Last Days, Campaign 2004
October 12, 2004
ACT: This is Existential PoliticsThere was such a demand for the Sundance Channel that Cablevision couldn't accommodate us when we asked for it today -- all becaue of the ACT-America Coming Together concert, with Springsteen, R.E.M., Dixie Chicks, Bonnie Raitt, Jurassic 5, Jackson Brown, James Taylor, John Fogerty, John Mellencamp and lots of others. The Vote For Change concert. Luckily we got the audio portion on WBAI 99.5 in New York. It is playing as I write this. I am taping it. My mind is blown.
The energy of this event, the purpose for which these people are gathering and performing, is so powerful, it makes it a unique event. The energy that is coming into focus through this event and through these artists is awesome in the archaic meaning of the word. The energy is bigger than the artists, it is bigger than all the people there and all the people listening. The artists are not creating all that energy, not alone anyway. But they are tapping into, resonating with, focusing, channeling, augmenting it. The artists are a focal point through which the energy of the whole mass of humanity is passing.
This is existential politics. It is all about to unfold. Forget everything that has happened. The polls are only predictions, games played according to certain rules. Everything that anyone ever told a pollster is just words, blown away with the wind. The theater of the campaign that has us in its grip, these are all just ideas. None of what has happened up to this point will matter on November Second. On that moment the ideas become manifest. After a trillion ping pong balls have bounced back and forth, now the reality of it approaches.
Momentum be damned. All history be cast off, because the one thing that is clear about history is that is never ceases to throw up the novel. Imagine Russia in the days before the fall of the Soviet Union. Remember West and East Berlin, when the wall came down. Our history is yet to be made. This media system, this overwhelmingly powerful propaganda system has pounded into the minds of the American people a certain narrative about how this election is supposed to go. But that is a fantasy that serves the purpose of the owners of the media system. We do not have to accept that interpretation of reality. There is another way. We can make a new reality on November Second.
Someone said to me tonight, "But what if they rig the voting machines?"
Well, what if they do? What has to happen, I told her, is that this energy that we are feeling in this concert needs to be amplified, continued, parlayed until it grows into a huge, historical movement that will show such awesome power that it will roll over attempts to illegitimately suppress the rights of the people, so momentous that even its relentless foes will realize there is no use resisting anymore.
It has to be so strong that no amount of voter fraud and voter suppression can keep it down. It has to show such determination that the usurpers of power will see that the people will not allow their democratic society to be stolen from them. We just will not allow it. We have the power. We have the power of the majority, and we have the power of principle. We cannot allow them to steal another election.
In fact, there is no acceptable alternative. It all becomes real in three weeks. The Constitution demands that we stand up for it. The dream must be continued. We have to save the democratic experiment for our grandchildren. We cannot allow a small mean man and his pack of misanthropes to orchestrate the power of the greedy against us, to turn our republic into an empire.
Now is when the trodden masses take a minute to look up from their toil and see their chance to save the world. It is only now that people are really tuning in. There is a sound in the land and it will be heard.
When I hear those voices raised, and I hear the voices of the crowd and imagine all the people listening to it in their homes like me, I know the power is there to take this country back from lawless government.
What if they do rig the vote? We already know they are, they are already doing it, in Ohio, in Florida. We have to be so strong we don't let them get away with it. We have to fight for our democracy. We are in a war, a war declared on us by a corporate elite fronted by George W. Bush. They have declared war on the American people, and the people are just waking up from the sucker punch.
But one really good thing we still have going for us: they have only been able to hold onto power by pretending to support democracy. The corporate state longs to come out totally in the open and stop having to pay false homage to democracy. The Bush mob wants to come out and be an out-and-out dictatorship, just like George said. They want to be like Pinochet, just bring brutal martial law down on the country right now, suspend democratic rights, imprison and kill your opponents. But so far they have not been able to openly declare that they do not really support democracy. They must still pretend to believe in and support democratic principles. Bush justifies the Iraq takeover by saying he is spreading freedom and democracy.
If he was gaining a following by openly declaring his true desire to be unhindered by any law, to be sole dictator of the earth, we would be in a lot worse trouble. Now he has to maintain power by maintaining the sham that he is promoting democracy by all his tyrannical acts.
His power stands on a base of deception. When the truth is widely heard and understood, the glass house will come down.
[See also "Martin Luther King and Existential Politics".]
October 6, 2004
Cheney didn't look like an utter fool like Bush did the other night, so in one sense that's a great victory for the Republicans. It's hard to judge his performance in the debate apart from the performance of his administration, which is in unmitigated disaster, the worst in American history in many ways. It's an indefensible record, and Edwards did a good job of pointing out those failings within the limits of the few minutes he had for talking about something that one could talk for hours about and never fully cover. It's been an ongoing disaster day after day for well over a thousand days.
A Bush supporter on Charlie Rose is saying Cheney "did a beautiful job: He was thoughtful, serious..." And wrong. Someone is saying he came out ahead of Edwards in "having the gravitas that you want in a vice president." They stick closely to superficialities, matters of style, image.
How about that tie Cheney had on! That was some power tie, right? That's the kind of a tie you expect out of a vice president, and I think he really came out ahead of Edwards on that. Edwards' tie was okay, sort of a trial lawyer style tie, a color favored often by child abusers.
The kind of crap that passes for serious discussion on American TV is astonishingly moronic. Now "gravitas" is becoming a popular word to insert in place of or adjacent to "presidential". "I think the American people saw the kind of gravitas that they want in a vice president and made them feel sure they could trust this man to be president..."
October 6, 2004
Cheney in WonderlandCheney's relationship with the truth is a magical one, that of small child. He thinks he can say whatever he wants and that will make it so. Or at least he can get away with it. No one will realize or they won't remember. In last night's debate he asserted that he "never suggested" that there was a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. He's been suggesting it for years relentlessly. He's been the last holdout as the others in the Bush administration caved into reality one by one. Now he thinks he can just deny it on TV and it will be as if it never happened.
Cheney's performance in the debate must be evaluated as just that, a performance. His ability to obscure the truth successfully will be the measure of his success in the debate, because the truth is unjustifiable and extremely unpleasant. So how does one evaluate lying as an element in a debate? In a real debate in a high school or college it would count against you. But it's different in a presidential debate. In a presidential debate you can lie, and if you can do it smoothly and you're on the side the corporate networks support, it will work in your favor -- as long as you display "gravitas" while you do it.
Check out some of Cheney's debate lies listed at MoveOn.org In Black and White -- Here's the full transcript of the debate. Getting Senile? Or Just More Lies? Here's a photo of Cheney and Edwards together in February 2001, though he claims he never met Edwards till the debate. See also at this site a perceptive and entertaining insight into the debate by William Rivers Pitt. "The other problem for Cheney, of course, was the way he lied with nearly every word that passed his curled lips. It was a virtuoso performance of prevarication, obfuscation and outright balderdash. On Thursday night, George W. Bush played the part of a man who couldn't possibly defend his record. On Tuesday night, Cheney acted as though that record did not exist." An interesting opinion piece on the debate by CBS News's Dick Meyer. "Edwards Shoots And Scores" And an online poll at the site shows this: "Who won the vice presidential debate? Dick Cheney: 16.62% John Edwards: 81.50% Neither man. It was a draw: 1.87%." 99 to 1 Edwards -- Philadelphia Inquirer online poll: Cheney: 668 votes (1%) Edwards: 56,565 votes (99%); 96.5 to 3.5 Edwards -- The South Florida Sentinel online poll: Cheney 3.5% (664 responses) Edwards 96.5% (18,193 responses) CNN Online Poll: Dick Cheney 18% 32969 votes; John Edwards 78% 14,3601 votes; Evenly matched 4%. Newsday: Cheney 3.5% (693 responses); Edwards 96.5% (19,274 responses) It's Official: Saddam Was No Threat -- The report by the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq is about to be released and it says that Saddam Hussein posed no immediate threat and the threat was diminishing. If All Else Fails, Jail Him -- The Michigan Republican Party has filed criminal charges against Michael Moore. They claim that his offering to give free underwear to anyone who registers to vote is "bribery" (see Michael Moore about the Slacker Uprising. That's a very desperate move. It's obvious that Republicans don't like for very many people to vote. They don't believe in democracy. The more people vote, the more they lose.
October 7, 2004
Another one of Cheney's big lies for effect on Tuesday was his dramatic pronouncement that he presides over the Senate every Tuesday. It's true that is his job. But in fact he's only shown up for it twice in four years. Check out The Congressional Record. What would it take to wake up Americans to political reality? asks Mark Morford, " It is as simple as dramatically changing the way we educate our children, our population? Is it desanitizing our vacuous history textbooks and making media studies and political science and current events as mandatory to the educational diet as macho sports and bad lunches and playground kickball? Or maybe it's a new national draft? Will that galvanize the rest of the populace sufficiently? How about Iraq devolving even faster into Vietnam 2.0? Is it 10,000 dead U.S. soldiers and nary an imprisoned terrorist or fresh barrel of oil to show for it? How about five bucks a gallon? Ten? Is it legalizing pot and banning guns? What will it take?" FEMA Disaster Drill Set For Election Day -- What is this about? "On Tuesday, September 28th, a new federally-funded, FEMA-directed citizen training program began in my town called CERT. CERT stands for "Community Emergency Response Team.” 35 Days Till Disaster: Is an Election Day Faux-Terror Event All But CERTain?" incunabula.org Fair and Balanced CNN took a poll off its front page when Edwards was winning three to one and replaced it with a different question. FAIR Bush in a Bubble -- Molly Ivins: "We all had our debate moments, but the one that stunned me was, 'It's (Iraq is) hard work. I see it on the TV screens.' Watching it on TV -- boy, that is tough work all right...I also came to a full stop after the one about sending troops to die. 'I never -- when I was running -- when we had the debate in 2000, never dreamt I'd be doing that.' He never dreamt it? It never occurred to him? Was this man prepared for the job? Help! I lean to the 'bubble president' theory of Bush's peevish, petulant performance in debate. They've kept him surrounded by people who keep telling him he's great. He never has liked being questioned about anything..."
October 8, 2004I fear for my country. I cry for my country. Today I read that New Jersey, which Al Gore won by a double-digit margin, is now a toss up. What is happening? People are under the dreadful delusion that Bush keeps them safe, that his misguided aggression will not bring more calamity upon America.
On Democracy Now for October 7, an Iraqi author said that only part of the public message from bin Laden after the Madrid bombings was translated in the West. The part that was not heard in America said that bin Laden was suspending activities in America until after the election because he wanted Bush to be re-elected. Bush's strident policies would convince the Muslim world that the West is at war against it. The best the for the rest of the world, the author said, was if Bush is re-elected so that the U.S. would become further isolated from the rest of the world and it would bring about the collapse of the empire.
How tenuous our position is in America. Americans are afraid, but of the wrong things. They are like trusting lambs being led to slaughter by men they believe will protect them.
America is in great peril and the aggressive policies of George W. Bush will only continue to bring us into greater danger. How sad it is that Americans are so deceived.
Comic Relief: Is Bush Wired? Speculation about whether or not Bush was wearing some sort of prompting device continues to circulate on the Internet. It's comic relief for several reasons, mainly because as plausible as it is, it was a ridiculous failure in attaining its objective, if true. But it sheds more light into the tragicomic story of the Bush mob.
First of all, check out these pictures at Is Bush Wired? . Although the debate rules negotiated between the Bush and Kerry camps prohibited pictures taken from the rear, the cameramen did it anyway. In the pictures of Bush from the rear, there is a clearly outlined rectangle outlined on his back as the suit pulled tightly when he leaned on the podium. There's some fascinating discussion about the possibilities on the site. See also here for an example of a tiny device that can be inserted into the ear invisibly, a device that can be purchased for only $680. See this site for some examples of broadcasting units with earpieces that might well have created the shape on Bush's back.
This is not at all implausible given the Bush family's love of covert operations and ways of cheating. He has never subjected himself to any challenges to his authority as president and is hardly up to facing Kerry in a debate. He has no capacity for research or study and never has and could not be expected to cram for a debate with former prosecutor and 20-year senator Kerry. So it's more than plausible that he would wear a wire.
The discussion at Is Bush Wired? , gives the impression that the debate was not the first time Bush used some sort of covert prompting device. But what is funny is that it was a miserable failure in making Bush a good debater. Using a prompter to give a speech is one thing, using it in the heat of rhetoric battle is quite another. The person doing the prompting would have to be a good debater him/herself. Timing issues could be extremely difficult to deal with. And in the Bush-Kerry debate, Kerry's confrontation of Bush seemed to drive Bush into a rage that made it hard for him to function at all. Even if he's had experience using the prompter, he's had little experience being confronted or challenged in a situation he was not in complete control of. He was a raging bull.
Bush's temper is well known and Kerry may have had his number on that one. If not, he surely does now.
A fascinating subject, anyway, and something to watch in the future.
October 9, 2004Happy Birthday, John
Love is all you need. War is over, if you want it.
LATE SATURDAY NIGHT MUSINGS
October 10, 2004
A good, concise comment on the election hype by Chomsky. Very good points, we must not get carried away by the big contest of personalities that is being trumpeted to us by the propaganda system to the extent that we lose sight of the larger underlying forces.
Because the stakes are so high in ejecting the Bushies from power I have gotten intensely involved in this contest. But at the same time I keep in mind that Kerry's policies are far too much of an accommodation with Bush's positions to make him the leader we really need right now. I have at times engaged in the indignity of comparing the contest with a boxing match.
But Chomsky is right that the mass media framing of the election is a fraud, an intentional deception and smokescreen. It's extremely important to see beyond that. But it's also true that in this election, if never before, there is a difference that makes a difference to people on practically all levels of American society, even of the whole world. So the contest is about as important as any worldly event in the foreseeable future.
So it's useful to double track it. On one track, you can become extremely involved in this election struggle, its ins and outs and its dynamics. But keep an eye on the underlying forces that are more important, more fundamental, and will continue after the election no matter who wins. Democracy is not casting a vote and then forgetting about it for a couple of years.
Chomsky: "I have precisely emphasized [that] we should “not focus only on the individuals but on the underlying power interests that they represent,” and should be constantly working on this, not becoming obsessed with the extravaganzas, and spending only a few moments making (I think quite obvious) decisions about them. Within the existing framework of institutions, there are different options. Rumsfeld-Cheney-Wolfowitz etc. happen to constitute a radical jingoist extreme of the narrow spectrum, committed to violence and enhancing very serious military threats abroad and destroying what exists of decent government programs at home. That’s why they have received such unprecedented condemnation from the heart of the mainstream."
One of the most fascinating pieces I've read in a while is "The End of the Empire" by Sean Corrigan. Corrigan rejects the tendency of historians to tie up periods of history in too neat of packages and declares that archaeologists have found that life changed very little in the overall scheme of things in 410 AD when the Roman Empire collapsed and the Dark Ages are said to have set in. Similarly to how one may view the more recent World War II, worldwide calamity that it was, the vast majority of people in the world went on with their lives in modified, but not drastically altered ways. Not as drastic as the end of civilization, for example. Food rationing, hard times, even mass death, but seen from the other side, the great structures and processes of civilization did continue.
So here we are at a cataclysmic time for America. The Republic has fallen into the hands of a reckless mob who is piloting it toward disaster. And the people are fooled into thinking that the very people who are throwing a bowling ball into the ten pins of their civilization are the only ones who can save them. The forces that are in motion might be reasonably predicted to be on a collision course. The U.S. is breaking its own back, destroying its own military, economic and political power in the world. The empire will very likely collapse just as Osama bin Laden predicted it would. The Reagan Bush mob may turn out in the end to be the ones who finally bring down America.
What a different perspective we'll have on all of it if the Bush juggernaut is not stopped and it is allowed to run until it reaches its own natural limits. I spoke to a very intelligent man the other day who repeated to me something he surely heard on TV. "If it wasn't for Ronald Reagan we would all be speaking Russian today."
What? I said. What are you talking about? You know it's a Fox news mantra by the fact that it doesn't hold up to the mildest examination. The myth is that Reagan brought the Soviet Union to a collapse by engaging it in an arms race that finally broke the bank in the USSR, just finally exploded the economic system. If not for that we would be speaking Russian, he said, which presumably means that if another president had been elected, the U.S. would not have engaged the Soviet Union in an arms race, and instead it would have taken over the U.S. and invoked a law making it illegal to speak anything but Russian. And we who were already full grown at that time and not very facile at learning languages, would be speaking broken Russian, maybe occasionally blurting out a few words of English when we are in a delirium from lack of food because the Russians are taking all the food and giving it to their fat politicians of the Politburo, who have set up their headquarters in the White House, etc., etc., etc....
If Reagan so cleverly tricked the Soviets into destroying their own economy by spending their money on a lot of useless garbage, what do you think it did to the U.S.? Why was throwing money down the toilet any better for the U.S. than it was the Soviet Union. We survived it, that's all, and the Evil Empire, or the Other Superpower didn't. The U.S. has a more vibrant, robust economy, sure. And yes, it has everything to do with the fact that the U.S. is a free society, and democracies and free market systems do tend to produce much healthier, more productive societies than dictatorships. That's all true. What isn't true is that the Reagan and Bush so-called Conservatives really support free markets or democracy. They demonstrably don't. They support their buddies, a little network of corrupt friends who give them huge campaign contributions and in turn get to rob the treasury.
The Reagan-Bush axis has not brought greater democracy and freer markets, but have pulled America away from both, toward greater and greater concentration of power exercised by a few who are increasingly isolated from accountability either legally or economically. Like Bush in the debate the other night, they have forgotten how to compete. The richest corporations are good at gaming the system, just as Bush is. They know how to cheat and they have no restraint about doing it. But they have long forgotten how to really compete fairly with a better product, better service at a better price, or in the political arena, with a better program.
The Neocons are power hungry. They saw the collapse of the Soviet Union as an opportunity to fill the power vacuum -- with themselves. They want to be the sole superpower, the boss of the world. They want to be the new Evil Empire, and they are bringing America down just as the power elite in Russia brought down the Soviet system.
But back to Corrigan's point, the empire may very well collapse, and sooner than most Americans dare to think. But life will go on. For many, at least.
"The only thing the Bushies have to fear is the end of fear itself." -- Katrina van Heuvel
(NOT VERY) HAPPY
See "Columbus Day: Celebrating a Holocaust" at Indian Country.
October 11, 2004
Those who are still up at 2 a.m. on Sunday night, October 11, in Greater New York could be watching this documentary on channel 13 "In the Life." It's an amazing examination of the Christian Right's aggressive assault on homosexuals. Beyond that, it gives a snapshot of the political power that has been wielded in America over the last 25 years or so by extreme, aggressive Christians who have done things like force textbooks to be changed to conform to religious dogma. During the '80s when many ordinary Americans just considered people like Pat Roberts as a harmless lunatic, this insanely grinning cherub with the bobbing head was building a political movement to "take back" control of America. This country was founded by Christians, he said, and we can take it back.
Though some of the early colonies were founded by people fleeing religious persecution, it's a big jump from there to "this country was founded by Christians." The Pilgrims didn't start this country, the United States of America was founded by Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Washington, et. al., and they were very explicit about whether or not they were founding a Christian nation. They didn't leave it up to us to interpret it. They said explicitly that religion was not part of government, it was a part of life that was in the realm of the freedom of the individual. They may have been or may not have been Christians, however you define that.
I would argue that the aggressive, warlike people represented by George W. Bush are not Christians in any authentic meaning of the word, and what it derives from historically. Their values, as represented by their actions, are severely unchristian, in direct and violent opposition to the basic principles Jesus preached.
Ironically, the founders of the U.S. were undoubtedly more Christian in spirit than these violent, hateful "Christian Soldiers" who are wielding so much political power today. But they explicitly were not founding a Christian nation.
Having governments force public school textbooks to be wiped clean of any references to the theory of evolution without giving equal time to the "theory" of creationism, which isn't a theory it's a belief system. A scientific theory is not meant to be "believed" in the same sense as religious belief. It's a different realm with a different approach. There is no need to see them as being in conflict. A scientific theory is a working model that can be useful, until a better one comes along. The scientific method requires that one always remains open to revisions of one's ideas. Religion doesn't need to do that. It deals with the unchanging, the eternal, the reality that underlies the world we build our civilization upon. The founders were wise to keep the two realms separate. After all, religious tyranny was what many of the first Americans fled their home countries and took their chances in a relative wilderness.
A lot of mainstream Americans are now waking up to a nightmare of what happens when right wing, militaristic, religiously dogmatic people take over the government and harness its vast power to drive their agenda. I'm talking about the mellower, down-to-earth people who just want to go ahead with their lives, not fight battles about whether the discovery of evolution is somehow a violation of one's religious conviction, or fight wars with dictators who "could have developed weapons of mass destruction". This is really the majority of Americans. They are liberal in spirit. "Liberal" comes from "liberty" and it is one of the Enlightenment concepts on which Jefferson, Franklin and others based their design of the American republic. It's about freedom to do your own thing. Americans are also conservative, fiscally, and morally. They don't want governments wasting their money or managing it less responsibly than they would themselves. And they are, on the average, fairly conservative morally. But that does not extend to wanting to exert tyranny over others personal moral decisions. These aggressive "Christians" are not "Conservative" either, as they claim, either fiscally or morally.
Remember "Thou shalt not kill"?, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor"? That is moral conservatism, not screeching about abortions while you are murdering tens of thousands of innocent civilian Iraqis. And lying to your own people about why you are doing it.
America has gone crazy and I hope masses of these more moderate mainstream Americans wake up before the country makes the tragic error of giving the Bush fanatics another four years to destroy America.
October 12, 2004
Jimmy Breslin, a great American, a great resource, a courageous voice. Love his straight talk: "The president is a dumb guy who gets people killed. He and his people forget he lost the last election and had it stolen for him. If you could see through his endless rapid blinking on Friday night, he seemed to show that he is not completely sane. He has a religious belief in his lies. In the Friday night debate, George Bush, who lied America into war, did say one truthful thing: 'This is going to be a long, long war.'" Zogby-WSJ poll: "The presidential debate has lifted John Kerry back to where he was in our battleground analysis before the Republican convention energized the Bush campaign. The latest Zogby Interactive poll puts Mr. Kerry ahead of President Bush in 13 of the 16 closely contested states -- two more states than the Massachusetts senator led before the debate and the most since August. The latest survey was conducted between last Thursday, after the debate ended, and Tuesday afternoon, before vice-presidential contenders Dick Cheney and John Edwards debated. Wall Street Journal Is Bush Wired (cont'd) -- Speculation on a possible transmitter aid used by Bush surfaces in the international press: The prompting device controversy goes on. Look at these pictures from Bobfertik.com. "First a T then a hump." Here is the picture of the lump on Bush's back during the second debate from the Associated Press. Australia's The Age: "Bush's campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt told the Washington Post the claims were "preposterous", but declined to elaborate or to suggest what could have produced the unusual photo. The president's tailor, Georges de Paris, who made the suit, said the bulge was nothing more than a fold along the jacket's back seam, accentuated when the president crossed his arms and leaned forward on the lectern." "Was the President wired up for TV?": This is London Bush's tailor is the latest fall guy. He's claiming his $5,000 suit just looks all rumply in back. The Scotsman Bush interpreter says Bush uses an earpiece. The interpreter first worked for Bush at a meeting with Indonesian officials. "During those 90 minutes, President Bush not only covered all the points, he covered them quite well and without any notes! Not once during the entire meeting did he look at any notes or receive cues from anyone present in discussing the Indonesian political situation with depth and intelligence. I was astonished! 'How could this be?' I asked myself. It was a huge surprise. I concluded either that Bush was much more intelligent than we had been led to believe, or that somehow someone was feeding answers to him through a hidden earpiece. At the time, I really didn't know which of these was true. Having worked directly with President Bush twice since then, and having additionally talked with many of my fellow interpreters who have worked directly with him, I am now certain that he could not have had that much knowledge of Indonesia. He doesn't even read the daily newspaper to keep up with what's being reported in the press. I am convinced that he must have been using some sort of earpiece through which someone was telling him what to say." Reuters/Zogby poll shows Kerry leading 47-44 October was unkind to Bush. According to Arizona Central: "Troubling headlines, coupled with his opponent, Sen. John Kerry, performing well in the first two debates with Bush, may have turned a Bush advantage of mid-September into an October clinch. Just over three weeks before the election, Bush is not running against Kerry as much as against events that are largely out of his control." Late Debate commentary: Obviously Bush looked a lot better than in the first debate, which was a catastrophically bad performance. But a few days after the debate, a few points stand out. One was when Bush was asked to list three times when he realized he had made a mistake and he proved himself once again explicitly unable to admit to a single mistake. He sidestepped the question and just drifted further and further away from it, talking about his "right" decisions, answering the question he wished he'd been asked. The debates are making a difference for Kerry -- Mr. Bush came out on the offensive Friday night with the hope of reclaiming his lead. A day later, a half day of spin spun, the best Mr. Bush did was stop his slide in the polls. And with about three weeks left until Election Day, the White House looks to be won on the margins. CBS One of the most illuminating moments of the debate was when Bush was asked to list three times when he realized he had made a mistake. See E.J. Dionne: "Bush's telling non-answer." Wish They Were Here -- Another gem was when he said he was "not happy" about finding out definitively there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Not happy? What did he mean? He might have been not happy that he made such a drastic move based on nothing, but I suspect he was really thinking he was not happy they had been unable to plant WMDs to justify his pretext for war. "Bush didn't change the dynamic in the second debate," according to a piece in Salon. It's back to the low-expectations for Bush, for whom the deck is always stacked. If he doesn't do quite as abysmally as in the first debate, if he can crawl back an inch toward speaking an occasional logical sentence, he will be declared to have won by the corporate pundits. But Bush has been so bad it's hard for them to even pull that one off. No Draft -- And then there was his statement that categorically there would be no draft. And if you believe this I've got a bridge... How easy it is for him to say whatever he thinks he must. Why wouldn't he say whatever he thinks people want to hear now, and then go back on it once he no longer faces the voters? He did it before? Then he lied about his reasons for going to war, and later jokes about it, passes it off as unimportant... People know better than to believe him now. See The military draft and Bush's credibility problem. People preparing for the draft -- Mail Tribune Kerry takes Flagstaff's American Legion post -- Arizona Daily Sun. Here's a great Chickenhawk vid. So what if he's innocent, execute the bastard anyway. Never change course, even if you are totally wrong and it's a matter of life and death. It's the American Way. New York Times Fear is the only card of Bush -- Helen Thomas: "During the 90-minute encounter, Cheney made it eminently clear that the administration has only one card to play in this campaign -- terrorism. By keeping the country scared, the administration hopes to be safely ensconced for another four years." Propping Bush up for display by Donna Marsh O’Connor, the mother of Vanessa Lang Langer, WTC Tower II, 93rd floor. Washington Dispatch. Debate 3: Time for a Checkmate -- Tom Paine The CIA is at war against Bush -- Telegraph Marines in Iraq Speak Out -- Several members of the platoon said they were struck by the difference between the way the war was being portrayed in the United States and the reality of their daily lives. "Every day you read the articles in the States where it's like, 'Oh, it's getting better and better,' " said Lance Cpl. Jonathan Snyder, 22, of Gettysburg, Pa. "But when you're here, you know it's worse every day." Pfc. Kyle Maio, 19, of Bucks County, Pa., said he thought government officials were reticent to speak candidly because of the upcoming U.S. elections. "Stuff's going on here but they won't flat-out say it," he said. "They can't get into it." Washington Post Bush is caught in web of illusion -- Bob Herbert
October 13, 2004
Wind-Up Commander in Chief
The Bush clan -- especially this new generation of Nixon alumni with George W. as their dunce front man -- never ceases to amaze with the extent of its bizarre antics. This thing about the bulge in Bush's back and the odd way that it seems totally plausible that it's a prompting device -- who would have thought? This is truly a sci-fi presidency. This is more outrageously nutty than a Kurt Vonnegut story, but of course it's deadly serious because so many people's lives are at stake.
It all fits together so perfectly, all we know about Bush's life, his gaming the system throughout school, the military, his "business ventures", the whole CIA, pro-Nazi history of the family -- why should it be in the slightest implausible that Bush would choose to use a prompting device that could protect him from having to ever face real questions about his job as president without some help. Now people are selecting public domain pics that we have seen before, but suddenly now that it is pointed out, there is indeed a rectangular bulge on his back in many of them. An unmistakable, geometrically perfect rectangle, quite large and prominent on his back. How very strange!
This opens a window upon a whole different kind of a presidency than most ever imagined before. Sure, it was clear he was a puppet in some ways, it was never clear how far it went. But now we see evidence of something unexplained, and the theory put forth to explain it is not conclusive by any means. But it is plausible. So much so that it is easy to feature it, and imagine the Bush presidency with that added component. It's not really much of a jump, but it's just such a striking detail.
Now that people seem to be onto it, what must the White House be doing? They must be excreting bricks. Again, all they would have to do would be to explain it. "The president has a back brace for a slipped disk." But they seem unable to do that kind of thing. There was the outrageous explanation for how he got the baseball bat lump under his eye, the choking on the pretzel story. There's the refusal to make any effort to set the record straight about Bush's lost year in his military career.
So will this just be another of myriad elephants in the room in the weird Bushworld we are citizens of? In the grand array of Bush crimes, it's not much. But it is a singular historical event. That cannot be denied. We are truly in Looney Toons now.
Check out: Dave Lindorff: "A Milli Vanilli President" on In These Times Poetry Corner -- Robo Bush.
October 14, 2004Debate Impressions -- Debate Number Three. How strange it is. They walk out, shake hands, touch each other's arms. You see them chatting. What are they saying? You lyin' sack of ... I'll kill ya! SSSSSSS!!
Bush denied saying he wasn't concerned about Osama. I just heard the recording the other day. What were the exact words? Can we roll the video tape please?!
There it is. On the White House Website: "So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you."
Results of a CBS News online poll at 11:30 Wednesday night after the debate:
John Kerry: 84.82%
President Bush: 14.60%
Course online polls don't mean nuthin'. Still, looks good. This could be a time when there is an online revolution in polling itself. There has already been an online revolution in how elections take place. This time we may see a dynamic that will be so new the traditional pollsters don't know how to put their fingers on it. It's hard to be sure, but I get a sense of democratic action rising out of the country itself that may translate into a turnout of a significant number of people who have never figured into the voting landscape before. We'll see what happens, but there are indications that what is rumbling now three weeks from the election is going to continue to move toward a peak on election day. This last few weeks the acceleration curve may become close to vertical before it cuts off Nov. 2. Then it will be a whole new world, whatever happens.
Bush was asked about the shortage of flu shots this winter. He said, "We were relying on a company out of England for those, and it turned out they were contaminated..." What? The whole United States was relying on this one company? What happened to the free market? Let's get back to that one. He jumped right into talking about young, healthy people not getting them this time, so there will be more for the people who really need it. Right, yes, of course. But what about this one company?
The first very pronounced impression of Bush is that his main focus is to give a smiling, upbeat appearance. Don't let them get anymore pictures of you scowling, you idiot. He looks practically breathless with happiness as he listened to Kerry deliver an organized series of karate chops to his throat, knees, solar plexus. He looks positively giddy.
You can see him really disciplining himself to maintain an upbeat, friendly smile while Kerry is talking. It's a visible effort. They've got him on some split screen shots while Kerry delivers an effective critique that tears his record to shreds in a clear, vivid way that average Americans can understand. And Bush is just smiling.
He looks almost disassociated, like he's not connecting, not really in the same room. It looks like it's a file photo they are just holding up there because Bush couldn't make it. When he looks at the moderator and talks, he's not focusing on him, or the camera. It's almost as if he's concentrating on something else, a broken filling, a telephone call waiting. Is he listening to something?
I tried to look at his back tonight, but no way. The guy was more conscious than a trained actor about not turning his back to the audience. All that strict denial just makes people more curious. Come on, George, just tell us what the hump is, man. How bad can it be? Are you pregnant?
Actually I now think I know the answer to the question what is the hump on Bush's back. I believe Bush is secretly a Geisha.
Still, try as he will to keep an upbeat demeanor for the photos, he starts to lose his composure and return to his truculent self as he hears Kerry's sledge hammer blows: "He's the first president since Hoover to lose jobs; he's the first president to have family income go down..." Ouch. But someone impressed on him: the scowling ain't making it.
Despite the fact that the TV pundits will find a spin for it that will flatten out any distinctions, turn it into a "toss up", no one really won. Bush will be seen to have done a great job -- compared with himself and his historic low-water mark of the first debate, so that will be enough to say he won, or at least "held his own," which is in itself pretty pathetic for the incumbent chief executive.
But turning off the TV before the pundits get their chance to mold your fresh impression, apart from the "who won" trivia (no contest), Kerry is a gifted debater. He's more at home as a debater than as a public speaker, and he's pretty good at that. But as a debater he is totally in his element, totally in command of the situation, calmly dominating, thinking and talking rings around a befuddled Bush. By the third debate he had it down to the extent that he pretty much totally controlled the debate, easily put down Bush's few meager challenges. He finishes a dense series of points and Bush goes, "Whew!" Signifying what, exactly? Bush tries to crack a joke, only his own nervous laughter echoes in the silent hall.
His manner, his schtick, worked okay in 2000 when he was an outsider and could just hurl criticisms about the previous administration. He kept blaming everything on Clinton until pretty recently, but that won't wash in a re-election campaign. Bush is not credible defending an indefensible record. He has nothing. To say. Discussing domestic policy, he brings every answer back to "education", his "No child left behind" act, his one legislative accomplishment as president other than tax cuts and war initiatives.
What do you plan to do about jobs, mr president? Well, the No Child Left Behind Act is really a jobs program if you think about it. If we get people educated, they can get good jobs, that's why I passed that No Child Left Behind Act with that Senator Kennedy...
He tells people. "You've got more money in your pocket since I passed my tax cut to boost the economy," he says, with a hint of pleading. But that doesn't sell. People know they do not have more money in their pocket. And the No Child Left Behind Act is not going to change that, any more than the tax cuts did. This is that moment where Bush, like his father in '92, shows that, like he has said, "I really don't understand how poor people think."
In the debate context, Kerry is dazzling. He expresses coherent, compelling ideas. He really knows these subjects from having lived them. The entire performance is something on an entirely different level than something that can be transmitted through an earpiece.
If Bush had Einstein himself, or even Clinton feeding him lines, he could still never put up a good contest against Kerry in that setting. There's no comparison. It's hard for me to imagine people walking away from these debates and saying Bush is the more qualified, more inspirational, more confidence inspiring candidate.
Bush's message to the younger generations about Social Security is not reassuring. "Sure, we'll honor our commitment to seniors, but when it comes to our children and grandchildren, we're going to have to find a different strategy," he said. What are you saying?
Bush was able to do a sort of media analysis on Bush's statements, and cut into them and reveal the inherent lies, which the newsmedia rich journalist celebrities never do. It wss a fascinating interchange. Kerry made mincemeat out of Bush. Bush must be happy tonight. He will never have to face John Kerry in another debate.
The moderator asked how the candidates would deal with the problems of staffing the military, to relieve the stresses on people who have served longer than their contract requires. Bush said, "The best way to take stress on our soldiers is to win in Iraq, so we can bring them home..." Is anybody buying this stuff?
October 15, 2004
Two Faced -- An 18-year-old said to me about Bush the other day, "He only smiles on one side of his face." The weirdly asymmetrical Bush face is indeed something to contemplate. It did look especially pronounced during Wednesday's debate. Is is just because we haven't seen him smile in such a long time? When he smiles, it's just the right side. The left side of his mouth looks dead. There is more discussion about it on Salon. Did he have a stroke? Is he suffering from presenile dementia? Are his years of alcohol and drug abuse, coupled with the pressure of lying the country into war finally taking a toll? Was it a stroke? Is it Bell's Palsy? The Nazi Connections -- The Guardian Unlimited, less intimidated by Bush power than most American papers, has published a historical piece about the Bush family's involvements with the people who financed the Nazi military build up. Although the story of W's grandfather's directorship of a bank that was closed down under the Trading with the Enemy Act for funding and investing in the Nazi war machine, few American papers have ever had the temerity to mention the fact. If it would be embarrassing to the Bushes, they seem to think, it would be embarrassing to America itself and should not see the light of day. Can you blame Bush for the crimes of his grandfather? No. But the fact that this is the family culture is a point of some relevance. According to the Guardian: "The debate over Prescott Bush's behaviour has been bubbling under the surface for some time. There has been a steady internet chatter about the 'Bush/Nazi' connection, much of it inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war and when there was already significant information about the Nazis' plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler's rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty.... Thyssen owned the largest steel and coal company in Germany and grew rich from Hitler's efforts to re-arm between the two world wars. One of the pillars in Thyssen's international corporate web, UBC, worked exclusively for, and was owned by, a Thyssen-controlled bank in the Netherlands. More tantalising are Bush's links to the Consolidated Silesian Steel Company (CSSC), based in mineral rich Silesia on the German-Polish border. During the war, the company made use of Nazi slave labour from the concentration camps, including Auschwitz. The ownership of CSSC changed hands several times in the 1930s, but documents from the US National Archive declassified last year link Bush to CSSC, although it is not clear if he and UBC were still involved in the company when Thyssen's American assets were seized in 1942." I saw tonight, finally, the great movie: "Outfoxed". It is a great movie. See this movie. Show it to as many people as you can. You can buy it as a Buzzflash Premium. The movie gives an amazing insight into the foul empire of Fox News. The film was made with the help of an army of monitors who helped to gather the footage needed to show how Fox lies, distorts all the news for the Right Wing agenda, how it's a 24/7 commercial for the GOP. These are people who were shaken to their roots by the arresting of the vote counting process by the U.S. Supreme court and the uneemly seizure of power by the Bush mob. Now we are seeing the results of the actions taken and the projects undertaken by millions of people after the 2000 election. I know I felt very alone, and the few people I communicated with frankly about it also felt as if they were alone in their uneasiness with the actions of the Bush administration. This new wave of political film is wonderful. Perhaps there is some truth to the statement "The truth will out." In any case, certain truths that have been so effectively erased from the mainstream media machine, have now resurfaced through film. Film has provided the channel for alternative visions that could not be heard in traditional, established channels.
For the record. The photo of Bush from the back during the third debate is here.
October 16, 2004
Gentleman Bill O'Reilly's Problem -- Check out thesmokinggun.com for a gathering of links about O'Reilly's hassle with a Fox employee who is suing because she says O'Reilly "subjected her to repeated instances of sexual harassment and spoke often, and explicitly, to her about phone sex, vibrators, threesomes, masturbation, the loss of his virginity, and sexual fantasies." Dear Bill. Would he be capable of such undignified behavior? He's normally such a decent man.... Well, on second thought... Dueling Tailors -- Though Bush's tailor says his suit just happens to bunch up in a perfect rectangle on his back, a New York tailor says there is definitely something there. NY Daily News Registering Voters, then throwing away the Democrats, the latest anti-vote strategy to surface from the Republican side. Daily Kos James Baker's latest shady deal, proposing to the government of Kuwait that he and Carlyle will use their influence to put a priority on payment of Iraq's debt to Kuwait. The Nation
October 17, 2004
The Post-Bush Era -- SF Gate's Mark Morford ruminates about the possibility that we could wake up one day with John Kerry president instead of the mad cowboy that is now driving us to ruin. What a thought! I hesitate to allow myself the pleasure of envisioning a world that is not infested by this scourge of fanaticism and incompetence called the Bush administration. But just think of it! It really is a possibility. Notwithstanding Fox and all its gutless corporate media brethren who are working feverishly to cram another Bush presidency down the throat of America, it is possible that the country will throw off the virus. Kerry, as Morford points out, is not the second coming of Christ (or first if that's your persuasion), but he does have the makings to be a great president and this is an emergency in American history when the country staggers over the brink of calamity ushered in by the neocon vision unleashed. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists: pray for the end of the slaughter and destruction! Pray for the cessation of the Bush disaster! Ooops! I told the truth! Whatever vestiges of a conscience still reside in the hidden recesses of Bush's mind sometimes trick him into telling the truth inadvertently, the characteristic Freudian slip that especially plagues cynical liars like Bush. He recently told a Daytona, Florida, audience: "My opponent seems to be willing to say almost anything he thinks will benefit him politically. After standing on the stage, after the debates, I made it very plain we will not have an all-volunteer army." Yahoo More Bush Military Records Uncovered -- The truth is very slippery whenever it comes to anything with the Bushes. Weeks after signing an oath saying it had produced all of George W.'s records, another box of moldy military records has been discovered by independent examiners in response to legal action by the Associated Press, which reports that "The two retired Army lawyers went through Texas files under an agreement between the Texas Guard and The Associated Press, which sued to gain access to the files. The 31 pages of documents turned over to AP Thursday night include orders for high-altitude training in 1972, less than three months before Bush abruptly quit flying as a fighter pilot." Defending their alleged inability to find the records before, the Texas Air National Guard's Lt. Col. John Stanford said, "These boxes are full of dirt and rat (excrement) and dead bugs. They have never been sitting in an uncontrolled climate. It's a tough task to go through archives that were not set up in a way that you could easily go through them." Is that how the government keeps records? The records show Bush was ordered in 1972 to take three days of "physiological training," the purpose of which "is to familiarize pilots with the effects of lack of oxygen so they can recognize them and take appropriate action to avoid blacking out at the controls," according to the Associated Press. This is consistent with reports that Bush was having trouble flying and landing at about that period, which is also the time when he refused to take his physical and when he is widely reported to have been heavily involved in alcohol and drug abuse, which allegations he has never refuted. See the documents at defenselink.mil. For an alternate explanation of Bush's mysterious back bulge, see Lifecor.com The Evil Genius himself, Karl Rove, testified before a grand jury investigating who leaked the CIA agent status of Valerie Plame, according to Washington Post A platoon from Jacksonville, Mississippi, in Iraq defied orders to go on a dangerous mission. As chaos grows and the mission becomes ever vaguer, these men have made a decision to risk being charged with the willful disobeying of orders, punishable by dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay and up to five years confinement, rather than give up their lives for a badly managed operation launched for discredited justifications and ever-changing goals by a government that came into power by stopping the counting of votes and proceeded to show no respect for domestic or international law. See Legitimate Government and The Clarion Ledger. Rove in the corner: look out! Atlantic Monthly. Jon Stewart on CNN's "Crossfire". He called Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala "partisan hacks" and said he came on the show to tell them, "You're hurting America. Please stop..." See the clip, read the transcript at Salon or Media Matters. Like Michael Moore, Stewart has managed to use humor to break through the media lockdown and get an alternative message through the corporate right wing filter. He's done even better than Moore in terms of breaking into established corporate-controlled mass media. Michael Moore, at the same time, has been denied a showing on cable television of Fahrenheit 911, even on a pay-per-view basis. See New York Times