Friday, August 13, 2004

The Man Himself 

Giuseppe Abote writes:

Oh, OK. Bush has cleared up all my doubts about the seven minutes he spent reading "My Pet Goose" in a Florida classroom while he knew the nation was under attack.

He was "collecting his thoughts."

Collecting his thoughts? For seven minutes? Honestly now, how many thoughts does this man really have to collect?

Maybe this was another of Mr. Bush's charming plainspoken malapropisms, where he said "thoughts" when he really meant to say "pants," and said "collecting" but meant "shitting."

If John Kerry or his surrogates do not seize on this TODAY then they do not deserve the White House. We all know that when it comes to Bush, to see those seven minutes is to see the man himself.

In honor of le chien... 

...make a phone call or send an email today, and let's make Bloomberg allow the convention protests to occur in Central Park. Courtesy of the Nation:
UFPJ [United for Peace and Justice] is asking people to call Bloomberg to politely protest the city's denial of the right to rally in Central Park on August 29. You can email the Mayor by clicking here or call his office at 212- 788-3000. It may also help to let the Parks Commissioner, Adrian Benepe, know how you feel. His office can be reached at 212-360-1305 or by clicking here.

'Anybody but Bush' 

I know most of you (the chien not included) don't read the Washington Times, so you may have missed this important news item:
"The goal of the next attack is twofold: to damage the U.S. economy and to undermine the U.S. election," the [unnamed U.S. intelligence] official said. "The view of al Qaeda is 'anybody but Bush.' "
That must be why Osama is refusing to turn himself over to the authorities--a personal fear of seeing Bush elected.

Let's Get Ready 

I want to draw everyone's attention to a site I'm just getting to know:


The resources there should help us think about and plan where we'll be and what we'll be doing during the convention.


Haven't contributed to the Kerry campaign in a while? Or mistakenly under the impression that the time for contributions has elasped? Well, now is the time to contribute. C'mon, folks--everybody has to chip in. From the campaign:
You've done it again. When George W. Bush's Republican allies unleashed a vicious smear attack against John Kerry -- spreading lies about his service in Vietnam -- you responded with overwhelming support.

The Democratic Party is fighting back -- leaving no charge unanswered, no lie unrefuted. Your support has already had an impact. The Democratic Party just announced that it will begin a brand new hard-hitting radio campaign into battleground states.

And it is your support to our "Don't Yield an Inch" campaign that makes this possible. We can't let up, so donate now.


In just one day, you have shown Bush and his right-wing allies the consequences they face when they resort to the lowest possible smear tactics. But it is vitally important that we keep this momentum going.

Help the Democratic Party's efforts to battle the right-wing smear machine today.


A Great Man 

Ron Reagan Jr. has a wonderful essay in next month's Esquire: The Case Against George W. Bush. Some choice bits:
Politicians will stretch the truth. They'll exaggerate their accomplishments, paper over their gaffes. Spin has long been the lingua franca of the political realm. But George W. Bush and his administration have taken "normal" mendacity to a startling new level far beyond lies of convenience. On top of the usual massaging of public perception, they traffic in big lies, indulge in any number of symptomatic small lies, and, ultimately, have come to embody dishonesty itself. They are a lie. And people, finally, have started catching on.
All administrations will dissemble, distort, or outright lie when their backs are against the wall, when honesty begins to look like political suicide. But this administration seems to lie reflexively, as if it were simply the easiest option for busy folks with a lot on their minds. While the big lies are more damning and of immeasurably greater import to the nation, it is the small, unnecessary prevarications that may be diagnostic. Who lies when they don't have to? When the simple truth, though perhaps embarrassing in the short run, is nevertheless in one's long-term self-interest? Why would a president whose calling card is his alleged rock-solid integrity waste his chief asset for penny-ante stakes? Habit, perhaps. Or an inability to admit even small mistakes.
What's odd is that none of these lies were worth the breath expended in the telling. If only for self-serving political reasons, honesty was the way to go. The flight of Air Force One could easily have been explained in terms of security precautions taken in the confusion of momentous events. As for the carrier landing, someone should have fallen on his or her sword at the first hint of trouble: We told the president he needed to do it; he likes that stuff and was gung-ho; we figured, What the hell?; it was a mistake. The banner? We thought the sailors would appreciate it. In retrospect, also a mistake. Yup, we sure feel dumb now. Owning up to the 9/11 warnings would have entailed more than simple embarrassment. But done forthrightly and immediately, an honest reckoning would have earned the Bush team some respect once the dust settled. Instead, by needlessly tap-dancing, Bush's White House squandered vital credibility, turning even relatively minor gaffes into telling examples of its tendency to distort and evade the truth.

But image is everything in this White House, and the image of George Bush as a noble and infallible warrior in the service of his nation must be fanatically maintained, because behind the image lies . . . nothing? As Jonathan Alter of Newsweek has pointed out, Bush has "never fully inhabited" the presidency. Bush apologists can smilingly excuse his malopropisms and vagueness as the plainspokenness of a man of action, but watching Bush flounder when attempting to communicate extemporaneously, one is left with the impression that he is ineloquent not because he can't speak but because he doesn't bother to think.
Believe it or not, I don't look in the mirror every morning and see my father looming over my shoulder. I write and speak as nothing more or less than an American citizen, one who is plenty angry about the direction our country is being dragged by the current administration. We have reached a critical juncture in our nation's history, one ripe with both danger and possibility. We need leadership with the wisdom to prudently confront those dangers and the imagination to boldly grasp the possibilities. Beyond issues of fiscal irresponsibility and ill-advised militarism, there is a question of trust. George W. Bush and his allies don't trust you and me. Why on earth, then, should we trust them?
Read the whole thing and pass it along to any recovering-Republican friends and relatives who need a concise, readable roundup of Bush's Lies, as told by someone they should find credible.


Scats writes:

Bill O'Reilly, in a debate with Paul Krugman on CNBC a few days ago, repeatedly accused the New York Times of never doing a story on the UN Oil-for-Food scandal while running "48" stories on Abu-Ghraib. To O'Reilly and his movement followers this kind of thing is just another example of liberal media bias, America haters wallowing in US mistakes while the UN gets off scot-free. Well tonight the NYT has on its home page this four page story detailing the UN scandal.

And the byline goes to? None other than Chalabi's stateside pimp Judith Miller.

Congratulations Bill, have a drink. You've earned it.

Of course there are other reasons that the story is being run now, and none of them have to do with Bill's mouth. But now come the really tough decisions for Bill. Will he crow about his victory and how he was able to shame the liberal media into being honest? Will he give the Times any credit at all for finally "doing the right thing"? Or will he judge that the story hurts his thesis of entrenched liberal bias and keep mum about it?

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Lunatic demagogue likens Illinois power grab to self-sacrifice of 9/11 firefighters 

Alan Keyes said this to CNN’s Candy Crowley on Monday:

I had no thought of coming to Illinois to run until the people here in the state party decided there was a need. Just as people faced with a flood, or people in the case of 9/11, would call on folks, firefighters and others to help them deal with the crisis that they were faced with.

The people in Illinois have called on me to help deal with what they regard as a crisis. But from the point of view of my own personal principles, I believe in federalism. And I had to think this through based on my respect for the principle of state sovereignty.

Okay, so if Keyes is like one of New York’s bravest on 9/11, that makes Barack Obama’s candidacy…. A flood? A burning building? An act of terrorism?

Thankfully, the Ambassador clears things up:

But I think when you have a candidate like Barack Obama who has turned his back on the principles of our national union, you have to stand in defense of those principles just as Lincoln did in the run-up to the Civil War. He understood that our respect for state sovereignty must be limited by our commitment to defending the principles of our national union. And that's what I am doing.
So if Keyes is Abraham Lincoln, that makes Barack Obama…. Jefferson Davis? Robert E. Lee? John Wilkes Booth?

What is Keyes talking about? The good people of Illinois will just have to elect him to find out!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Income Tax Is Slavery in Post-9-11 America 

Josh Marshall has some hilarious stuff on the launch of Alan Keyes' run against Obama in Illinois. As you may know, Keyes (who lives in MD) famously said, "I deeply resent the destruction of federalism represented by Hillary Clinton's willingness to go into a state she doesn't even live in and pretend to represent people there. So I certainly wouldn't imitate it." Now Marshall gives this account of one guy's attempt to justify this flip-flop:
The best walk back I heard for this one was the response from a Republican party official in Illinois a few days ago -- as related to me by a TPM reader -- who, when confronted with this seeming change of mind, shot back that ... you guessed it, 9/11 changed everything!
More hilarity, from the Chicago Sun-Times:
Keyes, a Maryland resident, doesn't even have a home here yet, but he boomed dramatically: "I have confidence because the victory is for God."

With the fire of a general ordering his troops into the valley of death, Keyes promised "a battle like this nation has never seen," and an ongoing debate unequalled since Lincoln vs. Douglas.

Keyes stirred the crowd of party faithful, anti-abortion activists and homeschoolers with a speech that started with media-bashing and hit strong on the issues where he considers Democratic challenger Barack Obama vulnerable: gun rights and abortion.

Keyes said he was initially reluctant to enter the race, but "what finally arrested my attention and forced me to consider . . . was when I learned that [Obama] had actually in April 2002 apparently cast a vote that would continue to allow live-birth abortions in the state of Illinois."
"Live-birth abortions"? Huh? Also:
...Republican Jim Oberweis, who flanked Keyes onstage along with other GOP candidates who lost in the primary to Ryan, called the race with Obama no less than "a debate between good on the right and evil on the left."
Gosh. I think I'm rooting for evil then.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Divine Chuckles o' Hate 

There's a pretty amazing article in the New Yorker this week about Christian standup comedian Brad Stine, who is riding the avant-garde of this cultural manifestation all the way to (possibly) the Republican National Convention and/or (he hopes) his own sitcom on mainstream television. Stine's first DVD, "Put a Helmet On!" was recorded before an audience at Jerry Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA. The article's author, Adam Green, scrupulously provides several examples of Brad Stine's "Christian" "comedy":
Then it was showtime. Accompanied by pounding rock music, Stine ran out, grabbed the microphone, announced that he was feeling crazy, and launched into his routine. His style is frantic, aggressive, and caustic, with echoes of Robin Williams, Sam Kinison, and George Carlin, who is his comedy hero. His frequent use of the word “stinking” makes you realize how often he would say “fucking” if he didn’t work clean.

A lot of Stine’s material that night came from “Put a Helmet On!,” whose title refers to the weakening of the American character caused by such politically correct follies as mandatory helmet laws for bicyclists. Stine longs for the days when Christian values guided the nation and, as he jokes, the homeless were handed axes, pointed toward a grove of trees, and told, “There’s your duplex.” He aimed most of his barbs at liberals and unbelievers, but Christians took flak, too. He did an impression of a Protestant, whining, “Satan made me lose my job!” (“No—your incompetence made you lose your job!”), and made fun of churches that organize “Harry Potter” book burnings (“Here’s a good rule of thumb: If Hitler tried it—maybe go the other way”). A bit about Christians who need tabbed pages to find Genesis in the Bible led to some physical business about an ancient-days evangelist wrestling with a large scroll to keep it from snapping shut.

Stine tried out some new material. Like: “Jesus was an interesting cat, because he was God for thirty-three years, and he only told people about it for three. Don’t you think his friends had to suspect something?” And: “One of the great downsides of being a Christian is that my religion forbids me to hate people.” Beat. “Ohhhh, I want to hate people. That’s what’s so amazing about Christianity—it forces you to act against what your body wants to do. I want to hate! Not that anybody comes to mind right off the bat—France.” Most of this went over well, though a one-liner about Salvador Dali was greeted with puzzled silence.

Stine’s act is built around his rants, which often have the flavor of sermons. He rails against atheists, liberals, Darwinists, pro-choicers, animal-rights activists, moral relativists—pretty much anyone who doesn’t believe that the Bible is the literal truth—with a vitriol that seems to tap into his audience’s own resentments. “This country is changing,” he told the Estes Park crowd. “And there is, in fact, a civil war—of ideology. It’s real.” Stine said that in the future Christians could wind up being imprisoned just for expressing the ultimate tenet of their faith: Accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour or spend eternity in Hell. “Well, what are you saying—I should just believe in Jesus so I don’t go to Hell?” he asked, mockingly. Then he whispered, “Pretty much.” This got a huge laugh and a round of applause. “The message of Jesus never changes; the messenger does,” he said. “Sometimes he looks like me.”
Here is Stine performing at "the Praise Center, a hangar-size nondenominational church and television-production facility in th middle of an open field" in York, PA:
For thirty dollars a head, the crowd at the Praise Center got to eat chicken, watch promotional videos for “The Passion of the Christ” and Promise Keepers, and listen to Jerry Jacobs give a fund-raising pitch for his television ministry. By the time Stine took the stage, they were ready for a few laughs. “Relax,” he told them. “You’re going to Heaven—enjoy yourselves!” A new bit about Adam naming the animals in the Garden of Eden went over well. So did Stine’s pro-Bush sentiments. “I thank God we’ve got a Texan in the White House,” he said. “You’ll notice the terrorists didn’t attack Texas.”
Here is an example of how Brad Stine's religion "forbids [him] to hate people":
Gay marriage: “Guys want to marry other guys?” Beat. “Cowards!”
Like many paranoid schizophrenics, black people, and polygamists, Stine is being persecuted by a liberal culture hellbent on suppressing his natural genius:
In his set, Stine hit some familiar notes. “I’m a conservative, I’m a Christian, and I think the United States is the greatest country that has ever existed on the face of the earth!” he shouted, provoking one of four standing ovations. “And, because of those three belief systems, when I die, by law, I have to be stuffed and mounted and placed in the Smithsonian under the ‘Why He Didn’t Get a Sitcom’ display.”
By the end of this article, I assure you you'll be pissing yourself with laughter. Just pissing yourself all the way to heaven.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Some Great News 

International team to monitor presidential election

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A team of international observers will monitor the presidential election in November, according to the U.S. State Department.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was invited to monitor the election by the State Department. The observers will come from the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

It will be the first time such a team has been present for a U.S. presidential election.
...and some not so great news:
In November 2002, OSCE sent 10 observers on a weeklong mission to monitor the U.S. midterm elections.
Judging from the obvious fraud in '02, I don't get the sense the OSCE's observation plan worked out too well last time around. Let's hope this time they have 1,000 observers, including a contingent of computer experts. (Will they be posted at polling places wearing orange vests--sort of like those dudes with assault rifles loitering in airports and subway stations, assuaging our fears of being attacked by terrorists, except in this case to boost our confidence that our votes are being counted?)

Oh, and check out the unscientific CNN "quick vote." I would have assumed people would be overwhelmingly against the idea of international observers, if for no other reason than a kind of knee-jerk sentiment against furriners meddling in our great system. But look:
Should international observers be brought in to monitor the U.S. presidential election?

Yes 53%

No 47%
Even though this is the "Clinton News Network" (ha! HA!), I think this says something about the seriousness of the concern out there.


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