Sunday, October 31, 2004

Voter suppression?

Did you hear CBS is in a foul plot to deter Republican turnout this year? Yeah, they're going to air an A-Team marathon all day Tuesday.

Live from Leesburg VA

Here's the Kerry contingent. The crowd is running into the street and cheering:

And here's the Bushies - a tacky HumVee, emblem of the conspicuous consumption of the greedheads. The crowd is booing and the thumbs are DOWN.

Is Virginia still in play?

The WashPost is reporting the possibility exists...

And here's anecdotal evidence from Leesburg, Virginia, which every October 31st has a big halloween parade downtown. Every firetruck, marching band, karate class and insurance company for miles around decorates a truck to parade down King Street past the courthouse (and not incidentally, right past the front of my store.)

This year we (Esoterica) fielded a truck, complete with bellydancers and cloaked witches. This all to explain why I was standing outside my store with a camera as the parade went by. This is the first election year since we purchased the store, so I wasn't aware that the various candidates' supporters fielded trucks and cars as well.

And here in Leesburg VA, Bastion of the Right, the Kerry trucks and cars were greeted with cheers and cries of "Help is on the way!" and the Bush trucks and cars were greeted with boos and cries of "Ker-REE Ker-REE" and "Two More Days".

Wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it; that's how Republican Virginia tends to be. But it sure cheered me up.

Pix downloading now - stay tuned.

The Whole World is Watching!

Yay, Mike!

Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore plans to have hundreds of cameras outside polling places in Ohio and Florida on Election Day to watch for attempts to suppress voter turnout.

The director of the anti-Bush documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" announced Saturday that a total of 1,200 professional and nonprofessional cameramen, filmmakers and videographers will bring their cameras to polling places in the two presidential battleground states, especially in minority communities.

"I'm putting those who intend to suppress the vote on notice: Voter intimidation and suppression will not be tolerated," Moore said in a statement.

Full story at link. I was hoping the So-Called Liberal Media (SCLM) would pick up this task, but I suppose that's too much to expect.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

the Bush Braintrust

Thanks to party_like_its_2004 at Bartcop for the fabulous foto find.

Merry Christmas!

Maybe Wolfe was right - maybe you can't go home again...

The Army has extended by two months the Iraq tours of about 6,500 soldiers, citing a need for experienced troops through the Iraqi elections scheduled for late January.

About 3,500 soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, and 3,000 from the 1st Infantry Division headquarters will remain in Iraq two months longer than planned, Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said Saturday.

Story at link.

Belly up to the bar, boys

Better loosen your belts. Billmon's back.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Well, the Psycho Vote is in the bag

This just in:

WEST PALM BEACH – An 18-year-old Marine recruit remained in jail on Wednesday, charged with threatening to stab his girlfriend over her choice for president, news partner NewsChannel 5 reported in its noon broadcast.

The enlistee, Steven Scott Soper, of Lake Worth, became enraged Tuesday night when his 18-year-old girlfriend said she was leaving him -- and voting for John Kerry for president.

Soper, who will enter the Marines as soon as he passes the GED test, solidly supports Bush. He allegedly told girlfriend Stacey Silheira, "You'll never live to see the election."

Story here.

An under-polled constituency

"To understand me all you need do is put the back of your hand to your forehead, I live through you. Can you not begin to feel my dark sensuality and sweeping sadness? I am so sad that George Bush is the president so I will vote for him as will the others in my group."

Goths for Bush. Heh.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Wingnuts of Major Dumbness

The most interesting part of this whole debacle is discovering that none of Bush's shocktroops, the Legions of the Willfully Blind, have the slightest idea what WMD means. They're all out there yelling, hey, Saddam did so have WMD - 380 TONS is a lot of Mass Destruction.

Will someone kindly explain to them that explosives are 'conventional' weapons, and that WMD refers to those weapons that treaties consider 'unconventional' - ie. nuclear, chemical and biological weapons?

Fertilizer bombs, C4 and Hurricanes Abby Thru Zelda are -not- WMDs, however destructive of the masses they may prove to be.


Monday, October 25, 2004

Alternate History

I'm usually a big fan of 'alternate history' tales - the South wins the Civil War, Kennedy doesn't go to Dallas and wins a second term, the Spanish colonize the New World...

Who knew that Dick Cheney were also an aficianado?

The Soviet Union might still exist and Saddam Hussein might dominate the Gulf if Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry had been president in recent years, Vice President Dick Cheney said on Saturday.

Cheney told supporters that Kerry had run for the U.S. Senate in the 1980s on a promise to do away with many of the weapons that U.S. President Ronald Reagan used to end the Cold War.

``So if John Kerry had been in charge, maybe the Soviet Union would still be in business,'' President Bush's running mate said on a campaign trip to the swing state of New Mexico.

More at link.

Do you remember the big, definitive battle that won the Cold War? You know - the one where our Superior Weaponry won the day for us?

...that's funny. Neither do I...

More stunning incompetence from BushCo

Josh Marshall is the Go To guy on the Looted Explosives in Iraq story. If you haven't read his coverage on this, stop reading here and race over to Talking Points Memo. Scroll down to "October 24, 2004 -- 05:13 PM" and read stories from bottom to top. He really nails the Supertext Meaning Of It All with this: "It's a story that really brings together the adminstration's two cardinal sins: dishonesty and incompetence."

Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Earthling Card

Wow. Is Alan Keyes from around here? The Illinois senate race visits strange new worlds...

In the Illinois Senate race, Barack Obama leads Alan Keyes by a margin so wide (over 50 points, according to one poll) that a debate between the candidates must--almost as a matter of science--help narrow the campaign. But that would be to underestimate Alan Keyes. As people know, Keyes is candid, eloquent, and intellectually consistent. He argues rather than spins, allowing his logic to take him where it will. He panders to no (earthly) constituency. And he may well have pulled off the impossible last night: lowering his poll numbers even more. Obama is an unconventionally gifted politician, but even an incompetent one--let's go farther, actually: even a dolphin or trained seal--could have done better last night than Alan Keyes. All Obama had to do yesterday was play the Earthling card; Keyes took care of the rest.


When Obama asked Keyes to defend his call to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment, Keyes began his response with a happy lack of politesse: "I think that the question actually illustrates the ignorance that I've noticed of your understanding of the American Constitution and its background," he explained, before going on for a while about "more and more important issues ... being more and more decided by distant bureaucrats." This allowed Obama to note that, actually, he teaches a class in Constitutional law.

Before the debate was over, viewers had heard the following snippets and phrases from one of the two candidates: "the persecution of our Christian citizens," "social self-destruction," "the use of the body in this way is ... an abomination," "no one has the information necessary to avoid incest," and "gun-control mentality is ruth-less-ly absurd." Guess which one.

This is, of course, why Keyes loses votes every time he speaks. It's obvious. But Keyes is also a vital contributor to social cohesion in America, because, somehow, he makes us realize we are all--regardless of our political beliefs--Obama.

More at link - registration required.

America's Mullah

Today's LATimes has this commentary about puppeteer Karl Rove:

Democrats will tell you [the election] is a referendum on Bush's incompetence or on his extremist right-wing agenda. Republicans will tell you it's about conservatism versus liberalism or who can better protect us from terrorists. They are both wrong. This election is about Rovism — the insinuation of Rove's electoral tactics into the conduct of the presidency and the fabric of the government. It's not an overstatement to say that on Nov. 2, the fate of traditional American democracy will hang in the balance.

Rovism is not simply a function of Rove the political conniver sitting in the counsels of power and making decisions, though he does. No recent presidency has put policy in the service of politics as has Bush's. Because tactics can change institutions, Rovism is much more. It is a philosophy and practice of governing that pervades the administration and even extends to the Republican-controlled Congress. As Robert Berdahl, chancellor of UC Berkeley, has said of Bush's foreign policy, a subset of Rovism, it constitutes a fundamental change in "the fabric of constitutional government as we have known it in this country."


When neither dissent nor facts are recognized as constraining forces, one is infallible, which is the sum and foundation of Rovism. Cleverly invoking the power of faith to protect itself from accusations of stubbornness and insularity, this administration entertains no doubt, no adjustment, no negotiation, no competing point of view. As such, it eschews the essence of the American political system: flexibility and compromise.


Boiled down, Rovism is government by jihadis in the grip of unshakable self-righteousness — ironically the force the administration says it is fighting. It imposes rather than proposes.

Rovism surreptitiously and profoundly changes our form of government, a government that has been, since its founding by children of the Enlightenment, open, accommodating, moderate and generally reasonable.

All administrations try to work the system to their advantage, and some, like Nixon's, attempt to circumvent the system altogether. Rove and Bush neither use nor circumvent, which would require keeping the system intact. They instead are reconfiguring the system in extra-constitutional, theocratic terms.

The idea of the United States as an ironfisted theocracy is terrifying, and it should give everyone pause. This time, it's not about policy. This time, for the first time, it's about the nature of American government.

Read it all here.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Must see

If you don't have DSL and haven't seen the infamous Wolves ad, The Poorman has an html storyboard version here. Go see ... (Thanks to Atrios for the tip.)

Talk about not getting it!

The irony-impaired Bush campaign launches an ad campaign featuring wolves as terrorist analogs... They are literally crying wolf! And they think it's 'powerful'... Pathetic. They need a grown-up to tell them when they're making fools of themselves.

For a rebuttal, here's Wolf Packs for Truth.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

This explains so much...

I still feel stunned when a woman tells me she's returning to live with a man who recently broke her jaw. With her teeth clenched and mouth wired shut, she says she's going back, "because he loves me and I love him." Pardon me if I'm not bowled over by the magic of love.

I still feel shaken by the boy who tells me, in great detail and with boundless enthusiasm, all about the father who abandoned him when he was 4-years-old. And I am still disturbed by the good soldier who blindly follows his leader's orders and marches into danger -- although his leader has shown, time and again, poor judgment, lack of planning, and disregard for the men who serve him.

As a psychologist, I should know better than to be stunned, shaken or disturbed by these images. After all, I know why humans behave irrationally. I even do it myself.

On Sept. 9, 2001, President George W. Bush's approval rating was 55 percent. Only three days later, after the worst attack on U.S. soil in history, his approval rating was 86 percent.

In psychology, the enhanced allegiance to a person associated with your abuse is referred to as trauma-bonding. It is a powerful phenomenon. It accounts for why a woman might return to the husband who broke her jaw. It explains why otherwise intelligent people begin worshiping those very people whose behaviors have threatened their safety.


The abuser never admits mistakes, never truly apologizes and never shows weakness. The abuser, despite his inconsistent and capricious decisions, insists he has not changed his philosophy. He is determined and resolute. The abuser manipulates us with fear.


The choice is clear: Shall we believe in ourselves, risk his disfavor, and assert our independence, or will we continue to irrationally cling to our failed leader? Shall we boldly vote for change Nov. 2 or will we wire our jaws shut for another four years?

Full article at link.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Important Science News You Can Use

Swearing can make men impotent

Too much swearing can make men impotent and women develop male characteristics including facial hair and extra muscles.

According to research by Russian scientist Gennady Cheurin and his team at the Centre for Ecological Safety and Survival in Yekaterinburg, the research was based on the popular belief that water has a type of "memory" that can be influenced by positive and negative forces.

Cheurin said that his team had sworn at a glass of water for several hours and then poured it over wheat seeds. Only 48 per cent of those seeds which were watered with the "foul" water sprouted as opposed to 93 per cent of seeds watered with holy water taken from natural springs.

Cheuring said: "We then looked at heavy swearers and others who never used bad language, and found whenever men use these words in their daily life, this immediately leads to sexual dysfunctions, i.e. impotence. If a woman uses these words in her daily speech, she slowly begins transforming into a man, getting more hair and muscles."

A paper recently published in the reputable journal Physica A by Swiss chemist Louis Rey found that even though they should be identical, the structure of hydrogen bonds in pure water is very different from that in homeopathic dilutions of salt solutions.

This article leaves me yearning to know more about the research protocol. For instance, 'swearing' is a pretty broad category. Did they take the Lord's Name in vain? Denigrate the water's parentage? Or cause it to suffer poor self-esteem by being told it was 'bad, ugly, useless, STUPID water'? Really, until we know this and more, how can we take this report seriously?

The spy is COLD

John Le Carre, author of The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, among others, has a commentary in today's LATimes (registration required). Titled "If Le Carre Could Vote", it's pretty... well, cold. To Wit:

Maybe there's one good reason — just one — for reelecting George W. Bush, and that's to force him to live with the consequences of his appalling actions and answer for his own lies, rather than wish the job on a Democrat who would then get blamed for his predecessor's follies.

Probably no American president in history has been so universally hated abroad as Bush: for his bullying unilateralism, his dismissal of international treaties, his reckless indifference to the aspirations of other nations and cultures, his contempt for institutions of world government, and above all for misusing the cause of anti-terrorism in order to unleash an illegal war — and now anarchy — upon a country that like too many others around the world was suffering under a hideous dictatorship but had no hand in the events of 9/11, no weapons of mass destruction and no record of terrorism except as an ally of the United States in a dirty war against Iran.


While Bush was waging his father's war at your expense, he was also ruining your country. He made your rich richer and your poor and unemployed more numerous. He robbed your war veterans of their due and reduced your children's access to education. And he deprived more Americans than ever before of healthcare.

Now he's busy cooking the books, burying deficits and calling in contingency funds to fight a war that his advisors promised him he could light and put out like a candle.

Meanwhile, your Patriot Act has swept aside constitutional and civil liberties that took brave Americans 200 years to secure and were once the envy of a world that now looks on in horror, not just at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib but at what you are doing to yourselves.

But please don't feel isolated from the Europe you twice saved. Give us back the America we loved, and your friends will be waiting for you. Here in Britain, for as long as we have Tony Blair singing the same lies as George W. Bush, your nightmares will be ours.

... but he's not bitter...

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

What the Hell is WRONG with Florida?

Students at the University of Central Florida and two community colleges claim they were duped into switching their party affiliations from Democrat to Republican, campus police officials said Tuesday.

Fewer than 10 students have filed reports with UCF police saying they were approached by a middle-aged couple in the student union who asked for support in changing child molestation laws. The students filled out a form that asked for personal information, and some time later they received a notice from the county election supervisor's office that their party affiliation had been changed, said Sgt. Troy Williamson, a spokesman for the UCF police.


All the cases involved Democrats being switched to Republicans, Williamson said. He added that the party switch wouldn't affect their ability to vote in the Nov. 2 election. The first police complaint was made last week.

More at link.

All's I can figure is Rep Get-out-the-vote workers who needed more Rs to make their quota or something; they certainly can't make the students vote for Bush... uh-oh... Maybe this is the groundwork-laying to make a Bush-Florida victory seem less odd than it might otherwise and raise questions about those damned black boxes... (do do do do <-- twilight zone)

Big endorsement for Bush!

The head of Iran's security council said on Tuesday the re-election of President Bush was in Tehran's best interests, despite the administration's axis of evil label, accusations that Iran harbors al-Qaida terrorists and threats of sanctions over the country's nuclear ambitions.

Historically, Democrats have harmed Iran more than Republicans, said Hasan Rowhani, head of the Supreme National Security Council, Iran's top security decision-making body.

"We haven't seen anything good from Democrats," Rowhani told state-run television in remarks that, for the first time in recent decades, saw Iran openly supporting one U.S. presidential candidate over another.

"We should not forget that most sanctions and economic pressures were imposed on Iran during the time of Clinton," Rowhani said of the former Democratic president. "And we should not forget that during Bush's era _ despite his hard-line and baseless rhetoric against Iran _ he didn't take, in practical terms, any dangerous action against Iran."

Though Iran generally does not publicly wade into U.S. presidential politics, it has a history of preferring Republicans over Democrats, who tend to press human rights issues.

More at link.

Yeah, historically, Republican presidents have had a hard time finding any dictators they didn't like...


Peru develops edible super guinea pig

I dunno... that's an awfully cute dinner. Still, isn't it kind of lookist to avoid eating the 'cute' animals? And aren't cows cute? in their own way?

Sunday, October 17, 2004


The NYTimes endorses Kerry, with some long-overdue harsh words for the incumbent. They admit 'there is no denying that this race is mainly about Mr. Bush's disastrous tenure', something that would have come better from a paper who had been more assertive at, oh, I don't know, reporting on the disastrousness as it was happening... They partially redeem themselves for dereliction of duty with this:

We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W. Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better.

Voting for president is a leap of faith. A candidate can explain his positions in minute detail and wind up governing with a hostile Congress that refuses to let him deliver. A disaster can upend the best-laid plans. All citizens can do is mix guesswork and hope, examining what the candidates have done in the past, their apparent priorities and their general character. It's on those three grounds that we enthusiastically endorse John Kerry for president.

See also Suskind's lengthy NYTimes Magazine article on Bush's appalling thought processes here. Includes this anecdote:

''I don't know why you're talking about Sweden,'' Bush said. ''They're the neutral one. They don't have an army.''

Lantos paused, a little shocked, and offered a gentlemanly reply: ''Mr. President, you may have thought that I said Switzerland. They're the ones that are historically neutral, without an army.'' Then Lantos mentioned, in a gracious aside, that the Swiss do have a tough national guard to protect the country in the event of invasion.

Bush held to his view. ''No, no, it's Sweden that has no army.''

The room went silent, until someone changed the subject.

Apparently a staffer later filled him in on the difference between Sweden and Switzerland...

Expect to see liberal bloggers embracing their position as part of the 'reality-based community'.

Today's NYT also has a business article about Sinclair, and why their ongoing Bush-suckup is probably a no-win situation, from a business standpoint. In a nutshell, if Bush is re-elected, it will be hard for him to press for further media deregulation without it being characterized as the 'Sinclair-Payoff Bill', and if Kerry is elected, they're screwed.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Friday Cat Blogging

Might as well join the crowd, now that Atrios has made cat-blogging respectable again. Here's a scan of an old polaroid of Nathan as a kitten.

I said when I got him, no way he'll grow into those ears. I was wrong.

The Bulge is everywhere

Speculation continues apace en re what Bush is wearing under his suit jacket. I'm starting to favor the 'medical device' theory, given that photos at Bush Wired show him wearing WhateverItIs in virtually every situation. See also this article and get a gander at the photo of the wearable defibrillator. Kind of makes the 'Bush Too Busy to visit Doctor' story take on a whole new meaning...

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Froomkin Analysis, debate three

The Froomkin Theorem, outlined in an earlier post, is that whenever George Bush says 'of course', he's getting ready to let loose with an egregious lie. The WashPost has the debate transcript up, so using the handy 'find' function yields these whoppers:

Of course we're worried about Osama bin Laden. We're on the hunt after Osama bin Laden. We're using every asset at our disposal to get Osama bin Laden.

Of course we're meeting our obligation to our veterans, and the veterans know that.

(re social security) And we're of course going to have to consider the costs. But I want to warn my fellow citizens: The cost of doing nothing, the cost of saying the current system is OK, far exceeds the costs of trying to make sure we save the system for our children.

Interestingly, neither the moderator or John Kerry said the phrase 'of course' throughout the debate. (I noticed this in debate two as well.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

By Whatever Means Necessary

This is mind-boggling. Josh Marshall points to this story:

Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The company claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash.


The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America only wanted Republican registrations.

Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assistant to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law.


The company has been largely, if not entirely funded, by the Republican National Committee. Similar complaints have been received in Reno where the registrar has asked the FBI to investigate.

How can these people stand to be in the same room with themselves? And what are the odds that the Ashcroft FBI will actually investigate this?

These are our friends...

Women will not be able to participate in Saudi Arabi's first nationwide elections because authorities in the strictly segregated country did not have enough time to prepare for both sexes to run and vote, the head of the elections committee said Tuesday.

Prince Mansour also could not say whether women would be allowed to take part in the next round of municipal elections in 2009, stressing that would be up to the committee planning those polls.

Story at link.

You'll note that while they're now claiming that there's 'not enough time' to prepare to allow women to vote, apparently five years will not be time enough.

Worms turning

Bob Barr, who raised Clinton-hating to an artform, is having trouble bringing himself to vote for Bush. See link.

Important health news...

... that you probably already knew. Purring cats are good for you!

(Elizabeth von Muggenthaler) recorded and then measured the purr of forty-four felids (members of the cat family) including cheetahs, ocelots, pumas, domestic cats, and servals. Cats, from your house pet to lions and tigers in the wild, generally purr in the range of 20 to 140 Hertz (Hz). Some are as high as 150 Hz but the average housecat comes in at about 25 and 50 Hz.

Research has already shown that exposure to frequencies at that same 20 and 50 Hz level induces increased bone density. In one study, for example, chickens were placed daily on a vibrating plate for 20 minutes, which resulted in stronger bone growth (National Geographic January, 2001 p. 11). Further, in 1994, Dr. Chen and his associates, working with rabbits, determined that frequencies of 25 and 50 Hz promoted bone strength by 20%, stimulating both the mechanism and speed of fracture healing (Chen et al, 'The Effects of Frequency of Mechanical Vibration on Experimental Fracture Healing'. Chinese Journal of Surgery, 32 (4), 217-219, 1994)


But it's the cat's "healing by association" that most people find interesting: that ability of a cat to sympathetically help cure illnesses in people simply by being around them. Studies have also shown that owners, especially senior citizens, who have cats have lower blood pressure and can live longer than humans who don't own pets. Many individuals swear they can ease or completely eliminate their migraine headaches simply by lying down with a purring cat next to their head.

Can't hit that minimum recommended daily dose of bone-enriching calcium? Maybe grabbing the nearest cat and holding it close may just prove to be the answer to brittle-bones. Having surgery? Perhaps after coming home, keeping a cat nearby will reduce your recovery time. So, go get a cat. Keep it happy and purring. You're both likely to be healthier and you'll have a great friend who truly understands how you're feeling.

Full article here.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Being Busy

Not getting to the news sites as much as usual the past few days. But I did do something I haven't done in ages - I finished a painting.

Witness: Athena Blue, in pastels

Saturday, October 09, 2004


The NYT has picked up the 'net rumor that during the first debate, Bush was being remotely controlled from offstage - see link.

Here's a pic from last night's debate:

What do you think? Wired? Or just extreme curvature of the spine?

Applying the Froomkin Analysis

Two entries down, you'll find Dan Froomkin's contention that whenever Bush says 'of course', he's getting ready to tell a whopper. So using the 'find text' function on the debate transcript, I highlight the following Bush Big Ones for your edification and amusement:

Of course, we're going to find Osama bin Laden. We've already 75 percent of his people. And we're on the hunt for him. Hmm... maybe Osama isn't on ice in the White House deepfreeze yet?

And they looked me in the eye and said, "Yes, sir, Mr. President." Of course, I listen to our generals. That's what a president does. A president sets the strategy and relies upon good military people to execute that strategy.

Secondly, of course we've been involved with Iran.

He didn't honor the agreement. He was enriching uranium. That is a bad policy. Of course, we're paying attention to these. uh-oh... North Korea isn't on our radar...

And of course he's going to raise your taxes. You see, he's proposed $2.2 trillion of new spending.

So there you have it. Bush does not listen to his generals, isn't involved with Iran (involved?), isn't paying attention to North Korea and doesn't really think Kerry will raise taxes.

Friday, October 08, 2004

About BoyKing in a Bubble

Today's WashPost has analysis on the effects of leading a sheltered life on incumbents running for re-election:

During a campaign forum in the Cleveland suburbs last month, President Bush was asked whether he likes broccoli, to disclose his "most important legacy to the American people" and to reveal what supporters can do "to make sure that you win Ohio and get reelected."

The "Ask President Bush" forums, which on television look like freewheeling sessions with the commander in chief, are tightly managed by the Bush-Cheney campaign, with the president calling mainly on people sitting in sections filled with his most loyal supporters. At one such event, a veteran's question was whether Bush would permit him "the honor of giving our commander in chief a real Navy salute, and not a flip-flop."

Several Bush advisers said the president may well pay a price for his decision to remain isolated from tough or unexpected questions when he faces Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), whose events are notably less scripted, in a town-hall-style debate tonight at Washington University in St. Louis. The questions are likely to be tougher than those he faced when he taped an interview about parenting for the "Dr. Phil" show this summer.


Wayne Fields, a specialist in presidential rhetoric at Washington University, said the first debate showed Bush had been overprotected. "If you don't talk to the press and deal with audiences with some degree of skepticism, you can't build understanding so people have confidence in you in hard times," Fields said. "His handlers think they're doing him a favor, but they're not."

Actually, Fields, they are doing him a favor; they're just doing a vast disservice to the American people. When allowed to meet 'regular folks' in uncontrolled settings, the true Bush emerges, as witness the "who cares what you think?" response he gave a citizen in July 2001. Interestingly, the adminstration handlers have ensured that no unscreened and unadoring American be allowed in the Presence since that time.

Ah but of course

Dan Fromkin's White House Briefing column points to an interesting Bushian verbal cue; I include a link but it's not a permalink and will link to the most recent column, so I quote the relevant parts here:

Here's a debate-watching tip: Perk up your ears every time President Bush says "of course" tonight. Because if recent history is a guide, what's coming is a statement that his supporters might find obvious, but that his critics might consider a whopper.

I first noticed this after last week's debate. (Here's the full text.)

"Of course we're after Saddam Hussein -- I mean bin Laden," Bush said early on.

Depending on where you're coming from, politically, that's either manifestly true or a Freudian slip exposing a significant falsehood.

Later in the debate, Bush said: "And, of course, Iraq is a central part in the war on terror."

Well, that was precisely the number one point of contention that night.


Bush's views were being challenged that night, and his use of the phrase "of course" sounded defensive in nature. So I decided to go back and look at how Bush used the phrase in other situations recently where he was confronted by tough questions.

Here's Bush's sole use of the phrase at his joint press conference with Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, last month:

• Talking about his decision to attack Saddam Hussein, Bush said: "Of course, I was hoping it could be done diplomatically. But diplomacy failed. And so the last resort of a President is to use force. And we did. And now we're -- we're helping the Iraqis."

And do you remember Bush's last prime-time press conference in April? Here's every time he used the phrase then:

• "And of course I want to know why we haven't found a weapon yet."

• Speaking of the President's Daily Brief that he received a month before Sept. 11, 2001, headlined: "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US," Bush said: "And of course that concern[ed] me."

Lots more (for now) at link above.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


Taking a page from Political Animal Kevin Drum's book, I drove around my neighborhood today counting yard signs. Was surprised (and pleased) to count eight signs for Kerry/Edwards. How many for Bush/Cheney? ZERO! And this is in Virginia! Granted, Northern Virginia, which tilts a little more liberal, but Loudoun County has been fairly staunchly conservative for years. And NONE for the Regime? Could Virginia be in play this year?

Woo HOO!

AP Poll: Kerry Holds Small Lead Over Bush

I suspect if the numbers were reversed, the headline would read something like 'Bush SURGES in Polls, cruising to victory over dispirited Frenchified opponent.'

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Jockey-gate? Hanes-gate?


LANSING, Mich. -- Republicans say filmmaker Michael Moore should be prosecuted for offering underwear, potato chips and noodles to college students in exchange for their promise to vote.

The Michigan Republican Party has asked four county prosecutors to file charges against Moore, charging that his stunt amounts to bribery.

''We want everyone to participate in this year's election, but not because they were bribed or coerced by the likes of Michael Moore,'' said Greg McNeilly, executive director of the state Republican Party.

Moore, a Michigan native, is touring the country and imploring ''slackers'' who usually don't vote to head to the polls this year.

During each program, habitual nonvoters are invited on stage to pledge to vote. First-time student voters are offered gag prizes such as clean underwear. The GOP said Moore also offered students a clean dorm room, a year's supply of Tostitos and a package of Ramen noodles.

Bought for the price of a package of Ramen...

River in Egypt edition

Fox news: we offer desperate justifications, you laugh.

One person who thought last week's debate went badly for President Bush was President Bush himself, who is said by sources to be unhappy not only with his own performance, but also with the way he was prepared for it.

Some around him now believe that what happened was similar to what happened to Ronald Reagan in the first debate in 1984 when he lost to Walter Mondale after being heavily overprepared.

From the Incomparable Brit Hume.

Empty Language

An interesting article from last year, in The Nation:

George W. Bush is generally regarded as a mangler of the English language. What is overlooked is his mastery of emotional language--especially negatively charged emotional language--as a political tool. Take a closer look at his speeches and public utterances, and his political success turns out to be no surprise. It is the predictable result of the intentional use of language to dominate others.

President Bush, like many dominant personality types, uses dependency-creating language. He employs language of contempt and intimidation to shame others into submission and desperate admiration. While we tend to think of the dominator as using physical force, in fact most dominators use verbal abuse to control others. Abusive language has been a major theme of psychological researchers on marital problems, such as John Gottman, and of philosophers and theologians, such as Josef Pieper. But little has been said about the key role it has come to play in political discourse, and in such "hot media" as talk radio and television.

Bush uses several dominating linguistic techniques to induce surrender to his will. The first is empty language. This term refers to broad statements that are so abstract and mean so little that they are virtually impossible to oppose. Empty language is the emotional equivalent of empty calories. Just as we seldom question the content of potato chips while enjoying their pleasurable taste, recipients of empty language are usually distracted from examining the content of what they are hearing. Dominators use empty language to conceal faulty generalizations; to ridicule viable alternatives; to attribute negative motivations to others, thus making them appear contemptible; and to rename and "reframe" opposing viewpoints.

Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech contained thirty-nine examples of empty language. He used it to reduce complex problems to images that left the listener relieved that George W. Bush was in charge. Rather than explaining the relationship between malpractice insurance and skyrocketing healthcare costs, Bush summed up: "No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit." The multiple fiscal and monetary policy tools that can be used to stimulate an economy were downsized to: "The best and fairest way to make sure Americans have that money is not to tax it away in the first place." The controversial plan to wage another war on Iraq was simplified to: "We will answer every danger and every enemy that threatens the American people." In an earlier study, I found that in the 2000 presidential debates Bush used at least four times as many phrases containing empty language as Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush Senior or Gore had used in their debates.

Much more at link.

The author seems to feel that Bush is intentionally deploying linguistic techniques to have his way with the US populace; I'm not so sure. It's quite possible that Bush employs 'empty language' because that's all he understands.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


After undergoing his annual medical check-up in August 2001, 2002 and 2003, US President George W. Bush has put the procedure off this year until after the November 2 election, his spokesman said.

More at link.

You know, with all the speculation swirling about 'presenile dementia', I really think the public has a right to insist on some kind of screening...

Feeling Drafty in here

Hackworth says a draft is coming. Read it, then decide what you want your kids fighting for. Link via Atrios


Great line: "I would rather have a beer with John Kerry than a draft with bush."

Credit Hubris Sonic from comments at Eschaton.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Psychic at NYTimes?

We'll know tomorrow night... On July 11th, Andy Borowitz filed this report:

Planning for the 2004 vice presidential debate is already under way. In an attempt to level the playing field, Senator John Edwards's image will be digitally altered to make him 40 percent less "hot looking," and Vice President Dick Cheney will be on a five-second delay. Finally, each man has submitted a wish list of questions to ask the other during the high-stakes face-off.


1. Former Senator Alfonse D'Amato has suggested President Bush dump you from the ticket. What's your response to him, in two words?

2. If Halliburton and the Carlyle Group both invited you to the movies on the same night, who would you go with?

3. Over the past four years, how many days would you say you spent above ground?



1. Who made the final out in the 1954 World Series?

2. What do you have that Dick Gephardt doesn't have, besides eyebrows?


6. On the night Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, which pajamas were you wearing, the ones with the cowboys or the ones with the ducks?

More at link (free registration required).

What the heck is this?

Theories include (but are not limited to):

- batterypack for hidden mike feeding answers to earphone (in which case, person on other end of transaction should be fired)
- alien access port for control of earth-type being
- recharger unit for Bushbot
Your theories?

From Raw Story via Digby

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Yesterday's News

If anyone still cares, here's a research paper that purports to show that the 60 Minutes memo could only have come from a typewriter, and one of the appropriate vintage could quite easily have produced it, special superscripts not withstanding. It also identifies the font and - surprise! - it's not Times New Roman.

My question for the next debate

What I wish someone would ask the candidates: "Do you believe the world is going to end some time in this or the next generation?" Someone who thinks the world is only going to be around another few decades would make significantly different decisions from someone who thought it were going to be around for another few millenia. I'd like to know what Bush really thinks.

Truth in Humor

How many members of the Bush administration does it take to change a light bulb?

None. "There's nothing wrong with that light bulb. It has served us honorably. When you say it's burned out, you're giving encouragement to the forces of darkness. Once we install a light bulb, we never, ever change it. Real men don't need artificial light."

From Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune.


One week after turning 18, Kara Caudell will cast her first vote in a presidential general election Nov. 2 for Democrat John Kerry, a prospect that has her "pretty excited."

But the Lakota East High School student from Liberty Township already has had an unpleasant introduction to the seamy side of politics.

Last weekend, minutes after obtaining two tickets to President Bush's huge rally Monday in West Chester, Caudell said she had the tickets ripped from her hand by two men who objected to the Kerry bumper sticker on her car.

The men, Caudell said, blocked her from getting into her car outside the West Chester office of Rep. John Boehner, one of the GOP's distribution points for the rally tickets, until one forcibly took the tickets from her. The two 40-ish men -- who Caudell believes were Bush campaign volunteers -- also were verbally abusive, calling her a "sinner" and "terrorist" for supporting Kerry and even going far as to suggest that she might intend to harm Bush at the rally.


After picking up the tickets, Caudell said, she was confronted by a man who, seeing her getting into a car with a Kerry bumper sticker and the Kerry slogan painted on its rear window, asked whether she was a Kerry supporter. When she replied that she was, the man, by then joined by a second man, called her a terrorist for not supporting Bush, Caudell said.

"I said, 'If a Democrat was in the White House, would you support him?'" Caudell said. "He said, 'No.' And I said, 'Then by your own definition, you're a terrorist, too.'"

To that, Caudell said, the man told the 5-foot-3 cheerleader: "You're pretty snippy for someone so small."

The first man, who Caudell said did most of the talking -- with the second basically echoing his remarks -- grabbed her car door to prevent her from getting in and told her he would not allow her to leave until she surrendered the tickets. When she refused, he tore them from her hand, Caudell said.

Nice. (Story here.)

Single Issue Voters

Yeah, there's a few out there. But they're not quite the 'security moms' of story and song (they're a different kind of 'security' mom.

"The war on terror will continue," says the president. "It's going to take a while and no, we don't need a draft."

But Beverly's not buying it. She's a Republican, but also a single-issue voter.

Would she vote for a Democrat? "Absolutely," she says. "I would vote for Howdy Doody if I thought it would keep my boys home and safe."

One termers

Interesting article here about winning the Presidency while losing the popular vote. Best quote, from 1888: "If you have a weak candidate and a weak platform, wrap yourself up in the American flag and talk about the Constitution." Spoken, to no one's surprise, by a Republican.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Fox News: We Invent, You Believe

If you haven't been following the Fox posting of 'humor' as news on their website, race right over to Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo now and read his coverage. First post on topic is Oct 1, 1:31 PM.