Thursday, September 30, 2004

George W. & Jesus H. -- Separated at Birth?

You must read Frank Rich's discussion today of a new bit of Bush/Cheney propaganda, "George W. Bush: Faith in the White House," "a DVD," writes Rich, "that is being specifically marketed in 'head to head' partisan opposition to 'Fahrenheit 9/11.' This documentary first surfaced at the Republican convention in New York, where it was previewed in tandem with an invitation-only, no-press-allowed 'Family, Faith and Freedom Rally,' a Ralph Reed-Sam Brownback jamboree thrown by the Bush campaign for Christian conservatives. Though you can buy the DVD for $14.95, its makers told the right-wing news service that they plan to distribute 300,000 copies to America's churches. And no wonder. This movie aspires to be 'The Passion of the Bush,' and it succeeds."

And this key paragraph: "More than any other campaign artifact, ["George W. Bush: Faith in the White House"] clarifies the hard-knuckles rationale of the president's vote-for-me-or-face-Armageddon re-election message. It transforms the president that the Democrats deride as a 'fortunate son' of privilege into a prodigal son with the 'moral clarity of an old-fashioned biblical prophet.' Its Bush is not merely a sincere man of faith but God's essential and irreplaceable warrior on Earth. The stations of his cross are burnished into cinematic fable: the misspent youth, the hard drinking (a thirst that came from 'a throat full of Texas dust'), the fateful 40th-birthday hangover in Colorado Springs, the walk on the beach with Billy Graham. A towheaded child actor bathed in the golden light of an off-camera halo re-enacts the young George comforting his mom after the death of his sister; it's a parable anticipating the future president's miraculous ability to comfort us all after 9/11. An older Bush impersonator is seen rebuffing a sexual come-on from a fellow Bush-Quayle campaign worker hovering by a Xerox machine in 1988; it's an effort to imbue our born-again savior with retroactive chastity. As for the actual president, he is shown with a flag for a backdrop in a split-screen tableau with Jesus. The message isn't subtle: they were separated at birth...."

The Ralph Reed mentioned above, incidentally, is the same Ralph Reed whose name surfaced yesterday in a scandal involving Republican lobbyists for Indian gambling: "...a broad federal investigation into lobbying abuses connected to gambling on Indian reservations has unearthed evidence that Reed has been surreptitiously working for an Indian tribe with a large casino it sought to protect -- and that Reed was paid with funds laundered through two firms to try to keep his lucrative involvement secret. Reed has always operated behind the scenes, and apparently he didn't want to risk becoming a humbled hypocrite like his right-wing cohorts William Bennett and Rush Limbaugh."

Amazing how Republican paragons and the evidence of "hypocrisy" seem magnetically attractive to one another!

What Would Jesus Vandalize?

At around 3 a.m. this morning, the headquarters of the Watauga County Democratic Party was hit by vandals, who broke two of the large downstairs windows with chunks of cinderblock before running off on foot into the night. Apparently, there is an eye witness.

Our opponents in this election need to search their souls. The neoconservative doctrine of preemptive destruction seems to have seeped deep into the nooks and crannies of small minds devoted to the Republican cause.

Boone's very own Kristallnacht, or "night of the broken glass." The original Kristallnacht happened under the Nazis in Germany in November 1938, when organized gangs of true believers vandalized Jewish homes and businesses all over the country. Adolph Hilter later told the world that the vandalism was "spontaneous," eruptions of rage boiling up among loyal Germans who found their Jewish neighbors insufficiently "pure" to the goals of the Fatherland. But there was nothing spontaneous about Kristallnacht. It was a carefully orchestrated campaign of terrorism against people perceived to be disloyal, one of several first steps toward The Ultimate Solution of the gas chambers.

Not that the sick people who broke windows at 352 West King Street are Nazis, just reasonable facsimiles thereof, in a nation where El Presidente has made it very clear that if you aren't "with him," you're suspect. His little foot soldiers in Boone evidently got that message.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Judge Strikes Down Part of the Patriot Act

In case you haven't been staying up to date any better than the best of us, Reuters has this rendition of what a federal judge has to say about El Presidente's ability to snoop into private financial records.

This particular judge, we understand, was appointed by Bill Clinton.

Let 'em Deny It All Day ... There WILL Be a Draft!

Article in today's News & Observer finally notices the buzz among young people about the coming D-R-A-F-T, given El Presidente's pre-emptive doctrine of warfare and the prominence of neoconservatives in his administration.

Now they're denying it as fast as ever they can ... which probably ain't quite fast enough.

"We already have a draft -- a back-door draft," Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, a Korean War veteran and author of House legislation to restart the draft, said Tuesday. Rangel's office said the Pentagon is already "drafting" men for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan by ordering reservists to active duty and extending tours of those in the combat zone.

A career military man said to me in Virginia last weekend that you can't rely on 30-year-olds in combat -- which is the age bracket of a lot of these poor reservists pushed into this disastrous Iraqi battle -- that the military knows, and El Presidente knows, and certainly every thinking American knows that WE WILL NEED 20-YEAR-OLDS to continue this battle.

Well, He LOOKS Like a Horse

In between your bouts of convulsive sobbing over the polls and compulsive binging on Rocky Road, please pay a little attention to this John-Kerry-as-Seabiscuit analysis in today's NYTimes:

"...a candidate who runs best from behind, a political Seabiscuit who pulls ahead after anxiety-producing slow starts .... when he realizes, 'I could lose this if I don't do something more forceful,' then he comes to life and is able to finish off an opponent .... As Mr. Kerry approaches this campaign's home stretch, with the first debate tomorrow night, there is much in his past to suggest that he believes elections are won in the endgame, that he holds back on purpose and begins concentrating intently on the race only when he believes the voters are, too .... Many of Mr. Kerry's oldest friends express exasperation at his willingness to drift at times in his campaigns. His tendency to focus best in the crunch is a longtime habit, dating at least to his days as a champion debater at Yale, and one that cannot be explained as a result of mere procrastination or inattention .... 'When his back is up against the wall, the adrenaline starts flowing and he just does phenomenal things. It's a last-minute, rush-type operation.' "

Well, shoot! You mean we could've been canning beans and tomatoes since July, instead of working our butts off, and easily relaxed until Mr. Kerry decided his back was up against the wall? Who knew?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Boards of Elections ... No Friends to Students

An editorial in today's New York Times underscores the apparently nationwide hostility of local Boards of Election toward college-age voters (thanks to Lowell for the link). We've seen this hostility up close and personal here at home, in the Watauga County Board of Elections' recent refusal to move the polling place for Boone 3 precinct, which is over 80 percent ASU students, to a building on campus. That polling place is currently at the Agricultural Conference Center, a location without easy access via sidewalks from the campus, and students living on campus generally do not have ready access to their vehicles.

The writer for the NYTimes opined: "It is nice to think that elections officials want to do everything they can to help young voters. But the truth is, many cities and towns with colleges and universities regard student voters ... as a challenge to the established order. As a result, local elections officials often discourage students from registering and voting from their campus addresses, even though the Supreme Court has ruled that they have the right to do so."

What follows are notorious examples of young voter intimidation of the sort that we're quite familiar with: In Texas, a Republican district attorney threatened to prosecute students if they registered to vote in his county. It took a lawsuit to shut that DA's pie-hole, and he had to apologize for the threat. In New York, a local elections official told a student that he was not a "permanent resident" and would have to register where his parents live. In Arizona, a student was told he might be committing a felony if he registered to vote in his college town.

"Even when they are not actively discouraging young voters, election officials are often unwilling to take steps to make it easier for them to vote. They often resist appeals to put polling places on campus, one of the best ways to make students feel included in the electoral process." We know, we know!

Locally, ASU students have been told they'll be harrassed for jury duty immediately upon registering to vote in Watauga County, that they'll be subject to personal property taxes, that the sheriff will put them under investigation. All lies. Lies, in fact, that amount to crimes, since the intentional intimidation of voters is a misdemeanor.

The local Board of Elections was also poised to demand identification from first-time voters proving their dorms as their physical addresses -- information NOT provided on ASU student IDs -- until the North Carolina State Board of Elections issued an edict saying that student IDs were a valid form of identification, whether or not they listed dorm addresses.

There are some people who obviously stand to benefit if 18-24 year olds sit out this election. It'll be so much easier to draft them into El Presidente's foreign wars, if they're disengaged from the political process that put him in power.

Erskine to Democrats: "Drop Dead"

Erskine Bowles was strong last night in the senatorial debate with Dick Burr. On points, he clearly won. And sartorially, his bold red tie whipped up on Dick Burr's pansy pink. Pink?

But Erskine's steadfast decision NOT to be a Democrat, except for the convenience of having a party affiliation on the ballot, is beginning to wear thin. His "non-partisanship" can sound high-minded, and we're sure he means it that way, but to us, who labor long and hard because we believe in the principles of the Democratic Party, it rings like an alarm bell. Who are we voting for here ... John Friggin' Breaux? Thanks, but no thanks.

He rang that "I'm no Democrat" bell several times and right off the bat during the hour-long debate. He said he would be "a strong, independent voice in Washington, someone who will put partisan politics aside" and would practice "the values of bringing Democrats and Republicans together." Made us flash on Grover Norquist's quip that "bi-partisanship" is just another name for date rape. We don't see Erskine successfully fighting off the pawing hands of Bill Frist.

"I'm going to be as non-partisan as someone can be," he said in closing. "You'll not see me voting with my party 96 percent of the time." Well, jeez! Approximately what percentage of Democratic positions do you find odious, Erskine? We'd kinda like to know before we go on busting our humps on your behalf. "Vote for Bowles. He'll support Democratic ideals ... an unknown percentage of the time!"

That crack about not voting the party line 96 percent of the time was a jab at Dick Burr, who is on record voting with the president that often (frankly, we're surprised it isn't 100 percent). And while Erskine was busily blotting out any tinge of Democrat on his person, Burr was just as busily wrapping himself in the failed policies of El Presidente (free trade agreements, for example, and No Child Left Behind and disastrous environmental rules), as though the polls showing Bush and Kerry almost even in North Carolina just didn't exist. But Burr couldn't quite bring himself to outright endorse a constitutional ban on gay marriage, though we're sure that his supporters THINK he did, the way he phrased it, but he weasled out, saying he couldn't think of anything more important than the sacred institution of marriage between a man and a woman (said the candidate in the pink tie) but clearly NOT also saying he therefore supported an amendment to the Constitution. Erskine, for his part, drily noted, "I don't think there's anything conservative about changing the Constitution."

On economic issues, Bowles said twice, and with the exact same dropped 'g,' "People are really hurtin,' " just like the good ole down-home boy he ain't. It was a polished and clearly rehearsed gambit, and he certainly pulled it off better than Kerry ever could, adding an anecdote at the end about a poor man he met in Greensboro who had to decide whether to take his ailing daughter to the doctor or not, because he didn't have insurance. It was positively Clintonesque.

Erskine's one misstep came on a question about the assault weapons ban. He said he supported the ban because "every single police chief supports it." Burr gleefully pounced: " 'Every police chief'? I'll be glad to send you a list of some police chiefs who don't support it."

To the direct question from moderator Carl Kasell about following the "party line," Bowles replied (and here I quote him at length): "I've said many times that North Carolina needs a strong, independent voice in the U.S. Senate, someone who will put partisan politics aside and stand up for North Carolina. When I negotiated the first balanced budget in a generation [as Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff], I had to go up and spend literally weeks and weeks locked up in conference rooms with Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott. That wasn't easy. But I also had to spend weeks and weeks locked up in conference rooms with Tom Daschle and Richard Gephardt, and that wasn't easy either, 'cause the two sides were really far apart. And what I did was find that common ground, and we were able to balance the budget and move the country forward. That's the kind of effort I want to see in the future, no matter what the issue is. You know, I disagree with people in my party over many issues. You know, I supported the 87 billion dollars for this war. That's something I really believe in. I thought the Medicare program that was just passed [back last December] that Richard voted for, I thought that while it has lots and lots and lots of problems and it needs to be amended, I thought it was a beginning step. So there are lots of areas like that where I would not vote with my party. What I would do would be to try to do what's right for North Carolina."

He managed in that one answer to stick his bony elbow in the face of anti-war Democrats and senior citizens, who in the main absolutely despise the new Medicare prescription drug benefit plan. Back last December he was announcing his total support for the Medicare bill. Since then, and apparently after hearing from a fair number of disgusted Democrats (yes, THOSE people!), he's added the caveat of "lots and lots and lots of problems" with the bill, but he still supports it. Which means, we guess, that we'll soon be yelling at his legislative aides over the telephone like we were yelling at Tom Daschle's aides back last December when Daschle was being "non-partisan" to the detriment of every elderly person in this country.

What we don't need in North Carolina -- sorry, Erskine -- is another Tom Daschle Lite Democrat.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Burr Comes Out of the Closet in Debate

Tonight during the Erskine Bowles/Dick Burr senatorial debate in Raleigh, the following exchange happened:

Q: Mr. Burr, if elected to the Senate you'll likely get to vote on one or more U.S. Supreme Court nominees before your term is up. What will you look for in a Supreme Court justice?

BURR: I'll look for somebody that in fact holds to the Constitution, not somebody that looks at their own interpretation but what the interpretation was meant to be. If that's a litmus test, then I'm for it. But the reality is that we've got judges on the bench, from the highest court on down, that feel that it's their job to reinterpret what the law says. I believe that it's very clear that the words "under God" belong there. It troubles me that we've got the bench in some cases and potentially the Supreme Court, where we might have a debate, and because of the makeup of the court it might decide the future for our children, as to whether they say the words "under God." I believe that's worth protecting.

Revealing response, no?

1. "...what the interpretation was meant to be." You see, folks, there is only one way these things can be read, and that way was preordained. Luckily, a chosen few of us were let in on the secret. We just need judges who'll admit it.

2. "If that's a litmus test, then I'm for it." 'Cause it just makes my head ache otherwise.

3. "...judges ... that feel that it's their job to reinterpret what the law says." Actually, Dick, that IS what judges do, including those ideal candidates who make your litmus paper turn blue. Oh, wait! It's not interpretation, is it, when they do it? Just meek acceptance of divine will. My bad!

4. "...we might have a debate...." And that's what's been wrong with this democracy for some time now ... DEBATE!

5. "...the future for our children, as to whether they say the words 'under God.' " Since it's far, far more important what children learn to say, as opposed to what they learn to do.

Burr also said "I'm not embarrassed to vote with the president 96 percent of the time. He's right that often! I'm convinced."

Which got us to thinking about that four percent of the time that El Presidente has been wrong. 'Til it started making our head ache.

Erskine Bowles made our heart ache about as much as our head during this same debate. But we'll save his best lines until tomorrow, after we've stopped gritting our teeth.

Urban Sprawl Hazardous To Your Health

The Rand Corp. released a study today that says "people who live in sprawling metropolitan areas are more likely to report chronic health problems such as high blood pressure, arthritis, headaches and breathing difficulties than residents of more compact cities." The likely cause? All that driving that goes with the 'burbs.

And incidentally, Winston-Salem is listed as one of the worst examples of urban sprawl in the nation.

Burr Expected To Attack Bowles in Tonight's Debate

The analysis in today's News & Observer is that Richard Burr will have to go on the attack in tonight's debate with Erskine Bowles, the only N.C. senatorial debate scheduled, if he expects to move the polls at all in his direction. His campaign has been stuck for months, and his polling position relative to the better known Erskine Bowles has stubbornly refused to move. Even trotting out old pictures of Erksine and Bill Clinton together haven't done much to enhance Burr's standing.

The trick will be combining soft-on-terrorism attacks on Erskine (the new Republican campaign boilerplate) while not tarnishing that nice homeboy image Burr seems to have.

Tune in at 7 p.m. on Channel 13.

Going Over the Line on Iraq

Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who advises candidates in that party on key words to use in a campaign, is quoted in the WashPost over the weekend saying that "statements like that can cause a backlash" against the accuser. "Candidates have to be careful of going over the line," he said.

Statements like what? you ask.

Calling Democrats, especially John Kerry, traitors, that's what.

Appearing in the Rose Garden last Thursday with Iraq's puppet prime minister, Ayad Allawi, Bush said Kerry's statements about Iraq "can embolden an enemy."

On Tuesday, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said terrorists "are going to throw everything they can between now and the election to try and elect Kerry." On Fox News, Hatch said Democrats are "consistently saying things that I think undermine our young men and women who are serving over there."

Sunday a week ago, GOP Senate candidate John Thune of South Dakota said of his opponent, Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle: "His words embolden the enemy." Thune, on NBC's "Meet the Press," declined to disavow a statement by the Republican Party chairman in his state saying Daschle had brought "comfort to America's enemies."

Oh, nice guys, these people!

"Rhetoric this sharp and ugly is not by any means brand-new, [but] what we're seeing now isn't just offhand comments by outliers but clearly a decision by the Republican hierarchy to put this charge out there consistently," said Jeff Shesol, a speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and author of a book about Lyndon B. Johnson and Robert F. Kennedy.

We saw a bumpersticker over the weekend in a Virginia shopping mall: "9 out of 10 terrorists agree ... John Kerry for President!"

This is beyond a politics of "win at any cost." This is the politics of shutting up all dissent. It used to be done back in my heyday by accusing your opponents of being "commies" or "commie-sympathizers," the infamous "red-baiting" of the '60s and '70s.

Now it's giving aid and comfort to terrorists. Keeps going this way and it might get really ugly ... like linking Democrats to G-A-Y-S!

But let the backlash begin!

And You Think There WON'T Be a Draft?

Last Thursday, a new study commissioned by the Pentagon was the topic of discussion in a Senate hearing room, even though it hasn't been officially released yet. We were on the road, so I'm just now catching up with the details of this. Sen. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) did us all the favor of reading portions of the report aloud into the record. The bottomline: the study found that "the American military does not have sufficient forces to sustain current and anticipated stability operations, like the festering conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and other missions that might arise."

The study found what does not appear in El Presidente's Fantasyland: "inadequate total numbers of U.S. troops" and "a lack of long-term endurance."

This current crop of 18- and 19-year-olds ought to supply the numbers along with the endurance. Once he gets reelected, you watch, George W. Bush will suddenly discover that we can't do what he's set in motion without significant new troops, which aren't going to be recruited volunteerly in American's shopping centers. Not with the current news coming out of Iraq.

Our own nephew just turned 18 and has registered for the draft. As far as we know, he hasn't paid a bit of attention to who's leading us and where he's leading us, but he should.

As Senator Reed observed, it's not just Afghanistan and Iraq that might drag on. "Iran and North Korea are provocative," he said. "They very well might cause us to take military action; one hopes not. And then, as you often say, there's also the surprises that we don't even contemplate at this moment."

Surprises and a Cowboy-in-Chief. Potent stuff. The DRAFT is coming, folks.

The Trend Continues

The New York Times published yesterday an analysis of new voter registration in the two swing states of Ohio and Florida and found Democratic registrations surging, particularly in urban counties with large minority populations:

" Democratic areas of Ohio ... new registrations since January have risen 250 percent over the same period in 2000. In comparison, new registrations have increased just 25 percent in Republican areas. A similar pattern is apparent in Florida: in the strongest Democratic areas, the pace of new registration is 60 percent higher than in 2000, while it has risen just 12 percent in the heaviest Republican areas."

This matches up with our own local anecdotal evidence that while there is considerable energy and enthusiasm on the Democratic side of things, the support for Bush is mechanical, uninspired, and unenergetic. "Don't change horses in mid-stream" is a tired cliche rather than a fired-up rallying cry.

Searching for HOPE amid the polls and John Kerry's inability to connect with the voters? "While comparable data could not be obtained for other swing states, similar registration drives have been mounted in them as well, and party officials on both sides say record numbers of new voters are being registered nationwide. This largely hidden but deadly earnest battle is widely believed by campaign professionals and political scientists to be potentially decisive in the presidential election."

"In Florida, where The Times was able to analyze data from 60 of the state's 67 counties, new registrations this year also are running far ahead of the 2000 pace, with Republican areas trailing Democratic ones. In the 150 ZIP codes that voted most heavily for Mr. Bush, 96,000 new voters have registered this year, up from 86,000 in 2000, an increase of about 12 percent. But in the heaviest of Democratic areas, 110 ZIP codes that gave two-thirds or more of their votes to Al Gore, new registrations have increased to 125,000 from 77,000, a jump of more than 60 percent."

In North Carolina, Republicans have had paltry new registrations to boast of. Democrats have been kicking their butts pretty much everywhere. We haven't run the numbers yet in Watauga County, but stand by for that news!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Here's a Trend For You

Won't vouch for these numbers, but they come from a reliable source ... comparative registration figures for Durham County, N.C., for the last three election cycles, including this one. (The last 3 weeks of voter registration for 2000 and
2002 have been omitted to allow a direct comparison with 2004, which had
three weeks of registration left as of Sept. 15th.)

We're prompted to point out "changes in not only the volume but also the shift in partisan affiliation."

From Jan. 1, 2000 to Sept. 15, 2000:
TOTAL registered: 7,975
D 3,839 48.1%
R 1,872 23.5%
U 2,226 27.9%
L 38 0.4%


From Jan. 1, 2002 to Sept. 15, 2002
TOTAL registered: 7,320
D 3,910 53.4%
R 1,584 21.6%
U 1,784 24.4%
L 42 0.6%


From Jan. 1, 2004 to Sept. 15, 2004
TOTAL registered: 18,048
D 10,639 58.9%
R 2,671 14.8%
U 4,672 25.9%
L 66 0.4%

Well, the Liberterians are hanging in there!

The Politics of Mega-Builders

If you wanna know something about Mike Winstead, owner of Mega Builders (responsible for the "Great Wall of Boone" behind the Industrial Park), take a look at David Hoggard's blog (especially the pictures!), just forwarded to me. Winstead is a Republican candidate right now for the Guilford County Commission.

Beware of mega developers bearing political promises!

Governor No Show

Gov. Easley's failure to show up at any of the three appearances that Senator John Kerry has made in North Carolina were embarrassments to the Democratic Party, but they went by as sort of unremarkable and "par for the course" with this particular governor, who doesn't much show up for ANYTHING that involves living people who don't also happen to have big fat check books.

But in this morning's "Under the Dome" column in the Raleigh News & Observer, Easley was asked point-blank if he would show up for ANY Kerry appearance in the state:

"Well...," Easley responded, "it would depend on whether I was at one of my campaign stops."


"We'll take that for a 'No,' " the N&O commented (here, and scroll down).

A Little Flip-Flop Never Did Anybody Any Harm

Can we say this all together now ... take a deep breath ... one, two, three ... WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA?

To wit: "Over the past four years, [President George W. Bush] abandoned positions on issues such as how to regulate air pollution or whether states should be allowed to sanction same-sex marriage. He changed his mind about the merits of creating the Homeland Security Department, and made a major exception to his stance on free trade by agreeing to tariffs on steel. After resisting, the president yielded to pressure in supporting an independent commission to study policy failures preceding the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Bush did the same with questions about whether he would allow his national security adviser to testify, or whether he would answer commissioners' questions for only an hour, or for as long they needed .... In 2000, Bush said he would include carbon dioxide on a list of air pollutants requiring federal oversight, a stand he abandoned within weeks of taking office. A month after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush's spokesman said the president believed a homeland security department that Democrats proposed was 'just not necessary.' A year after that, Bush had switched course and was lashing some Democrats for not moving quickly enough to approve the agency. While Bush professes himself a strong free-trader, most other free-trade proponents said he bent on principle in March 2002 when he ordered tariffs on imported steel -- a move that resonated politically in electorally important industrial states such as Pennsylvania. Facing an escalating global trade dispute, he lifted the tariffs at the end of last year .... He supported tax cuts in 2000 because he said they were affordable in a time of large government surpluses, and once in power he supported them amid rising deficits because he said the economy needed stimulation. The president's principal rationale for the Iraq invasion was to end Baghdad's suspected mass-weapons program and links to international terrorism. In the absence of compelling evidence of these, the main post-invasion rationale has been to rescue Iraq from a tyrant and support democracy in the greater Middle East." (WashPost, this a.m.)

Well, at least the Democrats can rely on THE LIBERAL MEDIA to play up all that flip-flopping, right? Show the man for what he is ... if not a dangerous waffler, at least a dangerous political opportunist? The LIBERAL MEDIA will nail this guy, for sure!

Oh ... wait ... that's not at all what happened, is it?

A poll released last week by Kohut's Pew Center showed that 53 percent of voters believe Senator John Kerry, NOT El Presidente, "changes his mind too much." That polling result, folks, comes from the repetition of a Bush/Cheney caricature of the Senator repeated ad infinitum through the megaphone of CORPORATE MEDIA, led now by those paragons of journalistic virtue, Fox News.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Bush's Weasling on Debates Comes To Light

We knew that for the Bush/Cheney people to agree to three debates, including the town-hall style meeting with questions from a live audience, there must be hidden provisos that shift the ground in El Presidente's direction. And sure enough!

The "memorandum of understanding" between the two presidential camps gets a good going over in the NYTimes today:

"The memorandum of understanding negotiated by the campaigns also includes an unusual level of prescriptions, particularly over the town-hall-style debate scheduled for Oct. 8, which some say undermines the idea of a voter-driven discussion. It states several times that audience participation, outside the forum questioners, is prohibited, and calls for visible timing lights, so viewers will know if someone is filibustering. 'The interesting thing here is the lengths they go to to restrict the questioning at the town hall,' said Martin Plissner, a debate expert and former CBS News political director. 'It makes the whole process look kind of ridiculous. It will have to be extremely mechanical.' The agreement includes four pages of provisions -- up from one in 2000 -- about the town-hall-style debate, including a requirement that the moderator, Charles Gibson, present to the campaigns by Oct. 1 a question-selection method. Mr. Gibson is to ensure that the audience members pose equal numbers of questions on foreign policy, domestic security and other domestic issues; alternate the candidates to whom their queries are directed; and not alter their pre-selected questions on the fly .... 'If any audience member poses a question or makes a statement that is in any material way different than the question that the audience member earlier submitted to the moderator for review, the moderator will cut off the questioner and advise the audience that such nonreviewed questions are not permitted,' the agreement reads."

Ain't it interesting that the Bush people are much more afraid of the general public than they are of the cowed national press corps? Clear as a bell that they can't stand the thought of a regular citizen asking El Presidente a question he can't answer, or would rather not be caught side-stepping.

So concerned are these little weasels that for the first time in presidential debate history, the Bush/Cheney people are asking the officials of the Commission on Presidential Debates, as well as the four moderators for all the debates, to sign the memorandum of agreement as well.

"Several of the journalists scheduled to moderate the debate expressed uncertainty about signing, which the agreement says they must do seven days before their scheduled debate 'in order to evidence his or her understanding and acceptance of, and agreement to, the provisions hereof,' or else the campaigns will pick someone else. 'I don't think that news people like the idea of signing onto documents negotiated by politicians,' said Thomas E. Mann, a scholar at the Brookings Institution with expertise in debates."

They want to make sure that Charles Gibson knows he has to shut up any citizen who steps out of line and asks something that didn't get scripted in advance.

What a fraud on the American people! But then consider the source.

John Kerry's Problem With Women

"...Mr. Kerry suffered in the polls from attacks by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that challenged his record in Vietnam and highlighted his antiwar activities in the 1970's. One Democratic strategist said Mr. Kerry's failure to fight back against that attack fed a perception, particularly among married women, that he would not fight for them and their children. And, the strategist said, it is one reason Mr. Kerry must now 'rebuild his image on strength.' " From this a.m.'s New York Times.

Enter "the security mom," the newest demographic niche group, which is said to be highly influenced by fluctuations in the national security color code and events like the school massacre in Russia. They are leaning heavily toward Bush right now. Even Democratic operatives are conceding that Kerry has lost what should have been his advantage among women, particularly the married "security moms." Evidently, they believe there's something actual behind the Bush swagger

Single women are still, evidently, leaning strongly Kerry's way. Need we point out that "single women" includes a lot of college students?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Hanging Tom DeLay ... Or Not

On the very same day that the Washington Post lets us know -- huge surprise, this! --that the U.S. House Ethics Committee, with equal numbers of Dems and Repubs, is deadlocked on doing ANYTHING about ethics complaints against Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay ... the Austin American-Statesman comes out with news that three top DeLay lieutenants have been indicted in Travis County, Texas, for money-laundering and for soliciting and accepting illegal corporate donations to a DeLay political action committee.

Maybe the House Ethics Committee could, like, read those indictments, if they had even a modicum of curiosity about Mr. DeLay's recent activities.

The money-laundering charges, incidentally, are felonies. Seven corporate donors and an alliance of nursing-home companies also were indicted.

"The indictments came after almost two years of an investigation into Texans for a Republican Majority, a political action committee that DeLay created to elect a Republican majority in the Texas House of Representatives. The scope and number of indictments stunned defense lawyers, who had expected only a handful of charges."

So, is the Travis County District Attorney content with taking down just the henchmen, or does he have the goods on the head snake?

Assessing the "Rapture Index"

There are several excellent reasons to read Bill Moyers' recent speech before a Society of Professional Journalists conference on Sept. 11, 2004. High on my list is Moyers' explanation of a particular brand of fundamentalist Christianity that Karl Rove is DETERMINED will win Bush's reelection for him. Moyers knows what he's talking about ... he comes from the same Texas Southern Baptist soil that I sprang from. My own mother had a fantastical picture of "The Rapture" above her bed until the day she died:


How do we explain the possibility that a close election in November could turn on several million good and decent citizens who believe in the Rapture Index? That's what I said -- the Rapture Index; Google it and you will understand why the best-selling books in America today are the 12 volumes of the "Left Behind" series that have earned multi-millions of dollars for their co-authors, who, earlier this year, completed a triumphant tour of the Bible Belt whose buckle holds in place George W. Bush's armor of the Lord. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the l9th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative millions of people believe to be literally true.

According to this narrative, Jesus will return to earth only when certain conditions are met: when Israel has been established as a state; when Israel then occupies the rest of its "biblical lands"; when the third temple has been rebuilt on the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosques; and, then, when legions of the Antichrist attack Israel. This will trigger a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon during which all the Jews who have not converted will be burned. Then the Messiah returns to earth. The Rapture occurs once the big battle begins. True believers "will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to heaven where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts and frogs during the several years of tribulation which follow."

I'm not making this up. We're reported on these people for our weekly broadcast on PBS, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank. They are sincere, serious and polite as they tell you that they feel called to help bring the Rapture on as fulfillment of biblical prophecy. That's why they have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and backed up their support with money and volunteers. It's why they have staged confrontations at the old temple site in Jerusalem. It's why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the 9th chapter of the Book of Revelations where four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates" will be released "to slay the third part of men." As the British writer George Monbiot has pointed out, for these people, the Middle East is not a foreign policy issue, it's a biblical scenario, a matter of personal belief. A war with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be feared but welcomed; if there's a conflagration there, they come out winners on the far side of tribulation, inside the pearly gates, in celestial splendor, supping on ambrosia to the accompaniment of harps plucked by angels.

One estimate puts these people at about 15 percent of the electorate. Most are likely to vote Republican; they are part of the core of George W. Bush's base support. He knows who they are and what they want. When the president asked Ariel Sharon to pull his tanks out of Jenin in 2002, more than one hundred thousand angry Christian fundamentalists barraged the White House with e-mails, and Mr. Bush never mentioned the matter again. Not coincidentally, the administration recently put itself solidly behind Ariel Sharon's expansions of settlements on the West Banks. In George Monbiot's analysis, the president stands to lose fewer votes by encouraging Israeli expansion into the West Bank than he stands to lose by restraining it. "He would be mad to listen to these people, but he would also be mad not to." No wonder Karl Rove walks around the West Wing whistling "Onward Christian Soldiers." He knows how many votes he is likely to get from these pious folk who believe that the Rapture Index now stands at 144 -- just one point below the critical threshold at which point the prophecy is fulfilled, the whole thing blows, the sky is filled with floating naked bodies, and the true believers wind up at the right hand of God. With no regret for those left behind....

Bush Ready to Bug Out?

Robert Novak's column yesterday seemed pretty definitive, since Novak is known to have impeccable sources inside the Bush White House (need we mention the Valerie Plame outing?). Under the headline "Quick Exit From Iraq Is Likely," Novak wrote: "Inside the Bush administration policymaking apparatus, there is strong feeling that U.S. troops must leave Iraq next year. This determination is not predicated on success in implanting Iraqi democracy and internal stability. Rather, the officials are saying: Ready or not, here we go."

So much for "stay the course," eh? Farewell to "We'll stay in Iraq as long as it takes to get the job done."

And why, if this is the projected policy, why not be honest with the American people? "Dear Voters: I know we've been through a lot in Iraq, in our effort to plant sacred democracy firmly in the Middle East, but I've finally come to my senses and realize that over a thousand dead and over seven thousand American soldiers horribly wounded actually hasn't been worth it, since my advisors now tell me we can't win. So all previous statements are inoperative."

Why not be honest? Because to be honest NOW would be to admit how badly you lied earlier.

Butter won't melt in Novak's mouth: "Six weeks before the election, Bush cannot be expected to admit even the possibility of a quick withdrawal."

Thank Gawd Kerry has finally decided to focus on the awful, awful mess we have in Bush's War.

A President Who Does Not Know Death

In extraordinary times, extraordinary things get written, and now one of our great American writers, E.L. Doctorow, has published a little essay in the East Hampton Star which is getting passed around at the warp speed the internet allows us. (E.L. Doctorow is author of the novel "Ragtime" and a bunch of other stuff, including one of the tastiest Westerns ever penned, "Welcome to Hard Times.")

Doctorow helps explain the sick feeling so many of us have every time we see George W. Bush on TV: "...this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the weapons of mass destruction he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man. He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the 1,000 dead young men and women who wanted to be what they could be."

But you read the whole thing. You'll see.

Big Brother IS Watching

An article in yesterday's WashPost confirms what we've already seen evidence of here in North Carolina ... that Attorney General John Ashcroft intends to intimidate any state boards of election that are open to intimidation. The goal of this administration is clearly to suppress, discourage, and confuse new and inexperienced voters especially, and most especially ethnic minorities among the newly registered. You could add college students to that group, at least in N.C.

One thing Ashcroft has done is dispatch his U.S. attorneys to have friendly little "we're watching you" conversations with state elections officials. So a couple of weeks ago, N.C. State Board of Elections chair Gary Bartlett was seen having lunch with North Carolina's three U.S. attorneys (or their reps) in Raleigh. (I'm not going to go back and find that article in the Raleigh N&O; you can Google it for yourself.)

We've been dealing locally with increased red-tape for those wishing to vote absentee. Now requests for absentee ballots must be submitted on forms provided by the local Board of Elections. So a home-bound elderly person now has to write a request to the Board of Elections to get the proper form in order to write a request for an absentee ballot. Ridiculous! And NO ONE ELSE can do this for them!

The intimidation of college-age voters is especially ferocious. Someone -- wonder who? -- has been circulating a rumor that if an ASU student registers to vote, he or she will be called for jury duty immediately. And the local Board of Elections was apparently poised to demand of first-time voters (that is, college students) proof of residency, when they know very well that ASU ids do not include dorm addresses. And of course the local board also refused to move the polling place for one college precinct (Boone 3) to within walking distance for some 80 percent of that precinct, who happen to be students. The message: we'd just as soon you didn't vote.

Local Republican Party officials were recently paraphrased urging ASU students to vote ... anywhere but here. (From "The Appalachian": "[Republican Karen] Wilson welcomes any Appalachian State students who wish to register in Watauga County, but said she encourages students to vote in their hometowns either by traveling home to vote or by voting absentee. Wilson said it makes more sense for students to vote in their hometowns because they know the local candidates and issues better.")

But the process of getting and executing an absentee ballot -- with two witnesses -- has never been easy and just got harder with the new step of requesting a new form on which to request a ballot -- that few students will follow through to vote absentee.

The Republicans fear a huge turn-out this year. Their best shot, evidently, is to suppress that turn-out at every opportunity, subtle or not so subtle.

Michael Moore Bucks Up the Troops

You might want to read the short, bracing sermon Michael Moore posted to his website yesterday. Particularly his take on all those polls (thanks to tomolly1 for the link). And like all good sermons, it calls us to repentance:

"So, do not despair. All is not over. Far from it. The Bush people need you to believe that it is over. They need you to slump back into your easy chair and feel that sick pain in your gut as you contemplate another four years of George W. Bush. They need you to wish we had a candidate who didn't windsurf and who was just as smart as we were when WE knew Bush was lying about WMD and Saddam planning 9/11. It's like Karl Rove is hypnotizing you -- 'Kerry voted for the war...Kerry voted for the war...Kerrrrrryyy vooootted fooooor theeee warrrrrrrrrr...' ... WAKE UP!"

We're awake, we're awake!

Monday, September 20, 2004

Of Guts and Gutless Wonders

Remember hearing about the mother of a dead soldier who got herself arrested in New Jersey at a Laura Bush rally, for wearing a T-shirt with her dead son's picture and the words "President Bush, You Killed My Son"? Sue Niederer's her name, and it turns out that we know someone who knows her, and the fact that she isn't a political nor "anti-war" activist but just a grieving mother makes her story and her opinions all the more compelling. She's interviewed on the website "Counterpunch" and speaks with a raw passion that is arresting:


What is your response to the recent evidence that this war was waged on the basis of "misinformation"?

I wanted to rip the president's head off. Curse him, yell at him, call him a self righteous bastard and a lot of other words. I think if I had him in front of me I would shoot him in the groin area. Let him suffer. And just continue shooting him there. Put him through misery, like he's doing to everyone else. He doesn't deserve any better

Are you worried that Bush could win in November?

Extremely concerned. If this country allows him, we are the fools. We deserve everything we get or do not get from him. We are allowing him to get away with anything he wants to do. He flat out lied to us, killing our troops. He doesn't face the fallen family. If this is what we reelect, we deserve everything we get....

Had you been politically active before?

No, I'm not a political person. I vote for the person, I don't vote for the party...

If you could speak to Bush or members of Congress who support this war, what would you tell them?

Trade places with the troops over there now. You go over there. You send your children, husbands, wives. Let them come back in a coffin. Let me know what you think. You aren't worth being called president. You're not even worth being called Mister. Face me, talk to me, the victim of your war. But you don't have the guts to do that.


And chances are that Sue Niederer is right ... that the look on El Presidente's face during those seven minutes he sat in that Florida classroom after learning that the second tower had been hit in New York ... that his behavior as a non-performing member of the Texas Air National Guard ... that his cog-draggin' swagger -- all of it is actually evidence of a lack of guts. Ironic, ain't it?

Kerry To "Tell It Like It Is" About Bush's War

Newsweek is claiming that John Kerry has taken a deep breath and decided he's got to hit Bush on the Iraq War -- from now on through November 2nd. Helping out with that decision was General Wesley Clark, whom we're so glad to see still on the Kerry team:
"...before he spoke to the National Guard convention in Las Vegas, Kerry sought the advice of yet another sounding board on his plane: former four-star general Wes Clark. Kerry knew from Vietnam what it felt like to face the bullets without the support of the folks back home. So how, one of his senior staff wanted to know, would Kerry's attacks go down now with the troops in Iraq? 'Look, the soldiers are debating it themselves on the ground,' Clark reassured Kerry's inner circle. 'They're coming back and they're incredibly critical. You have to call it like it is.' "

One of those Iraqi veterans walked into the local Democrat Party HDQ in Boone a week or so ago -- young man, wounded but ambulatory, telling tales about the crashing morale among troops over there who have begun to feel like the pawns they surely are for this neoconservative foreign adverturism. "Don't you believe for a minute that the troops are gonna vote for Bush!" the young man said. "Some of them are. But many won't."

That is, if they can get their hands on an absentee ballot. You've got to be incredibly focused and task-oriented these days to get an absentee ballot -- under ideal circumstances far removed from being shot at on a battlefield.

But back to Newsweek's story about Kerry deciding to go after Bush for lying, from start to finish, about this war: "Not so long ago, Kerry's strategists planned to spend the fall talking about the economy and health care, thinking they had proved their candidate's national-security credentials in Boston. They also planned to stay positive, shunning political attacks in the belief that slime could alienate swing voters. But that was before Kerry's August swoon, and an influx of fresh faces -- a mix of Boston loyalists and Clintonites -- at the top of the Democrat's team. Their main job is to keep Kerry on message and sharpen his attack on Bush. While Kerry will continue to hit at the Democrats' traditional pocketbook issues, his new strategists have embraced Clark's advice to tell it like it is."

If we were wearing a hat, we'd have thrown it into the air by now, and whooped.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Burr Attacking Bowles with (rah!) Clinton

But what a nothing little TV ad it is! Finally saw the much-dreaded Burr attack ad on Bowles, showing the perennial Republican boogie-man Bill Clinton in Bowles' general vicinity. "Blah, blah, blah, BillClinton," the voice-over says.

But it's half-hearted, at best, almost self-embarrassed to be caught red-handed in this old unimaginative rut. The Burr ad has none of the lick-lipping relish the Republicans used to take in depicting their old intern-humper and demon lover haunting every Democrat office-seeker in the land.

In fact, I found myself thinking, "Oh! There's ole Bill! Gosh, wish we had him back!" This might actually be the race that turns the tide on the sure-fire negative knee-jerk use of the Clinton visage, since in this case it seems to associate Erskine Bowles with good economic times.

And it just asociates Dick Burr with the failure of having any saleable agenda of his own.

Voter Interest in N.C. Surging

According to the Raleigh News & Observer, election offices in Durham and Orange counties say they have been so inundated with absentee and registration requests that they have had to add employees to process them.

Rosemary Blizzard, voter registration director for the State Board of Elections, said her staff is amazed at the number of requests for absentee ballots and registration forms. They have received more than 100,000 new registrations since the primary in July.

"I can tell you that it's a lot heavier for this election than it was for 1992, 1996 or 2000," said Orange County Elections Director Carolyn Thomas. "This is probably the heaviest registration that I've seen since I've been here."

As previously reported in this space, new Republican registrations in the state since July make up just 33 percent of total registrations. Republican Party leaders can read that statistic as a sure sign that they're winning North Carolina if they want to -- and apparently they want to -- and we're VERY happy to have them so confident. The rest of you read those statistics as logic dictates, and please keep the results of your reading to yourself.

The biggest factor in the pumped-up new registrations is young people ... a.k.a., draft-age people ... who were so not interested four years ago in the state of the nation, nor in its direction, but who this year are beginning to notice a few things. And you know all those polls that supposedly show El Presidente leading Kerry by 300 percentage points? Those polls almost certainly do not take into account these newly registered young people, who live via cell phones and have no land-lines for pollsters to call. The polls don't know who to poll, very clearly, and are wrong, wrong, wrong because of it.

We do LIKE over-confident Republicans. Our favorite kind.

Mission So NOT Accomplished

We know, we know, you haven't got a clue what's going on in Iraq because El Presidente has successfully bamboozled our so-called news media into not reporting anything that doesn't square with his rosy insistence that "freedom is on the march" over there.

Let's see, insurgent attacks are now up to an average of 87 a day (according to the NYTimes), "the highest level since the war began last year." Freedom's on the march all right, the freedom of Hussein loyalists, Islamic fundamentalists, foreign Jihadists to attack American troops at will.

We've given up on Falluja and some 30 other cities. Even the supposedly safe American "green zone" in Baghdad came under sustained mortar attack for five hours (FIVE LONG HOURS!) during the past week, and American forces couldn't seem to quell the assault because it was coming from ... everywhere! Freedom, yes, marches on!

And it's not that we don't know what's coming, once El Presidente wins his reelection: military leaders say they've already been given the go-ahead to retake Falluja and other cities, American soldiers are going to die in greater numbers, Iraqis are going to die in HUGE numbers, Falluja is going to be leveled to "save" it, and the "insurgency" which was estimated at 5,000 combatants early this year and is now begrudingly estimated at 20,000 will swell to an infuriated 100,000 combatants, once they see their sacred sites in Falluja under assault from American forces. But relax! None of this will happen until the election is safely past.

Oh, yes, let freedom swing!

El Presidente has known the reality of the situation since at least July's National Security Estimate, leaked in the NYTimes early last week, but he's continued to lie outrageously that all is hunky-dory in Iraq (see his "freedom is on the march" standard applause line referenced above).

John Kerry seems to be getting a clue about all of this, if he can just unwrap himself from the painful contortions that he's tied himself in since Howard Dean came roaring out of the gate with an admirable moral clarity on the subject -- unjustifiable war unjustly pursued is horse crap! -- and very nearly ended John Kerry's ambitions before a handful of Iowans handed him the nomination for no good reason that we could ever discern, neither then nor since. We hear that John Kerry has a clue that the Iraq War -- Bush's War -- might actually be the issue. "The president runs around sugarcoating this thing every day, and we've lost 1,000 people," Kerry told voters in New Mexico. "And there [is] more territory in the hold of terrorists, more territory in the hold of insurgents and jihadists. And there are more terrorists in Iraq than there ever were before." Golden-tongued devil! But I ain't holding my breath. I'm too busy rah-rahing for freedom on the march!

It maybe wasn't El Presidente's advertized brand of freedom that marched that nice New Jersey mother with a dead son in Iraq right into handcuffs and a police van when she dared to protest the war at a Laura Bush appearance in the Garden State ... at approximately the same time the green zone was being shelled in Baghdad. She had the unmitigated GALL to exercise what she had thought was her freedom of speech, to wear a picture of her dead son on a T-shirt, with the words, "Mr. President, You killed my son." A local Republican office-holder (motha) said the arrested mother "ought to find something better to do with her time." "W is For Women," all right.

Based on what went down at that New Jersey campaign event, somewhere there must be a set of handcuffs and a police van just waiting for the right moment to grab up Sen. Chuck Hagel, the ex-Marine Senator from Nebraska, who's evidently not been reading his daily White House "talking points." "The worst thing we can do is hold ourselves hostage to some grand illusion that we're winning," said Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran. "Right now we're not winning. Things are getting worse." Hagel repeated that assessment this a.m. on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Oh, let freedom sing! I can hear the tune coming out of El Presidente's tight little mouth: "We're SO gonna draft your young butts, my college-age fraternity buds, 'cause I'm afraid I'm gonna need more soldiers after the election, when my commanders tell me we have to re-fight the whole Iraq war just to retake Falluja and 30 other cities. It is a sweet and fitting thing to die for one's country!"

That's another freedom this President has tended to enjoy at a safe distance.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

"I Promise To Be Better to Women in My Second Term"

El Presidente was back in North Carolina yesterday, in Charlotte the Queen City, declaring that "W is For Women." So ... is it Queens for a Day? ... to make up for four years of policies NOT so great for women (or other living species).

"He promised to pursue a more women-friendly agenda in a second term. 'Women need help,' Bush said."

"Help," so long as it's not an abortion. "Help," so long as it's not an improvement in the minimum wage. "Help," so long as it's not less mercury allowed into the environment. "Help," so long as it's not refraining from sending your sons and brothers to preemptive war and early death.

But the pandering to women (and the national polling that supposedly shows the gender gap magically disappearing) was not even the real story of W's visit to Charlotte. The real story is that Bush must be in some serious trouble in North Carolina to be making yet another visit here to this supposedly "safe" red state.

Meanwhile, we're being fed all this polling garbage on a daily basis that Bush is now so far ahead we might as well not even hold the election. Sorry, but I don't believe anything that comes out of corporate media any more. Or, rather, I believe it about as much as I believe that "W is For Women!"

Leaked Brit Documents Damaging to Blair

Top secret documents written a year before the Iraq invasion (and leaked to The Daily Telegraph) seem to "demonstrate that the [Tony Blair] Government agreed with the Bush administration on regime change in Iraq more than a year before military action was taken," which also means that all that smoke about WMDs was a plot in two countries to stampede two electorates toward accepting a pre-emptive invasion on the basis of trumped-up fears.

The Pharisees Do Direct Mail in W.Va.

Small item in this morning's New York Times:

"Campaign mail with a return address of the Republican National Committee warns West Virginia voters that the Bible will be prohibited and men will marry men if liberals win in November. The literature shows a Bible with the word 'banned' across it and a photo of a man, on his knees, placing a ring on the hand of another man with the word 'allowed.' The mailing tells West Virginians to 'vote Republican to protect our families' and defeat the 'liberal agenda.' The Republican National Committee's chairman, Ed Gillespie, said that he was not aware of the mailing, but that it could be the work of his organization. 'It wouldn't surprise me if we were mailing voters on the issue of same-sex marriage,' Mr. Gillespie said...."

Such defaming of others makes me reach for my Bible, and I feel the Spirit moving me to this passage from Luke 18:

He [Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Dems Out-Registering Repubs State-Wide

The Raleigh N&O is reporting today (here, but scroll down) that Democrats are out-registering Republicans by a significant margin. Between July 1, 2004, and September 1, 2004 40,552 registered Democratic, compared with 33,254 who registered Republican. Not factored into these numbers are the astounding hoard of new voters registering Unaffiliated ... 26,056 ... a group which most national polls say are leaning heavily toward the Democrats this year. Adding the new Dems to the new Unaffiliateds shows how really badly the Repubs are doing at registering new voters in North Carolina this year.

No wonder El Presidente is back this week campaigning in Charlotte.

Dangerous Theology

Evidently, George W. Bush makes himself nervous. How else are we to interpret this: "Bush himself said in a 2000 interview with, a religion Web site: 'To be frank with you, I am not all that comfortable describing my faith, because in the political world, there are a lot of people who say, "Vote for me, I'm more religious than my opponent," ' he said. 'And those kind of folks make me a little nervous.' " (Long article on the ambiguities in Bush's profession of religious faith in this morning's WashPost.)

But El Presidente also told the Rev. Richard Land, head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention and czar of the iVoteValues propaganda wagon, "I believe God wants me to be president."

During Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, he evoked an old gospel hymn when he said, "Yet there's power, wonder-working power, in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people." What the hymn says is that there is "power, power, wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb." The hymn is about the power of Christ -- not the power of the American nation, or of any nation.

Said Rev. Jim Wallis, editor of the evangelical journal Sojourners, "It's a good thing, and a normal thing, for religious people to have a sense of calling as a pastor or a teacher or a journalist or a politician. But I think this goes farther. It's almost a sense of divine appointment for this president and this war on terrorism .... When it comes out as 'They're evil and we're good,' and 'If you're not with us on all issues, then you're with the evildoers,' I think it's bad foreign policy and dangerous theology."

National Intelligence Estimate Shows We're in Deep Doo-Doo

A National Intelligence Estimate prepared for El Presidente back in July offered "a dark assessment of prospects for Iraq" (according to this a.m.'s NYTimes), yet our SuperChristian in the Oval Office, who never tells a lie, has continued to campaign as though Iraq ended successfully for the U.S. several months ago and that we have nothing to fear now but homosexual marriage.

Hell, it doesn't take a classified document like this National Intelligence Estimate to confirm what is perfectly obvious, assuming you can find any news coverage anywhere in this country that even hints at what's going on over there. The U.S. military has essentially ceded many of the largest Iraqi cities to the "insurgents." Whatever "bunkering down" in "green zones" our guys are doing -- on orders from Bush to reduce casualties in the run-up to the November election? -- isn't reducing casualties. Over 1,000 Americans dead. The last figures I remember seeing about the wounded was well over 7,000 soldiers horribly wounded.

And this National Intelligence Estimate done in July -- still classified but being talked about pretty openly as of yesterday -- says the worst is yet to come.

"The situation in Iraq prompted harsh comments from Republicans and Democrats at a hearing into the shift of spending from reconstruction to security. Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, called it 'exasperating for anybody looking at this from any vantage point,' and Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, said of the overall lack of spending: 'It's beyond pitiful, it's beyond embarrassing. It is now in the zone of dangerous.' "

But not much of this penetrates the skulls of Americans addled by the cheerleading and flash graphics of Fox News, which surely by now has a special place hollowed out for itself in hell.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Words We Hope He Won't Be Eating

John Edwards drew a standing ovation in West Virginia when he declared, in answer to a question from the concerned mother of a 20-year-old college student, "There will be no draft when John Kerry is president." (USA Today story here.)

O Lordy! My own fear is that there will certainly be a draft if George W. is reelected and that there will certainly be a draft if Kerry is elected too, since it's gonna take extraordinary sacrifices to get us out of the ditch El Presidente has planted us so deep in. The fact that neither campaign can be honest about that future for our draft-age college students is ... just ... wholly expected.

Smart money might bet on Kerry as finding some other way out, dodging the draft (as it were), while the same smart money knows beyond any shadow of a doubt that George W. (the successful draft dodger) is going to go into that wall without blinking. Why, that's what his supporters count on! His never admitting that the path he's embarked on is anything but the will of God.

So all you ASU students -- especially you frat boys who like the idea of this war -- you might be thinking of getting your mail forwarded, 'cause your chances of getting to fight and eat sand in this glorious enterprize are mighty good, we'd say, if you reelect Mr. Macho Man (not to mention God's Chosen Leader on Earth).

Buzz, or Buzz-Saw?

From this morning's New York Times, but it might as readily have appeared in the Watauga Democrat: "...state election officials say registration of new young voters is coming in at levels they have not seen in years."

"Polls in the spring and summer from the Harvard Institute of Politics, the Pew Research Center and MTV all found that young people say they plan to vote at a rate that will far eclipse the low-water mark of four years ago. The pool of potential young voters is substantial -- about 40.6 million Americans ages 18 to 29, or one in five eligible voters, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or Circle, a nonprofit research group that has concentrated on the youth vote."

Said an official of Circle, "It seems like so much of it [interest in this election] is influenced by the kind of buzz that's out there, and this year, there's a real buzz." But buzz about WHAT? The article, like a lot of these young voters, is clueless.

Not once does the NYTimes reporter mention the 'd' word, "draft," which has a magical ability to concentrate the mind of 18-year-olds.

Woe to the Unfocused Campaign

Wayne Barrett, in yesterday's Village Voice, joins the other 62 million instant experts on what John Kerry's campaign SHOULD be doing, but Barrett's fantasy makes for pretty interesting reading:


The ad starts with Bush and his September 14, 2001, bullhorn. This time, though, it's a Kerry commercial that reminds swing-state Americans of Bush's blood vow -- precisely three years ago -- that "the people who knocked down these buildings" would "hear all of us soon." The cowboy soundbites that we would "smoke 'em out" track across the screen with any network's footage of the "wanted dead or alive" culprits: Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Mullah Omar.

Then the camera moves on to anchors reporting that bin Laden was cornered at Tora Bora, picked up on cell-phone intercepts commanding the surrounded 2,000 Al Qaeda troops, but that U.S. commanders were allowing mercenary Pashtuns to lead the fighting and Pakistanis to seal the backside border. Next, news headlines blare that Special Forces and key CIA operatives were prematurely pulled out of Afghanistan to prepare for the war on Iraq. The last visual is of Bush momentarily forced at a March 2002 press conference to discuss bin Laden: "I just don't spend that much time on him, to be honest with ya."

The voice-over is Monica Gabrielle's, a 9-11 widow and leader. "My husband died in tower two and the people who killed him have not heard from us three years later. The president will not even talk about these murderers. Sometimes he claims his administration has captured two-thirds of Al Qaeda's lesser leaders; sometimes, three-quarters. The 9-11 Commission says one-quarter. Terrorists killed more people -- 625 -- in 2003 than in any year other than 2001. They wounded more than ever -- 3,646 people. Even the president concedes that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the attack that changed my life forever. Why have we expended hundreds of times the resources and troops in Iraq than we have in pursuit of the mass murderers who vow to hit us again? Anybody could accept a good-faith effort that failed. But we cannot accept a so-called war on terror that has never aggressively targeted the number one terrorists."


Barrett makes this point too: "What ... makes no sense is that bin Laden's never been featured in a Kerry commercial and, if he is mentioned at all in Kerry speeches, he is an afterthought, with Iraq or the economy dominant." Barrett also points out that while the "war on terror" and Iraq got mentioned many, many times in speeches at the Republican convention, bin Laden was mentioned precisely once. He wasn't mentioned at all at the Democrats' convention. Go figure!

The Bush administration's most demonstrable failure goes completely unremarked.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Ballantine's Money Problems

Patrick Ballantine, running for governor against Mike Easley, is reporting a shortfall in fundraising. More amazing, perhaps, is that he promises he's going to do 40 fundraisers between now and the election ... which would mean a fundraiser every 28.2 hours from now own.

Well, at least he's got his priorities straight.

Spending Us Into the Rich House?

The Bush/Cheney attack machine accuses Sen. Kerry of proposing some $2 trillion in additional federal spending, but guess what? The new proposals outlined by El Presidente in his convention acceptance speech total up to some $3 trillion in additional spending, at a time that the Iraq war is already costing us $4 billion a month that isn't even acknowledged in the Bush budget. According to Mike Allen in the WashPost, "administration figures" -- not Democratic operatives, but the administration's own number-crunchers -- show the path to total fiscal ruin that Mr. Bush is pursuing.

Exactly what is this "conservative" conserving?

"This year's federal budget deficit will reach a record $422 billion, and the government is expected to accumulate $2.3 trillion in new debt over the next 10 years, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported last week."

The wrong direction.

But we pity whoever might have to clean up this mess -- and we're not just talking the budget deficit!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Scenic Drinking

Word's out that leaders in the Republican Party have fingered Deborah Greene as the culprit who hung flyers on mailboxes in the Beaver Dam precinct, to advertize a Republican Party event at the Beaver Dam Fire Department next Thursday. The U.S. Postal Service says it's strictly a no-no to circumvent postage and use people's mailboxes to advertize your partisan event by stuffing them full of xeroxed flyers. In fact, it's a federal offense (not to put too fine a point on it).

Several local Beaver Dam residents, apparently, were offended enough to call authorities.

The local Democratic Party has so far declined to file formal charges, though the local P.O. has been informed. And is not amused.

Not only did Ms. Greene advertize an event that is meant to benefit Joe Phillips, Republican candidate for County Commission, but she apparently bragged that the "truth about the scenic byway" would come out as well, right there in front of everyone at the Beaver Dam community center. The truth? Well, now, Honey! Haven't you heard? The "Doc $ Merle Watson Scenic Byway" is actually a secret and really, really sneaky way to get liquor-by-the-drink into Watauga County. Why, yes!

As a matter of fact, apparently, Yours Truly is supposedly on the verge of opening a girlie bar and topless all-you-can-zone Den of Inquity right here in River City.

But apparently no one has thought to ask, "Are there actually requests to sell liquor-by-the-drink in Watauga County on file with the state ABC Board?" "Is there in fact any way on God's green earth that a person, even a nefarious D.E.M.O.C.R.A.T., could actually even ask for a license to sell booze on any current, or for that matter future road in Watauga County?" "Or is this a paranoid fantasy by a person given to that habit of mind, as a way to find a rallying cry for her sorry set of incumbents?"

We're opting for the latter explanation.

Friday, September 10, 2004

A lengthy profile of Robert Shrum, top message man in the Kerry campaign, is in today's WashPost (if you've got stomach for it), headlined (ominously) "Loss Leader," since Shrum is most famous for presiding over seven losing presidential wannabes.

The long article does contain this hopeful observation: "Depending on who is talking, Shrum is either in Kerry's doghouse [because of his failure to take the Swift Boat Veterans seriously], or his influence has been diffused by the high-level additions."

Weenie Bush, Lowering Expectations?

That macho paragon of preemptive masculinity, George W. Bush, is so clearly trying to weasel out of as much face-to-face debate time as he thinks he can weasel out of, without getting caught. But he's caught.

The bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates has proposed three events, the first on September 30th. El Presidente hasn't agreed to any debates as of yet, but it's an open secret that he only wants to do two (dropping the dreaded "town hall" style event, when members of the audience can throw curve balls), and his negotiating team wants the other two limited to an hour instead of 90 minutes.

El Presidente's negotiating team? James A. Baker III; the hard-nuckled lobbyist turned governor of Mississippi who once headed the Republican Party, Haley Barbour; and one of the party' sharpest media personalities, Mary Matalin. Oh, yeah, and Karen P. Hughes.

For his part, John Kerry has ageed to the schedule, format, and moderators announced by the commission weeks ago. The commission's first debate is set for Sept. 30 at the University of Miami, with the PBS anchor Jim Lehrer as moderator; it is to focus primarily on domestic policy. Two more presidential debates are to follow soon after: a town-hall-style meeting in St. Louis with the ABC News anchor Charles Gibson as moderator and a traditional debate in Arizona focusing primarily on foreign policy, with the CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer as moderator. A vice-presidential debate is scheduled for October in Cleveland, with Gwen Ifill of PBS as host.

The New York Times quotes Stephanie Cutter, a spokeswoman for Kerry: "If there's one debate they [Bush's people] want to avoid it's the town-hall setting. He's been on the campaign trail for close to a year, and he hasn't had to answer one tough question about Iraq, health care and the economy."

But here's an angle we bet you hadn't considered, also according to the Times: " Republican official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the perception that Mr. Bush was ducking the debates did serve a purpose, by helping to lower expectations for Mr. Bush, who exceeded all expectations in his debates with Al Gore in 2000."

Crowd Inflation

The WashPost recently did some old-fashioned head-counting at Bush campaign events in Missouri and published the actual attendance vs. the hype put out by the Bush/Cheney reelection people:

• Lee's Summit: Actual attendance, 8,500. Bush count, 14,000.

• Sedalia: Actual attendance, 2,200. Bush count, 3,200.

• Columbia: Actual attendance, 8,000 to 9,000. Bush count, 14,000

The Bush/Cheney people evidently estimate crowds by means of the same voodoo that they used to estimate Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Gay Republicans Decline to Endorse W

The Log Cabin Republicans, used to sleeping on beds of nails by this point, obviously figger it can't get much worse, so they, the largest gay/lesbian group in the Republican Party (which, face it, folks, ain't saying much) voted "overwhelmingly" last night NOT to endorse George W. Bush. Well, actually its board of directors voted 22 to 2 to take that (non)action. One wonders what the two yea votes were thinking.

They pointedly did NOT endorse Kerry either.

William Brownson, chairman of the Log Cabin board, said the organization planned to "shift our financial and political resources to defeating the radical right," partly by supporting sympathetic Republican candidates for Congress.

Oh, right! All those moderate Republicans running for Congress, like, maybe, Virginia Foxx?

Another Reason to Admire an Ex-President

We suppose this text is all over the Internet, but we found this on "Talking Points Memo," so we'll credit it as the source. Excerpts from Jimmy Carter's letter to Sen. Zell Miller:


You seem to have forgotten that loyal Democrats elected you as mayor and as state senator. Loyal Democrats, including members of my family and me, elected you as lieutenant governor and as governor. It was a loyal Democrat, Lester Maddox, who assigned you to high positions in the state government when you were out of office. It was a loyal Democrat, Roy Barnes, who appointed you as U.S. Senator when you were out of office. By your historically unprecedented disloyalty, you have betrayed our trust.

Great Georgia Democrats who served in the past, including Walter George, Richard Russell, Herman Talmadge, and Sam Nunn disagreed strongly with the policies of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and me, but they remained loyal to the party in which they gained their public office. Other Democrats, because of philosophical differences or the race issue, like Bo Callaway and Strom Thurmond, at least had the decency to become Republicans.

Everyone knows that you were chosen to speak at the Republican Convention because of your being a "Democrat," and it's quite possible that your rabid and mean-spirited speech damaged our party and paid the Republicans some transient dividends.

Perhaps more troublesome of all is seeing you adopt an established and very effective Republican campaign technique of destroying the character of opponents by wild and false allegations. The Bush campaign's personal attacks on the character of John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 was a vivid example. The claim that war hero Max Cleland was a disloyal American and an ally of Osama bin Laden should have given you pause, but you have joined in this ploy by your bizarre claims that another war hero, John Kerry, would not defend the security of our nation except with spitballs. (This is the same man whom you described previously as "one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders -- and a good friend.")

I, myself, never claimed to have been a war hero, but I served in the navy from 1942 to 1953, and, as president, greatly strengthened our military forces and protected our nation and its interests in every way. I don't believe this warrants your referring to me as a pacificist.

Zell, I have known you for forty-two years and have, in the past, respected you as a trustworthy political leader and a personal friend. But now, there are many of us loyal Democrats who feel uncomfortable in seeing that you have chosen the rich over the poor, unilateral preemptive war over a strong nation united with others for peace, lies and obfuscation over the truth, and the political technique of personal character assassination as a way to win elections or to garner a few moments of applause. These are not the characteristics of great Democrats whose legacy you and I have inherited.


How does Zell answer that? My more snarling? Or by lapsing into the silence that his superannuation should have told him was the superior policy in the first place?

Join the Wal-Mart Boycott

Wal-Mart, the George W. Bush of preemptive retailers, has become concerned that its "image" has suffered because of poor pay, raptor-like business practices, the routine mistreatment of women employees, and such nice behavior as locking illegal immigrant cleaning crews inside their mammoth "boxes" over night. So Wal-Mart, facing "a series of lawsuits, including a sex discrimination suit involving up to 1.6 million women that could be the biggest civil rights class action against a US private employer," has decided on a Bush-like public relations offensive to improve its image.

Too late. We stopped shopping there -- cold turkey! -- months ago. We only hyperventilate infrequently now.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Don't Believe Those Polls!

Our polling guru Ruy Teixeira of "Donkey Rising" talks about the new Gallup poll, taken entirely after the Republican convention, that shows Bush with a much more believeable 2-point bounce, and Teixeira trashes the recent Time and Newsweek polls that looked so orchestrated to stampede the masses into El Presidente's camp. Balderdash! roars Teixeira. What the new Gallup poll reveals, according to Teixeira (pronounced, incidentally (tee-CHER-ra), is that Bush actually did far worse than Republican operatives had hoped for in bouncing out of his convention. A 2-point up-tick "is the worst ever received by an incumbent president, regardless of party, and the worst ever received by a Republican candidate, whether incumbent or not."

Meanwhile, I've heard from a local Dem this morning who sent me a copy of a letter written to Time magazine canceling the subscription and asking for the money back ... all because of that 11-point Bush-advantage poll they published which turned out to be a total illusion.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Lying Like a Rug

Robert Parry, writing on the Consortium News website (the Consortium for Independent Journalism):

"This election has become a test of whether reality still means anything to the American people, whether this country has moved to essentially a new form of government in which one side is free to lie about everything while a paid 'amen corner' of ideological media drowns out any serious public debate.

"For weeks now, George W. Bush's campaign has been radically testing the limits of how thoroughly one party can lie, misrepresent and smear without paying any price and indeed while reaping rewards in the opinion polls. Bush personally capped off this binge of dishonesty with his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, continuing his pattern of lying about how the war in Iraq began...."

It's a long and detailed piece about the Bush lies.

Wusses R Us

Interesting article here on liberal Democrats' preternatural fear of "going negative" on their opponents (while the Republicans have no such hesitation). But it seems to be dawning on at least some Dems that we'd better get in the game and stop our silly habit of worrying what our enemies -- OUR ENEMIES! -- are gonna think of us if we point out that they're liars, thieves, and hypocrites.

Nobody's gonna elect a wuss.

Bubba to the Rescue!

After almost a month of feeling insufficiently proud of our candidate for president, I see a little sign of hope in this depressing drought ... on the far horizon, a cloud about the size of a man's hand. Rain has fallen on parched earth before, from less.

Bill Clinton, on his way to the hospital for open-heart bypass surgery, took time to call John Kerry and give him some advice, "urging Kerry to change his message and strategy ... to draw a sharper contrast with Bush and to explain to voters the effect of going to war in Iraq on domestic policies." Thank you, Bubba!

"He [Clinton] always felt that you've got to give people a reason to vote for you and give people a choice," said one Democratic strategist. "He believes that at the end of the day that if you do make it an effective choice for the voters, they'll figure it out. But the burden's on the candidate to make the case." (WashPost insider gossip on this here.)

That strategy applies just as surely to your local courthouse races as it does to the White House.

So as of yesterday there was a lot of shifting of jobs, and the Kerry campaign began to take on some old Clinton hands, especially to help handle rapid response. Maybe, in fact, they can put the "rapid" back into "rapid response." That would be novel!

According to the WashPost, Paul Begala and James Carville are both offering advice from the sidelines. I'd like to see them inside the Privy Chamber, and maybe they'll get there. We can hope.

"Kerry advisers said they were planning a much more aggressive campaign in the final two months, with Kerry and vice presidential nominee John Edwards leading the attack, and that restructuring at the campaign and the DNC will help in drawing a sharper contrast with Bush and Vice President Cheney."

The goat in all this appears to be Mary Beth Cahill, who ironically rescued the Kerry campaign back when he was floundering under the Howard Dean assault.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Zell Was Uninvited to Presidential Box

Seems pretty certain now that Laura Bush uninvited Zell Miller and his wife to sit in the Presidential box during her husband's acceptance speech last Thursday night. Josh Marshall has the evidence here.

Bush to Duck One Debate?

If you watched any of the Sunday morning gasbags today, you might have seen El Presidente's Ken Mehlman on the Russert show refusing to say whether his boss, Mr. Macho Man, would take part in all three debates proposed by the Commission on Presidential Joint Appearances. It seems pretty clear that this bunch intends to opt out of at least one of these events, and Kerry should pounce on the little weasel for being skeered. See this article for more backpedaling from El Presidente's handlers.

Punch the President in the Nose!

I know, I know, I know. You're ... peeved ... yeah, let's use that word, since this is a family publication ... you're peeved at the Kerry campaign for letting The Littlest Angel pummel his manhood the way it's been pummeled. You're staying up late at night writing angry letters to Mary Beth Cahill, right? Kerry's campaign manager, the way we wrote angry late-night letters to Susan Estrich, Dukakis's campaign manager, back in '88, for taking all that "liberal, liberal, liberal" crap and not striking back. It's the surest route to Loserville.

I have a good friend, who's also a campaign "operative" for Democrats, who seriously proposes that Kerry call a press conference and keep the pundits guessing for a couple of days what he's gonna announce, and then take the podium to say, "George W. Bush has been impuning my manhood, and I say we settle this once and for all. I'll meet Mr. Bush on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at high noon on such and such a date and beat the living shit out of him, to settle the issue. So let's see who shows up."

I'm all for that. Naturally, I would be, since there's no way in hell that it could ever happen, though Kerry's poll numbers would shoot up 10 percentage points over night if he did it.

It's gonna take that kind of mano-a-mano toughness to expose the pip-squeakery of the little strutting cowboy.

But what I started out to say is that the New York Times has a whole big article today about all the Democrats who are crying for blood and de-crying the bloodlessness of this Kerry campaign. Read only with a Maalox chaser.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

An Occupier, Not a Divider

Zell Miller last night made considerable grist for his mill out of supposedly unpatriotic Democrats decrying the Iraqi sojourn as an "occupation" rather than "liberation": "While young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats' manic obsession to bring down our Commander-in-Chief. Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator," Miller barked. "Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator. And nothing makes this Marine madder than someone calling American troops occupiers rather than liberators."

Uh, Senator, you might consider just one of many examples of your Saint Boy in the White House using the 'o' word, this from a speech he made in May of this year (and which is posted for Zell's convenience on the White House website):

"On June 30th, the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist, and will not be replaced. The occupation will end, and Iraqis will govern their own affairs."

I've lost track now of who wrote this -- I've been on so many newspaper websites today -- maybe it was in The New Republic -- but Zell Miller was really attacking not just Democrats last night but ANYONE WHO QUESTIONS THIS PRESIDENT, and in that sense, Zell Miller was attacking Democracy itself. And holding himself up as some paragon of not just American virtue but Southern Mountain virtue, at which spectacle I take special umbrage. He made himself into a pathetic example of the very stereotype that big-city, shark-suited bankers love to bandy about while plotting how to steal mountain natural resources.

The Zell From Hell

The commentary on the Zell Miller "moment" last night as the Republican keynoter is all pretty uniformly negative. As a somewhat objective observer, I turn to Republican Andrew Sullivan, who has been a big supporter of Bush's war-mongering but who has cooled off on El Presidente considerably ever since the anti-gay initiations starting getting cranked up. Here's the Sullivan "take" on Zell:

"Zell Miller's address will, I think, go down as a critical moment in this campaign, and maybe in the history of the Republican party. I kept thinking of the contrast with the Democrats' keynote speaker, Barack Obama, a post-racial, smiling, expansive young American, speaking about national unity and uplift. Then you see Zell Miller, his face rigid with anger, his eyes blazing with years of frustration as his Dixiecrat vision became slowly eclipsed among the Democrats. Remember who this man is: once a proud supporter of racial segregation, a man who lambasted LBJ for selling his soul to the negroes. His speech tonight was in this vein, a classic Dixiecrat speech, jammed with bald lies, straw men, and hateful rhetoric."

Apparently, it was just too hard to resist putting on this putative "Democrat" in Republican primetime, but someone in that camp has GOT to have enough sense to know that today the Zell performance has become THE emblem of not only this convention but also of their whole hard-right party.