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Saturday, September 11, 2004

Lessons, Right and Wrong

"Mr. Bush terrified millions of Americans into believing that forcibly changing the regime in Baghdad was the only way to keep Iraq's supposed stockpiles of unconventional weapons out of the hands of Al Qaeda. Then it turned out that there were no stockpiles and no operational links between Saddam Hussein's regime and Al Qaeda's anti-American terrorism. Meanwhile, America's longstanding defensive alliances were weakened and the bulk of America's ground combat troops tied down in Iraq for what now appears to be many years to come. If that is making this country safer, it is hard to see how. The real lesson is that America dangerously erodes its military and diplomatic defenses when it charges off unwisely after hypothetical enemies."
-The New York Times editorial staff

Tough Guys

"After 9/11, Americans want tough guys who will protect them from Al Qaeda. They seem to be willing to settle for an impersonation of tough guys by Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who were so busy with their vanity war in Iraq that they missed critical opportunities to vanquish Al Qaeda and spent money on a foreign occupation that could have been used to secure American ports and come up with plans before the Beslan tragedy to protect children from terrorists."-Maureen Dowd, New York Times

Do you want to show you're a man? Shoot somebody.

In a new book, The Wimp Factor: Gender Gender Gaps, Holy Wars and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity, author Stephen Ducat contends that the Republican's success can be attributed to "femiphobia," or "fear of all things feminine."

From the San Francisco Chronicle review:

"The Wimp Factor suggests that American hyper-masculinity -- as seen in, but not limited to, the Bush administration, Christian fundamentalism and right-wing U.S. policy -- has created a contentious political landscape in which more and more men are becoming conservative. Ducat said that men with the extreme type of masculinity that is afraid of characteristics traditionally considered feminine -- self-reflection, attunement to others, appreciation for human interrelatedness -- may become sociopaths: possessed of a guilt-free capacity to hurt others for personal gain.

'The Bush administration is the most sociopathic American administration in my lifetime,' [Ducat] said, citing the administration's unilateral assault on Iraq and, leading up to it, apparent falsehoods about weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi ties to al Qaeda."

Then & Now: Progress as defined by George Bush

From "Bush Seeks Cover as Economy Falls," published in the Boston Globe on Sept. 10, 2001:

"With the weak US economy rising to the top of Americans' concerns, President Bush is trying to limit the political damage, while Democrats look on skeptically.

Rapidly shrinking federal budget surpluses are limiting the president's ability to push traditional stimulative spending and testing Bush's leadership skills.
Friday's announced rise in unemployment to a four-year high of 4.9 percent prompted a special address from Bush."

George Bush, speaking at a campaign rally last week:

"The national unemployment rate is 5.4 percent. (Applause.) And the unemployment rate in the great state of West Virginia is 5.2 percent. (Applause.) Our economic plan is working. (Applause.)"

Why is Bush getting applause for raising the rate of unemployment?

Cause for shame

From a letter published in today's San Diego Union-Tribune:

"My father won a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star in World War II. I don't know what he did to earn them because the wounds of war were so deep that he never spoke of it. He served his country. He loved his country. He was a Democrat and proud of it. How hypocritical to ridicule John Kerry's service in Vietnam. I don't care if John Kerry never won a single medal, he was there. He put his life on the line and was in harm's way. Can George W. Bush and Dick Cheney say the same? Any veteran who served his country, particularly in time of war, should be honored, not mocked.

But, we all know what this is about. They knew they would have trouble running against a bona fide war hero. Their solution? Tear him apart. Never mind that they had to ridicule the Purple Heart to do it. Never mind that their own candidates have no Purple Hearts to ridicule. Never mind that they insulted countless veterans in the process, including my own father."

-Rosemary Tyrrell

Letter to the Nation

My fellow Americans,

Next November 2 you will be asked to make a decision. This decision will decide the fate of our country and the world over the next four years.

As you make that decision, I ask you to carefully consider the following:

-Which candidate will pay heed to democratic values and the Constitution?
-Which candidate is most likely to serve the needs of all Americans?
-Which candidate will seek to appeal to humanity's better nature and not its worst fears?
-Which candidate will best support America's role as a leader of the world community?
-Which candidate will heed the advice of the scientific community (and not attempt to install a political answer for scientific problems}?
-Which candidate will avoid sacrificing long-term stability for short-term expediency?
-Which candidate has shown trust and integrity under fire and avoided deceit and diversion?
-Which candidates has the vision, curiosity, and broadmindedness to carry this country forward?
-Which candidate will protect freedom as a living organism and ensure liberty's continuity, health and survival in precarious times?

To each their own choice. I hope you choose wisely.

Yours Truly,

Friday, September 10, 2004

Stating the obvious

"The war in Iraq was a diversion from the war on terror that needed to be conducted in Afghanistan... [it has] enabled the Taliban to regroup."
Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D)

Borrowing his way to a second term

"I have never seen a president who depends more on the intellectual sluggishness of the American people... Bill Clinton didn't deplete the entire treasury in an effort to get re-elected."-Bill Maher

A day in the life of...

Despite Democratic protestations to the contrary, Bush does seem to have taken a fairly significant lead in recent weeks, most recently evidenced in an AP poll that put the incumbent president ahead by 6 percentage points.

The AP poll has Kerry falling behind in every swing category: lower educated voters, suburbanites, rural voters, the middle class, married couples and baby boomers.

The willingness of the American public to vote against their own interests never ceases to amaze me. The Republicans have succeeded in creating wedge issues (gay marriage amendment, abortion, gun rights) that distract voters from the much more significant realities of a soaring budget deficit and a leadership vacuum in Iraq.

Sure, we may lose a thousand-plus soldiers and a couple hundred billion dollars fighting a poorly-planned invasion of a foreign country, but at least I get to keep my handgun. Yes, our president might be bankrupting the nation, but at least I don't have to fund birth control education in India. This kind of thinking.

The other thing I've been struck by is just how angry Bush supporters are. In the last week alone, I've come across a number of little would-be Zell Millers. They're filled with hatred and bitterness. I guess I would be bitter too if my only vision for the world is one in which the divine right of the parochial powers of a U.S. economic and religious elite supercedes all over values, including humanity, science and reason.

Kerry is down in the polls, this I concede. But I have enough faith in the wisdom of the American people to believe they can rise above the prejudice dished out at them by the Karl Rovemobile and make a rational choice aiming toward a better future.

House's respond to Bush's effort to take away overtime protection from 6 million workers: "Ney"

The House of Representatives blocked the White House's effort to deny overtime protections to six million American workers yesterday. Two hundred Democrats joined with 22 Republicans and an independent to block the proposed legislation.

Rep. George Miller (D) called the new, rejected Labor Department rules "the most sweeping anti-employee changes since the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938... It's the largest government-imposed pay cut in the history of this country."

The following work groups would risk losing overtime pay under Bush's proposal: foremen, assistant managers, nurses, workers in the financial services industry, journalists, and other employees who do a small amount of administrative work.

The White House claimed the new rules would expand overtime pay by guaranteeing overtime to 1.3 million workers making $23,660 or less. The House rejected that logic, passing instead an amendment that guarantees overtime pay to workers making $23,660 or less and maintains current protections for office employees. Bush is threatening a veto.

Despite the broad impact of this story, the L.A. Times chose to bury it on page A25. One can sympathize with them, though. Today's issue also had stories on the 11.2% rise in health insurance costs, the Republican plan to return assault weapons to the open market, and CIA efforts to hide prisoner abuse from the Red Cross. Add in the overtime story, and there could only be one choice for a banner headline: Bush is a complete and total idiot.

It has not been a good week for the 43rd president. On Wednesday, the Senate voted against a White House plan to outsource Homeland Security jobs. In an election year, even some Congressional Republicans are reluctant to be associated with Bush's "Agenda for the Millionaires."

The fog of war comes to a D.C. lunch

Since allegations of torture in U.S. prisons in Iraq became public, and the Iraq war went south, Donald "Dead-Eye" Rumsfeld has been largely kept under wraps. Today, the Robert McNamara of our era appeared before the National Press Club.

Rumsfeld expressed confidence Iraqi elections would take as scheduled next January. "By any measure, the Iraqi people want to vote. They want elections," Rumsfeld said.

He defended the lengthy call-ups of Guard and Reserve soldier deployed in Iraq, saying, "Every person serving in the Guard and Reserves and active forces is a volunteer."

Eventually, the questions turned to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

"The memo I wrote [sanctioning actions in violation of the Geneva Convention} involved Guantanamo Bay and had absolutely nothing to do with Iraq," Rumsfeld said.

The Associated Press reported today: "Pentagon investigations in recent months have said there have been some 300 allegations of prisoners killed, raped, beaten and subjected to other mistreatment at military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay since the start of the war on terror."

"It was wrong. We should have treated those people properly," Rumsfeld said.

The National Press Club then presented Rumsfeld with a "Certificate of Appreciation" and a mug.

Cooking the numbers

Paul Krugman points out the obvious today in the New York Times: the Administration deliberately overstated budget estimates earlier in the year to make it look as if they were making progress on the budget deficit. In fact, the deficit from Bush's "spend now, pay later" approach to governance is at an all-time record high. The Congressional Budget office projected last week the deficit for 2004 would reach $422 billion.

Furthermore, Krugman notes:

"The administration claims to have a plan to cut the deficit in half over the next five years. But even Bruce Bartlett, a longtime tax-cut advocate, points out that 'projections showing deficits falling assume that Bush's tax cuts expire on schedule.' But Mr. Bush wants those tax cuts made permanent. That is, the administration has a 'plan' to reduce the deficit that depends on Congress's not passing its own legislation."

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The cost of health care

Health insurance premiums for individuals in employee-sponsored plans rose by 11.2 percent last year, or four times the rate of inflation/wage growth, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. It is the fourth straight year health insurance premiums have staged a double-digit increase. Five million fewer jobs offer health insurance than in 2001. The typical cost of a family health care plan now hovers around $10,000. In a speech today, John Kerry said addressing health care concerns would be his #1 priority as president.

Question of the Day

"How come the public can't tell the difference between the war hero and the former town drunk?"-Bill Maher.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Bush suspended from flight duty for failing to meet National Guard standards

[Note: Since this story was published, it has become widely acknowledged that the documents quoted by 60 Minutes, the AP, and others, were unreliable.}

The White House released memos today showing George W. Bush was suspended from flying fighter jets in 1972 and 1973.

"On this date I ordered that 1st Lt. Bush be suspended from flight status due to failure to perform to USAF/TexANG standards and failure to meet annual physical examination ... as ordered," states an Aug. 1, 1972, memo by Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, as quoted in the Associated Press.

Later, after Bush failed to show up for flight duty for months at a time in Alabama, Killian wrote of outside pressures to keep Bush's clean, according to the documents released by the White House.

"Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges more about Bush," Killian wrote in another memo, dated Aug. 18, 1973. "I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job — Harris gave me a message today from Grp (Bush's unit) regarding Bush's OETR (officer evaluation) and Staudt is pushing to sugar coat it. Bush wasn't here during rating period and I don't have any feedback from 187th in Alabama. I will not rate."

The memo concludes: "Harris took the call from Grp today. I'll backdate but won't rate. Harris agrees."

As has been previously reported, Bush entered the National Guard in 1968 to avoid serving in Vietnam. At the time, the National Guard had a long waiting list. With the help of his father's political connections, Bush was admitted into flight school. For more information on Bush's National Guard service, see today's USA Today article.

Dave Moniz and Jim Drinkard write:

"The Boston Globe reported in 2000 that Bush vaulted over hundreds of applicants to get a coveted slot in the Guard during the Vietnam War and was immediately awarded a competitive pilot position despite low qualifying scores on aptitude tests and four misdemeanor citations.

Bush's military records show gaps in drill attendance from May 1, 1972, to April 30, 1973, when his Texas supervisors could not account for his whereabouts and said so in his last written evaluation."

What was Bush doing during this time? Moniz and Drinkard continue:

"During that time, Bush lived briefly in Alabama, where he worked for the Senate campaign of Winton 'Red' Blount...C. Murphy Archibald, who worked on the Blount campaign, said that in the fall of 1972, Bush frequently was late for work on the Alabama campaign and often bragged about how much he drank the night before.

'I was bowled over by the competence of this guy Allison, but perplexed by how he had brought this young guy along who seemed to have so little interest in the campaign,' Archibald recalled. On most days, Archibald said, Bush arrived at campaign headquarters around noon or 1 p.m. and left around 5:30 or 6 p.m., leaving assigned duties unfinished."

Postscript: It is how odd how quickly this debate shifted from a debate about Bush's Guard service to a debate about the authenticity of the Killian memos. If the underlying information of the memos was not correct, then why were they released by the White House? What exactly was George W. Bush doing in 1972? We know he wasn't flying. I say Bush still has a lot of answering to do, and it is time someone held him accountable... particularly after the hatchet job his team pulled on John Kerry, echoing the hatchet jobs they had pulled on John McCain and Max Cleland, also war heroes. For those who are only interested in the documents, though, and not the underlying story behind them, you can read a summary of the back-and-forth arguments at Slate. While CBS now acknowledges it was the victim of a clever hoax, all indications at present are that the actual information contained in the documents is true, as corroborated by Killian's secretary in a subsequent interview. In other words, the forged documents appear to have been a clumsy attempt to mimic actual documents written by Killian in 1972 and subsequently, and inexplicably, destroyed.

Media EmergenC

In honor of the National Association of Broadcaster's upcoming radio convention in San Diego, Media EmergenC has announced plans to stage a counter-convention. The Media EmergenC conference will include performances, "teach-ins," street theater, and workshops on radio, print and web activism. For more information on times and locations, visit the Media EmergeC website.

Rumors... and Bush's fear of the truth

Rumors have been afloat for weeks that Bush would try to duck out of participating in at least one of his three scheduled debates with John Kerry.

Those rumors came a step closer to reality today with an announcement by Republican officials that Bush might try to wiggle his way out of the Oct. 8 debate at Washington University.

George W. Bush is a man with a real fear of truth. He is afraid to be confronted with anything that might challenge his ideas. He is afraid to learn about the depth of his own failures.

George W. has refused to attend any of the funerals of American soldiers. He has refused to allow pictures to be taken of the coffins returning home. His handlers have protected him from actually having to witness any protesters or objections on the street against his policies. Flash a sign at Bush and you're escorted away by the Secret Service. The guy doesn't read the papers. His knowledge of history is minimal at best. He rarely traveled abroad before being elected President. His travel is limited today by fear of protests--witness his own absence at his daughters' college graduations. He didn't read the intelligence reports on WMD's before invading Iraq.

But the most telling moment during the 2000 campaign. Bush was overheard telling Cheney that New York Times reporter Adam Clymer was a "major league asshole." What had Clymer done to inspire Bush's wrath?

Clymer is the reporter who on April 11, 2000 published a major exposé of Bush's health care record in Texas. In that piece, Clymer wrote:

"Texas has had one of the nation's worst public health records for decades. More than a quarter of its residents have no health insurance. Its Mexican border is a hotbed of contagion. The state ranks near the top in the nation in rates of AIDS, diabetes, tuberculosis and teenage pregnancy, and near the bottom in immunizations, mammograms and access to physicians.

But since George W. Bush became governor in 1995, he has not made health a priority, his aides acknowledge... His administration opposed a patient's bill of rights in 1995 before grudgingly accepting one in 1997, and fought unsuccessfully to limit access to the new federal Children's Health Insurance Program in 1999."

Four years later, Bush's willful ignorance continues to cost American lives. From health care to Iraq, this man is a walking disaster.

Pillaging his way to freedom

Silver City, John Sayles' new politically-charged film, opens in theaters Sept. 17.

In the film, Chris Cooper plays a corporate-funded gubernatorial candidate, Dickie Pilager, who garbles his lines at first, but eventually learns to speak on message.

PBS recently broadcast this scene. In the following clip, Pilager talks to Wes Benteen, played by Kris Kristofferson.

WES BENTEEN: Take a good look Dickie, what do you see?


WES BENTEEN: I see a big sign that says no Americans allowed.


WES BENTEEN: You look at a map. They got half the west under lock and key.


WES BENTEEN: The Bureau of Land Management. Forest Service. National Parks. The State.

DICKIE PILAGER: Right, right.

WES BENTEEN: It's like a treasure chest waiting to be opened. Only there's a 500 pound bureaucrat sitting on it.

DICKIE PILAGER: Well, I'm a small government man.

WES BENTEEN: That's why we chose you, son.

Sayles' previous films include Eight Men Out, City of Hope and Lone Star.

Nations of the world prefer John Kerry by a margin of 30-3 in recent poll

A recent poll indicates John Kerry would be far more likely than George W. Bush to generate cooperative alliances across the globe.

The majority of people in 30 out of 35 countries surveyed want Kerry to be the next U.S. president, according to recent survey reported by theAFP wire service.

In the survey, President George W. Bush was "rebuffed" by all of America's traditional allies, the AFP reports. "On average, Senator Kerry was favored by more than a two-to-one margin -- 46 percent to 20 percent, the survey by GlobeScan Inc, a global research firm, and the local University of Maryland, showed."

Only three countries preferred Bush: the Philippines, Nigeria and Poland. In Indian and Thailand, opinions were divided. The poll contacted 34,330 people.

Opinions against George. W. Bush were particularly high all Western Europe, including Britain, where respondents favored Kerry by a 31 percent margin. Canadians favor Kerry over Bush by a nearly four-to-one margin. In Japan, Kerry was preferred by a 20 percent margin.

Fact-checking the RNC 2.0

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has issued their assessment of media coverage of the Republican National Convention. Among their findings:

"It is the function of journalism to separate fact from fiction. In covering the Republican National Convention of 2004, the media made isolated efforts to point out some of the convention speakers' more egregious distortions, but on the whole failed in their vital role of letting citizens know when they are being lied to...

Professional politicians and political correspondents alike know that legislators frequently vote against appropriations for a variety of reasons, even though they do not seek to eliminate the programs being voted on. They know that different versions of the same appropriation are often offered, and that lawmakers will sometimes vote for one version and against another-- not because they suffer from multiple personality disorder, but because that's how they express disagreements about how government programs should be funded...

And journalists were complacent as Republicans expressed mock bafflement over why Kerry would vote against [the $87 billion Iraq appropriation bill] when he had voted for another version of the bill (or 'exactly the same thing,' in former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's words-- 8/30/04). The reason that Kerry introduced an alternative bill-- because he wanted to pay for the appropriation by raising taxes on the wealthy rather than through deficit spending-- was well-publicized at the time (Washington Post, 9/18/03). Yet rather than challenging the dishonesty of this centerpiece of the Republican attack on Kerry, CNN's Jeff Greenfield after Bush's speech (9/2/04) called it 'one of the most familiar and effective lines of his stump speech.'

Bush himself threatened to veto the Iraq spending bill if the reconstruction aid for Iraq it included was in the form of loans rather than grants; by the logic of the Republican convention, Bush 'flip-flopped' exactly the same way that Kerry did on the $87 billion by supporting one version of the bill and opposing another. Yet a Nexis search of television coverage of the convention turns up only one reference to Bush's veto of the bill, by Paul Begala on CNN ( 9/1/04). Overwhelmingly, TV pundits covering the convention allowed the charade surrounding the $87 billion to pass without critical comment."

To read about more distortions in the RNC, go to the FAIR website or read Fact-checking the Republican National Convention.

Air America

Air America, radio for the thinking liberal, can now be heard on 28 stations across the country. To find out if there are broadcasts in your area, click here. Air America can also be heard live online.

President Upon a Hill

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."-Theodore Roosevelt

Homes For Our Troops

Homes For Our Troops is a new nonprofit formed to build specially adapted homes for disabled soldiers returning from Iraq. To find out more about their mission, click here.

Compare and Contrast

"And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude."-Thomas Jefferson

"The Congressional Budget Office yesterday said that the federal deficit will hit a record $422 billion this year, the largest amount in history."-Today's News Reports

Quote of the Day

"Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power’s disappearance."-Hannah Arendt

Democracy Matters

Cornel West, one of the most eloquent articulators of the state of affairs today, has a new book out: Democracy Matters.

Anthony Day reviews it in the L.A. Times. An excerpt:

"Cornel West's 'Democracy Matters' is a jeremiad against contemporary America. West writes that it is ironic '9/11 -- a vicious attack on innocent civilians by gangsters -- becomes the historic occasion for the full-scale gangsterization of America.'

Three dogmas, he says, have contributed to this gangsterization: free market fundamentalism, which 'posits the unregulated and unfettered market as idol and fetish'; aggressive militarism, which 'takes the form of unilateral intervention, colonial invasion and armed occupation abroad'; and escalating authoritarianism, which 'is rooted in our understandable paranoia toward potential terrorists, our traditional fear of too many liberties and our deep distrust of one another.'"

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Putting his Bush in his mouth

"Too many OB/GYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."-George W. Bush, speaking at a rally today.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Vote Dammit

Ani DiFranco will be touring Florida, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and other swing states this fall as part of her "Vote Dammit" tour.

Appearing onstage with DiFranco (at various stops) will be recent presidential candidates Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich, folk singer Dan Bern, comedian Margaret Cho, the Indicgo Girls, and others.

For ticket information, go to Righteous Babe Records.

Spirit of Justice

Photo courtesy of AP

John Ashcroft spent $8,000 on curtains for the "Spirit of Justice" and "Majesty of Law." If only he were similarly modest when it came to protecting the Constitution.

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

Whose vote will count in this election? According to Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, close to 2,000,000 ballots were tossed out in the last election. According to CNN, those numbers are low. A CNN report estimates a couple million votes were lost due to faulty equipment--and another couple million or so were lost due to registration mixups. Lost votes did not impact all communities equally.

Listen in on the following exchange with NPR reporter Tavis Smiley:

Mr. GREG PALAST ("The Best Democracy Money Can Buy"): People don't realize that in America 1.9 million, almost two million, votes were never counted. You went and voted and they just chucked them out for technical reasons. I was noticing that there was a kind of racial stench to the ballots rotting in the Dumpsters, and the US Civil Rights Commission looking at some of my information, Harvard Law, determined that about half of the ballots not counted in America, one million ballots, are cast by black folk.

I first noticed this in Florida when I was investigating for BBC. I know--you know, a hundred and eighty thousand votes were never counted during the presidential election. That was determined by 537--a hundred and eighty thousand votes just chucked away. And I looked, and sure enough in the blackest county in Florida where most of the votes were lost, they were paper ballots, you made a mistake on a ballot--and by the way, a mistake meant writing in Al Gore's name.

SMILEY: Right.

Mr. PALAST: If you made a mistake on a ballot, your ballot was thrown out, couldn't be read by the machines. In the white counties, they had machine readers right in the ballot booths, and if you made a mistake, you got your ballot back and you got a new ballot. It was like a plantation system. So in other words, black ballot out; white ballot, make a mistake, you get another one. And so in Florida, I brought it to the Civil Rights Commission. They said, yes, of the 180,000 votes cast, their demographers say 54 percent were cast by black folk.

SMILEY: After all these years, tell me how it is that race--I mean, for that matter, this many years after the Voting Rights Act first went into effect, how is it that race can still play such a prominent role in electoral politics?

Mr. PALAST: Well, because it's not that the Bush family and Jeb Bush doesn't like black people. They just don't really like the color of their vote. In other words, if you knock out a black voter, you know what party is going to lose on that end.

Reagan takes on Bush

Ron Reagan, son of the 40th president, makes the case against George W. Bush in a September story for Esquire.

In the article, Reagan discusses the right-wing effort to pigeonhole all of Bush's critics into the nutter box:

"Right-wing talking heads continue painting anyone who fails to genuflect deeply enough as a 'hater,' and therefore a nut job, probably a crypto-Islamist car bomber. But these protestations have taken on a hysterical, almost comically desperate tone. It's one thing to get trashed by Michael Moore. But when Nobel laureates, a vast majority of the scientific community, and a host of current and former diplomats, intelligence operatives, and military officials line up against you, it becomes increasingly difficult to characterize the opposition as fringe wackos."

Reagan also talks about the lies Bush has not been called to account for. Reagan says these lies began early in Bush's trek to Washington:

"While debating Al Gore, Bush tells two obvious—if not exactly earth-shattering—lies and is not challenged. First, he claims to have supported a patient's bill of rights while governor of Texas. This is untrue. He, in fact, vigorously resisted such a measure, only reluctantly bowing to political reality and allowing it to become law without his signature. Second, he announces that Gore has outspent him during the campaign. The opposite is true: Bush has outspent Gore. These misstatements are briefly acknowledged in major press outlets, which then quickly return to the more germane issues of Gore's pancake makeup and whether a certain feminist author has counseled him to be more of an 'alpha male.'

Having gotten away with such witless falsities, perhaps Mr. Bush and his team felt somehow above day-to-day truth. In any case, once ensconced in the White House, they picked up where they left off."

But Reagan saves his strongest criticism to denounce Bush's policies in Iraq and Bush's raised "stiff middle finger" to the world.

See full article.

In the same issue, Crossfire panelist Tucker Carlson expresses his own misgivings about the man (we can only presume) he will eventually vote for.

Carlson says, "[I]t is because he was weak that we invated Iraq. Bush may have been uncertain about how to fight terrorism after the fall of the Taliban but many of those around him were not. Years before, they had concluded that an Iraq without Saddam would lead to a more stable, less dangerous Middle East. Against compelling evidence to the contrary, Bush accepted their judgment. I believe this was a colossal error–made in good faith, but an error nonetheless."

Can we afford four more years of these type of mistakes?

Up Up Up

The fun continues. November 2: Election Day 2004 analyzes the latest (mis)statements of George W. Bush--these taken from a Sept. 5 rally in West Virginia.

Finding counter-information to juxtapose against Bush's claims of ever-expanding dreams did not take long...

George W. Bush: America added 144,000 new jobs last month. Plus 60,000 jobs upward revision for the previous two months, we've added over 1.7 million new jobs since August of '03. The national unemployment rate is 5.4 percent. (Applause.) And the unemployment rate in the great state of West Virginia is 5.2 percent. (Applause.) Our economic plan is working. (Applause.)

Bob Herbert replies: "The number was below market forecasts. It was also below the number of jobs needed to accommodate the growth in the employment-aged population. In short, this was not good news. It's only by the diminished job-creation standards that have prevailed since the last recession that any positive spin could be put on last month's performance.

As the Economic Policy Institute tells us, in a book-length report it is releasing today: 'The United States has been tracking employment statistics since 1939, and never in history has it taken this long to regain the jobs lost over a downturn.'"

Herbert continues: "From 2000 through 2003 the median household income fell by $1,500 (in 2003 dollars) - a significant 3.4 percent decrease. That information becomes startling when you consider that during the same period there was a strong 12 percent increase in productivity among U.S. workers."

George W. Bush: I'll tell you what else we've got to fix is the tax code. It is a complicated mess. It's full of special interest loopholes. Americans spend about six billion hours of paperwork and headache every year on the tax code.

Andrew Sullivan, a conservative commentator, replies in an article for Esquire: "The Presidency of George W. Bush--billed as a force for moderation and 'compassionate conservatism'--ended up extremist, harsh, and anything but conservative. He could have cut tax rates across the board and removed tax loopholes for wealthy corporations. Instead, he cut taxes substantively only for the very rich, clotted the tax code with even more corporate tax giveaways, and ended the one tax that penalized inherited rather than earned wealth, the estate tax."

On his blogsite, www.andrewsullivan.com, Sullivan writes: "I've said it before and I'll say it again: the only difference between Republicans and Democrats now is that the Bush Republicans believe in Big Insolvent Government and the Kerry Democrats believe in Big Solvent Government. By any measure, that makes Kerry - especially as he has endorsed the critical pay-as-you-go rule on domestic spending - easily the choice for fiscal conservatives. It was also jaw-dropping to hear this president speak about tax reform. Bush? He has done more to lard up the tax code with special breaks and new loopholes than any recent president. On this issue - on which I couldn't agree more - I have to say I don't believe him. Tax reform goes against the grain of everything this president has done so far. Why would he change now? "

George W. Bush: Do you realize home ownership is at an all-time high in America? There's nothing better than more American citizens opening the door to the place where they live and saying, welcome to my home, welcome to my piece of property. (Applause.)

The record high rate of home ownership, generated largely by the record low interest rates of the last few years, is of course a positive development. But there is reason for concern, especially as interest rates begin to rise and wages remain stagnant.

Genaro Armas of the Associated Press writes (in an article published last May): "Home-ownership rates for low- and moderate-income working families with children have declined since the late 1970s, even though the overall U.S. home-ownership rate has risen, according to a study released yesterday by an affordable-housing coalition.

The fresh analysis of previous government data suggests, in part, that incomes for these working families haven't kept pace with soaring housing prices, highlighting a need for government to promote construction of more affordable housing, the Center for Housing Policy says."

A University of Washington researcher conducted a study of low-income Seattle residents and came to the following conclusions: "The American dream of buying and owning a home all too frequently doesn't have a happy ending for many low-income families. Despite federal government policies encouraging home ownership among minority and low-income families, more than half of them left their houses and returned to renting within five years, according to a new study by a University of Washington researcher. One third of the families returned to renting in the first two years.

'Home ownership is not a cure-all for low income families without a living-wage job and wage progression. Without those two things, it is not sustainable,' said Carolina Katz Reid, who did the research for her doctoral dissertation in geography, which she just completed.

'The evidence suggests that low-income families are particularly vulnerable to losing their homes because they are more likely to lose their jobs and they have few resources to fall back on. Mortgage payments for many of these families take 50 percent or more of their monthly income. An unexpected drop in income or increase in expenses can make it impossible for them to meet those payments.'"

For a refutation RNC soundbites, see the blog entry below.

In Memoriam: 1,000 Soldiers Dead

George W. Bush, as depicted by Clamor magazine. In the magazine's September issue, the president's face is formed by a collage of the faces of 1,000 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.