Flip-Flop-aholic: Bush says we can win the war on terror. Then he says we can't. Then Newt Gingrich says it's silly to think anyone could win the war on terror. Now--heavens to Betsy--Bush says that "we will win" said war. Seriously. Maybe.
Is Hastert on crack? House Speaker Dennis Hastert makes a wild hypothesis--that Open Society Institute founder and progressive funder George Soros is a drug lord. Yow:
"You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money. I don't know where — if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from," Hastert mused. An astonished Chris Wallace asked: "Excuse me?" The Speaker went on: "Well, that's what he's been for a number years — George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he's got a lot of ancillary interests out there." Wallace: "You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?" Hastert: "I'm saying I don't know where groups - could be people who support this type of thing. I'm saying we don't know."
Or is Gingrich? It must be a calculated smear; just a day after Hastert's retarded comment, Newt Gingrich reasserted the claim, saying that Soros "wants to spend $75 million defeating [President] George W. Bush because Soros wants to legalize heroin."
The man who bailed out Bush: Former Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes, the man who landed young George W. Bush a cushy stateside gig to avoid serving in Vietnam, now apologizes for it:
I became more ashamed of myself than I've ever been because it was the worst thing I did--I help a lot of wealthy supporters and a lot of people who had family names of importance get in the National Guard. I'm very sorry of that, and I'm very ashamed of it, and I apologize to the voters of Texas for that.
Give to Kerry-Edwards today: Every dollar contributed before midnight tonight to defeat George W. Bush and elect John Kerry will be matched by anonymous Democratic donors. Give today: it really matters.
George W. Bush in Springfield, Missouri:
We have a clear vision on how to win the war on terror and bring peace to the world.
George W. Bush on the TODAY show:
"I don't think you can win it [the war on terror]. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world.
What were Republicans thinking when they sent out Newt Gingrich to clear the air. The codger ended up contradicting Bush again, essentially calling the prez--in an offhanded slur against Kerry--silly: "I'm sure you're going to have John Kerry, if he's not careful, saying something really silly, which is that he'd win the war on terror."

Protest sign du jour: Osama still has his job. Do you?

Detained protesters denied rights: While Republicans inside the convention can't shut up about "compassionate conservatism," the police are reportedly holding more than 500+ protesters without water, food, access to lawyers or medical attention. A pregnant woman hasn't been fed since Sunday night, and people with chronic illnesses aren't being given medication. More info here. (Via NEWSgrist.)

Truth -->
<-- Bush

The banner.

Bush's other war lie: A photo discovered in George Bush Sr.'s presidential library shows George W. Bush wearing an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award--a commendation he never earned. Meanwhile, delegates to the Republican National Convention are ridiculing Kerry, who actually served and earned merit medals, by wearing band-aids with small purple hearts on them.

Souled out: Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas on Democracy Now: "I think that America doesn't invade countries without provocation, and that's what we've done. And I think that it has tainted us throughout the world. We've really damaged our psyche, our soul, our image."


Read my roof: Say no to Bush. Anti-Bush banners atop buildings in NYC, just for incoming airborne GOP revelers. My fave: "Fire the Liar."
Bikes Against Bush arrest: As Boing Boing reports, Josh Kinberg of Bikes Against Bush has been arrested at the RNC. As Josh writes on his blog, he was merely describing how the chalk-spraying, hi-tech bike works to Ron Reagan for MSNBC's Hardball when a van of cops pulled up and took him into custody. He writes:
Intelligence detectives questioned me about "violent protestors," but seemed disappointed to learn that I am an artist and only know other artists, and had no knowledge of any violence being planned. All my equipment -- bicycle, computer, cell phone, and electronics are being held till further notice. I am scheduled to appear in court on Friday and am facing the possibilty of jail time.
Earlir Eyeteeth posts on Bikes Against Bush: 1, 2, 3.
More heroic? Possibly striking a pre-convention aw-shucks stance of brotherhood and compassion, the president yesterday admitted that John Kerry's Vietnam service was "more heroic" than his own military record. Interesting semantics: Bush implies that his time in the Air National Guard--what he calls "flying fighter jets," which has a distinctly different feel than his dull description of Kerry "going to Vietnam"--somehow puts his service on a continuum of heroicism: whether Kerry is more heroic and Bush less heroic, they're both still heroes! That's not how I'd characterize it: Bush scored in the 25th percentile on the pilot aptitude portion of the Air Force officers test and declared in 1968 (contrary to yesterday's assertion that, if called up, his unit would've served) that he didn't wish to serve overseas. As thousands of American GIs were dying in Vietnam, he used family connections to get assigned to the "Champagne Unit" of the Texas Air National Guard (alongside the son of Lloyd Bentsen), failed to show up for a physical, and allegedly ditched out on the final year of his obligation. And now, as Commander in Chief, he refuses to fully open the archives on his military records.

My hero...

In the spirit of full disclosure: I have not chosen to serve in the armed forces, so I suppose you could say Bush's service is "more heroic" than mine. But before you fill my comment box with irate opinions about honoring our military men and women, I wonder how you feel about the pro-Bush "swift boad" ad campaign that suggests Kerry's combat experience is somehow an issue that impugns his character...

On the topic of heroism: 974 American men and women have been killed to date in Iraq.

This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.
—Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.


The ballot or the bullhorn: Someone commenting on my story about high-tech protest tactics at the Republican convention asserts that "Protesting has outlived its usefullness...it is now a negative force rather than a positive one." With somewhere around 400,000 people taking to the streets to protest Bush on the eve of the convention, perhaps we'll see if he's right. I tend to agree, to a point--yes, please vote, and against George W. Bush, if you don't mind--but if you don't see voices that represent you on the ballot, hit the streets to make your viewpoints known. That's essentially what Naomi Klein had to say in a Democracy Now discussion on protest the other day. Her response to Todd Gitlin's belief that protesters "should do so... in a dignified way, in a way that does not recruit voters for George w. Bush":
Personally, I don't think we have the luxury of waiting until November to oppose the war. We also heard that the protests have nothing to do with the democrats. I would also disagree with that. I think they have a lot to do with the democrats. Precisely because the democrats have really sealed off the possibility of just expressing our opposition to the war by voting. This is not Spain. They are running on a hugely militaristic campaign. They're promising to continue the occupation, even expand the occupation of Iraq. So we need to be in the streets.


How to talk to a conservative: A superb new interview with UC Berkeley linguistics professor George Lakoff addresses conservative fallacies like the "liberal elite" and suggests new ways for progressives to talk about our values. Some excerpts:
The important thing is not to accept their framing of the issues, nor just negate their framing — that just reinforces it. Simply confronting them with facts won't help. Frames trump facts. The facts alone will not set you free. You have to reframe the issues before the facts can become meaningful and powerful.

Some conservatives are ideologues and you're not going to sway them. But most conservatives are nice people. What you want to do is activate their nurturing model, engage their empathy. Ask them who they care about, what they care about, and why. Find out where their empathy lies. Connect with the part of them that shares your values, and get that to spread to other issues...
...Conservatives have branded liberals, and the liberals let them get away with it: the "liberal elite," the "latte liberals," the "limousine liberals." The funny thing is that conservatives are the elite. The whole idea of conservative doctrine is that some people are better than others, that some people deserve more. To conservatives, if you're poor it's because you deserve it, you're not disciplined enough to get ahead. Conservative doctrine requires that there be an elite: the people who thrive in the free market have more money, and they should. Progressives say, "No, that's not fair. Maybe some should have more money, but no one should live in poverty. Everybody who works deserves to have a reasonable standard of living for their work." These are ideas that are progressive or liberal ideas, and progressives aren't getting them out there enough...
...[Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, et al are] radicals. They're not trying to conserve anything. They're trying to impose a strict father model taken from a terrible, disastrous parenting method — one ruled by the use of abusive power and force — on America and the world. If you're disciplined enough to make enough money to buy good health care, you deserve it, and to buy a good education for your children, you deserve it. Otherwise you don't deserve it and you won't get it.

This goes against American egalitarianism and the idea of economic equity — that is, if people work hard and play by the rules, they should have a decent standard of living, assuming there's enough money in the economy as a whole. There is enough money in this economy. To deny people who work good health care and education goes against the best in American policy. It's radical and it's un-American.


Rock (and read) for a change: There's no austerity in these two new ways to help progressive causes. The Future Soundtrack for America, a joint effort of Move On and Music for America, features 22 "tasty" tracks (sez Ben) from artists like Clem Snide, Death Cab for Cutie, will. i.am (of the Black Eyed Peas), and the late great Elliott Smith. The Future Dictionary of America, a McSweeney's joynt, counts among its 150 speculative-dictionary-entry contributors Colson Whitehead, Donald Antrim, Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Auster, Michael Chabon, Chris Ware, Jonathan Ames, and Art Spiegelman. Proceeds support groups like Music For America, Common Assets, The Sierra Club, and others.
Extend the ban on assault weapons: In 19 days--on September 13--president Bush and Congress plan on letting Uzi's, AK-47s, and Tec-9's back on American streets. That's the day the Assault Weapons Ban enacted by Clinton in '94 expires, and the Republicans have no plan to reinstate it. It makes no sense: since the law began, police reported a 66 percent drop in the incidence of assault weapons traced to crimes. And while a majority of Americans want the ban extended--and 64% of gun-owning households support the ban--there's little political momentum to do so. "I don't think there is an appetite in Congress to extend this ban and wage a battle on the gun issue in a presidential election year," said Andrew Arulanandam, director of public affairs for the NRA. (The NRA has been withholding its endorsement of Bush, and some insiders say they'll announce their affiliation for the election on September 14.) Learn more, donate or sign a petition to extend the ban at stoptheNRA.com.

In related news: In a press conference called to expose the "ideological extremism" of his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, Illinois Senate candidate Alan Keyes asserted that the Constitution protects ordinary citizens' right to own machine guns, declaring that "the front line of the war against terror once again involves the citizens."
Laughable politics: Comedy Central's The Daily Show, where John Kerry appeared in his first post-Swift-boat-smear interview last night, continues to run commentary more incisive than the New York Times and every bit as edgy as The Onion's fake news. An excerpt:
STEWART: Here's what puzzles me most, Rob. John Kerry's record in Vietnam is pretty much right there in the official records of the US military, and haven't been disputed for 35 years?

CORDDRY: That's right, Jon, and that's certainly the spin you'll be hearing coming from the Kerry campaign over the next few days.

STEWART: Th-that's not a spin thing, that's a fact. That's established.

CORDDRY: Exactly, Jon, and that established, incontravertible fact is one side of the story.

STEWART: But that should be -- isn't that the end of the story? I mean, you've seen the records, haven't you? What's your opinion?

CORDDRY: I'm sorry, my *opinion*? No, I don't have 'o-pin-i-ons'. I'm a reporter, Jon, and my job is to spend half the time repeating what one side says, and half the time repeating the other. Little thing called 'objectivity' -- might wanna look it up some day.

STEWART: Doesn't objectivity mean objectively weighing the evidence, and calling out what's credible and what isn't?

CORDDRY: Whoa-ho! Well, well, well -- sounds like someone wants the media to act as a filter! [high-pitched, effeminate] 'Ooh, this allegation is spurious! Upon investigation this claim lacks any basis in reality! Mmm, mmm, mmm.' Listen buddy: not my job to stand between the people talking to me and the people listening to me.

STEWART: So, basically, you're saying that this back-and-forth is never going to end.

CORDDRY: No, Jon -- in fact a new group has emerged, this one composed of former Bush colleages, challenging the president's activities during the Vietnam era. That group: Drunken Stateside Sons of Privilege for Plausible Deniability. They've apparently got some things to say about a certain Halloween party in '71 that involved trashcan punch and a sodomized piñata. Jon -- they just want to set the record straight. That's all they're out for.

STEWART: Well, thank you Rob, good luck out there. We'll be right back.
(Via Atrios.)


Don't wake up dead: Worried about a terrorist attack while you sleep? How about hurricaines, tornados, or feisty kidnappers? Don't be. With this saferoom-cum-bed, you can be sure to survive everything from a burglar's visit to a "Bio-Chemical terrorist attack." The Quantum Sleeper--the SUV of beds--features a bulletproof polycarbonate barrier, a bio-chemical filter and "rebreather" system, heater/AC, CD/DVD, an alarm system, and more. Sleep safe! (Thanks, Ben.)

Agroterrorism: The Los Angeles Times reports on the threat of agroterrorism, "the use of microbes and poisons to shake confidence in the U.S. food supply and devastate the $201-billion farm economy." (Via Cursor.)
The wisdom of Alice Cooper: Dessicated shock-rocker (and avowed Bush supporter) Alice Cooper has something important to say to bands like R.E.M, Death Cab for Cutie, Pearl Jam, Jurassic 5, and others who are performing concerts to help defeat George Bush:
To me, that's treason. I call it treason against rock 'n' roll because rock is the antithesis of politics. Rock should never be in bed with politics... When I was a kid and my parents started talking about politics, I'd run to my room and put on the Rolling Stones as loud as I could. So when I see all these rock stars up there talking politics, it makes me sick.

If you're listening to a rock star in order to get your information on who to vote for, you're a bigger moron than they are. Why are we rock stars? Because we're morons. We sleep all day, we play music at night and very rarely do we sit around reading the Washington Journal.
Arundhati Roy on public power: Activist and author Arundhati Roy, from a recording broadcast on Democracy Now, discussing "Public Power in the Age of Empire":
And what of the U.S. elections? Do U.S. voters have a real choice?

It's true that if John Kerry becomes president, some of the oil tycoons and Christian fundamentalists in the White House will change. Few will be sorry to see the back of Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld or John Ashcroft and their blatant thuggery. But the real concern is that in the new administration their policies will continue. That we will have Bushism without Bush.

Those positions of real power - the bankers, the CEOs - are not vulnerable to the vote (. . . and in any case, they fund both sides).

Unfortunately the importance of the U.S elections has deteriorated into a sort of personality contest. A squabble over who would do a better job of overseeing empire. John Kerry believes in the idea of empire as fervently as George Bush does.

The U.S. political system has been carefully crafted to ensure that no one who questions the natural goodness of the military-industrial-corporate power structure will be allowed through the portals of power. Given this, it's no surprise that in this election you have two Yale University graduates, both members of Skull and Bones, the same secret society, both millionaires, both playing at soldier-soldier, both talking up war, and arguing almost childishly about who will lead the war on terror more effectively. Like President Bill Clinton before him, Kerry will continue the expansion of U.S. economic and military penetration into the world. He says he would have voted to authorize Bush to go to war in Iraq even if he had known that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. He promises to commit more troops to Iraq. He said recently that he supports Bush's policies toward Israel and Ariel Sharon 100 percent. He says he'll retain 98% of Bush's tax cuts.

So, underneath the shrill exchange of insults, there is almost absolute consensus. It looks as though even if Americans vote for Kerry, they'll still get Bush. President John Kerbush or President George Berry.

It's not a real choice. It's an apparent choice. Like choosing a brand of detergent. Whether you buy Ivory Snow or Tide, they're both owned by Proctor & Gamble.


Cheese-eating surrender monkeys? The much-trotted-out trope that the French are cowardly--a meme still thriving among the chickenhawks at Bush's rally in St. Paul last week--is "total bullshit, and anybody who knows anything about European military history knows damn well that over the past thousand years, the French have the most glorious military history in Europe, maybe the world," says "war nerd" Gary Brecher. He runs off a list of battles won by the French, from our Revolutionary War ("Well, news flash: 'we' didn't win that battle, any more than the Northern Alliance conquered the Taliban. The French army and navy won Yorktown for us.") to Austerlitz and Jena. A sample of Brecher's colorful verbiage:
Verdun. Just that name was enough to make Frenchmen and Germans, the few who survived it, wake up yelling for years afterward. The French lost 1.5 million men out of a total population of 40 million fighting the Germans from 1914-1918. A lot of those guys died charging German machine-gun nests with bayonets. I'd really like to see one of you office smartasses joke about "surrender monkeys" with a French soldier, 1914 vintage. You'd piss your dockers.

Shit, we strut around like we're so tough and we can't even handle a few uppity Iraqi villages. These guys faced the Germans head on for five years, and we call them cowards? And at the end, it was the Germans, not the French, who said "calf rope."
(Via Metafilter.)
What to say when the Feds come knocking: The federal government's much publicized questioning of antiwar protesters and African American voters in Florida prompts this piece by Steve Weissman--what to say and how to say it if the G-men pay you a visit.

Garrison Keillor on ralphing, Republicans, and renewing democracy: Minnesota's own voice of moderation and midwestern values, Garrison Keillor, explains why he's come out as a fierce Democrat and how Republicans--the party that brought us the Environmental Protection Agency and The Americans With Disabilities Act--have traded in this history for teeth-grinding zealotry:
At the moment, they are drenched in hubris and self-regard, incapable of telling their own history. It takes defeat and regret to give a person a little perspective and self-knowledge, and once the Republicans have gained that, one of them will tell us what happened to the GOP. Like this old Nebraska Republican who, now that he's retiring from Congress, comes out with a closely reasoned attack on the administration's Middle East policy. George W. Bush will retire to his Crawford plantation in January and begin work on his Georgic lament, in which he meditates on the dangers of success. Political skill in the absence of statesmanship is the first act of a tragedy.
Read the rest of the interview where he discusses Al Franken's potential Senatorial run; calls Norm Coleman "a man without a single principled bone in his body"; and urges Nader supporters to "Stand tall for Ralph, wear his button, wave his flag, put on his cologne in the morning, be as ralphic as you like, but in that private sacred moment, make your X for the Man."
What I was trying to say two posts ago: Counterpunch's Jeffrey St. Clair writes that considering his "vaporous record of service during Vietnam, it takes a perverse kind of hubris for Bush to assail the military careers of a POW (John McCain), a bona fide killing machine (John Kerry) and a triple amputee (Max Cleland). It's the trademark of a pampered bully." Read the entire excellent essay.


Money talks: graphic designer fired for heckling Bush. After heckling George W. Bush at a rally in West Virginia, Glen Hiller returned to work to find he didn't have a job--fired for offending the client who gave his free-speech-lovin' employer, Octavo Designs, tickets to the pro-Bush event.
Fighter vs. Fake: Before I devote any more pixels to the apparently illegal Swift boat ads launched by GOP insiders against John Kerry, I feel the need to back up and note: John Kerry volunteered to go to Vietnam, fought hard, and was injured. If those are values we want in our president, great. By contrast, our "commander in chief" didn't volunteer to fight in Southeast Asia and shirked the obligations he did sign on for. If those values are the kind we want leading our military, swell. But just as there are obligatory inclusions in every news account of the fight over these ads (f.ex. the definition of a 527 organization, named after the legal code that allows such groups to exist), there should also be an mandatory mention of this fact: Kerry fought, Bush faked. Bush didn't show up for his National Guard physical, and the evidence still suggests he went AWOL from his duties in the Guard. And he continues to fake, from his glib, erroneous pronouncement of "Mission Accomplished" 840 US deaths ago to his current flag-waving assertion that he supports our troops while at the same time he's cutting veterans benefits. Let's keep track of those facts.


Making a stink about Hummers: Targeting 25- to 45-year-olds "with a penchant for the ultra-masculine," a company is making a Hummer cologne for men. Missing from the olfactory mix of thyme, fir, cardamom and sandalwood is--naturally--petroleum.
In search of the "God particle": A group of scientists are building a 20-mile long, underground "international linear collider"--an enormous atom smasher--in the hopes of isolating "a mysterious sub-atomic fragment that permeates the entire universe and explains how everything is the way it is."


About time: Kerry fights back. As Bush press flak Scott McClellan finally admits the White House controls those behind the Swift Boat smears, and GOP campaigners have been caught promoting a Florida rally for Swift Boat Vets for Truth, John Kerry has filed a legal complaint with the Federal Elections Commission for violating campaign laws through these allegedly illegal ties. Despite the attack, Kerry still leads Bush and an MSNBC online survey shows that 62% of those responding believe Kerry over the Swift Boat vets.
The Ballot or the Bling-Bling: With the third Twin Cities Hip Hop Festival kicking off, an event that this year focuses on activism and the electorate, it's worth linking to jim izrael's sharp piece "The Ballot or The Bling Bling," about the problems with mobilizing the Hip Hop Nation to vote: "The leadership behind this movement is trying to link an ambitious wish-list of political reforms to a generation too hypnotized by spinning car rims and diamonds to grasp even the most basic tenets of economic and political responsibility." (Kudos to Witt for pulling the festival off.)

Blues v. Abstract Truth: And writer Greg Tate--whose Bitches Brew dream band, Burnt Sugar, is coming to Minneapolis in December--injects a little politics into his discussion of the roles of hip hop and jazz (but I'm mostly linking to it because I love his use of language):
In an ideal world it would work like this: Hiphop would be our blues medium and jazz our abstract-truth medium, the one charged with breaking the silence about the kulchur of the Black poor, our ethnic accent in its most pristine folkloric form, the other charged with speaking the unspeakable, how the human spirit needs more than the spoils of global capitalism. Point blank, hiphop contains all the Black alienation rage and desperate desire for rhythmic pleasure we used to could (sic) hear in jazz, because hiphop is a vessel for all that sound and fury and signifying Cornel West says one cannot not know about being Black in America. The woundedness and the creativity. The blues by any other name. Too accessible and exploitable in hiphop, all too absent in African American improv today.
Bojah and El Bloqueo: Last night I got to see a quick performance by Brock Satter, aka Bojah, a spoken word artist/musician who's being harassed by the feds for a trip he took to Cuba to perform at the International Hip Hop Festival. He says he traveled to Havana in compliance with then-current US rules, yet a letter from the Department of Treasury is threatening him with civil penalties of up to $65K and criminal penalties up to $250k. As the old Phil Ochs song goes, "[S]omehow it is strange to hear the State Department say /You are living in the free world, in the free world you must stay." Help Satter out by attending a fundraiser at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis on August 29.
Bush's example for the world: In St. Paul on Wednesday, Bush asserted that the world is safer without Saddam Hussein. While many disagree with that assertion, an undeniable effect of W's war is the frightening example he's set for preemptive war. Yesterday, Iran stated flat out that it would adopt the US policy of preemption if it feared an attack on its nuclear facilities by Israel or the US.

"We will not sit to wait for what others will do to us," said Iran's defense minister, Vice Adm. Ali Shamkhani in an interview on al-Jazeera. "Some military commanders in Iran are convinced that preventive operations which the Americans talk about are not their monopoly. Any nation, if it feels threatened, can resort to that."

Gen. Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr reiterated the point: "If Israel fires one missile at Bushehr atomic power plant, it should permanently forget about the Dimona nuclear center, where it produces and keeps its nuclear weapons."

Republican intelligence official now regrets war: Republican Rep. Doug Bereuter of Nebraska, a senior member of the International Relations Committee and vice chairman of the House Intelligence Committtee, now says the war in Iraq was a bad idea: "I've reached the conclusion, retrospectively, now that the inadequate intelligence and faulty conclusions are being revealed, that all things being considered, it was a mistake to launch that military action, especially without a broad and engaged international coalition."

Kerry's compliance: Helen Thomas, responding to Kerry's baffling admission last week that he would have "voted to give the president the authority to go to war" even if he had known there were no WMDs, asks: "Does Kerry realize that the U.S. invasion of Iraq without provocation violates the U.N. Charter and the Nuremberg Tribunal principles?"

And Juan Cole asks: Could Najaf Cost Bush the Election?

Kerry counters Swift Boat ads: For some of the best analysis on the anti-Kerry Swift Boat ads, check out Josh Marshall, who links to this head-on rebuttal of the ads by Kerry:
Over the last week or so, a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been attacking me. Of course, this group isn’t interested in the truth – and they’re not telling the truth. They didn’t even exist until I won the nomination for president.

But here’s what you really need to know about them. They’re funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor out of Texas. They’re a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the President won’t denounce what they’re up to tells you everything you need to know—he wants them to do his dirty work.

Thirty years ago, official Navy reports documented my service in Vietnam and awarded me the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Thirty years ago, this was the plain truth. It still is. And I still carry the shrapnel in my leg from a wound in Vietnam.

As firefighters you risk your lives everyday. You know what it’s like to see the truth in the moment. You’re proud of what you’ve done—and so am I.

Of course, the President keeps telling people he would never question my service to our country. Instead, he watches as a Republican-funded attack group does just that. Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: “Bring it on.”
Unraveling: Today's New York Times tracks how the Swift Boat vets turned from calling Kerry "among the finest of those Swift boat drivers," "unsurpassed," and "beyond reproach" to calling him a liar. And their investigation, which finds the ads' claims are "riddled with inconsistencies," follows the money to Bush's Texas funders, a cadre of Bush family friends, and Karl Rove himself.


Kid prez: Seeing the president in St. Paul yesterday (more on that eventually), it's hard not to see his theatrics--cockeyed smirk, practiced eyebrow-furrow, aw-shucks delivery--as somewhere along the continuum between stridently anti-intellectual and downright childish. But as Dahlia Lithwick writes, casting George W. Bush as a doltish kid doesn't serve us well:
[T]he campaign to cast Mr. Bush as a bumbling child ignores the very grown-up machine that stands behind him. Infantilizing the president shifts the focus away from the Cheneys, Rumsfelds, Ashcrofts and Wolfowitzes. These are the men who promised us short, easy wars and painless little suspensions of the Geneva Conventions. These are the men of the secret energy-policy meetings. They aren't a bunch of rowdy juveniles. They represent one of the most secretive, powerful administrations in recent memory. Whether the president could outscore your kids on the SAT is a distraction from that fact.


Given: While much of the chagrin at Bush's comments to the UNITY: Journalists of Color conference revolved around his seeming cluelessness about native sovereignty, Native American activists are reacting to another word: given. Bush defines the term as having been "given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity." In a race where previously ignored constituencies may make or break a candidate, this is an un-smooth move. Sovereignty is "the nearest and dearest, No. 1 issue in Indian Country," said Jacqueline Johnson, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Congress of American Indians. "It's not something that was given to us. As tribes, we see sovereignty as something we've always had."

Boycott the Boss? Remember how the Dixie Chicks' careers ended when Clear Channel banned their music for being "anti-American"? Me neither, yet a New York conservative thinks her Boycott the Boss campaign--aimed at Bruce Springsteen for his involvement with MoveOn's Vote for Change tour--will hurt Springsteen's sales. Conservative Party Senate candidate Marilyn O'Grady says in a 30-second commercial, "He thinks making millions with a song-and-dance routine allows him to tell you how to vote." (Incidentally, type in boycotttheboss.com, and you get redirected to a site that claims a link between Planned Parenthood and Hitler (plus PP's alleged eugenics plan targeting African Americans) and adages like "Friends Don't let Friends Go to Hell," "Go to Church! Don't wait for the Hearse to take you!," and "The Death Penalty is for Serial Killers not Cereal Eaters.")


Income gap becomes gaping chasm: Bush says the economy is "turning a corner." Thing is, for most Americans, what's around that corner isn't so nice. A new story by the AP paints a grim picture of today's economy. Chief among the findings is the fact that the gap between rich and poor is widening at an alarming rate. Consider:
- The wealthiest 20 percent of households (a group that in 1973 accounted for 44 percent of total U.S. income) now controls over 50 percent of the income. Households in every other income group saw earnings fall.

- The middle-class tax burden "has grown since 2001, even as it has fallen for high-income Americans. The top 20 percent of taxpayers shoulder almost a percentage point less of the overall share of total federal tax liabilities. The combined shares of middle-income earners for federal tax liabilities have risen almost 2 percentage points."

- 2.6 million Americans have lost jobs since Bush took office, but a million have been rehired, mainly to jobs with lower pay and fewer benefits. Temp agencies account for about a fifth of all new jobs.

- Three in five of those jobs--that's 60% of them--pay below the national median hourly wage of $13.53. The current average weekly wage in the US--$525.84--is at the lowest level since October 2001.

- Sales of luxury items are booming, with Porsche reporting a 17 percent spike this year.
Anybody but Bush: Anybody? How about: anything? Carrie McLaren and friends launch a site that tests the ABB dictum. See how Shrub fares in a head-to-head with the Michelin man, a hunk of Limestone Fossiliferous, or--more frightening still--Kathleen Harris.
Block the Vote: In yesterday's Times, Bob Herbert writes about continuing efforts to suppress the black vote in Florida:
State police officers have gone into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando and interrogated them as part of an odd "investigation" that has frightened many voters, intimidated elderly volunteers and thrown a chill over efforts to get out the black vote in November.
Many facing police interrogation were members of the Orlando League of Voters, a group successful at getting out the black vote. A law enforcement official, perhaps not realizing the un-randomness of the actions, had this exchange with Herbert:
I asked if all the people interrogated were black.

"Well, mainly it was a black neighborhood we were looking at - yes,'' he said.

He also said, "Most of them were elderly."

When I asked why, he said, "That's just the people we selected out of a random sample to interview."
And in piece sounding the alarm about paperless voting in Jeb Bush's state, Paul Krugman follows up the story:
This year, Florida again drew up a felon list, and tried to keep it secret. When a judge forced the list's release, it turned out that it once again wrongly disenfranchised many people - again, largely African-American - while including almost no Hispanics.
He says the Republicans in Florida are on to something when they urged the faithful to use verifiable absentee ballots to make sure their votes get counted.
Cautious protest at the RNC: With the Republican convention just days away, hacktivists are gearing up for some online protest, while the feds are spying on (and attempting to infiltrate) activist groups to prevent disruptions. In an excellent interview with his son, Norman Mailer says that "If I were a voice in top Republican circles, I might be offering this advice: 'What we need for New York is a large-scale riot. Some of those activist kids will be crazy enough to do a lot on their own, but we can do better with a few of our guys, well-placed, ready to urinate on the good American flag.'" He suggests cautious protest:
Do the activists really know what they’re going into? That’s my concern. Or do they assume that expressing their rage is equal to getting Kerry elected? It could have exactly the opposite effect. The better mode may be to frustrate the Republicans by coming up with orderly demonstrations. Now, when I was young, the suggestion to be moderate was like a stink bomb to me. An orderly demonstration? What were we, cattle? You have to speak out with your rage. Well, I’m trying to say, we would do well to realize that on this occasion, there are more important things than a good outburst. I wish we could remind everybody who goes out to march of the old Italian saying: “Revenge is a dish that people of taste eat cold.” Instead of expressing yourself at the end of August, think of how nicely you will be able to keep expressing yourself over the four years to come if we win. Just keep thinking how much the Republicans want anarchy on the street. I say, don’t march right into their trap.


Called to serve (and serve and serve): How close to a draft are we if this is happening:
He’s 57 years old, afflicted with skin cancer, partially deaf and suffers from high blood pressure. But the U.S. Army still wants Master Sgt. Luis Jaime Treviño.

On July 14, the Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran received his third order to report to active duty — mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
As Cursor, points out, Treviño faces jail if he doesn't comply with the order.


Going Native: Bush and Kerry are both courting the Native American vote, but in very different ways. Kerry participated in closing ceremonies of a pow-wow with Zuni and Navajo tribes in New Mexico last week, an affair closed to photographers because of the sacred setting. Bush, on the other hand, spoke before the Unity Conference for journalists of color. When asked by a Native American reporter what "tribal sovereignty means in this century," Bush shocked the audience with an answer that suggested he didn't understand such big words: "Tribal sovereignty means that, it's sovereign... You're a — you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity."


Race and the Race: The Illinois GOP's running of Alan Keyes against Barack Obama isn't the "battle royale" of "black versus black" that they expected, writes Siddhartha Mitter. "Instead, they've given us the past versus the future." The 11-year age difference gives Obama a distinct advantage:
Free of the hang-ups and hangovers of the 1960s, he is not beholden to the dinosaur organizations and icons that dominate African American politics. He can sidestep the tired debates about whether he's sufficiently black (for the militants) or too black (for the assimilationists). Instead, Obama's rise to prominence puts a public face on a new generation ascending to power, among whom racial mixing (black, white, other) is increasingly common; a generation of shades of brown and more boxes to choose from on the census form.

...Keyes can't push Obama's buttons because he doesn't know where they are. Obama represents an emerging politics that threatens to dissolve Keyes' bombast like garlic to a vampire: a post-black, post-identity politics that refuses to get bogged down in sterile "who can speak for whom" debates, refuses to be divided-and-conquered, yet also refuses to make believe that race no longer exists. In the post-identity politics that Obama's rise hints at, race is everywhere — and so is class, and gender, and all the other factors that sometimes drive us apart and sometimes bring us together. Post-identity politics is a work in progress, still figuring out its agenda and methods. But its emergence on the national scene is long overdue.
"Rich, white and wishy-washy." That's what a new ad campaign by People of Colour United--a group backed by J Patrick Rooney, a rich, white insurance mogul--calls John Kerry in a new ad. Another takes a potshot at Teresa Heinz Kerry for calling herself an African-American, despite the fact she was born in Mozambique.

A black George W. Bush: An interesting story about George W. Bush--the W stands for Washington--the first black pioneer to settle (in 1845) in what became the Pacific Northwest's Washington Territory.
Micro-movie festival: Make a film shorter than 90 seconds and submit it to DepicT! and you could win "a cash prize of 3000 pounds, have your film promoted online, published on a DVD courtesy of Orange and see it screened at the Brief Encounters: the 10th Annual Bristol Short Film Festival." Deadline is September 13. View past winners here. (Via Outside Circle Collective.)
Apple notepad computer? Apple seems to be working on some sort of tablet-style handheld computer, according to European patent files obtained by The Register. It's a little unclear what it is--PDA, notebook laptop, wireless media monitor--but the prospect of a keyboard-free computer is appealing to this carpal tunneler. (Via Boingboing.)
Seeing the prez: The Star Tribune's Nick Coleman recounts the story of National Guardsman Tim Walz, who just returned home from service in the Gulf, and his troubles getting in to see Bush speak during his visit to Mankato, Minnesota:
After riding a Bush bus to the quarry, Walz and the kids got off to go through the metal detectors and have their IDs checked. Bush officials took the kids aside and thoroughly inspected them. When one was discovered to have a Kerry sticker on his wallet, they were ordered back onto the bus. Walz objected, and he was asked to leave, too. "You're not welcome," a Bush guy said. "Get back on the bus."

Walz said he had a right to see the president.

So you support the president? a Bush guy asked. I didn't say that, said Walz. Then you're an opponent? I didn't say that, either, said Walz, thinking it was nobody's business.

"If you don't get on that bus," the guy said, "you'll be detained by the Secret Service for interfering with a presidential event."

"I don't want to get arrested," Walz said. "My wife will get mad because I'm supposed to pick up our daughter [Hope, 3] and make dinner. Do you really want to arrest someone who just got back from overseas, because he wants to see the president?"

The Bush guys backed down. They said they'd do him a favor if he behaved himself. He ignored the insult. They said the Secret Service was watching him. They let him in.
A week later, Walz is appalled by the freedom-loving citizens who say he shouldn't have gone to see the president.

"The attitude is that if you're not a supporter, why would you go? It's really disappointing. What happened to being able to listen to the other side?"
And: nearly two weeks after the Bush administration warned the country of terrorist attacks on major financial institutions, a White House insider admits it was all bogus: "I have not seen an indication of an imminent operation."


Mobile Phone Reporting at the RNC: Brooke Singer writes to announce the birth of MOPORT.org, "a free service for generating and sharing mobile phone reports," timed to launch just prior to the Republican Convention. The site "allows people to collectively report about important events in real-time using mobile phones":
Features of a MOPORT:
*Enables Group Reporting using Cellphone Cameras or Digital Cameras and Email
*Instantly Updates when New Submissions Arrive
*Integrates News Feeds from Major Media Sources for a Quick Comparison of Event Coverage
*Sorts Images by Keywords that are Pre-defined and Dynamically Creates New Keywords Based on MOPORTER Submissions
*Sorts Images by MOPORTERS (Identities are Anonymous) for Individual Perspective and Commentary
*Accepts Submissions and Updates for Duration of Event and Later Archived on MOPORT.org for Viewing Purposes Only
Become a MOPORTer here.

FNYC: A not-safe-for-work interpretation of Bush and Company's rationale for selecting New York as the RNC site.
Shout out: Ted Remington, starting up where Official Media left off, has started a fact-check/opinion blog on Sinclair Broadcast Group's The Point. Good luck, Ted.


Peace Chuck: Converse's iconic Chuck Taylor sneakers are back, and among their new line announced yesterday is the Peace Chuck, designed by Yoko Ono to be distributed in 75 countries. One version will feature lyrics from John Lennon's "Imagine" and another will bear the word "Peace" written in 13 languages. The company is also making a 1946 Vintage Chuck Taylor -- a replica of the sneakers American GIs wore during boot camp in World War II. According to the Converse website, the shoes symbolize "a time of patriotic cooperation when an emerging American company and one of its legendary representatives, Chuck Taylor, the `Ambassador of Basketball,' stood beside the men and women of this country during a time of great need." (Although, let's not get too nostalgic for Converse--they're owned by Nike now.) Earlier: Adbusters' Kalle Lasn on the Black Spot sneaker, and a production update on the shoe. Plus: No Sweat Sneakers.
Mind-numbing work: A new study suggests that mundane jobs raise the risk of getting Alzheimer's, whereas workers in mentally stimulating jobs are far less likely to get the disease. (Thanks, Reggie.)
Get out the Bush: Writing that there's an "undeniable tang in the air, that clenching of the cultural colon, that cringe in the collective soul" that "Bush is just about finished, " SFGate's Mark Morford writes:
You know it's time for a change when you hear that Kerry and Edwards both wrote their own riveting, galvanizing acceptance speeches at the Democratic National Convention, heartfelt and effective rhetoric that gives you hope not for the quality of polished oratory but for genuine, refreshing political intellect, and verbal acumen, as you offer deep thanks that at least some politicians can still speak coherently and cogently without mangling the goddamn language at every adjectival clause.
And: John Kerry’s One-Point Plan for a Better America

Plus: Molly Ivins writes that despite Canadians' flair for polite understatement, they "can think of no polite way of asking if we are such freaking idiots we haven't noticed the damage that has been done by the Bush administration to the American reputation all over the world."

(Thanks, Reggie and Kemi.)
Suckerpunch! Bob Harris over at This Modern World introduces a yearbook photo of W's unsportsmanlike conduct in rugby:
As long as we're re-examining the 1960s, looking for signs of character, trying to decide if a man who volunteered for combat and was decorated five times was more or less courageous than a guy who didn't even show up for his own medical exam... here's George W. Bush during his college days, hitting a fellow sportsman in the face.
And: As Atrios points out, Bush lied about playing varsity rugby, a sport that's never had a varsity team at Yale, neither in the '60s nor today. (Thanks, Ben.)


Corsi's credibility: Media Matters outs Jerome Corsi, the co-author of a new anti-Kerry book Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against Kerry, for the off-kilter flake he is:
• Corsi on Islam: "a worthless, dangerous Satanic religion"

• Corsi on Catholicism: "Boy buggering in both Islam and Catholicism is okay with the Pope as long as it isn't reported by the liberal press"

• Corsi on Muslims: "RAGHEADS are Boy-Bumpers as clearly as they are Women-Haters -- it all goes together"

• Corsi on Islam: "Islam is a peaceful religion as long as the women are beaten, the boys buggered, and the infidels killed."

• Corsi on "John F*ing Commie Kerry": "After he married TerRAHsa, didn't John Kerry begin practicing Judiasm? He also has paternal grandparents that were Jewish. What religion is John Kerry?"

• Corsi on Senator "FAT HOG" Clinton: "Anybody ask why HELLary couldn't keep BJ Bill satisfied? Not lesbo or anything, is she?"

• Corsi on Hillary Clinton: "HELL-ary loves the Arabs so much (kiss, kiss Mrs. Arab*RAT) -- wonder how she would look in a Burkha? "
And: Factcheck.org goes in-depth into the deceptive Swift Boat anti-Kerry add, finding that George Elliott (one of the vets featured in the ad who later regretted his statements) was actually the man who recommended Kerry for a Silver Star; and that the smear campaign was paid for largely by a Houston homebuilder who, with his wife, gave more than $3 million to Texas Republicans in 2002; while also reasserting that none of the men featured in the ad actually served under Kerry.

Anarchy in the RNC

No self-defined anarchist has ever sparked a revolution. But the ideologically uninitiated who have trafficked in the habits of anarchism--chiefly unmediated communication--have toppled dozens of tyrants.
— Siva Vaidhyanathan
With a four-day security budget of $76 million and 10,000 police officers facing protestors, the stage is set for anarchy. And that's just what some activists will be resorting to during the Republican National Convention later this month -- only they'll be trading black masks for radically democratic, tech-savvy protest tools.

Transcending beloved old-school methods, this new wave of activists will use decentralized and distributed technologies to level the playing field with law enforcement. "There's been an incredible technological buildup on the side of the police, and on the other side people are still holding cardboard placards and making puppets," says artist and engineer Natalie Jeremijenko (pictured).

"In the arms race of direct action, there's been incredible changes in the strategies, the training, and the equipment the police use in treating this political process." But the projects she and others embrace are only anarchistic in a strategic sense. While Anarchy suggests a political philosophy loaded with baggage, the term's Greek origins have little to do with chaos or violence: arkhos (ruler) plus the prefix a (the absence of). This leaderlessness -- "uncoordinated actions toward a coordinated goal," as Siva Vaidhyanathan puts it in his book The Anarchist in the Library -- is what links these new-school approaches:

- Flash radiojacking: Jeremijenko and the Bureau of Inverse Technology (BIT), will use a special transmitter to break into radio frequencies reserved for corporate stations, giving bursts of information so brief that the FCC can't lock onto their transmission location. During the World Economic Forum demonstrations, BIT called attention to the Bush administration's bogus claims about the safety of the air after 9/11. Each time New York's airborne pollution surpassed the "safe" level, a warning bleep interrupted broadcasts of the local NPR affiliate.

- Bikes Against Bush: Joshua Kinberg will hit the streets on an "internet-enabled tactical media weapon for non-violent creative resistance." Outfitted with a laptop, webcam, GPS device, and SMS-enabled cellphone, his tech-laden bike will receive text messages sent by visitors to www.BikesAgainstBush.com. At the push of a button, he'll select messages to print on the pavement using a robotic chalk-spraying device; each anti-Bush screed will be time-stamped and gps-mapped on the website. The bike's maneuverability effectively makes all of New York a free-speech zone.

- Backpack broadcast: Media collective neuroTransmitter will be toting com_muni_ports throughout the convention. These low-power, backpack-mounted radio transmitters will provide localized, on-the-fly media broadcasts, bearing witness, live, to events you won't hear about on local Clear Channel stations.

- WiFi on Wheels: Yury Gitman will be pedaling his MagicBike during the convention. Offering free internet connectivity wherever it goes, it'll wire the UK-based collective OpenSorcery so members can play a military simulator online and on the streets of New York using high-power projectors. Operations in Urban Terrain (OUT), a first-person-shooter game, aims to critique the militarization of civilian life following 9/11--a condition the group describes as "a government . . . at war with its own citizens, with soldiers in the midst of the fabric of ordinary life" -- by literally broadcasting the game's violence on city walls.

- Inflated Crowd Counts: When the demonstration ends, police will inevitably lowball crowd sizes, while activists will present overly optimistic numbers. The Bureau of Inverse Technology will calculate verifiable figures, thanks to a wireless video camera tethered to a helium balloon high above the action. A rollerblader will maneuver the balloon throughout the entire crowd while the high-resolution camera beams visual data to laptops on the ground. The result: a composite image that'll be analyzed by software similar to the kind used for counting microscopic cells in labs. "If Bush can dismiss this as a 'focus group' with the wave of his hand, how do you answer that? You have to have a higher standard of evidence, you have to have more compelling images," says Jeremijenko. "And we end up with a family aero-portrait -- a self-documentation of our action on the streets."


(Almost) Naked Justice: UK guerilla artist Banksy left London a gift the other night--a 3-ton, $40,000 bronze statue of Justice. Only difference between it and its inspiration--the statue high atop Old Bailey--is that this Justice has her skirt hiked up, revealing a prostitute's thong and thigh-high boots. An attached plaque reads "Trust no one." More on the story here.

More guerilla art: A Canadian artist called Other creates a public art piece of sorts by carving into a park bench then doing woodcut prints off it. He writes of "the fun of being able to leave behind a work of art that someone else can run prints off too....after i get a bunch finished ... i will giving out maps with locations of where the originals can be found and printed off of."

Set the VCR: Tonight's edition of NOW with Bill Moyers addresses art and politics with features on spoken-word artist Sarah Jones, filmmaker John Sayles, and Control Room director Jehane Noujaim.
Here comes the mud: The Bush smear machine is kicking into overdrive this week as a new book comes out asserting that "Kerry earned his Silver Star by killing a lone, fleeing, teenage Viet Cong in a loincloth" and a new BushCo-directed TV ad features Vietnam Vets--none of whom actually served with Kerry--seeking to discredit Kerry's service--to John McCain's chagrin. (One of the anti-Kerry Swift Boaters has since retracted his claims that Kerry didn't deserve a Silver Star.) “Ironically, as pro-Bush figures dredge the memories of veterans for stories to attack Kerry's war record, whatever the truth of the stories they have waited 35 years to share, they confirm one thing," says The Nation's Ian Williams. "Kerry was in Vietnam, in combat. Not even the best investigators that GOP billionaire money can buy has found a veteran who can credibly assert they saw George W. Bush in any military capacity whatsoever, in Alabama let alone in Vietnam, for twelve months, let alone anyone who fought alongside him.”

Homeland Security, Bush-style: Why is the Bush administration insisting that the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, which would ban all countries from producing highly enriched uranium or plutonium for nuclear weapons, NOT include a provision requiring inspections? What's the correlation between Bush's timing for terror alerts and the president's approval ratings? And why on earth is CACI--the contracting company implicated in torture at Abu Ghraib--being granted a contract extension worth $23 million?


George W cannot tell a lie: The president finally tells the truth in this clip rebroadcast on Air America (listen for Al Franken's chuckle at the end):
Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
(Thanks, Kemi.)


Old news on new terror: NYC and Washington are at the highest level of terror alert since 9/11, yet the intelligence used to determine the threat is MORE THAN 3 YEARS OLD (that is, predating the 9/11 attacks the Bushies failed to see coming)--and all culled from readily available public documents. Apparently the real terror for Republicans is John Kerry's popularity after the Democratic National Convention.

Not political? Good thing Tom Ridge and the White House aren't politicizing terror: "The kind of information available to us today is the result of the president's leadership in the war against terror, the reports that have led to this alert are the result of offensive intelligence and military operations overseas, as well as strong partnerships with our allies around the world..."


Too poor to protest? Kirsten Anderberg makes an interesting point about the upcoming protests at the Republican National Convention: all sorts of progressives will be there, except the ones who need to be there the most--the poor. But is she falling into that common liberal trap--confusing "privileged white kids from suburbs" with the real enemy of progressive change--corporations, hawks, and neocons? (The argument is intellectually lazy: she creates a caricature of RNC protesters as a monolithic bunch of shallow, anarchist-chic dimwits, forgetting that mobilization against the Bush agenda has joined together Jews and Christians, environmentalists and peaceniks, union members and nuns, Raging Grannies and anarchists. Further, she derides protesters for wasting money on this symbolic act of resistance when it could better be used for feeding and giving shelter to the poor--a good point--but then suggests that the rich should use their money to send homeless delegates to the protests.)


Boondocks TV: Aaron McGruder's controversial comic strip, The Boondocks, is soon to be a half-hour TV series.

W's loyalty oath: So you want to see Dick Cheney speak in your town? If you're a Democrat, expect to sign a loyalty oath to George W. Bush to get in the door.

Racial profiling: And the Bush administration insisted upon knowing the race of an Arizona photojournalist who wanted to take a picture of Cheney. The newspaper staff refused to answer the racial inquiry.

Will Ferrell as W in "White House West," a commercial for America Coming Together (6.3 mb movie file).