Osama's "little gift":Daily Kos writes that GOP insiders are giddy as hell at the release of the new bin Laden tape. They must think Americans will reward their incompetence at not finding Osama:
"We want people to think 'terrorism' for the last four days," said a Bush-Cheney campaign official. "And anything that raises the issue in people's minds is good for us."

A senior GOP strategist added, "anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush."

He called it "a little gift," saying it helps the President but doesn't guarantee his reelection.


1. On September 17, 2001, George W. Bush tells us that Osama bin Laden is, like "an old poster out West," "Wanted, Dead or Alive."

2. Bush gets distracted, attacks Iraq.

3. In his final debate with John Kerry this month, George W. Bush claims, "Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations." He's lying: in March he said of bin Laden, "I truly am not concerned about him.

4. This week, the apparently desperate George W. Bush campaign distributed literature in Pennsylvania showing ten images of the burning World Trade Center towers, bearing text that claims John Kerry doesn't have what it takes to fight terrorism.

5. The very much alive and un-smoked-out-of-his-cave Osama bin Laden--perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks--re-surfaces at a suspicious moment via videotape to portend new attacks on the US.

Conclusion: Bush is skillful at politicizing the carnage of September 11, but he's clueless about bringing its mastermind to justice.
Morford muses: The truly inimitable Mark Morford looks back at the election so far:
It has been, in short, the longest and most painful episode of "American Idol" ever, wherein the two finalists have belted every cheesy American standard and regurgitated every lame disco-era stage move and hit every warbly high note and sacrificed every shred of dignity and integrity and true individuality they might've once possessed, all in the desperate hope that you are finally sufficiently numbed to where you are finally ready press the right 800 number on your AT&T wireless service and place your stupefied vote.
Then, for sanity's sake, he suggests we stop dwelling and look forward. Right after voting, that is.
We know that 20 years hence, there will be no Reagan-like legacy for Shrub. There will be no renamed airports or honorary expressways or revisionist rose-colored history books arguing the good and the bad of his epic much-loved presidency, because there is so little good and so very, very much bad and there is absolutely no love anywhere.

We already know that history will look very, very unkindly upon this most booblike, lie-torn, appallingly underqualified of American presidents. Of this we can rest assured. Of this we will only look back and be incredibly grateful it didn't last all that long.
IRS to W's defense: Another demonstration of what Bush thinks of African Americans? The IRS is investigating the NAACP's tax-exempt status because a July speech by chair Julian Bond conveyed "statements in opposition of George W. Bush for the office of presidency" and specifically that he had "condemned the administration policies of George W. Bush in education, the economy and the war in Iraq." Saying his remarks focused on policy, not politics, Bond says, "This is an attempt to silence the N.A.A.C.P. on the very eve of a presidential election. We are best known for registering and turning out large numbers of African-American voters. Clearly, someone in the I.R.S. doesn't want that to happen." (Thanks, Kemi.)
F is for:
Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.
--Benito Mussolini
Fascism is: A fuzzy totalitarianism characterized by selective populism, contempt for the weak, fear of difference, obsession with plots, and a cult of tradition.
--Umberto Eco

(Thanks, Dr. D.)
Drink the Kool-Aid: "I want you to stand, raise your right hands," and recite "the Bush Pledge," said Florida state Sen. Ken Pruitt. The assembled mass of about 2,000 in this Treasure Coast town about an hour north of West Palm Beach dutifully rose, arms aloft, and repeated after Pruitt: "I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States." (Via Derelection2004.)

Or don't: See a foul-mouth sock-puppet dog take equal-opportunity potshots at both parties following the third presidential debate. Hilarious to see how Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, Joe Lockhart, Paul Begala, and others respond to lines like "Blacks and Bush go together like Yassar Arafat and circumcision." (Thanks, Ben.)
Ads: The Bush camp admits they doctored campaign commercials to show him surrounded by a sea of soldiers at a 2002 stop at Fort Drum, New York. The fabricated ad is, fittingly, titled "Whatever it Takes." As Daily Kos writes, "This is not really that big of a deal, except as a metaphor for the Bush campaign's casual relationship to the truth." And: don't miss a great gallery of commercials and footage at Internets Vets for Truth.
That's more like it: Calling Bush's leadership a "moral failure," Catholics for Political Responsibility is running a new radio campaign on 45 station cross-country. One script reads:

President Bush, as pro-life Catholics, we made a deal with you. You were on the wrong side of most Catholic teaching, but you were with us on abortion, and that mattered.

You marched us into an unjust war, against the appeals of the Pope and your own Methodist Bishops. The number of children in poverty rose and 5 million people lost health insurance.

You've controlled the White House and Congress for four years, but what have you delivered for the culture of life?

Now abortion rates are rising steadily, after falling 18 percent in the 90's. That makes sense, more women lack the health insurance or economic security that help them choose life.

Mr. President, we waited for your moral leadership - it never came. You've disappointed us on all life issues - war, poverty, health care...and abortion. That wasn't the deal we made.
(Via TalkLeft.)

The consistency issue: John Ashcroft is overriding state law so that Dru Sjodin's alleged murderer can be put to death if found guilty. Catholic bishops in North Dakota and Minnesota sent a letter to Ashcroft expressing moral opposition to the death penalty. If convicted, Alfonso Rodriguez will be the first person in the state to be executed in nearly 100 years.
Start visualizing victory. (Thanks Reggie.)


Gay pride? God forbid. The Vatican and the local Catholic archdiocese have censured St. Joan of Arc Church in South Minneapolis for including Gay Pride information on its web site (the parish was recognized at this year's festival for its long service and embrace of the GLBT Catholic community) and allowing non-ordained people to speak at masses. On a mission direct from the pope, the archbishop sent two auxiliary bishops to deliver a message, which read, in part: "The Archdiocese welcomes gay and lesbian worshippers who are in full communion with the moral teachings of the Church as they apply to all Catholics. It does not, however, endorse the promotion of sexual relations among unmarried persons." While the parish doesn't promote unmarried sex, gay or straight, it does run two facilities for people living with AIDS/HIV and welcomes all people, regardless of sexual orientation, "wherever you are on your journey." Pretty radical, eh? Best to clamp down on such rogue Christ-like behavior.

Serious Catholics should know better: A full-page ad in yesterday's Star Tribune listed the "five non-negotiable issues" to consider when voting in its "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics." The list--which includes abortion, euthanasia, stem-cell research, cloning, and homosexual "marriage" (quotations theirs)--says nothing about the death penalty or unprovoked war. It's a glaring omission, given the former Texas governor's role as the national leader in state-sponsored executions (and given the pope's stated opposition to the Iraq war). And, it defines abortion in much the same way I might define preemptive war--"the intentional and direct killing of an innocent human being" and "a form of homicide." (The on-the-mark bumpersticker "Who Would Jesus Bomb?" comes to mind.) When the church of my heritage bluntly alligns itself with Bush, it becomes complicit in policies that harm the environment, the poor, women. It endorses secret trials of "enemy combatants," torture techniques used at Abu Ghraib, "shock and awe," Dick Cheney's "fuck off," the rollback of some 200 environmental regulations, tax cuts for the wealthiest among us who, according to the bible, will more likely squeeze through the eye of a needle than make it beyond the Pearly Gates. Don't Catholics know in their gut that something's not right about the church's alliance with Bush? I feel it. But the political church (or at least the orthodox right-wing of it) is banking on the fact that centuries of law-and-order religiosity will launch their guy back into the White House: "Unfortunately, today many Catholics have not formed their consciences adequately regarding key moral issues. The result is that their consciences do not 'sound off' at appropriate times, including on election day." Doctrinally speaking, I suppose "serious Catholics" do locate divinity outside of themselves, but nonetheless, I trust they know that what's non-negotiable in their values resides within.
The US military killed 100,000 civilians: Bush's Pentagon doesn't "do body counts," but the British medical journal, The Lancet does, and its first-of-its-kind scientific study of the effects of the war on Iraq makes the "conservative" estimate of at least 100,000 civilians killed. The data excludes Falluja, but the number would soar past 200,000 if that extremely violent city was included. The study, which doesn't include death by natural causes, also found:
The most common cause of death is as a direct result of violence, mostly caused by coalition air strikes, reveals the study of almost 1000 households scattered across Iraq. And the risk of violent death just after the invasion was 58 times greater than before the war. The overall risk of death was 1.5 times more after the invasion than before.
Richard Horton, the publication's editor, wrote in a commentary run alongside the research, “These findings raise questions for those far removed from Iraq - in the governments of the countries responsible for launching a pre-emptive war. In planning this war, the coalition forces - especially those of the US and UK - must have considered the likely effects of their actions for civilians.” He argues that, from a public health perspective, whatever “planning did take place was grievously in error." 100,000 dead, made possible by your taxes and mine. God bless America, indeed.

(Thanks, Jim.)


Ooh baby, tell me what I want to hear: A hilarious late-night-TV infomercial-style take on Bush, it's Lie Girls.
Kerry country: This image must send shivers down Karl Rove's spine. (Via Wonkette.)
Bush blocks foreign web access: Last month, overseas US voters found themselves shut out of the Federal Voting Assistance website. Now just about everyone outside the US is barred from accessing Bush's campaign site. Very odd. As a Finnish BoingBoing reader says, "Guess Bush really hates us foreigners."
Mosh video: Moby says Eminem's new video for the single "Mosh" is "the best thing that I've seen all year." See why.
My crisis of faith continues: With a small C, "catholic" refers to a church for all--a universal church. With a big C, it seems more and more to be about exclusion, especially in Ohio where Catholic bishops have given full support to a constitutional ban on gay marriage. (The Ohio provision goes one huge step further: not only would it bar same-sex marriage, it will also prevent committed gay and lesbian couples from receiving any legal benefits of civil union.)

That is, bishops acting in the name of a living God who hung out with society's outcasts--hookers, adulterers, lepers, and thuggish tax collectors--wish to forever engrain intolerance and exclusion into the state's founding documents.

I respect that the church has theological concerns about same-sex unions and homosexuality in general, but is it really Christ-like to use their considerable clout to encourage permanent discrimination against one category of God's children? (That's the moral argument; the legal one, written about here, is that marriage is a legal proceeding in the eyes of the state, a case of regulatory paperwork that has little to do--on a state licensing level--with sacraments.) I'm also curious about the likelihood that some of the Ohio bishops who voted unanimously to endorse the amendment are gay: 10 to 50% of men in the priesthood have a homosexual orientation (in his 1995 book "Sex, Priests, and Power: Anatomy of a Crisis," A.W. Richard Sipe put the figure at 30%)--rates much higher than those of the larger American society.

The bishops' statement said, "Homosexual persons are to be treated with respect and compassion. Our respect means we condemn all forms of unjust discrimination, harassment or abuse." So perhaps they see this as a form of "just discrimination."
A real choice in California: Ten California counties--including Orange, Alameda, Napa, and Riverside--are switching to electronic ballots this election, without offering a verified paper trail. But, as a new initiative by the Electronic Frontier Foundation communicates, voters in the state have the right to request a paper ballot to ensure that their votes are counted. See EFF's Paper-or-Plastic site and forward their flash commercial to friends in The Golden State. (Thanks, Emy.)
High school civics lesson; support Kerry, get expelled. Boing Boing points out a sad story just across the border from me (originally posted at Daily Kos):
Kids at Richland Center High School in Richland Center, WI got a chance to meet George W Bush during an official visit. However, any student who turned up wearing a pro-Kerry pin, hat or shirt was threatened with expulsion.

Here's the contact information for the school officials, who have betrayed the trust we put in them as educators to teach democratic fundamentals, like open debate, dissent, and freedom of expression.

Richland Center High School
23200 Hornet High Rd
Richland Center, WI 53581
Phone: (608) 647-6131

Here's the principal:
John Cler
508-647-6131 x1590

Here's the local superintendant of schools:
Rachel Schultz

Here's the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction:

Here's the state superintendent:
Elizabeth Burmaster
At least they didn't threaten to kill Kerry-supporting kids, which happened at a recent Bush rally in Des Moines. Jon Sachs, an 18-year old wearing a "Bush-Cheney '04: Leave No Billionaire Behind" button, was told by a Bush staffer, "'If you protest, it won't be me taking you out. It will be a sniper,' " Sachs said. "He said it in such a serious tone it scared the crap out of me." Wow: according to this Bush employee, protest is a crime punishable by death. Or at least a nasty sniper's bullet.
Austerity during times of war: Last week Bush quietly signed a whoppin' $140 billion corporate tax cut into law (quietly, because he did it aboard Air Force One, rather than at the typical public ceremony), and now he's requesting an additional $70 billion in emergency funds for Iraq. What an unbelievable case of fiscal mismanagement and lack of planning. As 1115.org points out, "Dick Cheney made a big deal in his debate with John Edwards about the war not costing $200 Billion. The latest request would bring the total to $225 Billion. Even Cheney can't spin $225 Billion into less than $200 Billion."

Of course, if elected, Bush still plans on making his multi-billion-dollar tax cuts permanent. With a record deficit and unending cost increases in Iraq, enjoy those cuts now, because you'll be paying for them in other ways for generations to come.

Worth revisiting: Bush's Scorecard of Evil.


Where will you be November 3, 2004?
A new coalition, made up of peace, women, labor, civil rights, religious and environmental groups, has set up an Urgent Response Network to be activated in event of a stolen election. On the group's website, www.nov3.us, tens of thousands of people have already signed a pledge saying that they remember the fraud-ridden presidential election of 2000 and that if the election is stolen again, they will join nationwide protests starting on Nov. 3 – either in their local communities, in the states where the fraud occurred, or in Washington D.C. The pledge signers include personalities such as Michael Moore, Jesse Jackson and Dolores Huerta, as well as representatives from groups such as the AFL-CIO, Sierra Club, United for Peace and Justice, Global Exchange, CodePink and the Feminist Majority.
With one week to go til the election, here's what you can do to help prevent a stolen election. (Thanks, Reggie.)

Also: With either outcome on 11/2, progressives have their work cut out for 'em: Alternet on the morning after, and The Black Commentator on the November 3 Movement.
Stray GOP emails reveal "caging" list: As Dick Cheney discovered with his factcheck.com slip-up during his debate, GOP operatives are realizing what a difference a dot-org makes. Emails mistakenly sent to georgewbush.org (instead of .com) went into a catchall mailbox at an anti-Bush spoof site (home to Pleasure Boat Captains for Truth and a Bush bio that describes the former Texas governor as "a man of unbeatable name recognition with a massive campaign war chest" who "shaped policy based on the principles of big-balled rodeo justice, eminent domain, petrochemical exhaust rights, and bountiful lethal injections.").

But aside from the fun of overhearing some angsty, sometimes goofy Republicans, the published emails exposed something potentially sinister-- "caging lists" that could be used for voter intimidation. As Greg Palast reports, the list contains 1,886 names and addresses of voters in largely African American, largely Democratic Jacksonville, Florida. An elections supervisor in Tallahassee says "The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on election day."


Deep QaQaa: The shock of hearing that some 380 tons of high explosives have been looted from Al QaQaa, a large munitions storage site known to the UN, Bush, and the IAEA, is compounded by knowledge of how much firepower it's giving insurgents in Iraq. As the New York Times reports, the terrorist bomb that took down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie used less than a pound of the same materials. Add to that the fact that Iraqi rebels had an almost unimaginable 650,000 (or more) tons of ammunition already on hand one year ago--an amount equal to about a third of the US military's stockpile. Whichever term you choose--quagmire or civil war--we're not getting out of this one easily.

Speaking of civil war, Arabs are concerned about another one--this time in the United States.
So let us regard this as settled: what is morally wrong can never be advantageous, even when it enables you to make some gain that you believe to be to your advantage. The mere act of believing that some wrongful course of action constitutes an advantage is pernicious.
--Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.)
American Conservative denounces Bush: "This election is all about George W. Bush, and those issues are enough to render him unworthy of any conservative support," writes The American Conservative in a biting "condorsement" of the president. No fan of Kerry either ("If he were to win, his dearth of charisma would likely ensure him a single term."), the magazine editorializes:
If Kerry wins, this magazine will be in opposition from Inauguration Day forward. But the most important battles will take place within the Republican Party and the conservative movement. A Bush defeat will ignite a huge soul-searching within the rank-and-file of Republicandom: a quest to find out how and where the Bush presidency went wrong. And it is then that more traditional conservatives will have an audience to argue for a conservatism informed by the lessons of history, based in prudence and a sense of continuity with the American past - and to make that case without a powerful White House pulling in the opposite direction.
Enjoy the draft:
The draft is coming and I'm psyched!

Some of my friends have been hassling me, spamming me with all sorts of scary stuff telling me how Bush is going to bring back the draft, so Ishould vote for Kerry. And I’m like, hello, I should vote to avoid the draft? Screw that. The draft is TOTALLY GONNA RULE. That's why I launched ENJOYtheDRAFT.com.
Are we safer now? BushCo loses track of explosives in Iraq: This headline caught my attention this morning: "It's a gamble to trust Democrats to run War on Terror." Probably true--what's not a gamble these days?--but considering recent headlines out of Iraq, I'd put my money on John Kerry's administration over the bumbling Bushes. The big story is that some 380 tons of highly dangerous explosives, held securely under lock and key by the International Atomic Energy Agency during Saddam's regime, have now gone missing under Bush's watch. The explosives--RDX and HMX--have gone unguarded during the Iraq war and occupation and may be what's been used in the rash of car bombings across the country of late. The explosives could also be used to detonate a nuclear explosion. Dangerous stuff--chemically and politically--which is why the Department of Defense has been trying to keep its disappearance quiet. (More reporting on the story at TPM.)

Isn't it clear that Kerry's right that Bush had no plan to "win the peace" in Iraq? If he did, it was an abysmal attempt. At least Bush is truthful when he says it's "up in the air" whether we'll ever feel safe from terror. His administration's bungling in Iraq seems to ensure that outcome.


Florida du Nord:
Minnesota's version of Kathleen Harris strikes again (and again):
A Minnesota Democrat has called Minnesota's secretary of state "the least competent person" to ever hold the position. And indeed, as we head to another election day, Republican Mary Kiffmeyer seems to be earning such low praise. First she ran out of registration forms (some progressive groups think she shorted them for political reasons). Then, she made national and local headlines for creating alarming polling-place posters (warning election workers to keep an eye out for bald men and people smelling of flower water), for telling Native Americans they can't use tribal I.D. cards to register to vote (despite tribal sovereignty), and for unilaterally rewriting rules to make it more difficult to register to vote in a state that historically tips Democratic. In These Times included her in an August rundown of GOP election engineers using their power to benefit the party:
Kiffmeyer recently decided that in order to vote in November every would-be voter in the state must show an ID reflecting an "exact match" to the file of names, driver's license numbers and dates of birth circulated by her office. Such rules would have the effect of robbing the vote from thousands of state residents, including those who encounter errors in the information about them on Kiffmeyer's official list.
And a City Pages report relayed this story from a hearing about voter difficulties in Minnesota:
At the hearing, Sen. John Hottinger (DFL-St. Peter) produced a transcript of an Air America radio show, in which the host, Wendy Wilde, had called Kiffmeyer's office with a hypothetical Election Day scenario. What would happen, she asked, if a person voted by absentee ballot, and then changed her mind and wanted to pull the lever for a different candidate on Election Day? According to the transcript, three different employees from Kiffmeyer's office provided three different responses to the question; one said the Election Day vote would be a felony. None of the responses were legally accurate.
Given the widespread weirdness and increased scrutiny over Kiffmeyer's mishandling of state voting procedures, you'd think she's straighten things out. Not so. Yesterday's whoopsie, from the Star Tribune:
State officials moved Friday to replace notices at more than 200 driver's license examining stations and vehicle tab agencies throughout Minnesota that they said could discourage people from voting.

"It is too late to register for the November 2, 2004, General Election," the notices say under the headline "Important Voter Registration Information."

The notices apparently have been posted since an Oct. 12 deadline for "motor voter" registration -- automatically signing up to vote along with an application for a driver's license or state identification card. But prospective voters still can register at the offices of county auditors or the secretary of state or at the polls on Nov. 2.

"We're getting it changed," state Division of Driver and Vehicle Services spokeswoman Susan Lasley said. "It kind of implies the wrong thing." She said she did not know how the mistake was made or by whom.

A new version of the notice specifies that "It is too late to register to vote on your DL or ID card application."

Both notices add: "If you apply for your DL or ID card today, your name will not appear on this year's voter roster," although that does not preclude registering by other means.

The notices also refer prospective voters to the secretary of state's office. Kent Kaiser, spokesman for Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, said she did not issue either of the notices. But Pat McCormack, director of driver and vehicle services, said the information came from Kiffmeyer's office.

"Some people were misreading it," McCormack said. "If they ask us about it, we tell them to check with their county auditor or the secretary of state."
All this is just a long way of saying: please oh please sign up to be an Election Protection Volunteer in Minnesota or your state.
Brownshirts vs. T-shirts: Three Oregon schoolteachers were kicked out of a Bush rally and threatened with arrest. Their offense: wearing shirts that bore the slogan "Protect our civil liberties." If that's considered anti-Bush speech, I wonder what the GOPers think about the just-leaked new single "Mosh" by Marshall "Bush is definitely not my homie" Mathers, aka Eminen? (Lyrics here.)


Holy sh#@! German archaeologists think they've discovered the toilet the constipation-prone Martin Luther sat on when he wrote his Reformation-launching 95 Theses. (Thanks, Pete.)


Websites to watch:

The Project for the Old American Century (not to be confused with these fellas)

Bush Relatives for Kerry

(Fill in the blank) against Bush (babes, librarians, Bushes, knitters...For more see the right column at Derelection2004.)

Republican Switchers

The still-funny You Forgot Poland

VotePair ("Uniting Progressives Through Strategic Voting")

Wallis on "political idolatry exacerbated by the politics of fear." With all the writing lately on Bush's "faith," I found Jim Wallis' "A new Confession of Christ" a necessary counterpoint:
Our world is wracked with violence and war. But Jesus said: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God" (Matt. 5:9). Innocent people, at home and abroad, are increasingly threatened by terrorist attacks. But Jesus said: "Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you" (Matt. 5:44). These words, which have never been easy, seem all the more difficult today.

Nevertheless, a time comes when silence is betrayal. How many churches have heard sermons on these texts since the terrorist atrocities of September 11? Where is the serious debate about what it means to confess Christ in a world of violence? Does Christian "realism" mean resigning ourselves to an endless future of "pre-emptive wars"? Does it mean turning a blind eye to torture and massive civilian casualties? Does it mean acting out of fear and resentment rather than intelligence and restraint?

Faithfully confessing Christ is the church's task, and never more so than when its confession is co-opted by militarism and nationalism.

- A "theology of war," emanating from the highest circles of American government, is seeping into our churches as well.

- The language of "righteous empire" is employed with growing frequency.

- The roles of God, church, and nation are confused by talk of an American "mission" and "divine appointment" to "rid the world of evil."

The security issues before our nation allow no easy solutions. No one has a monopoly on the truth. But a policy that rejects the wisdom of international consultation should not be baptized by religiosity. The danger today is political idolatry exacerbated by the politics of fear.

In this time of crisis, we need a new confession of Christ.

1. Jesus Christ, as attested in Holy Scripture, knows no national boundaries. Those who confess his name are found throughout the earth. Our allegiance to Christ takes priority over national identity. Whenever Christianity compromises with empire, the gospel of Christ is discredited.

We reject the false teaching that any nation-state can ever be described with the words, "the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." These words, used in scripture, apply only to Christ. No political or religious leader has the right to twist them in the service of war.

2. Christ commits Christians to a strong presumption against war. The wanton destructiveness of modern warfare strengthens this obligation. Standing in the shadow of the Cross, Christians have a responsibility to count the cost, speak out for the victims, and explore every alternative before a nation goes to war. We are committed to international cooperation rather than unilateral policies.

We reject the false teaching that a war on terrorism takes precedence over ethical and legal norms. Some things ought never be done - torture, the deliberate bombing of civilians, the use of indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction - regardless of the consequences.

3. Christ commands us to see not only the splinter in our adversary's eye, but also the beam in our own. The distinction between good and evil does not run between one nation and another, or one group and another. It runs straight through every human heart.

We reject the false teaching that America is a "Christian nation," representing only virtue, while its adversaries are nothing but vicious. We reject the belief that America has nothing to repent of, even as we reject that it represents most of the world's evil. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

4. Christ shows us that enemy-love is the heart of the gospel. While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8, 10). We are to show love to our enemies even as we believe God in Christ has shown love to us and the whole world. Enemy-love does not mean capitulating to hostile agendas or domination. It does mean refusing to demonize any human being created in God's image.

We reject the false teaching that any human being can be defined as outside the law's protection. We reject the demonization of perceived enemies, which only paves the way to abuse; and we reject the mistreatment of prisoners, regardless of supposed benefits to their captors.

5. Christ teaches us that humility is the virtue befitting forgiven sinners. It tempers all political disagreements, and it allows that our own political perceptions, in a complex world, may be wrong.

We reject the false teaching that those who are not for the United States politically are against it or that those who fundamentally question American policies must be with the "evil-doers." Such crude distinctions, especially when used by Christians, are expressions of the Manichaean heresy, in which the world is divided into forces of absolute good and absolute evil.

The Lord Jesus Christ is either authoritative for Christians, or he is not. His Lordship cannot be set aside by any earthly power. His words may not be distorted for propagandistic purposes. No nation-state may usurp the place of God.

We believe that acknowledging these truths is indispensable for followers of Christ. We urge them to remember these principles in making their decisions as citizens. Peacemaking is central to our vocation in a troubled world where Christ is Lord.
(Thanks, Reggie.)


Bush endorsed by "Axis of Evil" member Iran.
Pollution: Too hot a topic at MN pollution conference:
A scientist from the University of California, Berkeley, was to be keynote speaker at an upcoming conference sponsored by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Then state officials learned the topic of his speech: his latest research linking the herbicide atrazine to frog abnormalities.

Now, Prof. Tyrone Hayes has been uninvited -- by order of the agency's commissioner.

Hayes, an endocrinologist who studies how chemicals affect amphibians, won't address the annual environmental conference in February even though his research is of particular interest in the state where schoolchildren discovered frogs with extra legs and other deformities nine years ago.

Hayes said his removal from the program is an act of censorship by a state agency bowing to agricultural interests and pesticide companies that don't like his findings. "Initially, before the MPCA uninvited me, they asked if I would remove the words 'atrazine' and 'pesticide' from the title of my talk, and of course I refused to do that because that's what I work on," said Hayes....
Full story here. (Thanks, Adrienne.)
Inside Sinclair: On Monday night as I was writing an article on Sinclair Broadcast Group, the company's Washington bureau chief, Jon Leiberman, called to grant me an interview. His news: he'd been fired just two hours earlier for telling the Baltimore Sun that Sinclair's airing of the infamous anti-Kerry documentary Stolen Honor amounted to "biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election." My story--much different from the one I set out to write--works his first-hand experiences at Sinclair into a broader look at this rightwing media empire. An excerpt:
"I got fired because I spoke out," he said in an interview with AlterNet. For months he’d been complaining to his news director, managing editor, and even CEO David Smith about Sinclair’s news slant, which he says tilts 10-to-1 against Democrats. But when his complaints were ignored, he went public.

"Nobody will speak out at Sinclair. It’s a culture of fear. But I know in my heart what they’re doing is wrong. It’s not fair and balanced … It’s pure propaganda, and they’re trying to shoehorn what should be a format for editorials or commentary into news," Leiberman says.
Read "The Eternal Twilight of the Sinclair Mind."


The brandedest: The Bling-Bling Medallion is made up of gold-plated corporate logos. And oh is it shiny...
Thanks for the moral leadership, Father: As a still-practicing, lifelong Catholic with 13 years of parochial education, let me just say: when the Church starts excommunicating priests for raping and abusing countless young boys, then I'll start giving a crap what they have to say about John Kerry's alleged heresy for supporting choice as a legislator in a pluralistic society. (They might consider the heresy of Catholic senators supporting an illegal, unprovoked war that's killed more than 15,000 civilians so far...)


The world loves us, but by "us" they don't mean George W. Bush. A new study in 10 countries shows overwhelming support for the American people, John Kerry, Starbucks, and McDonalds, but very little love for our president. The lone dissenter: Israel.

Speaking of dissent: "It is self-evident that everyone has certain unalienable rights endowed by the Creator, and that among these are the right to his/her own conscience and the right to pursue his/her sense of justice. Whenever in the field of politics the party to which he has belonged, and that party’s president, become destructive of his vision of what is not only right and fair but also good for our future, it is his duty to call the tune as he hears it. When that future is endangered by the present policies of the administration, it is time to act. The record of this incumbent president is a history not only of repeated violations of the key principles underlying our democracy, but of the core values of the Christian faith to which he claims commitment. Let his actions be stated candidly." So writes retired Republican three-time judge Robert L. Black in a piece that enumerates George W. Bush's failings as president.

Where are the free-speech conservatives now? Pro-Sinclair Republicans are decrying Democrats who wish to prevent the airing of anti-Kerry flick "Stolen Honor" on the grounds that it's a free speech issue (it is, but Democrats are actually taking issue with Sinclair's apparent violation of federal elections rules), but they're characteristically silent about the free speech assault in another case: the FBI shut down two internet servers for the independent media network Indymedia without filing a single charge. More than 20 sites that provide grassroots reporting around the world have been silenced by the unexplained raid. Take action here.
Iraq Unfiltered: Farnaz Fassihi, a Wall Street Journal reporter in Iraq, sent a personal email to friends describing the frustrating conditions in Iraq (like being on house arrest, she writes). It ended up getting emailed around the world. It's incredibly honest and blunt, which is probably why neocons are calling for her head: they say she's part of the "liberal media" (the conservative Wall Street Journal? Right.), she's a Kerry supporter, she's unfit to continue writing. She's been sent on "vacation" til after the election as a response to her bold portrayal of the havoc we've wreaked on Iraq. Her last paragraph:
I asked a 28-year-old engineer if he and his family would participate in the Iraqi elections since it was the first time Iraqis could to some degree elect a leadership. His response summed it all: "Go and vote and risk being blown into pieces or followed by the insurgents and murdered for cooperating with the Americans? For what? To practice democracy? Are you joking?"
And: The literary and journalistic context of Farssihi's work.

(Thanks, Kemi.)


The O'Reilly Fracture: Fox producer files harassment suit against host. Moralistic motormouth Bill O'Reilly has been slammed with a sexual harrassment suit by a producer at his own Fox network. The highly detailed complaint suggests what we all suspected--he's a friggin' piggy, a fact which has not yet been legally verified in a court of law. (Note the section on an alleged phone-sex call where O'Reilly fantasized that he'd "take the falafel thing and I'd put it on" a part of the plaintiff's anatomy.)

Guns don't threaten their wives with guns, people do. While we're on the topic of hypocritical Republicans, here's a story of a New York GOP congressional candidate who reportedly threatened to shoot his wife with two shotguns during a dinner party the couple hosted. (Insert family values joke here.)
A 9/11 Society or a July 4th Nation? [U]ltimately Sept. 11th is about them - the bad guys - not about us. We're about the Fourth of July," writes Thomas Friedman in an excellent piece that takes Bush to task for chiding Kerry for saying he wants our nation to be secure enough so that terrorism isn't our focus but merely a nuisance. His thesis:
The Bush team's responses to Mr. Kerry's musings are revealing because they go to the very heart of how much this administration has become addicted to 9/11. The president has exploited the terrorism issue for political ends - trying to make it into another wedge issue like abortion, guns or gay rights - to rally the Republican base and push his own political agenda. But it is precisely this exploitation of 9/11 that has gotten him and the country off-track, because it has not only created a wedge between Republicans and Democrats, it's also created a wedge between America and the rest of the world, between America and its own historical identity, and between the president and common sense.
Full article here.


Debate 1.3: Bush sez: "Of course we're meeting our obligations to our veterans, and veterans know that." Say what?
In the spring of 2003, shortly after the start of the war in Iraq, the state of affairs on veterans funding in the Republican controlled House was by all accounts surprisingly hostile to veterans. The Bush administration sent to the House its proposal for cutting $844 million from veterans? health care from the 2004 budget. Over a 10-year period the cuts would total approximately $10 billion. When the proposal reached the House Budget Committee, all 18 Democrats opposed the cuts, and they proposed an amendment to restore the $844 million and add another billion for VA discretionary health care. Led by their chairman, Jim Nussle of Iowa, Republicans on the committee, in an almost perfect party-line vote, 22-19, rejected the amendment and proceeded with the Bush proposal.

The uproar that followed this partisan attempt to cut veterans? benefits in a time of war caught Republicans off guard and they quickly backed off. But the die was cast. Everyone knew where Bush and the Republicans stood on the matter of honoring the country?s veterans.
Debate 1.2: Moderator Bob says he has a "golfing friendship" with the president and that ""It's always difficult to cover someone you know personally." What the hell is he doing moderating this debate?
Debate 1.1: Damn, this is ugly. Bush is savaging Kerry with harsh accusations, vast generalizations, and ad hominem attacks that have no basis in evidence. Kerry on the other hand really is listing off, as Bush says, "a littany of complaints." Dude needs to sprinkle barbs in among the broader communication of his vision.

Bush says he hasn't taken his eyes off of bin Laden, yet in March 2002 he said, "I truly am not concerned about him."

Bush says he doesn't want the government meddling in how people live their lives, yet he's for the Patriot Act which includes provisions that allow law enforcement to snoop into library records and financial records without evidence of terrorist involvements.

Bush says he doesn't want activist judges to make decisions like whether marriage is a bond between a man and a woman only, yet he's fine with activist judges installing him as president.

Bush is the one out of the mainstream: "The buggy and horse days"? Is that like "the internets"?


Buy furniture here: Carroll's Furniture in nearby Arden Hills, Minnesota, responded to my email about their ads on Sinclair-owned KMWB with a letter. Hats off to them for their ethical stance (buy an ottoman from 'em if you can):
Dear Paul:
Thank you for your concern regarding the actions of the Sinclair Broadcast Group. We had no prior knowledge of the political stance of SBG and their local affiliate, KMWB23, when we placed our advertising dollars. It is not our intention to support this kind of political indecency. As a result of their insistence in airing "Stolen Hour," we have sent the following letter to the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Dear Sir:

As an advertiser on your Minneapolis affiliate, KMWB23, we are appalled at Sinclair Broadcasting Group's lack of corporate citizenship in the mandatory broadcasting of "Stolen Hour." [sic]

The deliberate support of any candidate over another candidate has no place in media programming governed by FCC regulations. It is the obligation of FCC license holders to present a balanced approach to broadcasting. Notice the word balanced, not the word unbiased. Offering Senator John Kerry a chance for rebuttal on your "documentary" is not a legitimate use of balanced reporting.

It is our intention to cease advertising with your affiliate unless actions are taken by the Sinclair Broadcast Group to establish and maintain fair and balanced viewpoints in programming.

Scott and Debra Rosenthal
Carroll's Furniture, Inc.

More on the Sinclair flap: FCC Commissioner Michael Copps released a statement on Sinclair's decision to air the Kerry-knocking doc:
This is an abuse of the public trust. And it is proof positive of media consolidation run amok when one owner can use the public airwaves to blanket the country with its political ideology -- whether liberal or conservative. Some will undoubtedly question if this is appropriate stewardship of the public airwaves. This is the same corporation that refused to air Nightline’s reading of our war dead in Iraq. It is the same corporation that short-shrifts local communities and local jobs by distance-casting news and weather from hundreds of miles away. It is a sad fact that the explicit public interest protections we once had to ensure balance continue to be weakened by the Federal Communications Commission while it allows media conglomerates to get even bigger. Sinclair, and the FCC, are taking us down a dangerous road.
The film, written by a former employee of conservative cultist Reverend Sun Myung Moon (who owns UPI and the Washington Times) and airing on stations owned by rightwing partisans and a CEO arrested for soliciting a prostitute, is summarized like this:
In the mid 1960's thousands of young American men left their families, homes and jobs and went to fight for their country in Southeast Asia. Many of them never returned. Others were shot down and captured behind enemy lines. They were forced to suffer years of brutal treatment at the hands of the Communist captors. Their horrifying days of darkness, starvation and torture were made worse by the actions of a young American Officer named John Kerry. As these American heroes suffered, John Kerry sat comfortably in the glow of television lights to tell a Senate Committee that these same men were 'war criminals.'

As you may have heard, Sinclair Broadcast Group--owner of TV stations that reach 25% of American viewers and owner of KMWB here in the Twin Cities--has decided to pre-empt programming right before the election to air a documentary, Stolen Honor, that bashes John Kerry's service in Vietnam. Sinclair was the network that refused to air Nightline's episode The Fallen, where Ted Koppel read off the names of soldiers killed in Iraq, deeming it a political act (Ah, the irony: "patriots" who won't honor the dead, fierce partisans bemoaning perceived partisanship!). For more on their rightwing bias and disturbing embrace of centralized, non-local news, read my piece "The Death of Local News."

Here's what you can do: several websites have been set up, one hosting a petition and another, more effectively, offering contact info for companies advertising on Sinclair-owned stations, nationally and locally. Please, write a letter to these advertisers, especially in your town where you can have more impact. Then, search for markets in swing states, where Sinclair's Kerry-bashing can do more damage (the "Barely Kerry," "Weak Kerry," and "Barely Bush" states shown here), and put pressure on advertisers there. Feel free to repurpose my letter, and make sure to indicate you're local when writing to a hometown business:
Good morning,
I'm disturbed by the Sinclair Broadcast Group's decision to air a biased documentary that attacks John Kerry on the eve of this year's election--and I urge ((Company Name)), as an advertiser on Sinclair-owned ((Station call letters)), to withdraw advertising from them to protest this affront on democracy. The airwaves Sinclair broadcasts on are owned by the people, and we grant Sinclair's stations licenses to use those airwaves for free. We ask only one thing in return--programming that serves the public good. The anti-Kerry documentary and the timing of its airing are suspect, both because the network refuses to broadcast both sides of the story (say, a Fahrenheit 9/11-style film critiquing Bush) and because it's running this blatantly one-sided smear when it can most affect the election. As an advertiser on ((Station)), you have the leverage I don't to hold the station and Sinclair to a higher standard of objectivity. I hope you will.
For more on Sinclair, visit OpEdNews. To write letters to the editor of your local paper on this issue, use my favorite letter-writing tool--the one with poetic justice built right in--thoughtfully provided by the campaign to re-elect George W. Bush. (Or use MoveOn's.)

Update 1:27 pm: Free Press is on the job, offering a site that has a comprehensive report on grievances against Sinclair, as well as a way for you to send a complaint to the FCC. Visit Sinclair Watch.

Update 3:08 pm: Sinclair's NewsCentral has an online poll about whether the network should run the documentary. Can't imagine they'll listen, but the "no's" are at 70%.


On art:
Above all else, it is about leaving a mark that I existed: I was here. I was hungry. I was defeated. I was happy. I was sad. I was in love. I was afraid. I was hopeful. I had an idea and I had a good purpose and that’s why I made works of art.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957–1996)


Sinclair strikes again: Josh Marshall writes of this amazing bit of propaganda by a name near and dear to Eyeteeth readers:
Right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group, a company that owns local TV stations across the country, is ordering its local stations to preempt normal broadcasting a couple days before the election to air an anti-Kerry film made by a former 'reporter' for the Washington Times.

Basically it's a 90 minute Swift-Boat ad which Sinclair is ordering stations seen in a quarter of the nation's households to show a week before the election.

Check out Josh Green's article on Karl Rove in the current Atlantic Monthly if you want some clue what's going on here.
Debate post-mortem: Kerry won, hands down, but Bush did much better than in his last bumbling outing. Got some zingers in, pulled off the heartfelt bit when discussing abortion, had that cocksure, mocking demeanor that a lot of people seem to go for (my dad says Bush unwittingly speaks to our reptilian brains). But the unscripted Bush persona these days is mighty peculiar. TalkLeft links to an AP report that sums up his presidential twitchings:
President Bush smirked and winked and chuckled to himself. He jumped from his stool, chopped at the air and interrupted the debate moderator. As he fought to keep his emotions in check during a combative debate with Sen. John Kerry, the president jokingly said, "That answer almost made me want to scowl."

Several answers brought Bush's emotions to the surface, for better or worse, as he sought to curb Kerry's momentum. The question that hung over the second of their three debates was whether Bush's aggressive, hyper style was an effective tool or a damaging habit - an extension of his disastrous first debate performance. Reviews were mixed.

Bush "seemed wound a bit too tight. He was a little like Nixon - sort of jumping out of his suit," said David Niven, political science professor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. "He looked bad on the TV close-ups."
TalkLeft also lists some online polls you can still vote on (while they're likely a worthless measure, like most political opinion polls these days, they all indicate a Kerry win), and gives a run-down of reactions by bloggers.
R.I.P.: It's been a rough few weeks: Avedon, Dangerfield, and now Derrida.


W's celebrity endorsement: A clever commercial by a new Minneapolis 527 features Osama bin Laden giving a "shout out to my man W... the best friend international jihad ever had." (Thanks, Reid.)
Those inconvenient facts: When faced with a weapons inspectors' report that states that not only was there no WMDs in Iraq, but Saddam Hussein's weapon-builiding capabilities were weakening not strengthening, George and Dick revert to a favorite strategy: utter denial. Cheney asserted that the damning report actually buttressed his rationale for preemptive war in Iraq. Bush, right after admitting there were no WMD stockpiles, inexplicably said, "[Saddam] retained the knowledge, the material, the means and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction and he could have passed that knowledge on to our terrorist enemies." And what evidence will he pull from his presidential posterior to back that one up? Didn't we just hear that Hussein had no such material, his intentions aside?

It's just another brazen fib by the Bushies, part of a pattern Paul Krugman discusses in today's column, "Ignorance isn't strength":
President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have an unparalleled ability to insulate themselves from inconvenient facts. They lead a party that controls all three branches of government, and face news media that in some cases are partisan supporters, and in other cases are reluctant to state plainly that officials aren't telling the truth. They also still enjoy the residue of the faith placed in them after 9/11. This has allowed them to engage in what Orwell called 'reality control.' In the world according to the Bush administration, our leaders are infallible, and their policies always succeed. If the facts don't fit that assumption, they just deny the facts. As a political strategy, reality control has worked very well. But as a strategy for governing, it has led to predictable disaster.
A liar, yes, but a cheater? I've been watching this one on the blogs the past few days, but now that Salon.com is reporting on it, I'll join in. Can Bush's blathering performance at the first debate be blamed on the fact that he was secretly wired? (I wish they'd stop referring to Bush's "mystery bulge"--the alleged electronic device concealed under his jacked--which conjures memories of the president's flight-suit malfunction, then dubbed "Bush's basket.")


"Not all fascism looks like Adolph Hitler." A devastating new animation critiques the agenda of the neocon hawks' Project for the New American Century. Melding stunning stencil-style graphics with content that lays bare the collusion between our nation's business and govermental leaders, this staggering bit of art activism redubs the war on terror "a campaign against opposition to US domination." (Thanks, Ben!)
The White House's "Lying World of Consistency": Hannah Arendt's "The Origins of Totalitarianism" offers some chilling parallels between Bush's and Cheney's black-and-white world of certainty and the rise of fascism:
Before they seize power and establish a world according to their doctrines, totalitarian movements conjure up a lying world of consistency which is more adequate to the needs of the human mind than reality itself.
In Jonathan Schell's essay on the Republican convention, he extends Arendt's thinking:
Seen in Arendt's terms, the convention was proto-totalitarian--an invitation to a still-free people not just to believe a few lies but to believe in what she calls a "lying world." The attraction and power of such a bid resides in its totality, as if someone had disaggregated the dots in a photograph, discarded half, added new ones and then reassembled them all into a compelling new photograph. In Arendt's words, such an effort requires "using, and at the same time transcending, the elements of reality, of verifiable experiences, in the chosen fiction, and in generalizing them into regions which then are definitely removed from all possible control by individual experience." Not just one fact or another but the factual world is discarded.
Read Schell's full essay.

(Thanks, Jim.)
D'oh! Cheney's slip-up last night, when he directed us all to factcheck.com to clear up any misgivings we might have about his Halliburton entanglements, lead to a site that seemed to promote an online university. Now it redirects to GeorgeSoros.com, and the leading headline on the page is "President Bush is endangering our safety, hurting our vital interests, and undermining American values." Not sure if Soros snatched up the site after Cheney's verbal typo, or if he owned it already. I just hope Undecideds looking for the truth about Halliburton end up there.


Cheney's rose-colored jobs report: Cheney's glowing praise for his administration's job-creation successes during the debate doesn't seem to jive with a report out just today: US job cuts hit an 8-month high, with 41 percent more layoffs in September than there were in the same month a year ago. That's 107,863 people laid off in one month alone.
Veep debate. 1.7: Check out the Kerry blog for rebuttal, then go to the Dems' site and get ready to jam post-debate online polls.

Having trouble finding online polls? Here's a few (more in a minute):
- MSN Money
- Orlando Sentinel
- MSNBC's Hardball
- Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal
- Philadelphia Inquirer
Veep debate 1.6: Flip-flopping has become a recurring theme in this campaign, says Gwen Ifil. Wonder why? Perhaps because the media propagates the meme, but they don't use the tag for Bush's inconsistencies (the 20-some excuses for Iraq--from WMDs to weapons-of-mass-destruction-related-program-activities to regime change to... just for example). Edwards is now enumerating Bush's flipflops: for then against 9/11, for then against Homeland Security, lobbying to cut combat pay while "supporting our troops," etc...
Veep debate 1.5: The Edwards-has-no-experience meme is lame. Bush had less experience when he entered the Oval Office. Hell, Edwards actually had a long, successful career before politics, something Bush can't say.
Veep debate 1.4: Topics I hope to hear about: letting the assault-weapon ban lapse? The issue Kerry brought up last week about why our ports aren't secured, why cargo crates aren't individually inspected as they enter the country? How about the environment? How about Bush's abysmal civil rights record (see below)? Waiting...
Veep debate 1.3: I suppose the tedium of this snoozefest means Edwards hasn't damaged the campaign, nor has Cheney landed many punches on Kerry/Edwards. He does seem less snarly than usual, and--unlike Bush's befuddlement--he seems somewhat competent. So there's that.

Now back to the nap...
Veep debate 1.2: Factcheck.com, the URL Cheney says will clear up all the confusion about his profiting from war and his relationship with Halliburton, is, well, something else ("the leading education site on the net," it's not affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania). Just like the bogus intelligence that launched this war, he fucked up. It's Factcheck.org. Some facts about Cheney and Halliburton: 1.) he made $44 million in the period just preceding his vice presidency, 2.) he collects deferred payments from Halliburton of about $150,000 per year, and 3.) he reportedly still owns $18 million in stock options. How can this company get a no-bid government contract without the appearance of a conflict of interest?
Veep debate 1.1: Dick Cheney dares to discuss Senator Edwards' attendance when his cohort, George Bush took 233 days of vacation between his inauguration and August 2004?! Hilarious. In August 2001--the month preceding September 11--Bush took the longest presidential vacation in 32 years: 27 days. Forty-two percent of the president's term has been spent on vacation.
Bush's F on civil rights: A draft version of a report card from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights offers an incredibly damning indictment of the Bush administration, saying that this president has not "defined a clear agenda nor made civil rights a priority." It states that the administration's policies have effectively "retreated from long-established civil rights promises." For starters, Bush's funding of civil rights programs--Departments of Education, Labor, Justice, Health and Human Services, HUD, and the EEOC, to name a few--has been far lower than funding by the past two administrations, and he's done nothing to prevent the kind of voting fiasco that won him the election in Florida in 2000. His policies have hurt housing opportunities for poor, minority families; he has encouraged racial profiling following 9/11; and efforts for equal rights for immigrants, Native Americans, disabled people, women, gays, and lesbians have "remained elusive." The report concludes "that President Bush has neither exhibited leadership on pressing civil rights issues, nor taken actions that matched his words."

No wonder conservatives are trying to kill the report. Some rightwingers have accused the commission's staff with playing the race card just in time for the election. As the Chronicle's Emil Guillermo writes, "That's funny. The U.S. Civil Rights Commission playing the race card? What a hoot. What else would a commission whose subject is race talk about?"

Read the draft report card (pdf format) while you can.

(Thanks, Kemi.)
Sad quote: Siva quotes Colin Powell at the top of his blog, a citation from the Secretary of State's 1995 memoir, My American Journey:
I am angry that so many sons of the powerful and well-placed. . . managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units. Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to our country.
Powell's anger, like the the soul we knew was once there, seems to have evaporated.
Rumsfeld's reversal: As recently as last month, Dick Cheney alleged a still-unsubstantiated link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, saying Saddam had "provided safe harbour and sanctuary ... for al-Qaida." On the eve of Cheney's debate with John Edwards, Donald Rumsfeld reverses the stance long held by himself, Cheney and the administration. "[T]o my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two", Mr Rumsfeld said yesterday, claiming he was "misunderstood." A look at the record suggests that any misunderstanding was exactingly orchestrated by the Defense Secretary himself:
August 2002: Mr Rumsfeld claims "there are al-Qaida in Iraq", and accuses Saddam of "harbouring al-Qaida operatives who fled the US military dragnet in Afghanistan".

September 2002: "We do have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al-Qaida members, including some that have been in Baghdad," Mr Rumsfeld says. "We have what we consider to be very reliable reporting of senior-level contacts going back a decade, and of possible chemical and biological agent training."

October 2002: He tells a Pentagon briefing he had already been informed there is "solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al-Qaida members".

March 2003: Mr Rumsfeld says the US-led coalition has solid evidence that senior al-Qaida operatives had visited Baghdad in the past, and that Saddam had an "evolving" relationship with the terror network.

September 2004: The defence secretary confuses the jailed Saddam and the fugitive Bin Laden in a speech to the US National Press Club: "Saddam Hussein, if he's alive, is spending a whale of a lot of time trying to not get caught. And we've not seen him on a video since 2001." He corrects himself when asked for clarification.


Carniola? "Conquistador" is the 86,800th most popular word in the English language, according to Word Count, just behind "recrossed," "workless," and the ever-popular "carniola." Word Count is:
an artistic experiment in the way we use language. It presents the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked in order of commonality. Each word is scaled to reflect its frequency relative to the words that precede and follow it, giving a visual barometer of relevance. The larger the word, the more we use it. The smaller the word, the more uncommon it is.
(Via iwordgood.com.)

Hello Kiddy: Cutesy Japanese kitschmeisters Hello Kitty--best known for stationery, plastic doodads, and PJ designs--has launched a new endeavor for kids: debit cards. The company's website promises "Freedom! You can use the Hello Kitty Debit MasterCard to shop 'til you drop." Starting 'em young, the card targets 10 to 14-year olds, maybe younger. Critics have called it a "credit card with training wheels."

Whoa, Doggy: Artist William Wegman is collaborating with Crypton Fabric to make cool dog-patterned textiles based on his photography and his pack of hounds. The feature that'll speak most to canine owners: it's stain, moisture, and odor-resistant. (Via Eyebeam's Reblog.)


Rubin starts hunger strike: Prominent peace activist Jerry Rubin (often confused with Jerry Rubin of the Chicago 7) started a hunger strike yesterday to persuade Ralph Nader to drop out of the presidential race.
Big Media backs Bush: The Big Three networks that brought us ads featuring farting horses, spray douches, and hemorrhoid ointment are refusing to air paid advertisements for the DVD release of anti-Bush flick Fahrenheit 9/11 during news or morning-show time slots (when most adults tune in)--effectively stifling commercial free speech for political reasons. According to a spokesperson at Sony, F/911's distributor, "They said explicitly they were reluctant because of the closeness of the release to the election. All three networks said no." Nikki Finke writes in LA Weekly:
Yet here is more bile rising in our throats as Big Media does yet another favor for Dubya. At the very least the networks managed to delay Fahrenheit 9/11’s DVD ads for several weeks by claiming they had to consult their attorneys to make sure the ads didn’t fall under the Federal Election Commission rules governing electioneering communications - a bunch of laughable hooey, especially considering the armadas of attorneys already on network payrolls keeping the Election Commission at bay. And speaking of lawyers, how interesting that Big Media spent so much time spanking - or, worse, ignoring - Kitty Kelley’s newly released The Family that dares to criticize the Bushies. When, by contrast, the networks fell all over themselves basically promoting the bejesus out of that swift-boat book of half-truths and full lies, Unfit for Command. As if, in some parallel universe, the lawyers for Kelley’s publisher, Doubleday/Random House, are inferior to those of the Swifties’ Regnery Publishing.

Where is the level playing field? Gone, thanks to the shenanigans of Big Media. Nor is it an exaggeration to state that the networks increasingly look like they’re doing everything possible to help George W. win re-election. At least that wily old codger Sumner Redstone had the balls to come out this weekend and say what everyone already knows is true: "There has been comment upon my contribution to Democrats like Senator Kerry. Senator Kerry is a good man. I’ve known him for many years. But it happens that I vote for Viacom. Viacom is my life, and I do believe that a Republican administration is better for media companies than a Democratic one."

Like, duh! Who else but Dubya and his FCC frown posse, led by Michael Powell, is never going to meet one media merger after another they didn’t like? And in return for all that conglomeration and consolidation, all Big Broadcasters have to do is fork over minor fines whenever they deflower the virgin ears and eyes of the public.

And with more money to spend on political ads this election year (hell, every election year), the Republicans are helping Big Media climb out of their recession-caused red ink. As Broadcasting & Cable reported this month, ad spending in markets across the country is "flat to down" this year. But thanks to all those GOP attack ads against Kerry and his own spots to defend against them, ad spending, especially in the battleground states, is "through the roof," up 14 percent to 15 percent.
Read Finke's full story here.

Clear Channel: "Don't vote." Here in Minneapolis, a new billboard campaign bears a red, white, and blue encouragement: "Don't vote." Described as a teaser billboard--the first ad, aimed to shock, will be replaced with a new one on October 11, revealing that it's really just another ad for a radio station morning show or new restaurant. But city officials question the timing and location of the billboards, owned by rightwing media conglomerate Clear Channel Communications: of the 15 billboards, several appear in neighborhoods with the city's highest concentration of minorities. The NAACP is reportedly looking into it.

Red Fox: Fox News runs a web story that dedicates some 250 words to a group identified as Kerry supporters--Communists for Kerry (an editor's note now says Fox inadvertently listed the group as supporting Kerry rather than opposing him). A feeble copycat of Billionaires for Bush, a "communists" spokesperson is quoted as saying, ""We're trying to get Comrade Kerry elected and get that capitalist enabler George Bush out of office." (Via Atrios.)
W doesn't stand for Women: A growing number of Republican women--especially in battleground states like Arizona, where Bush squeaked out a 6% margin of victory in 2000--are defying Bush's laughable* slogan "W is for Women." Salon.com reports on the efforts of Republican women's groups to get Kerry elected.

*Bush's war on women is waged globally and right here at home--even in the glass-ceilinged White House, where 12 of the 17 staffers who earn more than $157,000 a year are men.


"Bush was mucking up his flying": While George W. Bush has offered multiple excuses for leaving the Texas Air National Guard early--from the planned mothballing of the type of airplane he flew to his doctor's unavailability to schedule a physical to a job opportunity elsewhere--a new reason may be emerging: the widow of the pilot brought in to replace Bush when he left for Alabama in 1972 says "Bush was mucking up his flying very badly and he couldn't fly the plane... he was having trouble landing, and that possibly there was a drinking problem involved in that." A very interesting story from The Nation.


Rest in Peace, Jane: In death as in life, Jane Burrows Buffet of Madison, Wisconsin, was no fan of George W. Bush. She succumbed to cancer on September 25, and her obituary read, in part:
Jane was a woman of many hats. She was an English teacher (and later a tutor), a mediator/arbitrator for the State of Wisconsin, a homemaker and a gardener. She was a tireless advocate for good things like grammar, grandchildren, justice and other growing things. This fiery woman could make an impression on a person, and the family is endeavoring to make some lasting record of these impressions for the sake of her grandchildren, the youngest of whom is one year old...

As one who once taught English, and especially because she loved her grandchildren, Jane was outraged that any politician who would cut back cancer treatment options for social security recipients, who would invade a foreign country and then expect her grandchildren to pay the bills, could claim to be a "compassionate conservative." Once he became the nominee, she saw John Kerry as the candidate who would most conserve everything she valued. Jane fought to live long enough to be able to vote this November. To honor her memory, please do everything you can to elect John Kerry.
Dear Jon letter: A coalition of young people want The Daily Show's Jon Stewart to endorse a presidential candidate. A nod to the growing influence of Comedy Central's hit, they urge:
For many of us, The Daily Show was our first engagement with politics. Because of your program, more young Americans than ever are aware of the sad state of the country. It is our belief that an endorsement from you would further legitimize political participation in the eyes of our generation, and give us the confidence to stand up for our future.

Young voters are conspicuously absent on Election Day because we feel ignored and shut out by the system. With politicians and journalists counting us out, we have the potential to be the X factor that decides the outcome of this election. Now is the time to engage the 40 million young Americans whose futures are at stake in this election.
Sign their petition and leave a note for Jon here.

Bush's gotcha moment: Zing!
Faux News, indeed: Forget the CBS scandal, Talking Points Memo caught overtly partisan Fox News makin' shit up this morning. In a story linked from the site's home page, copy includes fabricated quotes attributed to John Kerry like "Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" and "It's about the Supreme Court. Women should like me! I do manicures." Without comment (TPM's Josh Marshall is awaiting a response from Fox), the text--which also claims Kerry said, "I'm metrosexual—he's a cowboy."--quickly disappeared from the site. Kerry aides say the candidate said no such thing... And we wonder why perceptions of the media's credibility are at a 30-year low.

Update: Fox has published an apology and retraction.
What W stands for: John Nichols dubs the president whiner-in-chief, and Boondocks cartoonist Aaron MacGruder says Bush "got his ass whooped" in last night's debate. Conservative bloggers seem to agree.

War widows watch the debate: In a TV spot created overnight by Sisters Speak Out, made up of people who lost loved ones in Iraq, a woman tells George W. Bush, "If you had a plan for progress, my brother might still be alive." Visit their site and consider donating to help air the commercial.

No longer ABB: John Kerry went from being Anybody But Bush to being John Kerry after last night's resounding trouncing of George W. Bush in the presidential debates. While Kerry was thoughtful, nuanced, and compelling, Bush seemed confused, inarticulate, and sometimes petty. While Bush appeared to freeze in front of the camera several times, Kerry was on-point each and every time, offering nuanced, smart, presidential responses. Bush opted for guffaws, eyeball-rolling, and befuddled Alfred E. Neuman impressions. Kudos to Kerry for:
[S]mart means not diverting your attention from the real war on terror in Afghanistan against Osama bin Laden and taking if off to Iraq where the 9/11 Commission confirms there was no connection to 9/11 itself and Saddam Hussein, and where the reason for going to war was weapons of mass destruction, not the removal of Saddam Hussein. This president has made, I regret to say, a colossal error of judgment. And judgment is what we look for in the president of the United States of America.
The president moved the troops, so he's got 10 times the number of troops in Iraq than he has in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden is. Does that mean that Saddam Hussein was 10 times more important than Osama bin Laden -- than, excuse me, Saddam Hussein more important than Osama bin Laden? I don't think so.
I laughed out loud at this exchange. Kerry wondered why the president has done little to secure our ports and transit systems from terrorist attacks, instead opting to send money to add cops and firehouses in Iraq. The president's response was, typically, that he's "working hard" and spending money--he mentions no measure of success on how the money's spent. His response: he's "changing the culture at the FBI," "there's a lot of good people working hard," and he created the Department of Homeland Security. That's it? "Changing the culture" is your solution to quashing extremist terrorism?

Now, as Josh Marshall says, "comes the hard part: winning the spin."

Doesn't measure up: While Bush didn't grow in eloquence during the debates, he seemingly did in height. TalkLeft notes an apparent photoshop job at the Fox News website, where the 5'11" president is shown shaking the hand of his 6'4" opponent--and looking just as tall.

Debunking Bush: TalkLeft also calls W to the mat for misstatements, including the erroneous claim--debunked by CNN--that "75% of known Al Qaida leaders have been apprehended."

Put a leash on 'em: In the debate Bush joked that he'd "like to put them [his daughters] on a leash," to which Andrew Sullivan points out, "No president who has presided over Abu Ghraib should ever say he wants to put anyone on a leash. That's all."