Saturday, October 30, 2004

Catty blogging

I can't hold my tongue any longer....it must be said -

...sources also said Arafat, 75, is not in complete control of his mental faculties and cannot make important decisions or communicate coherently.


Since when does that stop someone from being a Fearless Leader?

Hat tip to Michigan and Ohio State

I know sports are big money vacuums, but I get soooooo tired of corporate sponsorship. You'd think they'd learn from Houston's example with Enron Field.

Something's sacred

Ohio State, Michigan drop naming rights for game

Forgoing more than $1 million, Michigan and Ohio State on Wednesday walked away from a deal that would have renamed their annual football game the SBC Michigan-Ohio State Classic.

SBC Communications had offered each school $260,000 for each of the next two years. A logo for the Nov. 20 game featuring SBC's name was to have been displayed on the scoreboard and on signs around Ohio Stadium, but not on the field or players' uniforms.


Michigan athletic director Bill Martin said he and university president Mary Sue Coleman decided that giving a formal title to what has been known to generations of fans as simply "The Game" was unacceptable.

"The money was not the issue. We didn't even talk about the money," Martin said during a telephone interview. "It was a matter from president Coleman's perspective and mine in the final analysis that this was inconsistent with the values that we share with the greater Michigan family."

Very refreshing.

Battle of The Driveway

During the proper times of the year, I struggle mightily to get grass to grow in various areas of our yard. I flail away at the rock-hard red clay, add lime, scatter seeds, fertilize, and water. And water and water.

About half the time, I’m rewarded with some nice spots of grass. Other spots are much more stubborn, and some are probably cursed forever to be grass-less.

But with no artificial efforts at all on my part, strong and vigorous blades of grass shoot up through the gravel in our driveway.

This driveway always looks overgrown and straggly. Don’t tell me to get it paved – we can’t afford it.

About once a month, Mr. Andante fires up the weed-whacker and cuts all the driveway grass down to the gravel. It looks just fine for about two weeks, and then the damned stuff starts growing vigorously again.

I have a different strategery. About once a week, I sit in the gravel and painstakingly scrape away the gravel from about a foot square area. I dig up the grass by the roots, and spritz heavily with weed killer. The gravel is scraped back over the spot, and the grass doesn’t grow back.

It’s a long driveway, and I don’t get to it every week. By the time I finish from one end to the other, the persistent grass will be finding another weak spot to shoot through.

So, while we’re booing and hissing at the latest Osama bin Laden tape, let’s just reflect on something he said.

He is certainly evil, but he’s not stupid. He has repeated something that every expert has ever said -

But after the injustice was so much and we saw transgressions and the coalition between Americans and the Israelis against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it occurred to my mind that we deal with the towers. And these special events that directly and personally affected me go back to 1982 and what happened when America gave permission for Israel to invade Lebanon. And assistance was given by the American sixth fleet.


It’s fine and dandy to whack away at the terrorists we can see. But like my stubborn, vigorous and invasive grass – they’ll be back.

We could even take the "paving" approach - totally destroy the societies which produce terrorists. But just like my driveway - we can't afford it.

It will take continual effort, but until we are patient enough and willing enough to deal with the roots – the Israeli-Palestinian situation – we won’t be successful.

And what is “successful”, anway? There will always be terrorism in some form or other. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict can't be resolved to the complete satisfaction of all parties. The best we can hope for is removing the root causes and depriving terrorism of those factors which cause it to grow and spread.

After it's contained, it would be much cheaper and time efficient to deal with occasional, spotty outbursts than all-out, continual warfare.

I have no faith whatsoever in the Bush administration to follow the patient, careful strategy. After all - quoting bin Laden again -

We found no difficulties in dealing with the Bush administration, because of the similarities of that administration and the regimes in our countries, half of which are run by the military and half of which are run by monarchs. And our experience is vast with them.

In other words, bin Laden has Bush's number. He can twist and turn the Bushies whichever way he wants - and he's doing a good job of it.


Friday, October 29, 2004

"Kerry will win", says the emperor of astrologers

I sure hope the planets know what they're talking about.

The Planets Have Made Up Their Mind: Kerry Wins

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Surveys in the United States may be showing the race for president as too close to call but top Indian astrologers say the planets have clearly made up their mind: John Kerry will win.

Planets governing President Bush are eclipsed and in an uncomfortable position, making his tenure controversial and his re-election bid unsuccessful, the soothsayers said on Friday, four days before the vote.

On the other hand, the planets of Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry were in the ascendant, ensuring him success in competitions.

"Saturn, which is the lord of health and fortune for President Bush, has been eclipsed by the Sun, which is unfortunate and gives him a clear defeat," Lachhman Das Madan, editor of a popular astrology magazine, told Reuters.

"Kerry will win," said Madan, who is also known as "the emperor of astrologers." "It is cosmic writ that George W. Bush cannot become president of United States again."

Ajai Bhambi, a senior astrologer and author of several books on the science of predictions, agreed.

"Kerry is likely to beat Bush in the final verdict," he told the New Indian Express newspaper.

Bejan Daruwalla, another top astrologer, told Reuters he had yet to calculate who would win Tuesday's election. But Bush, even if he won, would not be allowed by his planets to complete a full term, he said.

Astrology is extremely popular in India and many top politicians, businessmen and movie stars consult astrologers before taking important decisions.

Tuesday's vote is forecast to be one of the closest in American history. A Reuters/Zogby poll showed on Thursday that Bush was leading Kerry by 48 to 46 percent but the lead was well within the poll's margin of error.

Hide 'n' seek

If you ever wondered why it took nearly five years to capture Eric Rudolph, the suspected Olympic Park and women's clinic bomber, wonder no more -

Wreckage From Plane Crash Six Years Ago Found in North Carolina Mountains

Robbinsville, N.C. (AP) - A bear hunter in the mountains of North Carolina found the wreckage of a small plane that crashed six years ago.

The remains of the pilot were not found at the site in Nantahala National Forest but authorities were continuing to search.

Walter Barker, 71, left Portsmouth, Ohio, on Nov. 4, 1998, on a trip to Andrews to visit his son, an FBI agent. He was flying in bad weather, said Rick Schwein, supervisor of the Asheville office of the FBI.

When Barker didn't arrive, the FBI, Civil Air Patrol and local law enforcement agents searched for the aircraft without success.

The family never quit searching. His son continued to hunt for his father, taking vacations and hiking trips in the mountains to search for the plane.

"This family has literally come and walked these mountains and searched for him for the past six years. They never gave up on it," said Schwein. "We can finally give closure to this family."

That's a very beautiful but heavily-forested part of the world. As Eric Rudolph proved, you can hide there for years, with or without help.

I hope they find the pilot's remains soon, and I'm glad the family finally has some answers.

Super Hot-Spit News Flash

Someone in the Bush camp accepts responsibility for a screw-up

The photo of Bush addressing a group of soldiers was edited to take out a podium, aides said, and a group of soldiers in the crowd was electronically copied and used to fill where the podium had been.

"There was no need to do that," said Mark McKinnon, head of Bush's advertising team who shouldered the blame. "Everyone technically works for me so I accept the responsibility."

Rove will have to throw away that "they all look alike" memo.


Thursday, October 28, 2004

Forgive me, Coach; for I plan to sin

One of my earlier memories is sitting next to my father's ancient radio that had a hundred dials (maybe two worked), trying to hear the static-y broadcast of a Washington Redskins game. I may have been 6 or 7 years old.

A few years later, I was a School Patrol - does anyone remember Patrols? You got to wear a grimy white belt with a badge and boss other kids around on the bus or the halls or sidewalks.

A great highlight of my elementary school career was the day the Patrols were taken on a trip to decrepit Griffith Stadium for a Redskins game. It was frigid and raining, and I came down with the mother of all colds. I didn't care - I'd had a chance to see My Heroes In Person.

As the years went by, tickets became harder and harder to come by - and a lot more expensive. But I got a few chances to enjoy games at RFK Stadium. I always approached with awe - I was treading on holy ground.

Charley Taylor! Sam Huff! Sonny Jurgenson! Larry Brown! John Riggins! Billy Kilmer! Dave Butz! The coach of all coaches, George Allen! I scarcely remember the opponents or the scores; my HEROES were on the field, and I was sharing their space.

I've been to 'Skins games in person; I've watched on television at home and in sports bars. There were years when I watched with a bag over my head - figuratively and literally. When Ken Houston bulldogged Walt Garrison at the goal line in 1973, I hooted and hollered so enthusiastically that it was two days before the cat came out from under the bed. I always - ALWAYS - watched and cheered for My Heroes.

So, I'm hoping my heroes will forgive me. I'll be pulling for the Green Bay Packers this Sunday.

Since the Redskins became the Redskins in 1933, the result of the team's final home game before the presidential election has correctly predicted the White House winner. If the Redskins win, the incumbent party wins. If they lose, the incumbent party is ousted. (link, and thanks to Tinheart for the advance warning)

The heartbreak of fan betrayal....my heart is heavy, and I lay the blame squarely at Dubya's feet.

Missing Explosives: Is it "a growing scandal" (Sen. Kerry) or just "wild charges" (Pres. Bush)?

Now, there's an asinine question.

If the explosives are missing, and we don't know where they are - it's a scandal.

Vote anyway.

Where's Nader when we need him?

Float Time on Checks Shortens, as of Thursday

Consumers who have become used to writing checks in the expectation of having at least a couple of days to cover them with a deposit may soon be in for a rude awakening.

Under a federal law that will take effect today, banks will have more leeway to process checks electronically, and this will translate to shorter or even nonexistent float times - the grace period between the time the check is written and when the money is debited from the account.

So - how about posting DEPOSITS TO MY ACCOUNT QUICKER?

Banks will be saving a lot of money through the efficiencies that the law will bring about, Gail K. Hillebrand, a senior lawyer for the group, said, but instead of passing along the savings to customers, they will be reaping extra fees for bounced checks.

Oh, well - that makes all the difference in the world. I've been worried about all that money banks have been losing.

While official hold times on customers' deposits will not change - banks must make funds available on local checks in two days, and five days on out-of-town checks - most banks do not make their customers wait that long.

"Everyone knows that when you deposit something in the morning, generally it's available in the afternoon," Mr. Hall said.


I deposit a paycheck from a local company to a bank in the same small town in the morning on Thursday, and I'm astounded if it shows up in my account by 5 p.m. on Friday afternoon.

If Ralph Nader wasn't so busy masquerading as a presidential candidate, perhaps he'd get on the bank's butts.

Bank interest rates are crappy - if you can get more than one percent on anything remotely liquid, you're probably getting an insider sweetheart deal.

In the meantime, gone are the days of genteel, complimentary customer services. If they could figure out a way to charge for the air you breathe in their buildings, they'd do it.

Bank robbery - not just for crooks anymore.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004


As I mentioned in comments somewhere below, I'm not a rap fan. I'm an old-fogey white lady, and I've had "issues" with Eminem.

But if you haven't seen his latest video - "Mosh" - you need to.

I can't describe it any better than Kid Oakland, from the Kos Diaries (and K.O., please accept my apologies for copy/pasting)-

I felt this powerful sense that I had just seen something calibrated exactly for this moment, something hopeful and disturbing and honest...something spoken from the crux of this hour in our history and yet resolutely looking forward. Mosh is political art that, at the same time, speaks in an authentic and specific voice. It is art that seems to bear a power to unleash something new.

Not safe for work or small children. Watch it.

Postal Experts Hunt for Missing Ballots in Florida

MIAMI (Reuters) - U.S. Postal Service investigators on Wednesday were trying to find thousands of absentee ballots that should have been delivered to voters in one of Florida's most populous counties, officials said.

Broward deputy supervisor of elections Gisela Salas said 60,000 absentee ballots, accounting for just over 5 percent of the electorate in the county north of Miami, were sent out between Oct. 7 and Oct. 8 to voters who would not be in town on election day.
While some had begun to be delivered, her office had been inundated with calls from anxious voters who still had not received their ballots.
"It's really inexplicable at this point in time and the matter is under investigation by law enforcement," Salas told Reuters.

Oh, please.

Anyone who could overlook and cover-up the disappearance of 380 tons of explosives could make 60,000 absentee ballots disappear without batting an eye.

Mrs. Gimli? Rosie Cotton?

Scientists uncover possible new species of human

Dwarf skeleton is 18,000 years old

In a breathtaking discovery, scientists working on a remote Indonesian island say they have uncovered the bones of a human dwarf species marooned for eons while modern man rapidly colonized the rest of the planet.
One tiny specimen, an adult female measuring about 3 feet tall, is described as "the most extreme" figure to be included in the extended human family. Certainly, she is the shortest.
This hobbit-sized creature appears to have lived as recently as 18,000 years ago on the island of Flores, a kind of tropical Lost World populated by giant lizards and miniature elephants.

No word yet on any orcs, elves, oliphants, or dragons.

But I live in hope.

What they're about

GOP Criticizes Student Vote Campaign

MILWAUKEE - Republicans are criticizing a Wisconsin get-out-the-vote campaign involving public school students, saying Democrats are exploiting the students for political gain.

Young people in the program organized by the Wisconsin Citizen Action Fund take time from regular classes to go door to door in minority neighborhoods and areas with historically low voter turnout, urging people to cast ballots.

The students, ranging in age from 11 to 18, also use phone banks to call homes and urge people to vote.

Chris Lato, spokesman for the state Republican Party, called the program "a disgraceful use of taxpayer money."

"To spend this time on a clearly partisan effort when these kids should be in school learning is shocking," Lato said.

Larry Marx, co-executive director of Wisconsin Citizen Action, denied there is any partisanship to the effort, despite the fact the advocacy group supports Democratic Sen. John Kerry.

The children do not wear any partisan buttons or clothing, and they do not encourage people to vote one way or another. Participation is voluntary, and parents are required to give their approval, he said.

Roseann St. Aubin, spokeswoman for Milwaukee Public Schools, said the administration approved of the program as long as it was not partisan and the curriculum met state standards for teaching.

If I had to list the reasons why I changed my voting affiliation from "unaffiliated" to "Democratic", this would be right there at the top.

As a woman, I'm in a majority. As a member of the falling-into-lower-middle-class, I'm in a majority. I'm white, I'm a member of a Protestant congregation, I'm heterosexual - I'm in a majority.

But what right does being in the majority give me or anyone else reason to discourage qualified citizens from voting?

This is what the Republicans are all about - the right of the privileged few to "look after" the interests of the great, unwashed masses. They know "what's best" for us.

But they prove over and over and over again they don't know diddly-squat about making ends meet without a trust fund or gaming the system or profiting from someone else's labor.

They'd best keep their manicured, greedy, blood-soaked hands off my ballot.

I'll be manning the phone banks and driving voters to the polls on Tuesday (if they don't take one look at my car and run screaming). If they don't need me there, I'll be visiting local nursing homes, trolling for voters.

Suit up, folks - this is one election we can't watch from the sidelines.


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Hail to the Chief

My mother has been really stressing out over the national poll numbers; frankly, they sometimes give me a few skipped heart beats, too. Not good for the blood pressure.

So, here’s how I’ve tried to soothe Momma (and myself). Additions welcomed.

**National poll numbers are useless. It’s the electoral college that counts, especially in a close race. I am predicting Ohio and Florida will break for Kerry, with the good possibilities of Wisconsin and Iowa. My election eve surprise would be Virginia. The only fly in that ointment is Ohio and Florida – if there are glitches in the process, we may not get the results for months.

**The pollsters aren’t contacting people who use cell phones exclusively, which means they don’t have a very accurate mix of young voters – who are breaking decidedly for Kerry.

**The pesky “undecided” vote, which historically breaks 60% for the challenger.

**Some polls are weighted heavily by Republicans.

Altogether, it looks better today than it did a couple of weeks ago - certainly better than before the debates.

Like everyone else, I'm still concerned about fraud and outright theft. But with the legions of monitors and a good rapid-response legal team in place, I feel a lot better than I did four years ago.


Monday, October 25, 2004

Lookin' good

D'ya know, I actually overheard some wingers discussing The Big Dog's return to the campaign trail, and one said Hillary doesn't want him campaigning so Kerry will lose and she'll have a clear shot in 2008.

It never enters their tiny minds that a wife might feel a bit apprehensive about her husband's health.

I guess they've never forgiven her for not divorcing him.

Good news, bad news

Good news – weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq!

Bad news – the bad guys found them.

Good news – we’re so smart, we knew where they were all the time!

We even have a picture, taken in 1996! –

A 1996 photograph of a bunker where high-density explosives were stored at Al Qaqaa, an Iraqi military facility south of Baghdad

MORE good news – the U.N. weapons inspectors had been monitoring Al Qaqaa for YEARS!

Bad news – Dubya forced the weapons inspectors to leave Iraq.

Good news – We invaded Iraq expressly to find and destroy any WMD

Bad news – although knowing exactly where they were, we neglected to secure the site.

Good news - the Oil Ministry was secured immediately!

More good news – the explosives ARE disappearing!

Bad news – because they’re being used to blow up our troops and innocent civilians.

Good news – there’s an election on November 2nd.

Throw the bums out.


Sunday, October 24, 2004

Irene strikes again


Back on August 25th, she thrilled us with her dazzling command of policy, amazing grasp of history, deep understanding of human nature, and imaginative usage of the English language and sentence structure:

"It is true President Clinton left a mess for President Bush to clean up, and nobody wanted to help, all they did was run their mouth and complain. He is more man than the whole group are.

Why are people so unthankful they do not want God or any thing that is right. The time is coming when they will get their wish. I do not think they will like it. Whatsoever a man soweth so shall he reap. The Bible is true. Life is what we make it. So trust in the Lord."

Irene Blackburn
N. Centennial St.

High Point Surprise, August 25, 2004

It is with great delight we greet her return to the "Letters to the Editor" page (more appropriately titled "Rants From Religious Whacko Page") -

Don't let sin rule in America

We read of the ones trying to convince us who is right. But the truth is this: America, God is God. His power can prevail, trust him, please do not let sin rule our nation.

God's man will win so we can trust the Lord, in all things. Glory to our Lord for God is!

Irene Blackburn
Centennial Street

Irene reminds me of one of the Old Testament prophets, who often needed to be carefully interpreted.

Since her August letter, Irene has obviously had a "Damascus Road" conversion. She now believes that whichever candidate wins, he will be the chosen man of God.

Or maybe not.

Strolling around the "Letters" page, we come across another gem:

Kerry/Edwards deceive America

If I'm elected president of the United States of America, so says Santa Claus Kerry and Mrs. Claus Edwards, I will personally come down every chimney in our great land, and leave my blessings and no American will be left behind.

Grow up children, after a while, even they find out a lie is a lie. But I hope it's not too late. God bless America.

Wes Luffman
South Road

Wes, honey - many years ago I lived on South Road. If any part of the country needs Santa Claus, it's South Road and the surrounding area.

I really couldn't agree more with that second paragraph; when Wes grows up, he'll realize he lives in an area that suffers from skimpy police and firefighter coverage, below average schools, an overstressed health clinic, and pollution from the surrounding factories.

Wes and Irene - Help Is On The Way, whether you realize you need it or not.

Glimmers of hope in Rightwing Heaven

If you read the "Letters to the Editor" in our local newspaper, you'd think Jesus was by far and away the leading candidate for president. Ditto the car bumper stickers; the only other candidate might be the late Dale Earnhardt.

However, I'm glad to report the paper has endorsed Erskine Bowles for U.S. Senate and Mike Easley for governor. I have no clue who they'll endorse in the presidential race, but if I remember correctly they endorsed Bush in 2000.

The Erskine Bowles/Richard Burr race is a toss-up; early on, Bowles had a good lead, but that was before the Republican primary finally settled on Burr.

And the Burr folks have done their best to make Clinton-cooties stick to Bowles. Any association with Clinton tends to make folks around here run screaming.

But Easley is a different story - the latest Survey USA poll gives him a handy 16 point lead over the challenger, Patrick Ballantine.

Though I dutifully voted for Easley four years ago, I admit I wasn't too enthused about his candidacy. He's been a very pleasant surprise.

Easley came into office at a difficult time and had to deal with a state hemorrhaging jobs and struggling to recover from the double-whammy of Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd.

Easley confronted a problem that was not his making, made hard choices that jeopardized his political career and fulfilled his duty as governor to balance the state budget. But at the same time, Easley kept the state focused on efforts to improve elementary education. That's leadership.

Nothing Ballentine did in his 10 years in the N.C. Senate and nothing he has promised to do if elected governor approach the magnitude of that accomplishment.

While Ballentine may be a fine young man who promises a new generation of conservative leadership, he doesn't have the track record to match Easley's proven levelheaded leadership ability. That's why North Carolinians should re-elect Easley to a four-year term as governor.

One of Patrick Ballantine's first television ads promised great roads, glorious schools, new jobs galore, and - of course - tax cuts.

In my mind, that's a clear signal to hold onto your wallet and vote for the other guy.

I continue to notice a strange phenomena around here, which I've mentioned before.

There are plenty of signs for the local and state candidates, but really very few for Bush/Cheney. At any given intersection and numerous front yards, I see a wide assortment of Ballantine/Burr/Coble, etc., etc. - but very few Bush/Cheney.

From the little I've been able to gather, there is a growing sentiment in these parts - vote the straight Republican state & local ticket....leave the presidential ticket blank.

Suits me just fine.

Useless cover-up

If the Bush administration spent half as much time, money, and effort on homeland security as they apparently have on covering up Dubya's "lost years" and "enhancing" his resume', America would be sealed up tight as a drum.

Former workers dispute Bush's pull in Project P.U.L.L.

...White's administrative assistant and others associated with P.U.L.L., speaking on the record for the first time, say Bush was not helping to run the program and White had not asked Bush to come aboard. Instead, the associates said, White told them he agreed to take Bush on as a favor to Bush's father, who was honorary co-chairman of the program at the time, and Bush was unpaid. They say White told them Bush had gotten into some kind of trouble but White never gave them specifics.

If the powers behind Bush are so smart, why don't they just let him 'fess up to the sins of his "youth"?

Put him on any given Faux News show and pour on the faux-pious-Christian act. By now, they should realize The Faithful would forgive him anything.


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Backfire - big time

Would they really try this?

I can't imagine it doing anything but throw the election to Kerry.

But then - to repeat the quote at the top of this blog -
"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." - Albert Einstein

A Bush pre-election strike on Iran? White House insiders report "October Surprise" imminent

(Link via The Raw Story)

Discrediting any sort of conservatism for generations

So nice to see Scott McConnell (American Conservative magazine) endorsing Kerry.

Some choice tidbits -

"Bush has behaved like a caricature of what a right-wing president is supposed to be, and his continuation in office will discredit any sort of conservatism for generations."

...and -

"In Europe and indeed all over the world, he has made the United States despised by people who used to be its friends, by businessmen and the middle classes, by moderate and sensible liberals."

...and -

"These sentiments mean that as long as Bush is president, we have no real allies in the world, no friends to help us dig out from the Iraq quagmire. More tragically, they mean that if terrorists succeed in striking at the United States in another 9/11-type attack, many in the world will not only think of the American victims but also of the thousands and thousands of Iraqi civilians killed and maimed by American armed forces."

...and -

"George W. Bush has come to embody a politics that is antithetical to almost any kind of thoughtful conservatism. His international policies have been based on the hopelessly naïve belief that foreign peoples are eager to be liberated by American armies—a notion more grounded in Leon Trotsky’s concept of global revolution than any sort of conservative statecraft."

I am sure I would disagree with Mr. McConnell on any given issue, but I respect the "thoughtful conservatism" he espouses.

Going back to the title of this post - "Discrediting any sort of conservatism for generations" - I've been thinking a bit about this lately.

Who does the Bush denomination of the Republican party have for 2008?

John McCain would be about 72 years old in 2008 - would he still have the desire to make a run? And today's big Bush supporters aren't exactly his greatest fans.

If there are any "rising stars" in the Republican party being groomed for a succession, I sure haven't seen them.

Buddy, can you spare a flu shot?

Sorry about all those "Old Europe" sneers....

European Health Agencies, Using Many Vaccine Suppliers, Are Facing No Shortages

While patients are panicking over a shortage of flu vaccine in the United States, vaccination programs in Europe are progressing smoothly with a good supply of medicine, health authorities say.

"The World Health Organization has not heard of any shortages in Europe, and it's very, very likely we would have heard if there were problems," said Dr. Nedret Emiroglu of the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe.

Granted, their populations are smaller and demand is less. But one of the great advantages of a single-payer health system is a better idea of what is needed on a national basis.

Most countries contract with several makers, in part to avoid critical dependence on any one supplier. And though countries other than the United States had placed orders with Chiron for a smaller part of their vaccine needs, no other country was so dependent on the Liverpool factory.

I'm an American citizen fed up with the inefficient, over-priced United States health care system - and I approved this message.

Half right

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., disagreed with Bush that Kerry had "a fundamental misunderstanding" of the war in Iraq but said in an interview on NBC's "Today" show that Bush was better qualified to lead the war on terrorism, "the transcendent issue of our time."

First part dead right, second part dead wrong.

Who does Bush think these terrorists are, the Mafia? The Dalton Gang?

They don't commit their crimes for greed or organizational power. They can't be scared straight by law enforcement or the military.

They do it for idealogy, George, and look forward to becoming martyrs for their cause.

Pick off the leaders, and someone else is elevated. Pick off the foot soldiers, and ten more take their place.

You can't stop them by only picking off the leadership or a few underlings; crossing them off your Oval Office hit-list impresses nobody but yourself.

You've got to take a two-pronged approach....kill the beast, yes, but at the same time, you've got to starve it. Bush has fed the beast, by his rhetoric, by his unjustified invasion of Iraq, and by winking and nodding at Ariel Sharon.

And that's where the Bush administration has failed miserably in dealing with the "transcendent issue of our time".


Friday, October 22, 2004

In search of the Bush Boom

Holden over at First Draft has been looking high and low for his "Bush Boom".

Look like it's been found -

Senior American officials are beginning to assemble a new portrait of the insurgency that has continued to inflict casualties on American and Iraqi forces, showing that it has significantly more fighters and far greater financial resources than had been estimated.

When foreign fighters and the network of a Jordanian militant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, are counted with home-grown insurgents, the hard-core resistance numbers between 8,000 and 12,000 people, a tally that swells to more than 20,000 when active sympathizers or covert accomplices are included, according to the American officials.


Their financing is supplemented in great part by wealthy Saudi donors and Islamic charities that funnel large sums of cash through Syria, according to these officials, who have access to detailed intelligence reports.

George W. Bush, the choice of insurgents, terrorists, and their sympathizers the world over.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

Hackworth's "Memo for the President-Elect" sounds familiar...

* Immediately fire SecDef Donald Rumsfeld, all of his Pentagon senior civilian assistants and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers.

* Replace Rumsfeld with retired Gen. Anthony Zinni and give this tough, smart, proven leader a free hand to bring in the best people to reshape and streamline our armed forces for the long counterinsurgency fight ahead.

* Fire National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and replace her with retired Gens. Wes Clark or John Sheehan.

* Reorganize the Army from A to Z, starting with doubling the size of Special Ops Forces and maneuver units, gutting the Cold War stuff and adding more civil-affairs, psych-war and military-police units. Deep-six the folks who excel in PowerPoint briefings but add nothing to the critical missions at hand, beginning with the pernicious, pervasive Pentagon blubber and working down to brigade level.

* Reduce or scrap most of the multibillion-dollar porker programs such as Star Wars II, and spike orders for platinum-plated Cold War II ships and aircraft. Then use the funds to arm and equip our warriors appropriately.

* Make every military leader from buck sergeant to four-star memorize Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, and Imperial Hubris, by “Anonymous.”

....much more

In more "backdoor" draft news....

Hack is also investigating another Bush/Cheney04 plan -increasing the period of time that reservists can be ordered onto active duty.

SFTT has learned of this plan from an unimpeachable & vetted source, but desires to obtain more details about this new variation of the "backdoor draft." The plan is largely complete, and is set to be announced after the election.

MTV's "Choose or Lose" PRElection vote

John Kerry Wins PRElection In Landslide

Overall Votes
John Kerry 59,660 (61.1 percent)
George W. Bush 38,025 (38.9 percent)

Online Votes
John Kerry 24,052 (64.8 percent)
George W. Bush 13,084 (35.2 percent)

Mobile Phone Votes
John Kerry 35,608 (58.8 percent)
George W. Bush 24,941 (41.2 percent)

Participation and Registration:

Almost 120,000 used the PRElection to register to vote for real. During the three-week voting period, an average of nearly 6,000 people per day (total 116,479) registered to vote for the presidential election through the PRElection, making the PRElection one of the most used voter-registration tools this election year.

205,000 participants with 48 percent turnout. Of the 205,604 people registered for the PRElection, 48 percent (approximately 97,685) cast votes. About 60,000 voted via mobile phone, and 38,000 voted online.

84 percent of PRElection participants are 18-30 years old. The vast majority (84 percent) of those participating in the PRElection were 18 to 30 years old; 68 percent were between 18 and 24 years old.

Voters came from all age groups, and ranged from 13 to 104 years old. While the vast majority of voters were in our 18- to 30-year-old target range, some voters were as young as 13 and as old as 104.

Almost nine out of 10 PRElection participants are registered to vote. Over 86 percent (174,763) of PRElection participants are registered to vote for the presidential election.

Most used PRElection over other systems. Of these 174,000 registered voters, two-thirds (116,479) used the PRElection to register. This means that the other one-third were either already registered, or registered through a different mechanism.

84 percent of PRElection participants say they are 100 percent certain they will vote.


State-by-State Results:

Kerry won 46 states and the District of Columbia.

Bush won only five states – Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

Three states that Kerry won – Arkansas, Georgia and Utah – were extremely close with Kerry wining by four points or less.

If this were a real presidential election, Kerry would have won the electoral college 496 to 42.


Sounds good, huh? Personally, I put more stock in the Nickelodeon "Kids Vote" poll. It's been 100% correct ever since 1988, and reflects what children hear from their parents. Kerry won 57% to Bush's 43%.

Written with a straight face?

The Republican Party and its allies are wielding another voter turnout tool: corporate communications. "This is a huge number of people," says Gregory S. Casey, chief executive of the Business Industry Political Action Committee, or Bipac, which increased its spending ten-fold this election, to $5 million. The group is helping 700 companies and associations in pivotal states to persuade their employees to vote for candidates who favor business interests.

A recent Bipac message distributed by Al-jon, a solid-waste equipment manufacturer in Ottumwa, Iowa, to its 110 workers referred to job security in every paragraph. "Prosperity - and job security - don't just happen," the message said. "They are the result of our free enterprise system and reasonable government policies. So every vote counts."

There's no way those "reasonable government policies" could come from the Bush administration.

Is "Bipac" a stealth movement for Kerry, or are they just another faith-based group?

International student Catch-22

Kos links to the NY Times article College Tuitions Rise an Average of 10.5 Percent, as those of us who are paying tuition say "Amen".

But there's another problem affecting colleges these days, especially smaller schools like the one my daughter attends.

Many colleges have a goodly number of international students who, because of heightened security and the Patriot Act, are no longer able to gain entrance to American colleges and universities.

Those who are already here know they can't leave; for example, during the summers, as it may be impossible to return.

These international students aren't here on charity - they often pay full tuition, room, board, and fees.

SF Gate addressed the problem on September 1, 2003 -

San Francisco State University had a 40 percent drop in foreign students at its English language center this summer, from 120 to 68. City College of San Francisco's Institute for International Students saw enrollment drop 60 percent from about 175 in 2001 to 70 students this fall. It had to cut 6 of 18 classes and reassign four teachers.

UC Berkeley expects to lose 50 to 60 of its 522 foreign graduate students. One doctoral student, Jun Yang, who has been studying there for three years, was caught in the net of the new requirements after he went to Australia in July to present his research, said Professor Joe McBride.


Foreign students provide a valuable perspective in the classroom, officials say, and they are also big business. At private institutions, foreign students generally pay full tuition. At public schools, they pay nonresident tuition, often four times as much as in-state students. And their money goes beyond the university into the economy of the area.

In the most recent data, the 2001-02 school year, 582,996 foreign students were studying for degrees in the United States and spending more than $12 billion on such things as tuition and living expenses, according to the Institute of International Education. California had the biggest share, with 78,741 students generating about $2 billion in revenue. About 100,000 foreign students in English language programs also pump about $2 billion into the U.S. economy.

It's perfectly reasonable to expect international students to undergo security checks, and there are some who have taken advantage of lax security in the past.

But, as usual, the Bush administration has thrown the baby out with the bathwater and made the situation worse - not only for higher education, but for the economy in general.

Don’t forget Hungary!

….Hungary isn’t forgetting the possible change in administrations -

Hungary to await US election outcome to decide on Iraq troop extension

Hungary will wait until after the US presidential election to decide whether it wants the country's troops to stay in Iraq beyond their current mandate, which expires in December, Defence Minister Ferenc Juhasz said late on Monday.
"The Hungarian government will only submit its recommendation to parliament on the extension of the Hungarian participation in Iraq after the US presidential election," Juhasz told public television.
The government declined to comment specifically on how the outcome of the US vote on November 2 would influence Hungary's military presence in Iraq, where Budapest currently has 300 troops, mostly logistics experts.

Not too difficult to read between the lines here.

Hungary doesn’t want to take part in George’s Armageddon, and is waiting for more sensible management.


Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Report: 1.7 Million Vets Lack Health Care

Nearly 1.7 million military veterans have no health insurance or access to government hospitals and clinics for veterans, according to a report Tuesday from a doctors' group that favors federally financed health care.

The number of uninsured veterans jumped by 235,000 since 2000, meaning they are losing health insurance at a faster rate than the general population, said Physicians for a National Health Program, which advocates a universal national health insurance program. About 45 million Americans have no health insurance, including 5 million who lost coverage during the past four years, according to the Census Bureau.

If my old WWII vet father was still alive, this would kill him.

Almost all uninsured veterans served during the Vietnam war or more recently. Those who fought in World War II and the Korean War are older than 65, making them eligible for government health care through Medicare.

I want universal coverage for everyone, but dammit - I'd give that up if it meant the vets could receive coverage.

I may be a pacifist, but I'm also an American. If someone has answered the call of their country the country should at least have the gratitude to look out for their health.

Schwarzenegger Says Pro-Bush Speech Cost Him Sex

MONTEREY, Calif. (Reuters) - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Monday that his speech backing President Bush at the Republican Convention in August resulted in a dramatic cold shoulder from his wife Maria Shriver, a member of the very Democratic Kennedy family.

"Well, there was no sex for 14 days," Schwarzenegger told former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta in an on-stage conversation in front of 1,000 people. "Everything comes with side effects."

I guess this is the Schwarzenegger substitute for candy and flowers?

Arnie Risks Party Wrath over Stem Cell Plan

Torn between two lovers....


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Learn something new every day

I didn't know protecting civil rights was obscene.

Waste, waste, waste

I spent nearly the entire day talking to our health insurance company, holding on the line with our family physician's office, or playing phone tag with someone at either place.

Before paying our claims, the health insurance company needed some information from the doctor's office. The doctor's office hasn't responded.

For whatever nefarious reason, the insurance company wants to know how long we have been continuously covered. I told the girl we've been continuously covered since before she was born, but that wasn't good enough.

Now, here's the point.

Our previous health insurance was Medcost Preferred, provided through Accordia National. Currently, our provider is Penn Western Benefits. Guess which health insurer?

Yep. Medcost Preferred.

So we have -

1) Letter, postage, and employee time spent on letter to my doctor's office.

2) Letter, postage, and employee time spent on letter to me.

3) Several hours of my time spent trying to contact the appropriate individual.

4) Hopefully, another letter, postage, and more employee time spent on a letter from our family physician to the insurance company.

I would assume I'm not the only person in the country that has ever gone through this sort of hassle.

In fact, I'd assume there are probably hundreds - if not thousands - who go through it on any given day.

What a bloomin' waste of time and money.


Monday, October 18, 2004

October surprise?

Atrios is holding an October surprise watch...what will it be?

All Rove has to do is look back to March 19, 2004 -

On March 19, 2004, the day before the Republic of China presidential election, President Chen Shui-bian
and Vice President Annette Lu were both shot while campaigning in Tainan in an apparent political assassination attempt.

Their injuries were not life-threatening, and both Chen and Lu were released from Chi-Mei Hospital on the same day without losing consciousness or having surgery Nevertheless, the attack provoked shock and unease in Taiwan, where political violence of this kind is virtually unheard in recent times.

The incident was widely thought to have earned Chen and Lu sympathy votes, helping to win them the election on the next day by a mere 29,500 votes. These circumstances led to widespread speculation that the assassination attempt was either staged or faked to influence an election that formerly appeared to tip towards Pan-Blue's favor.

It would be much easier than digging up Osama or staging another "mission accomplished" stunt, with the added benefit of the wingers blaming evil libruls.

Karma kicks back

Not only has Sinclair Broadcasting Group DC Bureau Chief Jon Lieberman publicly denounced his employer’s plans to air anti-Kerry propaganda, but Sinclair has been threatened with a lawsuit -

A Vietnam veteran filed a libel lawsuit today claiming he was falsely portrayed as a fraud and a liar in a film criticizing Sen. John Kerry's anti-war activities.

Kenneth J. Campbell, now a professor at the University of Delaware, said in the suit that "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal" combines footage of him appearing at a 1971 war protest with a voice-over that claims that many of the supposed veterans who took part in the event were later "discovered as frauds" who "never set foot on the battlefield, or left the comfort of the [United] States, or even served in uniform."

The suit said viewers would be left with the perception that Campbell had lied about his military service.

Campbell attached copies of his military records to the suit, showing that he received the Purple Heart medal and eight other medals, ribbons and decorations for his service as an artillery forward observer in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969.

....and their stock is taking a dive.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

Five for Kerry

Early voting rocks.

If your state allows you the opportunity, go for it.

Mom has already mailed in her absentee ballot. Mr. Andante, The Kid, Kid's Best Friend, and I walked into the nearby public library at lunchtime, gave our names and addresses, and *poof* - we voted.

Amazing the place didn't explode with the convergence of four Democrats, but everything worked fine. At least, we hope so.

And that's five votes for Kerry/Edwards and a straight Democratic ticket.

Bush boosts my comfortable retirement plans

Once upon a time, I thought I’d be young and foxy and energetic and rich forever – why should I worry about retirement? I’d live in a mansion with servants galore.

Then I started working for a living, and went through that “Who is FICA, and why is he taking so much of my money?” – phase of life. But what the heck; I’d be making a lot more money in the future, so why worry about saving for retirement?

Then we had a child – it’s truly mind-boggling how much it costs to raise a child. Between food, clothes, sports, dance lessons, and Barbie with all her lifestyle necessities – you can go broke very quickly.

I thought preschool tuition was bad, but I was just blocking out the idea of college tuition. With a kid in college, my retirement hopes slimmed down to a choice of “Wal Mart greeter” or “Food Lion grocery bagger”.

The best I could hope for was paying off our debts so we didn’t burden the kid with them when we’re gone.

But thanks to George W. Bush, my prospects have brightened considerably.

I’m looking forward to retirement – maybe even early retirement – on a balmy, sun-kissed Caribbean island, with all my meals, clothing, and medical care provided at no cost to me.

According to the Pentagon -

"Guantánamo guards provide an environment that is stable, secure, safe and humane.

…which sounds like a vast improvement over some of the nursing homes in this country.

Recent reports of abuses and harsh tactics have given some people the heebie-jeebies -

One regular procedure that was described by people who worked at Camp Delta, the main prison facility at the naval base in Cuba, was making uncooperative prisoners strip to their underwear, having them sit in a chair while shackled hand and foot to a bolt in the floor, and forcing them to endure strobe lights and screamingly loud rock and rap music played through two close loudspeakers, while the air-conditioning was turned up to maximum levels, said one military official who witnessed the procedure. The official said that was intended to make the detainees uncomfortable, as they were accustomed to high temperatures both in their native countries and their cells.

Child's play.

"...strip to their underwear, having them sit in a chair while shackled hand and foot to a bolt in the floor"?

Come on; I'm a female, I've borne a child, I get yearly PAP smears and mammograms. Stripping down to NOTHING except one of those hospital gowns and sitting/lying in a humiliating position is what it's all about.

Males can relate, too; as soon as they've had their first rectal exam.

"...strobe lights and screamingly loud rock and rap music played through two close loudspeakers"

Please. I've raised a teenager.

"...air-conditioning was turned up to maximum levels".

Mr. Andante, hot-natured of the species, is really looking forward to this. And I'll trade a little shivering for all those free meals, shelter, clothing, and health care.

I'm a bit worried about our chances of getting into this great deal, now that it's public knowledge. But if Bush somehow obtains a second term we'll be at the barricades.

That should help our chances.

Health secretary: No flu vaccine crisis

The shortage of flu vaccine in the United States is "not a health crisis," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said, urging people to be patient as the government works to reallocate the nation's limited number of vaccines.

Generally, you can translate Bush administration statements into exactly the opposite of what they say.

However, this time I'm torn between three interpretations:

1) "Holy sh$t!! We're all going to die!"


2) "I've already had my shot; if you haven't, it's because you're stupid and lazy."


3) "I've never had the flu. What's the big deal?"

We report, you decide.

George is right - it's my money

I see George Bush has big plans for his second term; among them, privatizing Social Security.

I don’t have access to an employment-based retirement account or pension, so I have maintained a small I.R.A. for years. After paying bills, it’s a struggle sometimes to put $25 a month in it. It’s with a reliable company with a good track record over many years.

The other day, I looked over the statements for the last couple of years, and compared my returns with the market in general.

Fortunately, I don’t have to retire today.

So, I have a question for Mr. Junior Bush…..if it's my money and I should have a say in how it's invested - can I start putting that $25 a month into Social Security?

‘Cause, you know, the stock market stinks, and my market-based retirement funds aren’t going anywhere but down.

I'll happily accept a smaller, guaranteed return for the vagaries of the stock market and contributing to the wealth of some stockbroker.

Putin urges voters to back Bush

Russian President Vladimir Putin says terrorist attacks in Iraq are aimed at preventing the re-election of U.S. President George W. Bush and that a Bush defeat "could lead to the spread of terrorism to other parts of the world."

Well, that certainly changes everything.

When an ex-KGB officer intent on accumulating power and centralizing his government calls for Junior’s re-selection – how can a good liberal resist?

Vote for George – the choice of dictator-wannabes everywhere!


Saturday, October 16, 2004

Don't worry - be patriotic!

I'm going to stop worrying about getting a flu shut for my 90-year-old mother with all her elderly-type chronic ailments.

In the ultimate flu-irony, the American-owned company (Chiron) has let us all down.

Only one other company supplies the vaccine to the nervous U.S. population; only one company can save us from our aches, fevers, congestion, lost work-and-school-hours, and possible hospitalizations and deaths.

Only one other company stands between us and a potential epidemic.

The only other company supplying the vaccine is Aventis Pasteur.

Mon Dieu! - a French company?

If Canadians are evil enough to poison reimported drugs, just think what the French could do with a flu vaccine....

"Activist" judge?

Nevada judge declines to reopen voter registration in Vegas area

A state judge refused Friday to reopen registration for Clark County residents whose voter applications might have been destroyed by a Republican-funded group.

Clark County District Court Judge Valerie Adair said she was presented with evidence of just two voters who might have been disenfranchised by having their registration forms ripped up, and said that did not justify reopening the registration process.

"While this court believes that each individual's vote is important and must be protected ... the court finds the requested relief is not warranted," she said.


Every vote is supposed to count, Your Honor, and every voter is supposed to have access to a ballot.

Unless, of course, the judge is a member of the National Federation of Republican Women.

Disclaimer That "Your Honor" was just the result of ingrained respect for authority and justice, and has no relevence to current events.

Church of Bush

The kid came home from college for fall break yesterday, so the pace of life picked up dramatically.

And louder.

She's been showing me the excellent ads on MTV for Choose or Lose, though she had a very valid complaint. The ads are shown during a program, and then the regularly scheduled program is rejoined in progress. Annoying, and not too smart.

Incidentally, a "trial election" at her college gave Kerry a 48%-44% victory.

As I drove around the area running errands yesterday, I noticed three more Kerry/Edwards signs that have sprung up since my last tour of the area several days previous.

A sign of hope? Maybe.

It's difficult to convey the implications of setting out a Democratic presidential candidate sign in this area, but let's give it a try.

You might as well stand in front of the local Baptist church dressed like a witch, and loudly proclaim "I worship the Lord Satan and drink your children's blood".

There is a disturbing, religious fervor to the right wing's support for George W. Bush, bordering on some sort of cultism.

I found a list of "cult characteristics", copied below, at Webster’s Dictionary. Look them over and see what you think.

Then read Ron Suskind's Without a Doubt. It's long, scary, and a "must read". We are going to need several generations of administrations that not only utilize good sense but have cult-deprogramming talents.

Cult checklist -

· Milieu control – Cults seek to control members' sources of information and social interaction. They encourage members to sever communication and relationships with friends and family members.

· Infallibility, or "The Sacred Science" – Cults teach that the chosen philosophy or experiential panacea forms the only possible path to salvation. Cults discourage critical and rational thinking. Persons who question or challenge what the cult offers are denied access or exiled.

· Demand for purity – Cults have unreachably high standards for the behavior of their members.

· Confession – Even trivial violations of the group's demand for purity must be confessed immediately and thoroughly, often to a large group.

· Loading the language – Cults redefine common words and use glib thought-terminating catchphrases as an answer to questions. The constant use of acronyms and abbreviations by some cults has a similar thought-terminating effect.

Additionally, many cults are described as having the following characteristics, though they are not as unique to cults as the behaviours listed above:

· Authoritarianism -- Control of the organization stems from an absolute leader or a small circle of elite commanders. Often the cult's leadership is glorified with a vast personality cult. The leader may be recognized as divine, or even as God.

· Secret doctrines - certain "secret" (esoteric) teachings that must not ever be revealed to the outside world

· Promised Ones - members of the cult are encouraged to believe they were chosen, or made their choice to join the cult, because they are special or superior

· Fire-and-Brimstone - leaving the cult, or failing at one's endeavor to complete the requirements to achieve its panacea, will result in consequences greater than if one had never joined the cult in the first place.

· Shunning -- members who leave may not contact members who remain.

· Mystical Manipulation - Cults ascribe events to supernatural influences even where such influences do not exist.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Swift Boat Liars or Vietnamese witnesses?

ABC's Nightline reports - you decide.

In the controversy over Sen. John Kerry's service in Vietnam, Americans have heard from Kerry, from the crew of the Navy Swift boats he commanded, and from other Swift boat veterans who question the official account of a 1969 incident for which Kerry was awarded a Silver Star. But there is one group they have not heard from: the Vietnamese who were there that day.


According to the citation for Kerry's Silver Star, when the boats approached the hamlet, "a B-40 rocket exploded close aboard PCF 94" — Kerry's boat. He "personally led a landing party ashore in pursuit of the enemy," the citation says, before commending Kerry's "extraordinary daring and personal courage" for "attacking a numerically superior force in the face of intense fire."

That account is disputed by Swift boat veteran John O'Neill, author of "Unfit for Command," who maintains in his book that the statement "is simply false. There was little or no fire."


Villagers say this is what they saw:

"Firing from over here. Firing from over there. Firing from the boat," Vo Thi Vi told Nightline.

She was only a couple hundred yards away when a Swift boat turned and approached the shore, she said, adding that the boat was unleashing a barrage of gunfire as it approached.

"I ran," she recalled, "Running fast. … And the Americans came from down there, yelling 'Attack, Attack!' And we ran."

Her husband Tam said the man who fired the B-40 rocket was hit in this barrage of gunfire. Then, he said, "he ran about 18 meters before he died, falling dead."

Was the man killed by Kerry or by fire from the Swift boat? It was the heat of battle, Tam said, and he doesn't know exactly how the man with the rocket launcher died. But he knows the man's name — Ba Thang. He was one of the 12 reinforcements sent to the village by provincial headquarters, and after he died, the firefight continued, according to Tam.

"When the firing started, Ba Thanh was killed," Tam said. "And I led Ba Thanh's comrades, the whole unit, to fight back. And we ran around the back and fought the Americans from behind. We worked with the city soldiers to fire on the American boats."


None of the villagers seems to be able to say for a fact that they saw an American chase the man who fired the B-40 into the woods and shoot him. Nobody seems to remember that. But they have no problem remembering Ba Thang, the man who has been dismissed by Kerry's detractors as "a lone, wounded, fleeing, young Vietcong in a loincloth." (The description comes from "Unfit for Command," by Swift boat veteran John O'Neill.)

"No, this is not correct," Nguyen Thi Tuoi, 77, told ABC News. "He wore a black pajama. He was strong. He was big and strong. He was about 26 or 27."

Update - I watched the broadcast of this segment; at the end, Ted Koppel attempted to interview John O'Neill about the findings.

My impression - O'Neill is a complete Republican jackass, but we knew that already.

He seemed to be saying "why go all the way to Vietnam to interview a bunch of ignorant peasants when you can just read my book and get the 'truth'"?

Everything the Vietnamese witnesses said confirmed Kerry's citation and after-action report. And made O'Neill and his Swift Boat Liars look like fools.

A divider, not a uniter

It’s really too bad John Kerry couldn't have read Tom Friedman in the NY Times today, as he gave the perfect rebuttal to Bush’s babble on question #19 - "How can the president unite America?"

Quoth Junior - "My biggest disappointment in Washington is how partisan the town is. I had a record of working with Republicans and Democrats as the governor of Texas, and I was hopeful I'd be able to do the same thing."

Etc., etc., etc.

Translation - "It's not my fault!"

Washington was always a tough town, Mr. Preznit, but politicizing 9/11 was a vicious, calculated act and yes, it is your fault.

Friedman -

The president has exploited the terrorism issue for political ends - trying to make it into another wedge issue like abortion, guns or gay rights - to rally the Republican base and push his own political agenda. But it is precisely this exploitation of 9/11 that has gotten him and the country off-track, because it has not only created a wedge between Republicans and Democrats, it's also created a wedge between America and the rest of the world, between America and its own historical identity, and between the president and common sense.

Anyone who disagrees with the Bush administration, rather than being hailed as the "loyal opposition" is branded as a traitor, giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

The divide has grown so wide I'm not sure any president can bridge the gap. But at least our descendants now have a glaring example of how NOT to divide the country.

And perhaps future generations will be thankful to the Bush administration for providing so many, many examples of how not to handle any given situation.

First, the good news

Nader blocked from Ohio ballot
Federal judge cites widespread fraud in gathering of state petitions. Florida agency under scrutiny over falsification of some signatures.
Court throws Nader off Pennsylvania ballot
Petition signatures include 'Mickey Mouse, Fred Flintstone'
And the bad news - we're making "progress" in Iraq -

6 GIs Die in Iraq
A suicide attack and roadside bombings killed six American soldiers, and Iraq (news - web sites)'s prime minister warned residents of insurgent bastion Fallujah on Wednesday to hand over terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or face military action.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Twenty-five bucks to your favorite charity

I pledge a $25 donation to the charity of your choice if you can tie this to the Bush administration and make it stick -

US investigates flu vaccine shortage

There are huge waiting lists and long lines at the few places where vaccines are available, resulting in a lot of frustrated, angry people. Since the shortage announcement, I only know one very high-risk person who has actually been able to get the shot and that's only because her doctor called HER about it.

Even my 90-year old mother can't get the vaccine. She's currently staying with my sister in the D.C. area, and they report near-riots at the few clinics up there.

You might wonder why more companies don't produce the vaccine? Because it's not profitable.

Dr. Gregory Poland of the Mayo Clinic, who sits on a federal vaccine advisory board -

Drug companies have pulled out of flu vaccine production because it's not very profitable and it's financially risky, health experts said.

One big problem is that demand for flu shots fluctuates from year to year as public interest waxes and wanes. Last season brought huge demand for a flu shot; the year before saw little interest, Poland said. But flu shots have to be made far in advance, so the manufacturers must rely on estimates and then they're "out there naked in the marketplace," said (Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University).

If a flu shot isn't used during the season, it must be discarded. So companies generally throw away millions of doses a year, Poland said.

What's more, making vaccines requires massive capital investment and involves the costs of complying with federal regulations, and the market is relatively small, he said.

I have nothing against making a buck; I enjoy doing so myself. But these pharmaceutical companies are making money out the yazoo. It wouldn't hurt them one bit to throw away a couple million doses a year, or donate them elsewhere.

Round three - domestic policy

Tonight's debate centers on domestic policy, including how to keep our fractured and hyper-expensive health care system from going even further out of control.

The centerpiece of the Bush plan, which he is certain to trot out this evening, is "medical savings accounts" -

The plans let workers create tax-free savings accounts to use for medical costs, combined with lower-cost, high-deductible insurance to cover major medical care.

If you're young and healthy, this may not sound like such a bad idea. But if you're planning on getting older, I can guarantee you there is a chronic illness with your name on it.

From the NY Times, here's the money quote -

Uwe E. Reinhardt, a Princeton University economist and health policy expert, said the new plans were "a bum deal" for people with chronic illnesses. But "for chronically healthy people,'' he said, "it's another 401(k) savings account, and Wall Street is licking its chops at the prospect of managing the money."

If Bush spends any time at all touting his medical savings accounts in tonight's debate, that quote is a "two-fer" for Kerry.

A chronic illness is one lasting 3 months or more, by the definition of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics

Examples of chronic illnesses include asthma, diabetes (I & II), sickle cell anemia, cancer of all kinds, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, renal failure, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatique syndrome, Gulf War syndrome, anxiety disorders, cystic fibrosis, AIDS - and a mass of other illnesses and disorders.

Each and every one of those chronic conditions can land you in the hospital or a nursing home, where costs reach the catastrophic level within minutes.

But what about the "maintenance", the every day costs which medical savings accounts require you to pay out of your own pocket, or would have to be covered by an additional policy?

If you have high cholesterol, you know you have to show up at the lab on a regular basis for a little blood-letting. There goes a quick $150 or more.

The CDC estimates that 101 million Americans have cholesterol levels over 200mg dL. That's one hundred and one million Americans who have good reason to be suspicious of medical savings accounts.

High blood pressure? Blood pressure clinics are often free, but when your medication needs to be adjusted you win a visit with the doctor himself - lotsa money, especially if the medication levels are tricky (they usually are) and require multiple office visits within a short period of time.

Chronic illnesses mean a lot of smaller bills; small change to the wealthy, but even one lab bill can be catastrophic to middle class budgets.

As to the second part of the above quote - "it's another 401(k) savings account, and Wall Street is licking its chops at the prospect of managing the money."

Knock that one out of the park, Mr. Kerry.

Crossposted at Etalkinghead

We don't need no stinkin' (sneer) summits(/sneer)

A bit of nonsensical elitist antiquated thinking brought to you by Old Europe.

Germany in rethink on Iraq force deployment

Germany might deploy troops in Iraq if conditions there change, Peter Struck, the German defence minister, indicated on Tuesday in a gesture that appears to provide backing for John Kerry, the US Democratic presidential challenger.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Struck departed from his government’s resolve not to send troops to Iraq under any circumstances, saying: “At present I rule out the deployment of German troops in Iraq. In general, however, there is no one who can predict developments in Iraq in such a way that he could make a such a binding statement [about the future].”

Mr Struck also welcomed Mr Kerry’s proposal that he would convene an international conference on Iraq including countries that opposed the war if he were to win next month's election.

Germany would certainly attend, Mr Struck said. “This is a very sensible proposal. The situation in Iraq can only be cleared up when all those involved sit together at one table. Germany has taken on responsibilities in Iraq, including financial ones; this would naturally justify our involvement in such a conference."


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

All of these things are just like the other

Resurrection of a Film Flop - 'Heaven's Gate' Redux

Hollywood's most famous film flop, the legendary box office disaster "Heaven's Gate," has been resurrected.

The 1980 movie that buried the career of Academy Award winning director Michael Cimino and imploded an entire film studio is born-again as an art film with an engagement starting on Friday at New York's Film Forum, where a documentary on the movie is also being shown.

Autopilot Sinks Absent-Minded Skipper

A Finnish commuter ferry captain has been suspended after crashing into a pier because he forgot to turn off the autopilot -- for the second time in three days.

The captain was given a second chance to prove his seamanship after an accident on Tuesday when two passengers and one crew member were injured after the Suomenlinna II hit the pier at its destination, an island just outside downtown Helsinki.

Four More Years of George W. Bush (Congressman Bernie Sanders, April 2004)

Our nation is in deep trouble, and the coming election will be the most important in the modern history of the United States. George W. Bush and his Republican Leadership allies in Congress represent the most reactionary clique to govern our country in the last hundred years. During the last three years their policies have been a disaster for the people of America and for the world.

Hurray! Island Dave is back!

Newly-hitched and with his publishing issues resolved, Island Dave charges back into the fray.

Go say congratulations!
Shocking news of the day

So, what's the big scoop on your local news station and in your local newspaper?

Around here, it's the same every two years....Democrats and Republicans alike complain of - *gasp* - sign stealing.

Or, as Jeff Foxworthy might put it, you know you're a redneck when the big political news is sign stealing.

There's at least a mention of it in the newspaper every day, and it was the lead story on the local newscast the other night.

Yes, it's stupid and childish and malicious mischief. But good grief, people - get a life. Or at least a better editor.

In the history of life on this planet, has there ever been a campaign season without sign stealing?

And no - I don't do it. There's cooties all over those Republican signs.


Monday, October 11, 2004

We own your airwaves

No doubt you've heard the Sinclair Broadcasting Group has ordered it's affiliates to show an anti-Kerry "documentary" in the days leading up to the election.

This is an egregious assault on taxpayer-funded public television airwaves.

Sign the petition.

And let Sinclair have a piece of your mind.

War president vs. war preznit

War president -
Jan 22, 1944 - Allies land at Anzio.
Feb 15-18 - Allies bomb the monastery at Monte Cassino.
March 15, 1944 - Second Allied attempt to capture Monte Cassino begins.
May 11, 1944 - Allies attack the Gustav Line south of Rome.
June 6, 1944 - D-Day landings.
June 19-20 - "Marianas Turkey Shoot" results in destruction of over 200 Japanese aircraft
June 15 - American marines invade Saipan
July 3, 1944 - 'Battle of the Hedgerows' in Normandy
July 18, 1944 - U.S. troops reach St. Lô.
July 25-30 - Operation Cobra (U.S. troops break out west of St. Lô).
Aug 15, 1944 - Operation Dragoon begins (the Allied invasion of Southern France).
Sept 1-4 - Verdun, Dieppe, Artois, Rouen, Abbeville, Antwerp and Brussels liberated by Allies.
Sept 13, 1944 - U.S. troops reach the Siegfried Line.
Sept 17, 1944 - Operation Market Garden begins (Allied airborne assault on Holland).
Oct. 23-26 - U.S. naval forces destroy remnants of Japanese Navy at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval engagement in history
Nov. 7 - Roosevelt elected to fourth term

War preznit -

The Bush administration plans to delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race.

Although American commanders in Iraq have been buoyed by recent successes in insurgent-held towns such as Samarra and Tall Afar, administration and Pentagon officials say they will not try to retake cities such as Fallouja and Ramadi — where the insurgents' grip is strongest and U.S. military casualties could be the highest — until after Americans vote in what is likely to be an extremely close election.

The 1944 election wasn't that close?

Franklin D. Roosevelt - 25,602,504 (53.5%)
Thomas Dewey - 22,006,285 (46.0%)

That pesky electoral vote was a blow-out (432-99), but overall I'd say it was a good thing FDR relied on his military commanders to run the war and didn't delay any major assaults until after the election.

The real Superman

Walking again.


Sunday, October 10, 2004

Living in fear

If you still need another reason to vote Kerry/Edwards, here it is -

Bush campaign to base ad on Kerry terror quote

President Bush's campaign announced Sunday its plans to use as the basis of a new commercial a quote from an 8,000-word New York Times Magazine article about Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

The parsing prompted the Kerry camp to retort that the soon-to-be-released Bush ad was another example of the president's campaign taking words out of context to create a misleading impression.

The article, a largely analytical cover story in the magazine, says the interviewer asked Kerry "what it would take for Americans to feel safe again."

''We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,'' the article states as the Massachusetts senator's reply.

''As a former law enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.''

You can't live your life in fear.

No society can function, much less prosper, in an atmosphere of continual fear. It may suit the Bush administration and the Republican party to have the populace cowerering in fear of terrorists, or Communists, or colored folks, or whichever enemy they've tabbed this time around; however it damps the spirit and drains the soul. Not to mention depressing the stock market and the general business climate.

"It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life."

That's exactly right. Be vigilant, but go on with your life with hope for the future.

Outclassing the big boys

Contrast the somewhat whining tone of the NY Times defending their editorial policy and that of the Lone Star Iconoclast.

The goal of the editorial page has been to provide an arena for the expression of a variety of thoughtful opinions, some by the publishers, some by columnists, and some by our readers.

The new mode of operation, I am told, is that when a newspaper prints an editorial of which some sectors might disagree, the focus is now upon how to run the newspaper out of business. Out the window are the contributions the newspaper has made to the community in the past and the newspaper’s extensive investment in the community.

Junior's hometown newspaper, which had the courage to endorse Kerry, has been been through a rough time of threats, intimidation, thoughtful dissent, congratulations, and encouragement.

The letter and e-mails they've received run the gamut from disgusting to heartwarming. The Iconoclast has posted twenty web pages of letters they've received here, using only initials and location to identify the writers.

(Thanks to Greg for the link)


Friday, October 08, 2004

Debate impressions

***George sure does blink his eyes a lot. I know I read somewhere that means stress or lying or both.

***Are we sure George doesn't wear false teeth? My mother has a full set, and often does that mouth-thingee, especially when she's nervous.

***One more time....people who don't have jobs could care less about a tax cut.

***Junior's only mistakes where some appointees? The lady asked for three mistakes; if Bush wants to stick to appointees - may I suggest John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld? I know Cheney isn't an "appointee", though he did appoint himself as the vice-presidential candidate in 2000. If we're going to be technical, we could substitute Condi Rice.

***Instead of a split-screen, the Bush campaign really should insist on radio only. Every time Bush appears onstage with Kerry, he looks more and more puny.

***I'm still totally blown away by the idea that reimported drugs from Canada, which are produced and bottled here in the United States, might be "unsafe". The sneaky Canadians open the bottle and poison the pills before sending them back here?

***I'm glad to hear Kerry point out that embryonic stem cells are stem cells that will never see a womb. The social conservatives would rather they be frozen for all eternity than helping save lives?

There were many others, but I'm off to bed.

That global test

France considered committing troops to Iraq, new book says
French President Jacques Chirac considered committing up to 15,000 troops to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq until a dispute over U.N. support scuttled prospects for cooperation, according to a new book.

The book, "Chirac Contre Bush: L'Autre Guerre" ("Chirac vs. Bush: The Other War"), claims Chirac was on the fence about offering French forces as late as January 2003 – two months before the invasion – but balked amid signs that President Bush was bent on war.

The book maintains Chirac ruled out any prospect of sending troops because of a seemingly clear intent in the U.S. administration to attack Saddam Hussein's regime without support from the U.N. Security Council.

At the time, France pressed for renewed efforts by U.N. weapons inspectors to disarm Iraq. Chirac became a leading advocate for a peaceful resolution to the threat posed by Saddam.

A shaky personal relationship between the two presidents contributed to the ill-feeling engendered during the Iraq debate, and U.S. officials eavesdropped on phones used by Chirac, the book alleges.

Authors Thomas Cantaloube and Henri Vernet, reporters for Le Parisien newspaper based respectively in Washington and Paris, say the book is based on interviews with at least 50 French and American government and military officials. The book hit stores in France on Wednesday.

In one of its most significant allegations, the book claims a French general, Jean-Patrick Gaviard, was sent to Washington on Dec. 16, 2002, and offered between 10,000 and 15,000 troops, plus military planes and other equipment for an Iraq invasion – on condition U.N. inspectors were allowed to continue their work.

A spokesman for Chirac could not immediately be reached for comment about the book.
THAT is an example of the "global test", George - and you flunked, big time.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?