Monday, August 30, 2004

They don't give a damn:

Over at there is a new section devoted to President George W. Bush's Record of Achievement

We went over and took a look. There is an introduction, plus 19 chapters on topics such as Protecting the Homeland, Energy Security, Corporate Accountability Reform, etc.

We clicked on Corporate Accountability Reform and look what came up:

Note that the TITLE (highlighted in yellow) reads "Encouraging Minority Entrepreneurship"

Huh? That's also the TITLE for:
And get this, there is no chapter for Encouraging Minority Entrepreneurship. (There were a couple of other bugs as well.)

Yeah, we know this is nitpicking, but this is, after all, Bush's Record of Achievement. His resume. The capstone for four years' work. And it's a sloppy job.


Cartoon of the week:

We missed this when it was in the Village Voice in late July, but it's appropriate now that the Republican convention is under way - with John McCain playing a leading role. Crude, but amusing.



UPDATE - BLAST FROM THE PAST: Bush in the 2003 State of the Union address:
Our war against terror is a contest of will in which perseverance is power. In the ruins of two towers, at the western wall of the Pentagon, on a field in Pennsylvania, this nation made a pledge, and we renew that pledge tonight: Whatever the duration of this struggle, and whatever the difficulties, we will not permit the triumph of violence in the affairs of men -- free people will set the course of history.


Sunday, August 29, 2004


After much puzzlement and cursing at the computer screen, we appear to have enabled the comments feature. (Actually, we partially enabled it a month or so ago but didn't complete the process until today. There are some - rare - comments for earlier posts.)

Remember, when commenting here at uggabugga to follow the rules:
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Juan Cole has a new post that goes into more detail about the Pentagon spy story. We put the information into a diagram (an extension of the one below).

Too see the full size image, click here. (large image here)

KEYWORDS: Lawrence Franklin, Harold Rhode, Wolfowitz, Feith, Luti, AIPAC, SISMI, Ghorbanifar, Mojahedin-e Khalq, MEK, Pollari

NOTE: In order to put all this information into a single diagram, it has to be large and the fonts small.

UPDATE/NOTICE: Since this post is getting a lot of links, we shall use it as the 'home post' for the diagram and it will change as new information comes out and is incorporated.

UPDATE [2004-08-30] Include contact between Franklin and Naor Gilon


Saturday, August 28, 2004

That Pentagon spy story:

Nothing special here, but a diagram that shows the various links described in the New York Times and Washington Post.

Full size image here. Large image here.


Blast from the past:

The spy story is still in the early phases and we'll have to see how it pans out. But in the meantime, take a look at a cartoon we did a little over a year ago:


We stand corrected?

Reader TR says that it's not too hard to keep track of the Swift Boat story and directs our attention to this website:

It's a good resource on the topic and has a well organized page for all the different charges, so maybe it's not as difficult to keep track of things as we thought. When somebody like eriposte follows the charges and countercharges, it makes it much easier to stay informed - especially conpared to the print and other media.


Friday, August 27, 2004

Not the right place:

A quick thought. We avidly read the Daily Howler, and recently Bob Somerby has been taking the cable channels to task for failing to be informed on the Swift Boat controversy. He says that Deborah Norville and Pat Buchanan didn't know enough to challenge pro-Swift guests. Same with Chris Matthews.

As much as we'd like to agree with the Howler, we admit to having trouble keeping all the names and dates and events straight. (Maybe we should make a diagram!) The point is that television, especially the interview format, is not a good place to sort out disagreements when there are multiple charges made. Maybe Matthews should have an assistent typing furiously into a database in order to bring up the relevant facts - in realtime. Or maybe Matthews should spend some time memorizing everything. The solution is that charges by the Swift Boat Veterans is best handled in a print media (or in a highly structured, lawerly, television format). Then one can read (or hear) the charge, look up to see what the facts are, make a response, and so on.

We've said on occasion that the proper way to deal with the Swifties on television is to s l o w     d o w n. Take one item at a time. But we've been told that that's a ratings killer.

That's why television is not a good medium for finding out the truth. It is, however, a good medium for making charges - especially new ones that nobody has any idea how to counter.


Thursday, August 26, 2004

Democrats score one:

We were surprised to read the following post by Harley over at the conservative blog t a c i t u s:
Okay. I'm trying to kick the habit, and it's taking up way too much of everybody's time, but sometimes the political and the theatrical come together in a way that's hella fun for everybody.

Max Cleland and Jim Rassman are goin' on a road trip!

I have to admit, again, as theater, I love this. I also think it's whip smart. I also know, quite possibly, that it will lead the news, if only because it offers up a fairly astounding picture. The Viet Nam war vets, one in a wheelchair, arriving at the President's phoney ranch to give him a very real smackdown.

Couple questions. I'm assuming you can't just walk up and ring the doorbell, tho' I love that idea. Do Secret Service agents stop them at the front gate? Will Laura appear to tell them that George is napping, but she'll deliver the letter for them? Does Mother Bush emerge from whatever brush her son hasn't photo-op'd into oblivian and give Max's wheelchair and good kick in the spokes?

The letter they are hand-delivering -- take that, US Postal Service! -- is signed by at least seven Dem senators, demands that Shrub publicly condemn the Swifties using more than the words 'that ad.'

For some reason, I keep seeing Chevy Chase as the Land Shark on SNL, looming outside some innocent's door, he knocks, they wonder who's there, and we hear his muffled reply: "Candygram."

First time this mess has made me smile in weeks.
And these comments for that post: (remember, anybody can comment, so this is not a reflection of t a c i t u s' position)
My GOD, what a screebling pathetic git of a man. Sends troopers in flak jackets to bar a triple-amputee from his door?! Bush the First would've let Cleland in. Reagan would've let him in, and invited the press to watch him charm the fellow. Hell, even NIXON would've at least taken the frickin letter. Any of 'em would've shown some class, and maybe even turned the encounter to their advantage. It's just a letter fer chrissake. Signed by Senators and delivered by a decorated vet. And Bush hides out like he's gonna catch cooties or something.

Boy that Max Cleland tactic is brilliant. GWB should have tried that. He could have sent his Mom over to Michalel Moore's house(million dollar apt) and asked him to stop picking on her son. Ahh, leave it to the Dems to be creative.

Ginsberg resignation, Swifties credibilty shot, the lame attempt to deflect attention from the first two simply won't wash. But boy I bet Rove was workin' overtime the last 24 hours. I wonder how many careers he threated to destroy?

... the Texas Standoff. This is great theater. Following a resignation -- which always has more impact than it should, but that's the way to goes. We've got Bush campaign officials heading for the exits, and two vets, one in a wheelchair, delivering a letter from seven senators asking Shrub to stop the smear that...wait for it....led to the resignation in the first place. So. We highlight that if you wanna find the President, you're gonna find him at home, not at the WH where he belongs. We put Shrub on the spot, and he really really hates that. And we pick up the third or fourth news cycle in a row.

Bush is in a no-win situation. If he does not allow them in, the media will be showing Senator Cleland in his wheelchair, an obvious security threat to the President, outside the gates in the sweltering heat. If he allows them in, you get the visual of Bush receiving the letter and him being forced to directly respond. Either way, sheer brilliance and part of the counter-attack we spoke about a few days ago and as promised by Oliphant.


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Enough already!

There has been way too much talk about whether or not John O'Neill was in Cambodia. Confronted with the tape of him telling Nixon, "I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border," O'Neill now says that he was near the border and not actually in that country. But he's already on the hook. Consider: (emp add)
In an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press, O'Neill did not dispute what he said to Nixon on June 16, 1971, but he insisted he was never actually in Cambodia.

"I think I made it very clear that I was on the border, which is exactly where I was for three months," O'Neill said of the conversation. "I was about 100 yards from Cambodia."
But then there is this:
In an interview earlier this week on ABC's "This Week," O'Neill said: "Our boats didn't go north of, only slightly north of Sedek," which he said was about 50 miles from the Cambodian border.


A sad state of affairs:

Josh Marshall writes: (excerpts)
It really seems like O'Neill has been going on all these shows lying right through his teeth. Not misremembering some date, not having a conflicting recollection of some battle action, but telling everyone that none of the Swift Boats crossed into Cambodia when, in fact, he himself appears to have done so routinely.

And all of this raises the question, though it's not precisely the right analogy, what exactly is the statute of limitations on these guys? How many times do they have to get caught making false claims, unsubstantiated assertions or putting forward witnesses who weren't there, before they cease to have any credibility and get treated as such in the media?

At the moment the standard seems to be, "Okay, on your first nineteen claims, it seems like you were lying to us, but send along number twenty and we'll run that one up the flag pole too."
And Liberal Oasis sums it up nicely:
If there's one lesson the Kerry campaign and the rest of us should take from this sorry Swift Boat Liar episode is how lame the media will be this election season.

The inability to cut off media oxygen to people who are clearly discredited shows how the media hasn't learned any lessons following its vapid 2000 coverage and its embarrassing Iraq war coverage.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004


We took the information from two New York Times stories, Friendly Fire: The Birth of an Anti-Kerry Ad (20 August) and President Urges Outside Groups to Halt All Ads (24 August) and created a diagram showing the various connections. We don't see anything particularly interesting, beyond the fact that many Bush supporters know each other and freelance.

To see a full sized version, click here (and a larger version here).

UPDATE: We added information from this story: Attorney Works for Bush, Anti-Kerry Group, and also Cordier from Bush's veterans' steering committee. Now it looks more sinister.

KEYWORDS: Swift Boat



Some people are concerned that some news outlets are mischaracterizing Bush's statements on Monday. Bush didn't condemn the Swift Boat ad, but headlines and some stories say that he did. (Bush would only go so far as to condemn all 527 ads.)

People who think Bush's bad character is exposed by his failure to specifically condemn the Swifties, don't like the inaccurate reporting (e.g. Josh Marshall). But the more important idea to get out there is that the Swifties are making false and libelous charges.

Get that out, and we can deal with Bush's character later.


Monday, August 23, 2004

Brain damaged:

We've been saying privately for months that Bush is probably brain damaged. That's a conclusion based on his Bushisms, his failure to engage during interviews, his extremely weak performances in (the rare) press conferences, his many years of cocaine and alcohol consumption, and other factors. By brain damaged, we mean that critical sub-systems in the brain have been destroyed or disabled. A person can still appear to function normally (walk, talk, see) but there is still something lacking. Of course, proof of such a situation requires testing and examination, something we're never going to be able to do. So we'll have to leave it as informed speculation.

With that in mind, we were pleased to see Juan Cole write along similar lines in a recent post: (excerpt, emp add)
What was Bush doing with his youth? He was drinking. He was drinking like a fish, every night, into the wee hours. For decades. He gave no service to anyone, risked nothing, and did not even slack off efficiently.

The history of alcoholism and possibly other drug use is a key issue because it not only speaks to Bush's character as an addictive personality, but may tell us something about his erratic and alarming actions as president. His explosive temper probably provoked the disastrous siege of Fallujah last spring, killing 600 Iraqis, most of them women and children, in revenge for the deaths of 4 civilian mercenaries, one of them a South African. (Newsweek reported that Bush commanded his cabinet, "Let heads roll!") That temper is only one problem. Bush has a sadistic streak. He clearly enjoyed, as governor, watching executions. His delight in killing people became a campaign issue in 2000 when he seemed, in one debate, to enjoy the prospect of executing wrong-doers a little too much. He has clearly gone on enjoying killing people on a large scale in Iraq. Drug abuse can affect the ability of the person to feel deep emotions like empathy. Two decades of pickling his nervous system in various highly toxic substances have left Bush damaged goods. Even for those who later abstain, "visual-spatial abilities, abstraction, problem solving, and short-term memory, are the slowest to recover." That he managed to get on the wagon (though with that pretzel incident, you wonder how firmly) is laudable. But he suffers the severe effects of the aftermath, and we are all suffering along with him now, since he is the most powerful man in the world.


An old adage:


Sunday, August 22, 2004

You asked for it:

By popular request, we diagram what the farmer has posted over at corrente. It's about various historical personalities and organizations (centered around the late 1940's and 1950's) but which still exist and are playing a role in the current presidental election (e.g. Regnery).

To see the full sized diagram, click here. (or a larger diagram here)


Ask him the damn question:

On Meet the Press we heard a familiar refrain from Ken Mehlman, Campaign Manager, Bush-Cheney '04: (excerpts, emp add)
We have from the beginning said we believe that these commercials, the commercials of all these 527s--remember, Tim, there's $500,000 behind this new ad. There have been $63 million of these ads run against this president with all kinds of outrageous charges. We've said from the beginning we think these ads are wrong, we think these ads are contrary to the BICRA law. We've called for them to be pulled down.

This campaign in no way is supportive of any independent ads or any 527 ads. From the beginning, we've called for them to be taken down.

It is my position, it is the campaign's position, that all of these 527 ads are wrong and they should all come down.

We condemn all of these 527 ads and we have from the beginning.
Here is a partial list of 527 organizations:
White House spokesman Scott McClellan should be asked, "Why does the Bush campaign object to ads that the Oregon Grocery Association might run? What are they doing that is objectionable?"

The point being that some groups are innocuous, some are vibrant, and some are out right liars (e.g. Swift Boat Veterans). So why not condemn only those 527 groups that are acting irresponsibly?

We eagerly await McClellan's answer.


Saturday, August 21, 2004

From the Weekly Standard !?!?

Andrew Ferguson has an essay in the August 30 issue of the Weekly Standard. Spends some time on the Democrats newfound tough-guy image. Then he writes: (emp add)
... in 2004, Republicans find themselves supporting a candidate, George W. Bush, with a slender and ambiguous military record against a man whose combat heroism has never (until now) been disputed. Further--and here we'll let slip a thinly disguised secret--Republicans are supporting a candidate that relatively few of them find personally or politically appealing. This is not the choice Republicans are supposed to be faced with. The 1990s were far better. In those days the Democrats did the proper thing, nominating a draft-dodger to run against George H.W. Bush, who was the youngest combat pilot in the Pacific theater in World War II, and then later, in 1996, against Bob Dole, who left a portion of his body on the beach at Anzio.

Republicans have no such luck this time, and so they scramble to reassure themselves that they nevertheless are doing the right thing, voting against a war hero. The simplest way to do this is to convince themselves that the war hero isn't really a war hero. If sufficient doubt about Kerry's record can be raised, we can vote for Bush without remorse. But the calculations are transparently desperate. Reading some of the anti-Kerry attacks over the last several weeks, you might conclude that this is the new conservative position: A veteran who volunteered for combat duty, spent four months under fire in Vietnam, and then exaggerated a bit so he could go home early is the inferior, morally and otherwise, of a man who had his father pull strings so he wouldn't have to go to Vietnam in the first place.

Needless to say, the proposition will be a hard sell in those dim and tiny reaches of the electorate where voters have yet to make up their minds. Indeed, it's far more likely that moderates and fence-sitters will be disgusted by the lengths to which partisans will go to discredit a rival. But this anti-Kerry campaign is not designed to win undecided votes. It's designed to reassure uneasy minds.
Interesting notion, that this is a strategy to keep Bush's core supporters from straying. We're not so sure that's the primary goal, but maybe it is.



Looks like the pot has boiled over. Matthew Yglesias says what's been on our minds for the last couple of weeks:
So Mad

I'm really so furious about this whole situation that I don't know what to say. I'm taking out my credit card and making some donations and I would strongly advise any readers who don't feel like continuing to see a lying, cowardly, idiot who's willing to go to any lengths whatsoever to maintain his grasp on political power (and that's all there is to it, this isn't deception in pursuit of some higher goal, the man has no ideological principles whatsoever other than his own self-aggrandizement) so that the gang of criminals he's employed at the highest levels of government can avoid prosecution serve in the White House I would suggest that you do the same. The purpose of negative ads is to demobilize your opponent's supporters. Don't let it work. Give the DNC some money. Or your favorite 527. Whatever you can. It's increasingly clear that the bad actors have, quite literally, no shame whatsoever and will stop at nothing to maintain their grip on the government.
And Josh Marshall says that this presidential campaign has demonstrated
... cowardly rich-boy viciousness we've seen so many times from [Bush] and his family.
Political Animal says:
... SBVT is nothing more than a bunch of embittered vets who hate Kerry for his anti-war activities in the 70s and decided last year to get together and make up as many lies as they could to get back at him. It's disgusting ...


Stop right there!

For tomorrow's Fox News Sunday, we read that they have scheduled:
Should John Kerry have to defend his war record? We’ll ask Van Odell and Larry Thurlow of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Plus, Iraqi and U.S forces take aim at radical Islamic cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia. But is there a danger that the violence could spread across Iraq? Sens. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., weigh in.
Two anti-Kerry Swivt Boat Veterans. No pro-Kerry guests.

That is not balanced.

WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? When you visit the FNS website, a pop-up ad often appears. One of those Undertone ads. We clicked to close, and this crap appeared:

There was no close button to activate (upper right corner) and on the Taskbar, right-clicking did not result in a Close option (or any option for that matter). Any computer-savvy person is likely to be concerned when something like that happens, not expecting such an item from a mainstream website. Yes, it came from Fox's website. Here is the program list:



Mr. Even-handedness:

Thursday on PBS' News Hour there was a segment about the Swivt Boat Veteran's charges against Kerry. Two guests were interviewed: John O'Neill (anti-Kerry) and Tom Oliphant. We thought the segment was very interesting, particularly since Oliphant seemed to be quite angry, but kept that completely under control. Towards the end of the segment, Jim Lehrer looked at o'Neill and said to get "the story" and "to know about this", they should read "Unfit for Command". Turning to Oliphant, Lehrer said, "If somebody wants to know the complete story from your perspective, in other words fill in the gaps you claim that are in this book [Unfit for Command"], where do they go?"

We were surprised at the way Lehrer characterized both positions. O'Neill gives you "the story" to let you "know", while Oliphant has a "perspective" and makes "claims".

MINOR POINT? In the transcript of the program that exchange, where O'Neill was silent but Oliphant was responding to the last point, it reads as:
JIM LEHRER: Finally, before we go, you think the story is in your book? If somebody wants to know about this, they can get your book.

If somebody wants to know the complete story from your perspective, in other words fill in the gaps you claim that are in this book, where do they go?

TOM OLIPHANT: Well, you would want to ...
Which makes it look like Lehrer was only addressing Oliphant for the entire time. Not true.


Thursday, August 19, 2004

Vox populi:

We took a look at a current Yahoo story, Kerry: Bush Lets Groups Do 'Dirty Work':
Sen. John Kerry accused President Bush on Thursday of relying on front groups to challenge his record of valor in Vietnam, asserting, "He wants them to do his dirty work."
These stories usually generate a large number of message board posts, which we like to scan. Here is our favorite:
by: ingram1ja 08/19/04 11:18 am
Msg: 7617 of 8407
3 recommendations

Oh, I'm sorry. The Defense Dept. doesn't give medals for state-side boozers and coke addicts during a shooting war. Guess what? BUSH DOESN'T HAVE ANY MEDALS FOR WAR TIME VALOR!
A FURTHER THOUGHT: We were reading about the Dreyfus affair last night and the assault on Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans sure have the same flavor. Disputed evidence (or worse), highly partisan, the nation's honor at stake, self-described patriots attacking a distinguished military man, etc. There's even a small Jewish element (Kerry's grandfather) and we all know that conservatives like to say he's "French".


The Bush convention bounce killer: (no pun intended)

The Republican National Convention is set to begin on August 30. It will be over by Friday, September 3.

According to the Iraq Coalition Casualties website, there have been 953 soldiers that have died (combat & non-combat) as of this posting.

Before we go any further, let us be clear that we consider all these deaths to be a tragedy for the families involved. So this is not an exercise taken lightly.

However, we look at the figures and it appears that 20 days from now the total US casualties will have reached 1000 (1000 - 953 = 47 / 2.3 per-day = 20 days). Twenty days from now is September 8 - right in the middle of the week after the Republican convention ends.

You know how it is, round numbers are hooks for stories, and no doubt that when 1000 deaths is reached there will be a spate of them to that effect. Our guess is that it will be a real damper on whatever positive momentum Bush gained the previous week of the convention.

NOTE: Yes, September 11 will follow soon after but it's not clear that it will help Bush. If anything it might emphasise the contrast between fighting terrorists (a job still unfinished) and the 1000 casualties from fighting in Iraq.


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Why we hesitate:

We are very, very, very, very, very slightly inclined to think that Kerry will win the presidential election. Why? Because every time we think, yes, Kerry has solid support in traditional Democratic strongholds and is making inroads into Bush country, we read something like this: (From TPM, quoting Charlie Cook) (emp add)
At this point, there remains 10 states that are too close to call: Florida with 27 electoral votes, Iowa (7), Minnesota (10), Missouri (11), Nevada (5), New Hampshire (4), New Mexico (5), Ohio (20), Pennsylvania (21) and Wisconsin (10).
Well guess what? Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin were the only states in the midwest to vote for Dukakis in 1988. (Ten entities went Democratic that year: Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, --- big gap --- , Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, --- big gap ---, West Virginia, District of Columbia, New York, Massachusetts.) Now that was 16 years ago and nothing is static in politics, but if Charlie Cook puts those three states in the Tossup category, we can't feel confident that Kerry will win.

LINKS TO OTHERS ON THIS TOPIC: Digby, Rain Storm, That Colored Fella


Democracy on the march:

We were somewhat surprised at Hugo Chávez's stong showing at the polls in Venezuela. There had been much talk of discontent, but as Political Animal puts it "Chávez is a champion of Venezuela's poor, promoting agrarian reform and redistribution of oil revenue", so the vote was a chance for the poor to assert themselves. In a similar vein, the recent elections in India (Apr/May) was also a sign of the poor exerting political power. We read in Wikipedia, "The BJP government had concentrated more on the market and economic reforms that benefitted the urban people at the expense of the rural poor and the farmers." (NOTE: That wasn't the only reason the BJP lost control.)

We're not saying democracy is bad, but it does appear that for emerging countries with a substantial proportion of poor people, elections will tend to slow down economic development - by transferring wealth in order to establish a more equitable society. The leaders in China know that, and they will probably want to keep their poor away from the political process while they concentrate on getting their economy up to a world-class level. But that will be a difficult, if not impossible task. In any event, how that unfolds will be very interesting.


Quiet time?

There doesn't seem to be much to write about this week. However, we did check in on Howard Stern's radio show this Wednesday morning and boy, was he harsh on Bush/Cheney. He said that Kerry should recite the dates that Cheney got deferments (various times from 1961 to 1965). The same for Ashcroft. Then Stern called Bush/Cheney/Ashcroft "monsters" and said that "they should be punished".

Stern might get even more aggressive with the Republican National Convention takes place in NYC beginning later this month. Could be interesting.


Saturday, August 14, 2004

Obscure metric:

For the past couple of months we have been going to Google News and entering "Bush administration" and "Kerry administration" and noted the totals. We present them in the graph below. Please note that the count for "Bush administration" is much larger and measured by the scale on the left. The scale on the right is for the count of "Kerry administration" stories. The Bush count went up near the June 30 hand-off, and Kerry got a rise from the convention. As the election draws nearer, there should be an increase in references to both. If it ever happens that the Kerry total exceeds the Bush total, it would be a good bet that Kerry wins the election.


Friday, August 13, 2004

The Moderate Republican Agenda!

Have you seen the elusive Moderate Republican anytime recently? They still exist, although they probably should be on the Endangered Species List. We were tooling around the Internet and came upon a website, Republicans for Kerry. There, they have a page which defines what a moderate Republican stands for (according to them). All in all, a pretty good list of policy positions, many falling into the Good Government category (what Krauthammer dismissively calls "goo-goo do-gooders"). Alas, the moderate Republicans cited all hail from a long-past era, the 1950's and early 60's for the most part. They cheer Thomas Dewey, Earl Warren, Margaret Chase Smith (Sen. ME), William Scranton (Gov. PA), among others. A resurgence of those kind of politicians seems highly unlikely.


Spoken like a Holocaust denier:

In today's essay, Charles Krauthammer takes the Swift Boat Veterans anti-Kerry ad and uses that (and others) to bemoan the "527 groups" that are active this political year. It's all negativity, says Krauthammer, not bothering to gauge the truthfulness of any particular organization, especially the Swift Boat Veterans. In fact, when discussing the widely differing claims about Kerry's service in Vietnam, Krauthammer writes: (emp add)
These vets have the perfect right to publish their book and do their ad. But are they right? Did Kerry rescue Jim Rassmann under fire, as Rassmann recalls, or in perfect calm, as a vet on a nearby Swift boat recalls? We don't know. We can never know. I have no doubt of the sincerity of both recollections, but in the fog of war, as anyone who has read any military history knows, there are wildly varying recollections of what actually happened at the front.
Did the Jews die in Auschwitz? Raul Hilberg says YES. David Irving says NO. And without doing any further investigation, we can safely say:
We don't know. We can never know. There can be no doubt of the sincerity of both men.



Kruman writes, we respond.


Thursday, August 12, 2004

How low will they go?

Inspired by this story.


Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Hot saucing, anyone?

From Sisyphus Shrugged we learn of a story in the Washington Post, Feeling the Heat, which is about parents putting hot sauce on their childrens' tongues as a means of discipline. Excerpts:
  • Hot sauce adds a kick to salsa, barbeque, falafel and hundreds of other foods. But some parents use it in a different recipe, one they think will yield better-behaved children: They put a drop of the fiery liquid on a child's tongue as punishment for lying, biting, hitting or other offenses.
  • The use of hot sauce has been advocated in a popular book, in a magazine for Christian women and on Internet sites.
  • Virginia's child protective services agency lists hot saucing among disciplinary tactics it calls "bizarre behaviors." The list includes such methods as forcing a child to kneel on sharp gravel, and locking him in a closet. Pediatricians, psychologists and experts on child care and family life contacted for this story strongly recommend against the practice.
  • Lisa Whelchel, actress and author of "Creative Correction: Extraordinary Ideas for Everyday Discipline" (Focus On the Family/Tyndale House), defends the practice. "A correction has to hurt a little," she said. "An effective deterrent has to touch the child in some way. I don't think Tabasco is such a bad thing." Her book suggests a "tiny" bit of hot sauce be used, and offers alternatives such as lemon juice and vinegar. Discipline involves "drawing a line to protect the child," Whelchel said, "and if they cross that line, there will be pain." Whelchel said she believes that disciplinary methods should be left up to parents -- who know their child best, are devoted to the child's well-being and can administer punishment with love.
  • [Many people use] the brand name "Tabasco" as a shorthand. Tabasco is the proprietary name of a single brand of sauce, made by the McIlhenny Co. of Avery Island, La. The owners of the company condemn the use of their products for child discipline. In an interview, company president Paul McIlhenny called the practice "strange and scary" and "abusive." Kendrick says parents who use the technique are "at the very least . . . ill-informed." He pointed out that many parents are not aware that hot sauce can burn a child's esophagus and cause the tongue to swell -- a potential choking hazard.
  • The hot pepper technique's current popularity is due in part to Whelchel, a former Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer and actress who played the character Blair on the television series "The Facts of Life" in the 1980s. In "Creative Correction," now in its fifth printing, the mother of three provides parents with a variety of tips. For example, she suggests hiding something a child has failed to put away, to teach the lesson that things left out may disappear. She suggests telling a child who refuses to hold your hand while crossing a street, "I can either hold your hand or hold your hair." In addition, Whelchel offers the following: "For lying or other offenses of the tongue, I 'spank' my kids' tongues. I put a tiny drop of hot sauce on the end of my finger and dab it onto my child's tongue. It stings for a while, but it abates. (It's the memory that lingers!)" Whelchel's advice was repeated in an Internet chat in which she participated and then circulated on numerous parenting Web sites and discussion groups. Whelchel -- who is a motivational speaker on home schooling and other parenting topics -- said in an interview that she wrote the book not as a parenting expert, but "from one mom to another."
We took a look at the Customer Reviews over at Amazon to get a sense of what Lisa Whelchel's book, Creative Correction (pub. Oct 2000), advises. Here is what we found:
  • ... she mentions spraying water into the face of a toddler who has a temper tantrum. I'd feel like I was treating my child as a housepet if I did that.
  • ... she mentioned things like letting a child go without a meal for failing to do a chore. I do believe strongly that you should never threaten to withhold food from a child, for any reason.
  • What kind of sadistic things is Lisa Welchel trying to communicate to parents? How could making a child run thru dog crap teach him to have a more spiritual walk.
  • I would like to know how burning your childs favorite possesion will help them in any posative way at all.
  • The example with toilet water is to put water from the faucet in one cup and water from the toilet in another. With the child watching, pour the water out and pour some koolaid or juice in each cup. Ask them which cup they want to drink out of. The lesson here is that talking "dirty" has lingering effects.
  • [Whelchel uses] Bible verses to tell your children that if they look at bad things ravens will peck out their eyes.
  • Lisa Welchel's "correction" ideas are not only frightening, they're mad!! I fail to see how pinching a child's tongue with a clothespin will help that child learn about the love of God, the compassion of Jesus, or the Truth of His Spirit.
  • Got a kid who yells in public? Make him hold his tongue--literally, with his fingers.
  • At one point her son is honest enough to admit that he's angry at her after she's been away for a long time and plans to then go out again that evening. Does she tell him she can understand why he feels that way? Does she make arrangements to spend time with her kids after a long absence? No, she threatens to beat him if he can't promise he'll "be good" for the babysitter.
  • ... can you imagine ... making a child stand still and not move until he's ready for bed?!?
  • Using schoolwork and the Bible as forms of punishments is a terrible idea.
  • ... absolutely frightening in every way. please spare your children the torture and emotional abuse that this woman's children must suffer from these insane ideas. i can't believe that any normal human could believe that these punishments could be anyway helpful to raising a healthy child. if you must read this book, do it only for the sheer humor of this woman's ludicous seriously it is hilarious.
And finally, this Word From The Author:
I have three children, ages 8,9 & 10, including a son diagnosed with ADHD. It was out of sheer desperation that I came up with many of the discipline ideas in this book.


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Did Bush say this?

We haven't seen this anywhere but in a story by the Daily Press of Hampton Roads, Virginia (via the Left Coaster), but if true, it should become a talking point. Excerpts: (emp add)
President Bush stumped for votes and touted tax cuts Monday in northern Virginia, drawing more than 600 supporters and a few dozen Democratic protesters who said his presence in traditionally Republican Virginia is a sign his campaign is in trouble.

Bush criticized Kerry's plan to eliminate the tax cuts for those making more than $200,000 a year, saying that the "the rich in America happen to be the small business owners" who put people to work.

Bush's rally was designed to show how his policies have enabled individual Americans to take "ownership" of the economy and to highlight entrepreneurial success.

Bush also said high taxes on the rich are a failed strategy because "the really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway."

Why worry about raising taxes? Why worry about the estate tax? The "really rich" won't be affected, or so says Bush.

By the way, this is another example of Bush using the "small business owner" in his pitches. Earlier it was "small business owners" that needed tax breaks. Now it's "small business owners" that are "rich", but because they "put people to work" they are to be exempt from tax hikes - along with all other rich people. But where are the statistics to back that up? Our impression is that most of those earning over $200,000 are not small business owners, but are, instead, well paid executives at medium-to-large corporations.

UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias, in a column out today about Bush's political use of the "small business owner" (!) says that unincorporated (Chapter S) businesses [5% of Americans] generating more than $200,000 [2% of that] are an extremely tiny fraction [5% * 2% = 0.1%].

NOTE: We checked the White House website, but there is no mention (as of this post) of Bush's trip to Virginia.

A FINAL WORD: It's one thing for the average person to say that the really rich avoid paying taxes. It's another thing when a person of power and authority, in this case president Bush, says it. Unlike other problems Bush sees and decides to do something about, in this case, he merely says it happens. In other words, when it comes to taxes, Bush doesn't care about fairness.


Republicans against democracy:

We've been saying for a couple of years that the Republicans don't like democracy. You know,
  • The system where all people who are eligible to vote are allowed to vote.
    (see Florida's deliberately sloppy Purge List [2000 and 2004]).

  • The system that encourages get-out-the-vote efforts.
    (see New Hampshire phone-jamming [2002]).

  • The system that has people on the ballot who meet the threshold of being genuine candidates of interest in a particular state.
    (see get-Nader-on-the-ballot programs and Nader-funding [2004]).

  • The system where once an election is held, there is a reliable voter-verified paper trail for electronic voting, should recounts be necessary.
    (see opposition by Republican election officials in Florida [2004]).

  • The system that gives voters a choice between (at least) two major political parties.
    (see Rep. Rodney Alexander's last-minute switch from Democrat to Republican hours before a filing deadline [2004]).
Republicans oppose all of that.

NOTE: We have focused on the mechanics of democracy. That is of supreme importance. We have deliberately ignored the politics of democracy (deceptive ads, goofball candidates like Alan Keyes causing a ruckus, an easily misled press, etc.).


Monday, August 09, 2004



Sunday, August 08, 2004

Just spell my name right:

Drudge links to an opinion piece in the Guardian about dirty politics, 2004-style.

In it we read:
Drudge is a trusted mouthpiece of the right. Given his record, one may suspect that he was fed the Swiftvet stuff by Regnery with the acquiescence of the far-right political interests that finance the Eagle publishing operation. If this is the case, Drudge is not "breaking the embargo". He is point man in the shit-blitz designed to counter the serious damage inflicted by Michael Moore.


Insane Land:

For more on this nonsense, read Juan Cole. (Other data: Ridge's two press announcements - which did not mention Khan: 1, 2)


Friday, August 06, 2004

32,000 new workers = ?

The news is out, U.S. employers added 32,000 to payrolls in July.

Let's do a little back-of-the-envelope calculation and focus on mid-sized states. Ones with a population between 4 and 6 million. Those states are:
  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Kentucky
  • Louisana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
Interesting that several are battleground states.

Each state has about 1.6% of the population (5 mil/300 mil) so of those 32,000 jobs, each state got 513 jobs in the month of July. That's really small.


Political thuggery:

We've been reading about the Swift Boat veterans charges against Kerry for the last couple of days and it's really disgusting. This nonsense - no, wait, it's not nonsense, it's absolute pure fucking bullshit. This garbage is like the anti-McCain ads of four years ago, straight out of the same sewer pipe. There have been contradictions and lies from these guys and the fact that the story has any coverage is a tribute to our inept media. John McCain has spoken out about an ad these bums are running against Kerry:
Asked if the White House knew about the ad or helped find financing for it, McCain said, "I hope not, but I don't know. But I think the Bush campaign should specifically condemn the ad."
The White House should denounce (and not merely distance themselves from) these goons. We read:
White House spokesman Scott McClellan declined to condemn the ad. He did denounce the proliferation of spending by independent groups, such as the anti-Kerry veterans organization, that are playing on both sides of the political fence. "The president thought he got rid of this unregulated soft money when he signed the bipartisan campaign finance reform into law," McClellan said. A chief sponsor of that bill, which Bush initially opposed, was McCain.
That's right, McClellan only went so far as to denounce independent groups doing anything, not what they specifically do. Here is a transcript of the relevant exchange: (emp add)
Q Do you -- does the President repudiate this 527 ad that calls Kerry a liar on Vietnam?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President deplores all the unregulated soft money activity. We have been very clear in stating that, you know, we will not -- and we have not and we will not question Senator Kerry's service in Vietnam. I think that this is another example of the problem with the unregulated soft money activity that is going on. The President thought he put an end -- or the President thought he got rid of this kind of unregulated soft money when he signed the bipartisan campaign finance reforms into law.

And, you know, the President has been on the receiving end of more than $62 million in negative attacks from shadowy groups. The President is calling for an immediate cessation to all the unregulated soft money activity. He believes that it should all be stopped. The unregulated soft money activity that is going on does nothing to elevate the discourse. We hope the Kerry campaign will join us in calling for an end to all the unregulated soft money ads and activity.

Q So the President joins McCain in criticizing this particular ad?

MR. McCLELLAN: We hope the Kerry campaign will join us in calling for an end to all the unregulated soft money ads and activity that are going on. Again, the President has been on the receiving end of more than $62 million in negative attacks from shadowy groups. And the President thought he got rid of this kind of activity when he signed the bipartisan campaign finance reforms into law. This campaign should be about the issues and it should be about the records.

Q Scott, more specifically, though, will the President or the campaign ask this particular group to pull this particular ad off the air?

MR. McCLELLAN: We're calling for a cessation to all the unregulated soft money activity, and we hope that the Kerry campaign will join us.

Q Scott, during the primaries in 2000, or I guess during the Republican Presidential Primaries, an unregulated ad was run against John McCain. At the time, the governor said, "We don't have anything to do with it." Can you give us a sense of the evolution, what's changed from, we don't have anything to do with it, to, let's all stop it.

MR. McCLELLAN: The President supported the bipartisan campaign finance reforms that were passed, and he felt that they improved the system. And that's why he signed them into law. We should have a level playing field for candidates and parties. You have, right now, a problem with these unregulated soft money groups. These were loopholes that we thought were closed when the President signed the campaign finance reforms into law. And so the President believes that all the unregulated soft money activity should stop. We hope the Kerry campaign will join us in calling for an end to all this kind of activity.

The President knows what it's like to be on the receiving end of more than $62 million in negative attacks from these kinds of shadowy groups.
How about all that activity?

Political Animal seems to think this is more of a headache than anything serious. We're not so sure. We agree that it's a royal pain to have to counter these "lunatics", but if you don't, there goes the neighborhood. Actually, the real problem isn't with the lunatics, it's with the press that gives them a forum. There is no excuse for airing serious charges that contradict thirty years of general understanding about Kerry's service without checking the story thoroughly.

For instance, we were "with" Bush during his National Guard service (we both were citizens of the United States, and residing in same). We charge that Bush stole a fellow guardsman's King James Bible and proceeded to use it as toilet paper. Started with Genesis and went all the way to Revelation. When the paper ran out he looked for a copy of the Koran or Book of Mormon, but by that time his service was almost over, so he used magazines he stole from his coke dealer.

Now can we get on Inside Politics?

FINAL COMMENTS: At first we were inclined, like Political Animal, to brush off the Swift Boat story. But it kept getting flogged by Drudge, et al, and now is at least a mini-story. That's what got us pissed.


Thursday, August 05, 2004

Missing the point:

In the wake of the speculation that a Japanese trading company, said to be an affiliate of Moon's Unification Church, purchased Russian submarines for North Korea, we read this:
Korean Missile Said to Advance; U.S. Is Unworried

North Korea appears closer to deploying a new mobile ballistic missile that is a worrisome increase in that nation's military capacity, but American government officials stressed Wednesday that the weapon could not reach the continental United States.

The new missile is based on designs of a Soviet-era submarine-launched weapon, known in the West as the SSN6, which has an estimated maximum range of just over 2,600 miles.
Yeah, but it can reach Japan. And how come there is such complacency when Iraq's pathetic drones caused a stir?

NOTE: We agree with Mark A. R. Kleiman that the Moon-submarine story is huge, if true.


Another sighting:

In our neighborhood:

The small white sticker at the bottom reads:


In the hammock:

In the wake of Missouri's lobsided vote against gay marriage, we see that Andrew Sullivan is still in his hammock, taking a month's vacation. Amazing how somebody who can get all riled up over minor transgressions by Democrats can snooze when big events that affect his constituency take place.


Kerry vs Bush on the 9/11 Commission Report:

Can it get any simpler? The New York Times reports that "[9/11 Commissioner] Kean said he thought it was appropriate for Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry to be judged in the election by the way they respond to the work of the commission."

Kerry said he would do everything they advised. Bush said he would do some of what they advised.

It's easy to convey that message, so let's hear it.


Does Rove know what he's doing? Perhaps.

In the aftermath of the Missouri vote for a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, we read in the New York Times: (emp add)
Supporters of amendments to ban gay marriage in states like Ohio pointed to Missouri's record election turnout - 41 percent in a primary election that in most years draws 15 percent to 25 percent - as a clear and exhilarating sign that the issue will lure their voters to the polls.

"What this has done is brought the people of faith to the table like I have never seen before," said Phil Burress, chairman of the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage, the group leading Ohio's effort to amend its Constitution. "This is what the Democrats biggest fear was - that something would energize the people of faith. And it has."
Those numbers are big and significant. So much for Political Animal's view that the gay marriage issue is not necessarily good for Bush.

And what is the dynamic behind the numbers?
On Friday, leaders of Missouri's anti-gay-marriage effort will offer advice in a conference call to those pushing for amendments in other states, she said.

Her own best advice to the other states, Ms. Hartzler said, would not be about politics. "The No. 1 thing is prayer," she said, "and a passion for protecting the sanctity of marriage."
Yup, that's the ticket. A religious election. Just what Karl Rove wants.


Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Atrios writes, we respond:

Atrios makes the following comments in a recent post:
Celebrate Diversity

oy. I've been trying to figure out how to write this post for a couple of hours. I want to make clear that this isn't a shot at instapundit, cheap or otherwise, but something I think it's necessary to point out. I'm no fan of the guy, and think he's quite frequently been the transmitter of some truly hateful ideas (blaming the victims of genocide, for one), but in this case I think he's just clueless.

In the previous post someone linked to a conservative t-shirt seller, proudly featuring Reynolds wearing this T-shirt. Now, Glenn's a gun fan and I imagine he's just celebrating the joys of guns, or whatever, but this shirt is no joke. There's a serious subtext here which is totally obvious to me that I think should be pointed out. Now, I don't think everyone who has purchased a shirt like this has purchased it with the subtext in mind, but nonetheless the message is clear.

The caption is "celebrate diversity." The colors of the caption are commonly used pan-African colors: red, yellow, and green. While, for many, the "joke" (though, I'm not sure why it's funny) is that here diversity is a diversity of guns. Ha ha. But, look, the clear message here is that the way to celebrate diversity, particularly that pan-African diversity, is to buy a bunch of fucking guns. In other words, celebrate diversity by arming yourself.

We say, what can you do except laugh at the guy? Here, for your amusement, we make fun of the esteemed Professor Reynolds as he celebrates sartorial diversity:

NOTE: We wanted a few more images representing diversity but time was limited and so we only have a triptych at the moment.

UPDATE: Steve Gilliard has lots to say about the shirt and Reynold's wearing of it: (emph add)
  • I think Glenn Reynolds is either the most clueless law professor at the University of Tennessee or the kind of sick racist who doesn't have the balls to wear a Klan robe or burn a cross.
  • I mean, where does he keep this shirt, next to his Wehrmacht World Tour and Hitler: No More Mister Nice Guy shirts.
So our joke image was congruent with Gilliard's thinking. Quite a coincidence. (We didn't see his post until we finished ours.)


Not getting enough coverage:

On Monday president Bush said, "knowing what I know today, we still would have gone on into Iraq."

So it really doesn't matter if it's true that:
We read in the Los Angeles Times:
"Statements like this by the president only lend credence to the charges that he was determined to attack, no matter what," [political analyst Charlie] Cook said.
No kidding.

As far as we could tell, only the Los Angeles Times gave the story front-page coverage (it was just above the fold). Why haven't other newspapers done the same?


Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Big Dick Morris:

In the New York Post, Dick Morris writes about why Kerry didn't get a bounce (or much of one) out of the convention. Here, is the last paragraph in his essay: (emphasis added)
Voters want a president with brains, not just guts, and all they saw was a warrior telling his old tales on Thursday night. And it wasn't enough.


Message board post of the day:

From the Yahoo message board for the story that the recent threat alert was because of old data:
So let me get this straight.....
by: morffin1918 08/03/04 02:52 am
Msg: 100 of 178
19 recommendations

in 2001 Bush gets a memo on his desk titled " Osama Bin Laden determined to strike the US" and does NOTHING........This week he gets info thats three years old and sends NYC into a frenzy......what a leader!......what a fraud


Keep on banging that drum, Tom

UPDATE: We hope we aren't offending readers with our humorous take on Ridge, but after a certain point, you just can't get outraged any more.


Monday, August 02, 2004

In our neighborhood:

In Los Angeles there's an intersection* which gets the occasional anti-Bush poster or graffiti. Virtually every time something goes up, within 24 hours it's been pulled down or plastered over - and not by the property owners, as far as we can tell. We'll keep track of the situation, and in doing so, post photographs of interest. Here, for example, is something we saw scrawled on Saturday (and covered up by 7 AM Sunday morning).

* - Sepulveda & Palms in West Los Angeles


Juan Cole speaks! We agree!

Finally, somebody other than our modest blog, a Big Name in other words, says something we have been beating the drum about for a couple of years*. In a recent post about Cheney's comparison of al Qaeda to the WW2 Axis, professor Cole writes: (excerpts, emphasis added)
Although it may be true that al-Qaeda is as determined to destroy the US as the Axis Powers were in World War II, this observation is a Himalayan exaggeration if it is meant to suggest a parallel. Al-Qaeda is a few thousand fanatics mainly distributed in a handful of countries. If Zacharias Moussaoui and Richard Reid are any indication, a lot of them are one step away from from collecting old soda cans on the street in their grocery carts while mumbling about the radios the government implanted in their asses.

So while their determination may be impressive (or just creepy), they are not comparable to the might of three industrialized dictatorships with populations in the tens of millions.

I repeat, al-Qaeda proper only has a few hundred fighters, those who pledged allegiance personally to Bin Laden, and a few thousand if you count other Afghan Arabs and their ideological soul mates. Most of them are not wealthy or trained or competent, and a lot are just crackpots. (Read an account of the misadventures of Richard Reid again). September 11 was possible mainly because Ramzi Bin al-Shibh lucked out and managed to recruit some high-powered engineering Ph.D. students in Hamburg who knew something serious about kinetic energy.

Cheney is lying again. Iraq is obviously a much greater priority for him than is fighting al-Qaeda.

Why is Iraq a bigger priority for Cheney than is fighting al-Qaeda? Because there are corporate profits to be made in Iraq. There are virtually none in Afghanistan or the Pakistani tribal regions. Cheney wants to crucify the Bill of Rights on the cross of "national security," but has avoided doing the one thing that would make us both free and safe. That is developing a serious counter-insurgency plan for the Middle East that wins hearts and minds and deals effectively with asymmetrical threats. All his emphasis has been on dealing with governments, like that of Iraq, which can be defeated militarily, and the defeat of which unlocks national resources for American companies to exploit.
The most recent Terror Alert is about the possiblity of certain buildings being targeted by truck bombs. That is a menace, but not anything on the order of a state-level threat. To think that a motley bunch of guys managed to get lucky in September 2001, and that their aggressive act resulted in a wholesale restructuring of the federal government, a clamp-down on civil rights, and a war in Iraq is mind boggling. But true.

* - to be fair, some other bloggers, like Digby, have also expressed the view that al Qaeda is not as big a threat as people have been led to believe.


Get ready for it:


Sunday, August 01, 2004

Not a worthwhile goal?

In a short editorial in the Washington Post this Sunday, Kerry Energy Facts, we read: (emphasis added)
For the near future, and certainly well beyond the eight years Mr. Kerry could be president, there is no possibility of genuine energy independence, nor is it clear that that is a worthwhile goal. Oil is an internationally traded commodity; there is no intrinsic value to oil drilled here, as opposed to Qatar or the North Sea; we do not speak of "plastic independence" or "textile independence," so why energy?
Well, we do not speak of "textile independence" because it's not a critical part of the economy, and if somehow textiles from overseas got expensive, they could be produced in the United States. We could go on, but the point is that energy policy is different from that of other commodities. And anyway, Kerry is speaking about sensible energy independence. The United States could be energy independent by moving swiftly to coal. Coal-fired plants all over the country, generating electricity, being converted to liquid fuels, and adding enormous amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Kerry is advocating programs where the country moves to a position of energy independence, continued emphasis on energy efficiency, clean fuels, and alternate sources. Why sneer at him for that?