out like a friendly ghost. The music of Amelia is a staggeringly cool exercise in understatement". Clay Steakley, "Performing Songwriter"

"'After All' opens with the sound of a needle being dropped into the groove of an LP, or maybe an old 78, telegraphing Amelia’s retro approach to their music, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about their playing, songwriting or the smoky confidence of lead singer Teisha Helgerson." Waxed J. Poet (?), "No Depression"

"Subtle bands like Amelia usually count on such audience diligence, but the indie group from Portland, Ore., is immediately addictive with 'After All.'" Chuck Campbell, Scripps

A couple of years ago I swore I'd never use my awesome blogging powers for selfish purposes, but sooner or later each of us must fall.

My disclaimer: my son plays on this album and wrote some of the great songs.

Amelia's disclaimer: they like me fine but they are not terribly political and would rather not be identified with my vivid persona.

Lots of dirt on Bush from the 9/11 report

While everyone else has been having fun in Boston, I've been plugging away at the 9/11 Commission report (*sniff*).

I've come up with some results. Bush doesn't look good in the report, but you have to search things out. If the facts were embarassing for Bush or for Clinton, the bipartisan commissioners reported them without spelling out their significance. And while they did leave stuff out, there's a lot to work with in there.

1. Despite many urgent warnings, Bush took almost no action on terrorism before 9/11. On August 6 he was informed by PDB that Osama Bin Laden intended to strike within the U.S. He left for a month-long vacation the next day, and did not talk with anybody about this new information until after the 9/11 attack had taken place.

(Text of Bush's Aug. 6 PDB)

2. Easy-to-get Saudi visas made Osama's job a lot easier. The problem was bipartisan, but Bush made it worse and, for fear of offending the Saudis, was very slow to correct the situation. There are some very odd twists and turns in this story. For example, how did Armenia get lumped in with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan?

3. Bush and Ashcroft have a propensity for fibbing and passing the buck.

4. Contrary to the media spin, the 9/11 report is devastating for Bush. Where comparisons can be made, Clinton's pre-9/11 performance was definitely better than Bush's (which was wretched).

5. Before 9/11 Ashcroft had no interest in terrorism and took no action on it whatsoever, despite repeated attempts to talk to him about the subject. The day before 9/11 he denied a request for additional counterterrorism funds.

Revised 10:46 PDT

Balloon Drop

I think being there for a balloon drop is one of the more wonderful experiences in life. Here's one picture. More later, but it might be tomorrow, after I get home.

Actually, I named this picture "BD1" when I uploaded it. Is that too Hayseed? Should I have given it a longer name?

Info For the Hayseeds

Through Dave Winer I found Cybertourists in Boston. It's full of great professional journalism like:
With a few exceptions, most of the credentialed bloggers came off like cyberhayseeds in the big city. Many dared for the painfully obvious as they updated their posts. Most of the blogging entries I have read ranged from the insufferably pedantic to the sublimely mediocre. There were exceptions, of course, but the see-me, hear-me tenor of their reporting was only exceeded by the vapidity of the banal commentaries peddled as analyses.

Did they get co-opted? Sure seems that way at first glance. Maybe the ego-lifting moment of their 15 minutes of prime-time fame got in the way of clear thinking. Or maybe they were simply starstruck at rubbing shoulders in the lvoiine for the men's room with folks like Ben Affleck and Warren Beatty. I remember covering my first political convention as a college junior in 1976 and how wowed I was when bandleader Peter Duchin deigned to smile at me.

But these are big boys and girls. After spending years belittling the shortcomings of the mainstream media, they had me expecting more. Instead, I had to content myself with gems such as, "Bill Clinton looks really small from the upper tiers of the Fleet Center." Really? If that knocks your socks off, my advice would be to take in the view from the bleachers at Fenway Park sometime.
The thing is, pretty much every insult he flings at the bloggers I took as compliments! Seriously!

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman writes about the Big City journalists today:
The failure of TV news to inform the public about the policy proposals of this year's presidential candidates is, in its own way, as serious a journalistic betrayal as the failure to raise questions about the rush to invade Iraq.
It says a lot that Charles Cooper COVERS things like bloggers, yet he is so far from "getting it."

People who read Seeing the Forest and other weblogs learn a lot more about what is happening to their country than people who get their information from the Big City professionals. I mean hard, factual information that is important for citizen participation in a democracy. But that isn't all that blogging -- at least THIS blog -- is about. It's ABOUT the "hayseed" perspective. It's ABOUT being told what it's like to actually BE in a convention for the first time, and meet famous people, and what a balloon drop is like from the balcony. It's ABOUT seeing things through the eyes of SOMEONE WHO IS LIKE THEM.

Scroll down and read the interview with the anarchist, including the invitation to Ricky to leave a comment to make sure his perspective is voiced correctly, and the rest of the comments and tell me where you're going to find anything like that in a Big City paper. Then scroll down a little further and look at the pics starting with the one FROM THE BALCONLY -- only a Hayseed would show THAT -- and the rest of the pics, and tell me which Big City journalist would have posted those. And then tell me if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I'm getting plenty of e-mail from other hayseeds asking for more just like that. I don't know if I have any Big City readers, though, since that's what counts.

I'm working on a serious piece about all of this, but like I said a few days ago, I gotta get home, walk the dogs, eat actual food at actual mealtimes, etc. before I can really digest what I have seen this week.



Mike Malloy at AAR. Yeah. At last.

More Pics - Late Thursday

More pics:

Randi Rhodes

An extra Randi Rhodes. And yes, I got you an Air America Radio pen. You know who you are.

Jesse Jackson.

Democratic Party Donky at the Ritz Carlton.

Espresso, home, not waiting.

Oh, Please!

U.S. Lacks Records for Iraq Spending:
"U.S. civilian authorities in Baghdad failed to keep good track of nearly $1 billion in Iraqi money spent for reconstruction projects and can't produce records to show whether they got some services and products they paid for, a new audit concludes. "
However, spending in restaraunts in Washington and Dallas, and orders for private jets are WAY up.

The Fear III

Fear of Death Wins Minds and Votes, Study Finds:
"President Bush may be tapping into solid human psychology when he invokes the Sept. 11 attacks while campaigning for the next election, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

Talking about death can raise people's need for psychological security, the researchers report in studies to be published in the December issue of the journal Psychological Science and the September issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

'There are people all over who are claiming every time Bush is in trouble he generates fear by declaring an imminent threat,' said Sheldon Solomon of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, who worked on the study.

'We are saying this is psychologically useful.'

Jeff Greenberg, a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said generating fear was a common tactic.

'A lot of leaders gain their appeal by helping people feel they are heroic, particularly in a fight against evil,' Greenberg said in a telephone interview from Hawaii, where he presented the findings to a meeting of the American Psychological Association.

'Sometimes that may be the right thing to do. But it is a psychological approach, particularly when death is close to peoples' consciousness.' "
Roosevelt: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Bush: "Be afraid. I want you all to be afraid."
"In one we asked half the people to think about the September 11 attacks, or to think about watching TV," Solomon said. "What we found was staggering."

When asked to think about television, the 100 or so volunteers did not approve of Bush or his policies in Iraq (news - web sites). But when asked to think about Sept. 11 first and then asked about their attitudes to Bush, another 100 volunteers had very different reactions.

"They had a very strong approval of President Bush and his policy in Iraq," Solomon said.
Gosh, you don't think the Bush campaign has employed psychologists who already figured this out,, do you? Nah - no one would do that to other people on purpose, just to get elected, would they?
The volunteers were aged from 18 into their 50s and described themselves as ranging from liberal to deeply conservative. No matter what a person's political conviction, thinking about death made them tend to favor Bush, Solomon said. Otherwise, they preferred Kerry.

"I think this should concern anybody," Solomon said. "If I was speaking lightly, I would say that people in their, quote, right minds, unquote, don't care much for President Bush and his policies in Iraq."

An E-mail I Received

Here's an e-mail I just received (from Frances Cherman -- with a 'C') about the convention center:
Why is the security-conscious Democratic party holding its national convention at Boston's FleetCenter when everyone knows Fleet is public enema #1?

Interview With an Anarchist

I'm posting from a Starbucks on Boylston, about a block and a half from a park where several anarchists are gathered. I just interviewed a young man named Ricky, who says to use the last name "Fight Capitalism!" He's from New Jersey. He's one of two holding a banner that says, "MAKE KERRY WALK THE PLANK". He's wearing a mask.

Ricky says he will check here later and post comments if I don't accurately convey our conversation. Also, Ricky, please feel free to ADD anything you want to say. I know I always think of things later that I wanted to say.

I start by asking, "Why?"

Ricky: "There's really no difference that matters. Both support the war. Both probably support the draft. They are both funded by the corporate elite. Both of the party campaigns are financed by the corporate elite."

I asked if he had heard about what Moore is saying here, in Boston, asking the Greens and Nader voters to support Kerry anyway in this election because it is so important.

Ricky: "It's bullshit." (He doesn't mean that what I'm saying Moore said is bullshit.) "It's all pay to play. The only way to make it work is to have more candidates and more parties. If Moore was a real liberal he'd support 3rd parties because of the corporate financing. He's done a lot of good with his movies, but he's just a reformer." He repeated "just a reformer" but I don't have the exact quote.

I asked about the Dean campaign, funded by lots of people giving small donations.

Ricky: "That's really cool, the whole idea."

He asked me to say that the reason he is wearing the mask is because "the cops are swarming us, FBI, cops, taking pictures to put in files, so we wear the masks for our own security." I told him I was doing what he's doing now, back in the 60's with Vietnam, and they certainly were taking pictures and keeping files back then.

Ricky is on the left side of this picture.

It happens that I KNOW some of the major funders of the Democrats, both from a past life as a Silicon Valley person, and from my day job, which is trying to help start organizations that will be a "Progressive infrastructure" to counter the massive communications/propaganda machine that the Right has in place, that is much of the reason they have become so successful in elections. (For more info on this, please read this transcript of my recent talk at the national Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) convention. Get past the parts that are specifically about trial lawyers -- this is happening to ALL of us!)

I am sure that Ricky would be very surprised to learn that when I talk to people who are major funders of the party, (I was talking to one ten minutes before I met Ricky), they pretty much agree with him that the corporate influence is a danger to people and to our democracy. They are all VERY concerned about what is happening! This is WHY they are funding Kerry and the Democrats! Think about this, if they wanted corporate rule in America, wouldn't they just put their money into Bush at this point? What would be the POINT of giving money to the Democrats NOW if you want more, not less, corporate influence over our government?

So the question is, how do the Democrats get the word out to people like Ricky?

I also understand how Ricky feels. I used to be a Green. I realized it was a mistake.

Note - I had to rewrite this completely from scratch. I promise that the first draft was much better. ;-) I lost 45 minutes of typing because Blogger burped. This happens all the time. And these guys are going to sell STOCK for $130 a SHARE????

Pics, Thursay Morning

This is Dave from Boston. Here are some new pictures:

This is the crowd going nuts for Edwards, from where the bloggers are sitting.

This is me with the next Governor of California. (Taken by Bill from Liberal Oasis using my camera.)

This is Buddy, back home, all alone, waiting...

Favoritism to the Saudis: Visas

(A non-Conventional report from John in Portland)
It takes a Kremlinologist's skills to decode the 9/11 Commission's bipartisan, exquisitely tactful report.  Take these two sentences, for example: 
That same day [June 22], the State Department notified all embassies of the terrorist threat and updated its worldwide public warning. In June, the State Department initiated the Visa Express program in Saudi Arabia as a security measure, in order to keep long lines of foreigners away from vulnerable embassy spaces. The program permitted visa applications to be made through travel agencies, instead of  directly at the embassy or consulate.
(VIII, p. 257) 

That looks pretty good, doesn't it? Protecting the embassy -- good idea! 

What they don't tell you here -- though that information can be found elsewhere in the report -- is that that the convenient Saudi visas made the terrorists' job much easier.  And in this case, it isn't bipartisanship that's the problem, since most of the terrorists entered the U.S. during the Clinton administration. Apparently the Commission decided that the only objective, neutral course would be never to blame anybody at all, as if they were running a daycare center.   The 9/11 report is like a series of jokes with all the punchlines removed.

Travel issues thus played a part in al Qaeda’s operational planning from the very start. During the spring and summer of 1999, KSM realized that Khallad and Abu Bara, both of whom were Yemenis,would not be able to obtain U.S. visas as easily as Saudi operatives like Mihdhar and Hazmi......Yet because individuals with Saudi passports could travel much more easily than Yemeni, particularly to the United States, there were fewer martyrdom opportunities for Yemenis. (V,  p. 156)

Hazmi and Mihdhar were ill-prepared for a mission in the United States. Their only qualifications for this plot were their devotion to Usama Bin Ladin, their veteran service, and their ability to get valid U.S. visas. (VII, p. 215)

Jarrah was supposed to be joined at FFTC by Ramzi Binalshibh, who even sent the school a deposit. But Binalshibh could not obtain a U.S. visa. His first applications in May and June 2000 were denied because he lacked established ties in Germany ensuring his return from a trip to the United States. In eptember, he went home to Yemen to apply for a visa from there, but was denied on grounds that he also lacked sufficient ties to Yemen. In October, he tried one last time, in Berlin, applying for a student visa to attend “aviation language school,” but the prior denials were noted and this application was denied as well, as incomplete.
(VII, p. 225)

The majority of the Saudi muscle hijackers obtained U.S. visas in Jeddah or Riyadh between September and November of 2000. (VII, p. 235) 

The problems with the terrorists' applications weren't trivial, such as punctuation or spelling. Omitted information included home addresses, means of financial support and travel plans while within the United States. Only three forms listed a "Name and Address of Present Employer or School," and only one of the 15 applicants listed an actual destination address in the United States. The rest of the hijackers put down vague locations such as "California," "New York" and "Hotel." One simply wrote "No." Only two were given oral interviews, which are common for applicants from poorer or less stable countries or those whose written applications require clarification. (Sen John Kyl)

Getting an American visa in Saudi Arabia had already been easy, partly because of corruption:

A single Foreign Service Officer in the Jeddah consulate issued 10 of the visas to the Saudi hijackers. Yet GAO investigators told House staffers that no one from State ever interviewed that officer after 9/11 to learn what might have gone wrong. We've also had a scandal about foreign nationals working in the U.S. Embassy in Qatar, who sold at least 71 visas, including three to people with al Qaeda connections. (Wall Street Journal) 

But the Visa Express program made getting a visa even easier. It essentially allowed Saudis to pick up their visas at the travel agency along with their plane ticket, without any control whatsoever. The general rule under both Clinton and Bush was to give the Saudis everything they wanted, mostly for business reasons: "Melendez-Perez said that leading up to Sept. 11, customs officials were discouraged by their superiors from hassling Saudi travelers, seen as big spenders who made frequent visits to theme parks in the Orlando area. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia." (LA Times, Jan. 27, 2004) And according to the WSJ piece, it wasn't just politics: the professionals within the State Department were a big part of the problem. (Ray Mabus, the only American diplomat who stood up to the Saudis on visa questions, was a Clinton political appointee whose policies were reversed by the professionals once he left office -- the issue was American women married to Saudis who were unable to leave Saudi Arabia because they could not get exit visas.)
All the above was before the 9/11 attack.  So what did the Bush administration do after 9/11?

They were slow to do anything at all. According to the WSJ, the Visa Express program was still in effect in June, 2004, nine months after the attack, and it took over a year to add Saudi Arabia to the list of nations to which "Special Registration" visa rules appled. nefore 9/11 this  list included Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Syria. (North Korea and Cuba were on a separate list of countries to and from which travel was entirely forbidden.)  The Special Registration rules required the fingerprinting, photographing, and interviewing of applicants, and established special ways of tracking individuals from the countries listed who were travelling on student or tourist visas. 

On November 22, 2002 -- over a year after the 9/11 attacks -- were thirteen countries added to the original five on the Special Registration list:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. 

But unbelievably, Saudi Arabia, the place of origin of most of the attackers,  was not listed then! Nor was Pakistan, which was heavily implicated with the Taliban. Only on December 16, 2002 were these two countries finally added -- along with Armenia. (There's a little twist here. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan had, in fact, already been secretly added to the list on September 5, 2002. Presumably this original secrecy was to save these two nations from public embarassment, whereas the later public announcement was because of U.S. public outcry.  Conjecturing further, perhaps Armenia was listed at the same time for the same reason that North Korea was added to the Axis of Evil -- in order to make it slightly less obvious what was actually happening. In any case, Armenia was removed from the list two days later.)

This is a genuinely bipartisan issue. How often do you see Rep. Dan Burton Henry Waxman working together? (And how often do you see me citing the WSJ editorial page?)  It seems clear enough that, if the Saudis had been treated like Yemenis instead of like Canadians, Osama bin Laden's job would have been much more difficult.   And while the Bush administration was indeed unduly soft on the Saudis, the Clinton administration and the State Department pros were almost as bad. 
And some of this is in the 9/11 report, sort of.  If you read like a Kremlinologist.
More on the Visa Express program: USN&WR

9/11 Commission Report 

(Substantial editing, revision, and expansion until 3:40 PDT.)

Remember to See The Forest

In the Washington Post, Kerry Returns to Boston With 'Band of Brothers':
"Surrounded by 12 veterans of the Swift boats he captained in Vietnam and by Jim Rassmann, a Green Beret he rescued from a river in the Mekong Delta, Kerry crossed the Boston Harbor aboard the LuLu E taxi ship, which was adorned in red, white and blue."
Keep in mind why all this "showboating" (sorry) about Kerry's military service is necessary. The Republicans are doing everything they can to smear Kerry's record. Remember, the smears are the trees.

See the big picture, see the forest, Kerry went to Vietnam, served with distinction, and went on to a brilliant and honorable career serving US. Bush didn't. Period, end of story.

I wrote this on my second day as a blogger:
"Let's see if we can see the forest. Look back to the 2000 election. Step back and look at the candidates. The Democrat's candidate was a well respected, well liked, extremely experienced, Vietnam vet, former seminary student, character beyond reproach, faithfully married family man, foreign policy expert, with many accomplishments including being the person in the Congress most responsible for advancing the Internet... The Republicans ran a foul-mouthed thoroughly inexperienced scandal-ridden (Harken oil, Rangers stadium, recipient of bribes directed at his father) failed businessman, continuously bailed out of jams by his father's connections, draft-dodger (worse, he got into the Nat. Guard through connections and then played hooky!), former drunk, probable drug-user, kids constantly in trouble, with a campaign entirely financed by large corporations obviously looking for favors.

But by election time the only issue was “character”, and the character in question was the Democratic candidate’s! That's the forest.

Issues like the "Love Canal story" and "I invented the Internet" were trees. The forest was how they pulled it off - the smears, the propaganda blitz, the way they spread their message and the way people hear messages these days.

With this weblog I'll be writing about this issue, seeing the forest for the trees."
Now we KNOW what they do. Don't let this happen to Kerry.

Two Ways to get your Blogs

This is interesting. It's a live feed of weblog coverage from the convention, putting on the screen in large type the beginnings of the very latest posts from the convention, sort of like a stock ticker crawl... and you can click on it to get the full posting. Sort of by-the-second coverage...

If you want to receive a digest of THIS weblog, containing summaries of the day's posts, sent to you at the beginning of the next day, scroll down on the right side and enter your e-mail address.

I think NEXT WEEK is when the most useful blogger observations begin. Friday I'll be heading home, walking the dogs, and eating actual food at actual mealtimes. And thinking.

Big Anti-Kerry Hit Piece Today

ABCNEWS.com : Is Dems' Biggest Money Man Mob-Connected?

Michael Moore's Speech Transcript

Here's a transcript of Michael Moore's speech the other day, from AlterNet.

Just awesome, but if you can actually SEE it... there was a power in the WAY he said thing, but it wasn't like prepared remarks, it was like he was sayingwhat he was feeling at the moment. Remember what I said about the women on both sides of me crying - one with a brother in Iraq and one with a daughter-in-law there and her son in the Guard on his way over there.

To the press:
You do us no service by hopping on a band wagon, by becoming cheerleaders, by looking the other way, because you know that's the safest way to play it if you want to keep your job. Or, you are just afraid of being accused of being un-American if you were to ask a hard question to the President or his administration. That's not un-American. That's pro-American! To ask the questions. That's patriotic! But I know it was rough. I know in those first days of the war, I know. I stood on an Oscar stage five days into the war. I know what the mood was like. It was not easy to say we are being led to war for fictitious reasons. Right?

And those of you who felt the same way at the beginning of this war, you know, remember what it was like at work or at school? You had to be kind of careful. Right? And if you expressed any opposition to the war, you had to immediately say, but I support the troops! Right? But I support the troops. You didn't need to say that. Of course you support the troops. You've always supported the troops. Who are the troops? The troops are those who come from the other side of the tracks. The troops are the people who come from families who have been abused by the Bush administration. You've always supported them. You've always been on their side! This no one should question that!

The way that you don't support the troops is to send them into harm's way when it isn't necessary. The way that you hate the troops is when you send them off, some of them, to their death, so that your rich benefactors can line their pockets even more. The Halliburtons, the oil companies. That is anti-American. That is unpatriotic.
And read what he says about Kerry and the war. It's important. At least now you can forward this transcript to people, so they can forward it. But I'll make sure to post where to find it if I find out it is online. Everyone should read this, just like everyone should see 9-11.


More Good News!

Huge deficits coming.

More "Incredibly Positive News!". From my post then:
Let me help sort this out, and note the date as he tries to blame 9/11. New York Times, August 25, 2001
President Bush said today that there was a benefit to the government's fast-dwindling surplus, declaring that it will create "a fiscal straitjacket for Congress." He said that was "incredibly positive news" because it would halt the growth of the federal government.

Interviewing Non-Bloggers

Now the people sitting here who AREN'T bloggers are being interviewed by the press.... One guy is a blogger who snuck into the area.


Who did Bob Graham piss off, that he has to follow Al Sharpton?

Can't even hear him - somehow the blogger area has become swamped with people... can't move, can't work, can't hear.

More Wednesday Pics

Jessamyn West of Librarian.net.

This is the crowd outside of the Ritz Carlton, just standing around watching famous people coming in and out.

Right-wing porn. How come nothing about war or death penalty? (Or charging interest, etc.) It's not a sin if Republicans do it?


Jesse Jackson is speaking now. "The Bible speaks of the difficulties of rich young rulers getting into the Kingdom. It's because they are intoxicated by the rarefied air of privilege."

Here at the convention I'm observing the press and the celebrities walking around and the cultures I see operating. I've been interviewing every famous person I can - on and off the record - and I'll have something up about this maybe tomorrow.

Convention Pics

This is Dave from Boston. Here are some pictures:

This is Bill Clinton from where the bloggers are sitting.

Michael Moore, just after telling 100 press photographers, "Come on, I look the same as I did five minutes ago!"

Air America Radio's Majority Report and the back of Maxine Waters' head.


This is what a California Delegation Breakfast looks like. (The press isn't allowed to eat and has to sit at little tables in the back. "We" even have plastic cups for the water we get. Breakfast sponsored by ATT, PGE, others...

Billionaires for Bush. If you get a chance to see them...!


What's up with the weblog? It looks funky. I haven't changed the template, so I guess I've been "bloggered" again. If it doesn't fix itself I'll try fiddling with the template...

What Trippi Said About Kerry

Joe Trippi also talked about Kerry. He said what Kerry shoud to tomorrow night is "opt out" of public financing for the campaign. He should look out at the public and say (something like) I have available to me $70 million [or whatever it is] in public financing, but I think it is time to make a change in the way we do things in America. I am going to refuse this money and ask the people of the United States to step up and say that they want to participate. So today I am starting with zero dollars. I am asking every American to send something to contribute to my campaign ... What I [Trippi] am afraid of is that if he doesn't then Bush is going to do this in September, and opt out, and be able to spend any amount, and be the candidate of reform.

Steve Soto was taping this, and might be able to post something later that is closer to what he said. It was more profound than I am using here -- I couldn't take notes fast enough...

What He Says

I just left a session where Joe Trippi spoke. He talked about how organizations are top-down, power concentrated at the top, commands flowing out form a center. Information is power, and this is why information is concentrated in organizations. He says that this has started to change because the Internet enables tools for bypassing this.

He said that we should look back to Napster as an example of this change occurring. Napster preceded Dean as an example of breaking up the top-down nature of organizations structures. It was the bottom, using the net to bring chaos to top-down structures.

He says that the situation with the Internet is like television in 1952. 1952 was the first instance of television having an effect, when Nixon - Eisenhower's VP candidate - was "caught with his hand in the till." Eisenhower was going to throw Nixon off the ticket, when Nixon asked for one more chance to talk to the American people, and went on television to deliver the famous "Checkers speech". He mimicked the speech, but just go read it. Trippi called this televised speech "the instant bullshit had its own medium." (The public rallied around Nixon and he stayed on the ticket.)

So this is the Net's 1952, and Dean is the first time it has had a major effect in politics.

In the campaigns up until then, candidates traveled around the country on trains. Truman talked to 19 million people over several months by pulling into a station where the people were waiting, and giving a speech. After 1952 Eisenhower got on TV and talked to 19 million people at once. But the train stations were gatherings of people - social occasions where people shared a common experience, and talked with each other. Television is a common experience where people are isolated. The Internet blends the two, enabling people to share a common experience and be in contact with each other.

Email from a British friend

[Richard, not in Boston]
So the UK government release the


site yesterday.

Showing the country still has a sense of humour this site came out a few hours later.


Shameless Self-promotion Dept.

(A non-Conventional post by John in Portland)

I thought I'd use this moment of high traffic to plug a couple of political pages I put together awhile back. Both are a couple of months out of date, but there's a lot of interesting stuff in there.

"Who is Bandar Bush?" (Can be though of as documentation for "Fahrenheit 9/11").

Kerry Smear Page (They keep recycling the same rumors, so it's still somewhat timely.)

And I'l also take this opportunity to plug my son's band again:

"Sultry and sophisticated cabaret pop with just a whisper of twang that flits in and out like a friendly ghost. The music of Amelia is a staggeringly cool exercise in understatement".

Clay Steakley, "Performing Songwriter"


Read Bloggers NEXT WEEK, Too!

I think the best stuff from the bloggers will be next week. Too much is happening, and I know that I need time to digest. But there is a LOT coming from this. I feel it. All those things that just MAKE me need to write are happening, and I'm working on some good stuff to post here.

So I think that NEXT WEEK is going to be the week to really read bloggers. I have started understanding that bloggers are going to be able to contribute something very valuable to this process, for the same reasons they did with Dean, and with the electronic voting problem and all the other things we have forced into the attention of enough of the opinion leaders and public to make things start happening. There really IS something about what we're doing that allows us to have a perspective that you are not going to get from the press or the party or the professional punditry.

It's 8:30, been up since 7, which is actually 4, and I have to go get my press credentials every day, and then at 9 there's a California Delegation breakfast with Barbara Boxer. At 10 Arianna is speaking somewhere across town. I might be able to get on for a while between that and the David Brock thing I want to attend. So you see how it is here. This is what they call the Juice, the flow. The cliche about trying to sip from a fire hose... no time, no sleep and in fact breakfast yesterday was part of a muffin, lunch was two Dunkin Donuts (I try to do that one while I'm east...) and dinner was a bag of popcorn.

Voting Machines Story

This is the headline at Drudge:
NEW ELECTRONIC VOTING SYSTEM IN FLORIDA: FLAWED... electronic records from first widespread use of touch-screen voting in Miami-Dade County have been lost ,,, records disappeared after two computer system crashes last year, leaving no audit trail for the 2002 gubernatorial primary...
At Drudge?

Here's the story: Lost Record of Vote in '02 Florida Race Raises '04 Concern


Bush and Ashcroft: fibs, excuses, evasions

(A non-Conventional post from John in Portland)

Bush and Ashcroft's explanations of the events leading up to 9/11 have a pattern familiar to those who have raised children. While Bush was questioned only once and was not under oath (and had Cheney holding his hand), several of the little evasions that have served him so well during his career showed up.(As for Ashcroft, he's apparently one m of the Lying Baptist denomination immortalized by Mark Twain.)

"They're lying! I didn't really say that!"
"Clarke has written that on the evening of September 12, President Bush told him and some of his staff to explore possible Iraqi links to 9/11. 'See if Saddam did this,' Clarke recalls the President telling them.'See if he’s linked in any way.' While he believed the details of Clarke’s account to be incorrect, President Bush acknowledged that he might well have spoken to Clarke at some point, asking him about Iraq." (X, p. 334)
"Pickard told us that after two such briefings Ashcroft told him that he did not want to hear about the threats anymore. Ashcroft denies Pickard’s charge." (VIII, p. 265)
"Nobody told me!"
"The President told us the August 6 report was historical in nature. President Bush said the article told him that al Qaeda was dangerous, which he said he had known since he had become President." (VIII, p. 260)
Aug 6 report:
"Al-Qa’ida members—including some who are US citizens—have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks.Two al- Qua'da members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.....Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York. The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives." (VIII, pp. 261-2)
"Clarke mentioned to National Security Advisor Rice at least twice that al Qaeda sleeper cells were likely in the United States. In January 2001, Clarke forwarded a strategy paper to Rice warning that al Qaeda had a presence in
the United States. He noted that two key al Qaeda members in the Jordanian cell involved in the millennium plot were naturalized U.S. citizens and that one jihadist suspected in the East Africa bombings had “informed the FBI that an extensive network of al Qida ‘sleeper agents’ currently exists in the US." (VIII, p. 263)
"It's not my fault!" 

Ashcroft said he therefore assumed the FBI was doing what it needed to do. He acknowledged that in retrospect, this was a dangerous assumption. He did not ask the FBI what it was doing in response to the threats and did not task it to take any specific action. He also did not direct the INS, then still part of the Department of Justice, to take any specific action. (VIII, p. 265)
The President said Bin Ladin had long been talking about his desire to attack America. He recalled some operational data  on the FBI, and remembered thinking it was heartening that 70 investigations were under way.... He did not recall discussing the August 6 report with the  Attorney General or whether Rice had done so. He said that if his advisers had told him there was a cell in the United States, they would have moved to take care of it. That never happened. (VIII, p. 260)

Chapter 8 pdf

Chapter 10 pdf

August 6, 2001 PDB

 Read between the lines: George W. Bush failed on 9/11

Moore -- Hatriotism not Patriotism (Greens read)

Michael Moore was held up, so they had the entire second hour session, and then Moore finally arrived. He gave a very different kind of talk. I wouldn't call it a speech, more like someone talking about something in the news. Anyway, it was extremely, extremely powerful, and moving, PERSUASIVE, heartfelt, profound... This talk has to find its way online and if I learn about it I'll post where to find it. This talk is SO good, that if enough people see it, it could really change minds.

Christian Crumlish of The Power Of Many said it was the best political speech he has ever heard. I don't agree, partly because I don't consider it a political speech, partly because the guy was talking an hour after Howard Dean and the day after The Big Dog's great, great speech and partly because I have seen Jesse Jackson speak live.

More described people coming out of theaters saying "How come I never saw that on the news?" ASking why they didn;'t know about these things -- things that are not disputable, because they had just seen films of them, like the Black members of Congress being shut out of the Senate, one by one, asking for redress of what happened to Black voters in Florida.

He said, "I haven't seen the mothers of dead soldiers on the news."

He said the problem was the press, they were cheerleaders for the war.

Standing ovation, hollering, as he says to the press, (almost quoting) We, the people, we need you. Start asking questions. Ask questions about the war. It's not un-American, it's PRO-American to ask the questions. It's patriotic.

He talked about how, after the war started, anyone criticizing the war felt obligated to throw in, "But I support the troops." Then, "OF COURSE WE SUPPORT THE TROOPS! The troops are the people who come from the other f the tracks - the very people being abused by the Bush administration."The woman on my left side is crying now. I ask and she says her brother is in Iraq. The older woman on my right takes out a picture of her daughter-in-law in uniform, says she is in Baghdad and her husband, in the Guard, is going in a month.

Then Moore is talking again about the mainstream press, "You have cameras and microphones and the ability to get into paces of power and you can ask the questions AND THEY CAN'T ARREST YOU. They can't stop you from asking the questions."

Then later, about Republicans opposing gays. "They're not patriots, they're HATEriots".

Then he talked about the Republicans holding on to power. ""They are going to fight, and they are going to smear and they are going to HATE."

Finally, he talked about Ralph Nader and the Greens. He said Nader is a great American who has accomplished so much, that he tried to explain to Nader that the Democratic Party of 2004 is NOT the Democratic Party of 2000, (that even Al Gore of 2004 is not the Al Gore of 2000). He said, "You did a great thing. They've already gotten the message."

"My appeal to the Nader voters and the Greens out there is that we have a different job to do out there now."

He talked about taking Kerry's daughter to a college showing of F-911, with her sitting in the back anonymously, and afterwards asking how many planned to vote for Nader. He says about half raised their hands. (Nearly quoting) After showing them so many reasons that it is important to get Bush out of office... (end near quote) He believes that she took the message back to her father:

"Dems need to give those thinking of voting for Nader a REASON to vote for the Democratic Party."

UPDATE - Transcript here.

Down On The Main Floor

I got a "floor pass" and walked the main convention floor while Howard Dean was speaking. It was like this: In ten minutes in a huge crowd there was Wolf Blitzer, George Mitchell, David Gergen, Jeff Greenfield, Frank Luntz, George Stephanopoulos, Judy Woodruff, Tom Daschle, Charlie Rangle, about a hundred familiar faces that I can't reachtheir names right now and spent a few minutes with a guy I know from 1992... A few pictures later.
Dean was sort of lukewarm, but there were enthusiastic people. He was just amazing earlier today. When I have time I'll write more about the main convention floor, and will spend more time there during slower parts of the day.

Howard Dean and Robert Reich

I went to an event put on by Campaign for America's Future, where Howard Dean, Robert Reich, Michael Moore and others spoke. (I'm posting about Moore later.) I'll post pictures soon. CAF is a Progressive organization, and describes themselves this way:
Over 100 Prominent Americans ? citizen activists and policy experts concerned about our country and our planet ? joined together to launch and build the Campaign for America's Future. We are challenging the big money corporate agenda by encouraging Americans to speak up ? to discuss and debate a new vision of an economy and a future that works for all of us.
They have a series of event just across the river from the convention center this week.

Howard Dean spoke at our Blogger Breakfast the other day, but that was much more of a conversation. This was a speech event, with an enthusiastic crowd. This was at least as good as any speech I saw him give during the primary campaign. He talked about rebuilding the party structure and about running candidates. He said that 70 Republican members of Congress are not contested and we need to be running candidates in every single district. We won't win this time, but each time we'll get closer.

Then he talked about how YOU should be running for office. He said that as long as people think someone else is going to do the job, things will stay the way they are. He said he used to encourage people to vote, but voting is just the bare minimum of what people need to be doing to take the country back. He repeated that he wants YOU to run for office. He's even campaigning for one guy who is running for Library District Administrator to make the point that EVERY office is important, and we can't expect to take back the country from the top down, we need change across the entire system. It takes more than organizing, more than raising money -- it takes going out there and doing it yourself.

He also talked about Democrats taking their case to Utah and Alabama and Mississippi and Texas (yes, he had the cadence going). He said the most underrepresented person in the US is the White Southerner who is not rich because they vote for Republicans and the Republicans head for office and immediately forget about them, and take away their pensions and health care and government services and hurt their public schools.

My description isn't doing justice at all, I'm just talking content. It was an amazing fiery wonderful speech and it made me feel like I was listening to a true leader.

So someone just handed me a copy of Dean's speech for tonite. It's not the speech he gave earlier today. It's toned down, short, I don't see any room for his fire. So if you get a chance to see his speech this afternoon online somewhere (I'll post info if I find out) -- especially if you are a Dean fan -- be sure to see that.

Later Robert Reich talked, and gave a great speech talking about how this recovery is not recovering things for average people. He used his great line about him and Shaquille O'Neal having an average height over 6 feet.

Later - I just got a "floor pass" and was on the convention floor while Dean spoke. The speech was just nothing like this afternoon. I'll write about the convention floor later. It's late, and I have four or five different posts underway... This post was just descriptive - I have some things coming. But there is so much coming at me from so many directions...

Picture of Me at LiberalOasis

LiberalOasis. (Scroll down.)

Oh Jeeze, if that's what I looked like yesterday... A long day, sweating, no food, no mirrors... (When did I get old? When did that HAPPEN?)

It LOOKS like I'm "blogging" but actually I'm just trying to get online or get the computer working...

And I don't usualy wear a cell phone on my belt. Looks like I should have a pocket protecter.

Update - Sorry, shouldn't have posted this... the dark side of blogging. Wanna see a picture of my dog? At least now I know what to say to the next reporter who asks what I blog about.

Convention Blogs

Remember to check here regularly for convention postings from ALL the bloggers here.

What It's Like

What's it LIKE, being at the convention?

The Fleet Center is a big sports arena. You already know what the hall looks like, from TV. I walked around on the main floor before the convention started, and it's smaller than it looks like on TV. (Everyone says that about TV.) Things are close by. When someone is on the stage, they are right there, not too far from you. I'll try to get a pass to walk around on the main floor today after the convention opens, to get a feel for what it must be like to be a delegate, so I can write about that.

From where I'm sitting way up in the stands, though, it actually looks bigger way down there, and your television is a much better seat for seeing the convention.

The proceedings themselves are entirely geared to TV. All day people are giving speeches and almost nobody is listening, except maybe the delegation of the state the speaker is from. Then there are the big speeches. There was times last night when the speaker would be saying something from the stage, and people would be cheering, and we'd all be going, "What did he say?" and the cheering would get louder and the speaker would just keep talking. (Probably to stay on schedule.) So on TV you would hear the cheering but not at the amazing overwhelming level that we hear it in the arena. It would be like the "Dean Scream" where the part you hear (over and over and over) makes him sound like a loon yelling his head off, but if you were actually there all you could hear was the crowd and him trying to talk loud enough for people to hear him.

I said it is a big sports arena, and when you go out into the hallway surrounding the main floor that is exactly what it is like there, too. There are concession stands with amazing prices (a large Coke is $5), and stands with people selling hats and buttons and t-shirts. It's very hard to find a drinking fountain. (And of course it is about half ice.)

Now, for the political junkies, here's how it is not like a sports arena. Steve Soto and I went wandering around for a while yesterday. We started out in the press area -- which looks so different from what you see on TV or what you might expect. I posted a picture of the scene in the Press Filing Room yesterday -- long tables covered with white plastic, little chairs, crowded, dirty with trash people have left behind and full wastebaskets. The press area is down in the part of the arena people never see, and it's all cement and cardboard and pipes and wires. Cement walls and floors, and rigged up "rooms" with curtains for walls with signs made with marker pens that say things like "CBS RF", or "DIGITAL DARKROOM."

We're walking around and Steve says "That was Wolf Blitzer," and then "Sam Donaldson." We passed a lot of people like that. The faces you recognize coming by every fourth person. We decided we'd become "The Blogger Story" if we told Andrea Mitchell "Your husband is Bush's Bitch." Anyway, we just stopped and watched press people go by for a while to see who we could pick out. A nudge from Steve, "Isn't that...?" "Hey, look who's over there..."

Then we went walking around on the ground floor, where there's an area for talk radio shows, and there's Sam Seder and Air America, so I'm talking to Sam about the right-wing communications infrastructure. The people who the New York Times Magazine story from Sunday talked about are supposed to be on either tonite or tomorrow, and I'm going to nail down when that is and be sure to be there to hear it live, maybe be on the show he says. AND I'm going to show up to see Randi Rhodes for sure. Of course, there's Al Franken and I'll make sure to see that live as well. I have run into him a few times walking around.

Running into people walking around... After we talked to Air America a while we went down to the McDonalds because drinks cost much less there. We're in line and Ted Sorenson walked by, being helped by a couple of guys because he's pretty old. And then Michael Moore comes in the door, and he is SURROUNDED by a cocoon of press and camera, with the TV camera guys walking backwards in front of him and the lights on him and the microphone booms overhead and this weird gaggle comes walking down the hall. I've never experienced anything like this. And they're coming straight for us and the cameramen back right into us and look at us like, "Who the f... are you?" so we get out of the way and the procession slowly goes by. Al Franken jumps into the middle of it to say Hi. I'm thinking that I could never, ever live like that. And there's another press gaggle down the hall a ways and we see it's Jesse Jackson. And in the crowd around him Steve is saying, "That's, oh darn, I can't remember his name." (Another one upstairs and it's two of the Daily Show guys.)

So the power of celebrity and the power of the press? It's everything you read about but still, when you see it, it's both amazingly attractive and also somehow perverted and shameful at the same time.

It's crowded. It's a Democratic gathering, which one journalist speaking to yesterday's blogger breakfast, Walter Mears from the AP, described as a big class reunion. That was a great description. He's an old guy with a respected career in journalism and he talked about striving for objectivity (and the bloggers made faces at that and some of us thought about starting to chant, "Nedra, Nedra, Nedra" but we didn't.)

I hope I have been able to give you some sense of What It's Like to be at a convention -- with a press pass.


This is Dave from Boston. I wrote this last night, pretty late.

Clinton. OK, so I'm a political blogger. I'm supposed to write about The Speech. But what is there to say? Clinton. OK? The big dog barked. You saw it. There just isn’t anything left to say. I was there, but you saw it on TV (so you actually got to hear all of it.) And if you didn't see it on TV you're probably not a person who is reading a political weblog. So you aren't here.

What's to say? You're floored. I'm floored. He's the best. As Richard would say, "Period, end of story."

After, a few of us went out looking for food and beer. So in the wisdom of the owners of restaurants of Boston they all closed JUST before a crowd of approximately 20,000 people came flooding out of the Fleet convention center toward downtown, all hungry and looking for food.

Finally, after maybe an hour walking around Boston the Long Warf Marriott bar had food. But there's a funny story about this trek, because on the way there we passed by a large crowd with a lot of lights next to Faniuel Hall, and it turns out it's the Hardball show live. And we're too busy looking for food to stop and watch so we try to go around the crowd, and we get behind where the show is and we see from behind who it is on the show and there's Joe Trippi sitting there. Obviously a commercial is on, so we all start saying, "He Joe, we're bloggers from the convention" and stuff like that so he comes over to that end of the back of the stage to talk to us. He asked if we're hanging around but we said no we're looking for food and does he know anywhere open? (The mind becomes incredibly concentrated after a day with no food.) But he's got to go back on before the commercial break ands, and we simply have to find food, so we go our different ways. He says he'll see us at the"Blogger Bash" Wednesday night.

Beer and food and gossip about other bloggers (never mind that) at the Marriott. At about 1:30am I started walking across town. (Remember, this is only 10:30 California time – still too late for me but before the Daily Show is on at home.) Tom said something about walking through town at night, getting mugged… Christian asked if the computer is insured. So I'm walking down alleys, through the middle of the Commons, trying to get someone to hit me on the head and take the damn computer…

More on Daily Show

This is Dave from Boston. Computer is working today (finders rossed) AND I am online at a Starbucks. So all is well.

The Daily Show: I figure I was probably in trouble right away, from when I said, "I'm sorry, what was your name again? Did you say Samantha?" I think I said, "Are you the producer?" Now that I think about it, she was probably thinking to herself, "Oh man, this is going to be really good."

I have a feeling some of you are wondering what I'm talking about, and some of you are rolling your eyes and saying, "Oh man, this is going to be really good."

OK, I have seen some clips from "The Daily Show" online, but, well, it's on too late. OK? Now some of you are thinking, "What time is it on?" and some of you are thinking, "Oh man, this is going to be really good."

So, was it on last night?

George W. Bush failed: 9/11 Report

(A non-Conventional post from Portland, Oregon)

The media consensus seems to be that the 9/11 Commission report either exonerates Bush, or else says that Bush and Clinton were equally bad. But the consensus is wrong.

Richard Clarke's verdict: "Yet, because the commission had a goal of creating a unanimous report from a bipartisan group, it softened the edges and left it to the public to draw many conclusions. Among the obvious truths that were documented but unarticulated were the facts that the Bush administration did little on terrorism before 9/11, and that by invading Iraq the administration has left us less safe as a nation". (archive link)

Most of the media have taken the report's discreet refusal to draw any conclusions to mean that they should not draw any conclusions either. But as Clarke says, the report merely leaves it up to us to articulate the "obvious truths" ourselves. (As I have phrased it, "Some assembly is required"). One of these truths is that the Bush administration's pre-9/11 counter-terrorism performance was poor, and definitely worse than Clinton's. Another is that the link he claimed between Iraq and al Qaeda – one of the main justifications of the war – was non-existent.

The only positive note in the 9/11 report was "The Millenium Exception":

"Before concluding our narrative, we offer a reminder, and an explanation, of the one period in which the government as a whole seemed to be acting in concert to deal with terrorism—the last weeks of December 1999 preceding the millennium.  In the period between December 1999 and early January 2000, information about terrorism flowed widely and abundantly.... After the millennium alert, the government relaxed .....In the summer of 2001, DCI Tenet, the Counterterrorist Center, and the Counterterrorism Security Group did their utmost to sound a loud alarm, its basis being intelligence indicating that al Qaeda planned something big. But the millennium phenomenon was not repeated."  (XI, pp. 358-9)
The report charitably explains the difference by the fact that in 2001 there was no millennium scare to get people excited.  But there was another, more important  difference between 1999 and 2001: a change of administration. And whereas Clinton, during the millennium scare,  was banging heads and shaking the trees in order to get some action, during his first eight months in office Bush exhibited a
complete lack of leadership  on counterterrorism.  The supposed "organizational deficiencies" of structure and process in the counterterrorism effort were in large part due to the fact that in 2001 the man on top  wasn't interested.

Clarke's tenure with Bush consisted of a long series of unsuccessful attempts to get the attention of his superiors, especially Rice. Under the Clinton administration, Clarke (as counterterrorism coordinator) had been a de facto  member of the NSC "principals" committee, but under Bush, counterterrorism was relegated to the lower-level "deputies" level. Partisan Bush supporters use this to argue that Clarke is simply a disgruntled former employee with a personal grudge against Bush, but Clarke was not himself demoted.  He retained his title and his responsibilities, but Bush, despite repeated warnings from Clarke and from outgoing Clinton staffers, simply did not think that counterterrorism was as important as Clinton did. (VI, pp. 199-204)

Bush is quoted as saying that he was tired of "swatting at flies". Besides the characteristic Bush Administration contempt for anything the Clinton Administration did, this statement probably indicates Bush's (mistaken) belief that the problem of terrorism should be dealt with at the state level -- there are a number of complaints in the report about the folly of wasting good three million dollar missiles on mud huts. But what Bush "really meant" isn't too important, because before 9/11 he did nothing much about state-level terrorism either --- deciding, for example, not to retaliate against the late-2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole. (VI, pp. 211-213; X, p.  335; VI, pp. 201-2) 

And it also must be said that many of those who now criticize Clinton for not being aggressive enough against al-Qaeda are the same ones who made jokes about "wagging the dog" whenever Clinton did try to do anything, and who did their level best to cripple him during his term in office (in the process tying up 78 FBI agents who could have been out chasing terrorists.) 

The report is also devastating for  Bush on the Saddam-al Qaeda links. Clarke told Rice as early as September 18 that there was little evidence for links between Saddam and Osama, and Atta's supposed trip to Prague is also debunked in the report.  While the report does show  that the Clinton administration had also suspected a Saddam-al Qaeda connection, and that there were indeed some feelers back and forth between al Qaeda and Saddam, these feelers came to nothing in the end and it has to be concluded that Saddam had nothing at all to do with the 9-11 attack. (X, p. 334; VII, pp. 228-9)  
In the report Wolfowitz is seen as the strongest advocate by far of an attack on Iraq. There are four instances in which Bush is shown resisting the idea of attacking Iraq, but (in an account disputed by Bush) Clarke has also testified that as early as September 12 Bush asked him to explore possible Iraqi links to 9/11, and on September 17 Bush admittedly ordered that a contingency plan be drawn up for an Iraq attack. The strongest evidence that Bush decided to attack Iraq very early on, however, was his repeated statements that not only terrorists, but harborers would be attacked. While these statements obviously included the Afghans,  they were not really necessary if only the Afghans were intended, since al Qaeda were located in Afghanistan and would have to be attacked there.  I think that in speaking so often of the harborers, Bush was setting the stage for the attack on Iraq he had been planning all along. (X, pp 335-6; pp. 326, 330, 333) 

Throughout the report I found myself wondering whether Bush's loyal aides were coordinating their testimony in order to protect Bush (as well as themselves), and to me it seems possible that Wolfowitz has already been selected to be the fall guy if one is needed -- though as far as I know, the official story is still that the Iraq War was an enormous success.

It's not really surprising that the media are mostly ignoring this report, but it's disappointing that the Democrats apparently aren't capitalizing on it much either.  From one point of view, the report doesn't tell us much  that we don't know already, and from another point of view it leaves out a lot of important questions that deserve more attention, but there's still a lot of now-incontestable ammunition for use against candidate Bush this fall.  And as far as I know, this is still a free country where we elect our presidents.

9/11 Commission Report 

September 10, 2001: Ashcroft denies FBI request for more counter-terrorism funding

August 6, 2001: Bush is informed that al Qaeda is determined to strike within the U.S., and immediately goes on vacation for a month   

(Three dropped sentences restored, 3:25 p.m. PDT).


Look For Me On the Daily Show

This is Dave from Boston. I missed Gore's speech because I was being interviewed for the Daily Show on the Comedy Channel. Look for it!

Computer Died

This is Dave from Boston. Computer is completely dead. As soon as it has booted up it restarts, goes to CheckDisk... boots up, restarts. I'll try again tomorrow.

I can borrow computers to blog from, but can't post pictures. Expect a lot of pictures after I get back.

More Monday Pics

Here are two more pictures from the convention.

This is reporters covering reporters interviewing bloggers while bloggers interview the reporters.

This is my view in the Press Filing Room.

I just noticed over at the Convention Bloggers website that everyone posted at the same time - around 4pm, so the wireless upstairs must be working, AND I just heard the Star Spangled Banner being sung, so I'm leaving behind this nice Press Room view and heading upstairs now.

Pics from the Convention

Here are a couple pictures from this morning.

Gov. Howard Dean at the "Blogger Breakfast"

The view of the convention floor from the Blogger seats.