Friday, September 17, 2004


Another evening of working the phones for Kerry-Edwards, and another evening of finding more Kerry voters than Bush voters. If it's like this in North Carolina, I gotta feel good about the swing states.

And according to a whole slew of polls, Bush's convention bounce is GONE. Details at DonkeyRising; you'll find a link in the blogroll at right. (It's late and I'm tired.)

Coming next week: An item about Kerry's health plan. I've been reading about it, and as Teresa says, only an idiot wouldn't like it. (Speaking of which, the idiot in the White House misrepresented it as "socialized medicine" and a "government takeover." It's nothing of the sort. I swear, Dubya could not tell the truth if you wrote him a script in words of one syllable. If the man's lips are moving, you know he's lying.)

And so to bed (with apologies to Samuel Pepys).

'Their rosy scenarios are as bogus as their WMD'

According to Maureen Dowd, Bush & Co. "have known since July that their rosy scenarios are as bogus as their W.M.D."

That's when the president received a national intelligence estimate that spelled out "a dark assessment of prospects" for stability and governance in Iraq in the next 18 months, as Douglas Jehl wrote in today's Times. Worst-case estimates include civil war or anarchy.

Unlike the president, the young men and women trying to stay alive in the unraveling chaos of Iraq can't count on their daddies to get them out of the line of fire.

That's why Bush's dubious stint in the National Guard is relevant in 2004. He's the quintessential chickenhawk -- extremely warlike as long as his own hide is not on the line. People in Bush's world don't go to war; to paraphrase Leona Helmsley, wars are for the little people. With an attitude like that, Bush is the last person on earth who ought to be commander-in-chief.

(Note to wingnuts: I'm well aware that Bill Clinton evaded the draft -- but Clinton didn't go to war on the basis of trumped-up evidence, and he certainly didn't strut around barking, "Bring it on.")


When the WMD's didn't turn up, Bush changed his story: We invaded Iraq to bring democracy to the Middle East. Siva Vaidhyanathan (subbing for Eric Alterman) finds the fallacy in that rationale:

If Bush really believed in democracy, he would have let Gore's election stand.

(Note to wingnuts: It is an indisputable fact that regardless of what took place in Florida, Gore won the popular vote.)

9/11 widows endorse John Kerry

I'm a little late getting around to this, but it's so significant that I want to make sure nobody misses it. Earlier this week, five of the 9/11 widows -- the women who forced George W. Bush to back down and let the 9/11 investigation go forward -- endorsed John Kerry.

Liberal Oasis featured excerpts from CNN's interview with Kristen Breitweiser, who said:

With regard to the 9/11 Commission, President Bush:

Fought the creation of the commission;

Fought the legislative language to make sure the commission was set up in a bipartisan manner;

Fought the funding of the commission;

Fought an extension for the commission;

Fought access to individuals and documents.

[And next we have Judy Woodruff -- as always, playing apologist for Bush.]

WOODRUFF: But in the last analysis, the president did come around on most of that, didn't he?

BREITWEISER: He came around after he was backed into a corner and after a 90-8 vote in the Senate. And it was a long year.

And I wonder, what if the president had started his own commission in the days after 9/11, much like happened in Pearl Harbor.

Maybe this wouldn't be a campaign issue this year. Maybe national security would be taken care of. Maybe I would feel safe.

Maybe I wouldn't be so scared three years since 9/11.

And I think it's terribly sad that it is an issue in this campaign, because it's an issue -- because it hasn't been taken care of.

And Breitweiser -- who hasn't boarded a plane since 9/11 -- plans to get out and campaign for John Kerry:

I want the people in this country to understand that national security must be a priority -- a priority in action, not just in words.

And I'm willing to get on a plane. And assuming I can do that, I will do that.

And that is how committed I am, and how much I believe in Senator Kerry being our president.

(Incidentally, Breitweiser is a registered Republican who voted for Bush in 2000.)

'News' media: You're missing the point

It's NOT about the memos:

A former Texas Air National Guard official who served at the same time as President Bush says he believes the bigger story about gaps in Bush's service is being overlooked in disputes over the validity of certain Guard documents.

"I think the public ought to be concerned about his preferential treatment getting in and whether he satisfied his commitment to the Air Guard. Those are the two fundamental questions," said Robert Strong, the administrative officer in charge of air operations at Guard state headquarters from early 1971 until March 1972.

Documents publicized last week by the CBS program "60 Minutes" have been called into question by some experts and relatives of the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, who supposedly wrote them when he was one of Bush's commanders in 1972 and 1973. The memos indicated that Killian had been pressured to sugarcoat Bush's performance and that the future president had ignored an order to take a physical....

Killian's former secretary, Marian Carr Knox, 86, of Houston has said she believed the memos were fake but their content accurately reflected Killian's opinions....Strong added that he and Knox worked closely with Killian and are in better position than Killian's family to know how he did business. Killian's five children were between the ages of 2 and 19 in 1972. Strong said Killian's official records would have been removed from his Guard office before his family would have been allowed to retrieve his personal items after he died in 1984.

Regardless of the authenticity of the memos, the question should be centered on Bush's Guard service, and what is indicated in the documents, Strong said.

Phony as a $3 bill

Scrambling for the center, the White House is now planting stories (like this one in the Washington Post) about how Bush is a mainstream Christian -- he's really not a fire-breathing fundamentalist, not at all.

Digby is quite willing to believe that Dubya's not a fundamentalist:

Frankly, I don't think Bush is the least bit religious. I think it's as phony as the rest of him. Phony cowboy, phony flyboy, phony Christian. The only authentic thing about him is that he's a self-centered fratboy whose greatest faith is in his ability to get away with anything....

Apparently the evangelicals have taken it on faith that this guy is one of them because his speech writer is adept at using familiar religious phrases and he often evokes God as his guiding spirit. But it's clear to me that he is nothing but a rich prick playing a role for people for whom he has nothing but contempt.

I think Digby nailed it. No bona fide Christian could run the kind of campaigns Bush does. (Just ask John McCain -- victim of a Bush smear campaign during the 2000 primaries.) Bush was lying like a rug long before he ever got to the White House, long before WMDs.

"Thou shalt not bear false witness," the commandment says -- and if you're really a Christian, you don't get to pick and choose your commandments.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Bush sleeper cells

Eleanor Clift on the origins of the Swift Boat smear:

The strategy “came straight from the West Wing,” says the GOP staffer. “Nobody should be confused.” Asked to explain, this Republican says Rove is smart enough to keep technical distance. But all it takes is a well-placed wink to activate a web of Bush family hit men, confidantes and deep-pocket donors. “They know what to do—it’s like sleeper cells that get activated,” he says, likening the players to “political terrorists.”

They sprang into action in 2000 when Bush was running in the primaries against John McCain. After getting beat in New Hampshire by McCain, Bush’s first event was at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Standing next to Bush on the stage was a veteran who went right at McCain, questioning his Vietnam service while Bush remained silent. A whisper campaign told voters that McCain had a black child. (The McCains have an adopted daughter from Bangladesh.) McCain lost the primary; the veteran became a Bush administration appointee....

My Republican mole on Capitol Hill says the green light has gone out to Republicans to do whatever it takes to get Bush elected. “This is the way we hold onto power,” he says with disgust. Pollster John Zogby’s survey of battleground states taken last week as the Swift Boat controversy raged shows no fundamental change in the race. “It’s running its course, and it may boomerang,” he says of the attack on Kerry’s heroism. The fact that the sleeper network has gone nuclear is evidence of Bush’s weakness, not his strength, says Zogby. “If [the Bush team] weren’t seeing serious damage, they wouldn’t be hitting so hard so early. The president is on the ropes; there’s no other way of looking at it.”

Obviously we can expect more slime from Rove and his sleeper cells -- and when it comes, we need to pin it on them. Make damn sure everyone knows where this stuff originates.


Steven Waldman in Slate:'s hard to recall another instance of a presidential campaign so confidently promulgating the idea that its candidate had divine endorsement. The potentially dangerous implication is that since God put George W. Bush in the White House, opposing him is opposing Him. A person could get smited for that.

Of course, it's always possible God did put George W. Bush in the White House. But if He did, it doesn't theologically follow that He wants him to have a second term. Even those who believe that God controls world events usually concede it is hard for humans to divine the intent of the Divine.

After all, in the Bible, God is described as doing things for all sorts of inexplicable reasons—sometimes as a reward to the people, and sometimes as a punishment.

(Emphasis added by your blogger, who just couldn't resist.)

The other day, someone did observe that this hurricane season might be God's judgment on Florida for reelecting Jeb Bush after the 2000 debacle. Hmmm.

Bush's Vietnam

From the Washington Post:

President Bush has risen in polls after taking the calculated risk to elevate security issues over pocketbook concerns in the campaign's home stretch. But strategists in both parties said that approach leaves him with acute vulnerabilities in case of an economic shock, a terrorist attack or heavy attention to a bloody October in Iraq....

The exposure for Bush was clear as security spiraled out of control in Baghdad yesterday, with insurgents shelling the heart of the city with mortar and rocket barrages just days after U.S. military deaths in Iraq passed 1,000 and the Pentagon admitted that rebels control swaths of central Iraq. With violence flaring in urban areas last month, the United States suffered its highest combat injury toll for any month since the war began.

The "commander in chief" has led us into a quagmire.

Drinking the Kool-Aid

Paul Krugman may be America's best political commentator. This is one economist whose grasp of the situation goes well beyond the numbers -- as in this column on Iraq:

On Sunday, a celebrating crowd gathered around a burning U.S. armored vehicle. Then a helicopter opened fire; a child and a journalist for an Arabic TV news channel were among those killed. Later, the channel repeatedly showed the journalist doubling over and screaming, "I'm dying; I'm dying."

Such scenes, which enlarge the ranks of our enemies by making America look both weak and brutal, are inevitable in the guerrilla war President Bush got us into. Osama bin Laden must be smiling.

U.S. news organizations are under constant pressure to report good news from Iraq. In fact, as a Newsweek headline puts it, "It's worse than you think." Attacks on coalition forces are intensifying and getting more effective; no-go zones, which the military prefers to call "insurgent enclaves," are spreading - even in Baghdad. We're losing ground.

And the losses aren't only in Iraq. Al Qaeda has regrouped. The invasion of Iraq, intended to demonstrate American power, has done just the opposite: nasty regimes around the world feel empowered now that our forces are bogged down. When a Times reporter asked Mr. Bush about North Korea's ongoing nuclear program, "he opened his palms and shrugged."

Yet many voters still believe that Mr. Bush is doing a good job protecting America.

The question is, why do they persist in believing this despite mounting evidence to the contrary? Admittedly, the compliant "news" media don't help matters by reducing every issue to "he said/he said" rather than examining the facts and calling attention to the falsehoods -- but the truth really is out there and it's not that hard to find. Yet a substantial number of people just drink the Kool-Aid -- they dutifully accept the White House's latest talking points as gospel. Why?

The answer may be found in a comment from my "significant other," who moonlights teaching English at the junior-college level. Mike says he has to teach his students to think. Which leads me to wonder: How many students never encounter an instructor like Mike? And how much can he -- and other dedicated instructors like him -- accomplish in one or two semesters?

Monday, September 13, 2004

Dialing for Democrats (and finding them, too)

Just got in a while ago from dialing for Democrats.* Tonight I actually located more Kerry voters than Bush voters -- and other volunteers reported similar results. And this is NORTH CAROLINA, people.

As the poet said, there's something happening here....

*Volunteering at a Democratic Party phone bank.

Alterman spells it out

I try to avoid lengthy quotations, but this just says it all. And since does not maintain archives of "Altercation," I'm going to provide that public service in this instance. From Eric Alterman:

I was among those who, briefly, allowed hope to triumph over experience.  I praised President Bush’s initial address to the nation and ignored his childish “good vs. evil” and “for us or against us" posturing.  I did not make a big deal over his obvious panic on the day the attack took place.  I supported the war in Afghanistan even though I would have preferred a police and intelligence action....

Even so vociferous a critic of the unelected Bush, Cheney, the Neocons, and the religious right as myself could not bring himself to imagine in that horrific week with the smell of the smoking ruins literally polluting the sky above my house, that America’s president, its vice-president and their advisers would be capable of the following:

* Bush and company specifically ignored multiple warnings of just such an attack.
* Bush and company lied to the heroes of 9/11 about the health and safety implications of breathing the air down at Ground Zero—my own family included.
* Bush and company immediately sought to manipulate the grief and anger of the attacks to launch an unnecessary and counterproductive war against Iraq which has resulted in over a thousand needless American military deaths and U.S. soldiers turning into occupiers and in some case torturers.
* Bush and company lied to the nation about the responsibility for the attack, trying to pin it on Saddam Hussein who had nothing whatsoever to do with it.
* Bush and company allowed its friends in the Saudi royal family to hide its relationship to the killers.
* Bush and company made only a lackluster effort to capture the killers, allowing many to escape at Tora Bora and pulling agents and resources out of Afghanistan to feed its obsession with Iraq.
* Bush and company did everything they could to prevent and later, undermine an investigation of why 9/11 was allowed to happen.
* Bush and company continue to ignore their responsibility to protect the nation from another attack, failing to protect its ports, nuclear and chemical plants, and its most vulnerable urban targets and instead, have actually gone out of their way to inspire more such attacks, despite intelligence warnings  on this very topic.
* Bush and company have destroyed the sympathy our nation enjoyed (and deserved) in the immediate aftermath of the attack and have instead turned that sympathy into global hatred and disgust, further endangering our citizens.
* Bush and company have repeatedly manipulated the powerful imagery of the attacks for their own partisan political purposes.
* Bush and company have repeatedly cowed the media into ignoring, and when that’s impossible, apologizing for, much of the above.

For all of the above, the men and women who people this administration deserved not merely to be repudiated politically but held accountable both morally and legally.  Instead it is they who attack and impugn patriots like lifetime public servants Richard Clarke and Anthony Zinni, whose only crimes were to call them honestly to account for their catastrophic dishonesty, incompetence, and ideological fanaticism.  Since September 11, President Bush and company have accomplished what the terrorists could not; they have divided us against ourselves.  That so much of the mainstream media have proven ineffective-or worse—cooperative with their deceptive efforts give one cause for an even deeper pessimism.  One’s only solace, I suppose, is that we have, as a nation, been through worse—though never, it must be added, under quite such feckless leadership.

Amen. Now I'm going to work the phones for the Democrats.