Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Does anyone know where the moniker bunnypants came from for GW?

Hacking the RNC 

A fairly reliable source sent me this today:

Hacktivists have launched an online protest against the Corporate Machine by stealing hundreds of credit card numbers from major news services and have made over $2400 in donations to various humanitarian and civil liberties organizations including the Sierra Club, Save The Children, Animal Protection Institute, and more. This action is part of a broader electronic civil disobedience campaign against the Republican National Convention to coincide with the massive demonstrations in NYC. Speaking out against corporate control of major news services, the war in Iraq, and the GOP's exploitation of New York to further their political agenda, these hackers are pioneering the internet as a new medium of protest.

Either the credit card corporations are going to have to spend tens of thousands of dollars in lawyer and investigation fees to track down and retrieve a mere few hundred dollars per account, or these humanitarian organizations are going to get their donations. We'll have to see whether Corporate America is heartless enough to take money away from hungry children, AIDS victims and the homeless and give it straight to law enforcement, attorneys and the banks.

Interesting, if true. In benign geek activism news, though, thanks to Newsgrist for bringing attention to the above photo.

Harsh Solvents and Acids 

Bush is actually in a fight with fellow Republicans over a law that would make sure that people dying from cancer from their work building nuclear bombs get money distributed to them faster: only 31 claims have been filled out of 25,000 requests.

The workers were exposed to toxic substances such as radiation, heavy metals, asbestos and harsh solvents and acids while employed by Energy Department contractors. They often were not told what they were working with and did not have adequate protections. "These are our Cold War veterans," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. "They were working in an environment that they thought was safe. It wasn't safe."

The most interesting line in the AP article, however, is this:

Democrats are generally trying to steer clear of politicizing the issue.

Cable TV 

As I've mentioned before, back when the DNC gave bloggers credentials, what happens on TV during a convention is more important than what happens at the convention off air. Since last night wasn't covered by the major news outlets, I was left with the cable channels.

Ron Reagan Jr is totally awesome, and he is on fire for the RNC coverage so far. First, after a bike protester is arrested on camera doing an interview with him, Reagan points out, on TV, that the cops were lying about the charges, and then has the protester back on when he's released.

But tonight, as co-host of "After Hours" with Joe Scarborough, he was actually injecting some truth into the pundit flapping- which means he'll probably be fired. I particularly enjoyed his conversation on keeping Iraq and the War on Terror separate. A panelist- an actor, of all people- said that it was a war on Islamo-Fascism, and that maybe Reagan could understand why Terror and Iraq are linked if it was put into those terms. Reagan simply said that Iraq was actually a secular state, not a state of Islamic Fundamentalism, to which none of the Repundits had any response. It seems that this is a target issue for the RNC: re-equating Iraq and Al Qaeda. Reagan even harped against this one in his "man on the street" interviews with Bush supporters, who for the most part were shocked that anyone was actually expecting them to be informed.

For what it's worth, Chris Matthews has been pretty good about clearing this up. Aaron Brown- one of the least insane of all major media types, over on CNN- has been giving his look of puzzlement and asking everyone on earth, "Why do you think there's no mention of Najaf or the Deficit?" Brokaw and Russert asked the same question on his show.

For night one, anyway, the media has been getting good at keeping the Republican Spin Machine in line. But if you don't know it already, campaign desk is a great resource.

The RNC's "Flashback to 2001" Party, Night One 

There are only two things you need to know about the Republican National Convention, at least as it played out on TV.

1. The stage has three giant lcd screens- a tall rectangle on the left, a square in the middle, and a tall rectangle on the right. If you can't imagine what that is supposed to evoke, then consider that for Giuliani, the image on those screens was the New York Skyline. The most telling moment was when LCD Tower One lit up with "RNC", and LCD Tower Two lit up with "Victory".

2. One delegate from West Virginia handed out band-aids with purple hearts on them, with a message: "It was just a self-inflicted scratch, but you see I got a Purple Heart for it."

I never really knew what a douchebag Giuliani is. Sprinkled in amongst his speech about how, "after 9/11, we were united as Americans", came the line (not in the transcript) "I don't believe we're right about everything and Democrats are wrong about everything. They're wrong about most things." Ha, ha. Then he moved on to traditional neocon Europe bashing.

Giuliani brought up three incidents in which European countries ceded to terrorism. One was the release of three terrorists responsible for the Olympics Massacre in 1972. The terrorists were released after an airliner was hijacked, and the German government released them in order to avoid a greater degree of innocent bloodshed. I did not see Giuliani deal with this aspect of it, instead: "So terrorists learned they could intimidate the world community and too often the response, particularly in Europe, was "accommodation, appeasement and compromise."

Giuliani didn't mention this. As the convention was going on, a French journalist being held hostage along with a colleague in Iraq called on French President Jacques Chirac to give in to militants' demand to rescind a headscarf ban to save their lives, according to a video shown on the Al-Jazeera television station. The French, it seems, are more interested in head scarf bans than they are in "giving in to the demands of terrorists", and lives of their citizens- presumably, "tough on terror," Giuliani should be proud. Does Giuliani endorse the current French position? Are the Republicans with Jacques Chirac on letting journalists die instead of canceling a national hat ban law? Someone should ask him.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Bush: We Can't Win Terror War, But We Must Pretend 

Matt Lauer had Bush on the Today Show this morning.

President Bush was asked if he thought the war on terrorism could be won, he said: "I don't think you can win it."

I don't think Matt Lauer can win it, either. Or did he mean "I", the only person who is actually responsible for winning it? Bush goes on, not mangling the English Language per se, but certainly employing what has to be a careful and deliberate misuse of pronouns:

"I want to make sure your kids can grow up in a peaceful world. If we believe you can’t win, the alternative is to retreat. We cannot show weakness in this world today, because the enemy will exploit that weakness. It will embolden them, and make the world a more dangerous place."

Let's look at it on its face. Bush doesn't think we can win, so the alternative is to retreat, but he won't retreat even though he doesn't think we can win. Why? Because then the enemy will make the world less safe for your children. So instead, we have the Tinkerbell Theory for the War on Terror: Clap your hands if you believe, and we will just constantly fight, or else our peace might be threatened by our lack of belief in winning. I do, I do! I do believe in Fairies!

How the hell does that make sense to anybody?

So: the pronouns. Let's look at what Bush would be saying if he used the proper set of pronouns for what he's actually talking about. He takes responsibility for making sure "your" kids live peacefully, but if "we" (Americans, but not Bush) believe that "you" (Bush) can't "win" (the war he declared, and just said he couldn't win) then all this bad stuff is gonna happen. If Americans believe that Bush can't win, the alternative is "retreat".

Actually, the alternative is to vote Bush out of office. By this delightful turn of phrase, though, voting Bush out of office- "retreat"- is "weakness" that will "embolden" the terrorists. So in conclusion, a vote for Kerry is a vote for surrender- hence, associating Kerry for the last four months with "French". Bush couldn't just come out and say all this, not without hiding behing the a 527 group with a donor base the size of a Bush Supporters Law Office. So Bush encodes it, intentionally or not, into his language, particularly into the language of something he has strong numbers on: Terror, aka, "are you more scared now than you were four years ago?"

Sometimes I wonder if Bush is so caught up in his string of delusions that being re-unelected would cause him to gain any kind of insight into the actual world. My feeling is that he wouldn't- he would simply say to himself that America didn't have the moral courage to deserve his leadership. Let's give him that chance.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Small toys showing an airplane flying into the World Trade Center were packed inside more than 14,000 bags of candy and sent to small groceries around the country before being recalled. - CNN

Maybe they'll give these out at the RNC?

NYC Protest Party 

It isn't often that people's behavior inevitably turns newspaper articles into deadpan comedy. There's so much goodness in this NYTimes article on the protests so far in New York:

When a drummer and a man in an elephant costume - "Elephants Against Republicans" - filed by, Flora Rohrs, a delegate from Colorado, burst into song. "This is my country," she sang, with bits of "God Bless America" thrown in.

The Times says it is the largest demonstration ever held at a political convention, with over 250,000 people. The NRO is not impressed:

Looks like someone dumped out the most disenchanted, dissheveled youth out of the leftest-wing of college campuses, right out of bed this morning, hung over. Lots of crass plays on the president and vice presidents names. Lots of brilliance, like: "Some are less dumb for president." It had a real amateur-hour feel to it, at least in large spurts: lots of handmade signs and t-shirts. Lots of the likes of "Jersey City Peace Movements."

Only the NRO would expect student activists to get ahold of professionally made signs, and only the NRO can envision activists who are not "amateurs"- considering the "Brooks Brothers Riot" of professional Bushmonkeys paid to raise a ruckus about the Florida recounts. That was professional activism, I guess. Don't even get me started on the condescension of the "Jersey City Peace Movements" stuff- as if grassroots organization was, you know, just not as important as, say, the Heritage Foundation.

The Deal Breaker That Wasn't 

Sorry, but I don't think this is the holy grail some Kerry Dems are making it out to be.

Yeah, the man said he pulled some strings at Bush 1's request to get his son, Li'l George, into the National Guard. I don't doubt that it's true, I just have to say, you know- he's a Democrat.

The only thing that will "make a difference" in this election is when a Republican says it about Bush, or a Democrat says it about Kerry. Then people will listen. Otherwise, it just gets lost in the partisan fog, for better or for ill.

Uh Oh, Alan Keyes Is "Making Sense" Again 

Does anyone know what Alan Keyes was doing on Saturday Morning? Here's what I have:

Senate candidate Alan Keyes, CURE Founder and President Star Parker, and approximately 40 black pastors from across the U.S. hold a press conference in commemoration of the 41st anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech and in support of a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.

I know that some blacks believe that the only civil rights worth fighting for are their own, and I know that Ms. King is one of them- Ms. King who also, by the way, charges royalties whenever a TV station wants to play anything from the "I Have A Dream" speech. But let me just say that, frankly, using the "I Have A Dream" speech as a kick off for a tirade against giving a group of people equal rights under the law is kind of ironic, no?

Thursday, August 26, 2004

PRKA Manifesto 

Last Thursday, my organization, People Reluctant To Kill for an Abstraction, orchestrated an overwhelming show of force around the globe.

At precisely 9 in the morning, working with focus and stealth, our entire membership succeeded in simultaneously beheading no one. At 10, Phase II began, during which our entire membership did not force a single man to suck another man's penis. Also, none of us blew himself/herself up in a crowded public place. No civilians were literally turned inside out via our powerful explosives. In addition, at 11, in Phase III, zero (0) planes were flown into buildings.

During Phase IV, just after lunch, we were able to avoid bulldozing a single home. Furthermore, we set, on roads in every city, in every nation in the world, a total of zero (0) roadside bombs which, not being there, did not subsequently explode, killing/maiming a total of nobody. No bombs were dropped, during the lazy afternoon hours, on crowded civilian neighborhoods, from which, it was observed, no post-bomb momentary silences were then heard. These silences were, in all cases, followed by no unimaginable, grief-stricken bellows of rage, and/or frantic imprecations to a deity. No sleeping baby was awakened from an afternoon nap by the sudden collapse and/or bursting into flame of his/her domicile during Phase IV. [...]

As night fell, our membership harbored no secret feelings of rage or, if they did, meditated, or discussed these feelings with a friend until such time as the feelings abated, or were understood to be symptomatic of some deeper sadness. [...]

In London, a bitter homophobic grandfather whose grocery bag broke open gave a loaf of very nice bread to a balding gay man who stopped to help him. A stooped toothless woman in Tokyo pounded her head with her hands, tired beyond belief of her lifelong feelings of anger and negativity, and silently prayed that her heart would somehow be opened before it was too late. In Syracuse, New York, holding the broken body of his kitten, a man felt a sudden kinship for all small things.

Read the whole brilliant fucking thing.

All I Need To Know 

From Thursday:

Melida Arredondo said her husband knew what was coming as three uniformed Marines approached their front door. And when they told him Wednesday afternoon that his Marine son, Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo, had been killed in combat in Iraq, police say Carlos Arredondo simply snapped.

Arredondo climbed into the Marine Corps van parked outside his home and set it ablaze, suffering severe burns. "This is his scream that his child is dead. The war needs to stop," Melida Arredondo, who had rushed home from work when she heard the news, said Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Turning The Corner 

Today we have a new census report. Some fluctuations since 2003's Census:

Americans Living In Poverty: Up by 1.3 Million
Americans without Health Insurance: Up by 1.4 Million

Bush Liberates Olympics Trademark 

The U.S. Olympic Committee has asked the campaign to re-elect President Bush to pull an ad that refers to the Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee said on Thursday. The ad has angered Olympic officials because they feel it hijacks the Olympic brand -- a registered trademark -- even though it does not display the Games logo. Via Corrente.

Bush had also made some comments a while back: "The image of the Iraqi soccer team playing in this Olympics, it's fantastic, isn't it?" The Iraqi soccer team had a similar enthusiasm for Mr. Bush:

"How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women? He has committed so many crimes." - Ahmed Manajid, Olympic Soccer Player, Iraq

"My problems are not with the American people, they are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything. The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?" - Coach, Adnan Hamad

And then there's this:

Manajid, 22, who nearly scored his own goal with a driven header on Wednesday, hails from the city of Fallujah. He says coalition forces killed Manajid's cousin, Omar Jabbar al-Aziz, who was fighting as an insurgent, and several of his friends. In fact, Manajid says, if he were not playing soccer he would "for sure" be fighting as part of the resistance.

"I want to defend my home. If a stranger invades America and the people resist, does that mean they are terrorists?" Manajid says. "Everyone [in Fallujah] has been labeled a terrorist. These are all lies. Fallujah people are some of the best people in Iraq."

Two high profile acts of protest today:

1. Nine Nude Protesters- part of ACT UP- linked arms in Madison Square Garden to bring attention to the Bush administration's handling of AIDS in the third world. On CSPAN, a bystander yelled out, brilliantly, "Yeah, you're sooo cool". Clap, clap.

2. Two protestors checked into a hotel last night, and today propelled down the side of the hotel, unfurling a banner that "had the word "truth" on an arrow pointing north toward Central Park- where anti-war protesters want to rally- and another arrow with "Bush" pointing south toward Madison Square Garden.

Also, if you want to take part in a protest in NYC but don't want to go to New York City, here's your chance: "NO RNC!" has two huge windows on a second story building a few blocks from the convention. They're asking people to send them things, which they will project out the windows, in their words: "slide-shows, poetic narratives, visual essays, flash manifestos, tele-novelas, power-point presentations, animations, statistical graphics, anecdotes, allegories, raps, rants, chants, and other imaginative forms using any combination of text and image."

They can't play sound. But they want everyone to be able to participate, so- take part! Just email whatever it is you want shown to , 10MB maximum. Have fun! And if you send them something, feel free to post it in the comments too, so we can all see.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Bush Hides on Triple Amputee Veteran 

Veteran, former Senator, and triple amputee, Max Cleland, shows up outside of Bush's Ranch in Texas to give him a letter- and what does Bush do?

Refuses to take it. Another vet comes out to accept it, but Cleland wants to give it to Bush. Bush hides. Later on, McClellan comes out:

Q How would you characterize or respond to what happened today here in Crawford with Senator Cleland?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Senator Kerry says that he wants to talk about the issues. Today's political stunt is an interesting way of showing it. If Senator Kerry was serious about focusing on the issues, he would join the President in calling for a stop to all these ads by these shadowy groups. The President has focused on the issues and his agenda, and he's focused on the clear choices that the American people face. He has done that throughout the campaign. It appears that Senator Kerry is really just trying to divert attention from his out-of-the-mainstream record and his out-of-the-mainstream views. And I think that's what you're seeing more of today.

Let's analyze that one- If Senator Kerry was serious about focusing on the issues, he would call for limiting free speech by individual groups that aren't tied to an individual party? The President, meanwhile, by refusing to condemn the ad, accomplishes a different end by doing the same thing Kerry is (alleged) to be doing. Then, to show that Bush Inc is interested in talking about the issues, they attack John Kerry.

Now, Kerry did condemn a moveon ad. Kerry's legal complaint with the FEC about the Swift Boat ad isn't about what the veterans are saying per se, it's about the group collaborating with the Bush campaign team, which is illegal. It's stupid that it's illegal, yes, but it's illegal anyway.

Who Knew? 

While prior to the predestined war in Iraq, we, as a nation, collectively pretended to have a debate on the issue, as if the President hadn't already decided, if not prior to his election than certainly immediately after 9/11, that war was inevitable. Part of that imaginary dialogue included the cost of the war, to which we were assured that we would be handed candy and flowers as we marched into Baghdad. No one ever mentioned that, as soon as Iraqi's ran out of flowers and candy, they would start shooting at us. Or did they? Because it seems now that all Bush had to do to predict the future of the Iraqi "Liberation" would be to ask his Dad, who wrote the following in a book shortly after Gulf War 1:

"We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect rule Iraq," Bush wrote. "The coalition would have instantly collapsed. [...] Going in and thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations mandate would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish.

"Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different - and perhaps barren - outcome."

Or, Bush could have asked his Dad's buddy and Secretary of State, James A. Baker, who wrote in 1996:

"Even if Hussein were captured and his regime toppled, U.S. forces would still have been confronted with the specter of a military occupation of indefinite duration to pacify the country and sustain a new government in power.

"Removing him from power might well have plunged Iraq into civil war, sucking U.S. forces in to preserve order. Had we elected to march on Baghdad, our forces might still be there."

Swifties Roundup 

More on the Swift Boat Saga from the NYT:

The Bush campaign's top outside lawyer said Tuesday that he had given legal advice to the group of veterans attacking Senator John Kerry's Vietnam War record and antiwar activism in a book, television commercials and countless appearances on cable news programs.

The lawyer, Benjamin L. Ginsberg, said that the group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, called him last month to ask for his help and that he agreed. Mr. Ginsberg said that he had yet to work out payment details with the group and that he might consider doing the work pro bono.

The Wall Street Journal (print only) has some interesting history and crit from the right on the 527 groups that Bush is now calling to be disbanded:

"If Mr. Bush wanted the two major parties to better control their campaign messages, he could have vetoed McCain-Feingold. Some of us urged him to do so, but his political advisers whispered not to worry, the Supreme Court will take care of it. Well, Sandra Day O'Connor failed too, but in any event since when are Presidents supposed to pass the buck to judges?"

The balanced criticism of the 527's comes out of the WaPo today: That the regulation of ads like the Swift Boat ad that Kerry is trying to ban- on the grounds that SBVfT is "coordinating with the Bush campaign", which is illegal- is equivalent to the regulation of free speech. But the call by Bush to ban all of these kinds of groups and ads is a call for a wider, more universal limit on free speech.

But "coordination" is really "speech" and "political association." It's talking and planning among people who want to elect or defeat the same candidates. There's an indestructible inconsistency between the language of the First Amendment and campaign finance laws. Why shouldn't veterans coordinate with Bush? Why shouldn't Democratic 527s coordinate with Kerry? The Supreme Court upholds the campaign finance laws simply by ignoring the First Amendment's language.

The editorial also has this ridiculous exchange from a Newsweek interview with DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, when asked about his campaign strategy:

McAuliffe: Legally, I cannot have that conversation... I cannot signal to the Kerry campaign what type of ads we're doing, how much money we're spending, because that would be deemed coordination...

Q: You can't tell him anything about what the themes of your advertising will be?

A: No sir, absolutely not...

Q: Do these rules strike you as absurd?

A: Yes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Oh, Canada! 

Two judges known for supporting same-sex unions were nominated Tuesday to fill vacancies on Canada's Supreme Court, and they will be assessed in the country's first-ever public screening of such appointments. AP

Thumbs up, Canada!

Every Day, Another Nail 

...Ludicrous and lethal examples of classification were cited Tuesday by members of Congress and witnesses at a House subcommittee hearing into the Sept. 11 commission's conclusion that secrecy is undermining efforts to thwart terrorists.

The article was written in a fashion that almost makes it look like it's avoiding telling us how, exactly, the war on terror is being undermined. Reading it, you kind of have to guess. But this was interesting:

The CIA deleted the amount Iraqi agents paid for aluminum tubes from page 96 of a Senate report on prewar intelligence. The report quoted the CIA as concluding, "Their willingness to pay such costs suggests the tubes are intended for a special project of national interest."

That price turned out to be not so high. On page 105 of the same Senate report, the same security reviewers let CIA's figure - up to $17.50 each - be printed twice, along with other estimates that the Iraqis paid as little as $10 apiece.

I don't know, are we done nailing that coffin shut? Evidence was distorted to take us into war. I feel like, personally at least, I am pretty confident that the case has been made to the extent that everyone should have come to a consensus by now. But there it is anyway.


So I'm reading the AP's article on the new overtime laws, and I am struck by two sentences at separate points in the article:

One: "The Labor Department says the new rules provide clarity."

Two: "Estimates of how many workers will lose their overtime eligibility vary from 107,000 to 6 million. Calculations of workers who could become newly eligible range from very few to 1.3 million.

That's an interesting idea of clarity.

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Swift Boat Agenda 

The new Swift Boat veterans ad calls into question Kerry's Senate Testimony for quoting (The ad doesn't tell you that) reports about war crimes and atrocities in Vietnam. They say it was a dishonor to all Vietnam Veterans. What they don't mention is the documented and certified My Lai Massacre, a revenge attack by Americans on a village that was not the enemy, but not our friends either. Women and men were killed, including a two year old child who was found crawling away from them. The massacre only ended when a support helicopter observed what was going on, and the commander made the decision to turn his own soldier's weapons on the other American Troops.

My Lai isn't controversial. The soldiers confessed and were found guilty in a court martial. There is documentary proof, including photographs and eye witness accounts. The crimes Kerry talked about happened, and there's no reason to feel that Kerry should have been ashamed of publicizing them in his efforts to bring an end to a war that most Americans believe was a tragic mistake. So why bring it up?

Because of the Anti-War left of the 1960's, and how it is different from the Anti-War left of the Naughts, and how not everyone understands that. The Anti-War Left of the 60's spawned radicals like the Weather Underground, a group of leftists who protested the war by blowing up buildings. They were, in effect, terrorists. The radical left of the 1960's was also different from our anti-war left in that "respect the troops" wasn't neccesarily a predominant concern. For some, the ones who went to war were pigs, and the ones who fled for Canada were the heroes. My father, returning from duty as a drafted mine sweeper in Vietnam, was greeted by a rally of protestors who spit on him.

I don't think any of the soldiers who returned from Vietnam were part of that. It was the stupidity of extremist youth during the 1960's. My dad was against the war, and remembers Kerry as a hero. But that doesn't matter, now. What matters is that the Right of today can connect Kerry to left of yesterday. If that is accomplished, then Kerry is associated with what is associated with the radical left: being "against the troops".

But there's something else at work. If Kerry was a "friend" to those who spat in the face of Vietnam Veterans, Bush was part of the National Guard. The mythology of the National Guard is best summed up by a little allegorical story about my uncle. He was a member of the National Guard during the Vietnam War. The most memorable family story of that era was when my Uncle had to stand outside and hold his weapon in front of a crowd of anti war protesters that also contained my mother- his sister, whom he told, prior to the rally, that if he had to shoot her, he would.

The symbolic politics of this for veterans is more than Kerry's "leadership and integrity". The idea is the subtle suggestion: Kerry was one of the protesters who spit at you, and Bush was one of the men with a gun that kept them in line. Nevermind that Bush was a pilot, that Bush didn't have duty against protesters, that Bush didn't show up, none of that matters in the subconscious lizard brain that motivates the lazy electorate. The issue is being reframed, by Bush, from an issue of "who served and who didn't", and is being turned into an issue of what kind of service they each did. The only advantage Bush has in this issue is the subliminal suggestion that he was the guy with a gun pointed at rowdy, disrespected protestors. Little surprise, then, that Bush Inc plans to paint dissenters at the RNC as hostile Democrats with no respect for the office of the Presidency.

Is it working? That's hard to discern. Emerging Democratic Majority analyses some polls that have themselves emerged from the ether of the post-Swift Boat Veterans election world. EMD knows a thing or two about polls, and here is what they have to say:

...when asked if they believed the major accusation against Kerry - that he did not legitimately earn all his medals - only 21% of the Annenberg respondents agreed. The strong majority -- 59% -- supported Kerry on this issue, with an additional 20% withholding judgment. Thus, while the data clearly show that the anti-Kerry ads have become widely known, their actual effectiveness is not yet clear.

In regards to losing the support of Veterans, people are comparing the post convention "bounce" number- a split 46 Bush, 46 Kerry for Vets- which is only where the numbers stood for about 5 days. Then, a poll from August 4th- after the convention mini-bounce but before the Swift Boat Ad- showed 58 Bush, 35 Kerry. The interesting thing is that Bush, since the ads, has lost three points and Kerry has gained 2. Within the margin of error, sure, but even so, the Swift Boat Issue is actually negligible for Kerry.

The Little Matter of Bob Dole

But when it comes to shaking our heads about the tragedy of it all- as Jay Rosen does brilliantly at the BOP- it's important to be humble when we hold this kind of thing up as proof of our descent into gutter politics. Because, frankly, some of us on the left did the same thing to Bob Dole in 1996. In The Nation, an article popped up that took Dole's injury from WW2 and did the following:

A) Disputed the idea that Dole "sought" active duty.
B) Disputed the amount of Gun Fire Dole faced.
C) Said that Dole's division wasn't dangerous when he volunteered- it became dangerous afterward.
D) Declares that one of his wounds was self-inflicted.
E) "Dole's second award was simply for being in combat - not, as with Bronze Stars awarded in wartime, for "heroic" or "meritorious" conduct."

Sound familiar? It's every single charge being raised against Kerry. Is it disgusting? Of course. But is it Inherently Republican? Of course not. Gutter politics isn't partisan. And while I, for one, will gleefully speculate that GW Bush didn't show up for his Air National Guard duty because he was strung out on Coke a week before his mandatory drug test, I wouldn't question his "heroism" or "courage" had he ever once faced a single night in a combat zone.

But he didn't. That's the difference between "George Bush serving honorably" and "John Kerry serving honorably." Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that both of them served "honorably". Only one of them served authentically- and that was John Kerry.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

A Hack on Hacking 

For some people, catching terrorists and, therefore, preventing another attack on America is secondary to "fighting the war." And so you have idiots like this, commenting on a hack of a website "run" by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:

The CIA/FBI are making a major mistake allowing these sites to be kept up. The reason? This is war. In a war you take away propaganda outlets from the enemy. Yes, they may help us track down al Qaeda elements, but that is just the point. Tracking down and arresting al Qaeda is a police function. Treating the War on Terror as a police matter is Clintonesque and is what got us 9/11. We need to shut all these sites down. They are valuable tools for the enemy.

So, just to be clear:

A) Capturing Al Qaeda Operatives is what led to 9/11.
B) Fighting the war on terror is more important than stopping terrorism.
C) Tracking terrorists is secondary to making cool, pro-American webpages that replace theirs.
D) AOL Script Kiddies are Soldiers, and so are bloggers.

This is the coherency of thought that it takes to be linked by Michelle "We All Know Kerry Shot Himself In Vietnam Even Though I Have No Evidence Whatsoever" Malkin, the latest Chicken Winger to be outed as a Stepford Wife for the Republican Party by the Clinton-hating Chris Matthews. I'd say she was a third rate Ann Coulter but I don't think she merits the invention of an extra layer of punditry hell. But maybe there's no need: Linking to script kiddies who are battling Al Qaeda from Mom's laptop is pretty much it, no?

Because it seems like Malkin needs as much proof to believe in Kerry's "self-inflicted grenade wounds" as she does to believe that a website that may or may not exist (and is never linked to by the blogger claiming to discover the "hack" because he doesn't want to give it attention) was haxxored by the "Teamz USA" group. Is Malkin a journalist? What the hell is she? As far as I can tell, we call these people liars. Is there a Heritage Foundation Approved term for them? If so, let me know, as I'd hate to offend a Neocon...

Steve Kurtz Watch 

Steve Kurtz, the artist who made art with harmless bacteria who was arrested by the FBI on the day his wife died of natural causes because they thought he was a bioterrorist, has been indicted.

Professor Kurtz uses bacteria samples in artistic displays that critique the politics of biotechnology in the food industry. He was unable to obtain the samples through his university's supplier, American Type Culture Collection (ATCC), because it disperses biological agents only to scientists and registered labs. According to the indictment, Kurtz contacted his colleague, Professor Ferrell, chair of the Human Genetics Department at the University of Pittsburgh, and asked for his assistance in obtaining the cultures. Ferrell agreed, ordered the samples, and sent them to Kurtz. Kurtz's attorney has said that Kurtz offered to pay for the samples, but that Ferrell declined the offer, saying that the amount was trivial. Kurtz held the samples in his home, where he was preparing for a upcoming exhibition at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

This violates the law because part of the agreement to get the bacteria shipped- even though it is harmless bacteria that is found in 8th grade science labs- requires the person ordering it to verify that it will only be used within the institution itself. Did he break the law? Sure. But now let's look at the punishment: 20 years in prison. 20 Years in Prison for not being a Bioterrorist.

It is about the same as if you sent a letter to the BMG Music Club for free cd's under someone else's name and then cancelled. Except, in that case, you're actually defrauding BMG. In this case, even less happened.

University of California at San Diego Professor of Design Engineering Natalie Jeremijenko noted that scientists ship materials to each other all the time. "I do it, my lab students do it. It's a basis of academic collaboration.... They're going to have to indict the entire scientific community."

The CAE Defense Fund has some suggestions for actions you can do, if you care about rational approaches to terrorism as opposed to blatant hysterical arrests whenever artists make something that looks scary.

What The Party Means To Me 

This is a great essay, and it helps me to finally articulate a one-phrase answer to what the Democratic Party "stands for". The Republicans and Conservatives have been losing their message- smaller government? Abandoned. Isolationism? Abandoned. Trickle Down Economics? Didn't work the second time, either. The question is always asked, "What do progressives believe in?" and there has never been a clear answer. But I have a suggestion:

The Democratic Party believes that you and I are the ones in control.

The problem is, this is the sort of message that the Democrats need to embrace completely if it's going to mean anything. Inevitably, embracing this concept leads to contradictions. Why, for example, does the party not challenge media consolidation, when it could advocate for even more localized, community radio? Why does it protect the RIAA when it could embrace file sharing and p2p? These could be "vision" issues for the party, if it wants them.

Some people will think it's socialist. Fine, let them vote Republican. Part of the Democrat's problem has been that, for too long, it has tried not to let Republicans vote for Republicans. The Majority of Republicans believe that the "you and I" that are in control are a particular class- the three legged table of business, Religion, and Party. What's good for business, they say, is good for the rest of us- "even if it means less jobs, increased productivity is inherently good". What is good for the church is good for the rest of us- which is why Abortion should be illegal, even though not everyone in the same church believes in the same way. What's good for the Republican Party is what's good for the rest of us- which is why we can have zero access to a Republican President but endless hounding and questioning of a Democratic one.

The belief that you and I are in control, and that the Democratic party is here to expand the power of you and I, is the message, is the philosophy, is the meme. Spread it.

Gut Feeling 

This is obviously a tragedy, but I have a feeling we might see it politicized by the right within the next 72 hours.

A young couple shot in their heads as they slept on a remote California beach may have been killed because of their evangelical Christian religious beliefs, police said on Saturday.

Sunday Blog Outsourcing 

Outsourcing and weekly housekeeping. Just a word of note: I look at my referral records, so if you send me some traffic by linking to me from your blog, I'll notice you. I like traffic and will usually return the favor, because if you link to me you are clearly brilliant.

Abortion Clinic Days is a weblog written by two women who work at an Abortion Clinic. The question of Abortion has been so left behind by the left that even I find myself falling for the right's spin. Sites like this remind me- it is about women with lives, having lives, and not about the unborn lives of theory.

Shaula Evans, of the Almost-Miraculous BOP, also has two other blogs. Who knew? C101 and Tsuredzuregusa.

Chepooka is another new blog that seems promising.

Rivka at Respectful of Otters analyzes the phenomenon of universal support at Bush campaign stops, and why it's all a matter of staging the audience. Meanwhile, Xan at Corrente points out what happens when you say something critical of your elected officials when you are in thier presence- you get removed from the premises, and fired from your job.

Rick's Cafe has some feedback on my own Bush-Cheney 9/11 Banner Post.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Some protestors in NYC have started off direct action on the right foot: A banner, propelled by balloons, is let loose in a public space with tall ceilings. This time it was Grand Central Station.

You should do it in a shopping mall!

(c/o the brilliant I'm Voting)

Giving Away Our Creative Future 

Today, the federal appeals court ruled that Grokster and other file sharing programs couldn't be held liable for files shared over the internet using their software. What this means is, finally, distributed music and MP3 downloads are here to stay- kind of.

The court decision means that groups like the RIAA- the conglomerate of wealthy record label execs- will now have to go after you and me for downloading music. While annoying, this is also less likely to be enforced- it's too difficult and would require too arbitrary a distinction between who to and not to prosecute. But here's my favorite bit:

Mitch Bainwol, chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America, said the decision begs the question of whether "digital music will be enjoyed in a fashion that supports the creative process or one that robs it of its future."

This is laughable on its face. The creative process is enabled by file sharing and distributed media, it always has been. The problem is that we pretend that "the creative process" belongs exclusively to signed musicians, gallery-supported artists, film directors with studio contracts and writers with book deals. It's never been easy to survive as an artist, and to rig the rules to benefit the miniscule handful that do make a living, at the expense of the vast majority of creative outputters (eventually, everyone) is warped- and horrible for "the creative process."

Imagine, also, the impact on the "creative process" that organizations like the RIAA have on individual bands and artists- bands and artists who were creating music prior to being "signed," playing music and getting paid for it prior to being "signed", are now in a position where their work has to hold up to certain contract goals- songs are sold to sell more, album art is out of your control, add more horns, make a happy song and under 3 minutes so we can put it on the radio. While a lot of indie labels don't do this, a lot of indie labels also don't care about file sharing, and that's because most of the artists on these labels are not getting paid millions of dollars for making a commercially viable product. They're getting paid small dividends on CD sales (which actually tend to be unaffected by online availability of mp3's) and the rest they make by touring. The bands that pull in $40,000 a year are the least affected by file sharing. But, you might say, it's the bands and singers that make millions who see vast fluctuations in their cash flow by sheer aggregate- more listeners means, percentage wise, more listeners are lost, and a larger sheer-numbers impact on corporate profit. Right?

No. Because even for the J-Lo's, lost revenue is a misplaced fear: studies have shown that the most downloaded songs on the web are the same songs that sell millions of copies. People have more access to music than ever before, but they also have more access to music they would never have purchased otherwise. I may download an album, listen to it, and decide I don't like it- had I heard it on the radio, I wouldn't have even bought the cd. The same goes for what I call "The Man Down Under Phenomenon", named for the Men at Work single of the same name. You suddenly get a song in your head, download it, and listen to it- something you never would have done if file sharing wasn't around, but something you wouldn't have spent $12.88 to do in an alternate universe where file sharing hadn't been conceived.

But let's not kid ourselves that file sharing affects bands like Modest Mouse, Bright Eyes, or Neutral Milk Hotel. They affect Britney, P Diddy, and Metallica. The creative process doesn't belong exclusively to superstars- there is a bigger definition of art, and the web has finally made it possible to access and distribute it. It means you can hear my music, and I can hear yours. No one's going to get rich, but let's be honest, we weren't getting rich anyway. So where, exactly, is the creative process taken away from us? Only in the realm of powerhouse economic indicators. So we can tell the RIAA to shove it when it talks about creative expression as its underlying motive.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Accidentally Politicizing National Security 

Anyone believe this is an "error" ?

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on Thursday said he had been misidentified on a terrorism watch list when he tried to board airliners between Washington and Boston. The well-known Massachusetts Democrat was stopped five times as he tried to board US Airways shuttles because a name similar to his appeared on a list or his name popped up for additional screening.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

NYC Protest Update: Recuperation, Indeed! 

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, has some advice for the Anarchists, Marxists, Anticapitalists and general good guy protesters all:

"New York is the place to get your message out, any message," Bloomberg says. "It's no fun to protest on an empty stomach. So you might want to try a restaurant."

That's all in an effort to get visiting protesters to shop. There's even an official website set up to help accommodate you on your visit. Just wear a button on you, constantly, even when you are not engaged in protests, and it will be easier for the police- er, I mean, the city- to find you. Uh, find you better deals, I mean.

Deals include activist hot spots like the Avalon Hotel, where rooms start at the price of $189.99 a night, guaranteed to sate your anticapitalist angst. We Vegans and Vegetarians will rejoice in getting 10% off of our meals at Applebees, if you don't mind shaving 30% off of your ideals.

Few protesters seemed amused. They note that their people are more likely to sleep on church floors, in hostels or on friends' couches than seek a $189 junior suite at the Avalon Hotel. Terrible cynics all, they assume Bloomberg wants to divert attention from his politically unpopular battle with United for Peace and Justice, the largest of the antiwar groups. Organizers want to end their Aug. 29 antiwar march -- which is expected to draw a quarter-million or so people -- in Central Park. But Bloomberg rejoins that so many feet would chew up the grass. [...] Polls show about 80 percent of New Yorkers agree with the demonstrators.

Images are Worthy of Close Readings 

Some of you may or may not know that I created a piece of art a while back that was featured in the New York Times; it was a slow, web-based film of a plane approaching and striking the World Trade Center, but the names had been superimposed, so that each pixel, as it would be on television, was a letter, and it made a list of names of people killed. The piece is available here, if you're interested in seeing what I mean. But right now, that's not the interesting thing.

The interesting thing is, wandering over to the George Bush campaign site, the top part of the page- the masthead- struck me as odd:

It doesn't really show anything- a crowd of people, not even waving a recognizable symbol like a flag or Bush-Cheney signs. They're all dressed in a strangely similar fashion, and the color saturation seems a bit off- a lot of red, which isn't a B-C campaign color. And the edges aren't a clear blue, they're a blackish blue mix. It's reminiscent of smoke and fire.

Now, the interesting part is that it also struck me as vaguely familiar. I had seen this kind of distribution of color when I was making the WTC piece. It resembles very closely the fire as it escapes from the trade tower at the moment of impact. If you don't know what I mean, here's a re-created banner ad I made using nothing but a raw photo of the trade center being hit:

Now, I don't know, maybe I'm crazy and there's nothing to this, and no one sees the similarity in composition and color. I wouldn't say that there is some intentionally manipulative effort on behalf of B-C. Making art, or design, in this case, is always about making choices, and a lot of the choices we make are subconscious- we don't know why something works, it just does. In this case, I think I can see why this image works, despite its lack of any actual information. On a gut level, it is meant to elicit a gut reaction, and it does. A reaction that far outweighed the rather arbitrary image itself- a crowd of people wearing red for no reason.

But then the plot thickens. Symbolically, linking crowds of people, as we see here, to the fiery aftermath of 9/11, is a terrifying connection. These people are dressed in red- the color of blood, danger, and the highest national security warning. They are also the fire, they are in the fire itself, surrounded by smoke. The implied threat is clear, the association is clear- Bush/Cheney, 9/11.

Kerry / Edwards Press Release 

Found this interesting. Atrios has got it, too:

May 2001 -- Bush Said "Most Urgent Threat" Was Ballistic Missiles.

Bush: "Most troubling of all, the list of these countries includes some of the World's least responsible states. Unlike the Cold War, today's most urgent threat stems not from thousands of ballistic missiles in the Soviet hands, but from a small number of missiles in the hands of these states, states for whom terror and blackmail are a way of life. They seek weapons of mass destruction to intimidate their neighbors, and to keep the United States and other responsible nations from helping allies and friends in strategic parts of the world." (Bush, Address at the National Defense University, 5/1/01)

May 2001 - Kerry Said "Immediate Threat" was From Terrorists and "Non-State Actors."

Kerry: "But let me underscore that missile defense will do nothing to address what the Pentagon itself considers a much more likely and immediate threat to the American homeland from terrorists and from nonstate actors, who can quietly slip explosives into a building, unleash chemical weapons into a crowded subway, or send a crude nuclear weapon into a busy harbor." (Kerry, Speech on Senate Floor, 5/2/01)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

NH's Senate Race 

Up here in New Hampshire, we are blessed to have a senatorial campaign by Doris "Granny D" Haddock. You may remember her as the 89 year old woman who walked across the country in order to bring attention to Campaign Finance reform, which eventually led to the McCain-Feingold bill regulating campaign finance. Now she's running against Judd Gregg, whom she calls "an enabler of George Bush's neo-con scourge."

You can check out this speech she gave if you have any doubt that she's qualified:

And the reptilism trickles down further, to the weaker minds listening to talk radio or silly enough to spend too much time watching cable television news -- people who buy the lies, who are simply suckered into forking over their own political best interests to the con artists who attempt to pick their pockets at the same moment they are pointing out others who, they say, are the real trouble makers. About 25 percent of our people are susceptible to this kind of con, and they then give us problems by standing against any reasonable reforms. They have been spiritually twisted by the cheap poison of a hundred Rush Limbaughs into the angry, unthinking agents of the superrich.

On my long walk across America, a man driving a garbage truck told me that the biggest problem facing America today was the inheritance tax. I didn't have to ask him if he had a radio in his truck.

I remind you of all this because it is important to know that the reason our reforms are difficult is not because Americans are split into two camps, conservative and liberal. It is not like that at all. There are lots of conservatives and liberals in America, but we are not the two sides of the divide. True conservatives in our country don't have many political leaders to look to with respect. Among the last was Barry Goldwater. He believed that the government had no business in our bedrooms. He believed that a woman and her doctor didn't need the government's help in deciding her important issues. He would have laughed and then, I think, become very, very angry at Ashcroft's attacks on the Bill of Rights and his citizen-against-citizen snitching system. Goldwater believed that the only issue of importance regarding gays in the military was whether or not they could shoot straight.

Wherever you are, you can Donate some of your hard earned dollars in order to guarantee that Democracy exists after voting day. I know it is awful to give up money because no one has enough of it, but the problem is, the people who have enough of it are the only ones giving it away- and they're giving it away as an investment. Believe in altruism and the gift economy, believe in Democracy and the power of one person, and give some money to Doris Haddock, I mean, c'mon, how could you not?

Bumper Stickers, Paper Cuts 

The Bumper Sticker Song is an Israeli Pop song made entirely of jotted down bumper stickers:

"The more the dead end of the situation grows, the more frustrated people become with their inability to influence it," he continued, in a telephone interview. "Few people on the left or the right are satisfied. And the more they are frustrated, the more they are extremists, the more bumper stickers they have on the car. Sometimes you stop behind a car that looks like a shouting demonstration."

He's talking about Israel, but I feel like, for whatever reasons, America is on the same kind of edge. But maybe it's just me, with my longstanding conditioned revulsion to that dark blue and red eyesore that is the Bush Cheney campaign sticker, long associated with the willful display of ignorance; my "Dean for America" sticker being, to some, the screeching Liberal who, should we end up someday obliterated by dirty bombs smuggled in via Fois Gras and sauerkraut, will surely be to blame for not taking the War on Terror "seriously enough".

I'm sure we're both wrong, but sometimes I wonder if America can survive this.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Spare Change for the Attention Economy 

A few new blogs I've been reading lately:

XX, a feminist blog for the people who can't wait 7 months between Bitch's blog updates.

Stranger Fruit is a good blog in general, but I've really enjoyed the post on Bush's war and Religion. (No direct links on the site, but you can also read the article it refers to.)

Goodbye Maggie is kind of like reading Deleuze, where if you can follow a third of what's being said, the ideas it spawns while you're trying to figure it out are usually more interesting than the ideas themselves. It's all about the concept of Participatory Economics, or "Parecon", and just as I said- it might trigger some ideas, or confuse you hopelessly.

Have fun!

What Lower Taxes Can Buy 

High School Football will cost you $150. Baseball, $80.00. Middle school kids will have to pay $100, no matter what sport. But the worst off are the cheerleaders: $1,200 each to cheer on the $100.00 a head football team.

This isn't a hypothetical warning about a Bush world where taxes simply don't exist. It's the reality for students in Michigan, where budget cuts as a result of your tax "relief" is forcing 30% of its schools to charge for the expense of after school activities, according to the Detroit Free Press today.

What was the total of your tax cut? Because Windy Mack will pay $1,784 for her 14-year-old twins, Cassandra and Ashley Garcia, to be on the cheerleading and pom-pom teams at Canton High. She'll also pay $150 for her son's participation on the Canton High School football team. Then she'll pay another $80 when he plays baseball in the spring.

Now of course, you don't care about your money being used to fund kids who aren't yours to participate in sports you don't like. But consider this, from a Government study on the subject:

- The rate for juvenile crime peaks in the after-school hours. About 10 percent of violent juvenile crimes are committed between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Children are also at a much greater risk of being the victim of a violent crime (murder, a violent sex offense, robbery, or assault) after the school day, roughly 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

- "Latchkey" children are at a substantially higher risk for risk-taking behavior, including substance abuse. Youth ages 10-16 who have a relationship with a mentor, an important component of a quality after-school program, are 46 percent less likely to start using drugs and 27 percent less likely to start drinking alcohol."

Alternatively, you could buy yourself a new big screen tv and help fuel the Korean Manufacturing economy. Because lower taxes means more jobs. Right?

Investigating Dissent 

The FBI has gone knocking on the doors of potential RNC protesters, according to the New York Times.

The unusual initiative comes after the Justice Department, in a previously undisclosed legal opinion, gave its blessing to controversial tactics used last year by the F.B.I in urging local police departments to report suspicious activity at political and antiwar demonstrations to counterterrorism squads. The F.B.I. bulletins that relayed the request for help detailed tactics used by demonstrators - everything from violent resistance to Internet fund-raising and recruitment.

This is the same tactic that gave us the "Anarchists Will Bomb The News Trucks" warning back at the Democratic National Convention. The FBI watch list includes "Sarah Bardwell, 21, an intern at a Denver antiwar group who was visited by six investigators". Doing a little research on Google, it seems that the "antiwar group" the Times refers to is the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1940 for its work against violence. What else could have triggered her investigation? "protests against Columbus Day as a celebration of oppression of native people, work with an organization that collects food donated by grocery stores for homeless people, and anti-war protests" (including a die-in), as well as a protest against Denver police that took place the day after the DP shot a homeless man because they thought his soda can was a gun. Best of all, she had no plans to go to the RNC or the DNC.

Finally, Google is kind of scary.

As If Apathy Was A Revolutionary Force 

If Anarchists ever decided to actually care about their politics enough to treat them as politics instead of as a magic spell they can cast by wishing, we'd see a pretty different country, eventually. The constant failure of socialist libertarians to even create a moderate political presence is, to me, incredibly annoying, but in the larger picture, completely ineffectual. But perhaps most importantly, the Anarchists are sticking to caricatures of Lib-Soc created by Pop Punk bands of the 80's:

"Ultimately, those who are voting are either bad anarchists or not anarchists at all," said Lawrence, a "Californian in his mid-40s" who declined to give his last name. "No one can represent my interests. We reject political professionals."

Well that's going to get you real far, Larry. Because we do live in a country, and we live in a country that wields power over others, and if you were a good anarchist you would do your best to constrain that power.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing to me about this is that Anarchists (actual political anarchists, not suburban punk kids who hate that their mom made them mow the lawn) tend to be the activists, the politically mobilized, but the least likely to vote. Meanwhile, those who do vote but do not see it as a sacred duty requiring any degree of prior attention before voting day, who vote based on which guy they'd want to have dinner with, do vote. So we have people who take voting seriously who don't take politics seriously, and we have people who take politics seriously who don't take voting seriously. It doesn't work out well that way...

Hear the Drummer Get Wicked 

Here's some of what the Cops will be looking out for at the RNC:

Balloons filled with metal shavings that, when thrown, will destroy powerlines, causing a black out in the city. Frozen water balloons thrown off of buildings, and lastly, drummers- because when they drum faster, it is a sign to riot!

It's all in the link, kids. The mythology of Modern "Anarchism", via the police mind- and don't forget to watch out for how often they're referred to as "Democrats". I don't have my doubts about this event being a peaceful week, but something tells me that the violence isn't going to be caused by ice water and heavy drumming.

Al Gore's Bookmobile 

Al Gore had a book review in the New York Times this Sunday:

Part of what makes this book important is its indictment of the American news media's coverage of global warming for the past two decades. Indeed, when the author investigates why the United States is virtually the only advanced nation in the world that fails to recognize the severity of this growing crisis, he concludes that the news coverage is "a large reason for that failure."

At a time when prominent journalists are writing mea culpas for allowing themselves to be too easily misled in their coverage of the case for war in Iraq, Gelbspan presents a devastating analysis of how the media have been duped and intimidated by an aggressive and persistent campaign organized and financed by coal and oil companies. He recounts, for example, a conversation with a top television network editor who was reluctant to run stories about global warming because a previous story had "triggered a barrage of complaints from the Global Climate Coalition" -- a fossil fuel industry lobbying group -- "to our top executives at the network."

He also describes the structural changes in the news media, like increased conglomerate ownership, that have made editors and reporters more vulnerable to this kind of intimidation -- and much less aggressive in pursuing inconvenient truths.

The media failed us on Iraq. It's acknowledging it- and I am glad that Gore is using that to shine some light on just one of its numerous other failures. The environment has for too long been the backburning lip service issue, in all of American life, from politics to media. Even activism seems to treat it as the issue that gets lost as the other issues bubble up- the old standby issue, I guess?

Saturday, August 14, 2004

You're Not Doing Enough 

"The share of Americans who say they approve of the job Bush is doing inched over the 50% mark to 51%. No president who was at or above 50% at this point in an election year has lost." - USA Today

If it's any consolation, the Pew Research Center has Bush at 46% job approval.

(c/o Froomkin)

So Much for Intelligent Writing 

The AP has a headline today:

President, Veteran Mariner Exchange Balls

The comment section below is open for all of your dumb jokes. Winner gets a prize! (Really!)

Barack Obama: Running Unopposed 

Today, Alan Keyes declared that Senators shouldn't be elected.

He's currently running for senate.

Remember when Alan Keyes had a talk show? It was called "Alan Keyes is Making Sense."

It was cancelled because he didn't.

Alan Keyes said Friday he would like to end the system under which the people elect U.S. senators and return to pre-1913 practice in which senators were chosen by state legislatures. The Republican Senate candidate in Illinois, asked about past comments on the election process, said the constitutional amendment that provided for popular election of senators upset the balance between the people and the states.

"The balance is utterly destroyed when the senators are directly elected because the state government as such no longer plays any role in the deliberations at the federal level," Keyes said at a taping of WBBM Newsradio's "At Issue" program.

Of course, the state level has power because we elect the state level Government alongside our state level representation. Losing a level only further abstracts the rule of the people, and the power of the vote. What Keyes is actually asking for is more appointees, which in turn means less accountability- and we all know how great that turns out.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Sorry to 4000 Gay Newlyweds... 

...your weddings never actually existed. In news that will bring joy to all good Christian hearts, the San Francisco weddings permitted under Gavin Newsom were declared null and void.

The victory is for straight men who can once again go out and bang women they meet at 2AM in the bathroom stalls of bars again, knowing that it's got the Jesus stamp of approval because it's not happening alongside the desecration of marriage that was happening over in California. But more importantly, it's a victory for Jesus Christ himself, who totally hates gay people. Like Del and Lyon:

"Del is 83 years old and I am 79," Lyon said. "After being together for more than 50 years, it is a terrible blow to have the rights and protections of marriage taken away from us. At our age, we do not have the luxury of time."

Meanwhile, the Governor of New Jersey has resigned because he is gay. Well, because he was married, and having an affair with another man. It's inevitably what's going to happen if you force gay people to "act straight." The great irony and tragic statement about homosexuality in this country is that Governor McGreevey, while a closeted homosexual, came out against Gay Marriage.

Related to all of this: if you feel like giving money away, Stan Matsunaka deserves some Benjamins- or at least some Lincolns. He's running against the woman who started all of this, Congresswoman Musgrave of Colorado, who wrote the Constitutional Amendment to ban Gay Marriage. Nothing would make me happier than taking this bag of venom out of Government. It's not just gays she hates, but the environment, too: This week, she's posted an audio blog about how too many animals are on the endangered species list- "1300 species have been listed as endangered, and less than 30 have been removed from that list. Changes need to be made." Her changes? Lighten up the endangered species act to include fewer animals.

Bring the bling for Stan Matsunaka, won't you? I gave $10.00.

Much Ado About Orange, Deux 

Remember the outline I gave you of all the Orange Alerts, and how, a few weeks after all of them, the intelligence folks come out and say, after a review, that there's nothing going on? Well. Uh:

The Bush administration has discovered no evidence of imminent plans by terrorists to attack U.S. financial buildings, nearly two weeks after the government issued startling warnings about such possible threats, a White House official said Thursday.

Some documents and computer files seized in al-Qaida raids showing surveillance of U.S. financial buildings had been accessed for unknown purposes this spring, months later than authorities had previously disclosed, the official said.

Officials had said earlier that some files had been reviewed as recently as January.

I mean, we knew this, but the White House was all "No, no, this is a real alert." Now even the White House isn't pretending. That's kind of new, no?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Sensitive Liberals vs Compassionate Conservativism 

"America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive,' Cheney said in remarks prepared for delivery Thursday. 'A sensitive war will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans... The men who beheaded Daniel Pearl and Paul Johnson will not be impressed by our sensitivity.' - WaPo

Kerry's statement that Cheney refers to was this:

"I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values in history."

No one wants to impress Bin Laden with our sensitivity. But we do want to be sensitive to the thousands of people who are on the fence- on the fence about joining the Iraqi Resistance, on the fence about giving some cash to Al Qaeda, on the fence about looking the other way when they see a training camp or some other activity. Once they join up, it's a different story, and if they're going to kill us then obviously we have no choice but to kill them. But the oversimplification that Cheney resorts to is not only inaccurate, it paints a picture of his alternative strategy that fuels Al Qaeda recruitment, but also alienates us from the people who can help us.

But is a "sensitive" war on terror all that different from a "compassionate" war on terror?

In our war on terror, we are showing the world the strength of our country, and by our unity and tolerance and compassion, we will show the world the soul of our country. - GW Bush, April 30th 2002 at the Commonwealth Club

Bush's CIA Nominee  

John Goss:

"I couldn't get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified," the Florida Republican told documentary-maker Michael Moore's production company during the filming of the anti-Bush movie "Fahrenheit 9/11."

A day after Bush picked Goss for the top U.S. spy job, Moore on Wednesday released an excerpt from a March 3 interview in which the 65-year-old former House of Representatives intelligence chief recounts his lack of qualifications for employment as a modern CIA staffer.

"I don't have the language skills. I, you know, my language skills were romance languages and stuff. We're looking for Arabists today. I don't have the cultural background probably," Goss is quoted in an interview transcript.

"And I certainly don't have the technical skills, uh, as my children remind me every day: 'Dad you got to get better on your computer.' Uh, so, the things that you need to have, I don't have."
- Reuters

Moore mentions that Goss was in charge of Congressional oversight of the CIA precisely when it failed to do its job, and also, precisely when it should have been giving us accurate information about WMD's in Iraq. But it didn't because he didn't.

There's more. When Valerie Plame's name was leaked by the Goblin Novak, people were pressing for an investigation, as you may recall. Goss was less than interested, and managed to put it all into perspective for us: "Somebody sends me a blue dress and some DNA, I'll have an investigation," Goss said.

Got to love it. Digby also points out that Goss inexplicably presented a notecard on the senate floor with a quote from John Kerry, dated to 1977, where Kerry called for cuts to intelligence funding. I think Digby is on to something- that the nomination is a means to create problems for President Kerry.

There's also the bit about hiding on the 9/11 widows... but we've already figured out he's a scumbag, right?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Greed Is A Weapon of Mass Destruction 

Halliburton Co. did not adequately account for more than $1.8 billion it billed the government for work in Iraq and Kuwait, a published report on the findings of Pentagon auditors said Wednesday.

The results of the audit, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, were the latest financial headache for Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, which filed for bankruptcy protection last year to resolve billions of dollars in pending asbestos claims. The $1.8 billion amounts to 40 percent of the $4.18 billion KBR has already billed the Pentagon for its work feeding and housing military troops.
- AP

I remember some right winger, back when I reported these charges were issued, claimed that Halliburton would be cleared of any wrong doing after the investigation was completed.

Yeah, it wasn't.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Get US! Out of Heaven and Hell 

Looks like America will have an international team observing our electoral process. It's not the UN, but you can expect it to stir up the same warm feelings in the hearts of Snake Charming Baptists that the UN does.

Speaking of which, a guy came into work the other day with a "Get US out! Of the United Nations" tee shirt, which, even if it had been grammatically accurate, is the stupidest fucking tee shirt I've seen since swinging through a South Carolina flea market when I was eleven.

For one, the anti-UN sentiment that lingers in the American bloodstream was boiled mostly by the UN's opposition to the war in Iraq. But what people seem to forget is that the UN wanted inspectors to finish the process of inspection before it would authorize an invasion. Bush claimed the UN wasn't living up to its promises, but they were really just trying to avoid the deaths of 1000 US Soldiers for no reason. Now, you can say anything you want about the war, but part of that logic has to figure in that the UN was right in saying that there weren't any weapons of mass destruction and that the "ineffective hand wringing and deliberation" that were supposedly making the UN obsolete was actually precisely what needed to be done. The people who want America out of the UN are living with a remembered resentment but aren't re-evaluating the reasons for that resentment. The UN did not fuck up on the issue of WMD's, we did. Even if you think the Iraq war was good for the sake of ousting Saddam Hussein, you gotta give the UN credit. It was right when they said they couldn't find WMD's.

The other contingent of people who hate the UN are the snake charming Baptists I mentioned before- the people who think that the UN is bringing us closer to the one world government of the Antichrist and that maybe, just maybe, the Antichrist is Kofi Annan. He is a black guy, after all.

What gets me about this argument is the idea that, you know, what if they are right, and by all biblical standards, the UN is an organization of secular antichrists hellbent on world domination, and that the US, under the wise Christian leadership of GW Bush, is the one lone messianic savior of all good Christians? What gets me about this idea is that, god almighty, if God sent us George W Bush and the NeoCons as his representatives, then I'll take hell any day. Because only the crazy born again folks could enjoy the Republican concept of heaven, where "all God's children" are white, straight Republican men and the women who love them and don't ask questions, where passion is replaced with sterility and Jesus laughs about how the unemployed need to work harder to find good jobs and oh yeah, the war was a great idea.

If I believed in it, I wouldn't think the afterlife has much of an interest in the American political system, though you know what they say, what happens here affects the rest of the world. But it seems that the heaven being promised to me by the likes of George W Bush is a pretty boring place, an eternity of John Ashcroft singing "Let the Eagle Soar". Part of the problem, as a humanist, is that I've got to take seriously the problems befalling mankind. I don't have the luxury of Bush and Ashcroft- get rich and spend it in the afterlife. Who do presidents bomb when they die?

So on Earth, in the more or less immediate future, things are looking pretty grim, but none of the solutions seem to have Earthly manifestations. A battle against infidels who show up for work on time spawns an attack on a nation of secular arabs and kills 30,000 of them, and that's called a solution. Unemployment? No programs for that just yet, but we have a great new law that will protect God's version of marriage as envisioned by the Catholic Church two thousand years ago. So, so far, for all of our heavenly sacrifices down here on Earth- sacrifices of flesh and blood, sure, but also sacrifices of tolerance and compassion- God, as it were, doesn't seem to be raining a torrent of miracles and joy upon the ol' United States.

But it seems like maybe the UN would have saved us a lot of misery if only we listened to it. And so it reminds me a bit of the parable on the West Wing a while back, when President Bartlett had to consider commuting a death sentence? You might remember it.

There's a man in a town where it's been raining for days and days, and so the Mayor says that everyone should evacuate. But one man says no, he'll stay because he has faith in God. And so the rain water gets higher, and kills his sheep, and his wife implores him to leave, and he says no, he will stay because he has faith in God. So then his wife leaves, begging him, but he won't leave, his faith is so strong. So then a rescue boat comes, and says they will save him, but he won't, because God will see him through. They leave, and the rain continues, until he is on his roof and it collapses, and he drowns. He ascends to heaven and he says to God, "Why did you take me, when I had so much faith in you?" And God replies, "I sent the mayor to warn you, I killed your sheep to warn you, I sent your wife to warn you and then finally sent a rescue boat to save you, and you turned them all away. So I ask to you, why, when I was telling you all of this, did you refuse to listen to a word I said?"

Monday, August 09, 2004

Much Ado About Orange 

The American Prospect has a handy little overview of every Orange Alert since 9/11, and what happened to bring the alert back down. A summary of what they said and then, what they did:

SEPTEMBER 10-SEPTEMBER 24, 2002: [...] after receiving what officials called "an abundance of credible intelligence" indicating terrorists were planning attacks to coincide with the September 11 anniversary..." What happened? The level was dropped "based on a review of intelligence and an assessment of threats by the intelligence community, as well as the passing of the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks". They also cited the capture of the Buffalo Six who were apparently giving "support" to Al Qaeda. But let's look more closely at the first part, okay?

"A review of intelligence and assessment of threats" means they looked at what they saw before and apparently decided it wasn't a real threat, am I right?

FEBRUARY 7-FEBRUARY 27, 2003: Ashcroft got his sticky fingers in this one, where everyone was panicked and bought duct tape? Sources said recent information suggests that al Qaeda might be further along than previously thought in procuring elements to make a so-called "dirty bomb" -- a non-nuclear device that would spew radiation upon exploding... So what happened there?

...officials said that a claim made by a captured al Qaeda member that Washington, New York or Florida would be hit by a "dirty bomb" sometime this week had proven to be a product of his imagination.

MARCH 17-APRIL 16, 2003 This was the period at the start of Gulf War Two. The war started, so Ridge figured we'd have multiple attacks. There was no specific evidence. What happened? The war "ended."

MAY 20-MAY 30, 2003 "The U.S. intelligence community believes that al Qaeda has entered an operational period worldwide, and this may include attacks in the United States," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said in a statement yesterday. My favorite quote from an unnamed official: "Something is up somewhere." What happened? "The intelligence community has concluded the number of indicators and warnings that led to raising the threat level have decreased, and the heightened vulnerability associated with the Memorial Day holiday has passed..."

DECEMBER 21, 2003-JANUARY 9, 2004 They're coming, and they're French- Merry Christmas! He said the move was the result of a "substantial increase" in the volume of intelligence pointing to "near-term attacks that could either rival or exceed what we experienced on September 11." The Government, under the Presidents masterful leadership, dispatched teams to major cities which spent all day scanning levels of radiation. The government also ordered that several French airliners be grounded, because there was suspicion that they would be flown into New York or Las Vegas. What happened?

FBI has concluded the information that led to a nationwide hunt for five men suspected of infiltrating the United States on Christmas Eve was fabricated by the informant, and the agency called off the alert sparked by the information today.

One of the names we gave the French to monitor for air travel was a six year old child. No arrests came as a result of this terror warning.

AUGUST 1, 2004 - XXX:: A combination of three year old intelligence and a Pakistani computer hacker who was working as a double agent for Al Qaeda, we rewarded our man inside by leaking his name to the New York Times (without telling the Times he was undercover) and managed to smear Howard Dean when he suggested that the attacks were politically timed to counteract the Democratic Convention. What happened? It's still on going, but I have a hunch.


Here's an article from CBS news about new photos of abuse of prisoners in Iraq:

The photos were taken June 29, just one day after the U.S. handed over political sovereignty to the Iraqi government.

"There was abuse of prisoners, some very recent - everybody was displaying welts, bruises and burns," says Mike Francis, an embedded reporter from The Oregonian newspaper. "They also found implements like rubber hoses, exposed electrical wires, chemicals, and it appeared as if they been interrogating them."

Francis uncovered the photos while he was embedded with the Oregon guard last month. At first, no one would speak on the record. But after Abu Ghraib, where American soldiers were the alleged abusers, these soldiers wanted the world to know that they were trying to do the right thing.

"They began to give aid immediate give aid to the prisoners," says Francis." In one case they set up an IV feed, because the guy was pretty badly dehydrated, and they were starting to take away the weapons from guards."

The Americans radioed back to their superiors for guidance. The biggest shock came when the American troops got their reply. "One of the generals they were speaking to told them directly, 'You have to leave, stand down and leave,'" says Francis. CBS News was at the interior ministry that day, and witnessed the Oregon guard pulling out.

Francis says the U.S. soldiers were "baffled, and confused and angry, frankly." Before the prisoners were returned to their jailers, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad told CBS News that they had a serious heart to heart talk with Iraqi officials. The message: you can do what you want in your own country, but you'd better not do it like this.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Strong On Defense 

Juan Cole has the best explanation of this story.

Khan had been secretly apprehended by Pakistani military intelligence in mid-July, and had been turned into a double agent. He was actively helping investigators penetrate further into al-Qaeda cells and activities via computer, and was still cooperating when the "senior Bush administration" figure told Jehl about him.

Khan's name was leaked to give credibility to the terror alerts that were unleashed when swarms of Democrats descended on Boston to nominate John Kerry. The not at all politically motivated terror alert based on information we had for three years already was at the expense of a double agent who was working with the US to uncover new plots- obviously one of the toughest insiders for our intelligence to get. It's worth mentioning that this doesn't just set us back as far as what he could have found out, it is also going to make it harder for anyone considering passing info along to us to do so due to the risk of being exposed.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Swift Boat Veterans for Gross Exaggerations and Lies 

Today, ABC News's "The Note" mentioned some interesting tidbits about the swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who are running anti-Kerry ads that claim Kerry lied about his heroism in Vietnam.


Lieutenant Commander George Elliott said in an interview that he had made a "terrible mistake" in signing an affidavit that suggests Kerry did not deserve the Silver Star -- one of the main allegations in the book. The affidavit was given to The Boston Globe by the anti-Kerry group to justify assertions in their ad and book. - Boston Globe

Two, from one of the other Swift Boat Veterans now attacking Kerry, they dug up this quote, from 1996:

"As far as I was concerned, the war was won over there in that part for that period. And it was mainly won because of the bravado and the courage of the young officers that ran the boats, the SWIFT boats and the Coast Guard cutters and Sen. Kerry was no exception. He was among the finest of those."

It's really appalling. The Bush campaign isn't denouncing the ad yet, by the way, despite that St. John McCain's request to do so.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Next Stop: Eugenics 

Here's something else to love about the GOP. Via Media Matters, here's a transcript of Stuart Varney, filling in for Neil Cavuto, and interviewing Bob Iger, the head of Disney Corp, for a technology segment. Unbelievable, this shit:

From the August 5 edition of Your World w/ Neil Cavuto:

IGER: It's easy to set up, easy to use, compact, it doesn't take much room, and most importantly it has what's called ContentWatch built in.

VARNEY: Well, you know, I -- exactly. I mean, in June you have "Gay Days" at your theme parks. You got any 'Gay Days' on the Mickey computer?

IGER: Well, this has built into it all kinds of protective devices that protects the kid, or the child from internet sites that a parent wouldn't deem appropriate. Also, the fact --

VARNEY: Well, you don't protect the kids from "Gay Days" at the theme parks, do you? Why do you have to protect them in the computer?

IGER: No, we don't sponsor -- we don't sponsor "Gay Days." You know, we are a company that lets anyone who is willing to pay through our gates.

Yeah, you got it right. During a technology segment, of all things, Varney started lambasting Disney for allowing homosexuals into their theme parks. Now, Media Matters also brings up a similar attack against Disney after Orlando voted to allow rainbow flags in the streets for a "Gay Day" event in 1998. Here's what "Religious Leader" Pat Robertson says happens when you hang a rainbow flag:

"I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you. ... [A] condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation. It'll bring about terrorist bombs, it'll bring earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor."

One more time? And possibly a meteor.

Tennessee Congressional Politics 

James Hart, the previously described Eugenics-embracing winger that went around the 8th District knocking on doors with a gun and telling voters that "white children should have the same rights as everyone else", is the clear winner of the primary to be the GOP representative in the general election.

He really puts the "GO" in the "GOP". Good news: He'll be at the Republican convention! Please, for the love of god, let him be a talking head on CBS. I really want Bush to come out, speak, and then have them cut to the White Supremacist Congressional Candidate for insight into his party's inner workings.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Depends On What Your Meaning of "With" Is 

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth claim to consist of vets who served "with" John Kerry on swift boats, and they say there was no gunfire that day, no ones life was saved, and that Kerry didn't get wounded. John Kerry lied, they say. Now they're saying it in a TV ad that further links the veterans to Kerry's crew.

Well, it turns out these vets didn't serve "with" John Kerry on John Kerry's swift boat. They just happened to also be in swift boats and in Vietnam, sometimes being "within 50 yards." The actual crew that served "with" John Kerry stood by him at the convention as he accepted the nomination. By this measure, I could say I "served with John Kerry in the Senate" because I happened to live in Massachusetts once.

If your uncle in the Bush-Cheney '04 shirt brings it up in front of your undecided cousin- or any other variation of that scenario- make sure to tell him that St. John McCain thinks the ad is revolting:

"I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable. As it is, none of these individuals served on the boat (Kerry) commanded. Many of his crew have testified to his courage under fire. I think John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam. I think George Bush served honorably in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War."

Teaching Democracy 

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Two members of a group of Iraqi visitors who were barred from city hall because of a councilman's blunder were robbed a day later on a Memphis street, police said Wednesday.

The seven visiting Iraqis are civic and community leaders on a three-week tour sponsored by the State Department to learn how American government works. The trip also includes stops in Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington.

Two members of the group, identified by police as Rwad Fanary and Liza Hido, were walking along a downtown street Tuesday when they were accosted by a man with a handgun. [...] The Iraqis were scheduled to visit city hall Monday but council chairman Joe Brown objected, saying they were security risks."

This is the second AP article that I just don't feel any need to comment on.

Keeping America Safe 

Three banks were robbed while President Bush and Democratic nominee John Kerry were speaking just blocks away from one another Wednesday morning.

The Ralston Credit Union was robbed at 10:45 a.m., shortly after the president began speaking at LeClaire Park in this eastern Iowa town, said Davenport police Capt. David Struckman. The next robbery, at First National Bank, happened at 11:23 a.m., followed by another at 11:45 a.m. at Southeast National Bank, said Struckman, who also served as the department's liaison to the U.S. Secret Service during the visits from the two political leaders.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Magnifying Things They Shouldn't Be 

"I think that a lot of times the media sensationalize or magnify things that aren't -that really shouldn't be," she said. "I do think there's a big move away from actual reporting, trying to report facts," the first lady said. "It's in newspapers and everything you read - that a lot more is opinion."

That's Laura Bush, as a guest on Willy O'Reilly's Fox News Stronghold, "The Factor". Apparently, neither of them knew she was making a stinging indictment against Fox News, the fairest and balancedest of them all.

When you look at what Laura gains politically from making this argument, I start to wonder if it is true that alienating partisan democrats is part of some bigger strategy to bring America almost to the point of all out civil war. Because I find it really hard to believe that anyone who is actually engaged politically, as you would imagine the wife of the President to be, would be able to say this particular diatribe on Fox News with a straight face, unless she was deliberately trying to annoy me.


Missouri voted to ban Gay Marriage today, a victory for America and Jesus that no wrecking ball secular court can reverse, so strong is the combination of Jesus America. Let's try!

Jesus America, with his armor of crushed NASCAR vehicles, a noose hanging a black man in one hand and an American Flag in the other, feet made of foreign steel and Saudi oil-derived plastics crush the schoolhouse, the farmhouse, the steel mill and the homeless shelter to make America safer. The American People are safer. The Gays and the French try to stage a resistance, but the need for security lulls Missouri and Montana and all Red States to line up for its Golden, logo covered mouth to eat them alive, fueling the rampage of two men hidden behind the eyes of the beast, ablaze like Iraqi oil fields. In return, they get to be killed by Jesus, now that killing others in his name is all over with. Now we kill people for America, but we all know what that really means, especially when you look Jesus America in the eye. Your corpse is worth good money, so trade yourself in and we'll protect you from homosexual marriage.

It eats a surplus and it shits out tax cuts; it swallows intelligence, national guard records and shits out Bob Novak. It puts air quotes around the words "imminent" and "threat". It announces in its booming voice to beware of the new terror tactic: puppies with small acid bombs wired to their collars. The American People are safer! It's computer brain is a sprawling network that connects Matt Drudge directly to your voting machines, dialed up through Pat Robertson's direct phone line to God. Yes, at night it transforms into the white dome and sleeps at 1600 Pennsylvania. Yes, it is only the centerpiece of an army of the scurrying poor led by Captains of Industry, no liberal-powered internet behemoth can even dent it.

Let's try!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Merchandise Shill 

Here's the newest: "Think About Television" buttons and stickers. A picture of Bush with the slogan "Think About Television." (If you have no idea why, click here. The idea is to associate Bush with "Television" as much as possible.) You can also find buttons with the picture of Bush on the Eve of the Iraq War, with the slogan "Vote Kerry".

I also have the beloved Picture of Bush with the "Vote Kerry" slogan merchandise here, and Cheney with the same slogan is here.

All proceeds go to maintaining this blog.

Bill Clinton 

Is on Letterman tonight.

A study finds that:

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

They preferred Bush when thinking about 9/11. The conclusion?

"I think this should concern anybody," Solomon said. "If I was speaking lightly, I would say that people in their, quote, right minds, unquote, don't care much for President Bush and his policies in Iraq." He wants voters to be aware of psychological pressures and how they are used. "If people are aware that thinking about death makes them act differently, then they don't act differently," Solomon said.

I think it's a good guerilla campaign tactic- little stickers or big signs that show Bush and say "THINK ABOUT TELEVISION."

(c/o Seeing The Forest)

The GOP's Headache Is My Aspirin 

James L Hart looks like he's going to get the Republican Nomination for a Congressional seat in Tennessee. His schtick?

He shows up at voters' homes wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a gun, and tells them that "white children deserve the same rights as everyone else."

Great guy. The problem is, he's running unopposed in the GOP's primary, so he's gonna get the nomination- unless someone else stages a write in campaign. As I'm rooting for the Democrats, I'm glad this guy is who we have to beat. But let's talk about it and annoy Republicans, even while acknowledging that they have completely rejected him as a candidate and are desperate to assist anyone with a write in campaign to get him defeated.

But what the hell, right wingers constantly mischaracterize violent, effigy burning anarchists as "Democrats", right? So instead, let's look at this: "If we had integrated with less 'favored races'* centuries ago, there would have never been an electric light. There would never have been an airplane. Unless we stop dysgenic welfare and immigration policies, the US will look like one big Detroit."

And then let's say: oh, those silly Republicans!

A Man's Man 

Well, he used to be a cheerleader. I could care less (I'm gonna buy some pink shoes next week) but let's make sure some NASCAR dads see this one, okay?

Reaching Ralph 

There's been a Greenberg poll to understand the Nader vote:

Nader supporters, Mr. Greenberg's polling shows, are generally older and angrier than other voters. They are fiercely against globalization and corporate dominance, and they are largely indifferent to social issues like abortion and gay marriage.

You know, this surprises me, because I always imagined that Nader voters were me, young kids who are sort of socialist/libertarian and annoyed at the status quo. But it isn't. It's guys like my Grandfather, a guy who ran for State Senate as a Democrat but never voted for one in his entire life.

Two early clues from the polling: when Nader supporters learned that Mr. Nader had accepted help and money from Republicans to get on the ballots in various states, they dropped away. And one of the few public figures who has credibility with Nader backers is former President Jimmy Carter, who is perceived as not compromised by or profiting from the political system. So some of the group's officials say they have discussed redeploying Mr. Carter, who they say has indicated a willingness to help.

You know, I have to wonder if the people Nader gets are really just drawn to the same thing I was, back in 2000: His sarcastic hostility to pretty much everything.

"Who cares about [my] legacy?" he responded. "Are they going to tear out seat belts from cars?

But then there's what, I think, will also tear people away from him, as I was in 2004:

"For 40 years, I've been giving members of Congress credit for things that I could take credit for," he said. "Ego? I don't know the meaning of the term."

Monday, August 02, 2004

Tom Ridge Was All Kiddin' In Dat Shit 

Someone owes Howard Dean an apology:

Much of the information that led the authorities to raise the terror alert at several large financial institutions in the New York City and Washington areas was three or four years old, intelligence and law enforcement officials said on Monday. They reported that they had not yet found concrete evidence that a terror plot or preparatory surveillance operations were still under way. - New York Times

Can you fucking believe that they went out the day after the convention with "specific threats" and then a day later basically admitted that they've known about it for three fucking years?

They said officials in New Jersey had been mistaken in saying on Sunday that some suspects had been found with blueprints and may have recently practiced "test runs'' aimed at the Prudential building in Newark.

To be fair, the Homeland Security Department has a point: Still, the official said the new trove of material, which was being sifted for fresh clues, combined with more recent flows of intelligence, had demonstrated that Al Qaeda remains active and intent on attacking the United States.

We didn't really know that for the last three years.

Radio Blog Update 

The Radio blog has been updated. If anyone knows who actually sings song #2 I'd appreciate an email or comment (and that means you, Mara!).

We start out with a sample of the George W Bush singers, who are really the best thing on that whole track list as far as playing it on repeat for hours on end.

Song two has one little line that is not "work appropriate", but then again, neither are liberal politics.

Faithless' "Weapons of Mass Destruction" is one of those songs that is getting slight radio play because it's really catchy and danceable but also scathing against Bush. Which means you should call your favorite pop radio station and request it even though you can hear it here.

Donny Daley's "Kick Out The Republicans" is part of the Sea Lion Mp3 compilation of kind of catchy and good hearted but blatantly partisan and therefore kind of cheesy indie rock bands against Bush. I put this one here but left off the Beastie Boys for the same reason- because my god, the Beastie Boys are clever and brilliant unless they are writing songs about politics, in which case they sound kind of like the rap version of the Dennis Kucinich campaign theme. (Which actually exists, by the way).

Soltero is a Boston based band and "Communist Love Song" is totally awesome. It's not exactly what you'd think, either.

Anyone else have any suggestions for good political music? I might be doing a radio show version of this blog starting in September, God Willing, and I'd like to have a good arsenal of music to trick people into listening to me.

Hakim Bey 

Hakim Bey, Sufi Anarchist Intellectual Critic etc etc etc:

I think that a radical life is not something that depends on Internet connections or websites or demos or even on politics, like having Green mayors. This may sound dull to people who think that having a really hot website is a revolutionary act. Or that getting a million people to come out and wave symbolic signs at a symbolic march is a political act. If it doesn’t involve alternative economic institution building, it’s not. As an anarchist, I’ve had this critique for years, and experience has only deepened it.

What's interesting is that Bey doesn't see the internet as a form of alternative economic institution building. When you look at the way political money has been raised, it's a good fortune cookie indeed. Granted, for Bey, I am sure Howard Dean is only slightly acceptable, but the system of financial distribution made possible by the web is a great improvement indeed. The catch is that it has to eventually do something, that individuals have to couple that money with actual, physical, real world action to sustain alternative movements. His idea to create a network of physical trading for alternative culture is interesting and I believe it has been attempted- trade poetry for garden grown turnips, is his example, or just trade art with one another. Or an expansion of the Ithaca dollar program he talks about, where people trade work for non profits as an "alternative labor dollar". But his critique of the web is pretty strong indeed:

You’re slumped in front of a screen, in the same physical situation as a TV watcher, you’ve just added a typewriter. And you’re "interactive." What does that mean? It does not mean community. It’s catatonic schizophrenia. So blah blah blah, communicate communicate, data data data. It doesn’t mean anything more than catatonics babbling and drooling in a mental institution. Why can’t we stop? How is it that five years ago there were no cell phones, and now everyone needs a cell phone? You can pick up any book by any half-brained post-Marxist jerkoff and read about how capitalism creates false needs. Yet we allow it to go on.

Mississippi Mud Slinging 

U.S. Sen. Trent Lott today told an enthusiastic Neshoba County Fair crowd that Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry is "a French-speaking socialist from Boston, Massachusetts, who is more liberal than Ted Kennedy." It was a line that Lott said he’d been working on for a while, and it produced loud applause from hundreds of Mississippians gathered at Founders’ Square, the centerpiece of the historic fair. - Clarion Ledger

My favorite part of this is that it was a a line Trott had "been working on for a while". I mean, my god, can you imagine Trent Lott sitting in his office with a yellow legal pad, writing variations of that line over and over again? "A French Speaking Patriot...No, no, too positive...hmmmm...French speaking, that part is totally awesome."

Oh and seriously, he hadn't heard the "More liberal than Ted Kennedy" bit yet?

Bakugekiki Jisatsu 

I'm just gonna go ahead and post the whole article. But the last line is the best:

A Japanese man flying to Ohio was arrested after he was seen writing down the words "suicide bomb," but he was released without charge after explaining that it was an impromptu English exercise.

The 60-year-old man told investigators he came across the words in a newspaper and wanted to look up their meaning, police spokeswoman Alice Casanova said.

"He teaches himself English by reading newspapers," she said. "It was all just a miscommunication."

The man was aboard United Airlines flight 1184 en route to Dayton, Ohio, on a business trip Sunday when a fellow passenger spotted the words and alerted an attendant, Casanova said.

The flight returned to O'Hare International Airport, where the man was taken into custody and all of the other 120 passengers were taken off the plane and rescreened.

Investigators also searched the plane. "Nothing panned out and he was released," Casanova said.

Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Andrea McCauley said travelers need to be mindful of how they behave on airplanes because potential security threats are treated very seriously.

"We caution people not to write about bombs because if they're going on vacation, their travel plans will be disrupted," she said.

Maybe the best step is to have government agents cut out from newspapers any articles that might imply that one is a terrorist by reading them?

Vehement Denial 

Kerry dismissed former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's comment that raising the terror level might be politically motivated. "I don't care what he said. I haven't suggested that and I won't suggest that," Kerry said. "I do not hold that opinion. I don't believe that." - WaPo

I just think that's kind of funny. I like Dean in the front-line agitator role.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Post-Convention Terrorist Threat Bounce 

You know there's a bit of a controversy over a Newsweek poll that puts Kerry at 54 and Bush at 41, because the poll claims to be from the convention but actually ended before Kerry's speech, which, you know, was kind of like, a big deal.

And so Tom Ridge has rolled out a new, hyper detailed list of terror threats in three cities and well, you know, I fell for this shit last time and everytime I say, "Maybe this time it's serious", and it never is, and then Tom Ridge pulls a campaign speech out of his ass:

"But we must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the president's leadership in the war against terror, the reports that have led to this alert are the result of offensive intelligence and military operations overseas, as well as strong partnerships with our allies around the world, such as Pakistan.

Such operations and partnerships give us insight into the enemy, so we can better target our defensive measures here and away from home.

The terrorists should know in this country this kind of information, while startling, is not stifling. It will not weaken the American spirit. It will not dampen our resolve, for our resolve is indivisible and unyielding, which is a weapon infinitely stronger than the plots and the plans of those who wish to do us harm.

Al-Qaida wants to intimidate us and prevent us from enjoying our lives and exercising our freedoms. And yet liberty, liberty has no greater protection than the collective will of the American people. So, together, let us take inspiration from this strength and use it to our utmost to keep our great nation safe and free.

By total coincidence, I happened to see The Village today. Anyone else see it, that wants to expound on the miraculous parallels? Or do we just want to wait for Slavoj Zizek to write about it? (Oh and yeah, it's a good movie).

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?