President John KerryFor My Fellow Americans who might have missed it: Text of John Kerry's speech.
Reporting For Duty
"We can do better, and we will."
Blonde nod to The Hamster.
"We can do better, and we will."
''Tonight, we have an important message for those who question the patriotism of Americans who offer a better direction for our country,'' he [Kerry] said. "Before wrapping themselves in the flag and shutting their eyes and ears to the truth, they should remember what America is really all about.'' "You see that flag up there?" he continued, adding, "I fought under that flag, as did so many of you here and all across our country. That flag flew from the gun turret right behind my head.."
"That flag doesn't belong to any president," he said. "It doesn't belong to any ideology and it doesn't belong to any political party. It belongs to all the American people. "
"If there's a child on the South Side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child," Obama said. "If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief -- I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper -- that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. 'E pluribus unum.' Out of many, one."
Obama contrasted his vision with those who would divide the country. "The pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states; red states for Republicans, blue states for Democrats," he said. "But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach Little League in the blue states and have gay friends in the red states. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the Stars and Stripes, all of us defending the United States of America."
July 25, 2004
Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, R.E.M., Pearl Jam and a deep roster of other rock stars will unite for politically minded concerts this fall that will give voice to dissatisfaction with the Bush administration.
The all-star rock shows, which are expected to begin in October and target campaign swing states, are in the planning stage but were confirmed by half a dozen music industry sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Insiders disagree on the unifying rhythm of the celebrity coalition. Some say it is the promise of the John F. Kerry candidacy, but at least one emphasizes the fear of President Bush's reelection. "There is a range of feeling about Kerry," the source said, "but a uniform belief that Bush must go."
Wander into the Fleet Center, just to scope out the lay of the land. There's nothing going on--the convention doesn't start until evening--but Michael Moore is on the floor, surrounded by a mob of reporters. (I learn later that he is pissed--some jackass anchor on CNN has just asked him how he feels that "some people want to see you dead.") He invites me to tag along to his next event, a meeting with a group of antiwar activists--recently returned vets and family members of vets. I end up spending much of the day trailing in Michael's wake, observing the media circus and the crazy hassles of being famous on that level, where everyone recognizes you everywhere you go. When we are around media events--in the Fleet Center and at a Congressional Black Caucus event--the behavior of the pack of camera crews and reporters is just appalling. I keep thinking of scenes in A Hard Day's Night, where the Beatles are running wildly from hordes of fans--it's that level of craziness, with genuine violent aggression thrown in. The camera guys will use their equipment to literally whack you out of their way, the reporters will trample right over you if they get the chance. You've certainly heard celebrities complaining about the media, and probably thought, oh ya whiner, get over it. But it is a strange and somewhat frightening thing when you are in the middle of it.
We head back to the Fleet Center and as we are getting out of the Town Car, Bill O'Reilly is across the street getting out of his limo. "Hey Moore, when ya gonna come on my show?" he shouts. Michael responds, "When you see the rest of my movie." (O'Reilly walked out of the premiere halfway through.) He claims to have gone back and seen the whole thing, but when pressed for specifics, hems and haws. Nonetheless, Michael takes him at his word and they stand there out on the street negotiating the terms of the appearance as various Guardsmen and law enforcement types gawk and snap photos. They finally settle on a format: they will take turns asking each other questions. O'Reilly agrees not to edit the segment, and to explain in the intro that Michael has only been boycotting him because he walked out of the premiere. (It should air tonight. We'll see if he keeps the last part of that promise.)
"We contacted the Democratic National Convention and the people who are organising the convention. And then they said it has been removed, maybe for lack of enough space or something like that, although they approved originally the sign and everything on it. And every time we get different answers."
"And finally, they said, 'Sorry, we cannot put it back." And it's the only news organisation sign that was taken," al-Mirazi pointed out.
For the first two days I was on this media marathon, the story du jour was the Senate Intelligence Committee report that concluded the CIA was just flat wrong on its pre-war calls on Iraq. Wrong abut the weapons of mass destruction, wrong about connections to Al Qaeda, wrong about Saddam Hussein having a nuclear program and so on. All of which we already knew the government had been wrong about, but this was the Official Report.
So here's the Republican reaction: "See, the CIA was wrong, so you people owe President Bush an apology." I'm sitting there, brilliantly riposting, "Huh?" Here's the chain of logic. The CIA was wrong, therefore those on the left who say President Bush lied to us are wrong because he wasn't lying, he just believed the CIA. And you people are being rude and hateful and ugly and just mean about President Bush, and we want an apology.
What I'm worried about here is the amnesia factor. Am I the only person around who distinctly remembers an entire 18 months ago? This is what happened: The CIA was wrong, but it wasn't wrong enough for the White House, which kept pushing the spies to be much wronger. The CIA's lack of sufficient wrongness was so troubling to the anxious Iraq hawks that they kept touting their own reliable sources, such as Ahmad Chalabi and his merry crew of fabulists. The neo-cons even set up their very own little intelligence shop in the Pentagon to push us into this folly in Iraq.
Which brings us to the second talking point last week. Iraq never happened. I swear to you, this war and its disastrous aftermath never happened is the new official line. Down the memory hole. Never happened. You dreamed the whole thing. Iraq is now like Ken Lay and Chalabi. They never heard of it. Only met it once. Besides, Iraq contributed to their opponents.
According to The New York Times, "several Republicans," presumably speaking for the Bush campaign, noted that American casualties in Iraq are down from last month. Actually, that is quite untrue. Forty-two Americans were killed in Iraq in June, presumed to be an unusually bloody month because it was leading up to the big handover of sovereignty. As of July 21, 43 more Americans have been killed in Iraq, with 10 days still to go in the month.
Total number of Americans killed so far is 901, but the new line is: What War? We turned it over to the Iraqis, see? Presto, it disappears, just like magic. It's their problem now. Doesn't have anything to do with us. Bush is out campaigning by calling himself "the peace president." Honest. "He repeated the words 'peace' or 'peaceful' many times, as he had done increasingly in his recent appearances," reported The New York Times from Iowa this week.
Excuse me sir, your pants are getting a little warm, don't you think?
The head is a rotating cylinder with various Bush facial expressions
"I believe that it's disrespectful of the president to essentially lead the country based on lies," he [cohen -- ed.] said. "If that happens, then I believe it's actually our patriotic duty to make people aware of it."
And Dave, maybe you should move if you feel that way about the fellow Americans
you are living around...
Ronstadt sang to a full-house Universal Amphitheatre on Tuesday night and the crowd reserved its longest and loudest ovation for her endorsement of filmmaker-provacateur Michael Moore and his documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11."
Before closing her show with the Eagles song "Desperado," Ronstadt was handed a bouquet of flowers. She asked the audience if they wanted to know who sent them and then answered their applause: "They are from the most bravest, most patriotic man. I'm going to dedicate this next song to him, Michael Moore."
"The enemy declared war on us," he told a re-election rally. "Nobody wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president."
Bush has called himself a "war president" in leading the United States in a battle against terrorism brought about by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America.
"I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind," he said in February.
Despite a surge in attacks in Iraq and U.S. warnings that al Qaeda is plotting another major strike, Bush said U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had already made America safer, and that his re-election would let him finish the job.
"For a while we were marching to war. Now we're marching to peace. ... America is a safer place. Four more years and America will be safe and the world will be more peaceful," Bush said.
1. Bush's favorable/unfavorable rating is net negative for their fifth survey in a row (going back to the beginning of April).
2. Kerry-Edwards beats Bush-Cheney by 5 points (49-44), including an 8 point lead among independent voters. Note that this 49-44 lead is the identical result that CBS News obtained in their overnight poll after Kerry selected Edwards as his running mate, suggesting that the Edwards bounce has some staying power.
3. Bush's overall approval rating is net negative (45 percent approval/48 percent disapproval) for their fourth survey in a row, going back to late April. His 45 percent rating, while a slight improvement over his late May and late June ratings, keeps him well into the danger zone for incumbents.
4. Right direction/wrong track is at 36/56, essentially unchanged since their last survey about three weeks ago.
5. His approval rating on foreign policy is his worst ever at 39/55, as is his rating on handling the campaign against terrorism (51/43). (Note: this latter trend contradicts a recent Post finding suggesting an improvement in Bush's rating in this area.) His approval rating on the economy is still going nowhere fast and, at 42/51, has still failed to reach the exalted heights of mid-February, when his economic rating reached 44/50. And his approval rating on Iraq is 37/58, practically a carbon copy of his dismal ratings in their late June and late May polls.
6. The Democrats have a 9 point advantage in the generic congressional contest, consistent with the Democracy Corps poll I covered on Friday.
7. John Edwards has a net +22 in his favorability rating, while Dick Cheney is now at -9, his worst rating ever.
"After four years more in this office I want people to look back and say, 'The world is a more peaceful place,"' Bush told supporters at a community college in Iowa. "Four more years and America will be safe and the world will be at peace."
Elections that feature a sitting president tend to be referendums on the incumbent--and in recent elections, the incumbent has either won or lost by large electoral margins. If you look at key indicators beyond the neck-and-neck support for the two candidates in the polls--such as high turnout in the early Democratic primaries and the likelihood of a high turnout in November--it seems improbable that Bush will win big. More likely, it's going to be Kerry in a rout.
While the Idiot Usurper did not arrive until almost 10:30, protesters began arriving at 8AM. The day started with a light rain which reminded me of countless other Bush protests – there is just something about that man that sucks the light right out of the sky, even in globally-warmed Florida where the heat index is routinely reaching 105 degrees this year. A smattering of Bush supporters stood across the street – some 20-30 strong. Oddly enough, half were teenaged girls. Briefly, they attempted a rousing chorus of “Four more years! Four more years!” but they were handily drowned out by the protesters who countered with “Four more months! Four more months!” Eventually, the anarchist contingent decided that the Bush folks looked a bit lonely, so they rolled up their tie-dyed banner (which proclaimed “Bush el exterminador de humanos” went across the street and unfurled it again directly behind the Bushies. They were followed by two men (OK – well one of them was my husband) with a large “Fire the Liar” banner, and shortly afterwards by a cluster of ladies from Planned Parenthood. Later I overheard a woman from the Planned Parenthood contingent relate the reaction of the Bush supporters, which ran something along the lines of, “What are you doing over here? This is our side of the street.”
I cannot help but wonder where that 50 percent – give or take - of the country is that keeps telling pollsters they will vote for Bush in November. As many journalists have written just this past week, it is hard to find them, even amongst life-long Republicans. And who knows? There may even have been a few of those folks on our side of the street.
I want to tell you what it's like to type this list of names that runs below. You keep typing these ages of "20" and "19" and "22" and soon, you hear them. They are shouting over loud music. Laughing uncontrollably. Girls, girls, girls. Swearing viciously at their fates. And always with these young fast voices. Why should they die? What right have we to play God and send them to be blown to pieces? I finish typing this job and go to bed. These young should be living in the sounds of an American summer, of water rushing over rocks, or lapping a lakeshore pier, or crashing onto an ocean beach; of music in the soft nights or the elated cries of kids running through a field. If not a field, then enjoying nature's finest sight, a crowded city street.
Anywhere except a box on a plane arriving at Dover, Del., where morgue workers do autopsies and put dress uniforms on the dead bodies. This president, with a face of rich boy smirks and sneers, who lives on the dark side of truth, does not deign to be present. He is not a man for mourning, this George Bush. Life is best when he struts onto a stage in front of an overjoyed white audience in York, Pa., where he sputtered that the people fighting in Iraq had hijacked a great religion and now we would fight them anywhere. That great religion is Islam and it has 2 billion members worldwide and if he wants to fight them, let him go ahead; he likes it so much he was having his teeth cleaned when he was eligible to face bullets.
There is one thing the sovereign state of Iraq can offer its citizens today, and Iraqis are banging down the doors to get their hands on it: a passport out of the country.
On a recent morning in front of the newly reopened passport office, bodies pressed on bodies for a chance to get inside. Pink and yellow files, each containing a precious passport application, waved in the air, as a young man tried to climb onto a rust-orange gate to get the attention of the bureaucrats inside. In the chaos, a sign that hung above the front door toppled to the floor.
At one point, Iraqi policemen charged at the crowd, wielding batons. A couple of shots were fired in the air. The line, if it can be called that, disintegrated and the crowd retreated toward a barbed wire fence before lunging forward again.
Jobless, rattled, fed up, Iraqis are dreaming of getting out.
"Escape from Iraq" is how Muhammad Kadhum, 26, a college student, described his intentions. "I cannot live here in Iraq. I cannot feel like a man."
Zeinab Heart, 24, waiting in black in the already wilting midmorning heat for a chance to move to her husband's native Lebanon, lamented: "I want to get out. I want my children to live in a peaceful place."
Wesam Mohammed, 22, who arrived at 4:30 a.m. to claim a choice spot in the passport line, only to lose it when the police struck, said: "There is no comfort here. No stability. Explosions everywhere. This is impossible." He wiped his forehead and said he hoped to go to the United Arab Emirates to join a relative.
We've grown tired of reading and looking at this story; the mainstream press is getting tired of telling it. Tired, and wary of the costs of getting the "good stuff" -- true tales of soldiers in action, or even just "man-in-the-street" interviews in Sadr City. This reporter was kidnapped; the guy from Time lost a hand; who, in the end, is really willing to die for a story?
Especially one in which so little happens. A year and more into the occupation, nothing seems to change. Schools get built, city halls get bombed. Troops return home, troops go to war. And the pictures, they keep coming. All these photographs of bodies. So many that nobody bothers to read the captions anymore. All we say is --"Did you see? Those pictures?"
The burnt skin, the crushed heads. Corpses without limbs. Images without explanations.
But we need stories. The press needs to sell them; the public needs to buy them; and, apparently, politicians need to tell them.
At the start of the transcript here, you can see how Hersh was struggling over what he should say:
"Debating about it, ummm ... Some of the worst things that happened you don't know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib ... The women were passing messages out saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened' and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It's going to come out."
"It's impossible to say to yourself how did we get there? Who are we? Who are these people that sent us there? When I did My Lai I was very troubled like anybody in his right mind would be about what happened. I ended up in something I wrote saying in the end I said that the people who did the killing were as much victims as the people they killed because of the scars they had, I can tell you some of the personal stories by some of the people who were in these units witnessed this. I can also tell you written complaints were made to the highest officers and so we're dealing with a enormous massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there and higher, and we have to get to it and we will. We will. You know there's enough out there, they can't (Applause). .... So it's going to be an interesting election year."
So, there are several questions here: Has Hersh actually seen the video he described to the ACLU, and why hasn't he written about it yet? Will he be forced to elaborate in more public venues now that these two speeches are getting so much attention, at least in the blogosphere? And who else has seen the video, if it exists -- will journalists see and report on it? did senators see these images when they had their closed-door sessions with the Abu Ghraib evidence? -- and what is being done about it?
July 14, 2004 - O'Reilly's Power Influences International Travel and the Stock Market
Well, Bill was touting the power of his French Boycott. As proof he states: "Travel to France is not what it was pre-9/11." Really Bill? Wow, that's a pretty powerful boycott you got goin' on.
Think how happy our allies must be in the United Kingdom. God, travel there must be fucking sky-rocketing since 9/11. Oh, wait, travel to the U.K. is down too, you fucking moron.
This CIA estimate was a 93-page document, filled with caveats, qualifiers, and footnotes of interagency dissent on several key points. It would take a dedicated master of pith to whittle the NIE's findings and equivocations to a single page. (By the Times' account, the summarizer didn't bother with the equivocations.)
Perhaps no president can be expected to read a 93-page document. (Some presidents would have, though. Bill Clinton was an inveterate reader of intelligence reports. Jimmy Carter once asked to see the engineering blueprints for the KH-11 photoreconnaissance satellite. The latter is a case of a control freak gone too far.) Still, the president's summary should stretch beyond the margins of a single page—at least when the fate of nations is at stake.
Over the past several months, allies of the President have questioned John Kerry’s patriotism while your staff has criticized his service in Vietnam. Republicans and their allies have gone so far as to launch attacks against his wife and your campaign has run $80 million in negative ads that have been called baseless, misleading and unfair by several independent observers.
Considering that the President has failed to even come close to keeping his promise to change the tone in Washington, we find your outrage over and paparazzi-like obsession with a fund-raising event to be misplaced. The fact is that the nation has a greater interest in seeing several documents made public relating to the President’s performance in office and personal veracity that the White House has steadfastly refused to release. As such, we will not consider your request until the Bush campaign and White House make public the documents/materials listed below:
● Military records: Any copies of the President’s military records that would actually prove he fulfilled the terms of his military service. For that matter, it would be comforting to the American people if the campaign or the White House could produce more than just a single person to verify that the President was in Alabama when said he was there. Many Americans find it odd that only one person out of an entire squadron can recall seeing Mr. Bush.
● Halliburton: All correspondence between the Defense Department and the White House regarding the no-bid contracts that have gone to the Vice-President’s former company. Some material has already been made public. Why not take a campaign issue off the table by making all of these materials public so the voters can see how Halliburton has benefited from Mr. Cheney serving as Vice-President?
● The Cheney Energy Task Force: For an Administration that claims to hate lawsuits, it’s ironic that the Bush White House is taking up the Courts’ time to keep the fact that Ken Lay and Enron wrote its energy policy in secret behind closed doors. Please release the documents so that the country can learn what lobbyists and special interests wrote the White House energy policy.
● Medicare Bill: Please release all White House correspondence between the pharmaceutical industry and the Administration regarding the Medicare Bill, which gave billions to some of the President’s biggest donors. In addition, please provide all written materials that directed the Medicare actuary to withhold information from Congress about the actual cost of the bill.
● Prison Abuse Documents: A few weeks ago, the White House released a selected number of documents regarding the White House’s involvement in laying the legal foundation for the interrogation methods that were used in Iraq. Please release the remaining documents.
We also wanted to wish you a happy anniversary. As we are sure you and the attorneys representing the President, Vice-President and other White House officials are aware, today marks one year since Administration sources leaked the identity of a covert CIA agent to Bob Novak in an effort to retaliate against a critic of the Administration.
In light of the fact that the Administration began gutting the laws protecting the nation’s forests yesterday, we hope you will accept the paper on which this letter is written as an anniversary gift. (The one year anniversary is known as the “paper anniversary.”)
Mary Beth Cahill
Opponents of John Kerry have hired a Dallas-area private investigator to gather information aimed at discrediting his military service, say several veterans who served with the Massachusetts Democrat in Vietnam.
Several veterans who have been contacted in recent days accused the private investigator, Tom Rupprath of Rockwall, of twisting their words to produce misleading and inaccurate accounts that call into doubt the medals Mr. Kerry received for his service.
"They're just distorting things," said Jim Wasser, who served with Mr. Kerry. "They have nothing to go after John Kerry for, so now they're trying to discredit him."
Mr. Rupprath was hired by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth on the recommendation of Merrie Spaeth, a Dallas public relations executive assisting the anti-Kerry group.
It's easier to attack Kerry's heroism than it is to defend Bush and Cheney's cowardice.
...Even taking these numbers with a grain of salt, surely the decline in reading is real. The true worry is about the young. In 1982, 60 percent of 18-to-24- year-olds claimed to read literature. Now that figure is 43 percent. This portends a culturally and morally bankrupt future for America unless we reverse the trend.
Morally, you ask? What does highbrow reading have to do with morals? Plenty, says
Dana Gioia, the South Bay poet who now chairs the National Endowment for the Arts. "Of literary readers, 43 percent perform charity work; only 17 percent of nonreaders do. That's not a subtle difference,' Gioia says.
No, it is not. Force upon your neighbor, your spouse force upon yourself a really good book today.
As many of you know, I work at a large BookStore chain as my second paying-off-college-loans job. Located in a rather liberal part of Houston, it's usually a pretty safe place for a pinko commie like me, but sometimes, no.
When the Clinton book first came out, I got my share of grumbles and a few "that book is actually SELLING?!?!" exclamations. My favorite was this little gem: Huh. Huh. How come that book isn't in the fiction section? Huh. Huh.
The other day, however, I had a wee run in with a man who should really learn to keep his big mouth shut. The book is still at the front of the store because it's currently the #1 non-fiction book and it is SELLING, which, you would think Republican freakos would appreciate, the pursuit of the mighty dollar, yes? Oh, but no. This gentleman was so very concerned with my poor feminine self.
I don't understand how you as a woman can walk by that book and not be appalled! Haven't you had complaints?!?!
Awww. Isn't that sweet? He cares about me as a woman and wants to make sure that I am not being offended. *snerk* I calmly explained to him that the cash register at BookStore was not the place to have a political discussion and then I told him to fork over the money and get the Cheney out of my face. Okay, maybe not that last part. I mean, COME ON! If you really gave a fuck about the rights of women, you wouldn't be running around bashing a guy who isn't even in office anymore. How about dealing with the misogynistic bastards currently in office? Don't use me as an excuse to bash a president you don't like, you ignorant blowhard.
Of course, we have our share of people who come in and complain that we have hidden all the conservative books in the back of the store where all the political science books are located as some sort of conspiracy. Again, moron, the liberal books are new and selling better, so they go to the front of the store. All hail the mighty dollar, yo! Don't you have to have that tattooed on your ass to be a Republican? Jeesh.
"He's not the shotgun-dad type, he's the joking-around-to-the-point-where-he-scares-the-heck-out-of-them type."
From: John Moody
MONDAY UPDATE: Into Fallujah: It's called Operation Vigilant Resolve and it began Monday morning (NY time) with the US and Iraqi military surrounding Fallujah. We will cover this hour by hour today, explaining repeatedly why it is happening. It won't be long before some people start to decry the use of "excessive force." We won't be among that group.
The continuing carnage in Iraq -- mostly the deaths of seven US troops in Sadr City -- is leaving the American military little choice but to punish perpetrators. When this happens, we should be ready to put in context the events that led to it. More than 600 US military dead, attacks on the UN headquarters last year, assassination of Irai officials who work with the coalition, the deaths of Spanish troops last fall, the outrage in Fallujah: whatever happens, it is richly deserved.
One in 10 of Nader's biggest contributors—individuals who've written checks of $1,000 or more—are longtime GOP donors.
Those very same people never criticized my late husband for his money or his wealth - in fact, they used it," said Mrs. Heinz Kerry, who inherited an estate estimated at $500 million to $1 billion from her first husband, Senator H. John Heinz III, a Pennsylvania Republican who was killed in a plane crash. "His money was just dandy."
"I find it un-American for people to criticize someone and say they're not deserved for any position, whether because they have too much or too little or because they're black or they're white."
Hindrocket at the conservative Power Line: "This report will start the propellers spinning on every tinfoil hat in America. But conspiracy fantasies aside, canceling a Presidential election would send the worst possible signal to everyone, not least the American people. Come Hell or high water, the election should proceed on November 2."
--Daily Kos: "Short of a full-out nuclear exchange of the sort much discussed during the Cold War, do you think there is any justification for calling off national elections?"
--Hullabaloo: "This is absurd. Unless the terrorists are somehow able to prevent large numbers of people from exercising their right to vote by bombing individual polling places there can be absolutely no reason to postpone this election. ...Somehow, I have to believe that if terrorists attack us around the election, Americans will crawl out of the rubble on their hands and knees to vote. But then, that's obviously what they're really afraid of, isn't it?"
--PZ Meyers: "There is no credible reason to postpone an election. These are despicable wanna-be autocrats trying to lay the foundation for a coup in the event that the campaign doesn't run the way they want. I am astounded that anyone could think this proposal is anything but a desperate, illegitimate, and unconscionable idea from a gang of unprincipled thugs."
--Suburban Guerilla: "So let me get this straight. They're worried that the terrorists will try to influence the elections with an attack, and their solution is... to allow the terrorists to influence the election? Or is it simply to postpone Bubble Boy's day of reckoning and hope events will turn the tide in his favor?"
"How are you?" asked the airport security person who popped up beside me on my way to baggage claim.
"Uh, fine — thanks," I replied, wondering, why are you asking?
As if she'd read my thoughts, she told me there had been complaints about me on the airplane. Then she asked to see the crossword puzzle I'd been working on during the flight. Huh? I thought. Talk about being puzzled! Still, my grin was smug as I handed it over. I'd just completed the Friday New York Times puzzle, for the first time ever.
But the agent ignored the crossword, turning the paper sideways to read a line I'd scribbled in the margin: "I know this is kind of a bomb."
She pointed to the sentence, her finger resting on the word "bomb." "What does this mean?" she demanded.
Suddenly a light went on in my head. I remembered the passenger on my left leaning forward in his seat as I scribbled while we waited for takeoff. Seconds later, he'd clambered hastily over me without apology to make his way to the front of the plane. I'd assumed intestinal complications, but now that I thought about it, he hadn't used the bathroom. He'd spoken briefly with the flight attendants and returned to his seat. As the security woman looked at me, I now realized the passenger had been about as interested in my puzzling prowess as she was.
"I know this is kind of a bomb" is what I imagine Bucky, my main character, would say to Julie, his love interest, in the critical scene of my novel. I explained to the security woman that this is what happens when a 42-year-old man who is to literature what a karaoke singer is to opera tries to put words in the mouth of a fictional 19-year-old.
I opened my laptop and showed her shining example after shining example of similarly awful dialogue. She understood that that word, b-o-m-b, was no reference to ordnance or terrorist weapons of any kind.
But my explanation wasn't good enough for the three Dallas police officers who meanwhile had surrounded me — summoned, I supposed, for backup in case the dangerous character tried to write something even worse.
One took my driver's license to run a fruitless background check (the closest I ever came to being in trouble with the law was accepting a beer at age 17 from the teen-age daughter of the Nantucket Island police chief). A particularly hostile cop asked me a strangely menacing question: "So, how many books have you gotten made?" I started my usual backpedaling answer to that query, honed to perfection in the Dallas bar scene, but he cut me off: "That's not what I asked." I told him I must have misunderstood. He responded, "You're a writer and you don't understand my words?"
He wanted a summary of my novel's plot to get the context for why I'd written what I had.
I panicked. If five years of working on this narrative couldn't liberate me from software sales, how was a five-minute pitch going to keep me out of jail? I barely got three sentences out when the guy's lids started to droop. Convinced I was headed for the gulag, I prattled faster. Despite my stuttering, the inquisitor must have liked my story, because he let me off the hook. Or at least that's how he made sure I felt: that he was letting me skip ... this time.
We have allowed an admittedly terrible crime to send us spiraling down into a well of dark and unrelenting panic. The Bush Administration -- instead of acting to inject some needed perspective and calm -- has aided and abetted the fear's spread. Form useless threat levels, to the constant drumbeat about non-existent WMDs and operational ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda, to the legal fiction that some people are so dangerous that they should be now and forever denied a day in court, to the creation of memos asking just how much torture the government could get away with, to vague warnings about unsubstantiated intelligence indicating that somewhere, at sometime, use some method, a terrorist plans to kill you and your family, the Bush Administration has exacerbated, even catered, to the terroristphobia. There is a line between vigilance and panic. The Bush Administration has carried the nation over that line at a dead run without pausing to glance down as it crossed the line. And now we find ourselves a nation afraid, and more, so afraid that we have literally allowed the government to place innocent people on watch lists because, well, someone panicked and reported them to panicky government officials.
"We have nothing to fear but fear itself", a great man once said. That is as true today as it was then.
"Tell me, how is it possible that we can't find a guy who's 6-foot-6 and supposedly needs a dialysis machine?"
The rough-around-the-edges city of Cleveland may not have been the most obvious place for a presidential candidate and his newly minted running mate to launch their tag-team bid for the nation's highest office, but from the moment John Kerry and John Edwards arrived shortly before noon local time, the crowd of hundreds treated them like rock stars. There was screaming, a band, placard-waving and even one or two cases of fainting.
"Together we are going to end the Bush presidency," yelled a beaming Kerry on a stage set up in a city centre park. "Together, over the next 120 days, we are going to fight for the America we believe in."
"In 1879 something happened in Cleveland," continued Kerry. "You may not know ... the public square was lit by electric street lights, the first city in America to get this. Today you are the first city to get a different kind of electricity - Senator John Edwards."
Former Enron Corp. chairman and CEO Kenneth Lay has been indicted on criminal charges related to the energy company's collapse, sources close to the case told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Lay was expected to surrender to federal authorities Thursday.
"Ken Lay didn't do a crime," Michael Ramsey said. "I don't believe Ken Lay will be indicted at all, ever."
U.S. price of oil moved right back up over $39.50 a barrel. Dow fell 63 points to 10,219. NAZ was worse, much worse, off 43 to 1963.
I think it’s the best choice for the Dems. He is obviously charismatic, telegenic, and an excellent campaigner. It’s not so much that he can take North Carolina (probably not), but can he take Ohio and Missouri (maybe)? The Dems are going to have to carefully figure out a way to deal with the lack-of-experience problem. Come back and say, well, how much foreign policy experience did W. have running Texas, the Rangers, and Harken Energy? How much experience did Harry Truman have? Etc.... As for the problem of him being a trial lawyer, he can talk all about the sick children he helped (boo hoo). He was NOT a class-action, strike-suit lawyer a la Bill Lerach, it should be pointed out. If Cheney tries raising this in the debate, it could work against him. As in Edwards could say, "I’m happy to talk about my previous job before I held public office. Let’s also talk about Mr. Cheney’s job running Halliburton and what happened when he was CEO." Not very firm ground for Cheney....
But amidst the hoopla over the Bush ads featuring McCain, let's see if the Republicans can explain this, from the back cover of Edwards' book:
" … One of the prisoners bared his back after his initial arrest to reveal open welts allegedly caused by baton and rubber hoses. A bodyguard for the head of criminal intelligence, Hussein Kamal, admitted that the beatings had taken place. Nashwan Ali - who said his nickname was Big Man - said: 'A US MP asked me this morning what police division I was in. I said I was in criminal intelligence. The American asked me why we had beaten the prisoners. I said we beat the prisoners because they are all bad people. But I told him we didn't strip them naked, photograph them or fuck them like you did.'"