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  xSaturday, September 11, 2004

9/11 memorial post, the second

For my other post today, I'm going to take a cue from Digby and link the online version (and the 7.7MB PDF) of the 9/11 Commission Report, which spells out how diligent the Bush Administration was in defending the nation from al Qaeda prior to that fateful date. As in, not.

(Bush apologists who want to kvetch about Clinton's so called "fecklessness" should first name one single thing Bush did after receiving the August 6 Presidential Daily Brief.)


9/11 memorial post, the first

In honor of the memories of this tragic day, here are the lyrics to "The Rising," one of the most powerful songs (and that's a bold statement) off Bruce Springsteen's 2002 album of the same name. I originally posted them two years ago.

The Rising
By Bruce Springsteen
Title track of The Rising

Can't see nothin' in front of me
Can't see nothin' coming up behind
I make my way through this darkness
I can't feel nothing but this chain that binds me
Lost track of how far I've gone
How far I've gone, how high I've climbed
On my back's a sixty pound stone
On my shoulder a half mile of line

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Left the house this morning
Bells ringing filled the air
Wearin' the cross of my calling
On wheels of fire I come rollin' down here

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Li,li, li,li,li,li, li,li,li

There's spirits above and behind me
Faces gone black, eyes burnin' bright
May their precious blood bind me
Lord, as I stand before your fiery light

Li,li, li,li,li,li, li,li,li

I see you Mary in the garden
In the garden of a thousand sighs
There's holy pictures of our children
Dancin' in a sky filled with light
May I feel your arms around me
May I feel your blood mix with mine
A dream of life comes to me
Like a catfish dancin' on the end of my line

Sky of blackness and sorrow (a dream of life)
Sky of love, sky of tears (a dream of life)
Sky of glory and sadness (a dream of life)
Sky of mercy, sky of fear (a dream of life)
Sky of memory and shadow (a dream of life)
Your burnin' wind fills my arms tonight
Sky of longing and emptiness (a dream of life)
Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life

Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight

Li,li, li,li,li,li, li,li,li

  xFriday, September 10, 2004

hard boiled pulp novel post of the day

BoingBoing has a recent pair of posts linking to two groovy sites devoted to pulp novels.

fade to blonde cover

The new publishing imprint Hard Case Crime is both reprinting classic pulp detective novels and presenting new books in the genre's style.

spicy detective stories cover

And Girasol Collectables (love that name!) reprints replicas of classic pulps, off-white paper and all.

Groovy, doll!


a note of support

Please join me in sending good thoughts and best wishes to Jaquandor and family, who have received good news and bad about their newborn son, Quinn, who remains in the hospital.


good news

Congress has voted to block the Bush Labor Department's new overtime rules.
In a sharp rebuke of a new administration policy, the House moved Thursday to block the Labor Department from carrying out overtime rules that critics argued could deprive millions of workers of their overtime pay.

The 223-193 vote in favor of blocking the new overtime rules defied the White House, which has threatened to veto a massive spending bill now on the House floor if it contains any language tampering with the rules that took effect Aug. 23.

Democrats, united against the rules, were joined by some 20 Republicans in voting for the amendment to a $142.5 billion health and education spending bill.

The vote was President Bush's second election-season defeat in Congress in two days. On Wednesday the Senate disregarded a White House veto threat and voted to prohibit Bush from giving federal immigration jobs to private workers.

Good. I don't give much credit to Bush's veto threat, but I still doubt that the change will make it out of the Senate. Still, with these delays, and if someone manages to get a temporary injuction, it's quite possible that President Kerry could make reversing these rules before they ever take effect one of the first orders of business.


'wrong-way' bush

William Saletan is definitely off the reservation...
President Bush and Vice President Cheney are framing the election as a choice between playing "defense" and going on "offense" in the war on terror. The attacks of 9/11 presented the United States with a grave new challenge. Bush picked up this football and started running with it—toward Iraq. But Iraq wasn't among the states closely linked to 9/11 or al-Qaida. Nor did it have the weapons of mass destruction Bush advertised. We've spent more than 1,000 American lives and close to $200 billion running the wrong way.

...In the Bush-Cheney worldview, all foreign adversaries blur into one: "the enemy." All U.S. options simplify to two: "offense" or "defense." Going on offense shows "strength" and defeats the enemy. If the president starts running with the ball, and you criticize him, you show "weakness" and invite terrorism.

But what if there's more than one enemy? What if the enemy we're "fighting back" at isn't the one that struck or threatened us? What if the president turns away from the team that was trying to score on us, and he starts heading for another team that's sitting in the stands, behind our own end zone? What if his "offense" is losing yards with every stride?

That's the lesson of three years of investigations. The 9/11 commission has found "no evidence" of "a collaborative operational relationship" between Iraq and al-Qaida. Bush's handpicked chief weapons inspector, David Kay, says there "were no large stockpiles of WMD." What has this diversion done for the war on terror? A year ago, U.S. intelligence officials told reporters that "as much as half of the intelligence and special forces assets in Afghanistan and Pakistan were diverted to support the war in Iraq." While we've been bogged down in Iraq, Iran has revved up its own nuclear program, and North Korea has acquired the fuel for as many as eight nukes.

Bush screwed up. He picked the wrong target. He's been running the wrong way.

Indeed. Read the whole thing.


mad magazine explains it all

Atrios relays a spot-on parody from those geniuses idiots at Mad magazine. Here's a taste:

mad bush parody


the memo flap

I wanted to weigh in briefly on the memo flap reverberating throughout the blogosphere. Kevin Drum and Joshua Marshall remain good sources, having been quick to note the controversy and keep tabs on both sides, and it should be noted that some of the initial claims about the memos seem not to hold water.

Ezra at Pandagon has an excellent post noting the caution of several prominent left-wing bloggers, including Marshall and Drum, who are open to the possibility that the memos may have been forged, while hardly conceding that the case has been definitively proved, and making some -- inevitably -- unflattering comparisons to those who still echo long-discredited talking points from the regrettable Swift Boat Liars escapade. I agree, the jury on the memos' authenticity is still out. (Stirling Newberry does some interesting parsing of CBS's statement standing by its story.)

Many on the right, of course, will have none of it. They will take the memo flap as yet another in a long series of "final nails in the coffin" of the so-called "liberal media," and as an excuse to ignore any inconvenient facts about Dear Leader.

The sad thing is, it doesn't matter. Many of Bush's apologists would love, I'm sure, to be able to ignore his unenviable service record, and use the memos as an excuse. But the bandwidth taken up by the memo controversy belies the fact that they are only part of the story. The article summarizing the problems with Bush's record mentions the memos in only four paragraphs (in my opinion, a late addition in response to the upcoming CBS News story). Strike those paragraphs, and the case against Bush is still damning, especially in light of the White House's shifting explanations for the gaps in Bush's service record.
Bush's request to transfer to an Alabama Guard unit in 1972, in order to work on the Senate campaign of a family friend, Lukasiak found, was not designed to be temporary, but rather was Bush's attempt to sever ties completely with the Texas Air National Guard and find a new, permanent unit in Alabama for which he was ineligible, where he wouldn't have to do any training during his final two years. His superiors in Texas essentially covered for Bush's getaway. However, the Air Reserve Personnel Center (ARPC) in Denver, Colo., which had final say, uncovered the attempted scam, put an end to it, and admonished Bush's superiors for endorsing Bush's bogus request. ... In the interim, Bush simply ignored his weekend duties for nearly six straight months, not bothering to show up at military units in either Alabama or Texas.

The White House has conceded that Bush missed some required weekend training drills, but insists Bush promptly made up those drills and earned enough annual credits for an honorable discharge. In fact, according to Lukasiak's research, based on the procedures in place at the time requiring that makeup dates be completed within 15 days before or 30 days after the date of the drill missed, between half and two-thirds of the points credited to Bush for substitute training were fraudulent. Some of the points credited to Bush were "earned" nine weeks beyond the date of the missed drill. According to Air Force policy, Bush could not have received permission for substitute training that far outside the accepted parameters. The evidence is also overwhelming that Bush failed to get authorization for substitute training in advance, suggesting the points were awarded by the Texas Air National Guard retroactively and without any supporting paperwork. The fraudulent points are key, because without them Bush would have fallen far short of meeting his annual obligation, which meant he should have been transferred to active duty for 24 months and made eligible for service in Vietnam.

On Oct. 1, 1973, Bush received an honorable discharge from the Texas Air National Guard in order to move to Boston and attend Harvard Business School, where he was still obligated to find a unit in Massachusetts to fulfill his remaining nine months of duty, or face being placed on active duty. Once again, Bush made no such effort. But the Air Force in Denver, acting retroactively, in effect overturned Bush's honorable discharge and placed him on "Inactive Status" effective Sept. 15, 1973. When Bush left Texas, his personnel file was sent to Denver for review. The ARPC quickly realized Bush had failed to take a required physical exam, his Texas superior could not account for his whereabouts covering nearly a 12-month period, and because of absenteeism Bush had failed to "satisfactorily participate" as a member of the Texas Air National Guard. Bush's "Inactive Status" meant his relationship with the Air Force (and the Guard) was severed and he was therefore eligible for the draft. [references to the memos redacted]

Meanwhile, an op-ed by conservative columnist Byron York put forth by some as the "definitive debunking" of the AWOL controversy is nothing of the kind. For starters, as researcher Paul Lukasiak shows, the points York uses in his calculations could not possibly have been legitimately awarded. He also fails to address the questions of whether Bush had permission when he moved to Alabama, the circumstances under which Bush missed his flight physical and was grounded (indeed, it doesn't mention that episode at all), or why Bush failed to fulfill an obligation to train with a Massachusetts Guard unit, as a White House spokesman initially claimed he had. And as the Salon article notes, one of the few witnesses to claim Bush ever showed up at the Alabama unit places him there at a time when records indicate he was still in Texas. Oops.

And, of course, Bush's own documents reveal that he lied stretched the truth a bit in his 1999 campaign autobiography, in which he claimed to have "continued flying with my unit for the next several years," unless I woke up this morning in an alternate dimension where "several" is defined as "less than two."

So as far as I'm concerned, I have no dog in the fight over whether the memos are genuine. Without them, the record still shows that as a National Guard pilot -- a position he admits he sought in order to avoid Vietnam, a war he supported but did not see fit to risk his own life in -- Bush was a failure. Small wonder he would go on to be a failure as President.

  xThursday, September 09, 2004


eye movement

Some geniuses have used state-of-the-art technology to track the motions of eyeballs when reading news Web sites.

(via BoingBoing)


ddr ddoings

I racked up my heel about a month ago, and so it's been at least that long since I've played Dance Dance Revolution. But I dusted it off this evening. I sux0rzed at it, but it was fun, and I worked up a bit of a sweat as well. Given the long hours I spend at a desk job (and snacking a lot, to boot), I can certainly use that.


more from cheney

Dick Cheney has found an excuse an explanation for the less-than-stellar recovery:
Indicators measure the nation's unemployment rate, consumer spending and other economic milestones, but Vice President Dick Cheney says it misses the hundreds of thousands who make money selling on eBay.

"That's a source that didn't even exist 10 years ago," Cheney told an audience in Ohio. "Four hundred thousand people make some money trading on eBay."

Ummmmmmmm....yeah. Who needs jobs?

(via Atrios)


gop projection watch


Dick Cheney attacks John Kerry by claiming he opposed weapons systems that Cheney himself not only opposed, but also boasted about cutting?! I'm shocked. Truly.


work coffee

I haven't talked much about my new consulting position, save to describe how busy it keeps me. But I do want to mention one pleasant aspect of this gig -- I'm operating out of the home office, and one of the perks is gourmet coffee service. Fact is, I always drink the coffee at work, even if it's lame mylar-pouch stuff, but here we have fresh whole-bean Kona coffee -- dark roast, yet! -- a grinder and everything. It's pretty good stuff.


rove's gamble

I just left a comment over at Pandagon that mirrors an idea I've expressed on other discussion threads, and I wanted to set it down here as well.
My PoliSci professors taught me that you spend the primaries appealing to the base and use the convention to move to the center. The GOP convention was so obviously aimed at the base that it's clear Rove has abandoned any pretense of appealing to the center(and Bush's miniscule convention bounce shows this).

Rove has made an incredibly risky calculation. He said in 2000 that he wanted to get the 4 million evangelicals that didn't turn out to do so in '04. He's betting that an increased evangelical turnout will offset the Democratic coalition -- especially if a massively negative campaign depresses turnout. It might just work, but it's a huge gamble.

Then again, all this red meat for the base raises the notion that Rove fears that the base isn't quite locked down yet.

Either way, it makes the choices come November crystal clear, and holds the potential for an immensely satisfying coalition victory as nation comes together to repudiate the evangelicals' agenda.

Taking that idea a little further, a Bush defeat in November will be good for the nation in more than the immediately obvious way of getting someone presumably competent into the White House. The 2004 election may become the high-water mark of the evangelical vote, the time it becomes obvious that the conservative fundamentalist Christian vote alone is not enough to ride to the White House. The Republican Party may be forced to reverse Rove's strategy and include other groups in its coalition -- and doing so, of course, means compromising the evangelical agenda. (For example, coaxing the Log Cabin Republicans back into the fold may mean toning down the Party's anti-gay stance in reality, not just rhetoric -- after Bush, I doubt they'll be likely to be fooled by just empty inclusive language.)

Update: Here are more thoughts from a comment I left over at Washington Monthly.
Kerry does not need GOP crossover voters, although it wouldn't hurt if a few of them stayed home election day.

Rove has clearly written off the middle and is running a strategy of banking on a huge evangelical turnout. If enough rational conservatives get disgusted by Bush to offset this push -- and again, they don't need to vote for Kerry; Nader or the Libertarian fellow would do -- and these revelations prevent undecideds from breaking towards Bush, then Kerry wins handily.

My guess is that this year both sides' bases are fired up -- the Democrats are itching to run Bush back to Crawford on a rail, and the evangelicals need him to appoint the Supreme Court justices he didn't get to this time around. But it's the Democrats, not the Republicans, who are making the strong play for the independents (at least, all the GOP has to offer is fear, pace Cheney).

Rove's strategy just might work, especially if the Republican slime machine turns off enough voters to depress turnout, but I also think Kerry will scoop up the majority of the youth vote and most of the newly registereds (neither of whom, BTW, will show up in "likely voter" polls yet).

Couple that with the fact that the campaign is being waged in wobbly Red states for the most part, and I'd say things look much better for Kerry than conventional wisdom has it.

Update 2: Back at Pandagon, Euthydemos in Athens supplies this spot-on observation:
The problem with Rove's appeal-to-the-base-only strategy is that red meat to his base, is also red meat to our base. Every time I hear some vicious lie or dispicable pandering coming out of Bush/Cheney, Tom Ridge or stupid Zell Miller, it makes me even more motivated to see Kerry win.

Exactly right.

Given that Bush lost the popular vote by a million and a half in 2000 -- and won Florida only by a whole set of unusual circumstances -- another benefit I'd like to see from Kerry's victory in 2004 is the destruction of the myth of Rove's vaunted skills.

  xWednesday, September 08, 2004

kaiju post of the day

Honda Japan has released a groovy TV spot featuring its cars with Godzilla rampaging in the background.

Of course, the cars look really small compared to the Big Guy.

(via Wirehed Magazine; cross-posted at Destroy All Monsters)


swank accessory of the day

tiki bottle

Check out these groovy tiki-themed sports bottles!

(via BoingBoing)

  xTuesday, September 07, 2004

paul krugman explains it all

Krugman (typically shrill, of course) today:
To win, the Kerry campaign has to convince a significant number of voters that the self-proclaimed "war president" isn't an effective war leader - he only plays one on TV.

Exactly right. Read the whole thing.


spot on

Over at Daily Kos, Tom Schaller has some good advice for the Kerry campaign: take a page from Rove's playbook and attack Bush on his perceived strengths.
Reconnect Iraq to the war on terror. Bush repeatedly claimed (past tense) that Iraq was central to the war on terror - until, of course, the warrants for and management of that war went afoul. Now he wants to disconnect Iraq because his Iraq approval ratings are consistently lower than (and, thus, have steadily weakened) his approval ratings for the generic war on terror. Don't let him get away with that. Keep repeating that the president told America that Iraq is central to the war on terror, and by that standard, he's doing a terrible job on the war on terror. It's really that simple. To make the reconnection hurt, start repeating two very simple facts: (a) according to Defense Department counts, the rate of military fatalities is higher since Saddam Hussein was captured than before his capture; and (b) according to the State Department, the number of global terrorist incidents and deaths is increasing, not decreasing. ...This is political jujitsu, pure and simple; you must turn Bush's best weapon back on him by re-linking Iraq to the war on terror.

George Balker Bush. Strong, resolute and decisive - whatever. Reports indicate that western Iraq is becoming an Afghanistan-style swamp, and Afghanistan remains an Afghan-style swamp. And why? Because the truth is, that at the critical moments in both countries, Bush went soft. The Islamic terrorist threat in Iraq is growing because, in the moment of truth in Falluja, Bush balked; meanwhile, the Afghan situation remains unstable and Osama at-large because, in the moment of truth in Tora Bora, Bush balked. So say so. Then, in order to complete the balker trifecta and remove once and for all the giant rhetorical monkey from your back, you also need to flip the script on the $87 billion war appropriation. This will be the hard, given that ridiculously senatorial phrase you uttered about "voting for before voting against." The solution is to point out that doing "whatever it takes" to support the troops, as the president claims he always does, means having the courage to find the money for the $87 billion - rather than balking, by adding the costs to the national debt that returning soldiers, their kids and grandkids will be handed after they've returned from combat.

Scared Straight. [T]he dirty (but open) secret the conservative national media know, yet won't dare utter, is this: Bush is petrified to speak in public about most everything, and especially about policies and his specific record over the past four years. He's scared to do press conferences; scared to allow anyone who hasn't signed a loyalty agreement into his campaign events; scared to debate you; scared to talk about how his prescription drug plan is backfiring among seniors and fiscal conservatives, his immigration policies are backfiring among Latinos and social conservatives, his steel tariffs and tax cut policies are backfiring among blue-collar white workers in manufacturing states, and his No Child Left Behind and stem cell policies are backfiring among suburban white women. ...You and your surrogates should use these exacts words: not "doesn't want to," but "scared and petrified." Make the media repeat them, thereby forcing the Republicans to refute your charges in your language. And you need to do this now, pre-emptively, because Jim Baker came on board specifically to negotiate you down to two debates and Bush-favorable rules. You need all three; if you have established the "president is petrified" storyline in advance, no matter how scared Bush-Rove may be of debating three times they'll be more scared of being labeled scared for backing down. And when the tough questions during the debates on the economy, health care and Iraq are asked, and Bush's answers and eyes start darting around, he will ratify the scared-and-petrified criticism with his verbal and non-verbal responses.

I think this tactic is exactly right. Kerry should not -- and need not -- wallow in the gutter like Bush and his minions. But given that Bush's so-called strengths fail to stand up to any serious scrutiny, and that Bush is lousy on defense, Kerry striking at the roots of public perception of Bush as at all competent makes sense.


clinton's condition improving

I'm pleased to note that former President Bill Clinton is recovering steadily after his heart bypass surgery.
He was taken off his respirator Monday night — a crucial step in his recovery, Bob Kelly, a member of Clinton's surgery team, said Tuesday.

"Everything is going very well," Kelly said on NBC's "Today."

Clinton underwent the four-hour quadruple bypass operation Monday at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia. His heart disease was extensive, with blockages in some arteries well over 90 percent, doctors said.

"There was a substantial likelihood that he would have had a substantial heart attack," said Dr. Allan Schwartz, chief of cardiology. Doctors called Clinton's operation successful and said his return to full health will take weeks.

Our get-well card is already on the way. You can send an electronic get-well note via the Clinton Foundation Web site.

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