As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, August 20, 2004

Lying Liars for Truth

By now, you've surely heard about this disingenuous "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" campaign, which through ads, a book, and talk show appearances, attempt to smear John Kerry's service record, claiming 1) he never took any serious fire, 2) his war wounds weren't all that bad, 3) his wounds were possibly self-inflicted, among other things. This assault has muddied the waters, despite the clear lies and distortions at work in these allegations, as reported by the Washington Postand the New York Times and upheld by Republicans like John McCain and Chris Shays. Seriously, read the link and come back, you won't find a better condensation of these lies anywhere.

Back? Good.

The Bush campaign, who has not specifically condemned these ads, instead uses the opportunity to condemn all 527 ads, many of which have targeted the President and his policies. Now, Bush won't come out and call THOSE ads lies, he won't connect THOSE ads to the Bush campaign, unlike Kerry's fiery speech yesterday in Boston. Well, that's because they're not. While the money trail of the Swift Boat Veterans ads goes all the way back to Bush I's 1988 campaign, ads by, the Media Fund, and more have no connection to the Kerry campaign.

In fact, Bush had no problem with the loophole that created the 527 ad wars we see today. Let's read his statement after signing the McCain-Feingold Act (which he did without fanfare, by the way):

Today I have signed into law H.R. 2356, the "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002." I believe that this legislation, although far from perfect, will improve the current financing system for federal campaigns.


...this law will raise the decades-old limits on giving imposed on individuals who wish to support the candidate of their choice, thereby advancing my stated principle that election reform should strengthen the role of individual citizens in the political process.

So your principle is to strengthen the role of individual citizens, but you want to eliminate all 527 ads, most of them financed by individual citizens?

Third, this legislation creates new disclosure requirements and compels speedier compliance with existing ones, which will promote the free and swift flow of information to the public regarding the activities of groups and individuals in the political process. I long have believed that complete and immediate disclosure of the source of campaign contributions is the best way to reform campaign finance.

And yet he denies clear links between his campaign and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. I wish Kerry would call on Bush to act on his word and offer full disclosure on the funders of these ads.

However, the bill does have flaws. Certain provisions present serious constitutional concerns. In particular, H.R. 2356 goes farther than I originally proposed by preventing all individuals, not just unions and corporations, from making donations to political parties in connection with federal elections. I believe individual freedom to participate in elections should be expanded, not diminished; and when individual freedoms are restricted, questions arise under the First Amendment.

So your campaign now seeks to restrict individual freedom, but no questions arise under the First Amendment?

I also have reservations about the constitutionality of the broad ban on issue advertising, which restrains the speech of a wide variety of groups on issues of public import in the months closest to an election. I expect that the courts will resolve these legitimate legal questions as appropriate under the law.

So you go from having reservations about banning issue advertising to CALLING for it, once you realize that there are more donors out there willing to produce issue ads against you than for you?

This is classic flip-flopping, and the Kerry campaign should call it as they see it.


Thursday, August 19, 2004

Past vs. Future

Keynote address at the DNC: Barack Obama, rising star, Senator-to-be from Illinois.

Keynote address at the RNC: Zell Miller, retiring Senator from Georgia.

'Nuff said.


Making the World Safe for Soccer

The fact that it's gotten so bad for Bush and his backwards policies that he has to resort to running ads featuring the Iraq and Afghanistan Olympic teams is salient. The fact that 50 people from Iraq are over in Athens right now justifies killing 10,000? Is that all you've got? "Hey, we gave them a soccer ball. What more do you want? Sure, most of the country doesn't have running water, but did you see that corner kick last night? Everything's back to normal over there!"

But here's the point. The Iraqi Olympic team is not pleased at being a prop for an American re-election effort.

Sadir had a message for U.S. president George W. Bush, who is using the Iraqi Olympic team in his latest re-election campaign advertisements.

In those spots, the flags of Iraq and Afghanistan appear as a narrator says, "At this Olympics there will be two more free nations -- and two fewer terrorist regimes."

"Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign," Sadir told through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. "He can find another way to advertise himself."

Ahmed Manajid, who played as a midfielder on Wednesday, had an even stronger response when asked about Bush's TV advertisement. "How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women?" Manajid told me. "He has committed so many crimes."

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

Sadir, Wednesday's goal-scorer, used to be the star player for the professional soccer team in Najaf. In the city in which 20,000 fans used to fill the stadium and chant Sadir's name, U.S. and Iraqi forces have battled loyalists to rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr for the past two weeks. Najaf lies in ruins.

"I want the violence and the war to go away from the city," says Sadir, 21. "We don't wish for the presence of Americans in our country. We want them to go away."

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

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

When the Games are over, though, Coach Hamad says, they will have to return home to a place where they fear walking the streets. "The war is not secure," says Hamad, 43. "Many people hate America now. The Americans have lost many people around the world--and that is what is happening in America also."

This is your average Iraqi opinion, it appears to me. We're screwed in Iraq as long as our idiot chimp is running the show.


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Making America Safer for Rich People

The notion that rich people don't pay their taxes is pretty cemented in the conventional wisdom. The mistake that this President is making is that there's nothing he can do about it. In fact, he's using this "inevitable fact" as a recurring motif in his stump speech: the rich don't pay taxes, so it's meaningless to tax them. By trying to extend the talking point, the President is actually using criminal activity (tax evasion) as support for his own policies. Here's one example of this, at a rally last week in Annandale, Virginia:

That's why you've got to be careful about this rhetoric, we're only going to tax the rich. You know who the -- the rich in America happen to be the small business owners. That's what that means. Just remember, when you're talking about, oh, we're just going to run up the taxes on a certain number of people -- first of all, real rich people figure out how to dodge taxes. (Laughter.) And the small business owners end up paying a lot of the burden of this taxation.

The President did it again yesterday in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania:

Be careful of these folks who travel around the country making all these big promises, and say, oh, don't worry, we'll pay for it by taxing the rich. You know how that goes. The rich hires accountants and lawyers and you get stuck with the bill. But we're not going to let him raise your taxes. For the sake of economic growth, for the sake of job creation, we will keep America's taxes low.

Can you fathom a sitting President saying "You can't tax the rich, because the rich don't pay their taxes," as if he's helpless to do anything about it? By the way, if you define "the rich" as people in the top 1% of the country, the President and most of his cabinet are among them. Does that mean THEY aren't paying their taxes? And by the way, this is a classic example of mission creep into that "national sales tax" territory, which the President lauded as "an interesting idea" last week (until the criticism became so loud that he ran for cover). The argument will go like this: "If the rich don't pay their taxes, we might as well enact a sales tax and abolish the income tax, because at least that way we'll get SOME revenue." The national sales tax is a dumb idea that will disproportionately affect poor Americans who will have to pay through the nose for necessities, probably cutting consumption (the only thing keeping this economy afloat), as well as eliminate tax credits for home ownership, childcare and education.

For some reason, this is not getting a lot of media attention. IMO, he's getting away with it because nobody in the Kerry camp has picked up on it.  This is such an easy one to knock out of the park, I can't believe they're not doing it.  I can hear it now:

"There's a way to get rich people to pay their fair share: you close the loopholes, and you seek IRS enforcement, unlike this President, who has only sought out more audits of middle-class and poor Americans.  In my administration, rich people won't be able to dodge taxes."

Can somebody get Gene Sperling on the phone?  This one's so damn easy...


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Alan Keyes, American Taliban

A lot of people think Alan Keyes doesn't matter. Obama's gonna crush him, so who cares what he has to say? He should simply be laughed at, written off as a raving lunatic. He IS a raving lunatic, but he shouldn't be written off. Statements like these should be put front and center:

"Now, you think it's a coincidence that on Sept. 11th, 2001, we were struck by terrorists an evil that has at its heart the disregard of innocent human life? We who have for several decades killed not thousands but scores of millions of our own children, in disregard of the principle of innocent human life -- I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a warning. I don't think that's a coincidence, I think that's a shot across the bow.
"I think that's a way of Providence telling us, "I love you all; I'd like to give you a chance. Wake up! Would you please wake up?"

"What distinguishes the terrorist from the ordinary warrior, is that the terrorist will consciously target innocent human life. What is done in the course of an abortion? . . . Someone consciously targets innocent human life.
"As I often point out to folks, the evil is the same. And that means, quite frankly, in fighting the war against terror, as I have often put it to audiences, the evil that we fight is but the shadow of the evil that we do."

These quotes should be on the front page because they lay bare the true meaning of these "values issues" the GOP love to talk about: they're fueled by hatred, pig-ignorance, sexism, and a peculiar type of fundamentalist insanity. It recalls the words of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, just days after the Twin Towers fell:

"The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say: you helped this happen."

These statements by Keyes should be put on the front page of every paper in America, and when they are, I believe all rational people will see them (and the Republican theocratic positions behind them) as disgusting, unAmerican, and deeply, deeply dangerous. And that will put to bed this ridiculous wedge Republicans have tried to push through the American people, once and for all.


Monday, August 16, 2004

President Bush... bringing the troops home! Not the ones in danger, of course...

So the media is trumpeting this announcement by the President in Cincinnati today to realign combat forces in Europe and Asia, bringing up to 70,000 troops home over the next 10 years.  Now, the Cold War has been over for almost 15 years, so I don't think many people will object to getting troop reductions in Germany and Japan (although taking troops out of Korea at a time when relations with the North are so tense seems ludicrous).  
Diaries ::
But where are these troops headed once they rotate out of their prior commitments?  The Bush Administration insists they'd head home, but this is the same administration that just deployed members of the IRR (Individual Ready Reserve), retired soldiers that had extra years available to military service.  This "troop reduction" may just transfer troops from safe bases into Iraq and Afghanistan.  It seems more like a safeguard against mandatory conscription, which lots of experts agree is a looming reality.

Of course, we're in an election year, and any opportunity to win votes by saying "I'm bringing the troops home" is a good idea for a candidate.  Responding to John Kerry's claim that with help from allies, we could significantly reduce US troop levels in Iraq by the end of 2005, Bush said, "That sends the wrong signal to the enemy."  So he's clearly not taking one soldier out of Iraq, and there are virtually no soldiers in reserve once the disgruntled National Guard members in Iraq and other Army regulars end their service there and rotate back to the US.

This is a cynical ploy by a desperate incumbent who can say "we're bringing troops home" while in fact putting targets on their chests and sending them back out into a firing zone.


Kerry... too funny to be president...

Jodi Wilogren did a baffling hatchet job on John Kerry in Sunday's New York Times, where she appeared to be upset that Kerry has a writing staff. "So it went on Mr. Kerry's cross-country tour these past two weeks. Same speech, different opening joke at each stop," she whined. Why do you insult my standing as a mainstream journalist by writing a new joke each time, forcing me to pay attention to your speech? Then, at the end, trying to smear this approach as backfiring, she goes ahead and makes shit up:

But the perils of going local are, well, getting it wrong...


Mr. Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, made a similar goof a few weeks back, when she tried to get points in Cleveland for being from Pittsburgh, perhaps forgetting the Browns-Steelers and Indians-Pirates rivalries.

OK, Browns-Steelers, maybe, but Indians-Pirates? There is no Indians-Pirates rivalry. The Indians and Pirates have probably played 6 games in their history, all of them meaningless. Yes, Jodi, the perils of going local ARE getting it wrong.


Sunday, August 15, 2004

Do they even listen to themselves?

Atrios has the goods again:

On Hugh Hewitt's show:

HH: Today you brought attention to John Kerry's plan to wage a more 'sensitive' war on terror. What do you think John Kerry meant when he said 'sensitive,' Mr. Vice President?

VP: Well, I'm not sure what he meant (laughing). Ah, it strikes me the two words don't really go together, sensitive and war. If you look at our history, I don't think any of the wars we've won, were won by us being quote sensitive. I think of Abraham Lincoln and General Grant, they didn't wage sensitive war. Neither did Roosevelt, neither did Eisenhower or MacArthur in World War II. A sensitive war will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans, and who seek chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons to kill hundreds of thousands more....


HH: Will the Najaf offensive continue until that city is subdued even if that means a siege of the Imam Ali shrine?

VP: Well, from the standpoint of the shrine, obviously it is a sensitive area, and we are very much aware of its sensitivity. On the other hand, a lot of people who worship there feel like Moqtada Sadr is the one who has defiled the shrine, if you will, and I would expect folks on the scene there, including U.S. commanders, will work very carefully with the Iraqis so that we minimize the extent to which the U.S. is involved in any operation that might involve the shrine itself.

You have got to be fucking kidding me.