29 October 2004

George Soros's Message

President Bush has led us in the wrong direction. The invasion of Iraq was a colossal blunder and only by repudiating the President's policies at the polls next Tuesday can we hope to escape from the quagmire in which we find ourselves. John Kerry won all three debates but President Bush invokes his faith and that inspires his followers. In the end, it boils down to a philosophical difference over how to deal with an often confusing and threatening reality.

After the traumatic events of 9/11, President Bush rose to the occasion and he carried the nation behind him. But he has led us in the wrong direction. He used the war on terror as an excuse for invading Iraq. If we re-elect President Bush, we are endorsing his policies and we shall have to live with the consequences. If we reject him at the polls, we shall have a better chance to regain the respect and support of the world and break the vicious circle of escalating violence.

Please be sure to vote next Tuesday, November 2. And please pass along this message to others. Our future may depend on defeating President Bush.

Sincerely,George Soros

Word for the Day

cavitation · kâ`-v&-'tEI-sh&n · noun

: the process of cavitating (verb): as a) : the formation of partial vacuums in a liquid by a swiftly moving solid body (as a propeller) or by high-intensity sound waves (i.e. intense turbulence); also : the pitting and wearing away of solid surfaces (as of metal or concrete) as a result of the collapse of these vacuums in surrounding liquid; b) : the formation of cavities in an organ or tissue especially in disease

Etymology: cavity + -ation

Bush Admin. War Profiteering

For a moderate Republican (yes, there actually is such a thing!)... view of the Administration's war profiteering and why they should be voted out of office for it, follow this link. (Bull Moose).

Another soldier's story: Vote Bush Out

For another soldier's story, please see this link to The Washington Note.

Brooke's Story

This has been around the internet for a few weeks, but I post it (sent to me by a friend) because it's such a good antidote to the nauseatingly manipulative "Ashley's Story" ad put out by the Dark Forces of Evil.

To Whom it May Concern,
I found out that my brother, Sergeant Ryan M. Campbell, was dead during a graduate seminar at Emory University on April 29, 2004. Immediately after a uniformed officer knocked at my mother's door to deliver the message that broke her heart, she called me on my cell phone. She could say nothing but "He's gone." I could say nothing but"No." Over and over again we chanted this refrain to each other over the phone as I made my way across the country to hold her as she wept.
I had made the very same trip in February, cutting classes to spend my brother's two weeks' leave from Baghdad with him. Little did I know then that the next time I saw him would be at Arlington National Cemetery. During those days in February, my brother shared with me his fear, his disillusionment, and his anger. "We had all been led to believe that Iraq posed a serious threat to America as well as its surrounding nations," he said. "We invaded expecting to find weapons of mass destruction and a much more prepared and well-trained Republican Guard waiting for us. It is now a year later, and alas, no weapons of mass destruction or any other real threat, for that matter."

Ryan was scheduled to complete his one-year assignment to Iraq on April 25. But on April 11, he emailed me to let me know not to expect him in Atlanta for a May visit, because his tour of duty had been involuntarily extended. "Just do me one big favor, ok?" he wrote. "Don't vote for Bush. No. Just don't do it. I would not be happy with you."

Last night, I listened to George W. Bush's live, televised speech at the Republican National Convention. He spoke to me and my family when he announced, "I have met with parents and wives and husbands who have received a folded flag, and said a final goodbye to a soldier they loved. I am awed that so many have used those meetings to say that I am in their prayers and to offer encouragement to me. Where does strength like that come from? How can people so burdened with sorrow also feel such pride? It is because they know their loved one was last seen doing good. Because they know that liberty was precious to the one they lost. And in those military families, I have seen the character of a great nation: decent, and idealistic, and strong."

This is my reply: Mr. President, I know that you probably still "don't do body counts," so you may not know that almost one thousand U.S. troops have died doing what you told them they had to do to protect America. Ryan was Number 832. Liberty was, indeed, precious to the one I lost-- so precious that he would rather have gone to prison than back to Iraq in February. Like you, I don't know where the strength for "such pride" on the part of people "so burdened with sorrow" comes from; maybe I spent it all holding my mother as she wept. I last saw my loved one at the Kansas City airport, staring after me as I walked away. I could see April 29 written on his sad, sand-chapped and sunburned face. I could see that he desperately wanted to believe that if he died, it would be while "doing good," as you put it. He wanted us to be able to be proud of him. Mr. President, you gave me and my mother a folded flag instead of the beautiful boy who called us "Moms" and "Brookster." But worse than that, you sold my little brother a bill of goods. Not only did you cheat him of a long meaningful life, but you cheated him of a meaningful death. You are in my prayers, Mr. President, because I think that you need them more than anyone on the face of the planet. But you will never get my vote.

So to whom it may concern: Don't vote for Bush. No. Just don't do it. I would not be happy with you.
Brooke M. Campbell
Atlanta, GA

28 October 2004

Minority Turnout is the key

Josh Marshall posted a link to this press release from:
Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates, Inc. (703) 684-4510 FAX (703) 739-0664
915 King Street y 2 nd floor y Alexandria, Virginia 22314

I have omitted the tabular data, which doesn't appear on the post in readable format, but if you're interested, follow the link above. The conclusion is that if the voter suppression efforts of the Republicans are unsuccessful in minimizing the minority turnout, Kerry should win decisively.

Public Release of National Survey Results
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Tony Fabrizio
October 27, 2004 Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates
It Can’t Get Any Closer in the Battleground States —
Minority Turnout is Kerry Key

Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates (FMA), a Republican polling and strategic
consulting firm based in Alexandria, VA, has just completed their third likely voter survey with interviews conducted ONLY in the remaining 12 battleground states.*
In the three-way Presidential ballot, the race is dead tied in these crucial battleground states with BOTH President Bush and Sen. Kerry receiving 47% of the vote. Ralph Nader receives 1.6% while just 4% of the battleground state likely voters are undecided.

"110 days after our first battleground survey, during which these voters withstood tens of millions of dollars of attack ads by both sides, two national conventions and three prime-time, televised debates, this race hasn’t changed one iota statistically in these battleground states. This data underscores just how little relevance national polling has in this race, given the consistency of the battleground data versus the weekly swings in the media’s national tracking surveys. However, a minor, but troubling trend nonetheless for the President is the evaporating support for Ralph Nader. Nader’s support has gone from minuscule to microscopic which benefits Sen. Kerry," said Tony Fabrizio, who served as chief pollster for Bob Dole’s ’96 Presidential campaign.

[table omitted]

However, as the data below illustrates, when the data is weighted to reflect turnout based on the 2000 exit polls, Sen. Kerry leads by 3.5% and if minority turnout is weighted to census levels Sen. Kerry’s lead expands to 5.2% "It is clear that minority turnout is a wildcard in this race and represents a huge upside for Sen. Kerry and a considerable challenge for the President’s campaign. If one assumes minority turnout exceeds their 2000 election levels, then it appears a number of these states would tip to Sen. Kerry," Fabrizio concluded.

[table omitted]

longueur - Word for the Day

longueur · lOnh-GûR · noun

: A (subjectively) dull and tedious passage in a book, play, musical composition, or the like.

One of the commentators compared my speech to one of Gladstone’s which had lasted five hours. "It was not so long, but some of the speech’s . . . longueurs made Gladstone seem the soul of brevity," he

--Lord Lamont of Lerwick, "Been there, done that," Times (London), March 6, 2001

If this book of 400 pages had been devoted to her alone, it would have been filled with longueurs, but as the biography of a family it has the merit of originality. --Peter Ackroyd, review of Gwen Raverat: Friends, Family and Affections, by Frances Spalding, Times (London), June 27, 2001

This book ... has its defects. Sometimes it loses focus (as in a longueur on Chechens living in Jordan). --Colin Thubron, "Birth of a Hundred Nations," New York Times, November 19, 2000

Longueur is from French (where it means "length"), ultimately deriving from Latin longus, "long," which is also the source of English ‘long.’

27 October 2004

excursus - Word for the Day

excursus \ek-SKUR-sus\ noun
1. A dissertation that is appended to a work and that contains a more extended exposition of some important point or topic.
2. A digression.

26 October 2004

Bush HS rally in WI stifles free speech

This was reported by Daily KOS, which I highly recommend. My comment is that parents and high schoolers who believe in the First Amendment should have attended the rally with their Kerry banners and buttons hidden, then whipped them out once the cameras were rolling. Then sue the pants off the school and school district if they tried to enforce their fascist threat to stifle First Amendment rights. It's time for some more fight, and civil disobedience, in the face of these naked attempts to rewrite the Bill of Rights by this klan.

Free speech, Bush style
[by kos Tue Oct 26th, 2004 at 17:46:27 GMTAn email from Wisconsin. ]

A friend with a child in the Richland County,WI high school where George Bush appears today reports the following. students were told they could not wear any pro-Kerry clothing or buttons or protest in any manner, at the risk of expulsion. After a parent inquired, an alternative activity will be provided, probably a movie being shown in an auditorium. (The school secretary reportedly said that students had the choice of just staying home if they didn't want to attend the Bush rally, but the principal subsequently offered an alternative.) If Bush comes to a high school, how dare his campaign dictate what students can wear?
This is out of control.

My letter to the Principal of Richland Center High School:

October 26, 2004

John Cler, Principal
Richland Center High School
23200 Hornet High RdRichland Center, WI 53581-8943

Dear Mr. Cler:
It has been reported from student and parent sources associated with your school that students in attendance at your high school, where George W. Bush made a campaign appearance on October 26, were told they could not wear any pro-Kerry clothing or buttons, or protest in any manner, at the risk of expulsion. Reportedly, an alternative activity was to be provided for those who did not wish to go along with a blatantly orchestrated campaign appearance in a public school setting.

As a citizen of the United States, where freedom of expression is so critical and honored as to be made the First Amendment to our Constitution, I am horrified and shocked at such reported conduct.
If these reports are true, I believe your school has violated the constitutional rights of its students in a most shameful way, which teaches them all the wrong lessons. I would hope that the school will recognize the gravity of its error in this regard, and make some effort to redress the situation by acknowledging that it was wrong to stifle the fundamental rights of students to peaceably express their political beliefs, and by presenting some educational activity to emphasize the important civic values of the First Amendment and its meaning for Americans.

Thank you.

Very truly yours,

David Studhalter

polyonymous - Word for the Day

polyonymous · (pahl-i-ah-&-m&s) · adjective

Having or being known by many names.
Etym.: Greek polyonymos, from poly- (many) + -onyma (name).

"She (Hecate) protects roads and she is polyonymous…"
Michael P. Clark; Revenge of the Aesthetic: The Place of Literature in
Theory Today
; University of California Press; 2000.

"The Antonine dynasty polyonymous senator whose names included 'Velleius Blaesus'."
Anthony Birley; Marcus Aurelius; Routledge; 2000.

25 October 2004

Karl Rove: America's Mullah

In the L. A. Times: Neal Gabler: "Karl Rove: America's Mullah:"

The idea of the United States as an ironfisted theocracy is terrifying, and it should give everyone pause. This time, it's not about policy. This time, for the first time, it's about the nature of American government.

We all have reason to be very, very afraid.

Wolfpacks for Truth

We in California don't see the campaign ads for either side, but I gather the Bush "wolf pack" ad was a doozy. This site won't be up long, no doubt, so take a look.

The QaQaa Hits the Fan

See the New York Times piece. Read Josh Marshall's web log.

Bush blew chance to strike at Al Zarqawi

Again, from our far-flung correspondent, Jon Malecki, quoting a reliable news source. Why, as he asks, has this not penetrated outside the blogosphere?

AL ZARQAWI AND BUSH. We've been reading and hearing about Abu Musab Zarqawi on a daily basis for a long time now. Since a lot of people missed it at the time, it's useful to look back and ask why did President Bush refuse to attack Zarqawi multiple times because of the political benefit Zarqawi lent to Bush's case for invasion? Isn't that sort of thing betraying your oath to protect America?

By Jim Miklaszewski

CorrespondentNBC NewsUpdated: 7:14 p.m. ET March 2, 2004

With Tuesday’s attacks, Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida, is now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq.

But NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger.

In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.“Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11 and we still didn’t do it,” said Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution.

Four months later, intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe.

The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.“People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president’s policy of preemption against terrorists,” according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.

In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.

The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

The United States did attack the camp at Kirma at the beginning of the war, but it was too late — Zarqawi and many of his followers were gone. “Here’s a case where they waited, they waited too long and now we’re suffering as a result inside Iraq,” Cressey added.

And despite the Bush administration’s tough talk about hitting the terrorists before they strike, Zarqawi’s killing streak continues today.

And, Jon asks, "Tell me again how only Bush can be counted on to protect us from terrorists."

homologous - Word for the Day

homologous · : hO-'mä-l&-g&s, h&- · adjective
1 a) : having the same relative position, value, or structure: as (1) : exhibiting biological homolgoy (2) : having the same or allelic genes with genetic loci usually arranged in the same order
b) : belonging to or consisting of a chemical series whose successive members have a regular difference in composition especially of one methylene group
2 : derived from or developed in response to organisms of the same species
homologue · noun
: something (as a chemical compound or a chromosome) which is homologous

Etymology: Greek homologos agreeing, from hom- + legein to say – see legend

22 October 2004

Bush Supporters Out of Touch

This is copped directly from the Daily Mislead, but in case you didn't see it, it's remarkable.


A new study by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) shows that supporters of President Bush hold wildly inaccurate views about the world. For example, "a large majority [72 percent] of Bush supporters believe that before the war Iraq had weapons of mass destruction."[1] Most Bush supporters [57 percent] also believe that the recently released report by Charles Duelfer, the administration's hand-picked weapons inspector, concluded Iraq either had WMD or a major program for developing them.[2] In fact, the report concluded "Saddam Hussein did not produce or possess any weapons of mass destruction for more than a decade before the U.S.-led invasion" and the U.N. inspection regime had "curbed his ability to build or develop weapons."[3]

According to the study, 75 percent Bush supporters also believe "Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda."[4] Most Bush supporters [55 percent] believe that was the conclusion of the 9/11 commission.[5] In fact, the 9/11 commission concluded there was no "collaborative relationship" between al-Qaeda and Iraq.[6]

Bush supporters also hold inaccurate views about world public opinion of the war in Iraq and a range of Bush's foreign policy positions.[7]


1. "The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters," Program on International Policy Attitudes, 10/21/04
2. Ibid.
3. "Iraq's Illicit Weapons Gone Since Early '90s, CIA Says," Los Angeles Times, 10/07/04.
4. "The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters," Program on International Policy Attitudes, 10/21/04.
5. Ibid.
6. "Al Qaeda-Hussein Link Is Dismissed," Washington Post, 6/17/04.
7. "The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters," Program on International Policy Attitudes, 10/21/04.

roan - Word for the Day

roan · 'rOHn also 'rO-&n · adjective
: of a color, (as red, black, or brown), muted and lightened by admixture of white hairs ; not generally used of human coloration

1 : an animal (as a horse) with a roan coat -- usually used of a red roan when unqualified

2 : the color of a roan horse -- used especially when the base color is red

3 : sheepskin tanned with sumac and colored and finished to imitate morocco

Etymology: Middle French, from Old Spanish roano; except noun (3); of unknown origin

21 October 2004

Broder on perils of electoral college reform

See David Broder's article in today's Post purporting to explain the supposed perils of electoral college reform. Here's my e-mail to Mr. Broder:

David Broder
The Washginton Post

Mr. Broder:

I read your article about electoral college reform with interest. I do not, however, see the implied downside to the idea that minor candidates would have bargaining power in the event of run-offs. You do not explain how or why this would be bad for the country, and it seems to me the opposite is true.

Also, you do not really explain the reasoning for proposals under which a presidential candidate would be a victor with a smaller-than-majority vote. In countries (and there are many) that have presidential run-off elections, it is typical that in order to win outright a candidate must garner an absolute majority. It seems to me this is the preferred standard; run-off elections would become the rule rather than the exception. Again, if there is a significant downside to this it hasn't been made clear to me either in your article or anywhere else.

Thank you.

David Studhalter

benthic - Word for the Day

benthic · 'ben(t)-thik · adjective
1 : of, relating to, or occurring at the bottom of a body of water
2 : of, relating to, or occurring in the depths of the ocean or the flora and fauna thereof
Etymology: Gr. benthos, 'bottom'

20 October 2004

Pat Buchanan's outrage

You may want to hold your nose and read Pat Buchanan's outrageously offensive piece on the trumped up Mary Cheney as lesbian daughter affair. Here's my e-mail to Pat.

To Pat Buchanan:

Your article on Kerry's comment about Mary Cheney in the third debate is one of the most patently offensive pieces of political writing I have seen in many years. You obviously share the Bush agenda to turn back the clock to the McKinley era, even in social matters. I hope you and those who think like you are trounced by the forces of civilization in this election... forces which have left your ideas in the weary past long since.

Reference to homosexuality as "an affliction," and reference to non-homosexuals as "normal men," are, in case you aren't aware, indicative of a mindset that the vast majority of Americans, not to mention mental health professionals, abandoned DECADES ago.

Pat Robertson -- Absolutely Incredible

Robertson: I warned Bush on Iraq casualties
President's response: 'We're not going to have any'

Wednesday, October 20, 2004 Posted: 11:32 AM EDT (1532 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The founder of the U.S. Christian Coalition said Tuesday he told President George W. Bush before the invasion of Iraq that he should prepare Americans for the likelihood of casualties, but the president told him, "We're not going to have any casualties."

Pat Robertson, an ardent Bush supporter, said he had that conversation with the president in Nashville, Tennessee, before the March 2003 invasion U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He described Bush in the meeting as "the most self-assured man I've ever met in my life."

"You remember Mark Twain said, 'He looks like a contented Christian with four aces.' I mean he was just sitting there like, 'I'm on top of the world,' " Robertson said on the CNN show, "Paula Zahn Now."

"And I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you had better prepare the American people for casualties.' "

Robertson said the president then told him, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."

The White House has made no reaction to Robertson's comments.

Robertson, the televangelist who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, said he wishes Bush would admit to mistakes made.

"I mean, the Lord told me it was going to be A), a disaster, and B), messy," Robertson said.

"I warned him about casualties."

More than 1,100 U.S. troops have died in Iraq and another 8,000 troops have been wounded in the ongoing campaign, with the casualty toll significantly increasing in the last six months as the insurgency there has deepened.

Asked why Bush has refused to admit to mistakes on Iraq, Robertson said, "I don't know this politics game. You know, you can never say you were wrong because the opposition grabs onto it: 'See, he admitted he screwed up.' "

Even as Robertson criticized Bush for downplaying the potential dangers of the Iraq war, he heaped praise on Bush, saying he believes the president will win the election and that "the blessing of heaven is on Bush."

"Even if he stumbles and messes up -- and he's had his share of stumbles and gaffes -- I just think God's blessing is on him," Robertson said.

As for Bush's Democratic rival, Sen. John Kerry, Robertson said, "I don't think he's a leader. He's a ponderous debater, a good senator probably."

If Le Carré Could Vote - L. A. Times today

If Le Carré Could Vote from The Los Angeles Times today

By John le Carré, John le Carré is the author of The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and many other novels.

Maybe there's one good reason — just one — for reelecting George W. Bush, and that's to force him to live with the consequences of his appalling actions and answer for his own lies, rather than wish the job on a Democrat who would then get blamed for his predecessor's follies.

Probably no American president in history has been so universally hated abroad as Bush: for his bullying unilateralism, his dismissal of international treaties, his reckless indifference to the aspirations of other nations and cultures, his contempt for institutions of world government, and above all for misusing the cause of anti-terrorism in order to unleash an illegal war — and now anarchy — upon a country that like too many others around the world was suffering under a hideous dictatorship but had no hand in the events of 9/11, no weapons of mass destruction and no record of terrorism except as an ally of the United States in a dirty war against Iran.

Is your president a great war leader because he allowed himself to be manipulated by a handful of deluded ideologues? Is Tony Blair, my prime minister, a great war leader because he committed Britain's troops, foreign policy and domestic security to the same harebrained adventure?

You are voting in November. We will vote next year. Yet the outcome in both countries will in large part depend on the same question: How long can the lies last now that the truth has finally been told? The Iraq war was planned long before 9/11. Osama bin Laden provided the excuse. Iraq paid the price. American kids paid the price. British kids paid the price. Our politicians lied to us.

While Bush was waging his father's war at your expense, he was also ruining your country. He made your rich richer and your poor and unemployed more numerous. He robbed your war veterans of their due and reduced your children's access to education. And he deprived more Americans than ever before of healthcare.

Now he's busy cooking the books, burying deficits and calling in contingency funds to fight a war that his advisors promised him he could light and put out like a candle.

Meanwhile, your Patriot Act has swept aside constitutional and civil liberties that took brave Americans 200 years to secure and were once the envy of a world that now looks on in horror, not just at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib but at what you are doing to yourselves.

But please don't feel isolated from the Europe you twice saved. Give us back the America we loved, and your friends will be waiting for you. Here in Britain, for as long as we have Tony Blair singing the same lies as George W. Bush, your nightmares will be ours.

catarrh - Word for the Day

catarrh · k&-'tär · noun

: inflammation of a mucous membrane; especially : one chronically affecting the human nose and air passages
- catarrhal -&l · adjective
: of catarrh
: (of a sound) rasping, guttural
- catarrhally · adverb

Etymology: Middle French or Late Latin; Middle French catarrhe, from Late Latin catarrhus, from Greek katarrhous, from katarrhein to flow down, from kata- + rhein to flow cf. stream

19 October 2004

News from the Votemaster

It's a dangerous addiction, the daily electoral vote tally website, www.electoral-vote.com. It's up and down, back and forth. Here's today's comment from the webmaster, showing Kerry 284; Bush 247, and only Iowa an actual tie (although several states, including Florida, are statistical ties):

Kerry keeps moving up in the electoral college. A new Survey USA poll shows he has now inched ahead of Bush in Florida, although his 1% lead means the state is still a statistical tie. Nevertheless, we now show Kerry with more than the critical 270 votes in the electoral college to win. Perhaps more signficant, though, is the fact that in states where Kerry's lead is at least 5%, he has 228 electoral votes. In states where Bush's lead is at least 5%, he has 183 electoral votes. Clearly the race is still wide open.

If you love horror stories, Slate has a good one for you by Richard L. Hasen. In it, he describes five ways the presidential election could end up in the Supreme Court. Briefly summarized, they are:

- Voting glitches involving electronic or other voting machines

- Litigation over which provisional ballots are valid

- A fight over the Colorado amendment to split the electoral vote

- A tie in the electoral college or a faithless elector

- A terrorist attack that disrupts voting in a swing state

Are the voters stupid? It is not considered politically correct to point out that an awful lot of voters don't have a clue what they are talking about. A recent poll from Middle Tennessee State University sheds some light on the subject. For example, when asked which candidate wants to roll back the tax cuts for people making over $200,000 a year, a quarter thought it was Bush and a quarter didn't know. And it goes downhill from there. When asked which candidate supports specific positions on various issues, the results were no better than chance. While this poll was in Tennessee, I strongly suspect a similar poll in other states would get similar results. I find it dismaying that many people will vote for Bush because they want to tax the rich (which he opposes) or vote for Kerry because they want school vouchers for religious schools (which he opposes).

Green: Karl Rove in a Corner

Please read Josh Greens "Karl Rove in a Corner" from the Atlantic, which is available online, unlike most of the magazine.

Suskind: Without a Doubt

Please read Ron Suskind's excellent article "Without a Doubt" from Sunday's NY Times.

cloister - Word for the Day

cloister · 'kloi-st&r · noun

1 a) : a monastic establishment b) : an area within a monastery or convent to which the religious are normally restricted c) : monastic life d) : a place or state of seclusion

2 : a covered passage on the side of a court usually having one side walled and the other an open arcade or colonnade

Etymology: Middle English cloistre, from Old French, from Medieval Latin claustrum, from Latin: 'bar,' 'bolt;' from claudere to close – compare close

18 October 2004

Of Local Interest: Finally, rain, and no fire season

Of Local Interest: The Lost Angeles Area is experiencing its first rain in six months. We got lucky this year, unlike last year, and there was no significant brush fire season.

The U. S. Forest Service recently took the rather drastic, not to say entirely unprecedented, step of closing the Angeles National Forest to virtually all public use in the nearby mountains. If we are to take at face value the stated claim that the only reason for this was the extreme fire danger, there will be no excuse for not lifting this restriction at once now that the rainy season has officially begun.

Safire's non-existent scandal: Mary Cheney

This is William Safire's rather vapid column about the supposed scandal of mentioning Mary Cheney's sexual orientation in the debates.

This was my e-mail to Safire, which I doubt he will ever read:

Mr. Safire,

I do not believe you have any evidence that there was premeditation to the subject of Mary Cheney's lesbianism. Quite frankly, your references to it are insulting to gays and lesbians and disingenuous. Even if there were a "rehearsal" of mention of Mary Cheney, the real "low blows" in this campaign ... the constant cavalier twisting and distortion of Kerry's and Edwards's statements by Bush and Rove's minions, and the outrageous misrepresentations of Kerry's military service perpetuated by barely deniable Bush campaign allies, are so much worse that the idea that this is a scandal is frankly ludicrous. If that's the best you can come up with, I think Kerry and Edwards have nothing to fear from the Right Wing scandal mongers like you.

demise - Word for the Day

demise · dih-'mAIz · verb
Inflected Form(s): demised; demising
transitive senses
1 : to convey (as an estate) by will or lease
2 obsolete : to convey, to give (in general)
3 : to transmit by succession or inheritance
intransitive senses
1 : to die; decease
2 : to pass by descent or bequest [the property has demised to the king]
adjective demised
: (legal) of that which is conveyed, as by a lease
1 : the conveyance of an estate
2 : transfer of the sovereignty to a successor
3 a) : death; b) : a cessation of existence or activity; c) : a loss of position or status
Etymology: Middle French, feminine of demis, past participle of demettre to dismiss, from Latin demittere to send down, from de- + mittere to send; cf. dismiss, remiss, missa, mass.

16 October 2004

Remember the Alamo, Bush's intransigence

From Remember the Alamo -- How George W. Bush reinvented himself by Nicholas Lemann, in the New Yorker, 10/18/04

The long period of preparation for the war in Iraq now appears to have been devoted more to justifying a foregone conclusion than to actually preparing—except in the case of the invasion itself. The Administration’s hawks relentlessly pushed for higher intelligence estimates of the threat that Saddam Hussein represented and for lower military estimates of what the invasion and the occupation would require. Haass, who was frozen out by the hawks, said, “There were a lot of loaded assumptions about the analysis: The aftermath would be a lesser included case of the war. The Iraqis would see the coalition as liberators and they’d be welcomed. Those who didn’t buy in were excluded. People who raised implementation questions were seen as backdoor critics of the war.”

When Bush went to the United Nations in the fall of 2002 and obtained a resolution that got weapons inspectors back into Iraq, it was more as a concession to Powell than as a thought-through Administration policy. The hawks, who had always been contemptuous of the U.N., were dismissive of the inspection process. (A little-noticed nugget in Woodward’s “Plan of Attack” is that the Administration spied on Hans Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector, while he was doing his work.) The Administration was unable or unwilling to get the heads of state of the other Security Council members to agree at the outset on what they would consider an unacceptable result from the inspections. So on the eve of war, when Bush declared the result unacceptable, the nations that were capable of sending large numbers of troops to Iraq didn’t agree with him and refused to help, which is one reason that the occupation of Iraq has been so expensive and has stretched the U.S. military past its limits. The Administration consistently pushed every aspect of Iraq policy —intelligence-gathering, diplomacy, military strategy, foreign-policy doctrine, and, of course, the treatment of prisoners—into a new realm of statecraft, characterized by a total and, it has turned out, excessive faith that pure force would produce far better results than anyone had previously realized. Bush’s advisers urged him in this direction, but he chose which advisers to hire and to listen to. It was really a natural outgrowth of who he is.

In the current Presidential campaign, Bush has expertly drawn attention away from how high a price the United States has paid for the war in Iraq. It is difficult to find anybody in Washington, in either party, who will seriously defend Bush’s management of Iraq. Most of the available armed forces of the United States are pinned down in a place that represents a threat chiefly because American troops are there. That limits American options in places that pose much more genuine threats. The reputation of American intelligence agencies has been badly damaged—would anyone now heed warnings from them? It is increasingly difficult to imagine other major powers joining the United States in an international endeavor, even one that isn’t a war. The government’s financial resources are depleted. The U.S. military in Iraq has started trying to take back areas of the country now controlled by insurgents, and it may not be safe enough there for the scheduled elections to be held in January. The country still has no meaningful army or police force. It doesn’t seem that there will be, any time soon, a way to extract the American forces without risking Iraq’s descent into chaos, of a kind that would be both dangerous and humiliating to the United States and would betray Bush’s repeated promises to bring the Iraqis a better life.

15 October 2004

Post: E. J. Dionne: Bush's tired tactics

From E. J. Dionne's very good article in today's Post about Bush's tired campaign tactics:

...Bush showed that he cared far more about caricaturing Kerry's plan than solving the problems of the uninsured. Inventing out of whole cloth a scheme that has nothing to do with what Kerry is proposing, Bush noted that the federal employee plan "costs the government $7,700 per family." Then he took a leap into the mathematics of political distortion. "If every family in America signed up, like the senator suggested," Bush said, "it would cost us $5 trillion over 10 years."

Pardon the word, but that's a lie, because Kerry has "suggested" no such thing. As Kerry quickly noted, families that could afford to buy into the federal plan under his proposal would have to pay for it. "We're not giving this away for nothing," Kerry said in one of his most effective counterpunches.

affray - Word for the Day, Friday, 15 October 2004

affray · uh-FREI · noun

:a tumultuous assault or quarrel; a brawl.
Mounted encounters by armored knights locked in desperate hand-to-hand combat, stabbing and wrestling in tavern brawls, deceits and brutalities in street affrays, balletic homicide on the dueling field--these were the martial arts of Renaissance Europe.
--Sydney Anglo, The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe

An Irish soldier was stabbed with a boar spear by a German mercenary in 1544 during an affray that followed Henry VIII's capture of Boulogne.
--James Williams, "Hunting, hawking and the early Tudor gentleman," History Today, August 2003

Affray comes from Old French esfrei, from esfreer, "to disquiet, to frighten."

14 October 2004

Clemons: Kerry wins decisively on women's issues

See Steven C. Clemons's article for UPI on the third debate.

esplanade · Word for the Day, Thursday 14 October 2004

esplanade · 'es-pl&-"nahd, "es-pl&-' also -'nEId or -"nEId · noun
: a level open stretch of paved or grassy ground; especially : one designed for walking or driving along a shore
Etymology: Middle French, from Italian spianata, from spianare to level, from Latin explanare, also source of explain

13 October 2004

Last Debate / No spin reaction

I just finished watching the entire debate from Tempe on television, and turned it off immediately so as not to hear any of the instant spin from television commentators telling us what we should think.

My reaction, in general:

Bush was well-schooled in "handling" himself, and acquitted himself creditably in that regard. But, when it came to substantive answers to many of the questions, he really had little or nothing to say. His campaign, especially recently, has been all about pandering to people's fears of an uncertain world. When it came to any solid record of domestic accomplishment or plans to solve America's problems, Bush had little or nothing to offer on almost every front.

Kerry was vague about some of his plans (inevitably in a debate format), but was nonetheless far more coherent in his responses than Bush. His message of connection with the needs and primarily economic concerns of the majority of Americans was communicated much more effectively than Bush was capable of.

In all, I think it was a win for Kerry, and to the extent that it was viewed by a reasonable fraction of the television audience, it should help him to edge ahead in the next three weeks.

Link to Petition to Sinclair Broadcasting

Between October 21 and 24, Sinclair Broadcast Group will force the local television stations it owns and operates to preempt regular network broadcasts and devote one hour to an anti-John Kerry "documentary," actually a piece of Bush campaign propaganda masquerading as "public affairs." Please link below to a petition to SBG registering your protest against this usurpation of public trust.

Sign this petition and try to stop this madness.

Arianna Huffington: Appealing to the Lizard Brain: Why Bush is Still Standing

A friend sent me this, originally from Arianna Huffington's website.

It's neuroscience, stupid!

By Arianna Huffington

Since the president's meltdown in the first debate — followed in quick succession by Paul Bremer's confession, the CIA's no-al-Qaida/Saddam link report, the Duelfer no-WMD-since-'91 report, and the woeful September job numbers — I have been racking my brain trying to figure out why George W. Bush is still standing.

The answer arrived via my friend Ed Solomon, the brilliant writer and filmmaker, who explained that the conundrum could be solved by looking at the very organ I'd been racking.

Ed introduced me to the work of Dr. Daniel Siegel, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and author of the forthcoming book "Mindsight," which explores the physiological workings of the brain.

Turns out, when it comes to Campaign 2004, it's the neuroscience, stupid!
Or, as Dr. Siegel told me: "Voters are shrouded in a 'fog of fear' that is impacting the way our brains respond to the two candidates."

Thanks to the Bush campaign's unremitting fear-mongering, millions of voters are reacting not with their linear and logical left brain but with their lizard brain and their more emotional right brain.

What's more, people in a fog of fear are more likely to respond to someone whose primary means of communication is in the nonverbal realm, neither logical nor language-based. (Sound like any presidential candidate you know?)
And that's why Bush is still standing. It's not about left wing vs. right wing; it's about left brain vs. right brain.

Deep in the brain lies the amygdala, an almond-sized region that generates fear. When this fear state is activated, the amygdala springs into action. Before you are even consciously aware that you are afraid, your lizard brain responds by clicking into survival mode. No time to assess the situation, no time to look at the facts, just: fight, flight or freeze.

And, boy, have the Bushies been giving our collective amygdala a workout. Especially Dick Cheney, who has proven himself an unmatched master of the dark art of fear-mongering. For an object lesson in how to get those lizard brains leaping, look no further than the vice-presidential debate.

"The biggest threat we face today," said Cheney in his very first answer "is the possibility of terrorists smuggling a nuclear weapon or a biological agent into one of our own cities and threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans."

Just in case we didn't get the point, he repeated the ominous assertion, practically word for word, two more times — throwing in the fact that he was "absolutely convinced" that the threat "is very real." It was "be afraid, be very afraid" to the third power.

And when we are afraid, we are biologically programmed to pay less attention to left-brain signals — indeed, our logical mind actually shuts itself down. Fear paralyzes our reasoning and literally makes it impossible to think straight. Instead, we search for emotional, nonverbal cues from others that will make us feel safe and secure.

When our right brain is at Threat Level Red, we don't want to hear about a four-point plan to win the peace, or a list of damning statistics, or even a compelling, well-reasoned argument that the policies of Bush and Cheney are actually making us less safe. We want to get the feeling that everything is going to be all right.

In this state, our brains care more about tone of voice than what the voice is saying. This is why Bush can verbally stumble and sputter and make little or no sense and still leave voters feeling that he is the candidate best able to protect them. Our brains are primed to receive the kinds of communication he has to offer and discard the kinds John Kerry has to offer, even if Kerry makes more "logical sense." Which, of course, he does.

The strutting, winking, pointing and near-shouting that marked Bush's town hall debate performance all sent the same subconscious message to our fear-fogged brains: "I'm your daddy . . . I've got your back. So just go to sleep and stop thinking. About anything."

"At the deepest level," Dr. Siegel told me, "we react to fear as adults in much the same way we did as infants. It's primal. Human babies have the most dependent infancy of any species. Our survival depends on the caregiver. We instinctively look to authority figures to comfort us and keep us safe."

As needy infants, this natural drive to be soothed and reassured is what we looked for in our parents; as anxious adults in these exceptionally unsettling times, it's what we are looking for in our leaders.

Over the remaining three weeks of the campaign, as the anxiety level reaches a fevered pitch — and you can be certain the Bush campaign will do everything in its power to make sure that happens — the test facing voters is no longer, "Which candidate would you rather have a beer with?" It's "Which candidate would you rather give you your blankie and a bottle and keep the boogeyman away?"

I know it sounds ludicrous that the most important election of our lifetime is coming down to who can best pacify the electorate's inner baby, but I can think of no better explanation as to why Bush is not currently hovering at around 5 percent in the polls — a voting block made up of those hardcore fanatics who are as utterly blind to reality as he is.

As long as we're operating from our lizard brains — and reason takes a back seat to more primal needs — George Bush will continue to survive the logic-based attacks on his ever-escalating failures.

The only question that remains is: Can Bush, Cheney and Rove keep us shrouded in the fog of fear long enough to brain John Kerry and win in November?

Contact Sinclair's National Advertisers

If you want to let Sinclair Broadcast Group's national advertisers know you object to their use of the public airwaves to disseminate Right Wing propaganda as if it were public affairs programming (see story below), here is a list, with links to contact information, of Sinclair national advertisers. Let them know, politely but firmly, that you want their help in defending principles of fairness and democracy on the airwaves!

Premonstratensian - Word for the Day, Wednesday 13 October 2004

Premonstratensian · "prE-"män(t)-str&-'ten(t)-sh&n · noun
: a member of an order of monastic canons regular founded by Saint Norbert at Prémontré near Laon, France, in 1120; aka Norbertine
: of or relating to same
Etymology: Medieval Latin praemonstratensis, from praemonstratensis, 'of Prémontré,' from Praemonstratus, L. for Prémontré (lit. something like “Mountain Fields”).

12 October 2004

A fact-checked Bush resumé

The following George Bush resumé was sent to me. It was compiled by a 2000 Bush supporter who now questions how anyone can support this president's re-election. Here is the original intro, with links:

The Resume of George W. Bush

A few weeks ago a family member sent me an email titled "John Kerry's Resume". It misrepresented Kerry on more than a few points and the mean-spirited tone seemed to get in the way of serious arguments but it got me wondering what a Bush resume would look like. I found a few "George W. Bush's Resume" versions online but they were filled with the same sort of distortions and inaccuracies, and seemed written for an audience of people who already dislike Bush and support Kerry. It annoys me when people who share my view make their case so poorly that it undermines our position. I thought I could do better.

As I wrote this I started realizing the problem with our current president. Rewarding excellence and limiting failure is a deeply held value in America, especially in conservative circles. It is essential that we recognize the competence of juniors and promote them. By promoting our smartest, most efficient, highest-skilled workers to positions of responsibility we don't just reward them: we reward ourselves as we benefit from the good decisions they make in their new position.

Bush is the antithesis of this story. From Yale to the Champagne Unit to Harvard to Arbusto to Spectrum 7 to Harken to Texas Rangers to Governor to President, his failure was rewarded with ever-greater responsibility as the sphere of those damaged by his incompetence continued to expand. And that's how we got where we are today: the entire world is paying the piper because nobody had the guts to pull the brakes on this man's train of unearned, undeserved privilege.

My target audience is Bush supporters for whom their choice of candidate is still a rational decision. As a former Bush supporter in 2000 I don't see how anyone can support this president's run for a second term. Even if you believe his goals are sound, his ability to achieve those goals and the means he chooses to achieve them remain highly questionable. I have avoided points such as drilling in ANWR or Bush's enthusiastic execution record as governor of Texas because I don't fault him for those reasons: points such as those have reasonable positions on either side. I'm sticking to points like exposing the secret identity of CIA agents as revenge for their spouses' public statements, or creating an agency to re-inject discredited intelligence reports back into circulation - points that, to me, seem beyond any rational defense.

It is quite likely that this is not the final version of this document. I consider myself a rational person, and I'm expecting to revise the document as new information becomes available. While I don't have time to get into extended one-on-one political arguments with strangers I welcome the sort of input and rational criticism that will clarify my misconceptions. I expect to add new points and remove weaker ones throughout Bush's remaining term: I've found his resume to be a useful crib sheet to remember details like the name of Bush's personal criminal defense attorney, or the vote tally for the Federal Marriage Amendment, and I'd like it to remain "live".

There are two versions of my version of the Bush Resume online: one for reading online and one for printing. Their formatting is different but they are otherwise identical. I hope you find this useful in making your choice for president this year.




Hello. My name is George Bush and I'm running for President. Please consider my qualifications as set forth in the following resume.

The Resume of George W. Bush