Observations on the world today.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Pro-Choice Republicans 

The Marietta Times%3A Election 2004%3A Nader likely to get on Ohio%27s presidential ballot - - The Marietta Times
Ralph Nader may be struggling to get his name on the presidential ballot in many states, but it appears likely that Ohio voters will get a chance to cast a vote for the independent candidate.

The Ohio Secretary of State's office reports it will take about two to three weeks to validate signatures, but Nader certainly has far more signatures than he needs to get his name on the Nov. 2 presidential ballot.

The deadline for petitions was Thursday, and the Nader supporters have submitted 14,473 signatures. Independent presidential candidates need at least 5,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot. Five other independent presidential candidates also submitted petitions.
Apparently, there are at least 14,473 Bush supporters in Ohio.



Friday, August 20, 2004


Rememebr the right complaining that Kerry and MoveOn had coordinated something or other in violation of campaign finance laws, but then they couldn't prove that anything wrong had actually happened? Well...

Triumph of the W.
The next salvo in the cinematic campaign war of 2004 is "The Big Picture," a documentary film attacking John Kerry sponsored by David Bossie's Citizens United, the right-wing group that unsuccessfully sued to stop national advertising of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." But Bossie's latest project could create legal problems for him and his organization -- in part because Lionel Chetwynd, the award-winning director, is working not only on the documentary but also on two shorter films to be screened at the Republican National Convention.

The director's simultaneous involvement in both the convention films and the Bossie documentary raises eyebrows among campaign finance experts, because Citizens United is a tax-exempt foundation legally restricted from "coordinating" its "independent" political broadcasts or messages with the Bush-Cheney campaign or the Republican National Committee. If Chetwynd, Bossie, or anyone else working on "The Big Picture" discussed that project with RNC officials or the Bush-Cheney reelection committee, they could be violating the law.
Oh oh.
Chetwynd, widely known as one of the Bush administration's most fervent advocates in the movie industry, serves on the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He also happens to be a friend of political strategist Karl Rove. Last year, Chetwynd directed Showtime's "DC 9/11: Time of Crisis," a semi-fictionalized docudrama about the White House response to the terrorist attacks (described in the Washington Post by reviewer Tom Shales as "primitive propaganda" and "a reelection campaign movie"). Now, while he toils on the Citizens United documentary at a studio in North Hollywood, he is also preparing two films to be screened at the Republican National Convention, according to Daily Variety. The first is a "tribute" to the late President Ronald Reagan, for whom Chetwynd once served as a speechwriter. The second is a "toast to George W. Bush."
That doesn't sound too good for Chetwynd, and therefore it doesn't sound too good for Bush.

But wait. There's more.
Ironically, Bossie and Citizens United could find themselves facing the same legal questions they raised about "Fahrenheit 9/11," when they tried to stop TV advertising for the Moore opus. Their complaint to the FEC alleged that such ads constituted prohibited "electioneering communications" against Bush and violated federal restrictions on "soft money." Last month the FEC ruled in favor of the film's distributors because those ads appeared more than four months before the election, during a window when they were permissible.

But the Bossie film will be released within the 120-day pre-election period when such "independent" electioneering communications are prohibited, unless they fall under an exception carved out for commercial media endeavors. Unless "The Big Picture" is billed as a commercial movie intended to earn a profit, it could fall within the category of prohibited electioneering activity. And advertising for the pro-Bush documentary could pose the same questions raised by Citizens United about the promotion of Moore's film.
And as if that wasn't enough...
Exactly how "The Big Picture" was financed, and how much it will cost, remain mysterious. A tantalizing clue, however, showed up in a July 19 post on the right-wing Free Republic Web site, where someone nicknamed Smogger sought guidance from fellow Freepers about a political donation:

"Who is Dave Bossie and Citizens United?" asked Smogger. "I just gave them $50 that they claim they are going to use to create a movie to praise the efforts of George Bush and to counter Farenheit 911 [sic]. They said they were trying to raise $500,000 in 30 days for this effort. I assume they got my number from the RNC.

"Anyone else receive this phone solicitation? It's so hard to keep track with GWB and RNC calling every other day. I tried to access the Citizens United website but it appears down. I hope I did the right thing."
The problem with calling the kettle black is that sooner or later, it's going to come out that you are, yourself, a pot.



Bad Idea 

CNN.com - Transcripts

I like Lou Dobbs. I really do. But this question about Najaf floored me.
DOBBS: Let me ask you a question that a number of our viewers have asked, which frankly I think is an interesting question. Why not use some sort of harmless gas, but effective gas against them?

Why not secondarily simply starve them out, since they can be isolated and resolve this so that we don't put American troops at risk?
Umm, the answer to the first part is PR, Lou. So let's see, what's the best way to put down an Iraqi insurgency? Hmm? Oh, I know, let's gas them.

No, and there is no such thing as a 100% safe gas. Just ask the Chechens.

And starving them is out for basically the same reason. We're talking about a whole town here, Lou.



Dueling Scandals 

Okay, here's the scenario. You're running for the office of President of the United States of America and the devil appears before you. (No, I don't believe in the devil. This is simply a grand metaphor in the Faust tradition.) The devil tells you that he and God have decided that you must suffer a setback, but your opponent is going to suffer a similar one. To that end, they have devised two scandals, and you get to choose which one you prefer. The other will go to your opponent. Here are your choices:
• A member of your campaign's legal team will receive a citation for soliciting a prostitute.
• Your campaign's main religion advisor will be exposed as having been accused of sexual harrassment against a student he once taught.
Which do you choose?

Yeah, me too. And Bush thinks God is on his side?



Thursday, August 19, 2004

Mr. Bush, Tear Down This Ad 

Remember when the Swift Boat liars first krept out from under their rock and demanded that Kerry stop using a picture of himself because some of them were also in the picture? Well...

In one of Bush's current ads he shows images of the Iraqi socer team, and guess what; they don't want him to.
"Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign," Sadir told SI.com through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. "He can find another way to advertise himself."
Hey, I wonder if the freepers will condemn Bush for using the image of people who oppose him? Hmmm? Huh, freepers? Will ya?
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."
Oooo, they don't seem to like him, do they?

Maybe it's just a few of them. I mean surely most of them are grateful to Bush, right?
To a man, members of the Iraqi Olympic delegation say they are glad that former Olympic committee head Uday Hussein, who was responsible for the serial torture of Iraqi athletes and was killed four months after the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003, is no longer in power.

But they also find it offensive that Bush is using Iraq for his own gain when they do not support his administration's actions. "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?"
Aren't sports heros great? And to think, I don't even like sports.



Ballad to a Yellow Alert 

When George starts to tank in the polls,
And Tom’s job need justification,
And they’re out of fiends hiding in holes,
And the voters demand explanations,

And Condi’s caught up in her lies,
And Johhny has lost one more case,
And Karl has just outed some spies,
And the whole world thinks we’re out of place,

And Dickie’s hand’s caught in the jar,
And all of Don’s plans are awry,
And election day isn’t that far
In the future, just what can they try?

Don’t fret, George. Don’t call for your mama.
Don’t worry. There’s always Osama.




The New York Times %3E Washington %3E Campaign 2004 %3E Kerry Will Campaign During Republicans%27 Convention
Breaking with tradition, Senator John Kerry plans to campaign for at least one day during the Republican National Convention, venturing to Nashville to speak at the American Legion's national convention.

Mr. Kerry's aides said that he would spend most of the Republican convention week relaxing at his family's seaside sanctuary on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts but that he would not miss the chance to speak to the veterans' group, a quadrennial ritual for presidential contenders. President Bush, who has spoken to the Legion every summer since 2000, has also been invited but has not yet confirmed an appearance.


Charlie Cook, who edits a prominent political newsletter in Washington, said he could not recall another example of a presidential candidate campaigning during his rival's convention, but he quickly added, "We don't usually know we're going to have an election this close."
I remember thinking when they said that Bush was honoring the no-campaigning tradition back during the DNCC that this was a new one on me. Maybe it was something Bush's people floated as a talking point just so that they could use it as a bludgeon on Kerry. After all, Cheney didn't honor it.

Thing is, if this really is a tradition it probaly got started because campaigning during the opponent's convention got no media coverage. You know, back in the day of three networks and two national magazines. Which means it was less of a courtesy to the opposition than a pragmatic conservation of resources.

Not all traditions are worth keeping. Maybe this one can go the way of Minstrel shows and the Playboy Clubs.



Tug Boat Captains For Truth 

Records Counter A Critic Of Kerry %28washingtonpost.com%29
Newly obtained military records of one of Sen. John F. Kerry's most vocal critics, who has accused the Democratic presidential candidate of lying about his wartime record to win medals, contradict his own version of events.

In newspaper interviews and a best-selling book, Larry Thurlow, who commanded a Navy Swift boat alongside Kerry in Vietnam, has strongly disputed Kerry's claim that the Massachusetts Democrat's boat came under fire during a mission in Viet Cong-controlled territory on March 13, 1969. Kerry won a Bronze Star for his actions that day

But Thurlow's military records, portions of which were released yesterday to The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act, contain several references to "enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire" directed at "all units" of the five-boat flotilla. Thurlow won his own Bronze Star that day, and the citation praises him for providing assistance to a damaged Swift boat "despite enemy bullets flying about him."

As one of five Swift boat skippers who led the raid up the Bay Hap River, Thurlow was a direct participant in the disputed events. He is also a leading member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a public advocacy group of Vietnam veterans dismayed by Kerry's subsequent antiwar activities, which has aired a controversial television advertisement attacking his war record.

In interviews and written reminiscences, Kerry has described how his 50-foot patrol boat came under fire from the banks of the Bay Hap after a mine explosion disabled another U.S. patrol boat. According to Kerry and members of his crew, the firing continued as an injured Kerry leaned over the bow of his ship to rescue a Special Forces officer who was blown overboard in a second explosion.

Last month, Thurlow swore in an affidavit that Kerry was "not under fire" when he fished Lt. James Rassmann out of the water. He described Kerry's Bronze Star citation, which says that all units involved came under "small arms and automatic weapons fire," as "totally fabricated."

"I never heard a shot," Thurlow said in his affidavit, which was released by Swift Boats Veterans for Truth. The group claims the backing of more than 250 Vietnam veterans, including a majority of Kerry's fellow boat commanders.

A document recommending Thurlow for the Bronze Star noted that all his actions "took place under constant enemy small arms fire which LTJG THURLOW completely ignored in providing immediate assistance" to the disabled boat and its crew. The citation states that all other units in the flotilla also came under fire.
Hmmm, so Thurlow is a LIAR.

Imagine that. Whoda thunk it? So how does Thurlow defend himself?
Thurlow said he would consider his award "fraudulent" if coming under enemy fire was the basis for it. "I am here to state that we weren't under fire," he said. He speculated that Kerry could have been the source of at least some of the language used in the citation.
Ahh so Kerry made it up. So what then does Thurlow think he got the Bronze Star for exactly?
"My personal feeling was always that I got the award for coming to the rescue of the boat that was mined. "
He thinks he got a medal for towing a boat? If that's what he thinks he got the Bronze Star for, he's a bigger idiot than I thought. And this is the guy criticizing Kerry's legitimate purple hearts?



Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Lie That Never Was 

WorldNetDaily%3A Kerry contradicts self in his own war diary%3F
A previously unnoticed passage in John Kerry's approved war biography, citing his own journals, appears to contradict the senator's claim he won his first Purple Heart as a result of an injury sustained under enemy fire.


While the date of the four-day excursion on PCF-44 [Patrol Craft Fast] is not specified, Brinkley notes it commenced when Kerry "had just turned 25, on Dec. 11, 1968," which was nine days after the incident in which he claimed he had been wounded by enemy fire.

Brinkley recounts the outset of that mid-December journey, which included a crew of radarman James Wasser, engineman William Zaladonis, gunner's mate Stephen Gardner and boatswain's mates Drew Whitlow and Stephen Hatch:
"They pulled away from the pier at Cat Lo with spirits high, feeling satisfied with the way things were going for them. They had no lust for battle, but they also were were not afraid. Kerry wrote in his notebook, 'A cocky feeling of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel because we hadn't been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven't been shot at are allowed to be cocky.'"
The diary entry apparently confirms assertions made by Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth, a group of more than 250 vets opposing his presidential candidacy who served in the Naval operation that patrolled the rivers and canals of the Mekong Delta area controlled by North Vietnam.
There is no contradiction here. This is Kerry's recollection of the event. (A recollection which has not been contradicted by anyone who was actually there.):
Much of the evening was spent apprehending fishermen in a curfew zone. At approximately 2 a.m., however, they proceeded up an inlet with wild jungle on both sides of the boat. As they approached a bay, Kerry's whaler fired flares into the air. To their horror, not far from them, were a startled group of Viet Cong smugglers trafficking in contraband.

"We opened fire," Kerry told me in a Jan. 30, 2003, interview. "The light from the flares started to fade, the air was full of explosions. My M-16 jammed, and as I bent down to grab another gun, a stinging piece of heat socked into my arm and just seemed to burn like hell. By this time one of the sailors had started the engine and we ran by the beach strafing it. Then it was quiet."

Kerry and crewmates blew up the smugglers' beached sampans and then headed back to Cam Ranh Bay. "I never saw where the piece of shrapnel had come from, and the vision of the men running like gazelles haunted me," Kerry continued. "It seemed stupid. My gunner didn't know where the people were when he first started firing. The M-16 bullets had kicked up the sand way to the right of them as he sprayed the beach, slowly walking the line of fire over to where the men had been leaping for cover. I had been shouting directions and trying to un-jam my gun. The third crewman was locked in a personal struggle with the engine, trying to start it. I just shook my head and said, 'Jesus Christ.' It made me wonder if a year of training was worth anything." Kerry, never trying to inflate the incident, called it a "half-ass action." Nevertheless, the escapade introduced Kerry to the V.C. and earned him his first Purple Heart.
Kerry never claims they took fire, and he acknowledges that he doesn't know where the shrapnel came from. And even if it was friendly fire or shrapnel from a mortar, it counts.



Now Here's An Interesting Factoid 

Political Wire%3A Political Trivia of the Day
Since Electoral Votes are allocated to each state based on its number of Senators plus the number of Representatives, Wyoming, with the lowest population of all the states, has the greatest number of Electoral Votes relative to its population. Conversely, California with 55 Electoral Votes, is the most under-represented state.

As an example of the disparity, Brendan Loy observes that 11 "red states" make up "the heart of the solid Republican Mountain West and Great Plains" and have a population of 18.6 million. The state of New York, in contrast, has a population of 18.9 million. Nonetheless, New York has 33 electoral votes while the other 11 states have a combined total of 52.
There is absolutely no need for the electoral college any longer. This is why I want Kerry to win by only one closely contested state. If the GOP suffers the same kick in the gut that we did four years ago, maybe they'll get it.



Good Point, But Please Don't Run 


This story presents all of the arguments for third party candidacies very well, but failed to impress me that Nader isn't a potential spoiler.

Everything it says is true. People should have the right to vote for whoever they feel is best for the job. And if the race was between Kerry and McCain, I might even agree. But it's not. It's between Kerry and Chimpy McChimp.

August 19 is the deadline for Nader to get on the Ohio ballot. Hopefully he will fail as he has everywhere else. Especially since Ohio more than any other state has the potential to swing this election.



Who's Stupid Now? 

CNN.com - ACLU quits federal donation program - Aug 1%2C 2004:
ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, in a letter to CFC Director Mara Patermaster, said Attorney General "John Ashcroft and this administration have created a climate of fear and intimidation that undermines the health and well-being of this nation."

Using the watch lists, developed under the U.S. Patriot Act, is one requirement of continued program participation. The Patriot Act -- which expires in 2005 -- was passed into law in the weeks after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.


Romero said his organization withdrew from the program after seeing comments by Patermaster in Saturday's New York Times, indicating the ACLU could be dropped from the program for "violating the government's policy."


The ACLU had received legal advice indicating it was not required to check employee names against the list, Whitfield said. The group was exploring its legal options, she said.

"The ACLU would never have signed the CFC's funding agreement if we believed for one minute we would have to check our employees against a list," she said.
Yesterday, I wrote that the story was stupid. I seriously thought it was a non-starter. Frankly, it should have been. People on the right are using this story to undermine the ACLU. But there is no evidence whatever that anyone on the watch lists was ever hired. Also, there is no law saying that people on the list (some of them almost certainly undeservedly so) are inelligble to be hired.

It's a sad day in America when people using blacklists and withholding pledges from citizens to harrass people who have not been convicted of a crime force the people defending against fascism to refuse money meant for them.



Riddle Me This 

A free gmail invite to the first correct response to this; you have 31 days to tell me the next letter in this sequence, and explain why.


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The Big Wink from the ACLU 

WorldNetDaily%3A ACLU misleads feds to get cash
The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, signed a promise saying it wouldn't hire anyone on terrorism watch lists – a requirement for receiving payroll donations from federal employees – and later admitted it had no intention of actually checking names on the rosters of those suspected of terror ties.

Since October, organizations benefiting from the Combined Federal Campaign have been required to certify that they would not hire people whose names appear on watch lists compiled by the federal government, the U.N. and the European Union. The ACLU signed the agreement in January, reports columnist John Leo today.
Good for the ACLU.

I hate stories which originate in the freakin' Moonie Times. What is actually happening here is that the ACLU was threatened with losing federal funds they were entitled to unless they agreed to a government blacklist. Now, this would be bad enough for any group to agree to, but the ACLU especially. So the ACLU took advantage of a loophole.
ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero noted the agreement said an organization could not "knowingly" hire a person on the lists, so he simply decided intentionally not to refer to them.
The problem here is that the people on the list have not been convicted of being terrorists. And the ACLU is opposed to the list itself. So this is just a stupid story.



Monday, August 16, 2004

Thank Heaven For Little Girls 

Election 2004

You may notice that the poll seen over Bush's shoulder is not the poll I showed here. I made this picture last week, but decided against using it. Now there is a new Zogby poll showing the same information, but the poll graph for the Pew poll is no longer available in the gallery.



The One That Didn't Get Away 

Last night, my wife, and my six year old daughter and I went fishing in the Ohio River. All summer my wife has wanted to catch a gar. Well, we caught a few sunfish, and a sheep-head, and then my wife got what we thought for a moment was a snag. But soon she realized that she had a fish. When she finally landed it (which was just a matter of pulling the line in) she had one of these hanging on the end of her pole:

That’s a gar. It looks like a barracuda. It has an eel-like shape and a beak full of sharp teeth. But what is really impressive is how she caught it. She was using my daughter's old fishing pole. It’s one of those teensy poles people buy for kids. Her uncle found it for her in somebody’s garbage. She was baiting with a worm and using a split-shot sinker, nothing fancy, just a minimum. The gar bit on the worm, and the hook looped his beak. He was not actually caught at all. Once he opened his mouth, he fell right off. He was just too stubborn to let go.

Which brings me to the point of my story. Iraq is kind of like that gar. Bush got it in his head that he was going to catch us a big ugly one, but when he actually got it on the hook, he found that it was much easier to get than he had originally thought. Once we had our gar, my daughter became frightened of it and wanted me to just cut it off the line, but we didn’t. My wife had a trophy, so we took it to her sister's house to show it off. The poor thing nearly died, and it kept fighting the whole way there. We even wound up with some of its blood on the side of the car. Finally, we returned it to the river where it belongs. It made us feel like big brave hunter-types, but in the long run it sure didn’t do the fish any good.



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