Ford Issues Non-Denial of Social Security Destruction

Talking Points Memo

According to Josh Marshall, Harold Ford has issued a new statement on the Social Security mess he finds himself in:

I do not support changing the Social Security system as has been proposed by President Bush, nor do I support Social Security proposals advanced by the CATO Institute. In fact, both of these proposals have the potential to harm current beneficiaries by paying for the transition costs by issuing debt. Piling on more red ink to the existing federal budget deficit and the national debt will do both long and short term harm to our economy. I do believe that the system needs to be reformed but I do not support changing the Social Security system as President Bush has proposed.
Wow, that was a turn-around!

Or was it? Ford tells us the reason that he doesn't support Bush's proposal or the CATO Institute's proposal: transition costs. Which is exactly his problem in the article quoted below. In this non-denial, he clearly states "I do believe that the system needs to be reformed," which means cut it to pieces, let Wall Street stay warm on the administrative fees, and damn the people who lose their shirts in the stock market.

It doesn't matter, Mr. Ford, that you don't support Bush's plan to kill Social Security. It doesn't matter that you don't support CATO's plan to kill Social Security. You still are working to eliminate the universal guarantee of benefits. You're still in favor of destroying it.

Shame on you.

Harold Ford (D-Tenn): The Grinch That Destroyed Social Security

Talking Points Memo

Let's be clear: any plan to "reform" Social Security that eliminates the uniform guarantee of benefits is a plan to destroy Social Security. Tieing your Social Security benefits to the ups and downs of the stock market will eliminated the uniform guarantee of benefits, because some will do quite well, some will do okay, and some will be SOL.

You would think that members of the party who enacted the most successful government program ever would be fighting this Republican attack on Social Security tooth and nail.

But Harold Ford has a dream:

I dream of the day when a little girl living in a public housing community in my district can come home, and flip on the TV, and know when she sees a FedEx commercial, that not only does FedEx employ the most people in her district, but that she also owns stock in companies like FedEx, and she has a financial stake in how well the company’s doing. That she will know the harder she works, the more likely she’ll have something to own -- to be able to point to a part of America that is hers, and not just lean on America to give her something.
"Not just lean on America to give her something."

Mr. Ford: Social Security benefits are not "leaning on America to give us something." We pay in for today's retirees, and when we retire, tomorrow's workers pay in for us. You're a Congressman, you should understand the difference.

"Well, right now we only have 3 workers supporting every retiree..." Yes, and the program's running a surplus.

There is a simple fix to this program that extends Social Security's solvency into the next century: eliminate the ceiling on Social Security taxes. Currently Social Security taxes are paid on the first $87,000 of yearly wages. In 2005, that ceiling lifts to the first $90,000.

Get rid of the ceiling. That isn't changing the rate, and that's not a new tax. But the money raised from this one simple fix will completely fix Social Security for generations to come.

Another quick, easy fix: instead of raising the system, switch Social Security funding from a dedicated portion of payroll to a dedicated portion of income. In other words, people who earn their income from investments escape supporting the Social Security system altogether, even though they're usually eligible for benefits. If all income was subject to the Social Security tax, instead of just payroll wages, Social Security would again be solvent. Self-employed workers have to pay in at the end of the year - why shouldn't self-sufficient investors?

Neither of these proposals involves carving Social Security up like the Christmas goose, Mr. Ford. Instead of trying to find a way to lessen the economic impact of transition costs, why don't you just find a way to fix the problem? Fixing Social Security isn't this hard.

Romans 4: Paul's Favorite Scripture

After a long hiatus, I'm resuming the blogging of Romans.

If ever Paul had a stump speech, Romans 4 was a big part of it. Paul's argument from Genesis 15:6 was evidently a favorite of his: it's used also in Galatians, and James reacts against it in his letter to the church.

This is prooftexting at its finest. Because the Hebrew Scriptures say that Abraham believed God's promise, and that that belief was accredited to him as righteousness, Paul argues that it is this faith that we must have in order to please God. How does that happen? Jesus was faithful and provided the place of safety - we believe God's promise that he will save us through Jesus and so enter the place of safety. Just like our father in faith, Abraham.

James and company react to this because Paul is easily misunderstood here. Faith without works is a dead faith. Abraham's faith led him into many obedient acts - leaving Mesopotamia, circumcision, sacrificing Isaac. So too will a follower of Christ do many things because of his faith, showing his faith to be a living one.

But Paul gets adamant with us. This may well be, but many times men get their own requirements for righteousness mixed up with God's commandments. Any way that they can legislate their own morality on others - whether commanding circumcision of Christians, or commanding new converts to divorce if one or the other has a marriage in the past, or even taking over school boards and getting creationism on the curriculum - they will do so in the name of Christ. Paul wants no part of this.

To reach forward, Paul is aiming for a particular statement: Welcome one another, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. That is what basing salvation on belief in God's ability to save (within Jesus) is all about for him. Christians are redeemed from the punishment for their sins because of what God is going to do - not what they have done or are doing or will do. No one can boast before God.

So if you didn't save anybody from their sins, who in Hades are you to boss other people around? Let's leave God up on the judgment throne: God doesn't need our help sorting people out.

This is where I think Paul's gotten hold of something - something real. People who want to judge and condemn and legislate have something fundamentally wrong at heart. It's fear that drives you to do things like that, and fear is not part of what Paul is preaching. Fear isn't something to nurture - it's something to heal. Jesus feared the cross, but he mastered that fear and took it up. Paul feared the early church and persecuted it, but broke through that fear and took up the cause he'd persecuted.

Fear, then, is the enemy - fear of God for punishment. Fear of our cravings, fear that our cravings will never be satisfied, fear that others will get away with what we dare not attempt. Fear that it's all for nothing.

There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear. Paul is not after a power base, he's after love. That's where I can respect his efforts.

Is There A Better Word Than Schadenfruede?


I'm laughing, but I'm not really amused and taking no real pleasure in this story. Perhaps this is the Daily Howler's "low, mordant chuckle".

If you don't want to click over, it's Guiliani apologizing to Bush about Kerkik, Cricket, whatever the thug's name is. It's becoming clear that Bush approved the meathead because Bush liked his image. Why are our leaders even hanging out with these characters?

Hannity's Rethinking the Jihad Thing

Sean Hannity - Hannitization of America Tour

Go on, click on over, and watch the second video clip. Sean cracks a joke about being willing to fly planes into buildings if he knew God had 72 virgins waiting for him.

I mean, that's what it sounded like to me.

Bucky Rea, the Brown Bag Blogger, has started a new blog article at the Democratic Underground, the Blog Box. He was kind enough to mention this blogger in his opening article. Many thanks, Bucky, and when this Christmas rush is over, I'll get back into blogging more regularly. (And I was a Merry Chimpster long before I found DU, but I'm proud to be a member of both communities.)

And it's about time to get back to the blogging of Romans too, isn't it? I had some research and thinking to do about the next chapter, and well, I've made up my mind about what I want to say, finally. So I might as well say it. No earthshaking revelation is in store, mind you - I had a yen for a particular theory of how the letter of James was written and I've decided against it. What does James have to do with Romans? Well, you'll just have to wait until Tuesday...

To all that come here from DU, welcome, look around. The Old Winyards is long gone, but if you're lucky, I'll uncork a bottle of Aberlour a'bunadh.

Rumsfeld: Let Them Have Body Armor

I guess we shouldn't be surprised.

After Wednesday's rough-and-tumble press conference, which was not the first time soldiers have had tough questions on the subject of armor, Rumsfeld complained to the White House that they should have sent him into that conference with body armor.

Well, not really. made that up, but it's appropriate. The best headline I've seen so far is from France: "Please, sir, can I have better armor?"

The right wing bloviators are making sure we all know that some reporter helped the soldier frame his question. Limbaugh's making it sound like the Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter's some kind of Mangiafuoco, pulling strings all over the place to embarass Rumsfeld. But you won't hear any of them quoting this part of Lee Pitt's email:

When he asked Rumsfeld why after two years here soldiers are still having to dig through trash bins to find rusted scrap metal and cracked ballistic windows for their Humvees, the place erupted in cheers so loud that Rumsfeld had to ask the guy to repeat his question.
This is what made the story - not the question, not the response from Rumsfeld, but the reaction from everyone there. It was a question everyone wanted answered, including me.

Of course, people like Rush have to find a way to deflect it, and all they have is Pitts behind the scenes. Anything to deflect attention from the real question: When are the troops going to get the protection they need? If such questions are politically embarassing to this administration, perhaps they should do something about it.

Frist Loses Political Funds in Stock Market

Washington Post

Heads up, Tennessee Republicans. Bill Frist took the money you sent him for reelection, put it into the stock market, and lost a bundle - to the point that the campaign now can't pay back a bank loan.

And now Bill Frist wants to do the same thing to your Social Security money.

Here's an idea: why not pass a law that requires all campaign money leftover after an election to be placed in a government escrow account? The thought of fellow politicians slobbering over a large pile of cash might be enough motivation for the average elected official to make sure things like this don't happen.

Then again - Washington might finally figure out the meaning of the term "lockbox."

UPDATE: Well, I toodled over to and found out some interesting information. Frist raised $9.6 million in the 2000 election cycle. He's now lost $460,000 of that in the stock market. That's just under 5% of everything he raised in the year he was actually running for re-election.

But wait - this gets better. 60% of his total was given by large donors ($200 or more) and 20% was from PACs. Small donors of less than $200 gave just 11.2% of that full amount: $1,079,547.

In other words: Bill Frist lost over 40% of the campaign money given to him by small Tennessee donors in the stock market. People sent him small sums of cash because they think he's going to be fiscally wise and protect the government from the wastrel liberals, but he takes their money and throws it away in a bad stock deal!

But wait - this gets better. says that at the end of the 2000 campaign, Bill Frist's money looked like this:

Cash on Hand: $2,147,016
Debts: $1,440,000
Yet here's what the Washington Post articles says those numbers look like now:
As of the end of September, Frist 2000 reported cash on hand of $312,807 and "debts and obligations owed" of $349,107. Castignani said, however, that this did not include the stock market gains of more than $11,000 in September.
Okay, let's add in the $11,000, Mr. Castignani. That makes the "cash on hand" $324,000 or so.

Let's have fun with math. At the end of December 2000, Bill had $2.1 million in the bank and $1.4 in debts. He's paid down the debt to $349,107, so that's $1,090,893 he's paid off.

Now Frist 2000's cash in hand is $1,056,123. He's lost about $460,000 of that in the stock market. That's 44% of his remaining cash in hand going to light cigars on Wall Street.

But $460,000 (what he lost) and $324,000 (what he still has) doesn't add up to what he had at the end of 2000 in his 2000 election campaign fund. Where's the other $272,000, Senator Frist? What were you buying when you should have been paying your bills?
Meanwhile, records show, Frist has continued to use money from the 2000 campaign account to cover various expenses.

Recent spending, for example, included $689.50 for flowers for a holding room for visiting dignitaries attending the funeral of former president Ronald Reagan, and $9,457 for "Senate gifts" from the Senate Gift Shop. Castignani said he did not know about the nature of the gifts, but he added that FEC rules allow federal officeholders to spend campaign money in support of official activities.
Senator Frist, might consider $272,000 petty cash, but I'm sure that many of those who gave it to him don't.

And imagine going to a funeral and seeing a reelection campaign ad among the flowers. That's just tacky.

Quote of the Day

Sorry for the delay in blogging - my new job has picked up for the holidays, and I don't have much time...

...but I thought I'd share a really great quote I just found from Ian Shaw's The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt:

The analysis of the scenes and texts of these objects [early Egyptian artifacts] is complicated by our modern need to be able to distinguish between event and ritual. But the ancient Egyptians show little inclination to distinuish between the two, and indeed it might be argued that Egyptian ideology during the pharaonic period - particularly in so far as it related to the kingship - was reliant on the maintainance of some degree of confusion between real happenings and purely ritual or magical acts.
No, that's not American ideology during the Bush administration, but it might as well be. Humans have always had to read between the lines of the king's propaganda, and I'm surprised that Mr. Shaw didn't recognize that.

Whether you find this kinship with ancient Egyptians refreshing, amusing, or depressing is all in your attitude, I expect. Enjoy your holidays, and I hope to see you safe and well. And I'll keep trying to check in...

I saw The Incredibles today. Wow, what a great movie. I want to live in their house. Edna Mole is fabu. And it had a great message about family values and pulling together to defeat a common enemy.

But right before the show, we were treated to an new Pixar short - Bounding is what I believe it was called. It was unlike any other Pixar short I've ever seen.

The main character was a sheep. It had a beautiful coat of wool, and love to dance around, showing it off. All the other animals were caught up in the sheep's rapture and would dance along with it.

But then some people came along and harvested the wool. The sheep was left all naked and bare, and didn't want to dance anymore. But along came a jackalope. It helped the sheep realize it could still dance. From then on, the sheep would dance before and after any harvesting. And all the animals danced along with it.

So evidently the moral of the story was: If you're going to be exploited, you might as well lay back, let it happen, and find a way to let it not bother you too much. Weren't you dancing?

Maybe if I had made it to the theater in time to see the new Star Wars trailer, I wouldn't have been so keen to knock the Pixar short. Oh, well. Teaching people to internalize any reaction to blatent exploitation is a recipe for disaster. It may have been a cute little story, but that struck a real sour note for me right before the credits for The Incredibles rolled. And computer animation isn't something that happens overnight - this was a carefully concocted story in every frame. This effect was intended.

What were they thinking?

Calhoun Chronicles: Who’s Minding the Store?

Calhoun Chronicles

For thousands of years, farmers have saved seed from each crop to be plant the next spring. They have also sold seed to their neighbors.
This is now illegal.
Farmers are now jailed and or sued for doing this!

Farmers no longer have any real choices as to what they plant. The banks tell them what they want the farmer to do, and he does it, if he wants to stay in business.

The giant seed companies are being bought up by the mega chemical companies. These companies are genetically modifying the seeds and putting a patent on these modifications. If a farmer uses or sells seed, he is infringing on a patent. Also, some seeds are genetically modified to be sterile and would not produce a crop even if planted.

The altered seeds require chemical products from the parent company to thrive, and the parent company is involved with some of the processing of the crops.
Thus, the company owns the seed, owns the chemicals that the seed is modified to require, and has interest in the processing.
There are only a handful of companies that will control every aspect.
All of the old school varieties of plants are becoming extinct. Farmers have no choice as to who to buy from and at what price, or what chemicals to use. The consumer will have no choice as to what variety is put on their table and no choice as to where the product originates, or if it is modified.
Found this over at Dean's World. File this under "Think On These Things".

GOP lawmakers block intelligence overhaul

This must be the bill that I brought up below - why CNN doesn't feel the necessity of naming the bill or at least providing the bill's identifying number is beyond me.

So now I'm wondering what's going on, and in Washington, how can you be sure? First, the news breaks that a clause was slipped in to ease financial disclosure laws on every executive branch official. Now the Republicans are divided over immigration policies and are holding up the bill, while Bush is grandstanding them to pass it.

What it appears to be now: the bill isn't going to pass this year, and people are casting around trying to pin the political fallout on somebody else. The financial disclosure measure could have been bait for the Democrats (not many bit, and those that did made the reason for their opposition clear). Now Sensenbrenner's severe restrictions on legal and illegal immigrants getting driver's licenses are making him the whipping boy.

The real issue in this debate is the power of the new director of national intelligence, particularly budgetary power. The less budgetary power, the more the new post will be a figurehead. Three guesses as to what Bush's first position on this bill was.

The bill would have forced the Pentagon, which controls an estimated 80 percent of the government's $40 billion annual intelligence budget, to cede much of its authority on intelligence issues to the new national intelligence director.

"What you are seeing is the forces in favor of the status quo protecting their turf, whether it is Congress or in the bureaucracy," said Senator Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who was the chief Senate author of the failed compromise bill, in what amounted to a slap at her Republican counterparts in the House.

New York Times (link later)
By hook or by crook, this bill died. Without somebody knuckling under, the issue will be passed to the next Congress, who must begin the whole process over. Meanwhile, the Pentagon still has its money, Bush is pinning it on Sensenbrenner, and the problems identified by the 9/11 Committee still hobble our intelligence community.

This is what you elected, America.

Slip-Happy Republicans: Abortion in Spending Bill

Republicans have slipped an anti-abortion clause into an omnibus spending bill that would bar federal, state, and local governments from blocking funding to health care providers who refuse to accomodate or support women who seek out a legal procedure. Women all over this country will be denied their right to a safe and legal abortion because of this measure. The smart investor will grab all the stock in wire hanger factories he can find - that is, if millionaire televangelists haven't snatched it up already.

This is a common tactic of politicians, by the way: attaching a controversial measure to a bill that has little or no connection to its import. It's shameful when Democrats do it, and it's shameful when Republicans do it (unless they can meet in secret and get those rules changed, too). So Slip-Happy Republicans will become a running feature around here. Somebody else can document the Democratic abuses.

Senator Boxer will be doing what she can to stop this part of the bill from becoming law. Go tell her thanks.

GOP Uses 9/11 Bill To Neuter Financial Disclosure Laws

Welcome to Bush 2.0, where a bill named for the 9/11 attacks and intended to improve the intelligence processes in this country is being used to gut financial disclosure laws, not just for top level intelligence officials, but for all executive branch officials.

Tucked within the House's 497-page version of the "9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act" is a provision to repeal the requirement that senior-level officials report their personal financial assets valued at more than $2.5 million. It also would end the practice of disclosing the dates of stock transactions.
The mask has truly slipped. What can I say, my fellow Americans?

You asked for it.

Enjoy your picture show.

Mother Upset Over Cross-Dressing Day

I remember back in Demopolis, AL, we had a yearly event where the girls would play football and the football players dressed as cheerleaders. It was just goofy and fun.

It didn't last the whole day, though. And apparently the school principal had promised last year that it wouldn't happen again.

But the kids weren't being required to dress as the opposite sex. And they could bring a canned good for charity if they weren't going to cross dress. So the point is: there seems to be some cause for disappointment with the school, but some other people need to get a grip. Didn't any of these people see Tootsie?

Tutankhamum's Mummy To Be CAT Scanned


They hope to discover cause of death. More later...

Peterson v. Fallujah

The American Street

When it comes to money, there's no such thing as a free press. News networks charge ad revenues based on viewership, and the event that people will watch is what is on the air. When the Peterson trial is on the air, people watch that instead of Fallujah. So that's where the networks will go.

They'll cover the Fallujah of the moment for a while, but dart back to the latest trial of the century. That's the way a capitalistic press works. The only way you'll get good coverage of Fallujah is if some reporter finds a way to get a career-making Watergate-style story out of it. Otherwise, it's on the back burner.

That's what Dan Rather thought he had with the Killian memos, by the by. Bush's Guard record was always on that back burner, but it needed that extra kick to get onto the front page. The story's subsequent flameout ensured that no reporter will ever make waves unless the proof is 100% solid.

Until then, enjoy your bread and circuses. Without the curiousity of the viewing public, no art or media ever thrives.

Hmmm...I May Have To Rethink That Youth Vote Thing

A majority of all young adults (51.6%) voted in this election - the first time that's ever happened. And they voted for Kerry over Bush by a ten point margin.

No other age group (reckoned by decades) voted for Kerry over Bush. If the 18-29 vote went to the 2006 election, it could overturn Congress.

My sincerest apologies to the majority of the largest youth vote ever. You guys rock.

And They're Doing It Without Invading

Gulf Daily News

France, Germany, and Britain are close to a deal with Iran, ending Iran's quest for nuclear weapons. Bush appears to have no choice but to support the process. Yay for the Europeans.

UPDATE: This story is a couple of days old. Today the deal is endangered. Bush swears that he's being reminded of someone when he looks at Iran, somebody real close to Iran as a matter of fact, and is looking around wondering where he put his big stick. Hold on to your butts...

American Progress: Some General Questions For Alberto Gonzales

American Progress Action Fund

Just got my APAF email today. If you aren't signed up for this powerful resource daily, you need to go over and do so. Take a look at this consise summation of the problems with Bush's nominee to replace Goody Ashcroft.

On Wednesday, President Bush nominated his long-time friend and current White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to be attorney general. Gonzales "has been a Bush confidant for nearly a decade." But it's not enough for President Bush to have confidence in Gonzales. As Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) said during Ashcroft's nomination hearings, "not only must the president trust his attorney general, the nation must also trust him, for, after all, the attorney general is America's lawyer." The nation can't trust Gonzales if they don't know where he stands on important issues. To find out his positions, the Senate Judiciary Committee must ask him some tough questions. Here are our suggestions:

DO YOU THINK THERE ARE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH TORTURE IS LEGAL?: Gonzales was involved in drafting and approved an August 2002 memo to the president which included the opinion that laws prohibiting torture do "not apply to the President's detention and interrogation of enemy combatants." The memo also said that an interrogation tactic only constituted torture if it resulted in "death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions." In light of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, it would be irresponsible to have an attorney general who believes torture is legal.

WOULD YOU INSIST ON STRICT COMPLIANCE WITH THE GENEVA CONVENTIONS?: In a 1/25/02 memo to the president, Gonzales wrote, "the war against terrorism is a new kind of war" and "this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions." The Constitution says that when the United States signs an international treaty it is "the supreme law of the land." The attorney general, our nation's chief law enforcement officer, should understand that.

WOULD YOU RECUSE YOURSELF FROM THE VALERIE PLAME INVESTIGATION?: The Justice Department is currently investigating which senior administration official – in violation of federal law – told columnist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame was a covert CIA operative. Gonzales has appeared before the federal grand jury investigating the case. As White House counsel, Gonzales also advised White House staffers and the president about how to handle the inquiry. As someone who advised potential defendants (and someone who could potentially be called as a witness at trial) it would be highly inappropriate for Gonzales to oversee the investigation.  

WOULD YOU RECUSE YOURSELF FROM ALL ENRON-RELATED MATTERS?: For more than a decade, Alberto Gonzales was an attorney for Vinson & Elkins, the firm that represented Enron. When Gonzales ran for reelection to the Texas Supreme Court, he "received $6,500 in campaign contributions from the company." The Justice Department is currently prosecuting top Enron executives – including former CEO Ken Lay. John Ashcroft recused himself from the Enron investigation "because of contributions he received from the company's executives during his campaign for the Senate." Nevertheless, Gonzales – who had a far more extensive relationship with Enron than Ashcroft – continued to be involved in Enron-related investigations as White House counsel.

WOULD YOU RECUSE YOURSELF FROM ALL HALLIBURTON-RELATED MATTERS?: The Justice Department has launched three investigations of Halliburton: for allegedly overcharging the military $61 million for fuel, for allegedly bribing Nigerian officials to win a contract, and for allegedly doing business with Iran through an off-shore subsidiary. Halliburton was a major client of Vinson & Elkins while Gonzales was a partner at the firm. In 1999, as a member of the Texas Supreme Court, Gonzales accepted a $3,000 contribution from Halliburton just before the court was to hear an appeal of a case where "a Halliburton employee had won a $2.6 million trial verdict" against the company. Gonzales did not recuse himself.

WHY DIDN'T YOU GIVE GOV. BUSH ALL THE FACTS ABOUT DEATH PENALTY CASES?: As chief legal counsel for then Gov. Bush in Texas, Gonzales was responsible for writing a memo on the facts of each death penalty case – Bush decided whether a defendant should live or die based on the memos. An analysis of these memos by the Atlantic Monthly concluded that "Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence." In the case of Terry Washington, a mentally retarded 33-year-old, Gonzales's memo "failed to mention that Washington's mental limitations, and the fact that he and his ten siblings were regularly beaten with whips, water hoses, extension cords, wire hangers, and fan belts, were never made known to the jury."

See what I mean about the APAF memos? Consise, extensive, and powerful. You might want to drop them a nickel while you're there.

It's incredible, isn't it, that Bush nominates someone who will have to recuse himself from so many pressing cases in the Justice Department today...unless the Bush administration plans on easing the urgency of these cases in the first place. Then the nomination of Gonzales makes perfect sense.

However, it seems that the best course for Senate Democrats is to raise these questions, make his answer a matter of public record, and then allow his nomination to proceed. They should vote against this heinous nomination as one, absolutely. But they should save the filibuster for the Supreme Court nominees that matter. Filibuster may be the only tool that Democrats have since Orrin Hatch destroyed decades of senatorial tradition in his naked desire to obstruct Clinton's judicial nominees and grease the path of Bush's. But it's still a weapon that should be used strategically.

As we've learned this election season, a consistent (or consistently explainable) voting pattern against these bullies and tyrants will be the best defense come 2006 and 2008. Air the Bushian dirty laundry, vote against it, and in 2006 we can run against the greater mess that Bush will leave.

Just did a Technorati search and discovered some new links to the site... say hello to nv1962, Efficacy, Blogs on Bush (that's not the Republican site), Cheese Monkey, and Steve's No Direction Home Page. They've all taken their place over in the roll.

Hunter Thompson: "Voted The Same Way They Prayed"

5280 Magazine

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The famous journalist also pointed this out:

Their army is how much bigger than mine? Three percent? Well shucks, Bubba.
Bush is claiming a mandate, but he'll only have one if Democrats roll over. We need to fight.

I hope this doesn't sound like I don't think Kerry fought well, but I did wish I could have seen him do one thing: defend Massachusetts. The people of Massachusetts were fighting and dying for this country's liberty before Sam Houston was a twinkle in his father's eye.

Every time Bush belittled Massachusetts (and that's exactly what he was doing), Kerry should have slammed him for it. But Bush was able to play one part of this country against another over and over again, in the debates, in his stump speechs, and in press conferences. These were not the actions of a uniter.

If 9/11 taught us anything, it's that we are all in this together. So, President Bush?

Back off of Massachusetts.

I'm just sayin'.

Ummmm...A Most Unusual Fact

And it is exceedingly odd.

A chart comparing 2004 exit polls to actual results.

The next place you should go.

Garry Wills: The Day the Enlightenment Went Out

The New York Times

Can a people that believes more fervently in the Virgin Birth than in evolution still be called an Enlightened nation?

America, the first real democracy in history, was a product of Enlightenment values - critical intelligence, tolerance, respect for evidence, a regard for the secular sciences. Though the founders differed on many things, they shared these values of what was then modernity. They addressed "a candid world," as they wrote in the Declaration of Independence, out of "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind." Respect for evidence seems not to pertain any more, when a poll taken just before the elections showed that 75 percent of Mr. Bush's supporters believe Iraq either worked closely with Al Qaeda or was directly involved in the attacks of 9/11.

The secular states of modern Europe do not understand the fundamentalism of the American electorate. It is not what they had experienced from this country in the past. In fact, we now resemble those nations less than we do our putative enemies.
We can strike that decent respect for the opinions of mankind part too. Bush promised to reach out to those that share his goals. It really is his way or the highway - with him or against him.

Sorry, Mr. Franklin. It was nice while it lasted...

Bill Frist, 2008 Republican Candidate for President

Frist is running, no doubt about it. The Bush machine knifed Trent Lott so Frist could become Majority Leader and get some national publicity. Now Frist isn't running for a third term as Tennessee Senator.

That's because Tennessee's Governor is a Democrat. If Frist runs again, then Phil Bredesen will nominate a Democrat for his seat should Frist win the Presidency. So another Republican must keep that seat.

Job one for Tennessee Democrats - find a candidate who can win that Senate seat.


This election's in the history books. John Kerry concedes.

Three main thoughts are surfacing in my profound disappointment.

(Cue jeramiad music...and lights)

1. Howard Dean, please report to Lost and Found - your party was discovered wandering around dazed and confused.

The oldtimers in the party ankled him for Kerry, and they were almost right...but they weren't. Things aren't as bad as they could be (the country is half full), but they are bad. One quick step down the right path - I don't know if there's any precedent of making a freshman Senator minority whip, but that sounds like a job for Obama to me.

And Howard? If you'd do me a favor and put Wesley Clark on speed dial, I'd be forever grateful.

Something, btw, must be done for the young campaign workers who toiled endlessly this election season, because of a second lesson: we must NEVER, EVER trust the youth vote EVER AGAIN. EVER. If they don't show up at campaign headquarters, we're just going to have to write them off until they wake up from the barrage of advertising and hormones that's throttling their maturity and sense of civil duty.

Those who did work their hearts out only to have those hearts stomped into the dust by a cruel election must understand – they will never be an inspiration to their peers, but they will always be an inspiration to us.

2. Hillary Clinton must never run for President.

Look what these people did to John Kerry, a war hero. Who in the South or West knows John Kerry? Nobody - he's a "liberal from Taxachussetts". But Hilary is a known factor - she's the Ice Queen, the She-Demon herself.

It doesn't matter that this reputation is wholly undeserved. It doesn't matter that this reputation was crafted because Hillary could be one of the greatest POTUS's ever - EVER - as in knock Teddy Roosevelt off Mount Rushmore and put her up there. It doesn't matter that this would be a terrible waste of one of the finest hearts and minds of our generation - Senator from New York must be our consolation prize...

...because how could we ask her to do it?

How could we ask her to step into that arena? It's too much to ask. We know what these people are capable of. That's why we must bear our burden and let Hillary know that she should never run for President.

And why, should she choose to run, we must fight for her with the last drop of blood in our bodies.

3. Bush is now legitimate.

The last four years were an aberation in American politics. We all know, it’s beyond rational dispute, that more people in Florida went to the polls to vote for Gore. He should have been President. But that changed last night. Last night the American people spoke clearly. Plenty of the electorate wasn’t there, but they never would have been. Those who cared, voted, more than ever. And they said: Bush.

So for good or for ill, George Bush is the 43rd President of the United States.

What have we done? This will be seen as one of the most spectacular mistakes of a people in history. It’s as if...

(God, I hate extended metaphors – for example, the fundamentalist Christian doctrine of the endtimes pegs the rule of the Antichrist at seven years. He’s given a mortal head wound, but the false prophet heals him, to the amazement of the world. The biblical description of the false prophet is uncannily Rovian. And most theologians think that the second three-and-a-half years are worst, so hey! only three more years to go!

I hate extended metaphors. But I digress.) if the American people sat at a table with Bush. All the world suffered because of this boor at dinner, who antagonized all with his table manners and rude jokes and constant degradations of fellow diners. But they remained silent, because everyone looked in pity at the American people, married to this incredible jerk.

But then the Muslim world brought the tab to the table, itemized with names like Abu Ghraib and Fallujah. Bush belched, wiped his mouth with his napkin and glanced idly at the American people. And in horror, the world watched as the American people picked up the tab and wrote: WE WILL PAY.

Why should the Muslim world view yesterday in any other way?

Bush is legitimate, and his mistakes are now America’s. It’s really going to get worse before it gets better.


Wisconsin is in the Kerry camp.

Fox and NBC has called Ohio for Bush, allowing Bush talking heads to chide their counterparts to "face reality".

Oh, and Daschle's out, but Obama's in.

Wisconsin and Ohio

That's what it's down to, and it may take days.

Wisconsin is razor-thin for Kerry. Ohio has Bush ahead by 140,000 or so, and it will be in the courts.

Wisconsin and Ohio.

It's Voting Day!

This should be a national holiday, with at least four hours of paid leave for all scheduled workers. It's not, because corporations like to depress the vote themselves.

If you're working late, go get in line now. If you're an 8-to-5 jockey like me, and didn't get to early voting, go get in line after work.

Vote. Because it does matter and you do make a difference.

An Interesting Experiment

ABC News

ABC News producers wore opposing shirts to Bush and Kerry political rallies. Their instructions were to act respectfully and leave when asked. The results were along the same lines, but drastically different in tone and severity.

At two different Kerry rallies, the producers were admitted. One reported remark made towards them was this: "We're not let into your parties because you're exclusive and stupid." At one rally, Kerry workers held up signs to block national media from viewing the producers. At the second, the event organizer politely warned them that they could be removed if they were disruptive, then asked them to enjoy themselves. Someone at the Kerry rally became visibly upset at their presence, but was calmed by her friend, who said, "Feel proud that we let them in. That's what democracy is all about, that's what we're fighting for."

The producers attended two Bush rallies as well, or tried to. The first rally wouldn't admit them, even though they had tickets. A Bush supporter told them as they waited for admission: "You guys know you have to love America to stand in this line, not France. Just letting you know. I don't want you guys to get beat up in there by Americans." They were also told to find the nearest exit and maybe law enforcement could help. At the second rally, they waited until they were inside to reveal the Kerry shirts. They were quickly ejected.

So as you see, all four rallies reacted against the opposing shirts. All four worked to neutralize the message of the shirts, as you would expect. These were private affairs, after all.

But which of these rallies sounds like the America you grew up in? Which of the rallies epitomized the American values that we've always known in this country?

There is a difference in these two candidates. Tomorrow, vote for everything America can be. Take the first step in taking back our country.

Breslin: Why Kerry Will Beat Bush

The reasons are pretty simple: Bush started 500,000 votes behind, Nadar's not a factor, new voter registration is up like gangbusters, and there are 170 million cellphones being used in America.

It's a lock.

Give Bush A Brain

Hi-sterical. It's given me a great idea for a cup and ball game to give to my friends...

Osama Threatens Red States?

New York Post

This is being pumped by Fox on the air as well. An organization that monitors Arabia media, MEMRI, says that Osama specifically threatened states that vote for Bush.

He's full of crap. Voting for Al Gore didn't save New York and Washington, D.C. in 2001. Now we're supposed to accept his solemn word to not attack states that vote Democratic? Puh-lease. An attack on any individual state is an attack on every state, and there's no American, John Kerry and George Bush included, that would consider it any other way. If he thought he could threaten any individual state, he's delusional.

You want to know what this is really about? Osama, like most observers of the election, sees that John Kerry is about to win. He wants to claim credit for it and so he's released this idiotic threat to appear even more powerful in the Arabic world. He's a meglomaniac, and he lost any right he might have had to plead grievances when he directed 19 men to hijack airplanes and crash them into our buildings.

Your day is long overdue, bin Laden, and come this January, when John Kerry is sworn in as President, you are going to find out what being Public Enemy No. 1 really means.

UPDATE: Juan Cole disputes this interpretation. He makes a good case for Osama using a fundamentalist anarchism. So Osama isn't necessarily singling out red states. He's still a dangerous twerp.

"Accident and Force"

The Federalist Papers No. 1

The Democratic Veteran whipped out the Federalist Papers on Preznit Dictator-Wanna-Be. I clicked over to read the source document, and was struck by a sentence myself:

It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.
First off: oh, for the days when our political leaders could use sentences like that and actually be understood. Hamilton, that firebrand and genius among many of the Revolution, would never be on CNN with a mouthful like that. That's most definitely our loss.

To the point: "Accident and force". Is there anything else to ascribe the ascendancy of the right-wing Republican faction in American politics? For the record, I consider the hyper pushing of false information about their motives and about their opponents "force", especially with the pliant national media we currently enjoy in America.

Reflection and choice is something that the Bush Administration fears. Is there any better reason to toss them out, on principle alone?

Funny Republican Ads

Just saw a Republican mail ad. Let's read it together, shall we?

Front: large picture of pinocchio puppets with strings draped around them to create the appearance of marionettes

Edward North...

...Another Puppet on a String

Reverse Side: detail of pinocchio puppet

Edward North tells us he will stand up and fight for our Tennessee values...

...But Edward North's values cannot stand up on their own - because he's just another puppet controlled by Liberal Millionaire Trial Lawyer J. Stanley Rogers.

What do Edward North, J. Stanley Rogers and John Kerry's running mate all have in common?

They're all liberal Trial Lawyers!

Liberals Raise Taxes and Trial Lawyers Sue.

High Taxes hurt our families and our economy.

Frivolous lawsuits run up the cost of health insurance.

Liberal Trial Lawyer Edward North does not represent our Tennessee values - he represents the values of the tax raising liberals!


Paid for by the Tennessee Republican Party.
Question: who is Edward North running against?

Question: what office is Edward North running for?

Here's his website: Edward North
My wife and I both come from small business backgrounds. Small businesses are the economic backbone of rural communities like ours, and small businesses create over 80 percent of the new jobs in Coffee and Warren Counties. I know what it takes to strengthen small businesses:

· Low taxes, so businesses can expand and create new jobs in our communities

· Lower health insurance premiums, so businesses can afford to provide adequate health benefits to all of their employees

· A well educated workforce, so we can recruit the high-tech jobs of the future into our rural communities today. This means more and better-paid teachers in K-12 education and more investments from the state level into our community and technical colleges.

When I am elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives, I will work with Governor Bredesen, not against him, to bring insurance premiums down, keep taxes low, invest in education and recruit more and better jobs to Coffee and Warren Counties.
Question: which of these candidates (North and the ghost Republican) is talking about the issues?

Which relies completely on PR-driven schlock?

Vote for the candidate that's not insulting your intelligence. Vote for the candidate who's not afraid to put his picture on his ads. Vote for Edward North, State Representative, Tennessee District 47.

John Kerry: Superhero

The Rude Pundit

What he said. Rudeness factor: 4, which is light for the Rude Pundit.

Boston Red Sox Break the Curse: 4-0 Series Victory

Of course this is a political blog for the most part, so I'm recalling the Democratic Convention this year. At some point during CNN's coverage (the end of the first day?), Jeff Greenfield brought up the Curse, to the delight of Aaron Brown. In fact, Aaron actually congratulated him, because Jeff had come up with the Meme that reporters could repeat ad nauseum should Kerry lose this Tuesday - by holding the convention in Boston, the Democrats had invoked the Boston Curse.

So the Boston Red Sox have now buried the Curse right next to Jimmy Hoffa. They even made history by coming back from a 0-3 deficit in the league championship to win the Series itself.

So Aaron, Jeff? Go soak your heads.

Not So Fictional After All!

'Hobbit' joins human family tree

I think the South Pacific is a great place for the Shire...

New Eminem Video Out


Go watch it since MTV won't play it - and watch it all the way to the end...

Get Your War On: 380 Tons of Explosives Edition

get your war on

Hello, is this the Military Strategy Hall of Fame? Are you accepting nominees for 2004 yet?
Been waiting for GYWO to knock this one out of the park...

Iraq Informs the IAEA of The Missing Explosives

Click here ot see a .jpg of the letter.

We would like to inform you that the following materials which have been included in Annex 3 (item 74) registered under the IAEA custody were lost after 9 - 4 - 2003, throughout the theft and looting of the governmental installations due to lack of security. Therefore we feel an urgent updating of the registered materials is required.

1. Al-qaqaa Comp. - HMX: 194.741 ton. High explosive material Declaration on 15/7/2002.

2. Al-qaqaa Comp. - RDX: 141.233 ton. High explosive material Declaration on 15/7/2002.

3. Al-qaqaa Comp. - PETN: 5.8 ton. High explosive material Declaration on 15/7/2002.

Please accept our high respect and consideration.
Lack of security. Who was in charge of security in Iraq after April 9, 2003?

416.4 Years of Carbombs

There's 380 missing tons of high-quality explosives in Iraq.

That's 760,000 pounds of RDX.

A single pound of RDX was enough to bring down the Lockerbie plane.

Let's say that 5 pounds of explosives make an adequate carbomb or suicide bomb, just to be on the safe side.

That means that the 380 tons of missing RDX could supply the Iraqi insurgency with 152,000 car and/or suicide bombs.

152,000 bombs.

If the Iraqi insurgency used three of these bombs a day against our troops and the Iraqi people, that means they have enough explosives to keep bombing for over 400 years.

416.4 years, to be precise.

And all because somebody in the Bush Administration decided not to guard a site that the IAEA warned us about specifically before the war began.

How exactly is Bush making us safer? Explain this to me again...

Source of Iraqi Car Bombs: Unguarded Explosives Looted During Early Occupation

Talking Points Memo

The daily car bombs being felt in Iraq are most probably from a looted site that wasn't guarded by the coalition forces in the beginning of the occupation. This site was under an IAEA seal, because the explosives could be used as triggering devices for nuclear explosives. Now they are being used to kill American and Iraqi soldiers every day.

The Bush Administration has been clamping down on this information, to the point of ordering the Iraqi government to not cooperate with IAEA officials in exposing the missing explosives. But the news has finally broken (the new Iraqi government finally reported the missing explosives to the IAEA).

How much more could Bush screw up the Iraqi occupation? How much more has to happen before his supporters realize that the cognative dissonance of their support is due not to the "crazy" claims of Bush's detractors but Bush's actual actions?

We can't stand four more years of this incompetent leadership. The world can't take this kind of "resolution" anymore. Bush has got to go.

I've Voted For John Kerry

I'll be at my job on November 2nd, so today I found out where early voting was in Davidson County (just down the road from me, as it turned out), and got into line.

Lots of people there. The wait wasn't too terribly long.

Then it was just the voting booth and I. That didn't take too long either. I had three races to vote in, and I picked Gary Moore for my State House Representative, Jim Cooper for my Congressman, and John Kerry and John Edwards to be the President and Vice-President of the United States.

Looking forward to a three for three win there...

The 9/11 Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket

LA Times

A 9/11 report prepared for Congress by the CIA is being withheld from Congress until after the election. This report names names, and shows the Bush Administration to have been uninterested in terrorism before 9/11, and unwilling to accept responsibility or accountability after the attack. Kevin Drum makes the obvious point: would the report be held back if it were critical of Democrats? Oh, no, h*ll no.

An Sample Essay In the "Global Test"

The Declaration of Independence

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Mr. Bush, please take notes.

Still America

Yahoo! News

The 11th Circuit Court ruled that protesters may not be required to pass through a metal detector when attending the annual protest against the School of the Americas, stating that September 11th "cannot be the day liberty perished in this country."

Three cheers for the 11th!

Still Haven't Made Up Your Mind?

frontline: the choice 2004 | PBS

Still can't see any difference in the two candidates?

Go watch Frontline's documentary The Choice 2004. It's a interwoven biography of both candidates. You can watch the entire program online in streaming video. This is good the way Fox News isn't.

The Cheneys: Outraged or Showing Their Flopsweat?

The American Street » Wellstone Memorial II

It occurs to me that the Bush campaign knows it could lose. They've said so, and the way the debates played out, it's a real possibility. The Bush campaign risks alienating its base of evangelical voters if the support of Mary Cheney by her loving family is revealed, and the Cheneys are outraged that people might blame the subject of their daughter for their campaign's loss this November.

After all, there are so many other reasons for Bush to be losing. Iraq's a bloody mess, the administration is harboring felons in the Vice President's office, they lied the country into war, they tossed out reconstruction contracts among their buddies like Mardi Gras beads, and their presidential candidate is a blinking, slobbering, incoherent deer under the headlights of real debate and dissent. To isolate Mary Cheney among all these other reasons is just shameful, and we should only expect a mother and father to lash out at the possibility.

New Blog

are you effin' kidding me?

Whatta great name for a blog.

Nightline Busts the Smear Boat Vets

Democratic Underground

I didn't see it, but Nightline has exposed the Smear Boat Vets for the liars they are. Nightline went to the actual location where Kerry earned his Silver Star and the Vietnamese villagers back up his story. The Viet Cong had sent insurgents to that village; they were firing on the Swift Boats. The Viet Cong that Kerry shot was not a teenager; he was 26 or 27 years old, and his name was Bat Tan.

So now Kerry's crewmates back up his story, the official records back up his story, and the Vietnamese villagers present at the event back up his story. How many lies does a person have to tell before you can just say, "Liar," and be done with them?

Apprentice Blogging

Okay, I'm admitting to an Apprentice obsession. I've watched every episode but the first so far (the only one the guys have lost so far).

The women's team invariably suffers from the pecking order phenomenon. One person is isolated (this week it's Elizabeth) and if they lose, the women will speak with one voice and have her fired. The only reason they didn't get Stacey the first week she went to the boardroom is that Trump really was agitated at Bradford's stupid waiver of immunity.

The men's team has been critical of the one woman assigned to their team. Last week she became project manager of the women and was fired. Now this week they're designing women's clothing and they chose a designer who's so much like Pamela, it's insane. There's probably some psychological reason for that...

However, it's clear that the men are headed to the boardroom this week. Their clothes look awful, and the women are totally together. And odds are it's John the project leader who's taking the bullet. He's in over his head.

Frodo Has Failed?

By the Bayou: No comment

Today's My Birthday!

October 12.

Many things happened on this day, besides my being born. Columbus (or one of his crewmen) sighted land in the Americas today, initiating a brutal period of European colonization. Al-Qaeda bombed the USS Cole in 2000 (in my family, I'm the lucky one - my brother's birthday is September 11th). And Matthew Shepherd died today in 1998.

On the other hand, Oktoberfest kicked off today in 1810. Desmond Doss won the Congressional Medal of Honor - he was a conscientious objector who volunteered as a medic, and he was honored for his bravery at Okinawa.

Luciano Pavarotti was born today (yay!), as was Chris Wallace (ick), Kirk Cameron (ewww), Dick Gregory (yay!), and Marion Jones (yay!). And last but definitely not least, Hugh Jackman.

More To The Sinclair Story

Sinclair stations refused to air Bush-critical advertisements earlier this year. They also refused to air a Nightline segment on their ABC stations when it featured a reading of the names of soldiers killed in Iraq. The DNC has filed a complaint with the FEC, the first ever by them against a media organization.

The Civil Rights Report Bush Doesn't Want You To See

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Until after the election, that is:

Several themes emerge from this study. Specifically, this examination will show that the administration’s statements frequently do not match its actions. Its civil rights promises often suffer for lack of funding and ineffective implementation. To his credit, President Bush has not dismantled some good programs that previous administrations had implemented. However, he has also not comprehensively advanced them or demanded accountability for their outcomes. And finally, through the views of his executive and judicial appointments and his own professed priorities, President Bush redefines civil rights, at times by promoting unrelated initiatives under a civil rights banner.
Though the report Redefining Rights in America is available at the USCCR website, it's only a draft copy. That's because Republicans protested the timing of this report.

You would think that Americans would want to see a detailed look at George Bush's record in office. Why is it that only bad reports are withheld because "they might affect the election," while good reports are given ad budgets and trumpeted by the campaign itself? Hmmmm....

Halperin Memo: Terrible Way To Say What Needed To Be Said


Had to link to Drudgie for the memo. It's ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin, telling his staff to bust the candidates for lying and distorting the other's record without regard to some nutty "'equally' accountable" canard. Here's the memo, reprinted from Drudge:

It goes without saying that the stakes are getting very high for the country and the campaigns - and our responsibilities become quite grave

I do not want to set off (sp?) and endless colloquy that none of us have time for today - nor do I want to stifle one. Please respond if you feel you can advance the discussion.

The New York Times (Nagourney/Stevenson) and Howard Fineman on the web both make the same point today: the current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done.

Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.

We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that.

I'm sure many of you have this week felt the stepped up Bush efforts to complain about our coverage. This is all part of their efforts to get away with as much as possible with the stepped up, renewed efforts to win the election by destroying Senator Kerry at least partly through distortions.

It's up to Kerry to defend himself, of course. But as one of the few news organizations with the skill and strength to help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying to serve the public interest. Now is the time for all of us to step up and do that right.
I understand what Halperin is saying, but this sentence could have been stated a hell of a lot more clearly: We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that.

Of course, both sides should be held equally accountable for the distortions they tell. What Halperin should have said is that treating the candidates' distortions and lies as if they were equally distorting isn't holding both candidates equally accountable. The reporters should be knocking both candidates for lying and distorting when they do so. And if one candidate is lying and distorting more than the other one, then the reporters should be busting that candidate more than the other one. That is actually what "holding each candidate equally accountable" means.

The candidates themselves, then, remain in complete control of how often and deeply they are exposed as distorters and liars. Reporters shouldn't search for some distortion and lie, however trivial, from the other side whenever they catch one side distorting and lying. They should report the distortions and lies as they find them, and if one candidate has a worse track record of dishonesty than his opponent, then that gets reported too. That's serving the interests of the American people.

If a particular candidate doesn't like being exposed as a distorter and liar, then that candidate should stop telling so many distortions and lies. By reporting a trivial distortion of one candidate as if it equalled an appalling lie by the other, reporters are not holding both sides equally accountable. They are being unequal, and favoring the liar. That's unacceptable and should be stopped.

Halperin, however, made this point in a way that rightwingers can distort. It's clear what he said when you read it, but by seeming to put "equally accountable" on the back burner, he's opened himself to some flack. Hopefully, he's clarified this: Equally accountable means 'slam them as many times as you catch them lying,' not 'slam them only when you can slam the other guy too." That's not fair or balanced, and Halperin was right to try and make that point.

One Question I'd Like To Hear Tonight

Mr. President, you said that American corporations were cooperating with Saddam Hussein in the oil-for-food scandal, but mentioned no names. Since only American oil corporations would be involved in such a scandal, how many of the cooperating companies were also part of your Vice President's invitation-only meetings to develop your administration's energy policies in early 2001?
A hobbit can dream...

Cheney's Shaking

Third question: Cheney was visibly shaking during his answer.

Cheney's Shaking

Third question: Cheney was visibly shaking during his answer.

Freeper Wonders If Kerry Had Questions Beforehand


Bartcop quotes a Freeper:

I had that feeling that Kerry had the questions beforehand.
He seemed to have his answers right on target.
Bush seemed like he was surprised by the questions.
I wish they could investigate to see if the DNC got a hold of the questions beforehand.
This guy is so used to building Bush up into SuperLeader, that someone with a grasp of the facts and communications skills is a surprise to him. It must be a fix! It just couldn't be that Kerry knows what he's talking about, and knows how to say it effectively...

Pathetic, isn't it?

The First Debate

Did I just see William Hung warming up the crowd?

Well, why not? I mean, Wolf is carrying water for the Bush campaign. He's terminally unable to understand Kerry's position on Iraq. The CNN crew has fully developed the "make or break for Kerry" meme - "historians will be writing about this for many years to come..."

Goody Jim Lehrer, the Debate Nanny, has just deputized Laura Bush and Teresa Heinz-Kerry as hall monitors. Ai-yi-yi.

Begala just pointed out that as easy as this format is, we should have no mercy on anyone that makes a mistake tonight. From your mouth to Wolf Blitzer's ear, Paul.

AP Already Has The Post-Debate Article Posted : Bush, Kerry Prepare for Debate in Fla.

I'm all for labor-saving devices, though. Maybe they could go ahead and print the election results and save us a lot of grief.

Grover Norquist Loses It

Mr. Norquist believes that the generation which pulled itself out of the Great Depression and fought WWII was "un-American".

Mr. Norquist, if you don't like this country, you can leave.

Bolo Boffin: Burkett Is The Forger

After he received the documents in Houston, Burkett said, he drove home, stopping on the way at a Kinko's shop in Waco to copy the six memos. In the parking lot outside, he said, he burned the ones he had been given and the envelope they were in. Ramirez was worried about leaving forensic evidence on them that might lead back to her, Burkett said, acknowledging that the story sounded fantastic. "This is going to sound like some damn sci-fi movie," he said.
My first position on this was that the documents were forgeries. I backed off of that, because I saw how well they fit in with official documents, and technology of the time could have produced those documents. But when Marian Knox gave her testimony, that was that for me. She was in the position to know, and she declared them fake.

At that point, though I didn't blog it, my suspicions were that Bill Burkett was the source for the memos. My gut was giving me 5-3 odds on it.

Since my intuition has proven right twice in this debacle, I'm going long and loud with this post: in my opinion, Burkett is the forger. He claims to have had the original documents in his hand, and he destroyed them to protect any forensic evidence from his source, Lucy Ramirez. Then he lied about the source, citing "pressure" from CBS News.

I just can't believe this story. I have great sympathy for the struggles that Burkett has been enduring, I do. But the destruction of the original documents is an inexcusable error. Burkett has only himself to blame for suspicions coming upon him now.

Kerry's Plan for Iraq

In his remarks, Kerry laid out the steps we must now take. First, the president must secure international support. Second, we must commit to a serious effort to train Iraqi security forces. Third, we must carry out a reconstruction plan that brings benefits to the Iraqi people, and fourth, we must take the necessary steps to hold elections next year.
Kerry made a very good point: one of America's true strengths in the past is our good relationship with other nations. Bush has strained these relationships and made America weaker. If the Iraq intervention had been a truly international effort, the insurgency would have been denied a potent propaganda device. America would not be shouldering the costs of this war, both money and blood.

CBS Regrets Bush Memos Story

CBS News

As I've been saying for a couple of days now, the memos are forgeries. CBS News is trying hard to recover from this, but they're going to take a big hit over this. Their recovery will be down the road.

Burkett is completely destroyed as a source. He's evidently refusing to tell CBS where he got the documents. Okay, then. He's got to expect that people will assume they came from his own hand then. It's a reasonable assumption.

This will overwhelm the whole AWOL story for a while, but real questions are still being raised by many different media outlets, questions that have never relied on these memos. The truth will out, as CBS has learned the hard way.

Why the Killian Memos are Fake But Accurate The Paper Trail

As Kevin Drum says, this is a devastating page for the authenticity of CBS's Killian memos.

However, I'm going to take issue with their four "content" points, because there are several people who verify the content of these memos.

First, the forged 19 May 72 memo claims Bush is going to work on another campaign for his dad. The Post notes:

Bush was working on the campaign for family friend, not his father.
This doesn't take the recent testimony of the widow of the family friend, who says that Bush's father asked her husband to find Bush a place on the Alabama campaign. Since Bush's father was the initiator, this is a perfectly understandable statement from Bush under the circumstances.

Bush had already worked on one campaign while being in the Guard - this is reflected in the use of the word "another". The memo conforms in content here with the actual circumstances.

Second, the 1 August 72 memo uses Bush's service number to identify him, not his Social Security number. This is a stylistic error and not a content error as the Post indicates. The service number is correct, after all.

Third, the 18 August 73 memo has Staudt pressuring Hodges about Bush. The Post notes:
Staudt retired in March 72, 17 months before memo was written.
This is something that Killian's secretary, Marian Carr Knox, confirmed. Staudt was a well respected officer in the Texas ANG. He remained a political player after his retirement, and the idea that he lost every scrap of influence in the Texas ANG after retirement is ludicrous.

Fourth, the 18 August 73 memo says that "Austin is not happy today either." The Post notes:
Aug. 18 was a Saturday. It is unlikely that ANG conducted business with "Austin" on Saturday.
"Austin" is headquarters for the entire Texas National Guard. Since drills were conducted on weekends, I find it unlikely that someone wasn't at Austin to take or make phone calls.

The Post also circles the "today" in this statement: "Harris gave me a message today from Grp regarding Bush's OETR..." If the call had come in Friday and Killian not there, he would have gotten the message the next day, on Saturday. That's how I read that statement.

All the other points I take. There are many stylistic and typographical differences between CBS's Killian memos and official Killian memos. But all the content is accurate, as Bobby Hodges, Marian Knox, and the White House's initial acceptance have confirmed. That means that someone forged this documents by copying real memos. Knox suggested that this would protect the forger from charges for leaking confidential papers. That's a very plausible scenario to me.

Bill Frist, Friend of the Friendless Pharmecuetical Companies

Frist won't bring drug import legislation up for vote - Tennessean

What a whore. What a whore.

But I digress. The legislation concerns drug reimportation. Drugs are made in America, shipped to Canadian companies, who could then concievably ship the drugs back into America and still sell them for less than the same drugs simply being sold in America.

Does anybody not see how screwed up this is??

Frist cites "safety" concerns, cites he. There is no way to verify that these drugs are actually coming from Canada and that they haven't been tampered with, says he. He counsels us to remember the Tylenol scare in 1982, counsels he.

So if there were some way to verify that the drugs are actually being driven over the border and back without being tampered with, we might could have the legislation and get cheaper prices on prescription drugs? Sounds like a plan to me...

Hey! Here's a bright idea. Why don't we just sell the drugs here for less money in the first place? I mean, if the pharms are cutting Canada such a deal that they can afford to ship our own exports back to us and make a profit underselling the big pharms, why can't the pharms just cut Americans the same break?


Blumenthal: Retired General Calls Iraq "Far Graver Than Vietnam"

Don't mean to be hawking's day pass all the time, but here's another mustread.

1. In Vietnam, we didn't have as much at stake.

2. Iraq is far more volatile.

3. We're in much worse shape with our allies.

Oh, yes. According to one source in this story (General Joseph Hoar), all signs point to an attack on Fallujah after Election Day.

Is that going to be win or lose, Mr. President?

Run The Debates Whether Bush Shows Or Not

The Talent Show > American Prospect

Excellent idea from the Prospect. Since Bush is dragging his feet on the issue, run the debates anyway. What's Bush going to do - not show up? Leave Kerry next to an empty podium answering questions for a prime-time audience? Hell, no. Of course, this is the president who's held twelve press conferences during his entire term so far. Maybe Rove knows that a empty podium would be better than President Bush bumbling out answers to questions he hasn't had a chance to rehearse.

Where Do They Get These Guys?

Okay, so I'm listening to CNN coverage of Ivan. The reporter is in Gulf Shores, talking about some animals that zookeepers were unable to evacuate - 20 deer and 12 alligators.

The reporter then spends 3 minutes telling us how they're going after the deer. "Oh, yeah, there was one deer, looking really frightened, here just a minute ago. He's running down the street thataway. The keepers are using tranquilizer guns to bring the deer down. Hopefully, they'll be able to get all the deer..."

Dude. 20 deer loose in Alabama isn't a problem. Lay out a salt lick. What about the FREAKING ALLIGATORS!!!!!

Wanna know why that deer was looking frightened? 'Cause there's alligators loose! Jeez Louise.

Oh, so he gets to the alligators, which the keepers are shooting to kill, he assures us. There are six unaccounted for, including Chuckie. Chuckie is twelve feet long and weighs over half a ton. Reporter Guy tells us that the tourists love Chuckie.

Not as much as Chuckie loves them...

Dan Rather Interviews Marian Knox

Tonight on 60 Minutes.

You must watch this interview. Record it if you have to.

Bad Press! No Toilet For You!

Washington Post

Only those with big bladders need apply for the White House beat. For the past year, the 20 or so correspondents toiling in the basement of the press room in the West Wing have been fighting to keep their toilet. "We've been using that toilet since Jimmy Carter was president," said Associated Press Radio correspondent Mark Smith. But after some trouble with the commode last year, the General Services Administration announced it was flushing the troublesome fixture.

Correspondents took their case to White House press secretary Scott McClellan, threatening: "We could also hold it -- but I think you'll agree we're cranky enough as it is." The GSA said it would cost $500,000 to fix the toilet -- earning it a place alongside the $400 hammer and the $600 toilet seat. McClellan would not dirty his hands in this plumbing dispute. The GSA then announced it had poured concrete into the "sewer ejectors," making the WC permanently unusable. As of yesterday, the toilet and sink were gone, replaced with a chair and a mirror.
Jimmy Carter giveth, but Bush taketh away.

How could Bush make such a colossal blunder during an election year? Not even a Porta-Potty? Maybe Bush misspoke when he was yelling at people to stop all this press leaking.

Hey, Senator Kerry? Since the press can't be bothered about anything else, can you promise a bathroom for every press gaggle in your adminstration?

Cat Killer Crashes Protest

No, Bill Frist didn't get into a tangle with Bush protestors. Some ignorant jackass skinned a live cat on camera and called it art. He then showed up at a showing of a documentary that covered the ensuing infamy and court case, causing a lot of flack and getting himself arrested.

Bill Frist isn't even mentioned in this article. I guess we should give the man credit for not filming his own extracurricular cat dissections as a study aid...

Killian's Secretary Speaks: Forged Memos Telling the Truth (free registration)

1. Marian Carr Knox was Killian's secretary. She would have typed the memos.

2. The CBS memos are fake. The typefaces are wrong for what was in the office. There are stylistic differences in how Knox would type the memos. Terminology like "billets" and "administrative officer" are Army terms, not ANG terms.

3. The CBS memos reflect real documents that once existed. Knox remembers very vividly "when Bush was there and all the yak-yak that was going on about it." They accurately reflect Killian's viewpoint and memos that were in a "cover your back" file that Knox maintained for Killian. There may not have been a memo-for-memo connection, but there were real memos once.

So the story is: The memos are forged, but they're telling the truth.

UPDATE: I left a dangling "but" up there - the italics finished the sentence. Sorry about that.

This is a bluff of epic proportions. The forger wanted people talking about the Bush Guard record, s/he had a lot of information about Bush, and s/he knew about the CYA file. There couldn't be too many people who knew that - Killian's widow and son didn't even know that.

I'm not convinced that the forger gave a damn about being discovered, either. Whether the memos were written on Word, or the forger located a Selectric Executive D to do it right seems to be irrelevant. Being discovered would just be more publicity about the contents. But if enough of the right people thought the gig was up and started talking about what they knew, the bluff would have worked.

And it did. Hodges may be backpedalling for all he's worth, but he's confirmed the details of the memos' content. And Mrs. Knox may discover that she knows the identity of the forger, if as I suspect the forger has interviewed her in the past. Only time will tell...

Why Bush Left Texas

The Nation

When you read this article, please remember one thing. Bush was making $900 a month working for the Blount campaign. $900 a month.

Bush, Schwarzeneggar Raise Taxes on Teachers


According to Republican logic, any tax cut that's less than an Republican tax cut is a tax increase. Bush is busy flogging a permanent enacting of his tax cuts, saying that the sunsetting of those cuts is a tax increase.

So why is Bush and Schwarzeneggar raising taxes on teachers?

This elimination of tax credits for teachers who buy basic supplies for their students is pretty low, too. These teacher reach into their own salaries to get pencils and paper into the hands of their students, and now they're going to be paying more taxes.

It's disgraceful. I wonder if there are any similar tax increases that Bush isn't advertising out there?

Bill Hobbs on Kerry Memo - Short on Specifics

US Military Weapon Systems

Military spending in the United States is massive. The 2004 budget for military spending asked for $399.1 billion. It takes the military budgets of the next sixteen highest spending nations to equal ours.

Is there no room for budgetary cuts in this long list? Of course there is. Weapons become obsolete, pork is too prevalent, and redundancy can become too unwieldy.

So let's not pretend, as Bill Hobbs does, that suggesting budgetary cuts in the military is working to disarm it. An efficient and focused military will only strengthen our security, not endanger it.

We've seen laundry lists of John Kerry's vote against weapons systems before. If you look at them, you'll see that only a few of John Kerry's votes are being blown out of proportion. When John Kerry voted against a defense appropriation bill that included the entire military budget, is it fair to isolate a few systems and say he opposed them? Why not say that John Kerry voted to completely disband the United States military?

Because that would be ludicrous. So too are these laundry lists. Expanding one vote into ten separate votes against specific systems is just propaganda.

However, Mr. Hobbs has discovered a memo from a 1984 Kerry campaign that does list specific weapons systems for cuts. The context for these cuts, however, isn't provided. On January 16 of that year, Reagan had begun to propose a nuclear-free world. This was because the US military buildup of the early '80s had had an opposite effect on the Soviet military - they went lean and mean. It was not Reagan's hard line that won the Cold War at all - it was his retreat from the hard line that allowed the Gorbachev revolution to take root and flourish.

So John Kerry's memo was in a context of the Reagan Administration signalling a back off from earlier rhetoric and a wild increase in military spending. The Congress was giving Reagan everything he had asked for over the years. Something had to give, somewhere.

None of these proposed cuts would have left America defenseless. Cutting five aircraft and one helicopter with associated missile systems would hardly have decimated our air arsenal and firepower. And plugging the hole of Reagan's feel-good sinkhole of Star Wars could only have released money for more useful and attainable goals.

What Mr. Hobbs needs to address is how would America's military been deficient had these weapons systems been cut. He quotes Vodkapundit's Will Collier:

Just taking the last section, as somebody who's been working on fighter jets and air-to-air weapons for the last decade, I can't even imagine how our armed forces would be able to operate today if Kerry's advice had been heeded.
Vodkapundit: long on rhetoric, short on specifics. There are and were dozens of aircraft systems and missile programs in the military - none of them could have filled the gap left by these few cuts?

And perhaps Kerry's Vietnam service helped guide his thinking. For example, the Sparrow missile performed poorly in Vietnam, yielding less that 10% kill per shot.

Give us some specifics, folks. Otherwise, we can dismiss the use of this memo as more chicanery.

Molly Ivins: Ben Barnes Partisan? Well, Yeah...

The Free Press

Fantastic piece from Molly.

Two Questions That Aren't Being Asked

This summary of the memo authenticity debate is rather good, but it highlights quite well the questions that aren't being asked, the questions that no one in the media apparently can conceive of asking.

Number one, Bobby Hodges. When first we heard of Hodges' connection to this story, he was saying that the memos contained "the things that Killian had expressed to me at the time." Now he's saying he thought the documents were handwritten and he believes them to be fake.

But believing the documents to be fake doesn't negate his first statement. Fake or not, they reflected Killian's stated opinion at the time. No one is pressing Hodges on this point.

The question to be asked, oh ye with access, is this: Mr. Hodges, fake or not, you confirmed the contents of the article as Killian's expressed opinion to you at the time. Does that confirmation still stand?

Number two, Killian's family. Marjorie Connell, Killian's widow, says the records are a farce, because he didn't keep files and considered Bush an excellent pilot. "He was not a paper person," says Mrs. Connell.

Yet there is a signature and several initials of Killian on these memos. Has anyone ever asked Mrs. Connnell or Gary Killian, Killian's son, to look at the signature and verify whether it's Killian's? She must be able to recognize the signature one way or the other.

The question to be asked is: Mrs. Connell, you've had a chance to look at the signature on these documents. Is that your late husband's signature?

Come on, mainstream media. These questions aren't hard.

BTW: Marjorie's current husband, Ed, is quoted in the USAToday article:

He said his wife has told him that Killian "pretty well kept work separate from home" and did not bring home paperwork or talk much about what went on at the base.
Meaning that she isn't in a position to deny or confirm what Killian may have done on the base.

Update To Killian Memo Timeline Below

I've added two new memos to the timeline. They were just released in a masterstroke "eat it" move from Rather and CBS News.

More Fun With Typewriters

PC magazine

Ad copy typed by a IBM Selectic Composer is put side by side with the same copy typed in Word. View the results for yourself.

Darn That Liberal Media!

US News and World Report has determined that the White House used an inappropriate standard in determining that Bush fulfilled his duty.

Say hello to JuliusBlog.

A Typewriter Expert and the Killian Memos

Lots of reasons to think this was typed on a typewriter. The most important is sentence periods are followed by double spaces. In Microsoft Word, double spaces after periods cause false indents in the following line. Yet twice when false indents should occur, the Killian memos remain lined up on the left.

No doubt the Freepers will howl that the forgery was done on a typewriter, next. Howl, Freepers, howl.

The Killian Memos: What's At Stake

I'm not going to polish this post up - it's a timeline for Bush's fifth year of service, fitting the Killian memos into the framework. It shows you clearly what is at stake if the memos can be proven authentic.

UPDATE: I've included the two new memos that have been released. It appears to me that some of these memos and letters are carbon copies of letters sent to Austin, Bush, or other places. Some are for personal use. The fact that Killian signs carbon copies suggests how CYA a lot of these memos are. Let me emphasize, as I do below, that the memos and letters tell an internally consistent story that fits the official records like a key into a lock.

Killian Memo - 2 February 72
- Killian asks for update on flight certification
- Specifically mentions Bush and Bath

***Was Killian gunning for Bush at this early date?

Dad calls Allison (Blount campaign), gets Bush deputy spot - Spring 72

Last Bush service date for a while - 14 April 72

Killian Memo - 4 May 1972
- Orders Lt. Bush to physical no later than 14 May 72
- By regulations, Bush had until end of July?
- Last physical: 10 May 71

***This appears to be a standard order, but new February memo puts a different light on it. The date for ordered physical is in line with last physical

Bush clears base (See 2 May 73) - 15 May 72

Killian Memo - 19 May 1972
- Bush calls about getting out of drill until November
- Informs Killian of "working on another campaign for his dad"
- Killian says 3 month of ET or transfer; Bush wants to transfer to any unit that will have him
- Get physical fixed by then? Bush will in Alabama if continuing in flight status, but has campaign and "other things to do after that"
- Killian reminds him of investment and commitment
- Bush then "has a unit in mind" - 9921st, evidently
- Killian suspects Bush is "talking to someone upstairs"

***Killian feels like he's getting played here. Bush first wants any unit that will have him, then suddenly produces ones? And he's getting antsy on the physical.

Bush Application for 9921st, Alabama - 24 May 72

9921st's Approval - 26 May 72

Fifth year of Guard service begins - 27 May 1972

111st Recommend Approval - June 72
- Killian not on this document

Bush Denied 9921st Assignment - Unclear
- Bush has a Military Obligation to fly
- Bush can't fulfill MO at 9921st

Bush Grounded on Killian's Verbal Order - 1 Aug 72
- Missed flight physical
- Source: 29 Sept 72 summary

Killian Memo - 01 August 1972
- Killian notes his verbal orders about grounding Bush
- Reasons: not meeting standards (no attempt to meet training certification) and not getting flight physical
- Requested orders of suspension and convening of flight review board
- Notes his recommend of transfer to 9921st which was denied.
- Also notes Bush's desire to be assigned to non-flying billets
- Looking for a pilot to replace Bush

***This is bad news: Killian grounds because Bush isn't attempting to train (payroll records confirm) and missed his flight physical (direct order). Killian is trying to suspend Bush, calls for a flight inquiry, and is looking for a replacement. IF THIS MEMO IS REAL, THEN WHERE IS THE PAPERWORK?

Republican National Convention - 21-23 August 1972
-Bush attended

Bush Asks Killian's Permission for 187th Assignment - 5 September 72
- For September, October, and November only

AL Approval 187th Assignment - 15th September 72
-Can't train September
-October 7-8, November 4-5
-"Bush can't satisfy flight requirements with our group"

Prescott Bush dies of cancer - 8 October 72
-Conflict with AL training in October

Bush resumes service - 28-29 October 72
-Payroll records
-Credited to October
-Arranged to miss 4-5 November service due to election?

Election Day - 8 November 72

Bush's November service - 11-14 November 1972
-Four days
-Makeup for September time?
-Credited to November

Bush's bad month - December 1972
-Wrecks car, challenges dad to fight "mano a mano"
-Drives bicycle in front of mom's car

Bush January service - 4-6, 8-10 January 1973

Bush AL dental exam - 10 January 1973
***Why is Bush in Alabama? No recorded permission to train past November

Bush April service - 7-8 April 1973

"Bush not observed" report - 2 May 73 (?)
- As of this date, Bush was not observed at Houston for the year
***Killian 19 Aug 73 memo says this report backdated

Bush Buckles Down - May through July 1973
- Extensive service
- In late April, Bush is ordered to attend INACTRA dates
- Those dates are marked as code 50 on Bush's payroll records
- Many more code 50s are marked, and one long week of 22 (regular drills)

Killian Letter - 24 June 1973
- Official response to phone call asking for Bush's OETR
- Killian can't rate Bush because he wasn't there since April 72
- All recent activity (the buckle down) wasn't within rating period
- "Please advise"

Killian Memo - 19 August 1973
- Staudt (retired for 1 1/2 years) is pressuring Hodges about Bush
- Staudt wants Bush's OETR sugarcoated
- Killian has no info from 187th, and Bush wasn't in Houston during rating period
- A second call: Killian agrees to backdate OETR but not rate Bush with Harris's agreement

***Staudt is leaning on Hodges, and Hodges is leaning on Killian via Harris. This is about filing Bush's 72-73 OETR which isn't filed as of 19 August 73Killian was sitting on the OETR, and finally buckled on 19 August 73 - to a point. He doesn't rate because Bush didn't train in Houston during this time and he has nothing from the 187th, at this late date.
Which means: all payroll records from Bush's fifth year were in Alabama or were fraudulent pay. The frequency of pay records makes the Alabama choice untenable - no one remembers him! I could buy being missed by some in October and November, but January, February, and April as well? No way. No way.

The memos are evidence then of Bush's disobeying of a direct order and his failure to find a proper training unit. They are also evidence of a suspension and flight inquiry called for which appear nowhere in the records. They may also be evidence of Bush's attendance and payroll records being forged - which means rank corruption in the Texas ANG.

Which also alleges that the sitting President of the United States cashed government checks for service he had not performed, participating in a defrauding of the military during war and has lied about this to this very day.

The memos fit into the given records like a key into a lock. Their story remains internally consistent. The question of their authenticity will be the defining moment of this campaign. This must be settled beyond a shadow of a doubt.