Monday, October 25, 2004
This Land Is Your Land
Ezra pointed me to this Paul Waldman piece in The Gadflyer that hits on something that's been getting me angrier and angrier during the last few years --- the constant refrain by Republicans (and accepted without comment by the mediawhores) that blue state America is somehow unamerican. It's offensive and I'm tired of it:
Fantasyland, October 25, 2004 – Today John Kerry opened up a new line of attack on President Bush, charging that his policies and positions are a product of Texas, a state whose political culture lies far outside the American mainstream. "The former governor of Texas has governed like, well, like a former governor of Texas," said Kerry to the laughs and hoots of the crowd. "He's so far out on the right wing, he fell off the plane."
Kerry also brought up Tom DeLay, the ultra-conservative congressman from the Lone Star state. "George Bush makes Tom DeLay look like a Texas moderate!"
The new line of attack came as an independent liberal group began airing a new ad in which an elderly couple says, "George Bush should take his NASCAR-loving, tobacco-chewing, trailer-park-living, redneck freak show back to Texas, where it belongs."
Of course, we've never seen a story like this one – like all Democrats, John Kerry knows that if he criticized one state or one region of the country, the press and the Republicans would come down on him like a ton of bricks, charging him with being a Northeastern elitist who doesn't want to be the president of all Americans.
But the rules are different on the other side of the aisle. In today's politics, it is acceptable for Republicans to traffic in ugly stereotypes and assert outright that people who come from some areas of America are not really American. Some might remember the ad to which I referred, aired by the conservative Club for Growth, which said, "Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs."
Bush is hardly the first Republican to use this attack; when the DNC decided to hold its convention in Boston, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey said, "If I were a Democrat, I suspect I'd feel a heck of a lot more comfortable in Boston than, say, America."
Why does Bush get away with this? Because the press corps buys the Republican argument that the areas of the country where there are lots of Republicans are "really" American, and the areas of the country where there are lots of Democrats aren't. So they never asked whether the fact that Bush was a "Texas conservative" would hurt him, while they constantly wonder about how damaging it is that Kerry is a "Massachusetts liberal." Disparage Texas – or Alabama, or Mississippi, or Kansas – and you're in for a heap of trouble. Throw insults at Massachusetts or California or New York, and the press will laugh right along.
If Kerry wins this election, it is highly likely it will be without the South. And maybe then people are going to realize that catering entirely to one regional culture and insulting the others may not be the way to build a permanent majority. If that happens it's not going to be us blue-staters from Taxachusetts or Hollywood who have the problem.
digby 10/25/2004 08:18:00 PM
Dick Morris just said on FAUX that Bush is "surging in the polls" and it's because of the puppies ad. In fact, he believes that ad is going to go down as one of the greatest political ads in history.
The rule of thumb for everything in life is that if Dick Morris says it, the opposite must be true. Therefore, Bush is slipping and the puppies ad is going down as the biggest political joke in history.
I feel good!
digby 10/25/2004 07:01:00 PM
Sunday, October 24, 2004
What Is News?
Here's a little quiz for everyone. Which of these two stories will dominate the news tomorrow?:
To review the essential facts, prior to the war, Iraq's Al Qa Qaa bunker and weapons complex had roughly 350 tons of high explosives under IAEA seal. After the war, for whatever reason, the complex was either not guarded at all or inadequately guarded. And all those explosives (primarily RDX and HMX) were carted away.
What we're talking about here isn't just a bunch of dynamite. This encyclopedia entry says RDX "is considered the most powerful and brisant of the military high explosives." And not 350 pounds, 350 tons.
It is apparently widely believed within the US government that those looted explosives are what in many, perhaps most, cases is being used in car bombs and suicide attacks against US troops. That is, according to TPM sources and sources quoted in this evening's Nelson Report, where the story first broke.
One administration official told Nelson, "This is the stuff the bad guys have been using to kill our troops, so you can’t ignore the political implications of this, and you would be correct to suspect that politics, or the fear of politics, played a major role in delaying the release of this information."
or this one:
U.N. ambassadors from several nations are disputing assertions by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry that he met for hours with all members of the U.N. Security Council just a week before voting in October 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq.
An investigation by The Washington Times reveals that while the candidate did talk for an unspecified period to at least a few members of the panel, no such meeting, as described by Mr. Kerry on a number of occasions over the past year, ever occurred.
FAUX News will be flogging the latter like crazy. But, the former is above the fold on the front page of the NY Times.
Anybody want to lay down a bet?
digby 10/24/2004 08:46:00 PM
Now's The Time
Memo to the press corpse: In light of this new information about Junior's lies regarding Project P.U.L.L., it's now perfectly legitimate to ask that One Simple Question.
In fact, it's your job. Consider the bounty your bonus.
digby 10/24/2004 08:04:00 PM
Junior isn't the most coordinated fellow in the world and he has a lot of trouble staying upright in the best of circumstances. It's probably not a good idea to put him in platform shoes. He falls down. Again:
President Bush is helped after tripping on a step after speaking at the Canton Palace Theatre about medical liability reform Friday, Oct. 22, 2004 in Canton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
digby 10/24/2004 06:00:00 PM
Haven't They Seen Enough Horror?
Wayne Newton Entertains Troops in Iraq
Newton, along with special guests that included actor Rob Schneider and country singer Neal McCoy, spent nearly three hours at a 1st Cavalry division camp in the capital on Tuesday.
Wasn't the mutiny in the 1st Cavalry? I'm just saying...
digby 10/24/2004 05:11:00 PM
Up In The Air
HANNITY: “Do you or when you think of, for example, what happened in Spain prior to their last election there was an article recently that showed that you were presented with the possibility by your CIA director and others that -- I think September 15th they presented this to you - it was written up recently - that this is a potential threat here but we still have area vulnerabilities so we -- is that always going to be the case? Is that something we are always going to have to live with?
BUSH: Yes because we have to be right 100 percent of the time in disrupting any plot and they have to be right once. We’re better. Much better. As a matter of fact the 9/11 commission reports that America is safer under the course of action we’ve taken but not yet safe. Whether or not we can be ever fully safe is up -- you know, is up in the air.”
Whoopsie. I think Junior's faith based reality may have slipped a little bit there. I'd call it a gaffe except that he's also said that he doesn't care about bin laden and he doesn't think America can win the GWOT. If this guy is so iffy about our ability to deal with the terrorist threat, I'm not sure he has a rationale for his presidency. If he isn't the codpiece cowboy then what's the point?
I think it's only fair to wrap these comments around his neck so tight that he can hardly breathe. It would be downright disrespectful to treat him any differently than he would treat us --- ruthlessly and without mercy.
digby 10/24/2004 03:15:00 PM
Can someone explain to me why, when crap like this is going on, that all I'm hearing about today is alleged Democratic intimidation of Republican voters?
Republican Party officials in Ohio took formal steps yesterday to place thousands of recruits inside polling places on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters they suspect are not eligible to cast ballots.
Party officials say their effort is necessary to guard against fraud arising from aggressive moves by the Democrats to register tens of thousands of new voters in Ohio, seen as one of the most pivotal battlegrounds in the Nov. 2 elections.
Election officials in other swing states, from Arizona to Wisconsin and Florida, say they are bracing for similar efforts by Republicans to challenge new voters at polling places, reflecting months of disputes over voting procedures and the anticipation of an election as close as the one in 2000.
Ohio election officials said they had never seen so large a drive to prepare for Election Day challenges. They said they were scrambling yesterday to be ready for disruptions in the voting process as well as alarm and complaints among voters. Some officials said they worried that the challenges could discourage or even frighten others waiting to vote.
Ohio Democrats were struggling to match the Republicans' move, which had been rumored for weeks. Both parties had until 4 p.m. to register people they had recruited to monitor the election. Republicans said they had enlisted 3,600 by the deadline, many in heavily Democratic urban neighborhoods of Cleveland, Dayton and other cities. Each recruit was to be paid $100.
The Democrats, who tend to benefit more than Republicans from large turnouts, said they had registered more than 2,000 recruits to try to protect legitimate voters rather than weed out ineligible ones.
Republican officials said they had no intention of disrupting voting but were concerned about the possibility of fraud involving thousands of newly registered Democrats.
"The organized left's efforts to, quote unquote, register voters - I call them ringers - have created these problems," said James P. Trakas, a Republican co-chairman in Cuyahoga County.
Both parties have waged huge campaigns in the battleground states to register millions of new voters, and the developments in Ohio provided an early glimpse of how those efforts may play out on Election Day.
Ohio election officials said that by state law, the parties' challengers would have to show "reasonable" justification for doubting the qualifications of a voter before asking a poll worker to question that person. And, the officials said, challenges could be made on four main grounds: whether the voter is a citizen, is at least 18, is a resident of the county and has lived in Ohio for the previous 30 days.
Elections officials in Ohio said they hoped the criteria would minimize the potential for disruption. But Democrats worry that the challenges will inevitably delay the process and frustrate the voters.
"Our concern is Republicans will be challenging in large numbers for the purpose of slowing down voting, because challenging takes a long time,'' said David Sullivan, the voter protection coordinator for the national Democratic Party in Ohio. "And creating long lines causes our people to leave without voting.''
Among the main swing states, only Ohio, Florida and Missouri require the parties to register poll watchers before Election Day; elsewhere, party observers can register on the day itself. In several states officials have alerted poll workers to expect a heightened interest by the parties in challenging voters. In some cases, poll workers, many of them elderly, have been given training to deal with any abusive challenging.
If anyone wonders why the Bush campaign doesn't feel the need to do much campaigning in the essential state of Ohio, you don't need to look any further than this. They haveplans in place to ensure he wins no matter what.
This tactic is based upon the same one by which they "won" the election in 2000. They are using it not so much to intimidate voters, although I'm sure they will do that also. The main purpose, as it was when the Republican "challengers" in the recount questioned many more ballots than necessary, is simply to run out the clock. And if anyone tries to hold the polls open longer to accomodate long lines as they did in St Louis last time, they will scream bloody murder about the Democrats "changing the rules" after the game has been played.
This is a big deal. If anyone can get to the swing states for election day, they should do it. Check out ACT for Victory for instructions on how you can help. The Republicans have put together an organized effort to suppress the vote. The only thing that will stop it a huge turn-out and people willing to help at the polling places and report the atrocities.
Update: Check out ISOU for some coming attractions.
digby 10/24/2004 02:17:00 PM
Where To Go
Here's a very helpful service:
My Polling Place.com
It got mine and a couple of friends' right so I assume this data base is correct. On election day, if anyone you know or hear of says they don't know where they are supposed to vote, this site not only gives them an address, you can even get a map.
Pass the word.
digby 10/24/2004 11:59:00 AM
Writers Are Terrorists
Talk about misdirection. I know some of the love scenes get pretty steamy, but I didn't think even John Ashcroft would conclude that a romance novelist doing research on the internet was a potential terrorist. (Via Talk Left.)
This is some scary stuff for people like bloggers who spend a lot of time poking their noses into issues that might be considered sensitive:
If you think that as women’s fiction writers, we’re immune from scrutiny under the Patriot Act, think again. Last fall, the home of a multi-published author for an RWA-recognized publisher was raided and her writing in materials confiscated. The writer, an RWA and PAN member who asked to be referred to as Dilyn, agreed to he interviewed for this column to alert RWA members of potential risks when conducting research.
SB: What type of story were you researching?
Dilyn: Mainstream women’s fiction adventure. It was set in Cambodia, all about the theft of antiquities. In my research I learned, about the atrocities that still go on there even today, much of it coming from one of the Al Qaeda-linked groups. I actually went back though my book and deleted those specific terrorist references after 9/11 and changed the terrorists to a rogue band of thieves because of 9/11 and terrorist sensitivity.
SB: What types of books did you buy/check out of the library?
Dilyn: I bought and checked out books on Cambodia-- its history, its present struggles, its antiquities and anything I could get my hands on concerning the terrorism going on there...landmines, in particular. And those were the kinds of Web sites I surfed too.
SB: Did you share your reasons for checking out the books with your librarian?
Dilyn: No. My library is huge and highly impersonal. I did the library book search on-line and simply went there to check them out. I also kept those books checked out for well over a year during the writing of my book. Plus, I purchased all my research books online--about six. As far as my Web surfing, I went dozens of places.
Many were for non-terrorist aspects of my book, but a few were for gathering specific terrorist information. To be honest, I was surprised to find the Al Qaeda linked to Cambodia. I was only going after the landmine atrocities because they played a huge part in my story.
SB: Did you have any reason to suspect you were being targeted for a raid, any advance notice?
Dilyn: No. Not a clue. Although, for a while prior to the raid, I thought I was being stalked. Mail was missing from my box, I caught someone searching my trash, I saw a prowler in nit yard and actually called the police. One of my neighbors saw someone watching from across the street--she wasn’t sure if it was my house or hers. She called the police, too--turns out they taking surveillance photos.
SB: When did the raid take place, how long did it last, and what items were confiscated? What agency conducted the raid?
Dilyn: The raid took place last fall, pre-dawn, and it lasted three hours. They banged at my front door first, damaged it coming in, displayed weapons and threatened to kill my dogs. After that, imagine everything you’ve seen on TV, only worse. There were six male agents. One was in the "bad cop" mode the entire time, trying to intimidate me, yelling at me, threatening me. When I had to go to the restroom, he sent an agent along to the bathroom with me. It was a multi-agency raid: Postal Inspectors (for the Web site/email end of it), FBI, and three officers who would only identify themselves as Federal Police. They took so much--computers, photocopier, files, books, discs, computer programs, CDs of the music by which I write, contracts, absolutely everything I had connected to the writing world. They took pictures off my walls, my office television, pens, a case of paper, postage stamps -- even now, after all these months, 1 still so to get something only to discover it missing.
SB: Have you had any success in retrieving items that were taken?
Dilvn: They brought my computers back within a couple of months--bugged. I have this great computer guy who couldn’t wait to get inside to take a look, sure enough, they had a program in there to monitor me. I got my discs back, too, all ruined. They still have everything else.
Does anyone else get the sneaking suspicion that the Justice department under John Ashcroft is completely nuts? This is a Hollywood script, notlaw enforcement. In fact, I think they got this idea from a movie called "Romancing The Stone" in which a Romance writer unwittingly gets involved in Latin American smuggling and drug running. It was a comedy.
I can understand why they might have had a conversation with the woman based upon her web surfing. A little investigation was probably warranted to find out that she was a FICTION WRITER who often researches unusual practices. But a raid of her house and seizure of her property is the mark of an out of control incipient police state.
It is the lack of common sense that has me so scared for this country --- this underreaction to real threats and the overreaction to non-threats. We can't seem to strike any balance anywhere and it's getting us further and further into trouble.
I am very curiuus as to who President Kerry will appoint as AG. It's going to be a hell of a job trying to straighten out the unholy mess that Ashcroft has made of the place.
digby 10/24/2004 10:50:00 AM
My favorite new Republican talking point is the appalled outrage that a member of Kerry's staff referred to the War on Terror as a...gasp...metaphor. Can you believe these sissified Democrats living in their pre 9/11 dreamworlds? A metaphor?
Obviously, this is just another example of the reality based community clinging to outmoded notions of the literal meaning of words. And America is weaker for it.
We will defeat terror. It shall not stand. Terror will be vanquished from the earth. Anyone who doesn't agree is a loser. Let freedom rain. And I mean that literally.
digby 10/24/2004 09:59:00 AM
He Takes My Breath Away
He's strutting, he's swaggering, he's building up to a full-on Village People extravaganza during these last few days:
President Bush turned his Marine One chopper into a campaign prop Saturday and used it to drop in on huge crowds at three stadiums around Florida, at a time of concern in his campaign about his failure to gain a decisive lead in the most crucial battlegrounds.
The commander in chief landed at the ballparks to the strains of the "Top Gun" theme, his most dramatic use of a military asset since he rode a fighter jet onto an aircraft carrier 17 months ago to declare the end of major combat operations in Iraq.
During Bush's chopper swing, a huge banner in the outfield of City of Palms Park, in Fort Myers, showed an image of the military helicopter with the slogan "Soaring to Victory." His departing chopper flew over the crowd of 11,000, so close that the president and Laura Bush could be seen waving.
The other chopper rallies were in Lakeland and Melbourne. Bush's finale was a rally for 25,000 or more at Alltel Stadium, home of the National Football League's Jacksonville Jaguars and site of next February's Super Bowl. Bush spoke from a lectern on the 50-yard line. He arrived amid rock-concert-style smoke and departed to fireworks.
Here's why they seem to have called in Bruckheimer to stage the campaign stops (in an apparent homage to Coppolla's seminal Playboy bunny scene in Apocalypse Now):
GOP officials who talked to Bush-Cheney campaign leaders said the leaders have grown more worried about Ohio, Florida and other key states where Bush lacks a lead with just 10 days until the election. A poll by Ohio University's Scripps Survey Research Center, completed Thursday night, found Kerry leading 49 percent to 43 percent among registered voters, with a margin of error of five percentage points.
The Republican official said polling for Bush showed him in a weaker position than some published polls have indicated, both nationally and in battlegrounds. In many of the key states, the official said, Bush is below 50 percent, and he is ahead or behind within the margin of sampling error -- a statistical tie.
"There's just no place where they're polling outside the margin of error so they can say, 'We have this state,' " the official said. "And they know that an incumbent needs to be outside the margin of error."
Look for leather chaps, tight sailor bells, maybe even a great big tool belt these next two days. He's in the Danger Zone, allright.
Update: Check out The Talent Show for Bush's Halloween Surprise.
digby 10/24/2004 09:23:00 AM
Saturday, October 23, 2004
They Can Dish It Out
I've never seen Lawrence O'Donnell get even slightly overwrought, but that lying, piece of shit scumbag John O'Neill with his preturnaturally calm psychopath act pushed him over the edge.
I can't tell you how many times I have stood in front of my television saying exactly those words, ineffectually waving my fist and kicking my poor oft-bruised foot into the wall. It's a real pleasure to watch someone express my personal frustration right in that lying asshole's face.
The freepers are writing nasty letters. O'Donnell could probably use some support.
One MSNBC Plaza
Secaucus, N.J. 07094
Apparently he unloaded on Jabba The Blankley on Mclaughlin, too. He's just righteously pissed at the endless lying. I know the feeling. They aren't even trying to hide it anymore. It's like these people are spitting in your face and daring you to do something about it.
digby 10/23/2004 09:06:00 PM
I hear Gene Simmons is a Republican. Maybe he whispered a little something about height-enhancing footwear in Junior's ear:
digby 10/23/2004 08:26:00 PM
The Youth Vote
When I was in the third grade my mother dressed me up in a bunch of Goldwater gear and sent me off to school on election day. I was the only kid in my class who wasn't dressed up for Johnson. Maybe that's the real reason I became a Democrat when my parents are hard core Republicans --- the early childhood trauma of being a political minority. (Little did I know...)
But, it does illustrate the fact that little kids "vote" like their parents when they are polled. And that has been shown to be true for years. Matt Stoller on MYDD sez that the Nickelodeon poll has some good news for us:
Kids Choose Wisely
A strong majority of American children support Democratic White House hopeful John Kerry over President George W. Bush in the election less than two weeks away, according to an online poll released Wednesday by Nickelodeon cable channel.
Children have always picked the winner since the popular channel aimed at kids began conducted the poll in 1988. In 2000, they backed Bush with 55 percent.
Some 400,000 children responded to the poll, and 57 percent backed Kerry against 43 percent for Bush.
"The `Kids' Vote' seems to work as a good barometer of the actual presidential vote because, developmentally, kids between the ages of 2 and 11 share the same opinions and outlooks as their parents," said Cyma Zarghami, president of the television channel, part of Viacom International.
I don't see any reason why children would choose Bush over Gore in 2000 and then Kerry over Bush in 2004 except that their parents' preferences have changed. It's not like Nickelodeon has gone on an anti-Bush tear.
I don't know about that, Matt. SpongeBob Squarepants is a total freak for Michael Moore.
digby 10/23/2004 07:47:00 PM
The Lost Years
Does the man just reflexively lie about everything or does he have so much to hide that it's just smarter to lie first and ask questions later?
"I was working full time for an inner-city poverty program known as Project P.U.L.L.," Bush said in his 1999 autobiography, "A Charge to Keep." "My friend John White ... asked me to come help him run the program. ... I was intrigued by John's offer. ... Now I had a chance to help people."
But White's administrative assistant and others associated with P.U.L.L., speaking on the record for the first time, say Bush was not helping to run the program and White had not asked Bush to come aboard. Instead, the associates said, White told them he agreed to take Bush on as a favor to Bush's father, who was honorary co-chairman of the program at the time, and Bush was unpaid. They say White told them Bush had gotten into some kind of trouble but White never gave them specifics.
"We didn't know what kind of trouble he'd been in, only that he'd done something that required him to put in the time," said Althia Turner, White's administrative assistant.
"John said he was doing a favor for George's father because an arrangement had to be made for the son to be there," said Willie Frazier, also a former player for the Houston Oilers and a P.U.L.L. summer volunteer in 1973.
Fred Maura, a close friend of White, refers to Bush as "43," for 43rd president, and his father as "41," for the 41st president.
"John didn't say what kind of trouble 43 was in - just that he had done something and he (John) made a deal to take him in as a favor to 41 to get some funding," Maura said.
"He didn't help run the program. I was in charge of him and I wouldn't say I helped run the program, either," said David Anderson, a recreational director at P.U.L.L.
It's long been strongly suspected that he did his "volunteer" work at Operation Pull as some kind of alternative punishment, whether for criminal or familial reasons. Working with inner city kids during that irrational time in his life is so out of character it never passed the *sniff* test.
We know that his family was fit to be tied with him during that time, and for good reason:
Leaving the election-night "celebration," Allison remembers encountering George W. Bush in the parking lot, urinating on a car, and hearing later about how he'd yelled obscenities at police officers that night. Bush left a house he'd rented in Montgomery trashed -- the furniture broken, walls damaged and a chandelier destroyed, the Birmingham News reported in February. "He was just a rich kid who had no respect for other people's possessions," Mary Smith, a member of the family who rented the house, told the newspaper, adding that a bill sent to Bush for repairs was never paid. And a month later, in December, during a visit to his parents' home in Washington, Bush drunkenly challenged his father to go "mano a mano," as has often been reported.
Around the same time, for the 1972 Christmas holiday, the Allisons met up with the Bushes on vacation in Hobe Sound, Fla. Tension was still evident between Bush and his parents. Linda was a passenger in a car driven by Barbara Bush as they headed to lunch at the local beach club. Bush, who was 26 years old, got on a bicycle and rode in front of the car in a slow, serpentine manner, forcing his mother to crawl along. "He rode so slowly that he kept having to put his foot down to get his balance, and he kept in a weaving pattern so we couldn't get past," Allison recalled. "He was obviously furious with his mother about something, and she was furious at him, too."
It's certainly possible that Dad pulled strings because he wanted to teach his miscreant son a lesson. But, it doesn't seem as if he had much control over Junior's behavior during that time, so it's a bit of a stretch to believe that he could have forced him to do this thing. After all, this was the same period that Junior was refusing to fulfill his commitment to the US government. It is much more likely that Bush had been arrested for drugs or drunk driving and that Poppy intervened --- as he continued to do for more than a decade of decadence and hedonism.
It was in 1985, around the time of his 39th birthday, George W. Bush says, that his life took a sharp turn toward salvation. At that point he was drinking, his marriage was on the rocks, his career was listless. Several accounts have emerged from those close to Bush about a faith ''intervention'' of sorts at the Kennebunkport family compound that year. Details vary, but here's the gist of what I understand took place. George W., drunk at a party, crudely insulted a friend of his mother's. George senior and Barbara blew up. Words were exchanged along the lines of something having to be done. George senior, then the vice president, dialed up his friend, Billy Graham, who came to the compound and spent several days with George W. in probing exchanges and walks on the beach.
For all of his hectoring and lecturing about "the responsibility era" and ending the ethos of "if it feels good, do it," he has never taken even the tiniest bit of responsibility for what he did. He even lied about his "born again" experience --- not mentioning that it was the result of yet another intervention by his frustrated parents
Lying in the most craven way about this Operation PULL episode, by claiming that he "helped run the program" when it's obvious to any sentient being that he was forced to be there, is the kind of thing that continues to stoke interest in the 40 odd lost years of George W. Bush. Nobody would care if he didn't constantly behave like a man with something to hide.
digby 10/23/2004 04:46:00 PM
Friday, October 22, 2004
Below The Belt
I knew the Bush campaign was ruthless and I knew they were cruel. I expected them to play dirty.
But, I never dreamed they would sink this low.
If Karl Rove is willing to play the cute puppy card, we are truly doomed...
digby 10/22/2004 03:55:00 PM
Thursday, October 21, 2004
They'll Believe Anything
I thought you might enjoy this wingnut e-mail that's been going around:
Almost half of the nation's flu vaccine will not be delivered this year. Chiron, a major manufacturer of flu vaccine, will not be distributing any influenza vaccine this flu season. Chiron was to make 46-48 million doses vaccine for the United States. Chiron is a British company. Recently British health officials stopped Chiron from distributing and making the vaccine when inspectors found unsanitary conditions in the labs. Some lots of the vaccine were recalled and destroyed.Why is our vaccine made in the UK and not the US? The major pharmaceutical companies in the US provided almost 90% of the nations flu vaccine at one time. They did this despite a very low profit margin for the product. Basically, they were doing us a favor.
In the late 80's a man from North Carolina who had received the vaccine got the flu. The strain he caught was one of the strains in that years Vaccine made by a US company. What did he do? He sued and he won. He was awarded almost $5 million! After that case was appealed and lost, most US pharmaceutical companies stopped making the vaccine. The liability out weighed the profit margin. Since UK and Canadian laws prohibit such frivolous law suits UK and Canadian companies began selling the vaccine in the US.
By the way...the lawyer that represented the man in the flu shot lawsuit was a young ambulance chaser by the name of John Edwards.
Mighty decent of the Bush campaign not to use this bombshell in the last two weeks of the campaign, don't you think? John Edwards is personally responsible for the flu vaccine crisis and they refrain from using that information in ads and speeches. Wow. To think that some people say they are tough guys who will pull out all the stops to win when they are really just a bunch of softies who don't want to embarrass their rivals.
On second thought, this can't be yet another completely unbelievable lie to fool Republican morons, can it? My gawd. I hope these people aren't allowed to operate heavy machinery or drive without supervision. People that dumb are a public health hazard in and of themselves.
digby 10/21/2004 05:08:00 PM
One of the hallmarks of the modern Republican party has been the efficacy of its communication infrastructure and its commitment to the long term. Over time it has become a sophisticated national political machine. Now, Sinclair Advertiser Boycott has shown that our side truly has the beginnings of a strong and vital counter force if we devote ourselves to long term thinking. The battle is just beginning whether we win or lose this election.
The immediate necessity, however, is to not let up on Sinclair. They have not capitulated. They merely changed their strategy. They are committed to the extreme right wing and will continue to evangelize in various ways for the cause with no sense of fairness or journalistic ethics. This little gambit has personally cost the family more than 40 million dollars and yet they continue. It seems that they have not yet learned their lesson and perhaps they never will. But, there is an object lesson for others out there who might try something like this, so whatever happens we must take this all the way to the end.
We must not let up on the pressure until the propagandists understands that there will be a serious price to pay economically for ignoring their responsibilities to the nation as a guardian of democracy. They are allowed to use the airwaves as a public trust. If they continue to abuse that trust they should be relieved of it.
Via the Sinclair Boycott blog, I see that an unnamed Sinclair employee (and stockholder) is exhorting us to keep the pressure on the company to try to stop them from broadcasting the comedy and keep them from repeating it throughout the week-end. They have not learned their lesson:
You have today and tomorrow to prevent A POW Story from airing. Now is not the time to stop. If SBG is prevented from airing A POW Story, they will be forced to air regularly scheduled programming, and generate regularly scheduled ad revenue. This will have the effect of forcing SBG to accept money against their apparent will.
What you and others are doing here is very much like having an intervention with a drug addict. You don't give him the benefit of the doubt. You don't let him dictate terms. You don't allow yourself to be dazzled by his arguments. And you don't leave him alone so he can "go to the bathroom." You are trying to save this company from itself. The Smith brothers took actions that caused their company stock to rapidly lose $90 million in value, of which $40 million came right out of their hides, and they still didn't want to stop. There is no reason to beleive that they have come to their senses. They said what everyone wanted to hear, and now they are going to do what they wanted to do in the first place. They will do what Fox News does, and pay lip service to offering "both sides". There will be some liberal lightweight phoning in a perfomance that will make Alan Colmes seem like Kenneth Galbraith by comparison.
.... SBG may use this weekend to get this program on the air more than once. The SBG press release mentions only what affiliates will be airing on Friday night. SBG may chose to air the program any number of times on any number of their affiliates after Friday. Should they do this, the company will likely bleed money like a stuck pig. If Glickenhaus and Media Matters don't like what they see at 9 pm, what are they going to do? Wait til Monday morning to take legal action?
We are running promotional announcements for A POW Story as of today. So, my company believes this is a done deal. Prove them wrong.
Read the whole letter, it's quite interesting. Keep sending all those calls and letters folks.
According to Atrios, there is also a mass protest scheduled for 8pm on Friday night at all the Sinclair affiliates. He's got all the info.
If anyone you know lives in one of those towns, send them an e-mail and tell them to head down there at 8pm. Local news is important and if we make enough noise, Sinclair's competitors will be more than happy to report these actions. The decline of the company, the protests and the boycott, unlike "A POW Story", actually are news.
digby 10/21/2004 02:37:00 PM
Trouble In Paradise?
I have to agree with the Bull Moose that Unka Karl indicating that Pat Robertson is a bald faced liar is quite the risky step to take in the waneing days of a very close election.
Now, what primarily disturbs the Moose are not the President’s comments nor does he doubt that Pat is on the Lord’s speed dial. Rather, the Moose is in a lather over the fact that Karl Rove is apparently calling Pat a liar. The Washington Post reports, “White House political adviser Karl Rove told reporters that Bush never said he did not expect casualties. "I was right there," Rove said of the president's conversation with Robertson."
My, my, is there no gratitude from Karl for all the good works that Pat has performed for the President? And surely, it is not smart to call into question the credibility of a man who has a direct line to God merely days before a national election!
Or a man who just a couple of weeks ago threatened to take his flock and form a third party if he didn't get his way:
Influential American evangelist Pat Robertson said Monday that Evangelical Christians feel so deeply about Jerusalem, that if President George W. Bush were to "touch" Jerusalem, Evangelicals would abandon their traditional Republican leanings and form a third party.
Evangelical Christians - estimated at tens of millions of Americans - overwhelmingly support Bush for his pro-Israel policies, Robertson told a Jerusalem news conference Monday.
But if Bush shifted his position toward support for Jerusalem as a capital for both Israel and a Palestinian state, his Evangelical backing would disappear, Robertson indicated.
"The President has backed away from [the road map], but if he were to touch Jerusalem, he'd lose all Evangelical support," Robertson said. "Evangelicals would form a third party" because, though people "don't know about" Gaza, Jerusalem is an entirely different matter.
The article goes on to quote him raving about Satan and Islam and all kinds of other crazy shit, but his naked threat wasn't exactly subtle.
Can this marriage be saved?
digby 10/21/2004 01:01:00 PM
So, I see (via Atrios) that Junior is taking a day off on Saturday.
Sure he is. In the fight of his life, ten days before the election, he's taking a precious day away from the campaign trail.
How much do you want to bet he's being measured for a new military costume as we speak?
My only question is whether it will be Kabul or Baghdad.
And if the braindead press corpse handle this as anything but a cheap, taxpayer financed stunt we should raise holy hell. In fact, it wouldn't hurt to let them know now that any October Surprise like this is not a "surprise" it's an act of sheer desperation and if they don't cover this with the skepticism and derision it deserves they can never call themselves anything but whores.
It's called working the refs folks. If this thing happens, the press needs to have our take on it firmly implanted in their minds before they start their bizarre, erotic fantasizing about the manly preznit.
digby 10/21/2004 09:58:00 AM
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
digby 10/19/2004 01:15:00 PM
Cult of the Codpiece
I have been sort of half heartedly working on a piece about the Susskind article this week-end but I may just give it up since Ezra has already eloquently laid out a good part of my thesis:
And the Iraqis will greet us with flowers and shiatsu massages, the tax cuts will result in more revenue entering government coffers while stimulating the economy, the Northern Alliance will do an excellent job securing Tora Bora, we know Putin is good because his soul said so, Ariel Sharon is a "man of peace", our allies are materially unimportant because a small and maneuverable fighting force can easily carry out the mission in Iraq, simply requesting that companies consider the environment will be more effective than actual regulation...
Time and again, the Bush administration has placed their trust and crafted their policy based on a dubious or unproven assertion, and time and again they've found their faith misplaced, though not before the situation spun out of control to the country's great harm. This Administration's problem isn't that they're optimistic, it's that they're certain the world is similarly sunny. People are grabbing on to Suskind's "reality-based community" quote, as well they should. But they're missing its point. The Bush aide is arguing that the Administration operates off the idea that they shape their reality, that they are history's forces, not victims. That's why, presumably, they only plan for what they believe will happen. The parallels to New Age spirituality would be funny, if they weren't so scary, and the idea would be admirable if reality didn't keep proving it wrong.
This "don't worry be happy" philosophy has gotten these guys into trouble over and over and over again. I'm a Los Angeleno like Ezra so I should have made the connection to New Age spirituality before, but I didn't. Bush isn't a bible-based, messianic fundamentalist. His "crusade fer freedom" is really much more in the mode of a New Agey Kumbaaya cult leader than an Armageddonist. (Maybe Ariana could give us some insight on how this works. This is her guy, John-Roger.)
He doesn't know the bible except in the most rudimentary way. He doesn't attend church. He doesn't follow any of the most basic tenets of Christianity. He is simply the leader of the republican cult whose members believe that anything he says is the word of God --- hence the bizarre screams of orgasmic fervor when he say words that one would not usually associate with deep emotional beliefs, like "tort reform." It doesn't matter what he says, it's how he says them.
This is why he doesn't have to make any sense and this is why his followers are so blind to reality. As with all cults they are willing to give up their money and their free will and turn it over to the leader. It has nothing to do with any traditional religion.
He's the leader of the Cult of the Codpiece and as far as his followers are concerned, anything he says and does is divine.
digby 10/19/2004 01:00:00 PM
Paul Lukasiak has uncovered evidence that Bush was discharged from the TANG:
for failing “to possess the required military qualifications for his grade or specialty, or does not meet the mental, moral, professional or physical standards of the Air Force.”
It's likely because he was either dumb, gay, drunk, high, insubordinate or cowardly. That's what "mental, moral, professional or physical" means in military speak.
Looking across the entire landscape of his life, I'm thinking it just screams repressed gayness.
The Chippendales costumes alone...
digby 10/19/2004 11:34:00 AM
I know that we are all obsessed at this point with the immediate needs of getting out the vote and making sure that Kerry wins two weeks from today, but I didn't want to let this article slip past without comment. The NY Times reported over the week-end that people are beginning to speak out about the torture at Guantanamo.
Many detainees at Guantánamo Bay were regularly subjected to harsh and coercive treatment, several people who worked in the prison said in recent interviews, despite longstanding assertions by military officials that such treatment had not occurred except in some isolated cases.
The people, military guards, intelligence agents and others, described in interviews with The New York Times a range of procedures that included treatment they said was highly abusive occurring over a long period of time, as well as rewards for prisoners who cooperated with interrogators.
One regular procedure that was described by people who worked at Camp Delta, the main prison facility at the naval base in Cuba, was making uncooperative prisoners strip to their underwear, having them sit in a chair while shackled hand and foot to a bolt in the floor, and forcing them to endure strobe lights and screamingly loud rock and rap music played through two close loudspeakers, while the air-conditioning was turned up to maximum levels, said one military official who witnessed the procedure. The official said that was intended to make the detainees uncomfortable, as they were accustomed to high temperatures both in their native countries and their cells.
Such sessions could last up to 14 hours with breaks, said the official, who described the treatment after being contacted by The Times.
I wrote several pieces about this a couple of months back and I remain shocked and stunned that we have done what it now appears clearly that we did. We created a high tech concentration camp in Cuba that evolved into primarily a training camp for interrogators --- the training of whom is bound to be inferior because of the suspect methods employed. This was done because of a hysterical overreaction to 9/11 combined with a truly cynical opportunism that allowed certain people in the administration to act upon some dark compulsion to "show strength" through cruelty.
Many of the prisoners had no affiliation with al Qaeda or the Taliban and those that did were very low level and useless for intelligence. Indeed, the top level al Qaeda who have been captured are being held and tortured elsewhere. The military tribunals are a joke and it is said that most of the prisoners, like Yousaf Hamdi, will be set free having served their PR purposes in a failed strategy to project US strength. Gitmo is a show prison camp.
Back in August, I summed it up like this:
Here's the nut. Prisoners in Guantanamo were taken into custody under extremely questionable circumstances and assumed to be terrorists with no further recourse. This was done (again via VF) because:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says Gitmo plays not one but three vital roles in what the Pentagon calls the gwot, or global war on terror. First, it keeps terrorists "off the streets," until death if necessary. Second, it turns them into sources of intelligence. Finally, with the first special "military commission" tribunals set to begin at Gitmo early in 2004, it lets America bring the perpetrators of terrible crimes to justice-in accordance, says Rumsfeld, "with the traditions of fairness and justice under law, on which this nation was founded, the very principles that the terrorists seek to attack and destroy."
We know that in the first case, many of these people were not terrorists yet they are being subjected to horrifyingly inhumane treatment indefinitely. The three Britons being the ones most able to tell their stories to westerners, confirm this. There have been more than 60 others released back to their home countries after having been through this. We don't know how many more are still inside.
In the second case, there has been little intelligence value in their interrogations, not just because they aren't actually terrorists, but because even if they were, they've been out of the loop now for years. In fact, we know that there have been no high value terrorists ever held in Guantanamo. They are being water-boarded at discreet facilities elsewhere in the gulag.
In the third case, these sham military tribunals, the nature of which military lawyers themselves are appalled at, really mean that hundreds of innocent men could spend the rest of their lives in prison and for the forseeable future undergo mental torture that can only be described as criminal. At the least, the administration is intent upon dragging its feet for years, if necessary, to keep them from ever seeing the light of a real courtroom.
I don't know what the Kerry admnistration will do about this, but I think it's fair to say that they are going to be under tremendous pressure to appear "tough" on terrorism by the enraged firebreathers on the right who are already gearing up to engage in their own special form of political torture should they lose. Counter pressure is going to be needed.
We are going to have to be prepared to support the Kerry administration as it tries to do the right here while keeping the mediawhores from lapping up the inevitable Wurlitzer feeding frenzy with cries of treason and appeasement. This is going to be a very tough issue for a Democrat to deal with in this political environment and I think all of us need to be prepared to help the administration do what needs to be done. (Along with a million other things over which the wingnuts are going to lose their tiny little minds ...)
digby 10/19/2004 09:59:00 AM
Monday, October 18, 2004
Will The Media Be Rove's Patsy Again?
Atrios has a list of potential October Surprises that we might look for and I'm wondering if he may actually try the hail mary of a trip to Iraq. I had heard some rumblings elsewhere that he might try to put on some kind of a uniform again (hopefully sparing us the codpiece this time) and drop in on the troops.
I wrote sometime back about the possibility of Bush parachuting into Baghdad on the eve of the election, but it was, you know, a joke. If he tries a stunt like that this time, I have a feeling that it will be remembered as the most desperate act an incumbent president has ever taken. The press corpse, unfortunately, would probably enjoy the theatre of the thing. They like nothing more than pretending that the lil' preznit is some kind of action hero.
They cannot be allowed at this point to go along with such a thing. If they have even the tiniest shred of self-respect left, they would have to reject such a blatant ploy. To that end, I might think of sending this hilarious link to various members of the press corpse to remind them of what dewy eyed little debutantes they were at the sight of Commander Codpiece in that oh-so-snug jumpsuit:
MATTHEWS: Let's go to this sub--what happened to this week, which was to me was astounding as a student of politics, like all of us. Lights, camera, action. This week the president landed the best photo of in a very long time. Other great visuals: Ronald Reagan at the D-Day cemetery in Normandy, Bill Clinton on horseback in Wyoming. Nothing compared to this, I've got to say.
Katty, for visual, the president of the United States arriving in an F-18, looking like he flew it in himself. The GIs, the women on--onboard that ship loved this guy.
Ms. KAY: He looked great. Look, I'm not a Bush man. I mean, he doesn't do it for me personally, especially not when he's in a suit, but he arrived there...
MATTHEWS: No one would call you a Bush man, by the way.
Ms. KAY: ...he arrived there in his flight suit, in a jumpsuit. He should wear that all the time. Why doesn't he do all his campaign speeches in that jumpsuit? He just looks so great.
MATTHEWS: I want him to wa--I want to see him debate somebody like John Kerry or Lieberman or somebody wearing that jumpsuit.
Mr. DOBBS: Well, it was just--I can't think of any, any stunt by the White House--and I'll call it a stunt--that has come close. I mean, this is not only a home run; the ball is still flying out beyond the park.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know what, it was like throwing that strike in Yankee Stadium a while back after 9/11. It's not a stunt if it works and it's real. And I felt the faces of those guys--I thought most of our guys were looking up like they were looking at Bob Hope and John Wayne combined on that ship.
Mr. GIGOT: The reason it works is because of--the reason it works is because Bush looks authentic and he felt that he--you could feel the connection with the troops. He looked like he was sincere. People trust him. That's what he has going for him.
MATTHEWS: Fareed, you're watching that from--say you were over in the Middle East watching the president of the United States on this humongous aircraft carrier. It looks like it could take down Syria just one boat, right, and the president of the United States is pointing a finger and saying, `You people with the weapons of mass destruction, you people backing terrorism, look out. We're coming.' Do you think that picture mattered over there?
Mr. ZAKARIA: Oh yeah. Look, this is a part of the war where we have not--we've allowed a lot of states to do some very nasty stuff, traffic with nasty people and nasty material, and I think it's time to tell them, you know what, `You're going to be help accountable for this.'
MATTHEWS: Well, it was a powerful statement and picture as well.
Here's how CNN reported it "straight" at the time (when they weren't featuring Kyra Phillips pretending to be TopGun herself.)They spent theentire afternoon breathlessly "reporting" the harroiwing landing and lovingly featuring the pictures of the phony flyboy on a loop:
Moments after the landing, the president, wearing a green flight suit and holding a white helmet, got off the plane, saluted those on the flight deck and shook hands with them. Above him, the tower was adorned with a big sign that read, "Mission Accomplished."
Bush said he did take a turn at piloting the craft.
"Yes, I flew it. Yeah, of course, I liked it," said Bush, who was an F-102 fighter pilot in the Texas Air National Guard after graduating from Yale University in 1968.
"Great job," said Bush, a wide smile stretched across his face as he posed for photographs with crew members who gathered to get their pictures with the president. He draped his arms around some, slapped the backs of others and shook hands with many.
"Yes I flew it!" Liar. And the media ate up this ridiculous cartoon version of reality with a spoon. Slowly but surely,however, the absurdity of the pageant became obvious. Even Matthews later called it a stunt.
And then, as if they hadn't already been played like a violin, they fell for it yet again with the ridiculous Thanksgiving stunt. Check out Fox's bizarre interpretation of events. First he played a fighter pilot president. Then, a few months later, he pretended to be a super duper secret agent:
CRAWFORD, Texas — Under cover of night as well as baseball caps, President Bush pulled off a Thanksgiving Day bait-and-switch that James Bond would have been proud of.
The president even stunned himself with the success of his trip to Iraq Thursday to visit troops for the holiday, saying if word of the dangerous mission had leaked out, he would have turned Air Force One (search) around and headed back to Crawford to spend the day with his family.
"I was fully prepared to turn this baby around, come home," Bush said late Thursday as he returned from his two hour visit to Baghdad airport, where he served dinner to the troops and personally delivered his Thanksgiving message of appreciation to the nation's servicemen and women.
But even Bush's twin daughters and parents, who all headed to the president's ranch for the holiday, were not informed in advance of the plan, and the overwhelming secrecy helped make the plan a success.
Feigning to be an "ordinary couple," Bush and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice snuck away from the ranch and endured the street traffic to get to the airport where Air Force One was parked. In a departure from the usual perks of being president, the unmarked motorcade had to obey all the traffic rules, stopping at lights and following the speed limit. During those pauses, Bush said he and Rice pulled their baseball caps down low so people could not see their faces.
Please. "I was fully prepared to turn this baby around." I guess we are supposed to believe he flies Air Force One in his spare time, too. (And, I don't even want to know why he kept saying "couple" about himself and Condi.)
I sincerely cannot believe that the media will let Rove and company get away with another of their cheap little cons, but it's hard to have any faith in their ability to know when they are being played. They have, after all, been duped by this phony showboat team over and over and over again.
Update: I see that DU is on to this too.
digby 10/18/2004 04:10:00 PM
This shortage of flu vaccine is ironic in light of the fact that the vice president himself spearheaded a (luckily) failed effort to force every American to get vaccinated against smallpox which would have cost billions upon billions and killed at least a thousand people. He was said to have been messianic in his zeal to make vaccinations mandatory because of Saddam's alleged stockpile of smallpox that, needless to say, never turned up.
And, he didn't care any more about the potential deaths from the vaccine that he cares about all the deaths that have taken place in Iraq.
MR. RUSSERT: One of your many tasks in the administration, the point person on bioterrorism; you’ve been spending some time at the Center for Disease Control. Do you believe that all Americans should eventually be vaccinated against smallpox?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: We’re in the middle of improving our capability to do that. A year ago, we had enough vaccine for maybe 15 million people. We’re now well on the way to producing enough vaccine for 350 million people. There is serious consideration now being given to what kind of vaccination program we want. You go to first responders, people who have to deal with this when it first arises. Do you do a broader group than that? Do you do it on a voluntary basis for anybody who would like to have it? These are issues under active discussion, deliberation. Tommy Thompson over at HHS has been actively involved in it as well, too. It’s not a zero sum kind of proposition; that is, it’s not a cost-free operation. There are side effects and consequences for most vaccines. And you have to weigh those against the benefits that would be derived by protecting the population.
MR. RUSSERT: If you vaccinated 300 million Americans, a thousand would die from side effects.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I don’t remember the exact numbers, but clearly there would be some people who would be harmed as a result of the vaccination.
MR. RUSSERT: But the risk may be such we may come to that.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: That’s entirely possible.
It was only because the medical community put it's collective foot down that Cheney was stopped from forcing everybody to get innoculated against a disease that's been wiped out and to which Saddam had absolutely no access.
More than 80 hospitals from every region in the USA, including leading teaching hospitals and large, urban public hospitals, are forgoing the vaccinations. The dissenters are a tiny fraction of the 3,000 hospitals recruited by state health officials to vaccinate doctors, nurses and other hospital staff members who are most likely to care for smallpox patients.
But their numbers are growing as doctors and administrators at hospitals around the USA are concluding that the known health risks from the vaccine, which can cause illness and even death, outweigh the unquantifiable risks of smallpox being used as a terrorist weapon.
The refusal to vaccinate raises new questions about the president's plan just as the first phase is expected to begin this week. And some health care experts and government officials fear that any reluctance to participate in the first phase could lessen the willingness of others to participate in the second phase -- and undermine the administration's goal of eliminating smallpox as a viable option for terrorists.
Richard Wenzel, chairman of internal medicine at Medical College of Virginia Hospitals of Virginia Commonwealth University, finds the resistance neither surprising nor unwarranted.
"This is not an issue that should be framed in terms of patriotism," he says. "This is an issue that's medical risk-benefit. We haven't seen this disease for more than 25 years. We are reacting to a perceived threat that's not well defined."
The hospitals are reaching their decisions individually after their own in-house infectious diseasesspecialists study the Bush plan.
Almost as a rule, hospital administrators say they are reluctant to make some of their employees sick to protect them from a disease that no longer exists and would reappear only in the chance of a terrorist act.
The administration did all of this at the very same time that the public health officials were warning of a shortage of the flu vaccine.
"The thing that stops you from doing this is the complexity of the smallpox vaccine, which is not a safe vaccine," says William Schaffner, head of the preventive medicine department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, one of the hospitals that is opting out. "There's a real disease that kills people unnecessarily: the flu. Mr. President, I would love to see you endorse a national flu vaccine campaign with the same vigor."
Cheney never did learn his lesson from that. They spent millions and millions to get a stockpile of vaccine for which there is absolutely no use and ignored the professionals who warned that the flu vaccine was in short supply. And, a pouting Dick Cheney obviously still harbors resentment about that:
Q: Are there any lessons for you in the way the smallpox vaccine program sort of ran into public opposition? Is that an example of where the public is less aware of the dangers than they ought to be?
CHENEY: Well, we — I'm trying to be careful here so I don't start another wave of concern out there about smallpox. People clearly were concerned about the side effects of the vaccine. I think there was a certain amount of complacency in terms of people not being willing to take it as seriously as we thought it should be taken. And so far we've been fortunate. Hopefully we will continue to be fortunate. It's to some extent the responsibility, though, of those of us in government to think about the what-ifs, to worry about the worst case, to look at the evidence that's out there and connect the dots.
And we were criticized, the government was criticized generally prior to 9/11 for, "you didn't connect the dots." I think we did, but that charge is made. Here you're in a situation where you clearly want to make certain that you take all the intelligence available, you look at the capabilities of your adversaries, you draw reasonable conclusions, and you act on those conclusions. And that's what we did with respect to smallpox.
And the main effort there, the focus was to try to get enough people in the medical community, first responders, inoculated, so that if we did get hit, we could move aggressively to implement a national immunization program. We're better off now than we were before we started, but clearly we fell short of what we had originally anticipated, in terms of the numbers of people we would like to have seen inoculated.
Yes. And luckily they fell short of killing about a thousand people that wouldn't have had to die because of a threat that didn't exist. Smallpox is a disease that has been eradicated. There is a very remote possibility that a small amount could escape from the controlled storage facility, but we have absolutely no evidence that it has happened. Dick Cheney tried to strongarm the CDC into demanding that every person in American be vaccinated because he was trying to scare the country into supporting a war with Iraq and as with everything else in that run-up he was willing to say anything to make that happen. It is unconscionable that he actively fought against the prevailing medical opinions that this country could deal with a real smallpox outbreak without a full scale innoculation scheme in order to advance his paranoid vision. (That it might have benefitted a certain vaccine manufacturer is something we might also ponder...)
After 9/11, the administration, Dick Cheney among the most hysterical, with their friends the lapdog media were in the throes of a delusional fit busily chasing phantom threats and science fiction scenarios instead of showing adult leadership. The disaster in Iraq and the shortage of flu vaccine of a piece. They are the result of the leadership of this country falling to pieces after 9/11 and losing sight of the nation's priorities. They have proved that they cannot be depended upon to keep their heads when all around them are losing theirs.
digby 10/18/2004 02:01:00 PM
Check out this little trip down memory lane on Consortiumnews. We know that the Bush family has a penchant for dirty tricks in the last month or so of a campaign, particularly when they are fighting for their lives. In 1992, they got so desperate that they tried to paint Bill Clinton as a communist agent and they used the executive branch to do it.
We laugh at Ann Coulter and think of her as a clown. But, the truth is that there are a rather large number of Americans who agree with her that Democrats/liberals are routinely traitorous. And, the Bush family is always ready to exploit that paranoid style whenever they need to.
digby 10/18/2004 01:31:00 PM
I can hardly wait to see Kerry's stump speech in its entirely today on CNN, MSBNC and FOX. Certainly, since they've all been willingly bamboozled into giving Bush another free hour of television to give a "major policy speech" on terrorism that is actually his standard character attack stump speech punctuated by wild cheering and booing from his brainwashed rubes, they will feel bound by journalistic ethics to give Kerry equal time. Right?
Perhaps a little phone call might help to remind them.
1 CNN Center
Atlanta, GA 30348
Phone: (404) 827-1500
Fax: (404) 827-1593, (404) 827-1784
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 301-3000
Fax: (212) 301-4224
One MSNBC Plaza
Secaucus, NJ 07094
Phone: (201) 583-5000
Fax: (201) 583-5453
digby 10/18/2004 10:56:00 AM
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Brit Hume and the Gang pretty much agreed this morning that "Stolen Honor" is news and that Sinclair has a right to broadcast it as long as they have at least one ineffectual Democrat on afterwards to rebut the charges (if they can find one.)
The question I have, is this. If it is news, then why isn't the news media as a whole, and FoxNews network in particular, broadcasting it?
digby 10/17/2004 09:34:00 AM
Saturday, October 16, 2004
The Simple Strategy
It's bizarre, to say the least: at precisely the moment when the Bush-Cheney campaign has fully committed itself to an 18-day drive to demonize John Kerry as a Massachusetts Liberal, BC04 and its conservative media echo chamber are suddenly focused on a different L-word: Lesbian, as in the sexual orientation of Mary Cheney.
Kerry's reference to the veep's daughter, in response to a debate question about each candidate's views on the nature or nurture origins of homosexuality, is now the obsessive preoccupation of the entire pro-Bush talking points network.
Their motivation is not 100% clear. In part, Bush partisans are simply trying to find something in the last debate that will change the public perception that Kerry won that one, and the whole three-game series. In part, Bushies want to dent the more positive impressions of Kerry's character by suggesting he's playing dirty politics. And finally, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that BC04 is simply freaking out at Kerry's exposure, deliberate or inadvertant, of a vulnerability in their base-first strategy, which depends heavily on piggy-backing battleground state referenda on gay marriage. Mary Cheney's father, after all, has conspicuously declined to support his boss in demanding a constitutional amendment to defend the "sanctity of marriage" against the alleged assault from those demanding gay marriage rights. This is not something conservatives want to be reminded of.
The morning news on Fox just spent half an hour talking about it and came to the conclusion that this was a bigger issue than taxes and the war in Iraq. Then one of the hideous dough boys wondered if the question had been on obesity, if it would have been appropriate for President Bush to bring up Elizabeth Edwards's "problems." I sure wish that all those moms and kids had heard that one.
I think this is simply the opportunistic opening salvo in a full-on character attack on John Kerry as a "hit below the belt" dirty campaigner. Typical GOP projection. In between will be more of the Rove patented ratfucking that they will pin on the Democrats.
At this point I don't think that Rove has anything too sophisticated up his sleeve. We are going to see simple, crude attacks on Kerry's character in the hopes that it will stimulate the neanderthals to vote and to swing a few simple minded undecideds.
And, of course, this is an innoculation against a Kerry win. They are setting it up to say he stole it.
digby 10/16/2004 06:25:00 AM
Friday, October 15, 2004
Hell Froze Over
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. This week there was an issue that hit home with voters and forced the candidates to rethink their scripts. It even walked off with the political play of the week.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER (voice-over): They're standing in line in Florida and Michigan, in New Jersey. The line goes around the block. Eager swing state residents lining up to vote? Not exactly. They're lining up for flu shots.
DR. CHARLES GONZALEZ, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: It's incredibly serious. We have half as much vaccine as we should have.
SCHNEIDER: How did that happen?
BUSH: We relied upon a company out of England to provide about half of the flu vaccines for the United States citizens.
SCHNEIDER: Uh-oh. Sounds like outsourcing. The president had a solution.
BUSH: We're working with Canada, hopefully they will produce a -- help us realize the vaccine necessary.
SCHNEIDER: But hasn't Bush expressed problems with drug imports from Canada?
BUSH: My worry is, it looks like it's from Canada, it might be from a third world. We have to make sure before somebody thinks they're buying a product, that it works.
SCHNEIDER: President Bush made a plea to the public.
BUSH: If you're healthy, if you're younger, don't get a flu shot this year.
SCHNEIDER: Sounds like rationing, something the president said would result from Kerry's health care plan.
BUSH: Government sponsored health care would lead to rationing.
SCHNEIDER: The government has the situation under control the president says.
BUSH: The CDC responsible for health in the United States is setting those priorities and allocating the flu vaccine accordingly.
SCHNEIDER: Isn't that government control?
BUSH: My opponent wants the government to run the health care.
SCHNEIDER: Maybe the answer is legal reform.
BUSH: Vaccine manufacturers are worried about getting sued, and so therefore they have backed off from providing this kind of vaccine.
SCHNEIDER: Kerry says the issue is the whole health care system.
KERRY: There still aren't enough flu vaccinations. What's the president's solution? He says, don't get one if you're healthy. That sounds just like his health care plan to me, hope and pray you don't get sick.
SCHNEIDER: The flu bug has infected the campaign. The side effect was the political play of the week.
SCHNEIDER: What President Bush warns could happen under the Kerry health care plan, shortages, rationing, that's exactly what is happening now. So the issue is whether the Kerry health care plan would solve the problem, or as Republicans charge, make it worse.
WOODRUFF: Is there any evidence yet how this issue is playing out politically? Do we see polls? Do we pick up what people are saying?
SCHNEIDER: We don't have any direct evidence that it's having a political impact yet. We know it is a very big issue on voters' minds. They're very dissatisfied with the fact that there is a shortage and frankly many are looking for somebody to blame. When the administration is the incumbent administration, they're likely to take some hits.
WOODRUFF: You know it's serious when you read that some states will fine or jail doctors and nurses who give flu shots to people who are not at high risk.
SCHNEIDER: Right, and that sounds a lot like rationing.
digby 10/15/2004 07:30:00 PM
He's Naked And We're Sick Of Looking At It
Richard Cohen does it again:
For months now I've dropped bets on the presidential election like Hansel (of "Hansel and Gretel") dropped pebbles. For honor and money, I've wagered on George Bush, not because I wanted him to win but rather because I thought he would. Now I'm changing my mind. It's not the tightening polls that have done it -- I knew that would happen -- but rather something I could not have predicted. The president is missing.
The president I have in mind is the funny, good-natured regular guy I once saw on the campaign trail -- a man of surprisingly quick wit and just plain likeability. I contrasted this man to John Kerry, who is as light and as funny as a mud wall, and I thought, "There goes the election."
Where it has mattered most -- the three debates -- Bush has been wooden, ill at ease and downright spooky. He makes bad jokes, cackles at them in the manner of a cinematic serial killer and has lacked the warmth that he not only once had but that I thought would compensate for a disastrous presidency and give him a second -- God help us -- term. In short, he could take over the Bates Motel in an instant.
The missing president must be Richard Cohen's imaginary friend because the man I saw in the debates was absolutely no different than he has ever been.
He has always been an arrogant, cold, testy little asshole. It's just that people like Cohen built some image in their minds --- probably based upon some frat house fantasy that we don't even want to think about --- and they have foisted their little wetdream on us for the last four years.
Here is one of my favorite examples of Bush's warmth and likeability that Cohen believed in so fervently. Here you see the guy who really believes that the country would be a lot better off with a dictator --- as long as he's the dictator:
The American people must understand when I said that we need to be patient, that I meant it. And we're going to be there for a while. I don't know the exact moment when we leave, David, but it's not until the mission is complete. The world must know that this administration will not blink in the face of danger and will not tire when it comes to completing the missions that we said we would do. The world will learn that when the United States is harmed, we will follow through. The world will see that when we put a coalition together that says "Join us," I mean it. And when I ask others to participate, I mean it.
And when the world told him to stick it where the sun don't shine, they meant it too. Strangely, they didn't seem too impressed with his macho threats.
Go to the link and listen to the audio to get the full effect of this phony jerk lecturing the entire world about what they had to do. You'll see that the entire diatribe was spoken as if he were an angry father punishing his children. It was disgusting. And it was way back in 2001. It's not like this creepy, aggressive personality is anything new.
I don't consider myself to be any more persipicacious than others. I generally don't have superior insight into the hidden psychology of people I see on television. But, it has been clear to me and to millions of others that George W. Bush is a prick from the moment we laid eyes on him back in 2000 and nothing he has done since ever made me change my mind.
Richard Cohen, the emperor has no clothes you silly twit, and most of us have known it for a long, long time. In typical Democratic pundit fashion you waited until the very last minute to admit it. Very impressive performance as always.
digby 10/15/2004 05:00:00 PM
Fighting The Narrative
Jonathan Chait has an interesting article in TNR in which he makes a good case that it's Kerry's to lose. He chalks it up to a better Democratic ground game and obvious Bush weakness.
But he says something at the end which I find kind of amusing:
The biggest mystery may be why most pundits haven't noted how bad things look for Bush right now. Maybe the reason is that he's built an aura of inevitability, starting with his 2000 victory and continuing through his legislative triumphs. The man just doesn't seem to lose very often. And his campaign firmly believes in projecting an air of confidence in the belief that it's self-fulfilling. (Remember Bush in late fall 2000, in an effort to show he was so confident that he could play for a landslide victory, devoting time and money to California?) The day before the 2000 election, a front-page headline in The Washington Times read, "Bush campaign says it's in the bag; Top strategist sees 320 votes." In retrospect, we now know that Bush's victory was not exactly inevitable. So maybe it's just hard to believe that Bush will lose, even if the data suggest he will.
Could Bush still win? Of course. I can think of three things that could intervene. First, Kerry is highly gaffe-prone. Roughly once a week he utters a statement--global test, terrorism as a nuisance--that plays right into his opponent's hands and forces him to explain himself. Any day, he could utter a gaffe big enough to change the dynamics of the campaign. Second, whenever the terrorism threat level rises, Bush's ratings go up. What are the odds we don't have an elevated threat between now and election day? Right--pretty slim. And third, a terrorist attack within the United States would probably cause a major rallying effect for Bush. On top of all that, there are limits to our predictive ability. Elections can't be forecast with perfect accuracy. It's possible that there are other important variables that we don't or can't know right now that could swing the race toward Bush. But what we do know says a lot, and what it says is that Kerry looks like a good bet to win.
With the exception of a terrorist attack, every single point that Chait makes is a result of a flaccid, ineffectual and in-the-tank news media.
Why does Bush have an "air of inevitability?" Why, it's because they have pretended in plain sight and the news media have either been too lazy or stupid to challenge it, despite the fact that in the paragraphs preceding this one, Chait just laid out a devastating case against Bush's electability. The fact that an incumbent wartime president is in this much trouble two weeks before the election is a powerful story that the media just can't be bothered to report. They are going to wake up on November 3rd scratching their heads and saying wtf because they aren't paying attention to what is really going on. And then they'll do it all again.
Furthermore, the idea that Kerry is "gaffe prone," at least in comparison to the most inarticulate president in the history of the United States, is ridiculous. It's not that Kerry is gaffe prone, it's that the media are addicted to snotty GOP talking points and the GOP is quite adept in knowing how to frame these little gaffes and scandals in ways that appeal to their puerile worldview. They play willingly into the GOP's hands by pimping stories they know very well are full of shit but thrill them in some way.
The terrorist alerts are a national joke and the mainstream media have done virtually no reporting on how this came to be. They behave as if these stupid color coded charts are some sort of third rail and as a result they have allowed the administration to manipulate the electorate over and over again. If they allow the administration to cry wolf again, they have no one to blame but themselves if it nobody pays attention and something horrible actually happens.
So, maybe it's true that it's Kerry's to lose. But he is forced to anticipate the moves of a very powerful and dishonest GOP machine (and likely controversial election result) and at the same time he has to battle the silliest and most ineffectual political media in the world in order to win. Talk about a challenge.
I think we'll do it anyway. But it's a testament to Kerry's skill as a politician, a great organization and more than half the country just getting sick and tired of this bullshit and coming out to vote. It really shouldn't be this hard.
digby 10/15/2004 03:47:00 PM
The Falafel Factor
Just in case you'd like to send Bill O'Reilly a sandwich or a nice little gift.
digby 10/15/2004 02:56:00 PM
I don't know how many of you are watching Crossfire, but Jon Stewart is on and he's making both Tuckie and Paul a tad uncomfortable.
They seem to be unaware that The Daily Show is a parody of the news and that its mission is to make fun of them. And that's because they are so insular and self-referential that they have no idea how the country really sees them.
They don't like it. Especially the Tuckster who is plainly wants to scratch his eyes out.
Stewart is trying to make the point that they are contributing to the dumbing down of the discourse by presenting this fake news, or political theatre, that they pretend is news. He isn't being funny and he isn't doing the usual celebrity circle jerk and they are finding it very discomfiting.
digby 10/15/2004 02:01:00 PM
Reward The Good Guys
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digby 10/15/2004 01:41:00 PM
Anybody Got A Problem With This?
Via Josh Marshall:
As we told you a few days ago, six Republican party staffers and campaign workers in South Dakota resigned over a burgeoning voter fraud scandal. Chief among them was Larry Russell, head of the South Dakota GOP's get-out-the-vote operation, the Republican Victory Program.
To date, no criminal charges have been filed. But the state Attorney General says the investigation is "continuing."
Today comes news, however, that Russell -- still under investigation in South Dakota -- has been reassigned to run President Bush's get-out-the-vote operation in Ohio. Russell will now "lead the ground operations" for Bush in Ohio, according to an internal Republican party memo obtained by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
And Russell's bringing along with him to Ohio three of the five other GOP staffers who had to resign in South Dakota and are similarly under investigation in that state.
I can see that they are going to try to overwhelm us with dirty tricks all over the country and make it difficult to concentrate on any single thing. It's clear that they are embarking on a concentrated battleground ratfucking effort on top of full-on voter intimidation combined with misdirection about vote fraud.
Is there anything to be done about this? Perhaps e-mailing the local media with the story and asking them to keep an eye on it? Maybe it's time for some push polling on our side. "Would you be more or less inclined to vote for president Bush if you knew that his campaign brought in suspected criminals from South Dakota to run his get out the vote effort in Ohio?"
digby 10/15/2004 01:22:00 PM
Semen Found On Karl Rove's Tie!
Not really, but I thought it might get the mediawhores' attention. There is some news but it doesn't have anything to do with semen so it likely won't require the Republicans to answer unwanted questions during the waning days of the presidential campaign about the president's chief political strategist being called before a grand jury to testify in the matter of exposing an undercover CIA agent.
Still, you'd think Judy Blitzer and the gang might at least mention it...
Rove Testifies in CIA Leak Investigations
WASHINGTON - President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, testified Friday before a federal grand jury trying to determine who leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer.
Rove spent more than two hours testifying before the panel, according to an administration official who spoke only on condition of anonymity because such proceedings are secret.
Before testifying, Rove was interviewed at least once by investigators probing the leak. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell also have been interviewed, though none has appeared before the grand jury.
Try to imagine this circumstance happening in the Clinton, Gore or Kerry campaigns. Close your eyes and visualize the spitting, drooling GOP talking heads like Bay "of Pigs" Buchanan and Sean "pom pom boy" Hannity. Just think of what a thrilling final two weeks we'd have...
This seems like it might just be worth the Democrats making a bit of a fuss over. Bush's brain just spent two hours in front of the grand jury in a criminal matter. Today.
digby 10/15/2004 01:10:00 PM
Apparently, the kewl kidz in the press tent all "gasped" when Kerry used the word "lesbian" the other night. And like their emotional role models, Beavis and Butthead, the mere mention of any word they associate with sex excited them a little bit. Because it did, and the Bush campaign sensed it, it's become one of those faux outrage dances that the media and the Republicans perform so well together.
I just had the misfortune to see Mickey Kaus on Fox (playing the conservative, for once) discussing the Mary Cheney incident. He claims that Kerry and Edwards were making an "ugly" cynical outreach to homophobes. (The fact that gay people don't see it that way should be telling, but no matter.) According to Kaus it's clear that Kerry and Edwards are trying to pry the homophobes away from the Bush campaign.
This is such patent nonsense. If he outed Mary Cheney perhaps it would be worth a fuss, but the woman (who is 35 years old) has been out for years working explicitly on gay and lesbian issues. She's the third most famous lesbian in America, fergawdsake. If Kaus thinks that Kerry is hoping to pry the homophobes away from the Republican party by outing an already famous lesbian he needs to think a little bit about how that might work.
On the other hand, it is perfectly fair to out the personal hypocrisy within an admininstration that, at the behest of its bigoted base, wants to enshrine discrimination against gay people into the constitution yet are quite tolerant of homosexuality in their personal lives.
This isn't just a little game. It is a serious matter of equal rights under the constitution. And, the Cheneys' behavior can be directly compared to the type of behavior that used to be tolerated from white men like Strom Thurmond who agitated for decades for Jim Crow and discrimination against african americans while privately being quite fond of his african american daughter. That goes beyond hypocrisy. For any enlightened person, it is intellectually and emotionally incoherent.
We, as citizens, are not in a position to pass judgment on how people deal with such issues in their personal lives. But those like Thurmond and Cheney publicly promote laws that discriminate against selected people in our society and in their own families. That is such a counterintuitive concept to most Americans that it deserves to be exposed and openly discussed.
I can certainly understand that the Cheneys are uncomfortable with this situation and are trying mightily to distract public attention from the fact that they are behaving in an incomprehensible manner. In their case, it is very confusing because they not only seem to tolerate their daughter's orientation, they have welcomed her partner into the family on equal terms with other spouses and employ her in a public role in the campaign. It is not unreasonable to wonder how they square this with the Republican party's open hostility to gay people, even to the extent that the Log Cabin Republicans made a very public break with the party in this campaign. What led them, and her, to accept the ignominy of not appearing on the stage with the entire family at the GOP convention?
It's not surprising that Republicans would try to portray this as a Kerry campaign dirty trick, because it feels like that to them. The hypocrisy of the Cheneys is something they'd very much like to keep under wraps. And when they heard the gasp of arousal from the press corpse when Kerry said a "sex-word" they knew just what to do --- launch one of their faux outrage campaigns that would allow the media to talk about "dirty" things all day while expressing their shock and awe at how terrible the Democrats are for bringing it up. Republicans never lose by tickling the pre-adolescent libidos of the political media.
Cheney and his erotically imaginative better half are really the ones on the hot seat with this but have successfully spun the press these last couple of days. However, as a very stupid man once said, they can run but they can't hide. At some point, maybe not until they are on their deathbeds, they will have to face the fact that they betrayed their beloved daughter countless times by refusing to use their power for good and stand up for what they knew in their hearts to be right. It may not be on their gravestone, but that will be their true epitaph.
digby 10/15/2004 10:51:00 AM