Friday, October 29, 2004

Join the Party Party

For those of you who tried to listen to "KGBtv" when I posted about it last, but found that the song had been taken down from its old site, you'll want to run not walk to the new site of The Party Party, which also features some fine new tunes and lots of W. audioart.

I like the line from "Boys and Girls": "Tonight I have a message for the brave and proud people of the United States of America: your enemy is not surrounding your country; your enemy is running your country."

But I nearly fell out of my chair listening to "Who's the Nigga?": Bush undermining his own rhetoric. He tries to get out the nigga vote--even as he acknowledges that black men were denied the vote in Florida in 2000. I felt like I was listening to my own fantasy of truth.

Brilliant. Listen to it now.

Thank you, The Party Party, for this and all you do.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

October surprise?

KSTP News in Minneapolis/St. Paul just may have found it.

Go to the link for yourself, and view the "VIDEO" in the upper right of the main screen, but here is what's up:

A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew in Iraq shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein was in the area where tons of explosives disappeared, and may have videotaped some of those weapons.

The missing explosives are now an issue in the presidential debate. Democratic candidate John Kerry is accusing President Bush of not securing the site they allegedly disappeared from. President Bush says no one knows if the ammunition was taken before or after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003 when coalition troops moved in to the area.

Using GPS technology and talking with members of the 101st Airborne Division, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has determined the crew embedded with the troops may have been on the southern edge of the Al Qaqaa installation, where the ammunition disappeared. The news crew was based just south of Al Qaqaa, and drove two or three miles north of there with soldiers on April 18, 2003.

During that trip, members of the 101st Airborne Division showed the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS news crew bunker after bunker of material labelled "explosives." Usually it took just the snap of a bolt cutter to get into the bunkers and see the material identified by the 101st as detonation cords.

"We can stick it in those and make some good bombs." a soldier told our crew.

Soldiers who took a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew into bunkers on April 18 said some of the boxes uncovered contained proximity fuses.

There were what appeared to be fuses for bombs. They also found bags of material men from the 101st couldn't identify, but box after box was clearly marked "explosive."

In one bunker, there were boxes marked with the name "Al Qaqaa", the munitions plant where tons of explosives allegedly went missing.

Once the doors to the bunkers were opened, they weren't secured. They were left open when the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew and the military went back to their base.

"We weren't quite sure what were looking at, but we saw so much of it and it didn't appear that this was being secured in any way," said photojournalist Joe Caffrey. "It was several miles away from where military people were staying in their tents".

Officers with the 101st Airborne told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the bunkers were within the U.S. military perimeter and protected. But Caffrey and former 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Reporter Dean Staley, who spent three months together in Iraq, said Iraqis were coming and going freely.

"At one point there was a group of Iraqis driving around in a pick-up truck,"Staley said. "Three or four guys we kept an eye on, worried they might come near us."

On Wednesday, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS e-mailed still images of the footage taken at the site to experts in Washington to see if the items captured on tape are the same kind of high explosives that went missing in Al Qaqaa. Those experts could not make that determination.

The footage is now in the hands of security experts to see if it is indeed the explosives in question.

If you ask me, this makes for an interesting, but probably unintended, effect of embedding journalists with soldiers.

And while it may suggest it is the soldiers' fault, the military has a chain of command, right?

P-dog, the Bush Killa

Like father like son?

Thanks to low culture's election day mixtape question, I've been unable to focus on my work.

Instead this morning I remembered Paris's "Bush Killa," off Sleeping with the Enemy from 1992. You can listen to it here, but this mp3 does not have the spoken-word intro that's on the album version, composed of clips from the news and Bush I's speeches.

Want highlights?
"The media had become part of the Bush Administration."
"Of course national polls do show that Americans now overwhelmingly support the war in the gulf."
"Yay, America, we can do it!"
"We hear preliminarily that the first strike was a success...."
"This was tremendous: Baghdad was lit up like a Christmas tree."
"It is a kind of euphoria."
"It is a steady one-sided parade of propagandists from the conservative elite."
"A New World Order."

I remember that when the album came out, we loved to play this track at WXYC Chapel Hill, where some ingenious dj had edited out the words that would get us thrown off the air. I hope someone has sent it the way of the youngin's at the remaining indy radio stations.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Make them twitch around their eyes

Here are a few addition's to low culture's election week mix tape:

Morrissey, "November Spawned a Monster"
Prince, "Sign o the Times"
Southern Culture on the Skids, "Theme from 'The Cheaters'"
Midnight Oil, "When the Generals Talk"
Kate Bush, "Running Up that Hill"
Ani DiFranco, "Make Them Apologize"
Michelle Shocked, "Hello Hopeville"
Cherry Poppin' Dadies, "No Mercy for Swine"
U2, "If God Will Send His Angels"
Trey Anastasio, "Push on 'til the Day"
Billy Bragg, "The Marching Song of the Covert Battalions"
Depeche Mode, "Policy of Truth"
The Police, "When the World is Running Down (You Make the Best of What's Still Around)"
Public Enemy, "Bring the Noize"
Talking Heads, "Don't Worry About the Government"

Please forgive the Dance Music for Old People Bias.

Hope or fear?

How do we respond to this news from the BBC (via truthout), of evidence suggesting a plan on the part of the Bush campaign to disrupt voting in Florida's African American voting districts?

Here's the start:

A secret document obtained from inside Bush campaign headquarters in Florida suggests a plan - possibly in violation of US law - to disrupt voting in the state's African-American voting districts, a BBC Newsnight investigation reveals.

Two e-mails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in Florida and the campaign's national research director in Washington DC, contain a 15-page so-called "caging list".

It lists 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida.

An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, when shown the list, told Newsnight: "The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on election day."

Ion Sancho, a Democrat, noted that Florida law allows political party operatives inside polling stations to stop voters from obtaining a ballot.

Do we cheer that this potential scheme has been uncovered before the election, perhaps in time to do something about it? Or do we shiver that more such potential schemes might be out there than could be uncovered?

Dear Reader

Mind if I ask you for a little advice, and maybe help?

It is just that I am so down today, reader, so afraid really. I have been hearing all the stuff about the election probably not being clearly decided by November 3, so I am prepared for the idea that it won't be over for a while.

But what if George W. Bush gets reelected?

And what if Jim DeMint beats Inez Tennenbaum?

What are we supposed to do then?

I have read plenty of optimistic posts from people who feel confident Bush won't be reelected. Mathew Gross has a confidence that Bush will lose that I wish I could share.

Tony Pierce seems confident enough that although he has big problems with Bush action, he will vote for Nader. I suppose California is about as wrapped up as South Carolina, so it doesn't matter.

Jarrett expresses hope, but also, I notice, seems more capable of keeping his interests diversified, thinking about technology, the Red Sox, cucina and what-not. Perhaps his strategy is a good one.

I don't know what to make of the red couch that has mysteriously appeared on Gina Trapani's site.
[UPDATE: The red couch is gone, replaced by luscious pomegranate.]

Sure: there are surprising and encouraging endorsements from the Log Cabin Republicans (really a non-endorsement of Bush), Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens (I think?), and many others, not to mention insinuations that Iran likes Bush better.

And Eminem's video might catch the attention of some young voters and get their asses to the polls.

And if we live in a just world, then the missing explosives from al Qaqaa have to count for something. (Thank you Joshua Micah Marshall for the most thorough consideration of this issue.)

Everyone is watching the polls like crazy, hoping that the one that shows the results they want to see is right, but they might as well be talking to the spirits, like my man W. B. Yeats, who was sure he had the answers to all things through his wife's automatic scripts. (Don't get me started on this one.)

The real truth is we don't know what's going to happen a week from now, and while I find people's hopefulness helpful, I can't understand why they are not all scared shitless like I am.

How am I supposed to forget what is at stake, when we read of Rehnquist's health troubles, more and more carnage and disarray in Iraq, the proposed new $70 billion allotment for Iraq? And when I make the mistake of watching part of the debate between the SC senate candidates and see how much more smarmy and self-righteous and condescending Jim DeMint is on TV than he is on the radio--and believe me, non-SC people, he sounds pretty horrid on the radio, too.

Which is all to say I feel a little scared today, and down. I suppose I wear my pessimism like a shield, and it might be amplified by the realization that thanks to a load of clouds that have rolled in, I won't get to watch the eclipse tonight.

So if you have any ideas, dear reader, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

God Bless America

I am amazed by how badly Jim DeMint, Republican candidate for the Senate in South Carolina, wants my vote. He seems to realize how savvy and thoughtful South Carolinians are, and that he is going to have to work hard to convince us how seriously he takes our needs.

Those of us who are not single pregnant women and schoolteachers, that is, let alone gay and schoolteachers.

What I appreciate most is how much credit he gives us for intelligence and wits.

For instance, the political advertisement I just had the pleasure of hearing over the telephone: it was obviously a recording (but stay with me--it gets better). A short pause after I say hello, a voice says "Hello, this is Barbara Bush, and I would like to encourage you to support our friend, Jim DeMint."

But those of you who have ever dealt with a computerized voice when you have called, say, your bank, know how they insert the numbers you have keyed in. "You entered SIX. SEVEN. THREE. Is this correct?," complete with unnatural changes in tone of voice and replication of that tone of voice each time a given number is stated. Or like when my gynecologist's office calls with an automatic appointment reminder: "This is an automatic appointment reminder. An appointment is scheduled for CATHERINE on FRIDAY at FOUR. THIRTY. PEE. EMM. Please confirm that CATHERINE is available for FRIDAY."

Anyway, this ad was constructed the same way: "I encourage you to vote for our friend, JIM. DEMINT. who supports our compassionate colonialist agenda of cutting taxes, invading oil-rich nations, and privatizing Social Security. Please get out and vote for JIM. DEMINT. on November 2nd, along with the entire Republican ticket. Thank you and God bless America."

God especially bless the America where political candidates assume that voters will jump out their doors at the sound of a voice identifying itself as Barbara Bush's, even though the ad is obviously a sound template that has been sent out to That Same God only knows how many Republicans, so they can pester voters with the phone ad.

The America where voters listen to this ad and fall for it will need far more blessings than any omnipotent God can generate.

That America might be ours. God bless it.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Lest we forget

One of the Bush administration's high priorities is to .put a man on Mars. That's right: Mars. A man.

Even though most of those in field of space exploration agree that robotic exploration makes much more sense.

I am as big a fan as anyone of exploration, and, like others, I want to know what's out there.

But in these times of national deficits, stretched-thin resources, widely diffused priorities--Mars?! According to the BBC back in January, "Correspondents say Mr Bush had been expected to propose a bold new space mission as part of his re-election campaign."

That's interesting: in watching the debates and reading more than my share of the news, I haven't heard him mention it.

Perhaps Karl Rove has figured out that getting a man on Mars just isn't high on the list of most Americans--who maybe can't afford decent health care, or don't have a job, or have a relative fighting in Iraq, or have their eyes fixed to the terror alert ladder. Perhaps Karl Rove is hoping that the American people will forget that Bush thought this was a good idea and was going to fight for it.

But don't forget, and don't let other people forget.

Dear Santa

At first I thought that writing these letters was like sending Christmas cards, but early for a change.

But really it is like sending letters to Santa--specifically 10 Santas living in the swing state of Wisconsin.

Dear Santa,

Please, please, please bring us a new president. Your vote matters, Santa, especially because you live in Wisconsin, which is hotly contested territory. Besides, there are all those crazy graduate students in Madison who still believe that voting for Ralph Nader will bring the change this country needs. In the best of all possible worlds, I would vote for Ralph, too, Santa, but this year I really really don't want to see Bush win again.

I agree with Ralph, because the differences between these 2 candidates are not what we would like to see. I was happy when Dr. Dean was on the scene, because whooping it up or no, he leaned more where I lean. Ralph speaks smart stuff about the problems with corporate power and the power of privilege, but I just don't think he can pull it out this year. I voted for him last time, Santa, but I don't know that I would have except that I live in South Carolina and I might just as well have voted for you.

But back to this year, Santa. We need you and all the other good people of Wisconsin (including those graduate students, if you could smack sense into them) to vote for John Kerry. We know that in your state, every single vote will count. So please don't get too busy on November 2nd to vote, and please don't fall for the lies and tricks of the Buch-Cheney folks. Look around you, Santa. 50 (I think they're now saying) fresh Iraqi military trainees were executed on their graduation day, and their bodies put in rows, to send a message to their compatriots, and to us, too, Santa. (Thanks for becoming an American citizen, Santa, and for registering to vote.) We need to be smart about our place in the world, which is a powerful place, but not when we keep squandering international good will and cooperation.

And Santa, we can't afford four more years of the Bush administration's environmental policies, which are short-sighted to say the least, and self-absorbed in the worst way. Nor can we take the erosion of civil liberties and depletion of freedoms using the Constitution, not to mention the elimination of legal rights, if Bush puts new Supreme Court judges on the bench.

But what do you need me writing to you for? YOU know who's been bad and good.

Yours sincerely,
A Concerned Citizen in a Red State

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Inez 2004

Mathew Gross has noted some worthy Senatorial candidates who could use contributions right about now. He is right.

We only ask that he add South Carolina's Inez Tenenbaum to his list. After all, she is up against Jim DeMint, who believes and has said that pregnant single women and homosexuals should not be allowed to teach in the public schools.

Among other things.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Line of Beauty

I am happy that Alan Hollinghurst won the Booker Prize. Congratulations, Mr. Hollinghurst.

But oh my gods and goddesses: why do we need, at every turn, to call The Line of Beauty a "gay novel"?

OK, OK, I will acknowledge that as I am preparing to lead a workshop about bisexuality and transgender issues for the local Unitarian Universalist Fellowship's series of meetings about whether or not to become a Welcoming Congregation (i.e., officially recognized by the national UU organization as a place that welcomes lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people), I have found several lists of "Gay and Lesbian" movies useful, in jogging my brain and bringing to my attention movies I did not know about.

And it is worth noting that a novel treating gay subject matter has not previously won a Booker. I like to acknowledge milestones and broken glass ceilings.

But calling The Line of Beauty a "gay novel" so limits it.

I must admit that I have not read this novel, so what I am about to say is based exclusively on other Booker-Prize-winning novels I have read--quite a number of them, thank you. (And I plan to add this one to that list as soon as I can get a copy.) If this book was chosen for the Booker, then it has lots and lots of important, memorable, impressive aspects, and we do the novel and Mr. Hollinghurst a disservice in ghettoizing the book.

The good news is that The Line of Beauty will gain more readers than it would have without this prize--including me. I am not proud not to have read it or known of it, but so it has been. The other good news is that people who might otherwise pick up a "gay novel" will do so, thanks to the recognition that this book has received. But please let us respect Mr. Hollinghurst's work as something that goes beyond plot lines.

Way to go, Greenville!

I had thought I would have to travel to NC or Florida to see some real election-day excitement, but no no no, we have it in South Carolina, too.

Yesterday's Greenville News headline: "Voters may be put off by precinct changes." The article begins,

Michelle Burton said candidates get one crack at her vote when she heads to the polls two weeks from today.

The Mauldin woman said that if she gets directed to a new polling place she'll not bother to vote. "If I had to travel to another place and I already came all the way there, I would just say forget it," she said.

The specter of more voters like Burton bailing out or not bothering to show up at all has some party officials and legislators questioning the wisdom of uncorking a plan that moves the polling place for roughly half of the county's 216,000 registered voters just two weeks before the election.

As yet, no Greenville County voter has been told where they'll need to go on Nov. 2 to cast their ballot. Voter registration cards showing the new poll information are expected to be mailed in the next few days.

Now let me see: why would anyone have thought such a disruption would be a good idea so close to the election? Oh yeah! To discourage people from voting!

But wait--there's more:

State Sen. David Thomas [(R)] said he was surprised to learn the number of people affected by the precinct changes. He said he didn't remember it being explained that way to the legislative delegation when the Greenville County Election Commission sought its approval in January.

Well, that's convenient: maybe it pays to read legislation after all and understand it completely before you vote for it. And I guess W. isn't the only Republican dedicated to dodging responsibility.

One more part from this article:

Mailing of the new registration cards was delayed at least a week when a data error in a division of the South Carolina Budget and Control Board resulted in roughly 84,000 cards getting misprinted. [Greenville County Election Commission Director Conway] Belangia said he and his staff caught the errors when they noticed 40,000 voters in the county directed to the Timberlake precinct's polls at St. Francis Episcopal on Edwards Road in Greenville.

He said the State Election Commission had originally planned to mail the new cards directly from Columbia.

"Boy, am I glad I didn't let them do that," Belangia said.

Boy, us too! After all, what is the chance that of that 40,000 there might be, say, 30% who have the same view as the Michelle Burton from the beginning of the article? That would mean 12,000 voters giving up! And probably the number would be higher than that.

But lest you thought the story stopped there, I gift you with today's front page article, "Voter cards in mail soon":

Greenville County election officials raced Tuesday to get new voter cards to the post office by Friday and into the hands of 216,000 voters who have yet to be notified where to cast their ballot Nov. 2.

A private company is stuffing and sorting more than 200,000 envelopes, and Election Commission Director Conway Belangia said his hope is that voters will receive the cards by Monday or Tuesday.

"Keep in mind that's at least a week later than we planned on," he said."

Good planning! What happened to contingency plans? Leaving, say, EXTRA time? Not waiting to the last minute?


The NAACP is on the problem, recognizing who it is who is usually disenfranchised by such things. Greenville's NAACP leader Paul Guy recommends that any voter who is confused by the new precincts cast absentee ballots.

Meanwhile, I'll be in Greenville County with my car, cellphone, and laptop, trying to do what little I can to make sure everyone who wants to vote, and is entitled to do so, can.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Free Pitches, #1&2

Here I go, working to keep my mind off the election.

Lately I have been posing new cooking challenges to myself. I've written about some of my lunchtime challenges already, but I'm trying to rethink dinners as well. For instance, ingredient challenges. Example: I bought 2 1-ounce packages of a dried mushroom mix a couple weeks back, when I was working on a tortellini-with-mushrooms recipe. Turns out I only needed one. So the challenge is, what can I make with a 1-ounce package of dried mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, oyster, etc.)?

The answer: risotto with porcini mushrooms (but more all-embracing of diverse mushroom types), courtesy of Marcella Hazan.

Her Italian cookbook is a goldmine. I have yet to try anything in there that was not fabulous, the recipes are very authentic.

So then I needed to combine the risotto with some meat and veggies. My plan had been to make herb-marinated porkchops from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything cookbook, but they required marination ahead of time, and guess who forgot?

So instead I tried his so-called basic porkchop recipe, which involves browning the chops and then cooking them in wine, garlic, and broth, and then adding butter and wine vinegar to the reduction right before serving.

As my Finnish friends say, Vitun huskematonga!!! (Forgive my spelling, o my Finnish friends.)

Or in the words of my partner, who had slaved all day to make my computer work again, THESE THINGS ARE AMAZING!

And soooooooooo easy.

What I said about Marcella Hazan I can easily say about Mark Bittman too. His cookbook is a dream: like Joy of Cooking for more adventuresome sorts. Earlier this week, I made some muffins from his book, too, and then tried another muffin recipe this weekend. Both were fabulous, and he always suggests easy and flavorful variations.

Go buy both cookbooks now. You and the people you cook for will thank you and yourself.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Is "lesbian" now a smear??

I must admit to being befuddled by assertions on both sides that Kerry's and Edwards's mentionings of Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter amount to low blows, smears, "low moments." I mean, I'm not surprised when the right makes such claims: after all, for much of the conservative base, being homosexual is pretty much a mark of ungodliness or weakness.

But from the left?

Sure, if Mary Cheney were closeted, or if she did not work as an advocate for gay and lesbian rights, then things would be different. Then talking about her sexuality on national television would amount to an outing, a breach of her privacy or her desire to define herself rather than be labeled by others.

But when such is not the case, and she is not only openly lesbian but willing to use her own sexuality in order to fight for rights of other gays or lesbians, then discussing her sexuality is not a slur, and for lefties to cower at its mention is to give in to conservative assertions of the wrongness or tabooness of homosexuality.

I know that some will assert that by mentioning this topic on national tv, democratic candidates are hoping to outrage members of the Bush-Cheney base. And yes, whatever their intentions are, there are members of the BC04 base who will be outraged, thrown off.

But if those of us on the left act in ways that accept that terms like "lesbian" or "gay" are inherently negative or scary or potentially offensive, what are we saying to ourselves who believe in gay rights and to those of us who take on queer labels in self-definition?

When discussions of domestic issues turn to issues involving lesbian and gay people, we need to talk frankly. We cannot allow only opponents of queer rights to use descriptive terms: then the terms take on a negative tinge. Only by using those terms ourselves, and by speaking frankly about the situation of people who are openly lesbian or gay, can we bring homosexual issues into the mainstream.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Not what one would hope for

You know, net-net, it wasn't that exciting a debate. Nobody made any of the real screamer gaffes that we enjoyed in the previous debates. Both candidates seemed well prepared. Bush did a much better job than in the past 2 debates, though with no less blinking. Kerry was pretty strong too, but not as resoundingly brilliant as in the first two. But finally, none of the really "big deal" comments came through: I know Kerry hoped his Tony Soprano comment would be a sound bite, but I don't know that it was as effective as he thought it was.

Ultimately the debate may or may not have merited the effort I went through to have my computer in the living room in front of the tv.

But why is no one commenting on the assertion that Kerry made twice, that faith is not enough, that good deeds must be a part of religiously informed decision making? That is such a strong assertion of a truly catholic position, and one to which Bush did not respond, and that no one else seems to have noticed.


Did you notice Kerry is wearing one of those Lance Armstrong yellow bracelets?

I wonder if he had to buy his on e-Bay.


What have you learned from the women in your life?

I learned to stand up straight and not scowl? I learned to tell stories about meeting my wife? I learned to toss off comments about how some of my best friends are women?


We pray for you to find wisdom and knowledge, too

I believe that God wants everybody to be free, except:

*US citizens, held in prison without trial or contact with an attorney for allegations of engagement with terrorism;
*Afghani women, whose condition only matters if we are trying to justify an invasion;
*Iraqi prisoners, who can be tortured despite the Geneva convention, with no accountability at high governmental levels;
*Prisoners, who are alleged terrorists, who have "disappeared" from prisons;
*People who want to travel in their car carrying an almanac or other suspicious publication;
*Gay people who want to get married or seek state recognition of their partnership;
*Women who want to get an abortion.

That's what I think of offhand. Feel free to add your own examples.

I met with the Black Congressional Caucus

Wow, Bush has nothing to say about Affirmative Action. I find that really surprising, after Kerry made such a strong statement in its defense.

Rather than stating a position, Bush dodged to education, same as he did earlier.

Why does he not want to state his position on this issue?

But it's not my fault!

Bush is trying to claim that the recession precedes his administration--that it was already in place before he came into office.

And he's shouting.

Maybe Dick Cheney could point the pres's browser to, which points out the misleading of that statement.

The defensive practice of medicine

Good for Kerry for staying on Bush's attempts to mislead: "so the president is just wrong."

Oh, Georgie, you are such a funny guy about major news networks and their credibility. That is the best response to Kerry's plan you can muster?


And now he's claiming to have raised VA benefits? And that the veterans know that? Funny (not funny ha ha), the veterans I've talked to don't know that.

Faith and deeds

Interesting the Kerry chose a Biblical passage that speaks to one of the fundamental differences in attitude between Protestants and Catholics.

And Bush's faith?

Ah, a world where every person's life matters, except pregnant women's lives, of course, since Bush won't support exceptions for times when women's lives are in danger, or protect Roe, which protects women's lives.

Surely there ARE ways we can work to prevent abortions--but legislating against them, and legislating for adoption is not the answer.

Of course, as studies have shown, neither are abstinence programs, but why rely on reality and actual deeds when faith can do.


Yes, we all got our tax checks. Yes, it was $1000 for people with children, but only $500 of that was added by this administration. And the rest of us? Please: the tax refund was such a weak instance of underpayment.

But then I'm no good with math. He says $1000 for a child, and $1000 for married couple, but a family of four gets $1700?

If you can explain this to me, please do.

George Bush came out to play

Maybe Karl convinced him to lessen the smirking and work on complete sentences. He's much more with it tonight.

Plus he ditched the blue tie.

O Canada

And so we say that Great Britain, our partner in peace, is responsible for our not having adequate supplies of flu vaccine, and now we're going to rely on Canada?

I thought we had decided that Canadian drugs were not safe....

I don't think I ever said

You see, the problem is, Mr. President, that everyone has seen the clip where you said you weren't worried about Osama bin Laden.

Freedom is on the march

Wait--so Tony Blair apologizes for faulty intelligence interpretations, but Bush claims that we're going at things all the right way?

And what about Poland?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Attention gamblers!

It's wager time again.

Paul Krugman has listed 8 lies that he predicts Bush will utter during the debate tomorrow night:

Mr. Bush will talk about the 1.7 million jobs created since the summer of 2003, and will say that the economy is "strong and getting stronger." That's like boasting about getting a D on your final exam, when you flunked the midterm and needed at least a C to pass the course.

Mr. Bush is the first president since Herbert Hoover to preside over a decline in payroll employment. That's worse than it sounds because the economy needs around 1.6 million new jobs each year just to keep up with population growth. The past year's job gains, while better news than earlier job losses, barely met this requirement, and they did little to close the huge gap between the number of jobs the country needs and the number actually available.

Mr. Bush will boast about the decline in the unemployment rate from its June 2003 peak. But the employed fraction of the population didn't rise at all; unemployment declined only because some of those without jobs stopped actively looking for work, and therefore dropped out of the unemployment statistics. The labor force participation rate - the fraction of the population either working or actively looking for work - has fallen sharply under Mr. Bush; if it had stayed at its January 2001 level, the official unemployment rate would be 7.4 percent.

The deficit
Mr. Bush will claim that the recession and 9/11 caused record budget deficits. Congressional Budget Office estimates show that tax cuts caused about two-thirds of the 2004 deficit.

The tax cuts
Mr. Bush will claim that Senator John Kerry opposed "middle class" tax cuts. But budget office numbers show that most of Mr. Bush's tax cuts went to the best-off 10 percent of families, and more than a third went to the top 1 percent, whose average income is more than $1 million.

The Kerry tax plan
Mr. Bush will claim, once again, that Mr. Kerry plans to raise taxes on many small businesses. In fact, only a tiny percentage would be affected. Moreover, as Mr. Kerry correctly pointed out last week, the administration's definition of a small-business owner is so broad that in 2001 it included Mr. Bush, who does indeed have a stake in a timber company - a business he's so little involved with that he apparently forgot about it.

Fiscal responsibility
Mr. Bush will claim that Mr. Kerry proposes $2 trillion in new spending. That's a partisan number and is much higher than independent estimates. Meanwhile, as The Washington Post pointed out after the Republican convention, the administration's own numbers show that the cost of the agenda Mr. Bush laid out "is likely to be well in excess of $3 trillion" and "far eclipses that of the Kerry plan."

On Friday, Mr. Bush claimed that he had increased nondefense discretionary spending by only 1 percent per year. The actual number is 8 percent, even after adjusting for inflation. Mr. Bush seems to have confused his budget promises - which he keeps on breaking - with reality.

Health care
Mr. Bush will claim that Mr. Kerry wants to take medical decisions away from individuals. The Kerry plan would expand Medicaid (which works like Medicare), ensuring that children, in particular, have health insurance. It would protect everyone against catastrophic medical expenses, a particular help to the chronically ill. It would do nothing to restrict patients' choices.

Anybody care to add a wager of their own? Entries must be submitted in the comments section (or list a link there) by 8 p.m. EDT tomorrow, October 13, 2004.

(There is beer on the line.)

Is the world safer?

The Guardian's "Nuclear items missing in Iraq" (10/12) suggests not:

Equipment and materials that could be used to make nuclear weapons have disappeared from Iraq, the UN's nuclear watchdog warned yesterday.

Satellite imagery and investigations of nuclear sites in Iraq have caused alarm at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The agency found that in some cases entire buildings housing high-precision nuclear equipment had been dismantled; equipment that could be used to make a bomb, such as high-strength aluminium, had vanished from open storage areas, the agency said.

In a report to the UN security council yesterday, the IAEA's director general, Mohamed ElBaradei, said the agency "continues to be concerned about the widespread and apparently systematic dismantlement that has taken place at sites previously relevant to Iraq's nuclear programme and sites previously subject to ongoing monitoring and verification by the agency".

Before the war, the buildings had been monitored and tagged with IAEA seals to keep tabs on their function and content. But US authorities barred IAEA inspectors from returning to Iraq after the war began in March 2003, instead deploying US teams in an unsuccessful search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Mr ElBaradei has therefore relied largely on satellite imagery in the latest report. IAEA teams were allowed into Iraq in June 2003 to investigate reports of widespread looting of storage rooms at the main nuclear complex, at Tuwaitha, and in August to take inventory of "several tonnes" of natural uranium in storage nearby.

Anti-proliferation agreements mean the US occupying authorities and now the Iraqi interim government were responsible for informing the IAEA if they moved or exported any of that material or equipment. The IAEA said it had received no such reports.

In a September 30 debate both the US president, George Bush, and his Democratic rival, John Kerry, identified nuclear proliferation as the greatest threat facing the US.

In February 2003, a month before the US-led invasion of Iraq, Mr ElBaradei reported to the security council that Iraq's nuclear programme had been "neutralised" by December 1998. In the two and a half months his agency had in which to resume inspections during 2003, his teams found "no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear related activities in Iraq".

Last week a CIA report by the chief US weapons investigator, Charles Duelfer, agreed that Saddam Hussein had all but given up on his nuclear programme after the first Gulf war in 1991.

But it now appears Iraq may pose a nuclear threat of a different sort: some military goods, including missile engines, that disappeared from Iraq after the US-led invasion later turned up in scrap yards in the Middle East and Europe. However, none of the equipment or material known to the IAEA as potentially useful in making nuclear bombs has been found, according to Mr ElBaradei.

"As the disappearance of such equipment and materials may be of proliferation significance, any state that has information about the location of such items should provide IAEA with that information," Mr ElBaradei said.

Sure, Saddam is in prison, but the known remnants of his weapons programs--secured by the U.N. before the invasion--are who knows where.

And Bush continues to claim that the invasion and occupation have made us safer???

Bullying, unreceptive, brazen

The New York Times is on the USA's loss of credibility with many world leaders.

It begins with a summary of changes in the US's attitude to Mexico:

Jorge Castañeda, Mexico's former foreign minister, has two distinct images of George W. Bush: the charmer intent on reinventing Mexican-American ties and the chastiser impatient with Mexico as the promise of a new relationship soured.

The change came with the Sept. 11 attacks. "My sense is that Bush lost and never regained the gift he had shown for making you feel at ease," said Mr. Castañeda, who left office last year. "He became aloof, brusque, and on occasion abrasive."

The brusqueness had a clear message: the United States is at war, it needs everybody's support and that support is not negotiable. Mexico's hesitant stance at the United Nations on the war in Iraq became a source of tension. Yet Mr. Castañeda said, "I was never asked, 'What is it you need in order to be more cooperative with us? What can we do to help?' "

It is a characterization of Mr. Bush's foreign policy style often heard around the world: bullying, unreceptive, brazen. The result, critics of this administration contend, has been a disastrous loss of international support, damage to American credibility, the sullying of America's image and a devastating war that has already taken more than 1,000 American lives. In the first presidential debate, Senator John Kerry argued that only with a change of presidents could the damage be undone.

Despite the writers' use the word "enthused" to describe Japanese response to American policy, it is a good read.

Monday, October 11, 2004

My Netflix wishlist

1. Le monde selon Bush (2004).


en francais

in English

Correzione: i valori nutrizionali

I take that back! In my previous post I noted that parma ham might not be that hot nutritionally.

But but but, according to the Consortium of Prosciutto di Parma, I was wrong.


They say that prosciutto di Parma contains no artificial preservatives or colorings, nitrites or nitrates, and that because it contains less fat than an adult cow or turkey, it works for a low-fat diet. Furthermore, it has low cholesterol content, comparable to that of veal, chicken, or rabbit--not to mention the high percentage of beneficial oleic acid.

But here is the best part:

Per la presenza di aminoacidi liberi, il Prosciutto di Parma è indicato nella dieta degli sportivi, anche perché le sue proteine grazie alla stagionatura diventano più leggere e digeribili, pur se "sostanziose".

Because of the presence of free amino acids, prosciutto di Parma is suitable for the diet of athletes, especially because thanks to the seasoning, its proteins are more easy to digest, even more "nourishing."

Leave it to the Italians to come up with such a perfect food.

Incidentally, the Consortium has a wonderful list of recipes, if you read Italian.

Just because it is 10 a.m.

I'm doing a little experiment here. One of my high school English teachers told me on numerous occasions that I had a negative attitude. Some 12 years hence, I see she was right. In an effort to moderate my fury, I will write at least one "up beat" post a week.

So, to continue: Just because it is 10 a.m. does not mean it is too early for lunch, and the question for someone working at home is, how can I have a lunch that is pretty good for me, tasty, and not a highly processed convenience food?

As a person *not* working at home, I often relied on Hot Pockets and the like. I know, however, that they are loaded with trans fats, artificial foods, and such, so with time on my hands, I want to change my habits.

Here are my requirements:
1. It must be fairly quick. Yes, I work at home, but I am not a full-time chef.
2. It must taste good.
3. It must be reasonably nutritious.
4. It must provide the balance of calories I need. I know that many people are adopting low-carb lifestyles these days, but as a competitive swimmer, such a diet makes little sense for me.
5. It must not require a separate trip to the grocery store.

What I came up with today is Penne with asparagus and prosciutto.

Nota bene, fair reader: when I look for foods to be good for me, I well know that prosciutto di parma, as a highly processed, salty ham is not at the top of most nutritionists' lists. But listen: it is one of the foods I make exceptions for.

To continue:

1.5 cups penne
2 slices of prosciutto, sliced the short way in 1/2-inch strips
5 asparagus stalks (or more! I couldn't take more this time because the asparagus is for tomorrow night's dinner)
a good-sized clove of garlic, chopped fairly fine
3/4 c parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated on a microplane (you could easily substitute pecorino romano or piave (mmmmm) here)
some olive oil (approx. 1 T or one turn around your pan)

1. Cook the pasta in your usual way.
2. Prepare the asparagus by washing it, tweaking off the bottom inch or two of each stalk, and then slicing the stalks into 1.5-inch-or-so pieces.
3. In a non-stick pan, heat the olive oil. Add the prosciutto and stir around for a couple of minutes. Then add the asparagus and the garlic, stirring regularly to keep the garlic from burning. This part is done when your prosciutto looks a little crispy and your asparagus has turned that brilliant green color that it takes on when it is just barely cooked.
4. After the pasta has cooked, drain it, and add it to the pan with the prosciutto mixture. Stir around to mix the pasta in.
5. Add the cheese, about 1/2 at a time, and blend it in to the pasta mixture, allowing the little flakes to adhere to the now somewhat oily pasta.
6. Serve and eat immediately.

I like it with a glass of fizzy water, but suit yourself. Serves 1.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Too bad Dick C. isn't as good as Kos at using the internet. Then he would perhaps have advised George W that indeed he does qualify as a timber business owner.

This from

President Bush himself would have qualified as a "small business owner" under the Republican definition, based on his 2001 federal income tax returns. He reported $84 of business income from his part ownership of a timber-growing enterprise. However, 99.99% of Bush's total income came from other sources that year. (Bush also qualified as a "small business owner" in 2000 based on $314 of "business income," but not in 2002 and 2003 when he reported his timber income as "royalties" on a different tax schedule.)

Meanwhile, those watching the debates, including Kathryn General, probably believed that Kerry was full of it when he made that assertion. What a sad sad world.

Vote, and vote again

Time to post your votes again, if you watched tonight's debate:

Fox News:
Wall Street Journal:
Akron Beacon-Journal:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Detroit News:
Los Angeles Times:
Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune:
Orlando Sentinel:
Philadelphia Inquirer:
South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

If it weren't for those pesky generals

Well, Bush actually showed up to the debate tonight. He was able to use his swagger to his advantage, instead of coming off as someone entirely unprepared. He seemed to know where he wanted to go, without saying the same thing over and over.

But Kerry did well tonight, too, still much quicker with his responses. Bush needs to say, "Remember the last debate?" and try to pick up on some point that Kerry made there, because he was not able to refute Kerry's point at that time. Kerry, on the other hand, is ready for the on-point response.

One trend in Bush's responses tonight, made him sound like Han Solo in the very first Star Wars movie: "it's not my fault." Whether he was claiming that the errors in judgment about Iraq came from the generals giving him advice about troop numbers, or whether he was blaming the recession on previous administrations, or saying that his only mistakes were in political appointments, he never took responsibility himself. Sure, it's nice, in the best of all possible words, to have an infallible leader, but Bush is not that--who (in our real world) is? And given that, he would be a more credible leader if he took responsibility for his own choices, decisions, actions.

1 mistake

Well, one mistake would be my major misreading of the Duelfer Report today.

What is he scribbling while Kerry is talking?

"Memo to self: what is a stem cell?"

"I do TOO have a health care plan."

"Ask me about my top secret supreme court nominee."

"Legislators make laws. Judges interpret laws. The President . . . what was that again?"

"Oh yeah: the President's job is to force his view on others."

We can't trust those Canadians

You never know whether the drugs that those Canadians have approved are safe. After all, they are not a first-world country or anything.

Oh really?

BUSH: If Iraq were to fail, it'd be a haven for terrorists.

Oh yeah? Well, I guess we've failed.

Lighter, quicker, more facile

BUSH: We need to be lighter, quicker, more facile.

I know it would have gotten Kerry criticism for being too smart, but I would have given the beer in my hand to hear him suggest that Bush could not be more facile.

I bet you weren't

BUSH: I wasn't happy when I learned there weren't weapons there.

I bet he wasn't: to be happy about it would have required prioritizing the nation's safety over his own political standing--fat chance.

White men in glasses and ties--oh my!

I thought she was gone, but she's back!

Imagine my delight when I picked up the Summer issue of bitch magazine today, and found an interview by Keely Savoie with Diane DiMassa--my hero. If Hothead Paisan is not singlehandedly responsible for having gotten you through a tough period or two in your life, you might check out some of DiMassa's work (and "crapola") on her website, or better yet, at the 2005 Womyn's Music Festival where (can you believe this?) there will be a musical of Hothead Herself!

Since I last saw Hothead in about 1996 or 7, I was interested to see DiMassa taking a more overtly political stance in her interview:

Savoie: When Hothead was first published, in the early '90s, there were very active, in-your-face groups like ACT UP and the Lesbian Avengers--anger was the emotion du jour of the queer movement. Is Hothead going to change now that anger is no longer such a dominant emotion?

DiMassa: I wonder what is, then. Television? [Susan, DiMassa's girlfriend, interjects: I don't think television counts as an emotion, honey.] Well, it does for a lot of people! But you know, I was never doing it to be chic. I was doing it for therapy. And I think on a personal level, people are angry every day. I mean, c'mon! Look what Bush is doing and look at everything that's going on! People are fucking angry! It might not always be around queer issues, but that wasn't always my main focus, either. It was just kind of the world at large and the imbalance, and where the power is, and how we get treated. As far as I know, that hasn't all been solved. People just like to lampoon that shit. Hothead has been a release valve for a lot of people. You know, "My god! Thank god somebody else thinks this stuff!" "My god, this happened to me the other day. Hahahaha!"

I never really felt like I had a responsibility as an artist. I never really understood what that meant, especially becuase all this stuff always feels so personal to me. But maybe that's it--just to share what I have so somebody else knows they're not alone.

I think you can get anybody riled up if you bring up the right subject at any time. It's nuts. I think we've really the point of absurdity.

Savoie: In what sense?

DiMassa: Oh! Bush and the administration and their fuckin' lies! I mean, if it wasn't so scary and dangerous, it would be funny, but it's quite series. I mean, how many people don't have healthcare? And in the Middle East I think they're going to trip the Armageddon wire soon, and--everything is just really crazy.

Savoie: One of Hothead's attributes was that she was apolitical--outraged by everything in general but nothing in particular. Are you thinking of taking a more political direction this time?

DiMassa: I didn't get specific in the comics on purpose, because it felt like I really didn't need to. It didn't feel necessary to really date it, although it's dated in many other ways, now that I look back on it.

I think all through history you're going to find the same sorts of situations. But yeah, I'm definitely feeling a lot more specific about it because I hate Bush so much.

I still don't know if I'll talk about him specifically when I do more comics, because I think Tom Tomorrow is absolutely the top-of-the-heap brilliant political cartoonist. And he and a couple of others are doing the bulk of chronicling what's going on on a weekly basis.

But I feel very dedicated to speaking out against the stuff that I don't believe in, the stuff that I think is wrong. I find it very scary that it seems like the majority thinks everything is okay. It keeps me alive to find my common people, and so by doing what I do, I find them.

Amen, sister. Thanks for the good work.

Surprising news from the Bush camp

This from Jim VandeHei in the Washington Post:

After a contentious debate Tuesday night between Vice President Cheney and Sen. John Edwards, Bush picked up the assault on Kerry's record with sharp and sometimes misleading criticisms designed to reverse the gains Kerry has made since winning the first debate last week in Florida.

The strongly worded speech, which indicted Kerry as a "tax-and-spend liberal," was timed to deflect criticism of Bush's Iraq policy from such key sources as former Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. weapons inspector and the State Department. A Bush adviser said the president hopes to change the dynamics of the race with more biting attacks on Kerry's record and trustworthiness and on what Bush charges is Kerry's reluctance to use U.S. military force to defeat terrorism. The strategy is aimed at stoking public fears about terrorism, raising new concerns about Kerry's ability to protect Americans and reinforcing Bush's image as the steady anti-terrorism candidate, aides said. [italics mine]

Did we read that correctly? The strategy is to raise the public fear in order to get them to vote for Bush?

How interesting then, that new warnings of terrorism threats have come out. Unbelievable. Is this the much-touted straight talk to the American people? I mean, sure, lefties have been commenting about how odd it is that new terror warnings always seem to come out immediately following some event that might draw attention to the Democrats or make Bush look bad.

But come on, people, in this article we see that they are admitting to this practice explicitly. Why has there not been an enormous public outcry? Why was this revelation buried in the seventh paragraph of this article? Why was it not in my local paper? Why hadn't I heard it on the news?

Because, my little furious one, we live in the home of the brave.

My private, direct message to Kerry: Dear Mr. Kerry, please, please, please do not fuck up tonight. Please show people like Kathryn General that Bush is yanking their chains. Please.

Dear John Ashcroft

I am getting married on June 18th, 2005. Although many of the people who plan to attend my wedding do not agree with the policies or actions of the Bush administration, particularly its invasion and occupation of Iraq and its eroding of American liberties, please do not conduct an airstrike that kills or wounds people during the festivities or the parties afterwards.

Thank you.

Just what I was afraid of

I cannot tell you how depressed I was to read this letter in the Greenville News this morning:

Bush has the vision Kerry obviously lacks
Why are there so many more undecided voters this year? It's about time that the party lines are danced on. I am one of those who would rather hear what the candidates have to say.

In 2000, I voted against Al Gore. In 2004 I don't want to have to vote against someone, I would rather believe in a candidate enough to want to vote for him. Before Thursday night's debate I wavered on who I thought would make a better leader: would it be the man who proved himself in war, or the one who proved himself with war?

The debate, however, opened my eyes to the personality traits of each of these men, and in turn made it clear to me who would be a better leader. President Bush is a big picture guy, who uses his cabinet as the resource it was designed to be and operates like a CEO. On the flip side, Kerry is a micromanager, who leaves out one important factor, the big picture.

I'm worried when a candidate says close our borders and strengthen the hold we have in the Middle East and prove to the terrorists that we are steadfast in our commitment, and then, in his very next breath, says we need to ease off and withdraw our troops in six months.

I am hoping that more people will vote for the candidate who elects to speak to the people than for the one who tries to impress the people.
Kathryn General

Fine. If you want to support Bush, fine. But how can someone come away from that debate last week believing that Bush gave the better reasons for being elected? Speak to the people? Condescend to the people is more like it. Why would you trust a leader who believes he has to mangle his words and oversimplify complicated issues in order for you to understand? What if rather than trying to impress, Kerry simply believes that "the people" can handle a little complexity?

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

So glad we preempted THAT

According to the chief US weapons inspector in Iraq, nothing was there.

Concerning which we are all surprised.

And the Washington Post reports today that Saddam Hussein posed no immediate threat.

Although I am pleased to see this information coming out before the election, I cannot forget all the sacrifices that have been made in the name of a non-existent threat. For instance, the deaths of over 1000 U.S. soldiers, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths, the kidnappings and murders of I don't know how many international aide workers and contractors, devastation and chaos in Iraq now that does not look like it's slowing down soon, the loss of credibility on the international playing field, billions of dollars spent for this invasion and so-called rebuilding that could either have been saved or spent differently, the change of Iraq from a stable place into a recruiting zone for international terrorism, destablization of the entire mideast region, the escape of Osama bin Laden, the time wasted that could have been spent on convincing Iran or North Korea not to proliferate nuclear weapons--I could keep going.

I also wonder: what is the chance that the American people will recognize this mistake and not just stand stalwartly behind Bush's false confidence?

Does the blogosphere extend into the underground lair?

I really, really, really, REALLY hope that America's computer literate follow Dick Cheney's web-surfing advice, offered free during last night's debate.

Tony Pierce says:

but the saddest moment was when cheney asked viewers to go to "" so they could, well, fact check the young senator., however, is the George Soros-funded anti-Bush site that is now being re-directed to Soros's homepage

whose main headline currently reads

"President Bush is endangering our safety, hurting our vital interests, and undermining American values."

way to win a debate, dick.

the brains on the ticket.

what the vice president obviously meant to lead millions of web-surfing americans in search of fact checking peoples asses to was the non-profit, which at this time (4:20am PST) has a half dozen headlines on its page, which corrects bush, cheney, kerry & edwards, but mostly bush. not really a web site karl rove would want the veep to steer america.

ah the elderly trying to stay hip with their aol accounts.

keep logging on, mr. cheney. youve got mail!

see you at ;)

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Citizens' Debate Scorecard

You might be interested in the results of Media for Democracy's Citizens' Panel rating of the first presidential debate. It is very useful that they break their results down by which candidate respondents favored. While the greatest number (23.8%) of Kerry supporters watched the debate on PBS, 50% of Bush supporters chose FoxNews. In both the Bush and Kerry camps, viewers who supported a particular candidate felt that that candidate's views and approaches came across far more clearly than the others.

I enjoyed the responses of undecided/"other" voters: 46.6% said the debate was extremely useful in helping them understand Kerry's positions, and 40.7% (the greatest number) said the debate was somewhat useful in showing BUsh's positions. 72.9% said Kerry "won" the debate, while 14.6% said Bush took it, and 12.6% favored neither. And over half said that the debate would shape their vote!

On the same page is a link to the "Citizens' Debate Scorecard," where you can register as a citizens' monitor for tonight's debate.

Farnaz Fassihi, part 2

Remember my post about an article from Farnaz Fassihi giving a frank assessment of the situation in Baghdad? Well, it turns out Fassahi is taking some heat at the Wall Street Journal about that piece.

Here is a bit of back story, from Tim Rutten's article "Regarding the Media" in the Los Angeles Times on 10/2:

That's the backdrop for this week's ambiguous case of Farnaz Fassihi, the Wall Street Journal's Middle East correspondent, currently reporting from Baghdad. The Journal's news columns are justifiably admired for their dispassion and clarity. Fassihi's reportage is no exception. Over the course of her assignment in Iraq, the 31-year-old Iranian-born, American-educated correspondent has been in the habit of sending monthly e-mails to some of her friends — keeping in touch, letting them know how she's doing. Private correspondence, in other words.

This week, one of her lengthy note's recipients took it upon himself or herself to circulate Fassihi's e-mail to others. Within days, it had spread across the Web, a painfully bleak and clearly heartfelt appraisal of the Iraqi morass....

Now, however:

Splashing this sort of stuff around the Internet is bound to cause talk, and a good bit of it occurred in the Journal's newsroom. Wednesday, two of the paper's staff members — both of whom asked not to be identified — said they had been told that Fassihi would not be allowed to write about Iraq for the paper until after the election, presumably because unauthorized publication of her private correspondence somehow called into question the fairness of her journalism.

In point of fact, no one has questioned the content of Fassihi's reporting nor alleged that it has been in any way biased.

Rutten goes on to probe whether this break is an attempt to quiet or punish Fassihi:

Paul Steiger, the Journal's managing editor, was unavailable by phone Thursday, but his spokesman, Robert Christie, accepted a question on his behalf and agreed to put it to the editor: Had Fassihi's e-mail been the subject of discussion among her editors and had they decided that its dissemination should prevent her from writing about Iraq until after Nov. 2?

Christie forwarded Steiger's response by e-mail: "Ms. Fassihi is coming out of Iraq shortly on a long planned vacation. That vacation was planned to, and will, extend past the election."

A follow-up question seemed in order and was sent to Steiger, through Christie, by e-mail: "If this correspondent wishes to write about Iraq for the Wall Street Journal, is she free to do so?"

Steiger's reply, via his spokesman, was this: "She is going on a long-scheduled vacation outside Iraq and has no plans to work during that time."

Fair-minded readers can make of that what they will.

Is this a newspaper's attempt at maintaining unbiased reporting--the quality of Fassihi's stories, by the way, does not seem to have been compromised by her situation--or just another example of the kind of media control we have been reading about?

Monday, October 04, 2004

First of all, I uh

You should view the brilliant piece of video art posted here.

As BAGnews says, it lets Bush hang himself.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Was a sunny day, not a cloud was in the sky

Why the good mood, despite the darkness all around us?

Because despite my proclamations of dismay and pessimism concerning this year's election last night over beers, things seem to be looking up.

For one thing,

In the NYTimes this morning was a 3.5 page (as printed; 15 pages online) article by David Barstow, William J. Broad, and Jeff Gerth about the pre-war intelligence on Iraq's imagined nuclear program, detailing the debates in the intelligence community about whether there was any evidence for the idea that Iraq was ramping up to develop nuclear weapons, and about how the Bush/Cheney administration ignored the complexity of those debates in order to march forward to attack Iraq. A login is required at the NYTimes site, but it's free and worth it, if you haven't read this article in print.

For another thing, and this is what has really made me smile, Reuters reports that Kerry has pulled ahead of Bush in a Newsweek poll, thanks to the debate.

Cound this mean that Americans are actually taking time to think and analyze what they are hearing, that when you move away from the half-sentence level that seems to favor Bush and toward the longer statements, Kerry can actually be convincing.

Oh my gods and goddesses, I hope so!

Saturday, October 02, 2004

From Baghdad

Read Farnaz Fassihi's account of being a journalist in Iraq in recent weeks.

Friday, October 01, 2004

I went out drinking with Thomas Paine

Via, I found the grassroots effort Media for Democracy. They have arranged a "citizen's debate scorecard" that allows anyone who watches/d the debates to give their feedback, and then MFD will pass their results on to moderators, media outlets, and campaigns.

It is not too late to give your feedback about last night's debate, and to plan to respond to those upcoming.

Words, words, words

If you didn't get to watch the first debate, and you want to have the text to help you piece through the spin you hear and read, you can thank truthout.

Bear in mind this is only the text: you are missing the gestures, the presentation, the facial expressions, the little lights showing who is almost out of time.

Vote early, vote often

I don't know about you, but I had trouble last night finding places to "vote" for who had one. Either I was bleary-eyed (a likely possibility) or there are more places to cast your vote this morning. Try CNN's "Pundit Scorecard" where you get to give the candidates a report card on content and delivery (yum yum--grading).

Other places you can vote, which seem to be working this morning: has a poll for who you would vote for if the election were held today.

KOTV Tulsa (Right column "Hotbutton")
[NOTA BENE: KOTV Tulsa shows Bush leading as of 11 a.m. Friday]

Minnesota Star Tribune
[NOTA BENE: Minnesota Star Tribune shows Bush leading as of 11 a.m. Friday

Allentown PA Morning Call

Asheville Citizen-Times (Right column)

Boston Globe (Look for "SURVEY: Who did better in the debate?")

CBS News


Hampton Roads/Virginian Pilot Online

Kansas City Channel (Look for "Survey: Who Won The Debate?")

KDKA Pittsburgh

KIRO7 Seattle

KSDK St. Louis

KYW Philadephia (Look for "CBS News Poll")

LA Times (look for "POLL: Who Do You Think Won the Debate"; requires sign-in)

Milwaukee Channel (Look for "Survey: Who won the Debate?")

Ms. Magazine

My San Antonio (Halfway down on left "Cast your vote")

NBC10 Philadelphia

NBC25 Hagerstown MD (They want to know whether the debate will change your vote in November.)

NBC4 Washington DC (Look for "Survey: Who won the Debate?")

NBC5 Cincinnati (Look for "Survey: Who Won The Debate?")

NBC5 Dallas-Fort Worth (Look for "Survey: Who Won The Debate?")

NBC6 South Florida (Look for "Survey: Who Won The Debate?")

New Orleans Channel (Look for "Survey: Who Won The Debate?")

News Central

Newsday (Look for "Poll: Rate the candidates")

NewsNet5 Cleveland (Look for "Survey: Who Won The Debate?")

Orlando Sentinel (Look for "Who Won?"; requires subscription)

Pittsburgh Channel

Rapid City Journal (left column)

Sun-Sentinel (right column)

Tampa Bay 10 News

Time Magazine (Right side)

Wall St. Journal

WESH2 Orlando (Look for "Survey: Who Won The Debate?" and "Survey: Do Debates Influence Votes?")

WFTV9 Orlando (Look for "Survey: Who Won The Debate?")

WGAL Harrisburg PA (Look for "Survey: Who Won The Debate?")

WHOTV Des Moines (Left side of page)

Wilmington DE News Journal

Winston-Salem Journal (Left column)

WRAL Raleigh-Durham

WTRF West Virginia

Sure sign of the morning after

Stayed up too late last night and missed the morning news today, so I am trying to piece together who won.

I'm sad to report that it is not as obvious to everyone as it was to my partner that Bush was falling apart. I was going to say that he was acting like the string-pull Bush doll that I had bought for a leftist friend as a gift, spewing the same lines over and over, regardless of whether they made sense. But Chris Dominguez, via bkmarcus, said it better:

40 minutes in and Bush sounds like a guy who missed class all semester and then stepped into a pop-quiz in front of the whole school. He's literally pleading and whining. And this is the "leader of the free world?" God help us.

Indeed. But of course the hard heads at the GOP, aka Marc Racicot, a wind-up doll himself, spun the same thing this way:

Tonight, President George W. Bush stood in stark contrast to a vacillating Senator John Kerry. President Bush showed Americans a detailed path forward in the War on Terror, a plan that will ensure that America fights the enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan – not in America’s cities. People saw for themselves tonight where John Kerry would lead our military, our allies and the world in the War on Terror – down a bumpy road paved with indecision and cynicism.

Perhaps Mr. Racicot would say I was dozing through the details, but they did not appear. And frankly the road that Kerry was paving was anything but bumpy, and not cynical: in the debate he took the quagmire that we have found ourselves in and tried to show a way out that is not only attainable but would leave the world better.

Much of what the Bush camp is trying to portray as flip-flopping is a fairly complicated position that Kerry needs to make super-clear. He took steps in that direction last night, but compared with the See Spot Run rhetoric of the Bush camp, people might find it less clear.

Nevertheless, the NYTimes editorial staff noted,

But last night Mr. Bush sounded less convincing when he had to make his case in the face of Mr. Kerry's withering criticism, particularly his repeated insistence that the invasion had diverted attention from the true center of the war on terror in Afghanistan.

A good editorial. I can't resist quoting two more passages:

But when Mr. Bush jabbed at the senator with a reminder about his infamous comment on voting for a war appropriation before he voted against it, Mr. Kerry had finally found an effective answer. While saying he had made a mistake in the way he had expressed himself, the senator added: "But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?"

And the exciting conclusion:

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush, whose body and facial language sometimes seemed downright petulant, insisted, again and again, that by criticizing the way the war is being run, Mr. Kerry was sending "mixed signals" that threatened the success of the effort.

Before last night's debate, we worried that the long list of rules insisted on by both camps would create a stilted exchange of packaged sound bites. But this campaign was starved for real discussion and substance. Even a format controlled by handlers and spin doctors seemed like a breath of fresh air.

Check out Mathew Gross's blog yesterday, today and probably after, too, for his finds in continuing spin.

Let's see...what else.

Gallup says Kerry won 53% to 37%, but with this caveat:

Despite the positive assessment, viewers said they favored Bush in handling the war in Iraq and serving as commander in chief, little changed from opinions expressed before the debate. And a majority of viewers said it was Bush who better demonstrated he is tough enough for the job.

ABCNews says that 45% of debate viewers say Kerry won, v. 36% for Bush and 17% for a tie, but that Bush still had a lead in terms of who people would vote for. Let's hope that some of those Bush voters are following Tony Pierce's lead.