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

Friday, August 27, 2004

Russia Calls It Terrorism

This report from Moscow cites Russian intelligence sources as attributing this week's simultaneous plane crashes to Islamic terrorists.

"According to our initial investigation, at least one of the air crashes ... came as a result of a terror attack," a spokesman for Russia's FSB intelligence service was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

The spokesman, Sergei Ignachenko, announced that investigators had discovered traces of Hexogen, a powerful explosive with both military and civilian uses, in the wreckage of one of two planes that crashed almost simultaneously on Tuesday.

In addition to the fact that this proves how woeful Russia's security system is, it shows to me the futility of fighting a war on terror in a military fashion. It's the equivalent of playing that Wack-A-Mole game in an arcade- every time you knock down one terrorist, another few pop up. That's because the number of disenfranchised youth receptive to a hardline Islamic fundamentalist message grows with each piece of global policy. You never hear about the economic front of the war on terror, the idea that if you lift up poor people around the world, if you work with governments to close the madrassahs, if you give an alternative to theocracy that stresses individual potential and development, you narrow the pool of potential terrorists. It might rid the world of terrorism, but maybe it beats turning Mesopotamia into a river of blood. Whenever you have hopeless souls who want to change their world, you have the potential for terrorism. In my opinion, injecting some hope makes sense.


Bob Novak: Douchebag for Liberty

I work in an office with a TV I can have on in the background all day. Unfortunately, the only news channel I've got is CNN (not that there's too much to choose from stateside). Which means I am endlessly frustrated by their limp, incurious coverage. And that means a whole lot of caniption fits while watching the Crossfire Gang. The last couple days, it's been Carville and Novak. Novak will not share the stage with Begala anymore, after Begala dared to bring up some of Novak's actual words:

(from 7.2.04)

BEGALA: And let me ask you, Mr. Novak, with your new self-founded -- newfounded self-righteousness, are you going to retract the statement you said last week on "Meet the Press," where you implied that President Clinton was involved in people's deaths over Whitewater? That's the most outrageous things I've heard said about an American president.

NOVAK: I didn't say he was engaging -- and you're lying.

BEGALA: I'll read your words.

NOVAK: And when I said that...

BEGALA: "I don't believe that the Whitewater case was ever fully investigated. People died, and I believe Bill Clinton beat the rap on Whitewater."


BEGALA: ... he beat the rap and people died. Who died? Who died in Whitewater?


NOVAK: McDougal died, and...

BEGALA: He died in prison of a heart attack.

NOVAK: Well, people died (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But just a minute. You can't -- you can't say -- go on national television and accuse me of something I didn't say.

BEGALA: I read your words.

NOVAK: I did not say that, and that is a lie. And I...

BEGALA: These are your words, Mr. Novak. I read them.

NOVAK: And I'm ashamed of you for going on the air and saying that.

BEGALA: I got this from the transcript. This is the transcript from "Meet the Press", Bob.

NOVAK: That's an outrage. And it is...

BEGALA: It is an outrage. You owe Mr. Clinton an apology.

NOVAK: ... an absolute outrage because I did not say that he was responsible for those deaths. And this is not fun, Paul.

So, now he goes up against James Carville. And he apparently thinks so much of the Ragin' Cajun that he thinks he can just go ahead and lie to his face. On yesterday's show, Carville brought up the Census report showing a rise in the US poverty rate and the number of Americans lacking health insurance. Here's Novak's reply:

(from 8/26/04)

NOVAK: You know, James, I don't have to be politically correct. So I can tell you, these figures are phony on poverty.

CARVILLE: They are? Really?

NOVAK: This country is a really prosperous country. Most of the people who don't have life insurance -- I mean health insurance -- don't want to pay for it.

Now, not only is he disputing a report compiled by a federal agency full of Bush appointees, but he's doing it by that most Republican of tactics... just by saying so. Those figures are phony on poverty, because they are. And his notion that people without health insurance are just a bunch of greedy bastards who don't want to pay for it is completely insulting. People get sick because they lack health insurance, Bob. People die. They aren't trying to save a buck, moron.

Then today, on CNN's Live From... (which apparently stands for "Live From Everywhere But Where News Is Happening"), Novak and Carville joined Miles O'Brien to discuss the upcoming RNC. O'Brien starts showing the protesters, and asks Novak about them. Here's his quote (paraphrased, no transcript up yet):

NOVAK: I was in Chicago in 1968, and those protesters brought down the Democratic Party. But these protesters are just a bunch of idiots, and the only sensible thing to do is ignore them.

So, protesters are OK when it's at a Democratic Convention, but when it's at a Republican Convention, they should simply be ignored. Americans should be ignored. Not covered. Censored. Expunged from the record. Actually, maybe the only American that shouldn't be covered, Bob, is the woman whose identity you revealed to the world, risking her life and our national security.

Troll. Idiot. Liar. Douchebag.


Thursday, August 26, 2004

Bush to Free Speech: Drop Dead

Today Bush is saying that he wants to work with McCain to put an end to 527's, either by legal action now or by legislation later. In fact, he's filing with the Federal Election Commission to get the ads pulled off the air.

This is an enormous flip-flop (see my earlier post), and it basically says "I don't believe in free speech." Now, Kerry went to court to stop the Swift Boat ads, and it really was under the cover of coordination with the Bush campaign. But that was wrong too, I feel, and this is just incredibly wrong. It's also incredibly in line with an administration that wants to crush free speech wherever it lurks, whether on the radio with Howard Stern, or in its own campaign rallies with dissenting T-shirts and audience members who don't sign loyalty oaths, to protesters that must be confined to free speech zones. This administration can't take the heat, so it tries to turn off the burner. It's disgusting and anti-American. (and yes, I'd tell you to "shove it" if you don't think so)

But you won't hear this from the Kerry camp, because in many ways they're doing the same thing. I hope Kerry realizes that the right to speech is inalienable, and when he's in office he won't try to stamp it out the way this President has.


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Comedy, the New Seriousness

As if there were any doubt that The Daily Show has arrived as a news and information source that tells the truth (in a funny way) a whole hell of a lot more than everyone else out there, last night Jon Stewart hosted the Democratic candidate, John Kerry, for an extended interview. The best way to see where a campaign is headed is to listen to the candidate himself (obviously), and last night we got a few hints as to what's next for Kerry.

His biggest applause line was when, in reference to the Swift Boat Liars for Revenge controversy, he said "It's disappointing because I think most Americans would like to have a much more intelligent conversation about where the country's going." That was certainly the theme of yesterday's Cooper Union speech, and it makes sense for Kerry to take the high road (no matter what his surrogates do, like Max Cleland, who today was rebuffed trying to give a letter to the President asking him to denounce the SBVfT ads) and get back to the issues that matter. It's clear that's what the country wants, which is why BOTH sides are saying it, at least publicly. Kerry looked very comfortable with Stewart, and he was able to delineate his problems with the Bush Administration- pardon the pun- swiftly, in very concise, soundbite-ready form. It looked a little scripted, sure, but it's a message that has clearly been honed by all this time on the campaign trail. The line "Wearing gabardine beats going to war the way this President sent our troops to war" shows one instance of Kerry being comfortable enough to think on his feet and steer the conversation the way he wants it to go. Kerry characterized the President as stubborn (I'd call it insane, constantly doing the same thing and expecting different results, but then again, maybe that's why I'm not running for President), and it's a perfect foil to the flip-flopping meme.

The most interesting comment was in reference to the upcoming debates:

JOHN KERRY: Well, that’s the test of debates. I mean, look, the President has won every debate he’s ever had. People need to understand that. He beat Ann Richards. He beat Al Gore. So he’s a good debater.

Brilliant. You can't let this President off easy with a curt "He's a moron" and dismiss his abilities. The guy's been President for four years. He should be able to articulate his position. This puts Kerry in perfect position for the debates. It negates what will be attempts to lower the expectations bar for Bush so he can hop over it. Kudos to the Kerry campaign for going on the offensive on this early.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

He's Out of the Loop

Dick Cheney doesn't support a Federal Marriage Amendment. I guess having a gay daughter has even melted his icy black heart (that's not an ad hominem attack, by the way, I heard it from the Dick Cheney Icy Black Heart Doctors for Truth). In doing so, he used a very interesting quote (for an icy black-hearted man such as himself):

"My general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want," Cheney, 63, said in response to a question at a campaign "town hall" meeting in Davenport, Iowa.

Now, contrast that with then-candidate Bush, talking in 1999 about a parody website one of those pesky dissenters put up about him:

"There ought to be limits to freedom."

Hey, Bush has said what he means and meant what he's said as far as that quote is concerned. He's been freedom-limiting those who question his policies or don't meet with theological approval ever since Inauguration Day.

Then, Cheney made this baffling statement:

"I made clear four years ago ... that my view was that's (probably) a matter for the states to decide," he added. "But the president makes basic policy for the administration. And he's made it clear that he does in fact support a constitutional amendment on this issue."

I guess the Vice President doesn't get invited to high-level policy meetings. He's too busy laying ceremonial wreaths at international state funerals and so forth. He's so out of the loop.

It took a citizen, and a hand-picked, loyalty oath-signing citizen at that, to press the Vice President on this issue. That makes it fair game for the debates, and as such a chance to depict some breaks in the ranks of the GOP. Or, this could all be part of the "kinder gentler" moderate Republican Party rollout in advance of the convention. Still, it'll give them problems with the hardcores and fundies fueled by hate and closed-mindedness.


Damn Free-Speechers

From The Sunday Times:

Mr. Bush's advisers said they were girding for the most extensive street demonstrations at any political convention since the Democrats nominated Hubert H. Humphrey in Chicago in 1968. But in contrast to that convention, which was severely undermined by televised displays of street rioting, Republicans said they would seek to turn any disruptions to their advantage, by portraying protests by even independent activists as Democratic-sanctioned displays of disrespect for a sitting president.

I think if you change "Democratic-sanctioned" to "democracy-sanctioned" in the bold-faced sentence, you then know everything you need to know about this President.

I've been utilizing my free speech lately. Someone in the lunch room at work walks in yesterday, sees the Swift Boat "he said/she said" on CNN, and says "Shut up guys, you BOTH avoided service, let's move on and stop talking about this." I couldn't let the notion just lie there that Bush and Kerry somehow both avoided military service, so I kept making points until he relented with, "Well, can we agree that it doesn't matter?" Then, last night, I hear a man advocate the indiscriminant killing of Arabs, in Westwood, of all places (which, for those non-Southern Californians, has the highest concentration of Persians in the world outside of Tehran), and then when I reply to this with "Yay, killing! Yay, death! Let's go kill people," he unbelievably tags me as intolerant of HIS views.

The point is, you have to speak up and let the ignorant know they're being ignorant, let the racist know they're being racist, etc. Unless it's in the streets of New York City next week, that is. That would just be disrespect for a sitting President.


Monday, August 23, 2004

Is It Safe?

That was the famous line uttered repeatedly by Dr. Christian Szell (Laurence Olivier) in Marathon Man, just before he tortures poor Thomas Levy (Dustin Hoffman) by drilling into his teeth. As proof that the longer you live, the more movie scenes you'll see come to life, this sort of abuse by doctors is now alleged as part of the procedure at Abu Ghraib:

LONDON - Doctors working for the U.S. military in Iraq collaborated with interrogators in the abuse of detainees at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, profoundly breaching medical ethics and human rights, a bioethicist charges in The Lancet medical journal.

He cites evidence that doctors or medics falsified death certificates to cover up homicides, hid evidence of beatings and revived a prisoner so he could be further tortured. No reports of abuses were initiated by medical personnel until the official investigation into Abu Ghraib began, he found.

"Revived a prisoner so he could be further tortured" should jump out at every American. This is what your country is doing in your name, and rather than this silly "he said/she said" over injuries suffered 35 years ago, THIS is what should be sprawled all over the front page. We kicked the shit out of Iraqis, then administered smelling salts so we could kick the shit out of them some more. Seymour Hersh is readying a book about Abu Ghraib and its roots in 9/11 that should be on shelves right after the convention. It remains to be seen if that will be as explosive a revelation as a bunch of well-funded Republican liars masquerading as truth-tellers.


Turning Tide

Just want to add to the left-wing blog chorus that Kerry did the absolute right thing by hitting back against the Swift Boat Liars ads, and doing it the right way, not simply by calling them lies (which they are), but by connecting them to the Bush campaign, which isn't hard when one of the veterans that appeared in the ads is on the Bush-Cheney '04 for Vets Steering Committee (until, magically, his name disappeared from the rolls two days ago). Kerry has reframed the debate, and in this media age you have to fight back to get heard above the din of the 24-hour news cycle. The great Digby put it best:

Combatting smears is very, very difficult. It is almost impossible, as a matter of fact, when you have a compliant media that wants to be "fair and balanced" to the point where they would give Hitler equal time to make his case against the Jews.