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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

posted by Jazz at 10/23/2004 05:52:00 PM

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I have a favor to ask all of my regular readers. For all of you who regularly engage in prayer, I'd like you to add in one more thing to pray for. Not as a headliner, of course... there are so many important things that many of you pray for all the time: the safe return home of our troops, health and happiness for your families, that you'll finally find a new job. No, I'm talking about adding on one small thing way, way, way down at the bottom of the list. I'd like to ask you that tonight you say a short prayer for... the New York Jets in their game tomorrow against the New England Patriots.

WAIT! STOP! COME BACK! It gets better.

Now, even if you're not a football fan, (and particularly if you're not) there's no harm in putting in a short good word for the Jets tonight. It's not like it will hurt you if they win tomorrow. And even if you are a fan of one of the many other NFL teams, it doesn't really matter to your team whether the Jets or the Patriots wind up going 6-0 or 5-1. The only people who could really oppose such a prayer are die hard Patriots fans.

And let's face it, they don't need any more help. Boston just had a great reward with their baseball team knocking the Yankees out of the series. And the Patriots are on a record setting win streak of twenty games over two years. They've been to the Superbowl many times over the last couple of decades.

Being a Jets fan is hard. It's as hard as it was being a Red Sox fan over the last century until this week. We had one Superbowl win back so long ago that nobody read about it because the Vietnam war was still going on. We need a break. Hell... a break? We need a miracle. This is the first time since the seventies that two teams have met each other after both went undefeated through the first six weeks of the season. The streak has to stop, and the Jets need some help.

Remember, you need to ask yourself... What Would Jesus Do? Well, Jesus loves an underdog.

So does Allah.

And Buddha.

And... and... that guy from Utah.

Throw me a bone here. The Jets are going in as a six point underdog on the Vegas line. Show 'em some love, people. I promise I'll pray for your team later in the season. (As long as they're not playing the Jets.)

al-Sadr for President?

posted by Jazz at 10/23/2004 04:34:00 PM

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This afternoon we need to turn our attention once again to James Wolcott's blog and his recent entry entitled, "Why Anthony Eden Never Wore a Coonskin Cap." Wolcott's premise for this essay is an article by Christopher Hitchens in The Nation, who ponders whether or not the anti-Bush crowd's message of "Anybody But Bush" could include Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as a viable choice for president.

"Anybody? Including Muqtada al-Sadr? The chilling answer is, quite often, yes. This is nihilism. Actually, it's nihilism at best. If it isn't treason to the country--let us by all means not go there [yes, let's not]--it is certainly treason to the principles of the left."

The entire thing will make you smile and is well worth your time to read, but here's a short snip. In his usual, unflappable style, Wolcott explains why this wouldn't be feasible.

"First of all, I don't know of any liberals or lefties who brandish the name of Muqtada al-Sadr. This isn't 1968, he isn't Ho Chi Minh, his ragtag militia isn't hailed as a liberation front, and nobody--including me--knows how to pronounce al-Sadr's first name without hurting our teeth. The man simply doesn't come up in cocktail party conversation when we nihilists get together to drink blood."

I'm not a Democrat, but I do oppose Bush. Ever since Michael Moore said that I was a RINO (Republican in Name Only) I have to wonder if this qualifies me for membership in the blood drinking nihilist's club.

Look... Kerry wasn't my first choice for a person to unseat Bush and end this cycle of theocon madness. Hell, he wasn't even my third choice. I'd have much preferred the Dems to pick Wes Clark, or even John Edwards. In an ideal world, we would have risen up prior to the Republican convention, served Bush his notice, and nominated John McCain or Olympia Snowe. Christy Todd Whitman would have even been a good choice. But Kerry is what we were handed, and you have to play the cards you are dealt.

Wolcott makes an excellent point. The phrase "Anybody But Bush" is just that.. a phrase. It's not literal. There are a number of people in this country who might have done an even worse job than Dubya. We could have had Ted Kennedy, or Tom DeLay, or (gulp) Nader. But the Supreme Court gave us Bush, and now the Democrats have given us Kerry.

The cards are dealt. Stop being silly and play your hand.

Tough One to Call

posted by Jazz at 10/23/2004 03:55:00 PM

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Via Atrios. Bush has stated many times that, as a young man, he did a lot of volunteer work for a youth organization in Houston called Project PULL. (Professional United Leadership League.) According to this story out of Philadelphia today, his service may have been far less than voluntary. In fact, it may have been mandatory - as in "required community service." This story has surfaced before, with one reporter in the late nineties saying that Bush 41 had insisted on his completing the work following one of his drunken driving incidents. Now some others are speculating that it may have been part of a sealed sentence for a cocaine conviction. The key witness in this story is Althia Turner, an administrative assistant to the director of PULL who says,

"We didn't know what kind of trouble he'd been in, only that he'd done something that required him to put in the time. George had to sign in and out - I remember his signature was a hurried cursive - but he wasn't an employee. He was not a volunteer either. John [White, PULL director] said he had to keep track of George's hours because George had to put in a lot of hours because he was in trouble."

Before we can jump all over this, the story needs to be put in context. To play devil's advocate for a moment, this charge is coming out in the last days before the election and, as such, it is suspect, as would any story about either candidate released under such circumstances. Also, I would want to know more about the woman making the statement, if only to find out how much of a partisan stake she has in this race. We need to look at her testimony the same way we look at the elderly National Guard officer who recently testified to Bush's service in Alabama: a single source relying on distant memories when so many other witnesses have long since passed on.

With that said, it does seem to have the possible ring of truth. Bush's driving records have remained sealed for many years despite vigorous attempts to get them released. Also, rumors of cocaine use by the young Bush have flourished since he first ran for Texas Governor, though I've never seen them substantiated. More on this may come out in the days to come, and we'll keep an eye on it. Then again, it may have no supporting evidence and just fade into the background noise of electoral bickering.

You can find some more give and take on this story at TalkLeft, The Mahablog, and The Poor Man.

Al Calls the Election

posted by Jazz at 10/23/2004 03:33:00 PM

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Al Giordano has looked into his crystal ball, analyzed all 51 of the contests in the presidential election and drawn his line in the sand. His forecast for the electoral college?

Kerry 310 - Bush 228

He lays out some very interesting scenarios to arrive at this number. Personally, I see it unfolding differently, with three assumptions:

1. The electoral college count is going to be significantly tighter, and I'm not confident which man will carry it. I'm leaning towards Kerry 275 - Bush 263.

2. The popular vote winner will very likely, once again, either lose the election or barely squeak ahead.

3. We won't know the outcome of the electoral college until at least early December, as both sides are stocking up lawyers like firewood before winter, in preparation of challenges in every state that's close.

Al's analysis is still very detailed and compelling, however. Give it a look, but here's a taste. Assuming he is correct about a veritable Kerry landslide in the EC and record high voter turnout:

The winner will be able to say, "hey, I won with the biggest voter participation ever." End of story. He will enjoy the biggest mandate since Ronald Reagan had in 1980: perhaps even bigger. Thus, the rest of the world will either be cheering a Kerry victory, viewing him as a kind of savior from that evil little man, or it will fall back in realpolitik line, kneeling before a now-elected Bush, a scenario I consider dangerous for the fate of the earth, but it is what it is, we gamblin' men and women have to acknowledge the inconvenient factors, too.

You Have Been Charged With...

posted by Jazz at 10/23/2004 09:27:00 AM

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... "voting while black." Not literally, but it looks like a large number of people in Ohio may wind up feeling that way on November 2. Or you might find such a long wait to vote that it won't be worth your time. Better yet? Somebody may stop by to pick up your absentee ballot at your home and then simply throw it away.

According to this report, Republicans in Ohio have registered 3600 new "election observers" who will be stationed inside of polling places. The purpose of these "observers" will be to challenge potential voters who might be voting fraudulently. It hardly seems coincidental that the majority of these will be stationed in urban areas with high percentages of minorities.

Two problems with this immediately come to mind. First, the theory behind such challenges is that they must be based on "whether the voter is a citizen, is at least 18, is a resident of the county and has lived in Ohio for the previous 30 days." Aside from people who might not look old enough, how are these observers to tell, by appearance only, where the voters live, how long they have lived there, or their citizenship status? There is an obvious concern that such observers might be making observations more along the lines of, "Hmmm... that guy looks a little too black to be a Republican."

The second concern is a delay in the process. Each challenge will take time, slowing down the processing of voters and potentially creating long lines. Forcing people to wait too long will likely result in some of them becoming disgusted and going home without voting. From that perspective, it doesn't matter which voters are challenged in heavily Democratic precincts. Slowing down the voting process sufficiently for all voters will drive down the Democrat's numbers.

An Ohio GOP rep, James Trakas, sounding very much like Snidely Whiplash, commented, "The organized left's efforts to, quote unquote, register voters - I call them ringers - have created these problems."

Magpie, at Pacific Views, observes "[M]ake sure that balloting is so slow that people give up and go home without voting. If we'd had any doubts at all about whether the Republicans think Dubya would lose in a fair election, this gets rid of them."

Sterling Newberry describes it as "turning the walk to the voting booth into a march down the gamut."

Dave Johnson predicted this before it was even announced.

In a second, related story, down in Florida people have been going door to door and "collecting" people's absentee ballots and then not turning them in. Atrios asks, "When is the media going to start caring that there is clearly a well-organized nationwide effort to throw votes in the garbage?"

Indeed.

Individual Ready Reserves Failing to Show Up

posted by Jazz at 10/23/2004 08:47:00 AM

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If you're going to release bad news, the tradition goes, do it on Friday night. In keeping with that practice, last night the AP reported that more than one third of the American military personnel who had been recalled from the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) has failed to report for duty. The IRR is the term for people who have served their agreed upon terms of service in the military and received an honorable discharge, but didn't put in a full eight years. (Many people routinely enlist for two, four, or six years, with some serving additional time in the reserves.) I only did six years myself, but I'm far too long in the tooth to interest Uncle Sam now.

In all, 4,166 members of the Individual Ready Reserve have received mobilization orders since July 6, of which 2,288 were to have reported by October 17. The others are to report in coming weeks and months. Of those due to have reported by now, 1,445 have done so, but 843 have neither reported nor asked for a delay or exemption. That no-show rate of 37 percent is roughly in line with the one-third rate the Army had forecast when it began the mobilization to fill positions in regular and Reserve units. By comparison, the no-show total of 622 three weeks ago equated to a 35 percent rate.

That the Army has had to reach so deeply into its store of reserve soldiers is a measure of the strain the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns have put on the active-duty Army. When the American invading force toppled Baghdad in April 2003, the Army thought it would be sending most of its soldiers home within months. Instead, it has kept 100,000 or more there ever since. While the number of IRR Army soldiers who have failed to comply with their mobilization order has increased this month, so has the number who have asked for a delay or to be excused from serving.


This is something to consider for those still insisting that a renewal of the draft is "a myth" not to be considered.



Friday, October 22, 2004

We Regret the Error

posted by Jazz at 10/22/2004 02:29:00 PM

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Parrot Alert!

The good folks at Dead Parrot Society come up with a gem. A new blog that tracks editorial retractions and corrections in newspapers. Give yourself a Friday smile and check it out.

Cognitive Dissonance

posted by Jazz at 10/22/2004 01:28:00 PM

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You hear it all the time... when the left and the right begin spewing venom at each other across the fence, one of the first comments out of a Kerry supporter's mouth will be that the Bush supporters "must be stupid." There's also a wide perception among Democrats that Bush himself is not exactly the brightest bulb on the tree. Is there anything to these generalizations?

According to a just released study by the public policy group at the University of Maryland, it's not a matter of Bush supporters being inherently stupid - they're just uninformed. On a variety of major news items regarding foreign affairs, the majority of Bush supporters were not only unable to recognize some important facts, but they were also unable to identify the President's stand on a number of issues, believing that Bush supports a number of things which he does not. (All emphasis mine.)

Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.

Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.

Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments, "One of the reasons that Bush supporters have these beliefs is that they perceive the Bush administration confirming them. Interestingly, this is one point on which Bush and Kerry supporters agree." Eighty-two percent of Bush supporters perceive the Bush administration as saying that Iraq had WMD (63%) or that Iraq had a major WMD program (19%). Likewise, 75% say that the Bush administration is saying Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda. Equally large majorities of Kerry supporters hear the Bush administration expressing these views--73% say the Bush administration is saying Iraq had WMD (11% a major program) and 74% that Iraq was substantially supporting al Qaeda.

Bush supporters also have numerous misperceptions about Bush's international policy positions. Majorities incorrectly assume that Bush supports multilateral approaches to various international issues--the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the treaty banning land mines (72%)--and for addressing the problem of global warming: 51% incorrectly assume he favors US participation in the Kyoto treaty. After he denounced the International Criminal Court in the debates, the perception that he favored it dropped from 66%, but still 53% continue to believe that he favors it. An overwhelming 74% incorrectly assumes that he favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. In all these cases, majorities of Bush supporters favor the positions they impute to Bush. Kerry supporters are much more accurate in their perceptions of his positions on these issues.

There is a real jaw dropper that comes at the end of the portion of the questions dealing with Iraq. The majority of Bush supporters said that it would have been wrong to invade Iraq if there were no WMD and that Bush would not have done so had he known.

Steven Kull adds, "Another reason that Bush supporters may hold to these beliefs is that they have not accepted the idea that it does not matter whether Iraq had WMD or supported al Qaeda. Here too they are in agreement with Kerry supporters." Asked whether the US should have gone to war with Iraq if US intelligence had concluded that Iraq was not making WMD or providing support to al Qaeda, 58% of Bush supporters said the US should not have, and 61% assume that in this case the President would not have. Kull continues, "To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance, and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about prewar Iraq."

This begs the question, what else could possibly have been done by the media to get this information out? How can so many people remain so confused about things which are plastered all over the newspapers, magazines, television and the internet? There were some other intriguing areas of confusion highligted in this study.

This tendency of Bush supporters to ignore dissonant information extends to other realms as well. Despite an abundance of evidence--including polls conducted by Gallup International in 38 countries, and more recently by a consortium of leading newspapers in 10 major countries--only 31% of Bush supporters recognize that the majority of people in the world oppose the US having gone to war with Iraq. Forty-two percent assume that views are evenly divided, and 26% assume that the majority approves. Among Kerry supporters, 74% assume that the majority of the world is opposed.

Similarly, 57% of Bush supporters assume that the majority of people in the world would favor Bush's reelection; 33% assumed that views are evenly divided and only 9% assumed that Kerry would be preferred. A recent poll by GlobeScan and PIPA of 35 of the major countries around the world found that in 30, a majority or plurality favored Kerry, while in just 3 Bush was favored. On average, Kerry was preferred more than two to one.

There you have it. It's hard to come up with very much as a summary. This is just staggering. The mind reels. This is not a result of stupidity, people. And it is not the result of one demographic being somehow mentally inferior to another. This is the result of isolation, or "cocooning" if you will, by both sides. When we only listen to, watch, or read news sources that are partisan in nature and agree with what we want to hear, it's no surprise that we'll only see the spin from one side. All of the above information is freely available to everyone. However, we see from those numbers that a frighteningly large percentage of the population is simply tuning it out and plunging ahead, "staying the course" to the end.

Your Quote of the Day

posted by Jazz at 10/22/2004 01:05:00 PM

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One from the vaults.

Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.
Dwight Eisenhower (R)

Republican Switchers

posted by Jazz at 10/22/2004 11:44:00 AM

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The name pretty much says it all. Check out the Republican Switchers site. And no, it has nothing to do with their sexual preferences. Lots of links to material about traditional conservatives and moderates who will not support Bush and the new breed of theocons. Much of it I'd seen before, since I track moderate news down voraciously, but they had a few tidbits I'd missed. (Hat tip to Mr. Left.)

The Toxic Twig Gets All Pie Eyed

posted by Jazz at 10/22/2004 10:55:00 AM

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I can't think Jan enough for sending me this link.

Two Arrested for Hurling Pies at Columnist

Two men ran onstage and threw custard pies at conservative columnist Ann Coulter as she was giving a speech at the University of Arizona, hitting her in the shoulder, police said.

University police arrested the men but did not release their identities.

In her half-hour speech Thursday night, Coulter trashed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and derided liberals and Democrats while saluting conservative students who attended her speech.

Coulter writes a column for Universal Press Syndicate. Her appearance was sponsored by the UA College Republicans.


Pandering to the Extreme

posted by Jazz at 10/22/2004 09:57:00 AM

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In this AP story today, we find former Michigan GOP Governor Bill Milliken endorsing John Kerry and giving his reasons for doing so. Keeping in mind that Gov. Milliken held office for nearly a decade and a half starting back during Nixon's presidency, it was refreshing to hear an old Eisenhower Republican talking about what has happened to our party and the dangerous course it continues on under Bush's stewardship.

"This president has pursued policies pandering to the extreme right wing across a wide variety of issues and has exacerbated the polarization and the strident, uncivil tone of much of what passes for political discourse in this country today. " Milliken, a moderate Republican, has been critical of Bush and has faulted the GOP on such issues as same-sex marriage, flag-burning and abortion.

Well said, Bill. I only hope that some of the more high profile party faithful take the time to really listen to you, rather than branding you with yet another kneejerk reaction label. In less than two weeks this election will (praise all things good in the universe) be over, for better or worse. That's when the real work begins. We will have four years to wrest control away from the radical neocons in our party and rewrite the platform to reflect traditional Republican values such as Milliken supported. A very good start would be seeing Bush moved out of the West Wing, but we'll have to work with what we are handed in either case.

A Correction

posted by Jazz at 10/22/2004 08:09:00 AM

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In a previous post, I commented on an essay by Dean Esmay which covered a variety of topics. Dean has taken exception to some of my comments and pointed out that I incorrectly interpreted one or more of his views, and claimed he implied something he never actually said. Specifically, regarding Dean's opinion on Michael Moore, I wrote:

"We aren't seeing the opinion of a man who disagrees with Michael Moore. (And for the record, I think Moore is as much of a loon as Al Franken and Rush Limbaugh and Anne "the toxic twig" Coulter.) We are seeing the opinion of somebody who is outraged that all of America isn't screaming for the head of a person who disagrees with Bush on a silver platter. He doesn't want Moore to be proven wrong in public debate... he wants Moore to be silenced."

In the interest of fairness, I'll include Dean's response of the following comments:

"Jazz, you have quoted me out of context and completely twisted by the spirit and the letter of what I've written. 1) At no time, anywhere in my essay, anywhere, did I so much as suggest that I want the "head of a person who disagrees with Bush on a silver platter." That is an outrageous mischaracterization, and a rather slimy insinuation about my character.

I am deeply offended.
I want evil people with hateful messages to be recognized for what they are and treated accordingly. I no more want them 'silenced" or to have their "head on a platter" than I want the KKK or the people at STORMFRONT silenced or to have their heads on a platter.

2) It is a frightening example of left-wing groupthink--not to mention kneejerk, reactionary stereotyping--that any time someone's patriotism is questioned, this means that everyone who won't toe a specific ideological line is to be considered unpatriotic. Balls.


If you look at my entire statement in context, it should have been clear to you that there is all kinds of room for disagreement and criticism, and that only certain types of behavior are unpatriotic in my view.
And if you were unclear on that, you could have asked.

I'll further note that my right to call some asshole unpatriotic is in no way anything but my own expression of free speech. You're free to call me unpatriotic if you want, and that might offend me but that wouldn't change your right to say it. But please, do me a favor: don't mischaracterize my remarks and quote them out of context as you have done here."


Fair enough. It's true that he never said he wanted him "silenced" nor did he specifically say he wanted his "head on a platter." Consider that a correction.

Dean does not want Moore to be silenced. He is willing to preserve Moore's freedom of speech. He simply wants everyone in America to join in together condemning Moore and to equate him with the KKK. I still fail to see where that was "out of context" or mischaracterized in any way, but it is better to be accurate.

As to the "unpatriotic" comments, that's one that we'll never see the same way, I suppose. Everyone is free to call anyone else unpatriotic as per their own freedom of speech. This still frightens the hell out of me, of course. We have experienced a very rapid migration from a nation where questioning or criticizing the actions of the government when you disagree with them was a constitutional duty to a groupthink among a seemingly large number of people that it is unpatriotic and traitorous.

As I've stated in the past, I think Michael Moore is a bit of a loon. I don't agree with several of the points he makes in his latest movie, while others are thought provoking and seem on the mark. I take it as a left wing, partisan statement against the Bush presidency. I don't view him as being very much different than the Swiftboat guys in that regard, though of course they are releasing their partisan attacks in the opposite direction.

What I do not hold with, though, is this attitude that you find among so many right wingers indicating that Moore is somehow a traitor to his country for making his film, or that he is somehow able to affect the safety or success of our troops overseas. The sheer level of venom and bile that gets directed at Moore (and Dean's post is an excellent example) is mind boggling to me.

I realize that we don't like to agree with or praise anyone who points out negative things about whichever candidate we favor, but Moore seems to work Bush defenders up to a full lather with blood in their eyes. I've never understood that. I wish that the Swift Boat vets would just shut up and go away also, but they're not going to, and they are well funded by conservative partisan interests to continue their negative campaigning. I just accept that as part of the poisonous climate of today's politics. I have to wonder why conservatives can't just treat Moore the same and ignore him.

Interesting

posted by Jazz at 10/22/2004 08:05:00 AM

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Take a test to see how you should vote based strictly on the issues. Found at Dean's World. It's far from perfect, and the phrasing of the answers will likely frustrate you in some cases where you might prefer to choose "neither" or "both" but it's not a bad snapshot.

Kerry
You preferred Kerry's statements 89% of the time
You preferred Bush's statements 11% of the time

Voting purely on the issues you should vote Kerry

Who would you vote for if you voted on the issues?

Find out now!


Friday Pet Blogging: Early Edition

posted by Jazz at 10/22/2004 06:46:00 AM

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Our youngest cat, Pepe, is discovered buried in blankets and sewing material after the unfortunate reversal of the planet's magnetic poles.




EDIT: Ooooo... check out the Friday Ark at the Modulator for lot's more pets. And there's a link back to Pepe here.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Please, No.

posted by Jazz at 10/21/2004 03:49:00 PM

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According to this AP report, the Kerry team has ten thousands lawyers set to board planes and fly to any battleground states where the vote count is close on election day. Past experience from 2000 leaves no doubt that Karl Rove already has similar teams in place. Unless this election is a blowout for one candidate or the other, it looks like they are both on track to challenge the results and drag the election back into the judicial system for the Supremes to decide the winner. (Which, by default, means that Bush gets four more years, no matter how good Kerry's guys are.)

Six so-called "SWAT teams" of lawyers and political operatives will be situated around the country with fueled-up jets awaiting Kerry's orders to speed to a battleground state. The teams have been told to be ready to fly on the evening of the election to begin mounting legal and political fights. Every battleground state will have a SWAT team within an hour of its borders.

"Right now, we have 10,000 lawyers out in the battleground states on Election Day, and that number is growing by the day," said Michael Whouley, a Kerry confidant who is running election operations at the Democratic National Committee

At this point, I'm already in a dark depression over this election. A repeat of 2000 is definitely more than my psyche can handle. If this really does come to pass, stand by for Running Scared to become an all cooking and restaurant blog, with reviews of good places to get sushi in the Tri-State area. I love following and commenting on politics and feel that I'm heavily invested, on a personal level, in the democratic process in our country. But one more election decided in the courts could drive me to the ranks of those who stay home and eat Cheetos.

Begging to Differ takes Kerry to task for this, from the right side of the aisle. Counterspin Central offers an opposite perspective from the left.

Drawing Lines and Taking Sides

posted by Jazz at 10/21/2004 08:55:00 AM

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Dean Esmay has an intriguing editorial this morning called Ramifications and Recalculations over at Dean's World. To his credit, I feel that he tries to present a balanced look at "the big picture" from his perspective. The larger issues he raises concern what will happen in the event of either Kerry or Bush winning the election, the future of Iraq and America's foreign policy, along with the division between liberals and Dean's vision of conservatism in our country.

One quote from early in the article just jumped off that page at me.

"[I]f Kerry is victorious 12 days from now (something I begin to see as increasingly likely), I will of course support him and do my best to be better toward him than the most vicious critics have been toward Bush."

On the surface, this looks like a unifying spirit who is willing to give a lot more to the opponent than I can muster. I freely admit that from the moment the first cruise missiles slammed into Baghdad, Bush lost any chance of my ever supporting him or recognizing him as the legitimate leader of this country. His other shortcomings have been beaten to death over the last couple of years on this blog, but in all of them I was willing to recognize that there were two sides to each controversial choice he has made on domestic issues. I simply fell on the losing side of many of those choices. Those incidents did not, however, eliminate my overall support for the system or my tacit respect for Bush as the man currently holding the reigns of power. The invasion of Iraq changed that. The Bush doctrine of preemptive war was, as they say, the straw that broke the camel's back.

On that same subject, Dean continues in support of the hawks' point of view:

If Kerry wins, the American people will have spoken definitively, and for all time so far as I am concerned. They will have, in effect, said, "We will not support pre-emptive wars or large-scale efforts to democratize other nations any longer. We simply haven't got the stomach for what's required."

I'm willing to go so far as to say that I can respect the opinions of those who feel that way - but only in theory. Down a bit in my right hand column, you can read my "mantra" which has resided there since day one of this blog. It begins with the phrase, "War is, and must always remain, the course of last resort." It is one of the guiding policies which I think civilized man must always aspire to. Nothing is going to change that for me.

But notice how Dean feels compelled to use the phrase, "... haven't got the stomach for what's required." This is the all too typical complaint of the hawks and neocons. They start from a false premise that preemptive war is a given which needs to be accepted by all, and that anyone who doesn't support it is somehow morally weak in the knees. Just prior to that, Dean takes up the old Cheney chant about how people should not be criticizing the president's invasion of Iraq.

"The lack of patriotism such behavior betrays is simply sickening."

Speaking of making somebody ill... this is a common theme among the right wing, and it's one of the saddest marks in the current war between ideologies. Rather then recognizing the right of people to informed dissent against their government when it errs, Dean takes sides with the position that any dissenters are not only spineless, but they are unpatriotic and quite possibly even traitors. This is not shrill commentary - it's a frightening peek inside the groupthink of those who will tolerate no criticism of Bush as long as he remains "steady"... even if he is heading steadily towards the edge of a cliff.

Earlier in the piece, Dean lays out a graffe that highlights the deep, visceral divide between liberals and neocons in our country today.

"Either way, though, I'll feel permanently alienated from much of the Left. Then again, that's pretty much just a given: I'm genuinely ashamed to live in a country where Michael Moore and his apologists are not treated with contempt by most of the citizenry. I'll still love my country, but will always view with deep contempt and loathing some of my countrymen, something I hoped would never be the case again after 9/11 (but which was probably a naive wish anyway)."

Again, this is a frightening statement from an otherwise reasonable, intelligent, well written person. We aren't seeing the opinion of a man who disagrees with Michael Moore. (And for the record, I think Moore is as much of a loon as Al Franken and Rush Limbaugh and Anne "the toxic twig" Coulter.) We are seeing the opinion of somebody who is outraged that all of America isn't screaming for the head of a person who disagrees with Bush on a silver platter. He doesn't want Moore to be proven wrong in public debate... he wants Moore to be silenced.

Take a good look at Dean's essay and decide for yourself. This is, in my opinion, characteristic of the deep cultural divide our country is suffering from. It's producing a lot of ugliness which seeps into the public discourse. This is running so deep that Dean himself displays some of it in the same piece where he complains about it. If nothing else, this speaks volumes in favor of a move towards moderation in our government, and a rejection of radicalism, both of the liberal and neocon flavors.

EDIT: I misquoted Dean in a couple of places and have printed a response, correction, and subsequent answer here.

Bush Using New Tactic in Pa.

posted by Jazz at 10/21/2004 07:42:00 AM

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If you can't beat 'em, don't let them vote. Or at least that would seem to be the theme of the Bush Cheney team in Pennsylvania. According to the Post Gazette, our old friends at Sproul & Associates (a conservative consulting firm hired by the Republican National Committee) have been up to their usual tricks in the Keystone State.

A number of workers hired for a "nonpartisan" voter registration drive in the western portion of the state were not paid for the time they worked and told to not register anyone who was pro-choice, a Democrat, or who indicated they might vote for John Kerry.

"We were told that if they wanted to register Democrat, there was no way we were to register them to vote," said Michele Tharp, of Meadville, who said she was sent out to canvass door-to-door and outside businesses in Meadville, Crawford County. "We were only to register Republicans."

"If they were a Kerry voter, we were just supposed to walk away," said Michael Twilla, of Meadville, who said he has been paid for only eight of 72 hours he worked.

Twilla provided the Post-Gazette with a copy of the script he said he had been given.

It instructs the canvassers to hand unregistered Bush supporters a clipboard with a registration form, and to advise them the canvassers will personally deliver the forms to the local courthouse.

A lower portion of the form also advises the canvassers to ask undecided voters two questions: "Do you consider yourself pro-choice or pro life?" and "Are you worried about the Democrats raising taxes?" If voters say they are pro-life, the form says, "Ask if they are registered to vote. If they are pro-choice, say thank you and walk away."


A while ago, I'd have been outraged at this. Sadly, it now just seems like business as usual. It would be more shocking if they actually registered everyone they talked to without getting them to pass the Bush loyalty test first.

Joe Gandelman describes it in short terms. " M-i-s-r-e-p-r-e-s-e-n-t-a-t-i-o-n"

VodkaPundit doesn't comment on it, but the comments section of that post is intriguing. His readers, almost to the last person, ignore the part of the article where workers are told to lie about who is doing the registering who was employing them.



Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Bush Relatives for Kerry

posted by Jazz at 10/20/2004 05:31:00 PM

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This is a sad day for Bush, though likely not for the rest of us. (Hat Tip to Mr. Left.) A website by relatives of George W. Bush who are voting for Kerry, and why they are doing so. Check it out.

Bloggers Moving Around

posted by Jazz at 10/20/2004 05:23:00 PM

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For those of you, like me, who have Joe Territo as a daily read, he's moved. If you were using a bookmark to his blogger address, you'll want to change it now to his Moveable Type blog at http://www.JoeTerrito.com/

The link in my blogroll is already changed if that makes it easier. Congrats, Joe. I'm getting pretty sick of the problems I'm having with Blogger myself and may follow your example soon.

Oh, and Joe's sick this week. Send him some love and a get well soon.


Newspaper Non-endorsements

posted by Jazz at 10/20/2004 04:09:00 PM

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This almost makes me want to move to Tampa. The editorial board of the Tampa Tribune, a highly conservative paper who has endorsed Republican candidates in all but one election since Ike was in office, has decided that they can not endorse either Kerry or Bush. The quoted bit may be a rather long, but this is worth the read.

"We find ourselves in a position unimaginable four years ago when we strongly endorsed for president a fiscal conservative and ``moderate man of mainstream convictions'' who promised to wield military muscle only as a last resort and to resist the lure of ``nation building.''

We find ourselves deeply conflicted today about the presidential race, skeptical of the promises and positions of Sen. John Kerry and disappointed by the performance of President George W. Bush.

As stewards of the Tribune's editorial voice, we find it unimaginable to not be lending our voice to the chorus of conservative-leaning newspapers endorsing the president's re- election. We had fully expected to stand with Bush, whom we endorsed in 2000 because his politics generally reflected ours: a strong military, fiscal conservatism, personal responsibility and small government. We knew him to be a popular governor of Texas who fought for lower taxes, less government and a pro-business constitution.

But we are unable to endorse President Bush for re- election because of his mishandling of the war in Iraq, his record deficit spending, his assault on open government and his failed promise to be a ``uniter not a divider'' within the United States and the world.

Neither can we endorse Sen. Kerry, whose undistinguished Senate record stands at odds with our conservative principles and whose positions on the Iraq war - the central issue in this campaign - have been difficult to distinguish or differentiate.

It is an achingly difficult decision to not endorse a candidate in the presidential contest, and we do not reach this decision lightly."



They also point out some areas where Bush has simply been a complete disappointment to traditional conservatives and Republicans.

"But groupthink took hold among the neocons, while those with contrary points of view, like Secretary of State Colin Powell, were sidelined until after key decisions were made. It was almost as though someone who asked tough questions was seen as siding with the terrorists.

When Gen. Eric Shinseki, then Army chief of staff, said that hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed to secure a postwar Iraq, his argument was dismissed and the general summarily pushed aside.

But after Baghdad fell, we saw how insufficient troop numbers led to the looting of hospitals, businesses and schools - everything but the Oil Ministry, which our forces secured.

At the time, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said with great hubris that the uprising was ``untidy'' but not unexpected. And the president himself challenged the enemy to ``bring it on.''

Now we learn from Ambassador Paul Bremer, former presidential envoy to Iraq, that ``we never had enough troops on the ground'' to stop the insurgency. Baath party loyalists went underground only to launch a guerrilla campaign that makes Iraq less safe today than immediately after Baghdad fell."



I've been waiting to read some brutally honest assessments like this. Good job to the Tampa Trib.

Teresa Escapes from the Undisclosed Location

posted by Jazz at 10/20/2004 02:49:00 PM

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There was a big gap in posting on Running Scared today, and for that I apologize. Sadly, I was busy applying ice and bandages to my head. You see, I'm afraid I injured it a bit while smashing my forehead repeatedly into the keyboard after reading this interview with Teresa Heinz Kerry in USA Today. I had hoped over the last few months that the Kerry campaign would have seen the light and sent Teresa on a good will tour of Antarctica until November 3. Sadly, it was not to be.

This election is still running neck and neck, and there is still a very real chance that Kerry can lose it. In fact, several polls are now showing him lagging behind Bush again. If he does manage to lose and saddle us with Bush for four more years, it will undoubtedly be by a slim margin. Analysts will be able to point to any number of factors that might have swung the tide against him: these could include the effect of Ralph Nader, failure to capture the women's and minority votes solidly enough, or an overall image problem. One other factor should be worth consideration though, and that is the prospective first lady. We need look no further than my home state of New York where we were saddled with Hillary Clinton in 2000 to see that.

In today's interview, Teresa comes across just as I've come to expect her to perform. I was wincing through the entire thing. She starts off with that cocky, Eurocentric attitude that has continually hurt Kerry's image. In response to being asked if some Americans might have concerns about a foreign raised daughter of non-American parents as First Lady, she says:

"Well, Americans who pause probably don't know history very well, because we are all from somewhere. We are continually being from somewhere. And in such a young country as this � it's not like we're talking, you know, old Europe."

Translation in many voters' minds? "My, isn't America a cute little young country. Of course, you don't have the refinement and history of old Europe, but you're just doing splendidly." The key part here is "YOU" are doing great - not "we". She's speaking as a European.

Then, as if the ship wasn't already taking on water, she decides to comment on Laura Bush and her employment history.

"Well, you know, I don't know Laura Bush. But she seems to be calm, and she has a sparkle in her eye, which is good. But I don't know that she's ever had a real job � I mean, since she's been grown up."

This little slip-up has already been commented on over at Captain's Quarters and every other conservative pundit will pick up on it quickly. Laura Bush has advanced degrees in both education and Library Science. (Which is a tough degree to get.) She has worked as both a teacher and a librarian - poor paying and largely invisible, thankless jobs that are vital to the country's educational system. And she did it for years. To have Teresa "overlook" that, when she herself has led a comparative life of privilege without ever, to coin a phrase, having to dig any ditches.... well, it's staggering.

Kerry has zero wiggle room at this point if he still wants to pull off a win two weeks from now. His wife, though I'm sure he loves her dearly, is busy pounding nails in his political coffin.



It's Still Good to be the King

posted by Jazz at 10/20/2004 07:45:00 AM

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Having trouble finding a flu shot this year? If you are one of our 535 Senators and Congressmen, or a member of their family or staff, you won't have any trouble at all. As wapo reports this morning, there are flu vaccinations aplenty at the capitol. Even for the youngest and healthiest of our representatives, and in apparent contradiction to Bush telling everyone to avoid getting one unless you are in a high risk group, our elected leaders have a free pass to get the shots.

While many Americans search in vain for flu shots, members and employees of Congress are able to obtain them quickly and at no charge from the Capitol's attending physician, who has urged all 535 lawmakers to get the vaccines even if they are young and healthy.

Particularly in the District of Columbia, this is irony at its finest. DC has huge sections of extreme poverty where people often have no health insurance and rely on public clinics for preventive medical care. So congress is sitting on flu shots for all of the elite while the poverty stricken people who surround them go without.

What a sweet deal, eh?


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

White House Suppressing Another Report

posted by Jazz at 10/19/2004 03:54:00 PM

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Second hat tip of the day to Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast. She is the one who points us to this article by Robert Scheer about a report prepared by the CIA on 9/11, at the request of congress, which is ready for release but being held back by the White House until after the election. Scheer's lede for this is intriguing.

"The Agency is withholding a damning report that points at senior officials"

This will come as no surprise to anyone who follows presidential politics. Bush has suppressed reports on the economy, science, health and the environment. He originally opposed the creation of the 9/11 commission. We know that the shepherd does not like to be questioned by the sheep. What could be so damning in this report?

"What all the other reports on 9/11 did not do is point the finger at individuals, and give the how and what of their responsibility. This report does that," said the intelligence official. "The report found very senior-level officials responsible."

Jill offers some insight on this that is worth snipping out.

"This Administration has forgotten to whom it is accountable, and that's the American people. NO one has been assigned ANY responsibility for the breakdowns that allowed 9/11 to happen, and NOTHING has been done, other than alienating the remaining parts of the Arab world that didn't hate us before, to prevent another attack. And yet this report can't come out before the election?"

I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt that this story is true. Not to depress anyone, however, but I have to ask the following question: What difference will it make? Reports like the recent CIA missive on Iraq have come out before. The Bush response has been uniform in all cases. "They are wrong. I am right." He said that the CIA was "just guessing" about Iraq. If this report comes to light before the election, I can assure you that we will see more of the same. Bush will say that this is the CIA's "opinion" and he "respects the right of everyone to voice their opinions in this great nation" but that they are just wrong.

Then the spin will start. When the aforementioned CIA Iraq report came out, right wing blogs like Power Line and Captain's Quarters immediately ignored everything about the lack of WMDs, the lack of ability to make them, etc. etc. etc. and focused on the French Connection to the oil for food program. Plus, they highlighted sentences that said, in effect, "But he WANTED to have weapons if the sanctions weren't there! Did you HEAR that? He WANTED the weapons!" and declared it an unquestioned validation of Bush's policies. The same will happen with this report.

I understand that there are six voters in Iowa who haven't actually made up their minds who to vote for yet. This report might get them to go for Kerry. For everyone else, they will listen to the pundits who say things they agree with, nod their heads, and vote the way they were going to anyway. Yes, I know that's a depressing analysis, but that's really what I see in today's political landscape.

Feeling the Draft

posted by Jazz at 10/19/2004 02:51:00 PM

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Yes, that's the title of today's editorial in the nyt by Paul Krugman. Obviously, he read my recent post, "Do you feel a draft in here?" on this subject and the debate that took place on Dean's World and stole the title concept. (Note: That was humor.) I don't normally give a lot of attention to Krugman when he's not talking about economics, (and let's face it... the man is a master of matters concerning the economy) because he's about as far to the left as O'Reilly is to the right, but on this one he hits some salient points. An example:

"There were two reasons some of us never believed Mr. Bush's budget promises. First, his claims that his tax cuts were affordable rested on patently unrealistic budget projections. Second, his broader policy goals, including the partial privatization of Social Security - which is clearly on his agenda for a second term - would involve large costs that were not included even in those unrealistic projections. This led to the justified suspicion that his election-year promises notwithstanding, Mr. Bush would preside over a return to budget deficits. It's exactly the same when it comes to the draft."


Bush has claimed a lot of things during his tenure which would or wouldn't happen, which then turned out to be the opposite during his term. A flat statement that there "won't be a draft" coming from Bush isn't very hard currency at this point. Also, his statements that there is "no need" for a draft because of how well we are doing seems to fit nicely into his consistent denial of reality and insistence on seeing the world through Bush colored glasses. Krugman gives a pointed example of how things on the military staffing front might not be as rosy as the White House would have you believe.

Commanders in Iraq have asked for more troops (ignore the administration's denials) - but there are no more troops to send. The manpower shortage is so severe that training units like the famous Black Horse Regiment, which specializes in teaching other units the ways of battle, are being sent into combat. As the military expert Phillip Carter says, "This is like eating your seed corn."

As I pointed out in the previously linked post, no politician with a single atom of self preservation instinct would admit to considering the slightest hint of a notion about reinstating the draft this close to an election. It is, simply put, political hara-kiri. If, however, the country continues on into 2005 under the "Bush Doctrine" of preemptive war on a widening number of fronts, those troops will have to come from someplace. If not the draft, then where?

EDIT: I had no sooner finished this post than I saw this report from CNN. Apparently the White House has had the selective service updating its contingency plans for a draft of doctors, nurses and other medical workers in the event of military emergency. No draft indeed, eh?


Tommy Franks for President?

posted by Jazz at 10/19/2004 09:17:00 AM

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In today's NYT, Gen. Tommy Franks publishes an op-ed letter bashing John Kerry and supporting Bush. Being one of the people on the ground in Iraq during a critical period, his is certainly an opinion worth hearing. However, it seems odd that he practically reverses several statements he made previously - statements that Kerry has used to great effect in his campaign.

This blatantly lopsided letter appears to be little more than a thinly disguised advertisement for Bush/Cheney 04. The real question is, was Franks pressured into doing this by the administration or is he greasing the skids for his own transition from military life to the political arena on the GOP side?

Electablog seems to think that it's the latter. Just to offer both sides of the story for balance, both Betsy and Capt. Ed take it as a vindication of Bush's strategy in Afghanistan, with the Captain expounding on it at some length.

Sinclair Broadcasting and Bush: More Alike than you Think

posted by Jazz at 10/19/2004 08:55:00 AM

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In this AP release we find that speaking out against something you view as wrong will get you the same results in both the Bush Administration and at Sinclair Broadcasting. You will be fired.

The Washington bureau chief for Sinclair Broadcast Group said he was fired Monday after he criticized the company's plans to produce a news program based on a documentary critical of John Kerry's Vietnam-era anti-war activities. Jon Leiberman said he was fired by Joseph DeFeo, Sinclair's vice president for news, and "escorted out of the building."

Recent watchdog activities have made it abundantly clear that Sinclair is in bed with the RNC more deeply than anyone could have imagined. The truly disheartening aspect of this story is that Sinclair feels absolutely fearless in these activities. They make no effort to mask their partisan abuse of a "news" outlet to support the candidate of their choice. This may well be a sign of the times, but it is also a clear indicator that Bush's deregulation of mass media is not only not working, it's harming the 4th estate immeasurably.

Joe Gandelman has a much longer, well written analysis of this situation which I urge you to check out. Some other opinions on this from Mathew Gross and Corrente are also worth a read.

Must Scream TV

posted by Jazz at 10/19/2004 07:27:00 AM

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From the land of the strange, CNN reports that a man who purchased a new flat screen TV found out the hard way that his set was emitting an international distress signal. Local police, civil air patrol, and search and rescue workers converged on the Chris van Rossmann's apartment looking for the source of the signal.

"Authorities had expected to find a boat or small plane with a malfunctioning transponder, the usual culprit in such incidents, emitting the 121.5 MHz frequency of the distress signal used internationally. Van Rossmann said he was told to keep his TV off to avoid paying a $10,000 fine for "willingly broadcasting a false distress signal."

In a rather nice touch, the manufacturer of the television offered to give him a new one for free.

Monday, October 18, 2004

I'm Hoping This is Wrong

posted by Jazz at 10/18/2004 05:45:00 PM

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But according to Brilliant at Breakfast, (great blog, by the way, check her out) the Catholic News Service is reporting that John Kerry has been excommunicated by the Vatican. An excerpt:

"any Catholic politician who says he is "personally opposed to abortion, but supports a woman's right to choose," incurs automatic excommunication. It also provided a basis for Balestrieri to broaden his canonical actions and file additional complaints against four more pro-abortion Catholic politicians: Democrat Senators Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Tom Harkin of Iowa; Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine; and former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, a Democrat."

I don't know what is more frightening. The secular partisan abuse of the power of the church this could display, or the comments that people have left in that posting on CNS. Seriously... read the comments. These people are very much out in "Chucky with a Chainsaw" land.

Am I Pleased or Frightened?

posted by Jazz at 10/18/2004 05:12:00 PM

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Every once in a while, while going through my daily and weekly blog reading links, I hit the one that says, "I feel lucky!" For those of you not familiar with it, it's a function in the blogrolling code that will randomly grab one blog out of the vast emptyness of the blogosphere and send you there without so much as a howdoyoudo.

Often, it takes me to some cooking blog, or something in Greek that I can't read. Other times it gets a bit darker. Today, it looks like I was thrust into the center of a collapsing black hole. I present to you, Journey of the Exemplary Sheep.


Bush Robs Bank in Pa.

posted by Jazz at 10/18/2004 04:33:00 PM

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(SNARK ALERT AHOY!)

Outside the Beltway reports that President George W. Bush robbed a bank in York, Pennsylvania today. A security camera caught the commander in chief in this photo.

Now, I can understand the need for cash, no doubt. These campaigns get extremely expensive, and I'm sure budgets are running tight for both campaigns. I had to question the wisdom of the venue, however. Pennsylvania is a swing state that could well determine the outcome of the election. Robbing a bank in New York, only an hour or so North of there, would have been a much better choice. I mean, Kerry is going to take New York anyway.

I was able to snag an interview with the teller who was robbed a short time ago. In true pajama pundit fashion, I tried to ask the tough questions and crack the shell of this nut.

RUNNING SCARED: So, I understand that President Bush robbed you today. Is that right?

BANK TELLER: Yes. It was pretty traumatic. I can't say too much because the police said it's still under investigation.

RS: I saw the photo that was posted, and I feel compelled to ask you... are you sure it was President Bush? I mean, from the picture, it looks kind of like one of those Halloween Bush masks.

BT: Oh, it was definitely a mask. I'm not stupid, you know.

RS: I wasn't implying...

BT: Listen, I've been working here for over five years and I've been robbed seven times. I KNOW about bank robberies.

RS: Yes, yes, of course. No offense intended. My point is, if it was a mask, then how do you know it was Bush underneath?

BT: Use your head. If you were the President and wanted to rob a bank, what sort of disguise would you wear? Those lady's stockings don't really hide anything. But a rubber mask covers your face entirely! And who better to disguise yourself as than yourself!?! Every robber tries to look like somebody else. This way, he'd be the last person they'd be looking for.

RS: I .... see. You know, when you say it that way, it kind of makes sense. Then again, I've been drinking.

BT: It wasn't just the mask, you know.

RS: Oh, there's more?

BT: You bet! I could recognize his voice. He's on TV all the time. Besides, he's been in our state pretty much every week since the TV said we were a battlefield state or something. He's always underfoot. Can't swing a dead cat without hitting him or that Kerry fellow.

RS: Well, they do feel that they need to spend a lot of ...

BT: And there's the secret service of course.

RS: Excuse me?

BT: The secret service! You know... those guard guys that always follow him around.

RS: The secret service was at the robbery?

BT: Of course. He never goes anywhere without them. One of them carried the money.

RS: How could you tell they were with the secret service?

BT: Well, DUH! They were WITH him! Who do you think they would be?

RS: I see. It's just that they are with the Treasury Department, and it seems like they wouldn't go around robbing...

BT: Fine. You think what you want. I know secret service when I see's 'em.

RS: Well, ok then. Is that about all or do you recall anything else?

BT: That's pretty much how it happened. I already done told the police. Say, which paper did you say you're with again?

RS: I'm not with a paper. I'm a blogger.

BT: Oh, Jesus F...ing Christ onna crutch.

(CLICK.... dial tone.)

Ooops!

posted by Jazz at 10/18/2004 03:10:00 PM

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Sorry about any double posts and bad formatting. Running between sites a lot and doing some posting via e-mail. The blogger e-mail posting interface is NOT user friendly.

What Would Happen If...

posted by Jazz at 10/18/2004 01:52:00 PM

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Edition 723. A lot of speculation has been given to what would happen if G.W. Bush once again lost the election, but won the electoral college and took a second term without a mandate from the people. Frankly, that question has lost most of its traction, in my opinion. We've already seen what would happen - he would rush headlong into whatever agenda he had just as if America had ushered him in to the office in a landslide. Only this time he would have no self-imposed restraints caused by worrying about winning a second term. The word "disaster" looms large.

The more interesting question, in my mind, is the opposite. The race is so close right now that nobody wants to call it. Bush has pulled ahead to a tiny lead in national polls. However, it looks like the race will still come down to who takes two out of three in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Last time I checked, Kerry was doing well in two of them and in a dead heat in the other. If he does manage to take Ohio and Pennsylvania, for instance, and wins the electoral college, what happens if he loses the popular vote like Bush did?

Would we see a more humble president who opens the doors to the Republicans and tries to work with both sides, recognizing the weakness of his mandate? Or would he just dance in glee at having ousted the Big Bad Bush and go on a Kerry Agenda Rampage? I hate to think it, but I lean toward the latter. There is so much vindictiveness between the parties, I can't help but suspect that Kerry will have some revenge in mind as soon as he takes his seat in the Oval Office.

Do You Feel a Draft in Here?

posted by Jazz at 10/18/2004 09:26:00 AM

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I recently wrote an opinion about the cease and desist order that Ed Gillespie sent to Rock the Vote regarding their ongoing debate over whether or not we might see the draft come back during a second Bush Cheney term. Following that, I found an entry on Dean's World titled "Tin Foil Hat Politics" which started a lengthy discussion in which I participated. (Lots' of good comments there on both sides... give it a look.)

I started out being of the opinion that there simply was no chance that there would be a new draft, but that the RNC's efforts to squash any public debate of the matter was wrong. As so often happens in open discussions, though, I find my opinion beginning to change, but not in the way you might expect.

First I heard from a number of conservatives who insisted that the matter did not merit open debate, so presumably they had no problem with Gillespie's reaction. Bryan C. flatly stated that "there is nothing to debate" and compared the question to debating whether or not Cheney was a vampire. That was just one example of people flatly denying that it was reasonable to have a discussion of the issue. Dean offered up some excellent alternatives to a draft as ways to adjust our forces.

In another set of responses, we discussed what factors might make it more likely that a draft would be considered. While I still maintained that a draft would be political poison and unlikely to get any votes, some voters might feel differently because of the overstretched state of our military. I immediately caught flack for that from some conservative readers who claimed that our military was not stretched thin, and that in fact we had too many soldiers. I also asked what would happen with our current troop levels if a new area of conflict were to flash up.

Chris Lansdown kind of shocked me by expressing a belief that the only reason we were short of soldiers was because congress wasn't letting the military recruit enough. "Here's an idea: congress can allow the military to have more people (the number of members of the armed forces is regulated by congress), and then the military can recruit them."

John Irving had some other observations. First, he seems to feel that technology can solve all of our military problems. "The U.S. currently has the most powerful military in the world. We have the best training and technology, and apply more of it then the next three largest forces. We are currently capable of fighting a war with practically the entire world."

Then, even more to my surprise, he opined that we were in no danger of any sort of flashpoint in another area of the world. "Right now 'another flare-up' is not an issue. We have enough force capable in any one carrier group to put down any aggressive action by a rogue nation, and our big plays at the moment are well in hand." Contrary to popular belief, I don't subscribe to the full blown "doom and gloom" that some people are preaching, but that one knocked me for a loop. He also went on to amazingly ask why we would want more troops in Afghanistan.

Dean weighed in with a link to an article about how our current troop levels were fine. I countered with a recent NYT article stating that things were far from rosey in the military staffing department. Dean made a lot of other good points about why he felt that a draft wouldn't be needed in that comment entry.

Then, Kevin D. weighed in with a simple, flat denial with nothing to support it, which I find depressing in any debate. "Jazz, a draft won't happen because it isn't needed. Period. Stating there's evidence for both sides of the argument is blatantly false."

This gets to the part I mentioned about changing my mind, but hardly the way that the conservatives in that thread would have anticipated. Such arguments, effectively stating that there should be zero discussion of this because "it's just false" put me in a mind from of methinks they doth protest too much. When alarms like that go off for me, it starts me thinking.

I wish I had saved an article off the AP from August where one intelligence expert opined that 2004 and 2005 would be considered an ideal period by both terrorists and unruly (or "rogue") nations to engage in military activities. Why? Because the big guard dog (the United States) was far too busy fighting a war on two fronts to open up a third one. Thinking, as John Irving seemed to, that we can fight other wars simply with cruise missiles and bombers is, in my opinion, fatuous. That sort of technology is really wonderful, and in the rare cases where you can identify one single target or group of people, they can be used for that purpose while avoiding most risk to human lives on our side. But while those same technologies are also great in a war, softening up the enemy, taking out dangerous weapons installations, etc., the do not win a war. Wars are won by boots on the ground. How anyone could still think that after Afghanistan and Iraq is a mystery to me. And we're running out of boots fast.

Flash points? North Korea, regardless of the "six party talks" doesn't seem very sincere or interested in any honest negotiations. They already have nukes. Iran is very likely close to having some themselves and are as mad as a wet hen at Israel. Oh, and in case nobody noticed, Taiwan and mainland China are starting across the straights at each other with bared teeth. The U.S. has long tried to straddle the fence on that score, claiming to endorse the "One China" policy while encouraging human rights and individuality for Taiwan. The world is full of areas that are just waiting to flash up in our faces.

Now, what is the first response you hear from party spokesmen when you bring up the subject of a draft? Typically, it's "What? We just had a vote in congress on it! Only two people voted for it and they were Democrats! There will NOT BE a draft!"

Fair enough. Now, look at your calendar. If it is anything like mine, you'll see that we are less than three weeks from a major election where the President, one third of the Senators, and all of the members of the House have their jobs on the line. Nobody could vote for a draft now.

Looking ahead, however, if there were to be another major flash point where Bush put us into another land war, we simply wouldn't have the troops to cover it. What to do then? Well, a president or a congressman in early 2005, with either two, four, or six years before they had to face election again, might be a bit more inclined to sign on for a draft. They'd apologize, of course, and say it was only being done out of the gravest urgency and desperate need. But I could see them doing it.

Yes, I've changed my mind on this. Under the right set of highly undesirable circumstances, I could see the draft coming back. However, if things remain fairly static in their current condition, then no - I still don't see a draft returning. With that said, I'm more convinced than ever that a debate on the subject is appropriate and Gillespie's actions were shameful. Stifling free speech is no way to handle a subject that may be uncomfortable for your candidate.

The Trib Explained

posted by Jazz at 10/18/2004 09:15:00 AM

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As I'm sure many of you were, I was rather surprised to see the Chicago Tribune endorse Bush for President. However I believe I've found an explanation. As we see in this NBC report parts of Illinois have been put under a boil water alert because of fecal matter in the drinking water. Clearly, the editors of the Tribune have come down with brain parasites. We can only pray for their swift and full recovery.

All humor aside, there is some interesting analysis of this endorsement going on all over the web. You can check out some of the more compelling ones at Buzz Machine, Pandagon, Polipundit, who pretty much trashes all newspaper endorsements for either side, Dean's World,

Compare and Contrast

posted by Jazz at 10/18/2004 08:50:00 AM

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We could have a medical emergency on our hands. A nurse should be sent immediately to George Will's office and determine whether he's been bitten by one of those West Nile mosquitos, been overcome with a fever from the flu (since he couldn't get a vaccination) or possibly eaten a burger a' la' mad cow disease. After reading his column today, I'm concerned that something must be wrong.

Will is one of my favorite columnists from the right wing and on my regular reading list. Today, however, (and trust me, I couldn't make this up if I tried) he penned a column comparing George W. Bush to Woodrow Wilson. Excuse me? I could see comparing Dubya to U.S. Grant (as president, not general) or Gerald Ford, or possibly even Taft... but Wilson? Bush 41 had some Wilsonian traits in him, I'll grant you, but as I've discussed before, the fruit fell pretty far from the tree on this one. Bush 43 and Wilson both have a "W" in their names, but beyond that point any comparisons seem to come to a screeching halt.

I understand that George Will is a right wing partisan and feels a need to spread some ink around supporting his candidate as the election draws near, but this is a bit beyond the pale. Unfortunately, I can see what's coming next. It's only a matter of days before somebody compares W. to Eisenhower. Then I really will need Kerry's new health plan, having vomited up most of my major organs.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

God Speaks to Bush; Bush Speaks to You

posted by Jazz at 10/17/2004 10:02:00 AM

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I had considered doing a long post on the Ron Suskind article from this weekend. It's long, it's strong, and it's a dire warning which very much needed to be made. In short, it covers the fundamentalist "I can do no wrong" attitude of the president, and the confusion in his mind between government and faith. Rather than listening to more from me, however, go check out Middle Earth Journal. That about covers it all, and has some lovely grahics.

At Least We Can Place the Blame

posted by Jazz at 10/17/2004 09:52:00 AM

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First Cheney said that terrorist activity in Iraq was being increased because of things John Kerry says. Now Michelle Malkin blames problems in Haiti on him. Rumor has it that next week Tom DeLay will blame the Dallas Cowboys' failure to win the last Superbowl on Kerry.

Cease and Desist

posted by Jazz at 10/17/2004 08:40:00 AM

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You're probably familiar with Rock the Vote, a movement to get young people energized and engaged in the political process and increase voter registration. Each event of theirs which I have seen has featured speakers from both major parties. I will grant that their audience seems to run more to the liberal side, but that has traditionally been how the demographic cookie crumbles. Still, in an era when our youngest voters have been turning out in dismal, record low numbers, any effort to get them more involved would be encouraged, don't you think?

Not if you're Ed Gillespie, head of the RNC. He sent a cease and desist letter to Rock the Vote warning them of legal action if they continue to push for a public debate over the possibility of reinstatement of the draft given the overstretched status of our military. While the need may exist, personally I don't believe that we'll see the draft return any time soon. Politics drive issues like that far more than actual military need, and a draft is political poison. However, shutting down discussion of it, or any other topic of national concern, is exactly the opposite of the message we need to send to our apathetic voters. This was a shameful move by Gillespie and he should be called to task for it.

Tax the Catholic Church

posted by Jazz at 10/17/2004 06:10:00 AM

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The time is long since past. This year what was once merely obvious has become blatant and insulting. The Catholic Church is one of the largest, wealthiest and influential organizations in the United States and, for that matter, the world. If they wish to fully participate in the political process in this country as a lobbying group, they should be free to do so. This is a right that everyone in the country has, and Catholics no less so. However, in doing so, they surrender any pretense that they are still in line with the separation of church and state which the founders of this nation held so dear.

In his recent NYT interview, Archbishop Charles Chaput was asked about voting for Kerry in light of his support of freedom of choice and his stand on expanding stem cell research. His opinion was that casting such a vote would require confession before receiving communion.

"If you vote this way, are you cooperating in evil? Now, if you know you are cooperating in evil, should you go to confession? The answer is yes."

In the past, the church at least made a transparent attempt to feign non-partisanship by simply advising the faithful on general policies. It was still a clear indication of how they wanted you to vote, based on which candidate supported which policy, but they mostly left names out of it. Now, having such a high ranking representative of the Pope telling people that a specific vote for Kerry is a sin in the eyes of God, the church has cast aside any pretense that it is not a politically active interest. Considering the deficit we are currently burdened with, taxing the coffers of the Catholic Church in America couldn't hurt a bit.

This attitude, cultivated heavily by the conservatives, seems highlighted in President Bush's numerous comments about how his acting "under orders from God." In her column today, Maureen Dowd sums it up nicely.

"The president's certitude - the idea that he can see into people's souls and that God tells him what is right, then W. tells us if he feels like it - is disturbing. It equates disagreeing with him to disagreeing with Him."


The Day Liberty Perished

posted by Jazz at 10/17/2004 05:56:00 AM

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I don't know if this will stand up under appeal or not, but the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has recently made a ruling that will impact privacy and personal liberty in a positive way. In Georgia, a group of protestors has been preparing for a demonstration against a United States training camp for Latin American soldiers. Local authorities had insisted that every protester be made to pass through a metal detector prior to the event.

Judge Gerald Tjoflat, writing for the three judge panel, authored one of the more stirring decisions I've read in a long time:

"We cannot simply suspend or restrict civil liberties until the War of Terror is over, because the War on Terror is unlikely ever to be truly over. September 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country."

City officials in Columbus, Georgia, contended the searches were needed because of the elevated risk of terrorism, but the court threw out that argument, saying it would "eviscerate the Fourth Amendment."


I was unaware of this training camp and the attendant protestors, and I don't know enough of the facts to say whether I agree with the activists or the authorities in this case. However, I have become increasingly concerned about the short sheeting of personal privacy under the Bush administration, particularly since the attacks of September, 2001, and it's good to see this subject up for discussion at a national level.

Apropos of Nothing

posted by Jazz at 10/17/2004 05:33:00 AM

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I have recently finished reading Terry Pratchett's latest novel, "Going Postal." Over the years I've read all of his work and, while some items have been better than others, it was all good. This one is a gem. Whether you are a fan of the Discworld series, have never heard of it, or a former fan who drifted away, I would highly recommend this edition. A small taste of the prose as delivered by a master.

"Sometimes the Truth is arrived at by adding all the little lies together and deducting them from the totality of what is known. They'd saved the city with gold more easily, at that point, than any hero could have managed with steel. But, in truth, it had not exactly been gold, or even the promise of gold, but more like the fantasy of gold, the fairy dream that the gold is there, at the end of the rainbow, and will continue to be there forever - provided, naturally, that you don't go and look.

This is known as Finance."